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Clergy & Court Professionals: Help, Don’t Harm

Anne uses the Bible to share her feelings regarding how people in positions of authority should help ease the suffering victims of betrayal and abuse.

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Betrayed victims of emotional and psychological abuse often seek help from clergy, court professionals, and counselors. Unfortunately, those in positions of leadership can (and often do) cause further harm to victims.

Anne is on The BTR.ORG Podcast, using the King James Version of the Bible to share her thoughts on how those in authority can and should help to ease the suffering of victims of betrayal and abuse.

It’s Hard to Ask for Help

When victims seek help or services, it’s important to understand that:

  • Seeking help can be embarrassing.
  • For many women, they’ve tried several times before. But folks did not believe them.
  • In order to seek help, a woman has had to accept that she is unable to meet her own needs – and that can be quite humbling.

No One Plans for Betrayal & Abuse

“We have been rendered protector-less or provider-less due to his actions, emotionally, psychologically, financially.”

Anne Blythe, Founder of BTR.ORG

For many women, finding out about betrayal and uncovering the reality of abuse means that their life has turned completely upside down. While worrying about whether or not her marriage can stay intact, a woman may also have to wonder if she will have housing, food, basic necessities like clothing and feminine products – because she had no idea that this curve ball was coming.

Uphold Every “Widow’s” Dignity

Perhaps the most unsettling aspect of the Parable of the Unjust Judge is the way in which the judge seems to disregard the widow’s personhood. When a betrayal and abuse victim seeks help, remember uphold her dignity by treating her with kindness and respect.

BTR.ORG Is Here For You

Please know that we are here for you.

Attend a BTR.ORG Group Session today.

Full Transcript:

Anne (00:00):
Welcome to BTR.ORG. This is Anne. It’s just me today. I’m going to be talking about the parable of The Unjust Judge. It’s in Luke 18. I use the King James version of the Bible. One of the reasons I use it, I find it to be a little more vague than maybe some of the new translations, and the vagueness of it helps me to pray and concentrate and interpret it the way that I think that God would want me to interpret it right now in our time. The parable of The Unjust Judge is really interesting because I think that it’s how Jesus would like people in authority, so clergy or the court system, to help victims of abuse.

“…they have been abandoned even if their husband or ex-husband is still alive.”

It’s specifically about a widow. Whenever I read about widows in the scriptures I, of course because of the podcast and because of what I do, envision “porn widows” or women who are “widows” through no fault of their own. Their husband or their ex-husband might still be alive, but they are left alone and they are unprotected and not provided for by their husbands In essence, they have been abandoned even if their husband or ex-husband is still alive. In ancient times, women did not have the ability to make money. They were essentially enslaved to their husbands, and if they did make money, their husbands could take it. If they got divorced, then their husbands would take their children and they really had no rights. They were considered their husband’s property. It’s interesting to me that Jesus is so concerned with widows and women.
Luke 18 starts: “And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;”

Understanding the Parables

Now, I interpret that to mean, “Stay close to the Spirit” and the ‘not faint’ part, to be able to confront evil or wrongdoing and actually do something about it to take action, to relieve suffering.
In two, it says: “Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God,” so this is not a judge who’s concerned about right and wrong. He’s not a judge who is worried about doing the right thing. And then it says, “…which feared not God, neither regarded man:” meaning he also didn’t care about people. He was just a jerk. This is not a good person. He’s not concerned with women, he’s not concerned with justice. Who knows why he’s a judge. But this judge is unjust.
Verse three, “And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, ‘Avenge me of mine adversary.'” Now let’s take this to mean the person who made her a widow, and in our case, the person who made us a widow would be our husband or our ex-husband.

Abandoned and Oppressed

We have been rendered protector-less or provider-less due to his actions, emotionally, psychologically, financially. So she’s really wanting help. She’s going to this judge and saying, I need help not just ‘Avenge me of mine adversary’, but most likely, ‘Help me, I need help, I need financial help, I maybe need help with my children. Someone is abusing me. Or someone is persecuting me. I need help. Please help me.’
Verse four: “And he [meaning the judge] would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.”
So essentially this judge is like, I don’t really want to do anything. She’s driving me crazy, but she keeps coming back to bother me. Why does she keep coming back? I don’t know, but she’s going to keep coming back and I don’t care about her and I don’t care about anybody else, and I don’t care if people are oppressing her and I don’t care if she’s got financial problems and I don’t care if she is suffering.

“Isn’t God supposed to help you?”

All he’s worried about is himself: I don’t want to have to deal with this. I don’t want to have to worry about this. I’m sick of her coming over here. I don’t want her to do it anymore.
Verse six, Jesus said, “…Hear what the unjust judge saith.” So he makes a point again to say, ‘This guy is unjust, so the thing he’s going to say right now is going to be the wrong thing to do.’ Had he said, “The Lord sayeth, Hear what the repentant judge sayeth” or “…the judge who had a change of heart…”, or “…he realized through this experience that he was a bad dude and he wanted to change.” No, no, no, no, no. He’s still unjust.

“What do you think he’s going to say?”

So verse six, “And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith.” Now I want you to think in your mind as you’re listening, what do you think he’s going to say? Do you think he’s going to say, ‘Hey, you’re the one that’s at fault. You pushed him away. You caused him problems. The fact that you’re a widow is your own darn fault’? I just want you to think in your mind. I’m going to let you think for a minute about what you think that unjust judge might say.

Alright, in verse seven, this is what Jesus says that the unjust judge said. He looks this widow in the eye and he says to her, “And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?” So he looks at her and he says, ‘Hey, isn’t God supposed to help you? Aren’t you supposed to pray? And then God will come to your aid.’
And then this unjust judge continues and he says, “I tell you that he will avenge them speedily.” Is that true? I’m going to talk about that in just a minute. “Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” So he’s looking at this woman and he’s saying, ‘Hey, isn’t God supposed to help people who cry to him day and night? Isn’t God supposed to come to your aid? God’s supposed to do that. He’s supposed to help you.’

“God does hear our prayers. He does care about us.”

Then that’s the end of the parable. That’s it. And in verse nine, it reads, “And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:” So he’s telling this parable to people who think they’re righteous but don’t care about anybody else. That answer that this unjust judge gives is actually true. God does hear our prayers. He does care about us, and I think he will avenge us if not in this life, in the next life for sure, but he does care and he does listen. So that is a true answer. So why is Jesus saying this is what the unjust judge says? Why is Christ using this as an example of what an unrighteous person who doesn’t care, someone who thinks really highly of themselves as righteous, that they’re not actually righteous, who does not have charity? Someone who despises others, who someone who doesn’t have godly love for someone else.

“This unjust judge had the ability to actually physically reduce this woman’s suffering”

I believe this is the answer: this unjust judge had the ability to actually physically reduce this woman’s suffering. He had the ability to do something about her situation, bring the person that caused her to be a widow to justice. Maybe he could have thrown the guy in jail, maybe he could have required him to pay her. Maybe he could have required other things that would’ve physically and emotionally reduced her suffering, but he didn’t do that. Instead of helping her at all in any way, shape or form, he just sat there and said, ‘Oh, just pray to God. God will help you.’

A Direct Answer

So he essentially refused to do anything about it. Now, in many of our faith traditions, we’ve heard the concept of other people are the answer to our prayers. So we pray and we ask heavenly Father for help, and we do receive help, but God himself doesn’t come out of the sky, in general, and assist somebody. I remember one time where I did pray and I needed help and I got down on my knees. This was when my ex had been arrested and I did not know what to do. I had no idea, and I’d called the domestic violence shelter. Now, my abuse was mostly emotional and psychological abuse, and that is what BTR is all about. In this instance, he pushed back my fingers and I went to the doctor and the doctor called the cops and they arrested him and gave a temporary no contact order, which is like a protective order, but I don’t want you to get the impression that my ex was extremely physically violent per se, but I noticed he would punch walls and do some other things.

“I didn’t know that punching walls was physical abuse.”

