Pastor Saeed, Globally-Known Iranian Prisoner, Is Accused of Spousal Abuse

The article claims that physical and sexual abuse, including a pornography addiction, have worsened while the husband is in an Iranian jail. Now I don’t dismiss the possibility of very real emotional and psychological abuse continuing and even worsening due to his imprisonment, but I dare suggest that ten thousand miles between them and Iranian internet service would put the kibosh on physical and sexual abuse, to put it mildly, as well as any addiction to Internet porn.

I don’t know what the story is, but I’m guessing there is a lot more to this story, and I’ll pray that someone helps this couple figure that story out and repent of whatever it is. This troubles me a lot.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.…

Since her husband’s detention in 2012, Naghmeh Abedini has been publicly advocating for his freedom, winning the support of top evangelical leaders and meeting privately with President Obama, which is why her accusations of spousal abuse came as shock. But those accusations also raise the question: Why do evangelical women wait so long before reporting abuse?

“Many who suffer domestic abuse feel lots of shame, are blamed by others, and do not tell anyone,” said Justin Holcomb, a Florida Episcopal priest and seminary professor who co-authored with his wife Lindsey “Is It My Fault? Hope and Healing for Those Suffering Domestic Violence.”

“Christian women, in particular, stay far longer in abusive situations and in more severe abuse than their non-Christian counterparts,” he added.

So far, social media posts on Facebook, Twitter, and elsewhere show that supporters of the Abedini family were not backing away from Naghmeh after the abuse allegations became public.

“God guide and protect you and especially Saeed at this time when he will not be having visitors that he feels God in a special way during this time. May the angels protect him with a hedge of safety,” one supporter posted on Naghmeh Abedini’s Facebook page.

Naghmeh Abedini shared few additional details in her initial email alleging abuse, besides saying her husband, 35, was addicted to porn and that the abuse was ongoing even though their contact is limited to Skype and phone calls.

An American citizen and the mother of two children, Naghmeh Abedini said the abuse began in 2002. The two were married in 2004.

Research shows that domestic abuse survivors in general are less likely to receive extensive public support through their local church. According to a 2014 poll from LifeWay Research, about two-thirds of Protestant pastors address domestic abuse from the pulpit once a year or less. Additional research from LifeWay found that only 25 percent of surveyed pastors consider abuse or sexual violence an issue within their congregation.

“Many churches appropriately stress the importance of marriage and family, but some churches wrongly teach that a wife’s primary role in life is to protect their husband’s or family’s reputation,” said Holcomb, the Episcopal priest. “Because of this emphasis, those experiencing abuse in their relationship may feel ashamed because they believe they failed in their relationship,” Holcomb said.

He said domestic abuse is much more prevalent than many people realize: He cites research that indicates one in four women will experience abuse in an “intimate partner relationship.” Holcomb advises pastors to talk more openly about domestic abuse, be accessible to abuse survivors, and collaborate with social agencies and law enforcement.

Abuse is one of the most under-reported crimes, he said. “It is extremely unusual for someone to lie about these kinds of claims.”

According to Lenore Walker, a professor at Nova Southeastern University and founder of the Domestic Violence Institute, “Women with strong religious backgrounds often are less likely to believe that violence against them is wrong.”