A Cry For Justice

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

Keep Your Accusation Radar Up — It Detects Abusers

I have written on this subject before, just last September — but it comes around in my mind once more as 2015 begins. Here is a fact that will serve you well in helping identify and defend against an abuser:

Abusers are accusers. A normal, healthy, safe relationship is not characterized by accusations. If someone is regularly accusing you (often in subtle ways that are disguised as ‘suggestions’ or ‘questions’) then you are dealing with a person who is at minimum not safe nor healthy for you.

A Christian wants to do right. We pray that the Lord will show us even our hidden sins so that we can repent of them and be healed from ungodly ways of thinking. So if someone comes along and tells a Christian he or she has done wrong, or had a wrong motive, or evidences some pattern of misbehavior that is not pleasing to the Lord, we listen. It isn’t fun and it is even painful, but we strive toward humility. Yet….

We must beware. There are times we must NOT listen. How do you “feel” around a person? Safe? Generally encouraged? Accepted? Loved? If so, you probably want to hear what they have to say. Besides, from this kind of person the nature of their statement to us is not going to smack of accusation. It comes in a spirit of kindness. And it doesn’t come except rather rarely from these type of people. On the other hand, if you will pay attention to your feelings and senses and the spirit (or Spirit) in you, you will find that your feelings around a wicked person are quite different. You feel unsafe. Discouraged. Rejected. Unloved. You may have tried to suppress those “negative” feelings and even denied them to yourself because after all, Christians aren’t supposed to feel that way, right? And hey, there are tons of Christians, including ourselves, who just assume WE are the problem.

Well, it’s not necessarily right that Christians aren’t supposed to feel that way. Wicked people WILL make us feel unsafe. The Holy Spirit in us WILL stir us to caution — level yellow and up to level red if necessary. And you will also find that, if you begin to make note over time, that this kind of person in your life rather regularly, not rarely, accuses you.

Think it through. How many other people in your life accuse you regularly? I mean the people who love you. They just don’t do it. So what can we say? We say what we said again:

Abusers are accusers. A normal, healthy, safe relationship is not characterized by accusations. If someone is regularly accusing you (often in subtle ways that are disguised as ‘suggestions’ or ‘questions’) then you are dealing with a person who is at minimum not safe nor healthy for you.

Understand! BOY! This is hugely helpful and freeing! Accusations are not normal. A relationship characterized by accusations against you is not normal. People who are regularly questioning our motives, telling us what we have done wrong, telling us what we need to do better, are doing exactly what Jesus said the wicked do to the righteous:

“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. (Matthew 5:11)

See? That’s what the wicked do. Accuser! Begone! We see you for what you are! Your master has been thrown out of heaven. He can’t accuse the brethren anymore, and I’m not going to let you do it either!

50 Comments

  1. Valerie

    Yes!!! The devil condemns the Spirit convicts. In our desire for conviction we can at times misinterpret condemnation from others for conviction. Once again we attribute false motives to the accuser. We assume that the only reason they would speak up (even subtly) is because they have either been sent by God to convict us or are speaking by their desire to have us grow closer to the Lord. However, with some this simply isn’t the case.

    You are so right, Jeff, when you describe that with some people we are always feeling on edge. Again we might misinterpret that discomfort with conviction. Yet is that how we are with our Lord? Do we avoid Him and feel tense at the thought of reading scripture at the fear of feeling internally sick and overall condemned? So would it follow that if someone truly were an agent of Christ that we would feel this desire to flee, hating how we see ourselves through this person’s eyes? Consistently feeling our thoughts are of no value and can’t be trusted?

    At the end of the day anyone truly sent from God will lead us to God and we will feel closer to Him for having spent time with this person. It is difficult to navigate at times, though. I was doing bible studies with women and thought God was pleased with these meetings because of the very fact we were doing bible study and praying together. Yet I noticed some prayers were often dripping with finger pointing. “Lord, help Valerie to see any ways in which she needs to forgive X….Lord, may we all have a spirit of humility….Lord, may we always see you are enough and that we can rejoice in any circumstance.” These things were prayed after I had released much pent up pain I was having in the marriage. It was extremely confusing because I was at bible study for crying out loud. Who would take the time to invest in bible study and be quick to want to pray other than someone who is just a struggling Christian who wants to grow closer to Christ? Yet I know now that there are those who want to “feel good” about attending these things yet are quite convinced they are just fine thank you very much. Living through all that was a very confusing time in my life. I am so grateful for the insight God has given me on the need to dig deeper and the freedom that comes from knowing the TRUTH! 🙂

    • Barnabasintraining

      You are so right, Jeff, when you describe that with some people we are always feeling on edge. Again we might misinterpret that discomfort with conviction.

