A Cry For Justice

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

When Victims Confront Power Structures: Lessons from Moses and Pharaoh

Afterward Moses and Aaron went and said to Pharaoh, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘Let my people go, that they may hold a feast to me in the wilderness.'” But Pharaoh said, “Who is the LORD, that I should obey his voice and let Israel go? I do not know the LORD, and moreover, I will not let Israel go.” (Exodus 5:1-2)

I am writing here about a subject that I am certain others know far more about than I do, but I am going to broach the subject and hope that many of you can weigh in.

There are certain psychological mechanisms and dynamics that accompany entrenched power and its reaction to those who confront it. No doubt psychologists have studied these attitudes and patterns.  Whether it be the top dogs in some powerful corporation, a dictator like Pharaoh who imagines himself to be God, an abuser who sees himself entitled to power and control, or church leaders who long ago left off Christ’s example of greatness through humble, sacrificial servanthood, the very same kinds of reactions can be expected when we look to such power brokers for justice.

What happens when power goes wrong?

For our purposes, let’s consider specifically what happens in a local church or denomination when power goes wrong. We could spend quite a lot of time on HOW it went wrong as well, but we leave that for someone doing a PhD thesis in psychology or sociology. Such dissertations have no doubt already been written and hopefully with some benefit.  But what do we have when power goes wrong in a local church, for instance? That, after all, is the typical stage where the Christian abuse victim is dealt so much injustice.

Those at “the top” in such a local church have jettisoned Christ’s example and teachings about greatness in the kingdom of God. He said it very clearly.  Just as He came not to be served, but to serve and give His live as a ransom, so must we do also if we are to be “great” in God’s measure of greatness. When local church leaders yield to the temptation of personal, worldly “greatness,” they have been seduced by the sirens of “privilege.” Power and privilege, you see. The one follows the other. Get to the top, get in control, get that power “over,” and you can then enjoy the perks. Reputation. Adulation. Veneration. Money. Being served. Benefits. Privileges. Advantages. It is the spirit of “I will be like the Most High.”

Of course there are costs. Just like the Old West in which the quickest draw was always being challenged, and eventually someone even faster came along, so it is at the top. It turns out to be rather precarious up there and behind the scenes there are very often “shoot outs” as church leaders vie for top gun status. “Where is Associate Pastor Jones?” “Oh, he felt he was called by the Lord to another field of ministry and resigned.” Reality? Associate Pastor Jones got to be too threatening to the head honcho. Or at least Honcho perceived him as a threat.

Alright, power and privilege.  Now, what do you suppose is going to happen when Linda comes along and reveals that her husband, a long time church member, significant donor, and let’s say, deacon, has been wickedly abusing her and the children for a long, long time? That he is, in fact, not what he portrays himself to be on Sundays? What do you think is going to happen?

Well, we all know, don’t we? To the degree that unmasking what this wicked man really is will cause a shakeup in that church, to that degree the power/privilege enjoying elite are going to tell Linda (in pious-sounding language of course) to be quiet, get back home, and let’s hear no more about it. If that sounds too critical of these power/privilege fellows, then just do some reading on “whistle-blowing.” Books on that subject are not hard to find. Because Linda, you see, has just blown the whistle. Turns out all is not perfect in Camelot after all, and Linda is rocking the peace of the kingdom.

I am a pessimist/realist when it comes to confronting the possessors of power and privilege in the local church. Just as Moses found when he confronted Pharaoh — and remember, Moses was given some pretty convincing tools to use! We call them the plagues! — just as Moses found, so will we.  Pharaohs don’t appreciate being threatened. They don’t like being told what to do. Not even if God Himself is telling them anything! Did Pharaoh repent? Nope. And I believe that is the normal outcome we can expect from people “at the top.”

Therefore, just what does this say about the spiritual condition of most local churches today? It is the experience of so many of our readers, and our own personal experience as well, that the typical and even expected outcome of an abuse victim going to her pastor and church for help, for justice, is to be dealt a heaping serving of injustice. Ok, we might grant that in some of the cases this is due to pastors being naive about the nature and mentality of abuse. But even in those cases, if such church leaders and members would honestly examine themselves, there is a sense of power and privilege being threatened. And so we ask again — what does this all say about the true spiritual condition of most local churches?

