[September 21, 2022: There have been some changes made to this post. For more information, read the Editors’ notes at the bottom of the post. Editors.]
This question is from one of our Anonymous readers. The topic has been touched on tangentially in many other threads on this blog, but we’ve never headlined it as a post, so thanks to Anonymous for suggesting it. 🙂
Does anyone mind sharing on this blog, what happened when you finally told your abuser it was over? Did they turn into Florence Nightingale or Judas or the Apostle Paul, or did they just stay who they were? What kind of attempts were made to change your mind, and did the abuse escalate or diminish? If you don’t mind sharing, what was the form of abuse that was most common in your marriage and was that the form that escalated? If the abuse escalated, at what point did it do so? Hope you don’t mind sharing your hearts and experiences here.
[September 21, 2022: Editors’ notes:
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35 thoughts on “What happened when you finally told your abuser it was over?”
When I first left my ex, he got very desperate. Like — desperate in an unhealthy way. Sobbing, crying, over-the-top grand statements about how he would change. Simultaneously, he called all of his family and mine to tell them his side of the story. He DID change, for a while. It seemed he tried to figure out everything and anything that would make me “happy” (these changes did not come from a true repentance but from a very tactical sort of how-can-I-fool-her kind of mentality — NOTHING was his own idea). He maintained these changes for a while but, since I was giving it extra time to see if it lasted, he couldn’t keep it up and eventually turned angry. Then it was this cycle of “I’ve changed” — angry — “I’ve changed — angry — and on and on. Then, he was grasping. Manipulation, manipulation, manipulation. Suicide threats. All of his behavior indicated to me that I had made the right decision by leaving. The most common form of abuse in my marriage was mental / emotional and HE PULLED OUT ALL THE STOPS. Not right away….but AFTER he realized I wasn’t running back to him…. He still calls everyone he can call if he believes he can use them in my life to manipulate me. Put this picture next to the picture of a TRULY repentant man….and, well, it is obvious.
The cycles you describe are painfully familiar. I’ve posted just a few of the details, but my ex had (continues to have) one of the most vile and wicked verbal communication skills I have ever seen. Her very initial reaction was verbal mostly with ever-present attempts at physical intimidation. Violence came within hours when she realized intimidation was not going to achieve her manipulation goals. I really hit a low when I lost my job over her violence.
It can get pretty dark before the light shines through.
Thank you, Martin.
My first husband: I told him it was o.v.e.r in a joint counselling session that I had pre-planned with the counselor. I told the counselor what I would be announcing in the session to my husband, that the marriage was over. The counselor did not judge me for my choice, and he agreed to keep my husband in the counselling room after I had made the announcement, so I could leave the building safely. That’s the vignette of the moment of telling.
But the bigger picture: my husband’s abuse had been mostly verbal and emotional, with occasional physical violence a few times each year. Economic abuse was not great. Social isolation was mild compared to many other victim’s stories. Sexual abuse was mostly the groping and coercion to have ordinary intercourse. Spiritual abuse was minor because he didn’t know the Bible very well and had only “been a Christian” for the last year of the marriage.
In the days and weeks after I told him it was over, his verbal and emotional abuse remained about the same level but I gave him less opportunities to do it because I was not taking his calls. So he did it to and through our daughter when she saw him for access. The physical violence continued but I wouldn’t say it escalated. He still tried occasionally to grab me, take away my keys and my handbag, banged heavily on the front door, etc., but because our contact was only at handover times, he had less opportunity to be physically violent. And I think he was somewhat restrained by the court order that was in place, which prohibited him from coming within so many metres of my house, or making any contact with me unless it was for the purposes of child access. At one stage the order expired so I had to get another one. He countered by getting an order against me. (But big deal! I had no problem promising the magistrate that I would not assault my husband or harass him or go near his house….)
On the whole, I don’t think his abusive tactics got a whole lot worse, or a whole lot better, or that his style of abuse changed greatly. But he definitely changed his method in that he only had our daughter as a conduit for abuse, so he focused much more on how he could abuse me through her. And eventually he gave up.
Boy this is a loaded question. But a very important one. My awakening happened after my husband was arrested for physical abuse. I didn’t call the police (because my husband smashed my phone and told me that I would never talk to anyone ever again) but I prayed that they would come. When they pulled up in the driveway I was curled up on the couch naked, covered in bruises, and praying the punching would stop! My husband saw them drive up and immediately changed into a different person. He jumped off of me, wrapped a blanket around me, and said that he was sorry and that I had to tell the police to go away and we would handle this without them. Then he tried to kiss me! I turned my head, pushed him away, told him he was going to jail, answered the door and then begged the cop to come in and save me.
