A Cry For Justice

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

June Hunt’s booklet “Verbal and Emotional Abuse” is BAD

Ps Jeff Crippen’s review of Verbal & Emotional Abuse: Victory Over Verbal and Emotional Abuse, a booklet by June Hunt.

Why is this book so bad and even harmful to abuse victims?

1. It gives way too wide of a definition of abuse and as a result ends up making recommendations that might work in a difficult marriage (drawing of boundaries for instance) but which will NEVER work in a marriage to an abuser. Remember, always remember, the abuser is an ABUSER, not a person who sometimes commits abusive acts. The abuser is a person who has a profound sense of entitlement to power and control over another and who feels fully justified in using evil tactics to obtain and maintain that power and control. Boundaries are meant to draw a line and clarify consequences for crossing that line and they can work effectively with a “normal” person, training them toward more positive behaviors. But you are not going to “fix” an abuser by the use of boundaries. Furthermore if a victim draws boundaries with the kind of abuser we deal with, they may well get themselves killed. I may not have stated this as clearly as some of you could, or as Dr. George Simon or Barbara Roberts could. But I do know that Hunt primarily relies upon boundaries to “fix” the abuser and the relationship.

2. Hunt’s goal is to “fix” the abuser. For example, listen to her response to the question, “How can I deal with the hurtful things my husband says to me?” Answer:

When things are peaceful between the two of you, ask him, “If we could have a better marriage relationship with each other, would you want it?” WHEN HE RESPONDS AFFIRMATIVELY” [caps are mine so you don’t miss that phrase] …say, “I want that too. But sometimes we get into verbal battles that are not the best for us or for the kids. So I’ve decided just to step out of the room when that happens in the future and then come back later. I’m going to do this because spoken words cannot be taken back any more than toothpaste that has been squeezed out can be put back into the tube.” (pp 70-71).

Now, I have to ask June Hunt, what kind of person are you talking about? Because the kind of abuser, the ABUSER, that we deal with day in and day out would not let the victim get past “If we could have a better marriage…would you…”. And that’s it! Immediately he would start playing the mind games, announcing the accusations, and so on. June, this just ain’t gonna work with these dudes! In fact this kind of talk will be ammo in his arsenal and he will see it as weakness and a point to attack her on. June, you are not knowledgeable of the abuser mentality. You are assuming he is a GOOD person! Abusers are not good people.

3. Hunt is waaaaaay back in the dark ages in this field. Check it out (from page 88-9):

Anger Management is Mandatory. People who have difficulty with anger control may express their anger in two ways. If you vent your anger at someone else, your anger is explosive, but if you keep your anger bottled up, your anger is implosive. Explosive anger is outwardly abusive, while implosive anger is inwardly abusive. Both are damaging to relationships….Be aware [she writes to the abuser] when you are feeling irritated or aggravated. Take note when a sudden feeling of anger explodes in your mind. Discover your trigger points… Restrain angry thoughts and actions. Turn your thoughts toward Christ (asking him), “Lord, may I have your peace?”… Train yourself to keep a lid on your anger until your agitation is calmed down.

Crikeys!! One of the first things we learn about the abuser is that anger is NOT his problem! (See our post Anger Management is not the answer.)  June, stop writing and teaching this stuff. All you are doing is giving false hope to the victim and full-blown ammunition to the abuser.

4. Finally (and I could give many more examples of bad teaching in this book), you notice in #3 above that Hunt is approaching the abuser as if he is a Christian, desirous of obeying Christ. That further pumps the gasoline of enablement on the fires of abuse.

This book definitely makes the list on our blog of resources that will not help an abuse victim or anyone desirous of learning about abuse.

Woe to those who decree iniquitous decrees,
and the writers who keep writing oppression,
to turn aside the needy from justice
and to rob the poor of my people of their right,
that widows may be their spoil,
and that they may make the fatherless their prey!
Isaiah 10:1-2

* * * * * *

Further reading:

Why an abuser cannot be a Christian — a digest of articles at A Cry For Justice

115 Comments

  1. Still Reforming

    This —> ” The abuser is a person who has a profound sense of entitlement to power and control over another and who feels fully justified in using evil tactics to obtain and maintain that power and control.”

    That is precisely what I did not see for decades. I kept trying to work things out. It’s little wonder that marriage counseling didn’t work. Neither did endless private conversations, letters, notes written back and forth, lists, etc. Nothing earthly could break the barrier of that profound sense of entitlement.

    And THAT is precisely why I think the abuser can lie without conscience, because he feels entitled to whatever his goal is regarding the lie, so it’s justified in his mind. It doesn’t niggle at him or matter because he is due (whatever it is) in his own mind and heart.

    I am seeing this more clearly now that we are apart – FAR more clearly than when we were together and the web of deceit was spun over any given situation. He’s still doing this, but it’s easier to see with a little distance. No longer to I ponder “Why would he lie to (family member)? Didn’t he realize that his lie would come to light?” Nay – that’s not the question to ask. It’s just confirmation of the hubris – the very extreme degree to which the abuser believes himself the be-all-and-end-all of it all. He believes he could fly to the sun and his wings of wax won’t melt.

    I don’t ask myself such questions or doubt myself any more. Thanks be to God that through the ministry of this site, his poisonous hold on my mind and heart are released, and I am free. I am still struggling through legal battles and still praying fervently, daily for deliverance for self and child – yet, inside I am free.

    Thank you, Pastor Jeff.

    • SR, I love the way you write. There are so many gems in this comment! 🙂

      • Still Reforming

        🙂

        I happen to be a great admirer of your writing as well, Barbara. So we have a mutual admiration society going.

        Actually, I was just thinking about you and praying for you yesterday as I read one of your recent comments detailing what you went through as you nearly burned the protection order/s you had and how you went back to your abuser.

        Your ministry here is really a treasure, and you express it so succinctly and effectively. I have not been in your shoes, although I’m walking a similar path as where you have been. When you write, I can relate to the pain and defensiveness. (I write that last word with trepidation; I do hope you know what I mean. We all end up living a bit on guard, and wisely so. Therefore I don’t mean any offense in saying “defensiveness”; It’s a necessary state.)

        I appreciate the validation given here to so many of us caught in the web of deceit. This is the only site I know that applies the balm of Gilead as you and Jeff and others who write here do. Thank you.

      • Hey, I don’t mind the word ‘defensiveness’ as you’ve used it there. We do, I do, live on guard still. Sometimes my auto-pilot state of being on guard is a bit of a nuisance, like when I’m at a counter being served and the transaction I’m paying for generates a loud *beep* and I jump and put my hands over my ears. I can’t help myself. I just react that way, even though it’s years since I was subject to abuse from my exes. Loud sudden noises trigger me; I just have to live with it. I do live on guard and that’s just how it is. The alert setting in my brain has been set to go off at hair trigger. Sometimes men pass me in the park from behind when I’m walking and I jump and sometimes give a little scream. I can’t help it. I apologise immediately to everyone around for having perhaps upset them by my little scream. . . ah well. We are flesh. We are weak creatures. It doesn’t matter all that much in the big scheme of things. 🙂

    • TB

      Yes, Still Reforming. I understand you perfectly and it is also EXACTLY where I am at in my healing process. I, too, tried and tried and tried with conversations, letters, notes, hints, etc. NOTHING worked. I am just beginning to understand what Barbara and Jeff are saying about the fact that it is a “mentality” of the abuser. It was not me, it was not an emotional disorder of his (although that might be there as well), it is just the way he thinks. The sad part of it is he hated it when anyone disagreed with him, or strongly opposed (in civil ways) his position on matters. Disagreers were rebellious and headstrong, all foolish and/or deceived. What I really hate is that he seems normal otherwise and I know my young kids may not be “on” to him yet. He gives them gifts and treats them well enough when they are visiting with him on his days. I don’t want them to be deceived. My older kids are very aware there is something wrong with him and avoid him.

      What frustrates me is that now that I can see it like you, Still Reforming, I wish I could just tell him and he would say “OH!!! YOU ARE SO RIGHT!!! HOW CAN I FIX THIS???” I, too, am much more able to see things now that I have distanced myself from him. By reading the posts on this site almost daily, I am coming in to understanding. I kept giving my ex the benefit of the doubt, trying to focus on his good characteristics, believing I was to blame at least part of the time, etc. But no amount of any of that would change the way his thinking is wired. I finally get it. FINALLY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      I LOVE what you said: “And THAT is precisely why I think the abuser can lie without conscience, because he feels entitled to whatever his goal is regarding the lie, so it’s justified in his mind.” YES YES YES. This finally makes it clear to me. My ex justified with scripture his entitlement to yell, curse, berate, humiliate, and criticize. (…and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and HE SHALL RULE OVER THEE.) AND he justified my having to accept, without question, his rampages against me and the kids with scripture as well. (Wives submit to your husbands in EVERYTHING.) He has no remorse at all because he THINKS he is doing what he is supposed to be doing. Just like Jews think they have it right about the Messiah, and Christians think they have it right. Whichever side of the fence you are on, the other side is the wrong side. When we don’t side with the abuser, he THINKS we are wrong, bad, disobedient, warped, rebellious, and crazy because we don’t think like he does.

      Another confusing thing is that if abusers call themselves believers, why can’t they see plain as day that all their horrid behavior is NOTHING LIKE THE CHRIST they claim to follow? Christ would not curse himself by taking his own name in vain; Christ would not call his own family a lengthy string of choice expletives; Christ would not lay his hands on anyone to enforce obedience and verbally DEMAND their submission and honor toward him. How can an abuser read the Word, have knowledge of it (and even make use of it appropriately at times), seem to love God and follow him some of the time, and then act in the most ungodly ways??? I am still trying to figure that out.

      Matthew 7:18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.

      It’s sick how abusers will even let this mental stronghold remain in place even as their wives of many years exit the marriage with the children. Satan must be laughing all the way to the bank. And my ex told me “I” was making Satan very happy with my “new” self and the poor choices I was making. The only new thing about me was that I was no longer being a “yes man” to his bad behavior.

      Would you say pride is the primary sin driving this mentality?

      • Still Reforming

        Oh yes, TB. That’s part of that cycle that’s easy to get caught up in – the nice person in one hour, easily angry the next – and without any seemingly “good” reason. Nothing to provoke the anger, I mean. I liken it to giving me a gift with his right hand and slapping me across the face with his left at the very same time. It’s confusing. And if we have been so easily confused by these individuals whom we have known for years and sometimes decades, well, that’s the reason I didn’t press forward with information to the church leaders or others, except with rare exception. During those rare moments, everyone wanted to give my anti-husband the “benefit of the doubt,” as I so often did, and therefore, back into the web I go.

        It took Jeff’s book to start waking and shaking me up a bit – to have the courage to draw a line in the sand and say, “It stops here.” In my gut I knew that the way we were living wasn’t right, but because he played the Christian, I never wanted to doubt his salvation. (Well, I did, but would never give voice to that.) So many things I was thinking wrongly about, suffering all the while – and thinking that this must just be how God wanted my life to be.

        I’m convinced that I’m also dealing with a personality disorder (narcissistic personality disorder to be specific), however I’m learning that it’s not advisable to even suggest that to the powers that be (counselor, attorney, etc), but instead to demonstrate a “pattern of behaviors” via facts documented so the authorities (court-appointed psychologist or whomever) and “experts” can make that determination. (Lord willing, oh please Lord….)

        But even that is no excuse for his own chosen behaviors and words. He owns all of it.

        You asked, “How can an abuser read the Word, have knowledge of it (and even make use of it appropriately at times), seem to love God and follow him some of the time, and then act in the most ungodly ways??? I am still trying to figure that out.”

        The only conclusion I have reached is that their father is Satan, as Christ said. (John 8:44). The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Satan used Scripture against Jesus during His temptation in the wilderness. Satan knows the Word of God. In fact, God tells us that the demons know it and tremble. (James 2:19) And yet the humans in our situations know the Word and don’t even tremble. It’s a frightening thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Hebrews 10:31). Like the title of Jonathan Edwards’ famous sermon: “Sinners in the hands of an angry God.” I suppose if God lets these individuals, many if not most of them men, be given over unto themselves, well…. they’ve brought it on themselves. I prayed for many years for my anti-husband. Then I stopped and felt bad about not praying for him anymore. Now, I don’t pray for him, and I no longer feel bad about it. It’s time to move on. There’s work for the Lord to be done and I’ve wasted enough time on His enemies.

