A Cry For Justice

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

In opening my mind to my husband, I opened myself up to horrific scarring. A gaslighting story by Urszula

This story was submitted by Urszula in response to Katy’s comment on Kathy’s story about how pre-marital counselling kept her entrenched in an abusive marriage.  It is such a powerful story of abuse that rather than publishing it on that thread, we are publishing it as a stand-alone post.

Just so you have the context, here is Katy’s comment again:

Any man who says that women are emotional and men are logical has never met any of the women I work with. :) This totally disregards all women who live in the realm of science and operate on a logical basis all day long – every day – it’s our personality. Not that we don’t have feelings – but everyone has feelings. Men who say stuff like that I would automatically assume are abusive or just stone cold ignorant.

My husband also decided that “our problem” was a lack of communication (on my part) and a lack of respect for him (on my part again). Interesting. This is the same man who snuck around behind my back, and took out an unsecured loan from the bank for $10k so that his sleazy coworker could put in a pool at his house. When I found out about it I was never allowed to bring it up again or I was threatened. I wasn’t allowed to ask if the dirtball was making the payments or if we were stuck with it. I never brought it up to taunt him – I was too scared for that.
And my dad told me not to ask him about it, because clearly my husband must be embarrassed by my questions and it was making him flip out – so the message to me was that I had to shut my mouth permanently.

I tell you what – I’ll never shut my mouth again. I’ll never be that kind of slave ever again – I’ll use my God-given brain and LOGIC which is as good as any man’s, and I won’t be told to shut up because I am a woman. EVER. again.

Now, over to Urszula:           Trigger Warning: complex psychological abuse

Huzzah, Katy!  You brought some invigorating spirit to my heart and made me want to get to my feet and cheer!  Thank you for your courage and resilience!  You are quite the inspiration – and I know I am not alone in feeling that.

I am so sorry that you have had to endure what you have – and I’m only more impressed and awed by your strength.  I’m especially sorry to hear that you were told to keep silent by other men in your life, as well.  I am so glad you are silent no longer.

It’s especially apt that Megan C just posted a new entry about gaslighting, because I was actually going to touch on that in response to your message.  I, too, will never, ever be the servile, passive, mute shell of a creature my husband forced me – for a short while – to become.  It makes me sick to think that I played that role for even a second.  I did stand up for myself at times – but each time I did, I was only brought lower than before.  Eventually, it expended too much mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual energy to fight.  And that’s how my silence began.

But the funny thing about silence, in my situation, was that – though it was the position of subordination I was coerced to assume – it, too, became a stance that was exploited as “justification” for abuse.

Early on, I allowed myself to be vulnerable with the Pokraka (monster).  I would confess my dearest hopes, my greatest fears.  I was honest about my pain.  He was patient.  He stored up the knowledge of all of these facets of my humanity, perverted them into arsenal to be launched against me.  Pretty soon, the things that I would mention he would deem crazy – my belief in the importance of education and my philanthropic endeavors were re-labeled “selfish,” and any emotional reaction I had – no matter how great or small – deemed “irrational.”  “Histrionic.”  Even “stupid.”  Before long, any time I would try to confront him on a deep wrong he had committed against me – oftentimes wrongs committed in public with other witnesses – he would discount my memory, tell me that what I remembered had never happened.  He would look at me like I was crazy.  I began to doubt the integrity of my memory, my mind, . . .  my sanity.

Usually, such “delusional memories” of mine were of incredibly traumatic events that had left me utterly devastated and bruised.  They were memories of being utterly abandoned by my husband as he transformed into a beast – perpetrating physical and verbal atrocities against me for hours at a time.  I remember being huddled on the floor in a fetal ball.  I remember how tight the corner was that I dragged myself into.  I remember thinking I was going to pass out because my dry heaves were choking the air right out of my lungs.

So I tried not to mention these things ever again.  If I mentioned them, I was “stupid,” “too emotional,” and “childish.”  But then . . . if life remained too calm for a while, if I maintained a position of “unflappable, steady wife,” my husband would find a way to make things explode.  He liked to see me dance as he shot bullets at my feet.  And so, if I kept silent for too long, he would broach the subject.  He would tell me that I was creating problems in our marriage by not communicating with him.  And he would push and push until all of our past issues were again brought to the surface.  He would rage and throw things.  Push me.  At which point, while I stood there crying and shaking and pleading with him to stop, he would suddenly pause . . . smirk . . . and say, “See?  I helped you get that out, didn’t I.  Don’t you feel better now that you’re communicating with me?  I feel so much closer to you.”

If I shared my feelings, I was “too sensitive” or my reactions were demeaned as “stupid,” “selfish,” and “immature.”  If, however, I tried to sidestep the minefield – keep my composure, my silence, and the peace – I was accused of ruining our relationship by failing to communicate.  And then I would be provoked and demeaned until I was brought so low that I had no choice but to defend myself.  Whereupon that smirk would begin to play across his lips.  He knew he had me–one way or another. . . .

If, during these “conversations,” I would ever indicate that I remembered a particularly traumatic incident that HE alluded to (with the sole purpose of hurting me, of course), he would suddenly pretend that I had been the one to broach that topic, that he had no recollection of this abusive event ever occurring.  I would be flabbergasted.  Speechless.  Quaking with fear and confusion and a paralyzing sense of futility.

Afterwards, he would proceed to tell me the “real story,” what I had in fact purportedly said and done – things, of course, that were utter fabrications on his part.  But I was surrounded by too impenetrable a fog of abuse and manipulation to always recognize that.  I just saw myself through his eyes, as the stranger he portrayed me as – a vastly unsettling, schismatic experience that made me ask God if I’d ever truly known who I was.

One time, the Pokraka attempted to gaslight me in this way in front of his own family.  We were all sitting peaceably in the living room.  I was shocked.  The leer playing across his lips was sheer evil.  I finally said, in front of everyone, and in as steady a voice as I could muster, “You’re lying.”

His response?  A deeper smirk and the words, “I know.”

My own family caught the Pokraka in a few of these machinations of his.  They didn’t say anything at the time, though, because they didn’t realize the significance of his lies.  They didn’t realize how intricately were these seemingly innocent slips complicit in his manipulation of my very world.  My family will tell me today that, while he fabricated lie after lie about our lives, or about me, it was like he was talking about a completely different person.  Like he didn’t know who I truly was.  Everything he said about me was so antithetical to the person I have always been committed to being. . .  Even now, I often wonder if such delusions were purposefully perpetrated to disorient me and control me, or else whether they were manifestations of another brand of psychosis.  Was he so insane he could never really see beyond the fantasy he himself had created in my stead?  Maybe it’s a little of both.

The upshot of this lifestyle is that my memory feels deeply compromised.  To this day (and this is partly due to the PTSD from which I suffer), I can’t remember much of my marriage.  Either situations were too emotionally difficult to process (and the memory loss represents therefore an instinctive suppression, a mechanism of survival), or else too mentally risky to acknowledge.  I was always afraid: if my capacities were indeed so faulty, perhaps it would be better not to remember things than to later be pilloried for misremembering them.  For the first time in my life, I was made to feel dumb and untrustworthy.  It’s a scary thing to be made to feel so alone–and then to wonder, in your isolation, whether you can even have faith in yourself.