So he was physically violent, but it was not something that I was aware of. I didn’t know that punching walls was physical abuse. I didn’t really comprehend it, but in terms of punching me in the face or being overtly like that, that was not the case. It was mostly emotional and psychological abuse. So the third time he physically actually touched me in a way that was scary was that time, and I went to the doctor and told the doctor, and the doctor then called the police. So that being said, it was about a week or two, I can’t remember exactly, after his arrest, and there was the court date coming up and I was the victim and I didn’t know if I should go to court or not, I had no idea; I hadn’t really been able to get a hold of the victim advocate.

“I got down on my knees and I prayed”

At that point, I was so overwhelmed. I did not want my marriage to end. I hoped that he would understand what had happened and that this would help him really get what was going on and that it would spur change for him. So I got down on my knees and I prayed. I prayed. I just said, “I don’t know what to do. Please, please help me. I’m going to give this to you.” I was kneeling and I had my head bowed, and when I looked up, the phone rang and it was the victim advocate from the domestic violence shelter, and I said… the hearing, I forgot one important part of the story. Sorry, the hearing was in an hour. It was getting really soon. So it wasn’t like I had a ton of time to figure out, Should I go to the hearing, should I not go to the hearing?

“That judge did something.”

And I knew I didn’t want to go. I was terrified of him, but I also didn’t want myself to be the person to have something bad happen to him, but I didn’t want him to come back into the house, I was terrified. I didn’t want to see him. There’s just all these questions that I had. It was really, really close to when the hearing was supposed to be.

Anyway, so she called and I said, “I don’t know what to do. The hearing is at three. Should I go? Should I not go? I don’t want my marriage to end. I don’t know what I’m supposed to say, but I’m terrified and I don’t want him to come back yet. He hasn’t shown any signs of anything.” She said, “Well, I’ll go for you. I will go and I’ll just present the facts.” She confirmed the facts and I said yes, and she went.
And then he ended up later having to plead guilty, got a longer protective order, and he did a plea in advance, which means he didn’t have to go to jail, but he had probation for 14 months and that whole 14 months he had a protective order where he could not come near me, which I really needed to get emotional and psychological space to see what was going on.
That judge did something.

“More and more women talk to clergy, they’re hearing ‘there’s nothing I can do’ – and it’s not true”

That particular judge took action and said to him, ‘You can’t be around her. You can’t call her. You can’t go in the house, and when you do want to go get your stuff, you are going to have to have the police there, and then someone else that she deems her representative to be in the home before you can go in the home.’ He actually did something.

When I went to clergy, they didn’t say, “Pray God will help you.” Most of the time, they just told me that I needed to love and serve and stuff like that, but they could have actually helped me. In my particular faith, they could have said [to my abuser], ‘Hey, you cannot have a volunteer position. You’re not able to participate in ordinances.’ There are things that they could have said. They could have told him, ‘You cannot do this.’
More and more, as women talk to clergy, they’re hearing, “There’s nothing I can do”, and it’s just not true.

“Don’t look a widow in the face and refuse to do anything to actually help her”

There are things that people can do. Now, it might not be strategic- Knowing what I know now, I actually think it’s more strategic to not try to get your clergy to change him. Because in the process of that, the clergy will most likely be groomed and manipulated and just like you didn’t understand that your husband or ex-husband was abusive, the clergy doesn’t either. And so when your husband goes in and manipulates the clergy, a lot of the times the abuse will escalate. So your husband’s abusing you, but so is clergy, as an extension of the abuse.It doesn’t necessarily mean that that clergy person is a bad person per se. They just might not understand abuse dynamics and it makes it dangerous for you.

So strategically, it’s not the best idea to try to go to your clergy to see if they can help you get your husband to repent. That’s just not the best way to go. In the case of the parable of the unjust judge, Jesus is telling judges, ‘Hey, don’t look a widow in the face and refuse to do anything to actually help her. Don’t just look at her and say, Hey, God will help you, just pray. You are there to help her. I am God. I am Jesus, and I am telling you, you are the one that needs to help her.

“You are the one that needs to reduce this suffering”

You are the one that needs to reduce this suffering, you can do it through giving her food, you can do it through helping her pay her house payment. You can do it through telling this abuser that he’s not allowed to come to church right now because he’s abusive.’ That would also tip the abuser off and start the grooming. So strategically, that’s a little dangerous, but just judges are people who actually help reduce the suffering. By helping, I’m going to say avenge here for a minute, in this case, I think what it means is reducing that suffering. Some type of justice. And the reason why that justice is important is so the abuse actually stops, not just for something in the past that happened.

