A Cry For Justice

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

God’s Rules of Evidence are Often Misapplied, to the Harm of Abuse Victims

A single witness shall not suffice against a person for any crime or for any wrong in connection with any offense that he has committed. Only on the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses shall a charge be established. (Deuteronomy 19:15)

I want to expose in this article how God’s rules of evidence (two or three witnesses) are quite frequently misunderstood, misapplied, or distorted in cases of abuse. Churches and pastors and church members very often demand of the victim a higher body of evidence to prove her case than the Lord Himself does!

Here is how it goes.

We see that this teaching of “two or three witnesses” to confirm a matter is taught in both the Old and New Testaments. The most familiar New Testament passage is of course, Matthew 18 (which we at ACFJ do not recommend for abuse cases. Use 1 Corinthians 5). Jesus said:

If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. (Matthew 18:15-16)

As I said, the instruction given in 1 Cor 5 (put the scandalous, wicked man out from among you) fits the abuser’s case more accurately than the Matthew 18 procedure. But you see this two or three witnesses standard of evidence here again.

Human courts have rules of evidence. Hearsay, for example, is not generally admissible in a court of law. The witness, firsthand, must be there to give their own testimony. There are some exceptions to this. A dying declaration is one example and in some civil case proceedings hearsay is admissible as well. Another rule of evidence concerns the “chain of evidence.” To be admissible, physical evidence (like a gun or drugs) must be shown to have been protected from any tampering. Rules of evidence, you see.

So the Lord gives us His rules of evidence – two or three witnesses. Two is sufficient. Three is better. And here then is where we go wrong.

With alarming frequency, Christians jump to the conclusion that this means “two or three human beings who are eye-witnesses in every case.” Now, think about this. That means then that the abuse victim is essentially stripped of any ability to prove her case. I mean, we all know about the deceitful nature of the abuser. How often is he, especially if he claims to be a Christian, how often is he going to pull off his evil right smack in front of two or three witnesses in such a way that his abuse is obvious to them? Zip. Zero. Isn’t going to happen.

What we need to realize is that the Lord’s rules of evidence permit the admission of evidence that is a witness to the abuse but is not necessarily a human being. The Lord’s two or three witness standard surely includes physical evidence and, I also suggest, even credible circumstantial evidence.

Think carefully now. What is required in a criminal investigation and court proceeding for justice to be done in regard to a criminal? Well, for one thing, the investigators — the police, the prosecutor, the judge and yes, even the jurors, need to be educated in the nature of that particular genre of crime. If they are, then they will recognize the typical tactics and methods of the criminal. He won’t get away with deceiving them. This is, as we know, a HUGE problem in the family court system or even in criminal cases of domestic violence. Abusers often pull the wool over everyone’s eyes and get off the hook.

If Christians and pastors and elders — if the church — would educate themselves about the mentality, nature, and tactics of abuse, suddenly they would begin to see a very large body of evidence staring them right in the face. In addition to the victim’s testimony, they would have:

  • Financial records showing how the abuser used financial abuse
  • Psychological, emotional, and physical injury to the victim, or to property, the signs of which ARE observable (that hole punched in the wall, for example)
  • Medical records if the victim has disclosed injuries to doctors or hospitals
  • Typical behaviors and thinking in the children that evidence abuse
  • The abuser’s attitudes and mentality evidenced in his behaviors
  • Phone records, letters the abuser has written, text messages he has sent, computer records, evidence of his use of pornography, etc.
  • The diary of the victim in which she has recorded events soon after they happened, and which lines up with and adds more detail to her verbal testimony

For example, if a woman comes to her church asking for help because her husband is abusing her, church leaders who are wise about abuse will be able to talk to the abuser (if that is possible without compromising the victim’s safety) and they will observe in him attitudes that support the victim’s charges. Let’s say he really likes Douglas Wilson’s teaching that a man is superior to a woman because it is the man who “plants and colonizes” while it is the woman who “receives” (and Wilson here is very largely speaking of sex). If the abuser, I suggest, quite agrees with this and evidences other patriarchal attitudes, then that is a second witness that is admissible in church discipline.  Because this is how abusers think. It is who they are. When we see the wolf’s fangs behind the wool cloak, we know who he really is.

Churches then who dismiss an abuse victim’s case because “she lacks two or three witnesses” are not even good students of Scripture. They are guilty of going beyond God’s Word, and demanding a standard of evidence that God Himself does not require.

 

77 Comments

  1. Overcomer

    Excellent article and points, Pastor Jeff. In my case, there is one glaring problem. The pastors were of the same ilk of my abuser, in a very patriarchal church. But your points are all well taken.

  2. Still Reforming

    Like Overcomer, my pastor led a very patriarchal church, so raising the issue of abuse, even if given a nod by the leadership of the church (“Hmmm…. yes. This isn’t just an issue about (topic), but there’s something else going on here. There seems to be a control issue at play.”), it wasn’t addressed in any way other than academic. “Let’s reconcile. Let’s forgive. You’re at fault for not forgiving him/them.” There was no justice. And (one of) the problem(s) of the church is – there can be no mercy without justice. I don’t think that’s widely understood in the church – or if understood, it’s not given the attention and practice it deserves.

    All that said, something leaped out at me about Matthew 18 – for the first time – in reading this post. Jesus said, “If your BROTHER sins against you…” Not everyone is a brother. Those in Christ are our brothers and sisters, so…. knowing that abusers cannot be brothers, Matthew 18 cannot be applied with abusers. And it’s incumbent upon us who have learned this truth to share it with the church. If they refuse to listen (either because they have hardened hearts, quenching the Spirit, or are not true brothers), then…. off we go.

    This is a hard truth for me to learn – that I must yet again find another church, BUT… at the same time, I see the growth that the Lord Himself is doing in me. I recognize that even church attendance is NOT a requirement, that it has NOTHING to do (necessarily) with my salvation and justification; Although it can aid in sanctification, it’s not necessary. I’m learning that He is really totally sovereign in my life and I can trust Him and need to trust only Him, and so I do. If/when the right church is for me to enter again, it will happen. It doesn’t absolve me of my responsibility to seek it, but…. it’s not the hot pursuit it once was. And I’m not worried about it.

    Sorry. I can ramble. All to say – great post yet again. How I love the learning and edifying that happens here. Thank you for your faithfulness to the Lord in preaching real Truth.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Still Reforming – Yes, that is a very good point regarding the term “brother.” The Matthew 18 passage underscores your conclusion also in the fact that if he won’t listen, you tell it to “the church” and then he is put out if he still won’t repent. But when you have an abuser, who is therefore an evil person at heart, hardened against the Lord and playing the religious hypocrite, that is no brother. Rather, we are simply to recognize that this one is a wolf crept in among us and is to be expelled post haste.

      • Jeff, what about when you go to church but your abuser does not? In my case, I have attended the same church for years (my ex picked it out for us), but ex quit going with me about a year into our/my time there. He had issues with some of the leaders there.

        So when things happened in our marriage such that I knew I had to make some decisions as to whether to stay or to go, and I did move out of the house (temporarily, or so I thought), I knew I needed some strong understanding as to my biblical “rights” as to what I should do. I didn’t know if it was “okay” to leave. I went to a lawyer to understand my legal options…which, in my state of residence, did not include legal separation (you are either legally married or legally divorced). I did not want to break my vows to the Lord by divorcing, so I felt stuck. I wanted to separate and hoped my ex would work with me through a separation to fix our mess. But I didn’t have that option. He was so angry I did not feel safe separating without some kind of legal protection and binding boundaries in place (I still have minor children), therefore, divorce was the only option.

        Fortunately my pastor was not like the ones I read about here. He stood with me, although not always doing it in a way I would have preferred.

        But it was hard to apply Matthew 18 to my situation. I had confronted my abuser for YEARS. My adult kids were now also trying to take as much of a stand as they could without being crushed down with more heat from their angry dad who was feeling very dishonored by them holding their own with him…in as respectful a way as they could. I didn’t have many other “witnesses” to take with me to him since as you said there were not many others who had seen him at his worst. I had other people who had heard my stories of the abuse, but they were not eye witnesses and he didn’t respect any of them anyway. I even doubted myself sometimes as to whether this was actually “abuse” since it was just the way we lived and it seemed “normal” for us.

        Shortly after I moved out, I asked my pastor and an elder if they would hold a “meeting” of sorts with my ex to get him to talk with them. I was open to whatever ex had to say. I WANTED for him to spill the beans on me as I wanted SOMEONE to help me figure out what the he** I was doing wrong. My ex had in a series of emails asked people to pray for his family since I had left. He sent messages out to everyone I knew (friends of mine and church members he had no relationship with, my family) and a few of his friends…telling them I had left him. He did not send any messages to his own family.

        I felt that if he wanted people to pray then he should be willing to hear what the Lord had to say to him for our family. So I suggested a gathering of some of the people he had enlisted to pray to report back what these people were hearing from the Lord. My pastor, however, did not pursue this meeting, although I asked him at least three times. I really wanted someone to hold court for my husband and me. I wanted this all out on the table.

