A Cry For Justice

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

A Pastor Balks at Helping a Victim Because He Thinks it is Too Dangerous — a reblog from abusewidow

When one of them saw that he was healed, he came back. He praised God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked Him. – Luke 17:15

There are many “titles” that I seem to be given; victim, single, divorced, single mother of five, etc. I’ll admit, I carry a great amount of shame, fear and guilt with each one. I always fear how people will react when they hear these words that seem to be the only defining characteristics that people want to know about me. A new one has recently come to light, and, like the others, it has casted a heavy burden on me — Dangerous

Over this past week my ex-husband made several death threats, which caused me to once again have to gather my kids and whisk us away to a safe place. In my haste I forgot to grab my son’s allergy medicine as well as his birthday presents (yes, this all happened on his birthday). A friend and I agreed that I should not return to the house alone, so she recommended that I turn to my church for help. I was reluctant, but I reached out to my pastor.

I was already a nervous wreck with all that was going on, the kids and I were all trying to live in a small room, no one was sleeping well, and the endless stream of texts, emails and such were taking a toll on me. The call I received from my pastor was disheartening to say the least. It was mostly what I had expected and feared. He was genuinely concerned for my safety and well being, but he also didn’t want to get anyone from the church involved and risk endangering them. He did recommend that I call the police and ask them to accompany me. I tried to explain my hesitation in reaching out to them, as the police are always so unwilling to help. I had just had a very bad experience with them two days prior… over three hours of begging them to just listen with the director of the abuse shelter/program by my side…they did nothing.

Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. He traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he was going into a village, ten men met him. They had a skin disease. They were standing close by. And they called out in a loud voice, “Jesus! Master! Have pity on us!”

Jesus saw them and said, “Go. Show yourselves to the priests.” While they were on the way, they were healed. – Luke 17:11-14

Oh, how I wanted to cry out to my pastor to have pity on me!

I hung up the call and just cried. I fell to the floor. See, the night before I suffered a horrible nightmare. I had dreamt that my church was running me out with pitch forks screaming that I was a danger and they didn’t want me around. This conversation had just substantiated my fears. What I got out of that conversation is, my flock is worth protecting, but you are not part of my flock. You are on your own.

See, the “skin disease” in the above verse was referring to Leprosy, which is very contagious. Even just touching a person who has leprosy or touching something that they touched could make you get the disease. It is very dangerous to be near someone with leprosy. So dangerous, that whenever a person caught leprosy in Bible times, they had to live outside the community. In fact, one of the laws that God gave the Israelites in the Old Testament says, “As long as he has the infection [of leprosy] he remains unclean. He must live alone. He must live outside the camp.” – Leviticus 13:46

I felt like a leper; unclean and dangerous. I was an outcast, not because of my own doing, but because of my circumstances. I didn’t choose this! I don’t want this! But, it is a huge part of my life. It is threatening my life and the lives of my children. I have encountered so many people that don’t want to get involved because they are afraid, and I understand, but this shouldn’t be the case in the church. Jesus didn’t turn away the Lepers; He loved them. He didn’t push them off on a doctor that couldn’t help; He healed them. The church has the power to help and protect victims of abuse, and it is time to do so! There is power in the name of Jesus. There is love, compassion and healing in His name, and the church as a body needs to show this!

The church should be and needs to be a safe place for abuse victims and survivors.

We, as a body of believers, need to be a Luke 17 Church for those that are afraid, hurting and trapped. Don’t let abuse go unpunished. Don’t stand by and watch while abusers torment their victims. Stand up and fight for them and with them!

* * * * *

Originally posted by abusewidow under the title WARNING:DANGER!! (March 21, 2016)

19 Comments

  1. Still Reforming

    I too was recently told by my former church that I am “dangerous,” although the exact word used was “nefarious.” I was in a meeting with one of the pastors, and he said the other pastor refused to be present because I’m so dangerous I might have a gun and shoot the other pastor. (I have no idea why then this particular pastor and a deacon would risk their lives sitting across a table from me in this meeting.)

    One has to question then if the “church” truly is Christ’s church in these cases. It can truly be disheartening, but it shows me that they are kindred of the religious leaders and community of Jesus’ day.

    I’m sorry you are suffering so at the hands of those who profess to be Christ’s own. They are not. This revelation of who the church is not can be as painful as learning that those who took a covenant with us in marriage are actually treacherous and actively working against us. Malachi 2 leaps to mind. It’s not the divorce God hates; It’s the treacherous heart that leads to the divorce.

