A Cry For Justice

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

Abusers even blame God — but it isn’t going to fly

He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. (Matt 25:24-27)

We know that abusers are never wrong. Never. They blame. They shame. They accuse. They are never, ever wrong. You see it played out here in this parable of our Lord. When the wicked servant was called to give account for what his master had entrusted him with, he said that he hid it in the ground and thus made no return on it. But his failure was not his own. Oh no. It was his master’s fault according to him. Fear for his master’s harshness made the poor fellow do this, you see.

Of course the guy’s excuse doesn’t fly with the master. If in fact what motivated him was fear of his master, then logically he should have worked all the more to make a return on the talent, not bury it in the ground. In fact, he just wanted to keep it all for himself, denying the fact that it belonged to his master, not to him.

Abusers are almost ingenious when it comes to inventing these self-justifying excuses. “You put the words in my mouth. It wasn’t really me who said that.” “I had to do this because you….”.  We’ve all heard it many times, right?

How do we identify an abuser? Well, here is one very likely sign that you are dealing with just such a power and control freak. He is never wrong. Oh, he may throw out an occasional “apology” but it will almost always be attached to some kind of “but you….” caveat. False, more superficial apologies are quite often given by abusers which I call “preemptive strikes.” They look like an apology and may even be a confession of some wrong the abuser did, but they are motivated by an evil desire to dupe and deceive. “Hey, I said I am sorry. What more do you want from me?”  That kind of thing.

Won’t work. Not gonna work. Not when the Master comes.

 

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47 Comments

  1. savedbygrace

    Love this.
    My personal all-time favorite is “I’m sorry you made me _____”
    That is not an apology, that is blame-shifting.

    • Anonymous

      Heard it thousands of times: “You push my buttons; look what you made me do; you repent; I’m one of God’s little ones and he will punish you for this”. As I write this I can hardly believe I stayed as long as I did. One of his own family members said to me, “People won’t ask why you left, they will ask why you stayed so long.”

      • savedbygrace

        That, sadly, all sounds so familiar.

      • poohbear

        Yes….”But you PROVOKED me.” 😦

  2. jacque

    i still get blamed for his suicide attempt. i know better on a higher level …but my heart is full of compassion and that blame is so painful.

  3. Rosebud

    The latest apologies have sounded fairly sincere……..but I do notice that he only apologizes for the things he thinks of, not what I bring to his attention. It seems that with each round, the games go just a bit more underground.

  4. Overcomer

    Oh this is wonderful Pastor Jeff. My ex church/pastor would preach on this and it left me with a feeling of condemnation and dread. I think he is a wolf in sheep’s clothing myself. Now, to hear you, a true shepherd, explain this passage, it makes perfect sense. And I do not feel condemned. Thank you. Thank you so much. You do not know how liberating this is for me to hear.

    • poohbear

      Jesus did not come to condemn….but so many of His professing followers believe that is their right. Condemnation does nothing but make us feel hopeless, it never helps us to do better, even if we ARE in need of correction. But it’s hard sometimes to discern His voice and the one of the enemy, especially when it’s coming from someone we trust to be godly. So glad you’ve found your way out from the lies, Overcomer 🙂

  5. My abuser would never accept an apology from me, and would never even let me try apologize for anything, telling me that I just shouldn’t do the thing in the first place. Of course that made it easier for HIM to NEVER EVER apologize himself. He will joke with the kids, apologizing for a big “funny” belch, but that is the only time the “sorry” word has ever passed from his lips in decades. Needless to say he never ACTS sorry either, since of course he’s never wrong.

    • poohbear

      I could say I was sorry till the cows came home, only for him to say I never said I was sorry. For him, sorry means I must grovel before him forever as a penitent worm, and never accept God’s love and forgiveness as put forth in His Word…I never could win. Calling him out for his own wrongs, has always only gotten an excuse for anything he did…it was all my fault. I finally gave up and realized I have only God to answer to, not a man who hates me.

  6. Seeing Clearly

    My ex: A master at avoidance to take ownership or responsibility for … most anything. Stood in the pulpit entertaining people for years. It is called an M Div, more correctly, a Master at Diverting people from seeing truth. Years beyond the situations, I realize that his resignation from the last two pastorates, as he explained, were the fault of thr church. He had no choice but to resign.

    I actually thought he was an honest person. He carefully crafted how to say something directly without letting you know it was twisted just a tiny bit. He would engage conversation with anyone, not embarrassed by much of anything, probably because he kept the focus on the other person. He wore that pastoral persona like a wolf. I was envious of his courage, me being too timid to hardly open my mouth.

