One of the most painful things I have encountered in my 18 years thus far as a pastor are the stories of sexual abuse amongst the people I love and am learning to love and serve.
As a pastor, I am to listen, learn, shepherd, teach, protect, empower, and [insert other words here]. But the stories of sexual abuse – most often in the hands of people that were supposed to love, nurture, and protect them – anger me beyond words. Honestly, there are times, I can’t contain that anger…
I really wish that there were only a handful of stories but the sad truth is that there have been numerous – including a few that were sexually abused at the hands of their pastors or spiritual leaders. And these are just the folks that have felt comfortable sharing their pain. I suspect that there are many more. In fact,
Numerous sources cite that 1 out of 4 girls and 1 out of 6 boys will be sexually victimized before adulthood.
Absolutely stunning and heartbreaking.
As much as I read, learn, and ask others in order to be a more empathetic and spiritually/emotionally/psychologically informed pastor/counselor – I can’t even remotely understand the pain and anger of some that have shared their stories of sexual violation with me. All this to say…it’s not that simple.
This past Sunday, I shared “publicly” my one “small” story of sexual violation. It isn’t anything “serious” but I shared it to convey to people how this one act of violation (that lasted at most 2 seconds) is still vividly lodged in my memory and psyche and how sin (including sexual brokenness) can have consequences…
Here’s my brief story:
I was 12 years old. I was at a large department/market in Southern California. I was shopping for a toy for my younger cousin’s birthday and out of nowhere, an adult man comes directly at me and grabbed my private parts. In shock, I quickly brushed aside his arm and scurried off.
What shocks me the most – even to this day – is how vividly I remember this story.
It lasted all but 2 seconds but I still remember this man’s face, what he wore, the market I was at, the day and time, and even the exact aisle I was at.
This is my minor story. Others have major stories and circumstances. Encouraging people to forgive and move on just isn’t sufficient because there are some things our bodies and minds simply don’t allow us to forget…
Good resources you’d like to share with others?