I have been abused in a setting every human should find to be a safe haven - my church community. I believed wholeheartedly that in the church, I was in my Father's House, the house of the living God... but there I was also abused... to the extent that I could no longer safely, or in good conscience, attend gatherings with that community.... though I had been "home in the church" for over 45 years.
I have gone to those involved (except to one who has passed away), and I have gone to witnesses and responsible ones in my community. The abuse patterns, however, persist, affecting not only me, but my children and others, too, so I am scripturally "telling the church" through this blog. If you are a believer, reading my blog, I am telling you, as a part of the church.
Growing up in "the church" (also referred to as the local church and "The Lord's Recovery"), I was abused by an older sibling for about 20 years. I kept this secret as much as possible, and considered it as God's training of me. I applied the verses I knew and loved: love covers, forgive 70 x 7, turn the other cheek..... There were times I could have been killed. I was the target of cruelty, hypocrisy and duplicity, from which I and others are still healing. But sadly, my experience of abuse in the setting of the church was not limited to one perpetrator.
During those years of sibling abuse, I was also molested by the then-manager of the Living Stream Ministry in 1987. 30 years later, I came to learn that responsible ones (elders and co-workers) in the church knew that this happened to me and discussed the incident among themselves, yet never approached me about it, let alone encouraged me to go to the police or to get professional help.
Then, I got married in 1995. I love my husband, and have cared about him since I met him when I was in junior high in Seattle. However, over the 28 years, marital abuse has become too extreme to ignore, spiritualize, or hide any longer. I was abused by my husband, while he was a trainer in the FTTA, a Church in Los Angeles Board Member, and a church elder. And I am still being abused, though I don't even know where my husband lives any more. He is somewhere with his parents. I have gone to church elders and co-workers to an extent that could categorize me as crazy, perhaps... and to no avail.
The abuse I have experienced, some which continues to date, includes:
being denied any physical affection- told that if I want a hug, I need to be 115 pounds
told not to go to sleep or my husband would hurt our golden retriever puppy (2007-ish)
repeatedly told my husband would commit suicide if I didn't do what he wanted, included getting rid of my therapy dog that I got after my dad died (though the dog stayed with friends often 5 days/week) (2017-2019)
abandoning me on the freeway - my husband got out of the car on the freeway twice; one time I reached out for help from an elder, after the incident and I was told that in speaking with my husband I need to be "surgically clean"; my husband had exited the vehicle after I asked him to not text while I was telling him something very important (2016?, 2018)
being commanded to leave my home, perhaps never to live there again (2018 & 2019)
being told (in email, with in-laws cc'ed) that I have to give 2 months' notice to come to my home, so my in-laws can be sure to be present with my husband upon my return (2019)
not having access to my home because of locks/codes being changed (which is illegal) (2018-20)
being denied equal access to other jointly, equally owned property (2018-2023)
not “allowed” to be included on my husband’s health insurance that is paid by our company - told I had to get my own plan and it can’t be through our business
being accused by my husband of having mental/emotional illnesses, such as a mood disorder and other disorders, that are non-existent (2018-2023)
having my female cycle discussed (inaccurately) among church brothers - as a justification for my husband's rejection of me (2018-2019 - at least)
being lied about and falsely accused to many "responsible ones" without anyone confirming validity with me (2018-2023)
being accused of lying (I have WRITTEN proof and/or witnesses for ALL of my claims)
witnessing my son being sent away BY POLICE from my home simply because my husband didn't want him there (and our son had lost "residency" due to being away at college for the past months, so had to obey the officers or be arrested as a "trespasser"); my mother-in-law looked on, and had scream-prayed while we had waited for police to arrive. The police officers had to allow my husband to exercise his right to send away our son, but then advised me to never be alone with my husband again, preferably without police presence, warning me that they believed he may frame me and they'd have to arrest me. (February 28, 2020)
being told IN WRITING, many times, that my husband wants to find another woman (who is kinder than me, etc.)
being excluded from nearly all practical care of my own husband, including hospital visits and stays (2018-2023), though the first 23 of our 28 years together, I cared for him faithfully
being threatened with a restraining order (December 2022) if I disobey 8 (very unfair and unrighteous) rules when I simply returned home, yet accused of hurting my husband if I take legal action to protect myself
unsustainable financial abuse, that worsens if/when I've filed for divorce... which I have done 3 times, but can't bear the abuse, both of me and of our now-adult children who are brought into the painful ordeal.
I have repeatedly appealed to responsible ones in the church, and very few have even indicated that I am heard and believed, let alone made a stand that I and my children should not be subjected to abusive, unrighteous, unsafe conditions. Some have indicated things like a) an understanding that I have a mood disorder; b) my in-laws - who are also "leading ones" in the church - are only trying to support me in my role as a wife; c) the verse “Evil slave, forgive…” reminded an elder of me; and d) the church does not get involved in health issues or multi-generational/extra-local matters.... and that I should go to authorities if a law was broken...
But no one encouraged me to go to authorities when I was fondled in Taipei in 1987 by a responsible one, and after a church member reported it, who witnessed it and heard me say I was uncomfortable (I never saw her again, that I recall)....
I have tried tell these things to perpetrators (who are still alive) and to responsible ones in my (former) church community. I am now telling you, the church. Don't let abuse continue, as far as it depends on YOU.