A Cry For Justice

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

A Godly Abuser? Really? — a reblog from MyOnlyComfort by Ps Sam Powell

Ps Sam Powell recently submitted an excellent comment on our post Examples of the Wicked Things “Christians” are Telling Abuse Victims. He also put his comment as a post on his blog My Only Comfort which we are reblogging so our readers who may have not seen his comment have the opportunity to read it.

***

I recently read this comment on “A Cry for Justice“:

You would be amazed at how many pastors in thriving ministries abuse their wives, are involved in pornography or other sexual sins. Men of God are not perfect.

Really?

I continue to be astounded at these kinds of things. A “godly pastor who abuses his wife” is a lot like saying “a reprobate Christian” a “square circle”, or “waterless water”. It makes no sense.

Since Christians are the salt of the earth, it is no wonder that words have become meaningless in our society. Postmodernism isn’t just something that “others” believe. It started right in the church! If this statement is true: “a godly minister who abuses his wife” , then words have no meaning. If a man can self-identify as a Christian even though he has all the marks of the devil, then how can we protest if a man wants to self-identify as a woman? Isn’t it the same thing?

But if we want to uphold reality, we have to say, “No; you are a man. You have all the parts of a man, and your self-identity is false.”

Don’t we then also have to say, “No. You are not a godly man. You are not a Christian. You have all the parts of a son of Belial. Your self-identity is false”

The bible says that a reviler and a drunkard will not inherit eternal life

Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. (1Co 6:10 KJV)

It can’t say it any clearer. You can be one or the other. Christians inherit eternal life. Revilers do not. Therefore, revilers are not Christians. Pretty simple syllogism. If you revile your wife and kids, if you drink and hit your wife and children, if you sexually abuse human beings made in God’s image YOU ARE NOT A CHRISTIAN! Flee from the wrath to come. Do not be deceived. The wrath of God is coming because of these exact things!

The same evil exists in these statements:
“He’s working on his marriage.”
“He’s trying to change.”

Ugh. Why are these statements acceptable? Would we use them with a murderer?

“He’s working on not killing people.”

“He’s working on not raping and pillaging.”

“He’s working on not robbing liquor stores and gunpoint.”
I once knew of a man who was confronted by his church for his adulterous relationship and he said, “Can I taper off?” Why is this any different. You don’t “work on not abusing your wife!” I can’t believe I have to even write that!!!!!

The fact is this: You are either a Christian or you are not. You are either a child of the devil or a child of God. You don’t “work on it”. You either are or not!

In the words of Yoda, “There is no try. Do. Or do not.” (I can’t believe I just quoted Yoda. How sad is it that Yoda is wiser than so many church leaders!)

Please remember this. Jesus came to give you rest. You should be safe and at rest at home and in the church. If you are not, please flee and join with the people of God.

 

50 Comments

  1. freeatlast8

    I would expect that an abuser who has turned to Christ might still have slip-ups in his behavior. I think that someone who has been abusive for many years would, on occasion, still rant, yell, curse, vent, etc., (presumably on a lessening scale). It seems to me some old behaviors die hard, and the abuser may have to work out his sanctification just like any other sinner would. I’m not trying to give the abuser an excuse to keep abusing, I’m just realizing anyone who has walked a path of sin for years might need time to become the new creation. I am a new creation, but I realize there are areas that have not been worked out completely in my own life even after 25+ years. Aren’t we expecting too much to think an abuser can be changed in an instant?

    • ContextPerception

      In short, NO. Zacheus knew when he met Christ to stop extorting and make reparation. A liar knows to stop lying and fix things. A murderer knows to stop murdering, all the way through the ten commands.
      IF, if, someone is truly sorry for their SIN, they turn away from it. Either you seriously want Christ or you don’t, you just want to look like a sheep, you want – as Pastor Powell said – to slowly stop … in a hundred years or so
      Abuse is not a white lie(which is still a lie btw) abuse is murder.

      • freeatlast8

        I understand what you’re saying. However, what do you make of a Christian who is extremely obese? They are obviously struggling with a sin of overindulgence or gluttony. They know they are heavy, but they still walk in the sin, sometimes for life. Does that make them not a Christian? Sinning against oneself is just as much a sin, I would think, as sinning against another person.

        Zacchaeus did make amends, but do you think it’s possible he may have not had a perfect walk afterwards? We are not told, we just assume that he went on and did not sin again. Peter professed his faith in Christ strongly, and then turned on Christ. David and Solomon and Moses had their sins, as well. So even those strong in the faith can still battle with the flesh. And we don’t write them off because of their failings.

        I’m not trying to be argumentative. I’m just trying to come to a place in my mind where I can be at peace with the struggle I have with this topic.

      • KayE

        I’ve only known one abusive person who changed, and it did happen overnight. He was a professing Christian but then he had a conversion experience and his genuine change in character was plain for everyone to see. He’d visibly become a new person and he never returned to his old ways at all. This is the kind of thing I’d be looking for in a previous hypocrite who has turned to Christ. Anything less and I personally won’t be convinced they’re genuine.
        Just incidentally, can I gently put in a word for those people who struggle with their weight? It’s a complex and difficult thing to have and it makes me feel uncomfortable for someone’s battle with obesity to be labelled as sin. I’m pretty sure that my being in a healthy weight range is more thanks to genetics than virtue!