That night he called me from jail and asked that I post bail. He said that he was sorry and that he wasn’t mad at me for having him arrested. I told him that I would not post his bail and that I was going to get a restraining order and if he ever came near me or the kids again I would call the police.
The most common form of abuse was verbal / mental and it was pretty much consistent manipulation of everything I did and everywhere I went. He was only violent when I didn’t comply to his commands. It escalated by turning more and more into physical / sexual abuse as our marriage progressed.
The night I started out describing was a night when I refused to apologize to him for not being the wife he wanted me to be. There was no clear argument, it was all in his crazy head and because I couldn’t figure out what it was that we were fighting about I wouldn’t apologize. He flipped out and it was about 4 hours from the start of the fight ’til when the police showed up. I truly believe that if they didn’t show up and take him away he would have killed me that night.
I hope this answers all of you questions. I would definitely advise anyone who is in a verbally / mentally abusive relationship to get out as quickly as possible. You never know when he might turn and when he does you might not survive it.
Thanks for that, Bethany. You were indeed lucky to escape alive, and thank God someone called the police that night! The trauma….I can’t imagine what it must be like for you.
Can you give us a bit more detail of what he was like in the weeks and months after his arrest? Or, if he did jail time, what he was like after he was released (no pressure, only if you feel like it).
I don’t mind telling my story. A month ago I wouldn’t have been able to but I am healing well and I know that the Lord will use my story to help others.
I was living in the state of California at the time so when the police came they arrested him (they are a pro-arrest state which means that they will 9x out of 10 arrest someone and since I had bruises all over me they arrested him). The state of California also brings charges against abusers who are arrested so that the victim doesn’t have to. He was charged with one count of battery and one count of domestic violence and was given 45 days in jail, three years probation, and 52 weeks of domestic violence counseling. The judge also gave me and my children a 3 year restraining order.
After he got out of jail he tried a couple of times to contact me but was met with resistance and police reports every time he violated his restraining order. I was in the US Navy at the time (he was not working) and they have a wonderful victims advocate program that help me a lot in the first few weeks. I have since gotten out of the Navy (on a hardship discharge — I couldn’t do my job anymore because of the trauma) and my three children and I have moved in with my parents. Last I heard he is living with the pastor of our old church and trying to get him to get us back together. I have not heard from him in almost two months and I will be filing for divorce after the first of the year. With the police report and CPS report (California also sends CPS out if children are present anywhere in the home at the time of the abuse because they recognize that it is also traumatic to them as well). I will have no problem getting custody of the children and being ride of him.
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What a good success story! It sounds like California has its act together.
I never actually told him it was over. He worked out of town for a few weeks in the early fall of 2010. I used that time to read “Boundaries in Marriage” and also do the study guide. When he got back I began to implement everything the book said. I had to hide it, so he didn’t know where I was getting this new attitude from. The abuse escalated big time. Emotional, physical, sexual, verbal, financial, spiritual — it all got a lot worse. He tried to run the kids and me off an icy cliff two different times in an attempt to kill us that winter. I stayed strong and continued drawing my boundaries without being drawn into his “fights.” I finally had an episode in January 2011 that appeared to be a transient ischemic attack. For months I was very week and very ill, and he denied me the necessary medical care, even dropping a tree across the driveway so an ambulance couldn’t get up it. The kids picked up the ball though and in spite of being terrified they began nicely drawing boundaries and calmly speaking truth to him. It was a living hell for us, but we didn’t give up!
He left one morning to target practice with a special silent ammo (in spite of it being illegal for him to be around guns or ammo because of his prior DV conviction). When he got home he started going off on all of us, yelling at us and accusing us of saying things that we didn’t say. We all stood together and gently but firmly told him that he couldn’t talk to us or treat us like that anymore. He took me down the driveway and circled me, threatened me, and yelled at me, but, even in that, I confessed that I knew what he was doing to the kids when I wasn’t around. He took off after the kids for tattling and accused me of teaching them to disrespect him. I was able to get in between him and the kids. He looked at us, and said that he was leaving. I think he realized the jig was up without us saying it. We simply resisted, and he left. However, he then began chasing me through the courts (and still is) and verbally and emotionally abuses the kids during visitation. He and his brother are constantly trying to set me up and antagonize me, but I refuse to get drawn into it. It’s obvious it makes them mad. Someone is breaking into my house on a regular basis, and I believe it is him. He hasn’t given up. His tactics have just changed.
Interestingly, “Boundaries in Marriage” states that if you do boundaries right you won’t have to leave, either they will respect you and they will change to show that respect or they will leave out of refusal to respect another person. I’m hoping that once he realizes the kids and I will maintain our boundaries in spite of the legal garbage he pulls he’ll completely exit our lives.
