How Christian Homeschool Leaders Have Addressed Domestic Violence Isn’t Ok

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CC image courtesy of Flickr, Jeffrey.

By R.L. Stollar, HA Community Coordinator

While many homeschool leaders have dismal records in how they discuss and respond to child abuse, their lack of understanding abuse dynamics also extends to other forms of abuse. The following are examples of how homeschool leaders have failed tragically to understand the realities of domestic violence, or spousal abuse.

Michael Farris

The following excerpt is from HSLDA founder Michael Farris’s 1996 book How A Man Prepares His Daughters For Life. Farris has his patriarchal beliefs on full display in this book, including such passages as: “I am very supportive of the concept of the authority of fathers in their home…It’s important to be right…It is appropriate to simply say to your daughter, ‘Because I’m the dad, that’s why‘” (page 21); “a woman should be submissive to her husband” (page 96); and “husbands are ultimately responsible for family decisions” (page 101). He defends “a very traditional view about the role of women in churches” (page 27) and later explains that he means “a doctrinal position of male-only elders” (page 55).

But what stood out the most to me was the following 3 paragraphs with which Farris begins Chapter 5, “Guiding Your Daughter Toward Positive Friendships.” The tone-deafness, minimization, and victim-blaming Farris engages in regarding this very clear situation of domestic abuse — and the fact that he provided legal defense for a domestic abuser — goes to show that child abuse is not the only type of abuse Farris does not seem to take seriously. (For those unaware, a quarter-size bruise is a serious indicator of abuse, both for child abuse as well as domestic violence cases.) From page 77:

When I was a very young lawyer in Spokane, Washington, I was assigned to defend a case in which two professing Christians, “Steve” and “Lana,” were getting a divorce. Lana was seeking a divorce because of the advice of her “friends.” She and Steve, my client, got into an argument one evening and he grabbed her by the arm and squeezed. He left a bruise on her arm about the size of a quarter. He was ashamed of the action—as he should have been—and he apologized. But it was a far cry from the “battered-woman syndrome.” Lana was told by her friends, however, that she was a victim of wife abuse and she should seek a divorce. Believe it or not, she did.

A few weeks later her friends advised Lana that she should start dating, even though Steve was actively seeking to reconcile the marriage. One night when Lana was out on a date, their two-year old son fell behind the bunk bed and died from strangulation.

Lana knew what God expected of her regarding forgiveness and reconciliation, but she listened to her friends instead. She paid a terrible price for the wrong advice from the wrong kind of friends.

Bill Gothard

The following passage is from Bill Gothard’s 1979 Supplementary Alumni Book, Our Most Important Messages Grow Out of Our Greatest Weaknesses. Recovering Grace notes that, “Throughout the publication there are several self-contained Q&A boxes addressing common questions on divorce, such as ‘If two Christians marry and one persists in being unfaithful, does the other one have “Scriptural grounds” to get a divorce?’ (‘Answer: No.’) One Q&A appears to address domestic violence,” which is as follows:

QUESTION:

What if the wife is a victim of her husband’s hostility?

ANSWER:

There is no “victim” if we understand that we are called to suffer for righteousness. “For even hereunto were you called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps.” 1 Peter 2:21 Christ was not a victim! He willingly gave His life for us. “By whose stripes you were healed…likewise you wives…” 1 Peter 2:24; 3:1 Christ’s life teaches us how to suffer.

James Dobson

The following passage is from James Dobson’s 1983 book Love Must Be Tough. The book claims to address “disrespect in marital relationships, describing its role in the drift toward divorce for millions of couples.” Dobson examines a number of potential marital conflicts, including (but not limited to) infidelity, substance abuse, domestic violence, and child abuse.

Chapter Thirteen of the book is “Loving Toughness in Other Situations,” and it addresses the topic of spousal abuse. Dobson begins the chapter with a letter from a woman named Laura, who tells Dobson her husband has “a violent temper that is absolutely terrifying” and “beats me with his fists.” Laura then asks Dobson what she should do. “I’m so tired of being beaten,” she says, “and then having to stay home for days to hide my bruises” (p. 146-7).

Dobson begins by stressing that, for Christians, “Divorce is not the solution to this problem,” because “Our purpose should be to change her husband’s behavior, not kill the marriage.” His solution is rather to have Laura directly agitate her husband: “I would suggest that Laura choose the most absurd demand her husband makes, and then refuse to consent to it. Let him rage if he must rage.” Dobson hopes this will shock the abusive husband into acknowledging “he has a severe problem” so that he will agree to “competent Christian counseling” that can lead to “reconciliation” (p. 148).