      • Freeatlast8

        Please forgive my lack of thinking through that example in my former post. I was not necessarily thinking of obese people who have a genetic link to being overweight. I am speaking toward the obese person who knows full well he/she is overindulging and chooses to do so (the Bible refers to it as the sin of gluttony). Some might use the excuse of heredity to avoid dealing with the sin in cases where it was not a medical issue. (Not saying anyone is doing that here.) A similar thing would be a homosexual who knows he/she is sinning but would then say “I was born this way” to free him/herself from being accountable for their sinful sexual practice. And I know there can be arguments on all sides of that example, too, but as most of us here on this forum are probably believers, I don’t think there would be a high population of people of that mindset here.

        But back to the point I was originally trying to make, I suppose being tripped up by the old sin nature would not be surprising from time to time for someone coming out of any kind of sinful lifestyle. I did some reading up on “besetting sin” earlier this evening, and this seems to give a label to the kind of behavior I am talking about–slipping back in to the sin that we were formerly freed of.

        But I know my abuser never had a turn around in his behavior all the years I was with him, as much as I hoped he would. He was accountable to no one. He felt entitled as the head of the house and as the one “in charge” to manage the family as he saw fit. He said God gave him that position and gave him all our children to raise up. So that gave him (in his mind) the right and responsibility to do as he thought was right. Even with me pleading with him to not do the stuff he was doing. It angered him if I “interfered” so I just stopped getting involved. I felt angry to have to watch him behave the way he did toward the kids, and I was supposed to “allow” it and “submit” to his authority. Sometimes I’d blow up because it infuriated me to see him do what he did. It would not be pretty when that happened.

        On another note, I personally have had time on my own now to consider my own behavior and hope that I will not ever engage in the reactions and responses of my past to the abuse that went on in my home. I have asked God’s forgiveness, but the real proof of repentance is how I will act if/when I am ever put in to those kinds of situations again. I know I will not stand idly by and let it go on. 911 would become my best friend.

      • KayE

        I think if an abuser had truly changed they might still have a tendency to slip back into their old habits. But the difference would be that now they would have remorse about their bad behavior and be motivated to do something about it. Whereas before they couldn’t care less. A genuine Christian feels remorseful and repentant about those sins they struggle with, whether that’s gluttony, greed, sexual sin, selfishness,pride or whatever else. They do their best to put things right. A person who is just putting on a “Christian” act doesn’t have any regrets. They don’t bother to ask God for forgiveness because they don’t believe they need to be forgiven, they are confident they haven’t done anything wrong.
        I was brought up to take people at face value when they claimed to be Christian. It took me a long, long time to open my eyes to the fact that my abuser couldn’t possibly have a genuine Christian faith.
        It shouldn’t have taken so long. I used to visit my grandmother when I was a college student. Out of the blue one day she started telling me how abusive and controlling my grandfather had been. He’d always been highly involved in church, and he’d always treated her badly. Even so, she hadn’t realized the full extent of his deception until after he died. I remember how clearly she said, “he was a liar’ and “he wasn’t a Christian”.
        At the time I thought, how could she know that? And now I’m thinking, why did it take me so long to understand?

    • Abby

      Matthew 22:36-40New International Version (NIV)

      36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

      37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

      It is my opinion that an abuser doesn’t follow either of the first two commandments. Therefore, he’s really not a Christian, but if you truly strive to follow the first two commandments and you sin a bit you still are a Christian. Humility and a correct conscience would be in place if you did. This is just my opinion, I don’t know if that is correct. Maybe Pastor Jeff can correct me if I’m wrong.

      • freeatlast8

        Yes, Abby. That sounds very reasonable and right to me.

    • tranquilskunk

      I don’t think it works like that. It’s not like stubbing your toe and releasing an expletive before catching yourself. Ranting, yelling, cursing, venting, etc from an abuser isn’t really spontaneous, but more part of his campaign to terrorize his targets. That’s why it only happens when there aren’t any witnesses who could intervene. If he can control it when he has an audience, he can shut it down for good and for all. For the abuser, the slip doesn’t come in the behavior, but in the sense of entitlement that the behavior is intended to enforce.

    • tranquilskunk

      Both eating and sex have a biological imperative. One doesn’t have to be an unbeliever to recognize that both food and sex serve our survival, either as individuals or as a species, and we know enough about neuroscience and the body’s chemistry now to see how someone can get caught in a disruptive feedback loop. Sins relating to carnal appetites suggest that somewhere along the way, the healthy human impulse got perverted, which is why it’s so incredibly difficult for a human to overcome those kinds of issues. Even for a sincere Christian, there may be lapses, times when they let go of God’s hand, and their repentance will be genuine.

      I’m not aware of a corresponding survival imperative for controlling another person. That impulse springs straight from the evil one, so when you choose to give your life to God and embrace goodness, what would be left in that place in your heart would be nothing but anguish over your sin, and empathy for the people you wronged.

      Consider gluttony. Eating too much is a part of it, but Paul condemned people for making their stomach their God. To me, that suggests it’s more about placing your pleasure in food above food’s proper place in your life. If you remember the Israelites escaping from Egypt, even though they were in God’s own hand, who freed them and provided for them, they lamented the loss of their luxuries, like melons, cucumbers, leeks, onions, good fish, and meat. They despised God’s good gifts, and the bible describes their desire for the old foods as a “lust.”

