A Cry For Justice

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

An open letter to a well-meaning but ill-advised Christian friend on the subject of my separation

I realize your message was sent in love and with the best of intentions. I’m so sorry you have suffered as well. But you need to understand a few things.

Yes, I am changed. I am deeply traumatized. But only through this separation and fighting for myself (and not tip-toeing around a sinful man) have I started to heal. The person I was before was only a shell of who I am. Yes, I am sad and tired and angry. God weeps with the broken-hearted.

1. My pastor’s wife saw something in me — she did NOT advise me to stay. She recognized that I’ve endured deep trauma and she suggested separation and counseling, both of which I’m receiving. She did not counsel me to forgive and forget.

2. You’re putting the responsibility on me to change this situation which I am utterly incapable of doing. Only God can change things.

3. Where is the grace? Is our God not the God of love, mercy and compassion? There’s no grace or mercy in a statement that urges me to go back to Egypt. At what point am I allowed to say that I can’t do this any more? God does NOT call me to endure anything and everything that this world throws at me. Jesus already paid the price for my sin; I don’t have to tolerate the habitual and repeated sin of another. I need to act on what the truth is and what the facts are; not about what someone thinks God might do for me. God has all the strength; I do not. We are not called to supernatural feats of strength.

4. I CHOSE to love for years and years. My children never heard us fighting. I NEVER put myself first, constantly trying to be submissive and work on myself and our marriage. I tried my absolute best to be a loving wife. I did not fight. I served every single day without complaint and without protest, even as he verbally abused my precious children. God has severe words for those who abuse his little ones. My husband ignored my protests for patience and love and returned them with indifference, anger and violence. I’m sorry if you have been told that this is acceptable and I’m glad your marriage to ____ has been redeemed but God in no way support or condones abuse. He simply does not.  There’s plenty of Scripture to back this up.

5. God is not glorified when people do not stand up for the truth and against sin. God is glorified when we are willing to follow His will, even if it means the end of a marriage.

6. Marriage counseling is ill-advised and even dangerous for abuse victims. Just because I’m married to someone does not give him license to do as he wishes to me without recourse. Eventually consequences need to kick in. I tried to save our marriage. But I couldn’t continue allowing him to treat me the way he did and he only got worse as I set appropriate boundaries.

Unfortunately your exhortations to me are typical of what an abused woman encounters from her church when she tries to stand up for herself. Try harder, pray harder, work on yourself. There’s no allowance for mercy or grace or justice for the woman; only grace for the man. Why should he continue to receive grace when I’m denied relief? And do you know how hard it was for me to find my voice and even consider the prospect of separation? It didn’t enter my mind until this spring, although I was miserable for many years.

I can continue to show him love (and I do) by treating him kindly and encouraging his relationship with the children. I do not have to be married to him to do this. God is not glorified when I sacrifice myself at the altar of a marriage that he destroyed over many years. I did not break this marriage covenant; my husband did.

I realize you may not be well-informed on the subject of abusive marriages, but please understand that words such as the ones you sent me can inflict additional damage on an already broken-hearted person.

***

This was written by an anonymous reader of this blog. Many thanks to her for allowing us to publish it.

****

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*****

Further Reading:

https://cryingoutforjustice.com/2015/01/28/losing-friendships-because-of-the-stress-of-abuse/

Examples of the Wicked Things “Christians” are Telling Abuse Victims

What do you say when a friend tells you, “You have a victim mentality.”

Legalism: The Great Friend of the Abuser

Open letter to a friend

Letter from a Freedman to His Old Master

41 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    Absolutely beautiful and perfect truth. Thank you for sharing what too many of us have experienced so eloquently.

    • It could not have been said better. There is nothing to add. This is the truth and the sorrow in so many of us.

      • Hi NoMoreTears
        I changed your screen name again as you’d given your real name. Please re-visit the section in our New Users Info page where it gives instructions/advice about fields in the comment box.

