My Story: Spiritual abuse in the church, why I stayed in a broken marriage

divorced couple

Author of this blog: Guest Writer – Anonymous

Spiritual abuse in the church and why I stayed in a broken marriage. Let me be honest with you, my mistake was believing in people more than I believed in God.  I thought that I believed in God more than anything but I finally see how my despair and hurt was rooted in my dependence on people and not God.  

I am only able  to share my story now because I laid ALL of the pain, disappointment, anger, regret and despair at The Lord’s feet.  I spent many years carrying the heavy burden before I realised that I couldn’t carry both the anguish of my soul and the joy of my salvation in the same heart.  I chose to lay it all down because the pain of the despair was starting to affect my ability to hope, believe and see the joy of Jesus, clearly.

 One of my favourite bible verses is:

Matthew 5:8

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”  I prayed for God to purify my heart because I want to see Him, and ANYTHING holding me back from seeing Him, had to go.

 This is my story.

My intentions were good; I wanted my marriage to be saved.  I had tried everything that I thought to do on my own, including seeking marriage counseling from a private therapist.  Therapy, while good, didn’t get to the root of the problem and so the same problems kept coming up.  Seven years of marriage; seven years of tears, questions, regrets and fears.  I prayed and prayed for things to change, but it seemed that the more I prayed, the darker things got spiritually in our home.  I remember having dreams of animals (crocodiles, hyenas, snakes and cheetahs) coming after me, my husband, and our three innocent children.  The attacks were non- stop and overwhelming.  My children began to experience demonic oppression; that was the last straw for me.  

 I had come into my marriage with emotional and mental baggage (from childhood trauma) but my husband came into the marriage with spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical baggage.  He was quiet, I was talkative.  I was a believer, he was a church-goer. I ignored all of the signs because I was too broken to believe that anyone else would ever love me or choose me.  He was a Pastor’s kid whose own father (and Pastor) took him to strip clubs and told him to have a good time.  We were both so broken, but I believed that because of our faith and our covenant promise in marriage, that God would forgive us, heal us and give us a beautiful and full marriage.  I held onto hope for many years.  

When I turned to our Senior Pastor for help, I was desperate.  

When I shared the story with the Senior Pastor of the church we were attending, he was immediately sympathetic and understanding; he was saddened by our situation.  I spent a lot of time in that Pastor’s office just pouring my heart out.  It felt good not to be in the battle alone or in secret anymore.  I was very transparent with my husband about what I was sharing with the Pastor.  I told my husband that we needed help, we needed to tell the truth about what was going on; he neither agreed or disagreed and so I went to almost all of those appointments by myself.  It was such a lonely time.

The Pastor suggested that both my husband and I connect with a beloved and respected couple within our church so that they could stand with us and counsel us.  I thought that was a perfect idea.  I had known this couple for a couple of years and they served as prophetic and intercessory ministers.  I was SO grateful for this connection because I thought that there would be help, clarity and guidance on how to heal and move forward with the marriage.

My husband, while supportive of me exploring this new idea of meeting with the couple, chose to not get involved.  I spent time with both the husband and the wife (separately) and brought them up to speed on what had been going on.  They were blown away by the level of disconnect and discontent within our relationship.  Finally!!… I thought… finally someone gets how seriously bad things were.

 My first experience of spiritual abuse happened during an intercession meeting.  I met with the couple and with other members of their team in order to pray through and against the spiritual attacks that were happening.  During the meeting the husband (of the ministry duo) asked me about how our relationship started. I shared very honestly and they nodded and took notes until I said that I was the one to kiss my husband first (to make the first move).  Then the look on his face changed.  When I was finished telling the story, he looked at me and told me that I was the problem, that I had caused this by not allowing my husband to pursue me.  He then became VERY angry with me and yelled and said that I had taken his (my husband’s) rights away.  I sat on the edge of the couch, crying and taking it all in – every accusation, every harsh word.  I shared information about my husband’s family background and things that had happened within his family, evil, dark and twisted things.  When I shared this part of the story, I was called the Jezebel of this relationship and situation.  I sat there and took it, even worse, I believed it.  His accusations played right into the thing I feared most about myself, that I was worthless and that I cause trouble.  I left that meeting in tears and with more shackles on my soul than I ever had.  I messaged the Senior Pastor and simply said, ”what did I do?”.  I had internalized everything that I was being accused of and now I was blaming myself for the unhappiness in the marriage and the pain that my children were experiencing because of it.  I felt so ashamed and so low.  The Senior Pastor was stunned by this and asked “what on earth happened in that meeting?”.

