Staying for the kids?

[September 24, 2022: There have been some changes made to this post. For more information, read the Editors’ notes at the bottom of the post. Editors.]

Victims sometimes choose to stay in abusive relationships because they think it’s best for the kids to have a dud father rather than no father. Someone made this comment on my own [old Not Under Bondage] blog and it’s so wonderful that I’m reposting it here. [Click here for the Internet Archive link. Editors.] Thank you so much, whoever you are, for writing this heartfelt cry from one who grew up with an abusive father. (My own blog is [Old] Not Under Bondage blog [Internet Archive link] but don’t go there now.)

Read on….

“Staying for the kids?” — Possibly the most damaging alternative. My mum made us stay with our abusive father and I would have preferred live on the streets. If you knew how incredibly DAMAGED I am and my sisters are from the abuse, you would know that “staying for the kids” is hardly an option.

My advice would be to find a refuge and go on Centrelink [Internet Archive link]1 [Government Welfare Office in Australia]. YES this may be “doing it tough” for a while and making some material sacrifices but it’s BETTER than putting your children through psychological trauma and forcing them to live hyper-vigilantly.

Talking from experience — when we left dad we were certainly poorer. But they were the happier years of my life. As opposed to the 10 years lived under the abuse of my own father.

If you are a mother — your instincts should call you to protect. Protect your children at any cost — not just for the sake of their safety, but as a Christian, for the sake of JUSTICE.

God requires us to “SEEK JUSTICE, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.” ([Paraphrase of] Micah 6:8.) Please consider seeking justice for your own children. I know it’s hard and you will certainly cop a lot of persecution from others, even Christians as they don’t understand. But remember also that it is not our requirement to “fear man” and care what others think of us. Rather, we must do what we feel God’s will is.

God asked Abraham to offer his own son as a sacrifice and although others would call this murder, Abraham was willing to trust God and be obedient to Him.

PLEASE be obedient to God and be His ambassadors of Justice. As the carer of your children you have a responsibility to show them what is right. By remaining in your abusive households and allowing them to witness and experience abuse, you are showing them that “this is okay behaviour”. This is NOT justice. And that is NOT what God intends for us. I pray that you come to understand the urgency of protecting your children from further harm. And that you don’t wait twenty years and see the sad reality of what it has done to your own [children] when they have grown up as damaged adults.

1[September 24, 2022: We added the link to the Centrelink page. The Internet Archive link is a copy of that page. Editors.]

[September 24, 2022: Editors’ notes:

—For some comments made prior to September 24, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be an exact match.
—For some comments made prior to September 24, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be found in the post.
If you would like to compare the text in the comments made prior to September 24, 2022 that quoted from the post to the post as it is now (September 24, 2022), click here [Internet Archive link] for the most recent Internet Archive copy of the post.]

33 thoughts on “Staying for the kids?”

  1. After I left to stay with a friend, I noticed that my five year old girl (now six) started taking on an the adult role of making sure that I was ok as well as her three siblings. She was burdened with the responsibility, which no five year old should have to carry. During our stay at the transition house she totally shut down and was diagnosed as having “selective mutism.” She was very clingy with me and treated her grandparents like strangers. When I finally got my own place the change in her behaviour was like night and day. The stability caused her, as well as the other three, to feel safe. The burden of being a caretaken disappeared and the little girl that she was began to manifest. Finally, they were in a home that was peaceful. The strife and animosity was gone. Leaving was the best decision I made not only for myself but for my four kids.

    1. Anon – I realize that leaving an abuser is not just a simple walking out the door. There are obstacles. But I do hope that all of our readers are taking to heart what you are saying here. Leaving an abuser is the best thing for those children. How anyone can argue that having two parents is always the best is beyond me. No one who understands domestic violence, the mentality of it and its tactics and effects would ever maintain such a thing. I think we need to pointedly ask people who pressure victims to continue in the “marriage” — “Could you please tell me specifically how staying in this oppressive, deceitful, accusing environment is going to be better for my children than not being in it?” When children are abused, even the secular authorities realize they need to be removed from that abuse. I am afraid that the church is more often concerned with our “Christian reputation” that we make victims stay and keep it quiet.

  2. The actual leaving was the hardest decision I have so far had to make. Simply because the unknown was now before me and everything thing I was familiar with was going to be no more. But I realized from this point on things can only get better! Even I didn’t totally understand what I was putting my kids through until I left that environment. There would be times I would hear my daughter would moan in the back of the car because the car ride was nothing but a shouting match. When at the transition house, one of the workers made me aware of the fact that even ‘adultery’ is sexual abuse. To a lot of people I am the bad one because [I’ve] taken a firm stand, for once. Oh well I have healthier kids as a result. Jeff, for some reason, people don’t think that far to ask the question the you have addressed. They just see a family being ripped apart and don’t care to ask why or realize that the family is already ripped apart.

