A Cry For Justice

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

What Does the Devil Look Like? Getting Wise to the Abuser’s Victim-Playing Schemes

One of the most frequent tactics used by the worst abuser I have ever had to deal with was that of playing the victim. And it was more than that. He would put on a facial expression that had successfully “worked” for him all his life, gaining him people’s sympathy. At other times he would behave almost as if he was having a breakdown of some kind, leading observers to believe he must be under terrible and undeserved stress as a result of being horribly wronged. If he did suffer some pain in life, you can be sure that he would capitalize on it to maximum advantage.

This man’s chief skill in other words, as he constantly labored to gain allies against his targeted victim, was doing or saying anything that would gain him pity. This is what a sociopath craves. Pity. Because when he is pitied, he has you. You become his ally.

And it is long past time that we all wised up to this nastiness.

I personally know, as do many of you, abuse victims and other targets of these wicked ones, people who are seeing their friends, their close family members, fellow church members and others turned against them by their abuser. How? Pity. “Oh, oh, my. Poor, poor man. How you are suffering.” Hug, hug.

THIS is what the devil looks like very, very often. And when you pity him or his servants, you are joining forces with him against the innocent.

I have been accused more than once of not having enough empathy for people. Well, I can tell you that I do have empathy. The trick is to learn to have it for the right people and to withhold it from others. One of these characters showed up at our church one Sunday morning recently. “Oh, just look at how neatly this man was dressed and yet, how sad his demeanor. He must be suffering some distress. Let’s see if we can help him.”

Nope.

I called him to my office and in front of (and with the full support of) our elders, confronted him with information I knew about him from another source, opened the door and told him to leave and never come back. Look of hurt and confusion swept over his face. “Leave and never come back. You are not to be here again.”

The Lord Jesus showed deep empathy for many people. But He also withheld it from many more — the wicked. We must do the same.

Your abuser will seek to make you feel sorry for him. DON’T. HE isn’t sorry for you or anyone else. Abusers hiding in churches will approach us and through facial expressions, tone of voice, things they say or don’t say, work to make us pity them. STOP PITYING THEM! Stop listening to them. Stop helping them. Just stop!

“Oh, my. yes, he has done very wicked things. He has treated his wife in shameful ways. But…but…he was just diagnosed with cancer.” DO NOT PITY HIM! What you need to learn, what we all must learn, is that not even a diagnosis of terminal cancer is going to make such a person repent. He will STILL use his illness, or the death or illness of someone close to him, the same way he always uses such things. It may be inconceivable to us, but we must understand this clearly. Do not put yourself in his circumstances, think about how YOU would feel, and then extrapolate your feelings to him. Stop doing that. He is not you. He does not think like you do. He thinks and schemes like what he is — an evil man working to control and deceive you through your pity.

Here it is from the Lord’s own Word. We of course do not literally kill an evil man as Israel did under the Old Covenant. But the point is, we are to deal with such a person in a manner quite the opposite of pity. Pity his victim. But do not pity him.

If your brother, the son of your mother, or your son or your daughter or the wife you embrace or your friend who is as your own soul entices you secretly, saying, ‘Let us go and serve other gods,’ which neither you nor your fathers have known, some of the gods of the peoples who are around you, whether near you or far off from you, from the one end of the earth to the other, you shall not yield to him or listen to him, nor shall your eye pity him, nor shall you spare him, nor shall you conceal him. But you shall kill him. Your hand shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the people. You shall stone him to death with stones, because he sought to draw you away from the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. (Deuteronomy 13:6-10)

How many churches today are doing precisely what I have boldfaced in these verses? What do you suppose the Lord thinks of that?

  • You shall not yield to him
  • You shall not listen to him
  • You shall not pity him
  • You shall not spare him
  • You shall not conceal him

There it is. That is how we are to treat the devil. That is how we are to treat his wicked servants.

 

Further Reading

Do not Pity the Wicked:  Abusers Use Pity as a Snare

Christians Needs to Get “Pity” Right and Stop Pitying the Wicked While Refusing Pity to the Innocent

 

***

If you’ve never commented on this blog before it is important to read our New Users’ Info page because it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog. And if you’re new to this blog we encourage you look at our FAQs. The New Users Info page and the FAQs can also be found on the top menu bar.

61 Comments

  1. healinginhim

    “The Lord Jesus showed deep empathy for many people. But He also withheld it from many more — the wicked. We must do the same.”
    My abusers like to remind me that I’m “the religious” one so I should be more forgiving. Another woman who assists with Spiritual Care at a local facility knows my testimony and stopped me to say, “Just be thankful you have a roof over your head.”

    So many of the local churches are on the same page and just want the “love and empathy” of the Lord. They don’t believe in abuse within the Christian circle and are convinced that many of us just have “bad marriages” … so let’s just continue on with the Church’s weekly programs and keep smiling.

