Abusive Tactics: Telling Victims What to Think

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.


[March 2, 2023: There have been some changes made to this post. For more information, read the Editors’ notes at the bottom of the post. Editors.]

(1 Corinthians 2:11  ESV)  For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.

This is election day. There are churches that are quite politically active, and in doing so they can exercise abusive tactics. For example, church members can be virtually ordered how God commands them to vote for particular candidates or on certain issues. God, it seems, is registered in their party. Are there issues that by their very nature pretty much require any real Christian to vote for / against? Yes, of course. But even in those arenas, no one has a right to tell us how we are to mark our ballots. To do so would be a tactic of abuse, a sinful exercise of power and authority.

Pharisees do this. Those of you who have done much reading about abuse know that abusers, be they domestic or spiritual or both, proclaim the ability to crawl inside the mind of their victim, see what the victim is thinking, discern what her motives are, and in addition tell her what she is to think and what her motives are to be. Of course no one except the Lord can do this, but the abuser can be very convincing. I remember a scene in the movie Cape Fear [Internet Archive link]1 (not recommending it by the way) in which the evil character (Robert Di Niro) is doing this very thing to a teen-age girl. It was very well portrayed as he diabolically analyzes and dictates her thoughts and motives to her, holding her mesmerized.

But Pharisees and other abusers do this. When you run into a Pharisee, you will soon feel the pressure to conform to his / her traditions. Not just some of them. All of them. And if you don’t, well they are going to punish you and eventually be done with you. We must all be on guard against this tactic and draw firm boundaries with people who try to use it on us. “No, Fred, you must stop doing that. You cannot tell me what I am thinking or what my motive was when I did that. You don’t know my thoughts and you cannot dictate them to me.” If Fred is not willing to abide by that boundary, then Fred is not a person to have a relationship with.

And we must all be careful not to use this tactic ourselves. Yes, there can be a little Pharisee hiding in each of us. When someone disagrees with us on some issue, for example, we must be willing to permit them that freedom. Especially when the issue is of the category of a “matter of conscience” as Paul discusses in Romans 14-15. Who are we to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls.

We cannot ensure that we will never again hear someone say to us “well, if that is your opinion on this then I want nothing to do with you!” But we can make sure that we never say that to anyone ourselves out of a motive of merely making them conform to our opinion. If a person differs with us on a vital issue — such as the truth of the Gospel — well, then there probably is not going to be a very close relationship and maybe none at all. Or if an abuser refuses to repent and insists upon controlling us, then we cannot have a safe relationship with him. But that is his doing, not ours.

1[March 2, 2023: We added the link to Wikipedia’s page on the 1991 version of the movie Cape Fear. The Internet Archive link is a copy of that page. Editors.]

[March 2, 2023: Editors’ notes:

—For some comments made prior to March 2, 2023 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 March 2, 2023 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 March 2, 2023 that quoted from the post to the post as it is now (March 2, 2023), click here [Internet Archive link] for the most recent Internet Archive copy of the post.]

49 thoughts on “Abusive Tactics: Telling Victims What to Think”

  1. We cannot ensure that we will never again hear someone say to us “well, if that is your opinion on this then I want nothing to do with you!” But we can make sure that we never say that to anyone ourselves out of a motive of merely making them conform to our opinion.

    An excellent point — one of my “ah ha” moments was when someone giving a talk on boundaries said “boundaries are not about controlling other people, they are about protecting yourself”.

    So often I think this gets missed and we think “boundaries” are about how to make a loved one act properly, but it is not. We cannot do that. So when I set limitations of what was acceptable in my home, it was not to improve my wife’s behavior, but to create an environment in which I could live in a healthy way.

    1. Yes, boundaries are like locks on our doors. Locks are good. Who wouldn’t have them especially if you live in a high-crime rate area. Do we get criticized for being unloving to poor criminals if we require a key to get into our houses or cars? Why then would it be wrong to set various “folder-sharing options” on various areas of our lives? Some people are granted full-sharing privileges. Others can only view some files. And others, well, they won’t get past the opening screen — “password required”.