My experience was really similar to Anewfreelife, but the violence escalated as well. My ex actually rammed into my car with hers. The police in my State were pathetic. She could have killed me and wasn’t even given a ticket because it wasn’t on a public street. She came to my work place in 2002 and threw things through the windows, breaking them while I was there. My employer fired me. In the midst of the battle for freedom I did not always understand, and I got seriously bitter for a time. I think it’s fair to admit that it can get ugly. Abusers are often wicked reprobates — perhaps even seriously demonic.
Today, 10 years later, the boys are all grown and we’ve been free of her for years. These have been such wonderful years.
I would simply suggest to trust in the Lord. He is the great Deliverer. You may, like Joseph, have your days in the pit, but Christ will Deliver.
Yes, Martin, we can devote thought to trying to guess or anticipate what moves the abuser might make, which can generate practical safety planning and steps to protect ourselves. And we can also trust God to ultimately deliver us. He is our safety net.
And WOW to your ex-wife’s tactics. She was very violent.
Mine left initially on his own. I had something similar to Jeff S’s wall, I was numb and was repeatedly refusing to be drawn in to try to appease him because I had realized I could never please him. So he had an affair and wanted out. It was after he left that I came to understand the abuse and realize how wrong it was. It was mainly emotional, psychological, spiritual with some — now as I am processing and admitting — sexual but little physical. After he left the emotional abuse continued but it was by email so I could see the contradictions and changed history. He invaded my house once and I got a restraining order (oh, and laugh with me — after this incident, within hours he accused me of convincing him to invade MY house and raise his fist so that I would have an excuse to call the police).
He has done stupid things before, he wasn’t allowed in the house [because] of stealing all my email, twice (and his pastor bought his reasoning for it?!?!). He recorded my private conversations with my lawyer, and is now stalking me online on blogs like this and using one of my son’s passwords to stalk me on FB. Once he knew I was accusing him of abuse he accused me of it (that was hard but it was obvious in the email trail I wasn’t and he was). Hard, because I never want to be like him and want to be obedient and right to my Lord and I immediately questioned myself. Like Anewfreelife, mine is now trying to get at me through the courts.
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Mine was mental, emotional, spiritual, sexual in both molestation and harassment, physical at my children more than me and financial (covered all the bases). I have made it clear several times that it is game over. He doesn’t seem to get it. He keeps thinking that Jesus is going to bring me back to him and claims the blood of Jesus and that I need to forgive him or God won’t forgive me. Anything that goes wrong in my life is proof that I need to return to him, which is funny since he is the one who left and I waited a few years for him to return to us.
He turned me over into the hand of God and was disappointed at my elation when I thanked him for that, saying that that was the place I wanted to be, anyway. Since then there is more “return to me” pressure.
Thank you for all of your comments and sharing your stories here. I am so sorry that all of you have had to go through such trauma and abuse, and then relive it to share it all here. I think this information is helpful and answers the question as to what can happen when the time comes to leave.
Just one note on the “Boundaries in Marriage” book. I know that people think it looks so much better to have the abuser leave, but that is not necessarily God’s plan. In reviewing Exodus 21, I believe the Scriptures here give a clear understanding from God, as to when a spouse is free to leave their abuser. I just think that listening to God and His Word is so much better than someone else’s interpretation of how it should all happen. Also, His Word is so simplistic and beautiful. He just simply lays it out! I know it is hard for us who are abused to just believe that it could all be that simple, and because it doesn’t use the word “abuse”, it makes it harder for us to accept it, but I have learned that the law is written from the least on up. In other words, if it is wrong to neglect your spouse in those areas, how much worse in God’s eyes, is it to actually abuse them, whether it be mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually, sexually, financially or any other way? I am just starting to see and understand all of this, but we cannot forget that we serve a good, loving and faithful God, not a heavy-handed abusive God who is really a Pharisee underneath!
God is our great rescuer and deliverer and He is never late. I am seeing and learning through all of this, that God most likely calls to deliver us, way before we accept that call. I see and hear so much that is not God, and I think we all just want to do the right thing, and because we all take the marriage covenant so seriously, and esteem it so highly, that we push back the voice of God calling us out into safety and rest. I am thankful that He is so patient, and that He just continues to call us and help us. May you all find rest and peace in following His steps toward deliverance, full and complete deliverance and healing.
