Our society is replete with philosophies that say that when something bad happens between two people, they have each played a part in why the injurious interaction occurred. Many self-help books teach readers to assume that they have “co-created” any emotional wound that happens to them. Therapists are fond of saying, “Let’s look at what you brought to that interaction,” after a client describes an experience where he or she was mistreated. And you’ve undoubtedly heard the expression “It takes two to tango.”
These philosophies do not apply when we’re talking about human cruelty. In the vast majority of cases where people are subjected to cruel treatment, they have done absolutely nothing wrong. And in the few remaining cases where they have done something bad, it’s still unacceptable to be cruel to them.
There are, of course, some times when two people are equally responsible for why a hurtful exchange took place. But sometimes the responsibility is 70-30. And plenty of times one person did nothing whatsoever to contribute to what went wrong; the whole problem was created by the other person. Where did people come up with the ridiculous idea that responsibility is always 50-50? The assumption that responsibility in a relationship is always equal ends up doing particular harm to women who have abusive or controlling partners. You have 0 percent of the responsibility for why he mistreats you. You are responsible for your actions, not his. Don’t let anyone — including your partner — rope you into sharing the blame for his actions or his issues.
[entry from Lundy Bancroft’s book, Daily Wisdom for Why Does He Do That?* pp67-68]
Amazon affiliate link — ACFJ gets a small percentage if you purchase via this link.
Abraham said to him, “See to it that you do not take my son back there. (Gen 24:6)
A “Hoover” is a metaphor taken from the popular brand of vacuum cleaners, to describe how an abuse victim (trying to assert her own rights by leaving or limiting contact in a dysfunctional relationship), gets “sucked back in” when the perpetrator temporarily exhibits improved or desirable behavior. It is a fairly new term and I think it is perfectly descriptive of one of the tenets of post-separation abuse philosophy. Yet another term to help us to be able to describe what often feels indescribable in the confusing moment of the abuse.
A lot of times, hoovering happens after a person sets firmer boundaries. I remember how I felt shortly after I left my ex husband five years ago. It had been three agonizing weeks since our departure. My return tickets to Europe were about to expire. I had received an email from trusted friends that my ex husband had changed. They encouraged me to go back home. My ex had also been confessing his short-comings as a husband and father. He had been (almost) begging and telling me that he simply could not live, anymore, without me. I felt torn . . . I was being sucked back in . . . I had a minuscule portion of hope that maybe he had changed. I was being hoovered.
I had been so lonely and sad. I was hungry for some sort of affirmation and just . . . to feel loved. My ex knew all of the right love-buttons to press and I was tempted. It started to feel easier to go back to him than face the other road of uncertainty. Just in time, however, a friend sent me an email he had received from my ex that day — an email that displayed all of my abusive ex’s worst qualities. He was verbally abusive to my friend and was writing about me as though I were a piece of property. I never went back and I never looked back. From that moment on, it was over for me. But being hoovered was what I knew in my relationship with him and with several others, in my life.
Hoovering feels fuzzy and warm so it draws us back in
It is familiar. And it is temporary, like so many other unhealthy behaviors that abusers exhibit. It is not our fault. But, when we succumb, it will not be long before he will take away the little bit of life that we were developing right out of us and leave us hurting and broken again, whether it is invalidating, giving the silent treatment or another favorite form of abuse. When this used to happen to me, I was bereft of my self-respect.
Other tactics include pretending like nothing happened, asking an “innocent” question or whatever it takes to break down your boundary.
Humbly, and recognizing that we are all different and all of our relationships are different, I want to share with you how I broke this cycle, in my own life.
1. I recognized the hoovering, as it was happening. That was half the battle. I decided I would rather be alone than allow myself to be treated the way I was being treated.
2. I responded to any emotionally charged texts or emails (extreme emotions, whether it be super lovey-dovey, hyper-spiritual or full of hate and blame) only when I had to and with a BIFF* response.
3. I realized that I had to work extra hard to seal my boundaries and I stuck to my guns.
4. As always, I stayed safe. If tempers were escalating, I got the heck outta’ Dodge or called a friend. Please do not be afraid to call the police.
