A Cry For Justice

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

The Cruelty of the Abuser

For their rock is not as our Rock; our enemies are by themselves. For their vine comes from the vine of Sodom and from the fields of Gomorrah; their grapes are grapes of poison; their clusters are bitter; their wine is the poison of serpents and the cruel venom of asps. (Deut 32:31-33)

Whoever is righteous has regard for the life of his beast, but the mercy of the wicked is cruel. (Prov 12:10)

Cruelty. Think about that word. All of us at one time or another have hurt someone else, causing them some kind of pain. Before we knew Christ, perhaps we even did so intentionally. Intentionally. There it is. Cruelty is the intentional infliction of pain or suffering upon another person or an animal. The definition must continue: Cruelty is the intentional infliction of pain or suffering upon another person or animal for the mere enjoyment or satisfaction of the one inflicting it. Most of you have seen and experienced it. Comes right out of the blue. No apparent reason for the attack. Things seem fine and then BOOM! Wicked words, flying into a rage, bringing up some event from the past and making an accusation about it. WHAM! Why? Because abusers like it. They inflict pain and suffering because they enjoy doing so. Like a predator, the thirst for it builds and they must strike.

Abusers are cruel. They intentionally cause pain and suffering (physical, emotional, psychological) in their victim simply for the enjoyment of keeping them under their evil power and control. They like it. Cruelty gives them a rush. They enjoy watching the suffering. Hurt a favorite pet. Destroy a cherished possession. Threaten to injure or even kill and then watch the trauma inflicted. Abusers like it. They have much in common with those hooded medieval torture experts in the castle dungeon we see depicted in movies.

So when we are dealing with abusers we must realize that they abuse, they do all the wicked things they do, simply because they like to do it. They feed on the suffering and the sense of domination it gives them over the victim. They like it. They like it.  They are cruel. Those of you who want to “reform” an abuser — did you hear me? THEY LIKE IT!

Rescue me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked, from the grasp of the unjust and cruel man. For you, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O LORD, from my youth. (Psa 71:4-5)

As long as a person fails to acknowledge the full weight and implications of the fact that an abuser is cruel, that he delights in inflicting suffering and trauma upon his victim to enslave and control them, such a person has no business counseling, teaching, or advising about abuse or in any abuse case.

Why does he do that? Because he is cruel. Because he feeds on the suffering of others much like his cousin the serial killer.

44 Comments

  1. coloradolover

    Unfortunately sadistic psychopathy runs in my family. My mother, my brother, and now my grown daughter is inflicting sadism on me. My mother died, I cut ties with my brother, but it is so hard cutting ties with my daughter because of my 8 and 9 year old grandchildren. If it were not for my husband and son, I would have committed suicide. I live everyday with PTSD, extreme anxiety, and major depressive disorder. I take antidepressants and anti-anxiety medication to stop me from committing suicide. I am in my sixties and will probably commit suicide after my husband passes away for I will not be old and at the mercy of my daughter and son-in-law who also has anti-social personality disorder.

    • Dear sister, I am so sorry that you have been subjected to such a lot of sadism.

      I do hope that as you continue reading this blog, and finding support from other readers here and maybe gleaning more ideas for how you might want to manage the difficult situations in your life, you might find your thoughts of suicide might diminish. I do hope so. I’ve had suicidal thoughts and plans at times in my life, and it was a very hard place to be.

      You might like to look at the posts under our PTSD tag. And the ones on Boundaries.

      I’m glad you are availing yourself of medication to help manage your anxiety and depression. I myself take an anti-depressant, and I have long ago ceased to feel any shame about taking it. 🙂

      Also, you might like to read the pdf Honouring Resistance: How Women Resist Abuse in Intimate Relationships. I’m sure you have resisted the abuse in many many ways, perhaps in ways you haven’t even recognised or honoured yourself for. 🙂 In your case it hasn’t been your husband who has abused you, but there will still be many things in the pdf which I think could have parallels with your experience of abuse from other family members.

      • coloradolover

        Thank you Barbara for the links and the support, I really appreciate it. God bless you for your empathy.

    • healinginhim

      Coloradolover — Your pain is so deep. You don’t mention whether you and your husband have any trustworthy friends? Is there not at least one other person to stand strong with you and your son?

      I’ve been greatly oppressed by the man I married, adult children and extended family and sadly the grandchildren are being used to manipulate me. It’s terrible and downright wicked.

      You are not alone as long as you remain connected to ministries like ACFJ. Don’t hide away. I’ve done that which caused me to not search out for true Christians that can pray for us. That’s how I discovered ACFJ — I was wandering around in what many counselors call ‘the fog’. (I still am not completely out) At first, I didn’t want to believe what I was reading at this blog but then realized I had been in denial.

