Yesterday I received this comment on the post "The Controlling, Abusive Pastor". Everything she said was all too familiar. I have experienced everything she described while in my former church and I've experienced the same effects she described after leaving. I'm posting her comment and invite you to tell her your story or give her advice on how you've handled the questions, the hurt, and the inability to trust again (which is very normal.)
"I too was hurt by an abusive and controlling pastor, and by the church. The pastor attacked me from the pulpit in a very passive aggressive manor, and behaved inappropriately with me on several occasions. His wife yelled at us during a women's group because she couldn't reach her husband one day, how he needed a day off because some of us in the church are so needy and we take time away from her and her husband--yes she actually said that to us. I finally made the decision to leave, only to hear, after I left, all the hateful and hurtful gossip about me being insane, or an alcoholic etc... just because I had problems and I left. This was also my first experience in a Christian group. How can I trust again? I'd like to come back to a church, but how do I know which one to choose? I've attempted going to two new churches on two different Sunday's but I keep having panic attacks when I pull into the parking lots, believing that what happened to me before will happen again and I just leave. How do you get over the hurt and how do you trust again?"
"I can relate to your situation so well. My best friend, who was in the same
church I was in had the same experience in the parking lot of a church she was
trying to attend. You are not alone. This is normal behavior for someone who was
in an abusive church. The best thing to do is to continue talking about it.
Don't hold it in. If you need to talk to me please feel free to email me. To
trust again - it just takes time. I left my church almost 5 years ago and I
still have a hard time trusting. I'm getting better with time, but it just takes
time. I also highly recommend going to talk to a therapist. The pastor of my former church is
still talking about us. We were called evil, snakes, etc. The good thing is, he
just resigned from being the pastor. I hope some of this helps. Please feel free
to vent here or ask more questions if you want to."