Calling Evil Good: The Error of Couple Counseling for Abuse

(Job 30:26  ESV)  But when I hoped for good, evil came, and when I waited for light, darkness came.

(Psalm 52:3-4  ESV)  You love evil more than good, and lying more than speaking what is right. Selah You love all words that devour, O deceitful tongue.

Barbara’s recent post reminded us all, as did the comments, that couple’s counseling (and I would add marriage intensives) is anathema when it comes to abuse. It goes wrong and works as a tool to further enable and empower the abuser. I won’t go into all of the reasons why this is the case, but it is true.

What I do want to discuss here is a very similar experience that I have had personally and which I have seen played out in the experience of others many times. It is the fallacy of calling evil, good, and good, evil. Here is how it works:

Sometimes when there is serious division in a local church, the suggestion is made that outside “help” be called upon. A denominational representative, a regional bishop, a Presbytery, professional conflict resolution types, and so on. The idea is that what is needed is someone to facilitate two estranged parties by helping them deal with their fundamental issue – a lack of communication and understanding. Our own church’s confession of faith even addresses this:

In cases of difficulties or differences, either in point of doctrine or administration, wherein either the churches in general are concerned, or any one church, in their peace, union, and edification; or any member or members of any church are injured, in or by any proceedings in censures not agreeable to truth and order: it is according to the mind of Christ, that many churches holding communion together, do, by their messengers, meet to consider, and give their advice in or about that matter in difference, to be reported to all the churches concerned; [London Confession of Faith [Internet Archive link]]

This sounds all well and good. And so it should be, IF the people who are called upon for help are WISE. In the vast majority of cases that I have observed, this has not been the case. What has happened is that evil has been called good, and good has been called evil. The same dynamic works against the wronged party as in the couple’s counseling we are warning against. Let me explain further.

The typical goal of those called upon to “help,” is the preservation of unity, the reconciliation of relationships, the extending of forgiveness, and the attainment of true understanding of the other by each of the previously estranged parties. Peace. Harmony. Unity = Success. That is the mindset. For this reason, I would never recommend that a local church, for example, call upon some outside facilitator for help when division in that church is resulting from the actions of an evil person. Because the philosophy embraced by such “helpers” is not going to be one of doing justice for the wronged, calling evil for what it is, and justifying the good and righteous. Indeed, such people don’t really even acknowledge evil. They assume that everyone in the matter surely has a good intention, but there has merely been a breakdown in understanding. So the answer is to facilitate comuuuuuunicaaaaaaation (extended for emphasis of sarcasm). Blame will be put upon the good as well as upon the evil party. In fact, often MORE blame is put upon the innocent party! And when it is all over the evil person will be able to use the decree of these outside authorities to further enable his evil. I have NEVER seen a regional minister / district overseer in a denomination who was willing to stand firmly for the right and call evil for what it is. Never. I mean, think about it. You don’t get into one of those overseer of churches positions by standing firmly for truth. You get there by compromise. Apologies to the rare area minister who is just and right and good.

So that has been one of my primary experiences with this issue of “couple’s counseling,” although the “couple” involved in these cases were parties in a local church. The wicked end up being justified because no one is willing to stand for what is right and pay the price for doing so. Peace, peace, when there is no peace.

And so it is in couple’s counseling. The very starting premise is that there is evil on both sides (though it wouldn’t be called evil). “Everyone is a sinner.” So if the husband, for instance, has been raging and angry, well — the wife surely is at fault to some degree. She dare not say she is not to blame, for that would be rank arrogance. So she thinks, and so she has been told. She will be called evil, and the evil abuser will be called good. At least half and half. And that is all the justification the abuser needs to feel that he has been backed up by the pastor, counselor, or whoever.

Now, compare all of this mess with the clarity of God’s Word:

(Isaiah 5:20  ESV)  Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!

(Proverbs 17:15  ESV)  He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous are both alike an abomination to the LORD.

