I know that you are weary and worn.
You have tried and tried.
You have done everything that your friends, family, and church has told you to do.
You’ve forgiven, submitted, prayed, served, cried, and waited.
There may be moments or teasers of change, but underneath it all, you know his heart is the same.
He is one person in public and another person in private.
He charms others, and yet the words he uses with you cut like a knife.
He serves others with a smile but when you ask for his help with the house or the kids, the look he shoots you sends shivers up your spine.
Regardless of how he treats you, he still expects you to be available to him whenever he wants to have sex.
You know there will be hell to pay if you do not give in, so you lay there and take it.
You feel your spirit fade a little more each time he treats you like a prostitute.
You know he’s addicted to porn, and you feel that his addiction is somehow you fault and your responsibility to fix.
He’s known in the community as a stand-up guy.
His co-workers like him.
The neighbors like him.
Your family would pick him over you any day.
Other women tell you how lucky you are to have him as your husband, one even told you that she “adores” him.
The pastor is his best bud.
He holds a position of leadership in the church, and you feel sick every time he steps up to the podium or straps on his guitar to lead worship.
You’ve gone to the church leaders for help, and they end up siding with him.
Somehow, according to them, his abuse and adultery are your fault.
You need to forgive more.
You need to pray more.
You need to submit more.
You need to nag less.
You need to give him more sex.
Dear one, I am here to say that none of this is your fault and none of those things will change him.
You are beautiful, brave, strong, and kind.
God loves you and He wants you to be safe and well.
God loves you, a person, more than He loves your marriage (an institution).
Abuse is so much more than broken bones and bruises (there are thirteen different patters/systems of abuse and they are all vile in God’s eyes).
If you are in an abusive marriage, marriage counseling is unwise, unsafe and unethical.
God sees all, hears all and knows all.
You do not have to prove to Him that you have been abused.
You are worthy of love, safety, honor, respect, and fidelity.
You story matters.
We invite you to join our community at Held & Healed: Christian Women Rebuilding After Abuse.
If you are ready to dive deeper and explore the truths shared here, along with many others, I invite you to join our next session of Twelve Truths Groups Coaching.
Learn more here.
You are not alone.
We see you.
We hear you.
We believe you.
I will begin by saying that I love God and have accepted salvation through Jesus and want to live each day representing His love and being His hands, feet, and heart to the those around me.
I write on behalf of women who are victims of abuse, so my pronouns will be she (victim) and he (abuser), but I understand that women can be abusers and men can be victims as well.
I am not a church hater nor a man hater.
I am an abuser hater.
Abuse is happening in churches every day.
Reportedly, one in three women are victims of physical abuse by their intimate partners.
Countless women are experiencing other forms of abuse as well.
I hear stories each week that break my heart.
Most of the women that I hear from are devoted Christians and are or have been members or regular attenders of church.
There are thirteen patterns/systems of abuse: child, cultural, emotional, financial, intellectual, pets and property, physical, psychological, sexual, social, spiritual, and verbal. These patterns revolve around the thirteenth one, which is a core mindset of power abuse and entitlement. (For examples of each system, go here.)
Statistically speaking, at least one in three women who are in your church are experiencing physical abuse.
But, my heart and my experience tells me that MANY MORE are experiencing other forms of abuse and do not have visible marks to prove it.
Abuse is so much more than broken bones and bruises.
When these patterns of abuse are in play, marriage counseling is unwise, unsafe and unethical.
Most abusers are master manipulators and their personal and public personas are very different.
Whatever is shared in a session will put the victim in physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual danger.
It is vital for individuals to pursue counseling with professionals who are domestic violence-informed/trauma-informed.
God loves people more than He loves marriage (an institution).
He loves His daughters and wants them to be safe and well.
If a loving father hears that his daughter is being beaten, hit, cussed, cursed, threatened, lied to or cheated on, he will do anything and everything he could to help her find safety and healing.
He would welcome her home, provide her with resources and assure her that she deserves to be loved and honored.
God is the perfect, heavenly Father who sees, hears, and knows all.
If an earthly father would protect and care for his daughter, WHY WOULD WE TELL WOMEN THAT GOD EXPECTS THEM TO ENDURE ABUSE?
It makes no sense.
And yet, far too often, churches tell women that they must return to danger, submit more, forgive more, pray more, nag less and give more sex.
Jesus called wolves “wolves” and told us to have nothing to do with them, but many churches tell women to go home and sleep with them.
ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.
There is an epidemic of abuse and conservative, fundamental church cultures are place where abusers feel safe hanging out.
Far too many churches welcome abusers (wolves) and shun abuse survivors.
Many survivors no longer attend traditional church because they do not feel safe.
They have been shamed and blamed for their abusers’ sins.
They are finding their voices and linking arms with other survivors and a church without walls is offering healing, resources, community, and tangible help.
Online support groups, local meetups, and retreats are bringing hope to the hurting.
I am using my voice to speak out on behalf of my survivor sisters.
Many of us desire to be a part of a safe, loving church community but when we bring our concerns to leaders, we are dismissed, shamed, blamed, argued with, and met with great opposition.
Would you be willing to look at resources and ministries that exist to equip and empower churches in this fight?