    After 30 yrs of marriage, as I started coming out of the fog, I finally began to hear him explain why this and that were the reasons to blame. He was not to blame for anything. We spent years in couples counseling. Herein lies the trick: he never said that an issue was/wasn’t his fault. He never went there. He simply explained (with his M Div. diploma) that the bad marriage was my fault, situation by situation. In our (c)hristian circle of (c)hristian counselors, he had the trump card: he was a minister, suffering because he was married to a depressed, unhappy wife.

    The healthiest tool I used during divorce was to recognize a state of confusion, name the lie in a few words, speak the truth, in a few words, if only to myself and go on with my day.

  7. I have had this very line used by counselors when I sought help from my church. “It was his master’s fault according to him. Fear for his master’s harshness made the poor fellow do this, you see.” When I would say something like, “When he is yelling, I am so afraid, so me and the kids get in the car and leave.” Then they come back with something like “You should not be afraid. Being afraid shows lack of faith. Leaving is not submissive, blah, blah, blah.” Essentially they are telling me that “fear of my master” is NO EXCUSE to do anything they deem rebellious, etc. So this same line is used AGAINST victims. How does one get around that? I mean, I know now what you are saying, but I actually listened to them for years and this was the verse they used. “You are blaming your husband for your actions.” Well, hell yeah Im blaming him! If he wasn’t abusive, I would not have to leave! Crazy…

    • Anthea

      Yes, Debby–if WE were perfect, then THEY would not have problems. So we try harder and harder to be more and more perfect. We work on the mites in our eyes, while helping them ignore the beams in their own eyes. We foolishly assume that other people are like us and have a conscience — a dreadful mistaken assumption.

    • poohbear

      Debby, “you should not be afraid”?? That’s insane. Mine actually never laid a hand on me (other than to grab me and keep me from running out of the house to get away from him), but he’s made me afraid plenty. He has weapons. He’s talked/behaved in a manner which shows me his mind is off kilter. Yes, I’m afraid of him.

      “Leaving is not submissive”? How much are we to submit TO? I’ve actually heard some “Christian” teachings that use some Scripture that “you have not submitted unto death” on abused women, to twist it that they must submit to every manner of abuse, including physical violence, spousal rape, you name it.

      Let these so-called counselors go through what so many poor women must, and I’ll bet they change their tune. I’m so sorry for what you’ve gone through…it’s the reason why I’ve given up on talking to pastors and counselors…my best advice has come from other victims who actually know what they’re talking about.

  8. cindy burrell

    This piece reveals the abuser in Scripture in a way I have never seen before. It makes perfect sense. Isn’t it amazing how the abuser-type is identified throughout Scripture, yet so many in the body imply that he doesn’t exist?

  9. Anonymous

    Withholding is a form of abuse. This servant apparently knew that he should have invested the money, but acted in defiance of it by hiding it instead. He KNEW what was right to do but acted against it. I didn’t understand this until now.

    Withholding comes in many forms. Whenever my husband does a job around the house or goes to the store to get something, he ALWAYS finds a way to not fully complete the task. For instance, if he hangs a picture: initially he hangs it deliberately too high or too low or not centered so that I will have to then be the mean one and make him redo it. (I just do it myself now.) And he will never clean up the mess or put the tools away, or he has me stand there the entire time so he won’t get “yelled” at later. It’s all the same thing though isn’t it? It’s him getting attention and making me jump or look like the bad guy and manipulating me because after all, I’m the harsh unreasonable task master (like the servant in the Bible passage above trying to make the Master into the bad guy). It’s really obvious now because I have learned to do everything myself and he is MAD about this because it used to be such a great excuse for him to fight with me. He tries to volunteer to help me now and I tell him it’s up to him but I can do it myself–he’s lost a lot of his fight because he knows I no longer care what he thinks. (SAD is what those of us who believed we were loved, believed we were in a reciprocal relationship are. There is no winning here. I don’t feel like I’ve won anything. I am simply heartbroken.)

    Ever had a hairdresser who did a phenomenal job maybe one or two times, but every other time they just couldn’t seem to get it right? They get you to trust them and then it’s a constant battle of, “Should I find someone else or is it my imagination?” or “Are they having an off month?” until you think it’s your fault and that you aren’t explaining things correctly or have too high of standards etc. etc. Nope. Just another wicked servant doing what wicked servants do….being wicked by withholding what they know is right and keeping you from being “satisfied”. (John 10:10 “The thief comes ONLY to steal and kill and destroy…”, withholding is a way to do all three of these things at once!)