And our Lord Jesus’ own words to the abusers of His day:

(Matthew 23:25-28  ESV)  “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

Just imagine it. I mean, imagine a couple’s counseling session that is conducted like the one Jesus had with these Pharisees. Couple comes in, sits down, abuser begins weeping a bit perhaps when the victim rather haltingly begins to state her case. But instead of the counselor feeling sorry for him, when the victim is finished, the counselor stands up, points his finger at this poor, weeping, so-sorry fellow, and shouts — “Woe to you, hypocrite! You whitewashed tomb! You dare to pretend to be a Christian and behind closed doors you practice this evil! Go! Begone! Leave her and don’t come back until you’ve truly been in the prodigal’s pig pen! And don’t try to fake it. We are quite familiar with counterfeit pig poo.”

No, I’m not saying this should be exactly how it goes down, but well, why not? What is wrong with calling evil, evil?  What is wrong with justifying the righteous and oppressed? What is wrong….with what Jesus did?

Don’t hold your breath however. It’s going to happen one day, on the Great Day when Jesus comes back. But most likely not in this life. So for now, forget couple’s counseling. It will only end in you being called evil, and the evil person declared to be good. And that is never a good thing.

[June 20, 2022: Editors’ notes:

—For some comments made prior to June 20, 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 June 20, 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 June 20, 2022 that quoted from the post to the post as it is now (June 20, 2022), click here [Internet Archive link] for the most recent Internet Archive copy of the post.]


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

154 thoughts on “Calling Evil Good: The Error of Couple Counseling for Abuse”

  1. This is so true and repeatedly in the beginning all the counseling I got was about communication! And how I was to rejoice at every small apology. And I was still so much in a fog, didn’t even have the words emotional abuse to share( I recognized soon after the financial and spiritual abuse but the sexual abuse I am just now admitting to myself and publicly). Anyway, My son has had to write a blog for one of his english classes. One of the entries he wrote of leaders occasionally have to be “the bad guy” and say no, call evil, evil, etc. My ex made a comment on it defaming Cindy Burnell’s website Hurt by Love because they have banned his abusive comments from their site. Anyway Cindy replied to it and again my ex had to speak up. His thinking is so twisted, he’s been told over and over he is only 50% of the problem. I thought you might like to read his comment and see.


    Your ministry is one that denigrates all men as ‘abusers until proven otherwise’ without a clinically proven basis for the accusation of emotional abuse nor the means to refute the claim in any substantial way then, concerning divorce, it says in true California fashion ‘if it feels good, you can do it’ and strongly advocates that women not seek marital reconciliation in any way.

    Divorce and abandonment of a marriage is never the answer because if Christ can literally raise the dead, He can raise a marriage back to life and no one who truly believes in the Word should try to refute that position.

    In short, your ministry is one run by wolves to prey on marriages and families that could saved by a truly mutual commitment to Biblical principles and counseling.

    That you have actually made money doing so makes your ministry no better than Joel Olsteen, Benny Hinn, or Bob Larson; it’s Satanic.

    I don’t expect you to agree since, as Mark Driscoll points out, Wolves will never admit to what they are.

    1. Still Scared – – -I was reading your ex’s response and he is really “spiritual.” He has the right lingo and says all of the right Christianese. I’m curious – is/was he well-respected in the church? If so, were you looked at as the “bad guy” for the dissolution of your marriage? I think things can get very confusing when a Christian marriage goes awry and outsiders are looking. Sometimes outside appearances are just that, outside appearances.

      1. Wow! Still Scared when I read what your ex wrote to Cindy I truly thought I was reading something my ex had written! That is exactly how my ex would talk to those that he disagreed with or who saw him for who he really was and wanted nothing to do with helping him. Amazing!

      2. Actually he changes churches a lot so he was not attending the church my kids and I do when he left. My church and pastor were wonderfully supportive. Took them a while to get the abuse but we’d been attending for 9 years and the regular service of my kids and I, I think that spoke volumes because my ex talks the talk and uses BIG words but doesn’t ever have time for service. Though, his pastor at the time of the separation hadn’t had time to see the walk part so believed the talk and thought it was a “he said, she said” issue.

