Copyright © 2006-07, Sharonsrose.org
All rights reserved.

If you would like to have your story posted, and your voice heard, please send an email to survivors@sharonsrose.org, or fill out this form.


A Story of Restoration and Healing
By: Mimi

[A note from Sharon: Mimi’s story is one of watching God do miracles. It is Isaiah 30:18b come to life. After you read her story, you will understand what I mean. Mimi stood firm with the Assembly of God denomination, the denomination who hired a clergy sexual predator without fully checking out his background. She remained courageous, tenacious, and faithful to seeing that the man who hurt her would be held accountable. This is encouraging to victims. God is working miracles on our behalf! You’ll be excited to read Mimi’s Story…]

My story begins when I was a young Christian, 22 years old, newly married with a new baby to boot. I sense my story is not unique among CSA survivors, but I trust this will bring hope to other victims also. My testimony is nothing short of a miracle in healing and restoration.

I began attending an independent, evangelical church in 29 Palms CA. My husband (now former husband) was stationed in the Marine Corps at the time. As a new Christian, I didn't know about all the variety of churches to choose from, and simply chose one right out of the yellow pages. The town was sparsely populated and I picked a church that seemed to fit.

In Oct 1991, we attended our first service. Shortly after that, since our family lacked many household start-up possessions, the pastor collected used furniture items and brought them one day. He also personally saw to it to bring additional things like food baskets and baby layettes. I viewed this as the concern of a pastor toward his flock, and I felt instantly at home. I spent hours with my baby girl at the pastor's home, which also served as the church’s fellowship hall (he rented space for services at neighborhood churches).

This precursor set up a cycle of trust from one of the most malicious people to ever stand behind a pulpit. Over the next six months, this supplemental support continued. In April 1992, he even gave us the beloved car given to him by a well-known evangelist, a 1981 Cadillac El Dorado. My marriage started to show signs of wear-and-tear, and we started counseling with the pastor in June 1992. At first, the appointments were joint sessions; then I continued to go on my own--alone BIG MISTAKE—I know. (hindsight here).

This "counseling" continued for six months. During the course of our "sessions" the pastor would ask me details of the "bed undefiled," AKA he wanted to know what I did in bed with my husband. When I hesitated, he would coax me with the words, "Oh, come on, you can trust me." Eventually, with repeated coaxing, I'd give in and share the info he wanted to know.

Pastors who live near bases get base driving privileges as a professional courtesy of the chaplaincy. The pastor was no exception--minus it took him three years to get his. He used his "base pass" to stalk my whereabouts, which he excused as "watching out for my welfare." I told him, as a former Marine myself, that he didn't have to do that. I felt confident I could take care of myself. (Marine Corps boot camp gives you lots of confidence in yourself.)

My former spouse then got called to Somalia and left Dec 8. Prior to this, the pastor promised to "take good care of his family while he was gone." Upon my husband's departure, the pastor's behavior skyrocketed out of control. I saw him watch me everywhere. He even gave me a jewelry set for Christmas in front of his wife, and told me "not to tell the congregation so they wouldn't get jealous."

The rest of the Christmas week passed without incident namely because he was busy with his own kids. Dec 30 1992 was our military payday Friday, and I went to the commissary (military grocery store.) I saw the pastor coming out of our housing area which means he had already been to my house. He pulled up to my car, and asked if he could help with the groceries.

We got back to my housing unit, and I stayed outside while he unloaded the groceries. By this time, the stalking thing was out of control, made me feel uncomfortable, and I decided to leave the church quietly. But the pastor talked me into attending the New Year's Eve party at his house. "Come on, it'll be fun; we'll play some great games." I wanted to see my friends one last time; reluctantly, I agreed to go.

During the party, while his wife was SIX FEET AWAY, he proposed sexual relations with me. Using the information he garnered during our "counseling sessions," he specifically mentioned that he'd enjoyed those things also.