      Don’t give up, Coloradolover. Praying for you just as I have cried out to the Lord, too.
      Today’s post was very much needed:

      “Rescue me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked, from the grasp of the unjust and cruel man. For you, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O LORD, from my youth. (Psa 71:4-5)

      • coloradolover

        Thank you Healinginhim for your empathy and prayers. Yes today’s post “hit the nail on the head” for me and I know it helped others suffering from the evil of other people’s behavior especially family members. This website has been so healing for me.

  2. Anewanon

    Wow, I needed to read this. Thank you.

  3. Sasanka

    Me too, I needed to hear this. I thought he was just immature, he needed my love and help to ‘get there’, I would be patient, explain basic human expectations like cooperation, integrity, teamwork etc….surely he would catch up eventually, I’m a strong woman…..and what we do have is commitment to each other and our family, right? We agreed in marriage contract, no questioning that…

    Well after years of me of being his wife, his ‘mother’ and in my own unrecognized arrogance his holy spirit who will help him shape up,…
    one day when I was coming to a point of almost losing my mind (thank God I did not), he looks at me and says: “I’m doing it on purpose to drive you crazy because you are annoying.”

    I went speechless. It did not occurred to me till then that he would do something so cruel….So you mean he wasn’t just immature? not ready? Good but very flawed person? But he must have known he was using me, putting us in peril, he knew his parents were tormenting me, and he saw and knew I was being a Hercules of a wife and mom, all my good efforts were genuine, I would die trying. , his obvious failings on ALL MATTERS of marriage except for his genetic contribution to create our children were objective for all to see… How, tell me would he…how could he… in the circumstances, go ahead to purposely exasperate, literally sabotage and torment me, inflicting unbelievable stress to be cruel. To see my cry and in distress just for his satisfaction? What a hard stony heart could it be inside to be capable of that???? WHO IS THIS PERSON??? All the situations were just flashing before my eyes, the circumstances, the 3-4 young children I cared for completely by myself including severe autism, no money, all forms of exploitation…and he added this to watch me suffer more for trying to hold him accountable…..When I asked WHY, HOW COULD YOU …..He told me ‘YOU CONTROL ME, AND YOU ARE NOT THE BOSS OF ME, I WILL DO WHATEVER I WANT’. Thank God for that moment, I was so in denial that I needed the psychopath to actually spell it out to me. I DON’T CARE ABOUT YOU.

    After separation the mask, which was so poorly worn anyways, fell off instantly. With all the righteous anger I felt, I still had to learn to stop thinking of him as my partner, my husband my kid’s dad, to whom I have a deep obligation. I would still do him a lot of good, still consider him, and I admit, a lot of that was also a desperate attempt to be finally validated by him that I was indeed and after all a good person and a wife and he did me a great injustice. But he instantly treated me with this inexplicable hatered. It was as if the when I was business like and cold, he was ‘nice’. When I then got somewhat kind to him, he turned controling and demeaning to me. Everything opposite. I did not understand WHY, I did him only good all those years he had no complaint when asked except I nagged him (asked he is my actual partner), he profited and benefited from me greatly in all objective ways, yet he nearly destroyed me ..in all objective ways…so HOW…WHY??? It was George Simon, Cry for Justice, and the book Why does he do that, that the Lord gave me to lead me through the trauma. I am not a victim but a survivor. Yesterday’s video with Patrick Doyle was amazing. I knew I was forging on with the strength the Lord gave me, but to hear it explained and confirmed like this is priceless. Thank you! And I know now the cruelty is real in abusers. Their heart is hard as a rock.

    One more thing I observed. Looking back on separation, I went through all the stages of traumatized, depressed, grieving, slowly to acceptance, loss of the acute anger and now I’m happy and can deal with him rationally and humanly. He has on the other hand this constant hatred in his eyes and demeanor…never changing. Not that I care anymore, but it disturbs normal interaction about kids, and is interesting to observe. I can be civil co-parent, detached and rational. Just business, but he seems to still be somehow emotional and angry. It’s still a fight somehow to him. True, I am suing for full custody, and he is going to pay child support. Therefore I won, and I ‘took control” in his mind! He does not and never did want the burden of a real living family, and he has the freedom now!! .. But yet it’s about control and power. Not functional and rational, for the best of us….He did not maintained a win/power situation that bothers him. Little females don’t win over patriarchal religious males. To him this is a personal affront. (it’s just always about him). I commented recently to myself in front of my daughter, as to why is he so mad, I did not do anything to him, I’m being more than decent peaceful ex-wife. She looked at me and said very matter of factly, mommy, don’t you see, dad is jealous of you. He hates that you are a good parent and in charge. And he tries to put you down. (Jealous???) I was just floored. Out of the mouths of babes.

