Death Threat from Abuser, but Church Refuses to be Educated About Abuse: Part 4 of Persistent Widow’s story
Continuing Misdirection by the PCA Church
In Part 3 of this series, I described two traumatic evening sessions that I attended with the pastor and an elder. I have no idea what the purpose of those meetings were other than to intimidate me to submit to their authority; apart from that, there was no Christian comfort or spiritual wisdom imparted. They were unwilling to explain what they were trying to accomplish through their intervention and I thought that their “process” completely lacked direction. At this point, it had been over 18 months since I first asked for assistance from the church and it seemed to me that they were stalling and making up procedure as they went.
Hearing nothing after our last meeting over a month ago, and hoping to prod the session along, I sent them a letter suggesting that my husband be referred to his medical doctor:
If you would like me to contact specific mental health professionals to see if they accept the [insurance] coverage, please let me know. Otherwise, perhaps his primary care doctor can make a referral. [My husband] yelled at [the doctor] and his staff last year, so he would have some idea of why we are looking for help.
…I have seen absolutely no godly sorrow from him, rather, he screams non-stop on the phone at me and is threatening. He blames me for causing him to act like this, not taking his sin seriously. He said recently that he hopes I would die.
…I have never expected the church to fix these problems, but I am giving him the final opportunity to repent and get psychological help. If he will not get professional help, which is what he has told me, then I intend to finally get closure with this issue and formally end the relationship.
The pastor called and having totally disregarded my letter, said that he was in the process of orchestrating a conference call between the session, my husband and myself. Sensing that they were again luring me into a vulnerable situation, I refused to participate.
Later that week, my husband called me and said that he was going to financially ruin me and that he wanted to see me dead. Previously, he had said that he wished I would die, but his threats were getting progressively worse. He said that he had fantasies about that and would kill me if he could think of a way to do it without getting caught. I informed the pastor and he told me that he didn’t really say that.
Several weeks later the pastor called again. He said that he was bringing gifts from my husband and he had a promissory note for me to sign for his biblical/Nouthetic counseling. He said that I needed to be a part of the counseling, but what that entailed was never explained to me. I refused, citing that my husband should sign the promissory notes himself and that would be an incentive to be serious about his own treatment. From my previous experience with their counseling I knew that their services were extremely expensive, unhelpful, and a catalyst for more abuse. I felt that the pastor and his recommended “professionals” were incompetent and had a reckless disregard for our safety. Concerned that the church would force me to take my husband back if he completed their counseling, I told the pastor that I would not be like a carrot-on-a-stick. My husband should go because of his duty before God.
The pastor said that he had done all that he could. Now my conscience would bother me and I would be receiving a letter with their final reply.
Secular Abuse Center Diagnoses the Situation
With the church never having validated anything that I brought to them, I went to the local abuse crisis center. What an excellent decision that was, and I would have been better off had they been my starting point in this ordeal. The counselor saw me promptly and took the time to really listen to my concerns. She incredulously asked, “What kind of a church do you go to that would enable a man to treat his wife, the mother of all of his children like this? This is abuse. What church is that? That is terrible!” She said that I was in a dangerous relationship and that my children and I were in an unsafe situation because leaving an abuser is when he is most likely to turn violent. Amazed that the church never implemented a safety plan for me, she implemented one, and she recommended I get a restraining order. Her concern and validation were invaluable. Because I had been following A Cry for Justice, and already having read about abuse, only one visit to see her accomplished much.
She gave me abuse literature for my church and said that she would present an informational talk to them at no charge. When I presented the literature and her offer to the pastor, he would not comment. The following Sunday, the congregational prayer included a lament to God for abuse centers forcing women to divorce their husbands.