A Cry For Justice

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

There Weren’t Really ANY “Good Times” With an Abuser

Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits. Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. (Mat 7:15-21)

I heard an old, worn out falsehood the other day which brought these words of Jesus to mind. A person who insisted on defending a wicked, evil wolf in wool and who accused all the rest of us of being “harsh, unforgiving, and judgmental,” maintained that even though this celebrity “Christian” leader had been found out to be a habitual, unrepentant abuser and sexual predator, we (and here comes the line) “must realize that this does not negate all the excellent and good teaching this man has done all these years and we should still keep using his books and teaching tapes.” The man, this person insisted, “had a lot of ‘good’ in him.”

Jesus says no. In fact, our Lord says is that since this man’s very root is corrupt, ALL his fruit is bad. “… Nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit.” Jesus does not say “well, there were some good apples from this guy. You just have to do some sorting and put the bad apples aside.” NO. If that were the case, then all Jesus says here would be negated. The tree would not have to be cut down and burned. NO good fruit. None. Not from such a tree.

So let’s bring this right down to the matter at hand: abusers. Most of us have heard from abusers something like this: “But we had some good times, didn’t we?” Maybe you heard something like that from your abuser when the time came that you were about to part ways from him. Probably in an effort to guilt you and minimize just how outrageous his longstanding sin had been, he makes this declaration that he gave you actually a fair amount of “good” fruit. “Good” times.

Nope. Not. None.

The fact is, and here is the truth that can be a shocker when you first see it, there never, ever was one single “good” time, not one single “good” thing that your abuser gave you. Now, at first, that can be a bit hard to get hold of because we start to think back on times and occasions when it seemed to us that we were experiencing a good time with the abuser or when we seemed to be receiving some good thing from him. Perhaps one Christmas among many miserable ones when everyone had an exceptional “good” time. Or maybe that one date he took you on to that nice restaurant and he was quite charming that evening. “Good” memories, you see.

But what was really going on?

In fact, because of his corrupt, bad and evil heart, the abuser simply cannot produce “good” things. He never did good to us or for us. Never. A bad tree cannot produce good fruit. What was happening then, in reality, in those apparent “good” times? I can tell you. The truth is that the abuser was simply setting you up out of his evil, self-serving motives, for his next attack on you. If you have become familiar with what we call the cycle of abuse, you understand what I mean. There is never a “good” time with an abuser. In fact as it turns out, in all those years, we never had a truly good time as a fruit of his life. It only looked like it, but it turns out to be rotten fruit covered in wax.

It can be difficult at first to comprehend the depths of such evil. These realizations are akin to coming to see that the abuser never loved us. That the person you thought you knew and loved, never actually existed. But once you grasp these truths, you find yourself on the road to real freedom.

The Lord Jesus Christ has perfect goodness in His being. He is the highest model of a good tree bearing good fruit. EVERYTHING He gives us, everything He does toward us, is good. And I suppose that He is the faithful Friend that Proverbs talks about, in contrast to the wicked:

Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.
(Proverbs 27:6)

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53 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    Three years ago if you would’ve told me this I would’ve said, no way. Two years ago if you would’ve told me this, my mind would have been too foggy to absorb it all. Today as you tell me this I say, “You positively nailed it!” And the predator in my life is back on the scene and trying to do exactly what you described, take us / me back to the ‘good’ memories. Truth is, now in hindsight, I have not one good memory because I see crystal clear what was happening all along. And in ‘those moments of good’ when I did let down my guard and relax and trust as best I could, because there was always an eerie presence that at the time I could not understand but it was real (now I know it was satanic evil forces) without a doubt, the evil he had planned all along came right back and was played out on me in the most horrific and evil way. I still suffer nightmares as a result. By God’s grace today, I am a much wiser woman! ACFJ, you are being powerfully used as God’s chosen instrument!!

    • No more tears

      Amen.

  2. surviving freedom

    Wow, I have heard this far too many times from the man who was pretending to be my husband for over twenty years. My favourite was especially (in a sad voice with such a dejected look) “weren’t you ever happy.” This one really allowed him to guilt trip me, while at the same time avoid all responsibility, the problem was my unhappiness and bitterness – not really anything to do with his control, manipulation, and entitlement. He often claims he refuses to admit that there were no good times, then he will proceed to point them out in a way that exaggerates, twists, or out right ignores the way that he even manipulated or controlled those “good” times, or attempts to put a good spin, or reasonable explanation as to his “ends justify the means” mentality concerning these so-called good times.

  3. Teresa

    I agree with “Anonymous”. It does take time and God’s truth, His living Word, to see and understand. I am thankful for the years of grace, kindness, mercy, love, comfort and patience extended to me from my Pastor, his wife and my church family. The faithful preaching of God’s Word convicts and comforts, restoring the soul to usefulness. I appreciate your wisdom and fierce stance against evil. Thank you for upholding the banner of truth. I feel like shouting for joy and cheering each time I read a post! Praying with you all to continue steadfastly and the many who need to hear with the ears of the heart.

  4. Overcomer

    Oh this is perfect Pastor Jeff. I had grasped very early on, before the Lord made the Red Sea part and made a way for me to escape my abuser, I had grasped that he never really loved me. I had even asked him- “you never really loved me, did you?”. He of course lied, because he is of his father the devil, who is the father of lies, and told me of course he loved me. But is was so obviously phony and hollow and well, a lie. It is like his spell over me was broken and his lies were seen for what they truly are. Well, needless to say, that was a tough pill to swallow but one, like you say, is necessary to heal from all this nonsense.