5. I found a lot of support and I was not afraid to call someone if I was feeling weak.
I would also like to point out that I have noticed abusers can also “discard” a victim quickly, which may be a good thing but can be very painful. Chances are, the abuser has found another target, which is sad for her. She may not know what is coming.
In closing, please be at peace. The boundaries or separation or divorce that you instigated may actually be the most loving choice that you had, in your situation, for yourself and the one abusing you. I very much see it that way, in my life and experience. My ex husband and I had been through three years of counseling with a few different counselors. My ex was not going to change. If I had stayed and he would have genuinely consented to real and lasting change, it would have taken him a decade of intensive therapy. In one decade, my children would have been ruined. My leaving may have been the jolt that he needed to get himself together and stop using and taking from God’s children. I have no idea. But, the chance was there for him. As long as I stayed, he had me to hoover . . . he had his crutch and he had his supply. He would not have been able to resist because it was our way of life. And there was no one to fight for me and I had no fight left in me.
Setting boundaries is the real kind of healthy self-love that restored my dignity and self-respect. I became a different person when I began to love myself in a godly way. I’m praying for you tonight, dear reader, that the hoovering ends, once and for all, and that you press on and fill your empty cup again and feed your soul again. That soul, after all, is a beautiful God-breathed entity . . . that He cares about very much.
This is a guest post by our friend Megan Cox. Many thanks to her!
*What is a BIFF response? See this post: A Review of “BIFF: Quick Responses to High Conflict People” by Bill Eddy
Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is someone we have called out before for teachings which harm victims of abuse and for promoting ESS, the false doctrine of Eternal Submission of the Son. I have just found out that she is dangerous in other ways as well. This is no surprise to me. If someone has a faulty doctrine of the Trinity, and if they are unable to teach in a way that does not endanger victims of domestic abuse, they are most likely to be ‘off’ in other ways as well. Here are the two things I have found. Full documentation is given in the links.
1. Nancy mixes Witchcraft Circle-Making with Christianity
At Pulpit and Pen, the article Nancy Leigh DeMoss Wolgemuth Mixes Pagan Witchcraft Circle-Making With Christianity gives detailed documentation proving that Nancy DeMoss (now Wolgemuth) was standing and praying with other women in a circle drawn on the platform, and that Nancy has endorsed the so-called evangelist named Rodney “Gipsy” Smith. It is important to know that “Gypsy” Smith taught the circle-drawing practice to Christians while being fully aware that the practice derived from gypsy witchcraft. Read the above link for further info about that witchcraft practice and how it has crept into ‘c’hristian circles.
On the broadcast Inside This Circle (Revive our Hearts, Seeking Him Radio), Nancy says:
Gypsy Smith was a nineteenth-century revivalist who did something unusual when he came to a new town. He’d stop on the outskirts and draw a circle in the dirt. Then he would stand inside that circle and say, “O God, please send a revival to this town, and let it begin inside this circle.
2. Nancy is so undiscerning that she has quoted Richard Foster, without warning her readers that he is a gnostic heretic.
The Pulpit and Pen article pointed to an article at ApprisingMinistries which documents another problem with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth’s doctrine and level of discernment. That article, Nancy Leigh DeMoss Turns Readers to Richard Foster for Guidance, demonstrates that Nancy was approvingly quoting from Richard Foster who is gnostic and teaches the heretical doctrines and practices of ‘contemplative Christianity’ and who is strongly influenced by eastern pagan religions and Roman Catholicism.
I followed the links given in that article about Nancy endorsing Richard Foster. I found that on Nancy’s website Revive Our Hearts, she has a transcript of her talk Potential Pitfalls of Servanthood. It’s obvious, reading that transcript and comparing it with what was quoted on the Apprising Ministries article, that Nancy or her minders have now removed the bit where she approvingly quoted from Richard Foster. But in the comments thread on her transcript, some of the commenters reproved her for having quoted Foster — so it’s without doubt that she had originally quoted Foster.
Despite Nancy scrubbing her Foster quote, she made no admission of fault or apology to her readers. She just scrubbed the quote from Foster. It is typical of false teachers to just scrub their ‘mistakes’ but never admit fault or publicly apologize.
If Nancy later realized that Richard Foster is a false teacher, and it was not wise of her to have quoted him so approvingly, why didn’t she then warn her readers that Foster is dangerous?
