Let Her Be Angry
You have written asking how you can help a friend of yours who has been abused in her marriage. You have no experience with domestic violence or counseling but, you want to help. She has only just left. Your desire to love her is admirable. Thank you for writing us. There is so much that you can do for your friend. You say that she is emotionally “all over the place”; you suggest that her behavior is sinful, as she alternates between fits of tears and extreme anger. You are baffled as to how to help her. I am so glad you asked us. The first thing that you can do is to believe her. Do not question her or over-question her. Remember, also, that she is going through a trauma. She may not have every little detail straight. She is also a mother. Now, a single mother. She is exhausted. Give her some slack. She is doing the best she can. In fact, help her with her kids….give her a break….and time to heal.
Second….let her be angry. You cannot imagine what she has been through. She even has yet to sort it all out. Listen — it is not going to last forever. Just let her be furious for a while. It is important….it is part of the grieving process and it is not sin to be angry. Stop telling her she is bitter and unforgiving. She absolutely needs to let loose of some of the rage. What was done to her was sinful. Unconscionable. She cannot quietly, barely brush over that and move on like nothing happened! Your friend has been told to go back to her abuser over and over and then been refused the privilege of being frustrated and exasperated. How can this be? She has been in a pressure cooker for years and she is finally able to let some of the emotion out. Let her do it. The anger will eventually pass, if she belongs to Christ. The wrath in her soul and the sobs of her heart will be replaced with a quiet determination, forgiveness and a strength you have never seen in her before. She will learn to set up boundaries in her life and she will become lovely for, perhaps, the first time in her life as she begins to walk in freedom, controlled only by the Holy Spirit, and no one else. She has a chance to bloom now. Do not….DO NOT tell her to stuff it all in. She is a Believer, isn’t she? She has shown a consistent walk with Christ. She will not take vengeance on her abuser. Give her a place to vent.
Your friend’s emotions are beautiful. They are a vivid spectrum. And when she experiences the good and the angry to their full, God is glorified. He will help to release her. Uphold her; love her; remind her over and over that she is a beloved child of God. And do not encourage her go back to the abuser….affirm her constantly. And if she is wavering and blaming herself, tell her the truth that it was not her fault — that she did not deserve what he did to her. That you would also be angry if you had suffered what she has suffered. That anyone would.
It is so hard to know what the right words are to say when a friend has experienced domestic violence or trauma of any kind. Sometimes, the best thing to say is, “I cannot imagine what you have been through because I have never had to face it. But, I see how horrendous it has been by the tears rolling down your cheeks. I have no words.” Then, simply a hug. Let her cry. Let her wail, even.
You are a good friend to her. Thank you for the love you show those who deal with situations and horrors that most of us cannot imagine. Thank you for carrying her burden, Christian.
[September 7, 2022: Editors’ notes:
—For some comments made prior to September 7, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be an exact match.
—For some comments made prior to September 7, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be found in the post.
If you would like to compare the text in the comments made prior to September 7, 2022 that quoted from the post to the post as it is now (September 7, 2022), click here [Internet Archive link] for the most recent Internet Archive copy of the post.]
- Posted in: Supporting victims
- Tagged: anger, false guilt, getting free, Megan C, suffering
tears Thank you. This ministers to me as well.
Beautiful letter! Thank you so much for writing it. I have tears in my eyes knowing that this letter will help so many friends of survivors [who] will be able to use this advice to help. ((HUGS))
Sooo sweet and filled with compassion. You are an angel. Hard, even for me to find words to express what a difference this reaction to survivors in the midst would do. oxox
So good to see you again, Memphis!! I am praying for you and your safety. 🙂
Great!! Thank you!!
Thank you sooo much for that last post titled “Let Her Be Angry”. It has brought validation to my soul and has comforted me in knowing that [the] Lord sees and knows everything. This post is another method He (God) [is] using to help me process everything I’ve experienced during the past 21 years of marriage with a man who has brought so much heartache, grief, frustration, confusion, anger, and left me feeling like I was losing my mind and will to live at times. Now, my 17 year old son mimics some of the behaviors of his father with me causing all the negative emotions to double. I used to call my husband’s behaviors towards me “bullying” but am coming to terms that he has been practicing mental, emotional and spiritual and verbal abuse for years and has progressively gotten worse.
As I am coming “out of the fog” I am trying to learn healthy boundaries and gain tools for dealing with this type of relationship with husband and son. Tools that help build me back up and strengthen me in my identity in Christ and no longer enable the abusers to do their destructive works. I am so grateful for this resource. And yes, tears do come and are hard to stop at times but is comforting to know others are having similar experiences and I’m not alone.
[Paragraph break added to enhance readability. Editors.]
Debi — big cheers for setting up boundaries and recognizing evil and abusive behavior! You are definitely not alone. You are very brave!
Thank you for bringing so many things out, Megan. You’ve reached the subtle nuances in the hearts of victims which few see.
