A Cry For Justice

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

Losing friendships because of the stress of abuse

Jeff and I received this email from one of our readers, Jesus’ Beloved, and she’s kindly agreed to let us feature it in a post. Here is what she wrote us:

I was wondering if anyone has ever had the unfortunate circumstance come up where they lost a friendship because the heaviness of their abuse was too overwhelming for another person to help them with? This just happened to me over the weekend.

I have a close, Christian friend I have known for over 20 years who has heard more than anyone about the abuse I have experienced. I confided in her more than anyone else because she is a believer and I knew she would give me Godly advice grounded in the Word. She also has the gift of encouragement so she has been a tremendous help to me. She was the first person that recognized before anyone else that I was being abused. She was the one who told me to leave my marriage in fact.

She told me though that in the last two years I have not been giving too much back to our friendship. Only taking. And sometimes disappearing completely as I dealt with being a single mother, court hearings, my hurting children, CPS, my husband’s abuse, and numerous financial issues. She said she began to feel used by me, that I only had time for our friendship when I needed someone to talk to and wanted her counsel. But when she wanted mine, I didn’t have time. It’s not that I didn’t want to be there for her. Often times, emotionally I could not. Or I had to take care of my kids, or stay up all night documenting abuse incidents. I also work full time. She said if I really wanted to make time for her I would have, because I was able to make time for me when I needed to reach out to her for help. She also said that she could no longer hear about the details of what my children and I were going through because it was too upsetting for her. The burden was too great for her to carry any longer.

I just wonder if it’s typical for abusive women to become one way friends as I fear I have become, as they deal with their suffering and try to sort through the mess that their mind becomes after living with an abusive man for so long. Is it our fate to lose our friendships at some point because we are too needy, we are too self absorbed, and our stories are too hellish for some people to stomach.

Should we keep in mind that we should be going to Jesus first and foremost with our pain, and human beings secondarily? Because maybe losing friendships is the natural course for abusive women at some point if we don’t. I feel like I burdened this friend with too much for too long and it ruined our friendship.

I’d love to hear other people’s thoughts on this.

Jeff’s reply:

Oh yeah. I’ve seen it. And experienced it. Speaking from my own experience, I had “friends” who bailed on me or who at least sent out the “vibes” that they had heard enough about my troubles with wicked people. I can remember more than one of them saying, when we were maybe going out for dinner, “now tonight we aren’t going to talk about church troubles. We are just going to talk about good stuff.” The problem was that those “church troubles” that went on for years and years were STILL happening to me, ie, I was the target of wicked, evil people who were trying to destroy my ministry and the church. I didn’t have the luxury of “not thinking about it tonight.” Eventually those people bailed out and left not only our church but us as well.

In your case, Jesus’ Beloved, I would say that this friend of yours maybe tried to carry too much of your burden without others to help? Or maybe she just decided she wanted to think “happy thoughts” and you were a barrier to her doing that? In the end, what you have in these abandonments is most often something like this:

Do your best to come to me soon. For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia. Luke alone is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me for ministry. (2 Timothy 4:9-11)

Think of Christ and how he died alone except for a very few. 

As to your faults in this experience, the fact is that when we are the targets of abusers and all the fallout, we really do not have much to give after we devote what we do have to our children. I don’t think you should be critical or accusing toward yourself in this. A car wreck victim with broken bones and internal injuries can’t do much at all for others until she gets healed. And in many cases of abuse, the victim is in an ongoing car wreck for a long, long time.

Jesus’ Beloved’s reply to Jeff:

I related very much to how you said you didn’t have the luxury of not thinking about it. Indeed, when you have a King Saul chasing you down with no intention of letting up until either he wins or God stops him, it is so painfully consuming. What we’d give if we could only flip a switch and think about and talk about something else for a change.  I can’t tell you how much I wish I could talk about, think about and pray about something else besides my husband’s abuse!

And thank you for the analogy of the car wreck victim. That is perfect. It’s exactly how I have been feeling for years, but most especially after I left my husband. I thought his abuse was bad before then but I had no idea what I was in for when I dared to stand up to him and tell him, “no more.” Seeing him use my children to hurt me has been excruciating and has left me walking with a limp ever since. And thank you for the reminder that Jesus went through this as well. He was abandoned as He was subjected to abuse, too. He knows how I am feeling.

Barb offered some links on vicarious trauma (VT).
The links are aimed at professionals who deal with trauma victims, but vicarious trauma can affect friends of victims as well as professionals. Victims and victims’ friends can also find these links useful, even if only to help them have a bigger persepctive on what they may be experiencing when friendships have gone pear shaped. The links also give tips about how to avoid VT and how to notice its early warning signs and take preemptive action.

What is vicarious trauma?  — a video from the Headington Institute. We encourage readers to explore the Headington site for more resources on VT, as they have a lot of good material

Dealing with Domestic and Family Violence and Sexual Assault: Work Induced or Vicarious Trauma

Understanding Work-Induced Trauma

Note: the last two links are to Australian site, so phone numbers given on that site will be Australian numbers.

88 Comments

  1. Sarah

    Jesus’ Beloved – this is my take — this friend’s straight-talk saved your life! Please consider rekindling this friendship. All abuse survivors are vulnerable to re-victimization and need friends they can trust to protect them….and have fun with. Abusers damage our ability to have normal relationships. I think this friend is willing to help you re-learn how to be a friend.

    Also, please consider finding a abuse survivor therapist (PTSD) – instead of having this friend as a ‘defacto’ counselor. Reach out and apologize. This friend will also be an excellent role model for your children as they recover. Praying for you!

  2. Brenda R

    I didn’t loose friendships during the bulk of the abuse. I had no friends to call my own. I had prayer/communion with Jesus and my Bible and eventually websites like this one and books that got my mind thinking In a much healthier direction. I have 2 people that I now call friend. One is also an abuse survivor, the other is an older lady who never married, but is very understanding and supportive.

    Since my children are all grown and moved away I don’t have to deal with the abuser any longer. Not often anyways. There is an abusive/ angry type man who lives in my building who I have had to deal with from time to time. The first year I lived there he was nice to me when I saw him, but that wasn’t often. Yesterday afternoon the manager of the complex called to ask questions about the going’s on in the building. She said that his lease was up soon and she was writing up all of her documentation. There are some women who moved into the building who are being targeted by him. I was asked if there was a party last Saturday in the ladies apartment above mine. I said no. I think I would have heard that. I’m not that heavy of a sleeper. All of us should feel safe to live in this building and no longer do.

  3. I left a marriage of 23 years due to abuse. As soon as my ex figured out that I was serious, he went running to our friends and pastoral staff begging forgiveness for his one time occurrence (actually there had been many occurrences , this once was just the proverbial straw that broke the camels back for me) and telling them how crazy I was and how suddenly negative towards him that I had become (I had started setting boundaries). I lost all of my friends (except one) and one of my two adult children since I was so ‘unforgiving’. It was not because things became ‘one way’ (which to me is another way to accept blame for something that is not my fault…we have to stop that), it was more that my ex was (still is with my daughter) manipulating/controlling them trying to hurt me. People prefer to believe that I am crazy rather than to believe he is an abuser, so they ‘side’ with him.

    • missdaisy

      Kris wrote,

      and how suddenly negative towards him that I had become (I had started setting boundaries)

      This sounds so familiar.

      I recently started standing up for myself, including to an older sister I have who has been verbally abusive towards me for years. When I started standing up to her last year, she went even more ballistic. She feels she has a right to yell at me, scream profanity at me, etc.

      The icing on the cake is that she still expects me to treat her like a delicate flower and be super supportive when she wants to phone me and complain for hours about how much she hates her job or whatever.

      But yes, I’ve noticed that when I have started to put up boundaries with people, especially the ones who were exploiting me before, or being verbally abusive, they sure do get bent out of joint and more angry than usual over it.

      They really do hate it when you become assertive and refuse to put up with their maltreatment anymore.

      • Keep up the good work! Boundaries are really hard to set in the beginning because I am a people-pleaser and sometimes people get mad, but it is part of being more healthy. I try to remember Jesus always did what He had to do, even if it upset people…the scripture I think of is John ch. 11 when Lazarus was sick and Mary and Martha sent for Jesus because they knew Jesus could help, Jesus waited 2 days before he left town to go to Mary and Martha’s for the healing. If my brother was sick, and I sent for Jesus and he had waited 2 days to leave, I know I would have been angry…especially since Lazarus died before Jesus got there. I bet Mary and Martha were hurt and angry. I can just see Mary and Martha meeting Jesus at the door with hands on their hips saying “Well, its too late now”…..But Jesus did what He had to do first. (self care). There are other references, but this is the one that comes to mind first.

      • missdaisy

        @ Kris. Thank you. Yes, from childhood up to my late 30s or early 40s I was very much a people pleaser.

        Something you said in your post brought to mind several things from my own life, how, when you start to have boundaries, the people who have been abusive or just garden variety rude, start to paint YOU as being the problem.

        In addition to my sister, I had a boss on one old job who harassed me often. For the first year and a half of her harassment, I did nothing about it, but I got so fed up with it, I began asserting myself with her (even though I was a people pleaser at the time and rarely did this).

        She then began depicting me as a problem when I began pushing back… she started saying things like, ‘You must have a real problem with authority’ (which was not true). She was making me look like the problem when I began having boundaries when she was the problem the entire time.

        Some people who are bullies like that will twist the whole thing around to make it look like your fault, especially when you begin standing up for yourself. They interpret you finally having assertiveness (boundaries) with you being the problem, they really expect you to just sit there and take their bad behavior.

      • healingInHim

        missdaisy You stated, “Some people who are bullies like that will twist the whole thing around to make it look like your fault, especially when you begin standing up for yourself. They interpret you finally having assertiveness (boundaries) with you being the problem, they really expect you to just sit there and take their bad behavior.”
        YES, YES, YES … THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT I HAVE BEEN EXPERIENCING.
        I finally broke and spoke and it has now become “me” who is the offensive one:-(

      • freeatlast8

        Yes and amen. Kris said: “They really do hate it when you become assertive and refuse to put up with their maltreatment anymore.”

        My ex calls me hardhearted, unforgiving, and bitter because I have set my boundaries. In fact, I hardly speak to him or respond to him because he is just too caustic…which then leads him to say/think, “See, this proves you are hardhearted, unforigiving, and bitter.” It’s not that I am any of those things he says I am; I just don’t care to get back on the “crazy”-go-round with him.

