A Cry For Justice

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

One more pastor gets it about domestic abuse! — a guest post by one of our readers

Some time ago, ACFJ shared a link to an open letter to pastors from an abuse survivor. I emailed the link to the pastors of our church. The response from them was positive. In addition, I bought them Why Does He DO That, A Cry for Justice, Unholy Charade, and Not Under Bondage.

When I spoke to the senior pastor a short time after dropping off the books, he told me that someone else had recommended those very books and he was very glad to have them.

Since then, I have noticed during his sermons that he has demonstrated a much greater awareness of the way an abused woman will hear what he is saying. Case in point, this past Sunday he was discussing Psalm 37, with his main point being ‘Trust and Obey.’ At one point he said something about ‘staying put’ rather than running away from adversity or trials, but then he inserted a caveat directed to anyone living in an abusive situation, and stressed that such a person should seek safety. It wasn’t just one sentence thrown in offhand, but it reflected his understanding that a woman living with abuse needed to hear the clarification. I hadn’t realized that I was internally reacting to the “stay put” until he clarified and I felt my gut relax.

When I spoke to him about it today, to thank him and tell him I’ve noticed that he’s been doing that, he said that he hadn’t planned to say that, but when he was talking, he suddenly thought about how an abused woman would hear the instruction to ‘stay put.’ And that was when he inserted the caveat.

He has told me in the past and again told me today that he believes abuse is grounds for divorce. And he specified that he doesn’t only mean physical violence.

I just had to share this story with you because it felt like such a victory. Thanks to you and the materials you provide for us to share, one more pastor gets it!!

God Bless you and may He continue to increase your impact!

***

We want to thank the author of this post, who is one of our regular readers, for sharing this story! Bless you and your pastor! What a fantastic encouragement this is for us!

19 Comments

  1. Suzanne

    I pray that more pastors will “get it” and begin to support the victims of abuse.

  2. Seeing Clearly

    It’s a wonderful story to share. Your willingness to share the link, buy the books, listen carefully to his words and affirm his progress in understanding; it’s all there. You have helped many, many women.

  3. Once you get it, scripture starts coming alive in a way I had not seen it before. There is comfort and instruction for the oppressed, the poor, the marginalized. I can see anew what matters to God, and what the future of the wicked is and who they are and what we at to do about them! There is so much richness in parts that I didn’t understand before! But it took living in an abusive relationship and a desperate escape to fully grasp it!

    • Anon

      Yes, Scripture does start to come alive in ways it had not before. Abusers are so cunning and abusive twisting and distorting of Scripture can be so severe that one cringes and stays away from the Bible in thinking God is like the abuser. But He is not. His Holy wrath is righteous.

      I’m glad to have listened to Sam Powell’s sermon that was linked to this blog a week or so ago — Covetousness and Oppression — and heard a couple of things about abused women and children and just the whole thing was comforting.

      Good, abuse-aware, sermons are heavenly to hear. Otherwise my gut clenches too, I hadn’t ever thought about it but my breathing changes and my gut clenches as well in anticipating another ‘endure it’ ‘submit’ ‘try harder’ ‘stay put’ kind of message that is exactly what abusive women hear way too much already as it is and then when it comes down from the pastor, it’s extra cement for the shoes, another heavy pack to carry on one’s back, and some extra cracks of the whip to keep you freshly aware of your bonded state.

      Editor’s note: Here is a link to the sermon mentioned in this comment: Covetousness and Oppression

      • mendingthroughchrist

        I’m in the midst of it right now, and I can relate to your words as I am trying to get ready to file. It has taken me many years to see it for what it is. Our Christian upbringing has been twisted, and we fail to understand God’s love for us because we think the marriage paper and our husbands are more important to God than we are.

