A Cry For Justice

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

I would love to reconcile with my dad. But I need to see repentance.

I grew up in a Christian home. I should clarify, my mother’s faith was always an inspiration to me, but all I saw with my father’s so-called faith was hypocrisy and using the Bible as a weapon against others.

Then one day, my mother came to me weeping over my father’s actions towards her. She had nowhere else to go, as over the years she had become more and more isolated, and bought into the lie that as a good Christian woman she shouldn’t talk about her marriage issues with anyone and cover her husband’s sin.

She came to me out of sheer desperation because the emotional abuse had got so severe. I was shocked but strangely not surprised. I guess I had always seen my father’s antics, just was surprised how far he had taken things this time.

I begged mum to go get help from another Godly couple we know (who have been a true blessing to her through this!) I begged mum to not go back to my dad but to separate from him. Enough was enough. I told her his behaviour was abusive.

Meanwhile, I confronted my dad directly. I heard his side of the story.

I tried pleading with him initially to go get counselling. He agreed to do so, only to twist their words and use them as validation for his behaviour! I was so horrified.

At that point I realised that he was emotionally manipulating everyone (including me)!  I had never seriously thought of my dad as being manipulative, I think because growing up he used overt control and didn’t need to be subversive with me about it!

I realised at this point that pleading with him would only serve to further his cause. He wanted compassion and he wanted allies. He would just continue shifting goalposts and deflecting issues until he wore me down.

So I took a firm stand against him. I told him I would never agree with him, that what he was doing was sin and he was in a dangerous place with God.

At first he was angry with me, and then when he realised I wouldn’t sway from my convictions he told me that I didn’t have to agree with him – but I had to ‘accept’ what he was doing.

It’s just a play on words – in his mind acceptance will just flow on to agreement, and I have seen so many people fall into this trap with him already. They tell him they don’t agree, but they continue to have a relationship with him in the hope that one day he might magically change his mind. Meanwhile he tells everyone else that these people agree with him that my mother is a horrible person! These people (including family members) foolishly try to walk the path of neutrality, and they don’t realise they HAVE by default chosen a side…the side of the abuser!

I told my father I would not accept what he was doing. He threatened to not come around anymore if I was going to ‘lecture’ him every time he did (translation: disagree with him and call him out on his sin) and I told him perhaps that was best. At that moment he freaked out because his threat was just a bluff. Then he pulled out all the stops – accusing me of being a self-righteous, judgemental Christian with conditional love. According to him I was giving him ultimatums, I was threatening to cut him off (even though two seconds before HE was threatening to not see me anymore!) I was wanting to punish him. It was insane and heavy. He became desperate and bullying. After this altercation I told him repeatedly (and respectfully) to give me time and space and he refused. He attempted to bulldoze my boundaries about four times and in the end my husband had to step in and tell him he wasn’t welcome in our lives until he ‘pulled his head out’.

So now here I am. I haven’t spoken to my father in a while now. He refuses to repent or show even remorse. He has lied repeatedly. All the while he has played the victim which makes me so flipping angry, when all that has happened is a result of his choices! He has always blamed everyone else for his problems, and now he is out of control.

I feel a strong conviction in my spirit to have nothing to do with him. Until he repents. IF he repents (which I sadly fear he may never). Not to punish him, but to protect myself and my family from his evil.

Now I am struggling against the enormous pressure to resume a relationship with my dad despite his sin and lack of repentance. I hear “but he’s your dad!” Apparently, it’s acceptable to cut all toxic relationships from your life EXCEPT if it’s family. And yet it’s family that can do the most damage if they are toxic.

I feel other people’s judgement, that somehow I am not a loving person because I can’t accept my dad for “who he is” and forgive him. I judge myself worst of all. I am constantly at war with myself, battling the lies my dad has spoken over me (judgmental, self-righeous, punishing him…)

I can forgive him, but I cannot comprehend a relationship with him if he is unrepentant. I don’t even know how that can work. It sends my soul into turmoil at the thought of it. I get fearful and anxious at the thought of him being in my life given his toxic behaviour.

I sometimes battle with intense anger. I wonder why I am the one with all the expectations on me to make the situation ‘right’ when I am not the one who caused all this mess – my mum and I are victims of it. Yet NO ONE except for me has stood firmly against my dad to defend my mum. All these people who know my mum’s character and can vouch for it…yet they keep trying to ‘love’ dad into repentance. It sounds so Christian, but it’s so twisted, and dad is lapping it up. It hurts my heart and I feel so alone sometimes.

It’s so jolly hard to decide not to have anything to do with your own father. I didn’t take my decision lightly, or impulsively. It’s even harder to deal with another Christian’s pressure to reconcile. I will say though, that my closest friends have been very supportive and understanding of my position and that is a true blessing.

I would love to reconcile with my dad. But I need to see repentance. Why is that so polarizing to Christians?!?!?

***

Thanks very much to Porcelain Warrior who gave us permission to publish her story as a stand-alone post.

She first put her story here, as a comment on Should biblical counselors put lots of energy into helping abusive men see their sins? (Part 8 in the Chris Moles series)

 

53 Comments

  1. sheisovercoming

    Your story is very much like my own child’s. She has stood firm having been fed up with her dad’s behavior before we left. The rejection and judgement she has experienced has left her with c-ptsd.

    Another child could not hold up under the rejection and lives a separate life in fellowship with anyone who will reject both I and their sibling. This child learned they could not live with the abuser. (He is an abuser and it’s not me making him abuse, not a husband wife issue as Christians and family members said). They are still pressuring this child for reconciliation, though, because he is “family- their dad”.

    Meanwhile, my daughter feels invisible, isolated, rejected, and unloved because she stood firm. Our culture blessed by the church gives an open season hunting permit to the abuser toward their family. Sometimes they seem to stand by, hold the bullets, point out where to shoot. Or sometimes they try to “help” the abuser to stop abusing and stand by while the victims bleed out.

  2. Brother Maynard

    My mother hasn’t spoken to me in 7-8 years now. My wife and I called her out on her behavior towards my wife and daughter. We wrote her a letter explaining her actions and words were hurtful and that we would like her to stop. Her reply in a nutshell was we didn’t understand what she was going through and if that was the way we felt then she would never speak to us again. No one else in the family ( 1 older brother and 2 younger sisters ) has been treated like this, nor do they seem to care that a family member hasn’t been around for years.

    Reading things like this post is sad but I can relate to so much of it. On a positive note, not having her in our lives has actually been nice, we don’t have her deliberately trying to cause problems in our marriage or constantly being negative or critical of anything our daughter does. It still boggles my mind how someone can just up and cut someone out of their life because they dared stand up to the crap she was pulling. The only thing we get is the generic Christmas card with no personal note every year, no birthday cards, anniversary card, nothing. Maybe someday she’ll see that she’s becoming a bitter angry old woman and apologize for her behavior but I’m not holding my breath.

    • Helovesme

      Brother Maynard thank you for sharing that!

      I grew up with an abusive father and a very emotionally distant mom as well—–she condoned the abuse but sometimes I felt like she was trying to play both sides—-supporting him but condemning him. Then she’d flip and try to stop him. Very confusing.

      I used to wish she would leave him. Pick a side and stick to it. When he was away, the house wasn’t super great, but it was a bit more peaceful. I only felt 100% safe when I was totally alone, which is no way to live.

      When I got married—at first it was my side of the family causing a lot of tension and difficulties. It’s hard on a newly married couple, just starting out, to also deal with outsiders trying to control and dominate both of you.

      Long story short, now it’s HIS side that caused fights and conflicts and tension beyond words.
      His side was not AS troublesome as they are now, but from the beginning the seeds were being planted, although I didn’t see them at the time.

      His side contain a lot of professing Christians, and that blinded me to a lot of dysfunction for years. As more and more things started to emerge, the more disturbed I was.

      The pastor I used to listen to would talk about family breakdown and how that is causing so many problems in the world today. Now, I don’t think he was advocating that families stay together for the sake of putting on a front, but I bet you can understand how that can mess with a person!

      NO ONE wants to admit (or is proud of it ) that they have a divided, broken family—-even if something as serious as abuse in involved—-and to top it off, you are a Christian. For me, there was so much guilt involved in admitting all these horrible things were going on.

      Worse than that, I had to admit there were serious, permanent consequences, too. Worse and worse, in my mind—because the lie is that as a Christian—you should freely forgive and love your family (ESPECIALLY your family) unconditionally.

      Your mom sounds like she tried to play the pity card in that you didn’t understand what she’d been through. I’ve noticed that that is a KEY tactic of an abuser—in all the situations I’ve come up against. Feel sorry for me, your’re punishing me and you’re hurting me!