    • Renewed Spirit

      Yet, if you were in the wrong, then those who are spiritual should restore you in a spirit of gentleness…this just came to mind and helps me sort through a lot of ‘stuff’.

  2. Karen

    Pastor Jeff,

    Why is it that one of the weapons an abusive husbands uses, is the “You are having an affair” accusation to dominate, control, and eventually end her leaving the house to have a social life? Or the “I have a good source telling me “You are having an affair,” to make the wife believe others hate and seek to destroy her, so she will feel insecure in going out in public, even to the grocery store?

    Many of us who face these false accusations, end up with physical illnesses due to the constant pounding of our abusive husband’s words, ie., false accusations, constant criticisms and personal put-downs, and using the Scriptures as a weapon, telling their wives they are not saved because they don’t faithfully sit by their leadership husbands every Sunday morning with a fake smile painted on their faces.

    I find it humiliating, embarrassing, and shameful how abusive husbands can be so sweet, nice, and helpful to the “church people,” especially the women who show him positive attention (one of my husband’s favorite women asked him to preach one Sunday and I quote from her email to him “I would love to hear what the Lord it showing and telling you.” I find myself asking the question, “Why doesn’t my husband treat me as nice as he does that women friend in church, or why doesn’t he help me around the house once in awhile, all the while watching him drive miles and miles to help church members when they move from house to house.

    And yet, back in the private quarters of the home, the husband is emotionally, verbally, and on occasion, physically abusive to their wife, without one morsel of remorse or guilt for their actions. I am told that the husband wouldn’t be so angry and condemning if the wife did everything right, for he is the head of the household and everything revolves around him.

    I’m sorry, Jeff, but I can’t sit in church on Sunday’s any longer being an actress in my husband’s play acting, and I’m growing tired of the false accusations spewed my way and at times fear for my life. I pray every day that our LORD will protect my soul against someone who I believe, makes it clear that he desires my destruction. How can a man who is on his church’s “church board,” be such two very different people?

    • Jeff Crippen

      Karen – He does these things because in his very being he is evil, and evil of a particularly wicked genre. The kind that wears the saintly wool disguise as the wolf mixes it up with the sheep. Whenever a person exhibits this duality of personas, you can always be sure that the wicked one is the real person. That is who he really is. The nice religious church board member guy is a deceptive disguise.

      Why does he make those adultery accusations? Because in his being HE is an adulterer. He is falsely accusing you of evil when he is the evildoer, and doing so to control you. He is casting his guilt upon you. Is he actually committing adultery? We don’t know, but would we really be shocked if we found out he is? Nope.

      No apologies necessary for not continuing to play along. But don’t be naive. The majority of the church will refuse to give up their notion that he is a saint and in most cases they end up blaming the victim, siding with the abuser. No matter. Do as the Lord leads you.

      Many blessings to you in Christ.

    • Amy

      Karen,
      My ex did the same thing, accusing me of cheating on him and then saying that’s why I kicked him out of our house. When in reality, HE LEFT! This was in ’09 and even to this day I’m hearing things he said about me to others, craziness! But having an affair?? Hardly! He was the one who flirted with the waitresses, other women at the church, actually any woman we came in contact with. I think he saw himself as a gift to women. He too treated every other woman so sweetly and even would tell me how pretty and nice our next door neighbor was or the wife of a couple we used to hang out with was so sweet and kind. Basically to let me know I wasn’t any of those things. 😦

      And then in private he hardly talked to me except to criticize, tell me I wasn’t sexual enough, pretty enough, etc. So interesting how one of the lies he tried to spread was that I was sleeping around. And the sad thing is, there were those who believed it.

      I pray you find peace in the Lord and the ability to become free from abuse.
      Blessings,
      Amy

    • One of the reasons abusive men accuse their wives of having affairs is because the “You are having an affair!” accusation is a ***legitimate*** accusation that a non-abusive person might make to their partner if they actually had picked up subtle signs that their parter was having an affair.

      The abusive man levels this accusation at his wife not because he actually suspects his wife is having an affair, but because he deeply believes he is entitled to monopolise her attention and her thoughts. He believes she has no right to her own thoughts and opinions or likes & dislikes. He believes she should devote her attention to him like a compass points to north all the time. He believes she should have all the opinions he has, and if she doesn’t wholly agree with him on things she is being disobedient. And of course, those beliefs of his are entirely self-centred and very unrealistic — because he cannot scrub out her personhood. But he believes he can and he does he best to try.

      If he accuses her of having an affair, that sounds ‘reasonable’. But if he were to accuse her of not making him her god, that would sound so unreasonable. So he makes the ‘reasonable-sounding’ accusation to throw her onto the back foot.

