Crocodile Tears

I am halfway through Martha Stout’s The Sociopath Next Door [Affiliate link]. Normally, I fly through books but this one….I read in small doses. Besides creeping me out a little bit, it is too shocking; too full of “a-ha!” moments; too eye-opening. Every page astounds me. How did I not know these things before? How did I not see these people in my OWN life? And I let it go on for so long.

Interestingly, Dr. Stout makes a very sobering and surprising observation. When asked what the tell-tale characteristic of a sociopath is….she says that it is the sociopath’s ability to extract pity from others. That’s it! I thought it would be something along the lines of “his cold, intense stare” (which is sociopathic, as well) or the “sinister tone in her voice”. The author writes:

Crocodile tears from the remorseless are especially likely when a conscience-bound person gets a little too close to confronting a sociopath with the truth. A sociopath who is about to be cornered by another person will turn suddenly into a piteous weeping figure whom no one, in good conscience, could continue to pressure.

Today, I spoke with a woman who drove 2000 miles back home because her abusive (now, ex) husband lured her back, pathetically convincing her he was starving to death and needed her in order to survive. That was her first escape attempt. When she got home, he locked her in the house and the abuse grew in horrific intensity. I spoke with another woman last month whose abusive husband tormented her for weeks and then he wept when others began to see through him. She said this to me: “I feel sorry for him; I can’t help it.”

The tears, OH THE TEARS. Tears from one who has been chastened but is not really sorry. Sort of like, “I’m caught and now I’m going to put on a show….see how repentant I am? Does everyone see?” These displays leave the victim stricken. Look, the victim’s not crying. Here is her abuser, weeping….and confessing….She looks kinda’ cold-hearted, if you ask me….

Onlookers do not realize that the victim has been VICTIM to his tears thousands of times. And then when (over the years), he or she becomes immune to the tears, he or she is accused by the abuser of being “hard-hearted” or “cruel”. The victim cannot win. She must either concede to the tears and open herself up to abuse again, or she is some sort of unloving, detached human devoid of mercy. What does one do?

It is a relief to read and know, that even the tears my abuser shed were a form of manipulation.

[July 2, 2022: Editors’ notes:

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113 thoughts on “Crocodile Tears”

  1. Megan, this could not be more true. “Crocodile tears from the remorseless are especially likely when a conscience-bound person gets a little too close to confronting a sociopath with the truth. A sociopath who is about to be cornered by another person will turn suddenly into a piteous weeping figure whom no one, in good conscience, could continue to pressure.” I saw it over and over again…and didn’t realize what it meant either, until later.

  2. Love that book– read it about a year back.

    All my life I heard men don’t like to cry but that was never the case around my house. The anti-husband wept all the stinkin’ time. I’m the one who never cried in twenty years. If he couldn’t get his way in any other method, he broke down sobbing, generally accusing me of ‘hurting his feelings.’ Really?

    Somewhere along the line, I began to notice that when he cried, he put on a big show with plenty of weeping, wailing and gnashing but, in reality, his eyes were dry.

    When we cry, we good gooey, wet, soggy, you-need-a-tissue or you’re gonna drip, right? Not my husband. He went from rolling-on-the-floor wailing to wild-eyed raging without so much as a snuffle in between. And it took me three decades to even notice.

    Crocodile tears indeed.

    1. Remember the line moms and dads used on us? “Stop that right now or I will give you something to cry about.” I’m not advocating using it on kids (I used to think that was normal), but perhaps it would have a nice effect on, as you say, anti-husbands who use driveling and crying as a weapon. Of course many victims shouldn’t try it – too unsafe.

  3. WOW! Boy was that article an “AH HA” moment for me! I knew that his tears were manipulation but to see it as his “tell-tale characteristic” is eye opening. He always when into hysterics when I would confront him and he would make it seem like he would die if I wasn’t there to help him. I felt sorry for him so I stayed. When I did finally leave he said he was depressed and suicidal. If I didn’t come back to him he would die! I felt sorry for him and I wanted him back, but I was stronger then that and I denied myself the ability to feel sympathy. I got angry instead. Now I know why… I was waking up.

  4. If you want to see a really good illustration of this croc business, watch the part in the Lord of the Rings where Gollum attacks Frodo and Sam to get the ring, viciously biting and hitting, but then when he is caught and held down, his whole expression changes and he starts crying. Pooooor Gollum.

    I know of a case right now in which the abuser totally turned tables and has lots of people believing him. He has made the victim out to be the bad influence on the children, and weeps and moans about how much he loves his kids and how he must protect them from her. In fact, he is the evil influence on them.

    There are certain phrases and rebukes that will shut those tears off in a second. “Stop it! Stop that right now! You don’t fool me. You are the guilty one here!” I have actually used that approach twice now on these types. The response is pretty interesting.

    1. The tears are a theatrical attention grabber, nothing more….I often wondered, without emotion how the MIW could get his tear ducts to work on demand? I bet he pulled out a nose hair when nobody was looking!!
      I think there is a book out there titled “How to Cry when you get busted” or “The top five things an abuser must apply to get his way:

      #1 Crying- or at least make a sniffling sound
      #2 Pretend to be deppressed- stop showering.
      #3 Tell ANYBODY you lost the will to live- stop eating
      #4 Say your lonely- while looking at the floor
      #5 Say SORRY, then repeat over and over and over

      The MIW also repeadetly pulled out the “”She is keeping the kids from me” “all I wanna do is see them”” sniff, sniff, Or “She refuses to homeschool them”” unless of course he was talking to somebody outside the church, then he would say “”She wont even let them go to school, they should have at least ONE friend” sniff, sniff, sniff. Suddenly his tears were NOW for all the sympathy he had towards the childrens lack of education. What ever he came up with to deflect any blame, his tears would open peoples ears immediately to what he had to say.

      1. Remember when the elderly dictator of North Korea died? I think it was earlier this year. The TV showed images of the population in North Korea standing in the streets all weeping. I believe this emotional response had been pre-programmed into them by fear. If you don’t display the emotion the regime wants you to show, you could easily end up in a prison camp doing hard labour till you starve to death.
        I know a survivor who connected the dots with her abuser’s tears when she saw those North Koreans crying en masse. Both her abuser’s tears and the tears of those North Koreans were being shed for ulterior motives, and could be shed on demand.

