A Cry For Justice

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

How can I know if my abuser is changing?

he'll change

Do you think that your abuser might be changed or changing? Is he love bombing you? Is he making you wonder whether he finally really sees that you love him, that you have value, and should be treated with respect? Do you keep the phone with you hoping for the repentant email or text that will show he’s seen the light and you can go home? What if you get a message that he’s had an epiphany? How can you know if it’s true?

As I have reflected on my experience, and the experiences of friends who have fled their abusers, I have noticed some patterns. Abusers want their power back. They want to make people feel guilty or sorry for them. And they want to protect their image.

I will share with you some things abusers might say. I will translate in red and comment in purple italics.

——————–

Abuser: Every day I wake up hurt and angry that you’re not here. I am hurting. Your actions are hurting me. Come back to comfort me. Guilt and pity play.

——————–

Abuser: We’ll just tell everyone that you went crazy but you’re better now.

Target: Why can’t we say that we had problems but we got better?

Abuser: That would make me look bad. You will be the sacrificial lamb to make me look good and I will have even more power than before because now if you tell people about the abuse, they will assume you’re crazy and not to be believed. Image management.

——————–

Abuser: We’re both hurting. I’m hurting as much as you. We’re both victims of this bad situation. Guilt and pity play.

Abuser: Nothing to do but move on and try to get past it. No. That’s not true. He could seek Christ and change.

Abuser: When are you going to start apologizing? We were both wrong. If you had been better, I wouldn’t have abused you. Betrays his transactional thinking. He is only “sorry” to get something. It’s not the abuser’s job to make you apologize, but to make you safe.

Abuser: You think __. You want ___. You like ___. You feel ___. You believe ___. I know what you’re thinking. I define reality. Anyone telling us what we think, want, like, feel, believe, etc. is looking to manipulate us.

——————–

Abuser: Even if I had abused you like you claim, you made ___  mistake and that makes me a bigger victim. I am not going to admit to anything, but I will try to make you believe that you’re as bad as me, worse in fact, and you should be grateful that I’d still have you. Sin leveling and gaslighting.
And this conversation
 is the straw that broke the camel’s back for me. When my abuser uttered this to me, I knew he believed he had earned the right to abuse me; he’d never value me or respect me and he’d abuse me for the rest of my life. I filed for divorce the very next day. He had made this assertion this many times before, but that day is the day I heard it for what it was. 

——————–

If your abuser is bossing you, blaming you, attempting to make you feel sorry for him so you offer him comfort, or throwing you under the bus so that he can save his image, he isn’t safe.

A changed person will want people to know that you were right and he was wrong. He will vindicate you in public, not in texts, emails, and conversations he hopes no one else gets wind of. He will value you and respect you and not try to define reality. He will share power with you and ask for your input instead of issuing commands.

Change, true change, will be lasting because he would have a new heart, a heart to serve Christ and honor Him. And it won’t be dependent on your actions. If an abuser is telling you he could change if you would just ____ or ____, if you could be more supportive or thankful, if you could lose weight, or like football, then he is putting the responsibility on you to be someone worth changing for. No. Change isn’t for you. As I wrote in The Reason, “I am NOT so wonderful that anyone should change FOR ME. No one is. I will fail and become undeserving of that change and then the changer will go right back to his old ways.

There is only One who can change us. Christ changes us as we learn to love Him and embrace His redemptive work on the cross.

When I finally heard what X was saying — that I needed to help him change, that I needed to be worth his efforts — it helped me break free. Don’t change for me. Change because you see that you were wrong and you want to be right. Change for Christ. Change because you’ve repented, because you love God and you hate and forsake sin, not because you think I’m worth it today.

You don’t owe anyone another chance, especially since by the time you found this blog, you have almost certainly given him countless ‘second chances’ already . . .

Your priority is getting safe and getting healing, not saving a relationship. Let him change (or not change) and let him do it without your help … while you get healthy no matter what choices he makes.

48 Comments

  1. For me it was this one: “Yes I hurt you, but I wish you understood what it was like for me”.

    Translation: “Your pain is less important than my experience. You should be willing to be hurt for my cause”.

  2. Brenda R

    I hope that the X abuser does change, but it won’t make any difference to me. I will not be around him long enough to see it. Ellie you do a good job of translating abuserese.

  3. joepote01

    Awesome post, Ellie! Reposting on FB.

  4. Anewanon

    WHen I read these great articles (thankyou for this website), I frequently find something that trips me up and causes me to wonder if I really AM the abuser. In this article, here it is …”Abuser: You think __. You want ___. You like ___. You feel ___. You believe ___. I know what you’re thinking. I define reality. Anyone telling us what we think, want, like, feel, believe, etc. is looking to manipulate us.”