      And it’s a very good accusation for him to tell bystanders too, because everyone knows that some women have affairs behind their husband’s backs…

  3. A

    So true. When I confronted my ex-husband with his abuse and research I had done on domestic violence, his response was if I had done as much research on depression as I had on domestic abuse maybe I would understand him. Implying that he was a poor victim of depression and if we only just excused his abusive behavior because he was depressed. Blah, blah, blah. Gross.

    • M&M

      I’ve had clinically severe depression in the past without abusing people and I’ve seen others go through the death of a parent without abusing so I’m happy to point that out when it comes up among my friends!! And to support fellow bloggers <3.

      • Lost my cookies

        @M&M YES! I don’t think anyone spelled this out for me before I escaped, but even afterwards it was such an eye opener and it is one of my go-to responses to people who choose not to understand.

  4. M&M

    This is relevant to a friend’s situation. When people say “love your enemies” and “Jesus helped the poor” I don’t feel like I can say “don’t help the guy” BUT I do say make sure that your help to him doesn’t hurt the victim. Don’t reduce support for her and don’t give the guy access to her. So far no one is disagreeing with that.

  5. Amy

    My ex was a pro at the using the pity card, and the sad thing is, it worked for him with many people, especially at our former church. I of course was seen as a cold-hearted, ungodly woman who refused to give into his attempts to use his illness, and even fake a heart condition to get me back. And yes, he actually did that! I ended up taking him to a cardiologist because he was having chest pains and interestingly on the drive in that day he was happy and chatting and trying to be somewhat loving towards me. Once at the doctor’s office he put on his act of being this sweet innocent man who was there with his wife (although he had walked out on me months before and was trying to weasel his way back into our home). I remember the doctor coming out of the exam room to talk with me and he seemed to get what was going on. I told the doctor how my then-husband had left our home and he just nodded in this understanding way and said how he couldn’t find anything wrong with him but had to admit him overnight for observation just in case. He patted me on the shoulder and went back into the exam room.

    And in the 20 years we were married, it’s always seemed to be the medical professionals who have never bought into his poor little me, look how sick I am routine. Me, I was just always seen as insensitive and uncaring.

  6. Jessica

    Are we allowed to share these articles on social media? I have tried to address this very article myself to help others see the truth but Jeff does such a better job of relating it. People tend to roll their eyes when I try to bring up this subject because I’ve been accused of abuse from my ex abuser. But if they look back on HIS past social media posts they SHOULD clearly see he enjoys and loves pity and is always a victim no matter what. It’s always someone else’s fault, my fault that he shot and killed the family dog dead, his ex’s fault for his young child’s (made-up) depression, my fault his son made bad grades (although if he makes a good grade, it’s because his dad is a genius), etc…

    I know that there are a lot of people he does not fool but there are a lot of loyal followers (including church-going Christians [even though my ex is a proud atheist]) who believe him without question or hearing the other side of the story and take up for him. I suppose they want to show him the love of Jesus but they are hurting innocent people while doing so by blindly believing him and saying we (the real victims) should not be the way we are and how badly we mistreated him by “running away” (by initiating No-Contact).

    I wish the whole world could read this article so it could just maybe plant a seed in people’s minds about these types of people.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Share away! Go for it.

  7. Mindy

    Just this morning the saying “nobody likes me, everybody hates me, I’m going to go eat worms” kept ringing in my ears as I was thinking about my husband and his entire mindset…

    • M&M

      There might be a reason people don’t like him and besides, worms are full of protein 🙂

      • Mindy

        “Worms as protein” was the lighthearted lift my spirit needed- I literally laughed out loud :-). Yes, I am a firm believer in “common denominators” – he fails to see himself as one, though

    • Renewed Spirit

      Oh dear, I’ve felt this way on the receiving end except the eating worms part – and then I start to wonder again if I am the problem…

      • Dear Renewed Spirit, PLEASE manually edit the comments box every time before you hit “submit” to make sure it doesn’t have anything in the “URL” field.

        Or alternatively (and this would be easier) de-link the URL which is currently linked to your WordPress ID. If you need help with doing this, email twbtc.acfj@gmail.com

  8. Anonymous

    “If you can sin and not weep over it, you are an heir of Hell. If you can go into sin, and afterwards feel satisfied to have done so, you are on the road to destruction. If there are no prickings of conscience, no inward torments, no bleeding wounds; if you have no throbs and heavings of a bosom that cannot rest; if your soul never feels filled with wormwood and gall when you know you have done evil, you are no child of God.” (Charles Spurgeon)

    • Anonymous – Spurgeon states it so well. AND when the man I married professed to be a Christian he also admitted to being the kind of person that Spurgeon describes; a man without a conscience.

      • Anonymous

        A hallmark trait of a sociopath, is a man without a conscience. They can do almost anything and then act as if nothing happened. What’s all the fuss about?

    • StandsWithAFist

      This.