      1. Yes, Jeff C, unless they are abusive hackers. I think this goes along with some of these thoughts.

        Boundaries are put in place for the exact purposes stated above. It is those who don’t like or approve of boundaries, that play rough shod over them and ignore and defy them or try to convince victims they have no need of them. If people understood the reason for boundaries, they would be happier about them (possibly), but when the view is as a “punishment” for the person being boundarized (my new word for the day) then there is nothing but a fight to take them down! They have got to get rid of those boundaries, because it “feels” like punishment! Even to the ones who are not included in the boundaries! People squeal, “Well, is that right? Is that fair? Is that Biblical? Is that the “kind” thing to do?” The answer to all of these is “yes”. Maybe we need a lengthy post, for my own benefit, on “what love looks like in tough and abusive situations”. I think we have people up to the call for that, unless one [a post] already exists.

        So, here are a few tidbits from a really good book. Take them for what they are worth. They are taken as excerpts from the book “The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse” by Johnson and VanVonderen.

        The pastor had told her, “The fact that you won’t accept my counsel without raising all these objections and other possibilities was the major indication to me, Jeri, that your root problem is spiritual, not physical or emotional.

        My pastor just smiled and said I wasn’t willing to accept his counsel — so that proved he was right.

        Jeri questioned an authority who considered himself above questioning, perhaps even above error. [Emphasis original.]

        This pastor evidently interpreted his position of authority to mean that his thoughts and opinions were supreme. If he said it, her only right response should be to agree — definitely not to object.

        Manipulation came into the picture when Jeri asked an honest question and he “pulled rank”.

        Spiritual abuse can occur when a leader uses his or her spiritual position to control or dominate another person. [Emphasis original.]

        One more….

        It’s possible to become so determined to defend a spiritual place of authority, a doctrine or a way of doing things that you wound and abuse anyone who questions, or disagrees, or doesn’t “behave” spiritually the way you want them to. When your words and actions tear down another, or attack or weaken a person’s standing as a Christian — to gratify you, your position or your beliefs while at the same time weakening or harming another — that is spiritual abuse.

      2. Good stuff, Anonymous. That is indeed a very good book, isn’t it? If you’ve ever been spiritually abused, those descriptions are going to ring true for sure.

      3. 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.


        Abusive hackers is not just a metaphor, and a good one, but a scary reality for many victims. For anyone who wants to know, I recently added two new links on our Resources page about cyber-stalking and technological abuse. The menu at top of this blog has a link to the Resources page.

  2. You cannot tell me what I am thinking or what my motive was when I did that. You don’t know my thoughts and you cannot dictate them to me.

    This is very good, and something I need to ponder more. Closely related is an idea I’ve always followed of judging actions, not motives. Actions we can see and evaluate, motives are more murky and require a lot of assumptions. So, for example, when I see people assail the motives of a politician I generally tune out, but I AM interested when a leader says or does things I do not agree with.

    But I say I need to ponder this more because it does seem like a lot of preaching presumes to tell us what we are REALLY thinking deep down and explaining to us our motives.

    1. My ex used be mad and feel justified if I THOUGHT a different thought to him. He couldn’t stand me thinking a different opinion and would go all out to get me to change my mind, and if I didn’t, he saw it as a highly provocative thing.

      Since those days, I, too, now am noticing a lot of this with other people. They presume to know what we think and try to control how we think. As for “explaining to us our motives”, well, that’s clearly verbal abuse, if we go by Patricia Evans’ definition.

      I am thankful for Ps Jeff C’s caution. I am beginning to find myself getting irritated if others don’t get or agree with what we here on this site have gained agreement on, e.g. that divorce is acceptable, that an unrepentant, hardened abuser is not a Christian, that we are not held responsible for praying for them, that victims don’t share the blame, etc. We obviously have not come to any conclusion regarding gender traits! 🙂

      1. Anonymous,

        I find I get irritated too and have to check myself often. That’s one reason I like to come here. It’s good to be among those who get it. 🙂 Helps take the edge off.