      In all they, they will not admit the hurt they have caused someone else. Regardless of whatever circumstances (real or imagined), hurting someone is a choice. But it is all about them, and that is exactly how they want it.

      When my spouse and I do not talk about his family, things are more peaceful here as well. The tension is still there though. I refuse to have anything more to do with his family. They absolutely terrify me. I don’t think he is in the same position yet, or if he ever will be. I don’t know what to do about it—but I just keep praying. There’s no clear cut manual for this!

      I do not believe his family will ever repent. They really do seem to think that they are in the right, and as hard as I have tried, I cannot for the life of me understand their behaviors, or reasoning, or how Scripture could possibly support their views and actions.

      My side of the family are not believers—-and that doesn’t excuse the abuse, but since they are not Christians—-they are not born again and the blinders are still on them. It is up to the Lord to be working on them. Ironically, I have seen small signs of hope with them, but we shall see.

  3. Guest 43

    Wow! We have identical stories. I can identify with nearly everything that you have shared. I haven’t spoken very much to my dad in the last two years, I hear the same thing from my dad, he projects all the issues back to me. I have struggled and heard the same thing from christians that I should reconcile. It’s a tough choice.

    In the end I have set boundaries for our family, I never put emotion or anything he can use against me in reply to his nasty emails and texts (I don’t normally reply as there is nothing to reply to).

    I feel there is not much we can do, we can pray for them, but at the end of the day, we don’t have to be responsible for their behaviour.

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  4. Porcelain Warrior, you are doing the right thing. My wife, Faith, was raped and molested by her father for many years and he was a pastor at the time. He sounds very much like your father. He would never repent or take ownership for what he had done to so many victims. We cut off our relationship with him. It is the Biblical thing to do. Reconciliation without repentance and a demonstrated change in behavior is dangerous to everyone.

  5. KayJay

    Been there, done that with a toxic parent. What was really flabbergasting to me was the old “friends” who started coming out of the woodwork (had hardly heard a peep from them in 30 years) concerned for my mortal soul, any “bitterness” that might be taking root, etc.

    After that parent’s death, the other parent and sibling keep a polite distance. It’s very sad to me, but I know it’s probably for the best when there is still no acknowledgement of any wrongdoing in standing up for and with the toxic parent.

  6. Finding Answers

    The concept of my “dad” repenting? I highly doubt that will happen, but the thought makes me cringe. Unless God effects a massive change in my heart, the thought of reconciliation won’t make it out of the starting gate.

    To quote song lyrics out of context “Too much, too little, too late….”

    My “dad” might be reconciled to God, but not to me.

    • Suzanne

      You are the first person I’ve heard say what I feel in my heart about my abusive mother. I pray that she’ll repent but I know that even if she did I still wouldn’t want a relationship with her. The damage she did persists to this day and my scars are too deep. I still remember the sound of her voice saying terribly destructive and malicious things even though we’ve not seen or spoken to each other in years. And actually hearing that voice again is something I fear.

      • Finding Answers

        You voiced my thinking into words. The same holds for my entire family of origin. Matter of fact, for all with whom I am No Contact.

        Thanks, Suzanne.

  7. CommittedToTruth

    Your story isn’t polarizing to me at all, I totally understand it as it’s much like my own. My father and mother divorced when I was a baby. She left as he was a controlling, abusive alcoholic – and he used a lethal weapon to intimidate her. He could be the most loving person, then the cruelest and she was so young.

    When it came to their day in court, he managed to have church support from the church he had attended as a kid. He’s a smart, manipulative man who has an excuse for everything and has a way of making you feel sorry for him. I understand why those church people took his side to a degree because I would grow up to do the same. That day in court, my young mother had no one. To make a long story short, my father gained custody of me. Looking back at the way all has played out, his fight against her was not nearly as much for me as it was for him. As a controlling malignant narcissist, gaining custody of me meant he could keep more control of his money and (he had hoped) HER. But it didn’t work out that way. I never really had a relationship with her as I was a toddler when she left. My entire life, she was portrayed as a mother who abandoned me. It took me nearly 40 years to see for myself that she was driven away — that this man could so manipulate even those closest to him as to gain their loyalty with his intelligent, generous, good side (nothing more than bribes, really) and have you unable to accept his dark side.

    He became a preacher when I was pretty young. His public persona was stellar — this “poor single man” working hard to raise his daughter alone (blah blah blah). Never mind that I actually lived with 10+ people growing up. I didn’t really know what having my own real home was like. It was a blessing really that I only lived with him on the weekends — for the most part. He was THEE most faithful church attendant ever. His ability to understand and teach others the Bible was outstanding. But his personal life was dark. He was still an alcoholic with a raging temper and he used SO many women. He constantly spoke evil about women — apparently not realizing (or caring) that this would have a devastating affect on my identity and soul.

    I was completely and utterly alone against this hypocrite. Who could I tell? I was so alone. Everyone only saw his public persona. As a child, I think I was forced in a way to split my mind to only look at the public persona as well. Basically, he turned me into his biggest defender. He so deeply manipulated me using his intelligence and fake generosity and Christian authority that I was completely helpless to stand against his abuse. I was very much like a battered wife — but I’m afraid, worse off. I can’t tell you the stories of darkness and fear that man instilled in me as a child. Worse than anything is what he did to me spiritually.

    I left home in my mid teens — pregnant. I truly couldn’t get out from under him quick enough. I really loved him, but I really hated him.
    But God.. my true Father saw it all. The time would come that He would bring me to face the reality of who this man really was, only this time I had a witness, a best friend — my husband. Like I said, I was almost 40 — and as a real Christian myself, I was committed to Truth. It was time for the charade to end — for a reckoning with reality. Let’s just say that it nearly put me away in a psych ward. I had so been conditioned to see my earthly father as “God’s man” that it caused the worst violence to my spirit/soul that you can imagine to actually take a stand against him for the first time in my life. The physical affects were crippling. But through it all, God was rescuing me to strengthen because I belong to Him.

    I hadn’t spoken to my father for several years and literally the other day he called my home. I hung up. I DO NOT desire reconciliation in any way shape or form. Imagine how hard THAT stance is for Christian people to accept. God has given me the permission to take this stand.

    I will never ever trust that evil, narcissistic man again. Maybe he has had an awakening. Good for him. He must do it having lost a relationship with me for good. There is no way that a man can live his entire lifetime deceiving and manipulating people under GOD’S NAME – to then just all of a sudden repent and have complete clarity of the hellish damage that he has caused. He wouldn’t even call my home to make me hear his voice if he really understood just how deeply he molested and nearly destroyed my soul.

    So know that this Christian daughter understands your position perfectly. Hold fast, sister. You don’t have to budge no matter what anyone thinks. God alone is our only Father and Lord.

    • Helovesme

      Wow CommittedtoTruth—what a story. I was riveted and blown away. Thank you so much for sharing it.

      It’s hard to pinpoint what was most striking. May I ask how your mom is doing? Are you able to have a relationship with her now, especially since you missed out on so much time with her as a young person?

      Your father sounds like a monster. No other way to put it. No other word comes to mind! What you lived through was horrid.

      I was so uplifted reading about how you DID finally see the truth about him, after defending him for so long (by the way, I can see how his power and control over you achieved that).

      I too am an abused daughter. I too wondered who I could tell; who would believe me. I also experienced something of what you spoke of: “I really loved him, but I really hated him.”

      I’m not sure if this was your exact experience, but i wanted my dad’s love and approval so badly. I never got it. So this is why I hated him.

      But I wanted to love him so much, that I kept craving what (deep down inside) I knew he would never give me: love in return. In this way, I loved him.

      If it doesn’t quite make sense—welcome the the world of abuse, right? Trying to understand it is so hard, and trying to explain it to others can be even harder.

      The thing about an abuser that scares me to this day, that I cannot deal with—is the deception. The public and private personas are so different, like night and day.

      And the abuse itself is also so deceptive and full of lies. How does one see through all this darkness, when it is someone with the label as “dad” who is doing this to you?

      ” I can’t tell you the stories of darkness and fear that man instilled in me as a child. Worse than anything is what he did to me spiritually.”

      My dad was not a preacher, but he claimed to be religious. I was female, and that was one of the main reasons why he abused me: because he could! Girls will not likely grow “big and strong” and be able to fight back. He was a bully as well, which also strips you of dignity.