      Valerie, I spent some time in a place where the entire group made me feel that sort of discomfort you are talking about. At one event there were quite a few folks I observed doing what I call “bearing down” on others. (Perhaps it means nothing, but one instance I recall in particular was a man “bearing down” on a woman.) The poor “underling” was left sort of cowering against this “faithful brother’s” admonishments. It appears to have been part of the group’s culture to deal that way. And I do believe the men were subject to it as well because of a comment one fellow made to me, who he didn’t even know, about how tired he was from ministry he’d been doing all the previous few days and now was doing it again for our group that morning. But he didn’t want me to think he was complaining!!! Oh no!!! He was very concerned about that. I could not for the life of me figure out why he would think I would think that. If anything, I was thinking he was doing too much. But he was apparently afraid I was going to admonish him. 😦

      They did these sorts of things under the guise of “accountability.” What it really was was soul-wearying accusation and it led to people having to take postures of self defense and hiding, or else wither under it. Which, of course, was the proper posture of humility.

      Interestingly, later conversation showed a disdain for those who didn’t want to be “accountable” to anyone, saying these people had something to hide. Go figure. Maybe they just didn’t want to be accused in the name of accountability.

      Naturally, all of this was done in “Christian love.”

      We’re not with that group anymore….

      • Jeff Crippen

        Barnabas – I have long since rejected the notion of “accountability groups” or “accountability partners.” They are condemning, legalistic, and just plain examples of people sticking their noses into other people’s lives where they don’t belong. The Holy Spirit in us is our accountability partner and when that same Spirit in someone else moves them to give me genuine admonishment or suggestions in Christ, it doesn’t need to be a prearranged deal set up by man.

      • Barnabasintraining

        The Holy Spirit in us is our accountability partner

        Yep. And if you want a “right word fitly spoken,” He’s the only one that can really do that perfectly.

    • TB

      Valerie:

      Beautifully written, especially this:

      “Do we avoid Him and feel tense at the thought of reading scripture at the fear of feeling internally sick and overall condemned? So would it follow that if someone truly were an agent of Christ that we would feel this desire to flee, hating how we see ourselves through this person’s eyes? Consistently feeling our thoughts are of no value and can’t be trusted?”

      I think there are some who just don’t know how to speak the truth in love. They do not have the tact or grace (or in the case of an abuser…the compassionate heart needed) to speak without condemnation. My ex would call me out on things and have no regard for the way he said it or how I felt afterward. He justified his method by reminding me that even Jesus gave a firm rebuke to Peter: “Get thee behind me, satan.” Never mind the Scripture that says, “Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.”

      I would try to soften the blows of his hard accusatory words by reminding myself he is a man, he has a military background, he gets to the point, he doesn’t mince words, he knows me better than others and is calling out things I need to see, etc.

      The delivery technique was not appropriate, much of the time. He once said he would not sugar coat what he had to say to me in order to appease me. He also said that as my head/authority, God told him things he was to say to me (especially post-divorce when he told me God said to him that I was an unclean, filthy, fraudulent hypocrite…a stench in the Lord’s nostrils…for going to God’s house to worship). There was no life or love in those words. It was all so depressing and suffocating. He continues to disqualify me as a Christian because of the divorce.

      Regarding your Bible study friends, I think sometimes people just don’t know what to pray and they end up praying stuff that brings us down even more. Sometimes when I don’t know what to pray, I pray my feelings. My heart has compassion for the one receiving the prayer, so I pray a general peace and comfort prayer. Maybe your friends were like that. They just didn’t really know what to pray. Self-examination is important, so I think it’s good they didn’t overlook the possibility you might have had some soul-searching to do personally. But they sound a little like Job’s friends who figured it must be something Job did or was doing that was bringing him such grief and hardship.

      I am learning abuse is just a different ball of wax, and unless you have been in/through it, you really don’t get it completely…and, although you are compassionate and caring, you likely won’t know how to counsel, comfort, direct, or pray for the victim.

  2. Still Reforming

    In reading this post, the fact that these accusers of the brethren like their father leaped swiftly to mind: “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44)

  3. freeatlast8

    Just got an accusing text this week labeling me the unforgiving servant in Matthew 18. Yes, abusers = accusers.

    • Barnabasintraining

      That is a popular accusation. It’s often used by leadership against abuse victims as well.

  4. MeganC

    So excellent . . . and, like I say often (peeps probably get tired of hearing it), if a person accuses, they sound and look an awful lot like the Accuser. . . . they are working for the wrong team.