    I’ve said this to him as in “You won’t believe me. You are saying you’ve changed, but you really haven’t. You still want the gaming, the _____, and the _______.” So, in a way I am still telling him what he thinks feels and believes. My telling him is coming from a place of “I can still pick up on these selfish things.” So then when I read this article this jumps out at me as me being the abuser. The bottom line is that I just want him to change SO THAT I stop hurting from his choices. If that makes me an abuser, then someone please tell me sot that I can pursue the right help. I don’t really want to hurt him. I just want to stop hurting.

    • Ellie

      I relate to what you are saying. Here’s the difference between you and the abuser. Now that you know not to use that phrasing, you won’t. He will explain that he wasn’t really saying that, that he didn’t mean it, that HE DOES know what you think so it’s OK for him, and so on. He will give himself a pass. You will see that it’s not good phrasing and you will change.

      He won’t stop doing what hurts you. He won’t get it. Your motivation is protective, not punitive. There’s another difference. Targets, in my experience, act to protect while abusers act to punish us for wronging, embarrassing, inconveniencing them, making them uncomfortable, etc. That said, if the Holy Spirit is revealing a motive that you don’t like, take it to Christ. There’s another difference. You WILL take it to Christ and change while an abuser will excuse it and explain that he deserves to have that motive and so on.

    • Amy

      Anewanon,
      I think any of us who have been abused at some point began to question whether we were actually the one doing the abusing because that is exactly what our abuser wants us to think. How many times in my 20 year abusive marriage would my ex turn things around on me and try to say I was the one abusing him! And after a while, after all the mind games he played with me over the years, I too would begin questioning who the real abuser was.
      After all, when he pushed me hard enough and I finally snapped, well it wasn’t pretty on my part and then I’d feel so guilty that I was the lunatic screaming and cursing at him. Oh, how he loved when that happened, as rare as it was. I can still picture the smug little smirk on his face.

      But the difference between someone who abuses and says those things Ellie mentioned above and the abused who periodically says the same thing — is acknowledgement and repentance — none of which an abuser can or is willing to do.

      I remember one day when my ex walked out 6 years ago, my oldest son would sometimes get really mad at me and in a fit of anger say some pretty snotty stuff to me or just be really rude. After storming off to his room for a while, my son would usually reappear not long after crying. He would give me a hug and say how sorry he was, and then often add — “I don’t want to be like my dad.” I told him that the difference is, he (my son) acknowledged what he did and took responsibility for it by apologizing, and that is what we must always do if we hurt and/or offend someone with our words and actions.

      And that is what makes us different from an abuser.

      Anewanon, you say those things from a place of hurt — not to manipulate. You say those things because you want a positive healthy change in your abuser. An abuser uses those same words to control and manipulate someone into thinking they are not good enough and keep them feeling powerless.

      I pray that God will cover you with His love and grace today to give you peace, and to help you see clearly the situation you are in and the best direction to take.

      Blessings!

    • I had a lot of struggles with things like that myself- as things I would do to protect myself could look like emotional abuse. In my case, it was withdrawing, not being vulnerable with her, etc. Websites will list this kind of stuff as indicators of emotional abuse, but I was doing it to protect myself.

      I think one thing to keep in mind is that motives matter, and these indicators are just that: indicators. They aren’t proof.

      I always come back to this statement, from this blog: “Abuse is fundamentally a mentality. It is a mindset of entitlement.”

      What you are saying and doing/saying is not a mindset of entitlement.

      • One way I put it to my abuser , who constantly brings up the FEW times I responded in a bad way, which I repented of and asked his forgiveness (imagine: acknowledging my wrongdoing! while he was a daily abuser who was shown grace and patience over and over) was “I rejected you because you were abusing me. That is not who I am or how I am on a normal, daily basis. I was protecting myself and sometimes did that in inappropriate ways. You abused me and the kids because…? You could get away with it. There IS a difference.”

      • downtheroad.(and free and flourishing)!!

        Thank you Amy, such an encouraging story, and it will be those younger women to know that despite what we are told that no one else will want us and other controlling and demeaning words are LIES!.. i am so glad to hear you have a loving man in your life now, and i am sure he is such an example to your boys, of what a good man can be, a good role model! And seeing you being treated with respect will mean they can go on to have happy Marriages themselves too,God bless you,,your new Husband and your sons.

    • joepote01

      Anewanon –

      I’m agreeing with the previous responses by Ellie, Amy, and Jeff S. There is a huge difference in intent and mindset between defending oneself and acting from a mindset of entitlement.