        My pastor did do some emailing back and forth with my ex which just showed my ex in a bad light because of the things he wrote (he sounded crazy), but my ex was resistant to meeting in person with the pastor. (SURPRISE, SURPRISE). Ex said I had everyone fooled and convinced I was a godly, goodie-goodie, so he felt the church folks were already on my side. It’s strange to me how this is the kind of stuff victims say on this site about the abuser…that he goes and makes allies so that the victim is not heard when she gets her day in court. That messes with my head…it’s the opposite here in that I had the support and he felt he would not be heard. I would welcome comments on this dynamic if anyone here has clarity on that.

        Nonetheless, I REALLY, REALLY wanted an audience to decide for us once and for all who was right and who was wrong (not that it boils down to that essentially, but you get my point). I would have felt so much better moving on to divorce if I had had my “panel” of judges who had listened and determined who was at fault (and yes, I do realize I have some fault in this). I wanted others to see and “experience” this man to understand what I was up against. I even told my ex I would not meet with him alone anymore. I know how easily he can direct my thinking and get me caught up in his web again.

        So, in my case, I couldn’t apply Matthew 18 exactly. I did confront him personally. The only eyewitnesses I had were my kids, who tried to confront. And when I brought it to the attention of “my” church (not his, as he did not go there for years), they did not confront him as I had wished, partly because he did not attend there anymore and they were not really “welcome” to speak in to his life. I also wonder if the church might have been a little afraid of how to handle what might have come out of it. ???

        My pastor had a run-in with my ex a couple of years earlier when my ex was trying to “expose” my dishonoring him at home. Ex sent a series of emails to the pastor. Ex was trying to get me “fired” from a volunteer position as a children’s Sunday school teacher at my church. Again, ex would not meet in person with the pastor. He only wanted the pastor to axe me from teaching because ex felt I had dishonored him at home. (This dishonor was due to him being abusive toward one of our children, and I had sided with the child in the episode, which made ex explosively angry with me. He felt obligated to let the pastor know about my “disrespect” at home, which in his eyes, should disqualify me from any leadership positions at church.)

        So, how does one proceed with applying Matthew 18 when one’s spouse (who claims to be a Christian) is is not accountable to any church body?

        I really, really wanted to do this process correctly, especially since I ended up going the divorce route out of self-protection…since I did not feel legally protected or physically safe by going the more biblical route of just separating. I needed financial support which I fully believe he would not have given me if I had just separated by moving out and taken up residence elsewhere in what he would have seen as “rebellion against his authority.” He would not have been agreeable to me taking the children to live with me either. Even since the divorce he says I “stole his quiver,” the children he “sired.” (quoted words are his) Even while separated during the divorce process, he did not leave me alone. He harassed me with emails and texts with threats of my going to hell. He would not have honored any boundary I would have tried to establish. He had secured our house so that I couldn’t enter it while he was gone and changed passwords on our shared accounts. I had no access to things that were legally mine.

        Sometimes I think he honestly does not have a clue what he is doing. I have learned here that abusers know what they are doing, but sometimes I just feel sorry for him as he seems caught up in this “thing” that has hold of him and he just can not see it for what it is.

        I welcome any and all comments. I am still trying to be okay with having chosen divorce. I feel I didn’t have any other options that would work for me.

        Thanks for reading this lengthy post. I hope it in some way it is also helping others.

      • Freeatlast8, I encourage you to read my book as it will set all your false guilt about divorcing your abuser to rest. And please read it in conjunction with this post Church discipline and church permission for divorce – how my mind has changed

        You said:

        Ex said I had everyone fooled and convinced I was a godly, goodie-goodie, so he felt the church folks were already on my side. It’s strange to me how this is the kind of stuff victims say on this site about the abuser…that he goes and makes allies so that the victim is not heard when she gets her day in court. That messes with my head…it’s the opposite here in that I had the support and he felt he would not be heard. I would welcome comments on this dynamic if anyone here has clarity on that.

        I think you are one of the fortunate minority of Christian women who were married to abusers who pretended to be Christians, the minority who are supported by their church! Your abuser certainly tried to recruit allies in your church network, but he was largely unsuccessful, possibly because the pastor recognised and resisted his game plan.

      • Jeff Crippen

        Freeatlast8 – The answer to your question about applying Matthew 18 is that you don’t. That procedure is for conflicts between fellow Christians. Your abuser is not a Christian, though he might claim to be. However, the fact that he sent emails to church members in order to alienate them from you and gain sympathy for himself is definitely enough for the church leadership to have announced your case to the whole church and backed you up. After all, your abuser was trying to cause division in the church and we are instructed by the Lord to reject a divisive man such as this. The leaders should have warned the whole church. They also should have publicly vindicated you as the innocent party.

        One more think I have been thinking of lately – Over and over again in Scripture we are instructed by the Lord to separate from evil people. “Come out from among them” is the kind of thing I mean. Why should this not be applicable in the case of being married to a wicked person? I really think that this is all the reason we need to divorce an abuser. The Lord says (Psalm 1) that the righteous do not walk, stand, or sit with the wicked. For this and many other reasons that are biblical, you have grounds for divorce.

        Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.”
        (2 Corinthians 6:14-18)

      • Megan

        Freeatlast, I wouldn’t worry about your lack of a “court date” with your ex. The truth is, you can’t really follow Matthew 18 with someone who hides from the church anyway. He’s already excommunicated himself by refusing to have his deeds exposed. He knows they’re evil and he doesn’t want to be exposed in such a formal setting.

        I totally understand your need to know that you are in the right, that you are vindicated. Sadly, we often have to way until Judgment Day for that. Your ex will not be able to hide anymore. He will have to make that court appearance. But it’s a long wait in the meantime to have Jesus hold up your hand and say, “Well done!” in front of everyone, including your ex. In the meantime, the best we can do is ask God to show us the right path and confirm it.

        Don’t worry that you had to divorce instead of separate. In ye olde Roman Empire days, there was no such thing as a separation. You just divorced with little fuss. (Well, there could be fuss over who gets the dowry, but that’s neither here nor there.) Even many ante-Nicene Christians believed in practicing divorce as a form of church discipline against a spouse who practiced immorality, and even against an unbeliever who could drag you into his immorality. I believe in Justin Martyr’s 2nd Apology (or 1st?) that he mentions a Christian woman who divorced her immoral heathen husband so that she would not be a partaker of his sins. She is praised for it. Unfortunately, we’ll never know what Justin’s views on remarriage are, because this woman never had a chance to remarry. Her husband turned her in to the Roman authorities and exposed her Christianity. She ended up being a martyr. So sad.

        But the point is, you haven’t broken your vows. He did. And divorce isn’t the same as remarriage. It’s necessary to separate from such a horrid sinner so that you don’t partake of those sins. By partake, I mean enabling the behavior by hanging around. Also, isn’t there a Proverb in the Bible about an angry man’s behavior rubbing off on you if you hang around him? God provided you a way out for a reason. And who knows? Maybe it will wake your ex up. Though not likely, based on your description of his behavior post-divorce. The best you can do at this point is protect yourself from him. You’re doing just great!

        The remarriage thing is up to you and your conscience. Search the Scriptures, check out resources like David Instone-Brewer, see for yourself, ask the Holy Spirit to show you if He wants you to remarry or remain celibate. (Of course, as a single who has never been married, just because you’re free to marry doesn’t mean you’ll score a spouse automatically. I say this as someone hopelessly single in my 30s.)

      • Megan, good for you for citing that historical stuff, and David Instone-Brewer’s work!

        Regarding remarriage after divorcing for abuse, you might like to read my post Remarriage After Divorcing an Abuser — in a nutshell Also, I deal with that topic in more depth in my book Not Under Bondage.

      • Friend of Target

        My friend (Target) read this thread (particularly Pastor Crippen’s comment about separating from the wicked and it resonated with something that’s been on her mind that she’s wanted to share for a long time. More than once in the Old Testament the Jews were to separate from their unbelieving spouses. Intermarriages with those outside God’s covenant would lead the next generations away from Him toward worshiping idols (Satan) (Exodus 34:15-16, Deut. 7:3-4). When the Jews had intermarried, they had to separate from them (Ezra 10:10-11, Nehemiah 13:23-28). Even that infamous passage that is incorrectly translated as “God Hates Divorces” Malachi 2:16 is actually a judgement on priests for rejecting their believing wives, wives of the covenant (as in God’s covenant with Israel not a covenant of marriage as so many erroneously teach -see Malachi 2:8, 10, & 3:1).

        This fits perfectly with the passage Pastor Crippen quotes

        Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.
        (2 Corinthians 6:14-18)

        It also fits perfectly with another passage, some of which is misused/understood. The first part is often misused against victims, while the last part is ignored. It is saying it’s okay for someone who is a believer to stay with an unbeliever if he/she is willing (being evil/emotionally/physically abusive is not what consent is referring to here.)

        But to the rest I say, not the Lord, that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he must not divorce her. 13 And a woman who has an unbelieving husband, and he consents to live with her, she must not send her husband away. 14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified through her believing husband; for otherwise your children are unclean, but now they are holy. 15 Yet if the unbelieving one leaves, let him leave; the brother or the sister is not under bondage in such cases, but God has called us to peace. 16 For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife?
        (1 Corinthians 7:12-16)

        In this case, God is protecting the children from the uncleanness of the unbeliever versus what was described in the Old Testament. The latter part is more appropriate to apply to abuse. The abuser has left the marriage. (Is worse than an unbeliever 1 Timothy 5:8) so the brother and sister would not be under bondage.

