The Hope of Survivors aims to assist victims of clergy sexual abuse in their healing process; prevent new or future recurrences of abuse; educate pastors and church leaders in the area of prevention, as well as proper responses to victims; aide congregations in making their churches safer places for worship; and raising awareness of the prevalence of clergy sexual abuse within all denominations.
The Hope of Survivors maintains a growing and active website (in multiple languages) to serve victims of clergy sexual abuse, as well as clergy and the public at large. Not only has the website been crucial in victims' recovery processes, but also in preventing abuse in many cases, and helping pastors better understand how to keep their congregations safe.
In addition to the website, the organization produces educational materials for use in churches, schools, counseling centers, etc. The booklet, Understanding Sexual Misconduct Among Spiritual Leaders, is available in English and Spanish and covers many angles and topics related to clergy sexual abuse.
Through the materials produced (booklets, DVDs, websites, one-on-one counseling), and a series of seminars (different seminars for clergy, victims and congregations), the organization is able to achieve its goals for helping victims, educating clergy and making churches safer places.
The Hope of Survivors has also launched Clergy Sexual Abuse Awareness & Prevention Day in August and is working collaboratively with other organizations to raise awareness.
The Hope of Survivors' greatest resource and asset is its staff, from board members and officers to volunteers who assist with public relations, database maintenance, etc.
The core of the organization's staff know firsthand what it is like to experience clergy sexual abuse and, subsequently, heal from its devastating impact. This is a resource which victims affirm time and time again has been the most helpful to them, even above their ongoing appointments with local therapists, counselors and psychologists. For a victim to know she/he is speaking with someone who KNOWS what they have gone through and has experienced healing, gives hope in a way that is not readily available by other means.
This firsthand experience also improves the organization's ability to portray to clergy the damaging effects of abuse by someone in the role of spiritual authority. It has a greater impact than a speaker who would only be able to present statistics and textbook facts.The reason the organization is successful is because those who serve in any capacity on behalf of the organization are passionate about the goals of preventing clergy sexual abuse, assisting victims with their healing and raising awareness.
The Hope of Survivors makes a lasting impact in the lives of victims of clergy sexual abuse. That impact can be seen in the decreased number of clergy sexual abuse-related suicides; the increase in the number of marriages that stay intact during and after clergy sexual abuse; the recommitment and rededication of victims' lives to God and to active church service after clergy sexual abuse; the amount of abuse that has been prevented because of The Hope of Survivors; and through many other life events and changes that take place for victims who have received assistance from The Hope of Survivors.
It is difficult to quantify the impact of our ministry in terms of the hope, encouragement and healing provided to victims and their spouses. Perhaps the best way to sense our success is in the unsolicited testimonies we continually receive:
""The time spent with you and your husband was very beneficial for the both of us. …Thank you so much for listening to God's direction in your life and helping people like me. I'll say it again—you saved my life.""—IL
Phone call from a victim who had just discovered our web site. She said, ""I felt lost and alone and I was suicidal, so I started searching the Internet. The Hope of Survivors is what saved my life.""
""In the darkest times, when I could not find my way, you held out the Light of the World for me. May Jesus bless you.""—PA
""The Hope of Survivors has and will continue to do for clergy abuse survivors what MADD did for decreasing deaths due to drunk driving. …keep our house of worship safe havens for all.""—ME
""My mind was reeling as I closed the e-mail and stared off into space. So it hadn't been a mutual affair as I had been led to believe. I found material that answered my unspoken questions and helped to make sense of the chaos. I began to understand that I wasn't crazy; that my reactions to things I had seen had in fact been legitimate. I discovered that many other women had also been sucked into the same deception as my friend and I had been. And I was assured that there is hope, and a way out of the confusion and darkness. As I look back now, several years later, I am so thankful for the concrete information, as well as the emotional support, I received from The Hope of Survivors during a very difficult time in life.""—Europe
""It was truly a blessing to have been able to attend the conference and meet you and Steve. It truly was a turning point in our recovery.""—MO
The Hope of Survivors keeps records of all victims who make direct contact with the ministry for help, and that number averages 100+ new victims per year, an average of two (2) new victims per week. We also measure impact through website traffic statistics.
The organization has accomplished its initial goal of helping "just one". This was accomplished in 2003, a few months after the organization began (2002). To date, the organization has helped over 1,345 victims directly, through ongoing support, yet has helped thousands of victims worldwide through its website, TV & radio programs, educational materials, seminars, etc. Being able to recognize the positive impact the organization makes in people's lives compels us to go forward, to do more, provide more resources, raise greater awareness and focus on areas of prevention.
The Hope of Survivors has yet to accomplish establishing enough monthly contributors to pay wages to key staff on a regular basis. This is a goal of the organization, in order to maintain quality and consistency in services. Providing these consistent services will enable the organization to achieve its goals.