      • Yes. And remember Simon the Magician?

        But there was a man named Simon, who had previously practiced magic in the city and amazed the people of Samaria, saying that he himself was somebody great. They all paid attention to him, from the least to the greatest, saying, “This man is the power of God that is called Great.” And they paid attention to him because for a long time he had amazed them with his magic. But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Even Simon himself believed, and after being baptized he continued with Philip. And seeing signs and great miracles performed, he was amazed.

        Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, for he had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit. Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, saying, “Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity.” And Simon answered, “Pray for me to the Lord, that nothing of what you have said may come upon me.”
        (Acts 8:9-24)

        In the ESV the subheading the editors give to the passage is ‘Simon the Sorcerer Believes’ but I think that’s a misleading heading. I would say Simon did not believe, not really. What he saw and what he believed in was power and control. He wanted the power that the apostles had. Peter, under the leading of the Holy Spirit, saw Simon’s problem: the intent of the Simon’s heart was wrong; he was in the gall of bitterness and the bond of iniquity. Sounds like our definition of an abuser, to me!

      • Sorrowful

        “My ex justified with scripture his entitlement to yell, curse, berate, humiliate, and criticize. (…and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and HE SHALL RULE OVER THEE.) AND he justified my having to accept, without question, his rampages against me and the kids with scripture as well. (Wives submit to your husbands in EVERYTHING.) He has no remorse at all because he THINKS he is doing what he is supposed to be doing. ”

        My husband tried using that on me early in our marriage. I told him point blank that that was a curse, not a prescription. I feel fortunate that I knew the Bible much better than he. I feel fortunate that I have fought valiantly against this abuse for the majority of our more than a decade of marriage. Pride is definitely the primary sin. Pride and vanity. Oh, if only I had known what was happening and that it was grounds for divorce so many years ago…

  2. Still Reforming

    Btw, I should have added to my first comment that June Hunt lost my interest about a quarter of the way through her book “How to Forgive When You Don’t Feel Like It.” Hunt’s father was abusive and her mother cowed to it – making the children leave the room if he didn’t want them there. They were isolated and left to themselves through the misery of Hunt’s father verbally abusing her mother while in drunken states. And her mom’s answer to all of this? Well, he can’t really help it because he’s unsaved, so he doesn’t know better. I stopped reading at that point. Something in my gut told me that it wasn’t right. Some Christian theology just smacks of bad exegesis. It makes God out to be some kind of tyrant who loves to keep His people in pain when they don’t have to be. So I sought better resources.

    Books like Hunt’s I still have on my shelf, just as an example of what’s not good, but since I’ll be moving some time in the next year, I think I’ll burn the books that are just plain wrong. Wow – makes me sound like a Nazi, but some books deserve to not be given to the library to possibly mislead other targets of abuse out there.

    • Innoscent

      SR, some Jews and Greeks in Ephesus did just that! ‘And a number of those who had practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all …’ Acts 19.19. They did it for good whereas the Nazis did it for evil.
      Before I moved to my new place after separating from Mr Abuser I made sure to chuck all his self-help books and useless marital counseling books. It felt soooo good like at Ephesus! 🙂

      This book definitely makes the list on our blog of resources that will not help an abuse victim or anyone desirous of learning about abuse.

      Jeff, where can I find this on the blog? I can’t see any list under Resources… Thanks!

      • The ACFJ Hall of Blind Guides can be found in the drop-down menu of the Our Beliefs tab.

        Thanks for mentioning you couldn’t find it, because you’ve made me realise that it would be helpful to have a link to it on our Resources page as well. 🙂

        (TWBTC, can you pls do this when you get time? Thanks)

      • Barb,
        Will do.

      • Innoscent

        Thanks Barb for your help 😉

      • Still Reforming

        Innoscent,

        Thank you! Yes, burning the books for good, not evil. That helps. It’s nice to see validation in God’s Word. I’ve burned a few things lately – mostly notes of past incidents (I have a record elsewhere that is not burned, but backed up) – and I wondered why for the past few months I have enjoyed going to the burn pile. Now I know. It’s very cathartic to watch one’s past – the painful bits – burn up in smoke. It’s like saying goodbye to the bad and looking forward to better things. As I walked from the burn pile today, in fact, I thought that it’s somewhat like death. We don’t look forward to it, but we do know that this life is short and in Glory, it’s much better. While we don’t enjoy the process of death or want to rush headlong into it, we know that there is true Life and a better one ahead. And in the short term, it’s nice to know that we can be a part of burning up the bad stuff in our recent past and take steps to a better future while still on this side of Glory.

  3. healingInHim

    Thank you for the warning. June Hunt’s ministry has been recommended by others.

    • Still Reforming

      healinInHim, That’s how I discovered her books – by recommendation. But Hunt’s books always made me feel like I *still* wasn’t “doing” enough. It kept me down – making me think I wasn’t forgiving enough, I wasn’t Christian enough, I wasn’t this and that because everything still depended on me. No matter how bad he was, I still had to do more, be more, etc. Her books basically made me feel worse, and I had to stop reading them. They don’t heal the abused target’s soul.

      • Jeff Crippen

        Stillreforming – not only do people like Hunt make you feel worse, THEY feel better. Let me explain. These kind of “Christians” preach this “suffer and persevere and forgive no matter what” false gospel because it makes THEM feel superior. I am convinced of it. People ooh and ah at their “willingness to suffer for the Lord” (though many times the actual suffering is done by others at their bidding) and this gives them self-glory and self-praise kudos. If that sounds harsh, well, that is just the way it is. I have seen these kinds of people in the church just way too often. They are self-righteous Pharisees and Jesus described their operation precisely –

        And in his teaching he said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes and like greetings in the marketplaces and have the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, who devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.” (Mark 12:38-40)

      • Still Reforming

        Pastor Jeff,

        It does not sound harsh to me at all. In fact, it makes a lot of sense. It “fits,” given my own personal experience with individuals (surprisingly many women,and pastor’s wives) who are quick to cast the first stone at women who are deemed to be “not respecting their husbands” – in their eyes.

        I appreciate the Scripture you shared, and I shudder for these enablers given that Word of the Lord.

        What keeps leaping to my mind too as I walk through a legal system bent more toward fathers’ “rights” than the protection of mothers and children is a lesson that our court system apparently did not learn from WWII: We are not to appease an aggressor. I learned that decades ago in college, but I’m living it now – as my aggressor is increasingly considered by attorneys and counselors (but please, Lord, not the judge) to be just some misunderstood nice guy and all the facts must just be aberrations of his character. Or maybe they’ll admit that – given his behavior – he does probably have some personality disorder, but he really loves his own kid surely, and that’s more important. It’s amazing how many hoops people will jump through to give this man the benefit of the doubt – no matter what facts are documented.

      • healingInHim

        Upon recommendation; I listened to her broadcasts. Yes, there was some truth in her talk, however like you SR, I have felt that so much grace was given to the abuser and that even though she would mention someone like me taking control of the situation; another statement would follow that seemed to contradict that thought.

      • freeatlast8

        I am helped so much just reading others’ perspectives on all this. Others can put to words the very things I have thought and felt and packed away deep in the darkness of my subconscious memory vaults. These locked away thoughts are being freed little by little so that I can now examine them carefully in the light of Truth.

        Still Reforming said: “making me think I wasn’t forgiving enough, I wasn’t Christian enough, I wasn’t this and that because everything still depended on me. No matter how bad he was, I still had to do more, be more, etc.”

        YES YES YES…especially the part that says “everything still depended on me.” That is the LIE right there. BULLSEYE! It is a lie the abuser was telling me and it is a lie I was telling myself. Thank you, Jesus.

        Keep writing in ladies. You have no idea what you might say that will loose the bonds a little more on someone else!!!

        I tell you what, the mental confusion dynamic of all this is enough to make me EXTREMELY leery of EVER having another intimate relationship again. I just don’t trust myself or anyone at this point. We are all broken individuals, and how two brokens can make something work is a mystery to me. Is it just that I am jaded because of my bad experience? Are there REALLY happy marriages out there, or are they all hiding skeletons in the closet they are too afraid and ashamed to publicly let out? Look at the numbers of us on here who ADMIT we were not the “perfect, happy family” everyone thought we were. Look at how any wives here hid the abuse their PASTOR husbands were committing against them behind closed doors? ARE THERE REALLY NORMAL FUNCTIONING COUPLES OUT THERE? Maybe that is another lie I have believed…that there is something called “NORMAL” in a relationship that can be attained if both parties do things just right.

        I get so caught up in trying to do it all right that it almost zaps the joy out of just BEING and LIVING. Does that sound familiar to anyone else? I realize now it does NOT all depend on ME, but that it all falls on Christ. However, we are still called to participate in the relationship and can’t just say, “Oh well, that’s covered under the blood. No worries,” to the things we flub up or don’t know how to deal with. Especially when we hurt other people.

      • Jeff Crippen

        freeatlast – I hear you and identify with you. I often ask the same thing myself – “is anyone normal anymore?” Well, here are the facts as I see them. 1) Yes, there are functional, healthy, genuinely godly people and marriages. I like to think that my wife and I, married now for almost 44 years, are one of them. We aren’t hiding skeletons. But I can tell you, because we have refused to play the “pastor image facade” game (act and behave according to the image of a pastor and pastor’s wife that it seems most professing Christians crave) we have not climbed the “career ladder” in pastorhood. 2) I do think that normal, functional, genuine, godly marriages and homes are getting harder to find AND that the fake image that you describe here is on the increase in our churches. Or, maybe I should suggest this for all of us to think about -what if, just what if, the healthy, genuine, Christian marriage and family is rejected by many churches because such a family has REJECTED the bondage of legalism that so many “family-oriented” churches insist on enslaving them to? Now, I am not saying by any means that embracing false, unbiblical views of marriage (homosexual, etc) are to be endorsed for a second. What I am talking about is the patriarchal, legalistic, this is how you WILL raise your children, etc. model. Because if people DO yield to this legalism and try to be perfect according to legalistic standards, they are NECESSARILY going to have to wear a facade and be fakes, because no one will ever measure up to it.

      • Still Reforming

        freeatlast8,

        Yes, everything you wrote resonates with me, in fact. I too wonder if I’ll ever have a relationship again with a man and if so, would I be setting myself up for disaster. But my gut feeling is that while I don’t know if that will happen, I’ll be okay either way, because the Lord is the author and finisher of my faith and He will complete the good work He began in me. I’ll trust Him to let me know if there’s another man out there who, although fallen in sin as I, is genuine enough to know that he’s not the be-all-and-end-all of the world. I strongly suspect that, thanks to the ministry here at this site, our radars are a bit more keen to spot the red flags from the outset. I think I’ll know if a man is more interested in me or himself. As I look back at my abuser’s and my relationship even decades ago, there were red flags. I just didn’t know any better than, and I do know a bit better now.

        But still, even if the Lord does not have that in store for me, it’s okay. I’ll accept what I get from His hand with gratitude. And like others have said here, there are good relationships out there. We’re just so burned by these abusers that sometimes we can’t see clearly or always recognize them, but I do see what I think are some in church. I can tell by the way some men talk with their spouses or children how they respect them as individuals. I can tell by the way the pastor at our (new) church doesn’t stand out in a room. You’d hardly even know he’s the pastor. I didn’t until someone told me the first time I went to a Sunday School class, and he came in a just took a seat like anyone else and when he joined in the group conversation, he made points briefly and quietly. One of his points was that peace in a trial is found in an assurance of who God is, not necessarily a feeling that things are going to work out. I thought that to be wise counsel.

        I think that finding a new relationship might be akin to finding this ministry at this website. So many of us here have read many books on our spouse’s or partner’s dysfunctions and behavioral disorders. We’ve sought information on what to do and how we’re to be – and when we find truth, such as that expounded here, we know it. We sense it. We confirm it by the Word. And we embrace and live it. I think our next relationships, if there are to be any, will be similar. We’ll know what’s not true now, having lived with a lie for so long. And if a lie presents itself in the form of abuse from someone again, I suspect we’ll sense it in short order. We can certainly pray toward that end.

