Two Valuable Lessons Learned in the School of Abuse

[The following article was submitted by one of our readers who learned these vital lessons through long trials of abuse.  Thank you for sharing them with us!]

I just wanted to share with you what I have learned this week, in the midst of meeting with the pastor of my church as well as all my reading.  I received the book Tired of Trying to Measure Up, along with Into Abba’s Arms and The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse.  So I am really on a roll! Amazing to me, how the church today says that you only need a Bible to be competent to counsel.

I am realizing, that after years and years of abuse, that we victims need to be able to master identifying “behaviors” in others in order to keep from choosing abusive people to have relationships with.  And we don’t learn those signs, necessarily, just from reading the Word. We can see in the Word how others are evil, but we do not learn the dynamics of their evil in order to identify them.

Those who are screaming “no psychology for any reason”, are those who are either too scared to deal with the abuse in their own lives, have never experienced abuse the way we have, or are abusers themselves.  Strong statement, but I can see how someone who has never dealt with abuse, could easily use only the Bible for their counsel.  However, for years and years and years I have tried to just read the Bible and pray and hope that things would change, believing that God can do anything.  Yes, He can, but . . . consider boundaries as an example.

I can now see that boundaries are established in the Bible in various places, but I never knew that’s what they were or that it would help me to establish them.  People still believe there should never be any boundaries because there are none in the Bible (they claim),  but I don’t see it that way.  Perhaps some people who are very smart may be able to read between the lines in the Bible and pick up certain distinctions in the evil people which will help them identify an abusive person.  But I could not.

I don’t believe that God objects to people getting help to aid them this way.  If the Bible was all we needed for all of life, then we should never see medical doctors either, including chiropractors, nor read any other book to aid us in life.  No commentaries or the writings of the Reformers or Puritans or famous men of the past, AND on Sunday morning, the pastor should do nothing else but read the Bible to the congregation!!  We know that does not happen, so why would it be that way when it comes to counseling?  I hate saying that because I believe that God is all I need and that His Word is likewise sufficient for my life, but I also need food, clothing and physical shelter all to survive and even though He provides that for me.  I don’t get it by just reading the Bible.  He has given me the other extras, to make my life more comfortable here.

I also am really learning about the binding of our consciences.  I am no longer going to share details of my life with anyone who is not there to help me through it all, including any pastor / elder / leader / friend.  Not out of rebellion, but because it is my own conscience and if theirs does not match mine, then I either leave them thinking they need to measure up to mine, or they leave me believing I need to accept theirs!  I don’t believe that is right.

If my interpretation of Scripture leads me to a certain conviction, and my heart does not tell me before God that I am in the wrong, then who is any other person to come along and tell me that I need to follow them instead?  I am free in Christ to have my own conscience determined by how I interpret the Word and what I believe is pure for my life as long as I am not twisting it or using it to make an excuse for my actions.

I am tired of having to feel like I am trying to convince someone that I love God and want to do His will.  It is like I am standing before judges who will decide whether I love God or not.  They do not know me, nor have they ever known me, and here I am on the judgment stand before them.  The greatest blow dealt to me was someone trying to take me from God just so they could do with me whatever they wanted to, including throw me away.

So, when it comes to the Word and abuse and divorce, etc., I finally feel free to make my own decision about all of it, as I stand before God, allowing Him to lead me in it.

Colossians 2:6-8 ESV   Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him,  rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.  See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.

14 thoughts on “Two Valuable Lessons Learned in the School of Abuse”

  1. The positive comments made here by an abuse victim seem to fall directly into line with the doctrine of common grace–the notion God restrains evil in the world by being gracious and generous (with knowledge of human behavior, for example) even toward unbelievers This may be one way to begin a good conversation with a religious leader who (wrongly) thinks that truth only comes from the Bible.

  2. It is so hard to put into words my reaction to this post, my feelings, my thoughts, my emotions….WOW!! and AMEN! God has given us the Spirit to guide us, yes using His Word, but also using and shaping our conscience, our convictions, our emotions. What right does anyone else have to question our convictions?

    Pastor Crippen said in one of his past sermons “Why should my liberty be defined by someone else’s conscience?” (I shouted AMEN to that question too.)

    The author of this post hit it head on. Thank you so much for sharing your lessons with us.

  3. When I finally started to realize the full extent of my tobe-x husband’s abuse, I asked God for guidance, and He led me to read tons of books, about this subject. They were mostly secular as there just seems to be more of them on this subject. Books such as “Why Does He Do That” and “Boundaries” (which is Bible-based) come to mind. There many, many others.

    The book of Proverbs lists numerous traits of evil doers and the establishing of boundaries in our lives. God makes so many paths open to the believer who asks. I marvel every day what God does…He is so creative and makes me smile and even laugh at times…the way He works in my life. But there are definitely some very dark days too. God never said that following Him would be easy…but it’s a lot easier than not following Him!

