A Cry For Justice

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

Thursday Thought — “Moving On After An Abusive Relationship”

 

The principles of effectively moving on after a toxic relationship are actually quite simple, but not easy. Folks have to remember to focus all their time and energy on things over which they have power, most especially, their own choices and actions. Ruminating about the past, trying to get others to understand, worrying about whether their former partner will “keep getting away with” their manipulative behavior, etc. is simply a prescription for emotional disaster. And as hard as it may be to do, simply directing one’s thoughts away from these things over which one has no power and toward the actions one has the power to take is the secret to ending the emotional nightmare for good. So, here’s the rule for moving on and bringing joy back into your life: don’t direct any energy toward things you can’t control anyway; focus instead on actions only you have the power to take. But redirecting negative and self-defeating thoughts is not easy and requires reinforcement. That’s why the single most important thing to remember is to give oneself an internal pat-on-the-back for re-directing such thoughts and for taking action. It’s really as simple as that. But it’s definitely not easy and requires not only constant practice but faithful self-recognition, reinforcement, and encouragement.

[Excerpt from George Simon’s post, Moving On After An Abusive Relationship, which can be found at his website Manipulative-People.com ]

 

24 Comments

  1. Sarah

    I’m sorry but overly simplified… even as you say it is hard to do.. still overly simplified

    • Hi Sarah, I encourage you to read the comment I just put in this thread in reply to “I can see”. I think my comment may help you. (I hope so.)

    • Brooklyn

      I clicked on this looking for practical advice and not to complain but I would love to know of real life ways to move on from this should I choose to do so. I have been a stay at home mom and have several health issues that make keeping a job extremely difficult. HOW does one go about moving on with no job, no income? Do I hide money and save it for awhile? Do I just leave and hope for the best? How do I take the kids out of this? Would he get the kids because I don’t have a job and because I have bad health?? How do I find somewhere to live with no credit and no job and no family close by? This kind of info may be somewhere on this site and maybe I just haven’t seen it. I know if I do this I have to choose to focus on me and what I actually CAN change, but I need some super-duper practical advice. Because I am freaking terrified right now. Not of him. Of change. Of making the wrong decision.

      • Scared momma

        Brooklyn

        Unfortunately, deciding to leave and how is hard. It took me over a year of preparation to leave and still it was not easy. When you start making the move to leave the abuse typically gets worse, not just for you but sometime things get worse for kids too. It’s not easy. Staying or leaving. We are stuck between a rock and a hard place. You are the only one that can decide what is best for you at this moment. I do highly recommend Lundy Bancroft’s book. If you can’t safely buy, ACFJ can send you one to safe location for free. [click here for details]
        If you can’t leave, Lundy’s book and this website can at least give you some comfort and validation that it is not your fault. What he is doing is wrong. It also gives a lot of practical advice about telling others, helping your self and the kids deal with it. How to safely plan escape, especially if thing get so bad you are in immediate danger. Also, women shelters are good resources. How the courts work is very different in different states or even counties. [Research what the laws are in your own area, and seek advice from Domestic Violence support services also:] they can let you know what to expect courts will do. Also recommend Lundy’s a daily wisdom book. It is like home therapy. Many of us find that our physical health is poor due to the abuse. Stress causes many chronic health problem and worsens any health problem. You may find your physical health will improve if you can decrease the stress.

        Will be praying for you

      • Dear Brooklyn
        You are asking good practical questions — well done!

        Rather than answer all your questions in one comment, I suggest you take you time exploring this blog as there are many places where we have dealt with those questions already. If you look on our Resources tab in the top menu, you will find many sub-pages, the onese that might be most useful for you at this stage are Safety Planning, and Hotlines. Also, Legal Issues.

        We have many tags on the blog (see the TAGs tab in the top menu for a full list). One tag that might help you is financial abuse <a

        And here is a story from one of our readers about how she planned and executed her escape:
        https://cryingoutforjustice.com/2016/04/04/my-abusers-evil-plan-was-to-give-me-the-scorched-earth-policy-but-with-planning-strategy-and-gods-help-i-outsmarted-him/

  2. His Banner over me is love

    Thank you, I so needed to hear that today.