But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:25-28)

31 Comments

  1. Remedy

    So, Biblically speaking, Lordship of Christ speaking….are we to ‘blow the whistle’ or just keep our mouths shut? In the eyes of the Lord, what does He ask of us? You cannot know the timeliness of this post!! How I whispered a prayer earlier this morning of this very question and wished you would post something in this exact topic (!) because I’m dealing with it on 3 fronts at the moment and it is ripping my heart out. Thank you for any insight you can offer.

  2. Still Reforming

    I agree that giving church leaders the benefit of the doubt with respect to naivete is a good idea, yet once the cat has been let out of the bag, those leaders are responsible to Christ to follow up on the information and deal with it appropriately – not turn a blind eye to injustice. They are all the more accountable for sweeping it under the rug once they have heard the information.

    I was reminded of John Piper for some reason this morning, as I was pondering the issue of legitimate divorce in the eyes of God. I’m desirous of starting Barbara’s book but am still in the throes of abusive manipulation while not under the same roof and the details of it leave very few brain cells available at present. Seems like it’s one thing after another these days.

    Still, even though I was deserted and technically could probably waltz into any church and be accepted from a legalistic point of view, that’s not what I want or believe. I simply cannot believe that God would allow divorce only for adultery or desertion and would let targets of narcissistic abuse remain in those states for decades if not their entire lives.

    So in pondering this and God’s heart on the matter this morning, it occurred to me that Piper and other church leaders (MacArthur, etc) likely allow women and children or men who are abused to leave the home IF they are ever hit physically, right? But… that doesn’t fit into the categories of adultery or desertion. Sooooo, aren’t they in essence going around their own statements of what God says yet they add “but if you’re hit you can leave” to the mix?

    In other words, there’s more to it than just the adultery and desertion clauses, and so if Piper et. al. are going to add “okay to leave if hit” to the mix, they’re really admitting to the fact that God’s heart would allow targets to leave – only they are drawing their own self-righteous lines in the sand to say “but it stops here – only when targets are hit.”

    I am keen on studying this issue more to be able to understand and defend it better. I just have to get out a bit more from under the abusive ways of the evil one in my life to spend some time on it.

    • Jeff Crippen

      SR – if you use the search tool here on ACFJ and search for Piper and MacArthur, I think you should come up with some posts we have done on them. They allow separation for physical abuse – sort of. They always seem to throw in the caveat that it is only to be temporary and always the goal is reconciliation of the marriage. Abuse is never a grounds for divorce for these guys. And yes, that does set up a big contradiction in their teaching.

  3. Seeing Clearly

    Thank you for this stirring, thought provoking post. Memories of experiences through the decades file past the eyes of my heart. It brings tears to my eyes, my innocence, hurt, embarrassment, confusion. But always assumed I was in the wrong at some level. Even if it was just my opinion on an incident that someone else experienced.

    These incoming conversations will be a means of healing and letting go for me. But there is some hard work ahead for me as well.

  4. Hurting but Healing

    “I am a pessimist/realist when it comes to confronting the possessors of power and privilege in the local church.” I couldn’t agree more. I cannot trust authority hardly at all anymore due to my past experience of a church treating me so unjustly after my abuse and divorce. God gave Moses plagues to convince Pharaoh, the authority,— He gave me pictures and police reports — but it doesn’t matter when someone has their heart hardened toward a subject, namely, divorce. Not only that, the injustice with how most authority within the church handles the so called “Christian” abuser, the one that even many people admire, the one that is so different on those Sunday mornings. God is our authority, not the local churches — but, again, this is where we, as conservative Christians, look for guidance and help! Sadly, I just don’t believe that our local churches are what Jesus set them up to be. Where are we to go???? I don’t want to feel isolated anymore. I would like to be plugged into a conservative church with similar doctrinal beliefs that I have, but I just don’t trust them. I’m not sure how to get over this, really. I am, again, thankful for this blog and all of the articles and readers and comments that help me in my healing.

  5. voicewilderness1

    Although I’m not in an abusive marriage, I have been unjustly treated in similar ways by many church leaders and pastors. Beware of man made religious institutions with hierarchical power structures, which are totally in diametric opposition to what Jesus Christ preached, and to what the early church was.