    2. Still Scared-
      I was LOL’ing through your husband’s comment to Cindy. I must have finally gotten to the point where I can recognize these tactics and not fear them, hallelujah!

      and BSD –

      God’s commands regarding Job’s friends always frighten me just a tad. They had basically spent a lot of time “running their fool mouths” at Job – nothing worse than that….and they ended up having to burn a lot of sacrifices and even that wasn’t enough – Job had to pray for God not to pay them back for their words!!
      I’ve been meditating on that… our Father truly does care about justice and right counsel and all the rest – he really, truly, does not let this crap slide.

    3. oh and LOL!!!!!! that he references something that MARK DRISCOLL said about wolves. hahahahahahaha – truly this is a fun morning. Let’s pull up some of Mark Driscoll’s heavenly wisdom for a few laughs ladies.

    4. SS-wow!!! So is he saying that if he had a clinical spread sheet of the percentages of spousel abuse he would in fact think it overides his demented perception of scripture? Also its like he is laying out a subtle threat, like YOU cannot PROVE ANYTHING!!!

      Do you think he sat down with one of his pastor buddies and drafted this up?

      Abuse is Satanic.

      I am glad he showed himself by throwing Mark Driscoll under the bus instead of it being his own original thought……..I agree “” Wolves will NEVER admit to what they are”

      Was he trying to punish you for reading? Making sure nobody fills your head with the truth of what he is? Its good that he put it all in writing, his words are transparent and the REAL thinking behind them screams for attention.

      Ugh! just sickness!

    5. The letter is simply a deversion tactic.
      Asking an abuser to share in responsibility for his actions is ludicrous, it will never happen.
      They will however deeply focus on your 50%…..or like he did here, throw the blame on somebody filling your head with “Ideas”…

      ….so Cindy you are now resposnible for his 50%.

    6. You know Still Scared – this type of dance-a-jig over every little bit of apology from the abuser, is really a form of manipulation, because its intent is to draw him in and make him believe that the more he apologizes, the more you will come back to him and fawn all over him, just for apologizing. He ends up finding a new way to manipulate and cover the abuse up. But, an apology is supposed to be an acknowledgement of one’s sin, not an attempt to manipulate someone to come back to you. It actually sounds as if we had the same counselors! They made it about communication and him making very small apologies, not about abuse. Every time he would say, “okay, sorry”, I was to jump up and dance around and throw my arms around him and tell him how “okay” it all was and thank him for apologizing. In other words, still make it all about him. Not good counsel, because no time was ever to be given to even see if the apology would stand the test of time.

      BTW, I read your guy’s comment on that blog and it actually confused me, because it does sound so Christian. However, I was able to see his abuse in it and thought how much better my abuser would have worded that. He would have added things that made him sound submissive and one who really wanted to learn and one who was gentle and just really looking out for the marriage and what was best for his victims. Ugh. Dealing with both types can be really exhausting and heart-breaking.

    7. What Christ CAN do and what he DOES do are two different things. I definitely remember being asked the question if whether I had faith that Jesus would fix the marriage and my shameful answer was no.

      The quote by Driscoll is ironic because I refused to listen to that man, but in this statement he is dead on- its just being applied the wrong direction.

      1. “I definitely remember being asked the question if whether I had faith that Jesus would fix the marriage…”

        Is that a question all of us get asked? I was asked that too and shamefully, my answer was “yes”, although I really did not believe that it was God’s will to “fix” it. It wasn’t that I did not think that God could fix it, I did not think He would, because I knew all the areas of abuse that had gone on, and the counselors did not. (I had been praying for decades for change, forgiving over and over, dealing with repeated periods of false repentance, etc.) I was not about to share all of that with them, when they were acting like that. I believed that God wanted to deliver me from living in constant fear and abuse, as He has always done for His people.

      2. It’s like asking the Israelites if they believe God could “fix the covenant” between them and Egypt so they don’t have to leave Egypt and go to the Promised Land( which God commanded them to!!) We see repeatedly in Exodus how many time Pharaoh hardens his own heart, has all these conditions and in the end still chases after them because he has lost his favorite drug, control!! Can you see the Isrealites standing by the red sea, pharaoh and his chariots are bearing down on them and some well meaning church people are asking them, “Shouldn’t you pray for him? Don’t you believe God can heal this relationship? See how much he misses you?”

