A Cry For Justice

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

The Pastor’s Wife — An All too Frequent Ally of the Abuser

I thought that if I went to my pastor’s wife and told her what was really going on in my marriage, she would certainly understand and help me.
After all, she is a woman too.

There are godly women married to pastors. My wife is one. This post is in no way intended to be a blanket condemnation of pastors’ wives. My intent is to talk about a widespread (very widespread) problem in local churches which is hurting many victims of domestic abuse. That problem concerns the pastor’s wife.

If you are the wife of a pastor, you are in a unique position. You may use it for great good, or for great harm. The fact is that the majority of abuse victims we know (and we know many) have not been helped by their pastor’s wife, but just the opposite. They were further oppressed and shamed by the response of one who they thought would understand and help.

The pastor’s wife is…a woman. As such she is going to be seen as a hopeful source of help for other women. It is very intimidating for a woman who is abused to walk into a pastor’s office or into an elder meeting and tell men how her man is really living behind closed doors. We all know how that usually goes: she gets shut down, told she is disrespecting her husband, needs to submit more, look to her own sin, yada, yada, yada. You know the drill.

So she goes to the pastor’s wife.

What happens? Usually, the very same thing. The pastor’s wife repeats the same drill. Only this time the response is even more damaging and hurtful because it is coming from a woman! After all, if a person of the same gender, a person who is also a wife, a person who is the pastor’s wife, says all these accusing things, they must be true, right? The thing smacks of this for the victim:

Even my close friend in whom I trusted,
who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me.
(Psalms 41:9)

Or this:

For it is not an enemy who taunts me — then I could bear it; it is not an adversary who deals insolently with me — then I could hide from him. But it is you, a man[insert “woman” here], my equal, my companion, my familiar friend. We used to take sweet counsel together; within God’s house we walked in the throng. (Psalms 55:12-14)

Pastors’ wives, please hear this. Many of you are doing as much or more to enable wicked abusers and to oppress their victims than men are. Or at least just as much. I am thankful for the occasional exception and I say again I am not denying that some pastor’s wives have been a great help to victims, but those cases are far, far too rare. As a pastor’s wife, you must understand that you can be key to helping or harming in these scenarios. Your words are powerful and must be words of truth, not falsehoods spun by the enemy.

Now, why is it — how can it be — that a woman can enable, justify, minimize, the abuse of another woman? What in the world is happening? Let me suggest some common reasons:

  • The pastor’s wife is an abuse victim herself, but has not admitted it or seen it. It is not at all uncommon for pastors’ wives to contact us (and missionary wives) and reveal that they have been abused by their “saintly” pastor/missionary husband for years and years.
  • The pastor’s wife desires to serve the Lord and she has been duped by the patriarchal climate and theology she is immersed in at her church. She actually thinks that she is speaking for the Lord when she tells the victim to silently submit. She really believes that divorce is the worst sin a woman could ever commit. (NOTE: We here at ACFJ say that divorce for abuse is no sin at all!)
  • The pastor’s wife may well be (and probably is in most cases just like her pastor husband) totally ignorant of the nature and tactics of the abuser. So she gives her counsel, and it is bad, bad counsel. If you don’t know what the problem really is, then you are going to deal out bad medicine (that might just get somebody killed).
  • The pastor’s wife may be a narcissistic, sociopathic abuser herself! Oh yeah. I bet some of you have met just such a “sister in the Lord” in a local church.
  • The pastor’s wife may be functioning as a tool that her pastor husband uses to help keep the women in the church “in their place.”

There are no doubt more reasons than these and I encourage our readers to suggest some more in the comments to this post. Also, please feel free to share your experiences (good and bad) with us here and tell us how a pastor’s wife responded when you went for help.

Recently my wife and I started to watch a movie on Netflix. I don’t remember the title, but I do remember this. We got about ten minutes into it and I told my wife, “Oh man, this is going to be one of those ‘christian’ movies that depict total fiction.” Sure enough, turns out the lead character played the wife of a pastor. She was buzzing around the church, greeting people left and right, holding her own family issues together, making sure to say just the right thing to just the right people at just the right time as they came into the church building. “Did you get that recipe I sent?” “Can I help you get those kids settled down?” “How is your mother doing, I heard she was….”. And on and on she went.

That might sound good to you, but my wife (who tends to be far more patient than me) looked at me and said “I can’t watch this stuff!” We shut it down. Why? Because the thing is a lie. It depicts people and a pastor’s wife who in real life you know full well will never stand for truth, and who will hug, hug, hug an abuse victim and then send her right back into the abuse only in worse shape than before. Guilted. Shamed. “Yep, my work is done here.”

If this all sounds too harsh, too judgmental, too condemning to be true, then I invite you to read the comments that I am sure are going to come in response to this post. Some will recount how a pastor’s wife was a lifeline. But I suspect there will be more who have a horror story to tell. One which is being repeated daily in local churches all over the world.

Pastor’s wife? Listen and learn — and repent as necessary.

 

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61 Comments

  1. NewMexicoMom

    If the movie you were watching was Mom’s Night Out, [I encourage you to] watch to the end. The beginning scenes are to set up the “typical” view of the pastor’s wife but the rest of the movie shows her as a real woman who is struggling just like the younger women in her church. Not to mention it is very funny.

    • Hello NewMexicoMom, I edited you comment a bit because we prefer that commenters not tell victims of abuse what they ‘should’ do. If you want to make a suggestion to a victim of abuse, it is better to phrase it as ‘I encourage you to,” or “You might like to consider doing such and such and such,” or “I suggest you do so and so…”

      Victims of abuse have been told what they ‘SHOULD’ do way too often already. So the ‘should’ word is a real trigger for most victims.

      We tell ignorant and naive pastors what they should do, and we tell abusers what they should do, but we never tell victims what they should do. Hard hearted, stiff necked, prideful and arrogant people need to be told what they should do — they should repent of their arrogant ways and their unbiblical beliefs and should humble themselves and learn to obey God. But the victims of abuse do not need to be told what they should do. They need to be validated, supported, gently encouraged, vindicated, etcetera.

    • And welcome to the blog NMM, because we didn’t welcome you the first time you commented! Sorry.

  2. Ruth

    It was summer, and I needed childcare in order to go to court without bringing my elementary aged children with me. The church I attended and where my children attended school, would not allow me to have them stay with them. When I asked, I said I would pay for their assistance and that I would only need help for half a day. The pastor’s wife was head mistress of the summer program. She turned us away and suggested to use the courthouses’ childcare. My children were frightened enough. I just wanted them with their teachers who knew them. The pastor’s wife was so cold to me. As if I brought the abuse on myself and the drama with police and court that goes with it.

