A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

Death Threat from Abuser, but Church Refuses to be Educated About Abuse: Part 4 of Persistent Widow’s story

Continuing Misdirection by the PCA Church

In Part 3 of this series, I described two traumatic evening sessions that I attended with the pastor and an elder. I have no idea what the purpose of those meetings were other than to intimidate me to submit to their authority; apart from that, there was no Christian comfort or spiritual wisdom imparted. They were unwilling to explain what they were trying to accomplish through their intervention and I thought that their “process” completely lacked direction. At this point, it had been over 18 months since I first asked for assistance from the church and it seemed to me that they were stalling and making up procedure as they went.

Hearing nothing after our last meeting over a month ago, and hoping to prod the session along, I sent them a letter suggesting that my husband be referred to his medical doctor:

If you would like me to contact specific mental health professionals to see if they accept the [insurance] coverage, please let me know. Otherwise, perhaps his primary care doctor can make a referral. [My husband] yelled at [the doctor] and his staff last year, so he would have some idea of why we are looking for help.

…I have seen absolutely no godly sorrow from him, rather, he screams non-stop on the phone at me and is threatening. He blames me for causing him to act like this, not taking his sin seriously. He said recently that he hopes I would die.

…I have never expected the church to fix these problems, but I am giving him the final opportunity to repent and get psychological help. If he will not get professional help, which is what he has told me, then I intend to finally get closure with this issue and formally end the relationship.

The pastor called and having totally disregarded my letter, said that he was in the process of orchestrating a conference call between the session, my husband and myself. Sensing that they were again luring me into a vulnerable situation, I refused to participate.

Later that week, my husband called me and said that he was going to financially ruin me and that he wanted to see me dead. Previously, he had said that he wished I would die, but his threats were getting progressively worse. He said that he had fantasies about that and would kill me if he could think of a way to do it without getting caught. I informed the pastor and he told me that he didn’t really say that.

Several weeks later the pastor called again. He said that he was bringing gifts from my husband and he had a promissory note for me to sign for his biblical/Nouthetic counseling. He said that I needed to be a part of the counseling, but what that entailed was never explained to me. I refused, citing that my husband should sign the promissory notes himself and that would be an incentive to be serious about his own treatment. From my previous experience with their counseling I knew that their services were extremely expensive, unhelpful, and a catalyst for more abuse. I felt that the pastor and his recommended “professionals” were incompetent and had a reckless disregard for our safety. Concerned that the church would force me to take my husband back if he completed their counseling, I told the pastor that I would not be like a carrot-on-a-stick. My husband should go because of his duty before God.

The pastor said that he had done all that he could. Now my conscience would bother me and I would be receiving a letter with their final reply.

Secular Abuse Center Diagnoses the Situation

With the church never having validated anything that I brought to them, I went to the local abuse crisis center. What an excellent decision that was, and I would have been better off had they been my starting point in this ordeal. The counselor saw me promptly and took the time to really listen to my concerns. She incredulously asked, “What kind of a church do you go to that would enable a man to treat his wife, the mother of all of his children like this? This is abuse. What church is that? That is terrible!” She said that I was in a dangerous relationship and that my children and I were in an unsafe situation because leaving an abuser is when he is most likely to turn violent. Amazed that the church never implemented a safety plan for me, she implemented one, and she recommended I get a restraining order. Her concern and validation were invaluable. Because I had been following A Cry for Justice, and already having read about abuse, only one visit to see her accomplished much.

She gave me abuse literature for my church and said that she would present an informational talk to them at no charge. When I presented the literature and her offer to the pastor, he would not comment. The following Sunday, the congregational prayer included a lament to God for abuse centers forcing women to divorce their husbands.

Next post: I Wish I Knew This About Peacemakers Before I Went: Part 5 of Persistent Widow’s story

110 Comments

  1. rrprewett

    If only your story was so bizarre as to be unbelievable…if only we could all shake our collective heads in dismay over this singularly terrible church…but your statement over wishing you had gone to the abuse center first is one I have heard and read far too often.

    How can the Body of Christ behave in a way so opposite to the very nature of its Head? It boggles the minds, but it breaks the heart.

    I am so grieved for what you went through. May God continue to bring you His healing and comfort. May He be your Safe Refuge, and may He guide His people to minister to you as His hands and His feet.

  2. Still Reforming

    I’m flabbergasted and gobsmacked, and I believe every single word of your testimony.

    The modern church is lording it over the targets of abuse – in the same way the Pharisees did the people of Jesus’ day. None of those people in positions of power understand what He meant by “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” Can they not see how that applies to marriage as well? Marriage was made for people, not people for the institution of marriage.

    You are so articulate and have well-documented this whole experience. You exhibited extraordinary patience trying to work within the church for more than a year. I tire of reading how these men have no concept of abuse. They DO because they hear it. And read it. And ignore it. What they have is no INTEREST in learning about abuse.

    Excellent accounting of your testimony, TPW!

  3. Jeff Crippen

    “He said that he had fantasies about that and would kill me if he could think of a way to do it without getting caught. I informed the pastor and he told me that he didn’t really say that.”

    So really, how is this hardly any different than a conspiracy to commit murder? One guy making the threat and the other defending/denying that threat? It may not fly in a criminal court now, but I can tell you that one Day that pastor is going to have to answer to the Lord’s charges and he won’t be getting off the hook.

    To answer the women’s center lady’s question (an excellent one) as to what kind of a church is this – it is no church. It is a counterfeit. This man is no real pastor.

    Presbytery of that church’s region is also culpable. There is no way that this pastor should be allowed to continue in ministry. He should have been removed. But they did nothing. Nothing.

  4. joepote01

    “The following Sunday, the congregational prayer included a lament to God for abuse centers forcing women to divorce their husbands.”

    That sums it up, nicely, doesn’t it?

    A lament to their god…the false god of relational idolatry…the false god who is so concerned about legalistic rules and tedious loopholes that he has no regard for justice or mercy…a lament to their false god that an organization exists that would dare offer protection, comfort, and wise counsel to a woman whom they (the church of relational idolatry) have conspired to keep under her abuser’s enslavement…

    A lament to their god, that mercy, justice, redemption and deliverance may still be found for the oppressed and enslaved…

    A lament to their god…a lament against the very things the One True God laments a lack of…justice and mercy…redemption and deliverance!

    • Lisa

      Yea….idolatry of marriage/relationship is what the Lord showed me was my god and thus, 2 decades of whirlwind. Glad to be out.

  5. thepersistentwidow

    It struck me and still does that the pastor was trying to define my reality.
    Did the pastor really think that I would believe his opinion when I heard the threats with my own two ears? It was here that I realized that this church process is just insane.

  6. Valerie

    PW, I don’t know that there is a word in the dictionary to define this. It is so outrageous that my hope is that though it was an incredibly confusing time (among other things) that the sheer outrageousness of it all gave some clarity that this was in fact outrageous. My account is nothing compared to yours but the injustice and audacity I experienced within the “community of the church” was such that it at least gave me a sense of clarity and stability. The response was so contrary to scripture that it was quite clear.

    I agree with Jeff that this is no church and this is no pastor. Outrageous.