“BTR is often an answer to women’s prayers”

The widow in the parable of The Unjust Judge is having ongoing problems. I don’t know what her problems are exactly, but she’s having these ongoing problems, which is why she’s going for help. If this was just in the past and she was okay and she had food to eat and a roof over her head, I don’t think she would be going to someone for help. There’s a reason why she’s going to this judge. She needs help, he doesn’t help her.
And now I’m going to ironically talk about a loving God who absolutely does love us and will actually help us, maybe not through that particular judge, but there will be people who can help. BTR is often an answer to women’s prayers. That sounds ridiculous that I’m saying that, but frequently women tell me that they didn’t know what to do, they didn’t know where to go. They prayed and then they searched online and they found us, and they knew that finding BTR was an answer to their prayers.

Getting To Safety Requires Steps of Faith

Then all of a sudden they were like, Oh, this is abuse. This is what’s happening to me. And then they could move forward. At BTR, we educate people. We provide services. God can help us through other people, through giving us knowledge, through giving us skills. But just like with the Israelites, they had to pack up their bags. When Moses came to deliver them, they had to actually pack up their bags and walk out of there. And then once he parted the Red Sea, they had to walk across it. And that must’ve been very difficult. I mean muddy and gross, and I believe it actually happened. God parted the Red Sea and they went through it, and that could not have been easy. And then they had to wander around in the wilderness. So they had a miracle in being delivered, but the deliverance was rough for a long time.

God Will Help You

Two more scriptures about how God loves us: Luke 11 has amazing information for victims. This is the right answer. The right answer is God will help you. But in the unjust judge’s case, he could have actually helped her and he didn’t. He refused. He could have done something to reduce her suffering. Ironically, to circle back to prayer, I do want you to believe that God can help you. So it’s both of those things at the exact same time. That judge should have helped her. That judge should have done something to reduce her suffering, and he didn’t.

But that does not mean that God does not hear her and that God won’t help her. And I bet God is very, very upset with that judge because he was in the position to help her and he didn’t.

But God Did Come Through.

In Luke 11, I’m going to change the pronouns on here so that it really hits home for us. And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every woman that asketh receiveth; and she that seeketh findeth; and to her that knocketh it shall be opened. If a daughter shall ask bread of any of you that is a mother, will she give her a stone? or if she ask a fish, will she for a fish give her a serpent? Or if she shall ask an egg, will she offer her a scorpion? If then, (and he says evil, but I’m going to say human) If ye then, being [human], know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?
And then he talks about casting out a devil in the next verse 14. “And he was casting out a devil.” They’re right next to each other.

As you are asking God for help, he wants to give you a fish, not a stone. I know it feels like he wants to give you rocks; I felt like that for a long time… like I was praying and I was getting rocks. And then I was going in for help from clergy. They were supposed to help me. They were supposed to be the people who could give out justice. Even my experience with the court system was just horrific. But God did come through.

“I need some space so that I can hear his answers, so that I can receive what he wants to give me”

So as we pray and ask God to aveng, or in other words, reduce the suffering that we’re experiencing so that we can feel peace, have faith that he’s not going to give you rocks. He wants to give you a fish. And there might be evil people around you that are batting the fish away, like, ‘No, no, God’s trying to give you fish? Heck no. She doesn’t deserve fish’, and they’re batting it away. And then in the next verse 14, he was casting out devils. So consider: is this person batting these fish away that God is trying to give me? I need some space so that I can hear his answers, so that I can receive what he wants to give me. He wants to give me peace, He wants to provide for me. He wants to help me. When I say he, I mean God, not your husband.

Is there something (or someone) in the way of what you’re asking for?