    He could be everything I am and so much more if he ever wanted to, no-one stops him….but psychopath does not aspire to that, they hate you simply because you are a decent person..like pastor Jeff explained so well numerous time. I see it so well now.

    • Mark

      Thank you Sasanka! I know this story too. So difficult to realize cruelty brings them a sense of pleasure and justification without a twinge of pain. Without this understanding and wisdom I’ve found none of it makes sense. Good for you, thanks for sharing!

    • Thank you, Sasanka!

    • nt12many

      Your post describes my experience exactly except my husband never admitted what he did for 32 years and 8 children. Yes, I was a single parent even with him in the home. Yes , I “did him good all the days of my life” and he hated me and still attacks me. I am the one who has the loyalty of my children.
      God sees our sacrifice. Even evil men cannot thwart God.

    • kim

      Thank you Sasanka, this post was very helpful to me. It reminded me of a couple of scriptures that have been helpful to me:

      An unjust man is abominable to the righteous, and he who is upright in the way is abominable to the wicked. Proverbs 29:27.

      If the world hates you, understand that it hated Me first. John 15:18.

      I, too, used to be confused by the inexplicable and unprovoked hatred directed at me by certain others. Thanks for your post.

    • nt12many

      Sasanka, Your story sounds like mine (and so many others). It took me 32 years to wrap my head around his intentionality and, I admit, I still don’t really get it.

      Now that I am divorced with 8 children (4 still at home), I really believe that those of us who have gotten out with our sanity are the winners. I learned a LOT of self-discipline in my marriage. I worked my butt off raising my children alone and I know how to work hard now. I have a peace in my heart that my ex will never have. I don’t waste the energy he does in trying to get back at people. I’ll never play the victim like he does. I am free and he is not even though he has a better job and more income. I have children who love me and God keeps stretching my money.

      Never, ever think that evil-doers have “won.” They haven’t.

  4. Mark

    Get this one working in your brain. Believe it? I do! ⚓️🙏

  5. Tracey

    I can’t tell you how much relief this gives me to hear the truth spoken. I know I have excused the abusers cruelty. Someone did this to him or its coming from a painful place inside of him. He was cruelly treated. Worst of all I thought unconditional love was the answer. Man did he run with that! The abuse escalated. I can see now how I did everything wrong.

    • Anonymous

      Tracey, you’ve concisely stated the truth that has been shown to many of us here–that unconditional love won’t turn a demon into an angel or a human predator into a Christian and that it only fuels their feeding frenzy–like a shark in aquarium full of bleeding fish.

    • kim

      You didn’t do anything OR everything wrong. You came from a mindset of mutuality and empathy and he came from a mindset of power and domination. You behaved the way a healthy person does, with trust and respect. Nothing you could have done would have made him behave any differently- the fatal flaw is in him.

  6. cindy burrell

    The Scriptures you chose for this piece are so powerful – loaded with truth about the heart of the abuser.

    Let us never doubt whether such a one is a believer. These habitually destructive, self-serving and overly cruel attitudes and behaviors are profoundly inconsistent with the work of the Holy Spirit.

  7. Anonymous

    Because abusers like it. They inflict pain and suffering because they enjoy doing so. Like a predator, the thirst for it builds and they must strike.

    Jude 1:10 — Whatever these people don’t understand, they insult. Like animals, which are creatures of instinct, they use whatever they know to destroy themselves. And 2 Peter 2:12, But these, as unreasoning creatures, born natural animals to be taken and destroyed, speaking evil in matters about which they are ignorant, will in their destroying surely be destroyed.

    Predators. The brain functioning of a predator. And this can be seen on MRI’s–that some people get a thrill to see others writhing in pain and screaming. We lie to each other when we deny this truth–that some people desire/enjoy/are fulfilled and satisfied ONLY when others are destroyed. And that there are far more of these “creatures of instinct born” (as the bible puts it), than we ever imagined. And the lie that “we are all the same” has kept us working like mad trying to help evil become good–all while having to deny that evil exists and having to pretend that evil is good simply misunderstood. Again, the BIBLE hasn’t kept this truth from us, but wrong teaching of it has.