      2. We obviously have not come to any conclusion regarding gender traits! 🙂

        Yeah, but we’ve had a great discussion, haven’t we? And we’ve all got much food for thought, and the subject is still open….but as we’ve seen, nuances and variations are the name of the game. Which doesn’t mean we endorse gender-bending or “pick your gender identity according to your own whim” type of thinking.

  3. When I filed for divorce, he said he didn’t understand why I was doing it.

    “But….you don’t believe in divorce!”

    I actually was so confused as to where he had gotten that — I never really said one way or another that I had a particular belief about divorce. He explained that since I’d been unhappy about two of my friends’ divorces, that clearly I was against it. I tried to explain (still thought I could use reason – ha!) that I was unhappy that my friends were going through the pain, but that in those situations divorce was appropriate (both involved varying levels of cheating).

      1. Of course this was the same man who told me I “didn’t need to be afraid” of him. That in and of itself was frightening, actually.

      2. Yes, when I phoned him the morning after he got violent and trapped me in a corner of the hallway (I phoned him to tell him I wanted him to move out of my house) my husband told me “You’ve got no reason to be afraid of me.” Ha. So YOU say! But I’m allowed to have a different opinion!

    1. This tactic by your ex, Little Miss Me, was one I know well having been at the pointy end of it many times. My ex, actually both my exes, used to cite a situation and someone’s response to that situation, to try to make out that the person making that response had an across-the-board policy on all situations that bore even a shade of similarity to that situation.

      For example: a known pedophile dies. Someone in the pedophile’s extended family decides to go to the funeral to honour not the pedophile or his crimes, but to show respect for the pedophile’s children (their own relatives) who will be at the funeral. My ex made out that the person who had decided to attend the funeral was SUPPORTIVE OF PEDOPHILIA and was therefore the scum of the earth….rage rage….swear….rant….etc.

      “Their talk has a rational sound to it, but their actions are irrational.” (A quote from Telling the Truth to Troubled People: A Manual for Christian Counselors, by William Backus.)

      1. Yes — reminds me of one time when his work was involved in a fundraiser for a suicide prevention program targeted at gay youth. He assumed I wouldn’t support it because of his assumptions of my opinions on homosexuality. I tried to explain that suicide prevention was worth supporting for anyone.

        I think for him there was a little of the autism coming into play with him trying to make sense of things by categorizing things. It’s so much easier when things fit into neat categories.

  4. Venting….

    Who is the abuser in this case? My daughter has been phone-dating a man 19 years older than she is, they have come up with their own morality on their relationship. After 6 weeks of phone conversations and 32 hours of face-to-face communications, he proposed, she accepted, they necked, she has hickeys, he needed to have cuddles and kisses to assure him that the age difference was not going to be an issues between them….and I got in their face and told them that it was farrrrrrr to soon to be going where they went on the amount of time that they had in getting to know each other. I told them I wanted them to back off and show restraint. They said they made their own moral boundaries and would not accept mine since I am “bitter” about the way my marriage ended. So am I the Pharisee because I had hoped that they would not give hickeys but go no further than hand holding since they only had phone conversations and not face-to-face one-on-one relationship-building episodes of dating. First date….hickeys and marriage proposals?

    I won’t tolerate this. He’s 42 and she is 23.

    1. Oh boy, Laurie. No wonder you are venting! Well, unfortunately there are limits to what parents can do. You have told your daughter and the guy the truth. An early marriage proposal and rushed relationship has often been the beginning of an abuser’s power over a woman he sweeps off of her feet. The danger here is that perhaps as even as early as the honeymoon, the man your daughter thought she knew will disappear and she will be married to a stranger. Perhaps it is best if you back off a bit and when you have a chance, try to calmly (that’s hard, I know) tell your daughter to PLEASE be looking for and paying attention to any warning signs that she senses and not discount them. Other than that, praying for her is the best you can do.

