The Experience of a Parent Who Is a Survivor
By Carol Knieriem, Dove’s Nest Board Member and Volunteer
Forty-year-old George has a hard time walking in the doors of a church—the result of being molested by his youth pastor at age fifteen. After a year of being molested, church officials were informed about the abuse. George’s perpetrator was told to leave the church, and George was instructed not to tell anyone about the abuse.
George’s faith in God is strong despite the abuse he suffered at the hands of a church official, and George wants his children—Kaylee and Jeremy—to learn about God and grow spiritually. However, every time George walks into a church he fears the worst and is hypervigilant about who oversees his children when they are participating in Sunday school and youth group.
George continues to see a counselor to help him address his fears and work through his abuse issues. He struggles with relationships and tends to be victimized by others—and he is forty years old! George’s counselor helps him to see that the response of the church to his abuse was abuse itself. In fact, healing from the molestation could have, and should have, started right away with support from family members and church leadership and members.
The cost of abuse to our well-being, to our families, to our marriages, to our schools, to our communities, and to our nation is huge. Children who suffer from abuse need us—their families, friends, neighbors, teachers, and community leaders—to stand beside them, believe them, support them, encourage them, and advocate for services to help them heal.
Dove’s Nest equips adults to keep children safe at church, home, school, and in their community. Our work makes a difference. George will always have abuse in his history and he still may feel the need to talk things out with a counselor, but he might be able to enjoy taking his children to church if the church shows that it wants to protect children by implemented a child protection policy that safeguards them. Dove’s Nest offers a variety of trainings and policy resources. Go to dovesnest.net for more information.