  3. I can see

    Ugh I did not like this. I’m interested in the topic just not the way this was written as I didn’t hear much of anything except “let it go.”

    For me what’s necessary is:

    Going back to God’s truth (accurate translations). Specifically about divorce, evil, abuse, God’s wrath and mercy, what being born again means and what their fruits look like, etc etc

    Going back to information that clearly articulates the feelings and thoughts and pain and needs that goes on for the victim during abuse, before and after you leave an abuser, etc etc

    Hearing other survivors speak up on all of these things dealing with false teachings and surviving abuse.

    Concerning abusers and unbelievers, (professing Christians or not) knowing what the red flags are and why

    Resources on where to go and to ask when looking for help for the many needs that arise when you leave the abuser. Anything from financial assistance, food stamps, daycare, to home maintenance, etc etc etc.

    And how to spot red flags in friendships, family, and other relationships. For example, I can easily tell now when people are controlling, sarcastic or abusive toward me. I am firm in being clear with them, I stay focused on what I was there for in the first place, I have no time for the cutting remarks and will be on my way immediately. This hurts. I’ve found many people have no respect. I pay attention to my feelings and make note to not walk into that situation again. It’s too painful and I can’t afford to take hits over and over. Can anyone really? I think it’s wiser to choose respectful people when possible and to speak up when people are doing or saying things that are wrong. It’s wiser to stay close to born again believers and far from those who are not, IMO.

    For example, controlling “Christian” women may act like I’m a helpless/ know nothing/ lost person. I’m not. They may try to convince me to do certain things and they may use different tactics to accomplish that no matter my response of “no.” This is very stressful. Being around them is indeed oppressive and very hurtful. And I know for a fact they gossip about me but call it prayer requests and concerns instead. They glory in sayings like “let it go, God provides!” So everyone stuffs and stuffs and pretends they’re at peace, that’s it. “Stuff it” they should just say.

    Anyway IMO id like to hear on this topic from another survivor/Jeff/Barb

    • Thanks for your comment, I can see. 🙂

      Here are my thoughts:

      The format for our “Thursday Thought” posts — short, sound-bite quotes — perhaps contributed to you having this reaction to today’s post. When a short snippet is given, it’s concise focus on one point can run the risk of leaving out nuances, and not sufficiently allowing for how different readers will hear things.

      I think that the ignorant, ‘do-gooder’ women (the controlling “Christian” women) who have been telling you to “let it go” have indeed hurt you a lot. Their pat, sub-biblical prescriptions for you are the very opposite of helpful. And they’ve thrust these prescriptions at you so many times that they’ve made an open wound in you: any time someone touches that lesion, it gets re-inflamed.

      George Simon’s advice for moving on and bringing joy back into your life: don’t direct any energy toward things you can’t control anyway; focus instead on actions only you have the power to take.

      I actually think that by doing all those things you are doing, you are in fact focusing on actions that only you have the power to take.

      Let me show you why I think this.

      Going back to God’s truth (accurate translations). Specifically about divorce, evil, abuse, God’s wrath and mercy, what being born again means and what their fruits look like, etc etc.

      In doing this, you are focusing your attention on what you have power over: your interpretation and understanding of Scripture. Not the Pharisaic or simplistic ‘christianese’ interpretations, but your OWN understanding. You have the power to be a Berean and you are using that power, taking that power, exercising that power.

      Going back to information that clearly articulates the feelings and thoughts and pain and needs that goes on for the victim during abuse, before and after you leave an abuser, etc etc. Hearing other survivors speak up on all of these things dealing with false teachings and surviving abuse.

      By doing this, you are focusing on what you have power to change: your remembrance and understanding and emotional processing (anger, sadness, grief) of what you have suffered at the hands of your abusers. The simplistic churchified people would have you NOT remember and NOT focus on all those feelings: they want you to ‘stuff it’. But you know that stuffing it will not heal it. You know that remembering and understanding and feeling it all is the pathway to healing. And you have the power to take that path — and you are doing so!

