Unmasking the Domestic Abuser in the Church

Stephanie's Story: Part 2

Due to pressure from her pastor, his wife, and her abuser husband (Terrance), Stephanie returned to the run down, spider and rodent infested house, and to her abuser. If you missed part one, here is the link Part One.
And now, Stephanie continues with her story: [In your comments, perhaps some of you could give us some insight into what is going on in the minds of this pastor and his wife. What do you think is their motive?]

I returned back to our place, and my mom was worried and came to the house. Terrance refused to let her inside and he called the police on her.  They didn’t show up until after she had left. But she returned the next day. He still was not allowing her inside the house and I wasn’t allowed to talk to her either. The police came and he was yelling that “she is my wife and she isn’t going anywhere.” And he said that since he was to talk to them first because, as he told them, “I called you out here.”
The police said no, we need to talk to her right now. I was on the phone talking to my brother. The two police officers walked with my mom and told her to call the county for a citation on this property [condemning it for living]. The property did receive a citation.  That evening Terrance told me his friend was putting up a gate at the street. He said it was to keep the county out. That made me even more nervous. I couldn’t sleep that night and left the next morning.
Terrance and I had planned two cruise vacations, one in December and one in February. I checked my cruise account and saw that I was already replaced with a girlfriend of his for the February cruise.  I forwarded the screen shot of the account to the pastor. The pastor’s reply? – “Yeah that doesn’t look good’.  I will check with Terrance right now about this.”  I informed the pastor, “well, he is on a cruise ship and will not be available to ask right now. He doesn’t seem to be too concerned to get me home, does he?”  The pastor checked with Terrance and then told me,  “Oh Terrance said he added her name just to make you mad.  So the pastor excused him on that too.
I set up another counseling session with the pastor, this time including a Christian couple whom I knew from years back.  Terrance comes into the meeting, moves his chair away from me, and sits down and says “I am done, she can get her stuff out of the truck”.  We started talking and they asked me what I wanted from him. I pulled out the pictures of the property, and Terrance got up and leaves.  The men followed him out and shortly came back with him and we talked again.
The entire time I was talking, Terrance was talking over me.  He kept repeating, “is she coming home tonight?” The counselor said to Terrance, “no, you need a heart change and you need to get your priorities in order.  You are all words and no action. You can’t treat your wife this way and be a Christian.”  I said that I just wanted a decent home, and Terrance shot back, “you don’t deserve a mansion.”
So, I had tried to talk and to say what I needed to say. Terrance got up and left again and didn’t return. The pastor said “Oh, he is just upset.”  But the counselor turned  around toward the pastor and said  “What you have experienced here is what  Stephanie deals with everyday. It is verbal and emotional abuse and belittlement.” I said “this means I don’t go back home to him, correct?”  The counselor said “no, he needs a change of heart and you must know he has changed, and you must see these changes.”
At the end of the meeting, the pastor asked me,  “That gate on the driveway really doesn’t bother you, does it?”  I said, “YES, it does with all his other behaviors all designed to control me.”  The pastor’s wife walked me out to my car and I saw that Terrance had thrown bags of my belongings he had packed out of his truck. Some of them were broken.  And the pastor wife says “Oh just pray and encourage him, it will get better. He needs your encouragement!”
[In Part 3 we will see how this pastor, his wife, and the church members further persecuted Stephanie, ultimately ex-communicating her from this Reformed Baptist “church.”]


Stephanie's Story: Part 1


Stephanie's Story: Part 3


  1. Zadok

    Ignorance is loud.
    So i Scriptural error which works to inflict bondage on the innocents.
    I don’t care what their initial motives were, what i care about is did they ever correct themselves. And not, i’m sorry, i’m not bitter or anything, but i believe it to be fact that a) they WILL reap correction in the here and now, even if they don’t realize it and b) eternity is a long, especially after your error has been blasted from the rooftops.

  2. IamMyBeloved’s

    The pastor and his wife are in denial about their “member’s” vile and wicked behavior. I think this happens because the pastor takes a member’s behavior as a personal reflection on how well he is shepherding the flock, instead of seeing the member as an individual within the body, who is responsible for their own beliefs and actions. In turn, they have to say stupid things like “he’s just frustrated or upset and needs prayer”, because they don’t want to be blamed for being responsible for shepherding a wolf among them. A good, healthy shepherd would not take it personally and would get the wife away from her husband and then decide whether to “counsel” the man as an individual, not as her husband. If they decided to take on counseling the man, then they would send the woman to a safe Church where she would be well shepherded. They would also realize that there was no marriage and would help the woman to end the fiasco she was living in.