Not once does Dobson recommend calling the police.

After making this suggestion to agitate, Dobson then offers the following “qualification” to his advice (a “qualification” that is, mind you, longer than his actual advice to Laura). The emphases are in the original:

I have seen marital relationships where the woman deliberately “baited” her husband until he hit her. This is not true in most cases of domestic violence, but it does occur. Why, one may ask, would any woman want to be hit? Because females are just as capable of hatred and anger as males, and a woman can devastate a man by enticing him to strike her. It is a potent weapon. Once he has lost control and lashed out at his tormentor, she then sports undeniable evidence of his cruelty. She can show her wounds to her friends who gasp at the viciousness of that man. She can press charges against him in some cases and have him thrown in jail. She can embarrass him at his work or in the church. In short, by taking a beating, she instantly achieves a moral advantage in the eyes of neighbors, friends, and the law. It may even help her justify a divorce, or if one comes, to gain custody of her children. Remember what the Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor did to American morale and unity? It solidified our forces and gave us a cause worth fighting for. There are those who believe President Roosevelt ignored warnings of the Pearl Harbor invasion for the precise purpose of unifying our resolve against a rising Japanese imperialism. In the same spirit, I have seen women belittle and berate their husbands until they set aflame with rage. Some wives are more verbal than their husbands and can win a war of words any day of the week. Finally, the men reach a point of such frustration that they explode, doing precisely what their wives were begging them to do in the first place.

I remember one woman who came to church with a huge black eye contributed by her husband. She walked to the front of the auditorium before a crowd of five hundred people and made a routine announcement about an upcoming event. Everyone in attendance was thinking about her eye and the cad who did this to her. That was precisely what she wanted. I happened to know that her noncommunicative husband had been verbally antagonized by his wife until he finally gave her the prize she sought. Then she brought it to church to show it off. It does happen. (p. 149-50)

Love Must Be Tough has been reprinted numerous times and this passage remains. The most recent reprint was 2007 and the passage is still there, unchanged

Michael and Debi Pearl

The following passage is from Michael and Debi Pearl’s 2004 book Created To Be His Helpmeet, as reprinted in 2012. It is under the section “Enduring Suffering Wrongly,” in which Michael Pearl argues that “the Bible is so clear” that “we are commanded to submit to every ordinance of the government that we are under—even to ignorant and foolish men.” Pearl first argues that even if slavemasters cause their slaves “unjust suffering and grief,” slaves must “endure it, and take it patiently.” Pearl justifies this by saying that, “It is acceptable with God (God’s will) for the underling to suffer wrongfully and take it patiently” (262-3). Pearl then applies this principle to a woman being threatened by her abusive husband:

Has your husband revile you and threatened you? You are exhorted to respond as Jesus did. When he was reviled and threatened, he suffered by committing himself to a higher judge who is righteous. You must commit yourself to the one who placed you under your husband’s command. Your husband will answer to God, and you must answer to God for how your respond to your husband, even when he causes you to suffer. (p. 263)

Debi Pearl demonstrates this principle in action when she writes about a young woman named Sunny. Sunny faced a horrific situation of domestic violence:

[Sunny] was soon pregnant with their first child, and in a matter of weeks, the violence began. Over the next seven years, Sunny was regularly subjected to his alcoholic rages and beatings, and she endured his flaunted unfaithfulness… When Sunny was pregnant with their third baby, Ahmed came home drunk and tried to kill her with a butcher knife. (p. 132)

Debi Pearl never suggests to Sunny that law enforcement be called, nor does she even suggest that Sunny approach her church’s leadership. Debi also never condemns Ahmed and his actions. Rather, she exhorts Sunny to “stay with him and begin a campaign of winning his heart” by ceasing to “blab about his sins” and begin to “reverence him” because that is “God’s will” (p. 133).

