Saturday, July 03, 2010

Websites for women

A commenter has asked,
    Is there a group of "abused ministers wives?" I am about to lose my home as some of the continuing fallout from his harrassment after the divorce. No one is willing to help me. No one seems to want to help me. One church said, "We are not going to help YOU!" That seemed like a personal rebuff and hurt greatly. Of course, without support from my children and at age 63, the burdens become greater all the time. At this point in time, no one knows the despair I am going through or the depths of my anguish. Please don't suggest I pray.
I do know some "abused minister's wives" and perhaps some "abused ministers" but I do not know of a relevant group. I can only recommend that you read the following websites and blogs, which will affirm that other people have experienced the same thing.

No Longer Quivering
NLQ Stories (Journey has a similar story to yours)
NLQ Take Heart Project
Submission Tyranny
Women Submit
Emotional Abuse and your Faith
Baptist Women for Equality
Church Exiters
The Redheaded Skeptic is a great blog on this topic. Follow her story starting here and here.

Perhaps my readers could suggest other resources. Thanks.

19 comments:

Kristen said...

It's a pity to have to say this, but the ones most likely to help this pastor's wife are secular social service agencies and non-profits. Jesus told the parable of the Good Samaritan to make this very point-- the Samaritan was not of their religion, but he was the one who helped. This was to the shame of the listeners to the parable.

Many non-believers are good people who want to help the desperate. And they don't judge and condemn. They simply help. We Christians could learn a thing or to from them.

Don said...

I have noticed there is a multiple whammy effect possible in some churches.

1. A wife must submit to her husband in an asymmetric way that her husband does not need to submit to her in.

2. She needs to smile and be joyful when she is submitting.

3. If there is abuse, this is not considered a reason for divorce, so she is stuck.

4. If she goes ahead with the divorce, she is considered so out of order that she is kicked out of the church as being unfaithful to Christ.

5. If she tries to attend/join another church, her former church may tell the other one that she was kicked out for being disobedient to Christ.

6. P.S. If she remarries, she is continually in adultery, per what Jesus said.

So she gets verbally abused and worse, then gets spiritually abused and rejected.

I find this some kind of sick and twisted version of religion that is NOTHING like Christianity, but some will claim it to be.

I like this egal forum.
http://equalitycentral.com/forum/index.php

Anonymous said...

Was the comment I made disallowed? Pity!

Laura (Redheaded Skeptic) said...

Hi, I found this site after seeing it linked to mine. I don't normally comment when that happens, but your letter broke my heart. In my personal experience, you aren't going to receive any help from the more conservative denominations. If you want to receive help from the church, then try talking to a local Episcopalian minister. As a general rule, they tend to put the person before the doctrine, unlike many denominations and are more likely to help you right now.

Also, it is correct that secular organizations are more likely to help.

Through blogging, I have found that there are actually quite a few minister's wives who have divorced due to abuse or de-conversion. You aren't alone. There are many others who have struggled, too. I am so sorry you are going through this. In some ways, it's so much harder to leave when you're a minister's wife because all of your references and job experience is often wrapped up in the abusive lifestyle you left. There is hope and understanding, and eventually healing, even if it doesn't seem like it now.

Sorry for the book.

Suzanne McCarthy said...

Anonymous,

I did see one of your comments in my email. I have no idea why your comments are not showing up on this post. Please try again and if the problem continues, I will see if I can tell what has happened. I do not moderate comments.

Anonymous said...

I am afraid I won't be going to any church because all churches want to restore my to my once very-strong faith. No matter what I say, that is their only desire. Supposedly I did not have enough faith. I should have prayed harder and the child molester (our daughter) and wife abuser and adulterer could not have gotten my children to turn away from me so that he could get sole custody and take them and hide them from me. I was told if I had loved them enough, they would have loved me too. My children--"ministers don't lie."
He has everything. I have nothing. No church will have anything to do with helping the roofing job I need to keep my home. Who can live with rain coming through holes large enough to drop a cow through?
Yes, I am bitter. You would be too!
One church told me that they were not obligated by the Bible to help me because I am divorced and my children are not attending the church. Well, the children were taken 1000 miles away and attend church there.

