A Cry For Justice

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

Thursday Thought — Dealing with an Abusive Person

When we are dealing with an abusive person, the solution is not to just “sit down and talk, work things out, communicate and understand one another better”  NO! Because. . . the abusive man or woman has no intent at all to work things out. He or she knows nothing of compromising, of empathizing, of kindness.  He only knows power and control and entitlement.  Therefore, any such meeting with an abuser will only result in giving the abusive man another opportunity to abuse his victim.  

This is a vital lesson to learn then in respect to dealing with an abusive person. Such a person, like Sanballat (Nehemiah 6:1-13), has only one purpose — to destroy, to discourage, to instill fear, to mock and rob his victim of any sense of self-worth and confidence.  Sanballat wants to control, to own, to exercise power, to be as God to his victims.  Therefore, it is not wise to enter into mediation with an abuser.  It is not wise to enter into couples’ counseling with an abuser. Communication problems are NOT the problem.  The abusive person’s mentality is the problem, and it is his problem alone.

[Pastor Crippen, “Dealing With the Abuser“, Sermon delivered October 24, 2010.]  

 

28 Comments

  1. Brenda R

    Amen!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Cheryl

    So, how do you know if you are dealing with an immature bully or an abuser…or are they one and the same? We are going for joint counseling. He says he doesn’t remember any of the abuses of the past and he HAS changed his outward behavior. But, when we get down to deeper issues, he clearly continues to have an attitude of authoritative headship and lack empathy. The counselor (who, btw is the best I have found to date as far as validating the abuse in sessions with me) thinks that he ‘would have liked to have done things better in the past, if he had known better’ and, he continues to go to counseling, even though he routinely states that he feels everything is being blamed on him. Things ARE better at home, but I feel like I need to see a mind/heart change in order to be convinced, rather than giving him the benefit of the doubt. In the meantime we’re doing little exercises like ‘caring cards’ to learn each other’s love language. Good – but I don’t want temporary.

  3. Mary

    This is why all the advice people gave me didn’t work and why I thought I was crazy. Pastor and church counselor were unable to recognize the controlling behavior. My husband was calm and in control and I was emotional and crying out for help, trying to find answers. In counseling he reached out to put his arm around me, after not showing me affection for months. When I reacted in anger, I looked like the borderline-bipolar, unloving, rebellious wife. My husband put his palms up to communicate “see what a problem she is, she won’t even let me touch her” I had been reading “The Excellent Wife” by Martha Peace and I believe this book itself was spiritual abuse to me. I’m still struggling with anger toward this teaching because it kept me in the dark about my husbands sin and allowed him to spiritually bully me. When someone uses the Bible to manipulate and control it is evil!

    • I had similar reactions when he publicly acted lovey and close, but privately was icy cold. I ended up with two episodes of suicidal ideation…i looked like the crazy unbalanced one. Praise God I don’t have to live as a captive anymore!

      • Mary

        I had the suicidal ideation also. After driving in the car for an hour and him telling me I was a sinful person that everyone knew what kind of person I was. He would not ever tell me what I did only “you know what you’ve done”. I really thought I was so bad that my kids would be better off without me. It literally drove me crazy. Just typing this out makes me relive the horrible experience. Off the subject but I’m glad I’m not alone.

      • He is the sinful one! How utterly disorienting his gaslighting sounds like it was. To have someone behave as if a lie is truth and truth a lie causes us to be off-balance. I am sorry you went through this, Mary.

  4. Greater Glory

    Amen. This is pure truth; short and to the point.
    “Don’t go down that rabbit hole!”
    “Can’t reason with the unreasonable!”

  5. LH

    Another AMEN!!!!

    I learned the hard way that couples counseling only makes things worse. The last counselor we went to (we went to several) was the only one who admitted my ex was abusive, but said that before he could deal with the abuse he had to train ex in communication skills – while not seeing that ex ran circles around him twisting everything that the counselor and I ‘communicated’ into his (ex’s) version of what was said.

    • Round*Two

      Carol,

      You’re situation sounds a lot like mine. I, too, was in couples counseling while unbeknownest to me that all along my stbx had already had his mind made up to file for divorce (after I had already filed and dropped everything). I believe he was trying to get me to say the abuse never happened and he was either recording our conversation in counseling or he just wanted to hear me say it so that he could tell the court I lied about the abuse. I was set up. It is now on record that he is the one who filed for divorce.This is his (I’m told his fourth) marriage. I always believed I was his third, so he finally has it on record that he dumped someone rather than the other way around.
      I’ve been doing quite some thinking… “what kind of man does this to his wife?” No need to comment! 😀

  6. Seeing Clearly

    From personal experience of mediation just trying to settle possessions and money in the final stages of divorce, I completely agree. I have no idea why I agreed, also, to meeting with a 3rd person a couple times to restore relationship in the midst of divorce with the hopes of being able to talk about matters related to the divorce. That is what an attorney is supposed to do. Those exoeriences took a lot out of me and with no positive outcome. Just stay away from the abuser, period!

  7. Lisa

    I would like to know if anyone who is already divorced was able to use mediation vs. litigation. Or did you start mediation and find it was a waste of time and money, because the abuser was uncooperative.

  8. a prodigal daughter returns

    For abusers that enter into mediation or counseling the choice to do so is never a matter of improving communication, but winning. They will use their charm on mediators to come across as the innocent and misunderstood victim. Communication and understanding is not the desired goal, winning points, establishing superiority, winning at the game of keeping the victim down is the goal. They are in fact at cross purposes of mediation and unless the mediator understands what they are dealing with they will only further the goals of the abuser (and further the abuse). If the mediator understood the intentions of the abuser they wouldn’t go through the farce of a mediation in the first place

    • Moving Forward

      I just learned this the hard way. I was hoping mediation would be balanced, but it was not. I got preached at three times by the mediator, which the ex happily chimed in on, and just overall felt ganged up on. Then, I get a memorandum of understanding full of mistakes! He can’t spell, hear, or read his own writing! So, to the lawyer I go, and hopefully can get this mess straightened out. I had been concerned that ex’s charm would do a number on the mediator, and it did. Oh, for the justice of the Lord.

  9. B

    Glad I recently found this blog. In the midst of serious decision making time. Having inner conflict between abusive situation & religious beliefs. Fervently reading & researching much
    Thank you so much for clarity!

    • Hi B,
      Welcome! I understand the struggle between the abusive situation and religious beliefs. Yes, keep reading and researching. If you haven’t already found our Resources page, may I bring it to your attention. It is found on the top menu bar.

      Also, we encourage everyone to read our New Users’ page as it gives information on how to remain safe while commenting on the blog.

      Welcome, again. Glad you commented!

    • standsfortruth

      Also B , to help you discern the difference between various types of abuse and the religious beliefs that you have been pursuaded to accept, Pastor Crippin has an eye opening series about the “Sin of Abuse” that help to clear the Fog of what behavior is biblically acceptable, and what is clearly not. Especially within a marriage.

      (eds note: Links to the entire sermon series can be found on the About page in Ps Crippen’s bio and on the Resources page under Sermons)

      • Thanks, Standsfortruth.
        Readers may also like to know that that sermon series by Jeff can be accessed from the Resources tab at the top of this blog under Sermons. 🙂

  10. KayE

    This advice has been incredibly helpful and has protected me from certain harm.
    In my own recent experience any kind of mediation is not only a waste of time but allows the abuser to recruit the mediator – and then there are two people against me, one of whom may be very powerful indeed.
    It frustrates me that I have to deal with a legal system that continues to enforce mediation between victims and abusers. I had to fight very hard, get really good legal advice and pay a lot of money just to avoid court ordered mediation before a judge.One part of me wanted to believe that the judge would see through the abuser’s deception and treat me fairly, but realistically this abuser would be well able to deceive even the most intelligent of judges.
    When you’re dealing with an abuser I would advise litigation over mediation, every time.

    • I am thinking the same thing about avoiding mediation.
      Since my abuser can pursuade “all manner of people” to believe his lies ” to serve his purpose of undermining my cause, why give him the opportunity?
      So Litigation over mediation seems best in my case too.

      I would advise pursuing a “flat rate lawyer” so they dont nickel and dime you for every transaction and phone call you make.
      (as opposed to a “charge by the hour attourney” that can get outrageously expensive.)
      Look for a lawyer that advertizes a Flat rate charge for divorce, and also understands criminal law, so he will be ready for the deceitful mind of the abuser.
      You will want an aggressive one that likes to win, so shop around and ask places like CASA, and abuse centers if they are personally impressed with any.
      Shop and compare, and get word of mouth recomendations from dofferent people that you trust.
      You dont want a lawyer that will compromise your values, to try to make peace with your abuser, and his lawyer, so shop wisely and find one that will defend your interests vigorously.
      And collect as much information in the meantime, that can be used to defend your case, with out his knowledge.
      This way if he files on you, than you are somewhat preparred to defend yourself.
      And if you file on him you will have all your ducks in a row before doing so.
      This is not to be confused with being vindictive or contentious.
      Your motive is to get away from the abuse.
      (Life preservation)
      This is being shrewed, and as wise a a serpent for you to escape the abuse.
      You must be shrewed to gather the necessary evidence that will aid in your defence against your deciever/abuser when the time for court finally comes.
      You do not want to be empty handed at that time.
      Texting messages from cell phones can be used as evidence in court- printed out in part, or in whole, and the contents can be used in litigation.
      There is such a term as “telephonic harassment” that is against the law.
      But dont tell your abuser that.
      Let him fill his cup up full, so you will have lots of evidence when the time comes.
      Make sure the settings on your phone are not set for “auto delete” for older messages that will delete your oldest texting evidence. (Some phones are now automatically set up that way, but you can reset them in the settings so they wont do that.)
      Also start collecting any professional documentation or professional reports that show any evidence that will substantiate the truth that you know your abuser will try to lie against .. be it finantial, medical or from any professional organizations.
      As the courts will see that as valid evidence.
      You need evidence, so start collecting it however insignificant it seems.
      It best to have too much evidence, than too little, as you can always discard any excess.
      Once you get started, the Lord will help you collect more, and before you know it you will have a boat load to support your cause and case.

      • KayE

        I agree, the sooner you can be prepared the better. And you most likely do need a lawyer who is a tough negotiator.They don’t have to be the most expensive, but they do need to be wise.

      • Seeing Clearly

        I came to my lawyer with a great deal of documentation including pictures. I think these might be helpful in situations where children are involved. They were good for my peace of mind, but mostly useless in the divorce. One cannot document covert abuse. And the main issues in court were discovering all assets and coming to an agreement as to settlement. Just trying to stay on task with simple goals was challenging. A narcissist does not cooperate with a black and white legal system, no matter what. But they will certainly blame the abused for having to spend so much money on legal fees. Uncooperation and missing filing deadlines is what causes the fees to soar.

      • Seeing Clearly

        Regarding a flat rate lawyer, I would be cautious. In a perfect world without an abuser, it might work. The lawyer can get the work done and wrap it up rather easily without losing his shirt (and tie). But if issues get sticky and bogged down, he/she will want to wrap up without fighting long and hard to get all that should come to you. A divorce with an abuser involved most likely will not go quickly and easily. I interviewed 2 attorneys well in advance. While women often say, “I don’t care what I get, just get me out if this marriage, the attorney I chose states that a woman is expected to get at least half of all assets. And he held to that. He was always respectful to me.

      • … the attorney I chose states they a woman is expected to get at least of all assets.

        Did you leave out a word here, Carol?

    • Round*Two

      You can also forward your texts to your email and then print them up. I’ve done this because my phone deleted old messages. Also, never under estimate your abuser, they will go to ANY extent to distort your situation to make you look like the bad guy!

  11. StandsWithAFist

    Amen!
    Hallelujah!
    “Praise the Lord & pass the ammunition….”
    (Ps. Jeff, I’ll let you or Ellie translate that!)

  12. Sunflower

    Oh, how I wish I’d had all this information 20 years ago! (I’d say more years ago but I have trouble imagining life without my last 2 children). Counselor after counselor, a mediator who hates women, a lawyer who talked all sympathy then turned and backed the x, friends who promised to help, then betrayed me………thank the Lord for one Christian doctor who put his foot down, and one dear friend who helped so much, later a kind lawyer from another city.

  13. Seeing Clearly

    Barbara,
    Yes, I left an important word out. ….”at least HALF of all assets”. I did get half. My ex did not give up without a lot of manipulation, but my attorney was persistent.

    (eds. note: we edited Carol’s original comment to include “half”)

  14. citizen of Heaven

    After reading this post I learned how to respond to a very abusive boss…
    My response to her was “whatever relationship we had, however slightly cordial it was is now over!
    I wish I knew this sooner, I was married to an abuser and I stayed too long.
    I worked for an abusive boss for eleven years…I again stayed too long.
    Now I know.
    Cut them off quickly!
    Grateful for this great post and a great blog 🙂

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