I have to say that in my own experience, this is definitely true. I KNEW that I would leave this marriage some day, but I struggled with what a lot of Christian women (and men) struggle with: “the sin in my life is making this relationship hard”, “I chose him and have to stand by the covenant”, “it’s better for the kids”, “we have such a GOOD LIFE if only he would treat me better”, and on and on. I know that God finally rescued me. That He works all things out for the good of those that are called according to His purpose. I know that if I hadn’t listened this time, He would have made the way for me later. I don’t regret not listening earlier, but looking back, I know there were other opportunities and I didn’t take them. Now, just like when the Israelites left Egypt, I am not looking back to my life of slavery wishing for the things that made life in bondage bearable. The unknown future is so much more hopeful for me!
I agree about the “Boundaries in Marriage” book. I think Townsend and Cloud are wonderful and have a lot of great things to say, but the idea of making a stand and making the abuser leave is not healthy. What that will ultimately do is get victims into the mindset of trying to manipulate their abusers to the gain freedom they know they need. Better, I think, to be honest and own the goal of freedom. It’s not a wrong goal to have.
Setting boundaries did lead to escalation in my case, but I don’t think she ever would have left without me making the decision.
I didn’t ever tell him face-to-face that it was over, but had, over the course of a few months, been telling him that I didn’t trust him or respect him, which were the foundations of love. That I had lost the ability to get myself back to whatever place I had gotten back to before that would make me want to work on our marriage. I stopped going to joint therapy with him. The therapist was not safe (I now realize) but more because he would just use it as an opportunity to verbally and emotionally abuse me more. He was (is?) not a Christian, but would go to church for me and the kids. Meanwhile he had been seeing a reiki masseuse who also read stars and planets, etc., for spiritual advice. She (they?) believe they had a spiritual connection. When I asked him to stop seeing her as the relationship was inappropriate, he called me crazy, then said he would, but continued to contact her and maybe see her.
His abuse was always emotional (very mean), verbal, though over the course of our 14 year marriage he was proud that he at least had stopped using curse words to call me names. I think he still did though, just under his breath. There was definitely sexual abuse (though I wouldn’t have called it that at the time), financial abuse, and occasional physical abuse, in the form of throwing things or bumping into me, or “playfully” hitting me on the bottom with a BBQ spatula. Always just subtle enough for me to believe his excuses and explanations for the behavior and continue to think that I was crazy. In the end, I surprised him by serving him with papers. It took him a month to move out. He probably never would have if his lawyer didn’t tell him he needed to. During that time, he cried, sobbed, cornered me into endless conversations about how we never worked on our marriage together and that we needed to try one more time. He had SIX godly men praying for us. “We needed to pray together for a miracle”, etc.
He would then say things like he was glad it was over, this was what he wanted too, etc. He got really into the kids and started doing things with them that only I had ever done. Taking them to the mall and movies, things he had never done in 10 years!! Anyway, God’s hand has been in this from the beginning. He signed off on the parenting plan that I wanted because he was afraid to go to court! We still have to come up with a permanent one, but at least we are starting from where I wanted to. My Mom was here and was able to stay the entire time with us until he moved out. The kids have taken it surprisingly well. It must help that I am much calmer. He travelled extensively for work and no one ever missed him when he was gone. Now it’s better because we do not have the anxiety of him coming back. God is good and even though I feel a little lost some days (I was with him for 17 years), I know that each day is getting me closer to more healing and to living the life that I was (and my children were) created for.
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That’s great news, Coco. I recall a while ago you telling us that you were about to serve him with papers and he was still living under your roof. So you made it through that okay! Praise God. And your mum too. 🙂
My husband’s abuse toward us had been ongoing for 13 years. The abuse was mostly verbal, emotional, mental, economic, and he was very controlling. I was called every name in the book. You name it. I was called it. Belittled, degraded, blamed and accused. He would tell me how unsubmissive a wife I was, and that all I had to do was obey him and everything would get better. Sometimes I wrote about things that happened throughout all those years as it was the only way I got things off my mind and try to make sense of all the bad stuff. It helped me to survive those years mentally. I had to put a wall up, a wall that words would just bounce off and fade. I did not let anything he said or did affect me enough to keep me from my daily responsibilities. We could not discuss anything that normal married couples do, because either it would turn into a big fight, or our conversation would come out of someone else’s mouth later, all twisted. He threw a water bottle at me one time. Then, another time when the kids and I came back from a church activity, we found he had uprooted my entire bedroom and everything was all over the place, with a threatening note to me left behind.
About a year before the actual separation, he started in on me, saying that I was not allowed to talk to my friends, or go see my parents, or take my children to go see their grandparents without his permission. He would actually behave like a maniac in front of my friends, and he had no concern who was around when he did that. My friends feared for my life. Even my neighbor told my attorney that he feared for our safety. I had to have my husband’s permission to do anything.
