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Woman’s story of abuse helps other women identify common threads

Tammy Schreven finds empowerment in sharing her story.

Helped by hearing the story of another woman who experienced abuse, Tammy Schreven now finds healing in sharing her story of abuse in 29 years of marriage to a man with narcissistic personality disorder. 

Her goal is to help other women who have experienced abuse know that there is life after abuse, and share steps that can be helpful for their healing, recovery and empowerment.  At last year’s WHEN conference, Tammy first shared her story.  This year she will share more about her healing.

She will give a workshop at the Women’s Healing and Empowerment Network’s “Being There Conference” from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 30. It’s a Christian forum for women, and men to engage in discussions to create an abuse-free community.

The 2017 Conference theme is “Healing, Recovery and Empowerment from Narcissistic Relationships and Spiritual Abuse.” It will be held at Hillyard Baptist Church, 2121 E. Wabash in Spokane.

Other speakers are:

Mable Dunbar, founder and president of the Women’s Healing and Empowerment Network (WHEN), is a cognitive behavioral therapist, domestic violence counselor and crisis intervention specialist.  Her presentation for women is on “Signs of a Spiritual Abusive Church or Ministry.”

Colin Dunbar, pastor, evangelist, church builder and ministerial director for the Seventh-day Adventist Church, is a volunteer chaplain for WHEN. He will speak to women and men at the closing session on “No More Excuses for Spiritual Abuse: Healing, Wholeness and Empowerment.”

Gil Escandon, a physician who has worked at various Spokane medical facilities, taught at the University of Washington Medical School and headed psychiatry at Spokane County Jail, now does psychiatric work with a Native American Project.  His sessions for men are on “Making of a Narcissist and Spiritual Abuse” and “Steps to Healing, Recovery and Empowerment.”

Jon Mundall, a physician in nutritional or functional medicine in Connell and Spokane, focuses on immune system disorders, nutritional therapies and clinical toxicology. He will lead a session for men on “Warning Signs of a Spiritual Abuser.”

In a recent interview, Tammy said she grew up in a loving family in Loveland, Colo. attending a church school and home schooled.  She studied accounting at community college in Fort Collins.

After she and her husband married, he was pastor at a church in Kansas City.  In 1988, they moved outside Colville, where they lived 28 years.

He first gave evangelism presentations and later did motivational speaking in the United States, Canada, England, Eastern Europe, Africa, New Zealand,  Australia and India.  She traveled with him many years.  When their daughter was four, Tammy stayed home more because life with him was becoming difficult, she said.

Tammy, whose Crohn’s disease was aggravated by stress, traveled with him from 1986 to 2003 and eventually did accounting at home for their nonprofit. Her parents and sister moved to Colville.

“We only attended church occasionally. He kept me isolated from friends and family,” said Tammy.

Her husband told her so many lies, that she was confused.  He lambasted her or would not speak to her for days for a small “mistake,” and then showered her with love, flowers and dinner.

“I thought I was the problem, but I finally realized I would never be able to please him,” she said. “I lived in a fog and could not think clearly except when he was away.

“I did not tell family or friends, because he was high profile in our denomination and because he could switch to being loving,” she said.  “My parents and others said they were praying for me and feared he would kill me.  I had no dreams or goals.”

In 2012, her husband was diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder after she and her daughter fled to a safe house on advice of a counselor in Colville. 

During a month at the safe house, she filed for a separation, but her daughter had to visit him.

 When Tammy read what narcissistic personality disorder is, she sat at her computer and sobbed. There was a name for what she was living with. A narcissist has an inflated sense of self-importance, a need for admiration, a lack of empathy for others and an inability to function in relationships.

She realized she and her daughter did not need to live with the manipulation, lies, physical and emotional abuse they experienced.

Two months after she left her husband, he committed suicide. After that, she had forensics done on his computer and found he led a double live and was unfaithful to her with scores of women for many years,

To help women who have lived with husbands/partners with narcissistic personality disorder and abuse, she started a ministry called Haven of Hope.

“I’m not a counselor, but I have walked the journey.  I point them to resources and help them find counselors,” said Tammy, who mostly talks with women on the phone and face-to-face.

One woman she helped now has an associate degree and dreams.

Tammy now sells life insurance and does accounting for nonprofits along with helping women.

She plans to share her story in a book and hopes to share it at Rotary Clubs to let lawyers and judges know how dangerous it can be for them to send a child to the home of a parent with narcissistic personality disorder.

Her daughter was scheduled to be with her father the weekend he took his life, except her husband’s brother convinced her lawyer he was dangerous.

Tammy is thankful for support from her church in Colville.  When she moved, 20 church members helped.  She is also grateful that most of her husband’s family understood and have been supportive.

For information, call 323-2123, email whenetwork@gmail.com or visit whenetwork.com.





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