A Cry For Justice

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

The Sci-Fi Series Part 5: Your Jedi Mind Tricks Don’t Work Here

Guard: Do you have any identification?
Jedi: (waving his hand) We do not need any identification.
Guard: You do not need any identification.

What sci-fi series of blog posts would be complete without at least one Star Wars reference? Throughout this divorce process, I’ve joked that X has a Jedi power. It’s as though he waves his hand and declares, “Everything is Ellie’s fault.” And everyone within ear shot, including me, mindlessly repeats, “Everything is Ellie’s fault!”  But to be fair to Jedis I think X would actually be a Sith  if he had lived “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away….”

It’s not really a power. It’s merely manipulation. I reviewed a recent email and several words jumped out at me. They are “clearly, basic, just, actually, in reality, the truth is, reasonable, very minor,” and “last few.” These words are not only minimizing, but are also attempts to define reality. Perhaps that’s the same thing. But anyway, that’s part of his Jedi Sith power, his manipulative technique. He also states, “the fact of the matter is,” “the bottom line is,” and “to be honest” pretty often too. It is so empowering to learn these code words.  While we were still together, those words would have flooded me with doubt and confusion. I would have been tempted to feel guilty about not responding the way X wanted. After all, I was “clearly” wrong. His requests were “minor and very reasonable.”

It required more than leaving him to break free of his manipulative influence. I had to learn a new way to think. I listened to all of Jeff’ C’s sermons on abuse. Jeff C also recommended several other books. I located several that are available in an audio format and listened to them. I read books, listened to Tim Keller sermons, and several other ministers who encourage me. And X’s power over me decreased as my head was filled with truth. I have been learning the traps and the ways I was susceptible to false guilt. I am sure there’s plenty more to learn! God is faithful to provide the resources I need at just the right time. So X’s Sith power doesn’t work here anymore! And I will be equipped to avoid other Siths in the future.

Ellie is now offering a private translation service. For more info email her at EllieCriesForJustice@gmail.com.

14 Comments

  1. Lisa

    Yeah!! Great words of encouragement and do true!

    Sent from my iPhone

  2. God sends us the message of liberation from oppression, welcome words to the captive who needs to be set free from emotional and spiritual bondage! when we are ready to hear and to act. Your post about your journey makes me rejoice again in God’s goodness.

  3. Cindy Rapstad

    Funny how when your eyes and heart are opened the tricks don’t work and you wonder how they did in the first place.

  4. Katy

    My ex’s code words were “that’s ridiculous” or “you’re ridiculous”. followed by “how dare you –(question me, etc)” and “you have no right to — (question me, etc) ”
    Defining reality through force! woot! I got that t shirt 😛

    BUT. even though my eyes are long opened to this manipulation, I can’t control my panic reaction to him to this day – so the only thing that works for me is cutting him off completely. Absolutely no contact, if he wants to talk to me about the kids I have my dad handle the emails. Seriously. I have a friend (who grew up with terrible parents, so she thinks she knows “all about abuse”) – tell me that I am “not acting like a grown up woman” by letting my dad handle the communication. She said I have to grow up and stand on my own two feet and respond to my ex myself.

    Um, NO. I also think rejecting bad advice from others is part of growing up !!

    • Jeff Crippen

      Katy- Your decision on no contact is exactly what God tells us when it comes to dealing with these kinds of evil people–

      I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.
      (Rom 16:17-18)

      Avoid them! I know that is not always absolutely possible for abuse victims and survivors due to complications, but to the degree that it is possible, avoid them. I have found over the years that this is one of the most difficult things to convince people to do. Often the difficulty stems from false teaching, supposedly from scripture, that is laid on these people. You know — well, but I must love that person. But avoiding them is the best thing to do and it is God’s instruction to us.

      • Ellie

        Like

    • Friend of the Oppressed

      Thanks, Katy. Boundaries are our friends! Manipulative, controlling people now repel me like the wrong side of a magnet. I’m learning to make no apologies for not including them in my life.

      It was an “aha” moment for me to realize the root of the word “charming” is “charm” as in “spell.” I now give charming people an automatic red flag.

      He-who-shall-not-be-named says things like “Your perception is wrong.” “You didn’t see what you thought you saw.” in opposition to his “Who am I to trust? You, or my lying eyes?” (He got really angry when I turned that one back around on him.) “You’re crazy… You have problems.” “Could it be…?” “You can trusssssssssst me.” “I’m of no threat to you.” “Have I ever lied to you?” “You don’t want to do that.” He knows very well how to subtly place just a germ of doubt. He also would say it’s easier to get someone to agree to do what you want if you make them think it is their idea. The movie “Inception” came at just the right time in my life. One of those things I contemplate: How much of the past was “not my idea”?

      “These are not the droids you’re looking for.”
      “These are not the droids we’re looking for.”

    • LorenHaas

      Brilliant solution! We are starting another divorce recovery group in two days and I am going to incorporate this suggestion. I often recommend sticking to emails for communication, so as to have a record of what is said. This does not deter the worst of them and leaves the abused worried about what emotional bomb she is about to encounter in the email. Using a somewhat removed third person filters out that concern. The abuser will of course try to triangulate, so the “filter” needs to be wise to this tactic.

      • Katy

        Loren — the reason I can let my dad handle the emails (and respond to my ex for me in cases of child drop off times, etc) – is because he understands what is going on. He gets it.
        If you have a trustworthy friend who “gets it” and is willing to stand in the gap, it makes such a difference in peace of mind. Just having that buffer…protection… I have been able to relax for the first time in the 4 years since the divorce! The added benefit is that my ex is careful about how he speaks to my dad. 🙂

  5. Still Scared( but getting angry)

    I, too, do only emails with two trusted friends cc’d. Cuts down on the berating from him and when he does go off I can ask my friends if I did something to provoke it. My ex-idiot is excellent at the Jedi mind trick. He boasts about using it to get jobs, on his boss, etc. How I never saw him using it on me…

  6. colleenr

    “It required more than leaving him to break free of his manipulative influence. I had to learn a new way to think.”

