A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

Deborah’s Story

The following story of surviving abuse was submitted by one of our readers.  Many, many thanks to Deborah for telling it.  TRIGGER WARNING as it contains detailed descriptions of abuse:

I have been divorced from my ex- husband for almost two years now and separated for over three. My ex husband progressively emotionally, financially, sexually, and spiritually abused me for 17 years. By the end, when all the rest stopped working for him, he was physically abusive as well.

I have so many blank spots in my mind, for the years I was with him, memories that I don’t have access to. Since leaving him, I have started talking with friends who knew us then and they began reminding me of things that happened, filling the massive gaps in my memory. When they tell me, it usually brings back the memory of the incident they raise and opens several more that I had forgotten or refused to let in, when they originally happened.

I often remember about half of the story. I don’t know how much I have repressed over the 17 year relationship, just to function and cope, and it scares me at times, to think about what may have happened in those gaps of time, that I have lost. Sometimes, I don’t even want to remember them. Sometimes, I wonder if not remembering might be a little grace for me, rather than having to go through the pain of yet another memory to pile on top of the mountain of abuse. Sometimes it’s just easier to not recall every single, ugly detail.

The following is an account of what I have been able to either remember on my own, or recover from my blank places, by talking with friends or just from things that happen, that trigger the memories for me.

My abuser is what is known as a savvy abuser. He would go right up to the line where he might expose himself to others for what he really is, and then never, ever cross over it and take the chance of being seen. So, while some abusers are in their front yards, yelling and hitting their wives where everyone can see,  he practiced his abuse behind closed doors and created a manipulative nightmare for me and my children. He was not an outright, “here I am”, abuser. He was an insidious, ”I don’t know what just hit me, or if anything really did, but I feel like I have been run over by a truck and don’t know why”, kind of savvy abuser. He knew how to look innocent to anyone of significance, but he was far from it. For him, the devil truly was in the details.

He controlled little things, like the thermostat at home. He made the kids and I stay in the house in the Southern 100 + summer with the thermostat set to 80. It was too hot for the kids and I would often lower it in the day, without him knowing, but sometimes would forget to turn it back before he got home. I would get in SO much trouble for that.

I would get in trouble if I spent too much money or spent it on things he didn’t approve of, or if I didn’t buy generic brands. Mine and the kids needs were burdens and his needs were essential. I would have to buy clothes for the kids and I, with birthday gift cards, because I could not get them any other time. When I was pregnant and needed maternity clothes, he got quite upset at that, because I was “spending so much money”.

I would also get in trouble for being gone too long or spending too long somewhere when he was ready to go or ready to have me home. He would tell me, not ask me, to go somewhere.

He would get mad at me for asking him one time to do something. He would call it nagging to simply ask for his help once. He never took the initiative to help with chores, even when he saw I was completely overwhelmed with them, but would get upset if I didn’t drop them to spend time with him exactly when he wanted me to.

For example, when I would clean and he thought I shouldn’t be, he would restrain me on the couch to keep me from cleaning. I never saw this as physical abuse. It just seemed normal for the way we lived. I can see it now that I have educated myself on what abuse actually is, but I didn’t then.

Any promise made to me about meeting my needs or desires, could be and was often pushed aside, whenever he needed or wanted something else. He had a cycle of promising me things, a vacation somewhere, fixing things around the house, a baby, my education, etc., and then never delivering on those promises. Later, I realized he only promised those things, to get me to agree to whatever he was wanting, or to get me to be quiet. I lost trust in any promises he ever gave me and felt awful about how he disregarded me constantly and consistently.

He broke his promise to me, to allow me to finish my schooling, once he was done with his master’s program, making me feel guilty for not putting my education aside once again, to allow him to go on to get his PhD. That decision had a 6 year consequence for me. His desires and aspirations were ALWAYS more important than mine-always took precedence, even when he promised otherwise.

I developed a “wait and see” attitude. When anything was promised to me, I would wait and see if it would be delivered or forgotten, before I got excited about it. I had to, or else be hurt, over and over again, from his disregard of me. When you hope, only to have that hope bashed against an emotional wall, over and over again, sooner or later, you learn to stop hoping. I still fight this today, in the aftermath. I have a very hard time trusting that promises will be honored.

I would often have to get in between him and my kids, as he would yell at them and scare them badly (I found myself warning the kids of what he might do and was always in a panic for them to behave, so he wouldn’t yell at them). I remember my son would break down in fear, crying when he did anything wrong at school, even as minor as talking out of turn, and begged me, pleaded with me not to tell Daddy because Daddy would use his mean voice.

At my daughter’s third birthday party, he told me he was going to go with some of his friends who were at the party, to a liquor store, that was right next to the place where we had her party. I stared at him stunned and asked if he thought he might should stay and help with his daughter’s party. He looked at me, as if I was annoying him and killing all of his fun.

He only changed diapers or did kid stuff when we were out in public, so he could look like a great dad, and even then, he would forget sometimes, and leave me to handle them alone. One time, we were eating with my parents at a restaurant. My son was potty training and daughter still nursing. I was nursing my daughter and my son had an accident. One of us needed to change his pants. He just looked at me and I knew he wasn’t going to offer any help. So, I had to take my daughter, still nursing on me, to the bathroom and get my son changed at the same time.

There was a time when he and his father made his mom, me and the kids (my son was 5 and daughter 2 at the time) wait outside of a smoky casino, for over an hour, while they went in to gamble. After about half an hour, I went in while the kids stayed outside with their grandmother, and asked him to leave. He refused and said he would go when he was ready to. We didn’t matter as much as what he wanted to do and were just expected to wait for him to finish, with nowhere to go and nothing to do.

I would get trapped and was unable to please him, ever. I would get in trouble for doing something, anything really, in a way he didn’t approve of, and the next time it would happen, I would do it his way, and still get in trouble. Often, he would then ask, why I didn’t do it the way I had originally done it in the first place, as now, that was the correct way. I would be in trouble, no matter how I handled it.

I couldn’t ask him how he was doing or tell him “I love you” too many times in a day, or he would get upset with me. He said my asking him how he was told him he looked bad and it got to the point that I was not allowed to ask at all or he would get angry. If I said “I love you” too many times in a day, he would tell me that I decrease the value of the meaning of the words when I did that and that I should rarely tell him those words. I never understood that and was always confused by it.

He once got angry at me for falling asleep, while waiting for him to come home from a business trip, as he believed I should be up and happy to greet him. I was pregnant and it was late. I accidentally fell asleep.