      Looked at from that perspective, nearly all Americans are gluttons — what nutritional value do Cheetos provide, or Mountain Dew? None, but they give us pleasure, we can luxuriate in the glow of eating an empty food that serves none of the purposes God intended for food, that weakens our bodies, and can make us fat. The obese, are not the only people in our culture treating food as the gastronomic equivalent to masturbation. (And as others above mentioned, obesity isn’t necessarily caused by eating significantly more than others. It may be that the person’s body simply doesn’t know how to properly convert food to energy, say after generations of famine, it starts by storing significant amounts of food coming in to fat, and releasing less to energy for immediate use.)

      • Hi Tranquilskunk, I edited your comment a little, I hope you don’t mind.

        Regarding eating for reasons other than hunger and nutrition, I had bulimia for many many years. I had it badly at times, and the really bad periods occurred both before and after my conversion. I even remember practising bulimia right in the initial few days of my meeting Christ. You could perhaps say that it was (for me) a besetting sin.
        I used bulimia to self-medicate in the same way that those who have emotional problems and suppressed memories of trauma might sometimes use alcohol or illicit drugs to self-medicate.

        It was not an easy habit to break. It took years and year of multiply strategies to bring it down. I would not even claim that I could not be bulimic again. But I can say that the incidents have been rare over the last few years and the intervals between incidents seem to be getting longer. Maybe I will never do it again, but I can’t say for sure.

        The strategies that helped me were: counseling, reading, self-reflection and mutual support with others who had struggles, all of which, with the help of God, uncovered to me and helped me process emotions and memories I’d been suppressing, in particular the memory of sexual abuse I suffered as a child. Practising the strategies of good mental health management: getting enough sleep; keeping short accounts with God and with others where possible (e.g. confessing my sin, telling the truth, resisting the temptation to take vengeance); practising self discipline to not act or speak so impulsively; learning how to forgive and affirm myself rather than go into benders of self-recrimination; becoming more assertive where appropriate; leaning better doctrine and studying the Bible with prayer and courage so I could cut through lies and distortions of the Word. That’s just some of the things which helped me.

      • tranquilskunk

        Hi Barbara, thanks for the edits. Once I hit post, I realized I was unhappy about how it sounded in my head, but it was too late to fix. You’ve made the changes I wish I had.

        I’m so sorry for your history with bulimia. I can relate, a little. As a chubby high schooler, I lived for about a year on chewing gum and water, except when forced to eat to be polite, and it gave me a feeling of power, of control over my life that I’d never had before. It’s strange to think of going to be excited about the weight I’m going to lose tomorrow, but that was my daily bread that year. I eventually gave up not eating, and over the years, I’ve gained back the weight I lost that year, at the cost of having spent my entire adult life feeling fat, regardless of the scale or what people tell me. I’m always looking back at old pictures; in the oldest, I see a waif-like woman who looks much younger than I know her to have been, with slender limbs and lovely curves, and think, “How could I not have seen my looks for what they were?” I never went back to eschewing food altogether, but food may always feel like an enemy.

  2. Suzanne

    This is so clear and so well written. I am keeping it because it’s the perfect answer to those who contend we must tolerate the abuse of the innocent while “loving” sinners into the kingdom. It untwists the twisted thinking that so often passes for Christian belief today.

  3. H

    Thanks for the insight. I remember as a young Christian reading those types of passages (1 Cor 6:10 and others) that list people who cannot inherit the kingdom of God, and doing mental gymnastics to put myself in the words and see it as a rebuke or reminder to flee sin and pursue holiness. After all, even though I am not a “thief” or a “murderer” or an “adulterer” outright, I have the root cause of those evils deep in my heart, right? So I over-spiritualized the message to apply it to myself.

    It is only now after years of abuse that I am reading those words in the plain meaning and understanding it. It’s so clear! How could I not see it before? Now when my abuser tries to tell me that I abuse HIM, or that it is I who is not a Christian and he is one, or that the problems between us are from BOTH of us, I can honestly look at those passages and say to him, are you crazy? You cannot read? I am not one of those people and I do not do those things. I’m far from sinless, but I don’t do those things! And you do them. Beware!

  4. Better Equipped

    Awesome wisdom! Thank you for being a true godly voice and an advocate for the oppressed and for righteousness. I am so saddened and angered by Christian platitudes used to protect wolves and make even more vulnerable the victims – I’m thinking particularly for those in these kinds of marriages. Hope is one’s greatest strength and light at the end of the tunnel, but these platitude-mouthed Christians snuff it out.

    I often post these articles from A Cry for Justice on my FB, but never get any ‘likes’ from my Christian friends. I find that interesting …

    • Better Equipped

      … my hope is that SOMEONE will identify with the truth and be led to move forward with wisdom, courage, and the Help of Almighty God.

  5. Lost

    All I can say is…I LOVE reading this!!!! And thank you!!! Great comments, too. What a great, great comfort it is to be reading on this blog.