  6. I think confronting power in the church is even more complicated by the pride of spirituality. If a pastor were to accept that a long-time member of his church were an abuser, that would mean the years of sermons preached and prayers prayed would have had no effect. How would that look to other members? To people outside the church wanting to be saved? Would such a thing mean that the pastor had gotten it wrong all those years, teaching incorrect doctrine? Would it mean admitting that God lacked the will and power to transform this life? I think in the face of abuse, it is easier for pastors to become entrenched in their beliefs and practice, rather than learn the truth in humility and make changes.

    • standsfortruth

      I agree April,
      Confronting the issue of abuse would require alot of back paddeling to be done. Owning up to the issue of the gross mishandling of abusive marriage relationships, and all the damage done to the innocent in these relationships, while exeronerating the perpetrator.
      A person with true moral fiber and integrity and the desire to please God will find it within themselves to take on such a daunting task of confronting the evil in their church with prayer and courage, but others that are inclined to being people pleasers, desireous of prestige and position, will find it difficult to admit, much less repent.
      As I was talking to a christian friend yesterday, we both found it strange that our abusive Husbands had both gone to church, but here we were, with no church home, because of being misjudged by the leadership and ostrasized by the church.

      So it would seem since this has been going on for a while, wouldnt the church start to become predominately controlled and possibly even run by these wolves in sheeps clothing?
      Meanwhile Gods people, who have been removed from these churches by the misguided leaders, have shaken the dust off of our feet, as we find ourselves seeking Gods truth, justice and mercy here at ACFJ

  7. a prodigal daughter returns

    What a great post and I love the statement “a heaping serving of injustice” as it mirrors my experience. This is why, I come back time and time again to the reality if I do not put my hope in the God who hears the cries of the broken and afflicted I would have no hope at all. This broken world in which we all “serve somebody” no matter what our position is not a place to get hope. Those pastors and other bureaucrats that are apparently serving the “god of this world” that has blinded their eyes to their complicity to his evil schemes to kill and destroy are not God. I’ve learned helplessness and hopelessness after decades of beating my head against that brick wall of indifference. It can turn a survivor into a perpetual victim and then they only get labeled by systems that are supposed to help them. In their authorities indifference to the real suffering of abuse victims they covertly give them power to abuse on and on. Accessories to domestic terrorism….

    I read this passage this morning and it helped me greatly to see how much I’d learned helplessness by being crushed over and over and over by the minions of this dark world. (people in power who are supposed to help and often get paid to but don’t).

    Isaiah 57:15

    For thus says the high and exalted One
    Who lives forever, whose name is Holy,
    “I dwell on a high and holy place,
    And also with the contrite and lowly of spirit
    In order to revive the spirit of the lowly
    And to revive the heart of the contrite.

    I asked God to revive my heart today. He gives encouragement like no human can. I can ask Him for strategy. His phone is never off the hook, he doesn’t screen my calls or go on vacation, He revives the heart of the broken in a way that humans cannot. I cry out to Him “how long Lord do the shepherds destroy the flock”, perhaps until we understand, God alone. God. alone is the unlimited, pure source of all that is good, true and righteous and He is unlimited help to those who rely on him. Romans 15:5 Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement……..

    The gift to me of surviving the pastors that added to the abuse was that I learned, I trust one, only One and like Christ who “did not trust himself to them (mankind) because he knew what was in mans heart” He trusted himself to the one authority that trumps all the corrupt judges and pastors in the world. This doesn’t mean we don’t resist their evil or call it out. However, if I have zero faith that they will do the right thing I’m not disappointed when they reveal their corrupt hearts. It takes complicity for evil to thrive.

    • Still Reforming

      Thank you, prodigal daughter. What you wrote really ministered to me.

  8. rhondajeannie

    Whisleblower here and the psychological scars to prove it. Would I do it again? My health would say no — however my love for my Saviour and knowing what He did for me I would say yes.