He would clench his fists and hit the walls or sink and then blame me for inciting and angering him to that point. One time, I startled him by putting my hand on his shoulder, and he completely flipped out, yanked my arm so that my elbow was on his shoulder and pulled down. Thankfully I screamed and he stopped before he broke my arm. He simply told me not to startle him like that. At the very end, he pushed me hard across the room. I remember because I barely caught my balance, before knocking my head on the kitchen counter.

When he was mad at me, he would give me the silent treatment or ridicule me and it would often be a shock. I never knew when it would happen, or what exactly would set him off. It was often minor things that would do it.

When I was sick, I still had to care for everyone, particularly if he were sick too. There was no taking turns. I remember one time he and I and the baby all had a stomach bug. I had to get up and change the baby’s diaper and it took five times of trying because I would have to rush to the toilet to throw up. He never got up to help and would always say that he was so much worse off than me and that is why he wouldn’t help. This was a pattern. When I had strep throat, I begged him for three days to take me to the doctor. I couldn’t take myself because I was so sick with fever, I was dizzy and could barely walk. He refused and said it was just a virus and would pass. I knew it wasn’t. He finally took me and I was delirious and could barely move. The doctor took one look in my throat and said it was strep and I needed antibiotics right away. My ex just stood there looking that fake concerned he put on in front of other people.

He told me, when I was pregnant with my first child, that if he had known I would be that emotional, he never would have married me.

He would keep records of everything I did wrong and would throw them back at me like a shopping list, when he was mad at me. Nothing was ever really forgiven, never ever forgotten. His words were used to bludgeon my heart over and over again, to put me in my place and remind me of how little I am to him.

He demanded His way and if I refused or disagreed, I was told I was arguing and needed to submit to his Biblical role of head of the house. He would listen to my ideas as though he were a king and I was a servant. He would say things like, “I’ll listen to what you have to say and then I will make my decision about it.” “I am the head of this house and what I say goes.”

Everything I brought to him was going to be a fight. I had to really think a problem was a big one, for it to be worth raising with him, knowing he would throw it back at me and somehow make it all my fault. He was a master at that. He blamed me for everything and had a way of making minor discretions into mortal sins, whenever I did something he didn’t like. I was made to feel as if I had killed someone, simply because I didn’t hear something he had said and he felt I wasn’t listening to him.

One time, we were in the car and arguing about me going back to teaching. I wanted to stay in the ministry position I was in and he wanted me to teach, to make more money. He called me a liar and told me he would never trust me again, because previous to becoming a stay at home mom and getting involved in the ministry at my church, I had agreed to go back to teaching, when our youngest child was in school and now I had changed my mind and he was not ok with that. He told me that my calling from God was an excuse for me to do what I wanted to do and that I should be doing work that made more money, so that he could retire.

He was screaming so loud my kids in the back seat were terrified. I initially tried to defend myself, but gave up after I realized he was beyond listening to anyone. I curled up in my seat and begged him to stop (I thought he was going to hit me). He wouldn’t stop. I tried to get out of the car at a red light and he locked the doors, so I couldn’t. Later, he said I drove him to it, by making him so mad. He said if I didn’t push his buttons, he wouldn’t do that.

He was my tormentor, and my healer. He would do horribly hurtful things and then, when I was broken, come back and show a kind of compassionate forgiveness for my “wrongdoing”. It was a cycle of torment and beating me down, followed by building me back up, after I had been crushed by him. I believe this is how he gained and maintained my loyalty.

He had me doubting his abusive acts, because of all of the acts of kindness, so to speak, that would follow. This part I still struggle with today, as it massively messed me up in the head, emotionally.

When we were dating, if I got close to breaking up with him or realizing things he did that hurt me, he would emotionally pull me closer and romance me. Once I was back in emotional dependence with him, the loving concern and romance would stop and he would go back to his old ways. He had me back under control.

When we were married, that changed slightly. Instead of romancing me back into his world, he started using demands and control to keep me where he wanted me. If I would step out of line in his eyes, he would exert his authority and control, to whatever extent he needed to, to scare me or guilt me back into submission. Instead of “Baby, I love you and I would never…xyz..” it moved into “You will do this and you won’t do this.” Once I complied, he would ease up on me and would relax again, until the next time. His control slipped into this pattern so slowly over the years, that I didn’t even see it happening.

He was abusing me in the bedroom too. When we were dating, he constantly pressured me for sex and I wouldn’t give in. He would take us too far for my comfort and conviction level, and then I would feel guilty and pull back and he would get upset and completely withdraw emotionally from me for days. I would feel so guilty, for compromising my faith and would feel terrible, for ‘teasing’ him all at the same time. I was completely conflicted and confused, as he would say throughout that he wanted to “stay pure” too. Then the cycle would start again.

Our first sexual encounter was when he sodomized me. That was my first time. I have blamed myself for this and have lived in deep shame about it, since I remembered months ago, that it even happened. After all, I agreed to this. I agreed to it, by not saying ‘no’ but I never, ever wanted it to happen. After it did happen, I sat in the bathroom in his dorm room for a long time, physically sick, and crying. When I was done, he took me to the store, bought me some spermicide and said, “Put this in you. If you get pregnant, it will ruin both our lives.”

He would ask me to do weird things, that I didn’t understand, like shaving myself bare and sometimes he would watch TV when we had sex. I don’t remember what he watched. He was rough with my body and I felt like he was preparing it for his own pleasure, rather than learning my needs and desires. I felt like a pin cushion and I guess there was a reason for that.

If I complained about something he did to my body, he would withdraw all affection completely, for a long time, I guess to punish me for complaining. I learned to endure it, rather than complain. To this day, I have trouble trusting that physical affection isn’t a transaction, to get sex.

Affection was reserved only for when he wanted sex. I quickly learned that with us, affection meant sex and nothing more. When he was done with me, he would withdraw all physical and emotional affection, until the next time he wanted to have sex. It was a transaction. He gave me affection and expected sex. I felt like a prostitute.

My ex learned that if he withdrew emotion/affection from me, it was torture to me. Do it long enough and he could get anything he wanted from me. I would do just about anything to keep from having the emotional consequences he would give, if I chose not to do what he asked. So, while he didn’t force me, in a way, he did. He manipulated me into knowing that if I didn’t do it, he would withhold and deny me what I needed most for as long as it took to punish me or make me cave and give in and in the end, I would feel to blame if I denied him. It gave him ultimate control. It gave him a way to get what he wanted, without using direct force, and with me, this was a powerful tool in his hands, that he used in many areas of my life.

