#hearLDSwomen: My Bishop Sided With My Abusive Husband and Would Not Give Me Aid When I Left Him
My bishop told me if I’d hearken to my husband, he would feel better about himself and stop abusing me. I literally told my bishop that the phrase was to hearken to the counsel of my husband as he hearkens to the counsel of God. He wasn’t listen to God, his psychiatrist, or anybody. So it didn’t apply at ALL.
I was taught as a Beehive that a woman is a mirror to reflect their husband’s light.
Thankfully this comment simply made me roll my eyes, but I am still close friends with one of the girls from that class and I know she really deeply internalized this message (and others like it). It wrecked her for years. She finally found her voice and her individuality but it took 15 years, an abusive marriage (wherein she was silenced and belittled and thought this was how it was supposed to be) and completely separating herself from the church for her.
My abusive husband Refused to pay the court ordered child support when we were going through a divorce and he still owes about $40,000. Having four children that I was trying to support on my own, I went to my bishop asking for assistance at least until the matter could be somewhat resolved. My bishop said this is my fault because I filed for divorce and lied about being abused.
I have these statements in emails and several texts. He said I was asking for too much money from my husband and he couldn’t afford it. Again, it was court ordered and a straight calculation by the judge.
My bishop cut me off of receiving food for my children at a time we needed it desperately. I donated plasma just to buy food and gas. I have an autistic child and mounds of therapy bills, plus attorney fees, and was hopeless. This was the darkest time I have ever experienced in my life.
This was done by a Bishop still currently serving in Virginia and abusing more women.
A girl in my ward was my visiting teaching partner. Her husband was an alcoholic and always having and meeting other women. I encouraged her to go to counseling and al-anon. Eventually he asked her for a divorce. She said oh heck yes. I helped her find a job, navigate social services to get day care, etc. The bishop wrote to her mother, told her husband (who decided he wanted to go back to church and stay married after he found out the financial cost to him) that I was the cause of the divorce. She was told not to hang with me. Her mother paid for HIS attorney and wouldn’t help her because I had corrupted her. It was bad enough when the bishop was telling women not to hang with me outside of church functions as I supported LGBT equality, but after this I quit attending church and vowed not to go back as long as he is bishop. I took this as ecclesiastical abuse. Oh course, he never once talked to me about any of this.
– Cheryl Purnell
A few incidents from a kind, well-intended bishop who responded mostly well to a discussion about my husband’s depression but cautioned that I might be oversensitive to conflict since Mormon culture prizes non-confrontation and I’m such a calm, gentle person. 10 years into our marriage (of which he has known us for 7), I am surely seasoned enough to tell the difference between a normal argument and a man who is almost constantly angry with me. It felt very patronizing and dismissive of the painful problems in my home.
– K. Peterson
Pro Tip: Support women during difficult and vulnerable times. Do not deny resources or aid to a woman going through a divorce. Do not counsel people to stay in abusive relationships or use temple covenants to justify abuse.
“If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.” (Mark 4:23)