      3. And even later there will be the lure of “leeks and garlic” (mmmm, tasty) to come on back to Egypt.

      4. AND Ps. Crippen, if my memory serves me correctly, God was angry at them for wanting to return to the place He had freed them from. Sometimes it is easier to stay than to leave, but it is always for the wrong reasons.

    8. Nothing new under the sun.
      I am confident that Cindy and Doug Burrell assess people’s claims about abuse the same way Jeff C and I do on this blog.
      When a new person contacts us, either by submitting a comment to the blog or by email, we listen to their story. We read their words. We assess what they say and how they say it. We look for any distinguishing marks of abuserese and we look for distinguishing marks of genuine victimhood or genuine supporter-hood. It is not hard to tell the difference between abusers and victims, once you are frontal-lobe-analytically conscious of the mindset of abusers. In the very few cases where we have been slightly unsure are first, we write back to the person asking politely for them to elaborate a little more. The way they respond to that request always clarifies what they truly are: an abuser or a victim.

      Abusers may claim that we are bitter, hostile, and biased against men but as usual, this is a false claim. It’s just another variant of the blame-shifting, responsibility-resistance tactic that abusers use like fish breathe water. Whenever someone points the finger at an abuser and says “You Are An Abuser,” the abuser counters back “You are (fill the blank).”
      In the example above written by SS’s ex, the abuser has countered with “You are denigrating all men as ‘abusers until proven otherwise’.”
      Notice the sweeping generalization — all men. That is one mark of abuserese.

  2. Warning: this is pretty long, but I wanted to share part of my story of my experience with couples counseling while in an abusive marriage.

    My ex and I went to couple counseling in ’06, 2 1/2 years before he walked out on me. Things had really escalated that year to the point I actually had a type of out-of-body experience while my ex sat ranting and raving at me. I wasn’t seeing a counselor per se at that time, but when things got really bad my pastor’s wife recommended a woman counselor and I talked with her a few times just over the phone.
    When I finally approached my ex about us needing to get help for our marriage, he flatly refused for months and finally agreed but only if we saw a male counselor…I remember him angrily spatting at me how he would NEVER see a woman counselor, EVER! So the woman counselor I had spoken with recommended a male colleague of hers.
    What a HUGE, HUGE mistake! And here I was the one literally begging my ex to see someone, but little did I know at that time how destructive couple counseling could be.

    At our first visit I was too paralyzed to say anything…I was sweating, shaking and ready to throw up. I was in this small room with not only a strange man I had never met, but my ex too who sat glaring and grinding his jaw the whole time. My ex had even said to me as we were leaving our house (we drove there separately at my insistence), “see you at the fights!”
    As the counselor started asking questions to get to know us and I presume assess the situation, my ex stayed in a defensive mode. And whenever the counselor asked me something directly related to how my ex treated me I could not speak, literally. I was so scared. I finally managed to quietly ask the counselor if I could meet with him privately as I would be more comfortable with that and he turned to ask my ex if that was okay! o.O My ex replied that he would allow it, but only one time and said to me I was lucky he agreed to it. The counselor never said a word and scheduled an appointment with me later that week.

    I met privately with the counselor and it was a little easier to speak up without my ex there, but honestly, I still had a hard time being completely honest and I think it’s because I knew we would all be meeting together again and I was afraid of the counselor calling my ex on things I told him, kwim?
    The next week we all met together again and it was the most horrifying session!
    A little side note: my ex had one of those yellow legal-size pads of paper that he started writing all kinds of notes on when I finally got him to agree to counseling. He left it on the kitchen one day and I admit I quickly looked at it to see what he had been writing. They were terrible things about my friends, family (he never has liked my mother) and me, of course.
    Anyway, my ex brought that pad of paper with him to the second session and it was at that session I finally found my voice…a very angry raised voice. My ex started really bashing me, telling the counselor I didn’t do this or that, what a bad wife I basically was. And finally I’d had enough and in a raised voice angrily said to the counselor, “why don’t you look at him? He (my ex) carries around this pad of paper and writes terrible things about me and my friends and family. He sits there as if he does nothing wrong and says terrible things about me. But what about the stuff he does!!!”…and I don’t remember what else but I went on for at least a minute or two. 😉
    And you know what happened? My ex used his typical tactic and with tears in his eyes and sudden supposed caring manner towards me, and handed the pad of paper to the counselor and told him to destroy it and said how sorry he was. Then it gets really good!
    I’m sitting on a couch, my ex and the counselor are in chairs on opposite sides of me and the counselor comes over to sit next to me because I’m crying and shaking. Then my ex comes over and kneels in front of me on the floor trying to tell me how sorry he is. I’m SURROUNDED by both of them and feel like a trapped animal! They both finally go back to their seats and I get up and leave.
    We did go back for a couple more sessions which were a joke and I finally just told my ex that I wanted to stop the counseling and he said to me, “as long as you never do this again.” And believe it or not, I agreed. 😥