    What I discovered in the Presbyterian Church of Australia is that their Code and Regulations is weighted very heavily against the complainant. One of my favourite rules is this one: The Code of Regulations of the Presbyterian Church of Victoria (Australia) Chapter 6, Section Three, Clause 10b says:

    In deciding whether to sit in private or not a court considers the interests of the church and the necessity to guard its ministers and members from charges which may prove to be ill-founded. In all circumstances a court seeks to uphold the reputation of the church.

    Yep ‘in all circumstances a court seeks to uphold the reputation of the church’. What hope did I have of them taking my major complaint (fraudulent behaviour) against the leadership of the local church seriously? From subsequent information I received I believe the minister benefited greatly from me making a complaint against him.

    However, four years on, I have discovered that I have a voice. Not within the Presbyterian Church of Australia but outside with blog sites such as this; and I have written a book about my experience I have called Prised Open. [link added by ACFJ Admins, because we very much approve of Rhonda Jeannie’s book] Thank you to all those that are prepared to speak out.

    Remember Jesus didn’t go around upholding the reputation of the temple.

    • Jesus didn’t go around upholding the reputation of the temple.

      Amen and Amen!

    • The Code of Regulations of the Presbyterian Church of Victoria (Australia) Chapter 6, Section Three, Clause 10b says:

      In deciding whether to sit in private or not a court considers the interests of the church and the necessity to guard its ministers and members from charges which may prove to be ill-founded. In all circumstances a court seeks to uphold the reputation of the church.

      If I’m not mistaken, Persistent Widow has discovered evidence from John Calvin’s writings that this idea can be sheeted right home to John Calvin himself. Sigh.

      If that’s so, it would be consistent with the kind of attitude of misogyny which Calvin’s Geneva Consistory showed when they refused to give refuge and protection to a Protestant French noblewoman who was being grievously abused by her Catholic husband, whose abuse included threatening to have her locked up in a dungeon, a threat which he was quite capable of carrying out.

      For the Consistory’s letter in reply to this woman’s plea, see appendix 11 of my book Not Under Bondage.

    • standsfortruth

      Im a whistle blower too, Rhondajeannie,
      My concience wont let me be silent anymore.
      I have found that when confronting the many lies, and exposing the truth, i get attacked by verbal insults by supporters of evil.. (usually personal insults, because they cannot refute truth.)
      When that happens, I know I hit a nerve, because They feel the threat of exposure.
      Dont be dismayed by their faces or their anger outlashes.
      When they react that way it is because you are revealing truth and it goes against their lies.
      They are hoping we will get “emotional minded”- so they can accuse us of more mental nonsence. (Trying to get off topic)
      But if we become “strategy minded” when revealing God’s truth, then they will have to answer to their own reactions someday, or perhaps God will grant them repentance.

      • Diagrégoreó

        “Dont be dismayed by their faces or their anger outlashes.”

        It’s funny in a “Wow! Has God brought me a long way!” sort of way, that I’ve come to accept this reaction. In the past I would have done anything to keep the peace and fix all the problems and give up anything of mine in order to keep everyone from getting angry or upset. Now? I do not actively seek to do battle but I am more ready/prepared when evil throws its punches in my gut or at my head. Not IF but WHEN. Through God’s grace, sometimes I can be absolutely calm/at peace when evil attacks. It’s amazing really but it took many years of practice and attacks and arguing with God in order to become apt at it. I no longer take it personally when an accuser accuses or an evil one who’s been prowling in the shadows attacks. (I didn’t say it didn’t hurt my heart, but I know it has nothing to do with me and everything to do with who lives in my heart.) If you belong to Jesus evil is spiritually aware of you because you ARE the enemy of evil and of the world. You WILL have people who are against you. Even if you are absolutely perfect in all your dealings and thoughts and behaviors, you will be attacked from somewhere–usually somewhere completely unexpected.

        Jesus constantly dealt with people who were angry. Constantly! He handled it in many different ways, but as another person pointed out, he never told people who were evil that they were good. (And he revealed that many people who were considered evil were actually right-hearted.)

        It’s hard when you’ve been trained to do anything to keep the peace to stop doing this, but as most of us know, with some people there will never be peace. Thank you for a chance standsfortruth to share and hopefully encourage others who will doing battle with an accuser. You are not alone.