When we first got married, not long after coming home from our honeymoon, I came in the living room with no clothes on, as a loving gesture to my new husband. He moved his head to look around me at the video game he was playing and asked me to move. I ran into the bedroom, embarrassed and crying, put my clothes back on and looked up to see him standing in the doorway. He told me it was just a joke. He always said stuff like that. “It’s just a joke” “You need to learn my sense of humor.” In other words, “It’s all your fault.”

One time, we were at a store, and I asked him why he and I had stopped being intimate. He told me “I don’t’ think I love you anymore”. I was shocked. He said he had stopped trying because I had said no a lot (he was referring to a time I when I had severe stomach pain, after I had my daughter, that lasted close to a year, in which I did slow down our intimacy, but only because I was so sick). He said he gave up and that he didn’t think he loved me anymore. He said we could just live as room mates for the sake of the kids. I was devastated.

He had this look in his eye when he would click over to rage and I knew I was not going to be safe. That was the look he had when he attacked a guy in college and then claimed later that the guy just wouldn’t leave him alone and that’s why he choked him. It’s the look he had when he punched my dog in the head repeatedly, for peeing on the floor. I recently discovered that he also hit the dog I have now, with a stick, when I wasn’t around.

One of the worst times for me was at the end of the marriage, when he threatened to destroy me, take away all I had, including my kids, if I talked about his abuse, and to keep him from doing that, I apologized for upsetting him and then kissed him for a long time, trying to calm him down, desperate to keep him from hurting me. It worked and he stopped. He looked satisfied that I was again put in my place. In that moment, I felt like a prostitute, using myself to pay him off. It was only a kiss but it was the selling of myself to keep him calm which was represented in that kiss, that destroyed my soul in that moment.

I remember feeling like I was going to throw up in his mouth.

After that, I was so upset that I slept, or I think I slept, for five hours straight, in the middle of the day. My body just finally gave out. I say “think so”, because I could hear everything around me but I was so numb that I couldn’t move, I couldn’t open my eyes or respond when my son came in to wake me. I just couldn’t get my body to respond. That was probably the worst it got for me and it was soon after that that we finally separated and then divorced.

I was very depressed and would disassociate myself from him when it got really bad. He yelled at me when I shut down with him. He hated no reaction more than he hated me standing against him. When I would passively refuse to allow his control, He would get in my face and yell, “Why aren’t you talking to me?” “What is wrong with you?”

My son saw one of those times. He asked what was wrong with Mommy, and my ex smiled at me, knowingly, and then turned and told my son that mommy was sick and that he would take care of him. He then took my son in the other room, to play together.

When I started to realize what was happening, and that it was abuse, I told him several times I wanted a divorce. This was after couples counseling failed miserably and only made the abuse worse and after he had attempted the love dare, but continued abusing me through it.

He would threaten me-tell me he would tell everyone I knew some lies about me and ruin my reputation, get me fired, take the kids away, and leave me on the streets. He said I could stay at his house, but would be totally dependent on him. I believed him and I stayed. I didn’t think anyone would believe me. He knows how to appear wonderful to people. I didn’t know how to counter that. When I would try, no matter how I tried, people just saw me as crazy.

The other reason I thought I had to stay was because of the kids. I knew the courts would grant joint custody, as what he did was not severe enough for the courts to take them away from him and give me full custody. It wasn’t enough in the eyes of the law, anyway, but I knew sooner or later, he would start in on them too. I thought I had to protect them. But I wasn’t really protecting them by staying there. What I only realized when I got out is that I am doing more for them now that they are with me in a calm, loving environment half the time than I could when we were all always in that abusive place. I’m also teaching them that when someone hurts you repeatedly, you don’t have to stay and take it. I am teaching them that God is a merciful God and will allow for you to leave, to preserve your safety.

I thought I was so weak. I thought I could not survive without him. That’s what he wanted, I think. He was happy when I was put in my place and his abusive behavior would stop when I acted like I realized how bad I had been, how wrong I had been and how just he was, for pointing it all out. In those moments, he would calm and things would go back to “normal” for a while.

My ex monitored my computer, putting a spy program on it so he could pull up whatever I did through the day. It was ironically out of this invasion that I was finally able to get out. He saw my searches for how to leave an abusive relationship and thought I would take the kids with me when I did leave. So he was the one who ended up filing for divorce, to prevent me from taking the kids too far away. That’s one of the many stories he tells people, anyway.

He often tells people now, that I am unstable, to discredit me and my side of the story. This is how he dealt with people who disagreed with him. They were all unstable in some way to him, and now that we are divorced and I am speaking out about the abuse, he has moved me into this category too.

There were so many consequences for me, for leaving him. I lost most of my friends, my support system I had through my small group at church, the house I lived in, financial security and half of my precious time with my kids.

I am documenting anything and everything he does that is questionable with my kids, as I have seen signs that he has started in on them too. He manipulates them, softly blaming them for his mistakes, rather than apologizing to them when he is in the wrong. They come to us sick very often. My husband and I get them back to good physical and mental health, and then they have to go back to him and it starts all over again. They are exhausted when they come to us, they have eaten terribly and gone to bed way too late.

That just scratches the surface. The emotional consequences are only now emerging. I trigger all the time. Almost anything will make me trigger. It could be as minor as a smell, a touch, words he used to say, a tone he used to use or lighting that is just right. I trigger, I flood and I react defensively, because to me, I am fighting for my life in that moment.

I am learning not to react as much. Learning to calm down and let the flood pass before dealing with the trigger, but I still trigger a lot. I react small to big things, because I am cautious from those years (you learn to be), and I react big to small things, because it was in my every day emotions that should have been ok and weren’t, where I got most of the abuse. There are consequences that I haven’t even realized fully yet, but I believed through it all that God could get me out, that with his help, I could get out and I did. I will never regret that. Getting out saved my life and now I am around to grow stronger and fight for my children.

My ex husband made me feel like I was trapped. He made me believe I couldn’t live without him and he convinced me that his abuse of me was not able to be proven, so I would never convince anyone of it. To this day, he denies abusing me, refuses to acknowledge any of the above from ever happening and he even tells people that I abused him.

My ex once told me that tattoos were disgusting. He told me this because I had mentioned to him that I wanted to get one. He then told me that if I got one, I would no longer be attractive to him in any way. That I would be “dismissed”. I now have a tatoo, which I got months after the divorce. It reminds me that God is protecting me and that He is the only one who can define my beauty. I am no longer defined by my abuser.