It’s all incredibly ironic because, for years, I’ve worked for a non-profit organization that seeks to cultivate empathy in children and young people.  We encourage youth to open their minds to other opinions and viewpoints.  But it was in so laying vulnerable my own mind to the perspective of my husband that I opened myself up to horrific scarring.  I never should have given his views of me the credence I initially lent them.  I should have seen that while he was raging at me for “controlling” him and “trapping” him with my emotions, I was the one being controlled and trapped.  I have learned a very valuable lesson, and I am a better mentor to these young people because of it.

I applaud and embrace you, Katy.  Keep talking.  Keep making noise.  As Megan C. so beautifully referenced: “For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”  2 Timothy 1:7


  1. bright sunshinin' day

    Thank you Katy for using your God-given brain and mouth for good. Urszula, how precious that you feel safe to share on this blog…a testimony to the ACFJ team to protect us and help us find other true brothers and sisters (like you found Katy)! And the lesson you learned the hard way to help these young people to be safe by not giving the “monsters” ammunition to use against them, priceless! God bless your ministry!

    What you’ve described is nothing short of “In-home Holocaust.” God set Corrie ten Boom free and He set you free! Galatians 5:1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.

    • Urszula

      Oh, how aptly that does describe the reign of tyranny and orchestrated fear that was my terrorized existence! Thank you for your astute depiction, Bright!

  2. I was at a loss for words to respond to Urszula’s story, and then you provided them BrightSD: “In-home Holocaust.” Perfect!

    The SMIRK. Oh how I know the smirk. The smirkers in my life were never as snake-wicked extreme as yours was, Urszula. But your story reminded me of some little things and helped me join some dots.
    My first husband remembered all the confidential disclosures I’d made to him over the years of our marriage, and used them all against me in court during the custody battle. One of my very personal disclosures I had actually drawn pictures about (as part of my recovery journey) and he took those pictures to his lawyer straight after I walked out of the family home and got a protection order against him. He knew what would best ‘stick it up me’ in court, and he wasn’t wasting any of his opportunities! Those pictures were gold to him, to discredit my character to the judge. I don’t know whether the judge ever eyeballed those pictures; they were drawn on a big scroll of butchers’ paper, and he may never have unrolled that scroll. He certainly never mentioned them during the court hearing, and neither did my husband’s legal team. I figured that God closed the mouths of the lions.

    My second husband, in the last unraveling days of that marriage, tried to ‘psychoanalyze’ me as a red herring diversion tactic, when I was attempting to rebuke him for some his cruel words and selfish behaviors. He brought up my recent mention of a trigger/fear I’d confided to him, and tried to relate it to my childhood sexual abuse (which of course I’d told him the story of) and to twist it to make out that I was reacting not to his unacceptable behavior, but to my childhood sexual abuse that was still triggering me. I saw through his ruse immediately, but it dismayed me that he would even have tried it on — when surely he knew me well enough to know that his tactic would never work on me, I would not buy it. Shows how close he knew it was to the end, and how desperate he was to fog me up so I wouldn’t see that the wheels were about to fall off.

    • AJ

      Great post ladies. Just like the haulocast we did not recognize the danger that motivated the confusing actions that we saw. So we open our hearts and minds to extensive damage. Germany welcomed hitler before they recognized his intentions too.

      Also good point Barbara. My spouse has read my journals and repented of said reading over and over. He mistook a letter I wrote to my kids as a suicide letter (I wrote it before I had surgery in case things went badly). Thankfully he mentioned his “concern” about my mental health relating to this letter before I asked for a divorce. I was able to remove all of my journals from the house in case he were to try to use them against me.

  3. Change My Body...Change My Life

    Thank you for sharing this painful story. I needed some reminders about why I have recently ended my marriage – chilling, effective reminders. God Bless.

    • Urszula

      I’m so glad to hear it! I originally found this blog as I myself sought out those essential reminders about my condition. Although I would never wish any of these horrific experiences on anyone, it touches me to know that, in recognizing the mutuality of our situations, you’ve gained some clarity and (hopefully!) some needed peace. One day, our collective stories will clarify these abuses to the world. Meanwhile, as we seek healing and peace, I do not believe that we should seek forgetting. For our in-home holocausts, too, we must “never forget.” There is strength in recollection that nurtures perception, strength in our vocal fraternity.

  4. Dayflower


    Thank you for this. That is so close to what I experienced also. I also fought back at first, but then stopped – to keep the peace, but of course it didn’t work. My monster always had to be right, and I am starting to realize how often I was gaslighted. I don’t remember much of my marriage either – my therapist told me it is probably my mind’s way of protecting itself. But it feeds into what he always told me – that I have a bad memory ( I didn’t before him!) and that I’m not logical, things I say make no sense, I have “mommy logic” -and I am now wondering if the times I could not find an item – car keys for example – if he actually was the one to hide them to trick me.

    I’m still fighting my way back. The physical intimidation got so bad that when I prayed to God he told me clear as day I needed to get out of my marriage. I am so grateful for that. And once my older two children realized I was seeing the abuse for what it was – they begged me to get out and divorce him. I have a great therapist and now a support group too. But the conditioning I was subject to is so strong. I know the abuse is not my fault…but I still worry I caused it. I know I couldn’t have, but he conditioned me so well you see, for everything to always come back to me. And I can’t shake that feeling yet.

    • Urszula

      Praying for you, Dayflower!! I have grappled with many of the same psychological ramifications of the conditioned gaslighting you mention, as well. Stay strong and hopeful!

  5. Debbie Prce

    When i was married to my abuser… he told my sister that “if I did not agree to what he was saying (about whatever it was) that I needed to pray and ask God to show me that he(the abuser) was right!”
    Isn’t that crazy… that he thought that “he was always right!” His way or else!

  6. As I See It Only

    This story reminded me of some things I had forgotten–how he used whatever hopes, dreams, wishes I shared with him–against me, making sure none of them ever happened, however small or easy to achieve. But guess what? I just found out that this trigger has been disconnected. Now those actions/inactions are only more proof of who he is. Thanks for showing me how far I have come.

    • Memphis Rayne

      Yep I see that the big set up is when they draw you in to a certain comfort zone just long enough to acquire information they can abuse you with later. The MIW was the master, I see now that even ITS inability to keep a job was directed at attacking me. How irritated IT would get if I found ANY comfort or stability or security. Grant it I know now those things do not come from a spouse, but if they are NOT evil people they want to provide those things out of sheer love for their families. Nonetheless If the MIW spotted any of the safety security happiness in me, IT would immediately throw itself into a tiraid. IT never smirked, IT was a SNARL attached to a seeting look of disgust towards me. Espescially if I was attempting to pray, or be apart of something other than being doormatt/prisoner. OOOOH! now i understand why the MIW was sooo agitated over GOD. Yet IT could on a dime convieniantly praise God (who was an insane thorn in the MIWs side) when he needed people to see him as a broken vessel that only needed some love. So demented? God was a threat to the MIW, just like my children, ANTHING that took the focus away from the MIW was in ITS mind the thing that needed to be taken from me. Most likely why IT wanted me dead, except I suppose then nobody would feel sorry for IT got caught. So the calculated cruelty was always center stage. I was put on notice EVERYDAY of my life since I knew this beast. Either sublte looks or gestures, hiding moving things I needed for daily survival, making snyde comments about me in private or public, (unless in church, then the MIW sang my praises), IT would come home and make comments to me about what “”Other”” people said about me, letting me subtly know A) Im talking about you B) people already dont like you, so you better keep your mouth shut C) You should live in fear and Im going to breed paranoia in you D) “they” say your this or that, and “”they” will aligh with me.