      And we all thought our lives would be easier when our children were grown!

    2. Oh Laurie. I am sick for your daughter. Is your daughter a believer? My situation was different and there was no significant age difference. But there were red flags. So many people told me not to marry him. And I didn’t listen, especially to my mother because we had a horrible relationship. Do you have a good relationship with your daughter? My mother offered to pay for husband (fiancé at the time) and me to go to counseling together and I said “no”. But if your daughter is open to it (or open to going by herself) that could get through to her. Would she be willing to read Lundy Bancroft’s “Why Does He DO That?” There’s an excellent chapter on how to spot an abuser.

      How I wish I would have listened to those who tried to warn me. Even the pastor who performed our wedding ceremony said something!

      1. I used to have a good relationship with my daughter. But it has been deteriorating lately. I know she and he will not go to counseling. I have decided that, since they labelled me “bitter” that I am backing out of the relationship entirely. They have no accountability except with each other, they both claim to be believers. I am very angry and I am very stressed from trying to move and not having a job lined up at the other end and such. I was supportive of their relationship until the marks on her neck. I asked them to back it off, I can’t absorb this, I asked for checks and balances, they are not doing that.

        It is what it is, and some people can only learn through mistakes. It’s just that in a situation like this, more people than just the person making the bad choice will have to pay the price.

    3. Laurie — so sorry your daughter is making these choices. Praying for you both!

      You want to protect her but you can’t. You wish she would learn from your mistakes but she won’t. She will need you when things turn sour, and you don’t want her to stay with him out of pride or to prove you wrong. So take a deep breath (several, as needed, for a while) and do your best to be there for her. Maybe even admit to her that your concern is in part because of what you went through?

      I suspect that watching your daughter go through this is harder on you than when you were in a bad relationship.

      And – hickeys are completely gross and inappropriate for any age. Is he marking his territory?

    4. Yes, as Just Me has said, that chapter in Bancroft’s book is excellent. And since your daughter is thinking that your opinions aren’t worth much because of how your own marriage ended, she might take your suggestion a little better if you preface it with something like this:

      “I know my marriage has left me with some negative feelings, and I know that might not make me able to be fully objective. That’s why I suggest you read this chapter, rather than listen to me. The guy who wrote that book understands stuff from a professional viewpoint, not just a personal viewpoint. He’s not grinding any axe, he’s simply trying to protect women from unhappy relationship outcomes.”

  5. Hi, Jeff C. I so appreciate your courage in speaking out about all forms of abuse, especially in the Christian / church context.
    I have a question that’s related to this post. I understand that no one can know our minds other than ourselves and God and that the abuser constantly tries to control what someone thinks, believes and even feels. My question is this. In coming to the conclusion that my spouse is emotionally abusive, how do I speak, confront, even think this etc. without doing the same thing to him? He does not believe his behavior is abusive. I do. He believes his motives are pure, I don’t. But, if I say this or call him on it, am I not just as guilty? If the reasoning follows, only he and God can know his motives. You teach as do so many others that the abuser is not aware of their sense of entitlement, and motive to protect some part if themselves. By the same standards, I cannot judge that either. Yet I believe I understand his intent and motives more than he does. I find this confusing.
    Any thoughts?

    1. Hi, Leslie – this is a good question. I would say that you can fairly observe the behavior and actions (which would include what a person says to us) and conclude that it is abusive. We don’t have to pronounce upon someone’s thoughts and motives, but their words and actions are visible. I think this is at least some of what Jesus meant by knowing the nature of the tree by its fruit. What an abuser does, in contrast, is not only pronounce upon our visible behavior, but then he goes inside our minds, supposedly, and definitively tells us what we are thinking, what our motive was in doing something, and condemning us for it. And he does so in such a way, day after day, that if we aren’t careful we will end up believing him.

      The motives for abuse are never good. They are always evil. And I think that abusers know, most frequently, exactly what they are doing and why. Yes, they do it “naturally” because they are abusive by nature. But they also know. Lundy Bancroft talks quite a lot about this in his book Why Does He DO That? [Affiliate link]

      So don’t wear any false guilt about wrongly judging you husband’s motives.

