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    • #125097
      Silverbirch
      Participant

      Hello. This is my first time here. I’m divorced after decades of abuse and protecting children. It’s a miracle that we are all out alive. I’m beginning to face up to the reality of what I lived through and the damage it has done. When I was in it , it was a question of survival and finding the safest way out. At times I thought I wouldn’t make it. But here I am, with the love of my children and trustworthy friends and doing work I love. I’ve just read the report called Out of the Shadows: Christianity and Violence against Women in Scotland. It’s heartbreaking and it’s exactly my story. So it would help me if there are any other women out there who stayed not only because of being terrorised by their partner, but also because of being pressurised and silenced by the culture of some of the church. Many of the family members and friends who knew what was happening to me and did nothing were and still are committed churchgoers, as is my ex. I can’t get my head around this. It was one of the most soul destroying parts of the abuse. It felt like I was just expected to be silent and try even harder. I felt isolated and almost betrayed. I know that if I’d seen this happening to a friend or family member I would have asked if I could help. So I don’t understand their silence. Thank you .

    • #125105
      Darcy
      Participant

      Hi beautiful Angel… Silverbirch,
      Well done for leaving … it is heart breaking to read that you were not supported in an environment where you thought the support would be plenty. I would be interested to read that report to. Women need to be supporting and empowering other women always from what ever background they come from.
      I am glad you are out now and send you continued love and support
      Darcy xx

      • #125153
        Silverbirch
        Participant

        Thank you for your kind and encouraging words Darcy. I really appreciate this.

    • #125197
      Empoweredhealing
      Participant

      Hi there, I think domestic abuse has always been a deep dark secret within the church. Many victims go to their pastor and spiritual leaders for help. But the church’s ideology of preserving the marriage at all costs really trapped so many victims of abuse. And abusers almost get a license to keep abusing. (detail removed by Moderator).

      But I think this is changing. A lot of women are speaking out about abuse within the Christian community. Have you tried looking on Youtube? I was pleasantly surprised by a few videos from Christian channels recently. Abuse is increasingly recognized as a cancer that cannot be tolerated. Leaders are being educated on abuse and how to support and counsel victims. It’ll probably be slow but at least it’s changing a little bit.

      • #125233
        Silverbirch
        Participant

        Hi Empoweredhealing, it was very helpful to read this. Yes, preserving the marriage was the focus, and also really not naming abuse as abuse but walking past on the other side. It destroyed my faith in the institution of the church, and in fact in what I used to call God. But there was one person, a priest, who understood exactly what was happening and said I did not have to remain in the marriage . He also said that I would have to take care about my own safety as I left. This was the only time a person in authority in and branch of the Christian church had shown me any respect or concern as a person being abused. I received support from two Christian women, and their kindness and understanding were pivotal in getting me and my children out safely. But these are the precious exceptions to the general rule of turning a blind eye. The teachings of the church and the fear instilled by my ex were what kept me imprisoned and isolated for decades and almost destroyed me.

    • #125262
      ISOPeace
      Participant

      Hi Silverbirch, I can see how the behaviour of people in the church must have added extra layers of pain to the abuse. You must be so strong to have endured all of that and so brave to get out.

      I’ve started reading a book called Healing from Hidden Abuse, by Shannon Thomas. She covers different types of abusers, and one is the toxic church. She’s from the US, so I guess there will be differences in the churches she’s talking about. She describes how abusive people are drawn to becoming clergy and how difficult it is for individuals to go against the herd. She also says that you can’t expect priests to recognise and understand abuse, when many trained therapists are unable to recognise/understand it. I haven’t got to the healing part yet, so I can’t say how good it is, but it might be worth taking a look at. Sending love xxxx

      • #125267
        Silverbirch
        Participant

        ISOPeace, thank you for your kind words. To be honest I feel ashamed most of the time, as if I magically should have found a way out sooner. Instead it took me most of my adult life. I think having children makes it so much more difficult, at least it did for me. I didn’t care what happened to me, but i did care what happened to them. So it took a long time to get everyone out safely. Thanks also for the book idea – I will follow that up. It’s amazing how women reach out and support each other on here. x