        So, the common theme Old and New Testament seems to be to separate from evil people and it’s about keeping/protecting generations to be sons and daughters of God.

      • Spot on, Target! That is the thesis of my book too. 🙂

  3. IamMyBeloved's

    I had 4 witnesses to my abuse and my patriarchal “c”hurch leaders denied me any support or help In anyway and chose the abuser over my and my witnesses’ testimony. I presented these Scripture passages to them and asked why they did not put these passages into practice, but they did not even answer me.

    I found this incredibly interesting. They gave my son the book “The Gift of Fear” to read, so he could protect the “c”hurch as a door guard. When I read that book, I was stunned to find how much abuse information was in there, that they just flatly did not apply and/or denied in my case. Interesting that it was to be applied to people who may come into the “c”hurch over there to do harm to the people, but not any application whatsoever, in dealing with my domestic abuse, of which my son was also a victim. I think this just indicates foul play in the “c”hurch and tells us who those leaders really are.

    This post is really helpful because so often the victims do not have any evidence, except their testimony or hidden journals. I wish now, that I had called the police all those times I thought about it – but the fear of my abuser and the consequence we would all face for me making those calls – outweighed my ability to call. I was blessed to be protected by God when questioned by the psychologist my abuser hired against me. That psychologist asked me if I had ever called the police and I told him no and explained why. He was very understanding and said it would be hard for victims of abuse to call, but that those records could have greatly helped me. In the end, he found my abuser to be just that – among many other things.

    Oh, btw, my abuser loved Doug Wilson’s books –

    • freeatlast8

      Iammybeloveds said:

      I wish now, that I had called the police all those times I thought about it – but the fear of my abuser and the consequence we would all face for me making those calls – outweighed my ability to call.

      YES YES YES YES YES…the fear of my abuser and the consequence we would ALL face for me making those calls…YES YES YES YES YES

      Once while I was in the early stages of having left with the children, my abuser called the police on ME. The police came to where I was staying to do a welfare check. I told them the reason I was there was because of my husband’s bad behavior. I was not the one to be checking on!

      Ex had told the police, “You can see I have a clean record. You will find nothing on me.” And that was the absolute truth. I could have called the police numerous times, but out of fear of the very things you mentioned above, I did not call. The consequences would not only affect him, but the whole family…disgrace, shame, embarrassment, humiliation, gossip, possible loss of job which would lead to loss of income which would lead to not being able to pay bills, etc etc etc… FEAR of all that kept me from making a phone call. In the end, I still had to face all those fears when I left. But God is good and has sustained me through it all, praise his wonderful name. It’s not easy, but he is lifting me from it all a day at a time.

      I am soooooooooooooo thankful for this forum of discussion. Thank you to everyone behind the scenes at ACFJ. You have no idea how many lives you are changing and saving.

      • freeatlast8 ((((hugs)))

        and thank you for the encouragement 🙂

  4. Isurvivedabuse

    My abuser told me in several e mails that I needed help. In actuality he is projecting his abuse on me.
    By your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.
    Matthew 12:37
    Without the word of God and the Holy Spirit for wisdom.. Bondage is a choice.
    You shall know the truth and the truth SHALL SET you free. John 8:32

  5. Isurvivedabuse

    I remember taking a witness to a meeting that was set up by the counselors and pastor. Thinking that reconciliation might be underway.
    I was told that my witness could not interject any conversation. In retrospect. This is a tactic of power and control. Abuse in the church. Satan is real.

  6. LH

    THANK YOU!!! I had this used against me, and when I said the children were witnesses and also abused, I was told that they were no allowed to testify because this was about our marriage. As much as I hate (the sinful way) that “c”hurch treated me, what I hate the most is their ignoring what was happening to my kids, esp my eldest daughter, who needed to be heard and needed help desperately.

  7. a prodigal daughter returns

    Yes to another important vital truth the supporters of abuse and how we find safety.
    A hindrance to documenting abuse when I was in the throes of it was a misguided sense of loyalty that insisted “good wives keep family matters private” “Good Christians suffer quietly giving thanks in all things” was a misinterpretation of scripture and God’s will in my life. Neither of these thoughts were actually godly and they trapped me. I didn’t think of the abuse as a crime, which it was, but as a failure on my part to be good enough. I was protecting my husbands career and having been raised as the family scapegoat it was very familiar to say, the problem is me. I’m only now, sometime after my divorce, and because of this website coming to grips with just how abusive it was and what drives an abuser (wickedness). Calling it a crime instead of a marriage is more accurate to what many women live with. Documentation is vital in hindsight and being fearless about calling it what it is can only set one free.

    My willingness to take the blame for things that “went wrong” not understanding my abusers glee in taking advantage of what I thought was sincerity or humility was also a set up. It was part of the brainwashing “look what you made me do”

    Lastly in the “helping” professions I encountered they don’t want to believe one of their own could be monstrous behind closed doors. They were all too eager and willing to support his claim I was “mentally ill” because it fit their paradigm. I was in denial about how bad it was but living out the symptoms of abuse anyway. My anti-husband knew just what to say to feed on their insecurity and fear. They wanted to be impressive counselors to the master counselor. A lot of betrayal occurred by these helping professionals in my life because of this.

    When someone presents with the evidence of PTSD the response I experienced with counselors was to ask “what is wrong with you?” in terms of “what happened in your childhood and how did that make you mentally ill?” Plenty happened but that was a smokescreen to the fact I was living with someone actively threatening my life and creating deeper and deeper levels of PTSD. The right questions when someone seems emotionally fragile, is breaking down, depressed and heavy laden is “what is happening to you?” You can’t recover from PTSD when you are living with the person creating it. At one point God gave me the wisdom to see I’d never get better until I got out and that it was not His will to “fix the so called marriage”

    • Isurvivedabuse

      Some of us have suffered with PTSD
      along with depression from years of neglect.
      God’s intention for marriage is LOVE.
      His intention for a marriage with children is LOVE.
      When a woman is not loved.. She will act out in self harming ways.
      It took suffering for me to personally realize this in my marriage.
      I remember sitting in a unhealthy church, when the pastor looked directly at me and stated.
      “If you have depression
      you are living in sin.”
      I later had the courage, in a not so positive counseling session..
      To look him in the eyes and say..
      You said the above statement.
      He looked at me without hesitation and said. ” I didn’t say that.”

      • Hi, Isurvivedabuse, re your screen name, can you please email TWBTC? twbtc.acfj@gmail.com She can guide you thru how to avoid submitting comments with a screen name that might identify you. I’ve edited the commments you submitted recently (to keep your identity concealed) but we can’t always promise to be on the ball immediately with editing such things, so it’s far safer for you if you know how to submit comments without any risk of revealing your identity or any of your contact details.

      • BINGO! That pastor is an abuser, if he’s rewriting history like that!

    • When someone presents with the evidence of PTSD the response I experienced with counselors was to ask “what is wrong with you?” in terms of “what happened in your childhood and how did that make you mentally ill?” Plenty happened but that was a smokescreen to the fact I was living with someone actively threatening my life and creating deeper and deeper levels of PTSD. The right questions when someone seems emotionally fragile, is breaking down, depressed and heavy laden is “what is happening to you?” You can’t recover from PTSD when you are living with the person creating it.

      That is all so good it bears repetition! So many of our readers can identify with this, I think.

      Before asking “What happened (past tense) in your childhood?” counselors should ask “What is happening (present tense) in your life?”

  8. Isurvivedabuse

    When the two or three witnesses are in good standing with the pastor.
    For instance: The leadership has the right ( not biblical ) to use his best counselers as witnesses.
    Your left alone with no support.
    This is..
    Intimadation
    Spiritual Abuse
    Abuse of power

  9. poohbear

    This may not be adding to the discussion, but I’m rambling on, anyway. It’s amazing how much fear they can put into us, to keep us from doing what’s right and protecting our children and ourselves! In retrospect, I made so many grave mistakes.

    I wish I’d called the police way back early in our “marriage” when he’d hurled furniture and a TV set (once in front of our then small children) on different occasions, because I had the audacity to not be home when he wanted me to be…mind you, once I was coming home from my job in a snowstorm and couldn’t help being late; another time I was with some family members…I wasn’t someplace “bad.”

    But, he’d always tell me that they would arrest us both, and I feared losing my job if I had an arrest record, even if it was his fault. So, maybe it wouldn’t have helped, anyway. 😦

    He would also say how he’d lose his own job and then (since he was the main breadwinner)…why, our whole family would suffer…and whose fault would it be for bringing the police into it? I actually did try to get to the phone on a few occasions but he wrenched it from my hand and barricaded himself in front of the door so that I was stuck in the house. I had no bruises to prove he’d actually restrained me from leaving, so all he’d have to do if the police came anyway was tell them I was a nutcase trying to run out screaming into the night or something. His word against mine…

    I do wish there’d been some way to prove he’d driven while drinking with our then very young children in the back seat, and that I’d reported him for the welts and bruises he’d put on their little bottoms with various objects while they were still in diapers, for petty offenses committed while I was at work…I’d confront him when I changed them, and he’d drag out the old “rod of correction” verses and then mimic in a falsetto voice how *I* probably would’ve handled things with a silly little “No no, don’t do that!” 😦 I cannot believe to this day, I let that man brainwash me so badly with his perversion of God’s Word, that I didn’t turn him in for hurting my babies.