      So I hated God for a long, long time. Despised Him, frankly. Could not imagine that He loved me, or cared about what was happening to me. The fear, the panic, the anxiety and absolute terror I lived with—meant nothing to Him, obviously. He kept letting it go on and did nothing! He was worst than my dad, in my mind: because He allowed me to be born into this horrible family. Born to live a life that no one should have to live.

      That is not how I feel anymore!

      You are 100% right to not trust your dad if you choose not to. I see every reason for you not to, but what I mean by that is that we are NOT commanded to trust anyone (in the Word) but the Lord Himself. Why it’s not understood that God is never deceived, and neither should we?

      You do not “have to” trust or reconcile with him—and I commend you for understanding that! So many of us still struggle with guilt and shame because we were told things like “what would God think? Don’t you think He wants you to reach out and try to talk to him? Where is your faith?”

      I have been deeply hurt by Christians. They terrify me, because of how comfortable they seem to be in deception and lies. That, to me, is the essence of abuse—though I only have bits and pieces of information on them. But I know enough—they scare the living daylights out of me because they profess to be Christians, yet they are so deceptive.

      I don’t think I can ever bring myself to face them ever again. It’s hard, because I am related to them via marriage. I fear hearing their voices, even, or getting messages or mail from them. Or when they speak on the phone with my spouse. I have had nightmares and trauma from what I’ve gone through. I am praying through it and leaning on Him for strength.

      • Committed to Truth

        He Loves Me — thank you so much for sharing and for your encouragement! Every story I hear that is similar is such a gift from God to my wounds, which we steadily need because you are so right— careless, naive or judgemental Christians seem to regularly add insult to injury or push to make us vulnerable all over again!

        It’s wonderful that you were able to be honest about your anger! I think mine was suppressed and bringing it out was critical to my healing. I had this belief that all anger was so evil because i’d only experienced it from my abuser – using it as a tool to control me with fear. I think he enjoyed seeing me afraid — it’s one thing that I knew deep down was very different between him & I. I can’t bear to see fear in my children’s faces.
        So I needed to learn that my anger at the abuse was a very normal/ right response. God tells fathers NOT to provoke their children to anger. But we weren’t allowed to express it. So I found that I had this explosive temper as an adult that I hated in myself. I pleaded with God to help me, totally unaware of the connection between my anger and his abuse. But God helped me see the truth, bring the anger to the surface and now I practice explaining my anger rather than expressing it if that makes sense.

        I went through a very deep depression and suffered with intense anxiety when I stood up to my Dad because it was like I was at war with my conscience and the physical affects were crippling. My nervous system literally seemed to lock up and I couldn’t feel. It was the scariest thing ever. I thought God had left me, that He was punishing me for speaking out about “God’s man”, but all along He was working to heal me and free me. But I definitely learned spiritual abuse is very real and affects our entire being.

        I’m almost 44 and unfortunately it was only 4 and a half years ago that my mother & I were actually able to be reconciled with the truth about my Dad. We were denied a real mother/daughter relationship but I’m grateful that today at least we can be friends. We live pretty far apart so we don’t talk a lot — maybe once a month or so and get together maybe once a year. I hope that it’s a comfort to her that I know the truth and don’t want her to carry guilt or shame.

        She also had another daughter from another marriage 16 years younger than me that grew up with her. She feels like that daughter was a gift to replace losing me. I’m not upset about that because I want her to have that comfort.

        God has given me the most wonderful husband I could ask for — a very gentle, loving man.
        I pray that you too have someone who cares for you deeply and helps undo the hurts you have experienced. Do you?

        I too have a very hard time being around Christians, though I’ve tried hard since all this unfolded to keep going to church. But honestly, I keep getting triggered. Certain teaching, things people say and systems at work just keep pushing me away. I have serious trust issues. I still have a lot to work through I guess. But I am at a place of rest with God. I believe He knows right where we’re at and He wants us to take all the time we need and not feel driven by anyone anymore. I even believe that we are better able to help others if we still deeply feel/understand this struggle. I grieve every day but I believe it also helps me keep the strong boundaries I’ve developed.
        Again, thanks for sharing — it’s the intimacy I believe Christ wants us to have — bearing one another’s burdens. Thank you and may you overflow with blessings from your deepest hurts. ❤️😊

      • Amy

        Jamie,
        Your comment brought tears to my eyes! My abusive ex walked out in ’09 when my sons were ages 17 & 14, and my oldest son and I have had a fractured relationship ever since. He could never get over the break up of his family even though he too suffered the verbal, mental and emotional abuse at the hands of his father. And he blamed me. I was his scapegoat, I was the safe parent that he had always been able to be his real self with, with all his anger and other emotions that his father never allowed him growing up. It was a difficult, and that’s putting it mildly, last nine years of not having a good relationship with my son. 😦

        I’ve always blamed myself for not leaving when my boys were little, but my ex would threaten to take them if I did, and while my family continually told me that he would never get my sons, it was not something as a mother I was willing to gamble with. And on top of that, the Christian community had me convinced that raising them in a two parent home was far better than being raised by a single mom and of course, I was told repeatedly how much God hates divorce and I was called to stay where God put me and suffer on through. Such craziness, such complete crap, which I know now, but at the time it was one more millstone placed around my neck to keep me imprisoned in an abusive marriage.

        My oldest son, who is now 26, has finally started opening up to me and saying horrible, terrible things about his father. My son is so very angry, and rightly so, but it’s taken him all these years to share that anger towards his father with me. My son also has Lyme disease which wasn’t diagnosed until 4 years ago, but he’s been sick since he was about 8 years old, and I know without a doubt that all the mental anguish he has carried all those years and all the anger that is pouring out of him now, is causing so much physical stress on his body and making his symptoms worse. No doubt he has PTSD and has recently said so.

        Reading your story, and others who were abused as children and still deal with toxic parents, helps me to have a glimpse into how my son feels and thinks.
        He too has wrestled with believing God and has pretty much walked away from Him at this point in his life because his Christian friends all let him know how un-Christian he is for his anger and other behaviors. He is done with church and Christians in general.

        I keep praying for him and asking God to help me know what to do to help my child. I believe I need to ask my son, both of my sons, for forgiveness for keeping them in an abusive home. And then I need to somehow offer myself forgiveness after all these years.

        Thank you again for sharing your words, thank you to everyone here who has commented and shared parts of their stories. It’s when we share our stories, share our hearts and hurts, that we build community with others walking a similar journey and help in healing ourselves and one another. ❤

      • thank you Amy. Your comment has been helpful to me.:)

      • Helovesme

        Hi Jamie thank you for responding! And apologies for my late response.

        So, you and I again could be twins! I knew i was angry about the abuse, but I did not do a good job in handling or expressing it.

        I was much like you worded it. I believed anger was evil because I knew of no other form of anger except in an abusive way (as you put it—it’s perfectly all right to be angry about being abused. NOT all right to have an explosive temper because of it).

        I too came out of the abuse with an explosive temper, and I too hated and judged myself for it. I had no idea that I was carrying around so much pain, that was expressing itself in these “explosive” ways.

        It is understandable, but not justifiable. This is where one needs the Lord to step in and show grace for your pain, but also give us grace to labor in Him—-to undo all this damage. He is very good at achieving that balance of: I understand your hurt, but you are not allowed to hurt others because of it.

        My abuser loved the see me afraid. And he was allowed to be as angry as he desired, while I wasn’t allowed to express any anger. I would accused of being the bad person, or it would just provoke him more. He also loved to push my buttons, to get me angry first, so that he could accuse me of starting the right. It would always escalate, however—-but of course, he was never held accountable to that.

        So I held a lot of anger and pain inside for years. I think it got worse once I met the Lord, because I thought Christians are expected to be very “zen” and not show something as “negative” as anger.

        Note: anger is NOT solely and wholly negative. The Bible is clear in saying we are not to sin in our anger, but what does righteous, healthy anger look like? That is debatable, but the Word clearly describes the Lord taking is pretty personal when His creation is abused. So we know that there is a way to be angry, and not be at all sinful.

        I also know about the fear and anxiety and even depression you mentioned. Rapid heartbeat, unable to speak without stuttering, too scared to speak, too scared NOT to speak—-your mind saying things like: you have to stand up to him! Stop letting him have so much power over you! Then another part of you saying: but he’s my dad! No one is going to be on my side if I do. Even Christians might say I was too hard on him.

        I am 43, so we are almost the same age!

        It’s my spouses’s side of my family that has been causing me irreparable harm in present time, ironically. This is not to be taken as funny; I just don’t know how else to describe it:

        it’s as if the first half of my life was ruined by my own father, now the second half of my life is on the verge of ruin by the other side of my family—-many of whom are professing Christians.