  4. healingInHim

    As I reflect on my experience I have come to realize that what has made circumstances seem at times so unbearable is that those whom I used to help in the past are the very ones who don’t have time for me now that I have cried out for help. The craziness is that I have gained a few select friends who in the past I only knew as an acquaintance. They may not be considered Christians but the Lord has graciously placed them on my path; they listen and so far have not grown weary of my present circumstances. They keep encouraging me and I have had offers of “help to move”.
    I find myself forcing myself to ‘go out’ but cringe when asked “how are things going?” because I find myself tired of talking about my “broken bones”.
    Everything shared on this post is so true and the Scripture references are ones that I have long ago been reminded of. Thank you for posting this and the links. Sometimes it’s a comfort to know that I’m not the only one in the battle and to receive encouragement from others on this site.

    • missdaisy

      HealinginHim wrote

      As I reflect on my experience I have come to realize that what has made circumstances seem at times so unbearable is that those whom I used to help in the past are the very ones who don’t have time for me now that I have cried out for help.

      A million times this. I’ve had this happen so often the last few years. I told my story in more detail in a post farther below on this page, so I won’t do a full repeat of it here.

      I’ve listened to the same set of friends and family complain or cry about their personal problems for hours, for ten years or more.
      However, after the death of my mother (and other problems), none of them want to listen to me talk about my grief, or the other obstacles. They either ignore me, toss platitudes at me, or shame me for admitting that I have pain and could use some emotional support (that you admit to having emotional pain and would like a friend to listen to you occasionally is classified by them as “self pity”).

      And some of the people doing this are the very same ones who used to phone me for many hours complaining about the same things over and over (their bad jobs, horrible boyfriends, health problems, etc).

      • healingInHim

        Missdaisy …((hugs)) to you and others grieving at this time.
        Many have asked why I hid the truth for so long? Well, because it was expected. Years ago when I attempted to be truthful I could sense that “the churched” really didn’t want to hear it. Others were the same so I just continued on and then prayerfully pursued counseling via the internet. Truly, the Lord receives the glory. In HIS time, He chose to allow my husband’s true colors to be revealed; even then some have made excuses for his behavior. Amazing 😦
        I have never wanted to be a burden to anyone. That is why I held on to the marriage for so long and try to make the best of it and pleading with God to show me where I was failing? It was my Christian witness that I was so concerned about.

      • missdaisyflower

        HealingInHim, I’m so sorry for what you went through.

        I too do not want to be a burden to people, but they still regarded me as one anyway. I rarely try to phone relatives and ask for support, but on the few occasions I have tried, they act like even one 20 minute phone call is a large imposition.

        A lot of Christians don’t seem to want to be in the role of an encourager or to be supportive to people who come to them seeking those tings. Maybe because it reminds them that they are vulnerable too? I don’t know.

    • Tess

      hi Healing in Him

      So true.
      Sadly I too have found unchurched friends much more patient and less judgemental…..the bible can sometimes be used to back the arrogance of Evangelicals eg.””you are letting the Devil walk all over you” ……tut tut (re my PTSD).
      Unchurched friends have more compassion and empathy.

  5. TB

    I have not lost a friendship, but I know one of my friendships became very stressed. I got a letter from the dear friend who said she was feeling that I did not invest in her life as much as she was investing in mine. She lives in another state, so mostly what she was giving was emotional support through emails and phone calls.

    I think the drain for a victim’s friends and family is that they can often see the need for us victims to move out, away from, or on with our lives, but we feel compelled to stay and work/try harder. They get tired of pouring in to us and not seeing us act. They get tired of hearing the repeated episodes of how bad it is while we continue to stay and hope and pray.

    I know personally I would go to people much more often than I would go to Jesus. I figured Jesus knew what was going on. He knew the day I married my ex what would happen in my marriage, and yet He allowed it. I felt He was doing nothing to stop it or make it better, even after years of prayers. I figured it was His will I was in this predicament.

    I reached out to close friends as the next resource. I wanted their help. I hoped SOMEONE could free me from my prison, but I did not want to be the one to open the cell door and walk out. It reminds me of Jesus asking the sick before He healed them, “Do you want to be well?” I wanted to be “well” but didn’t know “how” to be well, or how I would live being made “well” when all I had known was this sick way of doing life. Being well would require action on my part, and I was very afraid of taking up my mat and walking (away).

    Going to people after an episode also helped me to relieve my anger and hurt over the injustice. Spilling my heart out to a listening ear was like a medication to my wounds. I often felt better after talking to someone and could face the day (or night). It was like going to the principal and tattling on a bully. It just made me feel better. But it did not “fix” anything. It’s like taking an aspirin for a recurring migraine. It helps relieve the pain, but it doesn’t cure the root health issue, and the migraine always comes again.

    I think the “telling” became an addiction for me. I would run to the phone before I would run to God. One day, while in the shower, I was stewing over some episode with my “then” husband. I had made up my mind to call his mom and “tell” on him. As I was exiting the shower, I heard this plain as day: “Why are you going to tell his mother, when I AM his Father.” I will never forget that. But even after hearing this, I continued on with my phone call, and hundreds of other calls over the YEARS ahead.

    I was bullied in junior high, I had an abusive 4-yr dating relationship, and a bully for a husband. I wanted SOMEONE to fight the bullies for me and rescue me from my situations. One of my close friends, who sheltered us after our departure from my home, did stand with me FINALLY and fought beside me. But it was still my battle. I had to ACT. I had to DECIDE. I had to CHOOSE. I had to make a MOVE. I had to step outside my own front door into the unknown. And I did.

    I am grateful for those who stood beside me, longsuffering in my drama, as I put off my departure for YEARS. One thing on my side was that these wonderful allies were committed in their hearts to see God move in my marriage. They did not want to see my marriage end any more than I did. We were all waiting for a move of God that never came, at least not in the way we all had hoped. I think most of my friends saw me as a champion of faith for staying, hoping, trusting, praying, and persevering. All of them were completely understanding when I finally left. Most said they’d have done it a long time before I did.

    I do feel bad for having “drained” my supporters. I had more than one, so it was easier to spread my stuff out and not burden one person in particular. But truly, after I left, my Jesus has shown me how to wean myself off the need for human support. I still reach out to others, yes indeed, but more to Jesus. Calling out to Jesus may be easier now because 1) I HAVE TO! My ex is no longer making all the decisions and parenting beside me, and 2) I have the freedom to pursue Jesus MORE. I no longer am so preoccupied running defense in my home for myself and my children. I have the freedom to spend time with the Lord, seek His face, and rest peacefully in His presence. Those things were not a part of my everyday life before. I was always on high alert.

    What you have done, dear sister, in allowing your humble post to be put before all of us readers, is to prompt me to write sincere notes of thanks to those who were closest to me in my dark walk and tell them how much their love and support meant (and still means) to me. I will most likely never be able to repay them for their emotional investment in my dramatic life, but I realize a heartfelt thank you can be an antidote/healing balm or “payment” like no other.

    I do find I am having to walk out of some selfish tendencies as part of my healing. Self protection was part of my “before” identity. Now I am challenging myself to look for opportunities to pour back in to others’ lives. This is very new for me and I am asking the Lord to direct me as to how to do just that. The local battered womens shelter may be a good place to start.

    Thank you ACJ. I am blessed for the healing that comes from every post you put before us. What a blessing this site is to me and so many others.

  6. Valerie

    Yes, this is the sad reality and one that makes me even more disgusted with the “church”. There is the residual effects of second hand toxicity that often occurs to those who are gracious, loving and merciful enough to extend support to the target. Burn out. Because the village isn’t taking care of its own, the support is left to a few…in the cases of abuse it seems a very small few…who have understandable difficulty shouldering the weight of this all amidst their own trials and life circumstances. The friendship can easily go to more of a social work type role because the target’s mental resources have been depleted and only demand more as the separation from their abuser unfolds.

    Sometimes I have felt the weight I have put on the three or four people I have for support and it makes me angry for them that this weight has been left to so few when one by one the other “Christians” in my life have either walked away or inflicted more trauma, leading to yet more weight on me and subsequently trickles down to the few who offer me life support. I am in scripture and time with God daily…I would not survive without it…but while the abuse is still ongoing there is new trauma to deal with and old scabs that get sliced off. I know that the heavy weight of this is temporary but for now the weight is indeed heavy. As the poster describes some days there simply is nothing left in the tank…you are just running on fumes. That is why places like this have been a life support for me to come and unload some of this tremendous weight and pain.

    I have often said that if your house burns down, you lose a job or would suffer others kinds of loss you can openly go to the community and receive support. Hallmark has sections devoted for this! There are not the accusations, blaming or rebuke that accompany these types of losses that is very much present when suffering all of the loss that accompanies abuse. You are bullied into keeping the grief hidden, which makes support much too rare.

    • Barnabasintraining

      it makes me angry for them that this weight has been left to so few when one by one the other “Christians” in my life have either walked away or inflicted more trauma, leading to yet more weight on me and subsequently trickles down to the few who offer me life support.

      ^This.

      I was furious at how little support and how much grief the victim I knew received from those who should have been helping her. In the end there were very few of us in the helping camp. It should not have been that way. 😡

    • missdaisy

      Valerie said,

      As the poster describes some days there simply is nothing left in the tank…you are just running on fumes. That is why places like this have been a life support for me to come and unload some of this tremendous weight and pain.

      I relate to this, too. In my situation, it was my mother’s death. I was very close to her. I’ve usually been the “giver” in friendships, not the “taker.”

      After my mother died, though, I got about zero support, not even from extended family who KNOW I’ve been having a tough time of things.

      Some of my internet friends are usually takers. Even in the few months after my mother’s passing (and I did not talk about her death a lot), two or three of my internet friends (who knew I was having a rough go of things, even though I was not discussing it often with them), were leaning on me at that time! I felt as though I was running on empty, as you were saying.

      I had nothing to give to these friends, but they kept coming to me anyway for encouragement and support, which I tried to give. But they would not let up.

      I was needing a shoulder to cry on myself, but these friends (and one sibling) kept coming to me to be their support, or just someone who would listen to them complain about life’s smaller problems, like their fridge was broken, their boyfriend wouldn’t put the dishes away, etc

      Valerie said,

      You are bullied into keeping the grief hidden, which makes support much too rare.

      Same here, but in regards to my family telling me to shut up about my grief since my mother has died, as well as other issues I’ve been enduring.