    • #125756
      Brave
      Participant

      Hi Silverbirch, so sorry to hear of your awful experiences. I read the report you mentioned, Out of the Shadows, and found a fair bit of it resonated with me too. I too am divorced after many years of abuse. My situation was different in that my ex went to church, but I did not. Unfortunately, he used his ‘faith’ to justify his abusive behaviour. It seemed that the marriage had to be saved at any cost – apparently that included my wellbeing and sanity. It’s very difficult to argue with someone who is telling you that God is telling them what to do! My belief is that the particular church he attended helped him believe that his behaviour towards me was as it should be, which is so, so wrong. I can see that this must be very difficult for some peoople to understand – I know it took me a very long time to realise what was going on. I was brought up in the Christian faith, but I did not recognise the patterns of behaviour he displayed, supposedly supported by his ‘belief’. I’m not sure if this makes sense, but I did want to respond, as your experience chimed with me.

      I hope things are going well for you now. xx

      • #125786
        Silverbirch
        Participant

        Hello Brave, thank you for responding . It meant a lot to me that you understood what I was writing because of your own experience, though of course I feel for you that you had to go through that. Out of the Shadows is a powerful contribution to helping us see more clearly what has happened in our lives. I’m no longer living on alert and in constant fear, which is good. But I’m now dealing with the aftermath and I can see the damage this has done to my physical health and psychological wellbeing. It has also damaged my now-adult children and that is the hardest part to see. I am hoping that you are OK and finding life better now that you are divorced? x

    • #126599
      Grey Rock
      Participant

      So sorry about what you’re going through. I was luckily not married to my ex and he rarely came to church with me, so my church family were very supportive. It must be very painful when that isn’t the case.

      One book that I found very interesting and helpful was ‘The First Will Be Last: A Biblical Perspective on Narcissism’
      Book by D. C. Robertsson. It might be worth a look.

      Sending my prayers for you tonight.
      GR

      • #126604
        Silverbirch
        Participant

        Hello again Grey Rock, I’ve just looked up the book and a review on goodreads led me to The Emotionally Destructive Relationship by Leslie Vernick. I may order that and read it. To be honest, the impact of the abuse destroyed my faith and I find it hard to go back to anything to do with reading scripture and the orthodox ideas of a loving and protective God. So the language of the church and the bible now doesn’t feel meaningful to me now. But I do still have a very strong spiritual life: it is at the heart of my existence. I’ll see what I think when I’ve done some reading. Thanks again !

    • #126603
      Silverbirch
      Participant

      Hello Grey Rock

      Thank you for understanding. I will look up that book. The experience kept reminding me of the parable of the Good Samaritan. It was as if everyone was walking past me on the roadside, as if nothing was happening. I think that was one of the most damaging aspects of the abuse; having it condoned by people /institutions of faith. There were a few people who really stood by me, but these were not family members. They were (detail removed by moderator) women whose faith was very strong and very real. When they told me they were praying for me, I felt very supported, because they were also helping me practically by listening and encouraging me to get away. But family members praying for me felt like a betrayal, because they weren’t doing anything to help me and were in fact still maintaining friendship with the abuser. There’s a saying about doing nothing in situations of injustice meaning you have chosen the side of the oppressor. That’s what it felt liked. I used to sit in church just crying, week after week. Listening to the Exodus story and about Pharoah’s refusal to let the people go. I could relate to that in a very precise way. I was asking , over and over again, just to be allowed to leave, and being refused and terrorised. All by a pillar of the community who is still a central figure in his church and locality. This is motivating me to find a way to go back into churches eventually and , in a positive way, raise consciousness about the devastating impact of domestic abuse and that it is hidden in plain sight , and that we need to consider our response to it in the light of faith. Are we going to pass by on the other side or are we going to show loving solidarity with people being oppressed?

      I really appreciate your response and your prayers. Bless you .

    • #127944
      Grey Rock
      Participant

      Hi. Yes I think in a lot of communities (church ones included) people really don’t understand the true nature of abuse. And of course partners who manipulate are very good at quoting parts of scripture at those they seek to control. I read a book that helped me a little which was a biblical perspective on narcissists. As I’ve resettled in a new area I’ve changed churches, although mine was quite supportive to be honest (my ex rarely went and if he did would stomp out half way through if he heard something he disagreed with lol).
      I found prayer very helpful but know it’s not for everyone. Take care x

    • #127945
      Grey Rock
      Participant

      Ps just found a book that looks really promising. The Christians Guide to going no contact.
      Have bought it for Kindle and will let you know if it’s a good one.
      The other one was called The First Will Be Last.

      GR

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