      Concerning abusers and unbelievers, (professing Christians or not) knowing what the red flags are and why. … And how to spot red flags in friendships, family, and other relationships. For example, I can easily tell now when people are controlling, sarcastic or abusive toward me. I am firm in being clear with them, I stay focused on what I was there for in the first place, I have no time for the cutting remarks and will be on my way immediately. This hurts. I’ve found many people have no respect. I pay attention to my feelings and make note to not walk into that situation again. It’s too painful and I can’t afford to take hits over and over. Can anyone really? I think it’s wiser to choose respectful people when possible and to speak up when people are doing or saying things that are wrong. It’s wiser to stay close to born again believers and far from those who are not, IMO.

      This is another arena in which you have power to act and are using that power. You are studying and learning, honing your discernment and sharpening your awareness of your gut feelings so that you are more likely to see red flags in the future. That is a powerful action which only you can take for yourself. And you’re taking it! And you are focusing on fellowshipping with born again believers especially ones who have a good understanding of abuse and trauma.

      Resources on where to go and to ask when looking for help for the many needs that arise when you leave the abuser. Anything from financial assistance, food stamps, daycare, to home maintenance, etc etc etc.

      Again, those actions, that research, that focus you are exercising, is exactly the kind of thing George Simon is talking about. You are not sitting on your hands and just resentfully pouting about how the church never helps you. You are going out and finding resources and agencies that WILL help you. Good for you!

      • I Can See

        Thank you, Barb.

  4. MarkQ

    I still haven’t really internalized this. I occasionally run into people from my past churches and I really want to help them understand that they are being abused, and I want to help my past churches move past their abusive tendencies. I’ve found it just doesn’t work, and trying to explain it just re-opens past wounds. It’s really unfortunate to see people that continue to be hurt and diminished by the church, and yet they “heal” and return to be hurt yet again, thinking that is what they’re called to do.

    I had a good conversation with my wife. We discovered that the same situations hurt me and didn’t hurt her. That is, she always felt comfortable saying “no” to the abusers, so her “yes” wasn’t out of guilt or fear. Mine was. [i.e. my ‘yes’ was out of guilt or fear]. It has begun to make sense to me that some people just don’t see that. For me growing up it was because my “no” was never respected – it was considered rebellion for me to say that to my parents.

    On my side, I struggle with healthy rumination – I want to understand how I’ve been affected by my upbringing so that I don’t repeat it, and so that I understand where I need to heal, but it is hard to do that without also getting lost in what could have been.

  5. braveandstandingstrong

    I think this is very good advice. When I focus on my anti husbands behavior or my x church’s lack of compassion for my and my children’s situation it is not helpful for my healing.

    Figuring out healing paths that work–that is worth spending time on!
    Focusing on my healing. My children’s healing.
    It has been incredibly difficult. I struggle with going back over the decades of abuse, especially with my recent lifting of the fog.
    Daily things are brought to my mind that brings the abuse more clearly into the light.

    What helps the most is to focus on how God is providing for us…not the neglect of our x church.

    • braveandstandingstrong

      Or whatever my Narcissistic anti husband is up to.

      When I went to a retreat Lundy Bancroft held for survivors of abuse I met a woman who encouraged me to use my time and energy to heal me and my children instead of letting my anti husband rob me of any more of my life.

      When I focus on him, I give him more of me. I am not talking about just processing events.
      If I spend time trying to figure out who he is seeing or what he is saying to my x church to be the one they feel sorry for….that is not a good use of my time.

      • Not Too Late

        Thanks for sharing that. So true. I’m finding the same thing too.

      • bright sunshinin' day

        BandSS, this is gold advice:

        …I met a woman who encouraged me to use my time and energy to heal me and my children instead of letting my anti husband rob me of any more of my life.

        When I focus on him, I give him more of me. I am not talking about just processing events. If I spend time trying to figure out who he is seeing or what he is saying to my x church to be the one they feel sorry for….that is not a good use of my time.