        I’m so sorry that I can’t explain in detail here about them. Only in anonymity am I able to discuss this, and even in typing things out—I get scared and anxious. So I’m holding back a lot.

        Suffice it to say, it also took the better part of a decade to see many of the same abusive tactics my father used, being used by these professing Christians. Shame, fear, guilt and humiliation. (the latter is particularly hard on me. I was bullied and berated by kids in school as well as my dad, so humiliation is very touchy for me).

        They are more subtle with the abuse than my dad was. My dad would physically and verbally abuse me, as well as using manipulation and subtlety to hurt me. He never said I was worthless, for example—-but used every tactic in the book to make sure I felt that way.

        I hesitated to answer your question about if I have someone in my life to help me through this. I do and I don’t. I am married, but my husband was deceived for a long time about his family. He ended up hurting me very badly because of it. I just don’t know how much I do or can trust him. We also have had a rough marriage in general. There was far more to his family than I EVER dreamed or imagined, and he did not see or know or understand it until I started to put some pieces together.

        So I feel almost 100% alone in this. My spouse and I are trying to work through things, but I am giving this all to the Lord. I am honestly unsure how strongly he is or isn’t under the thumb of his family members.

        I thought I had found a safe church, after being unable to go after a terrible incident with Christians caused me to backslide, about 20 years ago.

        Then I found out that pastor was a liar and a cheater. I tried to keep going for a year after, but fear and anxiety and triggers drove me away. I would sit in church and pray that the service would end as fast as possible.

        “Certain teaching, things people say and systems at work just keep pushing me away. I have serious trust issues.” That is me in a nutshell. Most churches do not talk about abuse, and don’t put disclaimers about it in their messages about marriage or relationships in general.

        Even the word “submission” triggers me, when it is meant to be a beautiful word in the Lord’s vocabulary. It has sadly become a fear word for me—- a trigger and a painful reminder of how submission can be twisted to hurt and put people in bondage.

        I’ve also lost a dearly loved family member that has unfortunately broken me like nothing else. Even the abuse did not do to me what this has done. After I lost him, I saw how callous and insensitive people (esp Christians) could truly be.

        But God is still who He is, and He is holding me together (Colossians 1:17) Sometimes I feel like I am barely surviving, but His mercies are new every morning and His faithfulness is beyond comprehension.

        I do get sick of crying. Sick of pain, both inside and out (due to abuse, I think my body physically reacted with auto immune and chronic pain. That is my belief, but not sure if that is 100% true)

        I don’t get sick of His love, however! And how I am 100% positive that every tear matters to Him.

        And I refuse to give up on His kingdom, which is about loving Him and others. One of my biggest prayers is to keep me involved in His kingdom in whatever way He enables me to, in whatever limited way I can.

        Even bearing the tiniest fruit of the Spirit is meaningful, as believers. It means God is able to work in and around us, despite everything!

        Thank you for sharing, and your compassion is like water to the soul! Praying for you!

      • Hi Helovesme. You said:

        anger is NOT solely and wholly negative. The Bible is clear in saying we are not to sin in our anger, but what does righteous, healthy anger look like? That is debatable, but the Word clearly describes the Lord taking is pretty personal when His creation is abused. So we know that there is a way to be angry, and not be at all sinful.

        There are lots of examples in the Bible of people expressing righteous anger. Some of them are covered in this post –

        https://cryingoutforjustice.com/2016/01/03/blessings-and-woes-from-the-politically-and-spiritually-incorrect-lord-jesus-christ-and-naming-names/

      • Helovesme

        Barb, thank you! I will check out that link for sure!

      • Helovesme

        Hi Amy. I enjoyed reading your comment going into more detail about your son. It took me awhile to get to reading it; sorry for that.

        I saw myself in your oldest son. I used to scream and throw fits with my mom, because although she was no saint to live with—-she was the “safer” parent to unload my anger onto. And boy, I plenty of anger towards my dad that he, too, wouldn’t allow me to express—so she took the brunt of it.

        Now, believe me—she wasn’t the nicest person. She could hit me or say terrible things to me and scare me to pieces. But she wasn’t as trigger angry as my dad.

        I scapegoated her, too. I kept wishing she would leave him. Yes, he was the sole bread winner in the family, but was it worth what he was putting us through? Was being a single parent that bad of a deal to her? Wasn’t it worth it, though, if we could just feel safe in our own homes? How much power and control was she willing to give him over us? Isn’t a mother supposed to protect her kids? Yet, she was feeding us to the wolves, it felt like.

        She also blamed me for the abuse at times, so that didn’t help. I suppose standing with him made living with him more bearable? But it meant choosing him over me.

        I have also developed physical problems that I do believe are in part because of the stress, trauma and long term effects of being abused. I was diagnosed with an auto immune disease that supposedly runs in families (not in mine!). It was treatable, but changed my life. Since that, for over a decade I’ve struggled and gone up and down.

        Here are my thoughts now, towards my mom. I don’t know if this is at all similar to your son’s. I will be praying for him, and for you!

        My mom married when she was very young. So marriage is all she knew for most of her life. And NO, while single parenthood isn’t a curse—it’s a very tough choice to make, and now I don’t blame her for not going down that road. I understand that breaking a marriage is serious, and if she wasn’t willing to do so—-I had to accept that.

        My mom did not deserve to be scapegoated, and screamed at and treated like dirt. She worked hard for all of us: cooking and cleaning and doing all sorts of things. She was tired and seemed depressed most of the time. She was NOT a happy person. Who would be? It was unfair of me to blame her, and treat her with such disrespect.

        Standing up to an abuser, yes—even when it’s your own husband—is a big deal. I honestly don’t think she knew what to do or how to handle it. She did not know how to stop him, or how to change him. The truth is, she couldn’t do that. No wife should be expected to do that (change him).

        I am a Christian, but I sympathize with your son’s attitude about Christ and Christians and church. I too refuse to speak of my anger or abusive past with Christians around me. They really don’t seem to understand. Barb gave me a wonderful link about anger in the Word that I’m going to read!

        I don’t blame either of my parents for my current state of physical suffering. While it’s frustrating and limiting, it’s also enabled me to understand suffering in others. How it feels to hurt and to experience pain. Our bodies are so frail, and we are frail as well. We need Him to hold us together.

        Thank you again for sharing. Your tender heart came through so clearly in your writing!

      • COmmittedToTruth

        This is for Amy 🙂
        I hope I’m replying in the right place.
        Thank you for sharing, Amy. I’m so sorry for the burdens you carry. I do pray that you forgive yourself once and for all.

        I think of how awful it’s been for my mother to live her entire life being portrayed by all who knew her as someone who “abandoned” her baby. But they don’t know the whole story. I do. And more so, God does. I’m sure there are plenty of things she wishes she’d have done differently, but I truly see (that in our situation) letting go and letting me see for myself was best.

        She didn’t selfishly fight to control me or my thoughts but he certainly did — to my detriment.

        There are plenty of things I could have done differently myself as the adult child in the situation with my earthly father. I failed in many ways. I supported and enabled him in many ways because I was deceived, thinking I was doing what God wanted. You are so right, the church often hems us into this deception through legalism and patriarchal teaching.

        But through this battle I’ve come to fully accept God’s grace over every bit of my failures. I still wrestle all the time but in my mind it’s a done deal through Christ and I keep coming back to that alone.

        I tell others that all of this experience has been brutal, but through it all I believe I more fully own the gift of my freedom than those who have not had such a fight. So with humility and trembling (and a plea for NO MORE GOD lol!!) I accept it all —even the PTSD because it keeps me compassionate for the weak and helps me keep strong boundaries.

        As I look back, I was so feeling-led, so vulnerable to manipulation. Our minds can be so distorted with scripture and how we view others, especially our parents. My earthly father could do so many “good” things to gain the favor of people, yet be using them all along. It wasn’t until he showed his full, true colors against ME in this way that my eyes were opened. The depth of deception is frightening — how we can be so taken in by someone’s strong public persona and even though we live with them and see the wide gap between the public vs private life, we often moreso accept the public version.
        But yes, it’s a test of patience as it takes a long time to unlearn the lies and stand firm in truth.

        God literally seemed to put Himself side by side with my deceitful earthly father in my mind, have me look at my beliefs — and over time say “this is Me” or “this is NOT Me”.