  4. LorenHaas

    Do you think that the consistent inability to honor boundaries would be a diagnostic to separate someone who sometimes abuses and someone who fits your description of an abuser? This seems like your implication and matches my own limited observations. This could be really helpful.

    • Jeff Crippen

      That’s a very good point, Loren. Yes. As I think about your idea here, other things are going off in my mind. A person, for example, who consistently will not honor boundaries evidences that he has no empathy. That’s still another sign of an abuser. He also shows that he is always right, that he is always entitled, that he objectifies the victim, and so on. Scripture would say that such a person who habitually disregards boundaries is a man of lawlessness. And that is one of the names of the antichrist, which simply means that (in my opinion) abusers are of the antichrist. Especially the kind who claim to be Christians. They are of their father the devil (John 8)

      • loves6

        Thank you for this comment. It helps me see why my husband does not honor any boundaries I put in place. He coerces me out of them in subtle ways.
        I fail at keeping strong in boundaries. When I have spoken up I’ve been strong, then something abusive happens and I lose my strength and I become weak.
        The lack of empathy is becoming clearer to me, especially toward me.
        I have thought that my husband needed anger management or a psych assessment. Looking at this as not an anger issue but about power and control is very helpful. I read books and research a lot about abuse but that simple statement has given me a clearer picture of what he is about….I see it very clearly

    • Yes Loren. That is a very good diagnostic. It is perhaps the key distinguishing test for an abuser vs a person who has hurt someone else but is not an abuser (by our defintion of abuse). When confronted and admonished for his/her bad conduct, or when a boundary is set against his bad conduct, the abuser resists taking responsiblity and excalates his abusive tactics by a smorgasboard of lies, semi-admissions of guilt, evasions, blame shifting, false accusations, red herrings, insinuations against the victim and her supporters, threats, blocking, diversions, pretence it never happened, etcetera, ad infinitum.

      In contrast, when a non-abuser is confronted and admonished for his/her bad conduct, the non-abuser is ashamed, feels guilty, admits to the fault, repents and tries to not do it again and to make reparation for the harm caused to the victim. Sometimes, the non-abuser may initially want to not admit the fault and do the work of reparation, but their conscience will gnaw at them until they amend their behavior.

      And there is a third category here, one that the Bible calls ‘the fool’. Some people are simply air-headed and foolish and they never much amend or improve their characters, but they are not malignantly wicked to others.

      • freeatlast8

        Loves6, thank you for posting. I could have written those exact words:

        “It helps me see why my husband does not honor any boundaries I put in place. He coerces me out of them in subtle ways. I fail at keeping strong in boundaries. When I have spoken up I’ve been strong, then something abusive happens and I lose my strength and I become weak.”

        I, too, have stood my ground and defined my boundaries only to have that followed by an extreme rage session.

        Case in point: One day my ex spoke to me in such a derogatory way it was as if he had knocked the wind right out of my lungs. I was so deflated and angry. Later on I wrote him a note telling him if he EVER spoke to me that way again I would leave. I had had enough. He wrote me back a semi-apology (real apologies were almost non-existent) saying he was stressed or some other such and such. I told him he was forgiven. BUT…

        The very next morning I came home from running an errand and he was waiting for me with our kids lined up with him. Their faces told me something was wrong. My ex laid in to me telling me that I would NEVER talk to him that way again, making demands and threatening to leave. And if I wanted to leave I could get the he** out, but that I was NOT taking the kids with me. He was livid and some of the kids (even the older teens) were in tears. I don’t remember everything anymore, but he wanted to make it clear I WAS NOT LEAVING and I had better get back in my place OR ELSE!!!!!!!!!! Even though he had “seemed” to apologize and I felt like I had made some ground, he had obviously been stewing over it all that night and into the next day until he erupted. The rest of the year there were more similar episodes, but I KNEW that I KNEW I was on my way out.

        So standing your ground and putting boundaries in place can at time make things worse for the victim, especially if the abuser knows she has cowed to him before. He will just bulldoze right through any barricade you have set and laugh as he does it.

    • MeganC

      Loren — I am really thankful for your comment, here, and Jeff’s below. I have wondered this same thing. For a long time, I had a handful of people, in my life, who would not honor the boundaries I was setting up (until my husband, David, came into my life and got tough). These people seriously chased me down . . . even up until a few months ago. They also subscribe to what I am calling “pursuit theology” . . . which is this belief that you pursue a person and pursue a person until they give in to the Gospel. But, it is taken too far — and the pursuing usually means more than giving into the Gospel. And it haphazardly crosses boundaries in the name of Christ. Jesus was never this way. I just read this in Matthew 10:

      “Whatever town or village you enter, search there for some worthy person and stay at their house until you leave. 12 As you enter the home, give it your greeting. 13 If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. 14 If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet.”

      He was basically telling the disciples to have SOME semblance of boundaries and not to chase people down when they don’t want their good word. Christ “draws with His love” . . . . That is a very different word picture than “pursue”.

      I might have gotten a little off topic. 🙂 It is just something I have been thinking about.

      • Ellie

        So, sanctification by stalking? No. That’s not how it works. Glad you’re free of that.

      • Barnabasintraining

        Pretty sure Jesus didn’t teach harassment theology. It’s one thing to pursue someone in private prayer before God but quite another to harass the person herself until she is too worn down to resist anymore.

        Badger badger mushroom….

      • Still Reforming

        Barnabasintraining,

        Okay, I’ll bite. Curiosity got this cat. What is “badger badger mushroom”…?

        Inquiring minds want to know. 🙂

      • Innoscent

        MeganC, ‘pursuit theology’: thanks for sharing this expression. It helps me to put words on this kind of concept. The shaking of the dust off one’s feet (drawing a line to one’s evangelism efforts) would be similar to the advice of not casting pearls before the swine (Mt 7.6), wouldn’t it?
        Well my abusive H picked up on this whole thing to his advantage. When I came to the conclusion he was not even converted (since an abuser cannot be a Christian) and would talk to him about repentance and new birth in Christ, after some time he accused me of being forceful! And that God never forces anyone to repent, to convert. I honestly was not forcing or nagging, just now and then throwing him a line and showing him hope in Christ. And so he referred to examples in the Bible of conversions that took …. years, which was just so convenient for his passive-aggressive tactic. I told him that HE was the one to force his abusive ways on me all these years!!

        Eventually I did keep my pearls after I had suffered what the rest of the verse says (Mt 7.6) ‘lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you/tear you to pieces’. I praise God for making a way of escape for me from a very traumatic experience and I’ve never been so happy in my life since being separated.

      • Still Reforming

        Innoscent,

        I have never understood that verse (pearls before swine), and yours is the first interpretation I’ve heard that makes sense. It rings true in my experience, as yours. Thank you! Especially with the latter part of the verse added. Wow.

        I never intimated to my anti-husband that he could be unsaved. I just knew what eggshells I was already walking on and the fuel added to his fire were that to be even hinted at – I just didn’t go there. However, I began to slowly realize that he can’t possibly be born again if he’s going to live a life of continually maintained lies and manipulation. What I hadn’t realized was the damage occurring all the while to me and to his children as he played his games. I thought I was supposed to just live with it and that it’s how God wanted my life to be.

        It took me getting out of it to see more clearly. It’s amazing how we can come to accept the abuse – like living with a chronic toothache or persistent days-long headache. You learn to chew on the other side of your mouth or you just keep the volume of the TV and noise in the house down, etc. And if the pain ever goes away, then the normalcy seems strange.

        But slowly I’m coming out of that twisted thinking. It’s taking time though. Yesterday for the first time I found myself thanking God for all of it – for this current trial, for whatever He’s doing in it, for the provision He’s given me through it, for the wisdom He’s given then and now, for the resources here at cryingoutforjustice.com and for the friends and people who “get it.” God always *something* and/or *someone* to His children through these horrible experiences. He is faithful.

      • Readers might like to read (or revisit) this survivor’s story from our blog that exemplifies the ‘pursuit theology’ Megan is talking about.

        https://cryingoutforjustice.com/2012/10/11/abuse-and-the-wilsonian-theology-a-survivors-story/

      • Innoscent

        SR, I am learning so much through the Bible and this blog too!
        Most of us victims of abuse will have felt like torn to pieces mentally and emotionally, and we are all learning to be careful with how and whom we give our pearls to, and make sure we keep away from the swines. Radar on 24hrs!

        Thank you for sharing your story. For an abuse victim it’s like ‘before’ and ‘after’, you know like on the photos of people who were overweight and then … photo #2 slim, or a room run down and then all done up. It takes time to unlearn, to be reprogrammed to normalcy. And I find the living word of God the best tool for it.

        I was abused all my life, first by my father, a sibling and then my husband. I can never thank God enough for rescuing and healing me from this hell. And like you I came to be grateful to God for the whole experience because like Job we can have the assurance that God is with us through it all and that our suffering will not be wasted. And my love for God has deepened and it’s also like falling in love with myself in that the healed person that emerges is beautiful, no longer broken. It is the person I should have been –and even better– had not I been brought up in the abuse landmine field. It is hard to express but it is truly a wonderful experience. I rejoice with you SR! 😀

      • Still Reforming

        I rejoice with you too, Innoscent! It’s nice to know – in one’s heart and not just one’s mind – that God is for us and not against us. It’s a blessing to be counted among His children, whom He loves. And that that love is faithful and will never end.

      • Innoscent

        Barb, I just had a quick scan through at MeganC’s story and will make some time to read it later. Thanks for the link! 😉

      • Barnabasintraining

        Still Reforming,

        It’s the video from this article:

        https://cryingoutforjustice.com/2014/09/05/badgering-badgers/

    • NotHeard

      Thanks Loren, this is awesome! Another gem to collect along the journey..

  5. cindyrapstad

    I have purchased probably about 100 books trying to figure out how to work through this abusive marriage. I love books and have a hard time throwing any books away because I figure I can find someone that can use them. I didn’t burn them but I went through and threw out a bunch of books because I didn’t want any women to get her hands on them and think the advice was ok. It may have been if we only had a disappointing marriage but I doubt many people seeking help are only in a disappointing marriage.

    I wish I would have thought to burn them because I think it would be a good picture of purifying my brain of all the years of bad advice that I got towards living with an abuser.

    This wasn’t one of the books I purchased thankfully.

  6. cindy burrell

    The information is very practical and useful for those tempted to pick up such “resources.” What I have learned is that, if a piece doesn’t ring true, if it feels as though something is missing, then there is. The Scripture you provided was perfect and powerful. All of this stuff has been going on since the beginning of time. As King Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes, “There is nothing new under the sun.”

  7. Friend of Victim

    Thanks Jeff. Reading this reminded me that I need to complain to a local radio station. For the 2nd time, I heard Dr. David Hawkins of the Marriage Recovery Center in Seattle interviewed this morning. He is extremely dangerous. I started drafting an email last time I heard him, but unfortunately never finished/sent it. He arrogantly boasts his belief that all marriages can be saved. (Of course its via people doing what he prescribes in his books, at his recovery center etc.) Are you familiar with him?

    • Sunflower

      I just looked at his website. Looks like another one similar to the Quantum Healing person that my sister is into. ‘Buy my stuff and you’ll have health and happiness.’ Sure.

      Years ago the cereal boxes had in large letters, “Protein enriched”, then in smaller letters underneath, “when served with milk.” I believe every marriage can be healed too……when BOTH partners surrender to God.

      • Barnabasintraining

        Years ago the cereal boxes had in large letters, “Protein enriched”, then in smaller letters underneath, “when served with milk.”

        Oh for crying out loud. 😡

    • Friend of Victim

      Sunflower thanks for the analogy. I think you’re right. It’s sad that his garbage is being peddled on Moody Christian radio. I just checked out his website also. He has a book called “Dealing with the Crazymakers in Your Life.” It’s obvious from the promotional paragraph written about it that he is clueless. I wish ACFJ could have a radio call in/talk show on Christian radio so people could get real help.

      • Barnabasintraining

        I wish ACFJ could have a radio call in/talk show on Christian radio so people could get real help.