I tried to explain it as best as I could but there was no way to fully capture what happened that day.  I was left broken.

Proverbs 11:14 says,

Where there is no counsel, the people fall; but in the multitude of counselors there is safety.” 

This verse saved my life.  I turned to other people whom I loved and respected and whose walk with the Lord I had experienced and known for myself.  I shared ALL that was going on and I suddenly had a multitude of counselors who affirmed me, who reasoned with me and who helped me to see that I was given a very twisted theology and ideaology.

I wish I could say that I learned my lesson that day and stayed away from this couple, but I didn’t see the damage until they had done more.   

They counselled my husband and I and encouraged us to pray about whether or not to stay together.  I was convinced that the marriage could be saved but during that infamous intercessory session, I was told that I won’t be able to share everything with my husband about the process that we are going through because he was not spiritually mature enough to handle it.  I was told that because I had taken away my husband’s ability to control things in our relationship, that I had to allow him some leeway to get the control back from me (basically, shut up and take whatever comes and don’t disagree with my husband, is what they were saying).  When they told us to decide whether or not we were going to stay together, I imagined that we would need a time of separation to heal and then reconcile after a year, but I never said anything because I was told not to.  

We agreed to separate; when we told them about the decision, the wife (of the ministry duo) sat in front of my husband and told him that he would find a great new wife and be happy. I sat there nodding in agreement, while my heart fell apart.  She never turned to me to tell me that I would find a new husband.  Two nights after that counselling session, my husband told me that he had slept with someone else and had been in a relationship with this person.  I went numb.  I was confused.  My husband wrote to the ministry couple and told them about his infidelity;  he told them that he cared for this other person.  While I sat there with the news, I felt confused that in all the times that we had met for counselling, no one had prophetically sensed that he was being unfaithful.  I somehow still blamed myself.

I carried on seeing this couple because I felt like I was supposed to.  However, the more I had prayed for God to help me and guide me, the more I began to see just how bad things were.  I would feel terrified to go and see them because I felt that I would be blamed again, for something.  I didn’t like feeling terrified, especially when it came to God or anything to do with Him… THAT was my lightbulb moment.  I realised that that uneasy feeling was God’s way of alerting me to something being wrong.  I couldn’t see it at first because I lived with the constant feeling of being wrong, bad, a problem, etc.  When I realized that God never wanted me to be terrified, it was like the floodgates of clarity and understanding were open and I saw just how WRONG their counsel had been.

I had been drawn in by the idea of this well-known, loved and respected couple taking me, my husband, and our marriage under their wing.  I was drawn in by their international ministry and the impact it seemed to have had.  I never questioned it because I assumed that they were right.  I was wrong.  They were NOT right.

I finally got the courage to stand up to them when they accused me of taking my husband’s rights as a father away because I asked for sole custody of our children.  However, I asked for sole custody of the children because my husband was showing very bad judgement in his decision making.  I told them that I wouldn’t keep the kids from him and that he could see them whenever he wanted too. He eventually chose to move away and overtime spend less and less time with them.  I remember the last conversation that I had with them.  I told the ministering couple that I wouldn’t be sharing custody of the children and that I hope that they don’t think that my decision was a rebellious one.  I told them that I had peace about my decision.  The husband looked at me and said that he wouldn’t apologize for standing by my husband though he was causing so much hurt.  I walked out of their house with my dignity.  I was shaking, I was crying, but I was free from the abuse they had afflicted on me.  I never went back.

 It took me over 8 years to be free of the damage that they caused.

Spiritual abuse can happen to anyone.  I never thought I would be a victim.  God in His loving-kindness has healed my heart of the hurt, but the lessons I learned will remain with me for a lifetime.  

I love the Lord with my WHOLE heart because He has given me EVERY piece (and peace) back that was stolen from me.

He is a GOOD, GOOD Father.



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