  3. CM

    Every day I come here, I feel less condemned and more confirmation for what I went through with my daughter’s dad. This is exactly what I encountered. I was told to submit, try harder, and the whole nine yards. Of course, I did what was prescribed which never works. When I finally left the marriage, he stayed in the church and wailed about how hurt and wronged he was; probably still does. I had to encounter this ex-pastor’s wife the other day, and I was surprised at how my heart forgave and I extended a hand of kindness to her, but I will never forget how awful it felt back then to be told I was at fault. I’m happy and loved now and that is what matters to me and my kids today.

  4. Lea

    Do you think pastors wives give any better or worse counsel than their husbands?

    Personally, I do not believe ‘pastors wife’ should be this huge rule that it’s made out to be. I realized the other day I do not even know that I could pick my seniors pastors wife out of a lineup and that’s a good thing.

    • Memphis Rayne

      I agree. How do you sort out feeling condemned by a church and all it’s little players? Abusers innately know the places where their allies will support them. A person who feels condemned, is a person who is made to feel hopeless by other humans? Most of us wanted out of high school because of the intense, small scoped pecking order. Pastors wives can be integral in the pecking order….in the very worldly wealthy church we were trapped in the pastors wives were the “Mean Girls”…..younger, and older alike.

      The reason a “pecking order” exists is so that some people can feel smug and superior. If you get too close, especially as victim, or dare to mention the ….shhhhhhh “A” word. It’s as if they become all unraveled, and start looking at you as if you have a third eye!! Then they would just peck you out.

  5. Lee

    My pastor wanted to be helpful but he (of course!) could not ever condone either separation or divorce. My then husband (who did not attend the church or listen to my pastor, even though HE was a seminary graduate, too) called the pastor when I left. The pastor this time sent his wife because he knew I was getting out of hand.

    I was able to pour my heart out to her like you just can’t do with a man pastor. When I got done, she let out a deep sigh and said : ” I think you 2 need time apart.” wow! ! I said that’s exactly what I’m doing, hoping that it will make things better. At least she somewhat understood.

    Now, things did not get better and when I see them occasionally, they are friendly but I know I am being judged or at least felt sorry for. They don’t even seem to realize that their counsel and their discipline (the elders sent me a letter stating that since they felt I was wrong for separating that I could not play the piano anymore. I wasn’t planning on attending that church anyway but I should not have shown that letter to my 8th grader daughter. She had a change of heart that I didn’t realize until years later. Then again, maybe she needed to know how men treated women. But she needs to know that Jesus never did that.) All of this was 14 years ago. I am divorced and happy. I am in a good church now.

  6. Intothelight1

    I am presently being shunned by a pastors wife. How ungodly is this postion? It’s obvious to me she watches me from a distance. I have resisted to go to her for any kind of biblical counseling. Befriending her has been difficult. As her views on marriage appear to be the same as her husbsnds. Also have stopped going to the pastor for anykind of support. He refuses to talk about DV …and it is happening in the body of people that attend the church I currently go to. The pastor allows mentors to counsel women who have a difficult husband. I don’t want to cause waves, as I might get rebuked as a survivior of DV.

  7. stuck in the cycle

    My pastor and his wife are lovely people. You would meet them and think they are so humble and loving – I don’t think they have an evil intent. He preaches unapologetically on male headship which he teaches as a Christlike servant-leader. But they are **terribly** NAIVE. And so we are stuck, and I do mean stuck, in church counseling (now about to go before all the elders).

    [Some months ago], before I realized that my husband was emotionally, verbally and spiritually ABUSIVE, not just a man with an “anger problem” as my pastor characterized him over years of very sporadic counseling – sporadic bc the h controlled all the meetings and what would be shared… by commandeering the time for his grievances, making latent and direct threats when I started to talk about what was really happening, endless accusations of digging up the past and unforgiveness, walking out of meetings when I finally screwed up the courage to talk about his drinking etc. [so some months ago] I started meeting with the pastor and his wife privately and telling them what really went on on our home. They expressed shock and sorrow but the counseling continued as a he-said, she-said, two sinners in a marriage, you submit unless he orders you to break a commandment, we’re just so sad you always want to talk about each others’ sin instead of your own.

    Anyway, one of the major charges my h would bring against me was my “refusal” to have frequent enough and satisfactory enough sex. The pastor’s wife went on and on to me one day about why couldn’t I bring myself to serve him – but not even really him, to serve Christ – in this way?! Even though it would be so horrible bc she couldn’t imagine giving herself to someone who was treating his wife this way, to obey Christ (I Cor 7!) is always commanded and it would be so beautiful if I could suffer for Christ this way. It would be such a sacrifice for him!

    The pastor and I separately have since identified my h as verbally and emotionally abusive after, coincidentally, we each read Leslie Vernick’s Destructive Marriage book (through which I found this blog, thank you!) but the counseling continued in exactly the same way (focus on own sins, no justification ever for sin – not participating 100% in every area of the marriage is sin, we can’t invent sins the Bible doesn’t talk about, the Bible is the only remedy against sin, so since “abuse” is never used in the Bible maybe he could talk to the h about “lording over others,” must be so careful not to consult secular or even a lot of “Christian” counseling because they only teach you how to cope with sin not repent of it and sin is the root of every “problem” etc). I was warned too about using labels because other people’s experiences would never be exactly the same.

    It keeps getting worse and worse. The h seems to have successfully convinced them that our oldest son (age redacted), whom he has groomed by example and positive admonition to emulate him, was so “troubled” because *I* am abusing *him* (my son). I called my pastor one morning when my son was so out of control verbally and physically I was afraid to put him in the car to drive him to school. In the course of this conversation, the wife got on too and started berating me (if I told others in our congregation, I am sure they wouldn’t even believe she could berate!) that she had NEVER, in all her years here, never EVER seen me ONCE put my arm around my husband, that there was no excuse for me not having a beautiful house because my children were at school all day (she homeschools her many many children; I have a lot fewer children than her) and what was I doing with my time anyway?! […. ]

    Anyway at this point in the conversation I was absolutely choking with sobs, and they both began to ask me why I was so angry! They were helping me and admonishing me in love, what was I so angry about? I managed to get out I wasn’t angry but overcome, and since we had first used the word “abuse” I had been spending most days reading everything I could on it and trying to find help for me and my children and the h (who also is in denial [i.e., lying about] his alcohol addiction to the point of lying to elders), at which point the wife started again with stop focusing on myself! The only thing I needed to or should focus on every moment of every day on was obedience to the Lord, which would mean making my house the way my husband would like it both to serve him and the Lord but also so he couldn’t bring that against me. I was even more overcome then and they ended the conversation telling me there was no need for me to be so worked up.