    I’m still so ashamed for having failed them this way, that I hesitated even to share this…what a coward I was to believe the lies he told me so many years ago. My only comfort is the child I have who’s a parent now, called his father and said he and his spouse were NOT going to use corporal punishment on their own child, and that I know the others are of the same persuasion.

    • freeatlast8

      You are not alone in your shame and grief over what happened to your kids. I understand and feel your pain. Most of us here can bear testimony to similar things that have happened in our own homes, and probably ALL of us have felt like cowards during the process. It is sickening and so sad. But we have lived through it, and God redeems and restores.

      Interesting to read how your husband put the blame on you before you ever made a call to the police in order to head you off at the pass. Consequences for his bad behavior would be YOUR fault because YOU called. HA! My ex is doing this same thing. He tells me I am going to be an adulteress. He believes I will be with another man in the future, so he is already attempting to “scare” me away from a new relationship before it ever happens by telling me what Scripture says. He is trying to head me off at the pass, putting blame on me (yet again) for something that has never even happened.

      Thank you for being very vulnerable and sharing.

      • poohbear

        Freeatlast8, yes, I know…mine has said over the past year that he’s thought about “ending this” (divorcing me) but one reason he doesn’t is because I’d probably get custody and then our child would be exposed to some “pervert” I’d most likely become involved in. He has some obsession with child molestation and has made some outlandish remarks about a friend’s husband, our older son’s friend’s dad, and even a pastor that he said was “creepy looking.” I keep my child closely supervised, and he also knows to tell me if anything inappropriate ever happened. But can you imagine what would happen if I moved away, what his father would accuse me of?

        At this point in my life, I have NO interest in being in another relationship with ANYONE. I can’t convince him of that. I only long to be at peace, to not be undermined, criticized, and blamed for everything under the sun, while his conscience lets him off scot-free. If I’m as crazy and evil and nasty as he says, who on earth would want to be with me, anyway? They don’t make sense…

        Thank you for sharing, too.

      • Round*Two

        Poohbear,

        My ex told me “i will suck the life out of anyone I meet!” As many times I have told him I have no interest in being in another relationship. I remember saying to our counselor “he is sucking the life out of me!” While nearly having a breakdown from his stalking me!
        I suppose he saying what he said was another attempt to make me feel worthless? I am a child of God! I am loved by the Most High!
        I know I will not suck the life out of anyone because I am generally quiet and shy, but I am coming out of my shell. : ) so I will not believe what he said, but instead go on living knowing who I am…. a child of God!
        Blessings to you and all who are sharing their story. It takes great courage to talk about what we gave endured or are still going through…

  10. Barnabasintraining

    If Christians and pastors and elders — if the church — would educate themselves about the mentality, nature, and tactics of abuse, suddenly they would begin to see a very large body of evidence staring them right in the face.

    Yes. But what would they do then?….

    • Jeff Crippen

      Many would still do nothing.

      • Barnabasintraining

        Uh yup.

        Or they would just throw her out, because she filed and that is the important thing.

  11. Anne

    I keep falling back into the trap of “he’s being so nice to me now” even though I know about the cycle of abuse. When my eyes were first open to the emotional and subtle verbal abuse, I went to counseling and a few months later confronted the husband. He would not take any responsibility for his actions … it was my fault as much as his for “making him” react to me in negative ways, he said. Fast forward some months ahead and I confronted him again about things. Since that second time, he’s stopped (or hidden?) most of the negative behaviors toward me, addressed some of the things I said needed to be done … So anyone from the outside looking in is going to say what a great guy he is, look at all the great things he’s done that you asked him to do. But I know from the things he said during that second confrontation that the underlying issues have not changed. I think he got scared that I might actually leave and ruin his facade of “great Christian family” … and now he can also point to all the things he’s done to prove how hard he’s worked and I’m still so hardhearted and unforgiving. (After the last major abusive incident I stopped sharing a bed with him and even after all he’s done that I asked, I can’t be intimate with him. My spirit and flesh both resist … and I still feel guilty about it, being a bad wife, denying her husband)

    What really sticks with me, and I’d appreciate any feedback, has to do with patriarchal attitudes he holds. Am I reading into this, or is this “patriarchal”?

    During the second confrontation, he said he still wanted to be married to me. The confrontation went on for a few hours because I would not let it go, wanted answers, to understand him (I know, probably silly of me). Later I asked him, “why? What is it about me that makes you want to be married to me?” (Because it seems you don’t respect me, don’t value my opinions, belittle or diminish anything I like or that is important to me) He had to think about it for a minute or two.
    “You’re still pretty cute after all these years!” was the answer he came up with. I was floored. (REALLY? I mean really, my appearance???!!!) So I quietly said “well, that’s on the surface. In a few more years, given my age, that will probably change.” I explained I was looking for character traits and have him three or four positive things in his character that made me stay in the marriage. He thought a long time again and finally came up with I was a good mother (our kids are grown so my days of active, hands on, mothering are pretty much over) and that I “had a heart for my friends”. He also said that all he was looking for was someone to bring him a damn cup of coffee when he wanted one, and for someone to stand there and look pretty while he worked on things. He discounted my saying that I wanted to be a helpmate, companion, an equal to share life’s joys and burdens with. He told me that it wasn’t worth it to him to find a church we could worship at together because the only thing that makes life meaningful to him is to remain as active in ministries as he is now and that won’t change no matter what church he attends. That an ordinary life with me, being in a relationship with me and all that entails is “not meaningful”, not fulfilling. I can however make him happy by performing simple acts of service”

    • Anne

      , which I assume means bringing him coffee, having sex when he wants it, continuing to keep his house clean, laundry done, etc.

      So he pretty much denies being patriarchal and doesn’t read much other than his Bible and doesn’t follow many of the names associated with preaching patriarchy, but what do you all think?

      Even though he isn’t openly abusing me right now, I think he’s made it clear with his words that I am lower than the low in his eyes and he’ll take me as a servant, but not a partner in marriage. He may do some nice things, but they’ll be out of duty and to keep up appearances, not out of respect. On our anniversary, he even said that he “loves me more than I know”, which for some reason, made me very angry.

      Any thoughts, anyone?

      • Hi Anne, I think you’ve answered your question yourself, pretty much. He sees you as a domestic servant, a sexual object if he could have you, and as an appendage that makes him appear like a normal and successful married Christian man.

        You said he isn’t abusing you are the moment: I beg to differ. He is still abusing, he’s just curtailed some of his more obvious tactics of abuse so he can argue that he’s stopped mistreating you. That’s still abuse: it’s the chameleon tactic: go undercover to get them off your back. It’s still abuse because it’s designed to destabilise you and make you doubt yourself and give him more chances.

        I suggest to you that it might help you to enlarge your concept of abuse, and stop saying to yourself “He’s not abusing me at the moment.”

      • standsfortruth

        Mine did all of what you describe Anne and expected more of me, to keep me feeling like I was always coming up short of his expectations. I could have done some monumental task during the day, and at the end of the day, he would only talk about the things that I did not get done and never acknowleged the hard things I did accomplish that day.
        (I call this trivializing my accomplishments. )
        But in hindsight, I believe this was intentional because he didnt want me to realize my own worth or value.
        It was part of his gaslighting tecnique to “try” to keep me locked into a depressed, frustrated and exasperated state.

    • Barnabasintraining

      Maybe the patriarchal thing has to do with the one-downship intrinsic to the patriarchal model. He is certainly one-downing you.

      I agree with Barb. He isn’t interested in relationship with you as a fellow human being, but in using you as a sort of lesser creature, like a pack mule or something. In any case, it’s a denial of your humanity.

      Since that second time, he’s stopped (or hidden?) most of the negative behaviors toward me, addressed some of the things I said needed to be done … So anyone from the outside looking in is going to say what a great guy he is, look at all the great things he’s done that you asked him to do. But I know from the things he said during that second confrontation that the underlying issues have not changed.

      I think this behavior vs. underlying issues thing is one of the most difficult problems to talk about — because he can adjust his behavior, and often will for a time. If I can say this without being misunderstood, behavior is not the problem. It is the symptom. The problem is in the inner man and is harder to define. But no sooner do you start answering the question, “well, what is he doing?” (which is really not an unreasonable question) then you’ve virtually lost for just the reason you cite: he can polish up the outside of the cup a bit and use that against you, both to yourself and to others. The problem is the attitude/disposition/mentality…the heart, really… that give rise to the behaviors.

      But this goes with what Barb said about him still abusing you. The tree has not been made good and therefore the fruit it produces is still the same bad fruit, no matter what it looks like.

      • Anne

        Thank you, Barbara and Barnabasintraining, so much for answering me. This whole situation is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to deal with in my life … not the abuse, but the recognising it, trying to heal, trying to discern what I should do. I cry out to God all the time to help me, be with me, strengthen me, show me His wisdom and will for me and I feel like I no sooner feel sure of something when husband then pulls the rug out from under me and makes me doubt myself again.