My wedding ring was tossed into the ocean, because that is where it belongs. My emotions no longer belong tossed in those waves, but that ring will remain there, as will the marriage that threw me in the waves to begin with.

God is a merciful God. He will never allow any institution He creates to come before His children, who make up that institution. My ex husband abandoned me, when he abandoned our marriage vows to love, honor and cherish me, and my God is merciful enough to allow me freedom from the prison and torture chamber that my marriage had become. He never intended for marriage to hurt, torture and kill one’s soul. God is bigger than that, He deeply loves me and will always protect me and I am learning daily, what it actually means to be defined only by what my God thinks of me. He has given me the gift of new life, in so many more ways than I could have ever even imagined and I will use my life, helping others to find their strength in Him again.

48 Comments

  1. Many of the things you describe in the sexual realm of the relationship are hallmark behaviors of someone addicted to porn! I am so glad you got out!

  2. Desley

    Has anyone ever sent their story to some of these theologians/pastors/teachers who claim that all but physical abuse is to be tolerated? And those who don’t believe in divorce for cases of abuse? I can’t fathom, after reading through the deplorable ways she was treated, how they could hold to these ridiculous beliefs.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Desley – That is one reason we wrote our books, and for speaking on this blog. I have dreams sometimes of being able to grab onto about a dozen of you on this blog, schedule a big conference somewhere and somehow (good luck) get these people into that auditorium, just sitting there listening, and then one by one having you tell them your stories and how your churches dealt with you. I attended one large conference last year that addressed sexual abuse in the church, but one obvious elephant in the room was the ABSENCE of any forum in the program to bring in victims and listen to THEM. Until the victims are listened to, there is NO real change and NO real heart to change. It is only window dressing.

  3. Deborah- my heart breaks for you. Even after leaving an abusive relationship, you are left with so much shrapnel, that you don’t even realize it’s there half the time until something or someone causes it to pinch and poke.
    So much of what you have said sounds so familiar to me- if not in my previous marriage, then in other relationships I have had.

    • Deborah

      It’s like a minefield, isn’t it?

  4. Katy

    He has given me the gift of new life, in so many more ways than I could have ever even imagined and I will use my life, helping others to find their strength in Him again.

    Yes, I’ll add my voice to that!! and I understand being too afraid to leave because you can’t “prove” the abuse – it’s a very real, very important fear. I’m so thankful God has rescued you!
    ((hugs))

  5. Now Free

    “He had this look in his eye”…Yes, I know that look well Deborah. We don’t need a photograph to recall That Look. It was hurtful. it looked like pure hate and for me unfortunately it will probably last a lifetime on this earth.

  6. Healinginprocess

    Deborah I am so glad you are out and beginning to heal. I can relate to a lot of your story and am greatful my children and I are also out on the path of healing. God is so faithful in caring for his flock, not only rescuing but also healing and restoring. Whoa to those who want to keep us from knowing God’s mercy and love for his hurting children.

  7. Barnabasintraining

    God is a merciful God. He will never allow any institution He creates to come before His children, who make up that institution. My ex husband abandoned me, when he abandoned our marriage vows to love, honor and cherish me, and my God is merciful enough to allow me freedom from the prison and torture chamber that my marriage had become. He never intended for marriage to hurt, torture and kill one’s soul. God is bigger than that, He deeply loves me and will always protect me and I am learning daily, what it actually means to be defined only by what my God thinks of me. He has given me the gift of new life, in so many more ways than I could have ever even imagined and I will use my life, helping others to find their strength in Him again.

    Amen.

    • Desley

      Amen.

  8. Just Me

    So much of your story is ringing bells for me. The actions that are abusive but don’t cross “the line,” the broken promises because he’s saying what you want to hear so he can get what he wants, the pressure for premarital sex and getting angry when you say “no” yet also insisting that he values “staying pure.” And only helping with the kids when we’re out in public! He’s much better now, but when they were babies, it was awful. He would ignore them. And if I was cooking dinner and the baby was crying, if I asked him to hold him, he would say “No. I went to work today and shouldn’t have to hold him.” And if I took a shower and the baby started to cry, he would come in the bathroom and yell at me to come get him. Our son cried almost all the time as an infant so I held him constantly. I went 4 days in a row without a shower because I couldn’t put him down long enough to take one without him crying and husband wouldn’t hold him. Getting dinner on the table was a nightmare. And my husband would yell at me because the house wasn’t clean. He shouted at me once in front of my sister because I was putting a load of laundry in and the baby started crying. We’ve had a few incidents in front of my sister but he watches himself in front of the rest of the family. I think it’s because she’s 10 years younger than me, so he sees her as a kid and therefore, not someone with a worthwhile opinion. But if we were out in public or around people, he would hold the baby, help buckle her into the carseat, etc. Once we were walking into a store and my son needed to be carried. I picked him up and my husband took him from me. So I said “It’s okay. I don’t mind holding him. I know you don’t like to carry him.” He said (in a shockingly rare moment of honesty–I don’t think he realized how bad this made him sound) “Oh, that’s only when we’re home. When we’re out, I like people to see that I’m the one who’s carrying him.”

    He also blames the kids for his actions. Just last week we had an incident where he scared our 4 year old with his temper. I told him he should apologize to our son. He did, sort of. His apology was “Daddy shouldn’t have done that, but I wouldn’t have done that if you hadn’t done x. You shouldn’t do x because you’re a big boy and big boys don’t do x.” This is an improvement over him yelling at us that we’re all to sensitive.

    And I also feel that I either overreact or underreact. It’s actually on my list of things to discuss with my counselor tomorrow.

    Deborah, I’m so glad for you that you’re out. I will pray that your children will be free some day too.

    • Katy

      Just Me — your comment about him only holding the kids when in public – that just gave me a little flashback. Not that my ex wouldn’t hold the kids – he was actually helpful about that stuff when they were babies. But when my daughter was in kindergarten, I went and bought some cupcakes for her birthday and took them to her school. Later on that day I saw my husband post on facebook “I took some cupcakes to school for my daughter’s birthday” – followed by his clueless female friends leaving all sorts of comments like “ooh what a good daddy you are!!”

      I remember feeling like maybe I was crazy. Did he take the cupcakes? Did I just imagine that I did that? And really – it’s such a small issue, not something to worry about right? wow.

