Monday, 12 May 2014

The abusive Christian: a not so rare breed.

It’s taken a long time for the full realisation of what my children and I went through to creep up on me. Now that it has I often find myself in a serious state of shock and disbelief that this could happen to us. Suddenly in what can seem like a fairly ordinary and mundane moment of life I’ll hit a wall of horror and disgust that this happened.

But that’s not the only thing that horrifies me.

What I find more shocking is that this awful, life changing experience is not unusual. I am not some unlucky victim who was unfortunate enough to pick the wrong man. I am not a one-off, my life is not an ‘isolated incident’ within a society that condemns this kind of behaviour. No. I am normal. I am a statstic and a pretty big one at that. I am part of a group of 25% of the UK’s female population. That’s 7.85 MILLION women in the UK alone who have, are or will experience what I went through.

We spend time telling abuse victims that what they went through is not normal. Sadly it is. If 25% of the female population experience something it’s hardly abnormal.

Wrong- yes
Not their fault- correct
Abnormal- no!

And it’s not just women, one third of all children are affected by domestic abuse. To put it in perspective there will be three classes in my children’s year when they start school- 90 children. This means that statistically speaking a whole class of children in one year group at their school will have been affected by domestic abuse. Doesn’t that terrify you?  It does me.

But there’s something that horrifies me and angers me even more than all of this.

It’s the fact that these statistics are no different in the Christian community. 

Aren’t we called to be different?

What happened to “you will recognize them by their fruits.” (Matthew 7:20)   or  “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35)
How can it possibly be that within the Church Christian men are abusing God’s daughters and Christians are not up in arms outraged by this?

Recently something like half a million Christians signed a petition against gay marriage. How can it be that half a million Christians care so much about what two consenting adults do but aren’t making the same fuss about what Christian men are doing to women and children in their churches and Sunday Schools?

And I am angered when I talk to the Christian community about this in the context of my experience and am told that “it’s a private matter” and “it isn’t right to talk about that sort of thing publically”

I’m angered when I speak to other Christian abuse victims and they tell me their pastors told them to keep quiet, or to focus on being a better wife, or to practise forgiveness or that divorce is a sin or to pray for their husband and 'trust God' and other such words which keep women trapped and add to the abuse.

I’m angered that every single church in the UK is not standing up and saying “abuse is wrong, we will not tolerate it in our communities” that proper church discipline is not being applied to abusers and victims are not being wholeheartedly supported and believed.

Next Sunday morning look how many women are in your church. And remember that 25% of those women are likely to be suffering, or have suffered domestic abuse. You might not know who they are, you might not be able to go and rescue them. But does your church live out a culture that supports women, that enables and empowers women, so that when they realise for themselves what is happening they'll feel safe and supported. Or does it have a culture that encourages inequality and secrecy, so victims stay silent and perpetrators continue unchallenged?


  1. Thank you for this. I was in an abusive marriage to a pastor for 18 years. Thank God my kids and I got out and I was able to recognize it and break the cycle for my boys!

  2. Thanks for your input. It's shocking that pastors wives are not immune to abuse, so glad you and your boys escaped.


Thanks for your comments and encouragement.