  6. MicroGal

    This is excellent. Thank you for sharing. I can’t say I have been doing this perfectly, but God and wise friends keep me moving forward towards light and truth and healing. I have been walking this path for several months now and am seeing more healing. God is so good and I am very thankful.

    • Hi MicroGal, you recently submitted a comment asking our views about a certain book. Can you please email TWBTC twbtc.acfj@gmail.com and she will be able to tell you our thoughts. Thanks.

  7. Annie

    This is a great reminder because I find it so easy to get lost in the “what ifs” of the past. What if I’d done so-and-so instead of trying harder? Or why didn’t I leave before I had children?

    I’ve been working really hard to reclaim the person I was before I knew my husband. I was a pretty accomplished person even at that young age and had so much going for me. And he knew it! He would introduce me and tell people about how great I was! Until we were married then I became the “dumb housewife”.

    And it is harder some days than others. Because I have to learn to trust myself again. I have been putting myself into new situations lately especially ones that keep me occupied outside the home. The ones he knows about he can’t complain about because they are supposedly organizations he supports! The other ones he doesn’t know about because I only do them when he’s at work.

    I like myself a whole lot better when he’s not around and I can be me!

  8. Scared momma

    So frustrated. Finally was safely able escape my anti husband’s claws after decades. Finally, Have safe home. But how do you move on with ongoing financial, legal, child abuse and custody abuse?

    Every week it’s something else. Support check late, but he knows it will cost me hundreds of dollars if not thousands of dollars to do anything about it. Needs to change visitation at last minute, and I’m the bad guy if I don’t drop all my plans. Petition to decrease support by half and dragging things out as long as possible. Leaves me in limbo not knowing what I can afford for months. Given choice: waste money on lawyer or give him his way and he pays almost nothing. Everything with him is always lose/lose.

    He keeps things just below the line. I don’t even know how he knows all the details about where these lines are. Have had several situations where kids therapist have told me they should report what happened to child services, but they are not going to because they know it’s enough to investigate but in end no action would be taken against a dad. A Mom maybe, but not a dad. Dads are allowed to show anger, allowed to yell and be scary. Moms aren’t. Since cps would not take action it would just make him think what he was doing was ok so things would get worse in end. The courts favor the man so much. Kids don’t want to see him because of verbal abuse, no problem he just has a little anger problem and it’s mom fault the kids don’t behave/like him. I have somehow Magically brainwashed the children into hating being yelled at by him. He claims it has nothing to do with his behavior.

    Can’t go to church, he actually will come and sit with me and feel like everyone is looking at me. Judging me for divorcing such a great guy. The reason most of us can’t move on is the abuse never stops. The only thing I can do is pray he dies. That is only way it will stop. But, I would feel so guilty if that happened. How can I even say I’m trying to be a Christian when I have such ugly thoughts? Even in death it would be lose/lose for me.

    It’s actually harder in some ways now that the fog has cleared. When he does these thing I see it for what it is and makes mad as a hornet, but can’t do anything with the anger because I am being watched, by lawyers, guardian etc. He is being watched also, but he has a lot of practice putting on show for outsiders. I tend to either blurt out everything and people don’t believe it. It’s so stressful to tell people these things and so outrageous that when I tell someone I’m sure I sound like I’m telling a lie. All I can do is pray things work out, trust in God. Hope I get the chance to move on someday.

    • Hi Scared Momma
      I hear you. It’s awful what you are going through.

      As you rightly point out, the abuse has not ended just because you have left the abuser. So you can’t just ‘move on’ in any fairy-tale way. When the abuser continues to abuse post-separation (and most male abusers do!) the victim is still under the pump. Still stressed. Still afraid. Still being forced all the time to choose between various options all of which are undesirable if not downright tortuous…

      You are not telling a lie. You are telling the truth: This is how it is for you… and how it is for many many victims after they leave their abusers.
      I think the USA system of child support seems worse than the Australian system. The Aussie system is by no means perfect, but at least we don’t have to spend oodles of money trying to make the abuser pay child support when he is shirking his duty. THere is no quick fix for this situation you are in. And it needs to be fixed systemically, not on a case by case basis. The whole child support system needs an overhaul in America, IMO.