    Life never got better, but progressively worse as I tried, oh how I tried, to be that good Christian wife that keeps her mouth shut and lifts her husband up to others so they can see how great he is! What a farce!

    Moral of my very long and certainly not all of the story is, do NOT go to couples counseling if you are in an abusive relationship. Nothing changes, the abused will only be pounded down further and feel even more oppressed, while the abuser is lifted up and can now say, “see, I told you I’m not so bad.” 😦

    1. Amy, my ex and I went to couples counseling toward the end, and the first session was completely surreal to me. Sort of like you describe – you know you can’t speak up out of fear of what he will do later. So I sat there quietly, while my ex complained that I was “not affectionate”, that I “never smile or touch him”, that after he comes home after a long day it would be nice to be greeted with a smile! And what could I say? It was true! But I could never say out loud that the reason I couldn’t smile and couldn’t touch him was because he’s A SNAKE!!

      After that first session my ex threw a screaming fit over something nonsensical and said “that’s it – i’m never going to counseling again – screw you” – and I started seeing the counselor alone. (Because I figured it was all my fault and I needed to get help with my horrible personality defects, oh yes) and once I started telling the counselor the facts….that’s when the light bulb went on!
      He was supportive but never told me what to do. He did tell me that in our first session, he thought that I was the one who was “giving up on the marriage” – his perception may have been correct, but not for the reason that most Christian counselors assume. (that you’re just not committed enough)

    2. Amy – “I’m sitting on a couch, my ex and the counselor are in chairs on opposite sides of me and the counselor comes over to sit next to me because I’m crying and shaking. Then my ex comes over and kneels in front of me on the floor trying to tell me how sorry he is. I’m SURROUNDED by both of them and feel like a trapped animal! ”

      I’ve seen this nonsense in action before. Whether the counselor knew it or not, by the time the ex knelt down there he (the counselor) was functioning as evil’s ally. The whole thing is like one big psychological brainwashing pressure technique. The counselor should have told the ex “back off and get back to your chair.” And actually, I think the counselor erred by sitting by you. I have done that to weeping people before, but I think that it can interfere with the real issues at hand. Once the counselor’s emotions kick in, his/her brain usually disengages. These issues are not going to be solved by everyone having a good ol’ community cry session. When it comes to real change and real repentance, actions are what we want to see. Evil can fake “sorry’s” and tears and such, but not genuine, repentant change.

      1. Yes, evil can fake “sorry’s” and tears…it was my ex’s tactic our whole marriage. If I was upset around someone he was suddenly all sympathetic towards me, if it was just him and I, he grew angry and distant. That man never had any empathy for me, but would turn around and show it to others. So to have him do that in front of the counselor who just fell for it, was devastating to me. I had really thought that by going to a counselor, a trained professional, surely he would see through my ex’s crap and certainly not allow him to manipulate the sessions. But by that second session my ex had him under his thumb. He and the counselor spent the first 10 minutes talking about fishing. I was so furious because I saw my ex luring the counselor in and I think that’s why I became so emotional. For once in my life, just once, I wanted someone to stand up for me, to tell the creep how wrong he was.