    I’m so grateful for understanding this Bible passage. I never really “got” it before this. Thank you!

    • Annie

      Anonymous,
      I can so relate to your comments. My husband withholds efforts. And yes he manages to never fully complete a task which I think includes putting away whatever he used. He painted a room once and left the painter’s tape up for 2 years! (I took it down.) I honestly can’t think of one thing he has ever done where he didn’t leave some evidence of it behind. Some of his behavior is so ridiculous that I don’t even care any more. I know it’s deliberate. Some people might excuse it and say well he’s forgetful. Every single time? He can remember any and everything related to him (like where some birthday card someone he doesn’t even know any more gave him years ago) and is an expert on any subject you might dare to have an opinion on but can’t remember to put the broom away he just had in his hands and then walked past the broom closet? Or the tools or equipment he got out and now has to walk over everyday to get into the family room?

      It’s beyond withholding and more like open defiance many times. Daring me to say something. I don’t. And like Anonymous I do most of it on my own if I’m physically capable of it. I had to get a repairman to do something and he was annoyed I didn’t inform him first. It’s not that he wants to do anything but he wants to the power and control to determine when something will be done. I went ahead and got the repairman rather than waiting for weeks until he decided that a repairman was needed.

      I think it’s also related to being extremely lazy. But he puts the blame for that on me by withholding. He doesn’t “do” anything for me because I don’t deserve it but the reality is he doesn’t do for me because he’s lazy. The proof of that is no matter what I do for him it’s never enough. A couple of years ago during one of his tirades he screamed at me that I used to be “nice” but I’d changed. Well, I can tell you all those years I was “nice” he still acted this way. So while he was trying to convince me he acted the way he does because I’m not nice any more I was able sit there and not say a word. It was like a child mad that mommy expected him to act like a big boy now and he didn’t want to.

      My husband also withholds even acknowledging I exist. He will walk into a room and ask one of the kids something related to me or about me while I’m in the room!! “Did your mother go to the store? Did your mother call the plumber?” Seriously? I know it’s done to try to make me look bad—-as in there’s an expectation that I may not have done it. Then he can rant about how “lazy” I am and he needs me to do what he tells me to do. He also does it to minimize my significance. I’m only there to do tasks. Wouldn’t want anyone to think I’m important in the family. But too late the kids love me and love being with me.

      He withholds information when he knows the information. He once screamed at me for not telling him his mom was coming over. I explained that I’d heard the kids telling him so he knew. That shut him up. The next time that exact thing happened again he had a response. As the husband he expects to hear it from me not the kids. LOL Now that the fog has lifted, I can see how silly his comments are and I can avoid getting into an argument of trying to convince him of my innocence! Seriously, his mom is coming over and the kids can’t tell him only me?

      I appreciate this new insight about withholding as it’s something I hadn’t been aware of before but describes a lot of things to me.

      • Anonymous

        Annie,
        100% of your comment applies to my life. My adult daughter and I were reading it together and sighing and laughing too because as you’ve stated, it is childish behavior yet this is a grown man!

        I’m so grateful that you’re able to see it for what it is–manipulation and control, but that doesn’t always lessen the hurt. I’m also glad that your kids see past it too and are able to love you now. Sometimes it’s not until later in adulthood that they come to the truth, so this is beautiful that you have it now.

        And you are right that it is DELIBERATE every time. This is what keeps them from being bored, these silly games, although it’s sickening that we are the place where they play them. My husband can NEVER do anything alone. If he’s working on something he always asks anyone who wanders into his vicinity to “get” something for him. If he’s on the couch and one of us walk by, he ALWAYS asks for something–it’s grotesque and I call him on it every time now. He loves to be “served” as he thinks it’s his right and my duty. Wrong Biblical teaching kept me serving this evil one far too long.

        We were at an amusement park over the holidays and I was sitting on the bench that we had agreed to meet at and he comically walked in front of me several times, ignoring me but acting like he didn’t see me. See, he wanted ME to be the first to call to him. This is yet another tactic of the low-to-no conscienced — they want others to be the first to talk. It’s gross — he’ll even call me on the phone and not say anything even though he called me because he wants ME to start the conversation. In his sickness he thinks if I talk first, bring up a subject or an issue, it’s then my fault. Yep, insane!

