While working one evening at the Domestic Violence shelter, one of the team members came and got me because there was a pastors wife that they wanted me to talk to. As an organization with government funding, naturally they are not allowed to speak on faith and religion; however as a volunteer, I could.
I left the office and went into the living room where I met this beautiful woman who had the kindest face and very soft voice. We made small talk after the introductions and she began to share with me how she finally got the nerve to leave her abusive husband, a church pastor and police officer. While some would stop here and say ‘oh my goodness! but a PASTOR?’, know that abusers are from all walks of life, socioeconomic statuses and professions. This didn’t come as a surprise to me. Preciouslyfe Ministries (now My Tattered Brim) was created because there was little discussion (if any) in the church about domestic violence. There were few safe places for the church members and leaders to say ‘I’m being abused’ where they could get help and not ridicule. The more I trained in DV counseling, the more I could identify and recognize the signs of abuse and would see evidence of it all around me, even in the church.
While she had an easy smile and bubbly personality, it was no secret that she was afraid. She was a woman who had been broken down by power and control. A woman like many others that was convinced that there was no place that she could go and be safe. A woman who had been told by her husband that she didn’t need to pray because he would do it for her. To even control the spiritual journey of a person’s soul was control at a level I had not seen before. We talked way past my scheduled time that night because I knew that tomorrow she would moved to another location. At some point I asked her who she was. I’m the wife of a pastor, she replied. I asked again… No, who are you? I’m the church secretary, came readily as a response. I asked a third time – no not what are you….who are you? Not titles, roles or the hats that she wears, but who was the woman that stood in front of me. The woman that gathered the strength to leave her abuser and is now here in a shelter. I reminded her that she was a woman who is strong, beautiful, powerful and a survivor.
The next day she left the shelter and moved on to the next leg of her journey not as a victim but as a victorious survivor. Although it has been many years since I met this woman, I still think about her and wonder how she is doing. I wonder if she has rekindled her faith and renewed her own prayer life as I look out at the world from under my tattered brim.