        Actually, there was ONE time that someone stood up to him when he was beating me down, ONE time and I have remembered it all these years. The OB nurse in the hospital after I had our first son 21 years ago. I called her to my room for advice on nursing and before she came in my ex was stood there criticizing me for how I was holding our son and how he would never be able to nurse while I did it that way, etc. After the nurse helped me, my ex proceeded to say out loud, “well, I told her that she couldn’t nurse like that” to which the nurse shot him an incredulous look and stood there staring him down…he lowered his eyes, didn’t say a word and left the room. And that one day in my life of 20 years with someone who shot me down for everything and anything I did, that one day I felt empowered all because of that nurse. She never uttered a single word, but with her eyes let my ex know what she thought of him. It still makes me smile to this day…and makes me sad at the same time. Sad that more people who saw, who knew how he treated us, never stood up to him nor stood up for me.

        BTW, in ’09 when my ex left I started seeing the woman counselor I spoke of, the one who referred me to this other counselor. I told her what had occurred during our couples counseling and she said her colleague mentioned one time how he realized after we quit coming that he had really dropped the ball and felt there were some more serious issues in our marriage.

      2. The look. Let’s all try to develop that look. Gotta find that nurse and have her teach us!!

      3. Haha, yes Jeff, we should all have the courage to give the “look”! I have always wished I could say thank you to her. I honestly was so stunned that day and a little embarrassed, I never said anything to her.

      4. Amy I bet we all have some pretty horrific birthing stories regarding how abusers act in a hospital setting, do to when the attention is shifted on YOU and NOT them. Then when the baby comes, suddenly its worse because your attention of course is more on the newborn and getting home in one piece.

        I feel the same way, i saw people just turn the other way when he treated us the way he did. Oh do I have hospital stories, department stores, church, the bank, every holiday, birthday, restaurants, movie theatres, the MIW had no bounds.

        BTW, I have got “The look” got it down pat, use it on a regular basis….where can I find this guy? I could give the look for hours if I need to?

        Yep the MIW did the same too! He would “act” sympathetic to me at church, cry himself a river over how distraut his emotions over whelmed him on our behalf….”My poor wife!!” “The things she does for us, she works so hard!! Im never going to be good enough for such a wonderful woman!!! (well its true about that last part) by the time I ever had a chance to speak, I could not say anything that would not make ME look bad, neat little trick they do for attention and as a way to silence any complaints you may have. Then everyone focused on how sensitive, and tortured he was due to his not perfect nature, and how his self esteem just needed a little more pumping up to compare to me!!!!??….it was all a big set up…laying the ground work for his big next attack on us…I swear these day I can see them from days away, the whiny types who are just fishing to see if you could be their next casualty….

        I get speechless when I over hear people like this, especially when they are talking to me, so I have prepared a business card for them…with my personal number…

      5. Memphis,
        Oh yes, my ex was soooooo good at putting on the sympathy act around others and “showing” them how much he truly cared about me…then when we left church or wherever, the mask fell to the ground and suddenly he wouldn’t even talk to me!
        And yes, I can look back and see now how his behavior was clearly abusive when I was in labor with both our boys.
        He could not stand to have me in the spotlight so to speak. And he would do anything to get it shining on him again.
        Oh, and my ex became disabled a few years before he left and I know this will sound horrible on my part, but honestly, I saw how he used that disability to get sympathy from others. And actually, his disability which is supposedly post-polio syndrome, was never really diagnosed. He saw a doc that once told him he had that and from then on, he started using crutches to walk with and even got an electric wheelchair. Now granted, he was getting weak in his legs, but after he left me a funny thing occurred, he could suddenly WALK! It was a miracle! LOL
        And my husband told me not long after we started dating that one day while he was outside working on his truck, my ex who at that time had been gone from our home for maybe two months, stopped to say hi to my current husband…we had all gone to the same church back then. And my husband told me that when he saw my ex walking pretty good without crutches he mentioned it and my ex said, “oh yeah, Amy was killing me, I had to get out of there!” Ha, I wish I had! LOL

    3. Amy,
      “I tried, to be that good Christian wife that keeps her mouth shut and lifts her husband up to others so they can see how great he is! What a farce!”