  7. Jeff Crippen

    At least for me, in my history, I have not been “hearing” God’s Word (Scripture) as well as I should. What I mean is, I think I suffered a gap between what God tells us clearly and having what He says really sink in. Of course this deafness is aided when we are surrounded by “notable” teachers and preachers and so on interpreting (twisting) Scripture for us and we look up to them and listen and assume they are right, but in fact they keep us from hearing God’s Word. I say this because in these past five years as I study and preach Scripture, I am seeing that, well, just take Paul’s Epistles for example – that the Lord warns us of these things PW experienced and which she is relating to us in this series. I am presently teaching through 2 Corinthians on Sunday mornings and the whole thing, and I do mean the WHOLE thing, is about how false teachers creep into the church and alienate us from God’s true shepherds, from Christ, and from the gospel. It’s about how they enslave us and how we must be totally done once and for all with judging people and teachings “according to the flesh.” That is to say, according to man’s understanding and the world’s view. Otherwise what happens is entire churches end up in bondage, led by wolves, and not being true churches at all. We are way too given (me too) to the fear of man, to desiring peace when there can be no peace, to pleasing people rather than God. PW, I am very, very glad you were able to tell that pastor and those church leaders to shove off, that you weren’t meeting with them anymore. And I hope this series of posts will stir things up for that pastor and make his life more uncomfortable and if he won’t repent, that he will be dealt with by Christ, whose Name he blasphemes.

    • grace551

      I totally agree with Jeff – especially that you told those church leaders to shove off, Persistent Widow. Your story is so dreadful I don’t know what to say about it.

    • grace551

      Sorry, I mean that I am glad you did that!

    • Anonymous

      “…..to desiring peace when there can be no peace, to pleasing people rather than God.”

      Some people are actually born with a propensity and natural desire to help their fellow man. Their genetic make-up is geared toward helping others. Some of the names that are used to describe this nature is “highly sensitive person” or “gifted.” There is research that has been conducted that shows that people with this disposition are wired this way. One quote, “From the beginning, the gifted show an even greater awareness of the complexities of the world, a greater desire to make sense of it all. They need to overcome the anxiety that results from this awareness by trying to bring order into the apparent chaos around them.” Another one about women, “Gifted girls will readily participate in traditionally feminine activities, even if they aren’t crazy about them, simply because they are usually cheerful, friendly and compliant little people. They want to please, and they accurately read that society will be most pleased with them if they are not too different from other little girls……..Since gifted girls are good adjusters, they adjusted–and may have begun to deny their giftedness.” (This is certainly true for boys as well, this just happened to be a book on gifted girls.)

      So when these evil ones get ahold of a person who has a nature to please and who will do most anything to keep the peace, they rape them. Maybe not physically but emotionally and spiritually, and they use them up. People without a conscience do not care about anyone else per say, but they think people who care or who are able to love are especially stupid and weak. They also don’t care what damage is done to these beautiful people. Some of the traits of hsp’s are a love to create beauty, the ability to find joy in almost anything they do, the ability to deeply think and feel and gain wisdom that is useful to many people. If you look in the Bible; David, Daniel, and Moses come to the forefront when you think of this type of personality. These men were perpetually lamenting, deeply mulling things over and habitually seeking truth and wisdom. It was part of the very core of who they were. There was nothing “wrong” with these men, quite the opposite–God used these “weak” men to change the world of their day and to bless us even now. But look what happens to these very same type of people when an abusive church or “Christian” gets involved. Their gifts are used against them and these gifts that were meant to glorify God are rendered (seemingly) useless.

      But as most of us know, not a drop of our life in the Lord is wasted. Not an ounce will be unused. We can’t forget the most sensitive human that ever walked on this earth, and that was Jesus himself. We can also use his example as a way to live our lives. He met each challenge anew, sometimes he responded with love, sometimes anger, sometimes silence and sometimes he simply answered a question with a question. We do not have to be confined to doing things one way and we can turn our desire to help others on ourselves as well. Many of us were trained to do nothing for ourselves but Jesus wasn’t like this. He took care of himself and we are to do the same. We are God’s children and as such, we have “rights” under him. The desire to want to help others is Christ-like and good, we just need to be discerning in where we place our love and our hearts. Thank you Jeff (again) for your wisdom.

      • “Some of the traits of hsp’s are a love to create beauty, the ability to find joy in almost anything they do, the ability to deeply think and feel and gain wisdom that is useful to many people.”

        You cannot know how deeply your comment just impacted me. Without warning I burst into great sobs of relief. I am this type of person you described and until I saw it written down, I did not think I had very much to offer. It has been a message reenforced by different abusive people through my life. But it is simply not true. My gifts are different, but no less valuable.

        Thank you for this unexpected flash of insight!

      • Anne

        Like marriedtohyde, this comment really hit me hard. I have always been this kind of person (people pleaser, wanting to bring peace around me, make people happy – my dad called me his little diplomat when I was young!) and looking back over my life, I am starting to see how many have taken advantage of that to my detriment. I too have felt I have very little to offer as that is what has been told and implied to me over the years. Thank you for such a positive spin on what has been a negative to me until now.

  8. StandsWithAFist

    “The following Sunday, the congregational prayer included a lament to God for abuse centers forcing women to divorce their husbands.”

    Perhaps the abuse center can offer a “facility prayer” of lament for churches who force women/men to stay with their abusers!!!

  9. Suzanne

    Words cannot express the sorrow I feel for the pain you and your children have suffered. Nor can they adequately communicate the utter disgust and anger I have toward the church that not only failed to protect you but actively worked with your abuser to harm you. Jeff is right. This church conspired to commit murder and should be held legally liable.

  10. Lisa

    This whole series on PW’s life feels like some “Twilight Zone” sci-fi movie.Thank you for sharing it. It makes us all the wiser…..hopefully.

    • thepersistentwidow

      Twilight Zone..That is exactly what I thought. It seemed like this whole thing must be some kind of a mistake…it was surreal! I thought that Peacemaker’s headquarters needed to know how badly their local facility handled my case and you will read their response in the next post. I have the results of the church’s decision upcoming and finally the presbytery decision. The only thing weirder than my story are their responses!

  11. Barely Reformed

    Jeff Crippen said:

    “Presbytery of that church’s region is also culpable. There is no way that this pastor should be allowed to continue in ministry. He should have been removed. But they did nothing. Nothing.”

    After a busy weekend, I finally caught up with the comment threads and read the part about PW’s case being referred to none other than Jeffrey Meyers, of Federal Vision infamy. I’m not too familiar with him, but I will say that if he is anything like Doug Wilson, I am not surprised by the apparent outcome of her case (which I hope PW will detail for us). The CREC is nothing if not patriarchal.

  12. Barnabasintraining

    The following Sunday, the congregational prayer included a lament to God for abuse centers forcing women to divorce their husbands.

    Ah. Abuse of pulpit power! Now we’re cooking with gas!

  13. Still Reforming

    I have a question for all here with similar experience in the church.

    Why do you suppose men don’t believe the women who come forth with this kind of information?

    I know that in my own case, I gave leaders the benefit of the doubt that it might be difficult to discern between a he-said-she-said scenario, in spite of their knowing me from about a decade of service (teaching and other) in the church and he not doing much at all outside of the occasional social work-type gathering with food.