Mary Pride

The following passage is from the 2010 “25th Anniversary Edition” of Mary Pride’s seminal book The Way Home: Beyond Feminism Back to Realityoriginally published in 1985. The emphases are in original:

The reason the church is getting lax about divorce is that we no longer understand marriage. If a spouse has problems, such as drunkenness or fits of temper, the other one concludes it is not a “good” marriage and moves on. Those who take this perspective end up allowing divorce “for any and every reason,” just as the Pharisees were doing in Jesus’ day. Jesus answered the Pharisees that destruction of any God-ordained marriage is always wrong… Only adultery, which breaks the partnership by pouring its resources into a spiritually fruitless extramarital union, as well as (in the case of an adulterous wife) jeopardizing the children’s legitimacy, and desertion, which nullifies the partnership, are biblical grounds for divorce… Christians may never, never, never divorce Christians. (p. 21-22)

Heidi St. John

The following image was posted by popular homeschool convention speaker Heidi St. John on her Facebook page, with the explanation that she “thought it would bring a smile today”:

rape-culture-fb

The image, the text of which St. John altered, comes from an old comic that depicts a chauvinistic man sexually assaulting his frigid boss (an action that leads to her marrying him). A close-up of the image makes clear the woman is terrified and crying:

screen-shot-2014-09-20-at-2-13-08-pm

Libby Anne does a great job of explaining the problem here:

The image is photoshopped from an old comic that depicts an employee sexually assaulting his “frigid” boss (see here and here or view the full comic here). Sure, one could try to argue that the image has been removed from that context, what with the new words in the bubbles and all, but that fails given the tear on the woman’s cheek and the fact that she is clearly trying to fight the man off (notice her pounding fists). Whatever the words, the image clearly depicts a woman futilely trying to fight off a stronger man’s advances. In fact, in the context St. John provides the image, it appears to be depicting attempted marital rape…

The trouble is that an image like this, in the Christian homeschooling community St. John is very much a part of, arrives in a context already influenced by writers like Debi Pearl and the teachings of Bill Gothard and others. These leaders explicitly teach that a wife should never say “no” to her husband’s sexual advances. These leaders do not recognize the existence of marital rape, because they see sex within marriage as the husband’s right.

Coming in this cultural context, St. John’s image is not “funny.” It’s a problem. 

It normalizes coercion and marital rape.

As demonstrated by the previous statements by Farris, Gothard, Dobson, the Pearls, and Pride, Libby Anne’s critique of St. John is spot-on. The biggest names in homeschooling have communicated truly shameful messages about domestic violence — messages that will only add further guilt to victims and make them feel trapped and unable to escape. It’s not a laughing matter, and it’s something that we all need to speak up about and push back against.

Note: if you are a victim of domestic violence or know someone who is, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or visit their website here. There is help available and you are worth it.

22 comments

  • How Christian homeschool leaders have addressed domestic violence is depraved and unbiblical. A man who hits or otherwise abuses his wife IS NOT A CHRISTIAN. To be a Christian means to be a new creature in Christ. Anyone who is still using their power and position to threaten, oppress, cajole, manipulate or force another person into submission has never been acquainted with our Lord and Savior. Paul addressed such people in Corinthians: Don’t even eat with them. Hand them over to Satan for the destruction of their flesh. Stop letting them corrupt the assembly!!

    • That is a picturesque notion, but sadly, true Christianity isn’t really the issue here. You can decry fake Christians, and hateful Christians, and Christians who beat, abuse, and belittle their wives, but they remain in the churches, teaching abuse tactics and benefitting from the inhumane power structure inherent in the Patriarchal flavor of religion taught in a great deal of Christian churches in the US.

      It doesn’t matter if they’re true Christians, it matters that they have influence over others’ thoughts and ideals. I personally believe a great deal of this power and influence comes from abusers who are looking for ways to further their control and abuse. It’s very easy to justify hurting someone if you are being told that God wants you to hurt them, or that they are inferior to you according to God’s will. It is also easy to maintain control of someone who believes these things about themselves — ex. “I deserve to be punished physically by my husband because God gave him that power” or “I shouldn’t defend myself from violence or other forms of abuse because defending myself is disrespecting his God-given dominion over me”. Abusers gravitate toward them, and drag their victims right along into the church houses.

      These “Leaders” are popular because abusers love the power their doctrine gives them, and people who are unaware are drawn to the rose-colored promise of a “Godly life” they offer.

      • My husband is a true Christian, couldn’t get any truer. Born again at four years old, son of missionaries who later became pastor and wife. Read his Bible, memorized most of it, and prayed fervent prayers. Cared for those in need, faithful to attend church and tithe, and eager to serve in any way he could. He was mostly kind, mostly thoughtful, mostly gentle. You dare to call him a “blot on the assembly” and doubt HIS faith? That is beyond wrong. It’s sinful.