      True story of lifting my own husband up to others…. Whenever I could find ANYTHING to praise him for, I would proudly post it for all the world to see on facebook. Then one day when he was running me down he even complained about that! “How can you say such nice things about me on fb, but then complain about these other things?” As if it had to be all or nothing! I felt like saying, “Fine! You want a full disclosure on FB? I’ll just share the “whole” truth!” Obviously I never actually verbalized it, but I just SMH and laugh a little when I think about it.

      1. KingsDaughter:

        your comments regarding facebook left me with my mouth hanging open. Because one of my neighbors was complaining how all the women on facebook who post glowing updates on their “awesome husbands” are usually dealing with abuse at home. I was surprised when she said that, as I’m not on facebook anymore, but then I remembered one of my friends who is married to an awful abuser (they have a bunch of kids and he’s constantly cheating on her) – SHE did the same thing!! Every time she was on facebook I’d see her post some GLOWING statement about her WONDERFUL HUBBY — all the while I knew that behind the scenes he was still sleeping with other women — he even tried to have an affair with me (through facebook of course!!)
        I can’t stand facebook because it feels so fake. What people post on their hardly ever matches reality.

      2. Katy I have heard that too. I have never used FB, but have heard people comment and say that abusers use it quite often. I think you are right about the “”glowing” posts. An abuser would take those posts as evidence that he is in fact NOT an abuser!! As KD said also, the mentality her spouse is using against her is “Well if I am that bad, then why are you still here?” Or they will use what the victim says against her….you say something nice, they take it, twist it around and use it to discount the credibility of your complaints….essentially making you out to be the liar. On the flip side, if the abuser says something nice about you…..then that is ALSO evidence in his mind he does not abuse and that your complaints are not valid.
        FB gives me goosers, those are larger goosies. 🙂
        I recently had a disturbing conversasion with a relative- a young relative that was recently married and having children now….she went over board on telling me how wonderful the spouse was (even knowing my situation, so it kinda hurt me a little, like she was diggin at me) well she praised his hard working -ness, she went out of her way to tell me how he “”NEVER” yells,(and I never asked?) how he gets up with the baby, how “”He takes such good care of her” “How the baby is so well behaved, has very good manners, as if my kids did not? I was confused? Cuz like? She is breast feeding, its a BABY?….anyhow, now, this is all great and of course I would do nothing but be thrilled she found a good person, the problem was something in her voice told me otherwise, as if she was devensive about it? I listened, told her I love her, and of course her family…but when I got off the phone I just felt so sad for her. If she was truly happy she would sound it? Right? There would be no defensive tone, or judgemnt thrown my way? Now that you guys mention this whole FB thing with all the glowing comments etc, my suspicions, sadly enough were confirmed. She did mention also that her spouse was not there at the holiday with them, something to the effect he was “tired” then when it was time to get off the phone, it was like he showed up and she hung up. 😦 I think this is the same situation, so many put on the facade of blissfulness while they are being abused, praise is one thing, but having the need to put it on the five 0clock news is another, its a lie. Publicly praising somebody in itself is fine I guess? But it seems that the praising is more of protective armor for the person that is giving it, a small form of denial that abuse is actually happening to them? I mean I get that, because I have been there, making excuses for his bad behaviour, thinking that pumping him up, giving praise was possibly going to somehow change the situation, plus the church practically requires that as the womans job, even if her spouse is not worthy of praise. When he praises you, then you are looked at as “”You are sooo lucky!!! which in the context of abuse is kinda damaging for the victim. Bottom line is, with an abuser they are so off the mark regarding what a marriage vow actually is, that any display of humanity from them especially in a church environment, is considered monumental. My spouse handed me a coffee, confetti, balloons were released into the air, my spouse gave me a compliment in public, in comes the marching band, once he wistfully tried to hold my hand in church they had a parade in his name.

      3. I totally agree. Here’s one: my husband had been living and working in another state for several years and we go to a new church and when the pastor’s wife sees that he’s gone all week long all the time, her response was “aren’t you so lucky that your husband work so hard!? she didn’t know that I’ve been trying to get him to move us there for a long time but he never would. and in the end he tried to blame that on me. I eventually left at church.