    Sorry, that’s a novel.

    • Dear sister, thanks for using a non-identifying screen name! I encourage you to tell this pastor and his wife that you are not willing to receive any more counsel from them because they are so naive about how to respond to domestic abuse. And I encourage you to refuse to participate in any more couple counseling. Couple counseling is DANGEROUS for victims of abuse. (see here) And your pastor and his wife are doing a lot more harm than good in the way they are counseling you.

      If your pastor and his wife want to learn how to respond to domestic abuse they need to study everything we have on this page: As a pastor, what are the most important things for me to know about domestic abuse? Until they have read all that material and really absorbed it and changed their way of thinking about marriage and divorce, and come to you begging forgiveness for how they have treated you, they will remain dangerous to you.

      Welcome to the blog! 🙂

      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.

      And after reading the New Users Info page, I suggest you look at our FAQs.

      • Stuck in the cycle

        Barbara,
        Thank you for the welcome and the precient editing.

        I agree with your assessment of the counseling; but we are now in discipline phase with all the elders. I actually have some questions – I wonder if I might be able to email you and/or Pastor Crippen privately?

      • Because Jeff and I are so busy, I suggest you look at our page https://cryingoutforjustice.com/how-does-church-discipline-apply-in-cases-of-domestic-abuse/ before you email Jeff or myself.

    • Abby

      Arggg… at some point don’t these “naïve” pastor counselors ask themselves why this isn’t working? If they were committed to truth they would gain some wisdom along the way. It’s obvious to me that they are NOT! So frustrating, Stuck.

      • HisBannerOverMeIsLove

        No, they don’t. Because it will take a very, very, very lOong time for change. Or so I’m constantly reminded when I say there is S T I L L a problem.

    • Believer

      “You submit unless he orders you to break a commandment.”

      Yes. That’s exactly what the abuser does so therefore obedience to the Lord requires refusing to submit. Abusers demand we accept lies. If we do so we are disobeying God –and we won’t get off for this. Eve was deceived, but this in no way absolved her of her responsibility and punishment for believing and going along with a liar. And the Israelites that were seduced into sexual immorality as part of Balaam’s evil plot to get God to curse them — the fact that they were manipulated into sinning did not take away their guilt at all, they were absolutely punished for their sin.

      This was utterly crucial for me to grasp. By believing my abuser’s lies I was SINNING. We must be discerning, we must hold everything up to the light, any and every lie we must reject. And then (in my experience) everything just falls apart. (i.e., then they decide to drop their mask and go on a mission to destroy you and the “marriage” is then clearly over).

      Abusers fundamentally order/require their victims to deny truth, which truly equates to denying the lordship of Jesus Christ. We must hold fast to our profession of faith, maintain an exclusive and absolute allegiance to the Lord Jesus Christ, and we must not participate in the evil deeds of darkness. Jesus is Lord. Unquestioning obedience to Him is our marching orders. After so, so many years of confusion, understanding this truth made all the difference to me. Believing Christ really does mean dying to self, taking up our cross and following Him. Might cost us literally everything. I am still processing this, still struggling mightily with fear, especially over my children. But, we lay down our lives, to gain Jesus Christ Himself, the Way, the Truth and the Life! This glorious reality is everything. And, the Lord mercifully helps us endure before we reach final safety and joy in heaven. To Him be all praise and glory forever and ever!!!!!

      • Stuck in the cycle

        Wow, thank you all so much for the support!!! It means so much to me, I can’t even tell you. I have come to a similar conclusion, although I need to think more on the examples you gave. I feel so stuck, though, because believe I am going to be disciplined for not submitting. The h of course has painted himself so much the victim that years even I believed him. He would be screaming the foulest things at me and I would think I know this is wrong, but maybe I am pushing him to it. He has made one particular issue such a constant complaint (and since it is a good thing and not a sin, I am sinning by not doing t) that he is now claiming my not doing it to his satisfaction shows I am trying to make him divorce me. And my pastor is saying the elders are going to think it does start to look that way when you aren’t doing it after he’s made it so clear how serious it is to him!

      • If they excommunicate you, wear the E badge with pride. They are a false church led by false shepherds and wolves. Being excommunicated by a so-called church like that does not mean you are excommunicated from the true church — the body of Christ. It only means you are following Christ and resisting being oppressed by evildoers.

      • And you don’t have to hang round till they have formally excommunicated you. You can walk away whenever you wish. I know it’s not easy to walk away from an abuser, esp if you and the abuser have children. So I strongly strongly encourage you to look at our Safety Planning page.

      • Lea

        >I feel so stuck, though, because believe I am going to be disciplined for not submitting.<

        Well, you can either try to change their minds and hope someone has sense
        or say the equivalent of 'you can't fire me, I quit'
        or go out in a blaze of glory!

    • joepote01

      Stuck-In-The-Cycle –

      I am so sorry you’ve had to endure such horrible counsel from your church, on top of the abuse at home!

      You’ve already received plenty of input from earlier comments. I just want to add one more. This thing about abuse not being counted as sin in the Bible…that’s garbage!

      Maybe the KJV doesn’t use the word ‘abuse’ but it clearly denounces abusive behavior. It’s called ‘treachery’ or ‘covenant breaking’ and the Bible is very clear that God detests it.

      One of the great travesties of today’s church is the all-too-common incorrect take-away from Malachi 2 is ‘God hates divorce’…three words plucked from a 35 word verse (depending on translation) in a 17 verse chapter…then rearranged into a trite popular phrase…applied indiscriminately to all troubled marriages…and used to keep an abusive victim enslaved to her abuser. And the real travesty is that the entire 2nd chapter of Malachi is a complete denunciation against Treachery of a covenant partner…against Abuse! Malachi chapter 2 is an indictment against the abuser…and justice for the victim of abuse!

      Look, for example at verses 13-14:

      This is another thing you do: you cover the altar of the Lord with tears, with weeping and with groaning, because He no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand. Yet you say, ‘For what reason?’ Because the Lord has been a witness between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant.

