For women of faith, betrayal and abuse can lead to a faith crisis. Women may ask questions like: is God ignoring me? Why won’t He answer my prayers? Does He even care?
Tom Pryde from Psalm 82 Initiative joins Anne on the free BTR podcast to empower victims to understand God’s loving role in our lives – and how to access that love, mercy, and justice – even during dark times. Listen to the free BTR podcast and read the full transcript for more.
Clergy-Induced Trauma Can Cause a Faith Crisis
“If any woman reading has lost their faith that they really valued due to the secondary abuse from clergy, that breaks my heart. It really breaks my heart that they have lost faith in God because of their experience.”Anne Blythe, founder of Betrayal Trauma Recovery
Many victims experience a faith crisis after the trauma of clergy abuse. Church leaders traumatize victims when they:
- Blame victims for the abuser’s behavior
- Enable or excuse abuse
- Refuse to believe the victim
- Minimize or rationalize abuse
- Cast out or ignore the victim
- Ask the victim sexually inappropriate questions
- Sexually abuse the victim
- Cross physical and/or emotional boundaries of the victim
- Refuse to offer resources to the victim
- Betray the victim’s trust
Is God Ignoring Me? When You Pray and Don’t Get Answers
“I truly believe in God and I truly believe in His miracles. And so when I pray and I don’t get an answer to my prayers instead of not believing in God, I just kind of get mad at him and I’m like, I know you can do this, why are you not doing this? And it makes me really mad.”Anne Blythe, Founder of Betrayal Trauma Recovery
Many victims of emotional abuse and intimate betrayal pray for answers, help, and discernment. And yet many feel that they don’t get the divine help they desperately need.
Victims can find solace in choosing to express their honest, raw emotions through prayer – including anger.
Trauma can stunt a victim’s ability to feel and think. This can lead to frustration, especially when victims seek divine guidance.
Choosing to express emotions, even difficult emotions, in real time, is a powerful way to stay present in your spirituality while being honest with yourself about your current reality.
When You Worry That God Is Ignoring You, Just Hold On
“In our ministry and in our work, we consistently see the life of those who trust in God defended and helped at every turn. Sometimes in ways you would never imagine, sometimes in ways that don’t seem possible. The commitment to do right is always going to be a better way, even when it doesn’t feel like it.”Tom Pryde, Psalm 82 Initiative
When victims feel that God is ignoring them and begin to experience a crisis of faith, life may feel dark, scary, and pointless.
Betrayal and abuse are isolating experiences that lead many victims to feel completely alone.
If you have lost your faith or are questioning your beliefs, know that you are not alone. Hold on to hope and seek support.
Betrayal Trauma Recovery is Here For You
At BTR, we know in a very real way the trauma of the faith crisis that follows betrayal and abuse.
Women need support in the aftermath of trauma.
Anne: Welcome to Betrayal Trauma Recovery, this is Anne.
Our Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group, called BTRG for short, is a daily online support group. Our clinical director coach Joi and I personally trained every coach at BTR. Not that they need much training, they don’t join the team in the first place unless they really get it. Our coaches already had a lifetime of experience and training before they even came to us. Our training ensures that when women schedule sessions or join our group that they have a safe and validating experience from the very first session.
Rate the BTR Podcast
For everyone who has given this podcast a five-star rating and perhaps even a review on Apple podcasts or other podcasting apps, thank you so much. If this podcast has helped you, when you rate it, you help other women find it. So, your ratings make a big difference. Here’s a five-star review we received on Apple podcasts. Freedom through truth. Amazing wisdom with these folks and true help for those whose world has been ripped apart by betrayal and or porn. Highly recommend, only wish I had found them sooner.
Tom Pryde from Psalm 82 Initiative is back on today’s episode. We were talking last week about how Tom has a real deep compassion and understanding for what victims are going through, and then also about what that means for abusers. If you did not listen to that episode, go back to last week’s episode listen to that first, and then join us here. We’re just going to jump right into the conversation.
So many people will be like, oh, well if you believe in kindness and mercy and love, then victims, you should also just forgive your abuser and love your abuser.
“How Do You Love An Abuser?”
Tom: I absolutely believe that victims should love their abusers. Absolutely 100%. The Bible says love your enemies, but the Bible doesn’t say they’re not your enemy. So, the abuser is an abuser, you treat it and you know that, but how do you love an abuser? You love them by saying, “I’m not going to follow you down this road of lack of truth, I’m not going to allow you to sit in a place of idol worship in my life, I’m not going to allow you to do something that is destructive and detrimental to your soul, I’m not going to put myself in that position of allowing you to sin against God by mistreating me or your kids or whatever. I’m going to confront it. I’m going to deal with it. I’m not going to allow you to do porn unchecked and to pollute your soul. I’m not going to be party to that.” That is loving. The big lie is that love only does what is soft, but love sometimes has an edge. Love sometimes cuts out the cancer. Love does what’s right and good before God in the life of the other. And so, absolutely love.
Mercy & Justice in the Context of Abuse
When we talk about mercy and justice, a lot of times what’s happened is we have inverted the biblical priority there. And the Bible says do justice and love mercy. It doesn’t say do mercy and love justice. A lot of times, churches ask the victim to do mercy and suspend the justice. Biblical mandate is to do justice. You have to do what’s right, that is not optional. You cannot follow God and fail to do justice. Mercy means I’m only going to do as much as absolutely necessary to accomplish the needed end. That is, I’m not going to go overboard. I’m not going to do more than is necessary to bring about repentance, I’m only going to do what’s necessary.
That’s part of how we guard our soul against vengeance because vengeance is basically justice without mercy, and it’s me then taking that role of judge, jury, and executioner and making it happen for myself. Where God designed it so that the community would step in and say no, we’re not going to allow you to do that, we’re not going to view that group of people who stands idly by while you mistreat your wife. No, that’s not how this is going to work. Justice says we tell you no, and that’s how the church is supposed to work. The church is supposed to be that. That’s the whole point of Psalm 82.
“Psalm 82 Is A Call By God… To Stand Up For Those Who Are Oppressed”
Psalm 82 is a call by God for civil and religious leaders to stand up for those who are oppressed and to defend them, and to understand that God is a righteous judge of all, and we are all the same in the end. And so, if you hold a position of power or influence, God expects you to use that influence to defend and support, and do justice for those who need it, and to act with mercy because that’s right. Mercy doesn’t supplant justice, mercy is just about how justice is done, not whether it’s done.
Anne: After hearing so many so-called righteous men say stuff that has been so triggering and frustrating like it’s my fault because I won’t forgive or, you know, if I just prayed, then things would get better. It’s so nice to feel the validation of someone who I feel like finally is seeing the truth. I think that’s one of the most frustrating things about being a victim is going for help from anyone who you can. A therapist, a clergy, whatever, and just being shut down over and over and over again. And so, it compounds the abuse, right. Your spouse is abusing you and then it’s compounded by this bad advice people give or these things that people say that are just not helpful, and at the very least are actually harmful.
My hope is that women of faith can be strengthened through their experience and that their experience can lead them to have a stronger relationship with God, and that we can all help all the other victims to get to safety. And like I said, all women are welcome here, so women of other paradigms are welcome as well. And if any woman has listened to this and has lost their faith, that they really valued, due to the secondary abuse from clergy, that breaks my heart. It really breaks my heart that they have lost faith in God because of their experience.
Tom: Here’s one of the things about the Bible that’s interesting. You know, a person doesn’t have to believe in God or to even believe the Bible for these things to be true. What we’re talking about here in all of these things are actually true and built into a whole bunch of our society in ways that most people don’t even recognize. The legal system is built on similar principles. We understand the idea of service as that power should be used in service. That’s why we have “protect and serve” emblazoned on our police cars. That’s why we have doctors who do no harm. When people gain those positions, we have those things built in. And so, all of these things are essentially a way of saying, “I’m not going to participate,” these are true principles, whether you believe in God or not.
When Abusers Use Scripture To Abuse Women
Now I happen to believe that God has given us guidance and that men have tweaked and misunderstood and abused scripture in a way that has hurt women. But I don’t believe that is the pattern that God designed. And so, those who don’t believe in God even, still you can look at the Bible and say even if you don’t accept it as God’s word, even if you don’t accept that there’s a God, that you have a thousands of years old book that has enough wisdom in it to have driven a lot of people to a lot of wisdom that has transformed society in positive ways. Like it or not, even our modern view of justice is driven by a Judeo-Christian ethic. The world was a more brutal place without that, and that doesn’t mean that religion hasn’t been abused, because it has. It doesn’t mean that evil men have not taken and co-opted positions of power and influence and then used those things to then oppress others. That absolutely has happened. Those who are true followers of God need to repudiate that at every turn and say that’s not what it’s supposed to be.
Trauma Mama Husband Drama
Anne: I’m going to take a break here for just a second to talk about my book, Trauma Mama Husband Drama. Our books page also has a curated list of all of the books that we recommend. My book Trauma Mama Husband Drama is a picture book for adults, so it is the easiest way for you to explain what’s going on to someone who might not understand it. It’s also just a good reference for yourself because it shows what’s happening was very telling and emotional illustrations, as well as infographics at the back. When you go to our books page and click on any of those books, it just takes you directly to Amazon and you can throw those books in your cart. After you have purchased the book, please remember to circle back around to Amazon and write a verified purchase review, along with a five-star rating. That helps isolated women find us, it bumps Trauma Mama Husband Drama up in the Amazon algorithm, and even if women don’t purchase the book, it helps them find this podcast, which is free to everyone.
Review Trauma Mama Husband Drama
Here’s a five-star review we received on Amazon. It says: Short, simple, and to the point. Where was this book 30 years ago? Trauma Mama is a short poignant book highlighting the trauma many women endure their entire life because they do not realize all the craziness is not their fault. It was written in simplistic poetic cartoon form for the busy hardworking wife who has no time to sit and study while she tries to be Supermom and Wonder Woman without missing a beat. It’s the perfect non-intimidating book that can open one’s eyes to subversive behaviors destroying one’s marriage and family. To make it even better, there’s a resource section at the back of the book to help one understand the distraction, learn to set boundaries and realize they’re not alone. 10 stars!
Thank you so much. When you purchase the book, Trauma Mama Husband Drama on Amazon, make sure to circle back around, and give it a review. Every single one of your five-star ratings and reviews helps bump Trauma Mama, the book, up on the Amazon algorithm, which helps more women find it, and even if they don’t purchase the book it helps them find this podcast, which is free to everyone. We have a list of curated books on our website, books that we recommend every woman read, especially every woman in this situation.
And now back to our conversation.
When You Pray For Miracles And Don’t Get Them
Yeah, something that I’ve struggled with since I had to settle my custody case is that I had been praying and praying and praying about that for years, actually. And then, going to court was the only thing I could think of, was the only thing at the time that I had the wherewithal to do because I just didn’t see anything else. And that has been really hard for me, that seemingly all my prayers were not answered the way that I wanted. In fact, I lost every single thing that I tried to get.
So, for those of us who have been praying and praying and feel like in some ways, our prayers have just gone into a hollow universe; my difficulty is I truly believe in God, and I truly believe in His miracles. And so, when I pray and I don’t get an answer to my prayers instead of not believing in God, I just kind of get mad at him and I’m like, I know you can do this, why are you not doing this? And it makes me really mad.
When You Feel Like Your Prayers Aren’t Being Answered
So, let’s conclude on just your thoughts about all of the victims who are praying and praying and praying. Either they are praying for deliverance, which is what I recommend they pray for. I don’t necessarily recommend that victims pray that their husbands will change per se because I believe in my faith tradition that even God can’t control someone’s free will. And so, her loving prayer, in my opinion, that they pray that they’ll change, but I do think that it’s a more effective to pray for deliverance. But for women who are just praying and praying and praying and they feel like their prayers aren’t being answered. Do you have any thoughts about that as we conclude tonight?
“The Whole Point of God’s Love is to Redeem”
Tom: The truth is that this world is broken, and it was irreparably damaged, and that’s the whole point of redemption. Is that what was broken in the beginning, and what continues to cause problems for society from then till now is exactly what Jesus came to fit. And the whole point of God’s love is to redeem that which was lost and broken at the beginning. And so, the first thing that we have to understand is that this world is broken and while it shouldn’t be that way, it is an inescapable reality that there is evil in this world. And we have to be able to recognize that that is true and that we are responsible to work against that evil. Sometimes that means bad things are going to happen. Sometimes that means it’s not going to go the way we think it should, or even the way God thinks it should, in a moral sense.
“That is the Story of Redemption”
The problem is that where we fall short in our understanding is that somehow, in all of this, God can take those things which are broken, those things which are hurtful, and he can turn them and restore them and use them for good. This is something that we have seen over and over and over and over again where deep hurt, horrendously evil wrongs have been done and caused untold irreparable damage to people, and yet to watch God put a person back together piece by piece until their life is now a testimony of strength and a testimony of grace. So that the changes that can happen, and the rebuilding that can occur even in the face of great harm, that is the story of redemption.
When we talk about how to handle these things in prayer, the Psalms are very close to us, because the Psalms do not shy away from the strength of human emotion, and the Psalms have a particular kind of Psalm called the imprecatory prayers. Imprecatory prayers are where we say to God, go get them, and sometimes it feels like, well, that’s not very loving, that’s not very Christian. Except for this, the Bible says, be sure your sin will find you out. Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever a man sows, that he will reap.
“We Are Praying To A God of Justice”
And here’s the truth of it. When we pray, God, go get them, we are praying to a God of justice who said he’s not going to let them get away with it, and who is going to deal with them one way or another, sooner or later, either by repentance or by justice, they are going to get what’s coming. And we’re just simply praying and saying, God, you do what you promised to do, and defend me so that I don’t have to. And in our ministry, and in our work, we consistently see the life of those who trust in God defended and helped at every turn. Sometimes in ways you would never imagine, sometimes in ways that don’t seem possible. The commitment to do right is always going to be a better way, even when it doesn’t feel like it.
Anne: The thing that I have really held on to in my frustration and my Heavenly Father, I know you love me I know you care. Why? I’m so mad at you! Is that I can tell him that. That I can pray and say I’m mad, I’m frustrated, I don’t understand.
Tom: Yeah. The Psalms are full of it. The Psalmist saying, God, why have you abandoned me? Why have you left me, why have you treated me this way? Why do the wicked prosper, why? What in the world is going on? God, you’re messing up!
Being Honest About Your Emotions While Trusting God
I love that the Bible can be honest about those human emotions and display them, but the thing that’s interesting about all of those Psalms is that embedded in them is a baseline of trust that basically says, God, I don’t get what you’re doing but I’m gonna trust you, but I am mad at you for how this is going. And for the Bible, and for God to allow us to express that anger, as long as it is in the context of trust, there is nothing wrong with it.
Anne: Yeah. I don’t know what will happen with my situation, but I told God that I will testify of him, and of His miracles. And so, one of the things that have been a miracle is this organization, BTR, and all the women who come here, and the success of the podcast. And the fact that we have so many listeners and women supporting each other here is a miracle in and of itself. That’s one thing that I’ve been reminded of over and over is that having not been through this experience, there’s no way that I could do what I do now with any shred of authenticity.
“I’m Really Grateful, Even Though I’m Mad”
I just need to publicly, tell my Holy Father that I’m really grateful, even though I’m mad. That I’m super, super grateful that a long time ago when I was praying about what to do, that he told me to start a podcast and even though it sounded like the craziest answer to a prayer when I wasn’t even praying about that, I was praying to know if I should file for divorce or if I should amend my no-contact order through the protective order. The answer that I got was to start a podcast, and so, miracles have happened and then I’ve had so many women from all over the world write and say the BTR is their miracle, That when they found BTR they realized that what they were experiencing was abuse and before that maybe they were stuck in the pornography addiction recovery world and they didn’t understand that what they were experiencing was abuse. So, I just need to take a moment and say that.
Finding Miracles in Trials
Another thing that has happened that has been a miracle is meeting people like Tom, who have really blessed my life, and taught me so many things. And all the other people that I have met and the victims that I’ve met that have really blessed my life. And so, for that, I’m super grateful. Like I wouldn’t have my job, I wouldn’t have my children, I wouldn’t have my home, I wouldn’t have all these friends, had I not been through these experiences, and I’m still learning and growing.
There is so much that I learned through the custody case that I did not know before. And frankly, I was kind of dumb because I’ve never been through a custody case before, and so some of the things I said on the podcast were not really useful or they were not at the very least empathetic because I thought, oh, everything is good because for six years my custody situation was really good. And so, the fact that he had to teach me in this way. It really makes me angry that I couldn’t have learned another way, but I don’t know if I could have. I just want to share that even though there are so many times where I haven’t been able to feel God and I’ve been mad, I have continued to pray and read my scriptures and reach out to people like Tom or other friends who are believers, and it has really strengthened my faith over the years. So, thank you. Thank you, Tom, for what you do.
Tom: It’s my pleasure to play a part in other people’s stories, and just kind of sit in the background and watch God work.
Anne: Yeah, he’s amazing. I’m sure other women listening are like, hey, what does this coin look like, or can I get one? So, Tom, can you talk about how other women can receive their own coin like this?
Follow Psalm 82 Initiative on Facebook
Tom: We are making that course available online. You can check on our Facebook page, just to keep up with the news coming out, and those things will be announced very shortly. And essentially the only other way to get the coin, other than the course, is in conversation with me or someone who’s associated with Psalm 82 for them to recognize that you’ve had your chair moment, and then to give you that coin in person. So that’s basically how it comes about, but anyone who wants to can then sign up for that course, and we’ll send you a coin at the end.
Anne: And that’s how I earned my coin since he did not have the course at the time, was working with Tom and talking with him and learning from him. Learning about the four tools and learning about the four elements of abuse, which I really appreciated. Make sure you follow them on Facebook at Psalm 82 Initiative.
Tom, thank you so much for all the work you do on behalf of victims. Yeah, I’m sure everyone listening today is like, why can’t he be my pastor? I’m pretty sure that’s what it’s going through everybody’s mind today.
Support the BTR Podcast
Tom: I believe God takes us through the road that he wants us to go through, and he sends the people into our lives at the right times in the right moments, and so I hope this is a blessing to others.
Anne: Thank you. Thank you so much, Tom.
Tom: Thank you.
Anne: If this podcast is helpful to you, please support it. Until next week, stay safe out there.