  2. This is extremely compelling and well done. One of the truths I feel passionate about is what grace really is. It is NOT just “forgive and forgive and forgive no matter what.” That ‘s not grace–it’s a perversion of grace, twisting it so that it’s not even recognizable any more as the powerful force of transformation God made it to be. So much more that could be said here, but the author of this post has said it so well. I do pray that more people will step down from their presumptive judgments of how the abused should be responding, and truly listen.

  3. jesusfollowingishard

    Yes. I feel some guilt that number four I did not do, “My children never heard us fighting. I NEVER put myself first,”
    I tried, but yet another part of me says I were raised with some self respect and a sense of honour so yes I loudly at times defended myself and i was mama bear at times for my children, not quick enough at times in that because it was hard to see in that fog. Does anyone else feel conflicted that they reacted to the emotional/spiritual abuse. I think i would have died of stress if i would never of put myself first the very act of separation was putting myself and my children first. I’m sorry my children heard saw all the noise yet I’m not sorry for putting myself first and healing some in the midst of it so I would have the mental clarity to get out. Thoughts anyone?

    • Trueworthy

      I understand your comment. I believe some of that has to do with personality. I do not have a particularly passive personality either, so my instinct was always to defend myself from his emotional and verbal abuse. I can’t count the number of times we would be having “conversation” in the bedroom, and my words and motives were being twisted to such a degree that I questioned my sanity. In those cases, my kids could often hear the arguing, and hear me crying, particularly my oldest, most sensitive child. I believe that, even worse than hearing me cry and defend myself, however, were the months and years that they saw me just so, so sad and beaten down. Perhaps I’m wrong about that, I don’t know, but I don’t think that defending yourself (and certainly not your children!) against emotional and verbal onslaughts in a bad thing. In fact, looking back, I wish I had heard my mother defending herself more from my father’s emotional manipulation and silent treatment. Perhaps then I would not have had the idea that what I put up with for years and years was normal.

      • jesusfollowingishard

        Thank you!
        If he had not masked the manipulation, mental abuse with “christianity,” and if I had known there was such a thing, I mean who acts like that, I would have seen through his behavior sooner. My parents had a good friendship/relationship, but I have heard friends say they wish their mom )in at least one case a dad) had stood up and done something — not that it’s the mom’s or dad’s fault people get trapped in that fog.

        Plus, my abuser got sloppy and a bit delusional; he actually thought my counselor was going to treat me like he did and tell me the same sort of bogus.

      • Sunflower

        About once a year I would ‘blow’, and that was enough for him to tell the kids,”Don’t tell mom, you k now how mad she can get” and such rot. And accuse me of ‘always being angry’. Then when I stopped even doing that, he said he knew I was thinking it, so that was just as bad. And told everyone, “She won’t talk to me. How can we have a good marriage without communication?” You can’t win. I tried. Gone over 20 years and they still throw at me that I won’t talk to him. (on the phone….he can email, but then I would have a record, right?)

      • Un-Tangled

        Every situation is different, of course, and we are each in different stages of abuse/recovery. However, I wonder if it can be a positive experience for children to see their abused Mom defending herself and them against abuse rather than be beaten down by it?

      • Yes; it certainly can be a positive experience for children to see their abused Mom defending herself and them against abuse rather than be beaten down by it.

    • Scared momma

      I feel guilty for not speaking up. By my silence, the children learned that it was acceptable to treat us poorly, that we deserved it. As a result all the kids suffer for poor self esteem. I’m really don’t think there is a right way to behave in these situations. They always put you in a no win situation.

      • You’re right, Scared momma, the abuser always puts the target in a no-win situation. All the options (all the choices) open to the victim are ones that will entail risk and danger. The victim is not in a dilemma (di- means two) so much as a polylemma (poly- means many). There may be many choices open to the victim, but every one of those choices will be difficult and dangerous in one way or another.

        For example, if we keep silent the kids are seeing the model of one parent being a slave to the other parent’s tyranny. That’s not good for the kids. If we stand up and speak out and walk away, the tyrant parent will manipulate the kids so they see the oppressed parent as in fact the sinning and abusive parent. That’s not good for the kids either! And it means the oppressed parent runs the risk of losing the kid’s respect and love, and maybe even losing contact with the kids altogether.