  5. Lisa

    In the beginning years of almost 21 years of marriage I really thought he was just more perceptive of me and of other people, but just expressed it in a not so nice way. But, as I drew closer to God the caustic words, especially the exclamation, “What an idiot!”, began to grieve the Spirit in me more and more. Suddenly, I noticed that he thought everyone was an idiot. How could that be?! I was taught to be kind to people and would never think to call a person an idiot. Didn’t he learn the same thing? Obviously, I had no clue. I learned to shut my ears when he started up about someone and went into denial/victim retreating when it was about me. Eventually, I realized how bad it was to even have this kind of stuff go into the ear gate especially concerning my daughter. She stated to me one day that she hates when dad calls everyone an idiot especially when driving. I hadn’t thought about how all the accusations he spit out were influencing her, too. Now that he is out at least we aren’t hearing this kind of accusatory talk all the time. Thank God. It is so refreshing to be out from under that toxic fog. “Accusers are Abusers.” Great slogan to help one recognize it and run!

    • Valerie

      “I really thought he was just more perceptive of me and of other people, but just expressed it in a not so nice way.”
      This was my experience as well. He was quick to place himself as the “teacher” in my life. This was confusingly disguised when he indeed was a very astute observer. However, I now realize he was doing this as a predator looking for weakness in his prey and not as an interested observer of the human condition.

      He, too, was quick to put down others- though not to the extent you describe. He would do it much more subtly. Carefully disguised put downs usually behind people’s backs.

      • Round*Two

        Stbx never had anything good to say about anyone except himself and his parents.

  6. a prodigal daughter returns

    I remember cringing when a “friend” opened their mouth to ask me a question “why don’t you”… fill in the blank, it was actually an accusation not a question. It took me years to understand it was manipulation in which the person used guilt or whatever hook they could get in me to get something out of me. It worked for a very long time.

    Counselors can enable this by saying “no one is responsible for your feelings but you” and my “friend” would say “if you feel bad that is on you” quoting that stupid enabling counsel. I agree with this, trust your gut if someone makes you feel diminished, and they can do so regardless of what a counselor says, than protect yourself with distance

    • Valerie

      Prodigal, I too heard that “wisdom” and it left me in an emotional straitjacket. I later was led to a nourishing stream of more accurate wisdom that reflects biblical principles: We are not responsible FOR others but we are responsible TO them. Someone can’t spew out heresy and then put it on you for being led astray for not knowing truth well enough. Woe to anyone who causes these little ones to sin!

  7. Ellen

    During the years that I was being spiritually abused in the church, every time I entered the doors, it was as though a dark cloud would descend. The accusations made against me weren’t even spoken. The senior pastor and his cohorts refused to tell me what I had done wrong but would not allow me to participate in anything in the church except to warm a pew on Sunday mornings for more than a decade. So, even though they weren’t accusing me with concrete evidence or even naming the accusations, they were abusing me spiritually by their ostracism and persecution. How I wish I had been more willing early on to identify their unnamed accusations as abuse. This is such an important realization for anyone who has been or is being abused to make.

  8. Grace

    This really hit home for me. It’s only been about 2 1/2 months since I finally had the courage – by the grace of God – to get out of an 8 year abusive marriage. And yet, in that relatively short amount of time, I have learned more about not only myself – and what an amazing woman I truly am (because I never believed that when I was with him) – but also how much I’ve learned about him. Looking back, I should have seen it the entire time, from the very beginning. I should have seen the red flags. God even placed people in my life to warn me. But I was too proud and stubborn to listen. I thought if I defended him and our relationship, than I was doing my wifely duty. But when the controlling, manipulation, constant accusations, and sexual abuse started – very early on in the relationship, even before we were married – I just thought that was normal. It was always my fault. There was always something I was doing wrong, and I could never do anything right in his eyes. And wow, the complete FREEDOOM of being away from that is incredible. I thank God every single day that He gave me the strength to get out when I did!! I pray for every woman who is still where I was, and praise God for those of us who have had the courage to flee from the wicked.

  9. Anon

    Tying yesterday’s post in with today’s, don’t forget the “friend” accusers. When I was dealing with my covert abuser husband, I had to cut loose a “Christian” friend who was sure she know what I was doing wrong–why God wasn’t blessing my marriage: (1) She accused me of not praying for my husband and bearing all without complaint, and (2) I was accused of being angry at God (I was not; I was angry at my husband AND ignorant friends like her blaming and “fixing” me. LOL)

  10. Grace

    Just as a note, beware of using prescription drugs in general to deal with anything. While they of course do serve their purpose in many situations, an abusive relationship is NOT one of them! I used several over the 10+ years I was with two abusive men – one whom I dated, and the other whom I married. During both relationships, they accused me of being flighty, crazy, overly sensitive, too emotional, etc. My ex-husband even said I was bi-polar, and asked on multiple occasions what was wrong with me. So I thought there WAS something wrong with me, and thus, I took pills.

    But that those pills not only completely numbed me, but they also subdued me to a point of submission, where I became a completely different person. My family and friends all noticed. So I would change medications, in an effort to keep the peace at home, but also to fix the issues I had with the pills.

