Jump directly to the Content

When Pastors Are Sexual Abuse Survivors

Childhood trauma can sabotage ministry in sinister ways.
When Pastors Are Sexual Abuse Survivors
Image: Caiaimage/Martin Barraud / Getty

It took me 20 years to acknowledge I’d been molested in sixth grade.

I’d always had a memory of the molestation, but it was fuzzy, distant, and I had no category to place it in. Thank God it wasn’t worse, I thought, or that could have really messed me up.

Eleven years into ministry, I emotionally imploded. My newborn son wasn’t sleeping or breastfeeding. My wife had postpartum anxiety, and we fought constantly. My home felt like a scary, overwhelming place, where more was demanded of me than I could provide. I distanced myself from a wife who only wanted a husband who would say, “It’ll all be okay.” That’s typical of sexual abuse survivors: we’re terrified of emotional threats, and we hide from feelings that overwhelm us. How could I tell her everything would be okay when I was barely keeping the panic in my heart at bay?

Things were no better in the ministry I led, where attendance was down and I was receiving confusing messages from ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe to Christianity Today magazine. Subscribers have full digital access to CT Pastors articles.

September
Support Our Work

Subscribe to CT for less than $4.25/month

Homepage Subscription Panel

Read These Next

Related
Sermon Names in the News
Sermon Names in the News
Are you piquing people's interest?
From the Magazine
Revelation Is Good News for Today, not a Game Plan for the Future
Revelation Is Good News for Today, not a Game Plan for the Future
For a clearer picture of this mysterious book, try trading a prediction lens for a missional lens.
Editor's Pick
In Our Pandemic-Scarred Churches, God Is Making All Things New
In Our Pandemic-Scarred Churches, God Is Making All Things New
A look inside our fall issue of CT Pastors.
close