        And here is a post that may help you untangle the false guilt.
        Enabling? Sins of the victim? Tetchy topics indeed!

      • Miraculous Exodus

        I put up with it for many years and thus taught my daughters and son that this behavior was “normal”. I thought I could just put up with it until I couldn’t take anymore, but waiting that long took me to attempting suicide since I had no more internal reserves. I actually did take it as long as I could and then just couldn’t anymore. God got me out though miraculously.

      • Hi Miraculous Exodus,

        Welcome to the blog! I changed your screen name for your safety. We like to encourage new commenters to read our New User’s Info page as it gives tips for staying safe when commenting on the blog.

        Again, Welcome!

      • Rachael

        My mom recently told me the same thing, that she wished she had taught me to stand up to my dad and stepdad instead of staying quiet. I told her that she did the best she could in the situation and I don’t think I would have done better. Hopefully your kids will tell you the same thing some day (I also suffer from low self esteem as a result of abuse).

  4. TuffEnuff

    Thank you for this well-timed article. This is what I am gathering my courage to tell my children and the people at church: that in order to stand up for the truth and not be a keeper of lies, I must divorce. This is going to be a real whammy for them — totally backwards from what they have been taught (as was I). This article is a great help to me.

  5. Lori

    Excellent letter.
    And this: “I did not break this marriage covenant; my husband did.” <—too many people do not understand this, no, refuse to understand this.

    • Krikit

      Yes. What the abused has done is drag around a putrid, decaying corpse for years, until determining, finally, to bury the dead.

      The poorest of unGodly scriptural teachings regarding marriage, making it the revered instead of God, is responsible for thousands of households in which marriages are corpses in desperate need of being buried.

    • I so totally agree…too many people do not understand…friends, counsellors, pastors. Why is our thinking so contrary to theirs. …

  6. StandsWithAFist

    Excellent. Inspired.
    And how exhausting. I feel her exhaustion. It brings tears to my eyes.
    I think we can all identify with the sheer exhaustion of abuse, & the frustration of being ignored during the abuse and then chastised when we resist.
    I am wondering if we can hear some of the comments made to this dear woman by her “friend”?
    Or, perhaps Barb & Ps. Jeff could do a anonymous compilation of many such letters that so many of us have also received?
    I am curious to see/read/hear if there is a probable, predictable narrative by such “friends”?
    Perhaps then we can be equipped with our own responses.
    I know Barb has written on this before, but it would be enlightening if we could see/read snippets of similar letters.
    There is something oddly comforting knowing “it’s not just me”, b/c I would bet most of us feel like there is “something wrong” with us.

    • That’s a good idea, SWAF. But Jeff and I are even more than usually busy right now.
      Jeff’s working on our new book. I’m about to be off blog for a couple of weeks to focus on work that needs to be done on my deceased father’s estate.

      Your suggestion may come to fruition at some point, but certainly not very soon!

  7. one of the little people

    Thank you Anonymous. Your words will help encourage so many.

    On the same note as the responsibility for their marriages unrighteously being laid on the shoulders of godly wives was this article posted yesterday in Christian Today magazine: http://www.christiantoday.com/article/xxx.church.shares.3.ways.wives.can.help.their.porn.addicted.husbands.on.their.road.to.recovery/103370.htm

    • Yes, I read that article a few days ago. It is NOT a good article. It misses out a lot of the most important things that needed to be said.

  8. Scared momma

    My family has been very supportive, however, constantly am being told I need to take responsibility for my half of the problems. I know there are multiple post here about that but can’t seem to find them. Anyone know some titles or topic they are under.

    • Jeff Crippen

      SM – try going to the blog home page and using the search window. Put in terms like “false guilt”. You can also look under the “Tags” tab at the top where topics like false guilt are listed and will connect you with all posts tagged with that subject.

    • Also, you might want to look at the posts under out tag Sin Leveling.

  9. TruthSerum

    You do not owe anyone an explanation for protecting yourself, period.

    • Thanks for giving those links, Anonymous! You’ve saved me time. 🙂

  10. freedomplease

    Amen!!

  11. grace551

    So true and well put. I prayed for God to comfort you and your children and restore your souls.