  6. Crazy Is Catching

    The part that really struck me was about the abuser having a false self identity. In looking back, I now understand why some of the things that he’d say to me were so confusing for me. He’d often tell me that everybody likes him, that he gets along with everybody. He also said that a women at work told him that she wishes that she had a husband like him. I found those statements so confusing because my experience of him was very different from theirs. At one time, I thought that I needed to be committed because nothing in my world made sense to me. Now I know, his self identity, and his experience of himself, is false.

    • Anne

      Crazy is Catching, I know exactly what you mean. For years, people have told me how lucky I am to be married to him. That he’s so funny, sweet, thoughtful, patient, kind, caring … on and on. And I’d think, “who are you taking about, could it be the same man?” Because the husband I know is rarely any of those things, the father the kids know is not that man.

      From there, I eventually internalized the idea that it had to be me making him that way because if he could be kind and sweet, etc, etc, to everyone else, then it couldn’t be him. It had to be me doing something wrong to cause it. To the point that I did feel crazy, woke up crying most days, hating myself, that I just couldn’t get it right, be a person who didn’t make her husband an impatient, annoyed, frustrated man each and every day, each time she opened her mouth or did anything. It was always the wrong thing.

      It still is, but I finally understand it is not me. It’s him.

      • freeatlast8

        Anne, you just described my everyday experience with my husband. I couldn’t understand why he just couldn’t seem to be happy with me. I know I didn’t do everything right, and neither did he, but I didn’t go around angry at him all the time because he wasn’t helping with the kids, helping around the house, taking kids places, doing stuff other dads do. I may have recognized those things, but I didn’t voice them, and I didn’t treat him badly because he didn’t do those things. I totally felt guilty all the time, blaming myself for his bad mood. It was such a defeating way to live. I found Leslie Vernick’s book How to Act Right When Your Spouse Acts Wrong and also started reading up on personality disorders. It took me forever to come to terms with the idea that maybe it wasn’t me, but him. Or better said, it was both. But up until that point, I had only thought it must be me.

      • Crazy Is Catching

        Yes, Anne! Exactly the same here. How lucky I am! How much he adores me and the kids! (really??? seriously??) And then I can’t seem to see it that way and I wonder if I’ve failed. It is crazy making. My youngest child says he’s evil (this is coming from a preteen). Part of me would think that surely he’s not evil and wonder if I’ve influenced my child in some way to think that and maybe I’m the evil one. It can really mess with a person’s head.

        His latest thing is to leave newspaper or magazine articles casually laying around. The articles are always along the lines of poor parenting, wives who don’t appreciate their husbands, etc.

      • Anne

        Mine doesn’t leave articles around, Crazy Is Catching … that must be awful.

        But he did finally give himself away to outsiders recently. Preparing for dear daughter’s wedding, he missed no opportunity to make me feel small and stupid … But one phone conversation when I was in one location and he another, he either didn’t notice or didn’t care there were two friends of dear daughter’s in the room with him when he spoke to me.

        They were absolutely shocked and they didn’t know what to do with what they’d heard. They talked to dear daughter about it and were trying so hard not to say anything bad about him (sweet Christian young ladies, trying to believe best of everyone), but dd set them straight, that this could not be spun in a way to let him off the hook, that no matter how great a facade they had seen up till then, what they heard was the reality we lived when behind closed doors.

        DD said they had great difficulty processing it and were really devastated by it. But she wouldn’t let them make excuses for it and made them face what our reality as a family really is. I am so grateful for such a lovely, supportive child.

      • Lost

        Ditto to the things you stated. Thanks for explaining it. To see someone else (and countless others on here) write what I go thru proves to me this is indeed my reality. I’ll die if I stay and my kids will have no chance to see anything healthy. No matter the cost, I have to leave (in whatever legal way possible) and never turn back (in every way possible.)

    • freeatlast8

      What’s even more crazy, Crazy Is Catching, is that I have said to my abuser the things you said yours said to you (How is that for crazy…if you can even understand what I just said? LOL)! For instance, I know that I know that I have/had no problems with anyone other than my ex. I have lots of friends, and get along with all of them. He was the only person I had trouble with. But he said I was the problem. My husband was also well-liked and well thought of by everyone (but he had very few of his own friends or other people close to him except for me). So we both were liked and admired, but together each of us could say to the other, “You MUST be the problem.” So WHO WAS THE PROBLEM?????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • Crazy Is Catching

        Freeatlast8,

        I understand exactly what you’re saying 🙂 I’m guessing that when you say that you have/had no problems with anyone, you’ve done some serious self reflection, prayer, and soul searching and that you want to truly know if you’re the problem. If your husband is like mine, he brags about everybody liking him and other women liking him and is not willing to honestly self reflect. Otherwise, wouldn’t he realize that he’s being hurtful and manipulative and that he cannot possibly believe that he’s behaving in a way that’s conducive to gaining respect and friendship. (I don’t know if I’m saying this very well…) But you would think that a person who abuses his family would eventually realize that if others outside the family knew what he was doing, they would have no respect or like for him??

  7. freeatlast8

    Can we discuss this thought? “His self identity and his experience of himself, is false.” Please elaborate. Trying to understand exactly what that means.

    • Crazy Is Catching

      Freeatlast8, to me it means that he sees himself as a perfect man, great father, wonderful husband. In his own eyes, he’s all those things. He’s experiencing himself in a way that is totally opposite of how I experience him. And since I crawl inside his head and know exactly what he’s thinking, I don’t really know him except for how I experience him which is grumpy, selfish, abusive words, etc. To himself, he’s perfect and I’m the problem. To me, knowing I’m an imperfect person, he’s an abuser. I hope that makes sense.