        I believe our modern American church system plays heavily into producing the gap effect of public/private personas. We aren’t “allowed” (so to speak) to be real in such a shallow system. It’s as though we took Henry Ford’s model for business and applied it everything we do in life — school, church, etc…

        I think people on the outside looking in see this more easily than those of us conditioned within it. I’ve come to a place where I can just no longer reconcile that church model with a real, living, growing relationship. I am only recently backing away from church (the formal/large/organized model) but truly adore so many Christian brothers and sisters who attend but it just constantly hurts me in so many ways. I don’t believe they are necessarily wrong, they just do things the way they’ve been trained to do them. But I believe thetr are other healthier ways of doing “church” that don’t lead to disconnect and coldness — like far fewer people and all hearts & souls are able to communicate. There is no “lording” over people. I pray that your son’s life will be touched and moved in this same way to understand God’s true love and care for Him.

        It’s a wonderful thing that he is beginning to explain his anger. I pray He knows that this is what God wants — a loving Father wants to hold, cleanse & heal our anger even if/when it’s against them. I never imagined that until He carried me through it. But it was only possible getting outside support. I’m afraid isolation with this is destructive. So, I talked to some that were safe as well as a therapist completely removed from the situation, which was really more so me talking to get out a lifetime of all that had built up, with her mainly listening and validatiing.

        O look at it like a big puzzle — a thousand pieces scattered before me. As I share, pieces are sorted —dark or light, then pieces are joined, I get more clarity about myself in relation to God and work to come to a place of acceptance and trust that His hand is over it all, working toward my wholeness.

        I believe that when God says, “When you search for Me with all your heart, you’ll find Me”, that it is especially referring to the darkest places of our hearts — those things we’re most intensely afraid of — and in my case I was unaware of but slowly came to awareness through talking. Abusers fill us with fear, but “Perfect love casts out fear” and that’s exactly what God wants to do for us.

        Again, thank you for sharing Amy and adding another piece of light to the bigger picture. ❤️

      • Hi CommittedToTruth, just letting you know that we prefer people not make recommendations of books or other resources in their comments, unless they are recommending an item that we already have on our Resources. You can easily find the Resources list at any time – it’s on our main menu.

      • CommitedtoTruth

        He Loves Me ❤️
        Thanks again for sharing! Wow we are twins lol!! I’ll be 44 in October and awww I would love for it to be possible to actually get together in person, but I’m so thankful for places such as this where we can go for support.
        Extended families can be so burdensome at times. I’m so sorry to hear that you have that added grief! You are a very insightful, courageous, mature woman and I know you’ll brave this path every step of the way.
        Isn’t it encouraging that what we’ve been through has also allowed God to forge a strength and awareness in us we’d not otherwise have.
        Psalm 27:14 is one of my favorites :
        “Wait for the Lord, be strong and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the Lord.”

        When I am feeling anxious, fearful, sorrowful — I try to remember to tell myself that it’s an opportunity to let my heart take COURAGE. We can’t develop courage unless we are confronted with fears and such.
        I also looked up the Hebrew for “wait” which actually refers to a being stretched during tension and a binding tightly. It’s during those times that we strain with our mind for an expectant outlook for the Lord — no matter what our feelings might try to pull us to believe.
        So sister, let’s be encouraged to know that through all these battles, God saw fit to call you and me and all the others here to active duty. We’re in the trenches together and because of that we share a fellowship of suffering with one another and Christ that others may not enjoy.
        It’s awesome to know that one day, we’ll hug in heaven. Praise the Lord. I rarely FEEL that all this is true, but I’ve fought long enough to know that I need to hang my hat on words, not feelings, specifically God’s promises. If He said it, it WILL happen. Our Heavenly Father is most definitely not a deceiver unlike the earthly ones who betray our love & trust.
        “Courage, dear heart. “ C S Lewis
        And ((hugs)) 🙂

  8. GN

    My ex-husband has not repented. And continues with the same manipulative games with our adult children and extended families. Counseling did not help, nor was he interested. He doesn’t acknowledge his actions. I stayed way too long and tolerated too much. I feel guilty that our children were hurt by staying so long and by my leaving. It has been painful.

  9. Anon 32

    … He wont change or apologize. He see people as objects. He is not capable of love. He will do everything to make it your fault. I have had to cut off my overt narcissistic father and covert narcissistic mother and yes I’m a Christian. … This also has been extremely hard for me also, the guilt the shame because this is what is instilled in your from birth. I becoming more educated [the nature of abusers] and become strong in this knowledge and the Lord’s strength…

  10. Estelle

    It sounds to me as if you are the one who is accepting your father for who/what he is and taking appropriate action to safeguard yourself. Strength to you.

  11. Song of Joy

    I identify with this post, and the comments so much (as the daughter of an abusive father).

    Outsiders, including naïve Christians, simply don’t understand… or don’t want to understand. Firstly, they don’t want to hear the extent or depths of the abuse. They can’t stomach it, and don’t want the responsibility of being outraged. Secondly, they have all kinds of wrong thinking about abusive people and sick, dangerous, deceptive situations.

    Outsiders usually have stubborn “Pollyanna” thinking or “fairytale” thinking. They believe that abusive situations can, and will, work out to a happy ending, if you (the victim) will only have the right attitude, forgive, believe in miracles and just stick with it. They say: Don’t give up! If you’re trying to get relief from the torment or make a stand for what’s right, you are going in the wrong direction! The power of positive thinking will control the abusive person and outcome.

    My hunch is that naïve Christians see the ‘positive thinking with blind determination’ approach (in the face of vast opposing forces and evidence) as correct because the Bible contains instances of miracles. I guess people would rather dwell on the ancient, rare miracles as being representative of how life should go, rather than realizing the Bible relates thousands of years of suffering and destruction due to the selfish evil of some human beings.

    • Song of Joy

      p.s. And I confess that I too once believed that a miracle would occur and my dad would repent and see the evil of his ways. I spent many years thinking this way, witnessing and praying for it. I testify that my efforts were a total waste of time, and I could have just as soon dumped all of my hopes into the pit. He saved the most heartbreaking family abuse for last, at the end of his life.
      Going no contact has its own set of sorrows and problems, and for a long time I thought that I didn’t want to lose any more than I already had. But the reality is that abusers destroy many things, and family relationships is one of their favorite things to destroy… even when you are in full contact with them. That was my experience.

    • Helovesme

      Song of Joy—that was so spot on!!! I too am the daughter of an abusive father.

      I have been a naive Christian (still am in some ways; working on it!) as well as an unbeliever. I used to think in the ways that you spoke of. I can’t express how awful and bad I feel about it still. I try to move on from it as best I can.

      I was so misguided. I saw the Lord as so compassionate and caring—and that He hates abuse and does NOT validate it—but then why were Christians condoning it so often? Why didn’t they see it as dangerous and destructive, as He did?

      I joke that the Lord went “dumpster diving” for me, because that’s where my heart was. My own sins, of course, were the real need for my salvation. But the abuse had put me in an awful place, still—and I DID need a Savior for healing as well as forgiveness of sins.

      Abuse stories ARE hard to listen to. I would pick and choose carefully who I spoke to, now more than ever, about my abuse—-because your heart has to be open and willing to hear the gory, sad details. And respond with compassion, yet firm outrage. You have to stomach the depths of evil in this world.

      The awful truth: Not all fathers [or mothers] automatically and always love their children. They will NOT always do anything to protect and safeguard their child’s safety. Instead , they will exploit their vulnerability to cause them great pain and suffering—-with no hint of guilt involved.

      That will shake anyone’s worldview, right?

  12. IC

    To Porcelain Warrior:
    Know that you have sisters and brothers in Christ who are praying for you. Know I will be praying for you and I stand next to you as one who believes that what you are doing is biblical. For reconciliation to happen there has to be forgiveness AND repentance. You’ve done your part.

    I understand your anger. I encourage you to put that righteous anger into good use in prayer. I was remembering about the story of David and Goliath.

    In my view, there are more Pharisees in the church than followers of Jesus Christ.

    So THANKFUL for this website. Search under “repentance” to get an idea what it looks like. An awesome post is https://cryingoutforjustice.com/2016/08/01/dont-fall-for-the-abusers-repentance-lessons-from-zacchaeus/.

    Remember you have a Father who does love you and sent His son to die for you. YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

  13. Amy

    This was so sad to read but unfortunately, it’s not that uncommon. 😦

    When my abusive then-husband walked out almost 10 years ago, he left our two sons who were 14 and 17, in a state of confusion and turmoil. It didn’t help that the church we attended at the time tried to drill into my sons’ heads that no matter what they were to continue respecting and honoring their father all because he was their father.