  12. healinginhim

    Thank you for allowing this letter to be posted. So many of us are touched by its contents.

    RE: Sunflower’s comments concerning when she showed anger and then being accused of “always being angry”. Oh, I can so relate to that. My pain was so deep because no one would listen to me. AND then when you remain silent you are accused of not being able to talk to or in my case ‘he’ has finally gotten what he has always wanted … that we not converse at all but just live in the same house.

    The fact that other professing Christians see nothing wrong with this or are not brave enough to counter ‘him’ on this continues to deepen the wound.
    So grateful for the encouraging messages from Pastor Crippen, ACFJ and the many commenters.

  13. Anonymous

    Thank you for posting this. I’m grateful that the author of this letter had a pastor’s wife who was knowledgeable enough to encourage her to leave her husband and that she was able to recognize that the author had suffered trauma.

    This was on another post on this website but it does help to explain why we get so frustrated when people refuse us (the victims) the chance to speak the truth and stop covering for the abuser.

    From https://cryingoutforjustice.com/2014/10/09/thursday-thought-does-it-take-two-to-tango/

    “Suzanne October 9, 2014 – 6:07 am
    I hate it too because of the implication that there is never a victim, that this is a normal marriage in which neither party is an abuser and both are equally responsible for the “problem”. It falsely accuses the innocent party before all the facts are known and even after they have been brought to light, as if a victim somehow wants to be mistreated.”

  14. Finallybreakingfree

    I wish I had read this months ago. Although, it probably wouldn’t have made a difference to my toughest critics, those who are for marriage only and have been pulled in by my husband’s claim of divine instant transformation.

    I just finished reading Unholy Charade and I’ve been sitting on my bed crying after reading the poem on the last pages. It’s almost as if I could have written it myself. I am still in the process of breaking free from my oppression though. I completely related to the account in the gray box on page 202. I finally have said “Enough.” I am in a limbo period though, waiting for pieces to fall into place so that I can move forward. It is a very hard place to be, a big test of trust and patience. But God has been so faithful and gracious to me in everything up to this point, He will continue to be so.

    I really just got on here to say thank you for writing the book and that it has been so good for me to read. Thank you!

    • Thanks so much, Finallybreaking free!

      And welcome to the blog, since this is your first comment 🙂

      If you haven’t already done so, I encourage you to check out our New Users Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

  15. Still Struggling

    I’m thankful for this woman allowing her letter to be shared. She is strong and courageous writing such a truth-bomb laden letter to her “well-meaning” critic. I have a supportive family and a few supportive friends but many know little about abuser’s tactics and occasionally use sin-leveling and victim blaming without realizing it. Her letter gives me hope that I can someday be as strong.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Truth bomb. I like it!

  16. Anonymous

    I have been advised by several pastors to leave my abusive husband. He has been having an extra marital affair and has refused to stop seeing the woman. He has been emotionally and financially abusive for many years. I am not sure how I survived so many years of marriage and I realized God must have been watching over me.

    There are days when I question whether God could exist and tolerate what people like my husband does and get away with. Sometimes it seems like abuses get away with so much, whilst the abused has to wait for judgment day to get the justice she deserves. I know many cases where the abuser husband moves on with his life successfully after wrecking havoc on his wife and children whist the wife is left to struggle financially and face the social stigma on her own.

    The only reason I cannot leave my husband is that in the part of the world I live in, a spouse can convert to Islam and forcefully convert young children to Islam without the other parent’s consent. I will fight to ensure my child remains a Christian. To summarize I will have to run to another country (which is not possible) or I will have to put up with my husband wickedness no matter what, so that he is not provoked to convert my child. What would you do if in my shoes? I am trapped in my marriage. It is like a death sentence.

  17. Marge

    Brave, gracious, and truthful. Whoever sent this in is the epitome of class and Christianity, and I am sorry for the ignorance and abuse she has had to deal with.

    • Hi Marge,

      Thank you for your encouragement and Welcome to the blog!

      We like to encourage new commenters to read our New Users’ Info page as it gives tips for staying safe when commenting on the blog.

      Again Welcome!

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