My Clergy Traumatized Me When I Reported My Husband’s Infidelity: Rita’s Story

Victims are often re-traumatized by religious leaders when they seek help for abuse and betrayal.

When Clergy Doesn’t Understand Abuse

Emotional and psychological abuse are a serious issue that requires professional assistance. Unfortunately, not all clergy are trained in dealing with abuse, and this can lead to further trauma for victims. When Rita reported her husband’s infidelity, her clergy traumatized her. Rita’s story exemplifies the challenges faced by many women who seek help from their religious leaders.

Clergy May Not Be Trained In Handling Abuse

Rita was a devoted member of her religious community. When she discovered her husband’s infidelity, she turned to her clergy for support and guidance. What she encountered was far from the compassionate help she needed. “I felt like I needed to know more about the situation, so I went to my bishop,” Rita recalls. “He was in shock and didn’t know what to say, but my husband talked his way out of it.”

Abuse Must Be Treated By Professionals: Not Clergy

A mom, caring for three other young children, one of whom had special needs, Rita was in no position to process the betrayal and handle the situation. She needed help, but instead was further trapped in a cycle of emotional abuse and psychological manipulation when her clergy told her it was her fault her husband had been sexually harassing women at his work.

Clergy Must Support Victims And Hold Abusers Accountable

“I look back and realize I wasn’t in a position to handle it, and that was okay,” Rita reflects. “There was no way I could have been.” Unfortunately, her bishop’s lack of training and understanding only compounded her trauma. Rita’s husband continued his pattern of abuse, and the lack of accountability from her clergy left her feeling isolated and unsupported.

BTR Was A Beacon Of Light

It wasn’t until Rita discovered Betrayal Trauma Recovery (BTR.ORG) that she began to understand the symptoms of her trauma. “When I learned about betrayal trauma, I could understand these symptoms,” she explains. “This is trauma that happens when you’re betrayed by someone you trust implicitly.”

Clergy It’s Trained To Recognize Emotional Abuse

Rita’s story highlights the importance of proper training for clergy in recognizing and handling emotional abuse. Abuse thrives when clergy enable the abuser, often unwittingly.

He Accused Me of Abuse

Rita’s situation worsened when her clergy sided with her abuser. “My clergy traumatized me when he told me that I needed to be more sexual with my husband,” she says. “He even asked me sexually explicit questions that made me uncomfortable and ashamed.”

My Clergy Traumatized Me When He Sided With My Abuser

Then Rita’s clergy openly sided with her abuser. “My clergy traumatized me when he yelled at me, accusing me of being the problem,” she recalls. “It was devastating.”

Abuse Victims Should Seek Safety From Abuse Professionals Like BTR Coaches

Rita emphasizes the importance of sharing stories to raise awareness. “If you’re on Facebook or Instagram, please share this article,” she urges. “Let others know about the amazing support from Betrayal Trauma Recovery.”

Rita’s story of clergy-induced trauma underscores the critical need for professional intervention and proper training for religious leaders. Victims of emotional and psychological abuse should seek help from specialized professionals like BTR coaches to ensure their safety and well-being.


  1. Julie Miller

    I would have a greater respect for what you are trying to do if you didn’t disparage lds bishops.

    • Anne Blythe

      I understand. We have absolutely no intention of disparaging bishops, but to tell stories of abuse to protect victims. These stories help people understand the great obstacles victims face when trying to get to safety. Hopefully it can help educate everyone, so they can help victims get to safety. Rather than harm them more when they’re in their moment of greatest need.

    • J. St.Germain

      Sounds like someone is trying to enable and justify uncharitable bad behavior performed under “clerical cover”.

      Clerics these days are as accountable as any one else when it comes to abusive behavior. Let every man stand for himself before God.

      • Anne Blythe

        Agreed. Our aim is to educate everyone about emotional abuse and how pornography use and infidelity are abusive to women so that we can put a stop to it.

    • Alananat

      Yes, the bishops are part of the problem in many cases! I could tell you experience after experience! Bishops are men. They are not trained. They are volunteers who sometimes get it very wrong. The are not infallible. They are not gods. I hope you will never have to suffer like this woman then have to go to the bishop like this one.