      In fact everytime the police where called to our home because of the MIWs actions, It immediately would run out to great them, trying to buddy up, set the stage, act as if everything is cool its just the “wife”” is too emotional or upset over something very minimal etc.

      So that same scenerio flooded the halls at church, men running into other men who had some sort of authority within church, setting the stage, making sure their story was first in line, manipulating the thoughts of anybody that would pause to listen. Even though the MIW could be an obvious hot headed malicious person, at church people seem to be drawn to the contrast between BIG GRUFF OVERBEARING GUY vs. DEFLATED LONELY BROKEN BEAST? They inhaled it all in as if their lives where at stake? yet many women not just myself, where beaten down, homeless, crying in pain, had no resources to feed their own children, and this was a CONSISTANT pattern, a CONSISTANT state of being, and they get put out as if they caused all their mans troubles. ….wait a minute? …..yeeya? ….hold on!!…..Im getting nauesiated again!

      Maybe they think, as if thinking is really involved here…..but perhaps the thought is “”We do not need to help the victom, we are helping the victom by supporting her spouse in his time of need because if we help HIM then we are in effect helping HIS family?” “”In the meantime our church resources are for those REALLY in need, and if we just ignore the wife and kids existance and throw our focus on this troubled soul, THEN we are in fact helping the family””

      One problem with that, they are helping the abuse to continue, in the meantime people are homeless, hungry, and forced to get shelter from the person that is witholding it, and where they should get help is the church, but MORE times than not because of the shame they are made to endure because of lack of support, they and CHILDREN have to turn to the state or shelters, and the church looks down on that too? What a freak show it all has become!!

      Incoming truth serum, anti-fog spray, ……clown outfit!

      I definately relate, as you can tell to the usage of “Holocost” and its REALLY time for the uprising to begin = ) I want to reassure everyone I do know the difference between vengeance and justice, and I have NEVER had a vengeful heart, even towards the MIW,,,so the Resident Evil Costume will remain in the closet.

      I am just REALLY anxious and looking forward to an epic sea of change!!! i wanna still be around when it comes about.

    • AISIO, thanks for the words “this trigger has been disconnected.” I LIKE them.

  7. Katy

    Oh my goodness – I didn’t see Urszula’s response to my comment until now – it’s always good to read that we’re not alone. In-home holocaust is right. Urszula! You are a survivor! And maybe you don’t need to remember all the details in order to live the next part of your journey? Maybe it’s enough to know that it happened, so you can avoid more of it in the future or help someone else?
    I have been pondering the God-given part of our minds that tries to protect us by erasing memories….
    God says in heaven there will be no more sadness or tears. That makes me think that the memories will have to be erased somehow. If God is going to right every wrong and wipe every tear, there’s got to be some “clearing of the slate” happening.? It’s the same idea with sin – God says he clears our slate, washes us clean, and no longer “remembers” our past sins when we come before Him. (Sorry I can’t quote chapter and verse, my Bible memorization is bleh)
    And yes, I regret telling my ex so many private thoughts and experiences. But we can’t know in the beginning that we are whispering all of our hearts into the ear of Satan. But God saw everything. 🙂

  8. Jeff Crippen

    In being targeted by these tactics, I saw an interesting and revealing thing about the abuser. He could “remember” something I allegedly did 15 years ago, and even tell me my motives for doing it, but would claim that something HE did one week before was something he had no memory of. It finally dawned on me that the 15 year old scenario NEVER happened, that I was not evil, that I was not guilty. It gave me insight into how this kind of monstrosity of a mind works. No conscience. To deal with them, you have to be able to confidently say “everything you are accusing me of is a lie. And you are intentionally lying in order to harm me. I reject everything you are saying.”

    • Anonymous

      Just talked about this exact thing this week in counseling. Blaming me for things I had never done, years ago, making me think I was crazy for not remembering them, and then making me think he must have some disease, because he could not remember something he had said/done an hour ago! It was relayed to me, that this type of person may actually live their life out in their head like a game of “charades”. They make it up, and then play it out on the stage of their own desires for power and control in life. But it isn’t the truth, nor the reality of where we truly live, but we victims are the ones left confused and upset by it all, examining ourselves, instead of the evil one doing this to us.

      Sad thing is, that it takes someone who has come out of the fog, to be able to stand against some of these sick tactics and most victims that are coming out, are not yet strong enough to actually be able to stand and be strong as you indicate you were able to do, Ps. Crippen. It is so evil, isn’t it? As a Christian, I tend to do self-analysis when someone says I have done something wrong. As a victim of repeated abuse, I tend to think the people accusing me are seeing something I am blind to in myself, because I am such a rotten human being, in comparison to everyone else, so I continue to fall prey to their sick tactics.

      • Jeff Crippen

        It took me quite some time to sort it out too though. I gave several apologies to these types when I should never have apologized for anything! I am thinking about going back to a couple of them and telling them that I am taking my apologies back.

      • Anonymous

        LOL. Let us all know how that goes. You may just start a parade of people doing that!

      • Jeff S

        “As a Christian, I tend to do self-analysis when someone says I have done something wrong. As a victim of repeated abuse, I tend to think the people accusing me are seeing something I am blind to in myself, because I am such a rotten human being, in comparison to everyone else, so I continue to fall prey to their sick tactics.”

        This is me exactly. I would always rather believe that I am the problem and one of my greatest fears is failing to see some problem in myself because I don’t want to be a hypocrit. I know in my head I should trust myself more than I do, but I can’t make my heart do it. I’m just scared to death of other people being hurt by my failures.

      • Kagi

        This, yes. I have this problem as well. If it me, then it is something I have control over and can change, I think is part of the underlying thinking that makes me susceptible to this.

    • Jeff S

      FWIW, in my case my ex brought up stuff that was true from 15 years back, but that wasn’t that bad (and yes, she couldn’t remember the recent stuff she did). She had an epiphany that it was my controlling nature that caused her to be like she was, and her two examples were pretty minor incidents I recall very clearly from our dating relationship.

  9. K

    “He liked to see me dance as he shot bullets at my feet.”

    Wow, what a powerful image. You are very eloquent, Uszurla.

    • I agree, K, and that’s one reason I wanted to publish Urszula’s comment as a stand alone post, so we could all appreciate it like fine wine.

  10. Amy

    I don’t even have words…this post really triggered me emotionally…perhaps it’s the one-too-many glasses of wine tonight, but this post took me back years ago to all the crazy-making.
    Do we ever truly heal from spending decades with someone who lacks empathy and keeps us locked in a spin cycle of craziness?
    Oh how grateful I am to be married now to an amazing, loving, caring man and to be living in a healthy relationship.
    I thank God daily for rescuing me from an abusive marriage that was causing a slow death in my soul.

