Televangelist Juanita Bynum went back into the spotlight, this time on reality TV to again share her testimony about her highly publicized domestic violence and divorce case.
In a two-part episode of Fox TV's "Divorce Court" which aired last Thursday and Friday, Bynum told Judge Lynn Toler she had remained mum about suffering in her marriage to Bishop Thomas W. Weeks III because she didn't want to look stupid in front of her tens of thousands of followers.
A renowned televangelist and "prophetess," Bynum said in an interview with Toler, "You're trained in the traditional sense of religion to be the person that is always fine. I didn't want to look stupid because I think at that point, I found myself trying to live up to that."
Her statement comes over a month after Weeks pleaded guilty to assaulting Bynum on Aug. 21 in a hotel parking lot outside Atlanta. He admitted to grabbing Bynum, throwing her down and kicking her. Weeks is currently on probation.
Bynum said she saw signs of trouble in her marriage years before the assault.
"I was just trying to make it work because I don't like losing relationships," she told Judge Toler on the reality TV show.
The couple had wed in a million-dollar, televised ceremony in 2002.
Although Bynum has forgiven Weeks, she said she no longer wants the marriage.
"I'm done," Bynum said.
"I think I've said to myself, practically, 'I love him but I love me more,'" she continued. "Now, I had to make my decision to still take the love that I had for him with me. I think I will always love him."
Since abuse in Bynum's marriage became public last year, many have speculated whether the evangelist is trying to gain more popularity and stay in the limelight. Bynum has shared her testimony with magazine publications, has been called the new face of domestic violence and said she is launching a new ministry that tackles the abuse that spouses all over the world suffer from.
But last week, Bynum assured Toler that this wasn't a publicity stunt.
"I wasn't responsible for it hitting the media," the evangelist said. "I don't think that I would bring myself to build a ministry and for one incident want to bring that kind of negative press to myself after 25 years of ministry."
When news of abuse hit the media, Bynum embraced the opportunity and said she felt she had a "responsibility" to her thousands of followers to deal with the issue.
"At that moment, the shame left, the embarrassment left, and I began to see myself as an individual who was given an awesome opportunity to not only talk about it but for people to watch me go through the healing process," she said on "Divorce Court."
"If all that I have become in 25 years does not properly define who I am to the people that follow my ministry, then there's no need me trying to explain it," she added.
Although she initially thought her ministry would collapse following the highly publicized trial, Bynum revealed confidence in the ministry she built.
Bynum was invited to appear on "Divorce Court," a popular courtroom show, to tackle the serious topic of spousal abuse. After sharing her testimony, Bynum assisted in a case of a woman filing for divorce due to domestic violence. The reality show's Judge Toler said she normally wouldn't take divorce cases dealing with domestic violence because it is such a complicated matter that a 30-minute show cannot do it justice.
Toler's staff, however, thought Bynum's story of surviving domestic violence would help others living with abuse find strength to leave violent relationships and also attract some solid ratings, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Weeks was also asked to go on "Divorce Court," but he declined the offer, said divorce attorney Randy Kessler, spokesman for Weeks.
"Bishop Weeks understands that he cannot prevent his wife from saying whatever she wants, but as in the past, if mistruths are told, he will respond accordingly," said Kessler.