Shocked, I gathered my baby, and practically raced home shaken. The next day, New Year's Day 1993, I confronted him in front of his wife IN HIS OWN HOME. He denied it, and never repented. The next week, I confronted him in front of the church. He still didn't repent. I then took it to his leaders who promptly took the church away, and removed his covering. I found another church, and got 3 years of free counseling; one of the conditions of the "gentlemen's agreement" was that I play nice in the neighborhood (not tell the police of his actions). He was told to stay out of ministry for the rest of his life.

Let's fast forward 15 years. In a shocking way, I found out he entered the ministry again one day while surfing on the internet. He covered up his entire TRUE ministerial history. I turned him in again, forcing me to relive the entire thing word-for-nasty-word. This time, I already had previous experience behind me and knew what to do.

I called his leaders and said, if they didn't take immediate action, I WOULD turn him into the authorities this time. They pulled him from Central America and opened up an official investigation. This time, there was no turning back--I had to prove everything with witnesses and documentation etc. Fortunately, I found every person, including the former leaders, who corroborated my entire story.

He lied on his application, exploited thousands of people, and stole $1.5M dollars from his current organization. We even called the FBI for assistance--this time he was a criminal, not just a nasty preacher. He is now facing life imprisonment for fraud and misrepresentation. He was arrested by U.S. Marshalls June 6, 2008 in Phoenix, AZ.

I got the closure I desperately needed, I was BELIEVED wholeheartedly, had the support of my current church, and learned to trust again. I now am in a position of favor and respect of the organization that opened the investigation. I decided to get water baptized again Aug 10, and attended a women's retreat in September.

In spite of the world's challenges going on, I'll simply remember 2008 as my year of almost impossible miracles. God showed me He is who He says He is. Truly, "If God be for us, who can be against us?"


A VOICE NO LONGER SILENCED
By: Alli

After having been away from the Church for years, my husband and I decided it was time to go back. An invitation was extended to us, and we accepted. Everyone was so welcoming. The congregation was small. Everybody knew everybody. It just felt right. We could hardly wait to start getting involved. It didn’t take long. Before we knew it, we seemed to be in the middle of everything.

I decided to seek counsel from the Pastor. Actually, I asked the Pastor’s wife first, and she told me it would be better for me to counsel with her husband. I was nervous, but accepted, as I really needed the help. My childhood left me with gaps, painful memories, and the need for a solid foundation to find healing upon. What better place was there to sort out these issues and find wholeness again, than within Church! The Pastor voiced that he was more than happy to come along side me through this journey. Had I any idea where his outstretched hand would lead me, I would have turned and ran as fast as I could. But at the time, everything about it seemed right…it seemed safe. After all, the Pastor had been in ministry longer than I had been alive; he was 37 years older than me…a father, and grandfather, and a happily married man (I assumed). I just never felt I would have any need to worry.

This was the start of a journey that would last four years. This journey would end horribly. The Pastor became a dear friend, to me, my husband, my children, and my mother. He was always around. He took on the role of my father…even calling himself such; and referring to me as his daughter. Little did I know, but for the duration of three years, he masterfully groomed me and manipulated me, into a dependence and devotion, that would keep me chained to him as he began sexually abusing me during the last of our four years together. He had been so calculated, so patient, so smooth…I had no idea I was trapped, and under his control, until it was too late. He had me right where he wanted me, and there was nothing I could do. Who would I tell? Who would believe me over the Pastor? What would he do to me if I broke the secrecy he held me to? I felt like I was slowly drowning, and there was nobody that could reach out and save me.

Over that last year, his control over me tightened. The sexual abuse was constant. Pushing him away, or saying no, was pointless. He claimed his touch was out of love for me. Recalling that touch now makes my skin crawl, because it was anything but loving. We fought constantly, as I sought not to be consumed by this man, and he sought to keep me all to himself. To everyone else in the congregation, he was nearly perfect…loving and kind, compassionate and giving, the ideal Pastor. I saw the other side…the side that was angry and hot-tempered, harsh and jealous, lustful and needy. The touch that satisfied him one day, would not be enough to keep him content the following day. It was spiraling out of control. I was scared. I knew, somehow, and no matter what the consequences, I would have to tell on him. Finally, I broke the silence. My story came out.

