The Reality of It

abuse2

I was going to write this blog entry, but then I changed my mind. I really don’t wish to offend people by naming specific churches, because this is a fairly universal problem. I assumed that if I simply shared my own story, it would be enough. But then I received a comment from my cousin (no offense, Coz) and realized I should probably post it. While I’m sure I’m not the only person who has seen this sort of thing in the church, there are apparently quite a few who haven’t. So I decided to write it, but leave the denomination blank. However, if you wish to know the denomination, I will gladly share it with you.

(This is PG-13, btw.)

I’m going to write about what happened to three separate friends, who didn’t know each other, and yet all suffered the same consequences for trying to divorce their abusive husbands.

My first friend was a young woman whose husband had anger management issues, at the very least. He also had a thing for other women. He finally confessed to her that he had made out with another woman and had gotten pretty far, but he hadn’t actually had intercourse with her. She went to the elders of the church and was told that since the man hadn’t actually had sex with this other woman, it wasn’t the same as infidelity, and he said he was sorry, so she had to stay with him, despite that and the other issues.

She didn’t. She left him and was placed under church discipline.

My second friend was around my age. Her husband was an elder in the church several times over throughout their marriage. One day she had enough of being his punching bag and went to the elders. But her husband apologized and promised to change. The church said she had to stay with him because 1) he hadn’t cheated on her and 2) he said he was sorry.

She didn’t. She left him and was placed under church discipline.

My third friend was older than me. Her husband was given to fits of anger where he’d break things and put his fist through doors and scream and yell at her and her daughters. She lived in constant fear. She went to the elders. They said they’d talk to him. Eventually they placed him under church discipline (which meant that he couldn’t take communion). But that didn’t stop him. He continued to threaten and abuse. My friend was finally told by one elder that it was obvious that she was just a person whom God had created for suffering.

Finally, she left him…and I think you know the rest of the story.

Folks, this denomination I was in for nearly 15 years is relatively small, and I knew relatively few people in it. For me to have encountered three abused women who were treated so poorly by the church leadership is telling. This problem is enormous, and our silence, those of us who know, those of us who are experiencing it, perpetuates it. Our silence subjugates others to the same tyranny. Our silence makes us co-conspirators with the abusers, whether they be the spouse or the church leadership. As long as we are silent, we approve of this crime, and make ourselves guilty of the same.

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