        A recent Sunday he even said, so you want to go to church together (!!!) and gave me the name of a semi local place he’d picked out. Since I had told him, I really wanted to worship with him again, wanted to find a church we could go to together, I said yes, but this church was in a patriarchal denomination that I know would not be safe for me to continue going to, if he liked it. If I said no, if be the baddie again, yes and I could get hurt eventually. I still feel the deck is ALWAYS stacked against me in every situation, no matter what I do.

        Thanks for being here, letting me vent, answering kindly. It means the world and helps me keep my sanity.

      • Still Reforming

        Anne,
        Just remember that if you are uncomfortable with one particular church (or even several), it doesn’t truly make you the baddie. He may insinuate or even outright say that, but you are not. God calls His people to have discernment, and you can always fall back on God’s Word rightly used to assure you that it’s not a bad thing to exercise discernment, but a good thing. If he throws the ol’ “Don’t judge” verse at you, there are many verses in the Bible telling Christians to, in fact, judge. There’s a whole book with that name (judges), so it’s not “judging” that’s wrong. It’s wrongly judging (by appearances only, being hypocritical, etc) that’s the issue.
        Go with your gut. If you sense something’s wrong or doesn’t feel right, it likely isn’t. You know it because you’re living with it. You’ve learned it by experience. Trust yourself in this regard. God gives wisdom to those who ask. I’ll pray for you to have wisdom in this.
        It’s not only okay to decline a church he cherry-picks, but it’s wise to not attend there. Look at it this way – if he’s really not a true believer (and abusers aren’t) – or rather, no. Let me reverse that, if he were a believer truly saved and repentant, wouldn’t you know? For a loooong time, in my heart, I reckoned that the day my husband was really a Christian, I would know. There would be such a difference. No sneakiness. No deception. Real Godly sorrow. Concern for me. Concern and love. Never came.
        So if your husband is a Christian, you’ll know. He’ll be well and truly concerned about what YOU think for YOUR sake and YOUR benefit. He won’t push you up against a wall verbally or otherwise and blame you for not liking the one and only one church he picked. A real Christian husband would say something like, “I have been so wrong treating you the way I have and saying what I did. I beg your forgiveness and hope you can find it in your heart – even if not now but sometime – to forgive me. It would be a real joy for me to attend church with you and worship together wherever you feel most comfortable. Do you want to start looking at churches together to find a church home where we’ll be part of a church family? Whenever you say the word, I’m ready. And if you want ideas from me, I’m happy to share them. The important thing is that you’re comfortable there, etc etc etc….”
        Just know it your heart that it’s not you. If you don’t want to attend a patriarchal church, rest in the knowledge that it’s not God Who’s blaming for not wanting to go there. It’s someone who wants to be god himself and lord it over you. He’s not going to get any better sitting in the pews of a patriarchal church. He’s only going to get false assurances that he’s doing the right thing and that he’s the man.

      • Anne

        And thanks BIT, to for validating for me it IS the underlying attitudes, because the good behavior throws me off kilter and bothers me because I know he hasn’t had a change of heart towards me – then my guilt kicks in and I feel bad for doubting the behavior. (Counselor and I are working on my false guilt !!!). I dream of the day my mind and heart are at peace and I feel right with the world!

      • Sunflower

        Anne, you say you feel like the deck is always stacked against you, because it is. After I separated from my x, his pastor asked me if I would go to counseling (this was over 20 years ago when I didn’t know much about all this) and I said of course (I’d always begged to go). He sounded surprised (I wonder why?). He got the x to call and say he’d make all the arrangements. I told him that was fine, but there was one week when I wasn’t available. He then arranged part of the counseling for that whole week so I said I couldn’t go. After that it was, “She wouldn’t go to counseling.” You can’t win. Don’t bother.

      • blatant, eh?

        I am often gobsmacked by how abusers can glibly skid across the lines, while acting like their driving technique is impeccable.

        They hang themselves on their own ropes, and most sixth grade kids could see their ploys: e.g. your abuser chose the week you weren’t available. Therefore, he stacked the deck.

        … But the abuser’s persistance in pummeling everyone, to make everyone think their version is correct, often trumps the sixth grader’s logic, and they so often appear to succeed in their illogic by their determined pugnacity. Gah!

      • Still Reforming

        Barnabasintraining,
        You’ve nailed it here. Would that more pastors and church leaders “get it” about the outside and the inside of the cup. And really, what true evil can do. Everyone knows what this looks like in a politician (smile, shake hands, kiss babies, make promises, do something else or not do what one is supposed to) and how that affects a nation. So…. why is it so hard for them to recognize it on an individual, personal level? Or so hard to believe a target’s testimony? That’s the part I grapple with. Once someone has the courage to finally speak (or has been speaking for ages, but finally takes a real stand about it), she is the one who is chastised and scorned. It makes me shudder to think how pervasive the hold is of evil on the church. But then, wasn’t it the same in Jesus’ day?

      • Barnabasintraining

        You are very welcome, Anne.

        A couple of things I’d like to comment on:

        This whole situation is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to deal with in my life … not the abuse, but the recognising it, trying to heal, trying to discern what I should do.

        ….

        the good behavior throws me off kilter and bothers me because I know he hasn’t had a change of heart towards me – then my guilt kicks in and I feel bad for doubting the behavior. (Counselor and I are working on my false guilt !!!).

        It is very difficult, but God’s purpose for it is entirely different than Satan’s. As far as God is concerned, this is invaluable education that will strengthen and establish you and cause you to develop amazing discernment. In one of Barbara’s posts she has an analogy of back stitching in sewing and how that reinforces the seam. She applied it to this whole back and forth of “is he a good guy now or not” thing and how at the end of it we are reinforced in righteousness and discernment, basically, in a way that is much much stronger that with just a single straight stitch. I hope she will post the link because I can’t remember where it is. :/ (I’ll have to bookmark it when she does.) So be encouraged, sister! That part will come good in the end.

        A recent Sunday he even said, so you want to go to church together (!!!) and gave me the name of a semi local place he’d picked out. Since I had told him, I really wanted to worship with him again, wanted to find a church we could go to together

        Why do you want to worship with him?

        but this church was in a patriarchal denomination that I know would not be safe for me to continue going to

        I’m not sure what led to this, but him picking out a church he would be willing to attend with you is him defining what is acceptable worship for you. He doesn’t get to do that. That is between you and the Lord. Especially under these circumstances, he should not be allowed to tell you or even suggest to you (which with an abuser really amounts to the same thing) where to worship.

        If I said no, if be the baddie again, yes and I could get hurt eventually. I still feel the deck is ALWAYS stacked against me in every situation, no matter what I do.

        This is exactly how it is. It’s how abusers roll. They do this on purpose and with astonishing skill. The only way to win the abuser’s game (war) is don’t play. Disengage, in so far as you are able (I know it is not always possible to completely get rid of these guys 😦 ). As far as being the baddie, yes, you will be the baddie. Let him think you are the baddie and rejoice per Matthew 5:10. In this case, as bad as it feels, being the baddie is actually very very good.

        And oh, by the way, I love how you are fighting this. I think you are doing an awesome job. 🙂

      • The backstitch analogy can be found at the end of this post: Does the victim recognize the abusive patterns? Yes, and no. And then, by degrees, YES!

      • Barnabasintraining

        So…. why is it so hard for them to recognize it on an individual, personal level? Or so hard to believe a target’s testimony? That’s the part I grapple with.

        I know. It’s amazing — in a bad way. 😦

        Jeff brought my attention to the outside of the cup thing. They used to have a dirty cup as their picture on the FB page. It is incredibly apt. One thing about all of this, it really makes Scripture come to life.

      • The Dirty Cup the Pharisees want us to drink from

      • I grabbed the image from our Facebook photos.

      • Still Reforming

        Barnabasintraining,
        Indeed. Scripture comes truly alive to me now that I have experienced true evil. Insidious wickedness masquerading as good and fooling even those I would call my Christian brothers and sisters (and may or may not be – some I’ve left behind, others I’m still laboring to help understand that not everyone who is a “professing” Christian actually is a Christian). Scripture went from black-and-white to living color right before my eyes.

      • Barnabasintraining

        Thanks twbtc! 🙂

  12. freeatlast8

    Anne, maybe we are/were married to the same man? Wow, so much of what you said sounds like my ex. Amazing the similarities. I know the frustration, the doubt, the confusion, the trust and then the let down. Yep. Sounds so familiar. So sorry, dear one.

    Several times over our separation, my ex would demand I return due to the Scriptures saying we were married for life. I asked him if he loved me and he would not answer. He would just carry on and shove his Bible in my face asking me what part of the Scripture did I not understand?!?!!!???!!! It was obvious just by his approach that there was NO love in anything he was doing. I wondered, like you, if I was so awful, why in the WORLD would he want me to come home? No one in her right mind would want to go home with someone so irate and unloving. If anything, he was shoving me further away.

    So much truth in all these posts. More value here than a year of paid-for counseling. I need to reread some of these posts over the next couple of days. It’s hard digesting them fully with so many new articles coming out regularly. I am devouring everything everyone posts.

    Dear God, please help Anne and all the others on this forum.