      This passage clearly states God has rejected their offerings because of their sin of treachery against their wives…because of abuse!

      Or look at the seven things we’re told God hates in Proverbs 6:16-19. They are a perfect description of abuse!

      There are six things which the Lord hates,
      Yes, seven which are an abomination to Him:
      Haughty eyes, a lying tongue,
      And hands that shed innocent blood,
      A heart that devises wicked plans,
      Feet that run rapidly to evil,
      A false witness who utters lies,
      And one who spreads strife among brothers.

      God hates abuse!

      • Stuck in the cycle

        Joepote01,
        Thank you for the verses you cited! Those will be helpful when I present before the elders. I had the same verses from Proverbs in mind, along with the lists from Col(?) of sins Paul says cannot be tolerated in the church. And to think, my pastor just preached through the sins God hates from Proverbs a month or two ago! They don’t get it. And I don’t know why!!!

        There has been little discussion about Mal and God hating divorce – mostly because the denomination believes only in divorce for adultery. And as my pastor pointed out, the h hasn’t done that, so there can be no divorce. I haven’t brought up the issue of divorce at all. The h has – he demanded a hearing before the elders last fall so they could grant him a divorce. His position is that I have constructively deserted the marriage (disobedience, lack of affection) and has been criticized and talked and talked out of it. Not because they are saying I haven’t constructively deserted (and in fact he very much has deserted), but because divorce is for adultery and even to want divorce and threaten such reveals such a dark heart. So I have been afraid even to ask because I don’t want to be disciplined or told to repent of *thinking* of divorce.

      • You are free to divorce your h on the ground of his abuse. Abuse is a form of constructive desertion. https://cryingoutforjustice.com/2014/10/10/the-bible-does-allow-divorce-for-domestic-abuse/

    • Memphis Rayne

      I have to mention how the church addresses most abusers, as people with “Anger” issues. Once they tell you that is their assessment, guess who is now responsible for pacifying his anger? YOU and YOUR children. In other words, make your house a sanctuary, walk on egg shells, make sure the kids never need to pee or poop or cause any kind of disturbance. I was told I needed to be available to cater to him OR his anger was my fault because after all “He, as a man has so much more pressure.” They felt sorry for his anger, but I was just suppose to be quiet, even if they saw him become enraged over my tears, I was the one who was responsible to keep him calm.. The pastors and their wives kept handing him over more ways to gain control, and at the end of things (sorry to repeat this again) I was specifically told “Well perhaps it is God’s will for YOU to go home at the hands of your husband?” That was a remarkable comment. It changed the course of our history.

      It was like a huge hand reached into that deadly fog and tore me out of it. No matter how many years I tried to wrestle some of the dumb crap I was told this pastor and his wife’s true stupidity saved me. That was the first time I realize true evil exists and I was not going to be able to fight it on my own, or with Dumb and Dumber.

      • stuck in the cycle

        Memphis, SO YES! 4 years of “anger problem” counseling and his counter-accusation I have a bitterness/silent anger problem, and yes, I must do what I can to make sure I don’t give him reason to be angry. Another admonition now to make sure I am communicating with him calmly and respectfully. HOW do they not see this is NOT the problem?!?

      • Moving Forward

        That last comment you mentioned made by your pastor and wife has me almost speechless. They must have recently read Gary Thomas’s book, Sacred Marriage, where he pretty much advocates the same thing. The abuser can do anything they want to us, it is our lot to endure to the murderous end – whether it is physically or emotionally.

        My pastor heard my story, and was understanding and helpful. Then he heard my ex’s story, and was completely taken in by the wolf in sheep’s clothing. He went from believing me to not believing me, and I can no longer trust him, something I doubt he’ll ever understand. Before this I went to my pastor’s wife, and was told that, for example, if he is rubbing our shoulder in a spot that hurts, don’t say anything, just adjust my position so it is a spot that doesn’t hurt so much. In other words, even in something so simple as a back rub, I have no right to challenge his decision to rub where he wants. I can’t imagine what her advice would have been if I had talked about what was really going on at home. And, of course, I had also received from her and one other lady Stormie Omartian’s book on praying for your husband, which I already had and prayed though in the past, questioning it all the way. Books like that I cannot even give away, they go in the garbage. So sad to see good people so clueless.

  8. Amy

    Years ago when things took a real bad turn in my first marriage I asked to meet with pastor’s wife of the church I attended at the time. We met for coffee and I shared about what had been going on in my marriage, which was tough as anyone who has lived with abuse knows. She listened, smiled accordingly, gave the occasional look of sympathy and then recommended a Christian counselor.

    Two years after that meeting, my then-husband walked out on me and our two boys, in what turned out to be a very well calculated plan he had apparently been devising for months. That pastor’s wife never so much as called me, or caught me in between services to see how I was doing…nothing. Oh she would smile and say hi if we bumped into each other at church, but there was nothing more from her. While others reached out to me, I heard nothing from her. That bothered me for years.

    And on a side note — if the movie you alluded to is Mom’s Night Out, it actually is pretty funny and later in the movie you get to see the ‘real’ pastor’s wife come out. She is basically a woman tired of putting on that fake front but feels she needs to because that’s what a pastor’s wife is supposed to do. I think you’d like it once you get past that scene. 😉

  9. Charis

    I can remember the day like it was yesterday – the day I told my Elder’s wife that I no longer felt safe with her and would withdrawing my confidence from her, restricting what I said and being careful what I shared. We were at her house. Our sons playing well together. It was awkward. It was sad. We both cried. We had become, to some degree, friends over the course of nearly a year.

    I also remember my first meeting with her. Sitting in the nursery at church, shell-shocked at all that had transpired over the past few weeks. Learning of my husband’s addiction, his lies, his true nature, his pathology (and so much had yet to be revealed). She had been chosen by the Pastor and Elders to meet with me, in part, because we are close in age. She and her husband – a lead Elder – are speakers for Family Life Conference, particulary their Marriage Seminars. Looking back, I’m sure this was another reason she was chosen, to safeguard my “recovery” process and keep me within the guard rails.

    The church leadership had asked her to meet with me that particular evening to assess my health. My spiritual and emotional health – make sure I was not making any knee jerk or rash decisions in the aftermath of discovery. In other words, see how many times I mention “divorce” or “separation” or other high dollar words. Because Christians can’t vent or be angry or rant in a stream-of-consciousness dialogue/monologue. Not that I would’ve even been capable of that during that stage. I was in shock. I was numb. Anger had not even begun to take shape!