    But the topic of this post, there must have been some good times with the abuser, is something that I have heard and once tried to tell myself. But no. Like you said, all the fruit was rotten. Everything, every action, was part of a grand manipulation of abuse. All of it. Even the nice Christmases. Or the nice dates or dinners. All of it. Rubbish. I have been gone from my abuser for 1.5 years almost and divorced since July 2015. I would like to meet someone, a real man, in God’s time, that I can have a real relationship with. My brother thinks I need to wait before getting into another relationship (which, if you are not sufficiently healed and it is not God’s timing, I agree with him on that). I told him I NEVER HAD A RELATIONSHIP OR MARRIAGE. It is like I had nothing all these years. People don’t understand though. But I am in full agreement with you on this, Pastor. Thank you for the confirmation.

    • Anonymous

      “It is like his spell over me was broken and his lies were seen for what they truly are.” That’s it!!

    • I understand … there were no good times in 30 years of my marriage. It took me a while until I realized it. Then I just refused to be in his presence. When asked out for dinner, I said NO. When asked to go camping in his newly acquired RV, I said NO. I had learned that I was happier in my own company despite the occasional loneliness. As a matter of fact. on the day I got married I realized that he was the wrong man to get married to … but I did not know how to stop this rolling ball. How ironic, I did not have anyone to consult with. So I got swept away by the wave of life just being a passenger…

      • Brooklyn

        I’m new to all of this and just over 20 years married. Can you possibly help me, maybe from your own experiences? Over the years I have begged him to change. I thought we had a lot of good times because he wasn’t always emotionally or verbally abusive. He of course blames me for being distant and keeping a record of wrong, and I don’t even know how to respond. But I DON’T want to be around him right now. I don’t even want him touching me. Can you say if things in any way improved? Or did you leave? Don’t answer that if you don’t want to. I just was taught marriage was for life unless there was adultery. It felt like a life sentence for me making a bad choice 20 some years ago.

        I’m very incoherent right now, and I apologize for that. I’m tired and exhausted. How do I communicate the “WHY” I don’t want to go anywhere with him?? AND get the point across. Like I said, I used to think we had good times mixed in with bad times. Now I am just seeing that even in the good days and vacations, trips, etc. it has ALL been right under the surface the entire time.

      • Yes, Brooklyn, you are right: it has ALL been right under the surface the entire time.
        That is how abusers work: coercive control. The more disguised the control and coercion is, the better for them. And most of us took years if not decades to wake up and realise we were being abused. Abusers anticipate that we will resist their abuse, and they plan and strategise about how to overcome and crush our resistance.

        And the ‘nice’ times we have with them are all part and parcel of the manipulative control: because they hook us back in with those nice times, and they make us doubt our thoughts and feelings and perceptions. — “Is it really that bad?” we ask ourselves, in the good times…

        And the bad news is, there is probably no safe or ‘right’ or ‘magically effective’ way you can tell to him WHY you don’t want to go anywhere with him and why you don’t want him to touch you. However you try to get that across to him he is likely to escalate his abuse. He does this because he senses that he is losing control over you (which he is, because you are waking up out of the fog) and he FIGHTs against losing control over you. He will escalate his abuse to try to regain control over you. He may pull out new tactics of abuse, ones he’s never used before, or his will intensify the tactics he has used before, and he will probably switch more from tactic to tactic, to try to throw you off balance and make you confused and bewildered.

        Abusers all shift the blame to the victim… They falsely blame the victim for any and all problems. There is no way you will be able to teach him this. Because he actually KNOWS he is doing it. He has that insight already (though he pretends he doesn’t). He knows full well that his behaviour is wrong; he just doesn’t care. He doesn’t want to change. He doesn’t care that his behaviour is hurtful, cruel, unjust, immoral, childish, ludicrous, anti-social, evil, deceitful, and anti-life. He likes having an exaggerated sense of entitlement, because he likes the perks that gives him, the perks that come from oppressing others and making them be satellites to his sun.

        Marriage is not for life under such circumstances. He LONG AGO broke the covenant, more times that you could possibly count! You are at liberty to leave him and to divorce him if you so choose. Here are the biblical grounds for this:
        Biblical divorce for abuse explained in a nutshell.

      • Brooklyn- I don’t know if this helps, but this was my experience. I was married to an abuser for 20 years. In hindsight he was abusive right from the start, but to begin with the incidents of abuse were relatively rare and the rest of the time he was charming.
        I thought he was a good person who sometimes did bad things. And that’s exactly the way that many Christian leaders and churches say we must treat every person who claims to be a Christian.

        But the inescapable reality is that he was a bad person who pretended to do good things. He never improved. His control, violence and vindictiveness steadily increased over the years. I thought about leaving many times, right from the first few weeks. But he was clever and cunning and always found a way to prevent that happening. During all of this he always had the support of the church people, including my own friends. At home he was constantly abusing his wife and children, but the church and the community put him in positions of leadership, and they turned their backs on me- sometimes literally.

        It was always a waste of time trying to talk to him about any of his behavior. He never had any intention of listening and he never cared. He just wanted to be in control and he wanted me to keep believing all the lies. He didn’t have another plan.

        In the end I got the strength to consistently stand up to him, and after a long period of escalation of his violence he eventually left. I think he may have had legal advice to leave before his violence got him into serious trouble with the law.