Twenty years ago, there were limited resources for equipping and empowering churches and other institutions to recognize and confront abuse.
Now, they exist, and I would be honored to send you information.
I love God and I love the model of Acts 2 church.
My hope and prayer is that the broken and battered lambs will find refuge under the care of safe shepherds, and protection from the wolves that seek to devour and destroy them.
Ladies, if you are a survivor or someone who is caring for survivors, please join us on Facebook at Held & Healed: Christian Women Rebuilding After Abuse. This is group of over 800 women and I have shared thousands of resources that will help you on your healing journey.
You called me to unload and my heart is breaking for you.
You found out that your ex is helping to lead worship at yet another church, one of the largest ones in your community.
He never stopped leading worship, during all the years he was lying to you, cheating on you, abusing you and neglecting you.
The church turned a blind eye to adultery, addiction and abuse then.
It continues to do so now.
In your dream, you met yet another one of his mistresses.
She sat on the front row in church while he stood on the platform.
When you confronted her, she simply made a joke.
When you confronted him, he ignored you and walked away.
When you confronted your own family members who still coddled him, they stared at you blankly.
In your dream, you were walking toward the pastor to warn him.
But you woke up.
Just like the nightmares you’ve had where you are falling, falling, falling and you wake up just before you hit the ground and die.
You don’t know how the dream ends, but I can predict it.
You walk up to the pastor, you tell him that your ex isn’t a godly man and he should not hold a position of leadership in any church.
You tell him about serial adultery, sex addiction, and abuse of every kind.
The pastor also stares at you blankly.
So, you walk away.
My friend, you cannot convince anyone of anything.
They see what they want to see, a man who is charming and witty and can make their worship team sound a little bit better.
You will be deemed the bitter ex-wife.
I encourage you to stop trying to get them to see truth they don’t want to see.
Instead, pour that energy and focus into speaking truth over yourself.
“I am worthy of love, honor and respect.”
“It is not my fault that he lied, cheated and abused me."
“His actions are reflections of his character, not mine.”
“My God sees all, hears all, knows all. What He knows about me matters more than what others think of me.”
“I do not need a church’s validation to be whole.”
Hold your head high and dig deep into your healing.
The One who sees all, hears all and knows all has got your back and He is moving mountains on your behalf.
He is raising up an army of survivors who have fought similar battles.
You are not alone.
Tell the nightmares, the flashbacks, and the triggers to go back to hell where they came from.
Book a session with a therapist who understands domestic violence and trauma.
You are victorious.
And, join us at Held & Healed: Christian Women Rebuilding After Abuse.
We are learning, growing and healing together.
Many of us have said it.
Many of us believe it.
But, this statement can blame/shame/guilt a victim while excusing an abuser’s behaviors.
Many were abused as children, but did not abuse their children.
Many were cheated on, but didn’t cheat.
Many were verbally abused, but didn’t verbally abuse.
It’s possible to break the cycle.
And, because we were hurt so deeply, we do not want to hurt another human being the way we were hurt.
Author and advocate Rebecca Davis stated: “One problem with "hurting people hurt people," as you indicated, is that it's used as a blanket statement that always applies. It doesn't. As you said, some people DO break the cycle, even while they're still hurting. For many, they are incredibly compassionate with others, even while still beating the living daylights out of themselves.
Another problem with "hurting people hurt people" is that it implies that the only reason people hurt others is that they themselves are hurting. No, there are other reasons for hurting the vulnerable. I guess the biggest one is that some people make intentional choices--that is, they WANT to hurt.
So for those two reasons alone, I believe that statement needs to be retired. Instead, we could perhaps say something less catchy but more true, like "Sometimes the pain that abuse survivors feel can come out in destructive ways, even when they don't want it to."
I’m here to learn. To know better. To do better.
While I realize it is impossible to please everyone all the time, I do believe we have a responsibility to help caring people understand which words help and which words hurt. There are many who really want to get it right.
A year ago, I made a life-changing decision.
I left church to follow Jesus.
I left religion to pursue relationship.
I left spiritual narcissism to find freedom.
I left patriarchy to rest in my Father’s arms.
I left misogyny to find my value as a woman.
I left exhaustion to experience rest.
I left confusion to bask in clarity.
I left chaos to breathe in peace.
I left darkness to walk in joy.
Matthew 18:20 says, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst of them.”
I have been blessed by some precious “two or more” gatherings in the past year that have been intimate, powerful and anointed.
I am intentional about meeting face to face with others who love God and who have the fruit of the Spirit evident in their lives.
We meet, we talk, we discuss scriptures, we eat, we share a cup of tea, we pray, we laugh, we cry.
These gatherings remind me of Acts 2:42-45. “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. Now all who believed were brought together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.”
If you have experienced abuse, ridicule, shame, blame, or judgement from a religious institution, I am so sorry.
I assure you, that’s not God.
If you are a Christian woman rebuilding your life after abuse, join our community here, where I have organized hundreds of resources to help you on your healing journey.
I left church to follow Jesus.
I know this statement will make some people extremely uncomfortable.
But church represents trauma, pain, abuse, misogyny, and patriarchy to me.
At this point in my journey, this is what I must do to heal.