      I will add, though, that for me it was very freeing when I reached a place of realizing it was not my job to try to change her. I didn’t have to try to explain…didn’t have to counter the circular reasoning illogical logic…didn’t have to explain myself…didn’t have to point out the obvious examples of manipulation…didn’t have to answer any questions I wasn’t comfortable with… We both knew where she was coming from whether she would admit it or not…and she would never admit it no matter what I said, anyway…

    • mom

      My son recently asked me that same question: How can I be sure I’m not being abusive in my marriage? He was concerned that he might sometimes act like his brother-in-law who hurt his sister so badly. I assured him that so long as he’s able to worry about it, he’s fine. Abusers don’t lie awake at night worrying if they might have done something to hurt their partner.

  5. Savedbygrace

    Thanks for sharing your hard won wisdom Ellie… I am really helped by

    If your abuser is bossing you, blaming you, attempting to make you feel sorry for him so you offer him comfort, or throwing you under the bus so that he can save his image, he isn’t safe.

    it’s a good thing to have in the back of my mind as I start to interact with my separated husband again…. he’s especially good at the ” attempting to make you feel sorry for him so you offer him comfort” … I find it tricky to be wised up to the manipulation etc but not end up with a hard heart, I do want to leave room for repentance and forgiveness if appropriate but want to be wise and not get sucked into the vortex again….
    How have others handled not ended up hard hearted yourself through all this?
    I’ve also started keeping a list of his excuses so it puts the latest one in the context of all the others and this helps me give the current one less ‘weight’ and enables me to be more objective about it, rather than agonising over it in isolation.
    I agree that only Christ can truly change someone, but this too becomes complex if it’s open to manipulation by the abuser, for me it all comes down to trust… and unfortunately that trust has been broken. I have printed out the fruit of the spirit verses in Galatians 5:22-24 from The Message version and if I’m wondering if he is changing I read that through to remind myself what life in the Spirit truly looks like and I have my answer.
    I also like your comment ‘that he will vindicate you in public’ I have intuitively been looking out for that…
    I too have come down to a bottom line of
    Your priority is getting safe and getting healing, not saving a relationship.
    I have found having that approach is keeping me sane and out of the confusion..
    thanks again for this timely and empowering post:)

    • Valerie

      How have others handled not ended up hard hearted yourself through all this?
      This is what occurs to me just now: A hard heart says “I don’t care what you say…” even when ill intent is not evident. Scripture tells us to have a discerning heart and even to guard our heart. A healthy heart filters, not blocks. Yet for those who have proven themselves to be enemies of God I believe scripture indeed tells us to block (as a manner of guarding our heart and not allowing the devil a foothold), such as the case with Nehemiah and Sanballat. Was Nehemiah exhibiting a hard heart when he refused to meet with Sanballat? Hardly. And what was Nehemiah’s reasoning? “I am doing a great work and can not come down.” No, Mr. Abuser, God is doing a great work of healing in me and I can not come down to meet with you. It will only destroy the work God is doing in my life. The spiritual abuser wants us to believe that to be disloyal to them is to be disloyal to God in an attempt confuse us with the obvious reality that our first loyalty is to God.

      The DSM criteria for personality disorders states the characteristics must be true across all relationships in order for a disorder to be present. I believe the same can be said of the contemplation of a hard heart. Does your heart seem hard to everyone or is there a correlation between those who are unsafe and those you would rather not hear from because they have proven themselves untrustworthy? Have you been repeatedly told by godly people that you have a hard heart? Has the Spirit convicted you that this is an issue? An abuser doesn’t ask himself if he is an abuser. Similarly, one who prays that his heart would not become hard is not likely to have a hard heart.

      • Savedbygrace

        Thanks you so much Valerie, what you have said is very helpful! I must not mistake a ‘guarded’ heart for a ‘hard’ heart… I realised it is my fear that my ‘soft’ heart will be taken advantage of that has prompted my question, your answer has helped me feel free to guard my heart as I need to, thankyou:)

    • Round*Two

      Valerie,

      I have always wondered. I have felt I have had a ‘hardened heart’, but I didn’t realize my heart was only hardened toward a certain someone! Wow! I just did not and could not trust him! No matter how hard I tried. I prayed many times asking God to give me a kind spirit, kind heart towards my husband, but as I felt I was getting a soft heart, the manipulation, the messing with my head, etc would start and I would feel my heart go ‘black’ (If you will) again! It is an awful feeling! 😦

  6. cindyrapstad

    The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. When they invalidate your feelings and tell you that you cannot talk about an incident that caused grave harm they have not changed. It would be good for you to leave or get used to them continuing to invalidate you. Isn’t that why your marriage was destructive in the first place. Destructive marriage 101. ‪#‎HeHasNotChanged‬

  7. reflections2change

    This really couldn’t have had better timing. Several weeks ago I finally got the courage to confront my husband. After some very open conversations and my kids having the courage to open up he had an “epiphany” as to how bad things had gotten. He has since started going to counseling and SEEMS to be working on things. There is a part of me holding my breath though. Waiting to see if it is real or if he is just trying to fool me. In talking to my therapist recently I realized how truly broken I am and how important it is to really work on me right now. He can choose to work on himself honestly or not. I need to focus on figuring out how to even begin recovery and how to even slightly start unraveling these last 20 years.

