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Leader's Insight: Shepherding the Sexually Abused

How the pain of childhood abuse affects pastoral relationships.

Do you recognize the following congregants?

With unwavering commitment Emily is dedicated to you—and to your vision. Readily volunteering when needed, she prays for you and regularly affirms your leadership gift. Each time you speak with her, the admiration in her eyes is evident.

Samantha, on the other hand, volunteers only when asked. She is polite and friendly but rarely makes herself available for conversation. And as a result, little is known about her.

Chloe is a tougher read. You sense that she doesn't trust you. Yet, she continues to linger after the service asking question after question, or making appointments to ask you more.

although their reactions to the pastor differ, Emily, Samatha, and Chloe have one thing in common: each is the victim of childhood sexual abuse. They are among the millions of such survivors, estimated as high as 33 percent among women. Knowing that this statistic is representative only of the cases reported, we have to ask ourselves how many survivors ...

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