      Likewise the child protection system. I am not an expert in how it plays out in America, but what you’ve described sounds pretty similar to what I encountered in Oz. The law in Oz says that emotional abuse is a form of child abuse …. but in reality they don’t enforce that part of the law. Child Protection only steps in when there is sexual abuse, physical abuse or severe neglect. And even then, it often gets it wrong… And the child protection system is so overloaded … many many cases of child abuse are not being dealt with as well as they should be. This is especially so for aboriginal communities, where the rates of child molestation and domestic abuse are very high.

      I wish I could offer you some comfort, but I can’t really… except to remind you how wonderfully strong you have been to get this far and how brave you’ve been to leave the abuser! Remember when you first came to the blog and how much the fog was still swirling around you? And how you have gradually woken up and become more and more strong since then? I’m not saying that to make you feel that you oughta be strong now and ‘stop lamenting’, but to honour you for how you have stood up for truth and justice and righteousness. 🙂 🙂

      Here are some posts that you might find helpful, even if they just make you feel a little less alone…

      Financial abuse from intimate partners — a lament, stories and tips to protect oneself

      “I Thought I Would Feel Better” (or, as Barb would say, “I Thot I would Feel Bettah”)

      Living with Trauma Memories — video presentation by Diane Langberg

      How victim’s responses to abuse are mis-labelled, and how abusers’ tactics of abuse are mis-labelled.

  9. Savedbygrace

    Hi Scared Mama,I’m so sorry for the ongoing abuse and drama your h is putting you through.

    You wrote
    The only thing I can do is pray he dies.
    You are not alone. I remember being horrified when I had those thoughts! I think it really is just an indication of how bad things are and how much we feel trapped and can’t see any other solutions! God understands. He grieves over what you are going through. In the end I just gave this troubling thought over to Him and poured my heart out to Him – He was my comfort and strength and has sustained me through all this. He is there for you too.
    The post encouraged us to think into what we have control over rather than dwelling on what ‘he is getting away with’. This is hard to do because their abuse is such an affront and attack and so unjust. But we can do it! I think it is good advice. It has helped me to ‘let go’ of what he is doing/not doing and focus on me.

    Here’s some things that helped me:
    Lundy Bancroft’s Daily Wisdom for Why does he do that? Encouragement for women.
    I got the audio version and play it regularly when I need help focusing and clearing my head. It is in bite size pieces and includes things on parenting as well.

    I ended up finding a new church. It was so worth it – having my own space where I could establish myself in friendships without h. Your h is being extremely abusive of you by sitting with you in church. If you did not want to change churches, you could still ‘make a stand’ literally – get up and move seats. He will not want a public fuss – abusers thrive on the assumption that the victim will not expose them. You have control over where you sit in church. You can do it without drama – just get up and move (depending on the age of your children you may need to clue them into this possible course of action ahead of time so that they don’t ‘make a fuss’ because they don’t understand what’s going on) My hunch is he may think twice before doing that again – because you are firming up your boundary around ‘what I will accept and what I wont’.

    The same goes with reporting to child protection – I know it is frustrating that there is no action as such, but what will happen is that the complaint will get filed and you never know when that will stand you in good stead (eg in a custody battle or child support case) as evidence of an ongoing pattern of abusive behaviour. Sounds like your kids therapist ‘gets it’ and can see his behaviour for what it is- talk to her/him about your concerns around reporting. Reporting could be very empowering for your children – as at the moment they have no recourse but to put up with it. Also the fear of exposure and the uncertainly of what CPS may do with the information could be unsettling and behaviour modifying for your h.