      And these are Christian people doing this to me, many of them folks who go to church every week, no less. My mind boggles that people who have, I would assume, read ‘The Good Samaritan’ story Jesus told in the New Testament don’t do as it teaches. I guess they feel it only applies to other people?

  7. I’ve often found that those who are supportive of victims of abuse understand precisely because they’ve been traumatized at some point themselves. Because of this, they may not be able to emotionally handle the trauma of others over an extended period of time. Something comes up in their own lives and they take a hit emotionally. They have nothing to give. And it hurts when they break away.

    You’ve done nothing wrong. I’m sure you’ve already apologized. Please, do not beat yourself up over this. Moving away in peace is a good chance to extend grace to another and, for that reason if no other, it’s an opportunity to repay her kindness in the past by letting go today–of your own hurt, of any sense of betrayal, of any expectations of friendship in the future. Just love her and be thankful for the time you had together.

    Again, you’ve done nothing wrong. We’re all broken in some way. It’s a privilege to walk with others in understanding and kindness. By forgiving yourself, letting go, and continuing to heal you can honor your friendship.

    The Lord will meet all your needs and bring other to walk along side you. That’s a certainty.

  8. Charis

    When this journey first began to unfold for me 2yrs ago, I attended a women’s intensive in Minnesota. One of my homework assignments was to build a circle of 10 Safe Friends – all women I could trust. Although perhaps each person’s role in my life/journey might be different based on just how “safe” they were, their personality, time constraints, desire to be involved, etc – there was benefit to having a network 10-deep.

    I felt the task colossal since I was so isolated and had no friends. It seemed an insurmountable task as I considered myself a “slow-to-warm” personality. Walking up to a stranger and blurting out, “Hi, due to my life & marriage instantly falling apart, would you please consider yourself one of my new best friends? I need you in my life right now; I don’t know who else I can trust and I don’t have many people I can go to.”

    It worked. The Holy Spirit was kind and generous and lit a path before me. Jesus sent people to me – unexpected. People who had walked a mile before me. A month after the workshop, I sat down and was deeply blessed to see that I did, indeed, have 10 Safe Friends, each with differing roles.

    And I would need them for the road ahead.

    Some friends I would need for dealing with what I knew at the time: my husband’s deception and 30yr porn addiction as well as the reality that he was never who he said he for the entire 10yrs I knew him: I married a figment of his imagination – what betrayal! Some friends I would need to forge the enormous support team to pull me through my 4yr old son’s cancer diagnosis – still on the horizon. Some friends I would yet meet, as I was yet waking up to the fog and depth of abuse throughout our marriage, educating myself and making difficult choices like going to the DV Shelter, choosing separation, getting a job, moving into an apartment, etc.

    God is Good. He knew I needed those initial 10 and that some of my Safe Friends would (as Tyler Perry quips) serve for “a season, a reason, and a life-time.” Over the course of these past 2yrs, I have whittled my initial list down. Some have been cut altogether. As I learned about safety and as I have been forced to make difficult yet necessary decisions: some friends became unsafe for me and I no longer have contact with them. Some are still being let go as my husband builds allies.

    Yet for every friend I have had to let go, God has provided new; still is. Some came in the most unexpected ways. Not all are local; they don’t need to be. Most are a phone call away. I count myself blessed to see this prayer answered. I have options. I have the ability to “spread my grief” around and try not to wear any single one person out. For that, I am SO thankful. And, I am thankful for the wisdom of the women’s intensive who encouraged me to build a team, 10 deep. It was work that was well worth it. Scary. But worth it.

    • “I married a figment of his imagination – what betrayal!”

      That deserves to be made into a meme!

    • Valerie

      What a beautiful account of God’s faithfulness! It encouraged my heart greatly. This has been my experience as well (lose a friend and God replaces with an even better one) though I’m not even at half that safe number presently. Thanks for sharing this testimony Charis!!

    • Tess

      oh Charis…well done in making the effort to each out….10 supportive people would be a blessing indeed.
      We are not people who easily complain as we r used to struggling on alone and the fear often keeps us silent…..so the rejection when we make the effort to talk can be devastating…reaching out…opening up is v risky……so Charis WELL DONE YOU!
      This site is amazing….thank you to everyone.

  9. Lisa

    It’s been 4 years so far from the time I laid the idol of marriage down at the altar and God began to move in my life. I began to come out of denial and question what was happening in my home. I would say the Lord was so faithful in placing key people in my path who HE used to help me see through the fog and eventually out. During this period and still I became aware of how much I really needed to talk to people and realized not everyone gets the abuse thing. My situation became my obsession and mostly what I focused on and talked about. But, somewhere in there I pulled back as I could tell people had a saturation point. The need to talk to someone didn’t go away, but I kept in my mind “Go to God first.” That helped. Often time HE would rotate the people for me so I wouldn’t tire them out. One of my sisters has been instrumental in this process. She is able to see clearly through the nonsense and helps me to get a more correct perspective. She is not only awesome at this, but she is able to set her boundaries. There have been friends who I could tell were tired of hearing me so I would stop. I can’t say that I have lost friends, but I have isolated myself somewhat with all the changes that are taking place. I can tell that I have lost a lot of enthusiasm for life I once had. I am trying to focus on healing, but a part of me just feels depressed. Anyway, I am very grateful for this blog site. It is a safe haven for information, expression and guidance.

    • missdaisy

      Your comment about rotating friends around.

      I tried doing that myself in my situation (grief over death of a loved one). Even though I was trying to be very sensitive to other people’s lives, schedules, and not to burden any one person, (I was attempting to phone 3 to 5 different extended family, as well as talking to people at a church I went to for awhile), it didn’t work.

      And even though I was only phoning some of these people once every four months (average phone call was 30 minutes to one hour long), some of them acted like that was too much, which grates on my last nerve.

      I was telling these folks up front, when I first phoned them, I could use their support, but did not want to be a burden, so I asked them permission if could I call them in the future months. And if so, what times would they prefer me to phone, etc?

      And they said, “why yes, you can phone me to talk about these things, the best times for me are thus- and- so.”

      Even though I was obeying their preferences to the letter (I would only call between thus and so hours on Tuesdays or whatever they wanted), and though I was not relying on any one person too much, and even though some of these people made every phone call about themselves (they would never let me talk about me), they still ended up behaving like my phones calls were a huge imposition. I am amazed by that.

      I cannot figure that out. I was going out of my way to be very considerate that I not phone them too much or at a bad time for them, and it was still viewed by most of them as a big burden.

  10. WhomTheSonhassetfree

    I can totally relate to this story. Just recently I had to lay another friendship down.

    My friend, too, knew of the abuse I was living under, and encouraged me to leave. Since leaving 7 months ago, my life has been inundated with the almost full-time job of the “Leaving Process”; getting a job outside the home, finding a place to live, leaving my non-supportive church, being abandoned by those who chose to buy his stories instead, documentation, legal battles, looking for counseling for my children, etc. You all know the routine! By the time all of that is said and done, and you have “regular” life on top of that (bills, groceries, homework, Dr. appts., etc.), it does not leave much energy to give or invest in others.

    In a nutshell my friend said she felt like I was onlly wanting of a friendship of convenience; I was only available when it worked for me. And while it deeply hurt my heart on her behalf that she felt that way, after a few more attempts to try to communicate where I was coming from, I finally just had to reaffirm my love for her and tell her I could not give her what she was looking for from me right now.

    I often refer to the scenario above as the “ripple effects” of being with, and leaving, my abuser. I have arrived at a place in my own journey, that I have come to recognize the costs involved in leaving. The last thing I need is one more thing to feel guilty about, so while I am sad over the losses (And believe me, I am! Relationships were/are everything to me!), I no longer put any energy into pursuing relationships with people who don’t get it. If I am ever going to truly heal, I have have to put every ounce of energy I have left into what is necessary legally, emotionally, and spiritually for my children and I to leave well and create a new life for ourselves.

  11. LH

    My (former) best friend who was my best supporter and encourager thru many years, including the worst of the times I went thru, almost broke off our friendship over a new issue I had to start dealing with. We have since somewhat repaired our friendship, but it’s not the same, and I have to be always mentally monitoring myself that I don’t talk too much about my current problems with her because she gets impatient with me. I do have others new friends but I find I’m more wary now in trusting friends. I really miss the friendship that I had, and thank God that He did give me someone to help me thru the worst times, and hope that someday I will have a really close friendship again.

    It has been 8 1/2 years since the divorce was finalized, and about 5 years since the worst of my ex’s nastiness stopped, and I am now able to give more to friends and not be so focused on problems. I too worry about being too needy, but thanks be to God I am healing.

  12. joyisnowfree

    Right after my wedding night, my husband began to be extremely abusive including sexual abuse. When I called my best friend to ask for advice and help, she told me to just pray. Then I called another good friend and told me she would call me back and never did. I never heard from these two ever again. It hurt me much, and I felt that it worsened my situation because I didn’t know what was happening to me and felt alone and suicidal. I didn’t reach out to any one else and that made me a target of a wounded unarmed soldier. This was 5 years ago. Now that I’m aware of what abuse is and have separated from it, the closest people to me are ignoring me. One told me that she didn’t want to be involved, yet she and her husband are helping my abuser. Another have stopped calling me or pretend I’m absent when I go to church. I know in part is ignorance, but doesn’t God teach us to love one another?

    • missdaisy

      Joyisnowfree, I’m so sorry. Not only that you are being abused, but that every one you have gone to is brushing you off, not returning calls, and ignoring you, or giving you cliches.

      I’ve not been through anything as severe as what you describe, but I’ve had people, even Christians, treat me the same ways you have described when I’ve approached them for emotional support when I am going through trials.

      It seems to me that how Christians (mis)treat you when you go to them for help (such as, ignoring you, giving cliches, failing to follow through on promises, giving unsolicited advice, etc) is sometimes a bit worse than the thing that hurt you to start with.

      • yes, the secondary abuse can sometimes hurt more than the primary abuse.

  13. joyisnowfree

    Its funny how this morning I was thinking about this subject. So many people have taken their lives due to pressure, loneliness, allianation, abuse etc.. and the only time they get attention is at the funeral. Why not shower the broken with flowers now. If a friend can’t handle the emotional burden of a victim, get more help for the abused, but don’t abandon her in the grasp of evil.