    I used to work out in a heavy trafficked area with lots of other people. The ground was rough and occasionally I would fall and scrap my knee or elbow etc. Now this was when God was first waking me up to the truth about these predators and I naively thought there were only a few of them. So I was surprised to see that many of these people where enthralled with the blood they saw and many would “circle” around me; were drawn to my weakness. They weren’t concerned for me as I would have been for others in this situation–but instead saw my weakness (need) and desired to attack me–just like the shark or other animals that hunt the sick and weak. Just like those spoken of in the bible that steal from the widows and orphans. As time went by and I realized the truth of this, when I would get injured I no longer tried to cover it up and instead actively WATCHED others reactions–it became very OBVIOUS who the predators were by their gleeful expression and craving for evil. It’s the same with the child molesters and those who are turned on by harming others–they are creatures of instinct and any personality they display other than this is simply a cover in order to enable them to gain access to their prey. We fool ourselves when we deny this biblical truth.

    Take a minute to look up on Bible hub what the Strongs, HELPS Word-studies and Thayer’s Greek Lexicon have to say about the “creatures of instinct born” phrase from 2 Peter 2:12. God DOES NOT keep the truth from us.

    Thank you AGAIN Jeff for more truth and wisdom from God’s word. Surely we’re done learning everything by now, right? IF ONLY!

  8. Sal

    Awesome much needed for me.

  9. Seeing Clearly

    I believe what is written here about the subject of cruelty and the brain’s intention to bring many kinds of harm to another human being. But I cannot process in my brain how people’s brains can be wired like this. It is beyond me. I cannot grasp one human intentionally destroying another all the while appearing to other people to be “sane”. I’ve lived it, but it is beyond me to grasp the intentionality. Perhaps I am not healthy enough yet to process such a sadistic existence. My prayer, “God continue to wrap in your grace and mercy, those who are being abused. Amen”

  10. Anne

    I have read this post many times over today. It’s really been troubling me. I’ve been trying to understand why. My H is often cold and hard, but I struggle to actually call him cruel. It seems as if I’m the one in the wrong if I place that label on him.

    I know that “abuse is abuse”, that it is all harmful, from emotional up to physical, and that often survivors of both say the emotional is even more painful than the physical abuse.

    Mine has never been physical. He never breaks things or hurts pets or threatens bodily harm. It’s just been many decades of low level emotional abuse, neglect, diminishing, minimizing, all the subtle things that take away your self confidence and make you feel guilty, ashamed, feeling incapable of doing anything well or be a person of value.

    But the way he acts and the things he says rarely rise to the level of what I would call cruel or intentional.

    Why am I having such a hard time with this? It’s taken me a couple of years to come to terms with the knowledge that he is abusive and I call him an abuser now … but my spirit balks at labeling him cruel. It feels … judgemental …? Not sure how to label how it makes me feel, but that comes close.

    Does anyone have any insight on this or have the same trouble I’m having? I can call him “abuser”, but “cruel” and “intentional” … I can’t wrap my head around that.

    • Dear Anne
      If you don’t feel it’s appropriate to call your abuser ‘cruel’, that’s fine!
      For myself, I know how hard it was to apply the word ‘abuse’ to what my husbands did. It took even longer for me to see that they did all (or nearly all) of those hurtful and neglectful things intentionally as part of their plan of abuse.

      If you (or any other reader here) are not seeing their abuser’s behaviour as always intentional, does that matter much? I don’t think so. If you know and feel that you are subjected to abuse and that what is being done to you is not acceptable behaviour, then you have enough information to make decisions from there, decisions for your wellbeing and safety.

      Maybe this post didn’t sufficiently take into account situations like yours. And abusers like yours.
      From what I’ve read about different types of abusers, they don’t all explosively ‘out of the blue’ display abusive outbursts. Some are more like the slow drip which wears away the stone. Or a pattern even less detectable than a slow drip: more like a slow-leak of noxious gas, a subtle bad vibe, with really hard to detect covert tactics. This can be one of the hardest kinds of abuse to recognise. 😦 And if they don’t display any glee, if they don’t ever even show the most subtle smirk when they see you upset by their behaviour, it’s hard to believe they are sadistically enjoying what they are doing. If an abuser hides his quiet enjoyment of what he does under some other persona, such as the sad-sack, “poor me”, or “invalid/disabled” presentation, the victim may never think that there is any sadism at all in the abuser’s make-up. And really, who cares in the end? If he is getting some sadistic pleasure, or if he isn’t, his conduct is still hurting you! Trying to plumb the labyrinths of an abuser’s mind can be a giant time soak that never leads the victim to certain conclusions…

      I am so glad you commented here, as other readers may well related to what you have said!

      Also, we don’t go on much about it on this blog because it could easily be misinterpreted, but from waht I’ve read in the professional literature about domestic abusers, there is a spectrum, a range of severity. Some are extremely physically violent and might murder or permanently maim their victims. Some are extremely sexually abusive. Some use physical violence only a few times a year or less. Some never use physical violence but use other forms of abuse and they can range in severity across a wide spectrum in the degree of control they exert on their victims with these various forms of abuse. One abuser who only uses emotional/verbal abuse might be HIGHLY controlling of his target, constricting her liberty and depriving her of human rights to extremis. And (for example) another abuser may only use emotional/verbal abuse but not be so totally controlling of his target — she will certainly suffer under his control, but she might still be able to exercise some degree of liberty in some aspects of her life.