    While my youngest son and I kept a pretty close relationship, my oldest son started drawing away from me and eventually defending his father and blaming me for the breakup of the family. It was difficult enough for those in my church and friends to not believe me or support me, but to have my own son accuse me of fabricating what had happened for 20 years was just too much, it was honestly, baffling because he lived with the abuse too. But over time I came to realize that he honestly had no idea how exactly his father treated me or perhaps he just could not allow himself to take sides and wanted to believe that his father wasn’t so bad because he just wanted a father who loved him in a healthy way.

    In the past few months my oldest son has finally started releasing his anger towards his dad and the abusive ways he treated me and him and his brother. He has started reconciling with me after all these years and now I’m finding it hard to forgive myself for keeping my sons in an abusive home for as long as I did.

    So I’m praying that this time of reconciliation between my son and I, will also bring forgiveness and healing to both of us.

    Thank you for sharing your story ❤

    • Helovesme

      The end of your story was such a blessing. I wasn’t sure (as I read) if your oldest would take the blinders off and see his father for who he really was (and is).

      “But over time I came to realize that he honestly had no idea how exactly his father treated me or perhaps he just could not allow himself to take sides and wanted to believe that his father wasn’t so bad because he just wanted a father who loved him in a healthy way.”

      I was abused by my father. My mom tried to cope by either blaming me or simply ignoring it. I have two siblings, and they too tended to do the same—-even though my sister had also been abused by him.

      Your words about why they behaved that way towards me (and my father) were spot on. This is why I believe they took his side over me.

      It’s a very compassionate response, but also very difficult, right? Denial has its consequences, even understandable denial like you mentioned. I too have worked hard to tell myself that they simply coped the only way they could, but then I also must acknowledge that they chose to cope that way. At my expense.

      I go back and forth, but ultimately I have done my best to let it drop. I wore a big stone around my neck for years—blaming myself for being such a “troublemaker.”

      Please try not to be too hard on yourself, for staying so long. I hope that is all right to say. I hear you about feeling bad about doing so—-but victims are often in a pretty thick “fog” when being abused—and it’s your own spouse! You must have been in so much pain and turmoil and just did the best you could (as my family did).

      • Amy

        Thank you for your kind words, but I do find it hard to forgive myself for not leaving with my boys. I feel a great responsibility for what they endured. I think part of the reason I stayed was because of the wrongful messages I received from Christians about marriage. I was afraid of losing God’s love, kind of silly now when I think of that, but I wanted so badly to please God that I allowed others to convince me the way to do that was by staying and suffering, suffering for nothing as it turned out.
        And when I think about how I felt about God, I believe that’s the same for my boys and probably most children re: their earthly father — they want nothing more than to please their father but with an abuser nothing they ever did was good enough to earn his love. How thankful am that we do not have to earn our God’s love. ❤

        I’m sorry for what you walked through in your family, I pray you have released that stone from around your neck, it is not your burden to carry. God bless you on your journey of finding healing after abuse.

  14. Krikit

    I really don’t understand, nor have I ever understood, this erroneous theological idea that so many Christians perpetuate: “Love is unconditional.” It. Is. Not. Jesus, the Living Word, says distinctly, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father, but by me.” That is conditional.

    A relationship — love — with God is predicated (conditioned) upon acceptance of and belief in Christ as being the only path to said love relationship. And then, God’s written word goes on to define what that love relationship looks, sounds, and acts like. And none of it entails unrepentant abuse in any form.

    We come into the love relationship with God that He offers us, through Christ, by means of repentance. Forgiveness is not, nor is relationship a given just because God has put it out there. God offers them…through honest repentance — that is effected by His Spirit — that then yields to the character workings of that same Holy Spirit, which then begins the life-long work of changing our nature from the inside out. The manifestation of that change, over TIME — the New Creature — is how both we and others know that the repentance is real and true, whether it be our own or someone else’s change.

    How can “forgiveness” and reconciliation be, not only recommended, but even insisted upon, when NO repentance has been effected by the Holy Spirit? To do so is to bind oneself to, and burden oneself with slavery.

  15. Helovesme

    I had the honor of reading her story when she first posted it. NOW I have the honor of seeing so many others be blessed and encouraged by it!

    Isn’t she amazing? She wrote so well and spoke so effectively of her journey and the struggles she has endured. It was such a rough wave of intense trial but constant perseverance in Him!

    Her honestly blew me away. Who hasn’t struggled with all sorts of conflicting emotions, different waves of feelings, terrible reactions from those around you—-when you stand up to evil? And when it’s in your own family, to boot!

    Her mom sounds like a treasure. I do believe she got away from the abuse, but like so many—is still working through the issues. I am so glad these two women have each other.

    I saw so much encouragement, as well as sadness in this story. So many lessons to take away:

    Stand up to abuse, and stand with the victim. Pray for strength to do so. Even if you are the one doing so (as this precious soul did), it make ALL the difference in the world to a victim. Having one person in your court is WAY preferable to having no one believe you.

    If you are a believer, don’t listen too strongly or take to heart any worldly wisdom from those around you (believers and non-believers). Family is a BIG deal, but the price of a so-called “united front” is not worth the price of what abuse does to a person.

    Don’t blame yourself for “causing division”, if you DO stand up to abuse. The abuser is the one who caused the divide, not you. This woman was pegged as the bad person, but all she did was expose the bad person (her dad). She was the messenger that no one wanted to listen to, or take seriously.

    She also suffered far worse because it was her dad, IMO. A father is someone who had a hand in bringing you into this world. If he was present in your life, he had a big hand in your life: caring and providing and meeting your needs.

    BUT, the Lord created you—and allowed you to be born. Don’t confuse your parents with your Heavenly Father!

    You don’t turn on a family member without good reason—yes indeed. But you also don’t turn on your Heavenly Father—for the sake of misguided loyalty to your earthly parents of family bonds.

    IF you want to speak to or try to reconcile with that family member, that is your decision. Don’t let anyone try to make that decision for you. This woman endured so much guilt thrown at her: “but he’s your dad.”

    It’s almost amusing. She is a smart lady. She KNOWS this is her dad. Why do you think she tried for so long to get him help, to help him see his sin?

    Do you really think she was, at any time, unaware of who she was dealing with?

    Have you not heard the pain in her voice, the agony of watching her dad turn on her, belittle her and act like an immature child because she refused back down?

    And: The operative word is “your.” This is her father, not yours. Let her work this out with her Heavenly Father, and none of us should try to speak for Him, unless He specifically directs us to.

    P.S.: I’ve endured abuse and have stood up to it as well. BOTH experiences have been horrible, but the latter taught me so much (and is still doing so).

    This woman is a treasure. Gosh, I’ve been through so much of what she spoke of. I too have hated and judged myself. I have had to endure well meaning but very ignorant “advice” from others. Among the persons I have tried to talk to—it has been mostly Christians who have NOT understood.

    And I have seen so much abuse within Christian circles, that I now wonder how they CAN be compassionate towards abuse, if they don’t see it within them, or around them. Or aren’t willing to stand up to it, or acknowledge its existence—right at their very doorsteps.

    Now I almost never talk about my past with anyone. I am so tired of it being minimized or dismissed or simply not taken seriously. Not once, however, has the Lord been like that.

    The Lord, however—-is the same yesterday, today and forevermore. He cares for the broken and crushed and hurting. His Word is FULL of that—because abuse has existed from the very beginning of time. He promises give us hope. He makes beauty out of the ashes. He comforts and consoles and listens to our cries. It doesn’t get any better than that!

    The hurt remains, but the true and ultimate burden bearer, Jesus Christ Himself—-is doing the “heavy lifting” for us! He is so close to us when we are crying and suffering.

  16. JustSalt

    I can so relate to this story, and I am sorry you are living through this. It’s hard enough to bring abuse to light, then to be discredited is so hard. And I also relate to the challenges in getting people to accept why you need to remain estranged from abusive family members.

    In adulthood I outed the abuse I witnessed and experienced as a child and the family members that I called out, did not repent. My husband also stepped in a few times after my dad ‘bulldozed my boundaries’ and said that’s enough! Funny how abusers all seem to behave in similar ways. I’ve been following this blog and a few others to gain strength and better perspective and I thank you all who have written here, for being so brave and willing to share.

    It’s such a difficult situation and I am still grieving the loss of relationship, even though I don’t exactly miss the contact as it was usually so exhausting and maddening anyway. It’s still hard because few people really ‘get it’ and that feels even more lonely.

    • Helovesme

      When I was praying today, I confessed how much I am STILL struggling with very hard but prayerful choices I made to distance even separate myself from certain family members.

      I still feel bad and guilty and ashamed. What the heck is my problem?

      A part of me, despite their cruelty, still feels sorry for them. I know for a fact that they have had hard times in their lives. So part of me tries to offer excuses or blames myself in some way (should I have been more sensitive, more communicative, more tolerant, more long suffering—-more of this or less of that?)