        Oh my gosh! Wouldn’t that be great?! 😀

      • Jeff Crippen

        “We have John Piper on the line with us this morning. Anyone out there in radio land want to ask him some questions?”

  8. missdaisy

    I can see how having boundaries in the middle of an abusive marriage would not be terribly helpful, but I do think women in particular (and teen aged girls) need to be taught about them, because having boundaries can be very helpful in weeding out most abusers during the dating phase.

    Unfortunately, our society (churches included) socialize women, from the time they are girls, to not have boundaries, because having boundaries (which encompasses being assertive) is presented as being un-feminine, selfish, or inconsiderate.

    Women are forever taught to always place the feelings, needs, and wants of other people (especially of men) before their own, and even before their own safety.

    This makes them vulnerable to entering abusive relationships, or other damaging ones, such as men who are controlling, selfish, or manipulative.

    • Missdaisy, you said: “Unfortunately, our society (churches included) socialize women, from the time they are girls, to not have boundaries, because having boundaries (which encompasses being assertive) is presented as being un-feminine, selfish, or inconsiderate.”

      Oh, so true! I would go so far as to say, ESPECIALLY our churches. Thank you for your comment.

    • emmellkaycee

      What the “church” (especially) does to its girls is worse than being seen as just “un-feminine, selfish, or inconsiderate” because the ‘church ‘ does it all in the name of Christ, making little girls whose tender spirits are so very vulnerable to believing whatever they are taught, wrongly or rightly, in Sunday School.

      I know because I was one of those little girls exposed early on to incredibly harmful “biblical” teaching that did not celebrate my individual freedom in Christ to be whom He made me to be, but that I was continually sinful for being myself: boisterous, gregarious, precocious, intensely curious and inquisitive, creative, imaginative, and a host of other personality descriptors that were collectively labled as definitely NOT having “a gentle and quiet spirit.”

      For decades I believed something was terribly wrong with me that I could not (and did not *want* to) conform to what I was hearing God so desired and loved in His female creations. As a result of having such a tender spirit, I eventually lost the ability to build and protect beneficial personal boundaries. Even now, to read these words as I write them, tears spring to my eyes in giref and sorrow for that precious and vulnerable child I was…. That loss for me went on to create great personal sorrow, shame, guilt and devastation when time and again I was victimized by others — Predators — who could recognize my internal confusions and emotional and spiritual weaknesses.

      I went through years of learning to despise my own tenderness and vulnerability, seeing it instead as weakness and flaw. I made so many poor choices out of shame and guilt, and an internal rebellion against the spiritual wooing of Christ who lovingly wanted me to see His Truth for the saving Grace it is. It took many, many years before I would give myself permission to believe Him instead of man about who I am, and to Whom I belong.

      I have since learned well what my Shepherd’s voice sounds like, and I know that I have His assurances that I will never again lose that sound in my spirit and heart and head. I know that when my internals rail against someone’s attempt to override His voice, or present me with a teaching that causes my spirit to immediately jump up in just defense, it is my Lord cautioning me to examine them and what they have to say more closely in order that I would know *His* Truth.

      • Jeff Crippen

        emmellkaycee – Oh, this is gooood stuff! Thank you. Wonderful that you have broken free. I am writing tomorrow’s sermon right now from Mark 12 where Christ tells US to “beware of the scribes…”. More and more I am seeing that Christians need to learn to be in their Bibles themselves and to heed the Holy Spirit leading them in His truth, and STOP listening to the scribes!! These kinds are all around us today writing all kinds of books, telling us how to live every aspect of our lives, forbidding this and that, and we are prone to believe them. For myself anymore I am immediately suspicious of some preacher or church leader or well-known “ministry” type speaker who is famous, followed by the masses, cranks out books and lectures like a machine, has answers for every aspect of life AND insists that you must follow HIS/HER program or God will be displeased with you. I used to go to seminars and conferences and listen to well-knowns on podcasts. No more.

      • Anonymous

        The issues that emmellkaycee brought forth caused many questions for me and am wondering if Pastor Jeff will address this in his sermon tomorrow or on another day? emmellkaycee never mentioned whether her parents dealt with the situation?
        I ask because I have been involved in varying degrees with this issue: I had a strong-willed daughter at home, however, she seemed fine at church and that was an expectation that I placed on her. I too went to conferences and heard how to reign in your strong-willed child but most importantly I saw how the book of Proverbs warned so often against the “fool” and many times my particular strong-willed daughter was testing the boundaries of a parent and being very foolish.
        I have also been a Sunday School teacher in which parents who believed in much grace and the ‘free spirit’ of their children would drop their children off and then tarry onto the Adult Teaching class. I must confess to burning out as I was constantly expected to tolerate children who ‘had a mind of their own’ as some would say.
        I dearly loved these children and looked at them as precious souls. Yes, some were inquisitive, however many were just plain rude; I could do nothing about it and eventually resigned because the parents always defended their children’s antics.
        I apologize for such a lengthy comment but am wondering how Pastor Jeff and many others lead their church in respect to Sunday School and the expectations of parents and children within the church? NOT sure if this question has made sense but I ask because I have scars from attempting to serve in church(s) where I felt victimized for desiring more respect. I was not allowed to question the behaviour of children and then when I needed ‘a break’ from teaching, I was questioned as to whether I had a willing heart to serve the Lord’s church?? This created more stress for me as this created even more of a burden on me as my husband would never defend me; expect me to just get along and yet he would often criticize ‘the church’ once we were at home.

      • Jeff Crippen

        Anonymous- I’m not sure how much specifically I will address these points in the sermon tomorrow. I do understand what you mean. But I think what emmellkaycee was referring to was more the oppression of freedom in Christ by legalism. It is a hard line to identify, but it definitely exists. Legalism tries to enslave everyone to its particular definition/picture of “godliness.” But since it is the traditions of men and not the Word of God, it robs us of the freedom Christ gives us. We are to practice modesty, for instance, but when a religion dictates precisely what specific clothing a child MUST wear, the line is crossed. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. Not liberty to be lawless, but liberty to follow Christ where HE leads us. OH, and by the way, I know exactly the kind of church or classroom environment you are speaking of when a Sunday School program, for instance, is used as a place to drop off the kids and the parents are not taking on their responsibility for the spiritual upbringing of those kids. It can be a nightmare.

      • emmellkaycee

        When I express the type of child I was [ and still am ~;) ], in no way was I an out of control child. Simply put, I would have been too afraid of my parent’s ire to even consider being so. I suppose the best description of me in those years would be: defiantly compliant; I may have been sitting down on the outside but I was standing up on the inside. ~;)

        I was raised by a single mother who was not a Christian for more than half of my growing-up years. Nor would I have even thought to speak about anything that was going on inside of me at that time to her. Unfortunately, I grew up under many a false ‘family motto,’ one being “Children are see and not heard.”

      • missdaisy

        @ Emmellkaycee
        I am sorry for what you went through. I agree with your post, I went through similar things.

        Basically what many conservative Christians or conservative churches do is present codependency as being “biblical womanhood,” as though being a doormat is, or was, God’s intent for women, and is the only “biblical” way a woman or girl could be.

        I was certainly raised this way.
        Most materials and sermons I got from Christians in my girl hood emphasized that the only way a girl or woman could be pleasing to God was to be a doormat to other people.

        Meaning, many hallmarks of codependency are present in this teaching, such as, it is biblical or good for a girl or woman to be passive; getting one’s needs met is selfish; showing or feeling anger is wrong and unChristian; one should always care about other people’s feelings, needs, and wants more than one’s own. There are other characteristics as well, those are just a few.

        My mother, who was a Christian, was very much in line with all that, so she also role modeled this for me.
        As I grew up, I watched my Christian mother take a lot of emotional, verbal abuse, or general rudeness, from my father and my older siblings, from people at church, her own siblings (my aunts and uncles), and neighbors. My mother rarely stood up for herself when she was treated poorly.
        My mother had me, from childhood onwards, conflate being a sweet, loving, unassertive, doormat who allows herself to be mistreated, with being a good Christian.

        Any time, as a kid, I showed or expressed anger because a kid at school had bullied me, for example, my mother would say things like, “What would Jesus do?,” and “Be sweet.”
        In other words, my mother assumed – and taught me – that Jesus would expect my response to being bullied to always be “turn the other cheek” and to be meek and mild, never to defend myself. I was also being taught to bottle up all my anger and never speak up on my own behalf, if mistreated.

        I was taught that the bully’s feelings were more important than my own.
        As a result, after many decades of living like this, when I got to adulthood, I had no clue how to deal with conflict and was terrified of confrontation, so I allowed people (bosses, co-workers, my ex-fiance, friends, store clerks, etc) to take advantage of me, be rude to me, etc.

        Sometimes it took weeks, months, or years before I even recognized that I was being used or being treated poorly by someone, because my mother (and Christian literature, sermons, Christian books, magazine articles, etc) had taught me to never think about myself, my feelings, my needs, but to be intently “outward-focused,” always striving to meet other people’ s needs, because to do anything less was supposedly “selfish.”

        Therefore, I grew up not knowing who I was, or what I needed or wanted, and sometimes I had a hard time determining that I was being used or exploited by another person when it was happening to me.

        I also had no skills or practice at how to handle conflict. I was taught conflict was to be avoided, Christian women ought not to debate or argue with anyone, nor to be assertive, for any reason.
        This left me vulnerable to being picked on in adulthood with adult predators, as well as being mistreated as a kid by other kids. When I was targeted, I had no clue how to respond, so I would just sit there and take mistreatment in silence.

        Many well-meaning Christians and churches unfortunately encourage girls and women to be this way, to think it is pleasing to God, or that God commands all women to be this way, which leaves women and girls very, very easy to be taken advantage of by men and women users, con artists, and abusers.

        You said,

        but that I was continually sinful for being myself: boisterous, gregarious, precocious, intensely curious and inquisitive, creative, imaginative, and a host of other personality descriptors that were collectively labled as definitely NOT having “a gentle and quiet spirit.”

        As I was just saying on another blog, I to this day, am a little bit of a tom boy. I was (and am) interested in things like cars, science fiction, and other things not considered stereotypically feminine enough by most Christians.

        I sometimes felt ashamed of myself, or like a weirdo, because I did not match the feminine ideal held up in churches, and by my mother, of what a girl is “supposed to” be. I was not interested in playing with dolls as a kid, and I hated wearing dresses.

        As I was growing up, I kept getting the message from my Christian mother, Christian TV shows, preachers, and other Christian content, that being female meant I was supposed to want to do or be “X, Y, and Z” (and that is how God wanted me to be), but I never had much interest in “X, Y, or Z.”

        But yes, a lot of these harmful and damaging things, that I’ve mentioned and that you have mentioned, are being taught to Christian women, since they were girls, in the name of God.

        And these teachings that Christians espouse about these things leaves girls and women open to being easy targets for dishonest, abusive, rude, selfish, or garden-variety jerks – in all walks of life, too, from being bullied and harassed on jobs, to being exploited in platonic friendships with men and women, to also, being conned or abused in dating and marriage.

        These things become even more of an obstacle and detrimental for girls who grow up taking the Bible, Jesus, and God very seriously, who very much want to please God, as I was growing up.

        I’ve had to do some serious pondering the last few years, and a lot of book reading of books by psychologists, to re-think how I was raised, and to figure out who I am, how to deal with conflict, does God really want me to be a doormat to be feminine?, etc. I’m having to start all over again, and it’s not been easy.

      • Jeff Crippen

        misdaisy – can I turn your excellent comment here into a regular post for the blog? It deserves to be very, very visible for our readers to see and then it will also get published on our FB page too.

      • missdaisy

        @ Jeff Crippen.
        Regarding your mention of the word “modesty.”

        It’s not that I am entirely hostile to Christians teaching girls to “be modest,” but … for one thing, boys also need to be taught to be modest as well, but I hardly ever hear Christians tell boys or men, for instance, to put their shirts on if they are playing basketball, and there are girls or women nearby who can see them.

        This sorts of thing is always directed at girls/women, which actually objectifies girls/women further, it reduces Christian women to their bodies.