    And then one day, a couple years ago, I finally realized that I wasn’t the problem – HE was. So I stopped taking the pills (I weaned myself off of them with the advice of a medical professional), and when I went back to being my normal, happy, energetic self, he told me that I had changed and that I should start taking the pills again. Needless to say, I did NOT go back on the pills, and thankfully, I got out of that marriage (even though it took me a lot longer than it should have – the status quo is always easier).

    All that is to say, pills may not be the answer. Because for me at least, they changed me to be numb to what he was doing to me. They made me be able to easily block out the abuse and the pain and the hurt. And that’s one of the reasons why I stayed as long as I did. The other reason was because I thought I had made my bed, and therefore, had to lie in it; because in the church, “we don’t get divorced.” But that of course, is not only FAR from the truth in abusive situations, but also for another post.

    • Ann

      I felt like I was reading my own experience!!! (only exception I was on the same drug until I too weaned off).

      • Ellie

        Medicine can be helpful to our bodies as we are recovering from trauma. Please talk to your medical professional about medicine and medical issues. We don’t offer medical advice. If you and your doctor feel that medicine helps your body heal, then we are glad that it’s available to you.

    • a prodigal daughter returns

      Ah Grace I thought I was reading my own biography when I read your post. It was stunningly similar to my own story. I tell friends now if you have to medicate yourself to tolerate your marriage, something is wrong with your marriage. I’m also a photographer and writer I wonder if those gifts of creativity are born in adversity? I’ve worked in mental health and I’ve seen how abusers can hide in getting a loved one diagnosed when the problem is at home where they are being so traumatized they think they are losing their mind.

    • loves6

      I have needed medication to help me cope. I have suffered two breakdowns and nearly a third three years ago. I also get severe panic attacks. I tried 3 months back to go off my meds, I could not do it. I got very very low and couldn’t cope with the abuse. The meds help me to rise above the situation. I need them just now and am definitely not ready to come off them.
      I am under a doctor that knows my husband and knows what I deal with.
      These tablets have helped me and are necessary in my situation
      My husband and children want me off this medication. My numbing withdrawal and reactions are blamed on the meds. I know it’s not the meds but is the abuse that causes it

  11. Grace

    I’m very thankful for a community with which to share! 🙂

    • Grace

      And absolutely, Ellie. I just meant that in my situation, medication was NOT the answer; and in fact, was very unhelpful. But that certainly may not be the case for everyone!

  12. Savedbygrace

    All I can say Jeff is thankyou for such succinct truth:
    Abusers are accusers. A normal, healthy, safe relationship is not characterized by accusations.
    Having been out of my accusatory marriage for 6 mths now.. this truth seems obvious, but when I was ‘in it’ I had zero insight. It has me thinking, when churches run marriage improvement courses/weekends it would be good to have a session on what is healthy and what is unhealthy in a marriage. Maybe a ‘spot the red flag’ game:)
    This would have saved me decades of heartache!! Most marriage courses/books work on the assumption that they have two healthy functioning people full of good will and empathy ready to work on any ‘issues’ eg better communication, better sex..
    I have always left marriage courses full of anxiety and despair hoping against hope that maybe this time it will be different and what we have learned /experienced will effect the change that was needed- but sadly, no.

    • Still Scared but you can call me Cindy

      Love the idea of “Spot the Red Flag ” game! That would be wonderful at marriage seminars!!

      • freeatlast8

        My adult daughter spotted red flags in her boyfriend. She fortunately got out of the relationship, but only after investing a year of time with him. He was red flagging early on but she purposely ignored it because she liked the idea of having a relationship. Thank GOD she stepped away. It was painful, but the red flags were flying like confetti on New Year’s Eve. I even spoke to the young man about it. He sat and listened intently and admitted he had issues. He said he wanted to sit under a Christian couple for accountability, but then would proceed to do the same things again and again. He would say he wanted a Godly relationship, that he wanted to be an example of how to do it right, etc. It all sounded good, but the actions behind the scenes just did NOT match up. He is now engaged to another beautiful young lady. I am worried for her. I pray my daughters do not yoke themselves up to an abuser. They have seen enough carnage from within their own home.

  13. marriedwithouthusband

    My husband considers any suggestions I make and many of the questions I ask to be “judgmental.” (E.g., “have you applied for any jobs” after years of unemployment.) I’m not an abuser.

    • Hi marriedwithouthusband! Sorry for this being belated, but welcome to the blog. 🙂

  14. livingliminal

    “So if someone comes along and tells a Christian he or she has done wrong, or had a wrong motive, or evidences some pattern of misbehavior that is not pleasing to the Lord, we listen.”

    This was exactly my problem! And those doing the talking were people I considered friends and mentors. I trusted them…

    The trouble was, they had hidden agendas, and they insisted that I should just shut up and submit to the bullying and abuse I was experiencing.

    I kept trying to walk in humility and deal with my behaviour because they said that I was the one creating the problems. That lasted for months until I just couldn’t take it any more and I allowed myself to be driven out.

    Knowing what I do these days, I’d call them on their behaviour way sooner and then walk away to stay safe. So, the way I see it, they’ve taught me a valuable lesson 😉

    • Valerie

      “Knowing what I do these days, I’d call them on their behaviour way sooner and then walk away to stay safe. So, the way I see it, they’ve taught me a valuable lesson”
      Exactly!

  15. bright sunshinin' day

    Lisa, you wisely point out that what comes into the ear gate, the verbal abuse, DOES influence the children, specifically in your case, your daughter! I rejoice with you that you and your daughter are out from under the “toxic fog.”

    You said, “Eventually, I realized how bad it was to even have this kind of stuff go into the ear gate especially concerning my daughter. She stated to me one day that she hates when dad calls everyone an idiot especially when driving. I hadn’t thought about how all the accusations he spit out were influencing her, too. Now that he is out at least we aren’t hearing this kind of accusatory talk all the time. Thank God. It is so refreshing to be out from under that toxic fog.”

    The verbal abuse not only influences, but trains the child to perceive God, the world, and themselves in a certain way. Oftentimes, the student becomes like her teacher or the child like the parent, so we do have a responsibility to protect our children from wicked influences and to show them the truth and who Jesus really is! We have a responsibility to our children and the future generations to come to teach them what healthy relationships look like and how to avoid the bad ones, and this includes choosing a church wisely.

    Many passages such as Psalm 1 speak to the caution re whose company we keep and the effects such company will have on a person. Proverbs 13:20 provides clear guidelines for choosing the company one keeps: “He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the company of fools will be destroyed.” How many children have been destroyed by the church or by parents who drill absolute submission or obedience, when in fact, what they are demanding submission to is NOT “in the name of the Lord?” How many children have been taught to obey their parents no matter what? These teachers forgot to compare Scripture with Scripture where other passages make it clear that we always are to obey only “in the Lord” and always obey God rather than man. Lisa, you taught your daughter well by fleeing a toxic situation.

    • Lisa

      Thank you, Bright Sunshinin’ Day. I get mad at myself at times for not leaving sooner. How many times have I read that one on this blog! But, actually, in that season when I was back and forth about leaving, waiting to see if he was changing, giving him another chance, etc. he raged at my daughter with table pounding (she told me this as I was not home at the time). At that time I was experiencing the “I can take it, but attack our daughter…..no way!” A few days after that episode I noticed I wasn’t as fired up about leaving anymore. I could tell I was falling back into that complacent mode, a denial I guess, and was thinking, “Well…..maybe if there is another episode of rage I’ll leave then.” So, as I was vacuuming talking to myself God said to me, “He will eventually do to her what he did to you. It will continue. You need to break the generational curse of abuse.” I gasped because that meant he would eventually put his hands to her. That did it. I gathered up the courage and got the papers to legally divorce. It took almost a year and then he moved out. We still have contact with him but, I just don’t care anymore so he doesn’t affect me so much. If and when he does his abuser thing to her (whether in person or by phone) I talk her out of the crazy making stuff and cry out to the Lord. I hate it. But, praise God because that constant, daily toxic fog is gone.

  16. I don’t think that you’re being an accuser by stating the truth of what has happened. I think quite the opposite in fact. I think it’s a ruse to try to get you to stop talking about the truth by making you feel like you’re being the accuser, when in fact, it’s quite the opposite.

    ^ That

  17. Anonymous

    For those of us born to accusers, initially, we may not even be able to discern that we are being accused. Verbal abuse is a way of life for us and sarcasm masked as joking is a great ploy accusers use to throw their darts, and if you aren’t on board you will be accused of not having a sense of humor. It’s painful to realize the damage this abuse does to a person but the worst thing is realizing that it is happening right now to millions of people and they are still unaware that they are being abused and still believe that it is they themselves who are to blame.

    But really, as you watch nearly any show on T.V. you can see that verbal abuse is the norm. Once you become sensitive to abusive language it is much easier to recognize.

    When God was waking me up to the truth about evil, one of the books I read was on people without a conscience and the author, Dr. Robert Hare, said that if you ever feel like you’re being manipulated by a person because of their body language (wide gestures or certain stances) simply close your eyes and just listen to their words (if you are safe to do so). I got into the habit of doing this and it’s amazing! For one thing, when you close your eyes when someone is talking at you, you have made a conscious decision, and this in itself is a way of reminding yourself that you have some control and helps you focus. But another great feature of this is that people without a conscience gauge their “performance” on your reaction by looking into your eyes. A large part of their control comes from their gesturing so when you cut off this avenue, they often just shut down. But it also helps you focus on what they are saying and how abusive it is.