    And she would send me material from Family Life. Marriage is sacred. Marriage is worth fighting for. Divorce is a sin. Counseling and these resources can fix your marriage. Seek restoration.

    The two of us plus two other safe friends met regularly. We talked. We studied a workbook sent by one of my counselors. We prayed. We were transparent with one another – well, three of us were. We were authentic, most of us. We grew to love each other and walk this mess of a life together.

    And the Elder’s wife struggled. The deeper the group got. The more transparent and authentic we became. The more honesty we shared. The more uncomfortable she was. She would request materials. Studies. Articles. I sent her everything I was reading and learning. I pointed her to ACFJ and to other reputable sites. I referred her to books I was reading – even those by Christian authors. I emailed articles and research papers to her.

    And then she began to push back. She made “what if” statements. “What if you’re wrong about divorce?” “What if your husband repents?” “What if it’s not really abuse?” “What if there’s still hope?” “What if your husband hurts himself?” “What if…what if…what if…?” And then my husband began striking up conversation with her…and she reciprocated. That was the point of no return.

    “We can be friends. Our sons can have play dates. I do not feel safe discussing my marriage or relationship with you any more. I understand, you and your husband share a ministry saving and nourishing struggling marriages and maybe this is too difficult for you to wrap your mind around right now or maybe it jeopardizes your ministry in some way. I see it differently. I see it as an opportunity to speak into the hundreds of lives – especially women – who you come into contact each weekend retreat. For me, right now, I have to draw this boundary. You do not feel safe to me, especially considering that you are conversing with my husband.”

    And I haven’t seen or spoken to her since.

  10. Tess

    In my experience, Pastor’s wives will always protect and agree with their husbands…..I imagine they feel torn between loyalty to their husbands. ( the marriage covenant) and speaking their truth which may mean bringing personal stuff into the light……Its not a position I envy !!

    • Haha I know this is not always true because my mother was a minister’s wife— that’s past tense because my father passed away a long time ago.She definitely did not always agree with her husband, nor did she necessarily protect him if she felt there was a bigger issue at stake. Naturally she never did anything to undermine him in public, but in private it was truth that always ruled. But my mother has always been her own person. She is strong and highly ethical and thinks for herself.

      I’ve met all too many pastor’s wives who are weak and shallow women who love to use their husband’s position to gain power over people. I know exactly what they’re doing, I am not fooled at all by their unearned social status. They are actually nasty little people.

      After my ex husband walked out, one of these pastor’s wives immediately came round to my house and angrily and contemptuously abused me in the hearing of my children. Such women seem to think that being a pastor’s wife gives them a special ranking with God. It does not.

  11. Rachael

    I’m not in an abusive marriage (thank God!), but when my husband and I were first married sex was excruciatingly painful for me. I became a nervous wreck as I went to doctor after doctor trying to find out what was wrong. I told my pastors wife and was heartbroken when she said that I needed to just gave sex anyway and ignore the pain.

    My pastors wife and I are still friends of a sort but I’m not sure I can ever fully trust her after that.

    • broken not shattered

      I’m sorry you were told to just ignore the pain. I too was told that same thing, and also told by a woman in the church whose husband was addicted to porn (he was not a member of the church, they were married before she was saved), that I should be happy that my husband wanted to have sex with me, as hers did not. It didn’t help that sex hurt after I had a child because of issues with organ prolapse. So I just decided to do what was best for me instead of just “suffering through it”. it also hurt because of the emotional abuse I was enduring and I felt I was being raped. All the women held to that belief that you should just do it because men need sex and apparently we aren’t sexual at all, being women. Even though I would point out the verses that said sex was for both people, not just the man.

      I would say you are right in not fully trusting her after that and being careful what you decide to share from now on is a smart move. It’s not wrong to have boundaries.

    • Liz

      I don’t think I would trust her either. And I’m glad I’m not the only one who feels the effect of emotional abuse on our sex life. I feel violated whenever my husband even so much as touches or tries to kiss me. He complains about feeling distant, but he works all hours and doesn’t make any effort to understand why his belittling behaviour makes me not want to be with him. He just wants the physical without bothering to work on treating me well or having any kind of connection with me.

  12. God-fearing mom

    I have a horror story to tell. This coming Sunday, Mother’s Day, will mark a year from the day my former pastor indirectly invited me to leave his church from the pulpit. He said something to the effect: “If anybody doesn’t like that I’m rough around the edges sometimes, there’s the door!”

    I had gently and winsomely been emailing the church about concerns namely about marriage teaching, questionable character of leaders there, their accountability system etc, over a period of several months before that.

    Afterwards the assistant pastor was being “nice” after being standoffish and ignoring most of my emails. As it turns out, evidently, he was doing a tactic to “pull the rug out from under me” to flatter me in order to make it plausible that I was the “problem” and he had a weakness.

    When I confronted it he wasn’t backing off enough. And I confronted it again and told him I had at least two semi-witnesses that I have in mind to help him stop acting weird. Well I stupidly told him the names of these semi-witnesses.

    So then the assistant pastor’s 40+ year close colleague, the female church counselor, calls me on the phone and tells me to stop emailing because my emails were inappropriate!

    But backtracking a few seconds before she calls: the assistant pastor maybe(?) “accidentally” sends me an email which read “if I tell her it would just reinforce what she is imagining.”

    So it appears he meant to send it to her instead of me. However I don’t recall seeing her email address on it. But it was sufficient to gaslight me. The gaslighting worked it’s magic over the weekend. Because when she called me it was on a Friday. Right after she gently scolded me during the phone call I asked her if I can explain to her why I was confronting him in that manner. She said no. She said there was a lot she was dealing with that weekend and to call her Monday morning.

    During that weekend I talked to my husband about it. We came to the conclusion that maybe I was imagining things, triggered from past traumas, personal fears. I liked that church. It was the only one I could walk to with the kids since I didn’t have my driver’s license. Plus, I had developed new friendships there.

    So I called her on Monday. I gave the benefit of the doubt. But I did tell her what my concerns still were. She said my volume of emails looked like I have a little infatuation. But she didn’t use those words. She said something to that effect anyway. I was sad because she judged my motives and dismissed my concern without taking into consideration the emails were to contend for God’s ideals. How convenient!