  3. Rowan on the high mountain

    The pastor’s willingness to excuse Terrance’s alarming behavior–the gambling, emotional abuse, and proposed gate–have increased my suspicions that he abuses his wife in some, perhaps less extreme, way. His defense of an abusive husband may really be a self-serving proxy justification of his own actions. More evidence for this is the suggestion from the pastor’s wife that Stephanie just needs to pray for and encourage her husband. Also, “it will get better” too often means “you’ll get used to it” and is what I’ve heard some women resigned to their own abuse say to others.
    The pastor and his wife no doubt consciously believe that they’re just trying to help this couple keep their marriage intact in accord with Christian teaching, but I think they may have the deeper motive of defending an abusive dynamic in their own marriage. I’m so glad Stephanie seems to have had the support of her mother and sound advice from the counselor. A change of heart is what women should be supported to hold out for.
    Unfortunately for Stephanie, if the pastor is, in fact, abusing his own wife in some way, refusing to return to her husband before his change of heart will have the unintended effect of confronting the pastor (and any other abuser in that church) with the reality of his sin. The easiest way out of their discomfort is to make Stephanie into a scapegoat by reframing the story so she becomes the sinner.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Rowan – Good stuff here! Yes, I am sure that there are more pastors and elders who abuse their wives than most people even want to know. Such a man in leadership will inevitably turn the church into a patriarchal boy’s club that exalts men over women. This is one of the reasons I despise “men’s retreats” in churches (or for that matter, most women’s retreats too) because they most often simply serve as a means to further poison men with teachings that, bottom line, claim men are better than women.

    • eagleovercomer

      Very interesting… This reminds me of a church in which a member starting seeing the warning signs of abuse in some marriages. Very shortly after the “pastor” from the pulpit began talking about his wife, how they have been married for 40 years, and even shared a story of how he held the door open for her. It was really odd how it seemed he was going out of his way to present the image of a perfect marriage. I began wondering if he was abusing his wife in some way. Paul talks about a little leaven and it would make sense that whatever is in the pastor (or whatever they defend/tolerate) would be found within the congregation. Sadly there is a lot of truth in what you have said.

  4. no one down here

    I don’t understand the motives.
    I have seen similar dynamics with a pastor excusing continued lies, control, demeaning/mocking… I have seen similar dynamics with wife of a church leader saying the answer is to pray and to work on my own behavior, rather than that of the husband’s.
    The complete denial of what is right there in front of the eyes is astounding. The only answer I can come up with is that there must be complete blindness on the part of the pastor and the pastor’s wife. Blindness like that is frightening. How can the blind lead the blind?!

  5. I Woke Up

    Ok, I’ve picked my jaw up off the floor. Wow.
    In my opinion, the pastor and his wife are in a position of power that they get gratification from. They probably champion themselves for digging in for the long haul with this couple. They feel called and special, anointed, so to speak. Yet all of this is mere self-aggrandizement, and their attitude of having superior knowledge that poor Stephanie is not privy to is not only wayward, but evil in its origin. They’ve twisted Scripture in a vile way, and there will be judgment for that!
    My ex-pastor told me that in order for me to receive his prayers and concern, I had to leave the counselor I had been seeing for three years and start seeing his appointed PCA counselor. When I protested, saying that this woman had not only kept me from following through with suicide but had been the hands and feet of Jesus to me for years, he said that since she was not Presbyterian, it would not work for him for me to see both him and her. He said, “That’s not how I do ministry.”
    On top of the sheer terror and misery experienced at the hands of my husband, I was cut off from my church family, none of whom checked on my children and me when we stopped attending. Did I mention that this was AFTER he told me I had Biblical grounds for divorce?? Very hard lessons learned. It seems that not only are these evil husbands more times than not narcissists, but the pastors who stand behind, over, and in front of them are as well. A destructive, evil duo.

    • Stormy

      I agree I Woke Up— not only are the evil anti husbands narcissists, the church leaders are also. In addition the church members aka leaders that bully by proxy are also dysfunctional sickos that get off on the collective bully mentality.
      They truly enjoy destroying the innocent. It gives them a high to join in with others and be a part of something so vile. They really like it.
      They are not repentant misguided spiritually immature folks that need compassion. They are willfully collaborating with evil and will pay the price. Judgement will visit them. May it come today, even now!

    • no one down here

      I Woke Up – I am so sorry. that is not right. Any person has the right to go to any counselor she wants to go to. The church does not have the right to say you cannot see a different counselor. That is spiritual abuse.

  6. Tina

    This makes me so angry I could hardly stand to read it. Thank you for continuing to fight this battle to help free those who have believed the lies, for those who have not yet found their voice, or don’t yet realize it is not ungodly to use it.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Thank you Tina. Yes, it is soooo maddening that victims are being treated this way in churches.

  7. J. D. Gallé

    ‘I [Stephanie] said that I just wanted a decent home, and Terrance shot back, “[Y]ou don’t deserve a mansion.” ’ (par. 7)
    The abuser makes a thinly veiled accusation in the assertion above. The intent is to have Stephanie, the abusee, appear as an entitled and unreasonable human being, even if only in her own eyes. The entitled, conscienceless abuser presumes to act as the judge of his target, implanting seeds of incrimination and self-doubt in the mind of his conscience-bound wife, impugning her motives as exorbitant via the use of purposely false, exaggerated speech.
    Abusers quite enjoy charging others with the ill qualities they themselves possess, particularly their victims. Malevolent psychological warfare is waged without regard to the truth; rather, it is accomplished in spite of it.

  8. sweethonesty7

    The abuser, pastor & pastor’s wife = Crazymakers. I raced through the article; could barely stand to read it.

  9. Stephanie

    Thank you for sharing your heartfelt concerns, heartaches and being so transparent, sharing different view points of this blog. It has been a very hard road. But God has been in control othr entire time. All your comments have been such a help in healing and recovery. May God bless you.

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