  9. Kathy seldon

    I needed to read this, my marriage has been the same way. I’ve been struggling the past week with this very issue, the one of “it feels horrible, but there’s no real evidence”. He was so covert, I thank God often right now for the many small factors that had a hand in my coming out of the fog after only five years. It is only his grace that my eyes were opened so much sooner than so many women I read about. My heart breaks for them, and I everytime I read their stories I thank God for leading me out. If anyone is reading this tonight, I know it’s late. Please pray for me. My husband has finally realized the severity of his situation and is starting to get desperate. His dad called mine today and tried to manipulate him, when that didn’t work he threw down some serious and very poorly veiled threats regarding child custody and the like. I’m about to step into battle, and I trust God, but I’m scared of what’s to come. so please pray.

    • I will pray.

    • Healinginprocess

      Kathy, I will be praying for you. Like you god began to open my eyes to the covert abuse which did turn physical eventually. I even began to realize he knew how to strike me without leaving marks…twice he shoved me with such force I would fly backward with my feet coming out from under me. I would land on my back with my head hitting the floor. He was a foot taller and 100 lbs heavier than me. I too feel so blest that The Lord opened my eyes sooner than later and opened up a way for me to get out with my children from my first marriage to be able to protect us. They too were recipients of his covert abuse. I am now recently divorced and am sooo greatful for ACFJ as my children and I move forward in healing despite continued attempts from my ex to try to suck us back in. I am also greatful for a couple of very close and supportive friends who are always there too. Just keep holding tight to God he will lead you.

    • Desley

      Kathy, I am praying too.

  10. Kay

    Tears, identifying with your story….so glad you had the courage to leave! .

  11. Kathy seldon

    thank you

  12. He had me doubting his abusive acts, because of all of the acts of kindness, so to speak, that would follow.

    This kind of thing is known as the Stockholm Syndrome.

    Deborah, I am amazed at how clear your are about the tactics of abuse and all the ways you responded to it. Those hours of you being immobilized and unable to respond to anything, not even your kids – I’ve heard other victims describe that too. I think the entire mind and body shut down sometimes, when the stress gets too great. And the stress you described that preceded that was not just physical violence or an outburst of rage or criticism. It was a desecration of your soul, your identity, your sense of personal integrity. As you say you ‘only’ gave him a kiss, but the entire context was that you felt like you had prostituted yourself to him. What is prostitution, but a woman giving away her most precious, most intimate self, to be used and abuse by another for their selfish lust. You didn’t just feel like you’d prostituted your body; you felt like you’d prostituted your soul. At least, that’s how it sounded to me. :(

    Many hugs to you, and thank you for sharing your story.

    • Deborah

      Thank you for this Barbara….that’s exactly how it felt…

  13. Still Scared( but getting angry)

    The sexual stuff, I know it happened, can admit it happened but can’t discuss it yet. But the not helping with the kids!! I found out a few months ago how extreme he went to never touch poop. My daughter admitted to being left on the toilet for over an hour at three years old because she had gone poop. She had only been potty trained for a few months and cleaning herself , the coordination just wasn’t there yet. Where was I?? Well, I had been shoveling the driveway because he could lift weights but would hurt his back if he shoveled snow and I sliced open my hand with the shovel down to muscle and bone. It needed stitches so I had walked to the ER and walked home. ( driveway still not clear, couldn’t get the cars out) Came home, cleaned my daughter up, fed my kids and had to go back out to keep shoveling. He would hold them at home when he wanted to but I could never leave them there when they were babies to go anywhere. Picture a baby in a sling, a baby in a backpack, a toddler holding my hand and me pushing a grocery cart. When my daughter was born I pulled one cart full of boys, my daughter in a sling and pushed the cart of groceries.

    • Jeff Crippen

      SS – That story makes my hand hurt, and heart. Lifts weights but can’t shovel snow. A person who evidences these kinds of uncaring traits just doesn’t have a conscience or empathy. See why people have pets? Our lab retrievers are always bouncing around when we come home, running up to lick our hands, always want to go for a ride – just to be with us. And then there are those people who simply could care less about their own flesh and blood. No wonder you are getting angry.

    • Barnabasintraining

      SS – That story makes my hand hurt, and heart.

      Mine too. :(

    • What powerful stories, SS!

    • Desley

      Thank you for having the courage to share some of your story, Still Scared.
      You know, I find these personal stories profoundly helpful and healing. I very often feel somewhat out of place in groups like these because my husband either falls on the lower spectrum of abusiveness, or maybe it’s just that his tactics are somewhat different. Either way, when I read about your experiences I was surprised to find that there were some striking similarities between your husband and mine. For example, my husband forced my potty-training toddler to sit on the potty for hours without allowing him to get off at all. Every time he tried to get up he would get smacked and put back on. I am not sure it was an aversion to poop on my husband’s part, or perhaps that my child’s “eliminating” was just one more area my husband had to have control over…but either way, it was cruel.

      And then there’s the seeming laziness of your husband. I recall one morning waking up quite early (still dark) to hear my husband roaming around in the kitchen and I seen him turn off the light. A few moments after he went downstairs to the basement I had to get up to pour my daughter a glass of water. But when I got to the kitchen I found that the dog had diarrhea and had tracked it all over the kitchen floor. There is no way my husband didn’t see it when he was in there just moments before. If he didn’t see it he would have walked right through it! But he didn’t. So I got to cleaning it up as he sat downstairs unwilling to even lift a finger to help me. Even when I asked him why he didn’t clean it up he just ignored me and pretended not to hear me.

      At the end 2011 we got kicked out of our house (we were renting) because he refused to fix anything. When the landlord announced that he would be transferring ownership and was bringing the new owner in to look at the house, I got stuck with a five-year backload of repairs he never bothered to see to. I had to stay up all night (literally) patching holes and painting while he slept soundly.Then I had to deal with the landlord the next day all by myself – and boy was the landlord angry! Whenever I asked my husband to fix something he would accuse me of nagging him and get mad at me. And it’s the same thing with the children’s dental health. I have to constantly nag him to make them appointments when they have toothaches. In fact, I am right now trying to sort out their OHIP (health coverage) because he let them go for the last five years without any coverage at all (which means they can’t go to the hospital or a doctor’s appointment if they need to). In order to get their health cards updated they need to finish the birth registry. I paid for the birth registry twice for all of the kids (over $400.00) but it can’t be processed because he continues to lie about his birth place and I refuse to sign my name on a federal paper to authenticate his lie. He kept saying he would get to working it out, but never did. And when I brought it up he got ticked off and yelled at me to leave him alone. There are so many stories like this I can remember…

      I would have never identified these things as abusive before. But after reading Jeff’s book I can see that…and I guess it is somewhat a trademark of an abusive man? Even though they do differ in tactics I guess these guys are a lot alike after all. I am so sorry to hear that you had to go through those terrible things.