    2. I would be interested in what the responses were? The abuser that terrorized my kids and I, he was a major cryer, but to offend him in the midst of his crying? Or to tell him “stop now” or “be a man and suck it up dude!” He would of got so p***** off, the switch flipped that quickly. How dare you interupt him when he is in the midst of squeazing out a tear!! They would see him cry, they would see him explode, yet I was assurred he was acting out in pain. (I had one pastor tell me that exact thing backed with a real quick “Either that or he has an explosive personality disorder, in that case – better luck next time). Generally he got sympathy for anger, ALOT of it!!! If I showed any sign of anger, I was judged, ridiculed, was not okay for me to display anger. Tears they could tolerate due to my weak nature but ANGER was not becoming.

      Hey, until I read this post today, I did not realize I had not cried either? Whoa?? I cried a few times in the first year when I was pregnant. He like to block me in the bathroom for hours, poke my chest, spit on me….put me in a half nelson once, back handed me in the face, kicked me in the yahoos. His emotional abuse created such deep despair in me I would say normal things like “Please stop, or Why can I not go to the store? Where did you hide my keys? I am NOT going to pretend like it’s NOT Christmas because you are agitated over it.” “There is NO reason the kids and I cannot drink milk when we want it?” I did cry then, but I quickly realized it made him more angry, and he would just tell me I was pathetic among other things….then my normal questioning and requests for my basic human rights was reffered to as “defiance”. After the first year I never cried, obviously was not a conscieous choice, just survival mode I guess?

      Ya, I also remember a three day period of gut wrenching crying until I would pass out, wake up and cry some more….I remember my sweet little babies would fall asleep around me, after they tuck me in with all their stuffed animals piled on top and each side of me. I hated I made them feel sad, if I went in my room they would slip notes under the door (I still have the notes with me today) they wrote “Mommy how long until I can hug you?” “mommy can we come in to see you?” then they would draw little pictures of their faces. Unfortunately, I suffered morbid deppression due to him controling our lives through severe stalking, I felt my entire life was in a holding cell for years after I try to leave. I suppose never being free to make life choices based on what you want, rather making choices strictly out of fear can be kinda deppressing. I was so deppressed it was scary, I did not know what deppression was? I think being in such high alert mode all the time offset any other feelings coming forth. Fortunately after that first six month deppression, I fought my way back from the grave so the second time it came to visit I knew I would get through it again so that made it easier. Does God save our tears? I bet abuse victims and survivors have filled oceans.

      1. Memphis – they got a shocked look on their face and said “what?” Of course I was in a better position probably to exert some authority over them. With all of that said though, please keep in mind that it took me a looooonnng time to learn this and I was taken in a bajillion times over the years. Not by strangers. I always saw through them. But by the people who were close to me in the church. Those are the ones who did a number on me with their reactions and tactics. I didn’t want to think badly of them. So when they did the big emotional reaction bit, I was quite happy to blame myself. Not anymore.

      2. Memphis:

        How dare you interupt him when he is in the midst of squeazing out a tear!!

        I know that one!! Because he could pull off those gut wrenching big sobbing fits, obviously his feelings were more important and real.
        I knew that it was an act but didn’t verbalize it until he left. And even now, telling people that talk about how he is crying with loneliness or whatever his new excuse is…. Telling them that it’s an act, they don’t believe me. Crocodile tears! He sobbed like this at the lawyer’s office, I said crocodile tears in an aside to my lawyer, he was stunned then saw them turn off in an instant and then later found out my ex had been recording my private conversations with my lawyer and knew they were crocodile tears.

      3. I also remember a three day period of gut wrenching crying until I would pass out, wake up and cry some more.

        It took me almost a year to admit to anyone that my ex put me in (what I termed) an “emotional coma”. I finally told Barbara and Jeff and they weren’t surprised (I guess I felt very ashamed), considering all he did to me. I remember my babies, as well, bringing me supper and tea and being afraid. It felt absolutely out of my control. It felt demonic. And, after I left, I have never experienced anything like that again. Sometimes the abuse is so great — so overwhelming — so unconscionable — so painful — so shocking and unlike anything you ever thought you would experience, you just shut down.

        I am so grateful for your freedom. Every time you write, I see how incredibly brave you have been.

    3. I took my stepson and a friend to see “The Hobbit,” yesterday, and have started rereading the Lord of the Rings. I’d forgotten how much I enjoy Tolkien’s writing. I’m finding more good theology in “The Fellowship of the Rings” than in some pulpits…not that I’d use a LOTR quote as a proof-text or anything, but Tolkien is startlingly practical in the views expressed in his novels.

  5. I keep thinking if I ask “how do you feel about this?” It will throw them off. They are usually wailing about statements, not feelings. They really don’t feel what they state so at an opportune moment when say they acquired the audience who doesn’t believe you, just ask and persist they explain their feelings about the subject.

    In court my ex screams “I just want to see my daughter” which has gained him tons of support. “She won’t let me see my child!!” Yet he never even asked about this daughter after over a decade of absence. Nobody seems to realize this. If you counter his blurted out statements with “How do you feel about xyz?” it stumps them and usually the wailing gets louder and they scream the statements louder. “Is this what it takes for a man to see his child?” They avoid the question, His grandmother warned me using the very words crocodile tears. I thought those were BIG tears. His aunt explained they were FAKE tears and grandma told me NOT to fall for them.

    Good topic and I hope it helps others. I really wish I could get some people to read the book “the sociopath next door” as they may understand a bit better what I have been going through.

  6. My first response to this post: WOW! It took me a very long time to realize the tears, apparent remorse, confessions were all a ploy to manipulate compassion from me, our children, church leaders, other family members.. Even though we’ve been separated/divorced over 3 years, he still tears up……I am NOT AFFECTED! I’m cold hearted toward him! On the other hand, I did not cry for probably 20 years. In the past 3 years, tears have returned to me. Tears of gratitude to God for giving me freedom, gratitude for friends and family who support and help me, commercials, movies and grief over the pain my children and I endured for so many years! And appreciation to the brave people on this blog who share their lives and hearts!