And you need enough space so that devil essentially, that wicked person can’t bat a fish away or the egg, right? It seems like a scorpion. So know that if you’re praying and you’re not able to receive, is there something that is in the way- a devil perhaps?
One more scripture about receiving. In that same chapter, Luke 11, there’s one other example of God giving to us what we actually need. And Jesus tells another parable. He says in verse five, “And he said unto them, ‘Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves; For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him’?” So basically he’s like, which one of you is going to be like, “And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee.”

“If you ask for help, I will give it to you because you need it”

So ‘Hey, stop knocking on my door. We’re all asleep. Leave us alone. We’re not going to give it to you.’
And then in verse eight, he says, “I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth.” So basically you’re going to be like, ‘Ugh, this guy’s driving me crazy. I’m going to get up and I’m going to give him the bread.’ This is just like the unjust judge that the unjust judge, he’s like, ‘This lady’s driving me nuts. I don’t care about her. I am going to tell her to pray so she’ll go away’, which was the unjust thing to do.

Jesus says, If you ask for help, I will give it to you.

In this case, this guy is the friend, but he’s saying you’re not giving the guy the bread in the middle of the night because he’s your friend (I mean, yeah, he’s your friend, but that’s a side note), you’re giving it to him because of the time, because it’s in the middle of the night. And then right after that are the ask-and-you-shall-receive scriptures, and If you ask for bread, he’s not going to give you rocks. What Christ is saying to us is ‘If you ask for help, I will give it to you because you need it, and I love you, and I care about you, and you are a friend. I’m not just going to give you help because it’s the middle of the night; I’m going to give you help because I love you. And I’m not just going to give you “help” because I want you to go away. It’s because I care.’

“BTR has been built on me praying for help and then getting answers and acting on those answers”

Now, for you listeners who aren’t religious, if you’ve listened this far, thank you. I’m not trying to convince you to pray, but I do feel like we will need help. In my particular case, I knew that I was in a pickle. I knew that there was nothing I could do that I knew of. I mean, there were things that I could do for sure, but I couldn’t figure out how to do them. BTR has been built on me praying for help and then getting answers and then acting on those answers. I pray, I get an answer, and then just like the Israelites (I’m saying this as a metaphor), pick up my stuff and walk out of Pharaoh’s oppression. I say it as a metaphor in that I didn’t actually move out of my house; I’m in the same house. But I learned what God wanted me to know, and he can lead and guide us.

“I couldn’t comprehend it. So that helps me have grace for other people who don’t understand it.”

I don’t know why there are so many men and women in the court system, as clergy, or in other places, who don’t understand abuse, who aren’t capable or willing or available to actually help in physical ways. But one thing that has helped me sort of wrap my head around it is that I also did not know. I mean, I was married to him. He lived with me. I slept in the same bed, and I didn’t understand that he was abusive. I couldn’t comprehend it. So that helps me have grace for other people who don’t understand it because I also didn’t at one point.
So on our journey to, number one get ourselves to safety, and then once we are safe, helping get the word out to other women about safety, some people will be like the unjust judge. They don’t care about doing the right thing and they don’t care about you.

“They might not understand you, but you will get the help you need.”

They might seem like they’re in a position where they should do that. They can be clergy or a neighbor or something, and they’re not going to help. And some people might be like the friend in the middle of the night who doesn’t really get it, but of course they’re going to give you the bread. They’re like, ‘Oh, fine, it’s in the middle of the night. I’m going to give you bread.’ That person actually helped that person, and even if they didn’t do it because they were a friend in that moment, they did it because it was in the middle of the night. So there are going to be people like that who might show up and give you bread and might help you. They might not understand it. They might not understand you, but you will get the help that you need.

“Help me know what I need to do so that I can receive that.”

And then there is God who does love and does understand and does want to give you a fish. He doesn’t want to give you a pile of rocks. He wants to give you an egg, not a scorpion. And I’ve been saying that wrong. He wants to give you bread and not rocks or a fish and not a serpent. So for my Christian friends that have been praying one thing to consider praying is to say, “Heavenly father, it feels like I’ve been getting rocks. It feels like I’ve been getting a serpent, or it feels like I’ve been getting scorpions. Please direct my path. I know that that’s not what you want to give me; I know you want to give me fish. AndI know you want to give me bread. I know you want to give me an egg. Help me know what I need to do so that I can receive that.”

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