    • standsfortruth

      I agree Joyisnowfree, people dont realize how instrumental they can be in comforting one in distress, thus averting grief that leads to dispair and even a dispairing end.
      Support for abuse comes in many ways and sometimes just knowing a friend is there, is enough comfort to give someone peace of mind durring a difficult time.
      This reminds me of how Jesus said “blessed are they that visit those in prison”.
      Has it ever occured to these people that until we are have been removed from our abusers, we remain in a prisoner like state?
      And for them to be there to support us durring that time, they are also fufilling the Lords mandate to recieve a blessing for themselves.

  14. Still Reforming (previously newlyanonymous)

    It’s fascinating how many people share similar experiences along this vein. As for me, I merely found out how shallow my relationships with church “family” actually were. The people I thought I could always depend on – well, I couldn’t. Of an entire church whose children and grandchildren I taught for years and served in other capacities – well, there’s one person who has taken to staying in touch with me though my child and I were forced to leave the church where our abuser left and then returned suddenly, (The abuser remains as the leaders try to “love him to Jesus.”) This one soul who never needed anything from me (I did not teach her children) keeps in touch with me still – texting mostly. She doesn’t ask details and I don’t really give her any, but I suspect she would listen if I asked her to. I’m just not someone who tells people much unless I really sense an interest, and … I never sensed an interest. I think abuse is one of those subjects that makes people so uncomfortable and they don’t quite know what to say or how to advise that they just keep a target of abuse at arm’s length – as if sprayed by a skunk. Many at church acknowledged that I had troubles and would give me the perfunctory hug and “How are you? I’m praying for you. I don’t know what’s going on and I don’t need to.” (I heard that more times than I care to remember.) So what I thought was church family turned out to be mostly show. And all the more telling is that the deacons never once approached me once they were alerted to the abuses in the home. Another leader flat out refused to read my prayer request regarding the abuse, saying he preferred to “deal with the husband,” which was summarily excused by the pastor as “a struggle with the flesh” (therefore acceptable because it was swept under the rug as a personal issue of his).’Twas I who was asked to examine myself with respect to forgiveness for the sake of reconciliation.

    Friends? We’re so isolated that I just had to suck it up over the years and take it, until God in His time answered my prayers for deliverance – from abuser at home and from the church. My prayers now are for deliverance to our next church home and residence as well. All in His perfect timing. And maybe I should start asking for a friend too. I think the only true friend – apart from the Lord – I could really have in this season, however, would have to be someone who is familiar with abuse and being abused. No one else could understand the depth of emotion and sadness and time that it takes to heal.

    • missdaisy

      Many Christians are the same with grief, mourning, and death. They do not know how to behave or help someone whose loved one has died, especially if that grieving person actually asks them for help. That was my experience.

      I’ve tried praying and asking for a friend or two who I can phone about my problems, but that has not helped. I still don’t have anyone like that I can lean on.

      I have no idea why so many Christians are so very averse to just sitting down and listening to a person in trouble cry and talk through their problems, but they are – every one I’ve gone to brushes me off with cliches, shames me for admitting I need/want help, or they scold me and tell me to go volunteer at homeless shelters.

  15. Joyce

    I had the same experience with friends. Thanks for posting this, because I had wondered if I could have done more to be a better friend, instead of just “taking”. I probably couldn’t have.

  16. shepherdguardian

    In my practice as a Biblically-based counselor, this is an effect I sometimes call “the wearying”. People tend to become weary of the overwhelming constancy of the struggles of an abuse victim. They want the “quick fix”. Pastors, counselors, law enforcement, attorneys, shelters, family members, friends, etc. all become fatigued by the false perception that there must be a magical, short-term “pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps” methodology to halt the pain of the abuse victim. When they find there is not, it makes them anxious. This anxiety is often perceived as a failure on their part because the abuse victim did not respond quickly enough to their interventions in order for them to experience their own sense of accomplishment. This anxiety then becomes intolerable when the abuse victim doesn’t mirror in thoughts, words and behaviors what their “helper” needs (Yes, this is a secondary form of abuse).
    Sadly, there are too few able or willing to stand in the gap, experiencing the loneliness of the sheepdog, who will not quit or fall away.

    To Barbara and Jeff (and all the contributors to this blog) – Thank you for not quitting the good fight! You have, over time, enlightened my understanding of Scripture and helped me to help others in their greatest times of need.
    Many Blessings!

    • Jeff Crippen

      Thank you shepherdguardian!

    • Yes, thank you, ShepherdGuardian.

      That expectation that short term intervention will be enough: that’s built in to many of the community welfare programs that I’ve seen in Oz. Many community welfare agencies that help victims of domestic abuse have rules about how long the professional worker can see the client for. Six weeks is one example. The worker is not allowed to see the client for more than six weeks (or six sessions). This is due to the policies imposed under the terms of the goverment funding which most of these agencies depend (or partly depend) on.

      I know one woman who cleverly managed to get around this roadblock. She found that a worker who she and her kids had been greatly helped by but got to the limit of the time she was allowed to be helped there, had moved to a different agency. So the woman went to the different agency and asked if she could see worker ‘x’. 🙂 In a smallish town (100,000 people) workers often move between agencies. It’s a bit like musical chairs.

    • missdaisy

      Shepherdguardian, I just wanted to quickly add many Christians I’ve met myself in real life, read about in books, and seen on blogs are also like this in regards to Christians who have mental health problems, or who are in mourning over the death of a loved one.

      If you have had anxiety or depression for years, or trouble coping with death of a family member, I’ve found that most Christians lose patience with these things too. They think you should be able to deny the pain, or ignore it, pull yourself up by your bootstraps, and just get on with life. And they don’t want to help or listen.

      They just expect you to get over it instantly, and they may toss out comments such as, “pray more and read the Bible,” but that’s the extent of their help or counsel, and I’ve not found it helpful.

  17. crankybeach

    A view from the other end. It’s not quite the same… but I have had to limit contact with certain “friends” because all they ever want to do is whine and complain, despite my saying repeatedly that they need professional help (or at the very least, to join a reputable support group, but they never seem to get around to doing so), I am not a professional and I can’t solve their problems, all I can do is listen, but I’m very busy and often simply do not have time to listen for hours as they go into great detail (again) about how mean their grown children are being to them (I think the children are as tired of the never-ending complaining as I am).

    Thank heaven for caller ID. It’s one of the best boundary-setting tools ever invented.

    • missdaisy

      Crankybeach, I have been in your position before.

      I’ve had the same set of friends and family (and others) phone me for hours complaining about the same problems repeatedly for months or years, and it can be exhausting.
      On the other hand, and depending on why the person is calling you, they aren’t looking for you to solve their problems.

      All they want you to do is listen and commiserate, to empathize, and for you to mirror back what they are saying, such as, “You sound like you are going through a terrible time lately, I am so sorry. I hope things improve. If I can be of any help, please let me know.” Other than those comments from you, they are really just wanting for you to listen to them talk.

      I know when I went to folks after my mother died, and in the years later, when I was going through some other painful things, I got annoyed to no end by the people who acted as though me confiding in them was their glowing chance to either
      1. tell me how they think I should run my life, or,
      2. they tried to “fix” my problems (by giving me clever one-liners that weren’t really clever, or platitudes, or quoting Bible verses at me, or scolding me for admitting I was hurting).

      I wasn’t looking for these people to “fix” my mother being dead, for example – I was just wanting someone to hear my pain and acknowledge it.

  18. Valerie

    What I was reminded of today was something God placed on my heart some time ago- that there are people who are in your life for a season and that is what their role was intended to be (just as you are meant to be in someone else’s life for only a season).

    It is an odd thing because some of the people who hurt me terribly through this and ended up acting cruelly are people that at one time I thanked God for repeatedly. They were the kind of “friends” who weren’t cruel or difficult until push came to shove and their true colors showed. At the time I was friends with them they were a blessing…because I didn’t know any better. So even though they were a blessing at one time, now I am so grateful they aren’t in my life because I see things I didn’t see before (I didn’t know to look for them). Some of these people filled a huge void I had for companionship at that time.

    There are a few other friends that drifted away or other circumstances ended the friendship. One of them in particular I cried many tears over since I missed her friendship so much. It was then that God revealed to me the concept that this person was only intended for a season. Now that season was done and it is time for a new season to begin.

    I don’t look at any of the people who ended up to be cruel or lacking compassion as ones I associate with a good memory but there are others who were essentially positive but circumstances ended the friendship (not due to cruelty or abusiveness). Those relationships I can look back on as ones God gave me for a season and not feel bad about them ending but just rejoice that God put them in my life when He knew I needed them.

    • anotheranon

      This is very helpful Valerie. Thanks.

  19. Ann

    I found this blog post by Megan at “Give Her Wings” very encouraging : “Finding Safety in Relationships”

  20. Anonymous

    I had one friend in my life while God was waking me up to the reality of evil in my life from a conscienceless spouse, and this person too got overwhelmed. Abuse victims so desperately need this one person and God knows this and that’s why they are there, but I am so grateful that she finally told me that she needed a break sometimes. This wonderful Christian friend knew her limits and as such knew when she needed to set boundaries. The great thing about this is that it allowed both of us a break from the constant reliving of evil. She has been a great role model for me because of this and I can see that setting loving boundaries keeps a person healthy spiritually, emotionally and physically as well, because they all work in tandem don’t they?

    Due to her wisdom and strength in this area I am not left with the guilt that I would have felt if she’d had to step away or the sadness of having to deal with such a great loss as our friendship. (I’m so grateful for this!)

    Jesus himself needed time away from all those he knew needed him and this is an awesome example of the truth of living in these human bodies. Jesus was God but still set limits and boundaries and needed time to just be with his Father and away from the throng of people. Are we to require any less of ourselves or expect any more from our fellow Christian brethren?

    Oftentimes it is those people who have been through the most trials that have the best understanding of our situation, but these people are human too. Knowing that some people are more prone to being overwhelmed due to their sensitive make-up or that some people are triggered because of PTSD can help us see that we really need to love and accept that people may choose different ways of handling things at different times in their lives.

    We are always “left” with prayer if one of these dear friends needs to rest. We can pray for them even if it’s just a quick, “Thank you Jesus for this person that you allowed me to know for the time that I had them in my life, please love them and hold them tightly in your hand.” Nothing in our Christian walk is wasted and there may just come a day when it will be them that is in need of our care and maybe we will be in a stronger place and we can comfort them because we remember how beautiful they were to us and we also have a deeper wisdom about how valuable their friendship was.