        I’m thankful that we have this website to be able to share this and see the truth. I always pray that any of God’s little ones who are unable to comment due to safety issues can still come here and see that they are not alone and that others have learned ways to deal with this. Thank you for your comment!

      • poohbear

        Annie…yours and mine must take lessons from one another. My house has been in disrepair since we bought it a few decades years ago. He makes more than enough to hire someone to fix it up, but he refuses to do so. We went for years as a large family with only one fully working bathroom (out of several bathrooms), and when he took of some of the fittings in the house to paint them, the fittings stayed off for about 5 years. That’s only the tip of the iceberg. Our older children have moved out and we now have a grandchild whose parents are afraid she might get hurt here (without going into detail).

        Mind you, I’ve put up with this all these years without complaining, yet, he holds me to a whole different standard. I can scrub down the kitchen counters and sink, but he’ll berate me because I failed to polish one little item there which you need to scrub with toothbrush to get it clean). It doesn’t matter that there’s a hole in the floor big enough for a person to fall through (he actually did once, but still hasn’t covered it)…I didn’t get the backsplash done to his satisfaction.

        I guess it’s not just me who feels invisible, either? 😦 He comes home and says “Hi buddy” to his last remaining child, but it’s like I’m not even there. I purposely tell him things like I’ll be getting home late from work or our child has a doctor’s appointment, only to later be met with an accusatory “You never told me that!” I’ve resorted to writing things down so I have proof.

        Annie, I’m glad you see out of the fog now…trying to myself.

  10. marriedwithouthusband

    My husband has told me that he lied to me because he was afraid of my reaction (that made the lies my fault, right?) and he told me that he didn’t apply for jobs because I sometimes said that I wanted him to (he was unemployed for many years during our marriage) and his brain functioned in such a way that he wanted to do the opposite of what I said. I would have grudgingly accepted the latter excuse as at least being honest, except that there were long periods during which I said nothing about him not working and not looking for work, and he didn’t look for jobs then, either.

  11. Rebecca

    WOW, this article describes my brother in law to a “T”. He “apologized” to his younger sister for molesting her many years ago when they were younger, then he told her to not tell his now wife. And guess what? She didn’t. She never told his wife. She told me, she told my husband (her brother also) she told her husband and I am not sure who else. But she never told the wife of the abuser, the only person who really needed to be told.

    • Anonymous

      Rebecca,
      I commented about this in a different post on this website but it goes with what you are describing. https://cryingoutforjustice.com/2012/03/16/what-does-forgiveness-require-by-jeff-crippen/#comment-75768

      “Having others keep their secrets is one of the four hallmarks of a sociopath, according to Martha Stout. When we are told not to disclose the offense committed against us, we keep evil ones secrets. It’s funny how once we all start sharing on this website, many secret tactics of the evil one are revealed. Just goes to show you just how EVIL it is to force God’s genuine children to forgive evil ones and then to shut up about it. Evil indeed!”

      If the molester is without a conscience, he is actually bragging about his evil deeds and sickeningly–he is proud of himself! Getting his victim to keep his secret from his wife creates triangulation in his sick mind which makes him feel powerful. The things we WEREN’T taught in Sunday School!

      • Rebecca

        Yes, it is very terrible. He controls his adult children, the one son who left home and married he has banished from the family. He molested his own daughters, really this man is sick but guess what? People love him. They think he is a godly man. His kids are picture perfect, his home is picture perfect. My husband and I get so disgusted even talking about him so we usually just don’t. As long as his wife and children continue to fully support him there is nothing that anyone can to about it.

    • poohbear

      Rebecca, that’s horrible…if he was truly sorry, HE would’ve come clean and told his wife himself. Abusers (of all stripes) must keep up their good image, don’t they 😦

  12. Moving Forward

    Isn’t it amazing how they can twist everything to become the spouse’s fault. I had never thought of burying the talent to be selfish. How easy it is to fall for the “I knew you to be a hard man line” and wonder at the master’s harshness. Now it is so much clearer. Like for Anonymous, there was much withholding – affection, time, projects, money, etc. Nothing could be followed through to completion, and don’t get me started on how many times he changed jobs because the “boss was too hard on him”, or “no one will listen to my ideas”, and now, “why sacrifice if I have no family to come to”. How subtly they make everything our fault. So many assumptions – “well, you wouldn’t like how I did it anyways”. And also like Marriedwithouthusband, somehow the brain just won’t do what he really, really wants it to.