        So this is why Ezekiel 34 was written. Fat sheep got no time for people with trouble! Move it on over, loser. Because that’s how families dealing with domestic abuse are seen–losers. Either the wife and kids are lying (most often response) or the man was never a “real Christian”.

        Truth is, patriarchal teachings in Christianity are the foundation of the entitlement that ends in abuse. It is male entitlement- entitled to obedience from wife/kids, entitled to quiet after a hard day’s work, entitled to a clean house and a hot meal, entitled to play with his friends when he feels like it, entitled to control the money, etc.–THAT is the foundation of all bullying and abuse. A man who believes this is his due, no matter how patient and kind he may be most of the time, will eventually DEMAND HIS “rightful” due. Then when it is not forthcoming, that’s when the bullying, intimidation and abuse begin.

        Yes, Christian men. Oh, yes, and the attitude April reflects is why it will always be that way.

    • Oh look. Another “no true Scotsman” comment.

    • Aaargh, I don’t understand you, April. I know that you are an advocate for abuse survivors in Christian circles, and for that I am grateful. But on the other hand, so long as you frame this situation in terms of whether someone is or is not Christian, you are undermining the very thing you attempt to achieve. Abuse is not about whether you are or are not Christian. It’s about whether you are or are not an abuser. Period. I am not a Christian and I would never abuse my wife. Ever. On the other hand, multiple Christians have abused me. Please, stop conflating abuse with not being a Christ-follower. It has NOTHING to do with Christ. It has everything to do with people who want control and dominance, whether or not they follow Christian teachings. So long as Christians are willing to frame abuse as something that only non-True-Christians do, Christians will get away with abuse.

      • I understand where you’re coming from. Let me explain. These homeschool leaders teach that two Christians in a marriage cannot divorce. But if one is abusive, he or she is not a Christian. They may CALL themselves Christian, go to church, etc., but that does not make them so. (I can call myself a horse, but that does not make me a horse.) The word Christian literally means to be Christ-like, and abusers are not Christ-like.

        My position on this matter is backed up by scripture. The Bible says that he who does not love does not know God, and God doesn’t know him, either. Paul said to throw such unrepentant abusers out of the church. It is actually these homeschool leaders who are allowing “Christians” to get away with abuse. They micromanage victims’ responses, telling them to suffer in patience in order to teach abusers grace. Meanwhile, they give the abusers a pass, going so far as to suggest that the victims somehow provoked the abuse.

        Yes, there are people in the church, calling themselves Christians, who are beating their wives and oppressing their children. They need to be confronted and, if they refuse to repent, need to be tossed out and kept away from their victims. But to actually agree that they are Christian muddies the water. It suggests that their abuse is a weakness or flaw that needs grace and patience to overcome, rather than an evil to be condemned and purged.

      • Thank you for clarifying. I understand what you are saying, but I also have to disagree. I think that claiming they are not Christians muddies the waters. For one, as I pointed out, non-Christians can either be abusers or not abusers. I am non-Christian and I am not an abuser. Refusing to follow Christ has no bearing on whether or not I abuse people. That’s because abusers can follow any theology and any philosophy, so long as they wish to and choose to abuse.

        Furthermore, Paul says a lot of things that might be construed as harmful, such as commanding women to be silent in church. One might interpret that according to the time and place it was said, or possibly state that it was added later to scripture, but the fact remains that the bible is not particularly clear about a lot of things. Deciding arbitrarily who is and is not a Christian based on your personal interpretation of the scripture versus theirs, to me, muddies the water and brings the focus to theology and interpretation of scripture rather than focusing on actual abusive behavior. If I had an organization, wouldn’t allow an abuser in my non-Christian organization. Christians should not allow abusers in their Christian organizations. It has nothing to do with whether they are Christian and by focusing on their Christian-ness, it feels to me as though you are throwing content casting non-believers in a negative light while also perpetuating the myth that “real Christians” don’t abuse, which – regardless of how you interpret it – has always been used by Christian abusers to hide abuse. Always. And it will continue to be used by Christians to hide abuse until the day when people stop concerning themselves with whether someone is Christian or not but rather with whether they are an abuser or not. That’s my concern.

      • I actually agree a lot with what you have said. The focus should be on whether the person is an abuser. And while the Bible may not be clear on some issues, I think its position on abuse is pretty crystal and right in line with your sentiments.