    • Gee this thread is yielding good phrases!
      First ‘in-home holocaust’.
      And now ‘locked in a spin cycle of craziness’. Thank you, Amy!

      I have found that if I ask Jesus to share the triggered feelings with me, he takes the momentum out of it gradually and I feel more healed each time. It’s like handing him the other end of a wildly spinning rope. I’m at one end and as he takes the other end he absorbs the kinetic energy.

      • Amy

        Yes, Barbara, Jesus does heal us! I honestly don’t know how I would have come out of that destructive first marriage without the help of God.

        I’m feeling lately such a pull to tell my story, and mostly to my sons. They are 18 and 21 and their father has told them so many lies about me. They both live with me and my new husband, and are doing really well in the past several months, but when my oldest moved in with us a year ago he became verbally attacked me one night saying how he was tired of hearing my lies and had just spent six hours with his dad who told him all this stuff about me. I was flabbergasted as we had always had a great relationship.

        I would love to hear from others about whether it’s good to talk to your kids about all the crap that went on or let it rest.

      • Personally, I would say it’s best to talk to your kids now rather than put it off, so long as you frame what you say to make it age-appropriate for them. Your sons being the ages they are, they can be told pretty much all of it, Amy. What would be a good reason for putting off such a talk? The risks of delaying such conversations seem to far outweigh any benefits. What benefits could there be in not talking, unless perhaps there was a custody battle in process and you didn’t want to be seen as ‘contaminating’ the children’s minds?

        I have observed that victims who keep it all secret and don’t tell their kids the truth about the abuse, tend to lose their kids loyalty. The abuser wins the kids to his viewpoint (his lies) and the kids believe him because they have no other information. Then they end up attacking you the good parent. And it’s hard to influence them once it’s gone that far. And you end up feeling even more lonely.

      • Amy

        I think you’re right, Barbara…”…the kids believe him because they have no other information.”
        I’ve never said much to my boys over the past four years since my ex left and that was mainly because I was trying not to come across as the parent who was condemning the other. Yet in my not speaking up and sharing what had happened over the years in the marriage, but not speaking out against the crap my ex did while we were separated, my kids only knew what their father told them. But in the beginning so many from my church, including their youth group leaders, said how the boys needed to still honor their father and respect him, so they were kind of pushed to keep contact with him and I see now how all that must of been confusing to them.

        And I now see where neither of my boys had any chance to really heal from the abuse they too endured from their father. I was separated and could start living again, but the boys felt they had to continue seeing their father and were still dealing with his verbal and mental abuse when they were with him.
        I stayed in that marriage for twenty years mainly because I heard over and over how it was better for the kids to have two parents rather than a broken home. Now I see how warped that thinking is. And forcing or highly recommending that children stay in contact with their abuser because they should still honor their parent or show them respect is ridiculous.

        As far as talking with my boys, my hesitation is about not wanting them to feel they are in the middle between their father and me and that all I’m doing is bad mouthing their father.

      • Amy, I get that.
        It’s one of the polylemmas that survivors face: to tell or not to tell. To ‘badmouth’ the other parent, or to keep silent and not let them know any details of the abuse and lies that the other parent is doing. Like I said, I think it is far better to tell the kids.

        Here’s a tip I have found: Rather than think of it as ‘badmouthing’ — a negative term — think of it as ‘truth telling’, because that’s what it is. The whole house of cards of abuse thrives in secrecy and darkness. Exposing it to the light and telling the truth about it is GOOD. It’s godly. It’s not sinful. It’s a way of standing against wrong and for righteousness.

        An abuser criticises his victim and labels whatever she (or he) does with negative labels. “She’s lying.” “She’s badmouthing me.” “She’s trying to wear the pants.” “She’s exaggerating.” “She’s controlling.” But all those labels are lies, bullying and manipulation. He is labeling her negatively because he is fighting the principle of truth and resisting taking any personal responsibility for his defective character.

        Just because the abuser makes dishonest cricticisms of his victim, doesn’t mean the victim cannot be allowed to make honest criticism of the abuser. I encourage you to turn the tables, retake the ground, and stand in the light. Remember, the first piece of spiritual armor Paul tells us to put on is The Belt of Truth.

      • And I understand the desire to prevent the kids feeling they are int hte middle between their father and you. But what other options are there? They either believe his lies because they know no other information, or they are informed of his lies and abuse, and then they have other options. Your boys are of an age where they are past the black and white moral thinking of the 9-12 year olds. They can see shades of grey. They can choose to opt out and stand apart from the conflict by saying “Dad, that’s your opinion, it’s not necessarily my opinion. And I don’t want you to push your opinion on me. So if you start demanding that I listen to you carry on about how bad mum is, I’m going to walk away.” (what a good skill to learn, eh?) Or they can choose to defend you to their father. You can help them see and understand their options, without telling them which option to chose. That is good parenting. You won’t be asking them to take your side or get in the middle.

        If the kids are ‘in the middle’ it is because the abuser puts them there. Particularly post-separation, abusers often use the children like pawns, like tools in his arsenal of abuse, like message sticks to send denigrating messages back to the ex-spouse. It is the abuser who tries to push the kids into the middle like that; it isn’t you doing that, Amy it is your ex doing it. So don’t blame yourself that the kids may feel ‘in the middle’. It isn’t your doing.

      • Amy

        Thank you again, Barbara. Your words of wisdom spoken from experience mean a great deal to me…as does this blog.

        I don’t have much time right now, but wanted to comment on this statement you made in your last post…”If the kids are ‘in the middle’ it is because the abuser puts them there.”

        After my ex left and someone would say something to the effect of being careful not to put the kids in “the middle”, I would make the comment that it wasn’t me doing that, it was their father. And it was true…it IS true.
        He would tell lies, say things about me, do whatever he could to win the kids to his side. He’d tell them little things like how we never saw eye to eye on finances (which is not true, he was just controlling over the money) and how that was a big part of our marital problems and he’d even do the whole, “I still love your mother so much” making them think that the divorce was all my fault. I don’t know everything he has told them, but I can make some pretty good guesses from the things I’ve seen him write to them on FB and in emails. He used to say things to me like, “since I know all you want is a divorce…” or “I suppose you still want your divorce…”, so I can only assume that he told our boys that all their mom wanted was a divorce and refused to try and work things out, which my oldest has implicated to me in some things he has said in the past year.
        So, I do agree that it is their father who has put them in “the middle” in a sense.

        I guess part of my issue too with sitting down and talking with my boys is just the fear that they will reject me. That they will get angry at me. At times when I have tried to say something and speak up against something their father has told them, they seem irritated at me and don’t want to hear it, so I stop and just don’t say anything.
        I’ve also had so many people tell me how over time not to say anything because as they get older the boys will see their father for who he really is and learn the truth of what happened. But I often say to them, how can you know the truth when all you hear are the lies?

      • I guess part of my issue too with sitting down and talking with my boys is just the fear that they will reject me. That they will get angry at me. At times when I have tried to say something and speak up against something their father has told them, they seem irritated at me and don’t want to hear it, so I stop and just don’t say anything.