  9. healingInHim

    Excellent insight and comments that follow.
    I’ve had Matthew 20:25-28 twisted to imply that I was not ‘serving’ enough within the church, thus had no voice should I witness something contrary to Scripture. One of the reasons I hesitated to become too involved was because I was cautious as to what the church was living out and I was also quite busy serving my husband and children. It just never seemed to be enough.
    When I finally confronted an issue the pastor told me to just worry about the tasks I was presently helping with and leave the rest to them (a polite rebuke to mind my own business)!

  10. Reaching for the prize

    I admit I struggle with the legitimate criticisms against John Piper. He has been very influential in shaping my understanding of an amazing God since the beginning of his ministry. In my struggles, even when not bringing to light my abuse, it was Piper’s teaching of a God that is in control and works all things together for good that became my lifeline for survival. I also believed that not all men were evil by watching his relationship with his wife. I remember clearly the list he read of all the things he loved about his wife and most were about who she was not what she was doing for him.

    I have read the blogs talking about his theology regarding marriage and abuse. And this has caused me as much pain and struggle as one struggling to comprehend that a loved one has an incomprehensible belief and that you thought you knew them, but maybe don’t. That the love shown was tinged by evil.

    When opening up to questions after the series of marriage sermons, he said emphatically and sadly that he sees divorce as valid for physical abuse. Why this didn’t make it to his writings or his blogs confuse me.

    I did bring to the church my abuse. And everyone kept asking if there was physical abuse involved and should we call the police. Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough language of abuse to identify the physical violence. And thus I became a target for the church’s abuse. And they have been teaching my abuser to target me better through the fathers movement.

    I believe Piper is a produce of his generation (1950s when he grew up in the South, United states). And his views of relationships have been tainted by this time frame. But this has allowed people who have abusive views to surround him.

    How much they have influenced him that he believes them now I don’t know since he has been more isolated from the congregation since developing multiple campuses. But based on the treatment I received from other pastors when confronted with abuse in their midst, if Piper does not believe as other abusers, he is caught in as much fog as we are and is spewing this garbage to hang on to … something. If he really does believe what he writes, I need to work on reconciling that with the man I knew.

    Regardless, why does confronting leadership have to hurt so much and drive us away from what has been a source of belonging? What is God driving us to?

    • Still Reforming

      RftP,
      I don’t have the answers to your questions, but I can say that my experience was likewise similar to yours with respect to the church. If there wasn’t physical violence or the really bad curse words used, then the impression the leaders had was, “It’s not really abuse.”

      I daresay that’s an attitude shared by my attorneys. There just aren’t enough people familiar with the deceptive, manipulative ways of evil to understand that it is indeed abuse – and in not being so familiar, they therefore allow that same evil to flourish and continue.

      This is why I think the ministry of this website and Jeff’s sermons are so very vital to the church today. It’s a curiosity to me as to why most of the mainstream church (at least in America) seems oblivious to or disinterested in this. I hate to say it, but the impression I’m receiving both from my (now former) church and Christian friends on-line (and those I considered my family in former church) is that this teaching about evil in the midst of the church is unwelcome and even unbiblical.

      But this teaching has opened my eyes to many of the truths expounded in Holy Writ, particularly with respect to leadership lording it over the flock and being wise, getting angry (righteously and not sinning), and dusting one’s feet off while leaving who will not listen.

  11. Outofthefog

    I know I am a broken record but I am really struggling with this issue. It is not with the church but the N spouse. This is timely for me as well & I so desperstely want to do what’s right.
    N spouse is up in arms that I would confront his control & power. Name calling, swearing, accusing me of not being Christian , that I have been converted to feminism etc. etc. He has been in counseling & while I see some external changes until I brave the storm & confront something – he then erupts into the violent, raging person he always was & says if I didn’t say such stupid things then he wouldn’t act like that.
    He states that he has absolute control & power over me & my life.
    That I, as wife, should look to him for all things.
    That he can delegate and assign me roles, activities, etc., but it is all through him.
    I am essentially to have or own nothing apart from what he deems- this would be in a material & non-material sense. So what I am trying to say is even ideas, concepts, thoughts, everything, etc. is to be funneled through him. I hope that makes sense.
    He says that since I am rejecting this idea I have turned to feminism & started open rebellion to God.
    Yesterday – I told him he was speaking lies. Of course he turned it around and said I was & I was not reading the bible because everything he spoke could be found there. That the women of old testament only had value through their husbands & that they controlled all.
    Now I am frantically searching for where it says this.