      • Desley all those things are very abusive. Abuse is a pattern of conduct that maintains power and control. He coercively and covertly controlled you and forced you to do all the unpleasant tasks he didn’t want to do: the dog poop, the house repairs, and on and on. I bet the more you think about all the things he did and didn’t do, the more you will realise how pervasive his abuse was. And refusing to complete paperwork and thereby leaving spanners in the works that will be really irritating, time-consuming and often expensive for the victim to try to remedy – that is classic abuser behavior.

      • Jeff S

        Desley, I know what you mean feeling out of place. Everything my ex did seems to pale in comparison to some of the stories of abuse I read here (and elsewhere). And in fact, I do think there is a large difference between what she did and stories of men raping their wives and slamming their heads into bathroom sinks. I must admit that I am hesitant to even call my ex an “abuser”.

        But it’s interesting that the few people I’ve shared my full story with always are amazed that I don’t see it as abuse. I remember Barbara and Jeff the first time they read my whole story. I was pretty clear with them that I didn’t think I was an abuse victim, but only a victim of “neglect” with some emotional abuse at the end. I thought maybe they’d think I didn’t belong here, in fact. When they came back and told me how much they saw that I suffered, it was overwhelming and validating.

        My therapist used to work with court order domestic abusers- he knows domestic violence. While he says those guys were definitely on a different level from my ex, he also tells me that doesn’t make what she did not abuse. It’s funny that sometimes I feel like I’m just manipulating people into thinking I’m a victim, and that it wasnt really that bad . . . Like I’m THAT good that Barbara, Jeff, the couple from my old church that were in my home and witnessed a lot of her behavior, and my therapist could all be deceived. But to this day it’s easier to minimize what she did and see myself as the problem.

        I’m saying all of this because part of this is learning to trust others that they see my situation better than I do. That it’s OK to accept their affirmation and acknowledge that I hurt for good reason. I still struggle with this, so I know others must as well.

        One of the most powerful parts of Jeff’s book is reading the stories and relating to pieces here and there. And that’s the same reading accounts on the blog. I can so much more easily see in others what I cannot see in myself. It’s funny that if I had known anyone in my position and was free to give them advice, I would have told them to leave with a free conscious. But me, well somehow I want to hold myself to a different standard or minimize what really happened. It’s a difficult web to unweave in my own head.

      • Desley

        “It’s funny that sometimes I feel like I’m just manipulating people into thinking I’m a victim, and that it wasnt really that bad . . . Like I’m THAT good that Barbara, Jeff, the couple from my old church that were in my home and witnessed a lot of her behavior, and my therapist could all be deceived. But to this day it’s easier to minimize what she did and see myself as the problem.”

        Oh I so hear you, Jeff! I am really struggling with this right now. I do see that my husband is abusive…but I am really having a hard time thinking that he is doing it on purpose. And I feel really selfish because (and I think it is really stupid) that it would be easier to recognize as abuse for everyone involved if he were abusing me (an adult) instead of my child. But because it’s not me and “only” my child he is striking and psychologically devastating, I find myself constantly second-guessing myself. How selfish is that?? You’d think I would be harder on him for triking me than my child. But so many people play his abuse down and call it “discipline” that perhaps went overboard. (Who hasn’t gone a bit overboard with discipline and had to go back and apologize to their kids?)
        Yet this is a man who woke the kid up by yelling at him or hitting him, yelled at him each morning because he didn’t want him showering everyday (or the shower was too long), told him his cologne stunk, made fun of him for being self-conscious (he was very insecure and fussed with his hair a lot), made fun of his clothes, called him girlie, etc. as a morning routine. This is not an exaggeration. And this is even without factoring in the actual physical abuse or the ways he treated the rest of the family (silent treatments, name-calling, etc). How that could be construed as discipline is beyond me.

        But the thing is, he doens’t apologize. He doesn’t feel bad. He feels entitled to behave this way. And he CAUSES the problems that inevitably lead him to “discipline” my son in the first place. He completely provokes it. The kid can’t even get a drink or make a sandwhich without him getting in his face to take it away from him.

        I liked the chapter in A Cry For Justice that talks about “the insufficiency of Scripture” and how we need to realize that the wisdom of others is needed. It made me think how arrogant and proud a person must be to think he (or she) knows better than everyone else. I suppose it is not fair to direct this to an abuse victim – and I know it was not meant for them – but I really took that to heart. I was that arrogant at one time in thinking “they” are all wrong and “I” knew better. I walked into an abuse group for women with this attitude, second guessing everything they said because they weren’t Christians and surely had an ungodly agenda. And then I started to see some things that I couldn’t deny…and then I found out what this was doing to my kids…and then I started to learn that I was important too, and that I was capable of thinking for myself, and that I should trust my intuition because God gave it to me. The only problem is, it is the people in the church who invalidate the abuse for what it is – and it happens to be the secular world who do call it like it is. That has been the most confusing part of this whole thing. (Is it really me? Does my son really just need a more severe “rod”? Am I really messing up my kids by not allowing my husband to smack them around? Is it all in my head?

        And the funny thing is, *I* am the one who doesn’t care about being right here, and who cares primarily about my kids growing up healthy and to love Jesus, and him? He doesn’t seem to care about anything. So why would I trust his perceptions of things?
        You are right that I need to start trusting in those Christians who know better – like the team here. The other way didn’t work. The other way was destroying my whole family. The other way made me question God’s goodness towards me and made me stop reading my bible. The other way made me doubt myself and think I couldn’t trust my own mind/reality/rationality and that I needed other people to make right decisions for me. The other way made me think God was “using” me and didn’t care what happened to my family. The other way – had I have continued to go that path – would have ended in disaster as both my son and I were suicidal before I finally came to the end of myself (or the church) and turned to those “outsiders” for help.

        I believe God has given me enough light to know better by now. It is just a matter of me now walking by faith in the face of opposition. And it’s good to know I’m not walking it alone. Sorry for the long post again…I guess it’s just kind of therapeutic and helps consolidate it all. :)

      • Jeff S

        Desley, thank you for your long comment- I think it’s a very healthy conversation :)

        I do want to say that I don’t think it is necessary for you to believe he is doing it on purpose. It’s enough for you to acknowledge that he causes you pain and that the pain is unacceptable. With that, then you can figure out what boundaries you need to set to protect yourself.