      I hope this makes sense. Please don’t be hard on yourself that what we wrote in this post (or any other) doesn’t seem to perfectly fit your situation. And I hope you keep sharing here about your responses to our posts, as every response from a reader makes the conversation more helpful overall.

      Bless you, and ((hugs))

      • Anonymous

        Beautifully said Barbara!

      • Anne

        Thanks so much for your reply, Barbara. I’ve read Lundy’s book, Why Does He Do That?, several times cover to cover and sections of it more times than I can count.

        My H is Water Torturer to a “T”, with various proportions of Demand Man and Mr Right thrown in for good measure.

        I’ve only seen him smile/smirk once at my obvious pain and hurt, which at the time, confused me like crazy, but now I understand, thanks to ACFJ and Lundy!

        I’ve done the MOSAIC evaluation and my situation only comes out to a 6 out of 10 so it could be a lot worse, I guess.

        I’m still processing a week long period of abuse that took place at a time that should have been happy and wonderful (a family wedding). It was a never-ending period of being belittled, mocked, denigrated, being told to shut up, made to feel stupid and incapable … all the while he’s telling people how he understands how stressed I am by event and he’s trying to help.

        But even so, calling him cruel and intentional, I can’t go there. Thank you for clarification and understanding in your post.

        I had a hard time staying engaged, at the event, kept catching myself checking out mentally, losing time I should have been in the moment, enjoying the family and friends, hiding away to escape the abuse for a time.

        I stayed for a while after the event (it was a destination away from our home) and when I got home, he’d done some home repairs/improvements that should have been done a long time ago and is waiting for my gratitude and excitement over them. I’d love to be happy about it, I just am too beat up emotionally to feel much about it. It’s just the cycle again. Treats me like heck then does nice things and expects all to be water under the bridge.

        Only I can’t do that anymore, forget all the bad and get happy at a period of relative calm and nice behavior.

        He just stormed out of house … He wouldn’t call it that, I’m sure … but I pretended to be asleep when he wanted to be intimate (I can’t do that anymore either), but he left room, slammed doors, muttered just loud enough so I could almost hear what he was saying, but not quite … kept hearing “she this and she that”, but I couldn’t hear exactly what. But I don’t need to hear any more, I’ve heard it enough in the past … I’m selfish, no gratitude, expect too much, etc, etc, etc.

        My heart is racing, my stomach is in knots, but he’s out of the house so I can enjoy a few hours of peace, maybe more, if I leave for work before he comes back. I want to cry, but I’m out of tears. Why does it have to be like this?

        I just want to be with someone I can feel peaceful and secure with. Someone I can trust and count on. I know I can’t stay, but can’t yet jump out. Which sometimes lets me beat up on myself too. “You know he’s abusive, just leave already, you idiot!” What are you waiting for?”

        Just scared, I guess, of the devil I don’t know. He’s the devil I do know.

      • healinginhim

        Barbara — Can’t believe how well you described particular abuser(s): “slow drip, … slow-leak of noxious gas, …hardest kinds of abuse to recognise… If an abuser hides his quiet enjoyment of what he does under some other persona,…”

        And how sad that those within the ‘c’hurch just don’t want to believe the vulnerable.
        Recently a woman was talking about how their church and other churches were gathering together that morning to prepare and freeze meals that they can than provide for someone when they ‘are in need’. I agreed that it is good to help those whom can’t help themselves due to surgery, etc, She was quite pleased with this ‘new ministry’.
        I then became quiet as this was one of the churches who declared that the man I married would be very welcome to be in church with me even if they were aware of the abuse. “After all, we are all sinners.” Ugh.

        And the other persona comes when abusive extended family members seem to be doing quite well with their careers, well, who am I to insinuate that they treat me, their mother, sister, sister-in-law with such contempt and evilness?

    • Crazy Is Catching

      Hi Anne,

      I could have written both of your posts. Like yours, my husband has never been physical or threatening, never called me vile names or refused to let me leave the house. However, he’s said hurtful things to me and our kids, he’s been dismissive, superior, and manipulative.

      I have a knot in my stomach when he gets home or when I come home and he’s there. He slams doors, walks loudly, sighs and shakes his head whenever I do or say something that he doesn’t like, giggles and shakes his head at me if I get myself a diet drink. He communicates indirectly by leaving newspaper and magazine articles lying around (the last one was a Dear Abby column about a women who didn’t appreciate her husband). If he’s obviously mad, he’ll deny it if I ask him what’s bothering him. He’s told me that he’s sick of my “princess” attitude; that as long as he doesn’t cheat or beat me, that I have it better than most women; that other women have told him that they wish they had a husband like him; that I’m oversensitive, wrong in my perceptions.

