Read by Anali North Martin

I’m just kind of working through this stuff now. I’m almost 66, but when I was 21 I went to voluntary service and the minister there abused me. It was about 1974 I think. I went to him for counseling in part because I thought maybe I was gay. I didn’t know--I didn’t have sexual feelings. There was a woman in the church that I had gotten to be friends with who suggested we go to him for counseling. She would present the side that it was ok and he would present the side that it wasn’t, and I could decide for myself. During the early counseling process, they saw that every time we met I sat as far away from him as I could get, so they set it up one time that there was nowhere for me to sit except right beside him. He suggested that if he could touch my arm or my leg then that would help me like myself, like others, blah blah blah. He told me that he had cleared it with the church council. And I said no. I was already growing emotionally dependent on him. Eventually I gave in. I was afraid that if I didn’t I would lose the emotional connection to him. Over the next year or two it did become sexual. It didn’t take long for it to become sexual. He started touching me, then taking my clothes off, then oral. He used his wife’s vibrator on me, He would put things inside my vagina, like ice cubes or cucumbers. Eventually it progressed to sex, He tied me up once, and tied ribbons around my nipples. I knew nothing. I was so immature, naive, innocent, whatever. And needy.

On and off over then next roughly 10 years the relationship continued. I tried so hard to be good. I always blamed myself. Because I couldn’t pull away. I hated myself. I hated what was happening. I hated going against everything I believed in. But I was sure nobody else was ever gonna love me. I couldn't let go. I was suicidal. One night I overdosed and almost died.

I was thinking about going back to school, and finally I decided that would be a good way for me to just get away from it. I’d been there a couple months maybe when I got a package in the mail unexpectedly. It had one of his wife’s bras in it with the nipples cut out and a long long letter filled with all kinds of sexual stuff telling me when to wear the bra. He wanted me to masturbate, and think of him, and then he was going to call me from his home. And that sucked me back in again. I didn’t want it too, but it did. Finally about a year after that it stopped. For many years I blamed myself. All kinds of people liked him and wanted him, and he’d chosen me.

In about 1991 I started counseling. I also began to realize that when somebody does that it’s usually not just one person it happens to, and I knew of two or three other situations where I knew or suspected that there was some inappropriate things going on. Nothing to the extent of what happened to me, but inappropriate nonetheless. I eventually contacted him, because I was afraid it could be happening to somebody else. I wanted to hear from a therapist that he wasn’t a danger to anybody else, and if he didn’t agree to that process then I would go to the proper authorities. He didn’t like that one bit. I ended up going to someone in the church that I knew that had some authority, and she took it from there. She took it to the district conference leader I think. She also found somebody to be an advocate for me. There was a meeting with me where all the dirty details were out for people to ask me about. They formed a committee to meet with him. Supposedly he didn’t remember some of these things. And he didn’t see how he could have done those things. The statements he made publicly to his church sounded like he was taking responsibility but if you really listened he was blaming me. He told somebody he was trying to avoid my advances. “She urged me every step of the way.”

The church loved him to death. The things that were put in the paper were pretty much on his side. There was a group from the district offices that defended me, but everybody else just kind of glorified him.

I appreciate how many of them blamed me. I blamed me, and I knew the whole story.

They suspended his credentials, with the intent to give them back eventually. They made him go into therapy, and they made him pay for mine. I was so angry, especially after a year and a half when they gave his credentials back. I’ve never felt that kind of anger before. It was rage. That somebody that I had put my total being, trust, everything into, and had believed him that he had what was good for me at heart, would say and do the things that he was doing.

I didn’t trust people when I went to him, and I trusted them even less after what happened with him.

I want nothing to do with the church. I don’t want to hear the music. People have a right to believe what they believe but I want nothing to do with it. And it makes me kind of sad. Cuz like I don’t have anything to hang on to or believe in. There’s not really anything that gives me hope.