      One final note. When abusers tell us what we are thinking and what our motives are, they always accuse us of those thoughts and motives being wrong or evil. A good person most often commends others for thinking noble thoughts and having good motives. If your husband never or rarely commends you in this way, this is another visible indicator that his motives are against you.

    2. Leslie, this is a fantastic question, and one I struggled with myself, and even struggle with now at times. And I have my therapist, my family, and those who have heard my story all back me up, but there’s a part of me that struggles with actually having judged her in this way.

      I know that a lot of what you have to do to protect yourself against an emotionally abusive person looks like emotional abuse itself. When my emotional “wall” went up to protect myself, all of the sudden it seemed like I was running afoul of all of the things I didn’t want her to do to me (not be engaged, distant, etc.). In fact, one of the major reasons I finally went through with the divorce was because I saw myself becoming an emotional abuser if I kept on going. I concluded that a marriage in which a person has to become emotionally abusive to exist is not a God-honoring marriage. Perhaps my logic was faulty here and behavior driven by a need to be protected is far different than behavior driven by a sense of entitlement. Either way, seeing myself become what I feared became my biggest fear of all.

      I actually have been working on a post about the wall and how it protected me, though again I’ve never had a satisfactory answer to the question you are asking. The one thing I did learn that helped in this regard was that when we set boundaries, it’s important to realize we do not set boundaries with a goal of controlling others, but of protecting ourselves. Setting a boundary to “fix” an abusive spouse is not really setting a boundary.

      If I had any word of advice, it would only be to make sure you are speaking with a therapist who really, really understands abuse. You can make yourself crazy trying to figure it out in your own or with friends / leaders who don’t understand abuse.

      I will be very interested to hear how Jeff C or Barbara responds to your question.

    3. Leslie – it’s hard to do, but like Jeff C says, judge his actions and his words, not his intentions. I had a really hard time with this one because mine always comes back and says that his intentions weren’t to hurt, then he expects to be treated according to what he says his intentions were.

      But that’s not fair – you’ve sustained injury (emotional injury counts too!) because of his actions, regardless of his intentions.

      For comparison, we can presume the pharmacy that produced injections that caused the recent meningitis outbreak only INTENDED to help people by producing the medicine to help them get better (and probably make some money as well, but let’s set that aside). However, due to their irresponsibility, neglect, and various other failures (many of which they had been warned to correct, and should have known to avoid in the first place), more than 30 people are dead and hundreds were sickened.

      So, do we judge them by their intentions or their actions? Is it fair to their victims to go back and say “Hey – their intentions were good, so we’ll just take them on their word. They’ll try harder next time. When would you like your next dose?” Of course not!

      So why would you allow an abuser the same privilege?

      1. Great analogy regarding intentions.

        It also makes clear that sometimes intentions can be good on the surface level (of course we want to help people), but deeper down something else is going on (if the real intention was the core of the organization, would they not have heeded the warnings).

      2. I appreciate the thoughts about intentions. That’s been a huge dialogue in my house. My husband has “accepted” that some of his actions have been hurtful to me and has apologized but always with the disclaimer, “but it wasn’t my intention to hurt you”. The apology is meaningless to me at this point and he gets angry that I dismiss [it] because he talks about intentions.

        I like your analogy. And I do base my opinions of abuse on his actions and words alone. It’s a point of contention however.

      3. Leslie….if I had a dollar every time my ex-husband said, “It wasn’t my intention to hurt you….” Classic abuserese. Taking the blame off of himself by stating his pure intentions that you cannot see. It is right in that category with “You misunderstood me.” or “You’re too sensitive.” I remember reminding my ex once that a person who hits a child in the road is still often convicted for manslaughter. Not because they “intended” to hit the child, but because they weren’t careful with the responsibility they were given.