  3. Jeff, for some reason, people don’t think that far to ask the question the you have addressed. They just see a family being ripped apart and don’t care to ask why or realize that the family is already ripped apart.

    Amen to that. One of the hardest lessons I had to learn. The marriage was already dead, the divorce was just the funeral. Who would deny a funeral to a grieving family?

    1. When I was with the ex, (the divorce hasn’t been finalized yet but that’s what he is to me) that out of nowhere I would ask myself and wonder, “are we going to grow old together.” Funny how such questions come to mind but I guess somewhere in my subconscious I knew the answer. It has died and now I can truly live.

  4. To those who argue its always best for kids to have their two parents under the same roof with them, I would answer this:

    Imagine you have a dog. Now, the experts advise people to have two dogs rather than one, because one gets lonely on its own. So because you’re a conscientious pet owner, you get a second dog. It seems nice and friendly when you first get it. But then this dog starts terrorising your first dog, snarling, biting, barking, eating all its food, shoving it out of the way when it tries to get some affection from you. Would you think “I’d better keep the second dog because the experts recommend it’s better to have two dogs”?

  5. So true, Barbara. The sad thing about that is that people would probably have more compassion for the oppressed dog rather the oppressed human being.

    1. That’s right. And that’s why we have to keep showing up the ethical contradiction in their position. We need to keep talking about this, like a stuck record, ’til maybe they hear.

  6. Barbara, I sure wish I had this kind of advice and support as a young mother. I was so entrenched, and just didn’t see it. Now I look back and see the detrimental things that went on. What an atrocity, and here I was in the name of avoiding divorce, allowing so much worse to shape the lives of my children. Once we did actually separate, but that was forced as social services had gotten involved on one occasion. I so wanted it to be over, but the counselor we saw was a Christian and believed in us getting back together. Things were better for a short time, but then it slipped backwards. In all of it, I was not the protector I should have been, but didn’t even realize it as a fault then as I always tried to smooth things over. I wish I had known then what I know now, but I do expect that God will use me to help others as I have a keen sensitivity of when a woman is in an abusive situation, and I’ve also encountered a fair share of men who abuse. In my line of work it is not uncommon to see. Thank you for your exhortation. You are right. We need to stop skirting around this issue.

  7. I was one who strongly believed it was better for the kids to stay. I continually had hope that God would intervene and true repentance would happen – not just the temporary show of repentance to “get what he wanted”. I grieve now that I didn’t protect my children from the cruel words, severe discipline, witnessing him screaming at me, throwing things, calling me awful names in front of them, saying he was a Christian, but not showing the fruit, etc. Thankfully, God is merciful, answers the prayers of a mom. As my children are healing individually, I see evidence of their relationships with Jesus that are genuine and growing. I can’t praise God enough for keeping them from becoming bitter toward God. I have told each one of my children how sorry I am that I didn’t protect them better and have asked for their forgiveness.

      1. I can relate too. Sadly my adult daughter wants nothing to do with church (or her Father). My son’s handled it better because they were male. A father is so crucial for a daughter in a special way. But I see my adult sons act like my husband at times.

  8. Jeff – I’m not sure how or where to post a new comment – but wanted to ask about something. I have been reading through the OT and recently read about Saul. His behavior sounds very much like the man I was married to for 32 years. He had murderous anger, was jealous, deceitful, lied, controlling and then when confronted would say, “yes I have sinned and been unkind, etc. He would ask God to bless his actions, etc. In the narrative it says that “God sent a tormenting spirit to Saul”. Can you explain that?

    1. UPDATE Sept 2021: I have come to believe that Jeff Crippen does not practise what he preaches. He vilely persecuted an abuse victim and spiritually abused many other people in the Tillamook congregation. Go here to read the evidence. Jeff has not gone to the people that he spiritually and emotionally abused. He has not apologised to them, let alone asked for their forgiveness.


      Yes, Kay, Jeff has a post about how Saul — a case study in false repentance. I have set the link so it opens in a new tab.

      By the way, if you are looking for topics that you want answered, you can try searching the topic in the “categories” search field on the right hand panel the blog. We are trying to ensure that all posts are properly categorized and tagged, according to the topics they cover. And if you find posts where you think we haven’t properly categorized them, or if you have suggestions for new categories and tags, do email us (our email addresses are on the “About Us” page).

      As for the point that —

      God sent a tormenting spirit to Saul.

      —I think Jeff will probably answer this more, but I see it this way. God knew Saul was not a believer and had wickedness in his heart. By sending the evil spirit to torment him, God was (metaphorically) giving Saul enough rope so he could hang himself. Sometimes God puts an abuser under stress, paints him into a corner, so that the evil in the abuser’s heart comes up to the surface so explosively that even the abuser, in all his evasiveness, can scarcely deny that he’s behaved atrociously. Maybe it’s a way that God is laying before the abuser the stark truth: “Look Saul – look how murderous you have become! Don’t you think you ought to repent!?” Then, of course, it’s up to the abuser whether he will face facts, or whether he will further sear his conscience, becoming even more of a liar in order to justify himself.

  9. So, I leave and since there is no “great” evidence, dad gets the children every other weekend, unsupervised….and this is better for them?

    1. Shannon – it sounds like you’ve had a difficult experience with the court? Custody hearings are no picnic and the results are rarely fully just. I am sure that you have done and are doing the very best that you can for your children. I suspect that while the “better” isn’t as good as it should be nor perhaps for which you sought, nevertheless you are facing up to the abuse and doing all you can to permit yourself and your children to heal from it.

    2. Shannon — I think everyone has to answer this one for themselves, with much prayer. Our family court system currently stinks and it is a fear of every mother out there. My husband said he would get the kids and turn them against me. I believed him. He had a high paying job and the drive for revenge. I stayed an extra fifteen years.

      Was it the right thing to do? I have no way to know. His behavior escalated during that last decade and he became dangerously violent, especially the last three years. One of my children wound up with PTSD and suicidal, the others are angry and needing intensive counseling and support. He almost destroyed them. I don’t think staying made things better.

      But of course, now, all what-if’s are only speculation. What if I’d left? Would he have gotten full custody? Unsupervised visitation? There’s no easy answer here. It would’ve been hell to leave and it was hell to stay.

    3. Shannon, when I left my first husband (1994, the first prolonged separation) I had to contest custody in court and he was granted fortnightly access. This compulsory visitation was a terrible thorn in our side for years. Every fortnight my daughter was screwed up by the contact with him, emotionally and psychologically. And many years later, it ended up with even more terrible stuff that I don’t describe in public. But was it worth being separated from him for the other 12 days each fortnight? Yes, because in those 12 days I could do my best to provide safety, psychological support, proper parental modelling, and a degree of stability. Yes, without doubt it was worth it. And because he was no longer under our roof, I was not so downtrodden, not so fog-bound, not such a traumatized person myself, so I could be a better parent.

      I know everyone makes this tough decision for themselves, so I’m only telling my story, not saying it applies to all others in this predicament.

  10. This is something I am struggling with. If we had no children, I would have left by now. I am not staying so they have a father….I am staying because I know he will fight for custody. Even if he only got visitation….then the children are with him ALONE for visits. At least now, I am with them, to act as a buffer. I’ve found when I am not in his crosshairs, then he goes after our oldest. I can’t bear that. Which is better….getting out, so they have the periods of respite, but then also dealing with him alone….or having another adult there at all times (and who would rather stand in as his target). I just….am I doing the right thing?

    1. Anonymous, I don’t think any of us can tell you whether you are doing the right thing or not. You are facing one of those polylemmas that victims often face (where all options are bad and it’s hard to choose which is worse). Be assured that we support you no matter what you choose to do.

  11. In my case, except for one or two instances, all of the emotional abuse (he is not physically abusive in any way) is dumped squarely on me. It is really subtle stuff, sarcastic barbs, really subtle control tactics that they wouldn’t get yet as they are young and / or disabled cognitively. So my kids are not suffering, but I am. This is why leaving is hard. He is in no way a deadbeat dad. His personality disorder (OCPD) [Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder] makes him loyal to the family to an almost unhealthy degree.

    1. Jul, I’ve been mulling over what you said here. How awful. It’s like an aviary with walls, floor and roof of glass, with invisible poison gas being pumped into it, and the gas affects only one bird in the aviary.

      1. Pretty much. There were a couple of times where dd 6 heard us raise our voices and was upset. We got her calmed down quickly. So she has heard us those couple of times. I guess that can affect her.

        It is hard because he is so normal most of the time, and as long as we don’t discuss anything serious where our opinions differ, we do okay. But anytime he disagrees, anytime we go head-to-head (when I dare), it is always my fault my “disturbing thinking”, my communication problem. I even told him flat out once that he won’t take any responsibility for our communication problem. He balked at that, of course.

        My abuse is a lot less than others, and it is very subtle, no name calling or anything. It is very controlled, calm, and meant to make me doubt my own opinions or thoughts. Google OCPD and see how it works. My ex was most likely a narcissist. I had no idea OCPD existed until I tried to find out what was wrong with us. I am now on an OCPD forum and learning how this disorder manifests itself.

        I have been leaning towards leaving, but I feel like he is not abusive enough, like he has to be sarcastic all of the time or condescending all of the time, but he is not. It is like the majority of the time I have a somewhat normal if not fastidious husband who doesn’t have friends or go anywhere. But anytime I go outside of his desired parameters for me, that is when he turns into Hyde. I hate that guy! If you want to get an idea of this, watch “Sleeping with the Enemy”. Mine isn’t the physical specimen of perfection, but the disorder is the same. Well, and my husband is not a psychopath.

        [Paragraph breaks added to enhance readability. Editors.]

      2. My abuse is a lot less than others, and it is very subtle, no name calling or anything. It is very controlled, calm, and meant to make me doubt my own opinions or thoughts.

        Jul, I encourage you not to think your abuse is ‘a lot less than others’. The abuse you are experiencing is not ‘less’ because it is subtle. I would say that ‘subtle’ makes it more, not less. Not more life threatening perhaps, in the way that severe physical violence and weapons use can be life threatening. But more in the sense that it’s harder for the victim to see and identify what is being done to her, harder for bystanders to see and identify as abuse, harder for the victim to realise it’s not her fault, harder for the victim to get legal redress for (since some jurisdictions only define domestic abuse as physical and sexual violence and direct overt threats of physical violence). And harder in myriads of other ways too, not least of which is the exact dilemma you are feeling:

        I have been leaning towards leaving, but I feel like he is not abusive enough, like he has to be sarcastic all of the time or condescending all of the time, but he is not.

        You are free to leave, I would say. Most of our abusers have not been Mr Hyde all the time. Most of them are Dr Jekylls too, and some of us have even still liked and loved the Dr Jekyll right up until we decided that we had to separate. And some of us have missed Dr Jekyll for a long time after separation…. But it boils down to: “do you want to go on living with a guy who recurrently and unpredictably becomes Hyde and when he does it’s A.W.F.U.L.?”

      3. I watched “Sleeping With The Enemy” years ago. I remember feeling so triggered; it was not long after my final separation from my first husband. Thankfully I watched it with a fellow survivor, and we debriefed with each other after it was over. 🙂

    2. Jul ~ you say:

      my kids are not suffering, but I am.

      Please give yourself permission to realize that if YOU are suffering, your kids are too. Being in a tense environment takes a toll so don’t be lulled into thinking it doesn’t affect them. It does.

      Also, while I understand why you are in an OCPD forum, it seems as though you are working harder on that issue than he is. When one partner / spouse is working on the relationship harder than the other, that imbalance keeps you off-balance and begins to drain your energy. His “loyalty” is a nice way of saying he is controlling. Controlling behavior is not loving, and as kids grow older they will feel suffocated by it and not know why, b / c you do not know why. By then you may feel threadbare.

      Of course I cannot and do not know all the details of your situation, but please know this is a safe place, and you will learn and be strengthened here. Keep reading and learning.

      And be safe.

      [Paragraph breaks added to enhance readability. Editors.]

  12. Oh and wanted to add, I feel guilty for wanting to leave when my abuse is nowhere near as bad as others. Like I said, my husband is helpful and puts the family first, but there is this other awful person in him who can do no wrong. So is it a sin then for me to leave?

    1. Jul – sheep do not wear wolf disguises. Wolves wear sheep’s wool. Good people in other words do not pretend to be evil, but evil people pretend to be good all the time. Your Mr. Hyde is the true person you are married to. What you are experiencing is the cycle of abuse that goes from setup / “nice-nice” phase back around to the abuse. Round and round it goes.

    2. Jul, as you will have seen, I’ve put a response to you higher up, but I’m giving the link to that response here, so that other readers who feel like you may be helped. Bless you. 🙂

      Click here to see what I said higher up.

  13. Thank you, Jeff and Barbara, for responding to my posts [comments] so directly! I will keep going over your words to see if I can get them to sink in.

    1. Hi, Jul, the last comment you submitted on this post had so many identifying details we don’t think it’s wise to publish it. But we read it, and we sympathize. I guess you’ve checked out the tips about disidentifying at our New Users’ Info page, but you may want to revisit them. This is not to tick you off, just to help you stay safe. This blog is not like a forum where you can only read and comment if you have been vetted and have a password. So your husband might read this blog….we want you to stay safe, so be careful what you write here. 🙂

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