A Willows couple has broken the silence about the explosion of domestic violence that hides behind the “protected” doors of the parsonage and the Christian home.
Virginia and Robert Coombs have released “We Suffered in Silence,” which includes the courageous true story penned by deceased author Velva B. Holt, Virginia’s mother, about the devastating abuse she suffered while she was a pastor’s wife and the refusal of Church leaders to acknowledge the problem.
“It has always been taboo to believe that anything as bad as domestic abuse goes on in a Christian society,” said Virginia. “If it was acknowledged, church leaders would use Bible versus to excuse the batterer or transfer the perpetrator to another parsonage.”
The book, which includes resource information co-authored by Virginia and Robert, is published by Xulon Press, the world’s largest Christian publisher, with half the proceeds of the book going to Polly’s Place Network, a shelter for Christian women.
Holt, who passed away four years ago, was involved for many years in women’s ministries, and was an accomplished pianist and music teacher. As an author, she published over 200 Christian articles and poems.
At the same time, she hid the ugly secret of her husband’s emotional abuse and infidelity, which stripped her of her self-worth, identity and respect.
Although the names were changed, Holt’s story tells how she suffered in silence for many years, while trying to no avail to get help from her husband’s employers.
“They didn’t know what to do,” Virginia said. “Because they didn’t know how to deal with the problem, mother was victimized all over again. Her story was never validated.”
As co-authors, Virgina and Robert are passionate about educating and preventing abuse in the Christian society and bringing healing to broken people.
“We want to bring the church away from its depicted role as a club, a cult and a sect, and promote openness, accountability and discipline for the abuser – and safety, love and caring for the abuses,” the co-authors said.
In his chapter, “The blameless Man,” Robert, a retired social worker and counselor for Glenn County, suggests ways in which pastors and Christian men can avoid stress and addictive behaviors. He also recommends that church and religious organizations require accountability for their members and employees who are abusive and offer guidance to those who are having problems.
As a supplement to the book, Mable Dunbar, Ph.D shows that a broken woman or man can be repaired.