      4. Leslie, here’s something very important about apologies: there is a way of apologizing that absolves the transgressors of any wrongdoing: “I know you were hurt and I am sorry, but I didn’t mean to hurt you — you have to believe me”. It’s shifty, but this is not a real apology. Something similar can be said, even including the clause about intentions, but taking ownership of the issue: “I know you were hurt and I am sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt you, but I know that I did. I want our relationship to be a safe place for you, and I want to show you the effort I am going to make to restore that trust.”

        My ex used to tell me she knew she hurt me and she was sorry. For a while I thought this was exactly what I was looking for. But then when pressed she would say “if you only understood, you wouldn’t have been hurt.” Do you see what this does? It shifts the blame to ME for not understanding. If I am hurt, it’s my fault. And I think a lot of the “it wasn’t my intention” stuff is saying the same thing. You are hurt because YOU don’t understand. Without some statement of accepting responsibility and ownership for the pain caused, an apology isn’t repentance.

        Can you imagine if we came to God and said “God, we’re good right? I mean, you know I never meant to sin against you and my heart was good. Water under the bridge!” I imagine that version of the sinners prayer might get a lot of takers. 🙂

        No, a real repentant person says “God, I am so sorry for my sin. If I had the power to fix it, I would. I know I should, but I just don’t have the ability. I know I don’t deserve it, but can you fix this broken sinner?”

        The only caution with that last statement is that I’ll bet a lot of abusers are good at sounding like they are taking responsibility; the key is whether or not their actions show they are. I was looking for specific actions that showed not only a feeling of regret for the pain caused, but also a desire at the core to make things safe in the future, and that meant real action by her toward future peace (not things she wanted ME to do for peace). I had a lot I was willing to do for peace, but I needed to see I wasn’t the only one. And that, I believe, is the critical difference between a repentant heart and an entitled abuser.

      5. Owning my ability to state in 200 words what can be said in 20:

        Does his apology entitle him to your forgiveness? Real apologies require nothing on the part of the receiver.

      6. Jeff S,
        I’m smiling at your 200 / 20 word comment. I appreciate your 200 words as well as your 20-word ability. 🙂

    4. Leslie,

      I understand how you feel confused and that you don’t want to be abusive or judgmental. You recognize abusive words and behavior and motives in your husband. I would call that discernment. I think being able to discern abusive behavior is using all your senses to gain insight to make a good judgment. That is different from being judgmental. I don’t see it as control, a wrongful judgment, or you trying to tell him how to think or believe when you communicate what is abusive or hurtful to you. I see the opposite of that….I see it as him trying to control and re-define for you what is or isn’t hurtful to you when he denies any culpability.

      As you can see from the comments here, the “My intention wasn’t to hurt you.” statement, when used by an abuser, is another tool of abuse, recognized and experienced by many of us. Jeff S’s example of a non-abusive statement and apology of —

      Something similar can be said, even including the clause about intentions, but taking ownership of the issue: “I know you were hurt and I am sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt you, but I know that I did. I want our relationship to be a safe place for you, and I want to show you the effort I am going to make to restore that trust.”

      —can include the person saying they didn’t intend to cause hurt or harm, but they do recognize that they did cause hurt or harm. And, they are willing and do take the steps to change and make reparation when and if necessary. The ownership and actions that match their words is the difference between an abuser. An abuser uses the words as a smoke screen.

      Confusion and is another tool of an abuser. So is trying to get you to doubt yourself. Trusting yourself, your feelings, your instinct is important here.

    5. Hi, Leslie, chiming in late from Australia. Everyone else has answered you very well already, I think, but I’ll just add this. In my first marriage, I had the same uncertainty and confusion as you’ve described. I didn’t want to be guilty of the very thing I was accusing him of. And he sensed I had that fear of making false accusations, so he played on it — he accused me of making false / over-the-top / unfair accusations. THIS WAS JUST MORE ABUSE FROM HIM. Same song, different verse.

