Women stand side by side looking into the sunset over the water.

When Christian women feel like suicide is the only “way out”

I have been leading support groups for women impacted by abuse for 17 years. About 10 years ago I led a group designed particularly for Christian women. On about week 7 of the group, one of the women shared that she had been suicidal for years because she had vowed to stay with her husband; “’til death do us part”. She reasoned that the only “way out” of the marriage was for one of them to die. Bit by bit the other women in the group all admitted to having had similar thoughts and feelings. There were 8 women in the group. I came home and I cried.

You see, I am a Christian and my faith is really important to me. I have, in the past, been a leader in the church, serving as a pastor for 11 years. My faith – my relationship with God – has always been a source of support and empowerment for me. To realize that 8 women had been led to believe by the church, that God would rather see them dead than separated made me very sad. It also made me angry. How could the church so devalue a woman’s life? Some elements within the church have put such a emphasis on the “sanctity” of marriage that they have forgotten the sanctity of the lives within the marriage. I wanted to say to each of those women, “I am sorry! I am so sorry you have been made to feel this way.”

Ten years later, I am really thankful to be part of a North American wide network of Christians who are working to end violence against women but I continue to meet women who feel completely trapped by their “Christian” abusive husbands.

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  1. I am a Christian woman who wanted to die during my marriage. This was my second marriage n I chose a Christian man thinking I would be part of a loving joyful relationship. He was a deacon, his wife had died of cancer, they had raised 3 children in this church. He was very highly respected n everyone was so happy for us both. Our courtship was a joy. I felt safe n loved. But once I was under his roof it started. Him flying into rages n me apologizing. It just got worse. When in public he always showed the wonderful loving concerned husband. But when we got home he could start yelling at me. This abuse happened always in private. I lived in terror. I prayed God would be merciful n let me die. When I developed kidney cancer I thought this was my way out. Going home to my Heavenly Father but I survived the surgery. Eventually I left my husband and felt shame and was suicidal. Karen’s course n book saved my sanity. Now I am happy and I live alone with joy and in safety.

  2. Hi,
    I often feel this way…
    I have always struggled with depression on and off since I was 13years old. I am now 24 & have been married 18mths. My husband is not physically abusive but he is manipulative to the point I feel I am the crazy one.. I think he is a socio path. He never seems to empathize or read emotions and respond appropriately. I feel guilty for saying yes when he asked me to marry him… And responsible for allowing this to happen. you said women feel like they have been driven to suicide instead of divorce i think that the suicide decision is a lot because women don’t wanna feel shame or guilt from the friends and family in church that feeling wouldn’t be there if suicide was as an option. Your partner is free and so are you

  3. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experience. I really appreciate that. I would encourage you to get support from someone who understands abuse. Your situation seems very difficult. It sounds like he does a lot of different types of abuse and that it is all having a major negative impact on you. I hope you will keep reading the material on the website and watch the videos. Maybe there is a support group for women who have experienced abuse in your community. If so, I would encourage you to check it out. You deserve good support at this really hard time. Karen.

  4. Wow I dont know what to say but how can u educate pastors about this? I found this page because I am similarly struggling with strong thoughts of suicide. Recently got clean of drug dependence n spouse got worse. Things got physical but had been off n on with other forms. Over a decade of marriage n we play church very well. Pastor hasn’t taken me seriously refuses to see me privately n it seems I am the bad guy. My flaw of drug abuse is known but he seems one way to them n another to me. Not even my family believes I am paralyzed by the decisions facing me n am so stuck. I have therapists a church, church friends n all with conflicting answers of support.

  5. Thank you so much for taking the time to share your painful struggles. There is obviously no easy answer or you would have found it by now. I would suggest getting a counsellor who specializes in abuse. Your local transition house or women’s shelter should have some ideas of names. People who do not have special training in this areas can give bad advice and even dangerous advice. I do one-on-one counselling over the phone or Skype. My fee is $50. You can email me directly at Karen@McAndless-Davis.com. I am sorry this is so hard for you.

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