      • Anne

        BINGO!!!

    • Anne

      I think I understand what Crazy is Catching is saying with that idea. With my husband, the facade the world sees, that everyone sees all the time, is this wonderful, stereotypical “Christian husband and father”. He believes that is who he is and nothing I’ve ever said to him about the hurt he’s caused me has penetrated that facade enough that he shows any real change of heart or inner man. He has done some superficial things that look really good to those outside looking in, but those of us on “the inside” know they are done for show. Maybe not even always consciously on his part, but it’s pretty obvious it’s not a heart change. But because of things he’s said, he believes these outward things show he’s a better Christian and example than we are. He hits all the legalistic stuff so much better than we do, he shows this fabulous facade to the outside world … and it’s like the way he’s treated his wife and kids doesn’t count as his reality or against him in any way, his facade covers it. He can be cold and harsh to us and then turn around in the same breath and be super nice to a church person, client or stranger. Or the opposite. Super nice to outsiders, and then for no apparent reason, be cold and nasty to us. “What did I do in 5 seconds to make that happen” is the only conclusion one can come to. There were times when I seriously thought I was crazy, should go to the hospital and be committed, or that I was having a mental breakdown.

      • freeatlast8

        Anne, I can remember having guests over to our house and we’d all have a good time. But after the last guest left and the door closed behind him, my ex would turn. Something would happen and he would start being “himself.” He would become edgy, irritable, demanding. “Let’s get this place in order; you kids need to go to bed; we’ve had enough for this day.” These words sound legitimate, but his tone and demeanor was not nice and friendly like he’d just shone to the guests. It was like an angry boss. Sometimes he’d start criticizing something about the evening or the guests. It would put a damper on the whole experience for me.

      • Crazy Is Catching

        Does anybody else tend to obsess about the verbal/emotional abuse? It’s always inside my head, maybe not at the forefront, but swirling around in there.

        I didn’t realize how the VA/EA colored my world, until a counselor recommended that I read Lundy Bancroft’s book. Once I started reading, I actually felt much better because I could put a name on it and recognize some of his behaviors.

        It’s embarrassing to admit how much I “adapted” to life with my husband, but I’ll do it anyway. For example, I would not drink a Diet Coke because I knew that he’d kinda of laugh/smile and shake him head, so I would order water. I wouldn’t put as much dressing on my salad as I’d want because he liked to tell folks that he doesn’t use salad dressing. I would worry when I got my hair cut, wondering if it’s too short for him. I’ve since changed a lot of that behavior. I eat/drink what I want and when I want it. However, I still try to stay out his way as much as I can. As I type this, it even reads crazy to me!! It’s so covert and stealthy.

        And at times, I STILL question myself. I wonder if it ever really goes away?

      • Hi Crazy is Catching
        When I was starting to come out of the fog, I read an account by one victim who said “My head is cabbaged with him.” That summed it up for me. I totally get what you are saying.

      • Anonymous

        Replying to Crazy Is Catching and freeatlast8,
        There’s a “slideshare” titled “RED FLAGS TO NARCISSISTIC PERSONALITY DISORDER (NPD) COMPILED BY JENI MAWTER How does a relationship that feels so right … go so wrong? NPD WARNING SIGNS IGNORE AT YOUR PERIL

        I found it to be a great way of explaining how we came to be in this relationship and why we feel like we do–what you’ve described in you comments. Hope it helps!

        [ Note from Barb: We are publishing this link with a couple of caveats:
        (1) The slideshare uses the term ‘enabler’ for the victim, a term which we think is best avoided because it can convey the idea of victim-blaming.
        (2) The term NPD is used perhaps too loosely at times by those who are people who aren’t clinical health professionals. Personally, I encourage people to call abusers abusers, or to use terms like malignant narcissism, or covertly aggressive personality.
        For clinicians, the term NPD has very specific diagnostic criteria, and I believe it’s best if we lay-people respect that. Many abusers might not meet the criteria for a diagnosis of NPD, but it would be safe to describe them as malignant narcissists, or covertly aggressive personalities. ]

      • For those who are interested, here is my post which explains more about why we are not comfortable with the term ‘enabler’:

        https://cryingoutforjustice.com/2015/12/28/parched-for-truth-dehydrated-victims-appreciate-any-water-but-its-better-to-give-them-pure-rather-than-muddy-water/

    • Good topic to raise, freeatlast8.

      I think that it’s sometimes hard to be sure what an abuser’s self identity and experience of himself is. The double minded man is unstable in all his ways. The word ‘ways’ suggests his behaviour, but I think it could also include his self-concept, self-identity, experience of himself.

      It’s like trying to solve a conundrum. Bancroft talks about how all abusers know what they are doing (that they’re abusing their partners intentionally). And / But sometimes they seem to believe their own lies — the false-identity lie: I’m Mr Nice Guy. They have often so habituated their lies and image-management that it seems like they do it automatically, so it seems like they believe they really are decent individuals.

      In my experience, it’s an endless labyrinth trying to figure out how much an abuser believes his own lies. And it’s a monumental waste of time.