    Still, I never tend to chalk think of others that they’re biased with respect to gender or race, but I do wonder now. I hear so much of this with mostly men lording it over women coming to them in the churches for help and being rebuffed while the husbands are believed.

    Why? Why is that?

    • joepote01

      SR –

      There certainly may be some gender bias…especially in some of the churches with strong patriarchal teaching…and PW’s former church sounds like it falls in that category.

      However, it has been my experience that people unfamiliar with abuse are more likely to believe the abuser, regardless of gender.

      I think there are two reasons for this:

      First the abuser is usually more practiced and skilled at winning people to his/her perspective through a combination of half-truths and flat-out lies. Abuse targets, in contrast, tend to downplay the abuse…and are less polished (and more reluctant) in telling their story.

      Second, the human mind has a natural tendency to avoid trauma. It is much less traumatic to believe one party of a beloved married couple is a bit odd and high-strung than to believe that the other party is a horribly evil abuser intent on controlling, manipulating, and intentionally harming his/her spouse and/or children.

      • I agree with everything you said here, Joe.

      • Lisa

        Exactly……

      • StandsWithAFist

        I agree. I also think that many churches, even those with a “pastor of counseling” and/or a “lay counseling ministry” seem to live in a “holy bubble” that simply will now allow them to admit that ANY abuse could possibly happen under on their watch. Looking back over many years of ministry & service, I suddenly now see a pattern of “us” (pastors) vs “them” (those of us not ordained). A “whistleblower” is labeled a troublemaker, & it’s easier to smear the whistleblower than to believe them. to borrow a quote : “It is a grave disservice to the heart, soul, body and spirit of a woman when she is given the subtle message that the truth of her own pain is not as important as the reputation of the ones who inflict it.”

      • Still Reforming (previously newlyanonymous)

        That makes total sense in my current experience, Joe. Perfect sense. Thank you. That seems to explain what we are experiencing. It’s easier to believe him than to believe me, for example, because believing me would require action on the hearers’ part. They would have to collectively agree that he must leave, whereas with me, I’ll just go ahead and leave. There – problem solved and they don’t have to do a thing. And with me out of the picture, no more ugliness because he can just joke it all away and slip in little digs about how terrible it was with me and how I abused him, speaking with a tongue as smooth as butter. It’s much easier to be around an easy speaker than someone shaken up and bruised. That requires effort.

      • Remedy

        And I would add that usually by the time the abused speaks out and seeks help, their nerves are so frazzled and confused, there is likely PTSD suffering and they can appear, quite frankly, like they are out of their mind….crazy. Especially when the abuser appears to calm and charming. It truly is an evil that bends the mind of even the most strong when they’ve stayed in it way longer than they should have trying to make healthy out of pure sick.

      • Nomoremask

        I think there is 3rd reason, the counselors like to think that because they are on the outside, are impartial, and sit in a position of authority and judgement, that they can’t also be manipulated and fooled. It comes from a position of pride.

      • joepote01

        Nomoremask –

        Yes…pride. Pride in believing they are more discerning of the ‘real’ situation than those who have lived in the relationship for years. Pride in being unwiling to consider their first impression might have been wrong.

        Good point!

      • Lisa

        Yea and pride in thinking that their marriage ministry is a god in itself and able to fix any situation. Well, “Once an abuser, always an abuser” ……. I learned that years ago in studying domestic violence. I didn’t follow it though and learned the hard way. Lots of years of pain.

      • Jeff Crippen

        “Once an abuser, always an abuser”. You got it, Lisa.

      • Lisa

        And now I understand why that is so with all that you teach. When I first decided I needed help I did not want to go to the county’s Women’s Resource Center. I didn’t even know I was in an abusive marriage.; All I knew was that I had to fix my marriage and that I just didn’t do well with rage. I couldn’t handle it. I believed to the max that I needed a Christian counselor. I was a bit stubborn in that. But, finally, after the counselor told me more than once that I was hyper-spiritualizing everything and after the Lord said, “It’s domestic abuse” I went to the “experts” to get focused counseling. That was the right move. I would advise anyone to go there first from now on. It was hard to come out of denial and I cried filling out those forms as I recognized my story just in the intake questions. It was a horrible feeling to peg the person I was married to with the title of abuser. But, that was reality. The other hard reality was, “I’m not God. Get out of HIS way.”

      • Jeff Crippen

        Wise words, Lisa!

      • Barnabasintraining

        Re: third reason

        Also pride in their doctrine.

    • grace551

      I would really like to know that too. I also served in the church and my husband didn’t. Yet our pastor has always seemed to believe and sympathise more with him than with me – even though he has read quite a few articles and posts on emotional abuse I have sent him. (And my husband admitted the abuse.) He has acted harshly and dismissively towards me sometimes, but not towards my husband. He has sprung to my husband’s defence when I have enforced boundaries, but not to mine against the abuse that led to the enforcement. Why?? Surely if it was his daughter he would feel differently.

    • grace551

      My story is nothing compared to PW’s (and many others’). But I was still disappointed to have more pain and stress piled on, instead of care, understanding and support.

      Yet in many ways this pastor is a good leader. He isn’t informed about the nature of abuse and the thinking of abusers, and I think he overestimates his own picture of the situation and his own ideas. Then he takes painful action against me on the basis of them.

      I pray the information he lacks will be taught in all the seminaries – and that the church leaders will have humility, and love for hurting sheep.

    • Ann

      In my case anti-husband at church every Sunday, I had a serious physical illness so I stopped going, then stayed away because I didn’t want to keep up the facade. He had plenty of time to get his version of the marriage across to the men. They think he’s a great Christian and attentive father.

      When I approached one of the men about the financial abuse his reply: “Your husband said you are not participating in the marriage. I don’t tell a man what to do with his money.” So in anti-husband’s and that man’s eyes I only get access to the money as long as I am pulling my weight and ultimately the money belongs to the man. And knowing anti-husband, not participating means primarily not getting sex and secondly not doing enough around the house. Well too bad. I stopped endangering my healing by saying no to those things. I put off taking care of myself for far too long and I’m suffering for that to this day. Also because he has given very limited money “for my needs” which prevents me from getting more extensive treatment.

      One of his mentors said, marriage is a contract where the husband provides financially while the wife provides sex and cares for the house and children. Sorry, but this sounds like an escort service that does babysitting and cleanup, not a marriage.

      So I do think there is a “me Tarzan, you Jane” and you owe me mentality with these men.

      • Still Reforming (previously newlyanonymous)

        Thank you, Ann. Indeed what you describe is an escort service and no marriage at all. Yes, I have seen some of that myself – but in far more subtle forms. Nothing so direct as “Your husband said you are not participating in the marriage…” but more in the form of using Scripture – in fact, most of it cited by wives in the women’s-only discipleship classes (women and men were separated in Sunday evening studies), such as “Sarah called Abraham Lord” and “Sarah let her husband give her up to the king. Would you be so obedient to your husband?” etc. In fact, the subservient attitude seemed to come more from wives that I heard or saw than from the men, who – although there was no directive to segregate – tended to frequent only among themselves and the women followed suit.

      • Todd Harvey

        I’m replying to “StillReforming”s post below.

        She mentioned the women in the church teaching that a wife should submit even to the extent that the husband offered her up to another man. I hope everyone agrees that that teaching itself is an abuse.