        Another thing too I’ve seen in discussions about this, is that when Paul wrote of modesty, he was really talking about inner qualities, not outward appearance, but American Christians today use the “modesty” verses to browbeat and shame women about their bodies and sexuality, and that was not even Paul’s intent.

        Modesty teachings often end up making women/girls responsible for the sexual failings and behavior of men, and some men are happy to use these teachings to blame women for their sins in this area.
        It also reminds me of Islam, where the same thing happens, and women in those cultures have to wear burqas or can never leave the house.

      • Jeff Crippen

        Right on. In fact today in the news I saw a perfect illustration of this. A professing Christian woman/wife published on FB or somewhere that she had resolved to dress more godly so she was throwing away all of her stretchy leggings like many women are wearing nowadays. Ok, well it’s fine for a person to do what they are convicted to do and yes, I think we can agree that some of the leggings we see are pretty much like a second skin and well…you get the picture. But to announce it…and then as she did…to go on and talk about how women are the cause of men’s lust, well that kind of thinking can go bad pretty quickly. Thanks.

      • Anonymous

        Thank you for replying Pastor Jeff. I’ve experienced the legalistic and the ‘much grace’ churches. In all of the turmoil I praise God that He graciously protected in me in that; I never ever blamed Him for circumstances and that only the Spirit could have caused me to remain more dependant on the Word than man. This “life” has opened my eyes to how we each are accountable to the Lord. We are responsible for “our hearts” and how we treat each other and especially those we consider brothers and sisters ‘in Christ.’

      • Anonymous

        Missdaisy … your reply to emmellkaycee — very well stated. As a mother I too consider myself a victim as I was expected to raise my daughters a particular way:-( sigh… so many victims when sin abounds.

      • missdaisy

        @ Jeff Crippen.
        If you would like to quote my comment above or feature it in a blog post, that would be fine with me. 🙂

        Jeff – I have never been married and am a bit over the age of 40. However, I do see similarities in myself and what some of ladies here who have been married describe on your blog.

        I was engaged in my early 30s to a man who was not physically abusive to me, but he was pretty self-absorbed and he financially exploited me many times.

        I love my Christian mother and miss her (she passed away years ago), but her interpretation of how Christian women are to be and act (which I think she got from her Christian mother and/or churches she attended), I recognize now, left me wide open to being targeted by selfish or abusive people over my life, including my ex fiance.

        When my ex fiance’ was financially exploiting me, I wanted to say “no” and refuse to lend him any more money (which he never repaid), but I did not know how to say no, and I did not think I was, as a good Christian woman, even permitted to say no in the first place.

        I was taught by my mother (and she seemed to base this on what she thought Jesus taught in the Bible, and I read and heard similar teachings in Christian books and sermons), that girls and women are always to say ‘Yes’ to people no matter what, to be helpful, that thinking of my own needs or my bank account, was being selfish, so I kept lending my dead-beet ex fiance hundreds to thousands of dollars. (Even though I KNEW after awhile he was taking advantage of me, and it hurt me and made me angry he was doing so.)

        And my ex fiance was a Christian, by the way.
        He told me he had accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior. He also used to attend a Baptist church. I do think he sincerely felt he was a Christian, I never got the impression he was trying to hoodwink me by claiming to be one. He probably was an actual Christian but terrible at doing what Jesus taught.

        During the several years we dated, (we were engaged the last few), my ex fiance also never showed an interest in me, my life, my problems, my career, etc, but kept expecting me to take an interest in his problems, his job, his life, and be supportive of him (which I was).

        And again, I had no clue how to deal with this, my mother’s teachings about how Christian women were to act and view situations and relationships left me unprepared. I was taught that me expecting and wanting other people to be supportive of me, just as I was to them, was considered by God, to be selfish.

        I got to the point where I just did not care anymore what my mother said, what she said God thought about it, I got tired of being used by my ex, I got tired of giving him my money, time, emotional support, and him seldom giving those things to me in return, and I broke up with him (I also had other reasons why I broke up with him).

        So, I’ve never been married like most women who visit your blog, but the things I see on this blog from the married or divorced ladies resonate with me. I normally lurk when I visit here and don’t post often.
        I’m sorry my posts are long and wordy, I don’t intentionally mean to be so long.

        There are many reasons I’ve never married, though I wanted to be married (and would kind of still like to be), and I think one reason I never married is deep down, I knew my mother’s teachings (that God expected me to be a doormat) left me vulnerable to being abused by a man, should I date often, or marry.

        So I kind of was very cautious and not trusting of men in my teens and as I got older.

        I think I avoided men, didn’t date much, because I knew should I get involved with an abuser, or a regular every day jerk, I would be stuck with him, because according to my mother (and Christian books and articles I’ve seen, even as a youth) pretty much tell girls and women to be deferential to everyone, especially husbands, even if the husband is a jerk, and that if you submit and pray enough, you can turn the abuser/jerk guy around.

        If you teach your Christian daughter she cannot have boundaries with men (or with women), even when the men are being mean, abusive, or rude, because having boundaries is unChristian or selfish, it can make her very afraid to even date – so she might not ever get married, even if she would like to be. That is what happened to me.

      • Jeff Crippen

        MissDaisy – I hear you. I have never been subject to abuse in marriage. My wife and i have been married nearly 44 years now. But I experienced it at the hands of abusers in the churches that I have pastored and it took pretty much 25 years for me to sort it out. So I affirm that a person like yourself can indeed understand and have experienced abuse in a relationship other than marriage. This is one reason why for the life of me I cannot grasp why most pastors don’t want to listen when I tell them they need to study abuse so that they can see how it operates against them (if they are a genuine, godly pastor) in their church and ministry. To study abuse, as I say, is to study evil. And a pastor of all people who is charged with shepherding Christ’s flock, needs to know what wolves look like.

      • missdaisy

        @ Jeff C.
        I grew up during the 1980s, when leggings were very popular (they are sometimes called yoga pants now, I believe).

        The funny thing is, I wore leggings often back then (and occasionally now if I go out and it’s cold) – but was a Christian good girl. I was not sexually active or anything.

        Also, when I wore leggings (and now if I wear them), I always wore long shirts or sweaters with them. I am guessing that girls and women of today are not wearing them with long shirts.

        Anyway, if that lady you saw has chosen for herself to stop wearing leggings, that is fine for her, I don’t have a problem with that.
        I support her choice to do that for herself, but you are right, it’s not okay for her to turn around and dictate to other women that they are big harlots for wearing leggings and/or should stop wearing them.

        And if a man lusts after a woman who does happen to be wearing leggings, that is his responsibility, not the woman who is wearing the leggings. I think certain male movie stars look quite good shirtless, but I don’t let my mind wander to inappropriate fantasies when I see their photos on the internet or in films. I don’t expect the male movie stars to cover up on my account. If I can do this, I don’t see why men who see women in leggings in public cannot.

      • missdaisy

        @ Jeff C.
        re your post of JANUARY 17, 2015 – 11:51 AM

        I agree. A lot of these issues are related.

        Christians are encouraged (women more so than men, it seems to me) to be doormats, and this can have implications not just for dating and marriage, but in the school yard when they are children, or when they are adults in a workplace.

        Not only did the teaching I get handicap me when engaged to my ex, it left my paralyzed and not knowing what to do, but I was bullied by a boss at one job. I had to quit that job after a few years of her harassment.

        Nothing in most Christian literature (or in sermons) I’ve seen prepares Christians for any of this.

        The teaching most Christians get for how to deal with all types of relationships, and how to deal with anger, and conflict, actually sets them up to being easy prey for mean, selfish, or abusive people, whether those people are bosses, boyfriends, girlfriends, children bullies, wives, husbands, friends, siblings, neighbors.

        I’ve had to set up boundaries with my big sister the last few years – she is a verbally and emotionally abusive person.

        A lot of Christians have a huge blind spot to all this and many teach that it’s godly and biblical to go through life being a doormat with everyone and anyone.

        I really wish I had been taught these things in childhood or even early adulthood. I am now, at my age (early 40s) having to learn this stuff now. And I’m having to learn it from reading books by Christian and secular psychiatrists. My parents should have taught me all this stuff as I was growing up but taught me the opposite (as did preachers and Christian articles, books).

      • Valerie

        Emmellkaycee, I could have written your post…wow…I can so identify with what you share. I was labeled “rebellious” as a child for asking questions. Even a simple, “why” was seen as disrespectful. I, too, was curious and did not accept status quo even at a young age and so I was stifled until I got to the point where instead of naturally responding to situations, I would look to others to see what my response should be. It was the perfect storm to make me vulnerable to false teaching and controlling people. I could tell even at a young age I was losing my identity and willing tried to change who I was because I also thought something was defective about me that my natural inclinations were dubbed sinful, rebellious, difficult. As I write this I realize my stbx only was an extension of this by him deeming me difficult as well when I questioned anything. It is only recently that I have become free to be the person God created me to be through my new eyes that I read scripture with and through the buried treasure of truth that lies in places like this site.

      • Valerie,
        Blessings Sister Warrior! We are FREE at last!!

    • standsfortruth

      I guess i am not of the norm when it comes to boundary setting. But it has been through much trial and pain that has gotten me to the place where my boundries are a must.
      I can relate to so much of what everyone has shared on this blog, and am especially thankful that everyone that has shared about your childhood and how bullying affected your direction in life.
      So much of what many if not all of you said resonated with me and helped me see why i made some of the choices that I made that has led me to where I am at.
      I just want to share a little story that happened when i was younger that helped me start to see things differently.
      I knew a girl in grade school around the 4th or 5th grade who was teased because she looked unkempt (her hair was often not combed) and her clothes were sometimes dirty and she did not fit in with the other kids because she was shy and withdrawn.
      So the children made fun of her and played a cootie game out of it when some one accidently touched her. This seemed like a horrible and cruel thing to me.
      She had no one to advocate for her because she had no friends, so she had to endure the torment and the shame by herself.
      I could not stand to watch her being picked on this way so i befriended her and took the reproach from the others as I became her advocate for her against the mistreatment.
      I walked home with her on days when someone threatened they were going to beat her up after school, and tried to defend her from being picked on.
      But I was soon challenged by a female bully for a showdown after school one day.
      The last thing I wanted to do was get in a physical altercation with anyone for defending someones right to be treated with respect.
      But it was inevitable that this person might follow me home to challenge me, and I felt helpless to change it.
      It was all over the school how she was going to “whoop my fanny.”
      So a friend agreed to hold my books if it came down to it , and she walked beside me as we went home that day.
      Sure enough this Bully decided to follow me with some of her friends, and called me out to turn around in the gravel parking lot, and said something like” give me your best punch_____”.
      Well I knew if I didnt defend myself, she would give me her best punch, so I turned around and swung at her, and I actually hit her.
      I didnt stick around to see what she did or if she was going to hit me back, so I ran all the way home after that.
      but a very strange thing happened at school the next day.
      It was a day for voting for class president, and when the teacher asked for nominees, this girl who was sitting in the back of the classroom, raised her hand and suggested that I be a nominee.
      I was shocked, and it slowly occured to me that when you stand up to a bully, the end result may very well be respect.
      I think many bullies these days count on intimidation to get their way, and are taken back when someone stands up to them.

  9. Seeing Clearly

    Thank you for shining light on falsehood and confusion. I add confusion because as I was reading your quotes fron the book, I would try to remember that as an option, only to have you shed light on why it is not an option in abuse. And I do believe you and Barbara. I’m just not hearing it in many/any other places. I am weary and sad. Sometimes I just wish someone unexpected in my small world would verify the truth; someone who has a long history with my ex or my N sister. All of the “silent” fallout at Christmas is still too much with me. While I am on disability for anxiety and depression, the greater disability for me continues to be chronic, subtle confusion and difficulty concentrating. The daily damage done by an abuser reaps a lifetime of struggle for the one who was/is abused.

    ACFJ team, thank you for loving us, believing us and advocating for us.

    • emmellkaycee

      Yes yes, yes, Missdaisy!