  21. a prodigal daughter returns

    I’ve been on both sides of this. My mother stayed with her abuser for 50 years, she wore her children out as her in residence counselors when she began to lean on us starting at age 3. My brother became her surrogate husband and is terribly messed up decades later because of it. We were traumatized by both hearing and seeing her abuse and experiencing our own. It was serious, including stabbings, severe beatings and life threatening type of abuse. Our lives were threatened my mother always seemed oblivious to the impact on her children. When my mother was hospitalized and nearly died from a particularly vicious knife wound the religious community did nothing. 3 children home alone with the man who did that and despite my mothers regular church attendance no one showed up. I learned early expect nothing from church people.

    Between 2 marriages of my own spanning 30 years of time with increasingly violent men I lived out that violent heritage. (be advised we train our children to accept this as a way of life, I tell friends staying with their abuser “this is what you want your daughter to accept I take it?”. That was the message my mother gave me. I had a friend I am sure I burned out when year after year of phone calls about what my spouse had done landed on her relentlessly. I didn’t just lose friends from my traumatically abusive relationship, I lost jobs, I lost medical care, I lost income… and I lost my career and for a very long time my children’s faith, trust and love.

    My doctor told me she wouldn’t see me any longer because if I was going to stay with my abuser she didn’t want to pick up the pieces. My counselor told me “if you go back to that abuser (when I temporarily left) I’m going to report you to the police that you are a harm to yourself because I consider that act suicidal” (I disappeared off his radar and went back anyway) He tried to tell me my husband would not change and that I would die from the abuse before he did.

    My children quit speaking to me for a while, my daughter wrote an essay that was turned into a college play about trying to rescue a mother going back to an abuser. The daughter walks away sadly, head down and leaves the mother with her monster. The professors remarks on her work “sometimes we have to let people go to save ourselves”

    I lost a good decade of relationship with my grown children over my choice to stay with an abuser. I’m still working the aftermath.

    Lose, lose lose lose. what does it take to wake up that one has lost too much? I believe those voices, the doctor, the counselor, the friends, the coworkers telling me they couldn’t hear it any more if I wasn’t going to leave was the impetus to eventually leave. God was in that. God moved on them to dump me in order to save me from wasting my life.

    When a dear friend went back to her abuser just as I was starting a new job, after so much career damage from my own abusers, she began to call before work, after work, and delude me with her pain. I was triggered horribly, and couldn’t sleep (I need to keep the job or I’d be homeless) My friend has yo yo ed back and forth for 24 years with a man who has been arrested twice for trying to kill her. The state took out the restraining order on him.

    I told her “I can’t do this I’m reliving my own grief, and pain and trauma over and over with you so much so that I will lose my job” She was very angry because she felt entitled to keep on going back to Mr Wrong with me enabling her. Meanwhile I couldn’t bear the pain of that choice. At risk of sounding harsh, I will still say no one owes it to someone purposely staying in an abusive relationship year after year to keep on patching them back up only to endure some more.

    After several abuse free years I do not want to hear about it anymore or get caught up in the drama. In fact, I consider it the mercy of God that I don’t have to live in a symbiotic relationship enabling someone to keep on going back for more black eyes, while reliving my memories of that life.

    • Prodigal Daughter — thank you for your humility and honesty!

  22. Faith

    When I left my husband it became a different world. I had family that stood beside me and one grown child. Friends I had my husband painted a bad picture of me so I didn’t know if I could trust any of them. Slowly I have got back some and have found some new ones. No one will ever really know what you are going through unless they themselves have gone through the same pain. I have started helping ladies that God has put in my path to just listen to their stories encouraging them and give them hope. I remember the loneliness of feeling you are walking this new life alone. It was during this time God gave me words to a poem that help me keep going.

    The One That Cares

    No one really knows how my heart does ache.
    It seems there are times it will surely break.

    It is very hard to start life again.
    My mind does rewind to what should have been,

    I remember times I felt so alone.
    The pain in my heart was not fully known.

    It’s when things seem dark and looks very bad.
    There’s one I turn to I’m thankful and glad.

    When there’s no one else to tell every care,
    I call to my friend that knows all I bear.

    I call to Jesus in my times of need.
    For only He knows my deep inner plead.

    He cries along with me when He sees my tears.
    He is always there for when I pray He hears.

    The struggles I face only He really knows.
    May my love for Him get deeper as it grows.

    What a friend He has become to me, and in turn He is helping me learn how to be a friend to others too.

    • Brenda R

      Faith,

      What a beautiful poem. Jesus is the one who always cares when others aren’t really looking to see our pain.

  23. missdaisy

    I’ve never been married, but this post was something I relate to, as well as some of Jeff’s comments about it.
    I’m sorry this post by me is rather long, but this has been one thing that has really been a painful problem for me the last few years, and it is an on-going problem for me.

    I’ve also been in both situations. I have been the hurting, needy person who asks others for support but who gets turned away, but often over my life, I have also been the good listener whom people phone or e-mail when they are hurting or angry.

    Since my mother died a few years ago, which was very hard on me, I’ve had absolutely nobody to turn to. I did not have the funds to see a therapist and talk about it with a professional.
    Nobody, not even extended family, would phone me to ask me how I am in the years after the death. A few years ago, one of my internet friends suggested I start calling these family members up and asking for support, which I tried doing.

    That turned out to be a mistake and a waste of time, and made me realize just how selfish other people are (yet some of them accused me of being selfish).

    These family members either ignore my phone calls and e-mails, or, if they answer the phone, they try to shut me up fast.
    Or, they make every phone call about themselves and their problems, even if I let them know from the start of the call that I am phoning to ask for support. (And I was not phoning these people a lot, maybe once every few months. I was trying to be sensitive to their schedules and not be too clingy.)

    Most recently, after I e-mailed someone in my extended family asking for support (so I can talk about my mother and other issues), this person (behind my back) sent a copy of that email to someone else in my family, who then bit my head off about it.
    I was basically instructed to shut up about the death of my mother and other things that were upsetting me lately.

    My grief (and pain over other problems) was categorized by this family member and one or two others as “self pity.”
    I was told (basically) to ignore my pain and other problems, get on with life, and work in a soup kitchen (the thinking being if I see people less fortunate than myself, it will cheer me up or something. I tried previously volunteering at such a place, and no, it did not help me deal with the grief and other things).

    I got similar, insensitive lectures from church people I’ve tried talking to when I’ve gone to churches the last few years and have broached these subjects.
    I remain astounded that all these people, who claim to be Christian, want me to shut up and go away, stuff any anger or pain I have down and ignore it and try to cope with this all alone – when their Bibles, that they say they read and believe in, tell them to weep with those who weep, offer encouragement to a hurting sister, and to bear one another’s burdens.

    I have been on the opposite side of this, though. I will admit that when I act as the rock to the hurting or angry person, it can be very draining.
    I have siblings and internet friends (who I’ve known for years) who are perpetually angry and hostile about everything, will complain for two or more hours in a row per call (or in long e mails) about how tough their life is, what a jerk their boss is, or how lonely they are, etc. I have consoled these people for many years.

    Many of these people who call or e-mail me for support are repetitive. They either complain and cry about the same two or three topics for months on end, or any time they write or phone, it’s only to complain and cry; they never ask me how I am doing, nor do they seem to care about how I am doing.

    I had to nicely ask one or two of such individuals to please cut back on the amount of complaining, because I mentally could not handle any more angry e-mails or phone calls.

    I have noticed since my mother died, though, that many of these people will not return the favor.
    They always have an excuse why they cannot listen to me cry or complain, or they still make all conversations about themselves, -or-, if they allow me to talk about my problems at all, they only make me feel worse, because they judge me, criticize me, offer platitudes, or choose to frame my pain as being “self pity”. I don’t pull that on these people, by the way.

    Any time anyone has ever talked to me about their problems, I don’t interrupt them, I don’t give advice, criticize, or judge. I just listen and tell them I am sorry they are hurting.

    Recently though, like I said, I got yelled at by “Person A” in my family for asking “Person B” for emotional support. Apparently, in my family, you’re not supposed to ask others for help, or just to be a friend and listen to the occasional phone call.
    You’re supposed to stuff all the pain down, have a stiff upper lip, and be stoic and not write or phone anyone about it.

    One impression I have is that many Christians do not want to do the hard work of actually holding someone’s hand as they weep, listening to that person talk through their problems (which may take weeks, months, or years), and help that person work through painful things in life.

    I guess it’s easier to tell someone who is in pain to shut up, move on, and for added insult, tell them their pain, frustration, confusion, grief, and/or anger is nothing but “self pity” and advise them to volunteer at a soup kitchen.

    I have gotten a lot of that attitude, or else, a lot of Christians (including family members) just ignore my requests for help, when all I have asked for is someone to talk to on the phone for an hour every few months, that’s it. But even that is viewed as too much.

    I am sorry this is long, but it’s something that I so relate to, and I am still going through it, as recently as this week, I was “dressed down” by a person in my family for asking another family person for assistance.
    They are tired of me hurting sometimes and talking about it… but not hardly anyone will listen! I have been stuffing the emotional pain down the last few years. I don’t know how they can complain when I hardly phone them, and when I do, they won’t let me talk, all the calls are about them.

    • standsfortruth

      Missdaisy said

      I remain astounded that all these people, who claim to be Christian, want me to shut up and go away, stuff any anger or pain I have down and ignore it and try to cope with this all alone – when their Bibles, that they say they read and believe in, tell them to weep with those who weep, offer encouragement to a hurting sister, and to bear one another’s burdens.

      I too am shocked at the lack of support that so many so called “c”hristians offer these people that need a shoulder to cry on, or a listening ear.
      But then again maybe this same game of non support is a “sort of tell” regarding who they might be serving in their spirit.
      Like a wolf smelling a need that they can capitalize on, to bully you in your weakness, rather than assist you in your hour of need. There are some people that “pick up” that you desperately need some one to talk things out with, and they require you to do something for them (manipulate) in order for them to listen to you.
      And then if you go for the bait (which I have been guilty of out of desperation) then when you try to talk to them, they usually are easily distracted and keep trying to change the subject, because they’re not really interested in seeing you reconcile your feelings.
      “Miserable comforters” they are, just as Job experienced with those that visited him.

      I have had other so called listeners try to sign me up for multilevel type businesses, after hearing me out on the horrors of what I was going through.
      Yet this is the price they saw fitting to lend me their ear, and a moment of their time. One of those people ended up being instrumental to the pastor in my excommunication from the church.
      The ones who truly cared; however, showed it by helping me with food boxes and job opportunities, and finding resources that might help me, and taking their time out to minister to my needs.
      These are “true servants of the Lord Jesus Christ”, but they are rare gems indeed, and if you find one it is truly like the kiss of an angel.