    • Valerie

      Change begins with humility. If humility is not present despite outward appearances it is suspect behavior. God judges the heart, not the appearance of godly behavior.
      “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Romans 12:9

  8. StandsWithAFist

    Great post. Abusers are often disingenious, betraying their true selves without realizing it. Mine did something that I considered posting here b/c it was so “diagnostic” of the duplicity, entitlement & manipulation of an abuser:
    My abuse is my MIL. She sent me the “love bomb”, filled with lies: “I just can’t remember what I did that hurt you”, “I am so sorry for whatever it was”, “I miss you so much”, “I am hurting too,”, “I love you”, “I pray the Lord will heal your broken heart as He has mine”, “family is broken, so can’t we just move on & forgive?”
    You know the drill.
    But the next she sent my husband a letter negating everything she wrote to me: “if anyone should be mad it’s me”, “I have forgiven but she won’t accept it”, “she has destroyed the family”, ” she has made us all a bad witness”, “she is terrible to keep me from my grandkids”, “I had no idea she was so mad at me”, “thank you, son, for loving me”, “this is such a mess”, blah blah blah.
    Poor, pitiful little victim. I think it was God’s grace that these two letters arrived a day apart, so profoundly opposite in their content, so obvious in their deceit, so revealing of evil manipulation.
    It was a graphic example that she had not changed, has no intention of changing & remains entitled to slander, smear, blame & lie to get what she wants: power and control.
    And here is the kicker: no mention in either letter that she had just seen her attorney & changed her will to cut us out….THEN she sent the love bomb. How’s that for sick & twisted?
    It reminded me of Simon the magician wanting to “buy” the Holy Spirit, and Peter’s reproof in Acts 8:
    20 “But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could acquire God’s gift with money!
    21 You have no share or part in this matter because your heart is not right before God!
    22 Therefore repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that he may perhaps forgive you for the intent of your heart.
    23 For I see that you are bitterly envious and in bondage to sin.”
    As Ellie said, the abuser isn’t safe…..safety and true repentance cannot be bought.
    Selah.

    • Anewanon

      Standswithafist,
      I can completely relate. I found a note from my (non-believing) MIL after my husband defended us to her that read: “you maybe married but you don’t have a marriage. Your relationship is unwholesome, unhealthy and completely dysfunctional. You are welcome to return back home to saner minds anytime, Until then I have nothing more to say to you.” Two months later he went back to her after one of our arguments. I never had a chance. I had to either tip-toe on eggshells to keep him around, or be abandoned. She offers beer, internet, his childhood bedroom, home cooked meals, ironed clothes and the validation to pursue a life of lust and luxury. She paid his retainer fee too. I guess I forgot to put the ‘non-compete’ clause in our marriage vows. I hurts so much to find those bombs, but truth is good even when it hurts at first. It helps to see that you are NOT crazy.

      • StandsWithAFist

        Yes, Anewanon, my MIL is “the other woman”, and she plays it like a fiddle. I am so sorry for what happened to you–It was evil. I totally understand what you mean about a “non-compete clause”. It’s beyond ridiculous. It is obscene. It is incestuous.
        My husband loves me but is conflicted over “honor thy mother”. My reply is that “honor isn’t fitting for a fool”, that “forsaking all others” includes her.
        It is evil for a woman to compete with her daughter in law for her son’s attention & affection. It is evil to disparage, criticize & falsely accuse your DIL in an effort to be your son’s “first love”, to be first place in his life. It’s evil to relegate his wife to second-class status. It is evil to compete sexually with your daughter in law. (My MIL’s first “gift” to me was a training bra; the not-so-subtle message was that I wasn’t “woman enough” for a “real” bra, that I was clearly inferior to her.) She took every opportunity to “joke” that her son “married down” and that I wasn’t yet a “real lady”. To celebrate our engagement, she brazenly announced to everyone that her son would “finally make a lady out of her”. She was forever launching unprovoked attacks over perceived slights that I now realize were nothing more than power plays. I spent years defending myself against merciless attacks, smears & character assassination. It nearly destroyed me while she played the pious, wounded, clueless, offended, “who, me?” “Christian” woman.
        I went NC 3 years ago and predictably the attacks increased in frequency & intensity.
        She tries to send gifts & money which I refuse or decline. She gives cash gifts to family & friends to buy loyalty and affection, dangling her will & trust like candy, yet it’s really a poker chip to seduce others into submission to her whims. Money buys her power and control….she thinks her money is her legacy. She is beyond annoyed that I am not seduced by it.
        It has always puzzled me how she values her money more than Jesus. Eventually, it became clear: She clings to money b/c her soul is impoverished. She claims Christ while denying Him.
        Her actions are pathetic, evil, deliberate & intentional, and dare I say, incestuous.
        She is on her throne and there is no room for Jesus. She will not repent and will not give up her throne.
        She is forever twisting scripture, wanting people to look at her instead of the cross, demanding what does not belong to her. When that became clear to me I walked away, went NC & refused her “seduction”.
        I will not be punished b/c I follow Jesus. You are right: I am not the crazy one!