    And that takes time. Especially after almost 24 years, the first 10 of which I spent wondering what was wrong with me that I wasn’t happier with this great Christian guy….

    who was always telling me I didn’t “have a gentle and quiet enough spirit,” that I took myself “too seriously,” was “too sensitive,” etc. Once during an argument, he told me he would never be successful in ministry if I didn’t change. (We met at seminary where we were both students.) I began seeing a good counselor about 15 years into the marriage. When I started trying to tell him how I was feeling, he got upset and told me he didn’t like hearing it because it just made him feel bad. When I screwed up my courage to tell him (after LOTS of prayer for the right “time” and the right “words”) that I thought we had an “unbiblical model of ‘headship’ operating in our marriage,” I braced myself for the usual suspects. Instead he floored me with this: “You need to find out what’s wrong with you that you would put up with that.” Even with this unpredictable crazy-making it took me another seven years (and lots more unpredictable crazy-making) to realize that my “marriage” would always be this way, that we were never going to have a healthy relationship and that I could not white-knuckle my way to the end of my life like that even though I meant my vows when I was 24.

    I filed just over two years ago (June 2011); we’ve been “official” (court date with judge) since Nov. 2012 and “final” (papers signed/filed)since May 2013.

    I’m still getting him out of my head. I have ended up going back to the one my ex and I saw together the longest as he knows our situation and backgrounds already. Incidentally my ex quit going when this man told him to get a regular job because his “business” had not turned successful enough to support his family after five years and we were running out of my inheritance. One of the best things my counselor told me was to have as little contact as possible with my ex.

    It is not always easy. Sometimes when he comes to pick up our kids, I feel like I must seem neurotic to the kids because I am so anxious. I often feel mean or rude because I close the door fairly quickly without a lot of pleasantries when he brings them home. I know he is thinking I am mean and rude and telling everyone who will listen that I am. Even though the last time I closed the door on him mid-sentence it was because he was telling me “You are so messed up. I don’t even recognize you.” I thought I’d be brave, so I told him that was because he can no longer control me. His response: “Wow. You really do live in your own world.” (This was when I closed the door. I’m guessing this is the classic projection of his stuff onto me. He is in my head accusing me of what he’s done; one of his most successful tactics over the years.)

    Yesterday my 9 year old daughter asked why I had to divorce her dad. I gave a general 9-year-old-appropriate answer that didn’t badmouth her father. She mentioned that “Dad never wanted the divorce.” I asked if he had told her that; of course he had. It has made me insecure that he will at some point persuade her that I was just an unforgiving, bitter, impossible person.

    But I will still follow the counselor’s advice. It takes time to get him out of my head and learn a new way of thinking. But every bit of improvement is worth the effort.

    • She mentioned that “Dad never wanted the divorce.”
      Colleen just to encourage you, my daughter is around that same age, and she’s been asking questions for a long time about why we had to get a divorce. I told her the truth. That I wasn’t safe with daddy and the way he treated me was not okay. End of story. I did not go into details.
      I also assured her that I had prayed very much before the divorce, asking God to heal the marriage, and God’s response was to free us instead. And I put the responsiblity on God, where it lies.
      You do not have to do everything by the “counseling textbook” – counselors always tell parents to never badmouth each other. And that is good advice if the parents are not abusers and staying silent will cause no harm to anyone.

      You can be honest with your daughter. Girls ask these questions sooner than boys, in my experience, and they need answers sometimes. You do what you think is best, you do not need to follow anyone else’s “RULES” in raising your children in this situation.

      ((hugs)) to you on this journey. it gets better. YOU are already becoming more awesome every time you stand up for yourself. You have a beautiful future !

  7. colleenr

    Thank you, Katy. I guess I am not ready to tell her I wasn’t “safe” with Daddy. She was around for all too many of our fights. I mentioned them and told her that I realized that was not going to change, which made the divorce necessary. We talked about how sad it is to go through a divorce because that is never what you think will happen when you are getting married. I think that was around the time she told me her dad “never wanted” the divorce because she seemed surprised that I considered the whole thing “sad.”

    I will keep what you’ve said in mind about talking more openly with her. She just seems so young to hear certain truths. (Reading that and it doesn’t sound super-healthy….)

    I am planning to talk to my counselor about it Friday at my next appt. He encourages me not to “cover” for her dad (i.e. when he forgets it is his weekend, it is okay to tell her he is being irresponsible instead of telling her that he “gets confused” by the 1st, 3rd, 5th weekend thing. Even though I do think he is confused. We also have a 21 year old daughter with whom I have no trouble talking about things. In fact, sometimes I worry I say too much, but she has her own issues with him. Sometimes I think she gets it a whole lot better than I do! Anyway re: his confusion my 21 year old says that sometimes talking to her dad is like “blowing on a cat’s face.”) The counselor I see is very clear that the truth is what kids need to hear. I think maybe I am not confident that I will speak the truth in love and once you say things you can’t unsay them. After my 9yo told me that her dad said he didn’t want it, I didn’t tell her: “Really? He told me we’d probably end up divorced once you turned 18.” I just said (with thoughts of how I can’t know his motives), “Well if that’s what he told you, I guess that’s how he feels.” Then I trailed off, there was an awkward silence and she let me off the hook with, “We don’t have to talk about it anymore.” I think she knew I was at a loss. She probably understands more than I know, much like her 21 year old sister….

    Thanks again for your encouragement! 🙂

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