      As regards schoolyard bullies: I was always the smallest kid in my classrooms, and unfortuntely as a result, found by and picked upon mercilessly by the class bully, whomever they might be. Continually the message I got from my teachers and parent was that I was responsible for changing that dynamic by changing something about *myself* that would make me less the bully’s target: be nice(er), ignore it, walk away from them, etc… In other words, me, myself and I were somehow responsible for and to their need to change themselves! Ugh!

      • emmellkaycee

        On one such occasion it was even I who was reprimanded and sent to the Principal’s office for my righteous and just outburst in the classroom against the incessant bullying of a particulary egregious boy!

        What I learned about being a bully’s victime was not what I should have been taught.

      • missdaisy

        Emmellkaycee said,

        Continually the message I got from my teachers and parent was that I was responsible for changing that dynamic by changing something about *myself* that would make me less the bully’s target: be nice(er), ignore it, walk away

        I got that message, too, as a kid when I was bullied, and the same dynamic played out when I was an adult being harassed by an bully supervisor I had in a professional, full time job.

        I love my mother (she died years ago), but I am hurt and baffled why she raised me as she did, because it created many problems for me that should never have been an issue. She raised me to think that having normal, healthy boundaries and being assertive in the face of being harassed or bullied, was mean, unladylike, or selfish, so I was taught to just let people use and abuse me.

        I was a shy, passive, compliant, non-demanding, quiet kid, so I was often targeted more often by bullies than other kids were – this was true in my 20s and 30s, too, I was targeted more often by abusive bosses on jobs than other adult co-workers (I didn’t realize as a kid why I was so often targeted, that understanding didn’t come until I was an adult looking back on this and read books about it).

        I never instigated fights with other kids. I was so terrified of being bullied (verbal or physical) that I kept to myself, I was very quiet and non-confrontational. I went out of my way to not give other people reasons to yell at me or punch me, but they would sometimes pick on me anyhow.

        I would come home from school as a kid or teen and ask my mother what to do about being picked on. The teachers knew I was being bullied but would do nothing.

        Mom would either tell me to empathize with my bullies, or she would tell me, “just ignore them, and they will grow tired of picking on you and move on to the next target.”
        Sometimes, my mom would offer the very vague comment of, “I don’t know what you should do, but whatever you do, do not hurt the bully’s feelings.” That comment was so vague, it was very unhelpful.

        Sometimes my mother, or other adults, would encourage me to modify my behavior, thinking that would get the bully to change and leave me alone (but it almost never works).
        And I did not like that approach, because I was in effect being blamed by these people for the other person’s (the bully’s) behavior. I do not know why people don’t insist the bully change his or her behavior.
        The problem is the bully, not really the target, but people always want to fix the target and not hold the bully accountable.

        The “ignore the bully” advice never worked, either, not as a kid, not as an adult. Bullies and abusers seldom get tired of picking on you and select a new victim (at least that has been my experience).

        Basically, my mother was repeatedly sending me the message as I grew up that the feelings of the people bullying me were more important than mine, I was not to be assertive at all, but be a doormat, and that left me wide open to being mistreated as an adult. I attracted selfish or mean people like moths to a flame.

        And it’s not just my mother (who was a Christian) who taught these things, I saw similar teachings, and still do on occasion, from Christian preachers on Christian TV shows, I see it in their blogs, and in their books.

        There were a few times when I was a child that the adults (teachers, school principals) blamed me for fights, when I did not start them.

        Like two girls in gym class bullied me for weeks, and one day in particular was pretty bad.
        I said nothing to anyone about the bullying for the longest time, but snapped one day after they picked on me yet again in class and hit one of the girls to in a desperate bid to get her to back off.
        I then ran to a pay phone (this was the era before cell phones), and called home. I told my mom what happened, ran to the office and sat on a couch, until Mom showed up.
        After telling the principal and vice principal the story, the principal, during another meeting later on, blamed ME for the whole thing.
        He was blaming me, and I was the victim in the whole thing! The other two girls were the instigators.

        This is pretty common, by the way. I’ve read many news reports about school bullying, and teachers almost always fault the victim and don’t hold the bully responsible.
        (This also seems pretty common with domestic abuse stories I see on blogs like this, the preachers blame the abused wife for everything, and advise her if she’d only change her behavior, it can change the husband.)

        Often times, the target has endured harassment from the bully for months, the teachers won’t intervene, so when the target can’t stand it anymore, strikes back in self defense or desperation to make it stop, the school holds the target accountable. The whole thing is very backwards.

        The same thing can and does happen, I’ve read on blogs and heard from friends, in marriages and friendships, and the same thing happened to me in a job, where I was harassed by a supervisor for two years.

      • Still Reforming

        missdaisy,

        I too was introverted and what my mother termed “painfully shy.” I bit my nails until well into junior high, probably due to anxiety. I am only now realizing the impact of some of the dynamics of my own upbringing and “dysfunctional” childhood family.

        I find it fascinating, however, that in academia today – certainly at the elementary and secondary levels – “bullying” is a hot topic, and yet everyone looks the other way when the dads at home (our anti-husbands) are allowed to be bullies. Our testimonies regarding their behavior seems to be excused by the “professionals” (attorneys and counselors). It’s astounding. All the while “experts” (so-called) on the “problem of bullying” both at university levels and in government positions shake their collective heads in wondering why we have a “bullying problem.” We could tell them why (and we do), but they really don’t want to know.

      • SR, I agree. The do-gooders are keen to address bulling in schools, and I’m not running down what they are doing. But some of those do-gooders don’t want to face the fact that domestic abuse at home is the same thing: bullying. In my observation, the domestic abuse professionals know the link between the two things, and so do the police, but the average person in the street hasn’t joined the dots yet.

        And to many people it seems easier to tackle bullying in schools and workplaces (with education and prevention programs) than to tackle domestic abuse and domestic violence.

      • Dear missdaisy, I am so sorry for how badly you were bullied and how much you suffered. I have never been bullied like you have, so I’m not sure whether this is going to be helpful, but one thing I learned in adulthood, after my first marriage ended, was to say “STOP IT!” to a bully when he was in full rant. I used to try to explain and defend myself when those kinds of people were lamming into me, but that never helped. But telling them bluntly to STOP IT! (in a firm voice, with flashing eyes) was more effective. The bullies were shocked when I told them off with those two strong words. The fewer words worked better than a long explanation or attempt at negotiation and discussion.

  10. Barnabasintraining

    It gives way too wide of a definition of abuse

    This is truly bothersome because it is another form of sin leveling. It would almost guarantee that everyone would be called an abuser because who has ever been perfect to their spouse in marriage? How confusing.

    • Innoscent

      BIT, sin leveling, exactly! Like my H stating that he admits he has done wrong things, but who hasn’t? And of course the Christian counselor buys into that since ‘we are all sinners anyway’ or ‘nobody’s perfect’, bla bla bla.

      • Barnabasintraining

        Yep. Exactly.

  11. StandsWithAFist

    Dear Ps. Jeff & Barbara~ not long ago I was given a book by a friend with a note about how influential the book had been in her life.
    I dutifully read this book & was absolutely horrified by it. In response to her, I sent her the link to ACFJ & a copy of both your books.

    I haven’t heard from her since.

    She is the director of women’s ministry in a very large church, & I shudder to think she is giving this book to other women in abusive relationships.

    Shall I email you with the title of this book & my concerns with it? It is beyond the pale….Plz advise?

    • Jeff Crippen

      yes. please do.

  12. freeatlast8

    I would like to say that I am becoming confused with the many resources available that address abuse, especially those produced by Christians for Christians. I don’t think the books, for one, that are written by these authors are written with purposeful intent to dismiss abusers or diminish the plight of the victim. I think there is good intent on the author’s part to “help” in some way. Some of the authors themselves have been victims of abuse (Joyce Meyer, June Hunt, etc) and are writing from their own personal experiences and recoveries. So, should we not receive their heartfelt concern and compassion on the issue of abuse (especially in Christian marriages) but instead rule out everything they saying by calling it a disservice to victims of abuse? I have gained much insight from some of June Hunt’s resources. One was a radio broadcast on codependency and dealing with controllers.

    The saying that comes to mind in regard to this question is “throwing the baby out with the bathwater.” Another fitting saying would be “Chew on the hay and spit out the straw.”

    I understand the hard part is in discerning what is worthy in some of the materials, especially for someone just coming out of an abusive situation who is still in the FOG and who might have a hard time telling what is what.

    No one wants to be duped or mislead.

    What makes a person an expert and worthy of our consideration when we are looking at resources on abuse?

    • thepersistentwidow

      Freeatlast8, In my opinion, I see two differing doctrines propelling how Christian books/programs deal with abuse. The first is a belief that abused Christians need to tough it out and continue to live with an abuser. This is a work that the abused offers to God by suffering and allowing the family to suffer in the hope that the abuser may someday stop harming his family and convert. There is no end to the amount of books, advise, counseling sessions, or expense with the emphasis being on what the abused is doing to trigger the abuse. The abusers are considered to be Christians despite acting in ways that prove they are not. Because followers of this perspective claim that God hates divorce and society will degenerate because of it, they do not allow divorce for abuse. This legalistic focus is on preserving the “marriage” despite the abuse, and not necessarily on the wellbeing of people suffering because of it. Needless to say, that is not our perspective here at ACFJ, rather, we work to warn people of what a danger it is.

      The other perspective is clearly articulated in both Barb and Jeff’s books and this blog. In an abusive marriage, the problem is with the abuser who has broken the marriage covenant through abuse. He should be held accountable for his own sinful actions and the victim may divorce and remarry. The focus is on God redeeming his people, not on human works of suffering (asceticism) to please God.

      Christian abuse resources and church positions fall into these two independent categories. Either they believe that one may divorce for abuse or don’t. So although those in the first category may not diminish the plight of the victim, they likely push for the victim to effect change in her abuser, and that makes things worse by stringing victims along with no end in sight, and we disagree with their tactics and theology. We believe that the only way to end abuse is to remove oneself from it and we don’t think divorce for abuse to be a sin.

      The bottom line is that one view is based on works, the other Grace. The type of counselor/teacher one seeks in this matter is dependent upon what one’s view of Christianity is. So if one is looking for laws to follow, go to a legalistic teacher. If one is looking for Grace, go to a teacher who understands the Gospel.

      Why sift through the teachings of those with a theological agenda that we don’t agree with when there are many trustworthy sources in our Resources tab at the top of the page?

      • Lisa

        In a nut shell, Grace is the path on which the Lord led me out. The battle in my mind was trying to keep me on the path of the legalistic way. How you expressed, compared and contrasted these 2 views is so clear, Thepersistentwidow, that I can’t even imagine God wanting anyone to take the legalistic path! What was I thinking!

      • freeatlast8

        Thank you, TPW, for your response and clarification. I don’t purposely “sift through the teachings of those with a theological agenda that (ACJ doesn’t) agree with.” It’s just those are the resources I found and followed BEFORE I found ACJ. Those resources are abundant and readily available on most every Christian bookstore shelf. In desperation, I pushed through book after book looking for THE FIX for my marital problems. Of course I wanted to hear what all the big names had to say.

        On another note, I can TOTALLY relate to the topic of discussion about growing up boundaryless. When I was little, my brother bullied me; as a pre-teen I was bullied for a couple of years in junior high by a group of mean girls; as an older teen I was boundaryless when it came to dating and I followed my friends who were very open to whatever seemed “right” for the night. I lasted a little longer than they did in the purity department, but at 18 I met a smooth talker who marked me for the next 4 years and let me know straight up that no one would ever have or want me after him. He said I was used and dirty. He was off the charts suspicious and jealous, as well as easily angered and a raging lunatic. I finally got out of that messy relationship and a couple years later met and married my former husband, who didn’t really show signs of his abusiveness until after we married. It seemed to get worse over the years with the addition of children.

        But back to the lack of boundaries.

        Since I have divorced, I moved into a new house. My new neighbor is a single woman with no children. She is very angry and bitter and has already given me trouble on at least three occasions. I am minding my own business over here and she finds reasons to rail against me. I wonder if I have a blinking light on my forehead that says, “Go ahead, ruin my day!” I am not out stirring up strife or hating on people. They just seem to find me. I do have many, many friends in my life, thankfully. But I can’t seem to shake the bullies. And I REALLY have a hard time standing up to any of them. My dad used to tell me to “KICK THEIR A**” but I was too afraid to fight. I just let them treat me badly. I did stand up to my mean boyfriend, but it usually made things worse. He once pulled out a handful of my hair. I also used to stand up to my ex husband, but it, too, did nothing to help the situation and finally over the years I learned to pick my battles and bite my tongue. It’s a wonder I have any tongue left.