    • Hi Anonymous, can you please give us a link to where Spurgeon said that?

      • Anonymous

        Happy to do that, Barbara. You will find it in your email inbox.

    • KindofAnonymous

      Wow, that is actually reassuring. I mean, its hardly a pleasant feeling to have your guts roiling inside and be beside yourself because you`ve done something that, if you had seen clearly the whole lay of the land, you would not have done, but at least its reassuring to know that it means you are not a lost cause.

  9. Bunkababy

    I don’t know if this has been addressed yet or not. Women abuse. My mother was a horrific abuser who played the victim. When we started church at the age of seven she had been divorced for three years. She milked her single mother status in the church for all it was worth. Under the guise of caring for the widows and orphans, she had some really genuine people sucked into her web.

    More recently my daughter was employed by a full on, narcissistic, con artist lying abuser. My daughter was wrongfully fired by her as with others. I think this woman can fit into every category you have ever written about. She has conned her church, the non profit she runs, she has conned that board of directors. Everyone who has had dealings with her that have gone sour run for their lives and never look back because they are afraid of her destroying their personal lives. My daughter went to our government agency that deals with workplace bullying, and she has a couple of claims to the point of adjudication. Prayer for justice would be welcome. This woman has torn my daughter’s reputation to shreds spreading vile lies all over town. This particular woman has used the victim card so often it has become almost comical. She has had [multiple health problems] that all of a sudden she miraculously gets healed from when the sympathy card runs out. Then she moves on to another ailment. People who only see her at bible study or on Sunday are clueless.

    This same daughter had a BF whose mother is as abuser. She has hit, verbally, and emotionally strangled her eldest boy (who was my daughter’s BF). She conned him into breaking up with my daughter. He was convinced he needed to break up with my daughter but he didn’t know why. As soon as this happened the aunt knew her sister caused it. But the extended family receded into the shadows because they are afraid and tired of rousing the angry bear.

    Meanwhile her son has lapped into a severe depression, has gained a huge amount of weight and has no help.
    Again, no family or pastor has intervened in any of these two examples. They run. They don’t confront even though all of them knew the circumstances.

    I know you usually address abusive men, but something must start addressing the women in the church who abuse. Because I can pull a few people out my hat just in the last year that have damaged so many people in their path.

    Never mind my own life. I was brought up with a vile mother who abused. Except for the suckers, she caused havoc in church to other members. She threatened my youth pastor’s job, if they went with further with their concerns of my being abused. My youth pastor who had three small children and a wife backed off.

    In my experience women abusers in church get away with murder. No one dare address them. They are the master manipulators of the sympathy card and can fly to the moon and back on that alone.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Bunkababy – Yes, we do state that women can be abusers. We speak of the abuser in male pronouns because that is by far the most common scenario. Abuse in domestic settings is fundamentally a male issue, with some exceptions. We do know genuine abuse victims who are men.

      With all that said, let me say that some of the worst evil power and control seekers I have ever had to deal with in the church have been women. The choir director from the pit with fangs. The youth ministry leader who was Jekyl outside and Mr. Hyde in reality. The “godly eminent saint” who home-schooled and chased Vision Forum. All were in “ministry” for the promotion of self and they were incredibly mean and cruel and destructive when challenged. After years of battle, they are gone. They had been left unconfronted for years and years by the previous pastor, turning the “church” into a garden gone to weed.

      • Bunkababy

        Do you actually get rid of them? Wow.

  10. kim

    I realize it is a secular work, but in the book Dante’s Inferno, the hero is led on a tour through hell. One of the lessons he learns there is that we are not to show pity for the damned, who put themselves in hell through their own actions. Showing pity for these evildoers denies the perfect justice of God. I believe it is the same concept for our living evildoers- they deserve no pity and our job is to protect ourselves and others from them.

    • StillWiggling

      A similar scenario can be found in C.S. Lewis’ “The Great Divorce.” He makes it very clear that God doesn’t send people to hell, they send themselves, and if they were to be let into heaven, they would try to turn it into hell.

      • Hi crankybeach, did you know you’ve been using two screen names on this blog? If that bothers you and you want to change it, please email twbtc.acfj@gmail.com — thanks!

      • crankybeach

        Hi, only just saw this message. Having two screen names isn’t an issue. I only use StillWiggling for commenting on these Christian and abuse blogs; everywhere else I’m CrankyBeach. I had previously commented on a secular blog and apparently was still signed in as CrankyBeach. Whatever. Anyway… I’m not particularly hiding or anything, so no big deal. 🙂

      • Thanks for letting us know 🙂

  11. God-fearing mom

    Mother-in-law played the pity card on me once and it worked. I thought it was remorse because of several weeks of me giving her the silent treatment for trying to gaslight me and my young niece when I confronted her for trying to get my 5 year old to disobey me. My young niece was a witness as well as my daughters after I discovered evidence of this. The pity card got me to ease up and forgive but with great caution with good reason.