  2. But He Didn't Hit Me

    I fully understand that these circumstances can be quite dangerous. But where is the courage of that pastor? Where is his faith that God will protect him as he protects one of his own? Why wouldnt he help her himself? I’m so sorry no one is helping you and your precious children.

  3. joepote01

    Abusewidow –

    That is horrible! I am so sorry you have had to endure fear/rejection from your own church.

    Your post and your referenced Bible passages reminded me, though of Hebrews 13:13:

    “So, let us go out to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach.”

    Outside the camp is an unpleasant place to be…a place isolated from others…a place of rejection. Yet, that is where we find Jesus!

    Outside the camp is where we get to know Jesus, intimately…where we identify with His reproach…and where he identifies with our reproach.

    Outside the camp is a good place to be…with Jesus!

    Blessings to you, dear sister!

  4. Yes, this was my experience too. I needed to separate from my physically abusive and sexually addicted husband.

    When I went to my church I had the oddest experiences. My pastor told me not to nitpick at my husband when I disclosed that I was concerned because my ex was using [paid sensuality services; details redacted]. When I asked if he could come with me or have a few men in the church come with me so I could confront him and separate from him safely, he told me that he wouldn’t because my ex would just tell him to “get out of my house.”

    After a particularly bad explosive outburst and rage at one of our children [details redacted] I called the church for help once again and he told me I was being abused and should call police, then he described what would probably happen – I expressed that I was concerned that child protection would take [one of our children]. I did call police the next time my ex began to rage and he was told by police to leave the home for the night. The pastor told me someone had been messing with my head because I was concerned that CPS would remove our child from my care.

    When I went back again to the church … because I was afraid that our child had been exposed to my ex sexually, the pastor told me I should not talk bad or talk in a negative light about my ex.

    I eventually went to police on the advice of several agencies and friends and he was arrested and removed from the home and I was able to separate. The scenario that the pastor described about what would happen if I called police to help me was helpful and things did unfold that way but I got so many confusing messages from him too. I thank God that he helped me escape but my experience with my pastor was so confusing – now my ex’s criminal charges are being withdrawn at the end of June and I do not feel safe but will call police if I need to again.

    I am not sure where to turn for further help if my ex comes to the home and attempts a hostile takeover or just gets scary with me again. I think I am better to call a non Christian neighbour that knows my situation.

    The ironic part of it is that the pastor would stand up on Sundays and pray that God would bring “messy people” to the church – I kind of thought I was a messy person – maybe he wanted a different kind of messy.

  5. standsfortruth

    Isnt that amazing that the pastor could not even reach out to a member of his own church at her hour of need?
    Amazing just amazing..
    When given this opportunity to be the link that she needed in her hour of need, he had no backbone, and mysteriously wasent there for her.
    How about having a few Men from the church go with him to the house to get the medication for the woman and child that God himself cares for ?!
    Where are the true believers?
    Im appalled!
    Could this very “show of cowardice” be a display of the ” fearful enablers” John referances many times in the Book of Revelations regarding the “Fearful and Unbelieving?”

    I believe our lives will be used as a litmus test to help determine who truly reached out to help Gods people when their need arose, and who turns a blind eye, and their back durring this time.

    Proverbs 28:1 The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a Lion..
    The Wheat and the Chaff are becoming apparent..
    God is watching.
    Beware to those who profess christianity, and turn a blind eye to Gods afflicted, and oppressed, Jesus is coming soon.

  6. LorenHaas

    A fine example of “biblical manhood”.

  7. Song of Joy

    Abuse Widow, I’m sorry for all you’ve had to go through.

    I wonder if your pastor realizes that he has acted in perfect alignment with those self-righteous legalists who tested and questioned Jesus about what must be done to inherit eternal life…he did not follow Jesus’ command, rather he responded to your wounds and your need with cowardice and selfishness, breaking Jesus’ great commandment (parable of the Good Samaritan, Luke 10:25-37).

    Yes, I really wonder about the reality of that pastor’s faith. I wonder in amazement that he would not see the irony of calling himself a Christian and a pastor, and then deliberately passing you by in your suffering…because you are like the stranger lying in the road, you are “dangerous”. And it isn’t like you are a stranger to him either, so it is even worse. Isn’t this one of the most well-known of the parables from our Lord Jesus Christ!!?? I am horrified over his treatment of you, and his self-justification to do so.