    What an eyeopener this article and the comments have been. How could I have been so blind?! But, then I remember the fog, and how thick it was. I am so thankful I can see now, especially as it all continues unabated (isn’t email wonderful – NOT!).

  13. healinginhim

    This post and the comments had me nodding in agreement, however, I’m feeling rather beat up as ‘he’ recently accused me of always thinking I was right and that I actually thought I never did anything wrong. I was hurt/angry that after all these years of ‘his’ broken promises and admissions to causing the dysfunctional home … now this?
    When I first read this posting I thought, “He would love to read this and point the finger at me.” (is it me?)

    • no, it isn’t you, healinginhim. None of your comments on this blog have even the merest whiff of abuserese.

      • healinginhim

        Thank you Barb.

    • Stillblessed

      This was something I experienced, too. Often when I would be trying to get my h to understand how something he was doing hurt me or the kids, his response would be
      “sorry I can’t be perfect like you are”,
      “we aren’t all perfect, you know”,
      “I’m not Jesus so I can’t be perfect”,
      “you think you’re always right”,
      “I know I’m supposed to be perfect but it’s going to be a long time before that happens”, etc. etc.

      We have been involved in two different types of marriage support/discipling ministries, where I’ve learned a lot about what I could do. The last time he accused me of thinking I was perfect, I told him I have never thought I was perfect, he knows that, so to keep accusing me of that is lying, and he was never ever to say that to me again. And I don’t think he has. Yet. BUT I believe the only reason he hasn’t is because he IS being held accountable by other people, and he doesn’t know quite what I’ll do if he does it. In the past, my telling him to stop saying that wouldn’t have accomplished anything.

      • Anonymous

        Don’t worry. The wheels in his mind are turning and it’s just a matter of time before he comes up with a comeback that he thinks is justified. My husband too had regular accusations that he’d hurl at me. For a time, some statement I’d make would make him at least remain quiet when he went to accuse me with this same thing. But he was just trying to figure out a way to get around it. Around the truth. There is no truth in these people so no reality, and words are just tools to be used for manipulation. Dr. Robert Hare explains how words don’t mean the same thing to them as they do to us. When we hear the word “rape” or “terror,” people with a conscience have a strong negative reaction. For the unconscienced, it is just another word. And they learn early in life that some words invoke strong reactions in others so this is what they learn to do. Poke you and prod you and find out the words that gain them access to your mind and heart so that they can control you. Since he is currently being “held accountable” (since OTHERS are also aware and not just you, his victim) he is trying to find another way to accuse you. He will.

        This website is loaded with help and wisdom and we know what you’re dealing with. I love your name–Stillblessed!

      • healingInHim

        Stillblessed – those quotes are quite often used against me by the church in order to dissuade from the “abuser(s). I shouldn’t expect much from them now because NOW they don’t claim to be disciples of Christ. True, but I “was” the wife, mother, sibling, etc … Whatever happened to ‘common respect’ which they expect from me?

    • poohbear

      Healing, they almost always turn it around and blame their victims…if it were “you,” I doubt you’d even be asking this here. (((hugs)))

      • healingInHim

        Thank you for the hugs and encouragement. Self-doubt enters as I am made to feel that I’m “too assertive” and ask too many questions even though all I am attempting to do is to clarify certain remarks and actions that just don’t make sense. We rarely converse so when I do it hurts that I’m once again being reminded that I talk too much.

    • poohbear

      Healinginhim, there wasn’t a reply thing under your response to me, so I’m writing it here. Yes, they all seem to say we “talk too much,” don’t they? 😦 I understand! It’s just another way to try to make us feel like fleas and that nothing we say is worth listening to, anyway. And it hurts!

      The only thing that keeps me sane sometimes is reminding myself that my (anti) husband is actually one very unhappy man, otherwise, he wouldn’t feel the need to try to make me miserable like himself. But, I’m going to be happy anyway and not let him get away with that!

      You are a valuable person and beloved by God, but your abuser has beaten you down to where you’re doubting your own reality and perspective. I’ve felt the same; it’s like somebody pulls the floor out from under you so you can’t be sure which way is up. But it’s just another tactic of abusers. I hope you will continue to seek God’s guidance and post here often, where there are so many others who have gone through the same things…maybe that will give you more confidence and strength. Blessings…

  14. Annie

    Thank you everyone for your comments. I’ve read them several times today as this new information in this post has been so eye-opening and meaningful to me.

