A Cry For Justice

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

Thursday Thought — Staking Out Your Ground

Standing up for yourself can be very difficult when you have a domineering partner.  He may make you pay such a high price for your attempts to have a voice that you find it just isn’t worth.  Many women stand up to their destructive partners less and less as time goes by because they can’t take the pain of the stream of insults he hurls, the hateful look on is face, and his scary eruptions. Part of what defines an abusive man is his underlying attitude that if you stand up to him he’s going to get you back for it.

So a woman’s resistance to her partner sometimes has to become invisible — and the invisible ways in which you stand up for yourself can be profoundly important.

Invisible resistance takes many forms, such as:

  • Reading books or blogs that help you feel stronger (as I hope this book is doing)
  • Refusing inside yourself to believe what he tells you, even if you have to pretend outwardly that you do
  • Writing in a journal
  • Refusing inside yourself to believe that you are responsible for the way he treats you, even if you are the one who ends up having to apologize
  • Having contact with people that he doesn’t like or that he has tried to keep you away from
  • Doing things your own way when he’s not around to see
  • Believing in your own goodness and intelligence
  • Keeping secrets from him, hiding money, planning an escape
  • Stealthily doing things that he forbids you to do

Examine your own actions and look for ways in which you invisibly resist your partner’s power and control.  Take pride in that resistance.

[Excerpt from Lundy Bancroft’s book, Daily Wisdom for Why Does He Do That?*, pp147-8]

***IMPORTANT NOTE:  While we endorse Lundy’s writings about the dynamics of domestic abuse, we do not recommend anyone attend the ‘healing retreats’ Lundy Bancroft offers or become involved in his ‘Peak Living Network.’ See our post, ACFJ Does Not Recommend Lundy Bancroft’s Retreats or His New Peak Living Network for more about our concerns. 

*Amazon affiliate link — ACFJ gets a small percentage when you purchase via this link

35 Comments

  1. And for doing most of those things, the patriarchal “church” will call you rebellious and unsubmissive.

    • healingInHim

      Yes being rebellious and unsubmissive is something I grappled with because I found great satisfaction in being a Godly wife and mother. I think this is why the shock factor was so great as realized that ‘he’ really had no desire for a healthy marriage but one that met his needs. No ranting or physical beating was required. Just a slow snake-like strangle hold which involved others.
      The permanence view of marriage ideal was being shattered and the reality of having to be secretive in order to move on bothered me. I rarely ever kept secrets from ‘him’ …

      I also learned a new word during this process. “Entitlement”. When he finally made it clear he doesn’t desire me, well, the lawyer, counselor and others have had to work overtime in making me remember that I am “entitled” to certain benefits. Finances were never an issue, however I wish ‘he’ would have entitled me to trustworthiness. He always was a secretive man and has become even more so as he plans for “his future”. The roots of deceit grow deep and have affected a future generation unless the Lord changes the heart(s).

  2. Valerie

    It took me many years to even invisibly resist. While I did speak up when he hurt me (some of the time…otherwise we rarely would have talked about anything else) I did learn that I would be punished for it. Journaling helped immensely. I practiced invisibly resisting largely by inwardly refusing to completely believe what he told me. I acquiesced to avoid punishment; but inwardly I kept a wall- albeit thin- to keep his truths from completely penetrating. Its like the story of the boy being disciplined whose told to stand in the corner and he defiantly says, “I may be standing on the outside, but I’m sitting on the inside!”

    My problem was that I didn’t have a frame of reference for the abuse. I even called it abuse in my journal long before I had textbook evidence of it. My heart instinctively knew it but it was a truth I kept secret because I didn’t have that textbook backup at the time. I was feeling so crazy I needed other people’s words describing it to allow me to have any confidence in it. I felt like I was on the playground and trying to ward of physical threats by telling my bullies that my big brother was going to come after them if they didn’t leave me alone. Without actually having a big brother you just don’t feel confident in standing behind this invisible person. When I learned about abuse and specifically NPD, the floodgates opened and I suddenly had 12 big brothers at my side. It was enough evidence for me to be less invisible in my resisting.

  3. Anthea

    It also took me many many years to even invisibly resist. And many many more to start to resist outwardly. I had to start thinking for myself, and the more I THINK, the more I remember that I do have independent thoughts and feelings — something I had nearly forgotten and was never even very good at as a child. Of course abusers do not want this!! We are much easier to control when we don’t think.

    I have this book and love it. I love that he encourages us to do even small, stealthy things to stand up for ourselves. I am constantly turning on the lights during the day after my abuser turns them off. It may be a small thing, but I am fighting for my RIGHT to LIKE having the lights on. He wants to control not only the lights, but my feelings too.