        Amy, it’s good you have that insight. Fear of rejection is what motivates us victim/survivors quite a lot of the time, I think. And ironically, we fear rejection so we don’t tell the truth, but because we keep silent and don’t tell the truth the abuser’s lies are believed by our family and friends — so they reject us anyway. 😦

        If your boys get angry at you it is probably because they have been so brainwashed by their dad to see you as the ‘baddie’. It might help that whenever you telling them a piece of truth, you point out that they don’t have to see it your way, they are free to have their own viewpoints — but likewise 🙂 you are free to have your own viewpoint. And they mustn’t try to condemn you for having your own views, because if they do that, they would be bullying you like their father did. And would they really want to do that?

        I’ve also had so many people tell me how over time not to say anything because as they get older the boys will see their father for who he really is and learn the truth of what happened. But I often say to them, how can you know the truth when all you hear are the lies?

        Yeah, I got that comment from bystanders too, and like you, I doubted it. In my daughter’s case she DID eventually see who her father was, when he abused her in a heinous way. But it was an awful way for her to have to awaken to his wickedness. I would not wish that on anyone. It enabled me to pull the plug on visitation, but what an awful way for that to come about!

        It took about 6 months after the heinous event for her mind to wrap itself round the ginormous re-adjustment and change from thinking he was the good parent to realising he was the bad parent. In that six or more months she flip flopped between “I miss Daddy, I love Daddy! When can I see him again?” and “How could he have hurt me like that!!! How could he DO that to me!!!” But despite the fact that she eventually made the adjustment, she did not really see me as a fully okay person till she was 23 years old. He had so deeply trained her to think badly of me and to resist my influence and guidance that she was in varying levels of rebellion against me throughout her teens. It was hard. Her rejection: I felt it, yes indeed. Whenever she chose to rebel and resist, that was her own choice, I’m not taking away her personal responsibility, and my parenting was certainly not always good :(, but I think that her father’s training (brainwashing her against me) had a pretty profound effect on what she was like during those post-visitation teenage years.

        When a child goes on visitation and the sole topic of conversation she has with her father is “How bad Mummy is”, that has to have an effect. And that’s what she reported many times to me about her visits to her father.

  11. Memphis Rayne

    Im just jumping in here so I apologize if I am off mark. I taught my kids what the truth was about ABUSE, they read this blog, they take what they read and hold it up to the truth, of what they have seen, what they hear around them at school, church, home….they have been around the dynamics involved in abuse, and most importantly for me, my mission as a parent was to teach them to think critically, for themselves, respecting others but listening to what is already in them, before they just take what somebody else says is truth. Its so hard to speak the truth in that situation, because to anyone on the outside it looks and sounds like you are bad mouthing, just like the abuser. But doesnt that happen in the church arena also? Amongst all the “grown ups” we are expected to trust and respect? Kids deserve SO much more than the fog, they can only walk in truth if they know the truth. For my kids they have the unfortunate witnessing of, and the being the target of……and STILL even in there pain they miss the idea of Dad, and it is heartbreaking (then my incoming anger strolls on in)…I also grew up as one of those kids, and I hated when my mom made excuses to me for my dads bad behavior, I felt my only sense of security (her) was aligning with the enemy, and I did hate her for that. I also remember feeling sick inside when we were older and she would say bad things about him, didnt matter how I felt about him personally, but I did not like ethier parent talking badly about the other. My son hates any mention of him, my daughter does not react so strongly, but then at the same time I KNOW they are sad over what SHOULD of been, and what COULD of been. Bottom line is, we do the best we can to avoid the inevitable train wreck, the incoming debris from an abuser, and the victom who is struggling as it is to survive has that glorious job of trying to put the shattered pieces together of your family. Its not fair to ANY child, and I believe if no matter what we are speaking the truth in love to them so that they can think critically on there own they will grasp the difference between a manipulative lie, and the truth. My small opinion. I really dont like it when I hear people say “they will see the truth when they are older” i think they are the people that alot of the times do not WANT to hear the truth, and they get uncomfortable with you talking about it in general. I think kids deserve the truth, and I encourage my kids to love, not hate but to also be confident they know the difference.

    On another note I most likely know nothing about, also….somebody mention not being the black sheep? Well I am proud that I am the black sheep, just wish i understood what that entailed about twenty years earlier!! I am the black sheep of my entire family, for years silence would just fall when i walked in the room, family gatherings were painful and for years i never understood why nobody ever acknowledge me, even at my own Thanksgiving Dinner, in my own HOUSE!!! I never was part of a conversation, i essentially was ignored, on holidays they always start dinner without me, myself and kids eventually stopped getting invited to birthdays, family reunions…..its like EVERYBODY knew something I did not? So after I got married, I actually chalked it up to the impossibleness of the MIW being even remotely civil…but as I learned more and more about abuse, i realize I was the family scapegoat, then i realize the MIW had designated my daughter for the same role, and I FINALLY GOT IT!!!!!!

    Ya being a black sheep is awesome!!!! lol NO!! I am serious!!! Because, for one, I kinda like sheep, they are sweet, fluffy, cute BUT my POINT was that the black sheep status is VERY liberating and once you wrap your brain around being one your suddenly out of the freakin foggy mist that keeps penetrating your brain and making you think YOUR crazy, or defective OR deserve punishment, OR that you are somehow unworthy of being treated with respect? So yeeya, I like my status now. Of course I too, would love to have my siblings along with me, but unfortunately both my brothers are horrible abusers just like my dad, and my sister is very RELIGIOUS and thinks no matter what I need a geneology chart to go to heaven, and she plans on ressurrecting my black sheep bottom AFTER i die anyways????

    But I am pretty darn grateful that even with all the stinky stuff we have gone through i am still standing, still here, still better off than where I was, still have my family intact, Still looking forward, still the black sheep 🙂

    Yeeeeeya Im the black sheep 🙂

    • I was the black sheep in my family of origin too, Memphis. Although one of my sisters was a little black for a while there, she was not as black as me. I don’t think I was scapegoated nearly as much as you were, Memphis, but I agree that being the black sheep is better in that a black sheep tend to see thru the miasma (the fog) better than the other sheep do. I’d rather be on the outer with the truth, than inside with the pretense and coverup.

  12. Friendinneed from Europe

    Dear Amy,

    I have also had this experience. They told me not to bad-mouth the other parent. Even though things may have gone wrong. The abuse of my ex-partner towards my kids is well known to Barbara. Just this week, the offences that were committed to my daughter were put in writing for the first time. At first, I was very uncomfortable with it. Later I felt relieved. It was put in writing because my ex was asking the judge why my daughter was not paying her any visits. My daughter had been locked up and her passport taken to deprive her of a holiday. Just 2 of many offences. So I was asking around about why I was feeling this way and also feeling confused. The ladies at my church said the bible says: “the truth sets free”. Later this week, I received a comment from Barbara with the same message. We are exposing the perpetrator. My other child has no knowledge of the abuse which has taken place towards his sister.

    Hope you feel better about yourself. Incidentally, I am a father.