He had lost his job in April of 2011 and refused to look for another job. He said that God did not want him to look for a job because he did not have to, nor did he want to listen to anyone telling him what to do ever again. His excuse was that he was trying to run his own business (which was working on cars in our driveway illegally). Eventually, the county zoning enforcement and HOA sent several letters of warning about his violations. He constantly demanded that I order his car parts and then go pick up those parts. Then later, he would demand that I write up his customers’ invoices, the whole while complaining and screaming that I did not get it right. He was the one that knew what he had worked on, so why was I the one having to write up his invoices?
I would come home every day after work, shaking in fear not knowing what he was going to do or say that evening. I started staying away from home later and later each evening just so all I would have to do once I get home would be to cook food, spend some time with the kids and go to bed. In the mornings I would be out the door before anyone woke up. My kids would stay in their rooms when they were at home because he would constantly yell, cuss, and belittle them. It was so bad that my 15 year old daughter later told me she was walking around the house with a knife in her pocket, ready to kill him if she had to.
I had to use my whole paycheck to pay the bills and pay for the food etc. I would run out of money, and then he would tell me to go get some out of my stash of money that he presumed I had hidden somewhere, to pay the bills and not bother him with finances. I had to cash in all of my silver coins that I had saved for an emergency, just to put food on the table. He never had any remorse about that, and his only comment was that I should not have had that silver in the first place. He was glad it was gone now. I would borrow money from my parents and friends just to get through each month. My kids were able to have some Christmas presents last year, thanks to my friends and parents.
Getting back to the week prior to our separation, I talked to my attorney and he had my papers drawn up for the separation. He then told me that he needed to serve him with the papers soon. He said I would have to move out of the house since he had threatened to kill us and burn down the house. I did not know where to go to live or how to make it all happen, but God opened the doors and has opened many doors since then. Starting the Saturday before the separation, I was asleep when he suddenly started yelling at me at the top of his lungs, screaming at me and accusing me of a bunch of stuff. I got up, got dressed and said, “Goodbye!! I am leaving!” I left the house and did not return until Sunday afternoon but kept in contact with my children at all times.
Monday afternoon he just kept calling me and cussing at me, continuing his normal routine. I went home earlier than normal since I found out he was not at home. He walked in and started yelling at me about finances. I was making spaghetti at the time and had the spaghetti spoon in my hand when he walked into the bedroom still yelling at me about money and that he needed money to rent his shop etc. In a rage, he opened for his wallet, took out some cash, grabbed me by the head and started shoving the money down my throat saying that he hoped it tasted good! I screamed for the kids to come and help me when I took the spoon and hit him on the face to try and get him off of me, he had me pinned backward on the bed. He made a statement that he was going to get me for hitting him with the spoon, that that was assault. My son came down and had his BB gun in his hands, yelling to his dad to leave me alone. I got hold of my phone and started dialing 911 when he tried to grab it away from me. The call went through and [I] was able to talk to 911.
This is the 5th call I have made to the police for help over the years. He started begging on his knees to forgive him, that he did not know what came over him. I kept telling him that it was over, done, no more, he was out of there, forever!! I went outside knowing the cops were about to show up and he kept begging me, then yelling at me and cussing at me, then back to begging, the old routine! The cops came and pulled us away from each other as he tried to attack me again. I told one cop my story, and he told the other cop his story, and they were the same story, so they knew it was true. The one cop asked me why my lip was bleeding and I did not know it was at the time but it probably happened when he was trying to shove the money in my mouth. They put him in the police car with handcuffs and they charged him with [assault?] and later convicted [him] of criminal domestic violence. At sentencing, he had the option to choose to pay for 26 weeks of anger management classes and perform community service vs jail time or a fine. He stayed in jail after his arrest for 3 days until his dad bailed him out, and he has been living at his parents’ house ever since. But while he was in jail, I was able to get his separation papers and order of protection served and the state served him with his CDV at the same time. That Monday was [date redacted] 2012, the best day of the rest of my life.
We moved to a safe house for two months knowing he could possibly be stalking us. He kept on trying to find out where we were through our friends and family but only a trusted few knew where we were. I strongly advise not telling anyone (except closest family or friend) where you are hiding, because you never know who might find out and get word back to your abuser / stalker. The judge awarded me an order of protection against him for a year, sole custody of our children, and to live in our house. He had to come and get his things with the police by his side and only had 1 hour to get all his things. The kids now have to go see him every other weekend, and he still yells, screams, belittles, and questions them as to what I am doing and how I am surviving.
