Barbara Roberts

Barbara RobertsI’ve been supporting victims of abuse since 1994.

I’m a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, spousal abuse and spiritual abuse. 

I lead the A Cry For Justice blog which is trying to awaken the evangelical church to domestic violence and abuse in its midst.

I became a Christian in my mid 20’s. I hold to the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture.

I’m an Aussie and am happily living out my days in a tiny apartment in Melbourne, Australia.

Blog: A Cry For Justice
Twitter: @NotUnderBondage
YouTube: NotUnderBondage

I was born again in 1981 but didn’t get to church for 13 years. During those years in the wilderness (you can read more about them here) I married an unbelieving man and we had a daughter. After five years I left because of my husband’s abuse.

In Australia, the court can finalise child custody and division of joint assets after marital separation, even though neither spouse has applied for divorce – so that’s what I did. In the lead up to the court battle for who would get custody of our daughter, I started attending an evangelical church. The court granted me custody of our daughter and gave my husband visitation / access to our daughter every second weekend.

I told my story to a female assistant pastor and asked her if I had grounds for divorce. She told me I had to stick to the marriage vows I’d made, regardless of what my husband had done.

I bought books on divorce by Christian authors. All the books I  bought said divorce was a sin. Some books said that the Bible allows divorce for adultery or desertion-by-an-unbeliever, but the authors made it pretty clear that they didn’t think the Bible allows divorce for abuse. Some authors ignored abuse altogether, as if it did not exist. Others mentioned abuse in a footnote or in parentheses as if it barely counted – they hinted and hedged but they never came right out and said “abuse is grounds for divorce”.

I didn’t want to sin, so I did not apply for a divorce.

After four years of marital separation, my estranged husband appeared to become a Christian. So in 1998 I reconciled with him and chose to live with him again. One year later I had to separate from him again – I realised that he was still employing abusive behaviours and I was very afraid for my safety.

I know what it’s like to fight for your child in the family court, to endure post-separation abuse (especially during visitation handover) and to have to seek protection orders and report family violence crimes to the police. I know what it’s like to be in fear of your life because your abuser is unpredictable – and even if your abuser has not used lethal force before, that is no guarantee the abuser will not use lethal force to kill you or permanently main or disable you.

I started supporting other victim-survivors. That led to me writing and publishing the first edition of Not Under Bondage: Biblical Divorce for Abuse, Adultery and Desertion in 2008.

When I was in my fifties I married another man who I believed was a Christian … but I was mistaken. The first year was good but he started abusing me in the second year of the marriage. I went through the whole separation and divorce process again. It was easier the second time because I had not borne a child to him.

I wrote the chapter ‘Pastoral Responses to Christian Survivors of Intimate Partner Sexual Violence’ in Intimate Partner Sexual Violence: A Multidisciplinary Guide to Improving Services and Support for Survivors of Rape and Abuse.

I became a team member of the A Cry For Justice blog in 2012.

My favourite novelists are Charlotte Bronte, Anne Bronte, Jane Austen, Paul Gallico and Miss Read.

More biographical info about me can be found here.