  13. Amy

    Just wanted to say thank you to all who have replied. And to share a little about what transpired last night with my 17-year-old son.
    Mine is a long story like everyone else and therefore is hard to share it all here, but suffice it to say my ex walked out on me and our two boys four years ago after being married for twenty years. He was verbally, mentally, emotionally and later, spiritually abusive not only to me but our boys. Two years ago, my 17-year-old son was in a tragic car accident which killed his his best friend. Two weeks later his father and i were legally divorced, his girlfriend dumped him, I became engaged six months later and remarried, and my son and i moved into my husband’s home. So, he had a major upheaval in his life in a short span of time. And he became angry at the world.

    Anyway, as I stated above in my comments, I’ve struggled over the past few years with how much to tell my boys about all that happened between their father and I. And last night…God provided an opportunity and I not so bravely took it.

    BTW, my son is in a really good place right now thanks to counseling and me quitting my job last August to be home with him. But last weekend marked the two year anniversary of the accident that killed his friend and he was having a difficult night last night. We hugged and talked, and at one point he begin saying how many of his friends take his quietness and being more of an introvert (he takes after his mom 😉 ) as him being angry. And he talked about his anger, which both of my boys deal with a lot. And I quietly said to him, “you understand where that anger comes from, don’t you?” He just looked at me and I took a deep breath and decided this was it.

    I continued by saying how both he and his brother have an anger in them, and that anger stems from the unhealthy environment they grew up in. I went on to tell him that what happened with his dad and I had nothing to do with a lack of communication between us or not seeing eye to eye on finances, etc, but that it had to do with his father’s abusive behavior towards me and them.
    I told him how I did not take divorcing his father lightly or I would not had stayed so many years, but that when his father left I started to feel free and able to live again. I knew that if I had gone back to that marriage i would have died inside eventually.
    I also talked about some of the lies I had heard from people about me and not knowing what he had heard or been told I wanted him to know that those things were not true…they were truly lies.
    Anyway, we talked for a while and at the end of the conversation he said these words to me, “Mom, I’ve heard [my brother’s] side of things, I’ve heard [my dad’s] story and I’ve heard from other people, but I remember what happened growing up and I’m smart enough to know the truth.”

    And when I mentioned how desperately I wanted to have this talk with his brother, but didn’t think he would talk with me, my son said that his brother needed someone to blame and to be angry at, and he said, you’re the only safe person he has for that.

    Oh there is so much more i would love to say to him and my oldest son, but for now I will keep praying that if and when that should happen, God will provide the perfect time for it.

    Thank you again for all your wise, encouraging words.

    • Kagi

      Thank you for this, Amy. Some real food for thought there as I try to bring my siblings together and we sort through our anger and issues together – I want to make sure I am not invalidating anyone else’s feelings, even if they are still not seeing certain things or incidents clearly. If they are angry at the wrong person, perhaps they just need time, and I will try to be gentle and just give the truth as I remember it and pray that it will be revealed to them as they heal and feel safer.

      I know I’ve personally dealt with some anger at my mom in the past for her not speaking out more and telling me her side of the story sooner and believing some things wrongly myself about things that happened, but her and I have talked a lot in the past couple of years and I think that we have mostly sorted those things out between us, but possibly some of the other kids haven’t, so I don’t want to push anyone to find truth before they are ready for that healing. God is the one who must lead it, revealing and softening/healing hearts before truth can be accepted.

      • Amy

        I suppose we all have our own timeline when it comes to healing and being ready to hear and face the truth about situations in our lives.
        I keep praying that my oldest son will one day come to me for the truth, but for now I continue to be that safe person in his life that he knows will not walk away or get mad at him.
        It’s interesting what you said about you being angry at your mom for her not speaking out sooner and telling her side of the story. I haven’t wanted to do this with my boys sooner, but I also hesitated many times because I guess I felt in my heart they were not ready, it was only for my self that I wanted to speak out…if that makes sense.
        Perhaps it was the same for your mother, she was doing what she thought right to protect you??
        I hope things go smoothly as you approach talking with your siblings.

      • Amy

        I meant to say…”I HAVE wanted to do this sooner…” 🙂

    • Kagi

      Also, for everyone in general, this post by John Shore really has helped me – Sexual Abuse and the Luck of the Draw [Internet Archive link]

      He talks about the fact that victims of abuse – he is speaking specifically about sexual abuse, but I think it applies across the board – have felt that their Early Warning Systems about who is safe and who is not are damaged or not working, because they did not protect us from abuse at the hands of those who should have been loving and protecting, and therefore we often think we cannot trust anything we think or feel, and no one and nowhere is safe.

      But in many cases it is simply that those systems were circumvented by someone clever or evil enough to use them against us, and we need to learn how to maybe recalibrate and start trusting ourselves again.

    • Memphis Rayne

      Amy I have two sons, they are 12 years apart…so I loooved reading what you wrote! Arent kids awesome? They are just so special in everyway. I am so happy to hear that story and is very encouraging. I see alot of anger uprising at times in my youngest, but i went through that with my oldest too, and he has come through brilliantly….so I am comforted because of course as we have the right to be angry, so do they and its good they have you to be and talk with = )

      • Amy

        Yes, Memphis, kids are awesome! I love my boys more than anything and my husband tells me constantly how great my boys are. They both moved in with my husband and I after we married a year and a half ago, even though neither really wanted to. But they cannot live with their father because he lives in a travel trailer and there is no room, which I’ve grateful for. That could have been disastrous for my relationship with them if when I remarried they had gone to live with him. He would have had free rein to really brainwash them.

        I’ve always allowed my kids to be angry, but their father, my ex, never allowed anyone in the household to be angry or otherwise. He would get so mad at them for being mad, that my sons and I too learned early on how to stuff our emotions. So I was, and am, their safe place to go when they need to vent and just talk.
        That is why it’s been so hard to know how their father tells them lies about me, because I’ve been afraid of that destroying our relationship.
        But as my youngest said, they are smart enough to know the truth.

        I’m glad to hear that your oldest came through his anger issues so well…I pray that for my oldest too.


    • Amy I am so happy to hear that. God opened a door and you bravely took the opportunity, even though you didn’t feel all brave — and it worked out so well. Wow! And thank you!

      As a former drug abuser, I hope readers don’t mind me using a term from that period of my life: I think I’ve got a contact high from you, sweet sister!

      • Amy

        i love it…”I think I’ve got a contact high from you, sweet sister!” 🙂

        I cannot tell you how much lighter I feel this morning from when I first commented. A weight, another weight, has been lifted from my shoulders. God is so good and I am trying to be patient and wait on Him to do his work in all of us.

        Yesterday took off from the talk my youngest son and I had on Monday night. He and I had errands to run yesterday and a couple times something came up about his dad, and we were able to calmly discuss it. I think that conversation we had finally opened the door to us being able to talk about his dad and various issues my son has with him. It was great!

        Thanks for your words and encouragement…even after four years of being rid of my ex, this site is like a soothing balm that is being used to do the final work of closing wounds never completely healed. Perhaps the time is drawing nearer for me to tell my story or perhaps I never will. I wait on the Lord for His direction.