        I used to think there were some good times, but now that I feel safe and can start to remember things properly, I think the good times were mostly thanks to lots of dissociation. I used to focus on the children and try to make sure they felt loved and cared for, while at the same time blocking out all the horrific stuff that was happening at the very same time.

        I was taught that marriage should be for life. But what I really had wasn’t marriage, it was captivity, a partnership of predator and unwilling prey. Captivity that was sanctioned and enforced by the evangelical church. I didn’t choose to be married to an abuser, I was entrapped by a very slick liar who fooled me and just about everyone else.

  5. Tee3

    You nailed it, Pst Jeff. I can’t remember any good I had with my abuser in over 2 decades together. The few times I thought were good were actually because he was expecting something more from me in return. 😦

  6. Anonymous

    Among the many evil plots against me Gaslighting was a big one. I was very naive to this and the little bit that I did know, I thought only happened in the movies. His attempts to make me think I was going insane nearly succeeded. And he did it all with a smile on his face and with such ease and even a swagger in his walk. As I look back on it now I see how cruel it all was. Though I would like to share details, it would be too dangerous at this juncture. Pure evil is what it is!

  7. Tee3

    I need advice, please. Our counsellor says I shouldn’t let my parents know about the abuse because they are advanced in years. My parents think we are having a normal marital conflict when we fight and encourage me to forgive him. He knows I don’t tell them what’s happening so he plays his act well when he’s around them, and of course I pretend that everything is alright too. I cover up for his misdeeds too. They love him and are proud of him and his achievements. I’m bursting to tell them the truth. For how long will I keep it from them?

    • surviving freedom

      I’m wondering if listening to “our counselor” is the problem here. Not truly knowing anything about your parents or any reasonable reason for not telling them the truth other than their age, I don’t think I’d be comfortable giving any advice on that. However, it does send up red-flags about a counselor who would encourage you to hide the abuse or knowingly go along with it, allowing your parents to be enablers of it without their knowledge. Again, since I don’t know the details, it might be wise to seek your own counselor, keep looking until one’s found that knows the true nature of how deceptive abusers can be, one on your own … that the abuser has not had a chance to twist the truth to or manipulate.

      • StandsWithAFist

        Yes, this is very wise advice, to seek your own counsellor.

        One of the very few wise counsellors I have seen told me that when someone comes in for counseling, the focus is on the “client”, the individual seeking counsel.

        But when a couple comes in, the focus shifts to the marriage.

        In other words, the “marriage” becomes the client.

        It seems this is why “marriage counseling” never works in abuse, b/c it makes you part of the problem, rather than placing blame where it exists: on the shoulders of the abuser.

        As for your parents, you say they “love him”, and it’s natural that you don’t want to hurt them. But I would guess they don’t want to hurt you either? Nor do they want you to be hurt by him? Perhaps they simply “love” what they see, but they don’t see the truth. They see a false image carefully crafted to be perfect. But what if they saw you break down? What if they saw you in tears and felt your pain? Would they have empathy ? Would they want you to heal before “encouraging forgiveness”?

        Forgiveness w/o repentance is cheap grace, as Bonhoeffer said so well.

        So I agree a wise choice would be to seek another, wiser, skilled counsellor for you as an individual. Then you will become stronger & wiser & equipped with clarity.

        You will have a safe place to speak the truth, and so “keeping it from them” won’t be the issue. Right now, you need a safe place in which you can truly be “heard”; where you can be vulnerable with someone you can trust to understand the conflict, & thus to speak openly to a skilled counsellor who will guide you into truth.

        As much as they love you, that “safe place” may not your parents, at least not right now.

        Find a safe, wise, skilled counsellor for you & you alone. Start there.

      • Just some cautions about Bonhoeffer, here are some excerpts from the Banner of Truth’s article Bonhoeffer – A Reliable Guide?

        THE CROSS

        For evangelicals the cross is at the centre of their faith. Bonhoeffer did not believe in substitutionary atonement – Christ suffering as a substitute for our sins, dying in our place to earn eternal life for us. The cross of Christ certainly is important to him, but in a very different way – it is as an example and an inspiration. He is concerned that we live cross-centred lives and by that he means that we take up our cross and follow Christ, living lives of self-denial. … Bonhoeffer would argue that we are saved by the incarnation – Christ taking our nature – rather than by His atoning death.

        CONVERSION

        As a Lutheran he embraced the doctrine of baptismal regeneration – you are automatically born again when you are baptised. …He criticises conversion testimonies and sees the New Testament as not being about individual salvation. He wrote, ‘We must finally break away from the idea that the gospel deals with the salvation of an individual’s soul’.

        UNIVERSALISM

        Bonhoeffer was a universalist, believing in the eventual salvation of all.

        CHEAP GRACE
        ‘Cheap grace’ is one of the distinctive phrases of Bonhoeffer. He uses it as a challenge to the antinomian position of those who think that because they believe in Jesus they can live the way they like and yet all their sins will be forgiven. His emphasis is good in one sense, but it is not a helpful term. The implication is that what changes grace from being cheap to being costly is our obedience and sacrifice. However the expensive nature of grace is not increased by anything we do. Grace is not cheap because it cost God the death of His Son. Thus, although it is free to us, it is very expensive to Christ. God requires good works of us but it is His irresistible grace in our lives which transforms us so that we cannot but produce good works.

      • StandsWithAFist

        Thank you, Barbara, for that clarification.

