Unfortunately, spousal abuse is common, with 1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men subject to such abuse at some point in their lives, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. While the answer to leaving an abusive relationship, however difficult it may be, is leaving the abusive partner, for one woman, the perpetrator of her abuse wasn’t so cut-and-dry.
A woman who was abused by her ex-husband blamed the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints for the abuse.
A woman on TikTok named Jennie Gage focuses much of her content on how her life has turned around since she left her former church. In a 6-part series covering some of the struggles she endured throughout her time as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, also known as Mormons, Gage explained the trauma and abuse she had endured for years at the hands of her ex-husband Jake.
In another video, she discussed how Jake would cheat on her, lie to her, and go behind her back to be with other women.
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“Jake’s family for generations just like my family thought that their priest leaders, and going to the temple, and obeying the covenants and saying our prayers was a cure for everything,” Gage explained, discussing how she continued facing abuse until they left the LDS church.
Gage claimed that Jake was “a thousand times better” after leaving the church.
“I see a man that I lived with for 24 years, he was under constant stress, who always acted like he was about to explode because he was dying under the five kids and the callings that sucked 40 hours of his life,” Gage said.
She then mentioned that Jake is living a happy life outside of the church, and is now “very calm.” She seemed to have stopped herself because she was talking too well about her abuser, however, she seemed considerably proud of him for making positive changes, despite the decades-long abuse.
Upon talking about leaving the LDS church, she said, “I see all of these people like myself, who had crazy lives with constant problems and struggles and stress and strain, and I see people now making rational, information-based decisions.”
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This isn’t the first instance of reported abuse from the church.
Unfortunately, in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, many women have reported similar issues and reported their difficulties with leaving the church. Though the church officially denounces spousal abuse, former members report a recurring cycle of disbelief and despair for many who are trapped in the environment.
The Mormon Stories podcast addressed common reports from followers of the religion such as “Fraudulent Scripture,” mistreatment of women, financial abuse and dishonesty, among other things.
Leaving the church is not an easy thing as people are gaslighted, shamed, and put at risk of divorce if only one person wants to leave. Many are mentally exhausted from the demands of the church, making it incredibly hard to change routines and prioritize other things.
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Despite the few positive comments with kind feedback, many put the blame on her for not helping herself or her children.
Many accused her of making excuses for him, “The fact that you still make excuses for him is disgusting.” The creator replied to this comment and wrote, “Ah it’s not excuses and there’s not a therapist I’ve worked with that doesn’t agree. The Mormon church kept us both living an artificial life.”
Some told her to take accountability for her choices, and to, “grow up” while others called her pathetic for staying and for putting up with that many years of abuse.
Many who say that she should have left years ago, neglect to understand that abuse and layers of domestic violence are not easy to leave.
Oftentimes, abusers manipulate their partners into staying, making them feel like nothing without them, even though they’re the ones abusing them. The trauma that domestic violence survivors face is very real and makes it difficult for them to take the proper steps to help themselves.
Both Gage and her ex-husband went through a lot and experienced religious trauma, but that doesn’t make what he did okay. However, the important thing in Gage’s story is that she not only found the courage and strength to remove herself from the situation but also the bravery to bring it to light so others in the same situation can find hope.
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Cortney Crowell is a writer and frequent contributor to YourTango from New Jersey who covers entertainment, news, and human interest stories
This article originally appeared on YourTango