  14. Dayflower


    Thank you for the follow up. How insightful is your son is about his brother! I have been following the conversation closely, because I have been struggling with how to talk with my kids about their father. I too have been afraid of saying bad things about him – which I read everywhere not to do in a divorce -but need to know how to acknowledge the truth about the abuse and anger that we all dealt with. And especially for my youngest, my 12 year old, who will have to go on visitation with him – how to teach her how to protect herself from his manipulations. And for my 18 year old, who seemingly sides with his father, and yet stays with me during this separation – and worries about his younger sister, how to honor his feelings and yet also help him survive his father’s manipulations. And how much to tell my two oldest children, who asked me to leave, and now, not being at home, want to know every little detail of what is happening. They too are struggling to understand.

    I hate all this.

    • Memphis Rayne

      What HE has brought into the family is NOT petty stuff, I remember going to one of those divorce “”how to” educational court required thinga maw doos……keep in mind most books, people, courts do not accurately acknowledge the dynamics of ABUSE!!! Therefore it does NOT apply to these situations, since the number one tool an abuser uses is in fact his own children, and the rates of other kind of abuses towards children are much more likely to accure if there father is an abuser. Its difficult, I went through the same things but soon realized as the protective, non abusive parent I had to educate my children about abuse, not neccisarily calling out his name everytime BUT nonetheless since they are also victoms they soon were able to connect the dots, protect themselves, think critically on their own at a very young age. Just like us, they need steering out of the fog, but as we all know, because we all were once kids too, that we all no matter what want to defend our parents. Its such a hard, slippery slope. What an abuser does to children is diabolocal, manipulative, self serving bad mouthing. Exposing the truth to your children, only helps them to feel safe and free to also expose the truth to the person they trust, you. Obviously I am no expert, I hold no child psychology degrees, nor am I saying there is a right or wrong time, or place etc. I am sure many experts would immediately say I am a bad parent for exposing the truth of abuse, and the dynamics there of to my children. The fact is they were exposed, and not by my hands, and not by my choice, and none of the effects are my fault, or their fault….and the so called experts that know nothing about domestic violence, or abuser mentalities can take that very long walk off my very short peer = )

      You know I remember sitting in an attorneys office, not quite out of the fog, but in desperate fear and wanting so badly to finally divorce the MIW. Of course my children were with me at the time. I remember trying to tell this bozo that my MIW had just assaulted me, and he was chasing us all over town, and trying to run us off the road etc…..this person “shushed” me and said to me “” Are you sure you want to be talking about this in front of your children?”” I am like WHAT?????? We were ALL there? As if the actual experience NEVER happend to them just ten minutes before? Was I suppose to deny their experience, say it did not happen? Would he of preffered me tell them “” Daddy was just playin with Mommy, and look you may feel terrified but Daddy really is just trying to show his love for you”” So i know this point I am trying to make is a risky one, BUT nonetheless I too was the person who made excuses for the MIW to my children thinking it somehow eaze their pain, but all that does in the end is betray there trust in you. I am proud of my kids as we all are. I am also only very passionate about this subject because I have been that child, I am the abused wife, I have been in the fog to maximum degree, I tried doing what EVERYBODY else told me was best BUT I am thanking God right now that HE allowed me to get out of the fog, and HE gave me what I needed to step up for my kids in a way that, for example my Mom could or would of never done. They NEED the truth, even if it feels all mirked up by an abuser, the truth will show itself at each and every manipulation and every trap he tries to lay. I agree with the person that said –

      I hate it all. It all sucks, and is all so unjust.

      Sorry I wrote such another long post.

      • Memphis Rayne

        So crossing into what this blog is about, the abuse and neglect of victoms within the church- and most of its leaders are men, and (not that its NOT both genders) statistically men are at a higher rate to abuse. If its kept NOT talked about at home what our kids see and experience, then what is left to help them dissifer between wether or not what somebody is doing to them outside like say at church is right or wrong? Since the main source of control for an abuser, and also lets say a pedaphile is threats, manipulation, cohercion, all the things abusers do use…..THEN if they do not hear the truth from a trusted parent, well? Then what? They feel shame, like we have, they feel silenced, like we have, they live in fear, like we have. I think its been discussed why the church is a breeding ground for the abusive mentality, and women are at risk because we are lied to, be better, do more, be a better wife, christian, help mate….DO MORE EXPECT LESS. So naturally for abusers children are targets, because they are predators, they seek to control and destroy. Children, our children are easy pickings, “pawns” tools for revenge, control, a solid way to hurt for an abuser to hurt or exact revenge on their spouse. If children were not vulnerable and in need of protection then somebody with an abusive mentality would not bother with them.

        So back to the church realm, women and children are vulnerable to abuses by the church, and that leaves them with no recourse at home to validate what is happening to them. The truth of the dynamics involved with an abuser, their mindset, the mentality we fight against NEEDS to be revealed at every edge and corner or its just going to keep flowing over innocent people, especially our children.

    • Amy

      I’m sorry for what you are going through. i do not know your whole story, but perhaps you can sit your 12-year-down and have a heart-to-heart conversation about the unhealthy behaviors her father has and call it what it is, abuse. As far as your 18-year-old son…I’ve come to the conclusion that boys especially, really want to have a relationship with their dad, no matter how they have been treated by him in the past or possibly still are treated. I think it’s just natural for a boy to need that male relationship and they still yearn for what could have been. At least I see that with my boys. I know they know the truth, I know they love me very much, but I can see how they want some sort of relationship with their father…and it breaks my heart because they will never have a normal, healthy relationship with him.

      The most difficult part of this for most of us is sending our kids into the lion’s den, so to speak. Fortunately, that did not happen in my case as my kids were older, even though my ex and I have joint custody of our youngest son. But my son will be 18 in a couple weeks, so that is coming to a close and I shouldn’t have to deal with my ex as much.

      I pray you find peace and comfort through all is happening. It is not easy, but when we cling to the Truth we can make it through.

  15. Urszula

    Yes, Debbie–I have heard that, as well! The pokraka’s version of this was, “Everything I do is in your best interest. Everything I do is because I’m working for what’s best for us.” Of course, the signifcance of this–always implicated, but often outright verbalized–was that anything I did or thought that in any way countered the pokraka’s approach was, by very virtue of its contrariness, evil, wicked, materialistic, selfish, invidious, and spiritually, morally, and socially deleterious. I was, according to the pokraka, destroying our (already destructive) marriage, compromising the sanctity of our (i.e. his notional) family, and undermining the very fabric of the (phallocratic) social order any time I expressed a personal dream, goal, or thought that complicated his plans for us–which is really to say, his plans for me. If I but dared to point out the stupendous arrogance and tyranny undergirding his position, if I but hazarded the suggestion that I, too, might be staunchly committed to fortifying our marriage and securing “what’s best for us,” he would cut me off: my morals were wrong, he’d say, or my priorities misguided; it was I who was fueled by selfishness and conceit. Who made the most morally depraved man I’ve ever had the misfortune to know the supreme authority on decency, I would like to know?

    • So nice to see you commenting again, Urszula. 🙂
      missed you.