        I do love Bonhoeffer, as I love anyone who opposed the Nazis, but I also have read a little about his theology being a tad askew. It seems to me he was saying that Jesus’ death cost Him dearly, so to cheapen it (as many abusers do, they sin-levelling) is to “sin so grace may abound”.

        Thanks for this link. I appreciate it & want to be sure I understand what he was actually saying.

    • KayJay

      As a parent, I would want to know the truth, whether or not I was “advanced in years.” [By putting on a mask to your parents] he is [seeking to manipulate] your parents.

      [Words in square brackets modified by Eds]

    • Song of Joy

      Tee3,
      I’m sorry you are carrying such a heavy burden and your counsellor [does not appear to be fully] on your side.

      [words in brackets modified by Eds]

    • Cindy R

      Tee3 even if I am advanced in age I want to know the truth. … There are many cruddy counselors out there and I think perhaps you got one of them.

    • Scared momma

      I can share my experience with telling my parents. They have been amazingly supportive but really still don’t understand. I figure it took me decades to see what was happening, they have never seen the bad at all, it’s very hard for them to understand. He always goes out of way for them. Yes, they think it’s is normal marriage problems. I tried at first telling them straight out, and they really didn’t hear. Next, I tried telling them what was happening, it sounds too close to normal tiffs. I have stopped covering up what he does. I point out how it is different that normal marriage disagreements. With normal disagreements, your spouse does not take it out on the kids. You can disagree and not worry that the children will pay the price of you standing up to him.

      I shared with them a complaint letter he got years ago. The woman states that even as high school teacher in the inner city, she had never been so verbally abused as she was by him. Funny thing when I read the complaint, she quotes the same lines he tells me on daily basis.

      They are slowly seeing it, but it takes longer. A year since I started talking about things and they’re just starting to understand but still don’t really get it and may never really understand. It’s hard for them to see, the fog is so thick.

      If you parents have dementia, difficulty with there hearing it would be even harder. For my parents it was not like I was worried they would have heart attack or anything. After a year we are to a point where they realize he’s not as nice behind closed doors. However now that I don’t cover things up the fog is clearing for the kids, they can see clearly now.

      Best of luck in whatever you decide to do.

    • Also, here is our post about Choosing & Assessing a Counselor, in case you find it helpful.

    • Savedbygrace

      Tee3- how agonising for you! it sounds like you and your parents are ( or have been) close… you acknowledge that your h is ‘playing an act’ – what’s in it for him?
      1. he gets to look /feel good and be admired
      2. he silences any of your parents’ previous judgements of his behaviour
      3. he gets to avoid taking responsibility for his actions
      4. he gets to enjoy a reputation he has not earned
      5. he isolates you from support
      6. he makes you more dependent on him
      7. he does not let you hear any other opinions but his
      8. he sets the scene for you not to be believed if you speak up later ( because you are covering up for him now)

      Tee3 your parents probably see through some of this act anyway.. how can ruining your relationship with your parents by not being honest lead to any good? Aren’t you selling your parents short by putting up an image for them to ‘love and be proud of’- is that something they would want really? You said they were fully supportive before – likely they will be again.

      In my own experience I protected my husband’s image all our married life… especially with the children and at church… it is a hard habit to break…. and it has certainly ‘rocked the boat’ but it has provided my adult children an opportunity to grow as they face the hardship of relating to their father ‘as he is’.. my reality does not always look or feel good but I have come to value the goodness of ‘real’.
      Praying for wisdom for you x

      • NoMoreTears

        I too protected my husband’s image for many years. Then hell broke loose. I could no longer be silent. I told anybody who wanted to listen the truth. There was shock in the church community. It was like a pot of water that had runnet over of water. I felt liberated.

  8. Ida Mae

    Oh my! Amen to that! Wish it hadn’t taken thirty years to figure this out. “Come a little closer baby so I can get a better shot at you.”

  9. Sasanka

    Wow, Pastor Jeff, you are so right!!!! I thought they were good times because I could not see the forest for the trees…It was like a hostage kept dehydrated and then handed a cup of filthy water. It would taste heavenly to a dying person. They would feel ‘grateful’ for the crumbs because they are in the fog. Part of ‘cycle of abuse’ like you say!!! When I look back… the ‘good times’ felt phony. My abuser didn’t even bother much to cover up he did not love me, when he would come at 11pm on Valentine’s, and give me in such a hollow and empty way a teddy bear in a mug he picked up minutes before, from the Drugstore on the way home. Then he would put on headphones and ignore me as usual. Love is not gifts, but this was symbolic of the sham of a marriage I was in.

    Good times were things like a ride in a car with all the children in the evening and having a coffee. It was like Christmas for someone who was 100% isolated with children 24/7 alone at home. If I said something ‘wrong’ he would say he is taking me right back home for punishment. It was like taking a dog for a walk. But if she misbehaves you shove her right back in the cage. So he would turn around and drop me off back home with all children. Like a dog. Of course he would not stay home to help with the children, he sped off to do whatever he wanted. Go to a movie, or for a meal out. By the way, he doesn’t have a single friend, says he does not need one…..Yep, should have clued in.

    Another ‘good time’ was the only respite I got as a human being, after the C-sections for 3 days in the hospital. Imagine…no childcare, and someone is bringing me meals on a tray and I get to lie down and rest. I really looked forward to it, and cherished the short rest, the hospital food felt heavenly because someone made it for me. Never mind the major surgery or lack of sleep, I did not have to move for 3 days. Those were my best times I remember in my marriage. He was abusive in hospital, and there were no flowers or thank you ever for the baby I gave him. But I didn’t even notice that. He no longer apologized, thanked for anything or covered up his indifference and hate.. it wasn’t worth it to him. I was not going anywhere. There were no typical ‘good times’ like an actual vacation, or a trip. Not a day. Christmases were with abusive, oppressive in-laws, mostly stress. He was relaxing, catered to by ‘mommy’, while I was taking care of children outside of home, and took emotional blackmail from Pharisee in-laws. Good times.