      I pray that all of you that have been ill dealt with, will find “sincere people that truly care” and show forth the “fruit of a caring heart” with no other agenda.
      Everyone who has suffered at the hands of pseudo christians, and people with self-serving agendas deserves at least that much.

      • missdaisy

        @ Standsfortruth.
        I’m sorry that happened to you. I’ve not experienced anything quite that drastic, in that, after I’ve spilled my heart and woes to a person, they’ve not gone into a sales pitch wanting me to buy their Avon…

        Well, to think of it, I may have. Just about a year and a half after my mother died, and I was living in a new city, I met a lady while out shopping. We exchanged phone numbers and got to talking

        I felt like I could trust her and shared with her many of the things I’ve mentioned on this page about my family troubles, how I’ve been alone and lonely since mother passed away, the family ignores me, etc.

        She goes to a church around here, and she picked me up and took me to her church with her spouse.

        This woman turned around a few months later and invited me to her home for a jewelry party. She mentioned about twice that if she could get at least ten party goers to show up that the jewelry company lady would give her a free necklace and ring.

        Looking back, I think the only reason this lady wanted me at her party was she needed at 10th person to qualify to get the free ring and necklace. She never e mailed me or phone me back again, and she did not reply to my e mails to her.

        But with most people, if they do listen to my talk, they either try to cut me very short and get me off the phone quickly, or, they proceed to shame me for hurting, or they give me platitudes. (My sister screams at me and calls me names.)

        But that is very, very tacky to listen to someone discuss their problems only as a way to get them to listen to a sales pitch.

    • Valerie

      Missdaisy, I hear your plea and it isn’t too much to ask. It makes me go back to what I said previously that when people shake you off their feet it only adds to the burden you were all readying carrying and seems to only intensify the need. 😦

      A good counselor I was working with gave me some advice that really hit me even in its simplicity. I told her about yet another instance of someone who I considered to be a friend being once again not only unsupportive, but only added to the pain because of their hurtful response. This counselor asked me why I was expecting to get support from someone who had never been supportive. It was a light bulb moment for me. I realized that I was repeating the cycle in a similar way I had done with my emotionally abusive husband. I falsely assumed that if only he understood he would give me support. I assumed his heart wanted to give me support and the issue was a lack of understanding. Yet support/change was never his intent and I see now that with some of my “friends” that was actually never their intent either. As others have said some of them only used my pleas to make them feel better about themselves in some twisted way, “See, I showed her where she was not relying on Jesus enough! Look what a godly woman I am by pointing out where she is lacking!” What this counselor said changed my approach and it made all the difference in the world. I never again approached the porcupines in my life as though they could ever be a kitten. Frankly, some of them enjoyed being a porcupine. Knowing they were porcupines kept me from getting poked and bleeding. I kept my safe distance rather than hoping to get a hug. I grieved the loss of who they would never be, similarly to my husband. I realize all the wasted energy I spent on trying to make someone else get it. From places like this I realized that if you expend any energy trying to help someone see your pain you need to go elsewhere because sites like this are full of people who do not expect you to spend energy in order to get comfort.

      I also falsely assumed that when other people came to me with problems their goal was to find out how to change things to make them different. While this is certainly some people’s intent, others are only looking for the attention their problems bring or they want to unload so that they have enough energy to go back and repeat. Now I try to listen for the goal. If they are in deep anguish (you can tell) then getting them to emotional safety is the goal. However if they are beyond that and they show opposition to any discussion about problem solving then I don’t see a need to become their venting machine. If they aren’t interested in changing their circumstances then what’s the point? (I’m referring to those who get hostile to the thought they should do something different, not the ones who are scared to do something different) I’ve had counselors model this by saying it looks like I’m (or he/she) not ready to make changes yet so until then the counselor can’t help you/them.

      I got off topic from your post but your post brought these memories back. In my case it drove me closer to Christ as there were some days He was the only person I could talk to (literally). While that part has been absolutely beautiful, the betrayal and rejection I have encountered with these past “friends” has left me with deep scars.

      • Brenda R

        It does seem to be the basic response for most Christians: tell you to pray about it or they say they will pray for you, now go away, it is all better now. We are expected to smile each time we come through the church doors no matter what. That is hardly reality!! Sometimes we need to cry, be angry, need a hug or have someone to listen when we are feeling the pain that happens in life.

      • missdaisy

        @ Valerie.
        Oh, I hear you. In the past few years, I started seeing people as they really were. Reading books about people pleasing helped me with that, but some of it came from real life observation.

        I thought in the year or two after our mother died, that my big sister would step up to the plate and be a loving, compassionate maternal figure and help me out (cope with the loss), but she remained just as angry and self-absorbed as ever.

        My sister was phoning me up after mother died every so often and expecting me to be “her rock,” to listen to her complain about things, which I did for her. But when I tried to open up to her about what I was experiencing, she would become furious and cuss me out.

        I had to accept early on that she was never going to be the kind of person I needed or wanted. And that was a whole other grieving process. Having to accept that my sister would never be the kind of sister I wanted or needed was almost like experiencing another death.

        I cannot talk to “Person A” in my family. His personality is rather cold, pragmatic, and critical, so I realized years ago I can’t go to him. Hence, I contacted “Person B” in the family last week, via an e-mail, asking for their support.

        And they turned around and sent my private note to “Person A” behind my back, which I only found out about later. The irony of all that. After I told B in the e-mail that I am unable to talk to A about any of this stuff, B sends that e mail to A. -And no, Person A did not understand, and the email only made him angry.

        I do hear you about people who are chronic complainers but have no intention to change. That is not me in most cases.

        Since mother has died, I’ve done a lot of research on some of the topics I’ve read about, ordered books by psychiatrists, to try to get help for myself, and I joined grief forums for a while.

        With my mother being deceased I can do nothing to fix that situation, though. I can’t bring her back to life. I spent a few years (about four) just mourning her passing and trying to figure out how to go on. If I had had someone to listen to my grief from the start, it probably would’ve cut the worse of the grief down to two years or so.

        My sister is like that, though. She will complain about the same three topics but not try to change her circumstances at all.

        Something else about that point farther above.
        When I phoned an old friend (co worker) about all these things about three years ago, she ended the call by saying she was glad she could listen, however…

        She said if I phone her again to complain about anything, she would insist that I tell her how I tried to solve the problems I was complaining about.
        (This, despite the fact I had told this friend from the out set of the call that I was never going to phone her again and would stick to e mail, because I could not afford long distance at that time.)

        Bottom line is, she didn’t want a friend like my sister who complains constantly but never tries to change her situation.

        But then, this same friend proceeded to phone me 3 to 4 times per month for about four months after my one phone call to her, to complain about her work situation and her health problems!

        I did not put any conditions on her like she did with me about that – when she phoned me, I let her complain as often as she wanted, and I did not force her to tell me how she tried to fix her problems.

        The hypocrisy and double standards I keep running into about these things with friends or family members also blows my mind, or makes me very angry sometimes.

        People really do not want me holding them to the same rules and standards they have placed on me.

      • If they aren’t interested in changing their circumstances then what’s the point? (I’m referring to those who get hostile to the thought they should do something different, not the ones who are scared to do something different)

        This nails it! There are people who get hostile to the thought that they should do something different. And there are people who are scared to do something different. Great distinction, Valerie. Thank you.

        Many bystanders who fancy themselves as ‘helpers of the abused’ misunderstand victims because they don’t perceive how scared victims are. When they are encouraging an abuse victim to leave her abuser, they interpret the abuse victim’s reluctance to leave the abuser as hostility towards them, rather than what it actually is: fear of the abuser, fear of displeasing God, and fear of being stigmatized by the church.

      • Brenda R

        fear of the abuser, fear of displeasing God, and fear of being stigmatized by the church.

        Yes, Yes and Yes. That sums it up. That is exactly what kept me in bondage for far too long. I no longer care what others think or what the abuser will do. Somewhere along the line I stopped being afraid of him and now all that is left is pity. Sorry X, but you will never change, but I have. I will never stop fearing God. I do want to please Him and have to remind myself of who I am in His eyes and pray for His guidance in all that I do. I have a hard time choosing between what is good and best. I want to do what is best in His sight.

    • Dear MissDaisy
      it sounds like your family are so committed to suppressing emotion that you are always going to feel lonely with them, lonely because they don’t want or are unable to let you share your grief. It sounds like they are not people who will bear one anothers’ burdens. That’s sad, for you.

      Like you, I have thought a lot about the scripture that says “Weep with those who weep.” I don’t actually think it’s hard work to do that, it’s pretty easy really, since all one is asked to do is share in the sorrow, and share the sorrow with our Lord, collectively. He can bear all sorrows. His heart and arms are large enough to hold all our sorrows. So when I sit with someone who is grieving, I just sit with them and pass the part of it I can’t fathom (or carry) on to my Lord.

      But so many people are not willing or able to do this. There are lots of reasons why not, which aren’t worth unteasing here. The point is, grief naturally carries within it the impulse to share it with our fellow man, and when the ones we try to share it with spurn us, it hurts.

      Even Jesus felt that impulse to share his grief with his disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane, and to have them companionably attend him. He did not need words from them, what he wanted and longed for was their compassionate fellowship, a heartfelt silent sharing of empathy. But they just fell asleep.

      And he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Remain here and watch.” And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” And he came and found them sleeping, and he said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not watch one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
      And again he went away and prayed, saying the same words. And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy, and they did not know what to answer him. And he came the third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? It is enough; the hour has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.”

      (Mark 14:34-42 ESV)

      • missdaisy

        Barbara Roberts, Re: your reply to me of, JANUARY 29, 2015 – 6:09 PM

        Thank you so much. It makes me feel at least a little better that several folks on here (including you) took a few moments to leave me thoughtful comments.

        Most of my family, my father especially, are reluctant to express emotions. They do believe in suppressing them.
        Except for my older sister – she’s fine with expressing anger, she’s a very hostile person and will scream and yell – but she and the rest of them don’t believe in a person expressing emotional pain (sadness, lonliness, etc).

        Most of my family thinks you should get a job, a hobby, or get into volunteer work and so busy yourself with tasks, that you won’t have the time or mental energy to work through grief or whatever is bothering you.

        You’re supposed to just ignore your emotional pain or grief and pretend it is not there, and goodness forbid you ask one of them to listen to you once in awhile cry or pour your heart out (though some of them expect me to do that for them – I can’t figure that out, they refuse to do it for me, but want me to do it for them….).