    I realized that my defense or survival technique to his withholding has been to not give him the opportunity to withhold. So I don’t ask him to do things (if at all possible), I don’t initiate conversations (if I have to I often do it by text or email which he hates but allows me more control), if he talks I say very little, I don’t share the same space with him if at all possible, and I limit my activities around him.

    I want to share a blessing I’ve received in the last few months. I’ll be vague but basically I was asked to take on volunteer leadership role in an organization that requires me to be at events around the country. Normally our family goes as participants. I love going but with my husband it was becoming a major challenge to even enjoy it any more– almost to the point I was beginning to dread it. Now I’m so busy I barely see him while there and there’s nothing he can do about it. It is hard work but I feel as if the Lord has his protective arms around me while I’m at each event.

  15. For Too Long

    I’m glad I came here today. My soon-to-be ex-husband and I went through court mandated mediation recently for custody of our youngest child. Earlier, I realized I hadn’t looked at the most recent post and I always do because it’s such a comfort and validation.

    This post was especially relevant and the comments, too, as everyone has mentioned withholding. Wow, I feel like I could write a book on that subject alone! I brought this issue up to the mediator, telling her I was heartbroken over my husband’s total lack of a relationship with our teenaged-daughter. I mentioned how literally weeks will go by without him so as much as even saying “hi” to her. Or how he’s not bothered showing up or even calling when she’s been hospitalized several times over the last two years. To top it off, besides the neglect, he’s also been physically abusive and verbally abusive – one time even telling her that she was a “mistake.”

    Withholding love and support are two of his greatest weapons. I can relate to what every one of you said about doing projects half-effort so that I have to come along and either finish it, or re-do whatever it is because he did it differently than asked. (Ha! And that would be after me or the kids building up the courage just to ask him to do something.)

    Additionally, financial support is another thing he’s withheld. On one family trip I was afraid that the pre-ordained single pizza would not be enough for our hungry family after a busy day and I dared to ask for a side order of breadsticks as well. Not only did we not get the breadsticks, he wouldn’t speak to me for the remaining three days of the vacation.

    But, you see, all these things are my or someone else’s fault, after all. Our teenager not wanting anything to do with him is my fault because I’ve “poisoned” the kids against him. The physical abuse was my fault because he wouldn’t have gotten so mad if I had let him be “man of the house.” The verbal abuse? His job’s fault because he’s so stressed with all they expect him to do. Finally, the financial abuse – my fault because I spend too much money. (Hmm, pretty impossible when he controlled that to the cent.)

    In the end, at the mediation, he wasn’t really concerned about custody – he really was there to discuss the finances. Twice, the mediator had to tell him that she wasn’t there to mediate the assets but talk about our daughter. When he kept persisting, I finally said that this whole thing wasn’t about the money, that I didn’t really care about the money. As soon as I said that he quickly sat upright, pointed at the mediator and said, “Did you write that down? Make sure you write that down that she doesn’t care about the money. So, are we done now?”

    Thank you all for sharing. I always feel better after visiting!

  16. Anne

    Wow, I needed to see this today and thank you to all the people who posted … Anonymous, Annie and Far Too Long, your comments are my life and I so relate.

    I do the same things. I don’t ask him to do things because that opens up trouble for me. That I don’t like the way he does things, that I expect too much, that he’s too busy with more important things and I’m a selfish nag. In the room I’m in now, I see one project left undone for eight years. Another for three, another 18 months. If I could do them myself, I would. If I could afford to hire someone, I would. He’d be mad, but I don’t care anymore. Not a room in the house doesn’t contain undone projects, construction supplies and tools. When I finally can’t take the chaos anymore, I put the supplies away as best I can and the tools away … but then he can’t do it because everything isn’t sitting there ready for him to start so it’s my fault it’s not done. But if he wants a project done, it’s done quickly and finished. Some fittings I didn’t ask for or want … up and done … in several rooms.

    Withholding. My entire married life is a story of witholding … withholding his time, his attention, witholding support, respect, help with running a household with three small children … rarely around for any caretaking of children or household daily life, but my fault for not being a good enough Christian wife to him… nothing was enough. I am so thankful I found this site and have come to see that lie for what it is. I have been his servant for years, cooking, cleaning, childcare, laundry, errands, holiday prep, sex, you name it. And working outside the home as well, contributing financially, as the kids grew up. Yet not long ago I was berated because according to the love languages book, his love language is “acts of service”, which I, apparently, don’t do for him. @_@

    Yet my whole life, decades, has been dedicated to doing acts of service for him and our family.