        Yes, the scriptures say turn the other cheek; love your enemies and pray for them; love bears all things and endures all things; overcome evil with good; vengeance and the battle are the Lord’s; and all the rest of those kinds of scriptures don’t give victims much room to act. As I came in to knowing Christ in my early 20s and started to apply these scriptures to my behavior, it seems to have made me a sitting duck for the abuse.

        Not only that, in my quest to be a more Christlike mother and wife, I stated reading all the books that I thought would help me. I wish I had found this site before I invested all the time and money in those books. I was so gung ho on finding a fix that I bought in to the patriarchy thing which made my ex happy for a while, but it was too hard an act to keep up on my end. I really had no good role models in my growing up years who showed me what a good wife/mother looked like. My mom was good to me, but my dad was an alcoholic introvert, and she was codependent to him and his alcoholism. It was not a good model/pattern for me. That is why I was so determined to do it differently and to do it “right” (whatever “right” is) when I became a wife/mother. HA!

        So, yeah…just chiming in with more agreement about having to learn to set boundaries five decades in to my life. It’s not easy.

      • Still Reforming

        freeatlast8,

        In my own personal experience, I have found that the local Christian bookstores are little more than Christian culture calendar- and T-shirt stores because the books available are by and large fluff material. I still chuckle when I think of the time I went into a Christian bookstore looking for a title written by Kenneth Gentry Jr.: “Before Jerusalem Fell: Dating the Book of Revelation.” (The book interested me for its unpopular assertion that Revelation was written prior to the destruction of the Jewish Temple in AD 70. I wanted to learn more about that when I was fervently reading up on eschatology, ie the study of end times.) So I waltzed into a Family Christian bookstore and asked for the book by its title. Where did the clerk take me? To the dating and relationship book section of the store. When I clarified the book’s title, she said, “Yes, dating. Here it is.” She was clueless about the fact that I wasn’t interested in personally taking the book of Revelation out on a date. (They didn’t have the book.)

        Be that as it may, I have learned and am still learning that to really get to the truth of the Word, sound exegesis is necessary. Sadly, many of us (myself included) don’t really do this very well without the personal experience nudging us forward. Had I not lived what I am living today, I don’t think that I would have looked into verses like the oft misquoted and misunderstood “God hates divorce” party line (Malachi 2:16 ) and “Love keeps no record of wrongs,” which Pastor Jeff has properly exegeted here: https://cryingoutforjustice.com/2012/02/13/what-does-love-keeps-no-record-of-wrongs-mean-by-jeff-crippen/ Had I not lived the abuse I’ve suffered over the past few decades, I would not have been pointed to this website. I thank the Lord for the ministry here – and thanks be to God, I am learning more about proper exegesis (rightly dividing the Word of God – drawing out of it and not reading into it, which is called eisegesis).

        Perhaps I should not qualify that personal experience drives us to this point as “sadly” after all. Perhaps God allows these things, bad as they are, in our lives for His purposes that ultimately will bring Him glory and will be for the good of His people. I am sorry, however, for all of the bullying you’ve suffered over the years. It’s still wrong and I hate to hear these kinds of testimonies because the injustice of the events is painful for the target and painful to even read. I would never want you to think that because I believe that our God of justice allows things that He would take pleasure in those things. I don’t believe that for a second, but I do believe that He will take these things and use them for His glory and our good. Kind of like what Joseph said to his brothers: “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good…” (Genesis 50:20)

  13. standsfortruth

    Freeatlast8,
    I appreciate all the perspectives that are shared on this site. It is so freeing.
    I have recently obtained a part time job dealing directly with the public in a large shopping center .
    This job has helped me see that truly healthy and normal relationships are out there, unaffected by abuse and the desire for control.
    The children in these families are typically joyful and happy, and are spontaneous and well adjusted.
    They are not afraid to talk or interact kindly with their siblings and others, and i see that as a telling aspect of a healthy, loving, supportative and respecting marriage.
    So I know these marriages do exist!

  14. emmellkaycee

    Yes, Pastor Crippen, legalisim is indeed the christianese culprit I was referring to.

    I justly and righteously lay the blame for having been severely emotionally and physically abused as a child, raped twice as an adult (one of those by a “Christian” husband) and a prolonged spiritual battle for the establishment of Jesus’ rightful Lordship over my life, at the feet of bad so-called “scriptural teaching.” I left the organized brick and mortar church more than 15 years ago, so disillusioned had I become with ever being able to find Christ’s actual truth there with any consistency, or the ability to speak out against falsehoods that were preached, whether ignorantly or intentionally.

    The path toward HELL is paved with the “good intentions” of far too many spiritually blind ‘authoritative’ persons who would have no “lay person” confront them. After all, how could the congregation truly *know* the mind and heart of Christ with the church’s leadership??? Bleh!!

    For years I was cowed into believing that God would “not bless me” as had been intimated, nor would He give me ministry again (mine with the church was taken away from me) unless and until I brought myself into agreement with those things being taught to me — all under the gise of allowng me time to focus on God and His will — (but ‘teaching’ which brought me great internal spiritual strife).

    Well, God has had the last laugh because He has never ceased to bring me opportunity to be His companion on His journey of bringing others His Truth, counsel, Joy, Peace, understanding, Grace, Justice and Love, and a thousand other good things from Him!

    Praise my Redeemer!!!

    • emmellkaycee

      typo correction: *without* the church’s leadership

  15. emmellkaycee

    Yes, Missdaisy, you have accurately further expounded on much of what I, too, experienced growing up within Christendom. The scriptural falsity that purvades the Body Of Christ is, imo, rampant in these outright and more often, subtle teachings.

    May the true voice of God break through such evil and bind Himself to His chosen children in everlasting Grace and Justice, Peace and Love!

  16. Anonymous

    I have read these posts from a far for a while. A friend from work basically forced me to look at your page one day (: I just haven’t wanted to share. Partly because I don’t like to be loud and proud with my opinions and partly because it makes everything going on so much more real. I have been dating someone for a long time now. We are engaged. I love him. I can’t stop loving him. But the deeper I get and the more years that go by the more I begin to question what is real. I was told by a friend that he was abusive in past relationships, but I really thought her description of the problems were immature and self-centered. I haven’t seen any behavior that would make me question what we are to each other. Now, years later, I am sitting here in shock. What is wrong with me? I’ve got a good job, smart enough, pretty enough. I don’t hate myself or think badly of myself, and yet I am here, wondering if I am the craziest woman of them all. I am starting to think he has cheated on me many times. Every time I suspected, it has been explained by one thing or another. I believed him. I felt horrible for doubting him and thought I was being jealous or too needy. I think the difference now is that he has finally cheated with someone he wants a relationship with. His behavior is weird. And suddenly the reality washes over me and every instance from the last 15 years is so clear. But he will go to the grave promising he’s not seeing someone now. That he just needs space. Why would he not just let me go? Why would he not just admit it? I’m so confused. I love him and I don’t know how to walk away. I’ve read the books. I’ve read the posts. I don’t know how to walk away. And he won’t do it. I think he wants it to be me. I might be crazy. Maybe I am and have been imagining things. It is possible. I just don’t know anymore. Has anyone dealt with someone that has been accused of abusing that really wasn’t an abuser? Did it mess them, the accused person, up in relationships after that? Or where there is smoke is there fire?Where is the line? I can hardly cope right now with the conflicting thoughts and feelings rushing through me. It’s so much. It’s too much. How do you start to see clearly? How do you make sense of the confusion? I’m sorry if this doesn’t make sense. I just thought someone may have insight.
    God Bless

    • Jeff Crippen

      Anonymous – Let me ask you first of all, if you don’t mind, if you are a Christian. The reason I ask is not because Christians don’t get sucked into confusing fogs like you describe, but because in the end it is the Lord whose Spirit in us turns on the lights and leads us out. I don’t know you or your fiance, but I do believe you and I suspect that what you have there is a conscienceless man who has duped you for along time. Don’t feel foolish – we have all been duped at one time or another. But I would encourage you to keep reading here at this blog, take a look at our resource page and start reading the books there, and most importantly, begin to regularly and daily ask the Lord to show you the truth. If you are not a Christian, that is to say, if you do not know Christ personally as Savior and Lord, then pick up a Bible and start reading the Gospel of John or the Gospel of Mark. Meet Christ there and call on Him to enter your life and lead you by His Spirit into freedom.

      • Anonymous

        I am a Christian. I feel I have become even closer to God in the last 15 years. My fiancé is a Christian. He knows the bible backwards and forwards. I liked what you said about asking Him to show me the truth. I guess I have to mean it. I’m afraid. I know this is big. I can feel that nothing will ever be the same. I look behind me and I want to be there, in his arms, in the lie, where I was stupid and had no idea. I don’t want to be here or where I see my path going. If I make the wrong choice I’ve lost everything I love over nothing. I pray God shows me the truth. I pray it is obvious and staring me in the face. I pray there is no doubt. I pray for strength to see the truth no matter what. I pray for the courage to act on that truth. Thank you for responding. I will keep reading and praying.

      • Jeff Crippen

        Anonymous – “He knows the Bible backwards and forwards.” That is a red flag. He knows and apparently quotes Scripture, yet he does not obey the Lord. If he uses Scripture against you to control or guilt or condemn you, that is a huge sign of abuse.

      • Hi Anonymous, here is a post you may find hepful.

        https://cryingoutforjustice.com/2013/04/09/to-fish-or-cut-bait-the-ambivalence-in-leaving-an-abuser-by-ellie/

        And btw, welcome to the blog! 🙂

      • Valerie

        Anonymous,
        Jeff and Barbara have given you wise words…but more importantly they align with scripture. Reading your post I say you already know the truth, the issue it seems isn’t knowing its validity but having the courage and strength to do something with that truth. You said that you can feel nothing will ever be the same. I think that describes awareness that the Spirit is placing on your heart. When you start to see the truth it floods you to the point you think you will drown…even truth can be overwhelming.

        Rest assured that the confusion you are experiencing is normal. It is like typing in shortness of breath, pain in your arm, etc and having the google answer come back that you are experiencing a heart attack. You may not be fully aware of it but what you are describing are symptoms frequently associated with abuse. Until you remove yourself from the situation you will not be able to see it clearly…not because of any deficiency within you, but because you are breathing in toxic fumes that make it extremely difficult to “breathe” well. Its the proverbial frog in the boiling pot. He doesn’t know what normal temperature is until he leaves that pot. A person subjected to abuse has been taught either outright or through threat of punishment for not accepting the altered state of normal that forced on the target of abuse and is played on a never ending loop.

        Jeff speaks absolute truth in that Christ is the one who will lead you out. He is the one who will guide you into truth and show you what to do. I will pray for you.

    • Has anyone dealt with someone that has been accused of abusing that really wasn’t an abuser?

      Actually, many if not most of the readers here have been acccused of abusing when we weren’t really the abuser. Who accused us of that? Our abusers.

      I know — it makes it all very confusing, doesn’t it?

      The key is to go back and look at our definition of abuse. Is your fiance, has your fiance, been showing a pattern of coercive control over you to keep you subordinated, intimidated, isolated, frightened, walking on eggshells, and to keep himself receiving privileges and services from you (domestic services, sexual services, financial exploitation, etc.)? And btw, I trust you understand that we do not believe it is right to have sex before marriage, but we know that sometimes abusers exploit or pressure their girlfriends and fiances sexually, while purporting to be Christians.

      And conversely, if any readers here are asking themselves “Have I been abusing my partner? — because that’s what my partner says I’m doing!” then the way to discern this is to look at whether one’s actions have been motivated by trying to resist the coercive control and selfish superiority of the other person, or whether one has been trying to keep the other person subordinated and controlled in order to use and exploit them for the services they can render.

    • Barnabasintraining

      But the deeper I get and the more years that go by the more I begin to question what is real.