    1. Oh, YES, Kay! I experienced the same thing! I couldn’t CRY when I was married to him. I felt like he had to always cry….and he wasn’t (maybe?) strong enough to handle my tears? I would often cry alone….hidden in a closet or a bathroom. But, I couldn’t let down my guard in front of him. Now, I cry all the time! Tears of gratitude, tears of joy, tears of release, sometimes (still) tears over what we have been through. Ah! And many tears over the community of this blog, full of brave brave men and women.

      1. I too felt like I couldn’t cry around him because he wasn’t strong enough to handle my problems…I had to be strong for him, but couldn’t “burden” him with my concerns. I didn’t cry a single tear for 7 years. After we separated I cried for a week non-stop! Just lied in bed and cried. I felt such strength return to me after that. I think that would be one of the signs of a true victim. Are they unable to cry? Do they seem cold and hard? Abuse will make you cold and hard in order to keep you alive.

      2. I don’t know about it being a sign of all true victims, Bethany, but it certainly sounds like it is a sign for some.
        I used to cry even while living in the abuse. And not always in private. I cried before my husband too, sometimes in the same room as him, more often in a different room but within earshot. My tears often provoked more ridicule and sarcasm from him, but that didn’t stop me crying. I am a very teary person if I need to be. Crying brings me such relief. I would cry because if I bottled it, it was even worse: a stagnant and scary depression would settle in like a pea-souper London fog.
        In fact, if I think about all the times I cried while living in the abuse, they are many, like pearls on a string, and each of them is attached to an iconic memory of an abusive incident.

        I should have taken out shares in Kleenex (a tissue company in Oz).

      3. Barb — I just read this article and it was SO GOOD. I think I was afraid, for a long time, to cry in front of anyone (after I left) because I felt it would confirm all my abusers were saying about me, “Look at her! She’s a mess! It’s HER! SHE is the one with the problem!” I truly had to find a safe person, in whose company I could cry those deep deep tears. Someone who would just love; just cry with me. Abusive husbands are not safe — crying in front of them (as we have all just written) invites ridicule, or derision or worse. How awful. That one person we hoped would comfort us and love us through our tears becomes the one person who can jab at us the most. 😦

      4. your definitely right about the crying lifting fog Barbara! After I had cried all of those tears that I had kept bottled up for 7 years I felt like my head was clear for the first time in a long time. I don’t normally cry much anyway so maybe that’s why I felt like I had to bottle it up. It wasn’t healthy for me that’s for sure. I have always felt like crying is a sign of weakness (even as a child) and the last thing I wanted my abuser to think is that I was weak. I am glad you have your pearls 🙂 and I made a promise to myself a few months ago that I won’t look at tears as weak but as healing and it has help immensely.

      5. Thank you for the article Barbara 🙂 You are always ready with such great pieces of wisdom. That’s one of the reasons I love you and this blog so much 🙂

      6. Megan you really nailed it when you said that the one person we should be able to cry too is the last person we want to go to for fear of abuse! I think I was so hard because I had convinced myself that I didn’t need the emotional support that was being denied me, but I did need it, and as my husband he should have been providing it. Yet another form of abuse… WOW they keep piling up don’t they? Every where I turn I am learning more and more about what is normal and how far away from normal I really was! A normal wife would be able to cry with her loving and caring husband and receive the emotional support she NEEDS! Thank you for the eye opener I need to possess this…

    2. My husband loves breaking me and actually complained to the counselor that I was not crying, and he needed to see me cry. I get Megan’s remarks about having others say “she’s a mess”, because my pastor told others that they could not include me in something, because it would just turn into an emotional mess with me there.

      I think that even though the walls may be very high and we may be hardened in some ways, that it is a self-preservation thing. I also think that some of us are just determined that our abuser has had their last moment of breaking us, and we just refuse to cry for them, so they can enjoy it, anymore.

      1. Anon, My ex-husband loved breaking me, too. He would complain (almost weekly) that I didn’t cry enough and I didn’t cry “in his arms”. He wanted to hurt me and break me and then comfort me. It was rather sick. 😦 I am sorry that your church reacted that way. Your emotions are precious to God. And important. They are an indicator of what is happening in our lives and in our hearts and you should never be treated that way. If you are emotionally struggling, the pastor / church should be trying to find out why and doing something about it. Big hugs.

      2. “My husband loves breaking me…he needed to see me cry.” “He wanted to hurt me and break me and then comfort me. It was rather sick.” Oh, yes…the sickening demon/savior cycle… is truly disgusting!

        Anon, your high, hard walls are beautiful. They show that you are bright, smart, intelligent. We all need high, hard walls at times. Our hard, high walls are indeed very necessary for self-preservation and self-protecting. We can wear them proudly! We protect ourselves in so many lesser ways every day, such as when we wear clothing. We add more layers as the temperature calls for to protect ourselves from the environment, even the layer of walls to keep us from succumbing to the ever increasing frigid element. Sometimes the layers are whatever we can grab at the moment, sometimes we have the luxury of coordinating our outfit. As the increase of the threat of weather comes, we increase the amount of needed protection. We can stop crying when we have added the layers of protection because we’ve found some easing of exposure to the storm. The storm continues to rage, but we’ve found somewhat of a place of protection and distance from it. We understand the nature and danger of the storm through having experienced it’s substance, and learn to take measures to keep out of harms way until the time when we can escape the storm and put distance between us and it. Oh, yes, our beautiful, beautiful articles of protection…our high, hard walls.

  7. My husband never cried until we were in court in front of the judge. I was wanting a restraining order after the 3rd time he’d been physical with me. Now he cries all the time. Telling others how much he loves me and wants to restore our marriage but I don’t want to.
    He has even cried in front of me trying to win me back telling me how much he’s changed. I felt the tears weren’t real, and now I know my gut was correct. I realized in court he knew how to play the system. He now uses the approach to gain allies. This info helps me continue to remain strong against all his tactics he’s using to try to get me back. This article has definitely been eye opening.

