Emotional pain was in her voice but her body hurt too. Her story poured out and she kept saying, “I am so afraid, I am so afraid.” The force of her husband’s angry aggression had sent her hurtling to the floor with her head bouncing off the end of the bed frame. She wondered aloud whether she should go to a doctor. She said he stopped yelling and threatening only when she managed to grab the phone with every intention of calling the police. Her story and fear poured into the CRN office via phone from more than a thousand miles away. When her husband left the next morning for the church office where he worked as Senior Pastor, she Googled the Internet seeking help. She found the Clergy Recovery Network and called.
This story is a complicated one with problematic ramifications. If she tells someone in their church she and her husband will be without income. They have small children who would face a very uncertain future. She is not sure she will be believed, either. Just like the murdered pastor in Tennessee, her husband is well liked and no matter what the truth, he is more likely to be believed than her. If she calls the police she might as well kiss her and her husband’s ministry good bye. Everyone will find out. The simple choice to get help and protection from the violence she has encountered could make all the good in her life vanish. “There is good too.” she explains and continues, “I love him and we get along so well most of the time. It’s not bad like this all the time. I know he loves me and I know he doesn’t want to hurt me.”
Domestic violence in the parsonage is always complicated. God’s work is at stake. Everyone feels responsible for maintaining the good work God is doing in the ministry. Just finding personal protection for a spouse who is victimized could potentially hurt lots of people.
Domestic violence is not always as physical or overt as the story above. Obviously it can be much worse. Sometimes the abuse is verbal, the assault is high volume threats and the scars are emotional. Sometimes the controlling abuser uses the victim sexually, assaults the children in the name of corporal punishment or erupts in self destructive ways. Out of control anger used to control, abuse or threaten another is always wrong. Always. Paul Hegstrom was interviewed by STEPS about his being a pastor who abused his wife. Click here to read his vulnerable and insightful article.
If you are a victim in a life threatening situation call 911 now. If you are an abused spouse in a non emergency setting, CRN urges you to make immediate contact to discuss your options and to deal with all the complications you are facing. Go now to Finding Help. Your contact will be discreet and confidential and you may leave all the instructions you desire about return phone calls so you are not “caught” seeking help. You deserve to be free.
If you are a pastor with a history of domestic violence you might be saying, “well I’m not that bad” or “I’m so ashamed I know I will never do that again, God and I can handle it.” please do not be caught in these lies. They are part of the cycle of abuse. It is likely you are just in between abusive acts and you will hurt her again. Please go to Finding Help and at least tell CRN your intentions of never doing it again. You may contact a fellow minister at the Been There, Done That Network to discuss your circumstances and concerns about domestic violence as well. Do not try to handle this alone. Confidential help is available. If the need is urgent, contact Dale by clicking here now. You deserve to be free from the pain and development issues which push you to do what you do. You and your spouse can be free.