    “A Christian wants to do right. We pray that the Lord will show us even our hidden sins so that we can repent of them and be healed from ungodly ways of thinking.” Accusers are just the opposite. They WANT to do evil but they know they must hide this truth to a certain extent or they will no longer have access to more victims. Isaiah 66:3, “They have chosen their own ways, and their soul delights in their abominations.” Never forget this aspect of those Jesus pointed out to us in John 8:44, but also don’t forget some choice verses we have in our arsenal: Isaiah 54:17 “…you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and this is their vindication from me,” declares the LORD.” and Revelation 12:10 “For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down.”

    • Robert Hare is much resepected. He is the psychologist who developed the psychopathy checklist, a method of clinically assessing whether someone is a psychopath. That checklist is still the benchmark today.

    • TB

      Re: avoiding eye contact…I used to do that. I would not look my ex in the eye when he was verbally attacking me. I would look away. He would get angry at me for not looking at him. He said it was disrespectful and dishonoring of me. Other times, in order to concentrate/focus on what was being said (not during an episode, but just in regular conversation), I would look away and listen. This bothered him, too. He wanted my undivided attention with me looking in his eyes. And I better not move a muscle in my face. If I expressed any facial movement that was out of line (raised eyebrows, a snicker, rolled eyes, exasperation), he hated it.

    • standsfortruth

      This is incredibly true Anonymous,
      Thank you so much for sharing this.

      Robert Hare, said that if you ever feel like you’re being manipulated by a person because of their body language (wide gestures or certain stances) simply close your eyes and just listen to their words (if you are safe to do so). I got into the habit of doing this and it’s amazing! For one thing, when you close your eyes when someone is talking at you, you have made a conscious decision, and this in itself is a way of reminding yourself that you have some control and helps you focus. But another great feature of this is that people without a conscience gauge their “performance” on your reaction by looking into your eyes. A large part of their control comes from their gesturing so when you cut off this avenue, they often just shut down. But it also helps you focus on what they are saying and how abusive it is.

      My abuser liked to perform  to the family audience while I was right there.
      But it was important that I was also giving my attention or eye contact.
      I noticed that if I deliberately distracted myself, and only allowed “peripheral vision” durring one of his “verbal performances”, I could tell that he lost his ability to read me, and seemingly lost his focus as well.
      “Reading their targets”and having them as their visual audience durring a verbal performance, is important to them to continue their power and control.
      I also noticed that if I “walked out” of a room at the “onset” of one of his staged verbal performances- many times he would lose intrest and quit before he got started.
      There is something more to this indeed.
      Once you figure out how to keep them from reading you, (By leaving the room, or distracting yourself) the abuser has less power over you..
      And you can now observe the abusive behavior from a whole different angle.

  18. loves6

    If I state truth to my husband about something am I accusing?

    For years I have allowed him to have an opinion of me, lecture me, tell what I’ve done wrong, doing wrong or what needs improving. All in the name of being my husband, the head.
    Some of my children accuse me and he just passively let’s it happen or laughs.
    My husband is sarcastic, mocks, cynical, critical. I can feel his contempt sometimes on things he says.
    I appreciate this post. It helps…. but I worry I’m acussing when I state things like… the renovations need to be finished. …. I’m concerned about the mortgage… please don’t belittle me and correct me in public making me out to be a liar. These things get met with him being defensive and raising his voice.
    I let a lot go unchallenged at the moment to get peace and not constant irritability.

    • standsfortruth

      I am so sorry loves6,
      You certainly dont deserve to be treated this way.
      I understand the place you are in, because
      mine sounds so much like yours.
      Allowing the disrespect from the children towards me to go by unchecked.
      (Which by the way they learned from observing HIS example.)
      I started “calling my abuser out” on his sarcasm, because it is really “anger guised as a joke” at the “expence” of another persons feelings.
      I figured if I can at least cast the light of truth when he takes cheap shots at me in front of my children, then at least Im exposing the behavior for what it is.
      Hoping my children will see and understand why that behavior is wrong and harmful.
      (Btw, mine has not addressed necessary repairs, and mortgage either.)
      Praying for conviction, clarity, and courage and strength for you.

      • loves6

        Thanks Standsfortruth, My husbands sacrcasm certainly is anger. He made a remark yesterday about a woman on the television. I spoke up, as he said it infront of the kids. There are times I speak up and there are times I refrain. The times I refrain are the times I know I will get a bad reaction.
        I have a very complicated issue in my situation. We have been told that my husband will be needing treatment for cancer in the coming months. I have been looking at options to leave over recent weeks and now I get this news. Things were very bad in our relationship but seem to have hit a honeymoon phase since he received the news. He is being extremely nice, with subtle sarcasm and cynicism along the way, knowing that he will be unwell in the near future I guess is the reason for his niceness. Its almost like God has spoken to him, but I know He hasnt. My husband is trying to be christian, talking about the bible etc, but in my heart I discern that he has become a weak man and I discern this is all a pathetic act.
        Thank you for you prayer, these things are certainly what I have been asking God for of late. x

      • Loves6, his cancer is his problem — not yours to mollycoddle him through. Because he has dishoured and mistreated you for so long, I don’t think you have an obligation to care for him when he is sick. It sounds like he is just using the illness as another thing he can manipulate with.