        This blog has been so encouraging to me, like a life boat in a heavy storm. I thank God for all of you godly women! I have ordered “Not Under Bondage” and can’t wait for the book to come in. I’ve been serving in church ministry for most of my life and have never really understood abuse, so this has been an education for me that I hope to use to help others in our situation. I’m glad that some pastors are starting to understand.

    • JL

      This is so true. Indeed, we seem to need to experience painful things in order for Scripture to be brought alive.

      Jesus welcomed children and talked to women (even a Samaritan woman)… although Jewish society did not value either. He broke with Jewish traditions in order to show love to the “lepers” in society. God has a heart of compassion for the downtrodden, the poor, the lonely… Until we are one of “them” we won’t understand the heart of God. But once we are one of the “least of these” then we will have many “aha” moments!

      “As you do unto the least of these, you do unto Me.”

    • Amen! ^

  4. Psalm55

    I would like to see more articles about covert narcissism. Most of the damage I suffered was caused by his covert slander through years.

    He had gone behind my back destroying every friendship I ever tried to have. He turned everyone he worked with against me too, showing them compassion, praying for them and being giving and selfless toward them, while starving me of all those things. A few years ago I started noticing my friends were abandoning me. I knew someone was speaking badly about me behind my back but I never thought in a million years it could be my own husband, even though I knew he was a pathological liar. The fog was just so thick I couldn’t see.

    It was only after my mother’s death that I started researching why my family had treated me so badly when I didn’t do anything to deserve it. I stumbled across narcissism. From there it led to the discovery of my oldest son’s wife being a narcissist and then finally my own husband and another person that pretended to be my friend. My husband tried to turn my own mother against me and my children against me. My mother didn’t like him so it didn’t work on her. Looking back, I Now understand that she saw him for what he really was. While he did so many things to destroy me emotionally, he did allow me to handle the money.

    Since I know I’m the victim, the handling of money is something I struggle with because so many articles mention Financial abuse by the abuser. He did not want me to get a job and wanted me to be totally dependent on him financially. I did suffer this form of financial abuse but to the outside world it looked like I was abusing him financially. He would go around telling people lies that I would not give him money. I gave him money every time he asked for it. When I met him he was being evicted from his apartment and hiding his car from the Repo Man. He knew I would not marry him unless I could handle the bills.

    I was with him for [several] years and didn’t even know what he was doing to me until the last year of our marriage. We had separated that last year because I caught him texting my so-called friend behind my back. She was also emotionally abusing me while pretending to be my friend. He promised that he would prove to me that he’s a changed man, but what I found out was that his deceit was so much darker and disgusting than I ever imagined. He wasn’t working on anything. When I gained access to his phone and his email accounts I discovered that he is a sexual predator, and has been for many years.

    • Hi Psalm55,

      I corrected your screen name as it appeared to give your full name. You may need to manually correct your screen name in the future as your full name may be the default name that WordPress is putting in the name field. If you need assistance changing the default name on your WordPress account feel free to contact me at twbtc.acfj@gmail.com

      I also put paragraph breaks in your comment. Paragraph breaks makes long comments easier for others to read and understand.

      You asked if we could have more articles about covert narcissism – We have a TAG called Covert Aggression which has ten posts listed on it. You may find some clarity by checking out those posts. All of our TAGS can be found on the top menu bar.

      We don’t have posts specific to narcissism because we try to avoid labels on this blog. We find that labels are more of a distraction than a help when identifying abusers and their tactics. The bottom line is that the abuser’s behavior needs to change. You can find many articles on the internet regarding narcissism and narcissistic personality disorder, but properly speaking only a licensed mental health professional who is licensed to diagnose mental health conditions can ascribe those terms to someone after they have seen them clinically – and we at ACFJ are not mental health professionals.

      I had the opportunity to speak with Dr. George Simon, a trusted licensed psychologist whose career has focused on manipulative and character disordered people, about the importance of labels. This is what he said:

      Simon: Labels describe sometimes almost poetically, but they don’t explain anything. And the fact is that labels are often irrelevant. If behavior is inappropriate it needs to change and it matters not one iota why there’s resistance to the change. What difference does that make if the behavior needs to change?