    To add to all of this & why it is important for me to sort out truth from lie …. We are co-owners of a co. that since I kicked him out he wants complete & absolute control over. I helped build this co. & now he states my role is at home with kids & that should be enough or I am not the Christian I say I am. It is not prudent business wise for me to step away. He runs co. the same as family & for sure needs to not be sole decision maker or controller. The reality – he is in no position to take the helm emotionally or mentally.
    He adamantly rejects the notion of team, partners
    ( business) etc. saying that is not biblical or godly. That I am to blame for his “bad” everything because I have now said “no” to the way things have been.

    I truly am so confused at times if I should just shut up & let him have his way or continue the fight. I pray for strength & to do what God wants & do have peace but is it from my selfishness & sin ( what he says) or from truly wanting to do right for family, co.,employees??? I don’t know!! I can be strong & then he attacks with all the bible stuff & I just fall into deep questioning & doubt.
    Today is a fog day for sure!!!

    • fightingforjustice

      I heard similar things from my stbx. I was a student when he met me, and initially seemed supportive of me having a professional career, but as time went on, he started to push for me to be obedient to his will, to leave school (never mind the mountain of student debt that we would have to deal with on one income) and get pregnant as soon as possible. There was no respect or conversation allowed on the topic, and the only thing that mattered was what he wanted. My dreams, or plans, or wishes, or gifts meant nothing to him. It was very confusing at first. It didn’t help that when he started attacking me physically, others told me to stay away from a women’s shelter because they are “feminist”, “break up marriages” and are “evil”. Of course, they were wrong. As someone mentioned here in an earlier post, marriages are already broken by the time a women’s shelter is necessary.

      Your husband is using spiritual abuse to disorient you and keep you in a fog. If it helps, I went through the same kind of tactics, and gave in for six months. Do you know what happened? Nothing changed – if anything, he became worse because I was passive. When I realized that I could no longer recognize myself, I stopped and started fighting for what I believed in. Eventually, I left him, because the abuse kept escalating and my life was in danger.

      Whatever you need to do to regain a clear head, do it. Take a few days’ vacation on your own, talk things over with trusted friends who knew you before you were married, keep a journal where your spouse won’t find it, etc. Once you are reacquainted with your real self, the way for you to follow will become clearer. And remember, you are the only person who can keep yourself safe. Your husband won’t have your best interest at heart, your friends may not always be around exactly when you need them, and the police may or may not be helpful. Do what you need to do to feel safe.

    • Remedy

      OOTF….90% of your story, mine also!!! No business that we own, but all else, these ideas, theologies….. it seems disgusting and NOT God’s heart for women or marriage. If it is confronted, the attacks are ruthless. Twenty five years of this nonsensical wrangling about how a marriage is to function from our opposing viewpoints. I wager that most emotionally healthy women would NEVER vow a lifetime to the ideas of these husbands. Nothing of the sort is presented during the courtship! Only after locked into marriage do these theologies break out.
      Again, when a woman tries to stand up to it or resist, she is labeled with the most degrading insults against the core of her being and her walk with the Lord brought into question!! It is truly a prison of the soul.
      May God help us to be strong enough to confront and get out of the fog of this twisted thinking.

    • Seeing Clearly

      Outofthefog, your mind is swirling, but be assured your head won’t spin off. Thank you for having the courage to put all of this down on paper for us. It is helpful for many of us. You are a lady that wears many hats; child of God, woman, co-owner of a company, wife. If the issues of marriage are too difficult to sort out, perhaps you could focus on your roll as a business owner. It would not surprise me if your spouse has kept you out of the legal end of the business. Even if you were not married, it would be very important to know all the legal/financial arrangements, etc. You need to be certain of what you have got yourself into. This is just plain smart business sense. You must be strong to protect your interest in this arrangement. It might be good at this point to get your ducks in a row. Should you decide to divorce, this must be very much in order or he will mess you over, and it will take a lot of legal fees to get to the facts. Simply find a business attorney, I’d go for a female nonchristian at this point. Request that she simply look over your business papers. It is prudent that this be done in the event of his death, anyway. You do not need to tell your spouse about the attorney. And if it comes up, you can tell him you want all papers in order, including a will, should something happen to him.