  16. Sing4Him

    I’m not sure if this is the right place to post so, I’m sorry if it is not.
    I’m so grateful to have found this site. I don’t think it is coincidence. I have cried out to God for help. I know He hears me! My husband and I have been in couple’s therapy for three weeks. Our fourth session is tomorrow and I have felt increasingly, well, depressed is a good word. Having read several posts I know why! I really wish I had known not to seek couple’s therapy. The only reason I chose this guy is because a friend who was in an abusive relationship highly recommended him. But, I don’t think he is considering abuse in our case at all. The counselor has told us that the problem is my lack of communication. I have to learn to communicate better to my husband. I don’t know, if I could only talk to him [counselor] about things maybe I could alert him [counselor] to his [husband] bad behaviour? I do realize that I do have an issue with communicating with him [husband] and I have been trying to let him know how I feel more often. But it doesn’t seem to be good enough.
    The counselor told me last week that me talking to others about our situation (he [counselor] is referring to the few people I confided in regarding the abuse and his [husband] recent affair) was like me pulling his [husband] pants down in front of an audience….now “how would that make you feel?” My husband has been chewing on that this past week and became pretty agitated. He told me that was why he is never asked to do anything at church….because I have maligned his name. Then he said, “I don’t see you going back to tell anyone any good things about me!”
    It escalated to the point that I thought he might actually leave….no such luck….and I was a little disappointed.
    I guess he thinks our pastors, friends and associates are [a] bunch of [word redacted] that have no discernment and can’t see things for what they are and only take my word for it. Also, for the record the only people I confided in were my pastor and his wife and my support base (six praying, discerning warriors). I don’t feel the need to tell him who my support base is, but he has not asked.
    My husband does not admit to abuse. He says, “you say I have been so-called verbally abusing you, but you won’t say when I’m doing it so I can stop.” For the record, it is mostly emotional abuse. So really, according to him, he has never done anything, he doesn’t have any idea what I could be talking about.
    Tomorrow will be our last time going to this counselor, I’m pretty sure. I do feel, as someone said in another message that it has not put us in a good place. What can I do to remedy this. I’m almost certain he won’t go to individual counseling. He went once and said the guy agreed with him, that no abuse had occured and that I was just upset because of the affair. I will continue to seek counsel through the local domestic abuse shelter.
    I thought I was helping my marriage.

    [We redacted the word Sing4Him used as it might sound denigrating to some people. Editors.]

    • Jeff S

      Welcome to the blog. Couples therapy can be a good thing on a lot of cases, but it takes both people being committed, and that simply is never the case when one person has an issue of entitlement (i.e.- an abuser). If he goes in wanting to control you in the therapy session there won’t be any healing.

      I was fortunate that my therapist did not allow my ex to control the sessions so I didn’t experience the pain a lot of folks have, but even at that it was useless and provoked her behavior after the sessions.

    • Dear Sing4Him, welcome to the blog, dear sister 🙂
      I am so glad you are finding help here.
      That counselor you are seeing sound dangerous. 1. He is not picking up on the fact that your husband is abusing you. 2. He is telling you it is a communication problem — which is not so in domestic abuse. The problem in an abusive relationship is that the abuser is abusing. Period.
      The only ‘communication’ problem is that the abuser’s communication consists of lies, deceit, manipulation, veiled or not so veiled threats, blame-shifing, blocking, discounting, belittling, abusive anger, verbal abuse disguised as a joke, re-writing of history, withdrawal and stonewalling . . . need I go on?

      I bet you have already tried, lots, to communicate your feelings and thoughts to your husband, but he has taken your words and reshaped them into bullets and arrows to fire at you. He is doing the same with this counselor’s words: taking what he said about you metaphorically ‘pulling his pants down in public’ and using that against you to bully and accuse you. This counselor is your husband’s ally. I am glad you are not going to continue seeing him, as I think seeing him would only make you feel worse and empower your husband more.

      It is RIGHT to expose sin to those who have a need to know about it. You were not wrong to tell you pastor about your husband’s wicked behaviour. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. (Eph. 5:11 ESV)

  17. Annie

    I have struggled with naming my husband’s behavior as abuse to my children. I have some already living out of the house. So they’re old enough. Yet I don’t say it. One of them yelled at me recently to stop “venting” about dad. I was so hurt. Because I don’t vent about him. I wish I could. But what I have been doing that last few years is describing his behavior as not what a normal person does. For example, he will ignore me all the while talking to others in the room and often will even refer to me in the third person. I will say to that child later that behavior is not normal and it’s wrong.

    I had one child who had to quit a job because of a workplace bully / abuser. She never once asked me how I knew so much about it when she’d came to me to help sort out what was going on. The co-worker’s behavior mimicked her dad’s in many ways. I have to believe she saw the parallels yet she never mentioned it. When I try to mention things he’s done she like the other kids will tell me they don’t want to hear negative things about people.

    It is hard to love someone who hurts you. And I know as children they don’t want to see their dad in a negative light. Lately, I’ve mentioned that we can recognize when some one is not behaving well (I can’t say abuse yet) and still feel love towards them. And that acknowledging such abnormal behavior doesn’t lessen the love but we can’t ignore such behavior because it is wrong. Loving someone doesn’t mean ignoring their sins.

    My kids have seen how he’s treated me. They’re close to me. But they’re still in the stage of thinking I can fix it. That’s why I think my child screamed at me that day to stop talking about what dad did. And then yelled at me that I don’t make it any better by how I act towards him! I basically don’t talk to him unless I have to. Because I tried all the things everyone here is all too familiar with and none of them worked since he’s an abuser and doesn’t respond to normal actions from others. My kids don’t get that and one even tried to give me suggestions and when I said I was trying all those things before you were even born the kid got mad at me!

    It makes me sad the effect he has had on them. None of them seem much interested in marriage. The ones who live on their own have gone to therapy. That may be part of the problem because one therapist suggested moving out would solve this child’s issues. If husband knew his kids were going to a therapist he’d use that as evidence of how I’ve messed them up.

    But as Lundy Bancroft suggests in his book I have worked overtime to make a normal life for them. Husband didn’t want to participate in normal family activities or if he did he made them dreadfully painful so I did and still do a lot with and for the kids to compensate.

    I think in some way the kids know that. But they still want to believe it isn’t what it is. Abuse.

    • Annie, it sounds like you are doing everything right in the way you talk to your kids! The way they respond and don’t yet want to consider the truth is not your fault (as you know).

      I had one child who had to quit a job because of a workplace bully / abuser. She never once asked me how I knew so much about it when she’d came to me to help sort out what was going on. The co-worker’s behavior mimicked her dad’s in many ways. I have to believe she saw the parallels yet she never mentioned it. When I try to mention things he’s done she like the other kids will tell me they don’t want to hear negative things about people.

      I wonder how she would take it if you said to her, “I know that you don’t want to hear negative things about people. But remember when you were being bullied at work and you talked to me about that? Do you think that in some circumstances it IS okay for one person to say negative things about another person? If so, what would those circumstances be?”

      That might help her start to think things through more. And none of that conversation need be about her dad. It’s only talking about those things hypothetically, to understand the ethical principle of when it might be and when it might not be okay to say negative things about others. Or to listen to negative things about others.

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