I am so thankful that I was in the New Age before I came to Christ. It made me hyper-vigilant to pagan ideas infecting in the church. After I became a Christian and had a good grounding in Christian doctrine, I did a lot of research into many branches of paganism and satanic and gnostic teaching. That research, coupled with my previous experience in the New Age, has helped me recognize the red flags. So many Christian are ignorant about these red flags.
I am thankful for Rachel Miller’s post Does It Matter What Women Are Taught? on which the commenter, NJ, pointed to the article “Nancy Leigh DeMoss Wolgemuth Mixes Pagan Witchcraft Circle-Making With Christianity”. This is an example of the true body of Christ helping each other to
- stay awake and alert
- keep oil in our lamps
- not neglect to fellowship together, especially as the day approaches.
(Matt 26:40-45; Heb 10:25; Matt 24:42; 25:1-13)
Rachel Miller’s post gives more proof that Nancy teaches ESS. And Rachel brilliantly applies what Aimee Byrd says in her new book, No Little Women, to show how Nancy’s teaching is dangerous.
TRUE WOMAN 101: DIVINE DESIGN – a review by Rachel Miller (shows how Nancy teaches ESS, the aberrant doctrine of the Eternal Subordination of the Son)
Does it Matter What Women Are Taught? by Rachel Miller
The Relentless Flow of Time
by Pastor Sam Powell
Ecclesiastes 3 (KJV)
Chapter 3 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6 A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
7 A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
9 What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboureth?
10 I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it.
11 He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.
12 I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life.
13 And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God.
14 I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him.
15 That which hath been is now; and that which is to be hath already been; and God requireth that which is past.
16 And moreover I saw under the sun the place of judgment, that wickedness was there; and the place of righteousness, that iniquity was there.
17 I said in mine heart, God shall judge the righteous and the wicked: for there is a time there for every purpose and for every work.
18 I said in mine heart concerning the estate of the sons of men, that God might manifest them, and that they might see that they themselves are beasts.
19 For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity.
20 All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.
21 Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?
22 Wherefore I perceive that there is nothing better, than that a man should rejoice in his own works; for that is his portion: for who shall bring him to see what shall be after him?
Listen to the sermon by clicking on the link above.
[Go to part 3 of the series]
But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. (2 Timothy 3:1-5)
We have written on this passage of Scripture before but are compelled to call your attention to it again.
Consider the present condition of the visible church as seen in many if not the majority of local churches at this very moment —
- Habitually wicked people are considered to be Christians.
- Pedophiles find easy sanctuary in the pews and even in the pulpits.
- Those oppressed by wolves in wool are further oppressed by church leaders and members when they seek help.
- Scandalous evil is regularly exposed in church leaders of “notoriety,” and this exposure is most often not effected by the formal church, but by secular agencies, and christian ‘watch-blogs’.
- False doctrine, the traditions invented by men, is paraded as the authoritative Word of God and by it many are enslaved to cruel bondage.
- The very existence and reality of evil is denied by those who profess Christ’s name, and when it is uncovered among them they typically strive to cover it up.
This sorry state of affairs in the visible household of God is an exact example of what Paul says is “having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.” And THAT is where a new and mighty reformation needs to begin: with the exposure and rebuke of men and women whose religion is not at all of Christ but which claims His name. For the religion which prevails in so much of the visible church is like what the Pharisees promoted: white and shiny on the outside, but rotten and dead and stinking in reality.
How do you deny the power of true godliness (Christianity)? Let me suggest to you that this denial is a denial of the necessity and nature of the new birth — the new birth that our Lord told Nicodemus about (John 3). It is a denial of the regenerating and indwelling work of the Spirit in the New Covenant. It is a religion that is nothing more than words engraved on stone like the Old Covenant, impossible to be performed by man, able only to condemn.
Oh sure, most any pastor or local church member talks all the time about the new birth, about getting saved, about needing to be born again. But the POWER of it all is, in practice, denied. In this corrupt and shallow religious ethos, anyone who says they believe in Jesus, no matter how ungodly their life may be in practice, is regarded as a Christian. In this ethos, folks who claim to be Christians are not expected to love the Lord, to love one another, to bear Christ’s fruit, to be able to hear Christ’s voice. Nor are they expected to be able to discern, and refuse to follow, false shepherds. All this is a denial of the power of godliness. It is an outward form of religion that has no Spirit in the heart.