    She passed away in a rough way after being hospitalized a few weeks. During this time I prayed for her soul that the Holy Spirit would convict her and she did not have to apologize to me. I got word from my husband that she asked him to pray with her to make sure Jesus was in her heart. So thankfully it sounds like made her peace with God before she died. She also told my husband to tell me that she loved me.

    • Jeff Crippen

      God-fearing mom – While accounts such as this one which you have told about your mother-in-law’s profession of faith appear to be a good ending, we want to caution everyone, including ourselves, about putting their hopes in such outcomes when it comes to abusers. Abusers are, first of all, very good actors and can even play-act on their death bed, working right to the end to get pity and even to guilt others. It would not be wise for any of us to make decisions in regard to abusers based upon the hope that if we are just patient, we can see them repent and come to Christ.

      As a pastor, I am extremely skeptical of the genuineness of death-bed conversions or claims of repentance. It can happen (cf the repentant thief on the cross), but a person who has walked in hardness of heart and self-deception their entire life is more likely to be more like the culprit who has been caught in his crime and is now standing before the judge at sentencing.

      • God-fearing mom

        Yes, I agree! We can cut ties with these people because they are unsafe and if our conscience (whether misguided or not) prompts us to pray, go ahead but have no contact if at all possible.

        I actually believe her situation might have had something to do with what 1 Corinthians 5:5 describes because I prayed with tears for God to take my problem with her away from me and remove that mountain already and soon after she got sick and I refused praying for her healing this time and prayed instead for repentance. I never visited her at the hospital. I really only empathized with my husband and children who love her the most. Anyway, my conscience didn’t let me just not pray for her soul. For my husbands sake.

      • Anonymous

        How one lives is typically how one dies. Perhaps that’s why we are left with a heavy heart when we see an abuser draw their last breath, because we now know they stand in judgment before their Creator.

      • Anonymous

        Thank you pastor Crippen for once again explaining things based on the truth.

        Most of us are inundated by church teachings, through (often contrived) stories of miraculous conversions, that are based on what WE do. This is such a trap. For the abusers, they can endlessly make up new and embellished tales of how THEY influenced so and so by doing such and such and if we question them or point out that IF God intervened it is because HE is God, NOT us–this allows them to blast us for not having faith. Or for those of us who have a conscience, we are enlisted to constantly pray and lament for–UP UNTIL THE VERY END–an abuser who has no desire to change but loves attention and a chance to abuse others with their last dying breath–and just look at this testimony to prove it!

        We are not to pray for the dead. Those in the grave. The bible states this many times–that it is while we are alive that we have hope and have a chance to praise God. (The Catholic Church tells us to pray for the dead which is another draw for psychopaths–the more evil they are the more we are to pray for them EVEN AFTER THEIR DEATH–what a way for them to think they are being worshiped even after they are dead! FYI, C. S. Lewis believed in praying for the dead….I’m not sure if he changed his mind about this before his death.) When God shows us that someone is spiritually dead (doesn’t have a conscience) we are to have nothing to do with them (2 Timothy 3:5). Even to hand them over to Satan (1 Corinthians 5:5) And IF we have been wrong about them, this leaving them alone, using a long-handled spoon so-to-speak way of dealing with them, allows God to be God in their lives, without all the static and chirping. If they DO come to Jesus in the end, they will completely understand why we did what we did and love us even more for it because it gave God a chance to reach them. A true Christian LOVES others, and especially loves other CHRISTIANS!

        I have to say about my husband’s dad, who was a psychopath. On his death bed he did not try to pretend to convert. He said he was fine / content with the way he was. And guess what? For psychopaths, they ARE content and even THRILLED with what they are because they CHOSE to be this way and they delight in themselves–even when faced with death–because they wanted to be what they are above all things. I think the reason this is so hard for most of us to accept is because we were never taught this truth and were instead encouraged and even forced to pretend that all people were the same fundamentally. Nope. Some people belong to their father the devil and some belong to God. World’s apart from each other eternally.

  12. bright sunshinin' day

    These abusers can play the pity game all they want and may successfully pocket many “blind” people along the way to feel sorry for them. Truth is, God does not fall for it. He sees right through their play-acting right down to motives.

    God does not listen to everyone like some preach.

    God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, He hears him (John 9:31).

    This verse may come as a surprise to some, since we all have sinned and come short of God’s glory, but there is a difference between a sinner who has repented by turning to God for healing and a sinner who is his own god and has no desire to submit to God.

    • puritangirl

      You’re right about God not listening to everyone. My family has recently come out of a toxic church situation, and as I consider the pious platitudes and facades of our abusers (and the people who abetted them) I often return to two verses from Proverbs.