    • … ‘nagging’ …

      ever heard that word applied to men? I don’t think I have. If someone is a nag, that person must be a woman — that is the presumption. What clear evidence of gender inequality: how men simply by being men enjoy privileges that they don’t have to do anything to merit … whereas women, simply by being women, are more likely to be denigrated.

      What abusive men call ‘nagging’ is in fact just their wives asking them to do reasonable tasks to help the household. Men who believe in male privilege simply label any request they don’t like “nagging”.

      • Anne

        You are so right about your take on “nagging” Barbara. My eyes are finally being opened to the fact that it’s not “nagging” to want and ask for basic things to be done around the house.

        And I do want to say … I absolutely loved being a wife and mother so all the things I did, I did because I love and value my family and wanted to “serve” them. I was not resentful or wanting thanks, just help once in a while and a partner in life instead of always feeling so alone all the time.

        Now that I am seeing things more clearly, I am getting angry that although I’ve performed “acts of service” for my husband willingly and cheerfully our entire marriage, he doesn’t see them or chooses to ignore them because they are not what he has decided the acts of service du jour are supposed to be.

        I don’t know where to put this, but it kind of ties in with some of what has been said in this post and comments … I was going to ask about this when I stopped to visit ACFJ today anyway …

        I went to counseling today and again, my counselor suggested my husband and I go to a counselor together. She says she can recommend an excellent one who has dealt with similar situations to mine and had very good results. She said that it really seems to bother me that my husband does not try to understand how much he’s hurt me and show remorse and say he’s sorry for it. She thinks this counselor she will recommend can help my husband “understand” me.

        Yes, it bothers me … a lot … that he’s never said he’s sorry, taken responsibility for his abuse of me. But after all my reading on abuse, and going through Lundy’s book like four times cover to cover, I am pretty sure I won’t ever see him take responsibility and I don’t think couples counseling will change that.

        But I am afraid that I have become so closed off towards my husband because of the abuse that maybe I wouldn’t be able to recognize when couples counseling might save the marriage. I don’t want to be hardhearted towards my husband, but my number one priority now is keeping myself emotionally safe. Going to a couple’s counselor who undoes all the work I’ve done in the last 18 months to come out of the fog because he tries to make it a 50/50 thing scares me. It wouldn’t take much to push me back into the dark pit I’ve only recently gotten to the top of. Or maybe this counselor would be a miracle worker and the marriage world be saved. I don’t know.

        Anyone have any helpful thoughts for me on this?

      • Nobody can tell you what you should do, only what you CAN do as every situation is unique. But there are many things that all abusive relationships have in common and it sounds like you have been educating yourself. As far as the couples counseling and the “miracle” it sounds like you possibly are wanting to go, not for you, but in hopes that your h will get the message or change or get a clue, etc. But your priority right now is healing for yourself and by experience and education, you have found that couples counseling has not helped you heal but has been detrimental to you and hasn’t done a thing to get through to him or make the abuse stop.

        … It is HIS responsibilty to seek counseling or education or anything else that will help HIM become NON-toxic. That is zero % your responsibility. He doesn’t need you to go to “couples counseling” for HIM to change/get a clue/stop abusing, etc…. If he ever gets to the point where he is truly repentant, he will put NO pressure on you.

        That was the key for me when I separated for a year. I was not even WANTING to go back until and unless (and I was fully prepared practically and in my heart and soul and spirit if it never happened) he showed true, long-term repentance and behavior change. Lundy gives lots of good advice on what this looks like and sounds like. My h would ACT like he was sorry, repentant for a period of time but when I didn’t fall for it, the anger came back. It was almost a full year before he showed me very sincerely and long-term, that he understood what he had done, he was remorseful, repentant, and most importantly, put NO pressure on me to reconcile or move back. I don’t think that happens very often and I would not have waited for him to change forever. I just didn’t have a time frame in mind.

        …I encourage you to not make any fast decisions or feel guilty about “being closed off.” It sounds like that is a necessary protective measure that you are being forced to use. It has nothing to do with you being “hard-hearted” but rather you being wise and seeing enough value in yourself that you realize you deserve to be treated decently. God bless you as you continue your journey coming out of the fog.

      • I think your counselor lacks understanding of the mindset and tactics of abusers. While she sees and validates how much anguish you feel from the way your husband treats you, she is diagnosing the problem as “He doesn’t understand you.” And she is prescribing the remedy “He needs to be taught how to understand you. And I know a couples’ counselor who can teach him that.”

