Until a few years ago, I was uninformed (a nice word for ignorant) of the level of abuse women in my own church were experiencing at the hands of their husbands. I have become acutely aware of the pervasiveness of hidden domestic abuse in my church family. Many times, I have counseled with couples and never could put my finger on what was wrong until I began to learn about domestic abuse.
Many women are suffering in silence… The abusers are masters of deceit and those being abused are fearful to speak out.
Pastor Michael Leonzo, Harrisburg, PA, shared with permission
I, like many who were blessed to have grown up in a loving home, have had a very difficult time accepting the reality of abuse, particularly in Christian homes.
Years ago, when I was a young pastor in a vibrant church, I was deeply offended when the women’s ministry invited a special speaker to address the topic of domestic violence. Little did I (or anyone else) realize that one of our elders had been beating his wife for years, having put her in the hospital several times, and that at that very time one of our ministers was about to be arrested for felony child abuse.
I’ve come to realize that abuse is not the odd exception but is rampant both in the church and in secular society.
Mending the Soul by Steven Tracy, p.13
What Women Need
Actual words from women who have been wounded by their church leaders and asked
“What would you like your pastor to know?
- I need you to just listen and encourage me.
- I need to know that I have value and who I am in Christ.
- Don’t tell me to make big changes, my life is already unstable.
- Let me decide what to do and when.
- Be willing to hear my heart and not assume that he is the only one speaking the truth
- Be willing to believe me.
- Don’t take sides – comfort me and confront my abuser.
- Help me feel that I am not crazy, accept me vs. reject me.
- Allow me to speak from my heart without prejudice and inaccurate thinking on the part of the church.
- Allow the Holy Spirit to speak through you.