    • Ann

      I’m a faithful LDS women and almost 64 yrs old. After a 32 yr marriage filled with porn and abuse he left me for a 30 yr old. My bishop was as kind to me as I believe Christ would have been. I could not even say the ‘D’ word I was so ashamed. Which is why I stayed in that marriage. I believed my husband walked on water and so did he. Even though I was completely conditioned by his abuse sexually, emotionally, mentally and spiritually I wanted my forever family.

      Eight years later I was remarried and sealed in the temple again. Right after the marriage his mask came off. Lies and betrayal sadly was who he really was. I tried not to believe it, coming up with all sorts of excuses for why this or that happened but this is who he really was!

      For 6 years we went to counseling. Not until the 4th counselor was it finally found out that he is indeed a covert narcissist. It was horrifying, still I tried thinking surely he can be helped. I could not ever go through a second divorce! Ooh he was so good at what he did, I was manipulated, lied to, gas lighted and every form of abuse no woman should ever endure. He was a physician, and because of his calm covert victimization stance was completely believable to anyone who wasn’t in an intimate relationship.

      This is the reason I’m responding to Mis Miller, not only did my bishop and RS Pres shame me for this divorce, but I was told to move from the house I purchased 4 years before meeting him. I was questioned and ridiculed so badly by them it felt like I was living in a nightmare. The church has been my life! Both my son and daughter served faithful missions. It’s quite obvious a bishop or RS Pres come with their own personality! Just because they are called does not mean they don’t have their own agenda and cruel judgments unfortunately! I would have given anything to have had compassion and love poured out to me like my last bishop. It’s been a year since their unjust talk to me at my home, and I’m still in shame mode. Not only that but my daughter ask for a meeting with the bishop and RS President that night she the RS Pres even had her husband be in this confidential meeting. They did not know my daughter was recording the entire time. When I heard what was said it’s been all I can do to keep the faith. Her husband making horrible judgments about me as well as the 2 leaders.

      If you think leaders are above this horror, think again!

  2. Angela Walker M Ed

    Thank you for this article! You are 100% spot on. I experienced everything you mentioned here, and then some. 3 different Bishops knew about the abuse and saw the bruises. But, yet did nothing to help us “get out.” In fact, one Bishop screamed and yelled at me over his desk and confirmed my husband had a history of abuse, but had “repented” of it. My husband was such a dangerous sociopath, he could convince anyone of anything. When we finally escaped, my children and I began intense counseling. All of us were diagnosed with trauma a PTSD.
    Talking about the “lack of knowledge and training” that these Bishops have is not in an effort to be “disparaging” but an effort to educated, inform, and bring to light a problem that we need to start addressing within our churches and congregations. We are losing saints, because of this “lack of awareness.” Children are being harmed and scarred because we want to “bury our heads in the sand” instead of educating and offering resources within our wards, stakes, and branches. Many suffer….if we stand in places of “ignorance” on this issue.

    • Anne Blythe

      Angela, thank you so much for sharing. I too went through this, and it was like the jaws of hell were gaping after me. Thank you for helping educating EVERYONE about abuse so that we can protect victims and hold perpetrators accountable. Hugs!

  3. Alena F.

    I am LDS and something very similar happened to me. It was so hard to listen to this podcast and yet I was bursting at the seams thinking, “Me too! Me too!”. Thank you for sharing this podcast for free.

    • Anne Blythe

      It’s happening with a lot of women. As we share our voices to uphold truth and righteousness the church will improve for good:). Hugs!

  4. Melissa

    Yes bishops are not trained in social work, while at the same time they are put into very respected authority positions and should dedicate themselves to learn how to help and learn how to refer out appropriately when a situation is out of their realm. Not all abuse is physical. Yes any church leader should learn what verbal abuse is, mental abuse, and spiritual abuse is.
    Stop telling the wife she needs to forgive more or be more sexual. That is abuse in and of itself.


    Wow wish I had this in 1966! Never got any help for many years. He was Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde. Everyone thought he was wonderful. One man called him a “gentle giant”. 50 yrs. later and my poor adult children are still suffering.


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