Overcoming Abuse, Slander, Gossip and Cyber Bullies to Minister Encouragement on the Edge of Suicide.
by Peter Michael Martinez
As I read about pastors taking their own lives, I understand. I don’t condone nor justify that choice by any means but it makes sense to me.
It breaks my heart to hear even ONE person was so DISCOURAGED… they took their own life.
My Personal Journey
My story literally begins before I was born. Most in my family are followers of YHWH and there are many ministers.
One in particular was my mother’s younger sister Gloria. She shared a story with me in my late teens that when I was in my mother’s womb my mother had chosen the name Michael.
My aunt Gloria had a dream and YHWH spoke to her and told her my name was Peter. She went to my mother and told her my name and prophesied over me. She has since gone to be with the LORD but I never forgot this story.
Her prophetic words over me have been powerful to compel me forward into what would be my destiny.
Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.”
I grew up in the Bronx, New York. My beloved mother became a single parent when I was 7 or 8 years old and she put herself through college to support my brother, sister and I. She remains an example to me of overcoming adversity.
This is why I have such great respect for single mothers.
My mother knew very little English when she arrived in New York as a little girl and would eventually receive a double master’s degree in Bilingual Education and Psychology. She has been instrumental in the New York public school system for over 30 years overcoming adversity after adversity to be the well respected woman she is today.
A Tortured Childhood
As children we did not have a happy childhood in many ways. My brother was abusive to my sister and I and we endured mental and all manner of physical abuses almost daily throughout our childhood.
Despite my mother’s best attempts, we endured UNSPEAKABLE hardships at the hand of our brother.
My sister and I remain close to this day and share a common bond of overcoming “bullies” and those who impose by force their own will on others.
I endured beatings and humiliation all throughout my childhood until I reached 16 years old. At that time I was able to put distance between myself and my brother, and grow a bit both physically and emotionally.
When he next attempted to abuse as was his custom using physical intimidation and force, he was soundly defeated and I was never the same.
This is when I learned about bullies.
I learned that people get abused and bullied because they cower in fear and I had to come out of my secluded shell to stand up to the person responsible for many pains and hurts in my life. I had to learn to stand my ground.
The affect on my life was profound. I saw firsthand the effect that a fatherless household has on children and when children feel powerless.
I vowed deeply never to let that be the experience of my own children and that no matter what I would never leave my children as my father had done. Instead, I would do whatever it took to support and encourage my children to be the best they could be.
When I got married at 20, I was 100% committed to the ideal of being an amazing family. This was my dream come true. Within one year we had our first daughter and I could not have been happier. I was overjoyed at being a father and having the honor of “doing it right” for the sake of those who would come after me.
Unfortunately life has a way of turning tables on you. It was in year two that trouble began in my home and my now ex wife had an extramarital affair.
I don’t share this to defame or disrespect her in any way but to give a perspective. She is forgiven and we have moved on. However, sometimes we judge people and we don’t know what they are enduring behind closed doors.
It was devastating to my ideal and shattered the picture I had painted in my mind of the life I would enjoy as a father and a family. Despite my desperate and under-qualified effort to repair this major breach, it would be a pattern that repeated itself 3 additional times before resulting in the termination of the marriage.
Having survived the abuse of my childhood and then the abuse and mistreatment of an unfaithful spouse gives me a perspective on abuse and overcoming devastating obstacles that allow me to minister love and life to those who are authentically hurting in our world.
It gives me a unique perspective on those who are recovering from traumatic relationships that devastate the heart.
This is why I am so deeply committed to the ministry of Encouragement.
How many times did I contemplate ending my life? How many times did I think I would be doing other people a favor by ending it all?
I could NEVER repair this reputation I had worked so hard for.
My former brother in law went online and posted downright evil things about me and our ministry and admitted to wanting to “destroy” me because I was divorcing his sister and called him out on his infidelity to his first wife.
Calling out infidelity in that family was considered an act of war and I have been through Cyber Bullying and slander ever since.
He died in 2008 or I would probably still have things like that going on.
There were many times that I wanted to “end it all” and be done with life. I could not go on. Were it not for the grace of God and HIS love for me, I would have slipped away without so much as a notice.
I narrowly escaped many assignments of suicide and despair that I know were meant to end my life. That is reality.
Recently I read about another pastor who took his own life rather than go through the pain of public humiliation. This is the real price of slander, gossip and unforgiveness.
Between his failing marriage, an affair, and the church, it was too much for him so he just took his life so he would no longer be a “burden” on those around him.
Some people may not get that, but I do.
I know what it feels like for people to post defamatory things about you online, talk and gossip behind your back, and speak all manner of things about you only adding to the abuse you have already endured.
Even though I am not perfect and certainly have my own flaws, I don’t believe ANYONE deserves that kind of treatment from anyone.