    You know what, friends? Last year I would be crying either in ‘self-pity’ or anger writing this. It would trigger me badly. Now I just pragmatically think to myself, this monster deserves what is coming to him. I’m so glad I’m with Jesus and moving on happily. I’m fine, thanks to the Lord. And thanks to you. Now, the good times are just simple things. Mostly just living in peace and with dignity again :)) The vacations? Those will come too, in due time! 🙂 And as I know my Jesus, much more too.

    • Another ‘good time’ was the only respite I got as a human being, after the C-sections for 3 days in the hospital. Imagine…no childcare, and someone is bringing me meals on a tray and I get to lie down and rest. I really looked forward to it, and cherished the short rest, the hospital food felt heavenly because someone made it for me. Never mind the major surgery or lack of sleep, I did not have to move for 3 days. Those were my best times I remember in my marriage.

      That reminds me of a woman in a documentary about women who are in prison for having killed their abusers. I can’t remember the name of the doco right now, but it was an American one and the prison was I think on the West Coast. The woman was saying how on her first night in the cell, she felt safe for the first time in years. It was an enormous relief to be locked up in prison — far far safer and more relaxing than life had been with her husband. I think she had even reported her crime to the police herself. She killed her husband while he was asleep because he had said he would kill her as soon as he woke up and she believed 100% that he would carry out his threat.

      (pls don’t take this as me endorsing the idea of killing one’s abuser…)

      • zooey111

        Barbara, I saw that documentary too, & it was so powerful when she said that! I sat there hoping & praying that many folks watching, would realize how horrible the abuse was, for her to feel that way.
        I believe the name of it was something like, “Perfect Victim”.
        Caution: parts of it may be triggering.

      • I’ve remembered the name of one of the key ladies in that film: Brenda Clubine. I just found her website brendaclubine.com. It says:

        On October 22, 2008 Brenda Clubine was released from prison after serving 26 years for defending herself against her abusive husband.

        She now continues with her advocacy by speaking out about the dangers of abusive relationships in hopes that people will continue to make a difference in the struggle against domestic violence.

        And it has a blurb about the film “Sin by Silence

        Sin by Silence offers a unique gateway into the lives of women who are domestic violence’s worst-case scenarios: women who have killed their abusive husbands. Inside California’s oldest women’s prisons, the first inmate-initiated and led group in the U.S. prison system was created by then-inmate Brenda Clubine to help abused women speak out and realize they are not alone. Over the past two decades, the women of Convicted Women Against Abuse (CWAA) have changed laws for battered women and raised awareness for those on the outside.
        Sin by Silence is an emotionally packed documentary that tells the personal and shocking stories of women who have learned from their past and are changing their future.

  10. Tee3

    Thank you, surviving freedom. A while ago I left my marriage for quite a few weeks and stayed with my parents. They knew everything about the abuse. The counsellor was aware of the abuse and tried to help us to work it out. I moved back home hoping things would turn out well. It took my parents several months to forgive my abuser and allow him to see them.

    During the sessions with the counsellor, he said I shouldn’t mention anything happening in my marriage to my parents so that they could have a good relationship with him.

    • Hi Tee3
      some of the other readers have replied here saying that they would want to know the truth as parents even if they were elderly.

      And since you’ve told us that a while ago you DID tell your parents the truth about the abuse you were suffering at the hands of your husband, and your parents were fully supportive of you, I see no reason for you not to tell them again – to bring them up to date about what is happening now.

      I think the counselor is unwise to have said you shouldn’t mention anything to your parents so they can have a good relationship with your husband. For the counselor to say that indicates to me several things:
      The counselor does not really think that your husband is abusing you. He must (despite the evidence and your testimony)– believe that whatever your husband is doing it isn’t ABUSE. That tells me the counselor is not a safe counselor for you. A counselor who cannot recognise and identify abuse when it is happening is an unsafe counselor.

      The best-practice advice from DV professionals is that when supporting victims of DV, the counselor ought to never TELL the victim what to do, but simply offer her information, education and options for her to consider, so that the victim can make her own decisions in her own time.

      The advice also says that in working with victims, the counselor ought to be continually helping the victim assess and manage risk and do ongoing safety planning. Part of safety planning to is ask the victim “Who is in your life who is supporting you? Who do you think on your network (family, friends) might support you if you confided in them and sought their support?” The supportive people in a victim’s network are a really important part of risk assessment and risk management. If a victim has support people in her network, or sources of self-esteem and self-respect in her life like a successful and respect-worthy career, then that is what is known as ‘protective factors’. Protective factors are positives: they help counterbalance the risks and dangers the victim may be under from the abuser and his allies. And a counselor who understands Risk Assessment and Safety Planning will help the victim identify her protective factors, and will encourage her to build on them and make them stronger if she is able to.

      …. So, if your counselor understood this (which he clearly doesn’t) he would be asking you to what extent your parents believed and supported you. And if you told him “They believed me and supported me last time when I fled to them for safety,” then the counselor would be encouraging you to continue seeking support from your parents and continue disclosing the truth to them, as and when you see fit.

