2007 STORY #31: HE WAS MY MINISTER
He was my minister. I was eighteen. I was a virgin. When he seduced me, I succumbed. To his advances, to his charm, to his position of power.... I shared my heart, he shared his hepatitis. I got mono, and he moved on to someone else in our church. Crushed, feeling stupid and guilty, I put my story away - deeply away. I made-believe that it didn't happen. Until almost 20 years later when women began coming forward, with the same story. And it was all back!
With nowhere to turn, I approached a local minister with much fear. He listened, expressed empathy and outrage - and referred me to the proper church authorities. Dave cared. After trusting him, I was able to reach out to the church officials who attempted to cleanse and prosecute the offender. I stood up - afraid but I offered my testimony. I would like to say they succeeded - but he relinquished his credentials, and started a "new" community church anyway.
Being victimized as an adult is really hard. It is difficult to admit that "no" you were not a child. And as an adult expected to take full responsibility - every bit of it. And he knew that... He now calls it "dating" but that is a lie. Dating is not secretive. If he had not held the position of Minister, and my counselor, I would never have... Well, you know. It is like being in no-mans land... that no one cares or understands.
Finding a therapist, a listener, who understood the confusion I still carried with me was life-changing. She helped me by letting me know that we can be victimized at any age... and that the scars you carry with you are real. Karen helped me begin to work through it, by not re-burying them. Since that time I still struggle - with trust, parenting two daughters, fears... but I am writing - a journal then a book and subsequent screenplay - incredible exercises that helped me put into writing how I felt, and then the ability to share it with others as well. The title "Forgive Us Our Trespasses" is just that... I am still working on forgiving me. And maybe when I do that, the trust will be there once again.
So thank you to Dave for standing by me, and helping me with the church officials and genuinely caring about what had happened. If it hadn't been for him, I would have continued my silence. And a huge thank you to Karen. She will never know my love for her, in encouraging me to work through the pain. And keep working through it... and loving me while I do.