Suzanne McCarthy said...

Anonymous,

No one on this blog is going to tell you that to go to a church for help. Although my former minister did offer to help me at one point, I was so angry and bitter that I told him he could not possibly to anything to help me. I felt that he had done his worst already.

There is just one thing after another that hurts women. First, they are supposed to submit, next they are not supposed to get divorced, then they are not even trained to earn a living.

Of course, men can be hurt by this system as well.

And sometimes churches do help, for example, if you get divorced from a "non-believer" there would probably be lots of help available.

I think it takes a while to accept that our trust in the church was not well placed. We have all invested a lot, and then realized that this trust is not going to pay off.

Mara Reid said...

Anonymous,
Let me just tell you that I am so sorry and that there is no excuse for the way churches treat their women, esp pastor's wives.

Not all churches do. I know of one in particular that is doing a wonderful job with a woman that used to be, not just my pastor's wife, but also my pastor herself.

But that church is the exception. And I'm so sorry more churches can't figure out what Christian, as in Christ-like, what that really means.

Kristen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kristen said...

Anonymous, this is awful. I'm so sorry. I wonder if it would do any good to file a custody proceeding in the state where your husband took the kids? If you're in the Bible Belt, you are likely in a state where even the secular law favors the man. But in my (Pacific Northwestern) state, for example, the law is pretty even-handed. You would not be left empty-handed here. If your husband has taken the kids to a state that is more even-handed, you might have a very good chance of regaining custody. And they'd make him help you fix that roof!

I'd encourage you to become a forum member at Take Heart Project. (Click the link Suzanne provided, then click on "THP Forum." Post your story there, and there will be women who will listen and try to help. Take Heart Project is still just a fledgling organization, but we'll do what we can.

Anonymous said...

They are grown and with children of their own. When I needed help finding them in 1983, the only thing stopping me was money. Everyone I contacted wanted money. People who knew would not help. Yes, he was in the Bible Belt.

What kind of help?

Kristen said...

Take Heart Project helps women in abusive Christian patriarchy, get out of the patriarchal system. They are geared especially towards helping women in the "Quiverfull" movement, who have a lot of children because the movement is against birth control.

Right now Take Heart's resources are limited, but one of their goals is to help divorcing women keep custody of their children. If your situation was back in 1983, there isn't much they could do about that now-- but they can at least give you a listening ear, validation and emotional support on their forum. They won't try to get you to return to Christianity if you have left it; they will simply listen and care. I don't know how much financial assistance they could give at this time, because they're just starting out-- but you could find out more by asking.

Kristen said...

PS. You don't have to be ex-Quiverfull-- it's just that that's their main focus. But anyone who is a victim of any kind of fundamentalist Christian patriarchy, is more than welcome.

Anonymous said...

I applied to the THP forum. But, it said they would check for false information. What is that all about? Are they checking my IP or ISP? My screen name should NOT reveal my identity. I have it set up that way! I am two weeks from financial devastation and possible homelessness. Do you know how long it takes to be accepted to this forum?A really good friend told me the ONLY way to get any help, recognition, or respect would be to join a church.
Somehow, that seems like lots of wrong reason to join a church. Now, the forum can reject me?

Suzanne McCarthy said...

Perhaps another commenter would respond to your question, or you could email Vyckie. I have not joined that forum myself.

I don't personally find that churches are all that helpful. I went to a non-Christian therapist myself. It is very hard to find affirmation in this kind of situation. I am very sorry about this.

I sometimes think that the church should be made to pay into a fund for therapy and restitution for people in your situation. Unfortunately this will not happen.

Suzanne McCarthy said...

Here is the contact page for Vyckie.

Anonymous said...

Vyckie has not answered me. Bummer. This is depressing. Any other suggestions. I have two weeks to find an answer!

Anonymous said...

An email came in this afternoon. So, I have got a response. Thank you.

Suzanne McCarthy said...

Anonymous,

I do want to share my perspective. I have come to the conclusion that churches are not necessarily just institutions. Bad things happen in the church, and they do not take responsibility.