A Cry For Justice

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

The lips and thoughts of my assailants are against me all the day long — Lamentations 3

I have been hunted like a bird
    by those who were my enemies without cause;
 they flung me alive into the pit
    and cast stones on me;
water closed over my head;
    I said, ‘I am lost.’

 I called on your name, O Lord,
    from the depths of the pit;
you heard my plea, ‘Do not close
    your ear to my cry for help!’
 You came near when I called on you;
    you said, ‘Do not fear!’

 You have taken up my cause, O Lord;
    you have redeemed my life.
You have seen the wrong done to me, O Lord;
    judge my cause.
 You have seen all their vengeance,
    all their plots against me.

You have heard their taunts, O Lord,
    all their plots against me.
The lips and thoughts of my assailants
    are against me all the day long.
Behold their sitting and their rising;
    I am the object of their taunts.

You will repay them, O Lord,
    according to the work of their hands.
You will give them dullness of heart;
    your curse will be on them.
 You will pursue them in anger and destroy them
    from under your heavens, O Lord.

Lamentations 3:52-66

27 Comments

  1. Still Reforming

    Yes and amen. I am comforted in knowing that vengeance is the Lord’s. Not just that it belongs solely to Him, but also in the sense that He will exact it. That is to say, He doesn’t implore His people to only seek mercy, forgiveness, and reconciliation all of their days, but He also comes with justice, truth, righteousness, and vengeance for wrongs done to His people. Praise His holy Name!

  2. healingInHim

    The Words from Lamentations speaks to my heart. Many tears have been shed as I lay down each night … and throughout the day I am saddened that those whom I once supported and nurtured have turned on me. I am now beginning to mistrust my counselor as even she seems ‘different’. I can’t go into details for obvious reasons.
    I continue to be bewildered at just how shallow so-called friends can be. Much verbal support of sympathy but they will not challenge the abuser face-to-face which they could because they are quite willing to engage in shallow talk when they meet on the street.
    “Thank you, Lord for your infallible Word which speaks Truth. You have warned me that those closest to us will become our enemies. Guide me and give me the wisdom on how to move on. This is taking longer and more difficult than I ever imagined and You know that.”

    • Remedy

      Confronting an abuser is scary and risky for everyone……I feel this is part of reason people won’t challenge. The fears are not all unfounded. If possible, better to have never become ensnared from the start. Some are so smooth, we’re ensnared before we fully grasp it.

      • healingInHim

        Remedy – yes, ensnared before we fully grasp it. Also, there were others who could have intervened but chose not to and yet berated me when the H wasn’t around. 😦

      • Still Reforming

        Remedy,

        What you write is absolutely true and I always have to remind myself of that. It’s another good reason for “no contact” (if possible) with abusers – or as little as possible.

        In my own experience, what I suspect to be reasons most people don’t speak up to the abuser even when they know the truth about him and even when he’s admitted to lying (again and again), the reasons people I know don’t confront him are manifold and unrelated to fear of him. In my experience, they:

        1. fear repercussions to themselves (perceived as unloving, unmerciful, unforgiving) and a time commitment they’re unwilling to make
        2. want to “love him to Jesus”
        3. don’t really care enough about the target(s) to defend us and get involved
        4. just don’t understand the nature of evil and abuse and don’t care to learn
        5. are very busy in their own lives (understandably so – I don’t blame them for that) and don’t realize the consequences of not getting involved in the ugly mess that is domestic abuse
        6. don’t recognize what abuse really is
        7. judge targets and abusers equally, blaming both for the “failed marriage.”

        And probably other reasons, but that’s all I can think of at the moment. I just don’t think the people I know who know both of us really fear him. I do and I don’t at the same time. Frankly, I don’t put anything past him, but he likely wouldn’t hurt me or our child because of any possible consequences for himself.

  3. a prodigal daughter returns

    Thank you Barbara for the reminder of our true source of hope. How powerful these promises are and how completely God extends himself to those that are suffering oppression and its painful consequences. The intrigues of evil people that set traps and look for our destruction and anticipate it with glee, left deep wounds in my life. I liken the wounds of the enemy anti-husband as the original wound and the way the church crushed my hopes for help and care the gangrene in the wound. The only cure for me in my situation was to amputate the relationships lest the gangrene destroy the rest of what was left of me.
    In many ways women either enduring abuser or divorcing are made to feel an outcast at church. Outcast for telling of their suffering, outcast in the suspicion ‘it takes two”, outcast after divorce because it is considered suspect of sin status. Outcast because divorced women in the church have no place to really find inclusion.

    Divorced in the church has an isolating stigma attached to it. It often feels as if the whole structure is predicated on the holy grail of existence “the family” meaning husband, wife and children. In our culture too, attached to a man gives a woman much more status. I get weary of every doctors office requiring marriage status too, check box, divorced, single, married. I hate checking the divorced box, for the rest of my life too. Statistically divorced women’s economics decline and they are vulnerable to poverty at much higher rates then the men they divorce, but, all is not lost, I no longer feel hopeless about this.

    This promise is the one that is very comforting to me
    Jeremiah 30:17
    But I will restore you to health and heal your wounds,’ declares the LORD, ‘because you are called an outcast, Zion for whom no one cares.’

    God can restore joy, hope, future, finances and peace. The more I look to Him for this, the less disappointed I am in people that consistently don’t care.

    • poohbear

      Prodigal daughter, I’m replying to your other post below, because there wasn’t a reply thing under it.

      Yes, isn’t it strange how we often get more understanding from non-Christians? Some of the kindest people I know, are other women who have been through it and broke free, because they didn’t have people threatening them with hellfire and damnation just for wanting some peace.

      For me, I’ve always felt like such a hypocrite, because I was the one who was supposed to be professing a faith in Christ, yet, here was someone who really didn’t believe in Him, trying to help ME. I always felt like such a failure and a terrible witness. I never did find a way around that…

      Btw, once while going through the internet after googling “God hates divorce”, I came upon a site made by a woman whose husband had repeatedly been unfaithful. Well, apparently she prayed and prayed and God restored her marriage. That’s good. But then she went on to preach that because He’d done that for her, the rest of us could just pray hard and be patient and whatever was causing strife in our own marriage, would go away, and we’d all have the same results. If I remember correctly, she had those words “GOD HATES DIVORCE” all over her webpage.

      I sent an e-mail to her or whoever handled correspondence, nothing nasty at all, just wanting to know what specific Scripture they had, to tell anyone they must stay in a “marriage” where they were being abused.

      Someone replied back within minutes, using the verse from Titus 3 10-11…basically calling me a warped, divisive person to be rejected…I promptly wrote back to further explain my intentions for asking…no reply…after all, the Bible says to ignore such a person as myself as apparently only serves purpose to make trouble among true believers…wow 😦

      I’m sorry if I sound so negative here at times…I just need to get things out. Putting on an act in real life can be tiresome. Thank you, everyone.

      • a prodigal daughter returns

        Thank you for your reply poohbear. It can be very crushing when vulnerable and hurting to have other professing Christians bash you with scriptures. It takes so little to break hope and so little to give hope. God help me to be a hope giver not a hope breaker. Lately I’ve learned to ask and pray “should I respond to this or ignore it” Recently I was tempted to launch into a long explanation to someone and just had a check in my spirit, “silence”. I didn’t reply at all, and avoided the headache of someone’s desire to beat up on people. It was glorious to not get sucked into something painful. That passage “if they don’t receive you shake the dust of them off our feet” is a very good guide. When I detect disrespect I’m no longer interested in a conversation, makes for a much more peaceful life.

      • Still Reforming

        poohbear,

        Reading what you and others wrote regarding the empathy of non-believers, above and beyond that of the professing church, reminded me of an accidental death of someone I knew. I attended the memorial service and spent time with a grieving member of the family – it was really impressive how family and friends helped the grieving family – doing all the laundry, cleaning the house, catering the memorial service, keeping the refrigerator filled for weeks, and staying night and day for as long as needed. There was even had a signal worked out with a friend that if the company got to be too much at times, the family didn’t have to tell people to leave; they just had to give a discreet signal and the friend would get folks to leave the widow’s home. I remember seeing people give money to the family at the memorial service. Watching all of this happen, I had to marvel and wonder, “Would my church do this?”

        No. My church would have a funeral and does throw a covered dish meal together for the family on the day of the event, but…..watching such real care and genuine concern for the widow by non-believers really impressed me.

        What I suspect more and more is that those I knew from my former church is that they did things because they felt they had to – not because it was real love. Things are done are because they’re “the Christian thing to do.” Basically, an underlying works-based mentality.

        (Eds note: Comment edited to protect identity)

  4. bright sunshinin' day

    Very encouraging passage, Barb, to remind us that the God Who sees, hears, and knows what is done in secret will repay His enemies. “There is nothing hidden which will not be revealed, nor has anything been kept secret but that it should come to light” (Mark 4:22). He is able to thwart the plans of the enemy and calling on Him to do so is a good prayer! And He gives His beloved strength to engage in battle (whether in the courtroom or other spiritual battlefronts) like He gave to David in dealing with Goliath and later Saul.

  5. poohbear

    Ladies, your posts ring so true! I have lots of sympathetic friends, but never once have I had anyone say boo to him.

    I’ve always just taken it for granted, I was on my own in this 😦

    • Still Reforming

      poohbear,
      I think that’s why I cherish this site and the people who run it so much. We’re finally not alone in this. It was here I was first really believed and supported. People I know face-to-face in church didn’t support me as much as I’ve been supported here. They believed me too, but… it didn’t matter. I got a whole lot of “Go in peace, be warmed and filled.” (James 2:16) Here, it matters. Here I am given what I need to be warm and filled. There, I was patted on the back and sent on my way.

      • a prodigal daughter returns

        I’m with you here PB. Pastor Jeff used the words “evil” describing the abuse of both our primary abusers the the church people that supported it in various ways. I’ve literally been hungry for food, friendship, support, in the presence of indifferent Christian people with plenty as I slogged my way to freedom. Instead of support and help I met indifference and rejection. It was a outright, atheist non-Christian that asked me, when I first showed up with a black eye behind sunglasses “are you okay, are you safe, can I help” versus the church thundering at me about forgiveness, not being bitter and trying to be more submissive. Many years later I remember breaking down and weeping when she asked if I was okay, the first shred of compassion and decency about my situation. People search for sin on your part to look for a way to excuse their lack of concern and indifference.
        The lack of even basic humanity by fellow “Christians” was a deep wound in my life for which I find healing here.

      • poohbear

        I cherish this site, too. Soon I’ll be back at work and won’t be able to read/post much (I hope I’m not going overboard here, I just have some free time for once). After all the condemnation in the name of the Lord on the internet, this site is like an oasis in the desert. There’s some downright frightening advice for abused Christian women on the net….I stumbled upon a site once that admonished: “You have not resisted unto death” to tell women they should resist the temptation to leave their spouses, if it meant being beaten, raped, or even murdered in the name of the Lord, by their husbands. They equated domestic violence with being persecuted as a Christian by non-believers! I wonder how many poor souls heeded their advice…

        Thank you Barbara, Jeff, and all the other lovely people here.

  6. poohbear

    I think also that until someone has been through this themselves, it just isn’t “real.” But maybe that goes with #6?

    Plus, if it’s not physical abuse, many people fail to see it as true abuse, at all.

    Years ago, after giving birth to my 3rd child, I sought shelter at a women’s safe house…I felt I would snap if I didn’t get away from him fast, and I worried for my children.

    When my “Christian” sister-in-law heard, she asked in a sneering tone, “Really?? Were you getting beaten up??” 😦

    To those who’ve never been victims, what we go through is nothing more than arguing about someone leaving the cap off the toothpaste tube…

    • Poohbear, arguing about leaving the toothpaste tube. Yep, my h relates this type of thing to our pastor every time there is an argument. He calls it arguing over the color of poo. It isn’t true. And I don’t think people do understand that haven’t gone thru this. They think it’s a communication problem and we both are to blame.

      For a while we were cleaning the church. [Eds: details of this story removed to protect identity and safety, but the account was one all survivors with kids can understand: horrible set up with abuser trying to put a wedge between kids and mother, and then the kids being bawled out, and the mother feeling like she was to blame for trying to bring some common sense and good parenting into the situation. . . ] Then I prayed while listening and asking God to forgive me for starting this whole thing, I understand it’s not my fault but it feels like it’s my fault.
      Shortly after in the car (h locking up) the kids said to me “mom, who will you take with you of us when you and dad divorce?” How in the world do you answer that? I’m not talking about divorce with them or even saying anything like it. I shouldn’t have maybe but I said all of you. Only one said he thinks he would stay with dad because he lets him play video games. It makes me not want to get divorced. …
      Now before we even left the house my h was agitated and restless. I knew something would be said or done that day. I just never know what it will be or when.

      There is a counselor I can pay and talk to. I don’t have the budget for at the moment. I’m tired of trying to tell the pastor and it makes things worse for a couple weeks. I’ve been told not to tell anyone else of these things. So here I am telling the world that doesn’t know me and can’t change anything either. It’s a horrible circle.
      The sermon was great today. I cried thru some of it. Weepy off and on. One person talked to me. I of course can’t really tell her all that’s going on. I got the warm hug I needed and she explained how I’m carrying a burden I have to let Christ take. Is it really that
      ” I’m not letting him take my burden?” I told her maybe. But I think it’s more that I’m grieving.

      • poohbear

        Aw, hisbanner, I understand about the “secrecy”! Mine has always accused me of “gossiping, slandering,” or his latest, “disparaging” him, if I even tried to share with a friend, even though that was not my intention at all…I only wanted to bounce things off another person as truthfully as possible, and ask if they thought I was crazy as I’m so often told. We need validation at times.

        Did your pastor tell you to be quiet? Your husband? Both? You have every right to share with others who care about you, here and in “real life.” Please don’t let anyone tell you you can’t. That’s a common weapon: abusers keep us isolated so no one can see what’s really going on. Evil loves darkness and doesn’t want to be exposed.

        It’s normal to feel grief…it’s like all your hopes and dreams for a loving marriage, have passed away…it’s so hard to accept…I think that’s why some of us hold on so hard and long, because we just don’t want to believe it can’t somehow be fixed. It took me so many years to come to that point.

        Re the “arguing,” yes, it is way more than the toothpaste cap. It’s a mentality of entitlement. Then if you try to stand up for yourself, you get blasted for arguing. You can’t win an argument with an abuser. That’s one lesson that’s so hard for me to learn, because common sense says that you can explain something to a rational person, and he will get your point. I still try all the time and it never works 😦

        (Eds: Details of arguments removed to protect identity and safety, but the twisted arguments of the abuser were classic cases of trying to reason with an abuser. As the commenter said, “If it wasn’t so insane, it would almost be comical.” Unfortunately, it is true – you can’t rationalize with someone who doesn’t want to be rational.

        So, please don’t ever think you started anything. These men start things on their own. I think the rationale of my own h is similar to that of other abusers…it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. They’re probably very miserable deep down, as would be anyone who professes to know Christ but who hurts the ones he’s supposed to love, so they need a punching bag.

        Perhaps the burden your friend said you need to put on Christ, is your trying to carry the weight of your h’s actions and put them on yourself? Feeling guilty when it’s someone else who’s in the wrong, is such a heavy load. But I understand it. (((hugs)))

      • Responding to Poohbear.

        Yep, the bouncing things off another to check your sanity etc. That and wanting to do the right thing. Did I cause this? I will do better. I won’t do that again. Am I in the wrong? I will correct that. Those are some reasons for talking about different situations to close friends. Confusion needing to be straightened out.

        The p did say I shouldn’t be telling everyone. I have him and a counselor he said. I’m thinking it has more to do with thinking it’s gossiping???

        The meeting with the p and h happened. Turns out my h take on the whole last incident was a little situation. (details removed to protect identity)

        I went from a good mood to angry when my h shared this. It wasn’t a small incident. It was him making a wide divide between me and the kids, it was a I’m the boss and you go be gone and do what it is you do while I direct the more important things. It was a dividing of women and men or boys and girls. Daughter and mother from sons and father. It was an out of control yelling father to a clueless scared little boy. It was enough that the teenager hid in a closet and everyone else went still.

        I said I wasn’t going to waste my time telling the pastor anymore. He isn’t asking so why should I? I’ve changed my mind. I should because my h was wrong and what he did to all of us is the same thing he continues to do. I don’t have to dig in the past to rehash old things or “lists” I’m accused of having. It’s the entitlement attitude of I can do and say what I want because I’m the boss! It’s wrong. It wasn’t a little direction or talking to. It’s justified because of their lack in some way. He was yelling and it’s not just yelling it’s ripping apart yelling from inside us. He was hateful to me and there is NOTHING I did or said to deserve it or them either.

        Another thing wrong with it…(details removed to protect identity) of course my h perspective is everything is under control it was fine. So fine the kids wanted to know who’s house they would live in when we got divorced. Yeah, sounds pretty calm and normal of a day.

        I’m praying for wisdom. My h was extremely happy and affectionate when he came from that meeting. I was actually thinking…hmmm what’s changed? Nobody can prove this including myself but I actually thought it’s like he thinks he won something. That’s when I got to hear about how that thing that happened was just a small incident. Then I became angry deep inside. It’s minimizing, changing it to being a good dad parenting moment.

        A couple times since I’ve had anxiety attacks. So lame!!!! I hate those things. I don’t realize what’s happening until it’s about over. My eye has twitched all day and even closed without letting me open it!!! Adding to the drama, I know it.

        Rereading the poem for this post I’m comforted. I know He hears my cries, He has answered them in many ways. As I made phone calls for different doctors and all the hoops I had to go thru I started crying about how difficult things can be. Remembering in the middle of my tears that all things work for the good. And I asked the LORD to help me to not be discouraged when it all looked like a road block to what I felt needed to be done. But to remember He cares for me and my children and that it’s a road block to keep me waiting for the thing He is preparing to bless us with. Shortly after that two surprising things happened. A clinic that treats patients in a way I’ve been searching but thought maybe it was just in my mind and not ever going to happen opened up to me and the insurance covers it. Can’t really say here but it is a break thru! The other problem had finally lined out with a couple insurances and seems to be according to what I prayed. Have to meet them to be sure but I know God is working in me and all of this mess. I’m trying to be patient to allow everything to fall into place the way He has planned and not jump ship prematurely.

  7. Linda

    Just this morning I heard a very well known preacher on tv talking about people being wounded in churches and how we all need to “just get over it” and move on.
    The problem is, there is a lot more abuse going on in churches than ever and
    we are being told to “just get over it”, like it never happened. For this reason, nothing ever changes and abusers go from bad to worse because they surround themselves with “yes” men and before we know it, the burden of change falls on the abused instead of the one doing the abusing. As long as spiritual leaders don’t take a good hard look at how they are treating the sheep, and asking themselves if what they are doing is Christlike and would God approve of their behavior, things will not change.

    A while back the Lord put “The Emperors New Clothes” into my spirit and since I know the story from my childhood, I was able to link that message to how it pertains to many churches. Everyone acts like they don’t see abuse when it happens for fear that they too will become a target; therefore we are all just walking blindly, seeing only what we want to see.

    I heard a story about a church in Germany that was right next door to railroad tracks in the time of Hitler. Each Sunday the train filled with people being brought to slaughterhouses and the ovens would pass and the church members would hear the sounds of human suffering pass by and instead of stopping the service to intercede for the people and pray for an end to this travesty, they would simply tell the choir to “sing a little louder” to drown out the voices screaming in agony yelling for help.

    I’m afraid the church has become like the world in many ways, and it should be the other way around. Remember, God has harsh things to say about the wolves in sheeps clothing, and those that are “scattering the sheep”……..It’s time to put the burden of change where it belongs, those doing the abusing, in whatever form it comes in, not on those being abused. We must forgive them, no matter what, but we can no longer act like it’s okay!! Pastors are to be
    respected and submitted to, in the context of scripture. Even if they are harsh, we must have a respectful tone with them, but we are not called to agree with their methods when it’s causing harm in the body of Christ. To say it’s okay is to lie, and lying is a
    sin.

    • Hi Linda, welcome to the blog! 🙂
      I realise this is your second comment and I’m sorry for not welcoming you on your first.

  8. Rebekah

    What do you do if you got “out” (physically) of the marriage, but you feel so broken and destroyed by the decade(+) of abuse that you don’t know if you have anything left to keep going? There’s nothing left to rebuild. Time doesn’t heal.

    • healingInHim

      Rebekah – I hear you. I keep clinging to the promises of the Lord. I feel absolutely forsaken by the man I married, my children, family and friends. This morning, I cried again as I went for my morning walk. I devoted myself to this marriage and the nurturing of the children knowing that I did it with a pure heart in ultimately honoring my Lord and Savior.
      My only solace for fellowship at this time remain with internet friends like those on ACFJ and a very few select other Christ-fearing ministries.
      Praying for you, Rebekah and so many others as it is very disarming to realize that the future you thought the Lord would have wanted you to have with ‘a spouse’ is no longer there. … Now what?

      • Rebekah

        Thank you

    • Good question, Rebekah. I can only speak from my personal experience here, and I may never have been as depleted as you are, but when I felt I couldn’t keep going, I gave myself slack — was easy on myself — tried not to expect much of myself; I strove to resist temptations to take my own life if they arose; and I praised myself for at least treading water in a fashion, even though I didn’t seem to be making any forward progress.

      Time, on its own, doesn’t heal the wounds of severe/complex trauma. I agree with that.
      My personal experience is that healing has come in my life, quite a lot, but it took years and years. It was only when child visitation ceased, two years after my final separation from my first husband, that I started to feel a leeeeetle bit like my life was becoming ‘normal’. And it took a lot more years for me to gradually, with the help of God, a few friends (who I had to educate about abuse so they could support me better than they intially knew how to), a bit of counseling here and there, and lots of bible study and prayer, did the deeper wounds of trauma start to heal.

      I encourage you to read the PDF Honouring Resistance: How Women Resist Abuse in Intimate Partner Relationships from Calgary Womens Emergency Shelter, and see if it helps you honour yourself for how you have responded to the abuse. Click here for a post which has a link to the PDF.

      You may also find it helpful to read our post about Wound Healing.

      ((((hugs))))) to you.

      • Rebekah

        Thank you

      • healingInHim

        Barbara, Thank you for the link to Wound Healing – hadn’t seen it before. Skimmed it and can already tell it will bring comfort. I’ve been told by yet another church that my abuser would be quite welcome in their sanctuary because “after all, we can’t judge; we are all sinners.” After attempting to reason with several women from the Scriptures to no avail; I was feeling quite nauseous as I left.

  9. poohbear

    (((hugs))) Rebekah…may you find solace in God’s love, and surround yourself with those who would comfort and encourage you.

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