      My spirit cringes and pulls away when he comes near me. My youngest son says that he’s evil and wishes he’d go away. Our dog avoids him. Yet everybody else is totally in awe of him.

      For years, I thought it was me. But then a counselor told me about Lundy Bancroft’s book. I think my H is a water torturer as well with a slight cruel streak.

      My prayer is that God will heal the relationships in our home or release me from this marriage. It’s not that I’m holding on to hope, it’s that I need to know what God wants me to do in this situation.

      • Anne

        CisC, how you put that really is exactly how I feel too.

        When he’s near, my spirit is cringing.

        And like Sunshine said, I feel drained and unable to react normally to things that in the past would have made me happy, excited, enthusiastic.

        That makes me sad. That’s not the “me” that I was. I’ve lost her and I want to find her again. It’s hard.

      • Annie

        Crazy is catching, I can relate to your comments. When my husband is around I’m tense. I live for when he’s gone. Yes, our pet avoids him but he gets in the poor animal’s face trying to force the pet to relate to him.

        My husband is the master of the facial reactions–many of them are down right comical. I often glance at him and I will see these weird expressions on his face. He has a reaction to everything I do! Like you I can get a glass of tea and he has a reaction! And if I don’t react to it he makes some comment like “you’re not going to pour me some?” just to make sure I noticed him. He knows I’m ignoring his facial reactions now and I’ve noticed that he pastes one on his face just when I’m around and not even doing anything.

        He also makes odd noises sometimes just barely loud enough to hear and then keeps asking everyone do you hear that? He does bodily functions–whatever they are–as loud and intrusive as possible. He moans and grunts for no reason.He goes out of his way to make his presence known. I’ve never known anyone else that can be so loud putting clothes on!

        I realized recently how quiet I’ve become around people. I used to be an extrovert. He overheard me telling someone that and made a point of laughing at that. I realized that because of his reactions to everything I do that I eventually got into the habit of just saying quiet because I know he’s watching me.

        I don’t see him as cruel. But he is manipulative. I guess that has some element of cruelty? He lives for my reaction. I guess it’s hard for me to recognize it as pleasure.

      • He could easily have been the ‘class clown’ when he was a school-kid. I’ve taught kids like that. They can produce an endless fund of antics to make the rest of the class laugh and distract them from the teacher.

      • Anonymous

        Replying to Annie,
        These odd noises they make and body movements too are something I’ve seen addressed on other websites regarding people without a conscience. My husband does them too but much less frequently now because I refuse to respond. I’ve seen strangers use these same behaviors when they are trying to get my attention and I’ve learned to not react at all. It’s amazing what some of these clowns will do trying to get a reaction out us, and it’s also amazing how good I’ve become about ignoring the most outlandish behavior. People with a conscience have a startle reflex–those without a conscience don’t. So we are sometimes easy to spot and when they’ve honed in on one of us they think it’s their right–that we OWE them a response.

        I too have learned to go into “stealth mode” when around these people. No big movements. No big reactions. Flat affect. Like the line from the movie “The Invasion” where the guy warns her not to let them see you sweat because this will give you away. Evil ones are incapable of truly understanding how others feel and can only guess what they are thinking by their response, so when we don’t give them the response they want or one they expect–they are at a loss. This flies much better when dealing with a stranger because they haven’t been able to issue a desired response from us in the past like our abusers have, so it’s much harder to get away with turning off when the evil one we married or were raised by, starts a full-court press against us.

        Sigh. It’s good to be able to laugh about these things but it’s only after years of being woken up to the truth that we were lied to by nearly everyone and that some people will never be able to love others–ever. And that we’ve invested our lives and minds and hearts into these people only to find out it was for nothing. Unless you count wisdom as something to value. According to the Bible this is more precious than gold. Is there a window that exchanges cash for wisdom?

        Some of the commenters here at ACFJ have become familiar to me and I so appreciate their insights and way of speaking about the truths God has taught them. I also wonder if any of us actually crossed paths with each other in real life if we’d realize it was one of God’s little ones from here. Just another thing to look forward to in heaven.

    • sunshine

      Hi Anne. I can relate so much to what you’ve written. Wondering if he’s really aware of what he’s doing, and also to feeling drained emotionally. There have been a few times when I couldn’t feel happy about something I would normally be happy about. It occurs after my dealings with my husband. Its like he “drained me” and suddenly I don’t want to go out anymore.