      • Valerie

        I guess I forgot to put the ‘non-compete’ clause in our marriage vows.

        Man, I needed a laugh today. Thanks Anewanon! Her attitude is atrocious but you show in your attitude that you can rise above. You summed it up well…I might have to steal that one! 🙂

  9. joyisnowfree

    He has thrown everything in the book at me since our separation. Has said he is sorry, is depressed, can’t sleep, is going to church now, texts me scriptures and told me that I needed to evaluate myself. He probably would have made me fall in a net if it wasn’t for the fact that I’ve been educating myself on abuse and tacticts of manipulation against victims. Thank God for this blog and the books it recommended s.

  10. Faith

    Ellie how did you know I would need this refresher course? I have been gone 2 years now. I have heard the terrible stories my husband is telling about my family and me. A man connected with my stbx rang a family member who is supporting me and said he wanted to talk with me. I didn’t get all nerves like before but I got a feeling of oh know I can’t do this. I know he is wanting to help my husband and I get back together.

    I told the person who took the phone call, “I’m busy now and can’t deal with this crazy stuff.” I don’t want to talk because I know I have come a long ways but I have a soft heart and I don’t want to be pulled in to going back.” This person said, “Let me handle it.”

    I have my Bible text ready for this person (my supporter) when they talk to this man, and things from Crying for Justice. You don’t worry I will make it clear that you are not coming back for Anti-husband has proven he has not changed.

    This evening I thought I needed to read something that will help me know I’m staying on track. I went to this blog. Thanks for being there.

    [Eds: identifying details removed and/or airbrushed]

  11. Still Scared but you can call me Cindy

    Ellie, I have been very busy with work so have not had a chance to comment but this and the past few others you have done in the past few weeks are wonderful. I got the “Shame on you” email last night because he found out I filed with the state to get child support( after two years and a court order that does not seem to have any teeth) and I found myself translating like you have demonstrated. It was so helpful. One line he made was
    “Disappointed that you can’t see the big picture impact of your choices – choices that affect and hurt others – and yourself – to no good purpose. ”
    Oh, really, I can’t see how my actions affect others? This is deflecting, turning what he does onto my actions.
    Thank you again. I was able to laugh at the letter rather than get angry.

  12. Valerie

    Thank you Ellie, I needed this today. There are more abusive people in my life than just my stbx and this came at perfect timing. The truth you laid out is a balm for my soul!

  13. joyisnowfree

    a hardened heart keeps coming back to my mind after carefully reading about what Jeff says in the book a cry for justice. just trying to understand the mind of the sociopath the mind of an abuser and it seems like God keeps taking me back to a hardened heart especially with Cane. God had warned him not to harden himself not to turn himself over to his anger and it seems to me that we have all come to this crossroad before. do I want to harden my heart? do I want to be abusive like others have abused to me? people have a choice to be hardened to be abusive and it seems to me that after making that choice there’s really no turning back and he or she will most like be turned over to the lust they crave, a reprobate mind without a conscience. unless you really want to change and you cry out to God. He will have mercy on who He will. ultimately no matter what the condition is of the heart we all know right from wrong and God will hold us accountable for what we do

  14. Song of Joy

    This Time I Know He’ll Change……………his cover, disguise, masquerade, camouflage, tactics, ploys, schemes, tricks, excuses, ruses, deceptions, lies, frauds, manipulations and treacheries………because his first sham isn’t working anymore!

  15. downtheroad

    I am sorry to say,(as a woman and survivor, further down the “road” i have survived many years of abuse and stalking, and by Gods Grace have been free for many years) they dont change! not unless they are totally sold out to God, who is the only Person who can change them…My Ex Husband has been sending me “messages” through mutual friends that he has forgiven ME and changed! i really dont know which is the more laughable…the changing part or the forgiving me!! ( Translation of course is that he has decided to put on a christian “front” again for his own purposes, at the same time working away at our mutual friends,saying what a great guy he is and he could never have done those things i am claiming!!)

    So when HE as the long suffering “hero” leaves a mutual friends house when they tell him i am coming, HE makes sure they know why he has to go”dont want to cause any embarrasment” . I know the truth that if he HAD been there he would have been arrested! He is very cafeful not to tell them about that!!

    Of course some things cant be mended, my relationship with my daughter, who has believed his lies,she has cut me out of her life. So they DO change but only their tactics!! as Ellie says they want their power back, and will use whatever tactic is working at the time!! Yes i do despair sometimes, i do miss my daughter, but my freedom is more than worth it,I am free,free to make my own decisions, free to be the woman God made me to be. I talk to others about what has done for me, and will hopefully bring someone to Him one Day! I am happy and fulfilled in my life with The Lord, who loves me Un-conditionally, no hidden agendas, so any dear sisters out there who are being drawn back by lies straight from the Father of Lies, DONT BELIEVE HIM! You are too valuble to God,dont settle for second best!

    [Eds.Note: Screen name changed and personal information removed from this comment to protect the commenter.]

    • Brenda R

      I am sorry to hear that your daughter has bought into her dad’s lies, but at the same time rejoice that you are able to have a closer walk with Christ and are free. Someday, your daughter may see the real him and realize what she has done. There is always hope with God. You are right. They only change their tactics. Change of any significance is very rare.

      • downtheroad

        Thank you so much Brenda for you encouraging words, I am hoping that she will see the truth one day,I know that if it wasn’t for the little drops of poison he drops into my life every so often I would never give him another thought, and it is frustrating that he is still able to do this after so many years…but God knows all and sees all, and I was reading in my Bible study a few weeks ago where it says nothing is done in secret, ALL will be revealed one day. praise Him!

    • Amy

      Downtheroad,
      I’ve been divorced for almost 4 years now from my abusive ex. He has used the same sort of tactics ever since he left our house 6 years ago. He left I learned later to prove to me that I couldn’t survive without him and then he told people that WE had mutually agreed to a separation in the hopes of reconciliation. I was dumbfounded when I learned this because WE had never agreed to anything like that, he simply packed his van up one night and spat in my face that he was leaving! And to this day he acts as if he should leave if I’m going to be around because he doesn’t want to make it uncomfortable for me. He acts all caring about me to our sons to put on the loving front of what a good guy he is and I’m the one who wanted a divorce.

      Re: your daughter — I have two sons, ages 23 and almost 20, and my youngest finally cut off all ties with his father almost 2 years ago when my ex showed his true colors to our son. When my son and I finally had a heart to heart talk after that incident and I told him how baffling it was to me that he had wanted to be around his father after the way he had been treated all those years growing up, he simply said to me that all he ever wanted was a relationship with his father and even though it was one-sided he tried the best he could to make it happen. And then his eyes were finally opened to the fact that there never would be a relationship but not because he (my son) hadn’t tried, but because of his father. So now, my youngest son and I have a good relationship again and I realize it’s because he no longer hangs around his father.
      My oldest son and I on the other hand, do not have a great relationship because he still chooses to stay in contact with his father. My son has laid into on occasion saying I bash his dad (which I don’t) and basically feels I was the one responsible for the breakup of the family. It hurts my heart more than anything, but I keep trusting that in time he will come to have his eyes opened to the truth. So I feel for you and pray that one day your daughter will choose to reenter your life.

      Blessings!

      • downtheroad

        I hope you know that when your son says these things they are coming from his father,he is trying to manipulate you through your children, very much as I am being through my friends? I was reading an article in a newspaper last year which was reporting on a man who had been sending vile text messages to a woman work mate of his wife’s, his wife didn’t know it was him, but he was angry because he thought the woman had got a promotion his wife deserved. What stood out to me was his statement after the court case (because she had not replied or reacted to the vile texts) he said “it was very frustrating when she didn’t respond”!!! It was such a telling statement to me, he was desperate for a reaction! When he didn’t get one he was annoyed! So now I don’t react, don’t get upset with friends who pass on the “wonderful news he has changed and forgiven me” I smile and say how wonderful, (of course I am seething inside)!…but go away and pray pray pray, and what would have usually taken a few days to get over just takes a day!! if the Enemy is trying to upset us, and is trying to drive a wedge between us and our friends,and the Lord and He gets no reaction in fact we pray blessings on the Ex and those he is using to “get to us” he’s not happy!!, the bible puts it better than me when it say “bless those who curse us and despitfully use us” it works, it really does!!.. praise God

      • Dear sister, please note that we have altered your screen name for your safety. I suggest you reveiw our New Users Info page to see our suggestions for using screen names. If you need further help, contact TWBTC whose address is on our About page. Thanks

      • downtheroad

        Thank you Barbara, i am happy with the name you have chosen for me, thats me! getting on for 60yrs old so great choice! i cant find what my screen name was before though, because i have been commenting on the site for about two years now,! you did change my screen name before, but i will bow to your widom if you think it need changing again,thank you as always for your Love and care for all of us, you re an inspiration, God bless you

      • It doesn’t matter all that much what your screen name was before, what matters is that you do not give an identifying name when you comment here.

      • Dear sister (downtheroad) please note that we have changed your screen name for your safety. We suggest you review the New Users Info page -look for it under the New Users tab in the top menu. If you have any questions, pls email TWBTC. Thanks.

      • Amy

        Downtheroad,
        Oh yes, I do realize it all comes from his father, I’ve been dealing with this for a while. My son is very torn because of wanting a father/son relationship, but one day I believe he will finally come to terms with the fact that it is not possible to have a healthy relationship with his father — just as what happened with my younger son. Once my younger son cut off all contact with his father — which truly breaks my heart for him — we were able to rebuild out relationship because my son was no longer this sullen, dark soul of a person which he turned into when he was around his father.

        My ex is toxic, as most abusive people are, and I saw how it changed my younger son after he would spend time with him and I see the same thing with my older son. It is maddening how their father can still continue to treat them as he does. In the end he will lose everything that truly matters in this life, but for now he enjoys still having control over our one son.

        And my ex was similar to the man you described above — when we were separated I only allowed email as a form of communication between us because talking with him sent me into a downward spiral. He would send me hateful emails, telling me how I was worth nothing, how he still loved me and wanted to be married, but I was destroying the family by only wanting a divorce, etc, etc, etc. I learned very quickly to ignore those emails and only respond to the ones regarding legal matters or the boys because I knew he only wanted a response out of me.
        I truly believe to this day he was stunned that I carried through with the divorce — I think he felt he had enough control over me that I would go crawling back.

        I clearly see today how toxic an abuser is to all those around them. They manipulate, control, lie, and do anything in their power to destroy people. And the only way to truly diminish that supposed power they think they have is to walk away and not feed into it by cutting off all contact.

    • joyisnowfree

      AMEN! I second that!

      • downtheroad

        Thanks,and God bless you

      • downtheroad

        Wow Amy, you have been dealing with a lot, but Gods Grace has brought you through! I struggled too with my two youngests desire to see their Father, and the upset and anger towards me when they returned, but i knew they felt in a safe place to show their emotions and i coud see in them the effects he had produced in me which i had suppressed…in fact after i had kicked him out for about two weeks i started to notice noise in my house! children fighting. arguing, loud music… i i knew they felt safe to be chidren without their actions being used as an excuse to hit me!.. i grieved for the time they had missed, but also cried tears of joy too for they were free now too! My oldest son (well into adulthood now) told me yesterday that he had also been hit, which i didnt know,as well as my two youngest boys when they were little, which i didnt know about either as it too was kept secret from me…

        I remember once that the Ex said that he couldnt wait until “His” boys were older and reealise what a “terrible” person i was!.. now they are all grown up, and guess what!!?.. they all hate being around him!!, and only are because he sees them at his parents house (never would take them out to spend any money!) I wonder what happens when his parent die? they are elderly now, i know then it will all come to a natural end, i hope and pray it will anyway!! I do feel sad for them as you do for your sons, that they have such a bad relationship ,such a BAD father, and as you say he is a toxic person to be around for them, too, but they do have some really great role models in their lives. God bless you

        [Eds: some details removed to disidentify]

      • Dear downtheroad, can you please email TWBTC. She can help you learn how to write your screen name so we don’t have to do it for you. You can find her address on our About page (look at the tabs at the top of the blog).

      • Amy

        Downtheroad,

        How I can relate to the emotions returning after my ex left! I felt like for the first time in 20 years I was ‘allowed’ to start actually feeling again — and all the feelings and emotions which came flooding out at times would overwhelm me. I would cry and cry, then I would feel immense joy, then I’d feel anger. I remember one day giving myself permission to actually embrace all those emotions and feel them vividly. It felt so good, I felt so alive again! And yes, there was noise in the house. Joyful noise — laughter, loud talking. It was all so beautiful and showed me how God was beginning to restore us all in through the brokenness.

        It does sadden me that my youngest cannot have a relationship with his father, but we keep the communication open about it all and he is healing so much. I still cannot talk to my oldest son about his father or anything from the past, he is too full of bitterness and anger. And yes, what you said about the kids feeling safe that’s how it is with me too. I’ve always said my boys can show their true emotions with me because I’m the ‘safe’ parent who is not going to berate them or tear them apart for having feelings and emotions. Their father told them, and me, for so many years that we should not be anger, sad and even occasionally, happy. Sucks to have someone tell you how to feel.

        Life is good these days — not perfect, but good. I’ve been married to a wonderful loving man for over 3 years and know what a healthy marriage is. God has redeemed my life and is working in the lives of my two sons.

