My Emotionally Abusive Husband Is A Pastor – Ashley’s Story

Is your abuser also your spiritual or religious leader? Learn what you can do to keep yourself safe.

Ashley never imagined that her life would take such a painful turn. Married to John, a respected pastor in their community, she had always thought their life would be filled with love, faith, and mutual respect. But then she found pornography on his computer and sexually explicit messages with other women on his phone. Ashley felt trapped and isolated.

In many churches and religious institutions, women can feel completely trapped when their emotional and psychological abuser is also a religious leader. Ashley found herself in this exact position. She felt too ashamed to speak out, fearing the backlash from the congregation and the church’s leadership.

Victims often relate that telling the truth about the abuse and betrayal is humiliating. Religious leaders back up the emotional abuser, minimize the abuse, and turn on the victim all-too often. Ashley knew this too well. Her attempts to seek help within the church were met with disbelief and accusations of exaggeration. She felt utterly alone.

My Abusive Husband Is A Faith Leader

Clergy-induced trauma is unique and especially painful. When that clergy is your own husband, it’s devastating beyond words. Ashley’s experience was a testament to this harsh reality. The man who was supposed to be her spiritual guide and protector was the source of her deepest wounds.

Abusive clergy condition victims to feel isolated, as if there is no world beyond the religious community. This was exactly how John made Ashley feel. He manipulated her into believing that no one outside of their church would understand or support her.

Victims: find safe support outside of your faith community right away. This is the advice Ashley eventually took to heart. It was not easy, but she knew she needed support, so she began attending Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group Sessions online.

Steps To Take When Your Abuser Is Clergy

Your decision to find safety is not a reflection of your spirituality or your faith in God. Rather, it’s an indication that men who were supposed to be acting in God’s name have gravely wronged you and are not worthy of the titles that they bear as religious leaders. Others may shame, blame, and dismiss you if you seek safety from abusive clergy. But find hope and freedom in the knowledge that God wants you to be safe more than anything.

When your husband is emotionally abusive AND he’s also clergy, take the following steps to safety:

  • Do not engage. Don’t try to convince him or his ministerial colleagues that he is abusive. Ashley learned this the hard way. Her attempts to reason with John or seek intervention from other pastors was weaponized against her. They began accusing her of being crazy and apostate.
  • Speak as openly as you can to a trustworthy friend or family member. Ashley found solace in confiding in her childhood friend, who was outside the church community.
  • Have an emotionally safe space, like the Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group Sessions. This group became a lifeline for Ashley, offering her strength and guidance.
  • Determine your safety needs and set boundaries. Ashley began to set clear boundaries, both emotionally and physically, to protect herself.

Betrayal Trauma Recovery Is Here For You When Your Abuser Is Clergy

We understand how you may be feeling. Trapped. Confused. Afraid. Alone. But Betrayal Trauma Recovery is here for you.

Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group Sessions meet every day in every time zone. You can process your trauma, share your story, and ask questions. Attend a session TODAY.

You can heal. You can find safety. You can find healing. You don’t have to do it alone.

When Your Husband Is Clergy And He’s Using Porn

Ashley’s world was further shattered when she discovered her husband’s involvement with pornography.

“He’d been a Pastor for years and I noticed a weird charge. When I asked him about it, he didn’t seem concerned. He lied and said it was fraudulent. He told me he disputed it.

“But I found out it was for pornography. So I asked him, ‘What’s going on? Do we need to cancel this card?’ And this time he agitated and tense. He knew I was beginning to realize he was a liar.”

When Your Abusive Husband Is Clergy, You Don’t Have To Protect Him

Ashley realized she didn’t need to protect him. Her well-being and emotional safety had to be her priority. So she began to research to figure out who could give her support. That’s when she found Betrayal Trauma Recovery.

When Your Abusive Husband Is Clergy & It’s Not “Enough” To Change Him

From listening to the Betrayal Trauma Recovery Podcast, she started to realize that no matter how hard she prayed or how much she loved him, her efforts weren’t enough to change John’s emotionally abusive behavior.

When You Can’t Respect Or Trust Your Husband As Clergy Anymore

Ashley no longer respected or trusted John as a spiritual leader. This realization was both painful and liberating. She stopped attending their congregation and chose another congregation to attend.

Ashley’s story is one of courage and resilience. When faced with the harsh reality that her emotionally abusive husband is clergy, she found the strength to seek help and reclaim her life. She gained strength and courage from Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group Sessions. If you or someone you know is in a similar situation, remember that you are not alone. There is hope, support, and a path to healing.


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