        I must admit, I don’t think my ex ever meant to harm me on any kind conscious level. I don’t think she was even aware that what she was doing wasn’t loving. I think she thought of herself as giving and loving very much. The problem was that her way of looking at the world resulted in behavior that was painful to those who tried to love her. I DO think she had an intention to get what she wanted, and aware or not, she was willing to hurt others in order to have those desires met.

        But in the end, it’s hard to say what was going on inside of her. I have a lot more idea now than I did then, but what I did know:

        -Her behavior hurt me
        -She was not capable of being a wife and a mother in our family
        -I did not want her behavior to be seen by our son as something that was acceptable in our home or between a husband and wife

        So whatever the reasons, whatever the explanation, I couldn’t deny the effects her behavior had on me. Those were things I knew without a doubt, and knowing those was enough for me to know that survival meant leaving.

      • Desley

        I think the only reason it matters to me whether or not he does it purposely is that it would have some bearing on how it is dealt with. But then again, I have been exhausting every avenue I could possibly think of to try and get us help for years and nothing works…and it’s not because I don’t want it to or haven’t tried everything I could think of…so I guess that is really all I need to know.

        This is really a helpful comment, Jeff. Thanks.

      • Desley

        Oh, and the other difficult part of it is that I am not perfect either, and I have called my husband names over the years, andI am controlling (used to be) over the internet after I found out he was using porn and had an affair, and he LOVES to throw it all in my face and tell me he’s not letting me control him anymore. So every time I read about abusers all I can see is how I am abusive.Then I feel like a hypocrite.

      • Jeff S

        Desley, yes- I also had my share of sin, and one thing I noticed was that my behavior was changing over time for the worse. I was becoming less and less Christlike in my attitude in general. I know I did things that hurt her, and that just made me think I deserved whatever I got. In short, I felt like the only way I should be allowed to protect myself is if I lived a righteous life- otherwise I was just getting what I deserved (how’s that for a works based faith?)

        One of the reasons I did leave was because I didn’t like what I was becoming. My motives were becoming more and more worldly, and my identity was something I no longer found in Christ, so I looked to other people and objects for fulfillment. My marriage couldn’t be about mutual giving, so it started becoming about competitive taking. And behaving that way made my soul want to vomit.

        And here’s the difference- her failures I would not bring up against her. If she asked forgiveness, I never mentioned it again. But my mistakes, confessed and repented of, she constantly threw in my face. They actually did not seem to bother her, but if she wasn’t getting her way, she would bring them up every time.

        But one amazing thing is, that way of interacting with the world- that strange guy with the ungodly thought patterns? He’s gone now. You’d think that free to do what I want in life I would have become a complete heathen, but it went just the other way. The downward spiral of my marriage had deeply affected me and I’d started to buy into materialism and idolatry, but now I am living more financially responsible than I ever had before and with my focus much more on Jesus.

        Accusations come from Satan- he is the one who will not let us forget, even after repentance. Jesus and those who love him do not hold on to past sins- they do not condemn faithful hearts.

      • Desley

        “and one thing I noticed was that my behavior was changing over time for the worse. I was becoming less and less Christlike in my attitude in general.”

        I know!! I was just asking Jesus this morning what happened to my single and ferocious devotion to Him! This whole thing has put a barrier right smack in the middle of us!

        One question: Did you go through a period after you left her where you actually got worse as you tried to reconcile that choice with God’s word and everything you’d been taught? I have such a hunger to be back with Jesus where I was; but I can’t seem to push through this obstacle.

      • Jeff S

        I don’t think I felt like things got worse- but there was a period of being in the desert for sure. For a while I just had to learn how to “be”. I wasn’t living a very Godly life, but it wasn’t ungodly either. I made some bad choices, but really no worse than the choices I was making while I was still married. I really didn’t know how to live a Godly life at that point. I mean, I knew a lot of superficial stuff that “looked” like faith, but you can be pretty darn idolatrous and materialistic while playing the “game” of Christianity.

        I wasn’t lost- I knew who Jesus was and that he was holding onto me, but it took a while for him to come in and work his way back out to the surface of my life again. I’d buried so much of who I was, and Jesus along with me, that it took some obedience in small things before Jesus showed up in the bigger ones.

        That’s probably all really abstract, but hopefully some of it makes sense. I guess for some examples- well I didn’t have any church friends, so I found some folks to hang around with. They weren’t very Godly, but they accepted me. But I never really fit in either. So just did my thing, participated with actives that were comfortable, said no to things that made me uncomfortable, and just coasted for a bit. But as I got stronger, those relationships fell by the wayside as I started connecting with Christians again and participating in Christian activities. Finding this blog was a big part of that (I was on the upswing, but I really took off when I found this place).

        But one thing- I was convinced that divorce for unrepentant abuse/neglect was Biblical before I made the step, and honestly I’d ever believed otherwise. The only question I had was if my situation was “bad enough”.

        When I left, I took a month first to “plan” for a divorce. I didn’t commit to it- I just committed to “planning” it. I lived with the idea for a while and measured my spirit. Did it sit right? Did it still feel necessary? My ex actually didn’t allow me to get through the whole month because she (not knowing I was “planning”) hit a new level that made it pretty clear to me that I wasn’t going to emotionally survive of I stayed. But honestly, from the moment I started “planning” it was like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders.

      • Desley

        You make complete sense.

        “But one thing- I was convinced that divorce for unrepentant abuse/neglect was Biblical before I made the step, and honestly I’d ever believed otherwise. The only question I had was if my situation was “bad enough”.”

        That’s about where I am presently at. And I too know that God is holding me and that nothing and nobody in heaven or on earth can pluck me from His hand. :)

        Thanks for the conversation. It has been a tremendous help.

      • Jeff S

        I’m glad this has been helpful- it really does my heart good to hear that the things I share can make a difference.

        When I was in your position I really just wanted someone to tell me what to do. I’d beg my therapist and say “how long am I supposed to do this?” and he’d answer “as long as you can, but whatever you do, I’m going to be behind you”. He wouldn’t answer for me, as much as I wanted him to.

        It’s so hard to be so weak and have to have enough strength to make these kinds of decisions, but that is the broken world we live in. But I do know that you have friends and support here, and we want good things for you, just like God does.

      • I don’t doubt that for one moment.I don’t think I have ever encountered as much gentleness and humility as I have here. I am learning so much just from watching the exchanges here.

        Thank you.

