My story in part

To endure abuse as a child is indeed to be victimized and traumatized. As survivors we are prone to be re-victimized just as living things tend to return to the familiar. As an adult survivor of prolonged childhood sexual abuse, responding sexually even to non-sexual situations became a conditioned response, a return to the familiar. In my abusive experience, I was made responsible for the feelings and needs of others. This left me confused about what it meant to be responsible. My personal and physical boundaries had been invaded and broken down. It became more and more difficult to distinguish between my own needs and the needs of others. Everything became enmeshed together. Their needs FELT powerful and mine FELT powerless. I became conditioned to respond to what FELT the most powerful. Everything became enmeshed together: love- sex, hate- sex, gratitude- sex, fear- sex, loneliness- sex, and so on.

Many years of abuse and molestation passed before the healing and restoration process began. Abuse came in many forms, even in the form of a minister- father figure. At the age of thirteen or fourteen I ran to that relationship like a moth to the flame. He was more than three times my age. Andrew was my idea of a perfect father. Everyone, especially the young people, loved him. He appeared to have a genuine heart for the young people and he encouraged them to grow to their highest potential. He became a protector and a father figure to many young people. He even taught me how to drive and to have confidence in myself. He taught me that I could do anything and be anything I wanted to be. He became my lifeline. I loved him with all the love I could muster at that very young age. I needed him and my world revolved around pleasing him. I trusted him and he made me feel that he trusted me, so we shared secrets between us. I felt privileged to be a part of his secret world. I believed I was to him what other women could only dream of being. I was "special" to him. Many clamored for his favor because he was well known and respected, a minister and community leader. He became my father, and my father became my lover, my life.

On the other side of this incestuous relationship, he would talk to me as a father about relationships and how to avoid certain pitfalls. I was so hungry for the love and attention of a father that I was willing to settle for any form of that. A starving person will eat whatever is set before them. It is only when we are no longer hungry that we become more discriminating. During that time my first love, Otis, died. Andrew helped to officiate the funeral service. Otis died as a result of a bad auto accident. I loved that young man deeply but our expression of love was forbidden because he was five years older than I was. Yes, I know Andrew was more than twice my age, but my mother was not aware of the depth of our relationship. She trusted him like everybody else did. What crazy makings! Losing Otis was a tremendous loss for me. Otis was the first male that I felt protected by. He was gentle and caring at least with me. Oh, how I loved him. He didn't make me feel dirty nor did he molest me even though he was much older. When he died, I vowed to never love anyone that intensely again and I didn't for a long time. The small portion of my heart that had survived years of molestation and feelings of abandonment now had suffered the greatest abandonment "death."

Now back to my preacher- lover-friend. The impact of this relationship probably was more profound than any other single person. He taught me to believe in my own ability to succeed in life. Yet, having sex with me helped to undercut the core of my being. He made me feel loved and accepted just for being Leah. He didn't overtly demand sex, instead I was manipulated into believing that it was my idea. I know now that it was all part of clever manipulation process. I thought that I wanted to share myself with him. I really wanted to keep him from leaving me just like my natural father had. I wanted him to take me in his arms to hold me, protect me and rescue me from the bad things in life. I needed a father-father instead of a father-lover. He expressed interest and participated in the positive development of many areas of my life. I needed attention and affection and he gave it to me. He protected me from his other girl chasing buddies, which made me feel special, which was more than my biological father or any other man in my life had done. (That is what I believed).

How could I reconcile having sexual relations with my 'father'? Yet, how could I say no to the most important person in my life? I hated the sexual part of our relationship, but that was the most familiar way I knew to relate to a man. I was obsessive with him and maybe to a degree he was with me. (So I would like to think that was the case!) I wanted to be a part of his 'perfect' all-American family with wife, two kids, a dog and a car. Crazy as this may sound, I loved his wife and she liked me, which only intensified my guilt over having sex with him. Though the guilt about having sex with her husband was tremendous, it was not enough for me to say no to him. I fantasized about being his little girl. Other times I fantasized about giving birth to his little girl. We didn't have actual intercourse for about three years but we played sexual games to avoid getting me pregnant. Sadly I always wanted him as my father but never as my lover, perpetrator. It is hard to consider him a perpetrator because I still feel, at some level, that I willingly participated in this relationship. I felt so grown up in public but so helpless and needy in private. I feel sad even now as I put to death my idealized view of that relationship.

My father-lover and representative of the Father-God, failed to take into account the emotional conflict and damage being done, as I became the daughter-lover. He failed to accept responsibility for the damage being done in the deep levels of my inner-self My father-lover, in whom I had trusted, had less self-control than the hungry sad little child whom he molested for his selfish gratification, and in the name of God. I got mad with God for not protecting me and not rescuing me sooner. My every attempt to really trust God as a loving and caring 'father' was marred for many years.

My healing process continues even today, almost 40 years since my last encounter with this minister. While preparing the information for this website I had to stop working in order to emotionally process another deep level of revelation that came crashing into my reality. I was reading an article from www.flywithgrace.com about a process called "grooming". It is a process used by perpetrators to ensnare their potential victim. You can go to the website to read the article in its entirety but here is an excerpt: "Clergy who abuse sexually prey upon individuals who are seemingly weak and in a vulnerable place in their lives. Women who are likely to become victims of clergy sexual abuse (CSA) oftentimes are women who were abused sexually as children. They lack self-esteem and the ability to set clear-cut boundaries due to the boundaries in childhood being so distorted and never being heard or protected. Unfortunately, it is these weaknesses that allows the pastor to successfully achieve his abuse. He begins by "grooming" his potential prey. It happens slowly and subtly, so it is not directly noticed by her…not until it is too late.

If the woman has come to her minister for help and healing from childhood abuse, the offending pastor, during the grooming process, may become father-like to her. He may quickly represent what seemingly feels safe and wholesome, pure, and comforting, something she did not receive from her offending (non-offending) father. This may be the first part of the grooming process. He incorporates, of course, God the Father, into the relationship at every given moment, paralleling his own role of pastoral father. This accomplishes firmly the trust factor and the feeling by the woman that this man, this pastor, was sent by God somehow to heal her."

During the writing of my book, "Corridor of Hope" I was forced to accept that my mentor, friend, father-lover, and minister was a perpetrator. That was a painful realization of truth. Now, I have to accept the realization that his caring behavior was part of a methodical process with a destructive end. So, I grieve the death of another father and the death of an idealized relationship. Idealizations are usually full of lies.
The God of the bible has this to say:

To the victim:

  • I will go before you, and make the crooked places straight. I will break in pieces the gates of bronze and cut the bars of iron. I will give you treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places; that you may know that I, the Lord, Who call you by your name (Isaiah 45: 2-3)

To the perpetrator:

  • Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of My pasture!, says the Lord. Therefore thus says the Lord…………."you have scattered My flock, driven them away, and not attended to them. Behold, I will attend to you for the evil of your doing, says the Lord.
  • I will set up shepherds over them who will feed them, and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, nor shall they be lacking, says the Lord. (Jeremiah 23: 1-4)
 

 

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