    Time went on and I would prayerfully keep going but I still felt that assistant pastor was lurking and not keeping reasonable distance from me in light of my fears about him. He shouldn’t have continued to act that oblivious. I felt like he knew he had enough power to keep me quiet and to keep me in an unnecessary fog of shame wondering if I was the problem.

    I’m going to wrap this up because it’s long. I tried appealing to the senior pastor’s wife. She said I was imagining things embracing me warmly and another time gently squeezing my hand told me she missed me. I had missed a couple of weeks of church because of the emotional exhaustion and confusion.

    I had wanted them to do a close examination. But instead they did damage control. In the end they didn’t care too much about keeping me safe. And the senior pastor treated me like a liability. He found a clever way to kick me out on Mother’s Day in a way nobody else would detect.

    This week has been especially hard because of Mother’s Day coming again.

    • Lea

      “He said something to the effect: “If anybody doesn’t like that I’m rough around the edges sometimes, there’s the door!””

      Even without all the background, I cannot imagine how this could be appropriate for a mothers day sermon! Ugh.

      • God-fearing mom

        He was an abusive pastor and he said sometimes he tells his wife to shut up at home because of stuff he chooses to watch or his strict diet his dr put him on because of surgeries. So he had no trouble saying that in front of the congregation which was one of the things I was trying to gather my courage to email about but I wasn’t frank about it. Along with that red flag the marriage teaching came across imbalanced and I was trying to explain why it came across that way over the email and gave my testimony with my own marriage. Ultimately I think his wife was an abuse victim herself.

  13. One of our local pastors was arrested for abusing two 11 year old children from his church. Shortly afterward the pastor’s wife had a fit when the local Christian radio interviewed us about the issue of abuse. The Interview had nothing to do with her husband but she called the radio station and later sent a note to the news announcer who interviewed us. She was angry that we were addressing the issue of child abuse.

    • That is very telling, Dale. When a wife reacts like that, I am inclined to think that she is so desperately afraid of her mask being broken and her husband’s reputation being shattered that she is fighting truth like a wildcat.

  14. Karrie

    I had already chosen to hold fast to the submit better, keep no record of wrongs, be my husband’s cheerleader – never acknowledge his “faults”. It “worked” for awhile but I was dying inside. Then when I fell apart and left I was completely ostracized. My pastor’s wife said that “her dad used to threaten to cut her mom up into pieces and mail them to the kids but SHE stayed godly.” I’m sorry but if that is the criteria to be godly I don’t even aspire to that. Those words have been some of the most painful in my life.

    • Hi Karrie welcome to the blog 🙂

      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.

      • Memphis Rayne

        In my experience they were almost worst than the pastors.. I would have them go out of their way to shun me and my kids. As if to say ” I cannot look at you because you are a reminder of a person with a voice” They also never invited us to events, as if we stained the landscape of their narrow scope of life.

        I had one pastor’s wife come to my son pull him aside and whisper in his ear ” Your Daddy misses you” because behind our back they took him in. Believed all his stories and persecuted me for “Keeping the children from him”. If i tried to attend any of the women’s classes they made it clear by acting superior, while ignoring me that I was not welcome.. They also gossiped, because none of the younger girls either would look me in the eye.
        Oh. Barf.

  15. Misti

    Ugh, yes. For pastors and their wives, their roles in the church often is their job. This makes them particular perpetuators and victims of the professing Christian culture. The nail that stands up will get hammered down (I think that’s a Japanese proverb), and the pastor or pastor’s wife who doesn’t toe the line of what is believed they “should” do will get viciously attacked.

    This means they will all get viciously attacked by some persons, because everyone’s wrong according to somebody. They’ll be called incompetent or heretic, they’ll have their Christian profession and walk questioned, etc. This can happen by their congregants, by other pastors (and pastors’ wives), by their church government, and more.

    So it’s easier to just go with the flow of what’s generally believed that they “should” do—they’ll get attacked less, which is presumably evidence that they’re doing the right thing.

    A pastor and his wife will necessarily deal with the nuances and contradictions common to Christian culture, a lot more than the average layperson. Such common exposure can desensitize a person to faults in logic or fact, and if you repeat something often enough and persistently enough, even someone who knows it’s false will eventually begin to doubt, particularly when they have a hard time finding any respected sources that side with them.

    It doesn’t help that verses like Matthew 7:13–14 & Luke 13:22–30 are commonly defined as only referring to the world vs. the church, rather than as potentially illustrating an underlying principle to be leery of common knowledge.

    Sadly, the acceptance of abuse is so pervasive in the professing Christian culture that so many can even outright witness someone throwing a tantrum and shrug it off as “Just So-and-so” or “not that bad”, overlooking that someone willing to do that in public will do worse in private, when there aren’t witnesses.

    Christianity isn’t supposed to be that. 😦

  16. Spiritually abused

    When I “frantically” called the Pastor (after decades of emotional, verbal, sexual, and small amount of physical abuse AND heavy use of pornography), he thought it would be best to have both he and his wife there. They both listened to my condensed version (2 hours) of decades of bottled up pain, hurt, emotions, etc, of which I had never exposed to ANYONE. (“”being the good “Christian” wife I was””)and then proceeded to urge me to forgive and forget and just get over it and move on.

    Pastor said, “Well he has admitted his pornography ‘use,’ admitted he has been a hypocrite for the last ‘many’ years that your family has been attending our church, he has read some books on how pornography is a sin that we have given him, and he says he is ‘over it’.”

    Now you might ask what does this have to do with the Pastor’s wife: Well for the next YEAR as I suffered each day with my abuser all the while being told I should forgive and forget and get “on with my life” my (now old since I FINALLY left that church) Pastor’s wife “agreed” begrudgingly to have lunch with me on two occasions. I sat there and told her how I now understand that my husband was a Covert Emotional Abuser and had her watch the video with me! Then told her how I had to watch videos just so” I” could talk to my narcissistic abuser. She thought I was doing such a GREAT job! -ARE YOU KIDDING ME!! – She also made me aware on a few occasion that she felt “sorry” for me having to live under these conditions in my marriage. She said “I never knew your husband was like that” and she texted me ” Ps 4:8 “In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety” (Interpretation: We are not going to help you hopefully God will).