He found my car parked somewhere and kicked the fender in several times, which he later admitted to my son. The kids report that even as of this weekend that he is very rude and disrespectful toward his own mother. He talked to family members and friends, trying to persuade them towards his side of the story, and each and every one of them told him to accept the fact that his marriage is over! He stopped yelling at the kids a few weeks ago when they called the cops on him at his mom’s house. He is very bitter, but tells our mutual friends that he loves me very much and that after the year is up he is moving back home. He also tells some people that I gave him 3 months to straighten up, but I have never said that. My kids hate going to see him and they have told me that if I ever let him come back that they will disown me. They beg me every week not to make them go but his court ordered visitation is out of my hands. If they do not go, I will be in big trouble, maybe in jail.
Our children are ages [ages redacted]. We live in [location redacted], so if anyone knows a way so that they do not have to go see their dad (and continue to be abused), please let me know. When the judge told him that his child support was $286 every two weeks and that he had to pay half of the house payment, he called my attorney and told him it was unfair, and that he could not pay that much. He harassed my attorney to the point he is not allowed to call him anymore. In the mean time, he has harassed my mom and dad at their home and their place of business to the point that when they see him, they go hide. We (the adults in our entire family) have now gotten our concealed weapons permits and carry weapons. He has purposefully left some signs that he has been outside of our house and underneath it in the crawl space. I am just waiting for my year to end and then filing for divorce. There is no way I am putting myself and my kids into his misery ever again.
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Dear Tersia – you are very, very brave and have done an excellent job in all of this terror. You have maintained your resolve and have drawn firm boundaries even in the face of incredible opposition and discouraging events. Keep us updated on how things proceed with you so we can pray for your safety and final freedom.
Jeff C, I will keep you informed as to what is happening. And thank you for praying. The kids came back from seeing their dad yesterday and my [age redacted] year old gave me a message from her dad, “Daddy says he loves you and he wants to be back home by Christmas”. This is after my [age redacted] year old told me how disrespectful and rude he has been to his parents this past weekend. I see your next blog [post] is about pornography. I have not even mentioned that part of it. What I have mentioned so is a fraction of what I have gone through. Will post [comment] more on the porn blog [post] later today.
[For safety and protection, the ages were redacted. Editors.]
Tersia – his message, translated = “Daddy really wants to be with us and he is so sad because he misses us so much. But mommy won’t let him come home.” Using the children as a weapon. So common, yet so very, very low and wicked.
Tersia, thanks for sharing all that. You have survived an amazing amount of abuse — it’s not just in the past, it’s still happening. You have resisted it in many many ways: the way you wrote about it, the wall you put up, the way you kept on with your daily responsibilities regardless of what he was trying to do to you, the times you chose to not be home so as to not be exposed to his abuse, you screamed for your kids to help, you rang 911, you used that spaghetti spoon against him, you got an attorney and took out a separation and now you are trying to find ways to stop your children from having to be exposed to his continuing abuse. And you’ve done all that in the face of his lies, his fury, his curses and his attempts to manipulate the perceptions of bystanders and family and friends. You deserve a medal.
And it was only 2012 that you achieved separation and the justice system brought him under their control. That’s less than five months ago. Congratulations.
I defy any Christian to read your story and still maintain that we can only countenance temporary separation in cases of abuse. Divorce is right, just and godly in cases like this. As your kids know full well.
I wish that judges would get the understanding that kids do NOT need a dad like this and having to see one like this regularly is abuse and will negatively affect the kids. I’m in a similar boat! But so glad for you to be free and stand up for yourself!
I agree with Barbara. It is lunacy to say someone can’t divorce in a situation like this! And you do deserve a medal, Tersia. So do your kids.
My marriage was never right. I think it was only 3 months in and he had shoved me up against a wall. But even before that there were other things going on. Prior to being married he was always pressuring me to do things intimately that I did not want to do. We never had sex but there was one night he asked me to “trust him” then instructed me to put on a button up shirt. He started kissing me and undressing me, I don’t know how far he would have expected me to “trust him” because I stopped things. I should have known better and left then.
As we got married things did not get better. On our honeymoon he was constantly pressuring me to have sex as though that is all a honeymoon was for. I was so sore I couldn’t walk but he didn’t care or change what he was doing or how he was acting. We returned home and were constantly having fights. Every time we had a fight he insisted we have sex as though that made things “ok” or showed we were “ok”. There was no patience intimately. I had never been intimate before being married but had been sexually molested as a child. He was not patient whatsoever, expecting that because we were married then we should be able to do whatever we wanted. Which I agree with, if you are married you should be able to do whatever you want WITH your partner. The point was I didn’t want to yet. And because of the constant pressure the “yet” never came.