      • Barbara. .. thank you. You are right. I’m struggling so much with him, I’m struggling so much with pretending.

        He has this thing, we watch a tv programme or a movie. If it has relationship issues in it, I get anxious. The next morning over coffee, he starts. He goes into the plot, the issues with the partners. I start getting anxious. I know what he is getting at. Of course it’s all about him and how I am distancing myself etc

        He has also said to me in recent times, he has to be true to him. He said everyone around him, subtly pointing at me, will see a guy they have not seen before, the bad guy is going to come out. I sit their aghast. This is coming about because I have emotionally distanced myself. I find intimacy very difficult. He has not listened to a word I have said over the last year. It all about him and how hard done by he is, how life has dished up bad stuff.

        He talks like the victim, subtly accusing me that I’m the problem, and others. He isn’t the problem not all, he is right and has tried so hard to please all.

    • freeatlast8

      Loves6:

      I asked your same question a while back on a different thread and received some good replies. I don’t recall what the title of that post was, but maybe Barbara or Jeff will remember. I am not sure how to search for it. We were discussing the difference between speaking the truth and an accusation. Oftentimes we say things that are true: the mortgage needs to be paid or work around the house needs to be done. The statements are truth with no other motive behind them except for what they state at face value. The abuser’s accusations are not based on truth…or maybe they are based on “his view” of what is true to him. But the accusatory words are destructive and are meant to wound and tear down. There is a difference.

      My ex could turn things on me. He would say something hateful, I would call him on it, and then he’d turn it around on me and accuse me of being the bad guy for not agreeing with him. It was crazy. He was quite good at it. I’d walk away defeated and deflated…leading me in to morbid introspection and very often feeling like he was right and I was wrong, even though in my heart I knew I was right. I was willing to consider, though, that I just “might” be wrong. Scriptures like: Don’t be wise in your own eyes, Let us test and examine our ways and return to the Lord, etc, would play in my mind. So many Scriptures, so many, many Scriptures would trap me into my own personal prison of guilt and condemnation. I am still trying to get out of this pit. I’d love to see some blog posts on how to renew your mind to the Scriptures when you and the abuser have been living under them incorrectly. Anyone who has had victory care to take up that assignment?

      • loves6

        Yes his view is his truth of me. He has crushed me over the years with his ‘truth’. I have been in a church where we were constantly taught to examine our ways. I have battled life as a christian for years and years. Trying to be a good girl christian. Trying to behave myself so my husband wouldnt growl at me when I got home (still live life like this alot of the time). He has crushed me, made me feel like my personality has so many flaws. Me as a person has so many flaws. These lies and accusations he has thrown at me for years and years are so etched in me that they are hard to remove.
        I so want out of my situation. I want it to be over but as I said in my above comment he has a health issue that has complicated things some what.

    • Valerie

      “My husband is sarcastic, mocks, cynical, critical. I can feel his contempt sometimes on things he says…..I let a lot go unchallenged at the moment to get peace and not constant irritability.”

      Loves6, that describes well how I lived most of my marriage. I suspect you are worried the types of things you list are accusatory…because he is telling you they are. For someone who is a narcissist, anything beyond complimentary or agreeable words are seen as criticism. They are intolerant of anything beyond full acceptance of their stated demands or thoughts.

      I am so sorry you are having to live this way…I remember it well. 😦 It was a terribly confusing time for me. After separating myself from him I finally began to realize the extent to which I allowed him to define my reality. I don’t put the blame on myself for this as he taught me there would be consequences for not adhering to his standards. I felt so crazy living with him because the chaos he created and enjoyed living in became my “normal”. I felt crazy because it WAS a crazy environment that no one on the outside could see. The things you are questioning show that you realize this is not healthy or normal. You recognize his contempt..that he mocks. The difficult part for me was to get to the other side of that. To do so meant I had to let go of the trapeze like God was asking me to and pray God would catch me. He did catch me and planted my feet upon a rock. I pray that God will give you clarity amidst the chaos in your home. He is not a God of confusion but of sound mind and peace! 🙂 Hugs to you!

      • loves6

        someone who is a narcissist, anything beyond complimentary or agreeable words are seen as criticism. They are intolerant of anything beyond full acceptance of their stated demands or thoughts.

        …. that describes him well. I honestly cannot say a word about anything of an opinion nature without worrying about what his reaction will be. My little girl puts him in is place. I often am shocked at what she says to him. He defends himself with his little girl, I stand there in disbelief….but I back her up sometimes and say to him… She has a point.

