the Hope of Survivors


YouthI like the attention my youth pastor gives me. He says I’m special and that makes me feel good.

Everyone wants to feel special and loved. Sometimes, when we don’t receive healthy love and affection at home, we’re more likely to seek it elsewhere. While a youth pastor or Bible teacher should be loving and kind, there are times when hugging and touching can be wrong.

If you are being hugged when you don’t want to be, or touched in a way that makes you uncomfortable, tell him to stop or ask your parents to talk with him about it. It’s ok for you to say no to something that hurts you or makes you feel awkward, even if it’s the pastor who is asking you to do it.

I feel like what he’s doing is wrong and I’m to blame. Everyone looks up to him.

It may seem like everyone respects him but if he is doing something wrong, it is not your fault. If he is isolating you from others, trying to get you alone to spend “special time” with him, trying to hold you, kiss you or touch you in some way (especially in a sexual way), you need to know that it is not your fault and that he needs to stop.

He said this was “our little secret.” I don’t want to be a tattletale. Besides, who would believe me?

No adult should ask you to keep a secret, unless it is a nice surprise like a birthday gift or something like that. If you are being asked to keep your meetings, or what takes place during those times, a secret then something is wrong.

Tell someone. Tell your parents, tell a close friend, but do tell. There will be someone who will believe you and will help you. You do not need to face this alone. Other adults can manage his anger. You don’t need to be concerned about that.

He threatened to hurt my family and me if I told. I can’t tell!

If you have a close relationship with your parents, tell them what’s happening and how it makes you feel. You must tell. This is abuse and it needs to be stopped. Your family can protect you and make sure that the person who is abusing you is stopped and held accountable for His actions.

He says God made me for him. Is this what God wants of me?

No, it is not. God would never want any harm to come to you and He would never want someone to abuse you or hurt you in this way. His feelings are not your concern. You may care about him, but this is not true love. God loves you and He wants to protect and heal you. He has someone special for you that will never hurt you.

He says He loves me in a special way, like God loves His children.

He may tell you you’re special to him and that you make him happy in a way no one else does or ever has. These words are very manipulative and are often used to control unsuspecting victims. A spiritual leader who says these things and tries to engage you in a sexual relationship is not showing you God’s love at all.

God loves each of us, but God would never do anything that is wrong and no one who teaches God’s Word should do anything to hurt someone either.

This might be confusing and you may not want to talk about it, but there is help and hope for you. Your feelings are greatly confused right now and you don’t want to hurt the person doing this to you. You do not have to keep quiet while being abused by your youth pastor, Bible worker, school dean, elder or deacon or anyone in the position of spiritual authority.

What IS wrong behavior?

  • Hugging you too often or too closely
  • Kissing you
  • Constantly looking at you
  • Having you sit close to him or on his lap
  • Asking you to touch him
  • Telling or asking you to keep his secrets
  • Talking inappropriately about sex
  • Touching or caressing you sexually
  • Passing you notes, calling you a lot, texting or emailing you often, sending you pictures of him or asking you for pictures of yourself.

If your youth pastor or someone else who is a leader in the church is doing any of these things, please tell someone. Contact us. We can help you.

You may be thinking or feeling...

  • I am misunderstanding his actions. Maybe he didn’t really mean to kiss me on the lips.
  • I feel bad for thinking he is doing something wrong.
  • Even though it feels wrong to me, it must not be because he is my pastor and he wouldn’t do anything wrong.
  • I like feeling special and enjoy the attention he gives me. I like him.
  • He makes me feel so grown-up and important.

Reasons why you may be afraid to tell...

  • I don’t want to get him in trouble.
  • I don’t want to be in trouble.
  • I don’t want him to be mad at me.
  • He told me not to tell.
  • I don’t want to hurt his feelings. After all, I think I love him.
  • People will be mad at me for telling on him.
  • I am embarrassed and don’t want people to know.

We want you to know that we are here to help you. You won’t get in trouble for telling. The person who hurt you might, but that is because what he has done is wrong, not because you did anything to him and not because you told on him. Pastors and others who teach us about God and His Word are supposed to be kind and caring. They are not to touch us in inappropriate ways or encourage us to keep secrets from our family and friends. Good pastors are important because they can really help you grow in your relationship with Jesus but, if the pastor is doing something wrong to hurt you, he is not being a good pastor.

The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart...Psalms 34:18