    1. I once heard a defense attorney tell his client (who was doing the crying routine) – “You need to suck it up and be a man!” I’m not sure that would be the best thing for every victim to tell her playing-the-victim abuser, but you have to admit, it’s a great line!

  8. My husband didn’t actually cry (except over the phone) but he was the king of the hangdog expression and would fall into depression over all his faults and problems. I used to cry myself to sleep so many nights earlier in my marriage, then somewhere along the way I stopped crying and turned hard.Then an emotional breakdown brought the tears back and now I’m not afraid of them anymore. On a side note, my divorce will be final soon!

      1. There is pride in it…Love that advice. Proud that I got free, took the steps that were hard, it is not a mark of shame but of pride. I did this, I was bound and now free

      2. I do not have a day to memoralize the event. I was not there when it went down. So I am going to make my own aniversary date. Probably have a fire, burn stuff. lol I mean roast marshmellows, cook some dogs, play some catch, look at the stars, get caught up on reading (Archie comics, and Peanuts} do a happy dance and howl at the moon….u know ritualistic stuff like that. Maybe have some family T-shirts made….”FREE AND PROUD OF IT!” on the front “”MEAN PEOPLE SUCK”” on the back.

      1. Thank you all! I know it’s hard for the church to understand how anyone could rejoice about a divorce-but I’m doing just that!

      2. Jodi if you don’t mind me asking. How do you plan to celebrate? I am temped to throw myself a big party (maybe a trip to OZ 🙂 ) when I get mine, and was curious if you were going to do anything to memorialize the day.

      3. Bethany- I absolutely plan to celebrate! I would love to take a trip if that’s financially feasable. I have a friend who has done so much to get me through this, so I will definitely celebrate with them!

      4. Jodi – It is only hard to understand for someone with little understanding. There is nothing strange about celebrating redemption and deliverance from a covenant of abusive bondage.

        When the Israelites were divorced from the nation of Egypt, they celebrated with singing and dancing. They were not celebrating the years of oppression, but God’s miraculous redemption and deliverance from that covenant of oppression!

        Go celebrate! Sing and dance! 🙂

      5. Jodi, How about a Divorce Cruise? I hear they are more fun than marriage retreats…..just a suggestion = – P

  9. I’ve been reading through all these comments and almost crying over these stories myself. I am a crier, and I have always been afraid of being looked on as weak. Of course, I am married to a wonderful woman (almost 37 years now), so it isn’t an abuse situation. I just cry over emotionally powerful things. Perhaps it stems from the abuse I suffered as a child.

    Anyway, I ramble. Megan said something that caught my eye:

    “Barb — I just read this article and it was SO GOOD. I think I was afraid, for a long time, to cry in front of anyone (after I left) because I felt it would confirm all my abusers were saying about me, “Look at her! She’s a mess! It’s HER! SHE is the one with the problem!” I truly had to find a safe person, in whose company I could cry those deep deep tears. Someone who would just love; just cry with me. ”

    It reminds me of Job, whose “friends” ridiculed him instead of sitting there with him and crying with him, or more importantly, just listening. We always want to fix things and if they don’t get fixed immediately, we get frustrated and impatient. We say we want hurting people to trust us, but we won’t spend the time or energy to just sit with them and listen, giving them time to learn to trust us. In fact, we tend to give them reasons not to trust us; harsh judgments and glib answers along with taking sides without proper investigation.

    I think we are conditioned to gravitate to those who are crying as it comes across as the universal sign of distress and hurt. Once we accept that premise, then it is easier to take the step of not believing the one who is so shell shocked they can’t cry, as that hard looking exterior evokes a conditioned response in us to think they are stubborn, obstinate and at fault.

    If there is an area we sorely need spiritual discernment in, it is this!

    1. …yes its HER that is the mess!!! Abusers will drive you to hysteria in private, then their switch goes off, for examlple when the police arrive. You of course are trembling, shocked, signs of disbelief and hysteria, because WE are actually HUMAN and we actually FEEL what is being done to us. So the only protection we have left to not endure the incoming JUDGEMENT of the audience, is to remain emotionless, try not to react in any fashion, then you find yourself EVEN telling yourself what he does,.and what others do “”if he is that bad then why am I still around?” He always said I was too sensitive, and if he was REALLY as bad as I said then why was I still there? (we all know the answer to that, …..the incoming fog banks) just one mind tweak after another.

      But yess I have heard MANY times “”What a mess I was, why couldnt I be like so n so”” its either be a big fricken mess, or be a hard stoek B!@#$%^! So I guess I became the latter on the outside and the BFM on the inside. If somebody just gave me the handbook on how I should behave to get this to stop I would of done it. Really there is NO winning side for the victom. So you do what you have to do, you breathe in, you breathe out and exist. Thats their goal anyways!! To take the life from you right?

      -sorry, can I say fricken? =/

  10. Oh, yes! The crocodile tears…and the feigned hurt feelings, “How could you possibly think such a thing?” are, perhaps, some of the most twisted forms of manipulation.

    Another is the remorse. The remorse may even be real…it’s hard to tell. But the bottom line is that remorse is very, very cheap. It is so easy to wallow in remorse for a little while and get everyone’s sympathy. But remorse makes no demands…doesn’t require changes in behavior…doesn’t require the keeping of vows. Just simple wallowing in emotion for a little while before getitng back to whatever else…

    1. Yes, Joe! I love what you said about remorse making no demands. SUCH a good observation! ….Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus and felt remorse….a remorse that led to death. Peter betrayed Jesus and repented. Made changes that turned him into an incredible man. There is a great big difference between the two.

    2. Thanks for that, Joe, especially for saying “The remorse may even be real…it’s hard to tell.”

      I agree with that statement, and it was one of the things that puzzled that sidetracked me for ages: Is his remorse real? But in the end, it doesn’t matter whether it’s real, or 10% real, or 50% real, or even 90% real… what matters is the action that follows, and whether there is any real change. There never was any real change (except for the worse) so the question ‘Is The Abuser’s Remorse Real?’ is the wrong thing to be focusing on.