        I deal with inner pain by facing it head on, wanting to talk through my issues with a supportive person. I’ve never been the type to bury the pain and pretend like it’s not there, but the one person who used to listen to me when I needed it – my mother – has been deceased now for a few years.

        But I surely do appreciate your kind words, and that you took the time to reply.

  24. StandsWithAFist

    It is unfortunate to lose a trusted friend. It seems all of us here can relate to that as an “unintended consequence” of the abuse. My initial reaction to JesusBeloved was something I learned from a very wise doctor many years ago: when someone is in pain, they are unable to think about anything else. Pain demands total attention, seeking relief. But when pain is relieved, then that person is able to focus on other things.
    Jesus Beloved: Abuse IS pain. It sucks everything out of you, it seems to never end; if there are brief periods of relief, only to be interrupted by a new kind of pain that takes your breath away.
    I too recently lost a dear Christian “friend” of 30+ years. Much like your friend, she no longer wanted to hear about the abuse even tho she was in a position to provide some relief. She placed the burden back on me, essentially telling me I was to blame for being “offended” by the ongoing abuse..that it wasn’t the abuse that was hurting me, but rather, it was allowing myself to be offended by it that was the bigger problem. (huh?)
    Yet, I had been aware for several years that most people don’t really get it and don’t want to hear about it, so I had consciously made the effort to NOT discuss it, to talk about other things, to be the “friend” that they wanted me to be: not the hurting friend, but the “fun” friend. Not the sad friend, but the “happy” friend. Not the demoralized friend, but the “encouraging” one. Not the scapegoated friend, but the “advocate” friend. Not the slandered friend but the “strong” one. It was exhausting to carry on this pretense with intimate friends. The subtle message was that pain was unacceptable.
    It was all so fake.
    So her betrayal produced an exquisite pain. Like King David wrote;

    For it is not an enemy who reproaches me, Then I could bear it; Nor is it one who hates me who has exalted himself against me, Then I could hide myself from him. But it is you, a man my equal, My companion and my familiar friend (Psalm 55:12)

    She was my “familiar friend no more. Like you I wondered what was THAT friendship all about? It hadn’t always been one-sided, but then she had never experienced abuse. Like your friend, she was intimately acquainted with the details, yet she had never really “felt” it. When it was clear the abuse was “ramping up”, she chose that moment to bail on the friendship. Zingers…that hurt.
    Then I stumbled on this and for some odd reason, it resonated a truth:
    Not all friends will walk your journey “to the end”. I always believed that this friend was one with whom I would grow old and say “remember when…?”. But it is not to be.
    Like others who have written here, it’s OK. God will provide others. There are truer friends to be found, the ones who will walk with you to the end. But as Ps Jeff said, Paul was abandoned by many, even Jesus had few who stood by Him. Yet:

    Jesus is the One who will stay ’til the end.
    Jesus is the One who knows your pain.
    Jesus is the One who will never tire of your tears.
    Jesus is the One who doesn’t blame you.

    Thank you, JesusBeloved, for your heart. Praying for you and all here.

  25. StrongerNow

    I have been the “needy” abuse victim who had little or nothing to give.

    Now I’m farther down the road to recovery, still managing my own Complex PTSD, but very able to empathize with those also on the path. Unfortunately, my ability to be empathetic does cause me to experience vicarious trauma and I must create boundaries and distance in order to not compromise my own healing.

    This may feel like betrayal to my hurting friends, but if I don’t take care of myself, I will be of no use to anyone, least of all my family, who simply must be my first priority.

    I beg those who are hurting and whose trusted friends feel the need to distance themselves, please remember that we are all broken in different ways. Our friends cannot be everything we think we need.

    • healingInHim

      StrongerNow – I agree so much with what you stated. I feel guilty though because I used to be so strong and was able to help others. Yes, there is a balance when we are suddenly in need of support. Let us continue to pray for those in healing and those who are helping to support us. “Lord, You alone give ‘all of us’ the strength to move and glorify Your Name.”

    • standsfortruth

      Hi StrongerNow, i hope you continue to heal on your journey to wellness, and by no means was suggesting support from any like in your shoes still struggling to heal from what ever abuse afflicted you.
      I have a friend that also once suffered abuse, and she too is working towards wholeness.
      She is a great listener, but I have to be careful to “not overwhelm her” with too much of what Im going through, because she too can be fragile, and I do value and want to preserve our friendship. ☺

  26. standsfortruth

    Missdaisy, just a sidenote for you.
    i just wanted to say that your sister sounds alot like someone in my immediate family. Very similar traits.
    “Not wanting to be held to the same rules and standards they seem to take for granted and have placed upon others.”
    (As if they deserve special considerations and for some reason we don’t. )
    I saw this as manipulative, selfish, and abusive, and have come to realize as hard as it was to face, that this same person was also abusing me, and I needed to put an end to it by distancing myself from their verbal and phychological attacks on me.
    I no longer go to this person and talk anymore, because they are always looking for a way to make me feel slighted, or compromised afterwards.
    This has helped to stop the cycle from continuing and thus helped me on my journey for truth and wholeness.

    • missdaisy

      Standsfortruth, I came to that realization about a year ago. I have cut down contact with my sister since then.

      Last year, after I tried telling my sister the effect her behavior was having on me and that I now insist she start treating me with respect (in other words, I was putting up boundaries with her for the first time in my life), she only became ten times more angry and screamed at me not to tell her how to act. She says it makes her angry for me to tell her how to act.

      Please note I was not “telling her how to act” per se, I was only telling her I would no longer tolerate her verbal lashings, rudeness, etc.

      She’s not willing to respect my boundaries by changing how she talks to me, she still insists on being too critical, yelling profanity on occasion, being harsh and judgmental, so I realized my only recourse is to limit e-mails to her and phone calls with her, which I’ve been doing.

      She has noticed, too she notices I don’t hardly talk to her anymore… but as of yet, no apology from her, probably won’t get one.

      After several months of me not talking to her, she said in one e mail from about two, three months ago that she misses me. I bet she does, but I know if I start communicating regularly again, it will be same ol’ same ol’ with her. I don’t want to be sucked back into being screamed at, belittled, and verbally abused.

      I wish you luck with your family member who is the same.

      • Brenda R

        Daisy,
        I don’t want to be sucked back into being screamed at, belittled, and verbally abused.

        Amen, and you shouldn’t want to allow it. There are people in this world that will listen to you and want to give you comfort. There are others that just can’t see the damage they cause for people they are suppose to love.

      • standsfortruth

        Glad you put the boundries in place Missdaisy.
        It certainly changes the dynamics of the relationship doesent it?
        Suddenly the power to abuse you is taken away, and you are the one in control of the direction of the relationship.
        Love it.
        You are right to keep you guard up as she will most likely do it again.
        Yes they get mad at first, because they know you have figured out their game, and are on to them.
        The “anger” is suppose to throw you off course, but insted it is a reaction to a boundary that stops them from having power over you.
        Happy to hear you have this one in checkmate.

  27. SeeClearerNow (prev NotHeard)

    Dear Jesus Beloved, you are not alone! I too have been in a similar place. But you can make it positive! Your friend has been able to put herself in a vulnerable place to be honest with you. That is positive! Commend her for her honesty! Maybe a short card that takes pressure off a verbal chat. And take the challenge to try to think of some other topics to chat with your friend about – gives the ole’ brain a bit of down time from the heavy stuff. Thinking of you in this challenging time. Xxox

  28. Still Reforming

    In thinking through this topic more, I wonder if these people who abandon us are really our friends at all or ever really were? The reason I say that is because even though the disciples fell away at Jesus’ trail and death, they still loved Him, and He knew when He returned to them that they would become transformed by the Holy Spirit and be used for God’s glory. They were faithful to Him although they fell away, they loved Him. They were afraid and confused, but they still gathered in a room together to mourn about their friend’s death.

    The “friends” and “family” mentioned in the comments for the most part can’t or won’t remain our “friends” and “family” in the face of adversity. Even Job’s “friends” sat with him, even if misguided or giving poor counsel. Our “friends” and “family” don’t even seem to be willing to do that. I know that by and large I have not told others because I know they don’t want to help shoulder the burden, even though I’ve heard the lip service at church. I know who really means it and who doesn’t. And there’s only one person who really meant it. (There’s another as well, but she herself is living with an abusive bully of a husband and I just don’t think her thoughts on the matter go the distance. She’s still in the church of the “love the abuser to Jesus” mindset. So she feels that way about her own situation. She can’t help shoulder this burden now that I’m on my own.) That friend has an active busy young life (she’s 30 years my junior), so I don’t want to trouble her. But she’s the only person who texts me to see if I’m okay. Everyone else has fallen away. Some even siding with the abuser. I’m both incredulous and not surprised at the same time, if that makes sense. Perhaps it’s the incredulity in my head where betrayal seems stupefying, but the knowledge was tucked away in my heart deep down that these “saints” (so-called) didn’t really love as they profess to.

    I want to read Scripture at this time to lean on the Lord, but I don’t know where to turn (Psalms?). I lament to Christ in prayer, but it feels so…. repetitive and …. well, unsure. Because I don’t know the outcome and I don’t know if we’ll be granted the safety and security we desire… My prayers falter. I am afraid. The Lord is my only hope here, and if He doesn’t grant the desired outcome, well, I’m just going to have to remember His character and goodness and plod on. I know my trial isn’t the worst that saints have ever seen. I’m just stunned by this process how quickly the church let me go and even turned against me. I’m scared to confide in the next pastor at the next church No one in my bloodline family (the only two left) want to know any details. They want to be “Switzerland” – neutral with all parties. I know they’re not the family Christ has given me, but even that family (the church) aren’t there. This site is the only place I am understood and feel any comfort whatsoever.

    • standsfortruth

      I will be praying for you Still reforming, as Im sure many others here are also, that God grant you the provision and wisdom to come through this as well as possible.
      I have a friend at work that ended up representing herself in court, against her abusive ex, and she stayed calm and did ok -as the judge saw the “abusive tells” in the ex’s replies..

      • Still Reforming

        Thank you, Standsfortruth. That is encouraging. And the prayers are deeply appreciated. This past week I met with the head of the law firm, who painted the bleakest picture possible (ie, I could be kicked out of my home that day and the anti-h given full custody). I think the Lord may be giving me wisdom here in how to handle the pre-trial “settlement” meeting this upcoming week. I am praying for the judge to have the wisdom of Solomon. Thank you again. Very much.