    • Anonymous

      From the book, “Without Conscience,” by Dr. Robert Hare:

      “The {psychopath} is unfamiliar with the primary facts or data of what might be called personal values and is altogether incapable of understanding such matters. It is impossible for him to take even a slight interest in the tragedy or joy or the striving of humanity as presented in serious literature or art. He is also indifferent to all these matters in life itself. Beauty and ugliness, except in a very superficial sense, goodness, evil, love, horror, and humor have no actual meaning, no power to move him. He is, furthermore lacking in the ability to see that others are moved. It is as though he were color-blind, despite his sharp intelligence, to this aspect of human existence. It cannot be explained to him because there is nothing in his orbit of awareness that can bridge the gap with comparison. He can repeat the words and say glibly that he understands, and there is no way for him to realize that he does not understand.”

      From the book, “Manufacturing Social Distress: Psychopathy in Everyday Life,”
      By Robert W. Rieber:

      “In essence, the psychopath adopts an inner psychological posture in which the “me” and the “not me” are not distinguished. Accordingly, psychopaths can shift from one identity to another without experiencing inner conflicts….By the same token, the psychopath’s experience of others is correspondingly impoverished. Anyone that is not “me” is devalued, considered only as a means to various ends,,,,,,,,They are not social, only superficially gregarious; not considerate, just polite; not self-respecting, only vain, not loyal, only servile and down deep they are really quite shallow. In a word, they are fundamentally asocial beings…..Indeed, since like the devil psychopaths are inherently asocial; they are difficult to comprehend within the confines of ordinary human morality….like Lucifer,…is incapable of forming any relationship to God or to humans.” This author is not a Christian.

  8. Sarah

    Is the obese person trying to destroy the people around them like the abuser? The argument is a non-issue at that point. Who is their father? One who kills steals and destroys? Or One who is humble and loves?

  9. Annie

    Now that I’m out of the fog I don’t believe he believes his lies. He knows I know he’s a liar and phony. And he resents that I know. Which is why the last few years he’s increased his efforts to make me look bad in front of the kids and others.

  10. freeatlast8

    Totally underrated that, Crazy is Catching. When I went into counseling after I left, everything I said to the counselor had my ex’s voice attached to it. I would say something and then say…”but my ex would say…” The counselor told me to start thinking for myself and leave ex out of it.

    When ex and I would go out in the car, if he got out for gas or something, I would turn on the radio. But as soon as he started coming back to the car, I would turn the radio off because the music might irritate him. If I liked a certain preacher, ex would say he was no good. If I liked a sermon, ex would criticize it…so I got to where I didn’t even want to comment on anything or verbalize my own ideas because he might be upset with me for differing, or else think I was dumb or deceived or illogical or whatever. If I heard him get up, I’d run to do some laundry so he wouldn’t be mad that I was on the internet. If I needed to call someone I’d go in the garage or outside so he wouldn’t see me on the phone.

    The kids and I used to watch a weekly program that ex did not like. If we heard him coming, sometimes we would turn it off. Or, we would tape it and watch it when he was not home. It was not a bad show at all. It’s just that he didn’t like it.

    I find if I was agreeable to his desires or to his viewpoint we could talk. I’d even sit there while he spoke disparagingly about someone just so I could have some of his time. The sad thing is I would sometimes join in because he’d have me believing what he said in a matter of minutes. If his boss was bad, I didn’t like his boss anymore. If the neighbor had a mess in his yard, he was a lazy pig and I’d be mad at my neighbor. But later I’d realize how wrong that is and realize I like my neighbor even if ex didn’t. The accusations and observations ex would make at times would be true, but I saw that everything was laced in self righteousness, condescension, and smugness. I hated what I would stoop to just to have his company. Yuck!

    • Lost

      Ditto….EXACTLY the same with my STBXH. Id eventually jump on board with him and then guess what?…eventually he’d abandon his first thoughts that he sold me on AND then he’d oppose them. Leaving me like the jerk all on my own and even shaming me about them.

      Anyone go through that, too?

      • I’m sure I’ve heard other survivors say that. Just can’t remember where now, but i’m sure I’ve heard it from several women.

      • Anne

        Here’s one instance I remember of something like that. Our old washing machine and dryer were going to need to be replaced. I just wanted newer versions of the top loader washer and basic dryer we had.

        Every time we talked about it, he pushed to get a front loading HE washer … uses less water, more efficient, we could stack both pieces and he could put a laundry tub in for me, yadda, yadda yadda. He finally convinced me and I was still surprised he wanted one as they are so much more expensive than the basic washer I originally wanted. But he made me feel stupid for wanting something so old fashioned and wasteful of water.

        But once I was onboard, I let myself get excited, hoped I could pick my color, was thinking how much easier it would be to load and unload. Was happy to think I’d be able to soak things in my new laundry tub, etc.

        We go shopping finally. And guess what? Front loader is too expensive. They’re too big to stack and won’t fit in our laundry room. (He’s in the building trade so blueprints, building, fitting things is what he does and does well) He implied that I always wanted him to spend more money, go with the expensive things.

        We go shopping again and we get new, smart top loading washer/ dryer set. I get to pick, except I don’t because we had to go to the store where he liked the salesman and they didn’t have the brand I wanted. To be fair, the brand we got was comparable and I was trying to be agreeable, compromise, show I was able to be flexible. So I was ok with what we got, even though it was not my first choice.