      Professionals who work in Abuser Behavior Change Programs may like to ask that question – well and good; let them do so. But it’s a fruitless question for the victim to focus on. And a fruitless question for pastors and do-gooder bystanders to focus on too.

  11. Someday I hope to be able to cry again. Not that I was ever a big cryer, but tears, they are just this past year starting to slip in at times.

    1. SSBGA – I was surprised, while going thru divorce, that I never shed a single tear. BUT…a few months later, when my dog was killed, I couldn’t stop crying for four days straight. Having grown up on a farm, I’ve never been one to mourn the loss of animals, yet I couldn’t seem to stop grieving the loss of that little dog.

      Now, I can see, that those were tears that needed to be shed, and had more to do with the brokenness and sorrow of this life than with the loss of one little dog.

      Grief comes in it’s own way…take time to grieve when the time comes…

      God bless!

    2. I think that the first time I really cried post divorce was when I moved out of my house and I had to deal with all of the stuff that’d been sitting in our garage neglected for so many ears. It was stuff from a time when I had dreams and hopes about my life with my ex- stuff we bought for our first house, etc. I never felt much of a sense of loss after the divorce until that moment- and it wasn’t a real loss, but a remembering of lost dreams that had already died years ago, but I had forgotten.

      1. Ya the first step for me was that pain of loss, the loss of my dreams for my future family…I remeber the gravity of despair I felt when I finally realize those investements I had made emotionally would not amount to a future. I grieved all that while still in the midst, of moving and dealing with the other peoples ideas of reconcilliations….It never came out in the form of tears, just grief that I rode out, until all that mattered to me was the end of it all.

      2. I think when the tears came it was the FINAL outcome, I was not free still, but it had already been years of not living under the same roof. I think the holding cell of my daily life was just too much for me to hold in any longer,,,,,,,but when I was done with those tears I was 100% confident in my decision to NEVER reconcile, as a previous person stated here, I had so much more clarity about my situation, his chaos continued around us, but I was more able to see the hope of something OUTSIDE of his madness.

      3. “I had a dream, my life would be, so different from this hell I’m living. So different now from what it seems – now life has killed the dream, I dreamed.”

      4. Anon- Our lives don’t go as we thought they would, do they? We are free to do all we can to change them for the better, to leave off from wicked people whenever we can. We are not required to remain in bondage.

        But sometimes leaving is complicated, and it is never easy. Here are some encouraging words from Colossians to help us.

        Col 3:1-4 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. (2) Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. (3) For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. (4) When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

        In other words, THIS life is NOT our real life. This is just a staging area. Our real life is yet to come – up there in the New Heavens and the New Earth with Christ. This is not the end. YOUR life is there with Christ in God. And when He returns, the life that the Lord has made for you will appear. You will see it and you will live it – forever.

        And it is going to be really, really good.

      5. And there will be no more tears.
        He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. (Rev. 21:4)

  12. ….””their grape juice treatment didnt take” haha! For sure!!! They prayed something to the affect “”God is bigger than them, and the blood of Christ will protect my kids and I””

    -In the event the bruises on my arms prior to that incident were self inflicted…. The MIW was no threat to us, afterall!!!! The thinking was if anything else happened beyond that point then it was proof “”Gods will was for us to stay and endure …” because if the truth serum (grape juice) did not work, then at least their hands were clean, and God had spoken!!! What a Croc of Shitake mushrooms!

      1. a lot of us have nicknames for our abusers. We feel it helps us to see them as the evil monsters that they are when we force ourselves to stop calling them husband or ex husband. Husband is a word that should be reserved for someone who actually tends to his garden aka wife and not someone who purposely destroys it. I simply call mine the abuser but I like Memphis’ a lot and others on here too. Maybe I should have fun and get a little more creative 🙂

      2. after a little thinking I decided to name mine P&P (Plague and Pestilence) anyone who wants to chime and tell me what they think I would love to hear it. Otherwise I am sure I will be trying the name out soon enough 🙂

      3. We will have to start a glossary page on this site for all the terms and acronyms we have. Abuserese, MIW, P&P, anti-husband…
        I can see some new ones on the horizon, like PID (Pharisee in Disguise), AIP (Abuser in the Pulpit / Abuser in the Parsonage), SSSA (Socially Skilled Spouse Abuser).

    1. Memphis – I think you need to go on the road as a stand-up comic who does sketches to educate people about abuse. There are Christian comics, but somehow I don’t think you would be invited to do your act at many churches. Oh well.

      1. Well if we have a Cry For Justice Conference, in between the ‘serious’ presentations Memphis can be a stand up comic making us all roll in the aisles. 🙂
        Not that Memphis is not serious – she’s talking about is deadly serious topic – but you know what I mean.

  13. Okay – so I guess it’s good that I cried all over the place the whole year after I left.

    My therapist at the women’s shelter gave me the sociopath book when I was there. It really helped me not return home. The crying thing was one of things that really nailed it for me, but there were so many other similarities that it was eerie. And now that y’all mention it – I wasn’t allowed to cry either. Learned that early on, like you ladies did.

    My anti-husband (hope I can copy you Ida Mae) would even cry in church. That was considered very spiritual. The last time I saw the tears, he was outside the courtroom after he found out that there were papers filed for the judge to confer with the children. His attorney was leaning over him comforting him. It was very touching. But I had read the book.

    1. I would like to get the following books into the hands of every person in our church and go through each one of them in our main Sunday School class:

      1. Martha Stout, The Sociopath Next Door [Affiliate link]
      2. Robert Hare, Without Conscience [Affiliate link]
      3. George Simon, In Sheep’s Clothing [Affiliate link]
      4. George Simon, Character Disturbance [Affiliate link]
      5. Jan Silvious, Fool-Proofing Your Life [Affiliate link]

      Then maybe we would all start getting it when Scripture tells us there are evil people in this world.