      Three yrs prior to filing for divorce, I faced reality that we were in our 50’s and did not have a will, no medical POA, our taxes had not been filed for 3 years ( spouse’s job). I was too embarrassed to tell anyone and ashamed. So I realized I needed to start watching out for myself as an individual. I made an appt with an attorney to draw up my own will and POA papers. Because I am on disability, I filed my own taxes as well. It was very simple and gave him the deductions. When I told him I had my will drawn up, he had the nerve to ask,”where’s mine”. I told him to get his own. I did not designate him as responsible party in my medical POA. My reasoning was that he did NOT have my best interest at heart. I did not inform him of this. These were my personal papers. He did not get access to them.

      Taking charge of my life in these areas empowered me in positive ways. I did them unbeknownst to him at the time. So he was not challenging me, not trying to take charge, not bringing me down. I stayed on task, kept moving forward, and proved to myself that I can make good decisions and I can move forward on my own.

      For all the previous years, his name was on our legal papers. I was content to defer to him and he was happy with this. Now I can see how irresponsible I was, trusting him to manage retirement funds, life insurance policies, car purchases. I have not forgotten that for all those years, his ideas always trumped mine anyway.

  12. Round*Two

    Stbx told me I was into witchcraft because I was listening to advice from other women (he called feminist.)
    And if I didn’t agree with him, he said I was calling him a liar. So of course I got the ‘ don’t you call me a liar!’ Line many times!

    • Still Reforming

      Round*Two –

      That is so funny – because my stbx has emphatically told me numerous times how I am not to call him a liar in front of his child. And yet, I never did. I don’t call people names. He does. (Especially me.) But I did point out to him what he said that wasn’t accurate or wrong or a half-truth, and when he brought our child into the matter (by telling her that I did something I didn’t or that I got angry when I didn’t or anything else like that that I overheard), I would correct his statements. I would also tell our child how we need to honor Christ in our home by upholding and always speaking the truth – and I’d say those things in front of him. He never agreed when I’d say them. And yet, I NEVER EVER called him a liar. But if he lies….. well….. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck…… it’s a……

      • Round*Two

        SR,

        Yep! Its still a DUCK!
        I’ve never experienced that ‘if you didn’t agree with someone you were calling them a liar’ Boy, I was confused a lot! I just couldn’t reason at the time, how I was calling him a liar by disagreeing with him? I know now, that this was his way of saying ‘you don’t have a voice in this matter, and what he says goes…goes!’ *rolls eyes*
        Good for you to explain to your child about speaking the truth!!

  13. Outofthefog

    FFJ, Carol, Round’Two & Remedy.
    (First N spouse always accuses of being a feminist now.)

    Three years ago I started my own checking acct. still on joint acct. but changing that. I started establishing my own credit & also insisted on keeping separate pay checks. He wanted to combine to save on SSI. I said no way. He too was financially abusive as he also didn’t pay taxes or mortgage & anytime I brougt it up he would erupt into a violent, swearing, tyrant calling me names etc. He hates to be confronted & he would say I don’t understand or know anything anout the financial stuff . ( not true) However , I did not then know I could take charge and fight. Now I do.
    Then , I would lay awake at night for years and wonder about taxes & house & question him when I got brave enough only to be squashed down & him saying he was handling it. He controlled everything who was I to question. So I would ignore the issues for a couple of months to keep the peace until the worry got the best of me & I would question him again only to have the cycle repeated over & over.
    He never did resolve the house – after I kicked him out I had to move.
    When I would share my worry about house he would use it as a means to tell me I didn’t trust God enough & I was too high maintenance wanting the security of a house. I still have issues thinking he might be right . The reality is we have a large family, pets & hi-profile business I just wanted a place to count on. Yuck!!!!!

    I have had meetings with three attorneys & I am going to speak with another. So far the n spouse still thinks we are in an active relationship – major denial but it has kept him from doing anything legal. I do have employees, family and more to back up everything plus years of notes & texts.
    I am serious now about protecting myself ( I was before I just didn’t out of fear) . There is a long road ahead but I refuse to put my future & that of my children in his hands. Although he wants us all under his!!!
    I need to just concentrate on the facts & not listen to the lies – his lies!