      Anonymous, this should not be. The trustworthiness of trustworthy people should not become less evident over time. It sounds like he is being ambivalent in his approach to clearing this up. I don’t know if that is the case, but whatever is being communicated to you, it is not giving you assurance that he is fine. Nor is it giving you assurance that your faculties are working properly since you’re wondering if you’re crazy or imagining things. You should not have to work to build a case that a trustworthy person is trustworthy. You would have to do that for someone who is not but you wish was, or who wanted you to believe was.

      There is also the question of whether, even if he isn’t exactly abusive in other ways, this guy is just plain unfaithful. I am not sure how someone can be engaged to someone and need space. Most of the time, the last thing either party wants during the engagement period is space. I’m going to guess here and say a possible reason he isn’t letting go could be because you are serve as a sort of constant: something reliable that he expects to always be there so he’s never without someone. So you are a safety against being alone himself. (?)

      I’m wondering also how long you have been together? How long dating before you got engaged, and how long since being engaged? You say “over the years” so it sounds like kind of a long time to me. Is there a reason for that? Because sometimes that can be legitimate, but other times it can be a sign of refusal or inability to commit. I can think of three occasions where men I know dragged a dating relationship on with promises of marriage in the future that never did get fulfilled because either they really did not want to be married to that particular woman or else, in one case, the guy was a philandering cad. None of those marriages ever happened. So I guess the question here is, do you feel like he is stringing you along? Do you have a date set for the wedding? How are the plans going?

      Because it sounds like if this guy is saying he needs space, and he’s saying this during your engagement, he isn’t going to be all that reliable as a faithful husband.

      Bottom line, you should not be feeling the way you are feeling, especially not at this point in your relationship. By that I mean you should not be being made to feel as you do, not that you are wrong for feeling it. I guess what I’m getting at is whether he is an abuser, per se, or not could be kind of immaterial. It doesn’t sound like he’s setting you up for happiness in either case. And it doesn’t much sound to me like he’s got “I do” in his heart.

      • Anonymous

        Thank you to everyone who responded. I particularly resonated with what was said about lies and what things should feel like. I am by nature an optimist, but also a realist. I never expect things to be perfect and I get that people are fallible. This combination has made me believe the best in people and forgive mistakes that in hindsight I should have held more accountable. I have trouble giving control over to God. I have been hurt so many times. I know God has used my life for the good of others, but that is difficult to reconcile with unanswered prayers. There are many other details I don’t feel comfortable sharing at this time, but maybe one day. I am striving to hand everything over to God. I feel guilty for holding onto the control with my knuckles turning white from the struggle. I can’t marry a man I don’t trust. I must walk away. I must resist his excuses and reasons. I have to resist his promises and pleas. I am exhausted from the mental strength it takes to constantly parse out what he says versus what he means and then what he does. I wish I’d never met him. I wish I could spare my friends and family the pain that is coming. I don’t want them to see me in pain. I don’t want them to hurt. They love him and are close to him and his family. I don’t know how to explain what is wrong ): God give me the words to say. Thanks again. The link to Ellie’s story also helped. Thank you Barbara for that.

      • Barnabasintraining

        Anonymous, come back and let us know how you do, OK?

    • StandsWithAFist

      Anonymous–I agree with all the responses to you here & most of us here can identify with the confusion you feel. The reason for that is that lies are designed to confuse. Scott Peck was a trained psychiatrist and even he wrote in “People of the Lie” that it took him years to recognize that when he was confused by someone’s behavior, that very confusion was a red flag signaling that a lie preceded his confusion. I am not endorsing his book per se, but there was much to learn & apply from his work & experience with skilled liars & abusers. As Ps. Jeff & others have said here, ask the Lord to shine His light on the confusion & reveal His truth to you. The entire purpose of light is to dispel the darkness and show you the way out. The fact that you posted here tells me that in your “heart of hearts” you know the truth and altho it’s scary, it’s also freeing. You are NOT crazy, but the lies can make you feel that way. Lies are in themselves abusive. Praying for you.

      • Still Reforming

        StandsWithAFist,

        Oh, amen and amen to what you wrote about lies. That was the biggest web in my (so-called) marriage: lies. Used for the purpose of manipulation and control. Because lies can include “half-truths” (which by definition should mean “therefore not the truth”), they are all the more insidious. It took me ages to figure out what was going on, but as I’m reflecting back on what happened, I can accept that the reason for that was that we tend to look at others and think they think or see the world as we do, ie, I don’t lie to people so they’re not going to lie to me, especially the one in whom I’ve invested my closest trust and heart to – my spouse (or in Anonymous’s case, her fiance). So we in good faith give the benefit of the doubt, and we push aside all those niggling (but accurate) feelings of something’s-not-right-here.

        Perhaps we need to give ourselves more credit in acknowledging why it took so long to catch on or that we gave our abusers so much time to “get it right.” God is slow to anger and we as His children should be as well. That said, if I knew then what I know now, I wouldn’t have done things the same way or in the same time frame. Thanks be to God for His shining the light of truth in our lives in His timing for His purposes.

      • Still Reforming

        SWAF, I forgot to add in my comment that I have had Peck’s “People of the Lie” on my list of “want to read” for well over a year, but never got around to purchasing it. I don’t know that I need to buy it anymore, but it’s one that I’ve always wondered about – so I’m glad you mentioned it. I’m no longer at a stage of reading about him so much. I’d much rather spend my time reading about the Lord and our healing process in Him than about the liar. I spent years reading about him and his issues (passive-aggressive, narcissism, etc). It’s high time to move on.

  17. joanne

    If the truth divides a family, then let it be divided. The alternative is to live under layered blankets of denial, secrecy and pretense. Twisted priorities turn into looking good on the outside and covering the truth. Life under the blankets gets heavier and darker with time.

    • Innoscent

      So true Joanne! And I’m thankful to Ps Jeff for shedding biblical light on the ‘half-truths’ from Hunt’s booklet.
      There are verses/passages in the Bible that we never / rarely hear from the pulpit in this era of political correctness and counterfeit love / unity, such as:
      “Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” Lk 12.51-53 (Mt 10.34-35) Jesus here was quoting from Mal. 7.5-6.

      Living or dealing with an abuser means being involved in a constant war. It is truth (victim) vs lie (abuser), that’s the bottom line!

  18. joanne

    My experience with a controlling abuser included a pattern. When confronted with an offense there was first denial. He then played the victim; moving the spotlight away and creating doubt. This is just a tactic. Don’t even entertain the thought.

  19. joanne

    Have you heard of “gaslighting?” That was the next and most destructive phase for me, as I began to question my own sanity. My abuser was so good at his tactics, he had others believing I was unstable.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Yep, for sure. It is one of the abuser’s favorite tools. I think if you use the search box feature here on the blog and type in gaslighting, you will find some articles on it. VERY glad you have seen it for what it is!!

    • Joanne, we also have a tag for gaslighting. You can search for it in the Tags tab at the top of the blog. 🙂

      • joanne

        Thank you. My struggle is what to with the pain. I have always turned it on myself. I can’t do that anymore. I need God’s help.

      • Joenne I understand that. I’ll pray that God will help you through it. The pain can be very great when we come out of the fog. The fog helped us stay numb to the pain. When the truth really hits us, and even more when we are away from the abuser and have room to feel our emotions without fearing another pounding from him in the imminent future, the grief and pain can seem overwhelming.

        It’s okay to cry. To weep. To heave with sobs. To be angry.

        (hugs)

  20. Sunflower

    I haven’t read June Hunt’s things, but lately I’ve looked at a few websites on marriage where a woman is telling other women that if you want a passionate cherishing husband, you have to stop ‘controlling’ him and ‘treating him like a child’, and ‘surrender’ to him. ‘Let him be the leader that God meant him to be.’ So I took a ‘quiz’ on one of those sites and the results……that I had a passionate, cherishing husband. Huh? Is ‘surrender’ the new ‘submit’?

    So in thinking about all this, I see it’s simple. Politicians, cult leaders, salespeople, authors, some preachers, entitled dates…….they all have the same tactics………promise people they can have what they want, if they only buy into your plan. Then rake in the power and the money. What can be easier?

    So with marriage, why does there have to be a leader? What is wrong with an equal partnership? Why can’t a couple work together, pray together and be good friends? I guess I just don’t get it.

  21. voicewilderness1

    Hello I have another book that is really bad for a woman in an abusive marriage, or for any marriages. It is Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie O’Martian. That book is the most offensive,backward, and completely legalistic book on christian marriage. She herself was in an abusive marriage when she wrote that. Her advice to the woman is to always say yes when he expects sex, always give in to his demands and requests no matter how unreasonable, keep a clean and perfect house, and when he is abusive, just go off and pray for him. And by golly your powerful prayers will magically fix him and the marriage! If this isn’t heretical and deluded, I don’t know what is. I burned my copy, and regretted that my friend had suggested it. Also her tone to the readers of the book is rather patronizing and shaming at times.

    • Still Reforming (previously newlyanonymous)

      voicewilderness1,

      I’m so glad for your comment. I actually led a prayer group in our home for wives (based on that book) to pray for husbands when I kept hearing similar testimonies as my own in a women’s Bible study. It was sanctioned by the church and we wives met twice monthly to talk about our issues and pray for our husbands. We met for more than a year and the group disbanded because we ended up moving away. None of the men ever changed.

      I would pray Stormie’s prayers over my (now older) child at another time in my life (from another book of hers) – and nothing changed. I figured, “Well, God will change child and husband in His time. I have to just keep praying – like the parable of the woman knocking on the door of the unrighteous judge, I needed to keep knocking on the door of the righteous Judge.”

      But… when I read Jeff’s comment in his book recently about prayer walks (which I’ve been on) and praying over casting down wrong thinking in the Spirit world as being close to Theosophy and Paganism – well, it’s got me thinking. I can see how easy it is to listen to interpretations and believe them – wanting it to work a certain way and praying toward that end – but to no avail. The point in the book is well-taken. The people of God need to take a stand for righteousness that goes beyond praying evil away in the Spirit world. We need to stand as all the saints in Scripture has done and speak against evil using God’s Word in the here and now.

      I think what often kept me silent was that I had no “proof.” But my testimony is proof. I think we’ve been shamed into silence for so long – as if our word isn’t good enough – not unlike Persistent Widow in her current post, when the group of men wrote to her that they couldn’t validate or assure that she’s actually had death threats. Well, that kind of answer can stop us from speaking, but I’m beginning to see why we shouldn’t accept wrong answers and wrong thinking. It does not honor the Lord nor does it bring good to His people.

  22. Round*Two

    Anonymous,

    We all can relate to what you are saying! Please do not put yourself down because you didn’t see it! We have all, whether intentionally or not, ‘didn’t see it!’ I can also understand that you LOVE this man! I love my husband too, but I see for me, that love is changing.
    I can understand also you being confused! I have had many of those days of confusion! I also know that satan causes confusion not God! So, please, put on the FULL ARMOR of God Ephesians 6:10-18! I have been reading these scriptures over and over this past week! And I am pleading the blood of Jesus over myself as well! I am feeling the difference in my confusion (fog)…
    I know this hurts but keep coming in and reading these posts, STAY in God’s WORD, and keep praying!
    Hugs to you…

  23. Debbie

    Following this blog has been very enlightening! I have been studying everything I can get my hands on for the past three years and have been separated for 13 months. It still amazes me the things so called “experts” say about how to “fix” these kinds of marriages! I still have to call my domestic abuse advocate to ask if my perceptions are genuine, because after 32 years of mind-bending gaslighting and all manner of abuse (except physical violence-that would be too obvious) I still am learning to trust myself and my perceptions.
    These abusers are NOT like other people. These marriages are NOT our fault. They are tragic to those who get caught in their horrific webs, and very few people — in the church or helping professions are equipped to help — or even comprehend the terrors we go through. It is in fact a psychological war zone, with real injuries.
    The reason I finally left was that once I started to fight harder for my sanity he began to come more unglued, waking me more than once in the night, telling me when I could eat, and in his desperation to regain control of me he sexually abused me and then denied it, but I got the message loud and clear! God help us.
    I can’t thank you enough for all you’re doing at ACFJ to bring awareness and help to us all.

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