      TWBTC: Some victims find that if the behavior can be explained, it helps them.

      Simon: I understand, and that comes out of our traditional psychology that says if we can get to the unconscious dynamic of the behavior that they will get better. The behavior just needs to change. Period.

      TWBTC: It doesn’t matter what we call it?

      Simon: No.

      TWBTC: Or where it came from?

      Simon: It’s not necessary to understand what prompted the behavior or where it came from. The behavior just needs to change.

      • Anonymous

        Amen! It doesn’t matter why he abuses you (referring to general you) An abuser abuses a victim because he is an abuser and that is what abusers do. Lions eat other animals. They just do. They hunt and kill and eat other animals. They are not going to become vegetarians if we could simply offer a fresh array of greens that might appeal to them. Nope. They are lions.

        The behavior must change/ Doesn’t matter why. Just needs to stop. We lock up serial killers because dead bodies get a lot of attention (although prostituted women, women of color, native american women and other marginalized, and/or ostracized, vulnerable persons make great targets and some serial killers have racked up high numbers by targeting people who society –wrongly– deems to be of lessor value/worth) and perhaps there will be interviews done in the person’s prison cell so some writer can sell a book detailing that serial killer’s life…… it doesn’t matter why the killer is shooting people, it just must stop.

        Deadened, hollowed out, shells of once vibrant people who still keep on breathing don’t get many people’s attention like bullet-ridden bodies do, but violence is violence. Abuse is abuse. Sin is sin and what abusers do is wicked, evil, and utterly wrong.

        Unless your abusers treat police officers, bosses, judges, armed terrorists in the same abusive, horrible way they mistreat you, I’d say they know very consciously what they are doing is very, very wrong as they selectively target you, their choice victim, to abuse, violate, beat, and harm.

        Abusers abuse because they are of the devil and seek to do their evil father’s will, which is to lie, deceive, steal, destroy, and murder.

      • I agree, thank you!

    • Hi Psalm 55, like all the other forms of abuse, financial abuse can happen in many different guises. Some abusers restrict or deny their victim’s access to money– they don’t let the victim have any say in the bank accounts, they put the victim of a real tight allowance for housekeeping funds, they make her account for every cent she spends, etc. Others let their victim manage the money, pay the bills, but on a whim they might spend profligately or secretly on themselves whereas they berate the victim if she is any way extravagant herself. Some appear to be fairly decent with how they allow the victim to be jointly involved with the family finances.. but when the victim finally leaves she discovers that the bank holds her responsible for all the debt the couple had taken on because the abuser is waltzing off refusing to pay a penny on the loans they jointly took out when they were married…

      My second husband allowed me to be the primary money manager of our joint finances, and we discussed expenditure amicably and came to joint decisions. At one point he decided of his own accord, without any prompting or urging from me, to save some of his pension each fortnight in a separate bank account so if we ever went overseas for my DV advocacy work, he would be able to pay for his own ticket and not rely on my ‘helping him out’. He seemed to make this decision for his own self-esteem. And he asked me to manage that savings account for him: he chose not to have a plastic card for that account so he would not be tempted to withdraw from it for frivolous expenditure.

      But when the marriage ended, he told all his family and friends that I had been controlling his pension money and not allowing him to have full access to it; that I’d been letting him have only a small amount of the fortnightly money from his pension. Like I said, financial abuse comes in many forms… and he chose a devious way of doing it in order to ramp up his ability to slander my character.

      • Psalm 55

        Thank you for clarifying that. I was having doubts about my situation because I was allowed to manage the money. He used it to further slander me behind my back.

  5. M&M

    I recently learned that Habitat for Humanity considers divorce from an abuser to be a good reason to apply for their help with housing. That is still in addition to their usual income restrictions, but I wanted to let people know about it.

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