      “The sacrifice of the wicked is abomination to the LORD, but the prayer of the upright is acceptable to him” (15:8).

      “If one turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination” (28:9).

      Those who flagrantly violate God’s law and will in their treatment of others, especially fellow believers, ought to know they can’t fool or pacify Him with whatever spiritual act they put on. Obviously I can’t let my desire for justice be an excuse for bitterness; I should want that church to repent for the people’s own good. But I do still derive some comfort from the knowledge that God is administering some form of judgment to them now even as the regional and denominational authorities refuse to.

      • Hi Puritangirl,

        Welcome to the blog! We like to encourage new commenter’s to read the New User’s Info page as it gives tips for staying safe when commenting on the blog.

        Again, Welcome!

  13. M&M

    The most confusing part is when those who show pity to the perpetrator fail to show pity to the victim. Does she have to be in your face and loud to have her suffering be significant?

  14. Abby

    All of my abusers are victims. Some have brought up females today in their comments. I just wonder if it is the easiest way for girls to abuse, through victimhood.

    My mother, who is a narcissist, used her victimhood to hurt me for nearly 20 years before I walked away.

    When I was a child, I was the golden child, probably because I was happy most of the time, easy to get along with, willing to please others. I created no problems for my parents to deal with, where my sisters did (there were 4 of us.) So I had a very nice childhood.

    My mother always needed a lot attention, but I didn’t mind. She could have all that she wanted as far as I was concerned. We all worked very hard to please our mom.

    What started the abuse was when My husband and I moved and she took care of my plants for a month during the transition. When I retrieved my plants and thanked her for helping, one of the baskets was missing. I asked her what had happened to the basket and she said that there never was a basket on it. Well, that bothered me but I didn’t say anything. I just never argued with my mom. About a month or so later I was left in her house alone babysitting my and my sisters children while they ran to the store. So I went down the basement and I found the basket hiding behind a bunch of boxes, I brought it upstairs and set it by the door. When she walked in, she immediately saw the basket and said, “Oh, I see that you found the basket.” I only said “yes.” I didn’t accuse her of stealing it, I didn’t confront her in any way. Nothing was ever mentioned about the dumb basket again but it was the setting for 17 years of abuse. Every time that we were together from that time on she told others how mean I was being to her (I was never mean to her). She turned my entire family against me. Sisters, nieces and nephews, aunts, uncles and cousins. Well, my reaction was to withdraw, then the withdrawal turned into me being mean to her. It was all smoke in mirrors, spin. Anything good can be spun into something bad. What started probably because she couldn’t allow others to see her as a thief, turned into a fake victimhood that got her a lot of attention for many, many years.

    I had one sister who didn’t abandon me like my other 2 sisters did but she never stood up for me either. She sat on the fence. I asked her once why she never stood up for me when she would learn the truth and all she said was, “I don’t know.” I thought that she was just scared to do it and I didn’t hold it against her.

    Well, about 6 years ago, my brand new daughter in law started behaving the same way as my mother. My husband wanted to part ways with our son because he could see the writing on the wall and knew that the situation was going to be hopeless. She wouldn’t take responsibility for herself and the way that she was treating us and my son protected all her lies even when he knew that they were lies. My husband said that she would find a way to blame us for their divorce if we didn’t just back out. I knew that he was right because of all that we had learned from my mom. So, we parted ways with my mom at the same time. I told her that DIL was treating us the same way that she had for so many years and if I had to lose my son, I wasn’t going to keep a relationship with her.

    Sorry for the rambling on but these things don’t happen overnight. They take many years to figure out the craziness of it all. I was in my fifties before I realized that my mother was a narcissist. It doesn’t take me long now to see the red flags.

  15. BreatheAgain

    Wow….thanks so much for this article. I needed to be reminded of this truth. The abuser in my life was out of the house at one point, we were separated. Then he needed emergency surgery. More than one dr. told me it was a miracle he had not dropped dead. Not long after this event, his attitude was unchanged. He was bitter and angry at me for having stood up to him (not that he’d ever admit that was the reason). It was all, poor me. And when I told him what his doctors had said…..that it was a miracle he had not died on the spot….I asked him “aren’t you thankful for that?” And he said no. And he kind of looked at me and said something like, “I can’t be thankful because there are still things that are not right yet.” I.E. you have not wanted me back or said you’re sorry for standing up to me. Amazing. It is still hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that this is really how he is.

  16. Anonymous

    BreatheAgain, So TRUE!

