A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

A pastor who told an imprisoned woman not to call the police

When your Religious Leader Falls Off the Pedestal is Cindy Kunsman’s account of how she came to realise that her pastor was a spiritual abuser. In the post she tells how her pastor failed to help a woman who had been locked in the basement by her abusive husband. Here is the excerpt:

Trigger Warning: imprisonment, abandonment, pastoral malpractice

One Monday morning, I arrived [to do my secretarial work at the church] early, and the phone started to ring and ring. It was a friend of mine who was desperate to talk to the pastor but would not talk to me. He [the pastor] finally arrived, and I gave him the messages she’d left for him to call her. Before noon, she called a couple more times. When the pastor went to lunch, I asked if it was appropriate to ask what was going on, because I was upset that she was in so much distress. Was there something I could do? The pastor told me where he was going and when he’d be back, and then said that this woman’s husband had locked her in the basement, but that she was fine. He said it rather glibly, so I could only assume that this was something that had happened since I saw her at church the previous day. She had access to a telephone, so I could only assume that she was calling to get emotional support after the fact but was in a great deal of distress.

Long story short, I would eventually learn in a month or so that this woman was calling from the basement of her home while actively confined where she access to a phone. She was confined at the time of the call, and she was instructed not to call the police to report her husband! She called the pastor for help, and his best advice was to “wait it out” (while her three boys fended for themselves upstairs). Her husband was dealing with her in the best way that he saw fit, so the pastor didn’t want to interfere. (???!!!) I was so shocked at the time that I didn’t even know what to say to this woman. I later told her that I would have been there with the police and an axe if I’d had any knowledge that she’d been pushed down the basement stairs and locked there.

The whole post is worth reading if you want to understand the dynamics of spiritual abuse and cult-like churches. If you read the post at Under Much Grace (the link I gave at the top) I don’t think you can comment; but Julie Anne Smith has republished the whole post at Spiritual Sounding Board and you can definitely comment there.


  1. Brenda R

    This was a column worth the read. Thanks Barb for the heads up on this site/ I did not understand why the woman pushed into and locked in her basement felt the need to call anyone. Phone in hand–911. This so-called pastor had such a hold on the flock that was not of God. The portion where she says “why do we as the flock allow this to happen rather than God allowing it to happen” is so true. God gives us a free will and we should feel that we can question the teachings and motives or those in authority and not allow abuse to take place. The husband in this scenario was not acting in anyone’s best interest, but out of his own angry, evil heart. I am glad that Cindy brought this to the light of day.

  2. loves6

    A member of my family was in a very abusive marriage. I went to my Pastor to get help for her. He said he could do nothing unless she came to him. There were many other situations we were involved with over the years with other families where physical abuse was an ussue, we were never encouraged to get the police involved. The Pastor was the first call for advice. The hold and control that spiritually abusive churches seem to have over their members. Thanks for the link that blog has alot of great info on spititual abuse. Im thankful that there are Christians that are prepared to expose these things.

  3. Not Too Late

    My girlfriend at church was also told not to call the police after she told him of an assault by her husband. The pastor’s rationale was that it wouldn’t change anything. Instead, his godly counsel could effect a transformation. In fact he believed it was already making a difference, too bad the woman didn’t agree because she fled miles away not long after!

    • Brenda R

      Not Too Late-It seems the insanity never stops. I think her shaking off the bad counsel was best.

  4. Jean Marie

    What a great read and link! Thank you! I am so glad it leads to the information about Vision Forum. I needed to read that! It lead me to this article. http://rethinkingvisionforum.org/a-candid-review/ That article was very healing for me, it helped me find and release bad teachings from my own spiritual abuse. It talked in detail about how VF was religiously off. I am ashamed to say that we have used some VF supplies in our homeschool. Though I never used, or was interested in the items about family or cultural affairs. I was more interested in the cool boy toys.

  5. Anna in the temple

    I was kept locked up too. I have nightmares about this. It was terrible

  6. I fled to a neighborhood church with my 4 kids to use the phone during a physical incident. They did not allow me access into the building.

    • Brenda R

      They may have had “church” on the billboard outside, but that was no “church”. I am so sorry that happened to you.

    • LaC — I am so sorry! That must have been horrendous!

  7. M.

    Ugh. These men are so alike. I was intentionally locked in the basement. I went down to the basement to do the laundry, and he threw the bolt, separating me from our three young sons who were upstairs. I knew he had all the other doors and windows locked because he was obsessive about that, so while I could have gone outside, I would not have been able to get back in. Luckily I had the baby in my arms, so when I yelled through the door that I would be exiting the basement and going to the neighbors to call the police, he let me back in. That was one of several incidents that ultimately led up to my leaving.

    • And let me offer you a belated welcome to the blog, M 🙂
      We didn’t do it when you first commented, so here it is now.

      And btw, we always like to encourage new readers to check out our New Users Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

    • How awful! And well done you for creatively and prudently resisting his tactics of abuse.

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