    Jesus is on your side. He knows who has passed you and your children by. He sees the “priest” and the “Levite” who think they are too important and indispensable to their “own people” to stop and give succor to their abused and hurting “neighbor”. I pray that the Lord will send you some real Samaritans and neighbors to come along side you and comfort you. God bless.

    “Then Jesus answered and said:
    “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.
    Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side.
    But a certain Samaritan….he had compassion….So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?” And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

  8. Linda

    I am so sorry to hear about this unfortunate situation this mother and her children are in. You would thing the pastor or a group of members could handle one man who may just need help himself. Hurting people hurt people. To know your church will not stand behind you is so heartbreaking. I stopped going to church for that reason. My church will only recieve not give. I wish I could get the meds and birthday presents for this child who has to be afraid. I think Jesus would be so disappointed in that church and so many others. We are called to be Christlike not wimps! Shame on that pastor. Who wants to follow a pastor like that? I hope and pray this mother and children get the help they need! My prayers are with them.

    • Dear Linda
      you mustn’t have been aware, but that phrase ‘hurting people hurt people’ is one we discourage on this blog. It can be a trigger for victims. It infers that their abuser mistreats them because he is a victim of his past, his childhood, etc. This is NOT true. While some abusers may have had trauma in their past or been brought up poorly, the fact is, every abuser CHOOSES to abuse. And many people (including many of our readers here) had trauma in their childhood, but do NOT go on to become abusers themselves.

      I encourage you to read this post as it explains this more:
      https://cryingoutforjustice.com/2015/03/09/hurting-people-hurt-people/

    • And welcome to the blog. Linda 🙂

      We always like to encourage new readers to check out our New Users Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

  9. bright sunshinin' day

    Abusewidow, your situation is very sad. I see why you were a nervous wreck. I can also see why the pastor wanted you to get police assistance, for indeed it was a dangerous situation with the death threats which caused you to flee your home with your children. What the pastor neglected to do is offer to meet you at the police station (or send others if he couldn’t go). This action would have shown his true concern for you and your family and provided much needed support in your time of need. No Good Samaritan here.

    • KayE

      I agree with this. I wouldn’t really expect a pastor to put himself in a situation where he might confront a dangerous person who has made death threats. But he could have gone to the police station and acted as an advocate for abusewidow. That might have made a real difference.

  10. cindy burrell

    Dear woman, I was horrified to read of your recent circumstances, not only relating to your ex-husband’s terrifying behavior, but of the apathy and neglect of both law enforcement and your church. Your analogy with regard to leprosy is spot-on, if grievous.

    I thank God that someone was willing to take you in, even if the accommodations are not ideal. I have already begun praying for you and your children and will continue to.

    I pray that as you walk through this dark time that the Lord’s presence will surround and comfort you all, that He will endow you with a strength that flows from Him and fill you with the wisdom and knowledge and direction you seek. I pray that you will see God’s mighty hand at work in your lives and that He will lead you out into safety.

    In Him,

    Cindy

  11. kim

    Abusewidow- there should have been a whole posse of church members going to the house with you! And I don’t understand the police not being willing to help- if your ex is making death threats, he ought to be in jail awaiting prosecution, or under a psychiatric hold for being a danger to himself and others. I am sorry you are going through these terrible experiences. I’m sure this just wears you down utterly- you did the right thing by getting away from your ex, and you are trying to protect the children- and still your ex is threatening and terrorizing you. I wish I could offer more than an online hug and prayers.

  12. Kind of Anonymous

    Wow. Sad to say but this is rather unmanly cowardice. I can understand him being a bit apprehsive; domestic violence situations scare even the police at times. But I think he jammed out. He could have called the police to assist HIM in assisting you. He could have rounded up a bunch of guys from the church and stuck you in the middle and then gone over to your house in football huddle formation, for goodness sake! You weren’t asking him to support sin or do something illegal. You weren’t asking him to endanger himself and go alone. Okay so he’s not Bruce Lee or Arnold Shwarzenegger, but still, there is much he could have done. I am a woman and I still would have rounded up some big guys or even gals and gone over there with baseball bats and pitchforks and my dog, maybe even my hissy cat, so you wouldn’t have had to go alone even though I might have been crapping bricks. Hopefully I would have had the wisdom to alert the police to the situation so they could attend ( which would make the pitchforks and bats likely not required; the cops tend to show up if they think there might be a rumble :).