    • Herjourney

      Oh my gosh
      The legalist would go crazy.
      A godly marriage is where two come together and have a vested interest in each other.
      Love is at the center where the heart is. ❤️
      Not control 💔

  4. Psalm 7 speaks of this very thing. David is protesting his innocence to God, his resistance to the wicked words of his abuser, Cush.

    • David also was called a rebellious servant by Nabal. But God called Nabal a fool.

  5. Escaped

    once again your readings give me strength everyday as i battle to keep looking forward to a wonderful future free from oppression. I thank god for your web site the gives so much insight to victims.After 20 years the deception is very painful but the truth sets you free. I have several beautiful children who the lord will help me look after and provide a life to help humanity and be a testimony to the saving power and grace of jesus christ. AMEN

    • Hi Escaped, just letting you know that I changed the screen name on your comment — you’d submitted it under your real name.

  6. Annie

    One of the big ways I’ve staked out my ground is I no longer share anything with my husband. Not my hobbies, my opinions, my dreams , hopes, where I’d to visit. Nothing. He gets nothing.

  7. MicroGal

    Yes! This really resonates with me. I was just thinking on this the other day, as I reflected on the healing I have done so far.

    Even in my divorce woes and struggling marriage, I have appreciated the opportunity to serve others. At church, we take meals to new moms, elderly members, and others that are sick or in need. This is something I really enjoy. My ex never wanted me to do this. He financially abused me, giving me less and less for the children and I. However, if I planned well, I could usually take a meal to people. He would be livid. I continued to do it because I knew it blessed others and honored God. It was my joy to serve.

    I realized that even his abuse didn’t suffocate that part of me. It scarred me in many other ways, and I have PTSD to prove it, but there was a spark inside me that refused to die. The Lord sustained me, and is now helping me find myself again.

    • Annie

      microgal–I have done the same–my husband took “my” checkbook away so I could not give to my church. So now I save a little back from my grocery money to use in service or give to the church.

  8. loves6

    The link doesn’t seem to work.
    I’m starting on the pathway of doing just this.
    I have some children that think they are entitled to have power and control over me.
    I have henchmen and my husband. Two of these henchmen are very toxic.

    • Dear Loves6, I’ve asked TWBTC to fix the link.

      I am so glad that you now understand that your abuser is using your children as his henchmen. That seems to be an important key for your path towards freedom. And it explains why you have found it so hard. When all the kids as the abuser’s henchmen carrying out the abuse, and he sits back seeming relatively benign, and the mother loves the kids (as good mothers all do) I imagine that the mother finds it more than usually hard to break through the fog and take steps to get free. The mother, in such situations, has more than one abuser.

      I myself had times when I felt my child was the (witting or unwiitting) agent of my abusive husband. But in my case, it was not perpetual or unremitting; and it was only one child, not several; and my child was not an adult at the time. I can barely grasp how much you are up against, but I deeply honour you for having survived this far and for now being at the place where you are seeing and walking the stepping stones to get as free you can from the abuse. You are one strong and brave woman!

      • loves6

        Thank you Barbara
        I am indeed in alot of pain… my heart is broken.
        Speaking to the policeman the other day was very enlightening… the women from the support group are also helping me to see the abuse from the henchmen. The toxic ones hurt me deeply.
        I said to my husband the other day that i feel like he sits placidly while chaos abounds and he does nothing. He does not stand up and support me; he lets these older kids go for it. This happened recently. I confront but it does nothing
        The policeman said to me them against one (me) is not ok… he said I am in a high risk situation.
        This has set off my anxiety bad. I havent been right since one child abused me over text recently… hearing what this man said to me has triggered my PTSD off.
        The leaders of this group the other day had tears in their eyes when I spoke of my life… my abuse from childhood to now. The cop just shook his head. They said how strong and brave I have been.
        I feel like I’m cracking now though. The devastation of broken dreams and the reality that I am in a major battle against the abusers is overwhelming.
        Thank you x

        (Eds. note: comment slightly edited to protect identities)

    • The link has been fixed:)

    • standsfortruth

      Loves6,
      I am walking this same road as you are. I have both adult aged children and minor children by legal terms. The other day I privately confronted my abuser regarding his seemingly unexplainable ability to control, and ally the children to do whatever he wanted, even if it was blatently wrong or illegal. And when he replied, for a moment, his mask seemed to fall off and I saw him for who he was. He said, “Look at me, You are right, I can control everyone in this house to do just what I want them to do… Too bad I can’t control you”.

      My abuser knows that the only thing I truly value now is relationships, and he takes great joy targeting those relationships because he wants to continue to hurt me. But I am realizing this and how God’s word promises in Christ that Those who have left families for His name sake, will in No Way lose their reward. All of my children have repeatedly turned their backs on me, and rejected me, due to my abusers control, and angry projections delivered through them. It is like they have all become “Stepford children”, and yet I have done nothing to deserve it other than refusing to be controlled by their abusive father.

      I have finally moved out of the house but not until the house sold, and I received my rightful half of the proceeds from the sale of the house.
      Interesting note: My lawyer had to “forced my AH to sign a realtors contract” to list our house for sale, because my abusers plan was to save the income he was making, while not paying the mortgage, and allowing the house to slip into foreclosure. This way he was also planning to not allow me to escape with any finantial backing. But God was with my efforts to fix up and sell the house, and even brought a buyer in the hottest month of the year, and allowed it to sell before it foreclosed. So God blessed my efforts to go against my abuser’s plan.

    • Herjourney

      loves6
      Children can be controllers.
      Playing their game is what they may thrive on.
      Mind games ?
      No thanks!
      I respect myself more than playing a mind game.
      I use God’s word when communicating with my adult child.
      It will not return void.
      Never!

  9. Rebecca

    This is eye opening to me. I have one adult child who was angry at me this past spring when I was separated. Will probably be separating again very soon and I’ve been worried about her reaction. The scripture mentioned here, those who leave/lose for My sake…..Jesus has been showing me this verse for a while and I didn’t really ‘get it.’ til now. I’ve thought at times He’s shown me that He wants our house for me. Yet my h. won’t leave so I will be the one that will have to. I have no job yet, no income of my own. Don’t know how this is going to work and I am very stressed and anxious about it all.

    • Herjourney

      Rebecca
      Standing for righteousness. Might mean moving by faith.
      Counting the cost is always a wise move. The abuser might bear a grudge.
      The victim has no idea what hateful things willtake place.
      Today was bittersweet.
      I keep praying.

    • standsfortruth

      Counting the cost is part of the picture.
      I chose not to leave the house, because I was not in a position to leave, wanted the house to sell rather than forclose, and because I knew my abuser would say that I abandoned my family to try to make him look better once the divorce was filed.
      I told several close trusted family and friends what I was going through so they would be “in the know,” and told my abuser if anything happened to me, he would be the first one to suspect.
      After securing a vehicle in my own name, and changing the entry door locks on both my vehicle and my private bedroom door,( so that no one else could gain access by keeping them locked)
      I also purchased window locks for my bedroom to prevent any unscruplious entry while I was out for any reason, to prevent tampering with my room.
      I then obtained a part time job that gave me both confidence and my own income.
      I changed my mailing address to a nearby po box, and changed my cell phone account from the previous “shared family plan” to a “secure seperate account”, with a new private gmail address, so my phone activity, and my gmail could no longer be monitored or stalked.
      These preparations were necessary for protection of my personal property and my space durring the time I chose to stay with my abuser, which spanned over a year.
      It also kept my personal space from being violated and compromised durring the litigation process, and while preparing the house to sell.

  10. Rebecca

    Thank you for sharing what you went through. It is very helpful. I am definitely counting the cost carefully before moving out. I intend to separate for now, not divorce yet. I have a child with special needs and have not been able to keep a job for several years. Moving will be very upsetting to him, so I want to make sure this is something I can sustain for at least a year, I don’t want to bounce him around between an apartment and the house he’s lived in all his life. And I don’t want to leave simply to escape….I have to have a life to go towards as well. If I move out I cannot be in a situation in which i Have to go back. A friend asked me once, what makes you think your husband will pay for an apartment? Which is a great point. I am calling a lawyer today to ask if I can get support in place if I am separated, my state does not have legal separation. I have tried to get jobs but have not gotten hired yet, though i did have an interview. In the midst of all this I am trying to discern whatever God is telling me. It’s hard.

    • loves6

      I totally relate to what you are saying….
      I have several young children who are very sensitive… not robust. I am weighing up very carefully what i do and when.

      I have taken my rings off. I am no longer in a relationship with my H. I do have an unhealthy attachment in that i feel i cannot sleep alone and i would never be able to love again. I feel like he is the only one that could ever have loved me.

      I feel unlovable but i know that im not a bad person. Im hurting so bad and my anxieties are set off so easily at the moment that i feel so overwhelmed. I have made some big mistakes this year that im not proud of. I had a friend betray me to one of my children and now I am paying the price for it. I am now seen as the problem and the one that needs to forgive and get myself sorted… my henchmen children do not see that mistakes i have made is a women in great distress and losing the plot.

      I am so broken i feel like i cannot go on

      • I’m praying for you, Loves6

      • healinginhim

        Praying for you Loves6 — and many others are praying and truly care. Betrayal of any kind cuts to the heart but the Lord is the Great Healer.
        Please take care and … (((hugs)))

      • Anotheranon

        I have been there too, Loves6–feeling like I can’t go on. But God has a plan for me, and for you, and for all who trust in Him. Let Jesus lead you to green pastures and still waters to restore your soul. I’ll be praying for you too!

    • standsfortruth

      None of the decisions are easy when it comes to making steps towards helping yourself become independent from a lifelong abuser.
      But taking it one step at a time is making good progress towards that goal.
      I remember how difficult it was to get my first job interview with a company I wanted to work for, after 35 years of supporting a business with my ah.
      I must have called the personel department 5 times, over a 3 week period before they finally called me in for an interview.
      They tend to hire those that follow up with a call after submitting an application, as opposed to those that dont call .
      I’ve worked there now for over a year and appreciate what it has provided.
      It re-validated all that my abuser tried to destroy and invalidate in me, so it was an aid in restoring my self confidence.
      Praying that God opens doors of opportunity for you, and gives you a vision to follow.

  11. Rebecca

    Also, h. is in “nice mode’ and repairing things around the house, some of which have sat undone for literally years. He’ll do anything except what I asked….for him to acknowledge wrongdoing and move out. Like Jeff has told me before, it’s part of their crazy making.

    • standsfortruth

      Just want to mention that I am thankful that I retained a “flat rate divorce lawyer.”
      This helped to prevent my abuser from trying to drain my financial resources by intentionally stringing out the divorce process for that very reason.
      You will still want to find a lawyer that you are comfortable with, and that your concerns will be vigorously defended, but knowing that they offer a “flat rate divorce charge” protects you from being financially drained in the event of a long litigation.

    • Herjourney

      Control can mask well
      It appears he is working on your “She will see that doing house repairs will pump up her empathy for me.”
      I hope he has nice looking arm muscles.💪. Rebecca.
      I watched my h do a coverup job on repairs he thought I didn’t know anything about. Ha
      But the job finally got done right. Not by the h tho.

    • Cher

      Rebecca, so that is a thing? Nice mode? My husband has been being really nice and coming up with romantic ideas lately. He never does that…unless he’s in nice mode as you mentioned. He is usually very indifferent to my struggling and only does stuff for himself and complains if he has to do something that will benefit me, such as doing the laundry. […] Wow…nice mode….I’m finally learning not to be fooled.

  12. Annie

    Staking out my ground is so empowering and a positive thing for me to focus on.

    And my husband who think he’s the smartest guy walking around has no clue. There was a commercial on tv one day advertising a place for retirement and he says to me that would be a nice place for us.

    Seriously. He thinks that despite how he’s treated me I’d want to move to some place I know no one. With him.

    Thankfully, that years away.

  13. Cher

    Wow….this list has so many things on it that I do. I remember coming home from work one day with our girls and he wasn’t home yet. I felt so relaxed and not pressured to do things a certain way…it was the best I had felt in awhile…I refuse inside to believe what he tells me. Once he told me i was not doing enough as a mother (working at night and taking care of 2 under 2 during the day). I said well my friends tell me I’m doing great. He said maybe they’re just not being honest. Doing thinhs he forbids me to do – take a day off work. Last time I did he didn’t know but when he found out i really got to hear it. He doesn’t believe in taking a break, and I’m not supposed to either, even if I’m sick. Reading this blog has been one of the most helpful things I’ve been able to do to help sort through all the confusion that my former church and he have caused for me. I do work but cannot afford daycare without him and I wouldn’t qualify for assistance bc I make too much. He’s great with the kids. It’s just me he has a problem with. And i don’t know why.

    • No point in figuring out why. He mistreats you and continues doing so despite your attempts to get him to treat you with respect and courtesy and consideration.

      That’s enough to know.

      And if you burrow into the ‘Why’ question you are likely to be sucked into his endless series of excuses for why he does things, which is a dark labyrinth full of lies and distortions and half truths.

      Having said that, Lundy Bancroft’s book Why Does He Do That? explains the ‘why’ accurately. Abuser abuse because they believe they are entitled to mistreat others; men who abuse their wives believe they are entitled to do so. They believe they are superior. And they do it because they CAN and because it gives them many perks.

      We list Lundy’s book on our Resources.

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