      Can you see how little this counselor understands about how to deal with abuse?

      Also, from what you’ve said, I get the impression that you and your husband have been seeing this counselor together, at least on some of the occasions. Did you know that couple counseling is NOT recommended for domestic abuse? We have a tag on Couples Counseling which has many posts explaining why couple counseling is not a good idea. Here is the key post on that topic:

      Why Couple Counseling is not recommended for domestic abuse

      BTW, some victims of DV might choose to not disclose to their elderly parents – it is an individual choice. There could be many reasons why a victim might think it was wise for her not to disclose to her parents:

      — the parents are so near the end of life (on their deathbed, or at super high risk of a cardio-vascular event like a stroke or heart attack) that the victim chooses not to tell her parents because she doesn’t want to precipitate further health problems for them

      — the parents are likely to side with the abuser and blame the victim

      — the parents are fence-sitters and will all too easily be recruited as allies of the abuser, if he starts spinning his lies to them big time

      — the parents cannot be trusted to keep her confidential information private

      — the parents have evil tendencies themselves

  11. Savedbygrace

    Thankyou for this post Pastor Jeff it has given me much to reflect on…. I think it is possible to look back on an abusive relationship and see ‘good times’ and even to think about our abuser at various points and appreciate certain qualities- after all it is these things that appeal to us in the first place and also keep us hopeful that the relationship will improve.. the abuser isn’t ‘all bad’ especially at first.. (which I agree feeds into a destructive and abusive cycle) in Matt 7:22 Jesus talks about those who prophesy and drive put demons and perform other miracles … those things in and of themselves were not bad things to have happen BUT the telling part is what it is flowing from… is it flowing from a genuine relationship with the Lord Jesus? if not it is mere words ( eg “lord Lord”) and so Jesus casts them out as ‘evildoers’. so I take it the same will be true of the unrepentant ‘Christian’ leader you referred to..it doesn’t mean some of the stuff he did was not useful, helpful.. but that he himself is judged by the Lord as an evil doer… the same could be said of all that we experience in this world that does not spring from faith in the Lord Jesus… it will not stand on the final day… but as we wait for that day God in his mercy causes the rain to fall and the sun to shine on the just and the unjust and we benefit from many ‘good’ things which ultimately will not stand on the judgement day. Jesus said only those who ‘do the will of the Father’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven…his will is for each of us to believe on the Lord Jesus… which will totally transform our lives and enable us to bear truly “good fruit” because the tree will have changed!
    One of the implications of this is being able to accept our children as good gifts- even though they were born from/ into a relationship with an abusive person.

    When I look back on my relationship the ‘good times’ were mainly what I engineered to try and bring about a semblance of normality. the ‘good times’ are rarely what I call ‘pure’ memories they are always tainted with some un ease or efforts on my part to ‘gloss over’ the abusive ways of my h.

    • Anne

      Savedbygrace, your post resonates with me. My life has been like you posted and I do see good qualities in my husband too. But far too often those good qualities are turned freely and cheerfully on those outside our home and not us. When we are on the receiving end, it’s often when church people or other outsiders can see it and say what a great guy he is.

      But that it why it is so hard to leave. He has qualities that I do want in a partner … if they weren’t part of the cycle of abuse. After many decades, I still hope there’s a magic button that I can push or phrase that I can say and all will be wonderful, as I’ve dreamed. I know it’s a fantasy and can’t happen, but oh how much I want it to. I’ve sincerely loved him for so many years … so many wasted years.

      But I am learning, I am growing, I am preparing. The truth is starting to be seen more clearly. I just have to come out of the fog one day at a time. God is with me every step of the way.

  12. healinginhim

    Another great post. “There is never a “good” time with an abuser. In fact as it turns out, in all those years, we never had a truly good time as a fruit of his life. It only looked like it, but it turns out to be rotten fruit covered in wax.”
    Even though ‘he’ no longer wants to be reconciled but just ‘live together’ he commented, “… that we had some good times …” Stating also, that I never admitted to ever being wrong. Between hurt and anger my mind flooded with the years of “good times at my emotional and physical expense.” (I maintained bowls of waxed fruit in order to please relatives and the community)
    Then he added, “Oh but of course, I guess you would admit to doing one thing wrong and that was to marry me.”

    • cindy burrell

      Your husband stated with sarcasm what is actually true.

      Generally, those “good times,” we enjoy with our abuser are the positive experiences he allows us to have because they somehow benefit him, as this piece so beautifully explains. I had some good times with my former husband, but I can see now that it was because I had willingly accommodated his wishes in just about everything, as I had been trained to do. As long as I gave him what he wanted, all was well. But if I chose to ask for a favor or express a preference, and there was no good to be had. Suddenly I was viewed as self-serving.

      • Hi Cindy, I’m glad you’ve mentioned that for you, there were some good times in your marriage.
        In my first marriage there were really no good times; but in my second one there were some good times. In that second marriage, the sexual part of the relationship was good for me — I got a lot of healing from it, healing from the sexual abuse I experienced as a child.

        We also had some times books reading aloud together in bed. We would share the reading chapter by chapter. The book we most enjoyed was an autobiography by a man who had grown up in a suburb of Melbourne quite close to the one my husband grew up in, but I knew the geography and could picture quite a lot of his story. The author had been brought up poor, in the catholic school system — also like my husband. The book had lots of humourous moments, and we laughed together about them and he would share with me anecdotes from his own life.