    My husband automatically blames me for EVERYTHING. It’s such a knee-jerk reaction for him, but now I often beat him to the punch. Let’s say the door gets caught by the wind and it slams hard on him….I’ll jump in and say something like, “Wow, I can even control the wind! I’m awesome!” And he’ll whine back, “Yeah, but if you hadn’t gone so slowly through the door in the first place, I could have made it through before the wind caught it!” (Boooo hoooo, woe is me, I am god and you aren’t worshiping me for my awesomeness:( And it IS your fault!!!! )

    Or if he’s trying to make me aware of his opinion of me by looking me up and down like I’m a piece of meat, I’ll say something like, “That’s a cool-looking new mailbox the neighbors have!” To which he’ll be mad that I didn’t take the bait and ask him if I look okay and he’ll say something like, “I don’t care about their mailbox and did you get your hair cut AGAIN?!” He pretends to hate my hair short because I never asked for his approval….it looks awesome.

    It’s taken me YEARS to get the this point by the way, but everything a true abuser says / does / thinks is to somehow harm those who’ve been deemed the enemy (most often the spouse), and as such, we should be GRATEFUL to be receiving their emotional and spiritual excrement. We are nothing but a toilet to them–a toilet that SHOULD BE GRATEFUL to hold the buttocks, with an up close view of the poop-shoot—-of a LIVING god!!!

    • Abby

      The first thing I read this morning is your comment, Anonymous, and you have me giggling. It’s gonna be a good day!

    • anony

      Wow! I hope someday I become like you in your ability to see the game, not take the bait, etc. Good for you!

      But I think I would have been killed for having said or done anything along those lines with my abuser. But there are other crappy people who inject themselves into my life to basically make me feel like poo at all times, all the while stealing my stuff, breaking other laws, and doing all sorts of criminal stuff.

      It’s such a time-suck. Dealing with evil persons, criminals, and the like.

      • Raped By Evil

        I WAS afraid for a long time and God worked slowly with me. Another commenter stated that she went through this as well—that when she first started standing up for herself she was afraid, but as time went on and her husband didn’t hit her and she seemed to be able to stand up for herself–she got stronger. I was afraid of physical retaliation initially because my husband has been physical with me in the past.

        I started slowly–terrified–but would just speak one or two truths when he accused me / insulted me. I had always thought I was garbage for my entire life. So for me to SAY let alone THINK there was anything good about myself, was absolutely foreign to me–I felt like I didn’t have the right to say good things about myself, that I was lying.

        Do what feels safe for you.

        But even if you don’t say responses out loud to defend yourself, say them in your mind. It helps because truth comes from the Lord and he desires us to know it. We are built up with His truth through his word. It also helps ground us and can keep us in touch with reality when the fog of their lies seems to be everywhere.

    • BreatheAgain

      Your post here reminded me of a particularly memorable ‘incident’ where he was blaming me and my son for something HE did. He backed his car into a pole while son and i were in the car with him. He absolutely glowered at me….i could tell he was just itching to blame me for what he had done. I had the nerve to be talking to my son in the back seat while he was backing up to leave a parking lot. The only reason he did not verbalize his anger is because he knew I would call him out on it. And obviously he knew it was not really my fault but his own….but the threatening glare and red face got the message across. Usually at the least he’d say something like “you distracted me.” Grrrr

      • anon

        It’s raining? You caused it!
        There’s traffic? It’s your fault!
        Someone sneezed? Off with your head!

        That whole “itching to blame me for what he had done” were the so-called ‘good times’. When you start feeling guilty, panicked, and ashamed at anything and everything, then you know your goose has been cooked and your brainwashing/mind-messing is complete.

  17. KayE

    If my ex husband ever shows up to your church, I hope you turn him away too. He is bad news.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Will do!!

  18. KindofAnonymous

    I remember how hard it was for me to admit that my own mother was capable of deliberately vengeful, spiteful acts of jealousy and intentional sabotage towards me. What made it esp hard was that she had a history of severe child abuse and later domestic abuse and would hide behind that to deflect any confrontation of sin that was legitimately earned, leaving you feeling that you were cruel to be angry when she had been so badly hurt herself. I felt like a grade A jerk for even thinking such a thing of my mother. It was like entertaining thoughts of heresy. She did things like purposefully sabotage a job interview for me, interfere in my marriage, put me down and treat me like dirt in front of others.

    On the one hand, just like my dad, she could be a wonderful parent, behind you, supportive, understanding. On the other hand, she could be selfish, immature, really screwed up and irresponsible, grossly immoral, abusive verbally and emotionally. Both my parents had major issues with feeling robbed of life and opportunity by their abusers and so had huge issues with self pity, bitterness and jeajousy which were directed at us kids when something good happened for us that didn`t happen for them. I remember asking for a sweet sixteen party and hearing `Why should I do that for you? No one did it for me“.

    Even as an adult, I remember once telling her I was planning to take lessons in a sport I liked. She wasn`t paying for it. I lived with her but paid board. Her response was `Must be nice. I wish I could do the things I wanted but I had you kids to raise“. By the time I was in my mid twenties I felt guilty for living and needed hours of reassurance from a friend that it was okay for me to do something I wanted to do without it meaning I was a selfish you know what. So yes, women can choose to avoid getting serious about getting help for their issues and instead choose to continue in sin and dysfunction just as easily as any man. Sin is no respecter of persons. Abusive persons often act like dogs who are busy licking your face and peeing on your foot at the same time.