    • Anne

      Freeatlast8, I too am so thankful for this place. My counselor is great, but sometimes I feel I’m teaching her with what I learn here! I also read every post and every comment voraciously, learning and feeling supported by everyone here who has gone through abuse of every type …. Sometimes it amazes me how we can all have so many different lives, being in different stages and places in these lives, with various levels of abuse that run the gamut from emotional, verbal, physical and all three together … And somehow, we’re ALL married to the same man! They all grab from the same bag of tricks when it comes to keeping us down and under control. Prayers and hugs to everyone here!

      • Remedy

        Yes..just seeing from this website I am not imagining it, I am not crazy, desperately wanting to run away from it is normal, I cannot reason with it, AND I am not alone…..priceless!!! I like what you wrote ‘worth more than a year’s worth of paid counseling’….yes!!!

        Thank you to so many who are able to articulate their experiences that so closely mirror my own while my mind feels like a glob of mush most days. So grateful to know the Lord see us and knows the depths of our hurt. He will make all things right in His time.

    • poohbear

      Has anyone else ever believed he has some special “in” with God, and that he somehow knew things about you that God had shown him, which caused you to doubt your own heart convictions and sense of reality?

      For example, a couple times after an “incident,” I would gather up our then-youngsters and seek shelter in a motel after he left for work. On one occasion, I received a call in my room. He informed me that God had told him where I was. He proceeded to go on with his “explanations” and justifications for his behavior the night before. When I got to my car in the parking lot, there was a note with my name on the cassette deck, telling me to listen to the tape. It was a recording of Van Morrison’s “You’re My Woman.” It was more disconcerting, than romantic. 😦

      I told myself that there was only one motel in town at the time, so maybe it was just a lucky guess. But still…I half thought the Lord had outed me because, after all, I was in the wrong for trying to run away from an argument.

      Another thing I find unsettling are his remarks that “God told him” or “a name came to him.” On more than one occasion, he’s asked me if I knew a [insert man’s name here].When I’d say no and ask why, he’d say the name came to him in a dream. It was almost as though he thought it was the Holy Spirit giving him the heads up that I was having an affair with said-named man. One of the men’s names was the same one on the container of his favorite alcohol, so it was sheer nonsense for him to ask me such a thing. But when I tried to point that out, he didn’t seem to get it. It scares me, the things he claims to hear from God.

      It’s hard to have a right relationship with the Lord, when you half-believe He’s aligned with your abuser, that the things coming out of his mouth, echo God’s opinion of you. I try to tell myself it’s not true, but it’s hard. I feel like a hypocrite here, trying to comfort and build up other women, when I don’t take my own advice. I guess in my heart I believe none of you are bad people who deserve to be abused, but maybe I am.

      Thank you for listening…

      • It sounds to me like the names he gets in dreams are just his addled alchol-lover’s brain producing flotsam and jetsam.

        The explanation of his ringing you in that motel: it’s either because it’s the only motel in town, or because he has put some tracking (GPS type) device on your phone or your car or both. There are lots of ways that abusers can use modern technology to stalk and monitor their victims. You might like to read the links under the ‘cybersafety’ subheading of this page on our Resources section:
        Social Networking and Cybersafety

      • And you don’t deserve to be abused, poohbear. Your husband has tried to brainwash you to think you deserve it, but that’s just what all abusers DO!

        I encourage you to keep sharing here and reading here, and not be hard on yourself. 🙂 🙂 🙂
        When those self-attacking or self-doubting thoughts come, I encourage you to just recognise them and say to yourself “Ah, that’s the lies he’s tried to brainwash me with. Those thoughts are all part and parcel of having been abused. I can dismiss them as just lies from the pit of hell. Like the symptoms of influenza, they are troubling, but they are just symptoms, and I don’t have to puzzle into them to try to ‘make sense’ of them, other than to say to myself “I have influenza, so it’s to be expected that I have the shivers, feel hot and cold, feel weak, feel tired, am not myself, can’t cope with things as well as I usually do.”

        Not that influenza is as bad as abuse (well, there was the Spanish Influenza which killed millions, but that was a rare one). I’m not trying to minimize what you are suffering under your husband; I’m only trying to help you stop navel gazing and turning the arc-welder of blame onto yourself.

      • Round*Two

        I have to agree with Barbara about the tracking device. I never thought it would happen to me, but my ex kept showing up in places at the same time I did. I looked up online to see how I could tell if there was a bug or tracking device in my car. What I found was an extra set of wires connected to my car battery! And I found tools sitting under the hood! I tried to rationalize how I missed it?!
        Another thing, my ex had installed some kind of app on my phone. He says he has hours of phone conversations of me and whomever I have been talking to. He also some how messed with my phone without being around it. I recorded the things going on with my phone with my camera so others wouldn’t think I was going crazy.
        I would check your car and phone to see if there is anything unusual installed.

      • freeatlast8

        Poohbear…oh my goodness…yes to all this. This happened to me. I started figuring I must be being watched or recorded or something. Ex would text me or email me referencing something I had recently done or said that he could not have known. There were a couple of incidents I absolutely could not figure out…hard as I tried.

        The stuff he put in his notes/letters was baffling. One Sunday morning he sent me an email and in it was one word repeated numerous time that was the same word/topic of the pastor’s sermon that very same day. IT WAS FREAKY. Ex said the Lord had spoken all this to him in a dream. I printed out the message and showed it to the pastor that very day with the EXACT words underlined that Pastor used…it was more than a coincidence. There was something very twisted going on there. I am pretty sleuthy, but that, along with at least two other incidents, was pretty unexplainable.

        It’s like he had an inroad into my mind. He put stuff in his letters that he said God told him to say to me. It was amazing, honestly, the way he was able to make it sound as if he was taking my own thoughts from inside my head and verbalizing them. (And remember, God told him to tell me these things.) Some of it was damning and full of condemnation. I felt like when Shimei cursed David in 2 Samuel 16:10:

        If he is cursing because the Lord said to him, ‘Curse David,’ who can ask, ‘Why do you do this?’”

        I started to think maybe the Lord did tell him to say those things to me. But the things he said were so foul and hateful I could hardly imagine my Jesus talking to me that way. And what strikes me as odd is that for the nearly three decades we were married, I can not recall a time ex got a word for me from the Lord in a dream or any other way. He had never had these prophecies before, so why now?

        It was very, very confusing. And he continues to send me the same kinds of things to this day. So bothersome. I ignore them mostly.

        My pastor said he could not explain how ex had an insider’s knowledge to his sermon message except that Pastor had it penned up a week before, so it was public (so to speak)… and we have to remember there are demonic forces at work. He did say he thought I had a big target on my back and he knew I was under attack.

      • I read in a book about a victim whose husband said to her, “God told me you’re not to drive the car anymore.”

        What a deft way to commit spiritual abuse and social abuse in one go. (Social abuse results in the victim being isolated from friends, family and support networks.)

  13. a prodigal daughter returns

    Just a thought Anne, God can certainly lead and direct and He may direct you to something different. Like you I was only valued for the things you could pay someone else to do as a domestic servant. I was putting my massive amounts of energy to “fix” this thinking as many abused people do that if I said and did the right thing all would change. The last person on the planet that wanted any change was the anti-husband that had a live in slave to which he threw a minimal amount of crumbs here and there.
    Sometimes the niceness phase is just the crumbs to keep the slave in place. I had lots of friends praying, 3 of them took me aside separately with his advice. Friend 1, there are some things so broken that God doesn’t want them fixed.
    Friend 2, choose life, my friend, you choose this man, you are choosing death. Friend 3 your husband would just as soon have you dead, please leave and save your life (from a rabidly anti-divorce) friend.
    It was taken out of my hands, ultimately because I would have died trying, how that happened is a long story. At one point I pictured myself in front of my Savior at the great white throne explaining that I did nothing with my life but try to make my husband happy and realized, God had more for me to do with this life, than try to appease someone on fire from hell bent on wasting my life. In my case the calling on my life was to get out of the trap of wasting my life on someone that could only trample the pearl of that gift under his feet.
    My only regret now is that I stayed so long and wasted so many years

    • Anne

      So much to reply to … Thanks to all for the insights! I like the backstitch analogy very much, Barnabasintraining.
      The encouragement that you love the way I am fighting, thank you. It meant a lot to see someone say I was doing something “awesome”. It’s so hard to hang on and I feel I’ve lost so much of myself over the years.

      Prodigal daughter, thanks for sharing what your friends told you. There was so much truth in their words. And when you talked of standing before the Lord someday and having to explain to Him why I wasted the precious life He gave me, the talents and abilities trying to please a man who will not be pleased, who does not appreciate who God made me to be … it really hit home and made me cry … in a good way! I never looked at it that way before. I looked at it as failing God because I could not please my husband, but your words suddenly flipped things around and really moved me.