        Please stay with me in this slight leap.

        In the recent Bill Cosby flareup, obviously he was an abuser. But one of the victims described how many of his employees , including females, played a role in the abuse – quieting the victims, shielding the abuser. (sorry, no source, but it was the same with Clinton, and it was the same with Kennedy).

        But I’m interested that in the case that “StillReforming” mentioned, it seemed that if the men could get the women teaching that stuff, then they wouldn’t have to. And it would have greater impact.

        A kind of bible-ized “Stepford Wives Club”.

        But, I am willing to bet that the women teaching that stuff weren’t bribed, coerced, or particularly manipulated – I bet they really believed it. They thought they were more holy by teaching what brought pain.

        And it does seem clear that we have not just one, not just two but a whole culture of bullies and abusers in these various churches. (At least in StillReforming’s and in the original posters, whose story is excruciatingly sad.) And it’s not just women vs men – the bad guys include some women who are willing participants.

        A common thread among the victims – and I think the post above describing “highly sensitive people” was extremely insightful – seems to be a high degree of compliance and a high tolerance of pain and a willingness to reframe a terrible situation into a tolerable one.

        I am at a loss to provide any answers. I’m glad for Jeff and Barbara and those providing this site. I’m not sure that the abusive situations would respond to anything but accountability, power, and fear. Should wives always maintain a degree of financial independence so as to avoid a power imbalance? Is it possible to detect during courtship or dating the seeds of superiority and arrogance?

        Sorry, no answers provided, only more and more questions.

      • Lisa

        I experienced this exact thing in my church years ago. It so baffled me and grieved my spirit. It was before the “coming out of the fog” stage started. But, one night at mid week bible study our pastor’s wife (after having been out of site for a season) confessed to us women that she had been operating in a jezebel spirit and that God revealed to her through that very verse that Sarah obeyed her husband even when he gave her up to have sex with the king. Now, I so wrested with that. I thought we were supposed to do as the Lord says according to scripture, not follow in doing and repeating the mistakes and sins of those in the bible. The following Sunday the Pastor included his wife’s revelation in his preaching, but with an attitude of, “Well, I’m just delivering the message. The Lord gave her that revelation, not me.” I pondered all that for some time. I did not recognize my own abusive marriage yet at that time, but it was a familiar feeling from my past abusive experience in high school. I decided that the only way I would think that that was ok was if I was at a point of complete fatigue and brainwashed by the abuser……a psychological warfare and oppression to the point of making the victim have a mush brain. That’s messed up.

      • Jeff Crippen

        Thank you Lisa. You said “The following Sunday the Pastor included his wife’s revelation in his preaching, but with an attitude of, “Well, I’m just delivering the message. The Lord gave her that revelation, not me.” That “revelation” probably fit very nicely for him in justifying whatever in the world was going on behind the scenes with those two. You know what? I decided a long time ago that when anyone pulls this “the Lord has given me a prophetic word for you” I send them packing. Inevitably it has been very prideful people who have said such a thing. I tell them “well now, that’s very interesting. Christ has given us His Word in Scripture, once and for all delivered to the saints. His Spirit dwells in me and leads me. Why would He not tell ME this “word” you claim you have? Why would He tell you? You are no Apostle.” And that pretty well ends that.

      • Lisa

        I was fortunate in that this pastor was supportive in my process even though I could tell he didn’t get the abuse cycle thing. I told him so and I told him that some of his preaching about marriage and relationships was very damaging to me and others like me (having an afflicted filter). I did try to teach him some basics, but not sure if it sunk in. In the end, I chose to leave the church and left with his blessing. I was proud of myself in that I grew strong enough to recognize what was harmful to me and actually get up and leave it. I successfully set a boundary! This web site was up and running during my walk and was so helpful. I was more prepared for my steps of action because of it. As far as what goes on in his life, I can only imagine, but won’t go there….just pray.

      • Still Reforming

        Lisa,

        I agree. That is really messed up thinking.

        I’m only now realizing just how very patriarchal the church from which God delivered me was and remains. I still shake my head thinking about some of the things the WOMEN said or did.

        One woman said her husband threatened to destroy all of her photo albums. She said it made her sad, but they’re just photo albums and all she needs is Jesus. Our pastor had been out to their home many times to counsel them due to the husband’s “anger issues,” but it sounds like it’s only the wife who’s been trained to submit and take it. That wife was a comfort to me when I was experiencing some threats in my own home, but she did say I could never leave the home because I would be putting it in the hands of a judge whether or not my husband could be alone with our child. (Well, true enough, but he left us, so …. What’s the difference? I look back and think, “Why isn’t the abuse that my husband wrought upon me reason enough to leave? And isn’t staying in that abuse teaching our child to just take it and setting her up for a disastrous marriage in the future?”)

        Even segregating the women from the men for “discipleship classes.” Why segregate? The whole place is just twisted.

        I’ll never forget how – about a year after the current pastor arrived – one day in a sermon he recounted how happy he was to be at the church – how he found himself walking around the sanctuary one day saying, “This is MY church! This is MY church!” He was gloating, and I remember thinking, “It’s not your church. It’s the Lord’s church in this body of people. Is anyone else hearing this?”

        I think the entire church is just…. well, “nice.” They want to be “nice.” So no one ever speaks up about it. Speaking up causes problems, and no one likes a whistleblower, I’m learning. (Well, present company excluded, of course. 🙂 )

      • Still Reforming

        Yes, Todd, yes. You’ve got the situation sized up precisely correct. And it’s particularly painful in a church setting – which has the hearts of those victims and binds them in a particularly excruciating way.

        I’m finding that testimonies about my own abuse aren’t resonating out in the “real world” either. I’ve been working with attorneys for several months, and they have heard various testimonies about life in my home prior to this dissolution of marriage. Usually one will say something like, “That’s weird,” when I state some of the threats my husband made. Or when retelling how my husband spun the car around in anger with me and our child in it, the attorney said, “Well, sometimes people get angry.”

        I keep telling them as I’ve had to jump through hoops to meet my husband’s sudden demands (must see the child now, must see the child tomorrow, must see the child on my terms not what you’ve offered, etc etc etc) – I keep repeating the lesson learned from WWII: We shouldn’t appease an aggressor. And I keep being told that wasn’t the lesson from WWII, but that it was to be prepared. They still don’t understand the dynamics of abuse because they themselves have likely not been bullied. Well, appeasing Hitler didn’t work. Appeasing my abuser won’t either. The world doesn’t get it, and those leading the church (by and large) are looking increasingly like the world.

      • Hi Todd, thanks for your insightful and very supportive comment. 🙂

        bible-ized Steptford Wives club puts it in a nutshell! And when victim of abuser is coming out of the fog and wanting to solve her marriage problems, even though she doesn’t realise the name of the problem (abuse) and that it’s not her problem it’s her husband’s, she is made to feel like a leper by that club of women. A raised eyebrow, a chilly silence, it doesn’t take much to make her feel like she’s out of line . . .

        Re the question you asked at the end, we have a tag for Red Flags. We don’t claim to be definitive on red flags for detecting the seeds of superiority and arrogance during courtship or dating, but that tag does have some stuff on it. I would also recommend looking at secular sites on domestic abuse/ domestic violence/ family violence (diff terms in diff places. . . sigh) for Early Signs of An Abuser checklists. Also, Lundy Bancroft’s book Why Does He Do That addresses that subject at some length — as I recall he devotes a whole chapter to it.