      While the abuser can keep us doubting ourselves like that, we are kept on the back foot. I learned eventually that when he accused me of having a wrong view, and asserted that his view was the right view, I would think in my head “So YOU say!” (in a sarcastic tone, if you like). And sometimes I would say out loud to him “We have to agree to differ. We don’t have the same view on this.” Of course, whatever I said to him did not stop his abuse. Ending the marriage and getting a “no contact” order was the only way that worked for me.

      1. Oh no! I’m in the middle of an email argument about a case when “agreeing to disagree” won’t work in the case of parenting issues! (He thinks that it means that he can disregard my opinions just by saying we’ll have to agree to disagree.)

      2. Yes I get that, Little Miss Me.
        Saying to an abuser “We’ll have to agree to disagree” does not mean they will “agree to disagree” in a gentlemanly manner! They abuse, they abuse, they abuse, whatever we say to them. That phrase was a help to ME, to validate to myself that I had the right to disagree with him, and that his views were (in most instances) silly, selfish, stupid….add your own adjectives. It helped me keep up my personal identity, integrity and self-esteem, in the face of all his attempts to corrode those things. And it was also a useful phrase to use with my daughter, when she was caught between “Daddy thinks this; and Mummy thinks that!”

        Occasionally, especially if I said it archly enough, it was moderately successful in that it conveyed the message to my abuser that I was NOT going to buckle under and go along with his view of things. That even if I could not persuade him that his view was wrong, at least I was standing my ground and saying “I have the right to a different view, and you can’t take that right away from me!” It showed him I had spine. And to him, that meant he was losing power over me.

        With email arguments such as the one you are having now, there is never a win-win. All you can do is set your boundaries and state your decisions (on what you will do and what you will not do) and hold fast like a stuck record. But there are so many tiny factors that can impinge on each scenario, and sometimes we have to pick our battles. 😦 Sometimes we choose to let things pass in ways that are far from ideal, because it’s simply not possible or realistic to get a better outcome. Patting you on the back for your steadfastness and endurance in the battle, Little Miss Me.

  6. Thanks so much for all the great replies. The statement that verbal / emotional abuse is “crazy-making” couldn’t be more true. Listening to the stuff that comes out of his mouth and trying to make sense of it is crazy-making indeed. Hearing all your replies does wonders for that state of mind, the fog lifts, if only for a day or two.
    Thanks you!!

  7. Can’t believe I missed this whole discussion! But yes, the apologies based on intentions….I know those and knew they weren’t real, but couldn’t put it into words in the beginning of the separations and I had my bevy of counselors pointing out “he is trying, see he said this wasn’t his intention”….if I had the words then that I have now!

  8. It’s funny I missed it too. Anyway P & P was VERY good at this. I wasn’t allowed to have an independent thought. He didn’t even want me to listen to talk radio (even though I did on the way to and from work) because he didn’t know if he agreed with them or not and I was too weak-willed to be trusted listening to them. He always told me that I was too “weak-willed” to be trusted. He wanted to convince me that I would fall for anything and everything and would end up holding to some dangerous opinion. He was worst when it came to theology. I wasn’t allowed to read or study without him because I might fall into sin by holding a wrong theology. I also had to agree with his theology even if it changed constantly (and it did — partly to keep me on my toes and partly because he didn’t want to feel guilt for his sin). I am now trying to detangle my theological beliefs from his and it is VERY difficult.

    1. Oh my WORD, Bethany. Did we marry the same man?! My ex did not want me reading books that were not approved of by him. He told me that when wives read books, they can often rope their husbands into bad theology and (even) start a CULT. I had to read in secret — it was my little breath of freedom each day. I completely understand de-tangling your theology. I had to ask God to give me a blank slate and start over. I am cheering you on over here! You are NOT weak-willed. Christ has given you a spirit of bravery (which is evident to all of us here on ACFJ!). His Spirit in you will not let you be fooled….His sheep know His voice.

Leave a comment. It's ok to use a made up name (e.g Anon37). For safety tips read 'New Users Info' (top menu). Tick the box if you want to be notified of new comments.

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

WordPress.com Logo

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

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.