    I am so sorry that you have had this awful experience. I know firsthand how bitter it is to turn to what is supposed to be God’s system of authority and protection and find out that its a mirage, and can’t be trusted or counted on either due to being weak and self serving, or worse, corrupt and dishonest. For those of us who have already experienced abuse at the hands of trusted authority figures, I suspect it hands us another challenge to our abililty to trust God and rents huge holes in our faith, adding to the tempation to fall back into a pit of abandonment and unbelief. Thankfully there are enough verses in the bible about what God thinks about worthless shepherds who do their own thing and corrupt God’s temple to relieve some of that awful idea; at least we know He is not okay with it.

    As for the labels, well, let no one call unclean what God has made clean. I mean your identity is rooted in you being a daughter of the King as a result of what Jesus has done for you; you are entitled to wear the richly ornamented robe of virgin daughters of the king if you know what I mean. I don’t mean that you are unclean by having been abused or even divorced of course. But marriage is a big deal to most of us and I think we who have been through a divorce all feel keenly every nuance, every mistake we’ve ever made and are hyper sensitive to both real and false guilt .

    I remember when I was going through my divorce. I expected to be sitting at the back of the church with my head down, wearing a scarlett D on my forehead as far as everyone else was concerned. I had seen my own mom treated like a suspect whore and man stealer just by virtue of her being divorced and attractive. It doesn’t take much when there’s a meeting of the narrow minds! You know, we are all taught to believe the best but Jesus still didn’t entrust Himself to man because He knew what was in man. I was pretty sure that I had failed so badly and was so responsible for all that had happened, that I could not imagine ever being used of God and figured my christian life would be one on the periphery of the church as an anonymous attendee held at arm’s length.

    Yet one day My friend and I were standing there in church, and suddenly the presence of the Holy Spirit was palpable. i was amazed; I had expected censure, correction, you are bad for leaving your husband, get back there sort of stuff but instead all I sensed was mercy, love, acceptance, forgiveness. My friend turned to me and said ” I feel as if the Holy Spirit is just singing over you right now”. Not what I expected, and sadly my expectations were formed with a lot of help from the church.

    I would tenderly but firmly urge you to aggressively reframe those labels in the light of truth/scripture and reality if you aren’t already purposely doing so. Don’t let them continue to settle on you, for I suspect this is the work of the enemy to beat you down. Divorced? So was God, for Israel’s repeated sinning. Even He had limits and stepped back from people who would not repent. Single ? Consecrated to God, dedicated to truth over compromise for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven and of defenseless babes. Victim? God says the victim and the fatherless commit their way to Him; nowhere does he speak of being a victim as someone unclean and tainted. Jesus TOUCHED people who needed healing and deliverance as well as every other kind of person and wasn’t afraid of being tainted by them. God sides with victims! Dangerous? No, your ex husband is the dangerous one and frankly so is a shepherd who when the wolf comes, runs away! Obviously neither THE true shepherd, or A true shepherd but rather would seem to be a hireling if you know what I mean. I hope he comes to his senses and repents to you of his sin. ((((( )))))))

  13. Not really Scared anymore!!

    I am so sorry for your experience. That pastor is just wrong.

    I do have to brag about my church and pastor. In the first year of separation there were many tense moments and my pastor and the elders stood WITH me. The week after my ex invaded my house and I had had to call 911, my ex was making threats. Guess where the men of the church had their meetings that week? My house!! All I had to do was call and there were men of the church ready to be at my house.

    One time I had to call the police( again) and yet before the police were there and after they left until it was certain my ex would not persist, an elder stayed in front of my house, not interfering but making his presence known. So shouting out for the pastors and men who do get abuse and are taking a stand.

    Praising God for them right now.

    • Wow, Not Really Scared Anymore! That is a FANTASTIC story!

  14. LM

    Thank you for sharing the tragic response of the church on women with children in these terrible situations.

    • Dear sister, we edited your comment a bit because we don’t publish recommendations to other resources unless we have checked them out first, and we often don’t have time to check them out. We have many resources already that we recommend — see our Resources tab in the top menu.

      Please also be aware that I changed your screen name to Anon. We always like to encourage readers to check out our New Users Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

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