    2. I had not read that book, I had not heard of Lundy Bancroft or anybody Christian with common sense about REAL evil people. I remember in color, my MIW (monster in wedlock) crying,with actual water coming out, holding, caressing my hand, some woman counselor, the Littweeler dude that worked on behalf of my MIW, all standing behind him, having their AH HAH moment, looking down on me, they had such ernest looks of sympathy, they forced me to take communiun with this person, they saw that as a sealed deal that by some symbolic voodoo (because that is what communion was for the MIW) that he would NEVER touch me or my kids again. That very night, before we even got home, he had grabbed the back of my hair and beat my face against the dashboard, only later to leave me terrified to go to sleep that night, due to his speaking in tongues behind my head…..then the MIW would on purposely refuse any communion at church, ridicule me if I took it, accussing me of thinking I was somehow better than him for STILL being able to take communion, he refused it based on him saying “”I do not want to be a hypocryte!??””

      I have no words for any attempt to explain they whys? or whats? of him. I had to give myself the permission to flee from evil. God already granted me that, but since people were so sure he deserved grace, and forgiveness, and understanding I was trapped for about an 8yr period without out any hope of being saved.

      1. Grabbing your hair and beating your head on the dashboard either happened or it didn’t. Incidents like that are not difficult to verify. But they didn’t want to know. The fact is that their grape juice treatment didn’t take, but those magicians of Pharaoh had done their incantations and you were supposed to be happy with it. It only looked to you like he had not changed. He still looked evil and acted like an evil demon, but inside his heart was good. Maybe he was trying to help you get that through your head by giving you that dashboard treatment?

        In all the sarcasm, I am really sorry you had to suffer like that. What is the saying? There will be hell to pay? That’s for sure, on that Day Christ is going to tell all these workers of iniquity that it is time to pay up.

    3. Anon, I feel what you have written. My only hope comes from what JC had written. I HAVE to be a big picture person, in the end none of this will really matter because God will punish those that are wicked, and we will be free for all eternity.

      I tell mself this “He can beat me, but he CANNOT beat me.”” do you know what I mean? Your dreams are just that, YOURS!!! Even if you think they are gone, they are still alive inside of you, nobody can take them.
      Barbara told me something that just made so much sense, and I hope its okay to repeat here ….”He took everything good in you, every photon of light Jesus had given to your soul, and passed it through his black mirror to hurt you.” so for me, I felt restoration by knowing his shadow of blackness truly cannot become part of what God has given to me, AND that God did not leave me, even though I could not feel his presence for a very long time.

      I believe your dreams are untouchable, tucked away for protection for now, nonetheless within your grasp, waiting for you.

      1. Good Gravey!! Of course my apologies, I did not even notice he has the same initials as somebody else we know!! =/ I will refer to him as Senior Crippen! lol just kidden!

      2. Of course I’m fine with you repeating that thing I wrote to you, Memphis. 🙂
        But can I ask that you not refer to Jeff Crippen as JC? Some random visitor here might think we have put Jeff C on a pedestal and are worshiping him! And they could not be more wrong – we love Jeff C, but we know his faults pretty well too. And besides, if we start putting Jeff C on a pedestal, his wife will probably jump in and tell is in no short order that we gotta stop doin’ that!
        (and btw, I think Jeff’s wife is cool; she and I had some great times together when I was visiting them, and she’s got a pretty smart sense of humor)

      3. Of course my apologies, I did not even notice he has the same initials as somebody else we know!!

        Well, they do look a lot alike. 🙂

  14. I have already got several new posts waiting in the queue line, so I am going to make a comment here about something I learned to day that I would like everyone to know. But it probably doesn’t even relate to crocodile tears. Megan – this has been a really, really helpful article. Thank you.

    Ok, Judith Herman says in her book on Trauma and Recovery [Affiliate link] that in WWII the military learned a bit more about “shell shock” (later turned out to be PTSD). What they found is that soldiers who were traumatized needed to be treated close to the front lines near where their company of fellow soldiers were, and the sooner they could get them on their feet and back to their buddies, the better for them. Why? Because of the bonds that formed between those soldiers in the misery of war. Furthermore, they found that soldiers who were in a unit that was led by an officer who was confident and competent bore up under the trauma of war much better than those soldiers who weren’t blessed with such a leader.

    And so I thought. That is what we have here at ACFJ. We have a bunch of soldiers who have been traumatized. Here, they are able to form bonds with one another and do some “talk therapy”. They can hear from others with experience in the fight and be encouraged as they are told “hey, this is what happened to you. This is what it is called. It happened to me and this is what I have learned.”

    I suspect that there may well be more help being given to victims and survivors here than we all might realize. It’s like when veterans who had been traumatized in the Vietnam War started getting together in small groups to talk about what had happened to them. Over time, people started listening to them. Maybe that will happen with all of us here. Maybe more people will start listening.

    But even if they don’t, we can come here and say, “let me tell you about the battle I was in 5 years ago, one Saturday night when it was like Satan himself paid me a visit….”.

    Hebrews 2:14-15 ESV
    (14) Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, (15) and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.

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


      Good analogy Jeff (and Judith). So the Vietnam Vets got together and started comparing stories about their kids. “Eh, so you’ve got a kid with a birth defect? So have I!” “What, you too?” and they start joining the dots to Agent Orange.

      So in places like here, DV Vets get together. And what is the Agent Orange that we find? Well, for starters, Agent GHD (God hates divorce) – which they discover is a toxic spray that was spreading a whole lot of baloney over Christendom for centuries…

    2. Jeff being a veteran of two wars myself I have been briefed about PTSD more then a few times. It a little ironic that I only have PTSD because of P&P and not because of war but that’s another story for another day. I know for a fact that this blog has saved my life. I think you are on to something when you say that we are a band of wounded warriors who are helping each other heal. I find this blog more helpful then therapy was and I have more friends on here then I have had in a very long time. Friends who understand my pain and want me to heal as much as I want them to heal. I love you, Barbara, Megan, Jeff S. and all the others on this blog so much and can’t wait to spend eternity in heaven (one day in the distant future 🙂 ) with all of you and our Wonderful Kinsmen Redeemer!

