#hearLDSwomen: My Bishop Counseled Me to Stay with My Abuser
When I went to my last bishop about my abusive marriage and told him I was planning to leave and get a divorce, he seemed very supportive. He even offered to be present when I was ready to notify my husband of my plans.
When I was finally ready, my bishop backed out. He said I needed to be forgiving and give my husband another chance. I told him that advising someone to stay in an abusive relationship can be very dangerous, even life threatening. He stood his ground. So did I. I let other female friends know of my plans, and they knew if they didn’t hear from me by a certain time that evening they were to come to the house looking for me and be prepared to call the police. Fortunately, it went smoothly.
But, my bishop tried several more times to talk me into attempting to reconcile. Even after I had explained to him all the times during 20 years prior to leaving I had attempted to reconcile, attempted to get my husband to go to couples’ counseling, etc. After 20 years of me trying and my husband not trying, it was time to go.
I was told when my then-husband, who I’d married in the temple, tried to run me over with our car that I “overreacted” and should try not to be so “difficult.” That was the church counselor my bishop had sent us to. My bishop apologized when I filed for divorce. I never once blamed the church for that. I just no longer trust church leaders with what’s best for me or my family. I still attend and hold callings. I love the scriptures and my relationship with Christ. I take church with a grain of salt…
I left a man who was beginning to punch children and who was a hoarder.
He claimed I was a bad housekeeper. (Have you tried cleaning up or throwing away after a hoarder? It’s not possible.)
My former bishop, who we’d discussed things with for years as my husband refused to see any other (any qualified) therapist, wrote him an affidavit saying he’d never seen abuse. Though Bishop had often directly counseled us to divorce.
Though he’d witnessed my being berated in his office. Though he knew about the rest.
The executive secretary wrote another affidavit.
Nobody could figure out why I’d leave such a nice guy. Those two affidavits cost me $45K in divorce legal bills.
He moved his increasing hoard out two years later.
We finished yesterday. In the meantime, I wasn’t allowed to get my stuff, a one page personal item list.
Getting away was a traumatic nightmare, and yet still better.
Pro Tip: Do not ever counsel someone to stay in an abusive relationship, and do not use your position to make it harder in any way for the abused spouse to leave.
“If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.” (Mark 4:23)