    • Yes, I find it really troubling too, Anne. I’m wondering if for me it’s because it is so subtle (most of the time). It’s a such long term pattern that other people can’t see it, so the odd thing doesn’t look ‘so bad’. And then I feel ‘mean’ about using strong words to describe it.

      I too am really having trouble wrapping my head around the fact that what H is and has been doing is intentional. Even though he has admitted it on occasion (since it came to light in counselling). Maybe I just don’t want to accept the intentionality because it is too painful. I think a part of me still wants to think its not true. Surely someone who claims to be a Christian couldn’t live with their conscience doing that? And reading the posts that call into question whether they are actually Christians… oh boy, that is even harder. That feels so scary, so judgemental, to say about someone.

      • nt12many

        As I look back on thee decades plus of marriage, this belief (that my husband really didn’t know what he was doing) was what kept me in a horrible situation. Even now (post divorce) I ask myself if he is crazy or deceived by his sin (porn) or…whatever. One friend told me that it isn’t important for me to figure out. I’m out of the marriage. But I AM dealing with the repercussions of my many children who saw me excuse his behavior over and over again. They are very “nice” children with no boundaries :-(.

        When I first went to my new pastor (before I separated for the third time) with the same sordid story I had gone to other pastors with, I excused my husband’s behavior by saying, “He had a very detached, awful mother.” My pastor replied, “Well, when my mother got pregnant with me out of wedlock and my dad was forced to marry her, I was beaten over and over throughout my childhood and I didn’t grow up to treat my family the way Doug has treated his family!”
        Hearing truth like that is like getting a good cold cup of water thrown over my head!

        I’ve stopped feeling a sense of false shame for being so deceived by the schmuck. He’s a very intelligent man who knows how to deceive. Is it deliberate? Yes. It’s been very healing to be able to say that OUT LOUD but it’s still hard to wrap my mind around!

        It’s important for us to be told, again and again, that God loves us and wants us to feel protected and safe. I encourage you to not beat yourself up over feeling anxiety. Don’t call it a “lack of faith”…it’s actually your gut telling you that, yes, things are bad. If you’re feeling crazy it’s probably because you’re trying to remain calm and loving in an impossible situation.

        It is not wrong to be feeling anxious. That feeling is a God-given warning sign. Sometimes it’s hard for one’s mind to comprehend that one’s own husband is the one who has put one in “danger.”

        Praying for you.

      • Jeff Crippen

        nt12 – Excellent! Thank you

  11. I’m not convinced that all abusers are intentionally cruel, I think some just don’t care about the effects on the victim as long as they themselves get what they want. But some abusers definitely do enjoy inflicting suffering and that’s their actual goal.That’s the kind of abuse I experienced, in fact it’s still ongoing. Those people never want a relationship “healed” or “restored”, they only want to keep having someone to hurt. I don’t know why anyone would think that’s compatible with being Christian.

  12. sunshine

    I’m having trouble right now with determining if my husband is aware he’s hurting me. The problems I have with him are primarily sexual. He insists on activities that I know are ungodly but he believes that all women enjoy it whether they admit it or not. He often leaves me feeling sore. He always apologizes afterward but he wants me to get used to it. I wrote to this site before and I followed Ms Roberts advice on speaking to someone at a DV hotline. They referred me to a group that deals with women who have been raped. I gave my information to that group twice and they told me to wait for their call. But in the meantime I may be weakening a little because outside of the bedroom things are ok. I keep wondering if this marriage is really bad enough for me to seek counseling.
    Also my husband seems to be totally unaware that certain acts are hurting me that much (even if I tell him). He dismisses my sounds of discomfort and will often tell me to shut up. But if he’s unaware that something bothers me that much- should I really consider him to be cruel? For instance I noticed that he isn’t in tune to his own body either. When we go out to eat he rushes me and himself through our meal (every time). He’ll force so much food down that he makes himself sick. I asked him why he does this and he doesn’t know. If he’s not in tune with his own body, how can I expect him to be in tune with mine?

    • Anne

      Sunshine, as Barbara and others have told me, it doesn’t matter if it’s intentional. What matters is it’s hurting you emotionally and physically. So counseling would help you, whether you stay or go. The sexual component of your relationship is such a personal and intimate thing, if it’s hurting you, confusing you, making you uncomfortable, something it’s wrong. Someone who loves you doesn’t continue to hurt you when they’ve been told what they are doing is hurting you.

      I’ve known for almost two years that my husband is abusing me emotionally/verbally. I’ve fought that knowledge, tried to make it go away so I could hang on to my dream of a happy marriage, but in the end, can’t hide from that knowledge.