  15. LOL – I really like Beast better but Anti-Husband sends people for a mental spin so they can’t think to judge you as quick for your “bitterness”.

    Barbara that’s awful they gave you that book! Someone gave me that in the beginning of my hell. If we only didn’t love so much we would have been okay. Right…

    Memphis how horrible to use communion that way! Ugh.

    1. I have always liked anti-husband but when I was telling Wendell about the nicknames I made the connection between husband and husbandry and how these evil men have destroyed their gardens so I thought about Plague and Pestilence and really liked the ring of PP 🙂 It has a double affect.
      I wasn’t given any books but I was given an article about dealing with “Angry Husbands” and it was all about pacifying there anger because they can’t control it. I remember thinking “But he’s not an “angry husband” he is cold and calculated and love to torcher me and the children. He was actually quite happy with his life not angry” I felt like the article was excusing his behavior and accusing me of not being the wife I needed to be in order to squelch his anger.

  16. That is what is sooooo disturbing, these are the men courts give custody to. Same here, the MIW told me of how his “”Friend”” was up and at work the next day,,,and how this labor thing should be no big deal, he also punched the video camera out of my sister n laws hand, he was entitled to the status of FATHER but was a complete nightmare, was REALLY disturbing towards me over breast feeding, He check me out early also. and refused to let me go stay with my mom with a new baby, and also had other children at home, AND i was suppose to go straight back to work, regardless if he was employed at the time. Sleep was a luxury NO MATTER what, in his mind was not a necessity for me……I would also get so sick during pregnancy, he abused me because the smell of toast would make me vomitt!! He would just take off leaving me alone without any help, then acted all possesive and jealous if my family offer to visit.

    1. I had 6 weeks of paid leave so P&P couldn’t make me go back to work but he would let me “just lay around” either. I was always horribly sick with my all of my babies. I couldn’t stand the smell of raw meat so what does P&P do? He buys a ton of hamburger meat because “It was on sale” and insists that all he wants to eat for lunch and dinner is spaghetti! I was so dehydrated from all of the vomiting that the midwife put me on IV three times.

  17. I discovered during my marriage that online was a good place for me to meet people. I was so isolated in real life, I couldn’t connect with anyone at church etc. Online though, no matter what locked bedroom you’re hiding in somewhere, you can find other people with similar experience and it is helpful.
    I’m going to throw in my pinnacle war story: my hubby wouldn’t take me to the hospital when i went into labor with our third kid, and I ended up waiting in the car (hoping he would come out of the house so we could leave) and I gave birth in the front seat. You guys should have a “war “page where people can post the things that have happened to them that DON’T fall under physical violence – because it’s really hard to explain to church people sometimes that abuse doesn’t always = beatings

    1. Thanks for that good idea, Katy. I fear if we created a post for people to tell the all their non-physical abuse stories it would go on forever (the topic is so large). We already have a place for sexual abuse stories. But maybe a special place for pregnancy and birth stories would be a good idea. And maybe one for deprivation of essential needs. I’ll talk it over with the team.

    2. Oh Katy, That must have been so scary for you.

      Barbara or Megan, A post about birth related abuse would be helpful to me–even just an open ended post where we could share our stories. I have some incidents to share. Those are some of the incidents that I look back on and wonder if he ever really loved me at all. Who can act like that toward the woman who is giving birth to their child?

      1. We will publish a post about Pregnancy and Birth Issues very soon, so please everyone hold your stories until then.
        Should have said this before but … this blog is galloping and bubbling so fast, we don’t always discern the level of priorities clearly.

      2. I never had children with my abuser. But I know he would have enjoyed my pain. I believe he would insist I deliver without sedation. He enjoyed inflicting emotional pain on me, for that reason, I know he would enjoy seeing me suffer without relief in childbirth.

        I can completely understand the other stories posted on this thread. I know what these men (monsters) are capable of. My abusers weapon of choice was emotional abuse (he only tried to hit me once) but he would take advantage of every opportunity to inflict pain. What better time to attack a woman than when she is in labor.

  18. I’m new here Barbara – I haven’t explored everything so no worries! Thanks for all the work you have put into this, it’s a great site. 🙂

    1. Katy I am so very sorry for you 😦 I have been on this blog for a few month and have found that no matter what the topic of the article is if there is something is heavy on my mind I can bring it up and get support. I have a life time of abuse stories and most of them are not physical abuse. I had all three of my children in the hospital but P&P was no support to me and he even complained about me going into labor at night because he needed his sleep! He would then check me out of the hospital as soon as possible, take me home, and demand I keep up my normal routine around the house (cleaning, cooking, taking care of him and his various needs) he would never help me with the newborns nighttime feeding so that I could rest or keep the other children so that I could sleep. It was a total nightmare every time I gave birth until the baby would sleep though the night. He even tried to smother one of my babies because he wanted him to stop crying! Your stories are always welcome no matter what the subject of the article is and I am glad you have come to this blog.

      1. That’s right Bethany. We don’t tell people “Hey your comment does not belong on this thread, go to another thread!” Good grief, if we did that we would have never got the community that we have. Survivors often need to gush just when they’ve been reminded of something. Traumatic memories are not stored in neatly categorized drawers in the filing cabinet. They are like the Jumblies:—

        They went to sea in a Sieve, they did,
        In a Sieve they went to sea:
        In spite of all their friends could say,
        On a winter’s morn, on a stormy day,
        In a Sieve they went to sea!
        And when the Sieve turned round and round,
        And every one cried, ‘You’ll all be drowned!’
        They called aloud, ‘Our Sieve ain’t big,
        But we don’t care a button! we don’t care a fig!
        In a Sieve we’ll go to sea!’

        Far and few, far and few,
        Are the lands where the Jumblies live;
        Their heads are green, and their hands are blue,
        And they went to sea in a Sieve.

