Choi and Orpinas stress that women in immigrant communities, such as their Korean American subjects, face particular challenges when dealing with abuse. They often have few outside resources and may face cultural taboos when it comes to divorce or speaking about problems in their marriages. That makes it hard to come forward to get help.
Graham declined to answer specific questions about his interactions with Panahi. In a statement, he said that she had come to him for help when her husband was imprisoned and that he agreed to do “everything I possibly could to help them.” That included sharing the family story in the media and helping them with expenses.
“While they were still married, I advocated for and hoped for Biblical reconciliation and a God-given restoration to their marriage, but sadly that did not happen,” he said in an email statement. “Those trying to help Naghmeh and Saeed were working with incomplete, changing, and conflicting information from both of them. For years she had been advocating for the reuniting of her family, and we were doing all that we could to make that happen.”
Panahi told RNS that her experiences with Graham and other pastors have made it hard for her to trust Christian leaders and organizations. The pastor who advised her during her meeting with Graham ended up resigning in disgrace. Other leaders she once looked up to have fallen as well.
“It’s very difficult for me to step into a church,” she said.
This article originally appeared here.