Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Pastor, Faith Boards Online, and Church Community says NO HELP to Victim of Domestic Violence

Posted by Hannah at 5:02 PM

Pastor, Faith Boards Online, and Church Community says NO HELP to Victim of Domestic Violence

I read quite a bit of articles regarding domestic violence in regards to the faith prospective. At times I realize that I get naïve thinking maybe things would get a little better once people decide to share their experiences.

I read advice and they will point to getting in touch with your church, counseling with your pastor and have their resources help you. The next warning?  For goodness SAKES don’t go secular! I think in some circumstances that advice about secular help is just not wise!

I have been watching a story unfold recently about a family involved in domestic violence.   It started – for me anyway – on two very popular faith boards. It was a story of a married young woman with 2 small children.

As in most stories of domestic violence the church I don’t think she saw it for what it was at first. We all have to have our own realizations, or what some call crowning moments. In the past the family did have a church that insisted her husband needed help, and that he could be in danger of hurting himself or others.

Steps were taken for the reconciliation after a domestic violence happened in their home.  The family had to move shortly afterward, and the whole process needed to be started at their next place of worship.  Counseling ended with him having to leave the home after he attacked one of the children.

Pictures were documents, and emails filled with venom with his justifications. Threats of cutting off personal communication with his children and all financial aid, because he needed some respect. The emails would make anyone’s hair curl.

It sounds like she was basically isolated, and she reached out to faith boards.

The first faith board she went to posters threatened her with calling CPS or Child Protective Services. She was chewed up and spit out on this faith board, and moderators sat back and watched. They never got involved.

The husband had already been removed from the home, and that would be the first step that CPS would have taken anyway. I never quite understood why the threats. The poster did the responsible thing, and reported the incident herself so I don’t understand why that wasn’t good enough.

The second faith board basically shut her up. Her thread went on for 10 pages as she recorded threat after threat that he was sending, and she was receiving replies of support from the posters on that board at first.

She talked also about conversations between the pastor and meetings with him as her husband basically attacked her in front of him, and at that point there was no more questions as to what the church was dealing with. A call for a meeting with the Elders was next.

Meanwhile, the man broke into the home and started to threaten her while she was on the phone with with a friend. I guess that person called the police, and the police told her she must get a restraining order. He also had to leave. The restraining order was granted.

You can imagine it was scary for her and her family.  The church had very little contact with her, and she was now living a new area with no one around that she knew.  It seemed like the internet was helping her keep a bit of sanity over this.

On the second faith board thread was removed – disappeared – because they felt it was getting too personal. The admin stated they would possibility ‘revisit’ it if she could get a note from her pastor stating she needed this, and they would have to have a phone conference to discuss this as well.

She is no longer allowed to discuss her personal situation, or mention any parts of her family on the board. She is welcome to reply to others if she wishes. Isn’t that nice?

The church has offered ‘spiritual’ support for this family. They would no place to live soon, and needed the locks changed.  She had no resources to money being a stay at home mother, and he removed what access she did have.

She requested a letter in regards to her order of protection from the church stating they are helping with accountability, moral support, etc. The church basically told her they were not qualified to do that. Qualified? Hmm. I guess that is true. They had already informed her that they could offer no financial assistant, housing or anything else of substance either.

I think people need to see this so they can understand WHY these women go secular, and WHY they also get killed! It’s too ugly for people to deal with. It doesn’t happen within the church - is what they say. I’m not going to say all churches; organizations are like this, because they aren’t all like this. There are enough of them, and article after article is thrown into the mix about how women need to learn to submit more. It just burns me up.

If a Christian Counselor, Pastors, Christian Mentors and others from the fellowship don’t do much in ways of help in the real world, and if online faith boards continue to shut this issue down. Where are these people supposed to go?

I’m so disgusted. YES there is way more to the story, but it was as plain as the nose on anyone’s face what is happening. Don’t go secular – keep it within the Christian fold - she say to victims. Okay. We are waiting……..now what? Does anyone else see what other options this family has? I’m at a lost myself.

I can’t recommend you go to Crosswalk or Family Life for support in these types of circumstances. If your church can’t help please find one that will! Don’t turn down secular help in the meanwhile it maybe the only source of support you will get in real time!

Please pray for this family.

Please digg, stumble, etc if you feel this type of story needs to get out! We need to break the silence within the church about domestic violence!

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Jeannette Altes on 12:02 AM said...

I read this article on "Sanctuary For The Abused and posted a comment there. Then I came to your site and I would like to repeat my comment her, if you don't mind. Here it is:

I spent several years working at a church and
part of it as a church leader. My advice to
someone who is in a situation of domestic
violence (even it is is 'just' emotional) is SEEK
who are TRAINED to know how to help you and
what to recognize in the way of symptoms that
are fallout from the abuse in you and your

Very few pastors and church leaders are trained
to help in this area and will put their doctrinal
spin on it at the cost of your sanity. They do not
want to "see" that people in their flock have
"those" kind of problems.

To those who say that these areas should be
handled with-in the church, I have this question.
If you are in an accident and break your leg, do
you have the ambulance rush you to your pastor
or your local emergency room? (If you said
pastor, you might want to consider a closer
examination of your church's control issues.)

If you seek those who are trained professionals
to tend to your physical injuries, why on earth
should you be expected to do any different for
emotional injuries?

Hannah on 7:52 AM said...