        (Edward Lear [Internet Archive link])

      2. Sorry, can’t help but quote the last two stanzas as well because they bespeak such eventual happiness. Maybe this is the Edward Lear version of the new heavens and new earth? (I don’t mean to be facetious about the glorious plan of God, but we all like to have a smile…)

        They sailed to the Western Sea, they did,
        To a land all covered with trees,
        And they bought an Owl, and a useful Cart,
        And a pound of Rice, and a Cranberry Tart,
        And a hive of silvery Bees.
        And they bought a Pig, and some green Jack-daws,
        And a lovely Monkey with lollipop paws,
        And forty bottles of Ring-Bo-Ree,
        And no end of Stilton Cheese.

        Far and few, far and few,
        Are the lands where the Jumblies live;
        Their heads are green, and their hands are blue,
        And they went to sea in a Sieve.

        And in twenty years they all came back,
        In twenty years or more,
        And every one said, ‘How tall they’ve grown!
        For they’ve been to the Lakes, and the Torrible Zone,
        And the hills of the Chankly Bore!’
        And they drank their health, and gave them a feast
        Of dumplings made of beautiful yeast;
        And every one said, ‘If we only live,
        We too will go to sea in a Sieve,—
        To the hills of the Chankly Bore!’

        Far and few, far and few,
        Are the lands where the Jumblies live;
        Their heads are green, and their hands are blue,
        And they went to sea in a Sieve.

      3. Barbara I love the poem! Thanks for posting it up here in its entirety I have always like the last stanza best 🙂

  19. My stbx is extremely good at the crocodile tears. We had an incident just last week where he tried to corner me on discussing our relationship, and I just refused to talk about it. Still took me a half a dozen tries to get it to stick.. anyways, when I refused to talk, he sat on my couch, crying silently, with this woe-is-me look, for all the world like a child who thinks the world is so unfair, because they have a bedtime. I ignored him for 30 minutes while he sat there feeling sorry for himself. For me, it was terrifying, because he can get himself so worked up he’ll switch to rage. But thankfully, he just got up and left, after a few more parting shots, like “I hope you can see where you’re wrong so we can talk” and “I choose to forgive again.” and “You need help.”

    1. Oh, friend. I have SO been there. 😦 And then you are the bad guy for not feeling anything anymore . . . you are “heartless” because his false tears no longer fool you, control you or move you. He is so manipulative . . . I am sorry you have to deal with that. 😦

  20. When I confronted anti-husband about flirting with a woman for months at one of our children’s sporting events he welled up with big ole tears and put on a quivering lip. Sniffle, sniffle. He was actually feeling sorry for himself and trying to deflect his sin! He never once apologized or repented.

    I’m liking the idea of having a code name (like Memphis, Bethany, & Barbara were talking about above) for this soul killer.

  21. I got a giggle from those of you who are celebrating your divorces. LOL. I am divorcing too but do not feel much like celebrating. In a few months that could change, who knows? 😀

  22. Oh my GOSH! The tears is how I got sucked back in! I really believed he was in tears because he missed me! Because he was SOOOOO heartbroken! I’m ashamed to say I fell for it! 😦

    1. Round*Two, well at least you now have that ploy high on your list of red flags to watch out for in the future! Now you have seen the ploy and are alert to it, I bet you’ll start noticing it in tv news programs, movies and all sorts of places. 🙂

  23. Okay, I cried when the verbal, emotional or physical abuse got to much for me to handle! But, I always thought it odd that he would cry (I mean hard sobs!) And I couldn’t figure out why?! I thought I was doing something wrong to him (although I wasn’t doing anything) I am also sure the alcohol contributed to it?!

    1. I also wanted to mention that when I cried or made any kind of movement while crying he would ‘mock me!’ Oh, I hated that! He would pretend cry and make the same movements I would make. It was soooo irritating!

  24. The Crocodile Tears showed up after a confrontation. “Oh how I was trying to not be like my abusive alcoholic dad! Oh how I tried to emulate Grandpa! Boo Hoo Hoo!” All of this the night after I was ready to leave for a few weeks. Three days later, the people who confronted him “had a few good points.” And that was it! It took another year or so for me to finally get out.

  25. Barbara,
    Yes, I am always on guard. I pay attention to things i otherwise would not have paid attention to a year or so ago! I am learning so much from this site!
    Also, I apologize for not making my comments at once. I’ll try to be more mindful of that!

  26. Mom played those crocodile tears as a smear campaign, bawling to others about how much I hated her and was refusing to talk to her when I was still calling, texting, and / or visiting multiple times per month.

    Due to some nonsense from her pastor (where he outright lied to my face and violated the rules of his own denomination—but that’s another issue), I’m supposed to be excommunicated from the OPC (which would also affect my standing in the PCA). Not that either denomination particularly cares about an unmarried young female who’s more interested in discussing theology and calling out hypocrisy than keeping her mouth shut and popping out babies for a husband.

    But that pastor, my mother, and my stepfather gave me grounds to potentially report all three of them for criminal negligence if not attempted murder & accessory thereof, so violating more rules of their denomination to keep me on the rolls is “protection” for them, something to “prove” I’m apostate if I go to the cops. (Which I’ve seriously considered doing anyway, but I need certain documentation in hand first, and that’ll take money I don’t have atm.)

    I am terrified for whoever my mother’s victimizing now, but I literally can’t do anything right now.

  27. My professing fake Christian leader abuser would turn on the waterworks for attention. He fake cried after a performance I did with a Christian vocal group. After the show people were gathering around us to congratulate us. He walked up to me and the group of women surrounding us with fake tears in his eyes. He was pretending to look like he was so proud of me and so touched by our performance that it brought tears to his eyes.

    The truth was he was irritated that I was getting any positive attention. He had to hog the limelight. When others saw him tearing up they wrongly believed he was such a sensitive guy and that he cared so much for me. I bought it also. Even though I always felt like something was off.

    It was a Win-Win for him. He knew how to work a room. He was the most pathetic manipulator. What a joke!! He could not stand that I was getting any positive affirmations at all. He had to try to get attention away from me and would do anything to get it.

    This was the first sign of his pathological jealously of anything that brought strength to my life and encouraged me. It was always a weird dynamic of fake concern but inward hate. So evil.

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