Move ahead about a year and we decide to move back to where I was from. He never shared that he didn’t want to move to where I was from but was resentful and brought it up so many times afterward. He was constantly complaining about the weather, as though it was that different, it was only two hours north. We had our first son, took in my niece and nephew and started a contracting business all in two years times of moving. That’s insanity in itself but throw in the continued abuse and you just have a disaster. Before we moved he had started blocking me in a room when we were fighting. He would just stand in the doorway and not let me out. This continued to get more and more often. Within 18 months after taking my nephew in he was removed by human services with bruises all over his legs. My husband had “spanked” him.
Things continued to escalate between us and he continued to be harsh with the kids. We had another son. During this time things often got so bad someone had to leave. Sometimes I could get out but didn’t very often because of the children. Usually I was able to get him out of the house so I felt safe. He would often go to an Elder’s house for Theophostic counseling [Internet Archive link]1 and come home with some “great revelation about his childhood that gave insight why he acted the way he did.” Things never changed, he didn’t change. Sometimes when he would leave he would drive 7 hours to his parents house because “he needed his father’s blessing” or “needed to have his father tell him he loved him.” These were “reasons he behaved the way he did.”
Sex continued to be awful. On a couple of occasions he told me I was committing witchcraft because I didn’t have sex with him. We had our first daughter. At this time we also started going to counseling. As we went through my husband was often angry because everything was his “fault”. Instead of listening to the counselor’s teaching and changing what she suggested needed changing. She cautioned him that the kids and I couldn’t handle his anger and if he continued he would lose us.
My ex began throwing things when he got angry. He took a gallon of paint and threw it splattering black (ironic, huh) paint all over the porch. One time he stopped at the convenience store and bought me a soda. About two years prior to this I was really sick. I was two weeks in the hospital with no platelets. After my hospital stay I started getting really careful about what I ate. Trying to eat as healthy as possible. He didn’t support this at all. So he had bought me a soda, I was really upset with him about it that he wouldn’t hear me, that he wouldn’t support me. So he took the full bottle of soda and threw it, it shattered all over the wall right behind me spraying pop everywhere. The kids were standing right next to me when it happened. Shortly after the soda incident the fighting had gotten so bad my niece couldn’t handle it anymore and ran away (there were other issues there). The church was involved in a pretty twisted way which didn’t help a bit.
So after my niece left with the church involvement my husband decided “we” needed a new start. So he wanted to move back to where we were before. Neither children nor I wanted to move. Yeah, the idea of a new start sounded good but it wasn’t the location, rather the condition of our home. I agreed to move though, to be “submissive”. He kept picking a different town. So I would have to take all four kids (we had another daughter by this time) and go look at this town 3 or 4 hours away and see if I liked it. I always came home and said that it was ok, nothing in particular I really liked but I guess I will move wherever — trying to be “submissive”.
I had also gotten into some hobby farming. He said he would help get hay, water and grain. He didn’t….we bought some cows and a few months into buying them he wanted to sell them because there was a drought. I asked him to pray about it and so would I. We both came back and said we felt God leading us that he would provide what we needed for the cows. So I didn’t sell them though I didn’t have them listed for sale. Later the ex was so angry with me because I didn’t take them to the sale barn the day he said to sell them and I was being “unsubmissive” because I didn’t.
So about a year ago he took a job where he wanted to move and left me with cows to milk and feed, pigs to take care of, chickens, children to homeschool and the construction business to manage. The construction business was in the middle of a huge addition and remodel project plus several other projects. We had 6 employees….it was insanity….for me and hard for the young children. Still no one wanted to move and yet we said we would. Weekends were a nightmare, how could they not be when a man leaves his wife with that much responsibility? He quit the job, couldn’t stand having someone else tell him what to do. But stayed down there working under our own construction business.
This last July I had all I could handle with the violence and told him not to come home the following weekend. I had started to have panic attacks and was always agitated. Then I found out I was pregnant with our 5th child and he filed for divorce. Shortly then after I found out about an abuse with my oldest son in which he left a bruise so there was another case with human services.
Now it’s constant crap. Text messages are awful. Visitations with the kids are awful.
1[March 4, 2023: We added the link to Wikipedia’s page on Theophostic Prayer Ministry — formerly Theophostic counseling. The Internet Archive link is a copy of that page. Editors.]
😦 Very sad for you, Marisa, for all that you suffered. But glad you are out now. Out but not fully free — because of the text messages and visitation nightmares. Some states have laws that allow you to apply for a protection order that prohibits the abuser using even emotional and verbal abuse, such as abusive texts, phone calls, letters, etc. Here where I live that is the case. Would it be worthwhile to see whether you can do that in your state? Here, if you have a protection order from the court against your ex, and the ex sends you abusive SMS messages, you can take the messages to the police and they will charge him with breaching the order.