    • standsfortruth

      Hoping you stay strong and on track ootf, it sounds like you know what you need to do from your last few sentences.
      These abusers like to keep us doubting ourselves, but you sound like you have a grasp on reality.
      If I could offer any advice, with regards to divorce laywer , I would suggest possibly considering one that not only does family law, but also criminal law, because many times the abuser exhibits criminal behavior durring the process, and a lawyer versed in “both types of law” will be better preparred to deal with it, when it happens.

    • Round*Two

      It will be a long hard road, but you will get to the end of it! I admire that you have taken charge of your own finances! I, too, have been doing the same. My stbx has asked for nothing financially wise, and I have asked for nothing from him financially wise. So we are good there. We didn’t own anything of significance, so this is pretty much an clean break. There has been no contact for almost 2 months now. I have my up and down days but I’m getting through them.
      Stay on that straight and narrow path, OotF! Blessings to your and your family!!

  14. Diagrégoreó

    Replying to commenters above about the escalation of abuse. My story is similar with P husband seeming to support my education and goals for our life and future. He too then used control via children and poverty (which ultimately create perpetual strife, fear, chaos and take away any chance for escape or freedom for the victims) and enacted this regime immediately after marriage. Decades of this same behavior with any problem being solely my fault and responsibility and consequently it being my job to give up everything in order to fix it. It’s the LEAST I could do as he had graced me with his presence and chosen to rape me as his wife. I should be GRATEFUL! (I was raised with parents who thought this way and now realize I was trained to be a victim.)

    So, after years of God slowly working in my life and helping to see that this was abuse, I started to stand up for myself. It was a constant battle as he truly believes he is god and as such deserves to be worshiped and catered to. (Your husband sounds like he believes this about himself as well, Outofthefog.)

    As I got stronger, and even when I didn’t feel stronger, I would stand up for myself.

    When he accused me of being a feminist I agreed happily and whole-heartedly! Yes, I told him, I just wish I’d been one sooner!

    When he accused me of being a bad mother, I told him I was a great mother especially since I had no idea how much abuse I was enduring from him while still raising children with no money or love or help and yet providing wonderful things for them (through God’s grace). I also pointed out that his expectations of me were of absolute perfection (HIS version of perfection) and that nobody could be that way, nor did I desire to be that way.

    He always expected me to explain the reason I had for every single decision I made. (This is so abusive but a common thing P’s do as they never understand anyone else’s motivation or reasoning because they have no empathy/ability to see how others feel and as a result are paranoid and think others are out to get them. Even when you prove yourself over and over in every way, they still accuse you of evil motivations and because of the way their brain works, they really believe it.)

    I now tell him who CARES why I do things (my heart belongs to the Lord and I act out of this which is completely contrary to the motivation of the heart of a P) and that some people go to counseling for years and never figure out what’s “wrong” with them. “So?” is now a common answer when he accuses me. (So what if he thinks I’m this or that or not doing enough or blah, when I WAS doing these things he still found fault and criticized me.)

    From another website:

    Blame is placing the entire responsibility for one’s unpleasant actions, consequences, and feelings on another person or external event, and insisting that others agree. Airing a grievance is not necessarily blame if the injured party still takes responsibility for their own actions.

    Primary aggressors are recognizable by the primacy that the act of blaming plays in their relationships.

    Survivors may not recognize the relentlessness and the controlling function of blame. They may believe that the primary aggressor is trying to help them or the relationship by bringing flaws into focus. In reality it is not possible to productively address any issue with blame because at least one partner is not taking responsibility.

    The purpose of blame is to weaken the partner, and blame often erupts most strongly when the survivor is acting independently or strongly.

    It’s good to know that there are experts out there who know about abuse and how it operates. It would be nice if those who belong to the Lord would be as knowledgeable. Hopefully websites like this can move this education along.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Thank you very much, Diagregoreo! Excellent stuff and very helpful to us all.

  15. Remedy

    Ezekiel 33. I guess God does give us instruction.

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