Outside of the support of my husband, the one thing I was counting on were the friends we had within the Church. Our family was very involved. We knew all the staff members and Elders on an intimate basis. We had friendships with nearly every member of the congregation. I just knew in my heart, that when it came right down to it, and things were getting sticky, I was going to be able to count on these people to be there for our family. How wrong I was!

I had not “fallen in love,” nor had I chosen to have an “affair” or a “consensual sexual relationship” with my Pastor. This was Pastoral Sexual Abuse to the extreme. As my Pastor, when he chose to pursue me for sexual reasons, it was a grave violation of his professional ethics, his spiritual commitments, and his marital promise. Because of the power difference, created by his position in the Church, it automatically took away any ability for me to consent...which I did not. It was sexual abuse. I counted on my friends to learn this truth, and stand by me, protect me, hurt with me, and help me to heal. Instead, I lost everyone except my husband and family. My husband has been such a blessing of support and love...from the very day I told him what had happened.

Those we were closest to turned their backs on us as more of the truth came out. They all blamed me. I felt like the woman thrown before Jesus, while everyone stood above her taking aim with their rocks. These people knew me. They knew my heart. They knew my passion for the ministry. They knew my character. And in a matter of hours, they were willing to toss me aside, claiming that I was an “adulterous woman,” that I had chosen to “seduce and bring down their Pastor.” They said if I remained in the Church (which was not their preference), that I must be stripped of all my ministry positions, I could not work with any young people (for fear that I would lead them astray), and at the most, I would be able to sit in the back corner during services, so my presence in the sanctuary would not hinder those that were really worshipping. I felt as though the wind had been knocked out of me. We knew we could not remain…

I had gone to the staff with my story. I had sat before the Elder Board several times, making myself an open book, undergoing humiliating recounts of what occurred with the Pastor. For what, I’m not sure. The accusations and hurtful words, from this group of trusted Leaders, was about as heartbreaking as those being thrown at me from the congregation.

We took it to the top. Beyond the staff and Elders, we brought in an official from the Baptist General Conference, who, along with everyone else, did nothing to assist us. If anything, the speeches he delivered on this account, just made things worse. The truth of what really happened was covered up. Lie after lie went out to the congregation…simply to save the name of the institution...so things wouldn't get "messy." Of course, because of the trust in the Elders, everyone felt they had been given the truth…and I must be lying to get myself out of trouble. I was stunned.

I wasn’t the first woman this Pastor had done this to. He told me this himself. While he was asked to leave, there was no accountability, no “real” consequences for his actions. He sold his house, and moved away, severing all ties to this area, and that Church body. He just escaped it all. The Elders seemed satisfied. With him gone, and my family gone, they just brushed the remaining crumbs under the rug, and moved on with life. Moved on…how simply they did so. Moving on should be the goal, but only once the truth is truly embraced…

It is highly unethical and very unprofessional for a sexual relationship to occur within a patient/counselor relationship. For most women, their sexual abuse will never be reported. Most victims suffer in silence, feeling that they can’t trust anyone anymore. The cover-ups by the Church, after the truth comes out, are often times, just as painful (if not more so) than the original abuse. My biggest question has been, “Why? Why did this happen to me? What made him pick me?” I may never fully know why. But, the one thing I stand on is, no matter what, the sexual abuse was not my fault! Romans 9:33 promises me, “The one who puts their trust in Him, will never be put to shame.” My trust is in Him. I’m standing on His truth, and before Him, I am pure, whole, unblemished… Having scars, yes…but now a survivor, and no longer a victim…

