Anglican pastors' wives in Australia open up about spousal abuse

Anglican pastors' wives are breaking their silence on spousal abuse and have started to open up about their bad experiences with their clergy husbands with the help of a private online support group in New South Wales.

(WIKIMEDIA COMMONS / Adam.J.W.C.)Flinders Street from the Flinders Street Station, Melbourne, Victoria.

Some of the women who experienced spousal abuse at the hands of their priest husbands were part of the Moore Theological College in Sydney. When they opened up about their problem, they said several members of the clergy gave them support while others turned a blind eye on their plight, Patheos noted in a blog entry.

In addition, the blog pointed to the Anglican Church's extreme interpretation of Ephesians 5:22-24, a passage which instructs wives to submit to their husbands as their leader. However, the part that came after - which tells husbands to love their wives - was often left out.

Just last week, ABC reported that the hashtag #ChurchToo proliferated on social media after poet Emily Joy and religious trauma researcher Hannah Paasch started it to give abused women an avenue where they could share their experiences. The trend was sparked by the series of revelations of sexual abuse in Hollywood and in Washington.

Using the said hashtag, one woman shared on Twitter that her mother was one of the women who experienced spousal abuse and yet their pastor only gave them a green prayer cloth to be inserted in their husbands' pillows as a way to solve domestic violence. Another victim said she left a fundamental church after she was advised to stay in her abusive marriage.

Paasch told ABC News that she hoped the #ChurchToo trend they started would cause a "cultural and theological upheaval." She said abuse within the church continues to happen because of racist and misogynistic teaching, and because the people who were supposed to protect the victims have ignored the women's stories.