      I’m still married, don’t really feel sure if staying or going is the right decision yet. Sometimes it seems like it’s not SO bad and others, it’s intolerable.

      People who love me, my counselor, have told me to stop focusing on the relationship and fixing it. They’ve said … take care of yourself, heal yourself and get strong again for YOU.

      I can’t tell you what’s right for you, but I can tell you … do take care of yourself! Do what you need to do for you. If you’re feeling hurt or upset or confused, find someone to talk to. I found a Christian counselor who lets me pay what I can afford to pay. Having a neutral third party to help me process things has been invaluable.

      This website is a godsend too. We all understand. We’re all in the journey of healing from abuse. Some are further along than others, but everyone, no matter where they are in that journey treats every sister here with love and respect, no matter what questions, thoughts or problems we share here.

      And that in itself is healing. To finally be validated, given respect and care … how sweet it feels!

      • Anonymous

        Anne–Such great insight and help! I was thinking and praying about Sunshine’s comment while I was going about my day–hoping that God would let me say something to help her but also praying someone would say it better–you did it!

        Sunshine–what I was gonna write was this and I pray it helps you along with Anne’s comment. What if your daughter came to you with this lament: “Mommy, the boy I like is hurting me. When I tell him to stop he says that I need to get used to it because if I love him that means I will let him do anything to me that he wants to. He says that I will get used to it and that he WANTS me to get used to him hurting me. Mommy, is this good? Is this good for me to be hurt? Does Jesus want me to be hurt? Is this how Jesus loves me mommy? I’m sad and scared and this boy tells me other girls like it when he does this and that I should shut up and be grateful that he’s chosen me to do these things to. Mommy, I’m so sad and afraid and I don’t feel loved and I need you to tell me what to do. I trust you and love you Mommy, please help me.”

        I pray that it’s easier for you to see the abuse from this standpoint. It’s heartbreaking and horrific that we’ve been trained to think that just because we are legally old enough to have sex or that we are legally married means that we are to submit to untold demands on sexual behavior. I pray this helps you see that you are being abused and that it’s hurting your heart. You are not alone.

    • Crazy Is Catching

      Hi Sunshine!

      From my perspective, if he’s insisting on certain activities and apologizes afterwards, then he’s aware that he’s hurting you whether it’s physically or emotionally or both. Along the same lines, telling you to shut up when you’re uncomfortable, he’s aware of what he’s doing.

      And how does he know that all women enjoy certain sexual acts whether they admit it or not?? To me that’s a lie that he tells himself to cover his abuse.

      I thoroughly understand wondering if things are really that bad. Sometimes I wonder if I’m being “double-minded” by constantly going back and forth in my mind regarding my own situation!!

      Take care 🙂

      • And how does he know that all women enjoy certain sexual acts whether they admit it or not?? To me that’s a lie that he tells himself to cover his abuse.

        Another possibility is that he has formed the opinion ‘all women enjoy certain sexual acts…’ because that’s what is depicted in the porn videos . . .

    • Dear Sunshine, it sounds to me like your husband is using quite a few tactics of abuse against you. Insisting you do sexual things with him that you have told him are hurting you — that is definitely abuse! And it shows he has no respect for your feelings or wishes. Insisting on phoning or text contact from you so often during the day sounds to me like a form of stalking — and the fact that you feel anxious, tense about those calls or texts shows that your gut feeling it registering that he is not being affectionate or caring, but in fact he is monitoring you as part of his desire to control you and monopolise your focus to it is first and foremost or only on Him.

      I suggest you read Lundy Bancroft’s book Why Does He Do That and see if you relate to any of it. You can find the book in our Resources section. 🙂

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

      • Anonymous

        Barb, replying to your first comment to Sunshine. Yes, it’s more than possible that he believes all women love sex. My husband didn’t realize porn was fake until he watched the movie “Boogie Nights.” This was unbelievable to me as I have always hated it and told him so. But I’d been trained to blindly submit and to allow my husband to do whatever he wanted whenever he wanted to. When I would say that it hurt he’d say, “Yeah, it hurts so good, right?!” He had no concept and didn’t care that it was a violation every time he touched me. God knew however. The first few months of our marriage I was so spiritually offended by sex with him that I would throw him off me. It felt like incest (there were no incestuous relationships in my life) and I was sickened by it. I now know this was God showing me how wrong it was. In time I learned to not get sickened but it was always offensive. Not one of these things is forgotten by the Lord, and those who tell us that we should submit to evil are not forgotten by Him either.

      • sunshine

        Thank you Ms Roberts. I will be getting Lundy Bancroft’s book soon at the local library. Something tells me it will answer a lot of questions for me.

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  1. The Cruelty of the Abuser — A Cry For Justice | Speakingtruthinlove's Blog

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