      • joepote01

        SR – so they were directly advocating that wives should lie with another man if asked by their husband? And using that as the measure of what a truly godly wife should do?

        That’s sick! Talk about twisting scripture!

        Doesn’t that logic then hold prostitutes up as the most godly female role models?

        There’s so much wrong with that reasoning, I don’t even know where to begin…sickening and heartbreaking…taking pride in participating in their own sexual abuse and teaching others to do likewise…all as sacrifices to the false god of relational idolatry…

        No different from the pagan worship customs of false gods that the OT prophets prophesied against…and that God explicitly told His people they were NOT to do.

      • Still Reforming

        Joe, in answer to your questions: “SR – so they were directly advocating that wives should lie with another man if asked by their husband? And using that as the measure of what a truly godly wife should do?”

        I can’t say that those words were used specifically as far as laying with another man, but I can say that we were taught in that class the extent to which we needed to be obedient. I recall the pastor’s daughter-in-law (in her early 20s) struggling with it, stating in class, “Wow. I would probably want to say something about it to my husband if I had to do that,” suggesting that the instruction we were being given was to merely comply and not even speak up about it to our husbands.

        It’s really amazing now that I’m out of that environment how I see that those kinds of subtleties affecting my thinking. I keep recalling a time when I ran into the pastor’s wife at a mega-grocery store. I was staring at the juice section with what must have been an odd look on my face, because suddenly I heard her laughing and saying how funny I looked. I remarked how they didn’t have my husband’s brand of juice in stock and how I feared he wouldn’t believe me if I told him that. She merely smiled and said, “When (pastor’s name) does that, I just take a photo of the stocked shelf to prove to him they didn’t have it.” In the store, I was thinking “That’s a good idea,” although in my heart I must have known it wasn’t because I didn’t take a picture of it. I mean, just how high did I have to leap if he says “Jump!”? Even as soon as the drive home, though I started thinking, “Wait – you’re the pastor’s wife. And YOU have to do that? What kind of a man is our pastor?”

        It’s amazing though how one or two dynamic personalities can capture and enslave a church so effectively, influencing the members’ thinking until the holy Word of God looks more like a pretzel than a sword of truth.

      • joepote01

        “Wait – you’re the pastor’s wife. And YOU have to do that? What kind of a man is our pastor?”

        Exactly!

      • An analogy of that sick interpretation which Joe described, is the view — which was not unknown when effect pain relief medications first came available — that it was wrong to relieve the pain of childbirth because God said Eve and all women would suffer in childbirth.

        Mind you, the people who made this argument did not say that weedicides should not be used to kill thorns and thistles . . .

      • Barnabasintraining

        One of his mentors said, marriage is a contract where the husband provides financially while the wife provides sex and cares for the house and children. Sorry, but this sounds like an escort service that does babysitting and cleanup, not a marriage.

        OK. I said below that some of the things the leadership said about marriage would curl folks’ hair, but I have to admit, it never did stoop so low as to say marriage is sanctified prostitution. 😦

      • Barnabasintraining

        so they were directly advocating that wives should lie with another man if asked by their husband?

        Right. So not only is she the husband’s personal prostitute but he is also her pimp.

        Things are not improving here….

      • Annie

        My husband has accused me of not participating in the marriage. I used to never understand what he meant but lately I’m beginning to realize that what he means is I’m not obeying him and waiting for him to tell me what to do.It confused me because I do everything around here. And I used to wonder what more could I do?? How can he say I’m not participating?? But he doesn’t like that I have an opinion. He doesn’t like that I don’t like how he treats me and I’ve said so. He thinks I should be quiet and do as he says. I realize this now because his latest diatribe is about how men are disrespected in society and women are selfish and they don’t understand their place.

        He’s a real Neanderthal. He hides it well when he’s out. I know people would be shocked that he thinks the way he does.

    • Barnabasintraining

      I tend to agree with Joe.

      Though in our case it wasn’t that the victim wasn’t believed so much as she was believed and opposed anyway. She was also held responsible for some of the abuse happening in as much as she had supposedly done something to provoke it. But in the end she was rejected because she did not take the side of marriage, which was the real victim here, if you see what I mean. But they never denied that the abuse happened nor that the abuser had issues. They just thought they were bigger than he was, or God was bigger and they assumed God was supposed to be for the marriage, so whoever opposed the marriage ipso facto opposed God, in sum. That was the standard used. That and “forgiveness” or lack thereof. They got her coming and going.

      In short, the belief issue was not a relevant factor in the corporate FUBARing.

      It also seems like there was an element among some that because the “proper” protocol was being followed in The Guys In Charge were exercising their Spiritual Authority that that was supposed to have some sort of mystical-like effect in making God do what He was supposed to do. That impression could have just been me, but I do recall it seeming to be a strange sort of influence in their expectations.

      • Remedy

        My story with both pastors doing the counseling together, BIT. Excellent, excellent observation and brought clarity to me. Thank you!

      • “… in the end she was rejected because she did not take the side of marriage, which was the real victim here,. . ”

        Wow. That puts it in a nutshell, BIT.
        So what we really should be saying in marraige vows is “I promise to uphold The Marriage — this marriage I’m entering into and the abstract concept of Marriage as an institution. I promise to hold Marriage on such a high pedestal that it is higher than my spouse, higher than me, higher than our children if we have any. In fact, I’m marrying Marriage.”

      • joepote01

        Yes…that “God is for your marriage” perspective is part of what kept me so long pouring my whole heart into a dead relationship. I wanted to be completely ‘for’ whatever God was completely for…and on the surface that sounds ‘right’…but it’s not.

        Because God has made it very clear that what He is for, in regard to His children, is redemption and deliverance.

      • Barnabasintraining

        In fact, I’m marrying Marriage.

        Yes! That!

      • Jeff Crippen

        Used to be celibacy was exalted (still is in Rome) – even though “forbidding in marriage” is a mark of the apostasy of the last days. Now it seems the enemy has foisted the opposite twist – “forbidding in divorce” as the new means of being the holiest of the holy.

      • Barnabasintraining

        Because God has made it very clear that what He is for, in regard to His children, is redemption and deliverance.

        Yep. And He is against the hypocrisy of saying “this is a marriage” when it is not.

        Were it not for anonymity issues I would tell you things that were said about marriage by these guys — sometimes from the pulpit! — that would curl your hair.

    • Persis

      Adding my 2 cents. If people believe the (mis)interpretation of Genesis 3:16 that women by their very nature want to usurp authority over men, there can be automatic prejudice against women from the start. Hence the standard answer of just submit more and everything will be fine.

      • standsfortruth

        Perhaps someday someone here could re-write the origional wedding vows to fit the the churches idolatrous image of what they want the institution of marriage to look like.
        Since we know that they like to wink at the abusers offensive behavior within the marriage.

      • Still Reforming (previously newlyanonymous)

        I have heard that interpretation of Genesis 3:16 (“Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you”) many, many times in the two previous churches I attended over the past 12 years. In fact, I heard it stated that what it really means (red flag there) is “your desire will be to lord it over your husband” not what the words simply state “your desire will be for your husband.”