    And I agree about identifying abusive behaviour in others. People can be very cruel, and judgemental. I just find asking God every day about giving me wisdom, strength and courage helps so much…it’s a lot easier then to discern who will or will not understand me. I have told only three people at my church about my abuser and his tactics. Maybe in time I will trust others, but for now, regarding giving away any more information about the abuse.. uh uh, no way!

    I actually find people outside the church more understanding than those who attend…maybe it’s just me…maybe I just need to get to know the people in my church better as I’ve been at this church less than two months.

  4. I see your article as a call to listen to and use the gift of discernment and standing in the counsel of God you have received. Those of us who have been abused and are on the forefront of enlightening others, are often like Jesus when He hung on the cross, there were few supporters left to see Him crucified, but He did it, because of His love for us and His Father. There are many times in our lives when we have to take a stand with few if any to support us, for the good of those who follow us, in my case my children.
    We need to depend on the Great Love of the Father and ask Him to show us the beauty left in the ashes. It is important to know that it is not us that is being attacked but the Jesus in us the Spirit of God, being attacked by the enemy of our souls and also remembering that it is all finished, Jesus took it all and was victorious.
    Revealing abuse and letting the light shine into the darkness, is evidence of Gods love for us and we are light and salt. Those of us who have been set in front to lead the way out of this abuse are going to feel misunderstood, misrepresented and disappointed, just as the other historical reformers, like Luther, King James, Martin Luther King, Caroline Chisholm and all the other greats of history who brought about not only Biblical reform but social reform. Be encouraged that if you are being resisted you are not being ignored, you will make progress and the truth will be revealed. Also we are now in the times of 7 women to one man, the odds are in our favour to bring about equity, we just have to unite and get the word out, which is why this site is such a blessing. God is mighty in bringing down strongholds.
    If you are not accepted where you are going to church find a place where you will be celebrated, accepted and loved.

  5. I find that now that I have my freedom back I protect it with violence. I really resent anyone who dares to try and tell me how to think. This may be a phase I am going through but I think it is a self-preservation tactic that is necessary right now.

    1. I agree with you. When I first separated from my verbally abusive husband and then left my church I went through an anger stage because I felt people were trying to manipulate and coerce me into staying with my husband. But they didn’t have to live with him. I now refer to it as my righteous indignation phase, which I think is normal as a form of self preservation as you say, but it also gives us the opportunity to get rid of all the ‘NO’s’ we were unable to express whilst under the oppression. What i have also found with myself, it helped me to deal with the guilt i was feeling and actually totally eradicated it in the process, as well as dealing with compromise. Now my Yes is a Yes and my No is a NO: don’t argue with me, or try to manipulate me, or i walk. Negotiation is a different story, because negotiation takes everyones feelings into consideration and encourages agreement. Manipulation wants to steam-roll, bully and control, and thats not on, at all in my home. Praise God.

  6. I was a doormat for a very long time. Now that I’m so much stronger, this sense of knowing who would bully me or put me down kicks in very quickly. I either confront them in a controlled and decisive way or just simply avoid them.

    1. That Colossians 2 passage quoted at the end of this article sounds a whole bunch like a command from the Lord for us to set boundaries! Yet somehow all the the fog and nonsense of man-made traditions has got us all thinking that saying “no, you cannot speak to me in that manner” is un-Christian! Reality check! Jesus nailed a whole bunch of people when He was on earth. “Woe to you….!” “You are of your father, the devil!” People tried to manipulate Him (like his siblings) and he said “no….these are my family…”. Jesus said no a lot. He drew all kinds of boundaries and we are called to do the same. Good job on this article!!

  7. In struggling to pray for my enemies, i.e., those who have done me harm and refuse to make it right, I was given this prayer from someone else who suffered abuse: May the Lord bless you and keep you . . . away from me!

  8. From the original post:

    ….If the Bible was all we needed for all of life, then we should never see medical doctors either, including chiropractors, nor read any other book to aid us in life. No commentaries or the writings of the Reformers or Puritans or famous men of the past, AND on Sunday morning, the pastor should do nothing else but read the Bible to the congregation!! We know that does not happen, so why would it be that way when it comes to counseling?….


    The Holy Spirit also led me through a multitude of online resources, memoirs in book form, sermons exposing false doctrine / twisted Scripture, and many different Bible translations.

    I learned snippets of information that were true, and some that were patently false.

    I had people try to bind my conscience.

    I had people outright lie to me.

    I had people label me incorrectly.

    I have found a book that might cover the complexity of my circumstances, but it is aimed at a vastly different audience. And I am not sure whether or not the target audience would find information helpful in knowing the questions to ask someone like me.

    I KNOW I am not the only one with very complex issues to identify accurately. I KNOW I am not the only one to take a convoluted path to understanding and healing.

    If I could, I would scream from the rooftops in righteous anger.

    Maybe God can find me a rooftop.

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