        Just to clarify further, though, I don’t want to paint all non-believers as abusers or even as potential abusers. I have non-believing friends who are wonderful people…even more so than some Christian people I have known! Please just know that I’m approaching this issue as one still inside the faith, having been very much steeped in fundamentalist culture from a young age. It’s like speaking a foreign language…a language that often has to be spoken to get their attention.

      • From that point of view, I understand and I wish you well. I hope that you can make some changes from the inside. I know what’ it’s like to be steeped in fundamentalist, homeschooling, misogynistic culture for sure… I’ve left it completely, but I don’t think that has to be the best path for everyone. I just hope that some changes can be made to protect victims… I will be doing my part from the outside.

      • I think what others aren’t seeing here is that April is speaking to Christians in her original comment. Hence why she quotes Paul & ends with a call (based on Bible quotes) to kick abusers out of church. This sort of statement is not meant to be a “But REAL Christians like us are OK” toward the outside world, it’s meant as a “You are not what you claim to be, you are lying” towards abusers in the Christian church and a call to other Christians to kick them out of it. And it is absolutely in the language these folks would understand (I’m pretty familiar with it too), and said in a way that’s meant to, and might, shock them out of complacency. It definitely looks like it fell on the wrong audience though!

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    What popular homeschool leaders have said about domestic violence might surprise you.

    Let me guess…

    “Privilege of Rank by Divine Right”?

  • These leaders have an interesting take on which authorities a Christian is obligated to submit to. Clearly, the U.S. laws which name domestic violence as criminal and punishable by the court system are not included.

  • This is what I sent to dobson’s “team”…they asked me what I was upset about. I wondered how many women were beaten or even murdered because of his dangerous ignorance.

    This is what I sent to the dobson “t4am”—responding to some of what he said.

    Below is an exerpt of what he has written.

    I will comment on a few:

    “Our purpose should be to change her husband’s behavior, not kill the marriage”
    NO ONE can change an abuser’s behavior. Most abusers will not admit they have a problem, unless they get into long-term therapy by themselves. We are all responsible for our own behavior. Abuse is a CHOICE.
    With an abuser the marriage has already been extremely damaged or destroyed.

    “I would suggest that Laura choose the most absurd demand her husband makes, and then refuse to consent to it.”
    This is game-playing. We would never suggest a woman walk into a lion’s cage and deliberately agitate it. When a woman is living with an abuser she is living with a raging animal.

    “Let him rage if he must rage.”
    Rage can and does, result in physical abuse or death.

    “I have seen marital relationships where the woman deliberately “baited” her husband until he hit her.”
    What he doesn’t understand is that when a woman is living with an abuser, she is walking on “eggshells” and when she feels the tension rising she might say something to get the abuse over with. NO woman wants to be abused. He does not understand the dynamics of abuse.

    Once he has lost control and lashed out at his tormentor,
    He as NOT ‘lost control”===He has GAINED control. Abuse is about one thing and one thing only. CONTROL. He uses control to GAIN control. He can choose to walk away.

    I could comment on many other statements, but this will do for now.

    He needs to read the paper which I sent to become knowledgeable. 1 in 3 women will be physically assaulted, and everyone should be aware of the dynamics of abuse; it is rampant on our planet.

    The National Domestic Violence Hotline would be very disturbed by what he has written, as would women’s shelters across the country, and therapists who deal with abuse on a daily basis.

    If anyone would like a copy of my paper:; carleton@oakland.edu
    I presented it at my State’s Counseling Association: Society’s Hidden Pandemic, Verbal Abuse, Precursor to Physical Violence and a Form of Biochemical Assault. I got out of a 31-year abusive “marriage” and then stood up for 18 months to a church, trying to educate them.

    Because I got a divorce (and let the, x live in my house for awhile after the divorce: I was called to a meeting of deacons (16 “men”) not allowed to have a woman present at the “inquisition” and asked: “Are you still having sex with your x?” x wasn’t called to any meeting ; good ole’ boys’network……In the end on my birthday, my name was put up on a screen, followed by the words, “Conduct Unbecoming a Child of God.”—3 times…www.churchabusepoetrytherapy.com was the outcome of this debacle.

    Sadly and sometimes tragically, because of churches who have no idea how to deal with violence; they keep women iimprisoned in violence and fear, and are murdered. 1 in 3 women will be physically assaulted and it all begins with verbal assault. I am a moderator of an abused survivors’ group also.