        But I was worried. All the new top loaders have very deep drums and I’m not tall. Reaching in, trying to get things from bottom is very hard for me. Couldn’t we find some way to fit front loader? No.

        Well, fast forward to now. New machines work well. They are nice.

        But it hurts me to grab the laundry out of the bottom of tub, I have to lean in with my feet off the floor to reach, hanging on the side.

        They reversed the order of the machines and left the side the doors were on at the factory default when they were installed. I asked husband to have them put in the way the old set were and with the doors going the same direction as the old doors so I could most easily move wet laundry to dryer and remove dry laundry in our tiny laundry room. I was told that the workmen installed hundreds of sets, they knew what they were doing (implying I did not) and would put them in in the best way.

        Yup, best for them so they didn’t have to put on a longer water hose to the washer and didn’t have to move door hinges on one unit from the factory default side. Saving them about 15 – 20 minutes of work and giving me a difficult time EVERY time I do laundry. Husband never does laundry. Ever. Yes, all worked out for best. /sarc

        But if I complain, what the heck is wrong with me, so selfish, so demanding, just got brand new, expensive machines, always want more, never satisfied.

      • KayE

        Yes that happened to me.In hindsight I realize this is a man who probably doesn’t have authentic thoughts about anything, he just says what’s going to bring him maximum advantage at the time.

      • standsfortruth

        Yes Freeatlast8, and Lost, my abuser did the same thing, and I found myself dancing the same dance just to cope with that style of life.
        It is a darned if you do, and darned if you dont position to be in.
        I even relate to the hiding out to make a phone call, because the abuser will make that look bad too. Its like living a double life with an abuser.
        But isnt it amazing how they manage to continuously hijack your thoughts to be focused on how they might react to something that you may choose to do.
        This was a catch 22 position I found myself in durring most of my marriage.

        When talking to various lawyers and therapy professionals I found that most could not appreciate my telling them how my abuser might respond to what I would like to do, when asked.
        Although the professionals saw these valid concerns as a stumbling block, I had to consider how my abuser might respond, because outsmarting him (my abuser) became my only stradegy.
        (Since I lived with him so long, I knew how he would think.)
        But with my much improved second lawyer, even though he advised me to seek counseling after the divorse, “He actually listened, and considered my reasons for wanting the divorce”, which was mainly to protect myself from any avenues of future abuse.
        He was perplexed that I did not want to fight for the minor teens that were already set in their ways of disrespecting me, the youngest of the teens being the worst, fully skilled in the covert abusive ways of his father.
        Why would I want to fight for that?
        But this lawyer understood, and agreed, commenting “Where do you let an 800 pound gorilla sleep?” (Wherever it wants) He got it.
        For me to fight for equal parenting time with these teens when they already prefer his lax style of parenting at this point would be like jumping from the frying pan of abuse into the fire.
        (Since durring the marriage my concerns for the children were continuously undermined and invalidated)
        However I can visit them on my non work days if I want. (Which i do)
        I also had my lawyer request a fairly low amount of alimony that was primarily “set for the purpose” of keeping my abuser from coming in afterwards and demanding child support from me. ( by keeping the alimony door open)
        (Considered ” non modifiable alimony” except for the condition #1 if any of the minor children came to stay with me, or #2, if the ex-husband should ever request any future child support from me.
        This way my ex knows if he ever trys to do either if these two things, I can legally request more alimony from him.

        I had a “really bad flat rate” First time – divorce lawyer that did not listen to me and capitulated to my husbands lawyer every time in and out of court, and eventually like my enemy he was working against me.
        In the end-I refused to sign a bad proposal to compromise my position, so he withdrew from representing me after almost a year.
        That was a blessing, because he was awful and an enabler to my husbands lawyers wishes.
        Yes, bad lawyers are out there, but dont be afraid to let them go, and search for a good one.
        Look for one that listens to you and cares and has know how.
        I finally found one in my hourly rate second lawyer, but I also got a discount using legal sheild.
        There are free legal services also if you qualify.
        Dont be afraid, God will be with you.

    • Crazy Is Catching

      Freeatlast8,

      Your post made me giggle about hearing him get up and running to do the laundry so you don’t get caught on the internet. I do the same thing!!! I can be looking on my phone and if I hear him coming, I’ll put in down because i don’t want to answer questions about what I’m doing. Some days after work, I’ll come home and just lay down for a few minutes to decompress, but I set my alarm for about 5 minutes before he gets home because I feel guilty about resting!!

      • Estelle

        Crazy is Catching, you need your rest when you get home from work so you can handle the rest of the day. Setting your alarm is a survival tactic. I hope one day you’ll be able to put your feet up for as long as you wish.