      • Jeff S

        This is a song that I wrote years ago, but then took apart and re-wrote recently to describe the process of the building of my faith. After a period of just “being”, this is how God moved in me:

        Leaving It All Behind

        One more day has come and gone, I’ve stumbled once again
        I wish that I could run away and hide
        Back to the things that once captivated me
        But I’m leaving, I am leaving them all behind

        The days of simplicity are never to return
        I remember all those pretty little lies
        But deceptions lead to death no matter how easy they seem
        So I’m leaving, I am leaving them all behind.

        I’m going to keeping on fighting whether or not I lose or win
        The struggle reveals who I am inside
        I’m not going to back down or take comfort in my sin
        I am leaving, Lord I am leaving it all behind

        I’ve come so far and I have changed– I’m never going back
        The nature that once held me down has died
        The victory is sure, I know the flesh will not endure
        So I’m leaving, I am leaving it all behind.

        I’m going to keeping on fighting whether or not I lose or win
        The struggle reveals who I am inside
        I’m not going to back down or take comfort in my sin
        I am leaving, Lord I am leaving it all behind

        And I know I must be here to testify for you
        Because this world needs you even when I am weak
        So with every step that I take don’t let me forget
        That you are the reason for every good in me

        I’m going to keep on fighting whether or not I lose or win
        The struggle reveals who I am inside
        I’m not going to back down or take comfort in my sin
        I am leaving, Lord I am leaving it all behind

      • Desley

        “And I know I must be here to testify for you
        Because this world needs you even when I am weak
        So with every step that I take don’t let me forget
        That you are the reason for every good in me

        I’m going to keep on fighting whether or not I lose or win
        The struggle reveals who I am inside
        I’m not going to back down or take comfort in my sin
        I am leaving, Lord I am leaving it all behind”

        I have no words…

      • Desley and Jeff S, it has been precious to witness your exchanges here.

        Desley, as I read your comments, I thought of a cicada breaking out of its old shell. How does a cicada feel at that moment when the old shell is cracked but not shed? Weird, I guess. Like it doesn’t know who it is.

        But there must be instincts in the cicada that make it keep on going. Instincts that make it move, shake a limb here or there, twist its body just a little, move into a better light or a different breeze so the old skin will dry and break off more easily… I think trusting instinct is enough; that’s what brings the process to a conclusion. :)

        As to the vexed question of whether the abuser always *knows* what he is doing and is doing it all intentionally, or is doing some of it intentionally and some of it unconsciously, I think Lundy Bancroft says somewhere in his book that it can be both, or one, or the other, but it doesn’t matter all that much in the long run.
        Many abusers are so habituated to their abusive behaviours that they do them almost unconsciously, like when you change gears in the car. But remember when you learned to drive? If you learned in a car with gears, you were very conscious of changing gears while you were learning, weren’t you! And it took lots of practice before it became an unconscious habit.

        If the abuser is fully conscious and intentional in his (or her) abuse, he is virtually never going to admit that to others. So even if you were 110% sure he was doing it all deliberately, and you told him so, or you acted on that knowledge by delivering firmer consequences, he would still deny he’s been abusive and would try to make you and everyone else feel sorry for him because of how ‘meanly’ you are ‘treating’ him.

        Lundy also says that some abusers lie so much that they even believe their own lies. So he may ‘believe’ that he isn’t hurting your son or you deliberately, but that would, I suggest, be just another phenomenon of his hostility to the truth, his addiction to dishonesty, and his resistance to taking responsibility.

        Remember, abusers always try to get you to pay attention to their emotions (their *pain*). But the problem isn’t in their emotions, it’s in their thinking and beliefs.

      • Mama Martin

        Thank you so much for these comments – real and from the heart. Desley, I don’t know about what my husband knows and thinks about what he says and does and I don’t know right now what I believe the Bible teaches about abuse and divorce, but I have chosen to file for divorce from my husband because I see no other way to be free from abuse. I’ve also realized that my husband will never ‘just go away’ as I wish he would do. He will continue to try to control as long as he lives (unless there is a miracle within him – a miracle that he must allow because God will never force it).
        As I read the stories of others, I think “He wasn’t so bad” but then another memory comes and again I have to grieve – no, what happened was not right, it never was right, it never was what I thought it was. I never had what I was promised and what others thought I had – our relationship was always about him, for him, and controlled by him.

      • Thanks Barbara and Mama. You know, O have grown so much over the last couple of years. First I was too ashamed to ask for help from the church and I thought they would blame me (But I still went forward to get help!), then I was too afraid of the secular world to trust their counsel (But I still listened to what they had to say!) and then I thought I was being ridiculous to label my husband “an abuser” (and now I use that language with much more conviction and label specific behaviours no problem), and then I was too afraid to separate from my husband (But I have done it once already and it isn’t that scary!), and yesterday was the first day a light bulb actually went on and I could see clearly before me the biblical argument FOR divorce in cases of abuse – and that you don’t have to be a heathen to really believe it.

        I guess it is just a process of growing and I love the analogy of the cicada, Barbara! I used to think I was being hardened against God, but how can that be when I am one of His own and have trusted Him to protect and preserve me? I used to pray Psalm 138: “The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your love, O LORD, endures forever–do not abandon the works of your hands.” And He hasn’t. Only I didn’t recognize His work for what it was. How faithful He is.

        “He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Cor 1:8

        “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Phil 1:6

        You guys are awesome! Have a great day today!

      • Mama Martin, I think every survivor of abuse has multiple times had that thought “It wasn’t really that bad!” – only to find, by another memory popping up, or by the re-emerging tactics of the abuser, “Yes, it was really that bad, it’s abuse. And I’m right to keep the walls up against my spouse.”

      • Mama Martin

        “Yes, it was really that bad. IT’S ABUSE. And I’m RIGHT to keep the walls up against my spouse.” Oh, so true!
        I drew no boundaries until the end, when I said I could not live with him because “There needs to be another adult, not one of our children (or their friends), present in all communication between us.” The purpose of the boundary was not my protection, since so few recognized his abuse, but to temper his abuse somewhat – and to give me a chance to educate people who were listening. He has worked so hard to this day to defy me on this boundary – and I feel like a broken record repeating it just before I shut down communication over and over. Unfortunately, until the divorce is final, some communication is protection (where is he?) but I always wonder if it is worth it.

  14. Gem

    Thank you for sharing your story. You are very courageous. I have a survivor tattoo, too :)

    • Jeff Crippen

      A Cry for Justice tattoos too?

    • Deborah

      :) That’s awesome!!

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  1. The Love Dare, a dangerous book in the hands of an abuser — by Deborah | A Cry For Justice

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