Thank you. From the information I have gotten from my lawyer that isn’t the case where I live, I am looking into it more. I am also considering getting a new cell number that he doesn’t have. Whatever is necessary to have peace in all areas of my life. Currently I have a letter to the Elders of my church to go with me to confront him. Step two of Matthew 18. I am praying God’s Word will be applied and this man will be stopped.
Thank God for the freedom that has come!
Sounds like some good plans you have there, Marisa. Just be aware that there is a likelihood that your husband will try to deceive the Elders, shift some or all of the blame to you, and generally pull the wool over their eyes so they think “He’s not that bad.” If he does that, that is one more proof you have that he is a hardened abuser who is not going to change. Even if the Elders don’t see it like you see it, stick with your own perceptions. You are the expert: you’ve lived with your husband for years and you know his ways and his guile better than anyone else does.
If he starts accusing you or denigrating you or any thing like that, just tell him “Stop it! Stop abusing me!” Don’t fall into the explaining trap. You don’t have to explain yourself to someone who is not prepared to listen or to try to understand you. In fact, you are usually wasting your breath when you explain yourself to someone who is like that.
I just want to add to this, Marisa, that just because you are married does not mean that it is a “free for all” in the bedroom. Marriage does not make everything someone may want to do to you in the bedroom “okay”. You should not violate your conscience, or endure something just for the sake of enduring it, if you believe it to be wrong. According to the Bible, a woman has as much authority over the man’s body, as he does over hers! It is equal, not one spouse having more authority than the other. Thanks for sharing your story here. Barb has good advice for you, if it works where you live.
Marisa – your opening line in your story is a classic, almost like “it was the best of times and the worst of times” — only without the best of times.
There it is, summed up in just a few words.
I have heard this pattern from victims several times now. One must begin to conclude that some abusers actually initiate a fight because they have linked anger, violence, and sex in their minds. And there is another common theme here — the wife working and working and working to keep the business, the home, the homeschooling, and her own sanity together while the abuser is “off” someplace. It really is amazing to me how strong many victims can be under horrific circumstances. There is one more element tossed into the recipe of abuse for you that is so, so common as well — “God”. That is to say, the abuser’s claim to be a Christian, church attendance, Bible verses — all used to further confuse the victim, who desires sincerely to obey Christ.
Someday, we pray, Marisa, that you will be able to be completely free of him, live in a peaceful place, and maybe there will be Marisa out there in a nifty little red barn feeding a few cows and chickens and enjoying the fruits of her Exodus out of Egypt. 🙂
I am familiar with Theophostic counselling; it specialises in going back into a person’s past to find out the experiences (often traumas) that are the originating events that led to the person being so messed up. It was developed by practitioners who were dealing with serious trauma in their clients like satanic ritual abuse, child sexual abuse, etc. But so far as I know, it was not developed to treat people who had been abused but had then become abusers themselves.
IMO, to apply Theophostic to someone who is perpetrating abuse is inappropriate, unless the counsellor also has the highly advanced and additional skill to bring the client to make the links between how they were treated as a child and how they are treating others now. I’m not talking about just links of insight (cognitive recognition), I’m talking about the deep emotional recognition of the analogy between “what was done to me” and “what I’m now doing to others” which brings the client to the place where there are willing to sit with the shame of how they have abused others — the place where they start to feel real empathy for their victims. And all that, I understand, would just be a necessary precursor for abusers then working at changing the neural pathways and the habits of decades so that they do not abuse in the future.
The Elder doing that Theophostic counseling probably didn’t have a clue about the specialist skills needed for working with perpetrators, and he probably didn’t even know fully what abuse your husband was actually perpetrating on you. It’s easy to imagine how your husband would have minimised and mutualised his abuse problem when he was talking to the Elder.
Absolutely what happened. I am sure the counselor, though not really trained just learned it, did not know everything that was going on. I met with this counselor a few months ago with another lady from my church whose husband is abusive. He pretty much said he couldn’t help us because he didn’t understand abuse that deeply.
My husband has been through so much counseling and none of it has helped. It has led to more abuse actually. One time after he had been doing quite a bit of Theophostic counseling and we were in the midst of a fight he yelled at me, “In the name of Jesus I command you to stop.”
I’ve never heard before of an abuser using the name of Jesus to command and rebuke his victim. I gasped when I read your story. But really, I should not be surprised: abusers can take whatever they learn in counselling and twistedly use it against their victims. Your abuser had Theophostic counselling, so he copied some of the words that would have been used in that method. Copycats without empathy are dangerous creatures!
I’m so glad we have had this little conversation, Marisa. It’s helped me connect some dots. I used to be quite close to a couple who practised Theophostic counselling, and I spent quite a bit of time learning about the method, but I never actually practised it.