      This analogy came to mind as I prayed. It explained why I believe I reached my limit with these people, and others as well. Perhaps it will bless or encourage someone else!

      If some or most of us have ever had the joy of cleaning your home, it can be a temptation to shove some dust under the rug, right? That way only you know it’s there, but it’s nice and hidden from view. Besides, a small bit of dust never hurt anyone.

      Keep adding to that initial dust, and soon it becomes a pile. Then a bigger pile. And it keeps growing. Now you’re shoving mud, and dust and rocks and everything else that you don’t want to deal with. That pile is becoming rocky, grimy and quite dirty looking.

      BUT, as long as it’s underneath, no one sees how ugly it really is.

      Now, most of us can probably dodge a small pile without much effort, or inconvenience, right? Just step to the side, or do a little jump—-but never disturb the pile, no matter what. If you do, the mess will be revealed. You will have admitted that you know it’s there, and has been there the whole time!

      Imagine that that pile is becoming a higher and higher—almost up to your face! It’s getting harder and harder to dodge, jump (maybe some high leaps are possible?)—-even side stepping is getting harder—because it’s harder to look away form it. It’s certainly taking more time and effort to step aside. More than you’d like to admit.

      Now, that nice, tall tower of gunk is at eye level. Now, it’s still hidden under the rug—-but you can’t deny that it’s isn’t there anymore. Not as easily, at least.

      No way you can jump over it now, without knocking it over. You CAN still sidestep it, but one wrong move and you will tip it over. Now it’s taking a lot more effort than just a little baby step to avoid it. Now you are taking giant steps, and doing it as quickly as possible—-so your eyes don’t look at it for too long.

      What happens when it gets so high, that it can’t sustain itself anymore? Will it fall on you? Or will you start a brand new pile and start letting THAT one get higher and higher?

      But worse than that, ti’s starting to smell. The whole house is starting to permeate with a trashy, unpleasant odor from all that gunk being thrown under a rug. Even the thickest, most durable of rugs wasn’t meant to cover up that amount of dirt!

      If it’s not obvious already, I speak of what we go through when dealing with an abuser, and the abuse itself. We shove the pain and the many, many consequences underneath a rug for as long as possible—until it becomes unavoidable—and unbearable to live with anymore.

      The fact is: abuse produces consequences. Lot of them. Whether we like it or not. Consistent abuse produces more and more consequences—-and they just pile up over time. There is no getting around that.

      That is what i see when I read these precious comments about how they said “no more.” They saw the pile of “consequences” and they decided to face them, rather than keep living in denial and choosing to live with the smell. And maybe they got sick of doing acrobatics, trying to avoid that big pile!

      And how it’s best to live in a “clean house” but that it can feel quite lonely, if the rest of your family or loved ones simply refuse to face the “mess” that abuse has created.

      We all pay a dear price for such actions, but the clean smell and a clean house—free of lies and misery and living in sorrow and fear—that is too good to pass up.

      Note: this is NOT to condemn anyone who is still living with their abuser, or still speaking to him or her. Everyone must choose if they want to leave, or cut off contact, on their own.

      • justsalt

        Dear ACFJ Blog moderator: I hope I am doing this right! I read the suggestions for new commenters and hope I followed that better this time around. If there is something in this that you do not want to post, please edit or scratch as you see fit! I write anonymously on my own blog, and have been careful to airbrush and change details and genders, etc. in personal things that I share. So reading your suggestions was actually so helpful for me, as I move forward in my own writing. Thanks for this resource, I have been so strengthened by reading your posts the past few years.

        Dear He Loves Me: again, I can soooo relate to all you’ve shared in this response. Having to be separated from family of origin has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Purposely not inviting family to holidays is brutal. I dread what will happen when there is a family funeral or wedding on the horizon. Someone told me that that my feelings about the difficulty of being in separation may just be a longing for heaven. I have been pondering that. My other relationships are stronger without the stress of ‘managing’ abusive intruders at any time, etc. Yet, I still feel sad that people are missing from my life; even though they made my life so difficult!

        Your thoughts on the dirt under the rug and how it gets to a point where your WHOLE HOUSE is a mess and you have to face it were good.

        I have read one book where the author talked about meaning of the commandment to honor your parents. The author said the original Hebrew the word for honor meant heavy — and then the author went on to explain how we need to recognize an abusive parent’s HEAVY influence on our lives. (or, as you put it, the dirt they brought into our homes!) When they have been abusive to us; the ramifications are huge (heavy). Honoring them happens when we recognize how much they did influence us, it does not mean we have to endure further abuse.

        The mess/heavy influence isn’t just a little dust! Recognizing that and cleaning that up on your own, in whatever way you can, is not sinful. After reading that chapter of that book, I realized that my years of denying abuse were ALSO denying the heavy influence of my parents and that that was actually more dishonoring to them than recognizing the influence they had on me. Even at that, it’s still a process. And I still feel sad about the whole situation. I am accepting that I probably will deal with those feelings for a long while, until or unless there is repentance on all sides.

        Hugs and love to you. I pray that all survivors of abuse can receive a measure of peace from making difficult choices.

      • Hi justsalt, thanks for your comment. I did redact it a bit.

        I will ask Ps Sam Powell to comment on the meaning of the Hebrew word which is translated ‘honor’ in the commandment ‘honor your parents’. Sam knows Hebrew and used to teach it at seminary.

        bless you!

      • Dear justsalt,
        It is true that the Hebrew word for “honour” is related to the word for heavy, or even glorious. When it comes to that commandment, you make a good point.

        I read years ago a book on the Ten Commandments by Douma. If I remember correctly, he interprets this commandment in light of Deuteronomy 6. The fathers and mothers of Israel were to teach their children about the covenant, and deliverance, and who God is. Honoring your parents meant hearing their good instruction and worshiping God as you were taught.

        Of course, if the parents were wicked and ungodly, that would be quite another thing. You weren’t to worship other gods, even if your mother, father or own wife or husband told you to. I thought Douma made an interesting point.

        I heard Martin Lloyd Jones preach a sermon on “The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” and he applies this commandment ultimately there. He said something about those with wicked and abusive fathers, and reminded us all that the true Father we worship is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus, who is never abusive, never evil, and never lies – but only does that which is good for his children.

        If we see THAT father in our earthly fathers, then praise God for it.
        As the Heidelberg Catechism puts is, “Listen faithfully to all of their good instruction and correction, bear patiently with their infirmities…”

        But this does not at all mean that we are to worship them in fear and terror, nor accept their wickedness. It does not even mean “forgive them” for the wickedness they have done apart from repentance, for true forgiveness is always based upon truth.

  17. Dear commenters, we’ve had so many new commenters today that I don’t have time to welcome each of you individually!

    For some of you, I have changed your screen name to protect your identity. For some of you I edited and airbrushed bits of your comments, to protect your identity or for other reasons.

    I invite all of you to visit our New Users’ Info page. It gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog. It also gives guidelines about what we prefer you don’t say in your comments, such as that we prefer you to not tell other readers how to feel think or behave. It’s fine to encourage other readers, but it’s not okay to tell them what to do.

    After reading the New Users’ Info page, you might like to look at our FAQ page.

    Welcome to ACFJ. Thanks all of you.

    And thanks to the regular commenters who have contributed here as well. When we publish survivor stories, we often get a lot of comments from readers. Hearing others stories can help a victim remember more details of her own story… and it helps reduce the sense of loneliness.

  18. KLHA

    I just want to encourage this young woman! Stand your ground with your father – And if you haven’t already, you might like to read the original Boundaries book by Cloud and Townsend to be affirmed that what you are doing is biblical.

  19. StillWiggling

    Another commenter addressed this, but here’s another way of saying it.

    About reconciliation and forgiveness. God Himself does NOT reconcile to everyone. There’s this itty-bitty little prerequisite called repentance. True repentance. Not to mention 1 John 1:9: IF we confess our sins… That’s a really big IF.

    So… why would we mere imperfect humans be expected and required to do something that God Himself will not do without non-negotiable conditions attached? Hmm?

  20. William McDonald

    Soooo well written! You’ve captured it completely, both how it feels to face off with a manipulator and to deal with his supporters (who themselves have been sucked into his game).

    Your demand/need for repentance isn’t unreasonable. Frankly, these manipulative types have misused external sorrow for so long as a tool of their manipulation, many don’t have a concept of what true repentance is. When they are told what it might look like, they recoil in anger accusing these messengers of trying to manipulate THEM. Gotta leave room for the Holy Spirit, certainly, but I’ve come to believe that the mainspring of human compassion and love is simply missing in these men. The literature on abusive and controlling men bears this out: most will never be able to reconcile in anything but superficial ways.