        Living with a narcissist abusive husband, simply desiring him (ie, desiring a respectful relationship, the love, the affection, communicating, not being ignored, not being yelled at, not being lied to, not being manipulated, not being told stories about to others, all of it) was a curse in itself because of who he is. So I saw the actual desire as a sort of curse because I didn’t want to desire someone when he treated me so badly. I worked for so many years to get the relationship right, even knowing it wasn’t my fault when he’d constantly tell me how it is all my fault. So the desire felt like a curse – and I never wanted to lord it over him. In a way, I can easily see how that interpretation suppresses wives and keeps them down, because any time we speak our thoughts or points of view can easily be labeled as attempting to “lord it over him.”

        I remember when I first met the pastor of the church I just left – after our first few discussions of Scripture – he said to me, “I can tell you’re very intelligent. And inquisitive. And opinionated.” It was a really weird thing to say, I thought. It’s like he was complimenting me and slaping me across the face at the same time.

  14. joanne

    Dear Jeff and Barbara, I am in the middle of, what, I’m not sure. I am supposed to meet with the church counselor tomorrow. I previously denied a meeting because they said “another man needed to be present”. The counselor is a woman and I trust her. We are to meet at the church and she did not mention anyone else being there. Please advise.

    • Joanne, here are a few options you might like to consider. You don’t have to take or act on any of these suggestions to open up your mind to the range of ways you might like to handle this. So, options, in no particular order. Pick, mix and match as your gut feeling prompts you to:

      Take a witness with you, someone who gets it or at least someone you trust pretty well. Or someone has a good memory so she or he can recount to you later what she/he heard and perceived happened at the meeting.
      Give yourself permission to leave the session at any time if you feel unsafe or feel like you are being blamed. Courteously say to the counselor “I don’t feel comfortable with what is happening, so I’m going to excuse myself.” then leave.
      Give yourself permission to not respond to her if you don’t feel safe to do so; or to say “I prefer to not discuss that at this stage” to any of the counselor’s questions. It’s okay to be silent. You are not under compulsion to speak if you don’t want to.
      Give yourself permission to say to the counselor “I don’t think you sufficiently understand abuse.”
      Give yourself permission to ask the counselor what she believes about abuse or any other subject that you want to know her beliefs on.
      If she starts saying things that indicate she believes in some of the myths about abuse, give yourself permission to correct her.

      Possible sentences starters that might be helpful:
      “I’m not comfortable with ….”
      “Did you know that . . . .?”
      “What gives you the idea that . . . ?”
      “I believe you may be mistaken about . . . .”
      “Please consider that . . . ”
      “It bothers me that . . . ”
      “Could you please describe what you believe about . . . ”
      “What is your definition of abuse?”

      • joanne

        Thank you so, so much. Who else would understand the nuances of this situation? Thank you for your counsel. I am so grateful. God bless you.

      • actually Joanne, I got this from Steve Tracey. In his book Mending the Soul he has a whole chapter on forgiveness.

      • joepote01

        Excellent advice, Barbara!

        One other that I would add based on what I have learned over the past several years…

        “Are there any circumstances under which you would advise divorce as the best and most godly course of action?”

        Joanne, I don’t know if this fits your situation or not, and am certainly not trying to instruct you. I just know I have come to view any counselor who cannot imagine a situation in which they would advise divorce as being completely incompetent and not rightly understanding the word of God.

      • Jeff Crippen

        Good one Joe. Yep. And I might add that the counselor’s answer should come rather quickly, without a lot of extended “think” time that would indicate the “Well, hey, I never thought of that before” mentality.

      • Lisa

        Love it! You guys are such straight shooters! No room for double mindedness! That’s what we need to get through this nonsense. No more being tossed to and fro like a wave!

      • Still Reforming

        Joe,

        These words that you wrote are balm to many a wounded soul: “I have come to view any counselor who cannot imagine a situation in which they would advise divorce as being completely incompetent and not rightly understanding the word of God.”

        And yet, isn’t that by and large the position of the mainstream or evangelical church today? Never divorce. Preserve the “marriage.” “Marriage” is what is sacred above and beyond the individuals in it. We must sacrifice ourselves the way Christ did – for the sake of gaining an abuser’s soul. I even had as much said to me by the pastor of the church from which I was delivered. He told me, “Now we know a bit of what Christ went through.” (And actually, this was said not in respect to anything my husband had done, but with respect to one of the leaders of that church refusing to read my prayer request. I told our pastor – after the meeting to “reconcile” with that leader bombed – that I felt like the beaten man along the roadside in the parable of the Good Samaritan and that this leader refusing to read my request was like one of the ‘godly’ passers-by. That’s when my pastor said, “Now we know how Christ felt.”

        Looking back, the pastor essentially took the parable and manipulated it to serve the leader. That pastor twisted it to justify not reading the request and make me feel like I was supposed to suffer like Christ – as if that were a righteous and good thing. How twisted is that?? And yet, that wasn’t the lesson of the parable. It was instead to be the Samaritan – who was outside the community of the Jews – and assist those in real need. Exactly the opposite lesson that my pastor was trying to teach me and the opposite of what these leaders were doing!

        It really takes getting out of the fog to see more clearly.

      • joepote01

        “And yet, isn’t that by and large the position of the mainstream or evangelical church today? Never divorce. Preserve the “marriage.” “Marriage” is what is sacred above and beyond the individuals in it.”

        Unfortunately, yes…at least in far too many churches.

        Thank God, for His deliverance from faulty teaching that twists and misapplies scripture in an attempt to support a flawed theology that idolizes marriage as the false god by which our families, children, communities and nation are to be saved.

        Thank you, SR!

      • “Now we know how Christ felt.”

        weasel words. He said “we” to imply that he was suffering with you. But he wasn’t suffering, he was smirking.

    • Valerie

      You’ve been given excellent advice here, Joanne. Praying for you!

  15. Emily

    Dear PW, each of your posts breaks my heart, and I can relate so well. The church does treat us as paper dolls – well written. I finally stopped going to church (since December) as they take away more sanity & safety than they provide. De-church ing myself for a season seems healthier to me, and hopefully things will become clearer. Lots of love and blessings to you, NT wife/Emily

  16. joy

    I feel sick reading this. I’m especially disgusted with how the pastor of this church handled the situation of abuse. I think your article proves that there needs to be more education about domestic abuse, especially for pastors who might be required to guide and advise people in abusive situations. This doesn’t mean that pastors should be thought of as equal to psychological counselors, just that they should be more knowledgeable about certain issues such as these.

    I’m glad that you got the help you needed from the abuse center. Don’t beat yourself up over your mistake of trusting your church, how did you know that your church members were going to turn their backs on you when you most needed them? By writing about your experiences, you’re guiding others who are in the same situations you were once in.

    Please keep up the great work, I look forward to reading more of your posts!

  17. loves6

    Your posts are incredibly terrible!!! My heart goes out to you. God has been so good in giving you strength to stand!!
    Oh how ashamed this Pastor should feel!!

  18. joanne

    As strange as this sounds, I trust the pastor. It is my relatives, the elder and his wife who want me dismissed. The pastor was hired recently and my family thinks he serves at their discretion. Teaching elder versus preaching elder? My family’s relatives were instrumental in starting this denomination of PCA in the 70s. Are they invincible? Do they think their authority will go unquestioned? They act like it.

    • Clarity

      Hi Joanne. I just wanted to say be so careful who you meet with. I have been in a PCA church, long history there too with me, make sure this woman “gets” abuse like the people here at this blog do. And I wouldn’t go to a meeting where there is anyone there who is not safe for you. I’ve been there.

  19. joanne

    When one understands that there are people without conscience or empathy, all the neglect and hateful behavior makes sense. Who can really blame them? They are deficient in some human capacity that the rest of us have. That does not excuse the behavior, it just makes it understandable and perhaps forgivable. Can we believe that they don’t know what they’re doing? Jesus did and prayed for his executioners.
    Can I tell you what is so alarming to me? They are mean spirited, self-centered people. How can anyone claim to love God when they are dismissive and unkind to others? It makes no sense. It is not compatible with the gospel of the good news of Jesus Christ.

    • Can we believe that they don’t know what they’re doing? Jesus did and prayed for his executioners.

      I think that in the case of the soldiers who carried out the sentence of execution on Jesus, the did not really know they were crucifying the Son of God, and in that sense they did not know what they were doing (though the centurion later realised. . . ) But they certainly knew they were putting a man to death by a brutal method of torture.

      The abuser I think knows he is hurting his target, keeping her in fear, etc. He uses all his tactics and strategies because they achieve that effect on his target, and so keep the target under his control. So he has an accurate knowledge of what he is doing. And even if some abuser’s brains are less able to feel empathy, they still know that what they are doing is WRONG. Otherwise they would not go to the trouble of hiding Mr Hyde’s character from the public, and only showing it to the target it private. . .

    • loves6

      I cannot pray for.my husband. I cannot excuse it with … he not know what he does. My husband knows darn well he is doing WRONG. I cannot be the nice little Christian wife in this way…. no way. I’m over it

      • Loves6 — I’m hitting the like button on this comment of yours 🙂

  20. joanne

    Just saying, unforgiveness hurts the abused, not the abuser. I know it takes time. We deserve freedom.

    • . . . unforgiveness hurts the abused . . .

      I think it depends what one means by unforgiveness. In my experience we need to be very careful here, or we may hurt some people who are thinking of a different asepct of forgiveness from the one we may be thinking of.

      If unforgiveness means nursing a spirit of vengeance, then yes, that hurts the abused, or at least, greatly slows and hinders their recovery. And it also puts them under the displeasure of God, for vengeance belongs to God, not to us.

      If unforgiveness means refusing to relationally reconcile with the abuser, that does not hurt the abused; rather, it helps them stay safe and assists their recovery.

      If unforgiveness means still experiencing the emotions of anger, sadness, grief, distrust, etc, that come from having been abused, those emotions do not hurt the abused. The abused person slowly recovers by acknowledging and feeling those emotions and working through them, not by suppressing them or denying them or putting on a fake “I’m all better now” facade.

      If unforgiveness means setting up and maintaining boundaries to restrain the abuser from further traumatizing the abused, that does not hurt the abused at all, it helps.

      • joanne

        Amen!

      • joanne

        Never should it mean more trauma for the abused. May God bless those who suffer.

      • joanne

        Maybe I have not experienced all those feelings yet. In the back of my mind, I think that might kill me. It’s irrational, I know. I would do anything to avoid feeling. So instead I live with depression, anxiety and auto-immune diseases; just hoping I will get better with time.

      • Dear Joanne, if it is any comfort, from what I’ve read many / most victims are pretty numbed down to their emotions while they are living in the abuse. It is a survival mechanism, a way of coping with the ongoing trauma.

        So don’t feel bad about yourself for being somewhat numb, or being afraid to face your emotions. God understands, and He will help you bit by bit feel the emotions in the right timing . . . when it’s safe(r) for you to do so.

      • Still Reforming (previously newlyanonymous)

        What I find particularly wise about Barbara’s comment is that we all need to define terms when speaking of such important broad concepts like love and forgiveness, submission and respect. When speaking about such things in context of situations like ours (where abuse has occurred), it is all the more critical to understand precisely what is meant by terms when two people are talking about them. I have been involved in far too many discussions about these things with leaders of the church (or my abusive husband) and we’re just talking past one another without common ground about what these things really mean or look like when lived out.

    • loves6

      Joanne. I understand numbness. I have been numb many times over the years. I also suffer from depression and anxiety, I’m on meds for this. I have had thyroid problems which i had zapped by radiation and now im on medication forever.
      I also understand the fear of facing stuff. I understand the fear of not wanting God to be angry at me for not forgiving.
      I believe healing is a process … I’ve been on my journey for about 15years. As for my current situated of abuse this is only about 1 year down the track of realization.
      Be kind to yourself. God understands and loves you so much.
      Feeling is very scary sometimes. I get it.
      Hugs

  21. ‘I have no idea what the purpose of those meetings were other than to intimidate me to submit to their authority; apart from that, there was no Christian comfort or spiritual wisdom imparted’.

    This could have been taken from my book ‘Prised Open’. My lawyers and I agree that the hierarchy of the Presbyterian Church of Australia saw me as a submissive wife even though I was a board member making a complaint against the leadership of the church for what I believed was fraudulent behaviour. I had no right to make such a complaint and I had to submit their authority. A couple of ministers tried to help me but one was told he wasn’t allowed and the other was told he couldn’t speak for Presbytery. So I had to go it alone.

  22. Gary W

    A parable:

    “A wife applied to a Court for protection from her criminally abusive tormentor, who was her husband. The judge immediately called the husband to a series of private meetings. No notice of these meetings was given to the wife, so of course she was not afforded the opportunity give her testimony, much less to expose her husband’s lies by means of cross-examination.

    “Finally, after much delay, the judge called the wife to a closed hearing, of which no record was made and from which there could be no appeal. The judge took on the role of the husband’s attorney. He went even further, taking on the role of the wife’s prosecutor, treating her as a criminal offender, as one who had perpetrated great wrong against her husband. The wife was not allowed to have a lawyer. Neither was she allowed to call witnesses, speak on her own behalf, or even have friends present to observe the proceedings. The judge, having made up his mind in advance, excused the husband from these proceedings. Once again, the wife was denied any knowledge of the lies her husband had told the judge, so that even if the ability the ability to cross-examine had not been denied, it would have been meaningless.

    “Without in any way sanctioning the husband, the wife was ordered to submit to psychiatric intervention, that her supposed criminal propensity for defying her husband might be brought under control. She was ordered, under threat of imprisonment for contempt, to return to her husband’s home and utterly subjugate herself to his will.”

    Sadly, when “pastors” behave like this corrupt judge, only their victims, for the most part, notice a problem.

    • Still Reforming

      Gary W,

      It’s true. It’s so very, very true. What I’m experiencing now is the result of the sin allowed to run its full course. Injustice layered upon injustice all while the abuser is supported by the very ones who declare themselves to be speaking for God or on His behalf. It does have the effect of causing me to yearn for the great hereafter. To see my Redeemer’s face and have it be one of acceptance and welcome – protection and peace.

    • you’ve hit another home run with this, Gary W.

  23. cindyrapstad

    I was talking last night about domestic abuse and stated this analogy.
    The way we have been treated by society and the church would look like this…. We walk into an emergency room and we have evidence of years of abuse. We have stab wounds in our back, it is obvious that we have not been cared for we have untreated medical issues. Instead of treating our wounds and helping us get safe,we are judged by the emergency department. We are not being nice enough to the person that harmed us. We are either sent back into their swinging arms that have now been strengthened or we are arrested and condemned for having caused the abuser to go to these measures to get us under control.

    For those of you that don’t think that is a good analogy there is a few websites of hundreds of women that have been made to feel like they are a failure, they are giving up too easy, they aren’t doing the right things or the abuser wouldn’t abuse. You think they give up too easily? These women have 1,2.3,4 DECADES that they have been a target of abuse.

  24. StandsWithAFist

    I will not reconcile with an unrepentant abuser.
    I will not reconcile with an unrepentant abuser.
    I will not reconcile with an unrepentant abuser.
    I will not reconcile with an unrepentant abuser.
    I will not reconcile with an unrepentant abuser.

    I WILL shake the dust off my shoes & flee.
    I WILL shake the dust off my shoes & flee.
    I WILL shake the dust off my shoes & flee.
    I WILL shake the dust off my shoes & flee.
    I WILL shake the dust off my shoes & flee.

    “Let those be ashamed & dishonored who seek my life; let those be turned back & humiliated who devise evil against me….without cause they dug a pit for my soul.
    Let destruction come upon them unawares, and let the net which they hid catch themselves, into that very destruction let them fall”. Psalm 35
    “Let the wicked fall into their own nets, while I pass by safely”. Psalm 141

  25. benemme

    Ezekiel 34– “Thus says the Lord God, Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will require my sheep at their hand and put a stop to their feeding the sheep. No longer shall the shepherds feed themselves. I will rescue my sheep from their mouths…I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them in justice.”

    tears

    • benemme, we are featuring this chapter from Ezekiel this Sunday. 🙂

      And welcome to the blog!

    • Still Reforming

      benemme,

      Thank you. I sense that God has delivered me from my church as well as my husband. I have prayed for this (from the former for about eight years and from the latter about a decade or more). And it’s now here. Not easy, but it’s here.

      I’m going to print out that verse from Ezekiel that you shared. Thank you. 🙂

  26. Brenda R

    Widow,
    I didn’t read any of your story until this morning and haven’t read any of the comments. I wanted to read all of what you had to say at one time, so I waited and read it as a book. Your story reminds me of why so many Christians have walked away from the institutional church. What I read here seemed no different than the reactions of the church in Hawthorne’s “The Scarlet Letter”. Of course it is a different story line, but the church leaders were the same. It would have come as no surprise if they didn’t try to put you in a stockade so other parishioners could see the sinful wife.

    I will never again go to a church leader for direction. Family, Christian friends and perhaps a pastor from another church, but not those from my own church body. I hope that you are not a part of that church any longer. You were most definitely abused there and they not only allowed your husband to continue his evil, but justified it. It is astounding to me that you had so much documentation and it was intentionally dismissed. The pastor I went to had only one thing to say when I went to him, “We’ve just got to get him saved.”. That was all it took for me to never go back to him. A red flag jumped out at me that said, he wasn’t going to be of any help to me.

    I have autoimmune disorders that won’t get any better, and wonder sometimes if I would have them at all if I hadn’t lived under many years of stress and walking on eggshells for so long. There is no medical evidence to that question and they don’t know what the root cause of my particular ailments are. Sadly after speaking to the pastor about the home life and reading John Piper’s book on marriage, I stayed another 3 years after deciding that it was time for separation. When the 3 years was up, I separated and was divorced within 5 months. It has turned out to be the best decision I have ever made.

    I didn’t go to church this past Sunday due to ice and more freezing rain throughout the day, but I did listen to the sermon online. The pastor stated in his message that when he was first questioned by the church body before being asked to come on board as pastor the question arose” “What is your primary weakness”. He said it was “loving people”. In that one brief statement it all became very clear to me. I only had one session with him, but that made many other brief conversations and responses to questions that I have had for him over time seen in a whole new light. If you can’t or don’t love other people, how can you counsel them. Your situation seems very much the same. There was absolutely no love in anything these people said to you. I am so sorry that you went through all of that.

    • thepersistentwidow

      Brenda, Thanks for the encouragement. I did leave that church, but that wasn’t the end of the story. I have a few more posts leading up to leaving this church, and then after a break will run the presbytery posts as a separate group.

      I also have suffered auto-immune issues on and off throughout the marriage and had walking pneumonia and subsequent chronic cough throughout the nearly two years that I dealt with this church issue. It began with the discovery of the other woman and continued through the story in these posts. It didn’t clear up until after I left this church. This church ordeal was the most difficult thing that I have even endured. Besides the abuser, I had to deal with the son he left behind (something I deliberately did not expound on, but it was hard), other children, the church, confusion, and bad health. God was merciful and was my strength, but honestly I thought I was losing my mind with the church’s Scripture twisting and warped theology. So glad to have that behind me now.

      I am glad that you attend a new church that treats you with love. With time, you may find those auto-immune issues dissipate. Praying for you, Brenda, You are a blessing to so many here.

      • Brenda R

        Widow,
        I will look forward to the rest of your story. I’m not glad that you had to go through it all, but it may bless someone else and get them out of their pit sooner. I am told that there is no cure for my ailments, short of a miracle. There are no cures, only meds that slow progression. Thank you for your prayers as I pray for those here as well.
        Brenda

    • The pastor stated in his message that when he was first questioned by the church body before being asked to come on board as pastor the question arose” “What is your primary weakness”. He said it was “loving people”.

      Well that takes the humble-brag award for the year, I reckon!

    • Still Reforming

      What is this “Christ Complex” that these arrogant pastors have thinking “We’ve just got to get him saved” – as if *they* could save him! And what are the signs that they’d *know* he’s saved? His own word? Naivete rules in many churches, methinks.

      If pastors say marriage is a picture of Christ and His church, why would they insist on forced endless unequal yoking to the detriment of the wife (who would represent His church)? Is that how Christ treats His church – the way an abuser treats his wife? Are they saying Christ is to be forever yoked with those who spit upon His Name and would crucify Him again in a heartbeat? It makes no sense.

      • Brenda R

        SR,
        I don’t even try to figure out what is going on in the mind of anyone who says, “We’ve just got to get him saved”. I can’t save anybody. That is Jesus job. I don’t believe there is anything about Christ that is abusive.

      • Still Reforming

        I wonder what ever happened to the days of Jonathan Edwards’ preaching “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”? That’s the kind of preaching we need – and that these abusers need. .

      • Brenda R

        SR,
        That is the kind of Hell fire and brimstone preaching I grew up on. I’m not sure that abusers will heed the warning no matter which way it is told.

      • Still Reforming

        Brenda,
        I’m not saying that abusers would heed the warning, but it’s what they need to hear. I think the “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life” preaching they hear now just makes them welcome among the flock all the more. And it leads God’s sheep right off a cliff.

      • Brenda R

        SR,
        I’m with you and agree completely. It is all upside down. Abusers need to hear that God will not hesitate to send them away.

  27. Round*Two

    This is just horrible! PersistantWidow, I pray you and your family are safe!! You’re in my prayers!!

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