  11. Lost

    Great discussion here. Thanks, Crazy is Catching and others. Yes same things here. We’d have awesome times with others and when we got home I was immediately stonewalled/excluded from daily life at home, eventually accused of something in a very twisted way, etc etc. He’d be super friendly and very engaged with the kids. This was hurtful and humiliating. Not to mention the message the kids get of how to treat mommy. Awful just awful. When I look back over the time with others that seemed so good I can see some signs now.
    I’m divorcing him right now. Not looking back. This is years of abuse and cycle of it. I’m done. Every time I see y’all writing these things I’m so relieved because this tells me what I’m going through is real! I’m done blaming myself and trying to figure things out. It’s over

    And yes the abusive things he’s said like threats, character attacks, manipulations about things of my childhood, vile names over the many years… I hear them often. No more will I have people in my life that abuse me, name call, manipulate. As soon as I see it, you’re out! No time…the ones that love me aren’t the ones who abuse me. Those two things DONT EVER to together.

    I’m living well now. Is hard with little resources and a lot against me but it’s worth it!!!! Every bit!!! I DONT DESERVE TO BE ABUSED OR TO TURN INTO HIM! And let me tell you I’ve already started reacting to him in the same was he treats me! Well guess what? Not ever again. And if living well is revenge like some say then he’s in for it in that sense because I’m committed to never turning back.

    I KNOW who I am. I want to LIVE. I want to live with standards like respect, honesty, authentic love, freedom, responsibility, structure, genuinely good times without manipulation and control, growth, knowing God for who He is and NOTHING made up by man, healthy relationships, etc etc etc

    I’m done with the monster in my marriage an for once I can say it is NOT me. NEVER has been. And I know it’s true %100.

  12. Anne

    Crazy is Catching, I wanted to say a few things about some of your posts that I didn’t get to mention before. It’s really amazing how all these men are cut from the same cloth, that we could be married to the same guy!

    Your remark about the salad dressing made me say … oh yes, me too! You see, H does the same thing, as if it’s some kind of virtue to eat salad dry or almost dry. I’m sorry … no wait, I’m NOT sorry. I LIKE salad dressing. But for years, I either use less than I want so as not to get comments about “drowning” my salad or feel guilty about using enough to make my taste buds happy!

    And the diet coke too. I almost always get water in restaurants because he does. Diet coke costs money. The water is free.

    AND the making sure he never sees you having down time or you get that look that says … “I work so hard and look at you, just laying around, implication, you’re lazy, I’m not.” I could have just worked a 12 hour day at work (and I do once a week) and I hear … “well, I do that all the time, multiple times a week.”

    Well, guess what, I do too. I work outside the home, not full time, only 20 – 30 hrs a week, plus all household tasks, (laundry, cleaning, cooking, etc) so my days are long too. But I rarely just sit down and take a break because I will be “guilted” for it.

    If I do sit down and put on the tv or go on the computer after a full day at home or work or both (when he’s not home to see me), as soon as I hear his car, I turn off the tv, jump up, go away and find something to wash, straighten or fix so I Iook busy when he walks in, just to avoid being made to feel guilty for taking a break.

    And, FreeatLast8, the tv show thing … so much he doesn’t approve of. When we hear him coming, we know the drill … quick change the channel to something “approved” or turn off and scatter … and find something to do to look busy … see paragraph above! Lol.

    And yes, since my eyes were opened to the abuse Crazy is Catching, all that I’ve read and learned is often swirling around my head, not always in the front, but there. And I have conversations in my head about it … what I really want to say to him, what I’d like to say to make people understand my reality. I get sick of it sometimes. Just want to find healing and “normal” so I can let it all go. I know I’ll get there someday, but it’s often exhausting now. Just can’t shut my brain down … in addition to living with the abuse, I now have the knowledge of that abuse so both things are in my head as I’m not always totally “out of the fog” yet.

  13. For My Daughter's Sake

    I love your article!! and LOVE all these points:

    But if we want to uphold reality, we have to say, “No; you are a man. You have all the parts of a man, and your self-identity is false.”
    Don’t we then also have to say, “No. You are not a godly man. You are not a Christian. You have all the parts of a son of Belial. Your self-identity is false”
    It can’t say it any clearer. You can be one or the other…If you revile your wife and kids, if you drink and hit your wife and children, if you sexually abuse human beings made in God’s image YOU ARE NOT A CHRISTIAN!”
    The fact is this: You are either a Christian or you are not. You are either a child of the devil or a child of God. You don’t “work on it”. You either are or not!
    In the words of Yoda, “There is no try. Do. Or do not.” (I can’t believe I just quoted Yoda. How sad is it that Yoda is wiser than so many church leaders!)

    What profoundly clear and obvious points!!!

    I believe our conscience tells us these absurdly obvious points, and then religious people try and twist their view of the abuser into what they want to believe about him, based on his outward behavior and his manipulations of the truth and then those religious people impose guilt on us, and they confuse us by their twisted confused interpretations of lies.

    I love your Yoda example, and I’m not even a Star Wars fan! it shows how even the worldly, understand these basics of the human experience…

    Bad guys do bad things
    Manipulators, manipulate

    It’s like the legalistic religious want to lump an abuser, who has already professed to be a believer, into the category of the newly converted Christian, who never knew the truth, and has been converted, and now turns from their previous life, in exchange for the new life of the Christian walk. When we are talking about oxymorons like “Christian Abuser’ we are talking about people who have already been exposed to the truth, and have professed to be believers, and are denying the very truth they already said they understood.
    “To whom much is given, much more is expected”- The are without excuse.

    Liars are Liars
    Rebprobates behave like reprobates
    Pharisees Pharisee
    Wolves Wolf 😉
    Abusers Abuse

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