        I was not complying with his wishes and disregarding my own by reading this book with him. I truly enjoyed it myself. But I’m sure if we’d found a book that related much more to my childhood than his, he wouldn’t have liked it all that much. So, it was still mostly about him. But I was not being coerced or manipulated and did enjoy it, so it was a good time.

      • healinginhim

        Cindy…. you articulated my life with ‘him’ perfectly. There were many times I berated myself for thinking those thoughts. When I finally spoke up to him and the other abusers which are closely connected, that is exactly what I was told. That I was being very selfish for some of my boundaries.

    • standsfortruth

      Several things resonate with me Healinginhim that you shared.
      My abuser also kept suggesting the “cant we just live together” offer.
      He also tried to get me to share the blame of his destruction or admit some wrong, or be sorry for something.
      Then one day I realized there WAS something to tell him that I was sorry for, and looked him in the eyes, and told him that “I WAS sorry that I ever married him”.
      It was truthful.
      He never asked me to apologize for anything again.

      • healinginhim

        I think we are past the point of even attempting apologies. We are in the same house but no verbal contact unless required for a maintenance task of some sort. He likes it that way; finally has me “quiet” … last few attempts to discuss anything has had him annoyed and telling me, “I refuse to get drawn into these conversations with you because they lead nowhere.” This is as I am crying at his hardness of heart and once again expressing how I now realize I was just here to satisfy his lusts, raise the children that resulted from that and now he doesn’t want to be my husband because he now realizes we are just too different. He claims he thought we could find some ‘common ground’ — like grocery shopping together and such. Meanwhile, the adult children, my siblings and extended family would continue to treat me badly and he was under no obligation to defend me.

      • standsfortruth

        I am praying for your situtation Healinginhim, as well as the others here, that the Lord give you an exodus plan to follow.
        You deserve validation, acceptance, and goodness .
        After decades of abuse, It took me 14 months from the “start of my exodus plan”, to the final move out day where I no longer am residing with my abuser.
        Careful planning and knowing who and what to trust, and who not to trust was key.
        I could not even tell my own children, as they learned how to manipulate others to get what they wanted just like him.

  13. M&M

    Proverbs 27:6 is great when a correct distinction is made between the friend and the enemy. 20 years ago I thought the abuser was the friend and that verse was one of those that prompted me to stay for awhile. Of course now I see the “faithful wounds” weren’t the beatings with the broomstick, but the words of the friend who 18 years ago said I was wrong about how I read the Bible if it kept me in contact with the abuser. That girl’s parents had suffered persecution in their home country and didn’t renounce their faith. But they fled when they had a chance. Back to the Proverbs, I wonder how many people mix up the friend and the enemy?

  14. Herjourney

    New beginnings bring back memories.
    Memories of .. I will try harder. Hang in there. Love more. Do more. Wait For a change.
    Actually God was waiting for me to make a change. Signing the Paper that states:
    “My marriage is irretrievably broken.”
    New life starts when the old life has died.

  15. M&M

    When people say “this does not negate all the excellent and good teaching this man has done” I wonder if they’re thinking of Phillipians 1:15-18. I’m not sure what to think of that verse, but I do see the “bad fruit” in all of the above comments :(.

  16. Innoscent

    The truth of this post sends chills down my spine. Jeff sees through the abuser’s mentality so accurately and puts things straight. Thank you!
    Following a marriage counselor’s advice my abusive H gave me a long list one day of many “good times” we had together and I was supposed to dwell on those rather than the bad times. So I proceeded to draw a list of real and true bad times we had in desperation for him to see the reality for what it is, twice as long as his list and I asked how we can be happy when the bad times caused by him so exceed the so-called good times…. the crumbs! You guess… he just discarded my list and labeled me as the negative and uncooperative spouse when he’s trying so hard to turn the tide. He refused to see how his abuse had caused no less than a tsunami which had been destroying everything on its path never to be rebuilt again…

  17. Tee3

    Thank you all for your comments. I’ve decided to tell my parents everything. I’m so glad for the family I have here. I really appreciate your patience and your comments. God bless you all.

  18. Anonymous

    Would we say that any motivation, deed, thought or action of Satan was “good?” Even when the evil one looked like an angel of light, was it because he was trying to do right? No! It was to somehow fool others and to glorify himself. Not one single thing done or thought by the devil is for anyone but himself and in his case, it’s to cause the most harm possible to others. People without a conscience come in many personalities. Some are charismatic some our quiet, some are perpetually looking for people to murder, some are just uber self-centered. BUT these people, like their father the devil, are 100 percent evil and selfish.

    Most of us who know the truth about them realize that any happiness or good that is remembered in the relationship with them was in spite of them. I now know that my husband and I did not share in the trials of life and marriage. We did not share our children’s successes and failures and in fact, he had set the children (and me) up to fail over and over and it was only through God’s grace that I was able (through Him) to provide them with a great education and other wonderful opportunities.

    So when I hear Jeff say that we should “toss” out the rest of the teachings of an evil servant, I wholeheartedly agree. Many evil ones become pastors and lecturers and just look at how LONG it took most of us to get to the point where we aren’t so confused and can see God and the truth through His word. If we’re so busy trying to pick out the truth of their teachings, knowing full well some of it are lies, we will run ourselves ragged. Also, if this fellow or lady is a person of God, when they’re contacted and shown the error of their teaching or they come to the truth through God’s word, they should THEMSELVES retract their errors and pull the books themselves or write a clarification of their new understandings. This is rarely done (except for Barb, that I know of). These people are described here in 2 Tim 3:6-8

    They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over gullible women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these teachers oppose the truth. They are men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected.