And our churches are full of such people. Look for example (and there are many others) at the condition of one of the largest denominations in the United States, the Southern Baptist Convention. We know from firsthand and regular reports of abuse victims that SBC churches are havens for the wicked. Yes, there are exceptions here and there, but as a whole you must not expect to find the Spirit of Christ truly dwelling in an SBC church. Yes, yes, I can hear the loud protests now. “How dare you say such a thing!!” How dare we? We dare because it is true. And of course, the SBC is only one example of the denial of the power of godliness.
Might I suggest that the state of the Protestant/Evangelical church today is just as rotten as the condition of the “church” in Martin Luther’s time? Men exalt themselves to virtual papal power. Corrupt men, as we keep seeing over and over again. Voices of those who would call for reformation and repentance are shouted down (though with increasing ineffectiveness due to social media). Innocents who stand for Christ’s truth are ex-communicated. How is this really any different in spirit than in the 1500’s when Rome ruled?
What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices? says the LORD; I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of well-fed beasts; I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs, or of goats. When you come to appear before me, who has required of you this trampling of my courts? Bring no more vain offerings; incense is an abomination to me. New moon and Sabbath and the calling of convocations— I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hates; they have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them. When you spread out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood. Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause. (Isaiah 1:11-17)
The treatment of domestic abuse victims in and by local churches today is pathetic and wicked. We all know that and we can prove it with myriads of witness testimonies. This in itself is enough proof to say that the professing Christian church of our day is an entity that has the form/appearance of godliness but in fact denies the power of godliness. It is a sham. It is a shiny temple full of demons in desperate need of a King to come who will take His whip and drive the evil out of His Father’s House.
And He is coming.
Let the rivers clap their hands; let the hills sing for joy together before the LORD, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with equity. (Psalms 98:8-9)
In his book, Unholy Charade:Unmasking the Domestic Abuser in the Church, [affiliate link*] Pastor Crippen describes each phase of the cycle of abuse. Understanding each phase and how they work in sequence may help victims be able to avoid or lessen the confusion that abusers want to create.
Some people call this the ‘normal’ phase or even the ‘honeymoon period,’ but in an abusive relationship, nothing is ever really normal, and any honeymoon feeling is a deception. ‘Buy-back’ names what the abuse is doing: trying to manipulatively buy back, through apparent peace and pleasantness, the affection and loyalty of the one he seeks to control. When it suits his purposes, he can pretend to be quite caring, even loving. The buy-back phase will give the victim false hopes that thing are better now, that he really does love her, that he has truly changed. But like almost everything the abuser does, this is ultimately all for himself.
In this phase, tension builds. The abuser begins to see everything his victim does as a challenge to his power and authority. He begins to plan how he will deliver his next explosion of abuse to bring her back under his control.
The abuser looks for ways to set up his victim, an excuse to strike. Like an evil dictator looking for an excuse to start a war, he may create the incident, using one of the tactics described in the next chapter. Because his ultimate desire is to exercise control, the victim will fail in all her attempts to please him.
The abuser now launches his all-out attack in one of several ways. His goals will be to intimidate the victim to remain small and in her place of subjection and servitude, and to convince her that she is entirely at fault for his abuse.
An abuser at this state may put on displays of guilt and remorse. He may feign empathy, shame, and sorrow for his wrongdoing. He may express his love for his victim in what appears at first to be a very genuine way. But it is a sham, often simply mimicked and mirrored from outward behavior that he has observed in others. One giveaway is that there will almost always be some form of excuse and blame directed toward someone else, usually his victim.
The abuser will cycle back to the beginning, to what some call the ‘normal’ phase, only to repeat the cycle over and over again. But remember, what some call ‘normal’ is really manipulation in disguise, or ‘buy-back.’ Great damage can be done to victims during this state, as it increases the victim’s confusion.
Just remember, in every phase of this abuse cycle, abuse is operating.
[From Unholy Charade, pp36-37]
Here is a diagram of The Cycle of Abuse developed by ARMS (Abuse Recovery Ministry Services) that may be helpful.