I honestly do not know which was worse. Being beaten almost daily and later being cheated on repeatedly, or the treatment I received as a minister when I finally decided to end my first marriage.
In many ways the wounds I have and continue to receive from slander and gossip are even more devastating than physical abuse and even marital infidelity. At least those things were behind closed doors.
When people slander or gossip, they are taking you out for a public beating with an end being your destruction.
Throughout the situation I endured, I got a new perspective on persecution, prejudice, and compounding abuse that people have and continue to do without knowing what they are doing.
I found myself saying with Messiah “Father forgive them, they know not what they do.”
While I am far from perfect as my family will attest, I can say with all sincerity that I have a loyal and faithful heart. What YHWH has done in me is authentic and I serve HIM with my whole heart because I know that I may reach even ONE person that is being abused and they will know that I KNOW what they are going through … and that YHWH is the answer.
Walking in Brown Skin in Minnesota
I know firsthand what it is like to be falsely accused based on the color of your skin and cultural background. This is something you have to experience to understand.
I will NEVER forget the looks on “white” faces when they found out that the person who had repeatedly committed marital infidelity was not the charismatic latin man, but the seemingly innocent looking spouse.
I only bring up the issue of race because it was actually brought up to me as I went through this situation as people admitted that they “assumed” that if there was marital infidelity, it was coming from me. As the gossip mill churned, whispers and accusations would float back to me and I could see what was plotted. I would be painted a certain way.
I found that hard to handle but I moved on and while it was not easy to endure, I am still here.
When I returned to Minnesota in 2010 and married the love of my life, I returned to ministry.
Unfortunately the skeletons in the closet would from time to time rear their ugly heads as people would gossip and spread rumor again attacking my character despite the weekly service I continue to deliver, many times at my own expense, to the hurting and broken.
Again, I’m not perfect but I have endured many attacks in my life. The saying “no good deed goes unpunished” is a profound truth I have unfortunately encountered.
Nevertheless, I made the decision not to let bullies, enemies, gossips and slanderers to determine my story. If you don’t own your own story, warts and all, your enemies will write it for you.
So I’m sharing the story in the hopes that it helps others that are being abused and then re-offended by abusive and insensitive people.
My heart is to see us all, and especially those of the household of faith, be more sensitive and understanding of people coming out of abusive relationships and families.
We need to be careful with gossip and slander and be a defender and not an accuser of our brothers and sisters.
Love COVERS a multitude of sins.
We need to be careful with our prejudices. We need to forgive and MOVE ON!
We have an enemy that wants to steal, kill, and destroy, and he doesn’t need our help along the way. Instead we need to be a people that stand firm in the grace and love of our King and be a word of encouragement along the way.
I was held hostage in my mind for years because I did not want the “stigma” of divorce. I wanted to hold on to the image of a perfect family so much that I damaged my family in holding on too long. My daughters are still recovering because of the dysfunctional way the marriage finally dissolved.
If I had to do it all over again, I would have made very different choices and that’s why I’m coming out with this now as a minister in hopes of encouraging the hearts of others.
A Courageous Woman
I recently was contacted by a young woman who took it upon herself to come to me directly. Rather than just believe the “rumors” and gossip, she took the time to come to me herself.
I have deep respect for that.
We may not agree on all points and our conversation got off to a rocky start (Ok, I wasn’t very nice at first and had to apologize to her a few times) but as we continued to interact my respect for her grew because at least she had the courage and consideration to come to me directly and ask hard questions.
Rather than taking some posted statement or complaint about me at face value as so many had done without bothering to even ask me about it, she actually came to me directly and asked, “what happened here?”
That took courage. I’ve been told I’m intimidating and for a young woman to do that was exceptional and said a great deal about her as a person.
Again while we may not agree on her worldview and belief system, I could indeed respect someone that while NOT a Christian, was acting more like a real believer than the many “professing” believers who were gossiping behind my back.
Living One Day At A Time
What people don’t realize is that it is just that kind of thing, whether cyber bullying, or character assassination, or slanderous gossip, people take their own lives because of the way they are treated and many have suffered in silence because they don’t feel anyone will listen.
In my case I have the benefit of witnesses. I have other Pastors and friends that went through some of my situations with me. I have my sister, bless her heart, that still bears the scars of our dysfunctional childhood but has overcome it to raise amazing children of her own.
I have my daughters who have come out the other side of this mess to be amazing young women.
I have my beloved wife whom is by my side through it all and brings out the very best in me.
I have my beloved Son Josiah the Lion-heart who inspires his Daddy to fight against death and not take a backward step. He inspires my heart.
But most of all I have the LOVE and blessing of the KING of all glory. I am so deeply and profoundly grateful that HE saved me, forgives me, and keeps me moving upward to overcome whatever comes my way.