        In reality, your husband DOES understand you (he understands your grievances, and your requests that he change the way he is behaving). He simply chooses to NOT change his behaviour, to NOT recognises your grievances as legitimate. Instead he plays mind-games, shifts the blame to you, and turns the tables on you all the time, to make it look like your grievances are illegitimate and unfair, and therefore he has the right to ignore them AND the right to criticise you for raising them.

        Your husband knows what he is doing hurts you. He doesn’t care. And he resists being educated or persuaded towards any kind of change that would tend to reduce his privileges.

        IMO, any counselor who fails to grasp this doesn’t understand abuse enough to fully help a victim of domestic abuse.

        Here is an article about the dangers of couple counseling:
        https://cryingoutforjustice.com/2013/06/29/why-couple-counseling-is-not-recommended-for-domestic-abuse/

      • poohbear

        You are spot on, Barbara. In “real life,” I’m told I’m so nice (often “too nice”), soft-spoken, etc. At home I don’t just let loose and become someone totally different. I ask nicely, “Could you please spend some time with (our son)?” I’m met with derision, disgust, and usually a response like “you’re wearing me down!” All because I asked him to be with his child before he’s grown and gone, as opposed to hiding in his room with his alcohol and watching violent movies during all his spare time. But he’s “hen-pecked” and I’m a nag 😦

  17. Seeing Clearly

    Anne, your counselor has been very helpful to you if you returned to her on this specific day. Also, apparently she has been a great help to you in the last months, since you notice that you are in a healthier place now. She must not really understand that you are In an abusive relationship.

    I suggest that you stay as far away from couples counseling as possible. I spent years in couples counseling, went through 4 different counselors. At the same time, keeping appts. with my own therapist, trying to stay afloat. When we took breaks from counseling together, it was usually because I was too undone and couldn’t take it any more. Abusers are never wrong and even the strongest therapists fall for it. Very, very destructive to me. When we discontinued, it was turned as to say that I was a very sick lady that he could hardly endure living with.

    I deeply regret ever, ever sitting in a counselors office with him. My hope and intention was to save a marriage. It just doesn’t work.

  18. healinginhim

    Anne – Many have been scarred from couples counseling. I can’t remember how many times I attempted this over the many years I “kept trying” … The hardened heart can not be changed without the spouse allowing God to do His work.

    ACFJ finally set the record straight for me; untwisting Scripture and exhorting victims to not keep feeling guilty that we haven’t done enough.

    I have felt the bitter sting of counselors turning on me as they felt I wasn’t giving my husband a chance to change. Just how many years of false promises does it take to prove that change can only come from a “broken and contrite spirit”?

    Praying for you Anne.

  19. Anonymous

    Replying to Anne regarding couples counseling. This is from another post on this website:
    https://cryingoutforjustice.com/2012/03/16/the-one-behind-all-quests-for-power-by-jeff-crippen/

    “Here we see the dangerous naivete of Christians and the church as they deem themselves “competent to counsel” abusers and their victims. They are dealing with the devil himself, and yet they are absolutely ignorant of it. They are facing principalities and powers, but doing so with weapons of the flesh because they think that the flesh is all that they are up against.”

    I’d like to add to Barb’s response to you when she wrote, “Your husband knows what he is doing hurts you. He doesn’t care.” ….. he may actually ENJOY hurting you–it’s an added bonus for evil ones.

    • Anne

      Thank you everyone for the helpful replies. You have strengthened my thought that it would be foolhardy to risk my hard won (and still shaky!) mental and emotional safety with couples counseling.

      I think you are right about my counselor. She has been very supportive and helpful to me individually, but the true nature of abuse I have lived with, I don’t think she understands.

      I gave her a copy of Lundy Bancroft’s “Why Does He Do That” and Pastor Jeff’s “Unholy Charade”. I know she read Pastor Jeff’s book because she said she found it hard to get through, that supposed Christians would treat their spouses that way, but I’m pretty sure she hasn’t read Lundy Bancroft’s book or she wouldn’t be mentioning couples counseling so much.

      It’s hard, sometimes feeling you know more than your educated counselor on the very issues they are trying to counsel you on! But she has been very supportive and I am in a better place than I was when I first started seeing her. I’ll just keep avoiding the couples counseling.

      • It’s hard, sometimes feeling you know more than your educated counselor on the very issues they are trying to counsel you on!

        That!

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