      • Brenda R

        SR,
        I will be praying for you and the judges wisdom. I don’t like the bleak picture you were given. It doesn’t make any sense. It is a sorry state of affairs that this kind of thing could ever happen. This world is truly evil. I pray God blesses you through this and the opposite of this darkness comes about.

      • Still Reforming

        Brenda, Oh yeah. I got the full picture painted. My husband has no permanent residence and one bedroom in a travel trailer (that because he lied to my mother to get it; it belongs to her). Yet our child could still be either turned over to him full-time with full custody and/or I could be kicked out of the home we’re in now and he move back in (even though he left us). It was just about as much as I could handle to be told all of this. I have already gotten used to the fact that my attorneys sound more like his lawyer than my own – right down to my always having to ask about reimbursement for bills for the past four months – and two days ago the reply was that they’ll lowball child support just to appease the aggressor (husband) during settlement. Were it not for the Lord, I think I would truly lose my mind over all this. I sleep only by the grace of God – because when I awaken, no matter the hour, I’m fully awake and this is the first thing on my mind. If the Lord hadn’t shown me this site when He did, I would truly despair. I’m still trusting in Him, and if things go really bad on our court date, I shall still have to – because …. Who else have I in heaven but He? Job’s life ended well. I hope ours does too but even if not in the short-term, I must keep my eyes on the long-term and thereafter.

      • Brenda R

        SR,
        Your attorney’s sound as abusive as your h. Low ball child support. That is unbelievable.

      • Still Reforming

        Brenda R, I’ve had similar thoughts. I spent the entire day tallying up all expenses from the past months that we’ve been abandoned to ask for all of it back in the settlement meeting (no matter what the attorney wants to lowball), and I extended that to a spreadsheet for what I want in future child support. Figures are always worked down, not up, I figure (so to speak 🙂 ). If I don’t ask, I won’t get. And it’s MY money the attorney’s playing with here – and MY money that I’m paying him with too! Hmph.

      • Brenda R

        SR,
        Stay as strong as you sound. I will be praying for you. : )

    • SR, it took me quite a long time before I disclosed my situation to the pastor at my new church after I’d left the church which abused me (the church where my first husband and I had been attending together before the marriage split). So I understand your caution and reluctance. And when I disclosed, i did it very tentatively as a hypothetical — to test the waters of the pastor’s beliefs about abuse.

      • Still Reforming

        Thank you, Barbara. Yes, for the first time I truly understand in my heart the consternation and fear of abused women in approaching the church – any church – with this information. I want to know what the pastor’s (and leaders’) stance would be were our abuser to set foot in our new church. If he’d be welcomed, I don’t know if I could stay…. Incidentally, how did your pastor respond to the hypothetical? Did his responses meet your hopes of how it should be handled?

      • The hypothetical I asked the pastor was “I know a woman who is/has being abused by her husband. What would you advise such a woman?” He immediately said “I’d tell her to go to the Woman’s Refuge.” (aka shelter) I think I then asked him “What do you consider ‘abuse’?” and his reply clearly showed that he did not constrict it to physical abuse but included emotional as well.

        It’s a long time ago and I can’t remember much more than that. I may have asked him more questions, but my memory is now vague there. I did not ask him what he’d do if the abuser showed up in his church, because that was not a thing on my radar then.

        When he answered my questions in a way that gave me confidence, a way that didn’t give me a twinge (cringe of fear or pain) in my gut, I then disclosed that the case I was speaking about was my own.

        Here is a post which may be useful to you in finding a counselor, and you could apply some of it to assessing a pastor as well.

        https://cryingoutforjustice.com/2013/04/04/on-finding-a-good-counselor-and-avoiding-the-bad-ones/

      • Later, after I’d disclosed to that pastor, my separated husband, at the suggestion of his church elders (the church I’d had to leave because those elders abused me when I got a protection order against my husband and had him put out of the house) — my H asked if I would go to mediation with him, and he offered to let me chose the mediator. So I chose my new pastor.

        We met the pastor in the church hall, one weekday night. Pastor sat on one side of the table, H and myself sat on the other side of the table. H started off by saying that I had disobeyed Scripture by taking him to court for a protection order. Pastor immediately replied that No, I was no disobedient to Scripture in doing that because Romans 13 says that God has ordained the secular courts for the restraint and punishment of wrongdoing and the protection of the vulnderable. My H was floored. He didn’t know the Bible very well, and the elders in his church were fools (IMO) to not have known how to apply that Romans 13 principle. H had thought he’d come to the meeting with a winning card, and it was torn from his hand as soon as he played it. He didn’t have much else to say after that. The meeting did not go for long.

        I was so flabbergasted by my Pastor’s defence of me that I was almost speechless. I had no idea that Romans 13 was the rebuttal to those foolish elders’ denunciation of me. So I learned something that night! That pastor is the one I acknowledge in my book.

      • Still Reforming

        Barbara,

        Thank you for sharing that testimony. It makes me very happy. I’m so delighted for you. I can only imagine your joy in finally hearing Scripture rightly applied and knowing God’s protection of you as His child even on this side of Glory. Perhaps it is in these moments that we most “feel” like His children. We always know it in our heads, but it’s really nice to “feel” it in one’s heart too. Especially after years of oppression.

  29. A friend

    Oh does this hit close to home. I am a friend to an abused person. Our friendship has been held together by the Lord! This friendship has caused me to carry a large burden. The Lord has opened my eyes and I have gained much insight and understanding for these types of people. I remember thinking, more then once, this is more then I can handle! But then I would see things clearly. I actually realized that she was that hurt person in a wheelchair and for a time she needed someone to assist her with everything. I was there to be that person. I carried the bulk of the weight. Then has some healing came to her she was able to walk with a walker (this is all figurative speaking). I was by her side. She needed some pushing and prodding from me though. She was scared and nervous to stand on her own. I remember describing this to her and telling her that she is scared to walk but she needs to be confident that I am still right here beside her but she now has the ability to stand and take some steps on her own. I encouraged her walk with the Lord and going to Him for all her needs. I would reassure her “I am here for you” but I saw things getting a little out of balance and she relied on me too much. This was all done quite gently and she grew to feel more confident on her feet. She grew to realize that not solely relying upon me was better for her in the long run. I am human and I will fail but God will not.

    There were painful times in our friendship because it appeared I was pushing her away but in all reality I was pushing her to the Lord and now she can see that is exactly what she needed. As a friend to an abused, hurt, emotionally damaged person I have been rewarded beyond my expectations. I have seen her grow. I have seen many of her wounds heal. That is more rewarding then words can describe! And I am so thankful the Lord saw fit to use me to help heal the wounds of a very hurt person. Has it been draining–yes! Has it been difficult–yes! Has it been worth it–YES!

    Together we have experienced fair weather friends. There are those who just want to escape the unpleasant aspects of reality and are not willing to bear the burdens of others. But then there could be a true friend that is just growing very weary–I too understand that. God has given me the insight, understanding, and heart to stand by my friend and in doing so I have been greatly blessed and my life has been enriched with a true friendship I have grown to treasure. I am thankful my hurt friend was willing to be pushed a little out of her comfort zone, to try to make steps on getting out of the wheelchair and take some hard steps on her own. I’m thankful my friend sees the burden a hurt person can be on someone and desires to understand the other person as well. I am thankful she was willing to take a look in the mirror and see that she could make some strides on her own and not lean so heavily upon me. She knows I am here for her when needed but she also wants to be a good friend to me and do all she can on her end to lessen the burden on me. She cares about me as well and desires to be a good friend to me. It has turned into a beautiful thing that we give God all the glory for because without Him it would have never bloomed into what it bloomed into.

    After she read this post I received a card from her stating how much her cup runneth over for our friendship. There were some rocky times, where our friendship was hanging together by one strand or so it seemed, but in the end it strengthened our friendship. It weathered some fierce storms but it is still standing and standing stronger then ever before!

    • A Friend — thank you! Your account will I trust be a blessing to many of our readers. Even for victims who have not had a friend like you — to know that kind of friendship is possible is precious knowledge indeed.

      may God continue to bless you and your friend. And thank you so much for contributing to our blog. 🙂

    • Brenda R

      A friend,
      This was so awesome. Thank you for telling your story. You are truly A friend.

    • Valerie

      Weeping…thank you for sharing that beautiful account of God’s faithfulness! To Him be the Glory forever and ever amen!

    • Still Scared but you can call me Cindy

      Friend, what a beautiful analogy and what a blessing you are!

  30. Tess

    Dear Jesus Beloved

    I am not sure when you posted about losing your close friend because you were too “busy” coping with the aftermath of being abused….but I hope you are still using the site as I deeply want to reassure you that you have done nothing wrong and that losing even long time friendships under these circumstances, is not unusual.

    After my long and abusive marriage I asked a very close Christian friend if she would mind accompanying me to court just for support …her reply “well I would rather not take sides as I love you both”.

    More recently after another ‘season’ of abuse by a female narcissist, a longstanding friend (of 30 years) prayed aloud “that I wouldn’t join her house church because we know too much about each other” and another friend would talk about anything except my abuser so that friendship is now also struggling due to ‘the elephant in the room’.

    I can state many other such instances as well as other friends who will listen ….so some people can cope and others can’t.
    I agree with Jeff about the car wreck analogy.
    About leaning on Jesus alone and not needing to offload to anyone else, well this is possible and preferable to pushing friends away by needing to share, yet we do need ‘Jesus with skin on’ and God has given us friends so we can be supported….many people will be pleased to listen …to be a blessing.

    I have found two newish friends willing to offer support but, at times we will need to let people go….another result of the isolation, the pain of DV.

    Thank you so much Jeff and Barbara and the brave and generous posters on this amazing safe place you have provided here.
    May God bless you all.

  31. Tess

    oh yes indeed….losing Christian friendships as well as coping with CPTSD only adds to the distress.

    To be truthful “in love”…..I have found Christian friends to be judgemental, scathing and impatient……whereas unchurched friends have been amazingly accepting in their support.

    Eg.1. One friend held my hand across the table in Mcdonalds, listening as tears streamed down my face for over an hour ……..2. another friend said “you shouldnt feel like that, you are letting the devil win…”…3.a third friend wont discuss it as it is “gossipy”……..guess which of these are evangelical Christian?……yes…..the first lady does not read the bible yet in her Anglicanism, knew about unconditional Agape love…….the other two are Bible believing Evangelicals…..heart breaking!!!!!

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