While I would love to have a story with the “happy ending,” mine does not fall into that category...YET! Nothing has been resolved to date. The Elders are happy that the Pastor is gone, because it removes the huge task of holding this man accountable, and restoring him to his place before the Lord and within the congregation. Everyone is thrilled that I am no longer at the Church because, in their eyes, this is all my fault, and nobody could “truly worship with someone like me in their presence.” Shortly after the Pastor and I were both gone, the Church had a “Forgiveness Service.” The Elders chose to cover up the truth completely, and vocalized to my husband and I that "the congregation didn’t need to know what actually happened." The “Forgiveness Service” was their easy way out. By this service, they feel they have been able to “release their anger and their feelings of betrayal, caused by such an involved member of the Church body” (me), and "release their fallen Pastor into the hands of God.” After being filled in on how the service went, I can see it was really just an opportunity for them to wash their hands of any and all responsibility, brush this aside, and move on as if it never happened. But, for me, it did happen, and I refuse to brush it under the rug. Their motive now is to never speak of it again...my motive now, is to tell my story far and wide. Women all over the world have been forced into silence, not only by these abusive Pastors, but by Leaders within the Church who refuse to protect those that have been hurt. It’s time to stand up! It’s time to use our voices! I will not longer be silenced! And keeping my hand held tightly to His, I will watch as He brings me beauty for my ashes...and I will find comfort, as He wipes every tear away. My hope is in the Lord...and in Him, I will find my happy ending.


THE POWER OF ONE STORY
By: Dee Ann Miller (preprinted by permission)

In 1988, I asked myself two questions: “How can I bring good out of evil?” and “What would Love have me do with this horrible story?” Love spoke to me clearly: “Tell your story. Tell it far and wide.”

At first there was little time to focus on strategy. My husband and I, along with our two children, were struggling to survive financially, emotionally, and spiritually after the biggest battle of our lives. We had left our careers and commitment to lifelong mission service in Africa, where we had been serving under the largest evangelical mission board in the world—that of the Southern Baptist Convention. Our battle and eventual resignation came NOT because of my being one of the numerous victims sexually assaulted by a missionary co-worker. We could have stayed on had that been the only problem.

Instead it was entirely because of the grossly unethical “management” of the case along with the total collusion of our colleagues, including all other victims. In 1988, we were grieving, not just for ourselves, but for the greater community of faith who were (and largely still are) blinded to the dangers of sexual violence within the institutional church.

Through my work as a psychiatric nurse, I became painfully aware within six months of our resignation that our story was an echo of many others….

Almost every time I risked telling tidbits of my story to a friend or colleague, I would be reciprocated by someone who was carrying the burden of another story which had been told to them in confidence! It didn’t take long to realize that my story had liberating power, not just for me, but others….

Within months, I envisioned a book….I knew the project could be very risky for me personally, but not telling it was dangerous for the larger community. I could potentially destroy my husband’s career as a minister. [My husband] and I talked about this at length. He had no reservations. We both saw the project as a work of advocacy, not just for victims, but for his profession which is rapidly destroying itself because of its own dishonesty.

I began writing, even as I worked a fulltime and a parttime job to support my family. I wrote even as I went back to school to obtain a degree in community mental health, which I hoped would enhance my envisioned ministry. I used a thick pile of notes taken during the intense heat of the case and wove in what I knew professionally to tell my story. In 1993, the finished product, How Little We Knew: Collusion and Confusion with Sexual Misconduct…went on the Market. It continues to bring opportunities for further advocacy writing….

The powerful story I have told is by no means dead. Like every survivor story, it is a witness. It will live on long beyond my earthly stay. As the Bible so well illustrates, the world needs to hear both the Good News and the bad news in our world. The first takes on an even greater power as we face the truth about evil. Yet speaking the truth about evil often has great consequences.

If you are currently wrestling with decisions about your own story-telling, I encourage you to give it a lot of thought. Your story is powerful. It has the power to build up, but also the power to destroy things precious to you. The outcome of self-revelation is always uncertain. There are many double-binds and no right or wrong answers. In time, God will reveal to what extent and how you need to use your valuable story for the greatest good in this world. You are not being selfish if you choose to use your story only for your own healing. There are many, many factors to consider….

Whether or not you choose to tell your story publicly, remember that rising above the story into the glorious world of growth beyond human comprehension, is the greatest revenge.


Takecourage.org by Dee Ann Miller, author of How Little We Knew: Collusion and Confusion with Sexual Misconduct and The Truth about Malarkey, which you can find both on her page, takecourage.org/hlwk.htm, and on Amazon.com