    Well done for establishing a new safe home for you and your children! You have been so resourceful and courageous in doing that! You have already started moving on and that is amazing! Could you organise things so that your home and yard are ‘no go’ zones for your h ? eg make child transfers for visitation at a neutral place such as a local McDonalds. It is public, has more safety, he is less likely to make a public display of abusive behaviour. It limits him ‘observing’ your new life and home and butting in where he’s not wanted. You could have a friend go with you so that there is a witness to interactions and support for you. Also what would happen if you stick with your side of the arrangements if he keeps shifting it? if you are labelled ‘the bad guy’? well worse things have happened… there is no pleasing him, so don’t try – just look after you and meet your commitments.

    Dealing with the anger – I write in a journal and really tell it like it is!- it gets it out of my system somewhat and also provides a written record that I can reflect on later which can really help me understand what’s going on and have new thoughts about it and what I can do to further move on. I also find having at least one trusted friend and a good counsellor is invaluable as a sounding post to keep me sane…

    Sorry for such a long post!..imagine we are at a coffee shop and onto our second cup:)
    Praying for your strength and wisdom, take care x

    • great comment, Saved by Grace! I’m at that coffee shop with you…. and here is an additional suggestion for Scared Moma.

      If you have or can obtain a protection order from the court (such orders can require the person to not approach within x metres of you, not to come within x metres of your home or your workplace, and you may even be able to get your church added to that list) … then, if the abuser comes to your church, he would be in breach of the order. Protection Order legislation varies from state to state, so I can’t say what it is in your location; check that out for yourself.

      And if you have such an Order in place, you can inform the church leadership what it says, give them a copy of the Order, and then they are will hopefully feel morally and legally obliged to refuse him admission to the church when you are there. What they actually DO with that obligation is of course unknown…. but at least you can lean on them to help protect you. Let’s hope their consciences are sufficiently pricked to galvanise them into protecting you!

      And even if you don’t have a Protection Order, you might like to consider telling the church leadership that your husband is stalking you and intimidating you and doing ‘impression management’ by coming to sit beside you in church. And that you want it to stop, and you are asking them to help you by making it clear to him that he is NOT allowed to sit next to you in the service.

      I would personally say that the church in such a situation ought to tell the abuser not to come to that church at all. To bar him from the premises. That’s what would happen in the best possible of worlds…

      • And if he breaches the Protection Order, what you do is report his breach to the police. Give the police as much evidence as possible that the breach occurred, so they can prosecute him for the breach. Here is a link to a very good five minute video about obtaining evidence for the breach. It’s an Australian video, but the guidance it gives could probably be helpful no matter where you are in the world.
        (so long as your country or state has Protection Order legislation… many third world countries don’t have such legislation yet 😦 )

        How to collect evidence if your Intervention Order is breached. (the Orders are called ‘Intervention Orders’ in the state this video comes from )

        You might also like to canvass the Legal Issues sub-section of our Resources.

      • Scared momma

        Asked lawyer about restraining order but little physical abuse and none I can prove. Lawyer said if I asked one, and didn’t get it, that would look bad and weaken our case for limited custody.

        I was able to get only written communication. Text or email only, and I have turned off sound for his texts when kids are with me. This has decreased verbal abuse greatly, and when it comes by text it is almost funny. I can stop and realize how ridiculous what he says really is, and take my time replying.

        For church, I am listening to pastor crippin online sermons and so is one of the kids. And I try to share the messages with the others. And reading the bible, sad to say at my age and have never read the whole bible. The Catholic Church implies they read whole bible in church every three years. Well, many of quotes here and on audio sermon were totally new to me so I did a little research. It is a three year cycle, but not even close to whole bible. Only 3% of Old Testament. I do want to find new church, but don’t even know what kind. I also don’t have the strength to join a church, then find out I don’t agree with there teaching, and start over. I love how P Crippen make bible come alive and his teaching. I have always had trouble with certain passages, even before marriage, and with the teaching here makes it so much clearer.

        Question. Is being exhausted normal after leaving. I though I would more energy, but am so tired. And kids are too. Sleeping till noon on weekends and even going to bed early. Only thing I can think of is we were so stressed before, are adrenaline was always high and now calm and without the adrenaline we are tired. Hoping that we adjust soon

      • Yes, that exhaustion is quite common after leaving — and I think your explanation of it is correct.

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