filing for divorce as a result of abuse by husband the senior pastor

by Shelly joesph
(ontario, canada)

My husband and I have been married for eight years and have been in ministry for seven of those years. Over the last three years my husband has become extremely emotionally and psychologically abusive. He has isolated me from my friends and family by not allowing me to call my parents and siblings and will check my phone calls and emails to see who I have been in contact with. He controls all finances and buys my clothes and the children's clothes. He is constantly yelling and belittling me and my two children.

I just recently had a third child 3 months ago and during my pregnancy, I would have to ask him to buy me food even if I was allowed to have a ice cream and he told me, "No." He also does all the grocery shopping.

One month ago he physically assaulted me. The police were called and now I am filing for divorce. The church and board members were notified and the board has turned on me. My husband called all the church members and tried to discredit me and told them that I called the police on him and blew everything out of proportion. He told the church members that I am under a spell and that I need prayer and basically trying to deny the fact that he has been abusing us for years.

As a result of the restraining order placed on him, he cannot be anywhere I am so he cannot be at the church, so I have been preaching the sermons for the last month. I cannot go back to him because he still doesn't see what he has been doing to us is wrong. He is blaming others for me wanting to leave him and is saying that it is witchcraft that has made me this way and that our life is perfect.

All the people that he has befriended at church silently protest me and don't help me do anything in the church or they show up extremely late, making things difficult for me especially if they have a responsibility in church.

I really want to know, how do I gain the trust of the church members, they see me as the one that walked away from my family. But they don't know how long it's been happening and they don't know the pain we have gone through, especially my adopted daughter.

Does this entire thing with me divorcing my husband, who is the senior pastor, disqualify me as a pastor? But I feel that I had to make the decision before he one day knocks the teeth out of my mouth or hurts my kids. How do I continue on from here? I feel so alone and like I'm in a lions den. But I know if I go back, our lives are at risk because he has a really bad temper and blames us for him mistreating us.

Please give me some advice. Thanks.

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