    Hang in there. You’re doing REALLY well!

  21. MsChuzzlewit

    I have kept up with ACFJ for a couple years now, but have never commented before. I hear soooo many stories about wives with abusive husbands, but not as many about daughters with abusive fathers, so reading this encouraged me so much, I am not alone in my experience, which I do know, but it can be hard to remember sometimes.

    I realized my “dad” did not love me in my mid teens and spent the next few years pretending everything was ok, until I could not pretend anymore. I started pulling away. He freaked out about it, got angry, manipulative, lied, cried, played “Mr. nice guy” for all it was worth, but from the day I realized he did not love me, I never once looked back.

    I was so glad when he left, he begged to come back soon afterwards, but thankfully my Mom had the wisdom not to allow it. If she had I probably would have left soon after cutting off all contact with him, as I did do soon after he left. I eventually deleted my old email and created a new one to eliminate the fear of receiving any from him.

    I have never regretted my decision to cut him out of my life, I only wish I could have done it sooner. But when you are young you are so stuck, there is no good option, often the only one is to stay and try to survive until you can leave. it is not often anyone will help, more often you are told to stay, because ‘he is your father’ because ‘staying is the right thing to do’ because ‘he is such a great father and a wonderful person’ because ‘everyone makes mistakes and you should not hold that against them forever’. I especially can’t stand the first one, ‘because he is your father’ as someone else said, that just make it more toxic and dangerous. I have found much, much more acceptance and understanding in the world than in the church, which really is unfortunate to say the least.

    My Mom is an amazing person and we have helped each other through so much, my younger siblings visitation, (which is still a constant nightmare), nasty emails, the church telling us to leave if we can’t handle seeing him there, friends cutting us off with cruel uncaring words, etc. I am so thankful for the light and help this blog has brought us.

    Reading all these stories brought tears to my eyes, but I was also encouraged, thank you to everyone who shared!

    • Thank you MsChuzzlewit! What a great screen name you have chosen 🙂

      I’m sure your comment will help many other readers.

      No doubt you know this already, but we like to welcome all new commenters to the blog and point them to our New Users’ Info page and ourFAQ page.

  22. Porcelain Warrior

    Thank you so very very much, to all the kind people here who have encouraged me and shared their stories. It means more than words can convey.

    I grieve with all of you for the lost relationships and situations that will never be resolved this side of eternity because of proud, stubborn, abusive hearts.

  23. StandsWithAFist

    Like many here, I have a similar story. My abuser was my MIL, and it started (literally) the very moment we got engaged….and continued nearly 40 years.

    I was continually told to “honor” her, to be the “better” Christian, to not hold grudges (desiring justice was RE-defined as “holding a grudge”), to “take the high road”, pray more, accept that “she will never change”, accept that “we are all sinners” (sin-leveling), and all other kinds of drivel that everyone here has also heard.

    Finally one day, I said “she won’t change, but I can”.
    And I did.
    After multiple threats to alienate my children (and in particular, my Special Needs child) I had enough.
    ENOUGH!

    I went NC, I blocked any/every phone number, email address, etc. I did not respond to any cards, letters, gifts, tirades or shenanagins.

    (Any response, even negative, is feeding the monster. Her drug of choice is attention, her goal is power & control. So I stopped feeding the monster). I haven’t “fed the monster” for 6 ½ years now. Not one word. Ever.

    As predicted, she “hoovered”, cried, wailed, gossiped, manipulated, lied, triangulated, assassinated character, maligned, denigrated, demoralized, humiliated, guilt-tripped, shamed, blamed…..& then changed her will & trust & cut us all out.

    But what she NEVER did was repent.

    I also got lectured and warned by “super-pastor counselors” that I was cruel & dishonoring while they misquoted Scripture, saying my wounds were self-inflicted b/c I “couldn’t forgive.” They too left out repentance, and said she was “too old” and her brain had lost “plasticity” & therefore she couldn’t be held accountable for her behavior.
    I couldn’t find that in Scripture.

    I responded that “honor isn’t fitting for a fool” and that forgiveness is not synonymous with reconciliation, and they better go back & do their homework. (Apparently her brain was “plastic” enough to change her will, but not to repent).
    Romans 16:17 says to “avoid them”…..but says nothing about age or familial position or implastic brains.

    The most “honorable” thing for me to do was to follow Jesus, not mid-guided shepherds who allow wolves in the sheepfold who tear apart families and are rewarded for it.

    Romans 16: 17-19:
    I appeal to you, brethren, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them.
    For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.
    For your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, but I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil.

    Blessings on ACFJ and the wisdom contained here, the true strength & honor displayed, & the encouragement to all of us to seek truth, speak truth, live truth, and to stand tall while doing so.

    Selah ~

    • Suzanne

      Your experience is almost identical to mine, but my abuser was and is my own mother. When she dies the only legacy she’ll leave is a family torn apart by her manipulation and triangulation. I pray always that she’ll repent before it’s too late, and I’ve left her in Gods hands. But I’ll never again enable her to abuse me or my husband and children. And like you I’ve been told that my mother can’t change because she’s now too old. I’d like to ask her enabling apologists what excuse they would have given for her conduct when she was younger and her brain was more “plastic”. The truth is that she’s the same person today that she was 40 years ago. She just has more excuses to employ now that she’s old.

      • Helovesme

        StandsWithAFist and Suzanne; I was so touched by your stories.

        I can personally dispute with that flimsy argument about “old” age (i put that in quotes because what is considered “old” is quite subjective).

        When the “metoo” movement came out, I noticed different reactions from the previous generation. I speak of people who are say, in their 60’s on up.

        Some of them spoke with great joy in that victims no longer felt silenced. In their day and age, such abuses were either covered up or never spoken about. They thought it was wonderful that so many people finally had a voice.

        Others felt differently. It made them uncomfortable, and for one reason or another, they preferred that such things stayed behind closed doors.

        My father abused me verbally and physically for many years. Even after he stopped hitting me, verbal and emotional abuse continued into my adulthood.

        It got to the point where I never wanted to speak to him, let alone hear from him. I never went as far as the “NC” route, only because I didn’t think Christians were allowed to do that. But I went as far as I could to avoid him, and in doing so I alienated the rest of my family.

        In 2008, my spouse had a conversation with my dad on the phone or via email (I can’t recall). He really wanted to see us, especially me.

        Bear with me; this is a bit emotional. He said he was now an old man, and had a strong desire to visit us (exact words are not accurately recalled).

        When I did email him to bring up the abuse (which was a daring move for me), he did not respond with the usual attacks and blame gaming. That surprised me.

        I could tell that in his old age, he was willing to listen (for once)

        Yes, I DID wonder if this was all manipulation. Abusers are incredibly savvy at such things. All I can say is that I surprisingly did not think (again, for once) that he was trying to deceive me.

        The argument that people in their old age are somehow less reasonable, or stuck in their ways, or their brains aren’t working so well anymore—-is HOGWASH.

        Because my dad got older (I think he was almost 70), that was ironically what seemed to get a different wheel in his head working.

        PLEASE, do not take this story as encouragement to start speaking to or reaching out to your abuser. This was an incredibly unique situation. If my dad had not humbled himself the way he had, I would NOT be in contact with him. It was to illustrate the incredible falsehood that old age means a person is suddenly unable to think clearly and act like a human being.

        My dad is not a Christian, by the way, so I do not expect him to repent to me (as the Bible commands) until he is willing to repent before the Lord first, for his sins.

      • Suzanne

        You make an excellent point. My mother is an intelligent woman, and her age (87) hasn’t changed that. She doesn’t suffer from dementia, still drives wherever she wants to go, lives at home alone (her choice), and manages her own financial affairs. There is no medical justification for the claim (made by others on her behalf) that she is too old to change. Human beings at any age tend to cherish the familiar and resist change, and that certainly applies to our abusers. Overall I believe that what they do works for them in many ways (mainly to obtain power and control over others) and they won’t give that up no matter who they hurt in the process. Abuse is a choice they make at every age, and if they can make that choice they can also choose to stop abusing.

  24. Anon

    You are doing the right thing, i tried so hard to have a relationship with my mom, she was very manipulative, and my relationship with my daughters has been affected by her behavior, protect yourself, and your kids

    • Welcome to the blog, sister. I changed your screen name to Anon as it looked like you had used your real name.

      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.

      And after reading the New Users’ Info page, you might like to look at ourFAQ page.

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