  16. Round*Two

    “Abuser: Even if I had abused you like you claim, you made ___ mistake and that makes me a bigger victim. I am not going to admit to anything…”

    My husband tried to convince me that the abuse never happened. In fact, he wanted me to go back and tell EVERYONE that it didn’t happen. Oh yes, he admitted to one incident and that is it! According to him, I lied about the abuse And, he has now says I ‘verbally’ abused him. This is what he is claiming. He has recorded my conversations and there were times where I spoke in a strong loud voice. He, no doubt, has taken these recordings as proof that I had been abusing him. And one of the main complaint my husband had about me was that I did not communicate or I didn’t talk! But now, I have verbally abusive to him?
    So what was my reason for responding to him the way I did? He would say things to me that were not pleasant or a ‘self imposing opinion’ whether I needed to hear it or not. I really can’t explain it other than to say, he had that effect on me. 😦

  17. Round*Two

    Amy,

    “After all, when he pushed me hard enough and I finally snapped, well it wasn’t pretty on my part and then I’d feel so guilty that I was the lunatic screaming and cursing at him. Oh, how he loved when that happened, as rare as it was. I can still picture the smug little smirk on his face.”
    This is exactly what I was trying to say in my earlier comment! Although, I don’t think he had a smirk on his face (I could be wrong though), but I’m sure he feels he outsmarted me and recorded my outbursts, there could be no way of denying it was me in a rage, but I think it would be even harder trying to explain WHY it happened.

  18. H

    I’ve read many, many articles on many different websites that say that abusers rarely change, but if they do, here’s what to watch for (or something to that effect). Has any abuser actually ever changed??? Just one believable testimony, just one, that’s all I want!

    I just had a dinner at a restaurant with my separated husband and it was very civil and genuine and I felt that we were truly communicating well. He said a lot of things about how he was changing this and that about his life, and was truly taking responsibility for things. I listened and was happy about it, but at the same time I remembered that he would say those things whether or not he was really changing, just to control the situation again. But overall it seemed very constructive.

    Then we left and went for a walk, and got into a short argument about something relatively unimportant. After that, it was if the restaurant conversation never happened! Everything was crazy-making and sin-leveling and pushing off responsibility and telling me he didn’t want to be in my life anymore. From a place of safety and reason to bam — the darkest depths again.

    I was happy and encouraged, and now I returned home in despair. Can anything save this stupid man from himself? I know Christ can do anything, but will he? My goodness. It’s hard to believe. Yet I can’t give up either.

    • I know Christ can do anything, but will he? My goodness. It’s hard to believe. Yet I can’t give up either.

      Yes, Christ can do anything. But abusers resist God. They actually fight against God and His righteous requirements.
      Here is a quote from our post about how Nebuchadnezzar responded when he saw the men in the fiery furnace remaining unharmed:

      Nebuchadnezzar blessed the true God. He saw and honored His power. But what was the fruit of Nebuchadnezzar’s change of mind? But what did this ‘converted’ man, this former tyrannical despot who flew into furious rages to make people do his bidding, who ruled his people by threatening them with torture and death — “I’ll throw you in the furnace if you don’t worship my image!” — what did this man do when he found the true God? He issued another threat of violence against his people:

      “Therefore I make a decree: Any people, nation, or language that speaks anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego shall be torn limb from limb, and their houses laid in ruins, for there is no other god who is able to rescue in this way.”

      Power and control were entrenched right to the deepest furrows of this man’s prideful heart; he breathed, ate and slept power and control. He knew no other form of influencing people. He knew no other way of getting his supply. He knew no other way of life. He recognized the power of God and saw it was greater than his own power, but he did not give up his lifelong habit of power and control. Unlike Zaccheus, the thieving tax collector who as soon as he was converted to the living God made generous and immediate reparation for all he had stolen from the people, Nebuchadnezzar showed no fruit of repentance. He merely exchanged one method of power and control for another.

      … and Old King Neb had another lesson coming, and that shows his pride and power and control still needed to be dealt with after the fiery furnace episode. He got sent out to graze in the pasture like a cow.

      Would a cow be a easier to be with than an abusive husband? You bet!

      And after his reason returned to him, did Nebuchadnezzar make reparation to those he had oppressed? Not that we know of. Yeah, he praised and extolled God. But Nebuchadnezzar’s final words show that he was still focused on his own personal glory and greatness.

      At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever, for his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation; all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, “What have you done?”

      At the same time my reason returned to me, and for the glory of my kingdom, my majesty and splendor returned to me. My counselors and my lords sought me, and I was established in my kingdom, and still more greatness was added to me.

      Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, for all his works are right and his ways are just; and those who walk in pride he is able to humble. (Daniel 4:34-37)

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