    • Jeff Crippen

      KindofAnonymous – That is crazy-making behavior for sure. So glad you were able to see it eventually for what it really was. Very hard when it is your own parent doing it. I grew up thinking our family was normal, healthy, Christian, etc. Wrong. While it certainly could have been far, far worse and I was fortunate that there was no alcoholism, there was food to eat and a place to live, I have had to come to realize that there was quite a lot that was very, very unhealthy. It takes a long time to recover.

      • God-fearing mom

        Jeff, I could almost say the same thing about my upbringing as you said. Only it was LDS. But my husband’s on the other hand was a lot like KindofAnonymous’s. Only he doesn’t like to educate himself on abusers. The good thing is he is wide open to working on his own unhealthiness and so am I.

    • NG

      I’m glad you shared this. Many of us from ‘good Christian families’ have experienced something akin to this, and in some effect this kind of behavioral pattern is seen also in other relationships .. with other believers in the church. People (even those who consider themselves to be close friends) can sabotage you just because they have felt robbed of opportunities and it can be very hard to get it why they should help you.

      One such ‘frenemy’ acted exactly like this – all supportive and sweet in front of me, while in reality she was sabotaging and backstabbing … I could finally see her deep resentment and jealousy, and had to cut all ties to her. Self-pity and anger were so deep in her core that she felt justified in her behavior. No matter how much she was blessed, with a wonderful husband (while me single and suffering because of it), it never seemed to be enough to make her happy..

      What I have noticed is that self-pity can be one of the hardest issues to get free from – it can really fuel abusive and cruel attitude and actions..

  19. Laura Wood

    Reading this blog and the comments made here is a significant encouragement to me. My abuser has been gone for years leaving our family ravaged. Strangely, I sometime miss what I though we had. I still grieve the loss of it every day. When I read these articles and comments, I am reminded of the new life and freedom I now enjoy. I am grateful!

    • Raped By Evil

      Laura, What you’ve described happened to me as well. For nearly two decades I had thought of my husband as the best person I had ever met–as well as my best friend. I had never been loved by anyone before and he seemed to treat me better than anyone else I had ever known–I had never seen a marriage that appeared to be as content as I was in mine. (I come from a severely dysfunctional family of abusers.)

      Part of it was that my husband would MIRROR me, thus appearing to have the same values, be fulfilled by the same things that I enjoyed etc. But one of the many truths I realized was that he would manipulate me so that the things “I” enjoyed were actually things HE wanted to do / waste money on / have–in order to appear superior to others etc., so sadly, I didn’t even really KNOW myself nor was I able to use the spiritual gifts that God gives each of his children, for anything other than serving my self-serving husband. (This was not only encouraged by the church but toted as the RIGHT way of thinking.) Eventually I realized it was all a rouse but because I had NEVER had a normal or good relationship in all my lifetime, it was absolutely raping–spiritually, emotionally, physically, financially–every single aspect of my being was harmed by this great deception.

      I remember journaling this back then….that I was so mad and broken by this deep realization that it was all a lie and I so badly wanted that lie to be true! I WANTED us to have the REAL relationship that I had THOUGHT we’d had. Anger, heartbreak, deep sadness and finally acceptance that I could NEVER have this with the human being who was my legal husband. Why? Because he was a psychopath and as such, belongs to his father the devil and LOVES what he is above ALL THINGS.

      I don’t know if this helps but when you remember what you thought were the good things in your relationship, see if you can identify why you enjoyed / delighted in them. It may help you realize what God has put in your heart as desire and fulfillment that HE actually wants to satisfy in you. Once you’ve identified what you liked about various things, you can start to pray to have GOD satisfy these things in your life–cuz He so badly wants to do this for his children! He’s done this for me in many ways and one of the best things about it is that what he fulfills is real, trustworthy and deeply satisfying because He knows me in every way and knows what truly make me happy.

  20. One More Anon

    What do I do? This is my husband

    • Hello dear sister, I changed your screen name to One More Anon, as you had given your real name and that is not safe in your situation. Welcome to the blog 🙂 We like to encourage new readers to check out our New Users Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

      I urge you to not use any name that might identify you when you comment here.

      What do you do? I suggest you read this blog, follow the blog if you are confident your abuser is not monitoring your emails, and dig into our Resources and our FAQs. The more you learn about abuse the more empowered and equipped you will be to make decisions for your own safety. Many of us have found that leaving our abuser is the only way to improve our safety long term. But will never tell you ‘what to do’. We honour your right to make your own decisions at your own pace.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: