A Cry For Justice

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

Cognitive dissonance hinders pastors from giving justice (advice for pastors Part 8, by Ps Jeff Crippen)

Deuteronomy 16:18-20 “You shall appoint judges and officers in all your towns that the LORD your God is giving you, according to your tribes, and they shall judge the people with righteous judgment. You shall not pervert justice. You shall not show partiality, and you shall not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and subverts the cause of the righteous. Justice, and only justice, you shall follow, that you may live and inherit the land that the LORD your God is giving you.

Many thanks to a reader for sending the following link to an article on the Stockholm syndrome (aka emotional bonding).  In this post I want to quote from the section of the article that deals with what Carver calls “cognitive dissonance” and then propose that this mechanism is one reason pastors and other Christians so often react to the abuse victim in an unjust manner.  The article I am quoting from is:

Love and Stockholm Syndrome: The Mystery of Loving an Abuser  by Joseph M. Carver, Ph.D., Clinical Psychologist.

Please read the following excerpt from Carver’s article, and as you read it, try to relate it not only to a victim of abuse, but also to a pastor who has a member of his church sitting in front of him reporting that her husband (also a church member) is guilty of long-standing abuse.  I suggest that this “cognitive dissonance” mechanism is going to engage in the pastor’s mind:

Throughout history, people have found themselves supporting and participating in life situations that range from abusive to bizarre. In talking to these active and willing participants in bad and bizarre situations, it is clear they have developed feelings and attitudes that support their participation. One way these feelings and thoughts are developed is known as “cognitive dissonance”. As you can tell, psychologists have large words and phrases for just about everything.

“Cognitive Dissonance” explains how and why people change their ideas and opinions to support situations that do not appear to be healthy, positive, or normal. In the theory, an individual seeks to reduce information or opinions that make him or her uncomfortable. When we have two sets of cognitions (knowledge, opinion, feelings, input from others, etc.) that are the opposite, the situation becomes emotionally uncomfortable. Even though we might find ourselves in a foolish or difficult situation – few want to admit that fact. Instead, we attempt to reduce the dissonance – the fact that our cognitions don’t match, agree, or make sense when combined. “Cognitive Dissonance” can be reduced by adding new cognitions – adding new thoughts and attitudes. Some examples:

  • Heavy smokers know smoking causes lung cancer and multiple health risks. To continue smoking, the smoker changes his cognitions (thoughts/feelings) such as 1) “I’m smoking less than ten years ago”, 2) “I’m smoking low-tar cigarettes”, 3) “Those statistics are made up by the cancer industry conspiracy”, or 4) “Something’s got to get you anyway!” These new cognitions/attitudes allow them to keep smoking and actually begin blaming restaurants for being unfair.
  • You purchase a $40,000 Sport Utility Vehicle that gets 8 miles a gallon. You justify the expense and related issues with 1) “It’s great on trips (you take one trip per year)”, 2) “I can use it to haul stuff (one coffee table in 12 months), and 3) “You can carry a lot of people in it (95% of your trips are driver-only).”
  • Your husband/boyfriend becomes abusive and assaultive. You can’t leave due to the finances, children, or other factors. Through cognitive dissonance, you begin telling yourself “He only hits me open-handed” and “He’s had a lot of stress at work.”

Leon Festinger first coined “Cognitive Dissonance”. He had observed a cult (1956) in which members gave up their homes, incomes, and jobs to work for the cult. This cult believed in messages from outer space that predicted the day the world would end by a flood. As cult members and firm believers, they believed they would be saved by flying saucers at the appointed time. As they gathered and waited to be taken by flying saucers at the specified time, the end-of-the-world came and went. No flood and no flying saucer! Rather than believing they were foolish after all that personal and emotional investment – they decided their beliefs had actually saved the world from the flood and they became firmer in their beliefs after the failure of the prophecy. The moral – the more you invest (income, job, home, time, effort, etc.) the stronger your need to justify your position. If we invest $5.00 in a raffle ticket, we justify losing with “I’ll get them next time”. If you invest everything you have, it requires an almost unreasoning belief and unusual attitude to support and justify that investment.

Studies tell us we are more loyal and committed to something that is difficult, uncomfortable, and even humiliating. The initiation rituals of college fraternities, Marine boot camp, and graduate school all produce loyal and committed individuals. Almost any ordeal creates a bonding experience. Every couple, no matter how mismatched, falls in love in the movies after going through a terrorist takeover, being stalked by a killer, being stranded on an island, or being involved in an alien abduction. Investment and an ordeal are ingredients for a strong bonding – even if the bonding is unhealthy. No one bonds or falls in love by being a member of the Automobile Club or a music CD club. Struggling to survive on a deserted island – you bet!

Abusive relationships produce a great amount on unhealthy investment in both parties. In many cases we tend to remain and support the abusive relationship due to our investment in the relationship. Try telling a new Marine that since he or she has survived boot camp, they should now enroll in the National Guard! Several types of investments keep us in the bad relationship:

Emotional Investment – We’ve invested so many emotions, cried so much, and worried so much that we feel we must see the relationship through to the finish.
Social Investment – We’ve got our pride! To avoid social embarrassment and uncomfortable social situations, we remain in the relationship.
Family Investments – If children are present in the relationship, decisions regarding the relationship are clouded by the status and needs of the children.
Financial Investment – In many cases, the controlling and abusive partner has created a complex financial situation. Many victims remain in a bad relationship, waiting for a better financial situation to develop that would make their departure and detachment easier.
Lifestyle Investment – Many controlling/abusive partners use money or a lifestyle as an investment. Victims in this situation may not want to lose their current lifestyle.
Intimacy Investment – We often invest emotional and sexual intimacy. Some victims have experienced a destruction of their emotional and/or sexual self-esteem in the unhealthy relationship. The abusing partner may threaten to spread rumors or tell intimate details or secrets. A type of blackmail using intimacy is often found in these situations.

Do you begin to see the point?  The pastor has invested emotionally, socially, financially, and in other ways in his church and ministry. He has invested in this family, and often in the life of the abuser himself.  The abuser might be an elder or deacon or some other key figure in the church.  So the victim’s report sounds a dissonant chord in the pastor’s mind.  His temptation is going to be to change his thinking to some theory that will justify the abuser and support his long-held notion that the abuser is really who the pastor has assumed him to be.  The pastor will do this rather than believe the shocking and threatening alternative:  the victim’s account.  As Carver explained:  “Even though we might find ourselves in a foolish or difficult situation – few want to admit that fact. Instead, we attempt to reduce the dissonance – the fact that our cognitions don’t match, agree, or make sense when combined. “Cognitive Dissonance” can be reduced by adding new cognitions – adding new thoughts and attitudes.” 

And guess what those “new thoughts and attitudes” are going to be?  That the victim has it all wrong.  That the victim is really the culprit.  Because the alternative (that the pastor has been duped by the abuser; that the abuser is not at all who the pastor thought him to be, etc), is just too shocking and threatening to face up to.  The dissonance between the victim’s report of abuse and the pastor’s longstanding “knowledge” of the abuser must be resolved into a pleasant, harmonious chord once again.  And it will be at the expense and sacrifice of the victim.

Pastors — you must know yourself if you are going to deal with abusers justly and if you are going to deal rightly with victims of abuse.  This cognitive dissonance principle is in all of us and it never produces justice.  When a victim comes to you, to one degree or another (depending on the degree to which your personal investment in these people and/or in your ministry you have made), to one degree or another this dissonant chord is going to start sounding in your mind and in your feelings.  You won’t like it.  Your sinful, selfish flesh is going to urge you to resolve it, and to resolve it quickly.  “Make the victim go away.  Discount her story.”  You must not yield to any of this.  Yes, there is a dissonance.  But the dissonance is coming from the abuser’s “Christian” facade as it is now played against the other note of his role as abuser.  Resolution must be sought in the abuser’s arena, not in the victim’s.  Our false notion of who the abuser is must be a note that is changed.  That will be real resolution.

Deuteronomy 16:18-20 “You shall appoint judges and officers in all your towns that the LORD your God is giving you, according to your tribes, and they shall judge the people with righteous judgment. You shall not pervert justice. You shall not show partiality, and you shall not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and subverts the cause of the righteous. Justice, and only justice, you shall follow, that you may live and inherit the land that the LORD your God is giving you.

Go to Part 7 of this series        Go to Part 9 of this series

38 Comments

  1. Great point about the knee-jerk reflex pastors or counselors might have when dealing with an abuser and a fair point about how their investment in their ministry, church as a whole and even the two people involved in the (abusive) marriage —

    I can understand a pastor reflexively choosing to protect his congregation as a whole, or even, though it is less commendable, to protect his own reputation/career rather than deal directly with this type of situation. While I can understand it, that doesn’t mean I think it’s right. It’s simply that the points made and human nature are understandable.

    Too many times the abused are in fact ‘understanding’ and we make excuses not only for our abusers, but for those (like pastors) who fail to deal with the situation from the point of view of justice, as you noted in the beginning.

    If no one will hold anyone accountable, victims will continue to pay the price – and even to enable injustice to continue. Sad because it is so clearly out of alignment with the crystal clear, absolutely transparent truth and justice which are inherent to the character of God.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Thanks Elizabeth. Well said. Your emphasis that the injustice is inexcusable is right on. Yes, we are humans and pastors are humans, so we all are going to be initially confronted with our own defective thinking in reaction to victims. However, Christ calls us, and especially the shepherds of His flock, to exercise justice. That means we are to put to death our sinful flesh and thinking and be led by the Spirit through God’s Word and show no partiality.

  2. Reblogged this on Speakingtruthinlove's Blog.

  3. Anonymous

    I think too what happens, is that the pastor looks at the whole congregation and asks himself what will they all think, if he endorses the victim leaving their spouse, when it is a Church, where most of them hold to a permanence view. I actually watched a movie this afternoon that was about a mother telling her married daughter, to work it out with her cheating husband, because “they all mess up sometime”. It really gripped me, because I thought that is what the Churches are doing with abuse victims! We are supposed to be different! We are supposed to dish out justice and stand against evil. We are not supposed to look like the world looks.

    However, I think perhaps, as I said above, pastors are more concerned about having a divorce or even separation, in their Church, that they approved of or even instigated themselves, on behalf of the victim, and then having to deal with the backlash from the congregation or outsiders saying, “wow, they actually approved of those people getting a divorce!”. So, they do as is said in the post, make all kinds of “new cognitions”. This is exactly what happened to me. I say he abused me this way, and they say,” well don’t you think perhaps you are overstating that, or could you agree that it really wasn’t abuse, but just unkindness? Have you ever been unkind to him? He is probably just as hurt as you are”. Wow! Thanks for opening my eyes to the truth of what they were/are doing to me, Pastor Crippen!

    • This is one reason why pastors should get their doctrine right on what constitutes biblical ground for divorce.They need to get that sorted out in their own heads – and of course I recommend they read my book, in order to think the through the doctrine of divorce especially as to how it applies to domestic abuse. If they get it clear in their own heads about the scriptural grounds for divorce for abuse, adultery and desertion, and THEN teach that doctrine carefully to their own congregation, they’re not going to be side-swiped by masses of objections from their flock if it ever comes about that they make a ruling on an actual case of divorce for abuse.
      Pastors who don’t do this groundwork are likely to be pusillanimous – timid and lacking in courage – when they happen to be faced with a case of domestic abuse in their own congregation.

    • Jeff Crippen

      I have had a first hand experience with the damage caused by churches and pastors and Christians telling abuse victims to go home and work it out and stay with their husband/wife abuser. Of course, they won’t use the word abuser. Just “husband/wife.” Because they don’t want to admit that the victim’s account of what has been going on is true. Anyway, recently I worked with an abuse victim who, in particular, was being targeted with a very deceptive style of abuse that involved the emotional bonding/Stockholm scenario. The one in which the abuser — who obviously is the source of the victim’s suffering in the first place — also extends “kindnesses” to the victim. This really messes with the mind. I saw anger and confusion building in the victim and ultimately decided that is enough and told the victim it was time to leave the abuser. The victim packed up a suitcase and left, staying with a friend. In only a matter of a few days I have seen the victim improve remarkably and very noticeably and the victim is sensing that improvement too. Sleeping at night, old interests in hobbies and career returning, etc. Just that fast! Now, I know that each case is different and that this case in particular was not as severe as many (no children involved), but my point is simply that you really cannot begin to heal, at least as well, if you are still being abused daily. How can someone with PTSD start to recover if they are subjected to the trauma continually? So pastors and churches and people who lay it on victims to “suffer for Christ and stay with your spouse” are doing great damage and, frankly, the motive for telling someone this nonsense is never a good one. It is selfish or at best, incredibly and arrogantly ignorant.

      • Anonymous

        I think some of the worst mental abuse is when there has been any sort of “violence”; ie physical, emotional, verbal, mental, etc., and the abuser comes an hour or two later and wants a great big hug and to go on a date, as if it never happened. Or the abuser doesn’t speak for a week or so after his abuse of you, and then comes with a great big smile and says, “Wanna go buy something new? You aren’t really going to be mad at me anymore, are you?”, without even an “I’m sorry”. Twisting of emotions and the mind of his victim, leaving her like a pretzel and her thinking, “what’s wrong with me? why am I so confused and empty feeling? why can’t I just let it go?”. I have found that my counsel from the Church, has been exactly like this — “you are married to him! At some point, you are going to HAVE to let it go, so you can work all this out with him! For heaven’s sake, grow up and get over your selfishness! He just wants to be close to you!” My thinking, “Well of COURSE he does. He cannot abuse me, if he cannot keep drawing me back into it”.

        I had a friend once tell me, after she had gone through counseling for being abused by her husband, that the greater the “gift” or “kindness”, the worse he intends to abuse her. She said her counselor told her when her boyfriend bought her a big TV, “that’s a mighty big gift for someone you’ve only been dating a couple of months”. She ignored the flags-a-flying and within a month he was abusing her. I am learning, (as I creep at a snail’s pace) that it IS much better to get away from the abuser and to speak to him as little as possible. It helps alleviate the mind games. Separation, at least, is very good and gives the victim room to regain some sense of normalcy, in order to start making good decisions, in the Lord. I found that I had a hard time even just praying, without becoming very emotional and crying, and then I would lose my train of thought in prayer and be unable to feel like I had reached Heaven and God had heard me. Satan really used this in me, to his advantage. It has taken months, but I am beginning to be strong now and more steady and feel at some level, that I am beginning to have “life” again.

    • I remember back the first time (I thought) my husband cheated on me and my mother’s response was “well, sometimes you just have to settle” one of my sisters said ” you aren’t going to leave him, are you?” I never got one single ounce of compassion or understanding or anger on my behalf-which is why I have been separated for 8 months and haven’t told a single person in my family, and hardly anyone else either. Oh and a lady in my church told me (when I only suspected ) that he would never do that, he is just too nice and sweet.
      I never bothered telling her the truth when he finally admitted it- a year later. The pastor’s response was to say a prayer I couldn’t even hear and never say another word about it .

      • Jody, we could swap stories about how our families have made unhelpful comments. When my second marriage ended, my brother remarked “You’ve surrounded yourself with domestic abuse.”

  4. Pippa

    Anonymous,…Or the abuser might over the course of many years manage to voice the victims deep ideological beliefs, desires, concerns and slowly apparently pit the two of them against the world, all the while, going out into the world and slowly with apparent great depth of feeling express his concern about his poor defective bride and happen to mention all the wonderful things he has tried to rescue her from herself. By the way, the bride is a great multi-gifted-by-God person who almost got snuffed out in this way. It was a full time job for the abuser but even then I believe it takes “special help from below” to commit such a heinous and complex crime. And one hears “How can you complaint about this person who has done so much…after all he’s your husband…
    All of the possible scenarios are creepy.
    I understand having difficulty with prayer. Even with loving and trusting God, it just seems a little dangerous letting one little emotion slip through at this time.

    • “special help from below” is going in my sound-bites file! Thanks Pippa.
      That scenario of abuse you described is diabolical. Isolating the victim by pretending to agree with her deep concerns and making out like “it’s us against them, baby!” is a very cunning way to take her hostage and induce the development of Stockholm Syndrome.

      • That is exactly what he did with me-it was sick and twisted the conversations we would have about his treatment of me and how no one cared. I could throw up!

  5. Anonymous

    Pippa — these are some of the exact things my husband has done and it is truly very scary, because you can see what he is doing, but the rest cannot, although I have to say, there was a period, where I did not see it for years myself. He has played the part of this kind caring Christian man who just wants to save me from my past and my “over the top beliefs”. He has told others, things he thinks I’ve been through in the past to “make her the way she is”; poor pathetic wife. I think the reason he got to me, was because he always said to me, “you need to listen to me!” “I am just trying to save you from yourself”. I am so glad that you mention this “special help from below”, because I could always “feel” the evil, but because I was hooked into him and was being told that I needed to “follow my husband”, I just lived in constant upheaval and confusion. Out of my confusion of how much power God actually gives the husband over the wife and how God can use the husband to protect his wife, I fell into this charade. I ended up following him, even into sin. God forgive me! However, I began to see through it at some point and from there on out, refused to accept that he was Christian, although it was painfully confusing. He has won over the others and they “believe in him” and think that I should believe in him too. He can voice whatever he is told, and reiterate exactly what he has been told is right and that is very scary, because there is never any real or permanent change or repentance in him. This bride likewise, has some talents by God, and has (had) a great amount of discernment in the past. I would voice that in the form of a concern about something that I felt God had showed me, and he would say, “Yep, I got that exact thing too! See how good we are together”, and yet he never discerned things he really, as a Christian should have discerned, and he never read his Bible, or prayed or bore any godly fruit that you would typically see true Christians do, but I fell into it anyway. It left me completely confused and reeling, unable to discern anything, and praying that God would show me the truth (if my husband really was a Christian). I stupidly believed him for years. Because I learned to trust him and not listen to the still small voice inside myself, I became unable to discern what was truth and real. I have been away now, and it is coming back to me, by God’s grace. It has been a real merry-go-round ride.

    • Anonymous and Pippa, please keep talking (with us listening and learning) about the intricacies of what your abusers did, because it’s nitty gritty stuff; I feel like I’m glued to the screen wanting to hear more.

    • I had to check and make sure I hadn’t written this last post.

      • silentnomore

        Funny. I scrolled up to double check that I hadn’t written it.
        Been feeling twisted around lately.

  6. Pippa

    “He can voice whatever he is told, and reiterate exactly what he has been told is right and that is very scary, because there is never any real or permanent change or repentance in him. This bride likewise, has some talents by God, and has (had) a great amount of discernment in the past. I would voice that in the form of a concern about something that I felt God had showed me, and he would say, “Yep, I got that exact thing too! See how good we are together”, and yet he never discerned things he really, as a Christian should have discerned, and he never read his Bible, or prayed or bore any godly fruit that you would typically see true Christians do, but I fell into it anyway. It left me completely confused and reeling, unable to discern anything, and praying that God would show me the truth (if my husband really was a Christian). I stupidly believed him for years. Because I learned to trust him and not listen to the still small voice inside myself, I became unable to discern what was truth and real.”
    Oh me, oh dear…I fear we have learned something new about the antiH…he was also a bigamist and he was married to you, too!!…except that mine did read the Bible…or was seen to read it and knew a great deal of scripture by heart, dare I say, just like his father. Discernment was once my gift as well, required to do my work well and something I might have said was with me even as a child. Latching onto major lies goes a long way into corroding the discernment. Not listening to His still small voice has literally wreaked death and destruction in my life. I truly became unable to discern what was truth and real without the benefit of the “excuse” of psychosis. I will have to say that it has been only a year in the last 33 1/2 that I really recognized what he was doing. I mean..saw the entire picture. I am serious. The weight of the truth had to completely flatten me. I think I am here (on earth) primarily to let people know how blinded they can be or to tell them how blind they are or maybe simply to pray that the scales will fall from their eyes so that they may know the Lord.

  7. Anonymous

    Pippa-I had told mine that he had to read his Bible to the children, if he wanted to take any of the children with him to work. So, he would read some lengthy passage and then ask for an explanation from the child (because he had no idea what it meant). When the child could not give it, he would yell and scream at them and then make the child read it outloud to him and then explain it to him. I believe this is all because without the Spirit, you really cannot understand and make sense of Scripture. When I found out what he was doing, by God’s grace, it was one thing I was able to put a stop to.

    He now reads his Bible on his own, and then uses it against me or the children and twists it and mixes it up a little with a dose of his own theology, and confuses us with it. He has found that he can use it to abuse me/us even further.

    My husband would write notes to me, telling me what a godly wife I was and how much he loved that about me. The next thing he would do, is use Scripture and tell me that if I didn’t do what he wanted, I would be disobeying God, even though his behavior was sin. He would then write me a note telling me how disappointed he was in me and that I was not being the kind of wife he needed or wanted. Every time he would come to me with a note in hand, I would just feel sickened and fearful and would pray that God would just let him stop writing me notes. I only stopped “submitting” to his sin a few years ago. I was too scared to not submit, but since I did end that false and stupid submission, things have really escalated. However, I am actually more afraid now, than I was when I was fearfully giving into him and his sin.

    A couple of years ago, he brought really raunchy sex books into the house and wanted to go through them together and take notes on things we should do together. He even bought me a notebook to take my notes in. I took it to my pastor at the time, and he was so disgusted, that he would not even look at it. The book was fully illustrated and extraordinarily distasteful and slutty. It talked about and endorsed every kind of weirdness that exists. I cried for days and days and actually considered ending my life, just so I wouldn’t have to do those things anymore. I know that is not Christ, so I gathered myself and stopped those thoughts, but it was an excruciatingly fearful time for me. I was so distraught, that I thought I was going to have to be drugged, just to survive. The abuse had gone on for the entire marriage and at this point, I had made myself clear that I would no longer submit to him in ANY form of sin. But, the damage had already been done. My pastor, at that period of time, told me not to ever violate my conscience and was forward enough to tell me that my husband had shared some of the “things” he wanted me to do with him, and the pastor told me, “I would not ever do any of those things with him, if I were you.” I was glad that he was forthright with me, but I felt completely humiliated.

    My children found pages and pages and several notebooks filled with “notes” he had written about me. They were so heinous and destructive, that even though I forgive him for it, I do not know how I would ever forget it or move past it. I have been tempted to have them evaluated by a psychologist. The blog here has been good for me to see how much damage that sexual abuse causes in people, and it gives me some peace to know that I am not alone, first of all, and secondly, that my feelings and thoughts are normal, with this kind of abuse.

    So, my current pastor said that the note writing is good, because it may be the way he best communicates his feelings to me and that I should read and receive them from him. Anyone have any thoughts on this?

    • Anonymous

      Anonymous, your story has many similarities with mine. My ex also wrote notes to me and also wrote in a journal, claiming that his therapist told him to. He always grabbed it in anger and wrote furiously whenever I did or said something he didn’t like. Once he tried to get me to read it but I refused to. He still sends me notes but I try not to read them. The notes to me were manipulative, hiding his real underlying feelings of malice. Like you, I would be devastated whever I happened to read or hear any of his hatred toward me. That’s because I didn’t recognize the real nature of the person. Deep inside they are filled with contempt and hate for their victim, no matter what they profess.

      Another thing about your posts resonated with me. You talked about “stupidly” following him. I now believe that the intent of the abuser is to make the victim voluntarily and willingly come under his reign. Everything he did would have been calculated to make you comply.

      Allow me to quote something from Dan Segel, a psychologist who wrote “Mindsight”, “Parenting from the Inside Out” and “The Whole Brained Child”. “…mirror neurons help us understand the nature of culture and how our shared behaviors bind us together…spouse to spouse…we can mirror not only the behavioral intentions of others, but also their emotional states…[they] may allow us not only to imitate others’ behaviors, but actually to resonate with their feelings. We sense not only what action is coming next, but also the emotion that underlies the behavior. For this reason, we could also call these speical neural cells ‘sponge neurons’ in that we soak up like a sponge what we see in the behaviors, intentions, and emotions of someone else. We don’t just ‘mirror back’ to someone else, but we ‘sponge in’ the internal states.”

      No wonder God commands us not to associate with the angry person or to flee from certain types of people. Proverbs warns us not to hang around fools, or we will become like them. Here’s a telling one: “The wicked will not rule the land of the godly, for then the godly might be tempted to do wrong” (Ps 125:3). So it doesn’t make sense that we should hang around, or allow our precious children to hang around, someone who is dictated by ungodly agendas.

      Anonymous, I applaud your courage in reclaiming your life. Please consider that you were not following him out of stupidity. You were just doing what God had designed them to do when he placed “mirror neurons” in their brains.

  8. Oh boy- mine wouldn’t write notes to me, but I found several he wrote about me and very strange poems that just totally freaked me out. He would always tell me how much he admired my Christian ways-but it was like when the witch followed Paul around and was telling everyone that he was from the Lord and he finally told her to stop-and when Jesus didn’t want any acknowledgment from the demons on Who He was- you just don’t want evil recognizing good in you because it feels like a lie. Does that make any sense?

    • Anonymous

      Jodi–Well I think it is just plain creepy and I have had that experience too. I believe mine praises me for my beliefs, but then he would write notes about how “over the top” I am about God and serving Him. I always felt his praise was just because he thought that was what I wanted to hear, not because he really admired it. I think that abusers of Christian women tend to feel in competition with Christ. A true Christian woman willingly and lovingly submits and gives control of her life over to Jesus. An abused Christian woman, fearfully and unwillingly relinquishes control to her abuser. I think the abuser knows the difference in his victim and he hates it. So, he compliments her on her submission to Christ, perhaps thinking that it will somehow cause her to give the same to him. After all, that is what he wants isn’t it? Complete power and control over his victim. Only he is not Christ and never will be. I now hate the teaching that the husband is the prophet, priest and king of his home, which I sadly used to embrace. I only have one Prophet, the one Who paid the price for me, so He became my High Priest and is my only King. Jesus, is His Name.

      • “Abusers of Christian women tend to feel in competition with Christ. You’ve nailed it, thank you SO much. Brilliant insight!

      • Mine always used to say “You are a woman after God’s own heart”- (I would feel like I needed a shower whenever he would say that) and then right after that blame me because he doesn’t take communion or some such nonsense.

  9. Little Miss Me

    Anonymous – My heart screams for you to stop reading his notes, but honestly I would (and do) read the things mine writes. I know it’ll only hurt me and cause more problems but I still read them. I don’t know if it’s out of habit or hope that it’ll be something real or honest, but that hope always gets replaced quickly by the reality that I knew not to read it in the first place.

    Has the pastor that’s saying your husband is communicating in these notes actually read them? It doesn’t sound like he’s understanding the reality that the notes are communicating abuse. You should NOT make yourself open to more abuse. That is NOT what God has planned for you.

    But KEEP them, in a safe place. He is providing you with proof of his attitudes, which is something that most of us do not get. Can you scan them and email them to a separate email? I have an email account that I use as a diary so he cannot read it. I gave someone I trust the password in case anything ever happens to me – so then there’s at least some record of my voice. I also use it to read what I write later, when I’m not in the heat of a situation. When I re-read them, it sounds like it’s from a different person, and I’m always telling her to run! Get out! Don’t let him treat you like that!

    I think taking your children to a psychologist is a good idea, if you can find one that understands the situation. Go with your gut there. If you can find (or have) someone for yourself, too, that might be good, too. Finding a good counselor can be difficult, so if you don’t like one, try another.

    • I totally agree! Stop reading them!

  10. Anonymous

    Little Miss Me — I meant take the “notes” to a psychologist to have “them” evaluated! LOL I do not have a copy, but my mind remembers well.

    My pastor states he has read them all, but that they are just my husband’s thoughts and he is entitled to them and I had no business reading them, actually, because they belonged to him. Talk about calling evil good! Talk about refusing to lift a finger to help one in need! He also refuses to give the notes back to the people who gave them to him (wasn’t I) even though they have asked several times. I think they have a little surprise in store for him. The abuse advocates will issue a subpoena for the now infamous “notes” and the pastor will have to bring them to a judge! What does the Word say? …settle your accounts with your brother before he takes you to Court? The people will give them fair warning and another chance to turn them over before they do any of that. I hate the position we have been placed in, but I think it is time to draw our breath and strength and to fight the good fight and face these giants. Anyone got a sling and some stones?

    This blog is tremendously helpful to me, as well as Pastor Crippen and Barb! I hope everyone else is drawing strength from it, like I am.

  11. Pippa

    Dear A, I am confused about the notes. You said that the children found these? Were these notes that he had written to you or “just” about you?
    I think that anytime there is a negative pattern against one discernible in another’s thinking, as evidenced by written word, verbal communication, or action, one should take quick steps to either completely resolve the problem or protect oneself (and any dependents) and get away.

  12. Anonymous

    Hi Pippa–The notes were found by my children. They had been finding notes he had written about me, (or in a fashion to me, but never gave to me) around the house for months. They were looking for something at a different location than where we actually live, and found several notebooks stashed, in which he had divided up, categorized and organized all the writings. They were all about me, but I did not read more than a few pages of them. They were heinous and I felt that I was going to lose my mind. I was hysterical. They were nothing like, “she burns the food all the time” or even, “I wish she was thinner”, or “I wish she would just let me talk for once”, etc. They were detailed destructive comments about my body, my life, my sexuality, my life before I knew him, (I was a Christian then too) and how utterly unhappy he was with me. He described our intimate life in a way that I do not believe I will ever be able to get past. I don’t know if I am just being rebellious and holding a grudge, or if my emotions and feelings about it are valid and justified. It is too painful for me to really even talk about. I cannot even really imagine ever embracing him or being emotionally close to him again. They also really frighten me, when I think about how much hate is in them, and how much time he spent, writing, organizing, putting little tabs on and tearing them out of notebooks and binding them. My pastor says that they were just his thoughts during a time when he was really upset and hurting emotionally. He is still writing. I can hear the pages turning over the phone. He takes long pauses to write and then flips the page. He must be writing down what I am saying.

    • Dear Anon, allow me please to personally kick that pastor into the deepest depths of the sea. He is almost as bad as your husband. What a whitewash, saying “They were just your husband’s thoughts at a time when he was hurting.”

      Dear Mr Not-worthy-to-bear-the-name-of-Pastor:
      If the CIA and the FBI found the detailed and carefully categorised notes of some terrorist who is planning to blow up the Statue of Liberty, and those notes detail his hatred for everything the statue represents and for every curve and line of its much-loved form, would they say, “Oh he’s just expressing his thoughts at a time when he is hurting” ?
      No way. They’d arrest him for planning a terrorist act and lock him up for a very long time.

  13. Pippa

    Anonymous, Fright seems like a reasonable reaction to this bizarre sounding situation. It is well within scriptural teachings as well as psychological/psychiatric thought that emotions are not right or wrong…it is how we deal with them. Did the things he wrote about you hit you in a spot of weakness..are they worries that you had about yourself? or did they show such contempt for every bit of you that it was painful?
    Step back from the whole situation a bit if you can. Think about what his intent was. Do you think he could be enjoying this upset?
    Why did Satan say the things he did to the Lord when he came to tempt him? Aren’t they odd? Why would he tell him to do the things he told him to do, like jump and do magic? And what first emotional reaction, as all-human (as well as all God) do you think he would have had? What did he do with it?
    I do not mean to preach or do therapy. These are just some things I have been thinking about.

  14. Anonymous

    Pippa–Well I could use the therapy! I cannot bring myself to go into the depth of the detail in which he wrote. I will share this. I actually paid good money to go see not one, but two doctors to ask them if they thought I was fat or overweight. The one laughed. The other very seriously said, “no way”. So, in that one small area, I suppose it is a worry I have about myself. The others would fall into the area of denigration of my body and life in general and that would to me, be showing contempt for me and it was more than painful. I actually feel like I went into a mourning period, like someone had died. I felt so betrayed. I never had a moment, when I would have dreamed that he was secretly writing these kind of things or even felt that way about me. That probably sounds very weird, coming from the victim of abuse, doesn’t it? I think his intent was to release his anger in a way that would keep him from beating the daylights out of me or maybe even losing it completely and killing me. I think he may also have wrote them as some sort of defense, thinking perhaps I was planning to leave him and his notes would prove what a rotten person I was. I have not ever threatened to divorce him or leave him. He has, too many times to count. I may be blind as a bat, but I don’t think he is enjoying the upset now that he has created it. I think his intent was to truly hurt me to the depths, because he was so angry that I had cut off his sin. But I do not believe that he really thought his notes would ever be found, but I could be wrong. I mean he hid them where he never thought we would find them. But, I could be wrong, maybe he really did intend for the children to find them. I mean we all knew he was writing, just didn’t know what (or who) he was writing about. He would write his notes in front of us, but cover the page if we walked by, to hide it from us.

    Are you trying to say to me, that his intent could lessen how upset I should be? Help me out here, I could use the counsel. Do you think it is wrong for me not to “feel” like being close to him. I could share more details in depth with you, but not here on the blog.

    • Pippa

      Anonymous- (are there 2 anons.?) No, I wasn’t saying anything about how upset you should be. I was saying it sounded like he wanted to hurt you in whatever manner he could get away with. My personal opinion is that I would think it was sad if you felt like being close to him.

    • Little Miss Me

      Anon – Be upset! You are fully allowed to be upset over that awful treatment, and I agree with Pippa and would be very sad (and scary and wrong) if you did feel like being close to him.

      To be clear, I don’t want you to be upset, but you’re going to be. I think that you’ll need to go ahead and feel what you feel in order to get through it and move to healing.

      And please be careful and have a safety plan for you and your children if you even think they might be in danger.

  15. rainshadow

    Barbara I appreciate your comment. I too have also witnessed the overwhelming lust for the twilight series by these nurses. I’ve heard nurses verbalize that these books are an escape from reality much like television. The persecution of Christians in the workplace is just so volatile in many areas. It’s ok to be religious but just so long as you don’t actually believe it. Once people realize you really believe the bible they shun you and find all sorts of ways to hurt you on the job and will drag your name in the dirt. They start rumors and take things out of proper context to manipulate people into believing that you are some horrible person. Also, I am a black nurse working in ICU in southern Louisiana where it is very biased. Several black nurses have quit from both of my hospitals in a very short time frame due to heavy racism. Not only do I have to deal with racial bias but also religious bias. People are offended when you verbalize an honest opinion when asked about these books. Then their hate becomes ever apparent. Had I endured the racism and pretended I agreed with them on everything I wouldn’t have problems like this but to had done so would be a denial of everything Jesus taught. I have joy in knowing that I have been counted worthy of suffering in this life for the cause of the gospel. Much persecution I have endured through the strength of the Holy Spirit of God. I have great joy in knowing that I never did or say things to hurt these evil people and I was always there to assist them in a crisis situation. Sadly they can not say the same. I am terrified for them because one day they will have to give an account for the evil things they did to hurt me. I hope God shows them the purity of my heart and how I prayed for them and everytime I helped them. I hope God shows them the hurt in my heart and the unjust suffering I endured because of their doings. Most of all I pray they will repent and surrender their lives to God but most won’t. God’s wrath has been poured out on them throughout this entire ordeal. One of them ended up on the ventilator earlier this year and another was bedridden for months due to cardiovascular issues and fractures. One of them recently was out sick for over a week because of serious dental issues which are recurrent. I thank God for being a righteous God. I pity these unbelievers.

    • Thanks Rainshadow. Did you mean to make this comment at the other post, the one about Fifty Shades of Grey? If so, and if you put it there as well, I’ll delete it from this thread. I know how busy the blog can be and how confusing it can be to be following several thread at once! ((hugs)) Barb

  16. Laurie

    Just a small comment to the pastors:
    When a woman comes to you with accounts of abuse, usually she is terrified that a)her husband will find out and b)that God is about to strike her dead for telling. (I shook so hard going to tell my “spiritual authority” of the rape I had endured two nights before, that I nearly drove off the road.) So when she stands there telling you of abuse, she has had WAY more than any woman (the weaker vessel) should have ever had to endure. Listen to her, help her, but don’t tell her to go back to him because YOU don’t want to deal with the deception of the husband’s behavior that YOU have experienced, covering your shame at her expense.

  17. Finding Answers

    (Airbrushing……stream of consciousness……maybe this will help someone?…..)

    “Cognitive Dissonance” can be reduced by adding new cognitions – adding new thoughts and attitudes.

    I cannot seem to grasp some connection I am “supposed” to make….called it quits last night and went to bed early. Not sure if I was “supposed” to do that, but what’s done is done.

    Unlike the person Pastor Jeff referred to in his comment – and others have commented on elsewhere – there were no obvious changes after leaving all abusive relationships. Unless one considers the walls crumbling…….

    I am no farther this morning than I was last night, unless I consider the extra information from the Holy Spirit that i did not add anything noted in the excerpt above…..apparently the “work” had been done in infancy.

    But then, they wouldn’t be new cognitions, would they? So how could they reduce cognitive dissonance? (It’s not from a lack of knowledge for what the term means or how it is used.)

    Sometimes, I feel like a really slow learner and get frustrated when I cannot seem to make progress, cannot seem to “get” what I need to learn.

    Apparently, the thinking existed in my relationships with all my abusers. Denial does not seem to play a part – whether considering the correct usage of the term or the more common misapplications.

    And I suspect all this confusion is affecting my relationship with God.

    Yesterday, I noted in a post “other duties as assigned” being included in a job description to allow for – essentially – adding to a “covenant” once it has been signed.

    Maybe cognitive dissonance was less visible because I had already internalized the equivalent of “other duties as assigned” in relationships with abusers.

    Somewhere in my recent reading (article?), I remember the description referencing the victim(s) believing they were always wrong. Taking that a step farther, and knowing I was well-trained in believing I was always wrong, did I do the equivalent of adding to my abusers relationship “covenant”?

    If that’s the case, maybe I have never known what the original “covenant” was….

    Maybe that’s why I couldn’t discern between a friend and a “friend”.

    If the “rules” changed, I assumed I had done something “wrong” and changed myself according to the “rules”. (Sounds like what I read of others ‘c’hurch experiences, only my wasn’t from a ‘c’hurch.)

    Could this be why some of the abused don’t recognize the cognitive dissonance so readily visible to others?

    Matthew 22:36-40 New Matthew Bible (NMB)

    36 Teacher, which is the chief commandment in the law? 37 Jesus said to him, Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind; 38 this is the first and the chief commandment. 39 And there is another like this: Love your neighbour as yourself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

    This provides a beginning, but does not address the abusers’ mindset.

    Scripture tells us not to associate with people like the abuser.

    I get that…

    My way of resisting – not listed in “Honouring Resistance” – was to stay alive….and the only way to stay alive was to assume I was always wrong. Now, if I respond differently than I usually do, I cannot discern if I have done something wrong and need to change…or if I need to accept I am learning the original covenant.

    I love learning. I dislike taking tests – whether or not they are necessary. I am open to correction, know tests can reveal erroneous thinking.

    I cannot discern when I am being tested on learning the original covenant. And I cannot tell when I am wrong.

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