Thank you for your comment Katherine. I do agree with you.

Please keep in mind everyone - this isn't a slam towards the church its a sad reality for me personally. I read about these types of things alot, and watch people wait for help they need that never really comes.

We have to keep in mind to watch for things that some are just not capable of giving. Its not bad - its just life. Its awful when they encourage you to wait on them, and that help never surfaces. Meanwhile your family is placed in a very dangerous position.

Anonymous said...

I agree that the church "should" be the first point of call. however church leaders really need to be trained to deal with such an issue. I'm in the midst of an emotional abusive marriage i've gone to my church to be told to be patient and that i'm setting off a time bomb by asking husband to leave. It's gotten to the point where my husband knows he can just pick up the phone so i can be talked into submission. i feel so let down and don't know what to do.

Hannah on 8:06 AM said...

A time bomb isn't a good enough reason to leave. You don't solve anything by avoiding it. There is no way to stop it either - as I'm sure you have figured out as well.

I would tell you to contact your local crisis center - or DV shelter for help.

They should be calling OUT the sin, and not making comments about submission. This is about brokeness - not submission.

Hannah on 8:09 AM said...

Sorry! Timebomb isn't a good reason to STAY!

Sorry for the mistake!

Anonymous said...

I have been married 36 years to an abuser, and have spoken to numerous counselors and pastors also. My "husband" has kept me his prisoner through financial, physical, spiritual and emotional abuse. Whenever I found the strength to pull myself up and leave he would quit his job and threatened to take our children 3 states away; I could go or stay, but he ALWAYS took the children, so I ALWAYS went. Our children are grown now and the saga continues, except now he threatens to leave me in the streets with nothing. I pulled on every bit of strength I had, which wasn't much, and contacted a minister I knew through attending his church. He opened up our first meeting assuring me that he was educated in Domestic Violence. We had 2 meetings, which he knew I had to SNEAK to, and on the 3rd he told me I was basically on my own! He said he would NOT talk to me or help me anymore UNLESS I left my abuser. Said he would pray for me but that was all he could and would do if I continued to stay....and then he ushered me out of his office!

I felt like I had NOW been abused again! In theory I totally understand what he was saying and agree with him, BUT, if he understood abuse as much as he claimed, he would understand it is NOT that black and white. My husband has taken everyone away from me, has left me in financial ruin, and I do NOT have anyone I can turn to. I turned to him to help me gain the strength I needed through his faith, friendship, support of the church community, AND his counseling expertise. He left me high and dry and threw me back to the "wolf in sheeps clothing." Does he not realize the strength it took me to admit what I live to him??? The embarassment, the pain in reliving it as I told him my story? He KNEW I had nowhere to go, and came to him to help me get strong again so I COULD leave. Instead I was abused again and feel weaker then I was BEFORE I searched out his council. And THAT, my friends is WHY women don't leave their abusers! It is STILL a man's world and most of the people you depend on for help; ministers, police, physicians, attorneys, DO NOT understand what it is, and down deep feel you must be deserving it! Not only do abusers have power inside of our homes but ALSO have power when we try to leave!

Hannah on 12:45 PM said...

Anony 6 - that pastor is not educated in domestic violence. Anyone knows you don't push, because the most important thing is choice. It needs to be the victims decision, because if it isn't? The chances are very high they will return under unhealthy circumstances. They are not ready to leave if they are not prepared for the abuser show that comes after you do leave. Preparation is key if you can do that.

I would also recommend you speak to a lawyer for a free consultation. Abusers love to tell you they will leave you penniless, and they get it all. The lawyers can show you how to protect yourself. DV shelters at times have a list of lawyers that deal with DV.

I'm sorry this happened to you. We as Christians are to follow up with action, and not just prayers.


Here is a forum online that will give you support, and do contact your local domestic violence shelter. They realize you will have to do this secretly as well.

Anonymous said...

I was in an abusive relationship for close to 20 years. I am a Christian and I did not seek help from the church but 1 or 2 times as I was frustrated with the so called "help" from the ministers. One piece of good advice I did get was, do not keep leaving this man and returning. When you leave, be gone for good. After 3 returns, I left and never went back. it is extremenly hard to be a Christian,be married to an abuser and have children by him. To this day the violence has stopped, and I am weaning him off me,by not letting him into my home. I refuse to take calls from him, and I accept NOTHING FROM HIM. He pays child support and the child is old enough to drive and see him if they want. I sought the help of the YWCA each time I left and they really helped me to see by staying with him, I was becoming"SICK" in the cycle of violence and control too. I have been free from him long enough to get my life on track and stay away from that caustic relationship. I realize the trauma he experienced as a child was out of his control, which is why most abusers want to control others. Ask The Lord to help you leave and ask Him to make a way for you to go and STAY GONE.

Anonymous said...

Wow, these comments are probably just the tip of the iceberg. As I read each one, I wondered if I had written and forgotten, but of course, as I read, the details were different from my case. But there are so many similarities.

Anonymous 8, I too determined to leave and stay left. It hasn't been easy, because he has been able to keep threatening me with finances. I have stayed home for a long time, and don't have qualifications to get a job, and with young children still, won't be able to do much about it yet. I am tempted to go back just to be able to survive.

He really knows how to control, and although I have been able to let go of my marriage, friends, comfortable life and home, I am now struggling with the last two weapons of control - children and finances. I can't live without them.

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