the Hope of Survivors

Bleeding Souls by Makeba

On April 1, 1997, I was married to the pastor, I thought, was the man of my dreams. I thought I would be married to him forever, and that I would stand by him no matter what. I thought I had married the right man this time, and that this marriage would be better than the marriage I had been in previously in 1996.
  
You see, two years prior, I had married my first husband after he proposed to me after dating for only three months. I thought he really wanted to be a Christian, and that we would marry and serve God together. I had only been a Christian for a short time, so I felt I was sure about marrying him but, two weeks after we were married, he left me for another woman. I continued to stay married to him for the next twelve months. After a year, he decided to come back and he wanted my children and I to relocate to Minnesota with him. He said it was for the marriage and for  job opportunity, so we moved. Shortly after relocating, my husband returned to his old patterns and abandoned me and my three children. I was devastated, depressed, and I did not feel I could live without him. I started going to church to help me cope with the pain of his adultery and betrayal.
  
Soon after attending a local church in St.Paul, I decided to confide in the pastor for guidance. It was something I had done previously at my home church in Atlanta, so it did not seem harmful at the time. I had confided in my previous pastor and I had never experienced any inappropriate behavior with this pastor. I was comfortable asking questions in some of the Bible studies about marriage, but I felt this was personal and did not want to share details during service. It was suggested that I call him, so I did. The pastor was very attentive to the pain I was in and encouraged me to stay faithful to God. He also said he would be willing to  meet with my husband for counsel if he was willing, and he was. They met alone, without me, and I learned years later that my husband said he did not want to be with me, and only wanted to know what were the conditions for divorce, at least this is what the pastor said.
  
After this meeting, my husband decided to go back to Atlanta for a while and leave us in Minnesota. I was devastated! I felt God did not care about me and that He was not answering the prayers I had prayed for my husband. Of course the pastor must have seen it as an opportunity for him, because he began to pursue me even more than before. I say before, because prior to my husband leaving, he would call to see how I was doing, even if my husband was at home. He would offer to take me wherever I needed to go and would invite me to family gatherings with him. He thought there was no harm in doing these things with him. During this time, he told me that I deserved better and that  my marriage was never of God because my husband was unfaithful and was not really a Christian. He told me he would pay for the divorce and get me a lawyer, which he did, and I divorced my husband.
  
When the marriage was over, he started buying me things, and taking me and the kids on outings regularly. He announced to the church that he was dating me and would probably marry me at some point. He started wanting to talk about sex on the phone and when we would spend time alone he wanted me to please in certain ways, because he said “in the sight of God” we are married because we are both believers. He would get angry when I would question him or ask about certain Scriptures in the Bible. This went on for some time, and I would cry and pray for God’s forgiveness each time. He would only be kind to me when I responded to him the way he wanted and did not question him. So, for almost a year I would do what he wanted. He then started behaving  this way with another woman in the church and, when I would ask about God’s plan for us to marry, he started saying he was not ready to marry again right now. He would say he was concerned for the church and wanted to wait. I’m not sure why, but shortly after things were getting out of control with his promises to marry both of us, and after I stopped attending the church. He came to me and told me, he wanted us to  get married the next day, he told me it was time.This was God’s will, so of course I married him.
  
We were married by one of his close friends, who is also a pastor, the next day. After we were married everything began to unravel and the nightmare intensified. He became more controlling and angrier than before. His sexual requests became even more selfish and the kids were afraid him and unhappy. We walked around on eggshells, hoping not to upset him. Everything was his way or not at all. I realized something was wrong, but I was not sure what to do, so I would pray, and I tried to be a good wife. Nothing improved, and his behavior toward other women did not improve either. He began to be playful with my daughter privately and one day she told me but, of course, he claimed he was innocent and she misunderstood him, and said I was being suspicious because of my own childhood abuse. He would continually manipulate everyone, in every situation, so he would be innocent of everything he was accused of. He has tried to manipulate me into remarrying him, saying that his first wife never made him happy, and that he was always happy when he was with me. I must say I struggled to not go back to him, and could not understand his hold on me. It has been almost four months since I have cut off complete contact with him permanently. My kids and I  have all  struggled, to some degree, with our faith, depression, suicide, and a hatred toward him for what he has done to our family, but I pray God will continue to  help us through it all. I divorced him last year in March and with the help of  God, my support groups, my kids, and my new church family, I am free! I do not believe I was totally free when I divorced him last year. I believe God brought me total freedom from my guilt and shame of this abuse and the damage that was done to my children for believing the lies of the enemy, when I found: The Hope of Survivors. When everyone had found me guilty of adultery, the Lord brought the evidence of The Hope of Survivors and said NOT GUILTY!

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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