  • That’s fucked up. It really pisses me off that so many people ignore common sense in the name of following the Bible. I mean seriously – if your god is giving abusers a fig leaf to hide behind, maybe he’s not worth following?

    I’m curious, though, if any of these leaders have amended their views (I should hope so, dammit). I mean, some of these statements are a couple decades old, and I’m not so cynical as to think that they haven’t grown *at all* in 20 years (well… Gothard and the Pearls may not have. That wouldn’t surprise me. Farris has grown, albeit slowly and very little.).

    Also, I wonder if you may be identifying a problem with the wider Christian subculture instead of an uniquely homeschool fuck-up?

  • So here is the thing about handling the abuse via a “no-true christian” argument- it presents bystanders with a perfect and comfortable out. There is a beautiful paradigm within this argument to completely invalidate any accusation of a wrong doing that is not personally witnessed, and even most that are. This is in fact the reasoning behind the way abuse is handled by almost every church.
    IF—no true christian would abuse
    AND—-personal testimony accuses well-known christian of abusing
    THEN—-bystander can personally evaluate through prayer and discernment whether the accused is christian
    IF —the accused is christian enough, then the accuser is a false accuser sent of Satan.
    CONCLUSION– 1 Corinthians 6:, Revelation 12:10 and Matthew 5:10
    SOURCE—- My life, over and over again.
    the church must stop using this argument to face abuse cases.

    • oh, i forgot a step
      IF–the accused admits wrongdoing, he simply must repent and who are we to judge him? Now you better forgive him. and we are going to nurture this newly repented soul with all our compassion and mercy lest he fall again. SO FORGIVE HIM!!! CANT YOU SEE HE REPENTED? MAYBE YOUR BITTER HEART IS WHAT BROUGHT THIS ON YOU…..

      • I really dislike the “rush to forgiveness” culture. Forgiving someone for harm they caused to you may be worthwhile, eventually, but to try to bully, shame or cajole someone who has been harmed to forgive their abuser, is abuse as well.

        It’s a process and really the abuser isn’t part of it. No one has to contact their abuser to inform them they’ve been forgiven and if it never happens at all, that’s okay too. Removing oneself from the abuse is a big help. Figuring out whether the victim needs to shore up their own personal boundaries is another.

        Isn’t it interesting to note how many time when abusive people “lose control” and destroy items, they never – EVER – lose control to the point where they destroy their own personal possessions. Just those the target values.

        More often than we care to believe, abusive people simply enjoy what they’re doing and they don’t really want to change or stop. So it’s not surprising that they seek out a belief system that reinforces their desires.

        Obviously women can be abusive too and just like the men who hit women, they justify their violence too. The language may be slightly different, but it’s the same behavior.

        Ugly stuff.

  • While I am not a product of ATI, HS or Gothard in any way, I am a domestic abuse survivor. I was raised in a very legalistic Baptist church. Marriage was a big deal and everyone I saw was happy with their marriage. I didn’t get married until I was 27. I hadn’t been taught was domestic violence was other than what I saw on TV. It always showed beatings. Never the mental, emotional, sexual or spiritual abuse that could also be defined at spousal abuse. I never knew that I could be raped by my husband. He did it repeatedly. When I had a hard time with his abuse, we talked to the pastor. One pastor told him that he should treat me like he would want other men to treat me. Then looked at me and said I needed to be more submissive and stop making him mad. We eventually changed churches, not because of this, but because we had found one closer. My ex-husband acted so well in public. He ended up being the adult sunday school teacher at the second church. It wasn’t until I went in the mental ward because I had suffered so much abuse that I blacked out and brought an unloaded shot gun in our bedroom while he was “trying to sleep.” He told everyone that I just had a breakdown and he didn’t know why. But made sure to tell everyone about the gun and even added that it was loaded. The pastor of that church visited me in the hospital. He did say that mental illness was like any other illness. I got out of the hospital and back to church. Not even a month later, my ex-husband started again. I told the pastor and his wife that I was going to divorce him because I couldn’t handle it anymore. They disagreed with the divorce and told me that we should just separate instead. I was so glad to get that divorce. I had threatened to call the police on him when he hit me or held me captive. He just told me since he was law enforcement that they would believe whatever he said. I was so glad when we got divorced. He was never held accountable for his abuse. His next wife called me to tell me he was abusing her like I and his first wife tried to tell her. I told her to call the police, but she wouldn’t. I told her not to contact me again because I was grieving over the death of the most wonderful husband in the world.

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