I experienced EVERY ONE of the scenarios Mary said she experienced, and more. Do you think for a moment I would share that with anyone–especially with anyone in the church??And so, because of the condemnation and the desperate feeling of being trapped, you suffer alone–telling no one.Unfortunately, the church, at least in some of the circles I have seen, has not always been a safe place to be vulnerable and to show weakness or share secret pain.

Not a shred of my story did he know, nor did he ask. Just that one simple statement: “You have to go back.” It was a statement that left me feeling like I was hanging on a tightrope between Heaven and Hell depending on my decision to go back. Be aware of signs or occurrences that you question. If you wonder if a situation is abusive, it probably is. Even if those whom you question are in leadership roles, ask anyway. It tells the story from a pastor’s point of view of some stories he heard from women in the church who were in abusive marriages. All I’m trying to say is this: Be quick to extend a helping hand and a listening ear. And above, all, be quick to extend love, for love covers of multitude of sins.

I am fully aware that those questions will probably always be answered with some sort of response to evade the question. I know that would have been my response–evasive and offended.

But God simply did not address each and every scenario. But there can be victory in the grace and mercy of Jesus when hearts are yielded to him. But 35 years ago, at least in the circles I was in, it was not that way.

Even up to the time I left just 6 years prior to the date of this post, I visited a church where I had attended when I was still married to my ex-husband. Unfortunately, many times the church has left people hopeless because they supposedly knew the answers to the most mangled situations. I also believe part of the problem is that people are just not aware of what abuse looks like.

Her story went something like this: She married a minister when she was quite young. The abuse started early in their marriage–control, manipulation, explosive rage, narcissism. When the children came along, they also witnessed the abuse and suffered the tyrannical rule of their father. Do you know what the church with whom she was affiliated did? They ostracized and “disfellowshipped” HER because she left the marriage.

And in true course of mind control and manipulation, none of her children will have anything to do with her because they have been convinced by their father that SHE is in the wrong. Because of positons like this held by the church, abuse victims suffer in silence trying to cope the best they can–especially those in ministry.

But there is always at least a chance that they will accept the invitation to be vulnerable and share, and it will be in the back of their mind that someone cared enough to ask. And don’t be afraid to call out the perceived offenders. Jesus instructed us in the church to do that very thing (Matthew ).

In most cases, their pride and narcissist personality will not allow them to recognize their deep problem, but at least they will know they are on the radar of suspicion. And James says this kind of love covers a multitude of sins (James ).

It literally makes me want to vomit when I hear of what men are allowed to get away with while hiding behind the curtain of ministry, or being the “good-ole-boy” in the church.