I was just reading something about re-anchoring this morning and it brought out this very point, but in a different context. In any case, it made a statement that I had never thought of before; that not expressing the emotions one feels is tantamount to hiding them from God and therefore sin. Now I would not go so far as to accuse anyone of that (that certainly would not be helpful), but you know, God already knows how we feel. He knows the deepest pain of our heart, so we may as well be honest with Him about it and let it out.
By the same token, we need to encourage these women to be honest about their feelings and let them rise to the surface too. After all, Psalms are full of places where David let it all hang out as to how he was feeling, including pain and anger. Moses got angry with God, and guess what? God was able to take it and help him deal with it!
Great post, Megan!
I was reading yesterday along the same sort of lines, Wendell. In the book it was stated that a cussing rant prayer to God is a form of repentance because you are not shunning God from your feelings but letting Him in to heal wounds….I thought it was a wonderful way to look at it. I know I feel closer to God when I don’t try and shield my emotions from Him. Like you said He already knows them anyway so why am I hiding them???
So perfect, can we go back in time though, so I can share it with my then accountability partner / counselor who repeatedly told me I was being bitter and that I was wrong to be angry (I actually did a word study on anger in the Bible because I didn’t think I was being disobedient and ungodly but wanted to make sure). Sigh. Oh, well, growing and getting healthier everyday.
Would it be too much to presume that the letter is really in response to a plea of help from a friend of a survivor?
It is in response to several. I just compiled them together — as though I were writing a response to all three of them.
I was actually going to presume that the letter might possibly be from pastors’ wives — based on this one little sentence —
—which seems to be very similar to what numerous people have told me has been being said about me. We never really hear here, what the pastors’ wives think about what the pastors do to the victims. But I believe that anytime you take a victim of heinous abuse, who comes to you for help and protection, and you:
–set that victim up for more abuse;
–taunt her with words like, “we find no abuse in your home”;
–or tell her “you have no reason to be afraid, it’s just you”;
–or “if you don’t do what we say, then you are demonstrating that you are not a Christian”;
–or after they have backed you into a corner and terrified you with their counsel and threats, and you say, “I feel backed into a corner”, they come at you with “you are so disrespectful to your Elder!!”;
–or gossip about her with others in the “c”hurch;
—then you can expect an emotional mess and anger, because they actually created a bigger emotional mess and more anger, by trying to counsel someone in an abusive marriage, when they had no idea how to counsel someone in an abusive marriage!
Friends just need to be friends, and not try to be the victim’s counselor, and certainly not the abuser’s counselor, nor try to play the part of “marriage repairer”.
Thank you, Megan….that’s great advice ❤
Beautiful, Meg. A true friend will encourage true feelings not stuffed. They are like good doctors who will help get “IT” out rather than sewing one back up with “IT” still in there.
It is no wonder why so many love the Psalms. There is reservoir of deep emotions and God’s response? RISING UP on behalf of the oppressed with His bow readied against the wicked….(Ps 7). I’m thankful for this safe place where we can “vent” and share all the while handing us bandages and ointment to help us recoup. I call this true shepherding.
What a wonderful letter to anyone wanting to be there for someone who has finally escaped an abusive relationship.
Yep, that was me. When my ex walked out the door four years ago I suddenly had all these emotions exploding out of me. At first it was kind of scary. Anger would creep up on me one moment, then I’d be a heap on the floor sobbing until I couldn’t breathe. Then there was the sadness which baffled me at first for I should be thrilled to be free, right? But I came to see that my sadness was for what never was, nor could ever be, at least not with my ex.
Oh so many emotions, intertwined at times, catching me off guard and taking my breath away.
And you know what?? I came to LOVE it! Yep, I was FREE to feel anything at anytime I wanted to! I actually came to enjoy feeling every single emotion, embracing each one.
I was learning how to feel again as my soul was reawakening after two decades of a slow death.
Fortunately, I had people around me who encouraged me to embrace those emotions and not to stuff them.
I love that, Amy! And I know that feeling, as well! I’M FREE!! I can express myself….learn who I am….cry a river, be angry….and no one is telling me that I cannot!
Tremendous counsel. BELIEVE HER! Let her be angry! Thank you for conveying the pain and the good responses that Christian “helpers” need to know. Blessings.
What a wonderful letter, and beautiful words about the abused woman. You know after many years of the abuse and rejection of my husband towards me….I have been drawn closer to Jesus, I asked Jesus the other day what one word I could use to describe what He thought of me….He answered “Lovely”. That’s what I wanted my husband to think of me all these years. In your letter you said….she will become lovely someday. That is my prayer to…. I’m in the process of becoming lovely in this life. And Jesus already sees it in me….and honors my struggle to become lovely….I love that word!
Oh, I love that, Lynn! And I agree….I have been drawn closer to Jesus these past few years. Closer than ever. And, the closer I am to Him, the less I can be shaken. His love is enough, isn’t it? Big hugs!
Thank you for that. I am in this state right now. Trying to get an emotional abuser of 10 years out. It’s very hard and emotional, as I’ve tried to keep myself “put together, only crying out to God when I am alone”. I totally relate to this person’s friend.