    I could go on and on but the last straw for me was when I came to her two weeks in a row (she was also my bible study teacher) telling her how he was getting much worse, I did not feel safe, I was losing weight and was emotionally distraught and she asked me if I was listening in class that day! What may you ask did she mean by that? Well that week she had taught on Hebrew 13:12 and had stressed “as she looked at me” how we need to make sure we are “mature Christians” by suffering as Christ suffered. In other words (if I may interpret) You are just not a mature enough Christian and if you were you would not be having any problems because you would just suffer for Christ by continuing to forgive, forget, submit to my husband and win him over without a word.

    GOOD GRIEF!! (And, of course, “good grief” is putting it nicely. 🙂

    • Hi Spiritually Abused

      The way that pastor and his wife treated you — arrrrgggggh! That kind story is all too common. The leaders in churches are so often clueless. Blind leading the blind.

      I added paragraph breaks to your comment. Please try to add paragraph breaks yourself (double line breaks) if you are going to write a long comment.

    • Liz

      I really struggle with this issue. I don’t believe that God wants the suffering of emotional abuse in my life, but I don’t know how to deal with verses like that which talk about suffering as Christ did. How do we know when to make the break, and when it is suffering for the gospel?

      • Have a look at our FAQs — the FAQ tab is in the top menu. One of the FAQs deals with suffering.

  17. Came Alongside

    The experiences related here are horrific. But there ARE churches and pastors who are not like those described. My husband and I walked alongside my best friend (missionary wife) as she emacipated herself from 3 decades of victimization by her malignant, narcisistic abuser. Our pastors (him, his wife & his mother) and others in our congregation joined us in standing with her (court, food, housing, emotional support etc) to the point that our pastor was legally threatened so much that our denomination lawyers were involved. The abuser lost his credentials and though rebuked and shown his sins refuses to agree and repent. He continues to damage lives wherever he goes. (oh, and reviewed our church online as “unsafe”! Yah, you betcha! Unsafe for unsaved wolves in shepherds clothing!) Our pastors have helped 2 other victimized wives, too. All 3 women are growing in health. God is good!

    If your church secondarily abuses you and sanctions or disciplines you… why are you still attending? … I suggest you don’t stay at that kind of church just because you’ve always gone there. I encourage you to find a place that ministers the whole counsel of God. They ARE out there. Keep looking.

    • Lea

      I don’t have experience with this personally, but after reading a number of stories I think the problem is that you don’t always know a church or people are unsafe until you actually need them, and by then it’s too late.

      I feel confident that my church would support women in this situation and that’s part of why I go there, but there are a number of secondary issues which might scare people away too. It takes a lot to switch denominations, style of churches, etc.

      • Stuck in the cycle

        You don’t always know a church or people are unsafe until you actually need them, and by then it’s too late.

        Oh exactly! And if one lives in a place far away from all family for the h’s job, and pretty much one’s entire life is wrapped up in church and childrens’ school, which are both super conservative reformed, from both of which one would be excommunicated for divorce, where – literally – does one turn? And if one’s conscience did become comfortable with divorce, the custody issues are overwhelming. How to keep the abuser and alcoholic out of their lives?!? I don’t think there are lies the h wouldn’t tell to try to win custody. And whatever custody he might win, then when they are with him, they are completely beyond my influence or physical safekeeping.

  18. Freedom in Christ

    Yes, I had good friends of mine a pastor and his wife tell me not to divorce my abusive husband. She said that as Christians we are to erase the word divorce from our vocabulary. That she knew of a woman who’s husband beat her every night when he came home drunk but the woman stayed and was a wonderful example “for Christ”. And that this saint earned her martyrs crown. I realized after I recovered from the shock of what she said to me, that this martyrs crown is completely out of context. It is from revelation and has nothing to do with a woman staying in an abusive situation for Christ. It was so devastating coming from her who I loved and trusted. It made it so much harder to leave him. Only by the grace of God am I free from that torture today…Thank you Jesus.

    • She said that as Christians we are to erase the word divorce from our vocabulary

      Hmm. She seems to have never read Jeremiah 3

      6 Then the LORD said to me in the days of Josiah the king, “Have you seen what faithless Israel did? She went up on every high hill and under every green tree, and she was a harlot there. 7 I thought, ‘After she has done all these things she will return to Me’; but she did not return, and her treacherous sister Judah saw it. 8 And I saw that for all the adulteries of faithless Israel, I had sent her away and given her a writ of divorce, …

      … 20b you have dealt treacherously with Me,
      O house of Israel,” declares the LORD.

      • Stuck in the cycle

        As I said, I have not approached divorce. But I can imagine my church saying something like yes, God divorces but he is like the husband and he divorced Israel for her *adultery*.
        The Jesus adultery verse. And I Cor 7.

        The summary from the pastor and one elder: there is too much law in this marriage and not enough grace.

  19. MoodyMom

    After I finally left X, I saw a friend and pastor’s wife at church in the hall. I was only weeks out from the separation after decades of abuse. I was scared, wounded, terrified that X would find us and do something to us, and had only mustered enough courage to leave. I didn’t have any plan, any ideas how to start life all over, nothing except what we had been able to get out of the house in a few hours.

    When I saw her, it struck me that this pastor’s wife and her pastor husband were affected by our separation, since they had been our acquaintance/friends for years. (X was closer friends with the pastor than I was with her.) In tears, I came apologizing to her for the distress that our separation would cause for them. I told her, now that all X secretly had been doing was coming to light, that the pastor might be losing a good friend. I was in tears. She was in tears. She hugged me. In the middle of that hug, she whispered in my ear, “Well, you could always go back…” I was stunned. I pulled away. I stammered that he’d been abusing us so it would not be safe for us. (I was thinking, it had taken all the guts I had to leave. I just didn’t have anymore to face him again.) I got “well…”‘s and “hmmm”‘s, and a “Love endures all things.” It was over right there. I just didn’t have the energy to open myself up to that again.

  20. MoodyMom

    Another pastor’s wife became my main counselor. We did a lot of “focus on my own sin”. As part of looking at my “unforgiveness,” I had to make a list of all the people who had hurt me in the church with their cruelty after our separation. I told her I had forgiven them, really and truly before the Lord. But, I just didn’t want anymore contact with them because they weren’t safe, and because they continued with their awful comments to and about me and my kids, their shunning of us, and their welcoming of “poor” X. She insisted that I make the list anyway regardless of my emphatic insistence that I had forgiven them. Then in “prayer” I had to recite the list in front of HER that I forgive each person (again). There was a lot of back-rubbing, and a lot of assenting “mmm”‘s as I went through the list. I was sobbing so hard, I couldn’t speak.

    But the whole time, in my heart, I knew I wasn’t sobbing about releasing and forgiving. There was no joy. I knew I was sobbing because she didn’t believe me. I knew I was sobbing because I knew there was no help here – a dry well. I knew that this was more condemnation for not forgiving “the right way” (i.e. in front of her so she could check it off her list that she saw me performing approved behaviors). I was sobbing because it was so dark in my life, and only getting darker every minute I was forced to recite “In the Lord, I forgive person A for…, In the Lord, I forgive person B for…” It was all such a lie. It was all lies. It just felt so black. So inky, depths-of-the-ocean, abysmally black.

    Back rubs. Smiles… “Now don’t you feel better?”

    Inside, my hollowness echoed, “No!… I’m so very, very miserable. I’ve lied to the Lord. But I’m so alone. This is who the church gave me as a friend and guide. If I don’t do what she says, there will be no one who will speak to me.” So, on the outside, I lied again. I gave a weak smile and nodded.

    Over the next few weeks, we did a lot more “focusing on my own sin,” including my hardness of heart for maintaining a restraining order, learning to be tolerant of other people’s sin and “failings” since we are “all fallen people”, and working on my unwillingness to be put in a room with X and “just talking this thing out.”

    “Oh I know a couple that would be willing to counsel with the both of you, but how can this happen if you have that restraining order?”

    “He may one day be willing to work on the marriage, but how would you know, if there’s a restraining order?”

    “We’ve met with X individually. He’s a really tough nut. We’ve assigned him to a counselor who deals with tough cases. We haven’t seen any signs of him looking at his own responsibility for the marriage problems – what you call ‘abuse’. He continues to maintain that this is all your fault and to be very angry. But if he were to soften, how would you know, because of the restraining order?”

    “You should never have gone to that… *whispered* secular… agency. They counseled / pushed you into getting that restraining order. They gave you worldly counsel. That’s all they have. As a Christian, we are not of this world. We have more than the world can offer. We have the Bible, the Word of God. Instead, we should trust in the Lord for our safety. Now our hands are tied by this restraining order.”

    Funny thing is, months after this, this same pastor’s wife was standing pale and shell-shocked in front of the church, her husband’s arm clamped around her, as HE confessed to the church that he’d been having an affair with a female staff member that he’d been counseling, and that they both as a couple were resigning (she as one of the head counselors, he as pastor) and leaving the church.

    Everyone I talk to still holds her up as a model of bravery and Christian womanhood for standing by her man, for being part of HIS restoration process – restoring HIM to the pastorate, for lavishly forgiving, keeping her family together (especially for the {grown with families of their own}) kids’ sake, and for being a model of “love endures all things, keeps no record of wrongs, hopes all things, believes all things, love never fails.” They all praise her personal wisdom and the wise counsel she’s given so many others.

    There’s just one thing I want to know. Am I missing something? My gut tells me that none of this is wise.

    • You’re not missing anything, MoodyMom.

      Love covers a multitude of sins, but not all.

    • Anonymous

      I have never been faced with regret having listened to my gut. Not listening to my gut, has brought bitter regret.

    • NG

      Oh, MoodyMom, how I hate such fake ‘prayer ministry’. It’s just another power trip: these people get their validation from telling other people what to do.

      I’ve had my share of forced forgiveness and performing such empty spiritual rituals; many counseling courses in fact teach and recommend to conduct them as some magic release ritual. What an abuse victim actually needs is compassion, support, validation and truth, not screaming and shouting ‘You’re just bitter’ (has happened me from a so called ministry friend…)

      God, help me. Most of counseling/therapy ministries seem to thrive on others’ suffering. I am very wary of all super anointed prayer ministries now and pray that God might teach me His own heart towards suffering people.

    • Memphis Rayne

      You and the rest of us are only missing everything behind their closed doors. I just pictured that entire stage of him announcing his affair, clutching her, and what if he also was an abuser? She had to be “Tested” for his sin!!! He knew darn well he would be forgiven, even praised, for such “Human behavior as a man”…..What if she feels forced to lift her head up also when her spirit is being broken? On the flip side, the praise and worship over her loving forgiveness, along with his act that forged her into “Pillar” status…(barf) I think it is equivalent to brainwashing. Why do male leaders in the church not even remotely recognize the “Love endures all things” was not written as a single model for woman to endure un Godly men? Or even for women? Love is not, cannot exist under abuse. Love is Love? It’s not even gender based? You either have it or you do not? Oh good gravy’s……

      For sure you are not missing anything. They find her as a very useful tool/model to excuse men, excuse abuse (the endures all things). I truly believe that if I had her for one hour, in a room, where NOBODY would ever know anything she said, or hear any of her screams…. ONE hour with a cup of really good coffee, maybe a foot rub, some chocolate, this woman would crack like a bowl of fine China during an 10.0 earthquake. How hard it must be to live under such a toxic smoke screen…

  21. Liz

    I fear that this will be the situation in my church. I have been to my pastor and his wife for help. Of the two of them, I actually thought that she was the more understanding. But recently, we were talking again, and I spoke about how after years of trying to communicate with my husband, and having outside interventions as well, he still doesn’t seem to know what the problem is or how to change. And so my conclusion is that actually he doesn’t want to.

    I shared that with her (not for the first time), and her response was, “are you sure?” But her tone of voice made me think that she wasn’t just asking for clarity, but that she disagreed with me. I was so heartbroken at that. It’s not as if I was making a random accusation. It’s not as if I had just decided he didn’t care without trying to fix things first. I have spent years trying to get him to see what he is doing to us. Sometimes he seems to take it in and tries to be nice for a bit, but it never lasts. Even when he has been receiving counselling from the church and other therapists it doesn’t last. As soon as the outside pressure is off he goes back to being horrible to us.

    I feel kind of stupid writing this because I’ve commented here before about my worries. I’m just so scared to step out. I love my church and I can’t bear losing them, but I also know that my husband’s treatment of us is destroying our family. I really thought this woman was an ally, though. She seems so sad for me, and she’s spoken about another similar situation she knew of, but whenever I even hint at taking some kind of action to change things, it’s like she shuts off and doesn’t’ want to know.

    • Yeah, when someone we felt was an ally shows signs of not believing us, it’s gutting.

      You might like to look over our Resources pages and our FAQs and see if there might be some article(s) or resources which she might be willing to read to learn about how to respond better to people like yourself.

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