        You say chaos… Oh my gosh that describes my home well. It has been chaos for years. When he is not there, no chaos… he gets home, chaos. I sit at the table sometimes with my head in my hands, exasperated at him barking out orders, trying to be the father/husband getting things in order (as he sees it) I see it has him being a total control freak. I see it has him feeling like life is out of control and he has to be the ‘big man’ and bring it all back to order, instead he casues total chaos, raised voices, ordering, pointing the finger, demanding and asking constant questions… drives me nuts!!!

        I have desired for years for my home to be a home of peace… I have wondered at times if there as been an evil spirit in our home. I have grasped at all sorts of ‘wondering what the problem is’ just to try to get peace. I now realise that it is my husband, and some of my children that are like him, that create the lack of peace. I believe my husband is not a christian anymore. I believe that he has evil intent and he dosent even know it…… he is like a wolve in sheeps clothing, or like the snake with a vipers tongue. I fear for him when he has to stand before God …. my husband gets mad at me at times when I talk about death and standing before God because he says that I dont understand Gods grace. Hmmmm really I say, by their fruits you shall know them God says ….

  19. Anonymous

    Jeff wrote: “And you will also find that, if you begin to make note over time, that this kind of person in your life rather regularly, not rarely, accuses you.”

    Another underhanded why they accuse….is by asking questions they already know the answers to but changing the details just enough so that you must now defend yourself or the validity of the statement. It’s a way to keep others perpetually on guard, feeling like nobody hears them (because we’ve already told the accuser the truth over and over yet he constantly misspeaks the truth, and tells us that’s the way we told him–so ONE of us is lying and it’s not him cuz he is always able to find errors in our words) and questioning their own sanity. It’s BRILLIANT! So those of us who are always seeking truth (those who truly belong to Jesus) and who are wrongly taught that EVERYONE else is also seeking the truth and has goodness inside them, are RAPED by this behavior.

    Dad–“You got the tickets to the game at the Blue Orphan on Tuesday afternoon after class, right?”
    Kid–“No dad. I already told you the Blue Orphan doesn’t sell game tickets only tickets for the raffle for school. And I don’t have class on Tuesday, I have practice—class is in the morning on Thursday.”
    Dad–“When your friend called I told him just what you told me to–to meet you at the west gate near the fishing hole on Saturday and not to forget sunscreen.”
    Kid–“No dad! I even left you instructions that I clearly wrote down next to the phone so that when E called you could let him know where to go. Now I have to call him but he’s probably already left on his date so it might be too late to catch him tonight!” (And dad knew E had a date that night and it was a big deal.)

    Now on the surface, these may look like simple miscommunication errors that everybody makes….and that’s EXACTLY how they get away with it and how they get others to stay on their side! But notice how the victim (kid) is forced to defend (explain) himself again, and again, and again—unless they go no contact–but most kids don’t have that choice, do they? So while you are telling them the truth or sharing info or just talking, they are already (ALWAYS) spinning lies from the truth you speak, and have already concocted several different ways of accusing you under the guise of miscommunication.

    But the real evil is that they have forced you to engage in conversations with them even when you get a stomachache from all the explaining and defending and trying not to cause strife. And the GREAT thing is that they will ALWAYS have a chance to do this because human beings much communicate with each other….

    “For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God DAY AND NIGHT, has been hurled down.”

    DDDDAAAAY AAANNNNDDDD NNNIIIGGGHHHTTT!
    24/7

    Every breath they take is a lie as they are not alive—not in the sense that they can ever mature or spiritually change.

  20. Liz

    Thank you everyone, these comments are all so enlightening. The “forgetting”, “accidental” miscommunications, “you know I have memory problems”. Yet not doing anything about it. I can be forgetful too, so I set up reminders and alerts on my phone for things I need to be at or remember to do. I make lists. He does none of those things (except for at work when there might be actual consequences for his actions!) and then gets annoyed with me for being mad that he “forgot”. And then I have to do the emotional work of explaining, and gently and lovingly giving “I” messages about why I’m upset that he’s let someone down again.

    The accusations he makes are so subtle, I sometimes wonder if I’m not over reacting. “You only want me around to do stuff for you” (said when I’d hurt my back and needed him to carry the groceries for me). “I may as well be dead because you don’t like me or want me here” (yes, over a decade of emotional abuse does tend to make you feel negatively towards a person, weirdly enough).

    And the comment about chaos. My kids would say they love their dad, and they like it when he does stuff with them. But when we go away without him, everything is so much calmer and more peaceful. I went away with friends last year, and left the kids with grandparents and husband home alone. And it was eye opening. I was calm, relaxed, happy, my stomach unknotted itself, several health conditions virtually disappeared, which made me realise they are stress-related. I could sleep at night without waking in a panic feeling like I can’t breathe.

    I’ve waited so long trying to find ways to justify myself to others and explain that emotional abuse really is abuse. Now I just need the courage to act on what, really, I already know.

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