the Hope of Survivors

Why Did I Stay? by Tammy Landry

I had many compelling reasons for staying in the abusive relationship with my predator pastor. ALL abuse is about power and control, whether by your pastor or someone else. So my reasons are very similar to why a woman stays in an abusive marriage.

The Domestic Abuse Project has stated:

“The one question our culture often asks of victims/survivors of domestic abuse is: “Why do/did you stay in an abusive relationship?” or “Why doesn’t she just leave?” Sometimes the question is meant as an honest inquiry. However, often it is spoken with an undercurrent of hostility or disbelief (i.e. “It couldn’t have been that bad” or “You must have liked it” or “If you wanted to leave, you would have,” sending a message that WOMEN who stay in abusive relationships are somehow to blame for their abuse.”

A woman abused by her husband may stay because:

1. First, she may not know that she is being abused—she is often confused and may even blame herself for his behavior.
2. She thinks it would be best for the kids if she stayed/not break up family.
3. She stays for security/financial and otherwise.
4. She stays because she may have experienced abuse in the past and has learned to accept it as normal—so she rationalizes and copes with it.
5. She fears her husband will turn others against her.
6. She is afraid of her husband’s threats to hurt her.
7. She knows her husband has all the power—physically and financially—he controls all the money, etc….
8. She wants to honor her marriage vow for religious/cultural reasons.
9. She believes him when he says he’s sorry and he loves her.
10. She thinks he will change.

I stayed in the abusive relationship with my predator pastor for similar reasons:

1. First and foremost, I stayed because of my devotion to God—my pastor had me believe it was God’s will that I work with him in that church and in the city.
2. I stayed because I had no idea that he was abusing me at the time—I thought he was a man of God—and as our shepherd, he could not possibly harm any congregant—this led me to much confusion.
3. I stayed because I thought he was helping my marriage through counseling and also helping my family through counseling.
4. Due to past sexual abuses, I did not have healthy boundaries, which made me vulnerable. Through counseling, my pastor manipulated those vulnerabilities—and I was used to coping with sexual abuse as normal.
5. I feared he would tell others all my secrets he had gathered through counseling (he threatened this).
6. I was afraid of his anger and his threats whenever I pulled away from him.
7. He had me believe he needed me and could not continue the work of the church/city without me.
8. He convinced me he loved me so, in order not to lose his love and care, I accepted his sexual misconduct.
9. I stayed because I loved the people at our small church—we were a tight-knit family—I never wanted to leave or ever break up our church family.
10. He discovered my emotional needs through counseling and then used them for his own desires.
11. I stayed because I thought he would repent and change.


If you are a survivor of pastoral abuse, we would love to hear your story and possibly make it available on this web site for others to read and renew their hope. You can use a pseudonym if you choose and rest assured that all personal information will be kept private and strictly confidential. Please contact us.

Please note: We do not necessarily agree with or endorse all the information contained in the survivor’s stories. We do, however, feel they have some valuable information that could be useful to you in your recovery. It helps to know you’re not alone, that others have shared your pain and have healed, by the grace of God, in their own time and way.

The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart...Psalms 34:18