      Barnabasintraining, as to why I want to worship with husband… I’ve always felt my leaving the church we both attended together was the catalyst for the abuse, or at least the biggest catalyst that increased the intensity. We made a joint decision many years ago to switch churches for our spiritual growth. After about a year, I found this new church to be very harmful. It was more a personality cult built around the pastor and many very bad things were going on there. After two years, trying so hard to see what good husband saw in this place, I couldn’t stand it anymore. I tried to make him see what I found so harmful, how it was hurting me spiritually to be there, that was not a healthy place to be. I reached a breaking point and refused to go back. I went back to our old church eventually. He would not let me take the kids, who were still young, but he let me go alone. Our eldest child was a young teen and shortly after I returned to our old church, she did too, putting her foot down for many of the same reasons I had. The other ones were too young and I was too afraid to stand up to my husband. My one child is now an atheist because of what he suffered through there and my other had her struggles, but came through with faith intact. I wish I’d been braver to have brought then all through and I pray my son who had a strong faith as a child, will someday find the way back to God.

      But I always thought if husband would leave this damaging church and we could start over together somewhere, it would help, he’d be happy with me again. So that’s always something I’ve begged him to do with me. But he’s too entrenched at the unhealthy place he is now. Even his going with me somewhere was meaningless. He didn’t like the service or the music and wouldn’t stop for fellowship afterwards to even get a feel for the place. It was simply done so he could say … see, I went to a new church with you and you’re still not happy. So to answer your question, I used to think I wanted to worship with him again because of the “house divided” principle, but now, even in the last few months have realised it won’t help. My leaving the “umbrella of protection” of his church was a reason that allowed him to justify a lack of respect for me, which led to more and more abuse. (His church teaches a lot of John Bevere stuff and while not overtly patriarchal, , a woman not under the protection of her husband ie. Not submissive ie. Me for leaving his church … is not much respected or listened to and deserves whatever bad happens to her)

      • Barnabasintraining

        Oh. 😦

  14. LH

    “He sees you as a domestic servant, a sexual object…, and as an appendage that makes him appear like a normal and successful married Christian man. ”
    Yep – you nailed it!

    • Anne

      “A real Christian husband would say something like, “I have been so wrong treating you the way I have and saying what I did. I beg your forgiveness and hope you can find it in your heart – even if not now but sometime – to forgive me. It would be a real joy for me to attend church with you and worship together … ”

      Still Reforming … What you said! I guess I had hoped in my heart I was wrong, that the outside package was so good, that there was something inside him to match, if only I could make him SEE, understand how he hurt me … that the conversation would go as you detailed.

      But the first time I came to him, broken and shattered over the big event that opened my eyes to the abuse, I left the room two hours later even more broken because not once did he even say he was sorry for the hurt he’d caused, but further blamed me because I was not a good enough wife or even person. I was willing then to take responsibility for what I might have done, but I was left totally confused by the fact that he would take NO responsibility at all, even by making a sincere apology and a simple “what can I do to fix this?” That’s what I would have done in his place and have done when I’ve hurt someone.

      Thanks for further bringing home that the conversation you recreated is a much better indicator of a “real” Christian man’s reaction to hurting his spouse. I can only dream of ever having that type of reaction directed toward me.

      • poohbear

        Hi there, Anne…I think that is classic with abusers: they are incapable of saying they’re sorry except superficially, and then it’s almost always attached to blaming you (“I’m sorry I blew up and swore, but you provoked me,” “If you would just stop [insert offense here], I wouldn’t get mad and call you these things,” etc.)

        It looks like you’ve gotten some wonderful replies from others here, but I just want to echo, a man who truly loves his wife, will come to her and do everything he can in a loving manner to try to set things right, no strings attached, even if *she* might have done something that upset him. He would talk it out with her and not rest until there was some sort of resolution and peace was restored.

        I understand about the temporary “good behavior” all too well, myself. I’ve fallen for it for years, then gone through such guilt when I had that little voice in my heart tell me, “But it’s still not right…” I told myself I was being unforgiving, and holding grudges.

        It honestly wasn’t till I found this site and read the definition of abuse, which is basically someone having “a pattern of coercive control” over another person. A light went on in my head. Abusers feel they are *entitled* to harm their victims. They may be able to “behave” for a bit, but the ugly root of the problem is still there. It’s like a garden where someone pulls up the weeds…for awhile, it will look pretty and one might think they’re gone, but give it a bit of time and if those weeds aren’t destroyed from the root up, they will surely come back.

        I could never get him to see how he hurt me, and believe me, I tried so hard! I don’t expect you or anyone else has ever succeeded with this, either. He would just proceed to invalidate my feelings. It was so painful for me to come to grips after decades that he never really did love me in the Biblical sense…I cleaned his house (and even that was rarely done right), I did his laundry, I bore his children, I went out and worked and dutifully handed over my paycheck…but I was never, ever his beloved. I was never much more than his servant, and certainly not his equal.

        I came to realize that when he first met me, he saw a vulnerable, needy young girl (which I was at the time) and jumped on the chance to lure me into a trap. I began to feel like a captured elephant unwittingly dragged off to a circus to perform at her master’s command, and when I dared to try to escape, I was (verbally) whipped and beaten…how dare I try to leave the nice man who provided me with a cage to live in and tossed me hay from time to time.

        A good day is when he doesn’t mimic or deride me or tell me how “sick,” “evil,” and “crazy” I am. In other words, when he only sees me for < 5 minutes a day, on his way out the door to work. I'm almost thankful that he's gone back to drinking, because he knocks himself out and I don't have to deal with him.

        Anne, I'm glad you've come to realize that going to the same church with him, won't help. I hope that you'll learn to see yourself as God sees you, a beloved daughter, and not a bad person and wife. I so struggle with this myself (and thus feel a bit hypocritical for advising someone else), but deep in my heart I know the ugly things he says are lies, just as the things you've been told, are from the enemy. I'm sorry for the pain you and so many others here, are going through…

      • freeatlast8

        Ohhhhhh Anne, Anne, Anne. I have been there…your story is mine. Spot on. I know the hurt, the ache, the anger and frustration of a husband who REFUSES to admit any fault or apologize for anything. I don’t think I will ever forget it.

  15. poohbear

    Barbara, thank you so much! 🙂

    He didn’t have a tracking device on me, because those hadn’t been invented yet. But thank you for the warning, because I know other men employ these things and it would do well for fellow posters to be aware.

    I really think it was just a coincidence, his knowing where I was…I don’t know why I was so naïve and believed him at the time.

    One other thing I feel like adding is, whenever “God” tells him something, I’m expected to take heed. I believe on some occasions I’ve heard from the Lord myself, yet I feel like I’ve cast my pearls before swine by sharing with him. This hurts.

    One time last year, I was pondering on how my life was such a train wreck and feeling very hopeless. I happen to keep some small [pets]. One of them developed some sort of mass the size of a ping pong ball (common in these sort of animals), such that I felt I would have to put her to sleep, as she was very elderly and surgery wasn’t an option. I suddenly felt an impression in my heart, that the Lord wanted me to know that He could fix even the most hopeless of things, and that He would show me through my little pet. I wasn’t sure if what I felt was true, and dismissed it as wishful thinking.

    A couple days later, I looked into the cage and saw the little creature running about, lump-free. Within days, there was nothing but a tiny scar. Asking other same-pet owners, some said she ‘d probably bitten it off, but I found that hard to believe (that would’ve been painful!), and the timing was too close. My heart lifted, thinking that there surely must be hope in all things after all, and that I’d been given a tiny “miracle” to prove it. I even dared to think God might have been referring to my marriage.

    I happily shared the news with him. I was expecting him to rejoice along with me and be encouraged that maybe the Lord still had His hand in our lives. Instead, he grumbled something about yes, God can fix you, and that was it…it was as though in his eyes, *I* was the hideous growth. 😦

    I wish this wasn’t the only time he’d made me feel like I’d handed him a delicate vase that he’d thrown to the ground and trod upon. I don’t understand how a fellow Christian would disparage anything that might remotely have been a blessing from the Lord.

    Thank you again for this opportunity to share here…

    • Anne

      “I’ve fallen for it for years, then gone through such guilt when I had that little voice in my heart tell me, “But it’s still not right…” I told myself I was being unforgiving, and holding grudges.”

      Yes, that’s what’s been in my head and heart too, poohbear. Everything you said echoes what I have thought too.

      When you were saying you’d borne his children, cleaned his house, done his laundry and many other things like that for decades, but still was not his beloved in the biblical sense, my heart said … me too. A few months ago my husband told me that he was a simple man, only needed simple acts of service to keep him happy, my heart and mind cried out at the unfairness of it. My entire life has been made up of doing “simple acts of service” for him. Like you, cooking, cleaning, laundry, bearing and caring for his children, running his errands, paying the bills, preparing for holidays and birthdays, the last it’s endless. My life has been very little more than service to his needs and wants and he dares say what he said?!

      But I am starting to “get it”, the entitlement, the lack of true caring for me as a unique individual, an equal, God’s beloved daughter. HUGS poohbear! Thanks for sharing your thoughts amd insights!

    • Still Reforming

      poohbear,
      You wrote: “I don’t understand how a fellow Christian would disparage anything that might remotely have been a blessing from the Lord.”
      Because he’s not a fellow Christian, which is how he can say and do what he does. And without guilt or shame either.
      I’m really glad your pet healed up. I have a similar story only mine didn’t end well. We had a dachshund, and my (then) husband put rat poison out in a shed where the dog could get it. It would not have been at all hard to put the poison where a dog with such little legs could NOT get it.
      He resented that dog, even though he was the one who had the dog offered to him and then he to me. After we brought it home, if I showed the dog any affection at all, he began to say that I loved the dog more than I loved him.
      Having ingested the poison (but we didn’t know that – or at least I didn’t), the dog got very sick and nearly died one Sunday. When I saw the labored breathing, swelling, and bruising (from the poison) after church, I asked my husband if I could take our pet to an emergency clinic (because the vet’s was closed) or he would surely die. My now ex- didn’t answer me, so I scooped up the choking dog and our young child and rushed to my car. The emergency clinic was an hour away. (I have since learned that rat poison acts by thinning the blood and the creature bleeds out internally – hence the sudden appearance of bruising. I was also told that rat poison is made to smell good to creatures so it would have attracted the dog.)
      As I was just about to leave, my husband came to the driver’s side window and tapped on it to get me to roll it down. He said, “I hope this doesn’t break the bank.” I didn’t know what to say so I said nothing. At the clinic, the dog went into cardiac arrest; They saved him with an emergency tracheotomy, and the dog lived for two more years with lots of medical needs and bills. (I was not present when they made the decision to do the tracheotomy, since they asked to take the dog back for an exam, and I took my young child to a store for an hour.)
      I was torn because my husband wouldn’t give me thoughts one way or another on what to do next. He would let me decide and then blamed me for any decision related to the dog. (In hindsight, I see that this was a modus operandi in most if not all areas; He doesn’t offer an opinion, doesn’t seek mine, and when a decision needs to be made so I make it, I’m blamed for anything related to that decision, even if the results of it are good.)
      Re: the dog, I did what I thought best and never got us into debt. Our beloved dog died of a seizure after two years. He had never been the same after that ingestion of poison, which resulted in nervous system issues.
      It took me until long after the dog’s death – years after – to realize that my now ex- just really didn’t care. He may not have intentionally killed the dog, but negligence (if that’s what it was) proved to be deadly. I can’t help but wonder to this day if he didn’t put the poison intentionally in places where that little dog could get it.

      • poohbear

        Oh, still reforming, I’m so sorry about your poor dog, and the pain you must’ve gone through yourself with what happened. How cruel of him not even to consider that your precious pet might ingest the poison.

        Mine didn’t poison my dog, but 11 years ago when I was expecting our last child, he gave my dog away, insisting we couldn’t have a dog AND a baby. 😦 I cried my heart out. I most certainly COULD deal with both…I’d dealt with THREE little ones at once, while working 60+ hours a week to help pay off his financial fiascos. What hurt me the worst was, the poor dog had already been dumped and bounced around several times in his young life…how could we do that to him again? The people who took him gave him to a shelter a year later…I contacted the shelter and pleaded with them to just let me know if he’d ever found a good, permanent home, at least, but they wouldn’t tell me due to confidentiality rules. I hope there’s a heaven for animals because I want to tell my poor dog how sorry I was for what happened to him, and that I never wanted to give him away. I still get choked up thinking about him…

        Mine is so greedily obsessed with money, he hates anything that takes a penny from our joint bank account, even though I work, too. He’s even accused me of being a liar and a sneak, insisting I’d said I wouldn’t get any more pets, even though these are the only pets our child has, and I take care of them.

        Your ex’s seeming ambivalence sort of reminds me of a ploy mine has: I’ll mention I need something for myself, like new socks or whatever, and he’ll say, “Why do you have to act like a little girl and ask permission? Get whatever you want!” So, I do, and mind you, I’m very frugal as far as clothing and other indulgences for myself…I buy only what I really need, and wear my clothes till they’re pretty much rags before replacing them. I must use a credit card, so he can keep track of my spending.

        The next thing I’ll hear is, “We need to clamp down…the credit card bill was $XXXX!” This from a man who has 6 dozen pairs of unopened socks on top of the dozens he already has, yet who keeps buying more.

        It’s all a game to play with our minds, I’m afraid…

        (((hugs)))

      • Still Reforming

        poohbear,

        I completely understand what you’re saying about the money. Like you, I try to be careful with spending, and I used three credit cards just to spread out the bills for them to arrive at different times of the month so I could pay them all off on my husband’s hourly wage. (I was a stay-at-home wife with a home schooled child. I did just get a job for the first time in more than a decade since we have recently divorced.) We didn’t have one month of credit card debt; I always diligently paid them all off to avoid paying any interest.

        Even though all bills were paid off, he sat outside the bathroom waiting for me when I was in there, holding bills in his hands. When I came out, he said, “What was this for?” I couldn’t see the line item he was referring to – and then he asked, “Was this for yarn?” I looked closely at the line item, and I couldn’t tell, so I looked up at the date, and it was two years old. I pointed that out to him, and he just said, “Oh” and walked away. He did it again later, pointing out a line item for Goodwill from which I had purchased books on line for a penny (one cent!) each – and I had already joked with him about it that I spent 399 times the face value of the book on shipping ($3.99). I had ordered them to start reading novels again to discuss with an older gent at church who is an avid reader. My husband saw the line item (Goodwill, no less) and again waited outside the bathroom door to challenge me about the bill. I tired of the ruse, so I just sighed and answered, “Books,” and again, he walked away with an “Oh,” but came back about 20 minutes later and said, “Were they for home school?” (As if that would count, but anything else might not. Who knows? I can’t remember my response, but it essentially brushed him off.)

        After the third time of ambushing me outside the bathroom with bills, I took to receiving bills on-line in a private email account just to avoid the tension of being nit-picked over nothing. Once that happened, he really got angry. “Why are you hiding the credit card bills? This isn’t Biblical! You’re being deceitful! A husband has a right to know what the wife is buying!” On and on it went. I didn’t care, but then he threatened to move back into the bedroom (from whence he had removed himself two years prior) if I didn’t give him the bills. A friend at church told me he can’t bully me that way and that I should put locks on the doors. I told the pastor I might do this, but that made our pastor nervous, so he told me to seek legal counsel about my rights in the home. (Not that the pastor himself would deign to stoop so low and get involved.) It all spiraled downhill from there, but…. in a way that delivered me from both husband and that church, so I am grateful.

        All to say I completely understand the financial manipulation. As you astutely observed, it’s all just a ploy for control. It’s petty, self-serving, and abusive. And evil.

  16. Still Reforming

    poohbear,
    Please forgive me. I forgot to tell you that my heart aches for you with the memory of your sweet dog. Perhaps he’s still on earth surrounded by a loving family. My daughter and I comfort one another with respect to our pets who are gone with hopes to see them again in the new heaven. We remind ourselves of all of the verses that talk about God’s care over all His creatures (knowing when even the sparrow falls). And I hold hope with this verse: “Who knows whether the spirit of man goes upward and the spirit of the beast goes down into the earth?” (Ecclesiastes 3:21) That suggests to me that the beast has a spirit too. I know many who would disagree, but she and I still hold onto hope based on this verse and others anyway. If none of us really know, then why can’t we hope to see our beloved pets again?

    • poohbear

      Still reforming, thank you for your sweet words. My little dog is most likely gone now, but I too hope for a heaven for animals. I hope that the verse that says something to the effect that in Adam all died, but that through Christ, all are made alive, might pertain to all creatures, too…after all, animals didn’t die either till after the fall.

      Well, we need to tell ourselves, God knows all. Thank you for sharing your experience with me and the rest.

      [Eds. comment edited to protect identity and safety.]

  17. Valerie

    In recently studying this witness rule in the context of 1 Timothy 5 I discovered that it is actually the Jehovah’s Witnesses who have scandalously abused this text, which has resulted in multiple cover ups for child abuse! Apparently they have clung to these passages in citing the “authority of scripture” to justify letting the abuser go free. “We’re just doing what scripture says.” Quite disturbing that Christian denominations have adapted JW mindset in a way that resembles their teaching. Shudder.

    • Yes Valerie. Here in Australia we’ve been having a Royal Commission into institutional child sexual abuse, and the Jehovah’s Witnesses were called to testify and that is exactly the line they took. Repeatedly. Without any hint of shame. And they told the Royal Commission they would not be changing their policy.

      AARRGGGHH
      talk about bringing the name of Christ into disrepute! You can imagine how all the unblievers and Christian-haters in Oz saw it.

  18. Valerie

    Incidentally, Deuteronomy 22:23-27 also outlines the distinction between someone being violated in an open city and someone being violated in a field. The virgin who was found to have been taken by a man in a field was declared innocent because, “she cried out but there was no one to save her”. (v 27)

  19. Misti

    Are you sure you’re not still focusing on the wrong thing? While yes, things like e-mails are accessible evidence, what is it that really needs to be proven? Individual events, or overall fruits?

    It’s overall fruits, right?

    So the testimony isn’t necessarily needed to confirm every specific event, but to confirm the overall fruits of the person. Are the fruits consistent with a wolf? (Matthew 7:15–20)

    When I admitted that my mother was abusive, one person paused, thinking, and then said outright that what I said of my mother’s treatment of me was consistent with how she treated the cats. And others’ belief of me was related to how much they paid attention to me—my fruits—rather than the words of my parents about me.

    • Those are fair points you’ve made, Misti. 🙂 A person’s character is shown by their overall fruits.

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