    I am grateful to no longer be one of these women who are unable to fully come to the truth. It means that there are a lot less people in my life and the books I trust to read are less as well. But what I gain in truth and wisdom from the Lord is far more valuable and done with LOVE for me. My mind and my soul have been able to heal and although it seems like I should be lonely, I find that peace and fulfillment come with safety through God’s truth, even when I have only my mind to retreat to (when I have to be in the presence of evil ones, as we all do at times).

    One last thought. If someone you loved was heading into a relationship with an evil one, would you feel that it was a good thing for them to spend any of their time, energy, love, mind and heart on a person who will never reciprocate this back to them and in fact will seek to harm them? Or would you not be horrified on their behalf? Would you not forewarn them out of love? Well, this is what God did for us when he wrote His word and it was mainly through wrong teaching, like the one Jeff describes, that kept us from seeing God’s truth. Once you’ve been shown this truth, even if one of your FAVORITE preachers has wrong teachings, it’s well worth it to get rid of all his stuff. Let’s face it, if all we’re left with at the end of the day is Gods word, are we not amply supplied?

  19. standsfortruth

    After so many years of abuse, and finally realizing that I was in an abuse cycle, my abuser afterwards would often try to hook me back in, asking me that question,
    “Not All the times were bad were they?”
    But in hindsight, I think he was trying to flatter himself (granting himself duping delight) -hoping I would still believe that he had “some” good intentions.
    Like others have mentioned, the “seemingly good times” were only a “set up” for the bad times to come.

  20. Anonymous

    I always saw it as the calm before the storm. You know, that eerie stillness that’s all around right before the tornado / hurricane / Tsunami hits!

  21. KayE

    Even my abuser effectively acknowledged that there weren’t any good times.The only people who maintain that delusion are a certain type of Christian. The ones who judge me for not being able to fix things and go back to that wonderful happy marriage which could only ever exist in their imagination.

  22. I even hear this from professionals involved in my situation as I go through the legal system, even my counsellor at the shelter said that we must have had good times. When I look back and recall his twist on everything I wonder why he even wanted to be in my presence – because according to him I was so evil. All through our relationship he told me that I would not even be with him if he worked at the local donut shop. He was implanting the thought in my mind that I was a gold digger when it was actually him that took financial advantage of me. You are so right, anything that was ‘nice’ was a trick or a lure to get me to trust and believe him, a set up.

    Thank you so much for speaking truth to us and validating our experiences. Sometimes I cry when I read your truths because it is truth that I so badly needed to hear and get my hands on. God is so good, I am so thankful for your website – I have lived with, slept in the same bed as and stared evil in the face most of the past 12 years of my life!! We separated this last year when he was arrested for assault.
    Toward the end of our relationship we went to a resort together, he didn’t speak to me for the first 4 days or the week we were there. I felt like someone grovelling for manure, there was nothing kind, nice, pleasant, enjoyable coming my way from him, I was there to care for the baby and stay out of his way.

    It is kind of shocking when I look back at how extensive the mind games were. Once he told me that he took everything two of his relatives did and said as a manipulation to get something from him or take advantage of him and I was to be careful and keep my distance. I now realize that he was only indicating the way he operates.

    I can see now how complete he was in knowing and intentionally being abusive – he had terrible, explosive rages and evil intentions and when I look back through old emails and text messages I see almost no evidence of this, he controlled what showed, I cannot find abusive emails and text messages!!! It was shocking when I realized this. Thank goodness I have my older kids as witnesses they lived in the home and exoeriened most of it along with me. He would love for me to doubt my sanity but my kids are young adults and they saw and heard way too much. They are smart, articulate and are speaking truth to professionals involved in our situation!! I always marvelled that he thought they were invisible/inconsequential but now it’s a reality check for him – they saw it all! They are talking now as well!

    Thank you, Thank you, Thank you for your ministry, boldness and commitment to truth, I am also really enjoying the sermon series you are posting on Sundays – truth is a soothing balm, a gift from God!

    (eds. note: some details removed to protect identity)

  23. Layla1111

    So true how the good times were often like being let out of a cage. My abuser, much like Sasanka’s would “reward” me by driving me around. However, if I said something wrong would speed home and order me out of the car. If I would not obey his order to get out of the car, he would jump out of the car, slam the door, and make a scene by pacing around in a huff and then return to the car ordering me out.

    In the past year before I left him, things got really bad with him tightening the control to the point where he became enraged that I expressed the thought that it might be nice to take a day trip to the coast an hour away to walk around and get a change of scenery. He told me that I had not earned the right to THINK that thought! And became enraged. At that point, I had just had it. It is so scary but that is really their goal is to get you to become passive. They are appalled when they figure out that you dare to have desires. That and all the hissy fits he threw constantly. Often accusing me of doing EXACTLY what he was doing. Eventually, the “good times” just become a rare special occassion that they don’t ruin. etc.

  24. 3blossommom

    It really is so difficult to comprehend this kind of evil. My stbx set me up for 7 years in the last abuse cycle. All the while he was playing good, attentive, Christian, homeschool dad and husband with the public and his children. How evil must someone be to be planning evil for 7 years while covering it with “good”? And there were smaller cycles within that big set up. I can’t believe I slept next to him while he was planning and acting on his plans. I willingly gave myself to someone who’s intentions toward me were always evil.

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