      4. Amy Omy good gravies! That is hysterical!! Guess what!!?? Mine too!! Okay not the same disability, but the MIW acquired one too, and he used it to the biggest degree possible, like to tell everbody how heartless I was to leave him in his sickness and boy was it sickness alright!! Originally I felt trapped even more by it, because I could not bare the judgement of others saying the same thing about me….but the truth is the truth, he was just now an abuser with a disabilty, he used it to justify years of abuse, and continue an even deeper and hainus daily horror show. He thrived in the attention he could draw from it, I think abusing his family became his sole purpose to live, he was able to draw sympathy for that too, telling people how “he just wanted to die, and could not go on if I left him””. but it mattered little if laid my life down did the best little wife bit possible so others would think I was Okie dokie, the abuse was no longer tolerable, and thank God he pulled me all the way out of that fog..So you do not sound bad at all.

      5. MR,
        “I think this is the same situation, so many put on the facade of blissfulness while they are being abused, praise is one thing, but having the need to put it on the five 0clock news is another, its a lie. Publicly praising somebody in itself is fine I guess? But it seems that the praising is more of protective armor for the person that is giving it, a small form of denial that abuse is actually happening to them?”

        I can only speak for myself, but for me I was really trying to encourage him, not cover anything up or get people to see me or my family in a skewed view. I had no idea about the nature of abuse, I’m just learning. I can’t even say that I regret posting those things, they were true he really did do good things at times. I may still be in some denial, I’ll get past it eventually if I am, but I do believe that while the same central selfish desire for control is at the root of abusers, not all are the same. I believe anyone who is trapped in sin can be delivered if they turn to Christ. Some choose (for whatever reason) to abide in their sin and others choose to yield, forsaking their sin and being cleansed. Now that I’m learning about abuse and setting boundaries its my husbands chance to prove which one he is… Whichever he chooses I want to remain faithful to Christ, looking to Him for EVERY step, keeping my heart pure and my hands clean. This evil of abuse has already robbed me of so much, I can not permit it to rob me of my testimony and the peace that comes through fellowship with Christ.
        So, yes I agree that glowing reviews may be a result of denial, but for me it was well intended and honest. Even though my husband himself argues that it was dishonest. SMH! In my mind I can separate being thankful for the blessings and angry at the injustices… thinking “baby & bathwater”… I’m letting the water drain out, we’ll see where the baby ends up, but I’ve gotta at least try to get some of the water out first. If that makes any sense. (?)

    4. That sounds like some couples counseling I’ve been in too.
      So far the current round hasn’t got that ugly yet, but I’m on guard. I have an earful ready to dump because this is my last stand: last church, last attempt to fix the marriage, last attempt to fix myself, last move-not changing states again, and last batch of “new” friends.

      I’m waiting to see how things go. I haven’t been the model church member, I’ve been maybe too real, but it’s ok so far. Hopefully I don’t get myself excommunicated.

  3. Let me add a note to this article and get your thoughts on this point too. I have heard pastors and church leaders and Christian counselors claim that rejecting couple’s counseling is a denial of trust in Christ to powerfully work and change the sinner’s heart. They say that if we do not do couple’s counseling, we are leaving Christ out of the equation and taking a worldly, secular approach. My response is at least 3-fold, 1) What angel has descended from heaven and declared “thus saith the Lord, couple’s counseling is the only divinely appointed means of handling abuse cases? 2) Does God’s Word tell us that we are always to deal with every evil person in exactly the same way? 3) Does Scripture tell us that we are to assume that the Lord is going to change the heart of even the most wicked person if we will just sit down with them, coffee cups in hand, and reason with them? Are there cases in Scripture in which we are told “that is a wicked person, have nothing to do with them?”

    The common biblical ignorance of so many people who claim to be biblical experts still amazes me.

    1. I just sent a letter to Ken Sande from Peacemakers Ministries about the terrible experience that I had with couples mediation through one of their affiliates. Along with it I sent copies of the notarized letters that my children wrote documenting the abuse that the family was subjected to for years. Their website home page features cups of coffee-as if talking over a cup of coffee is a reasonable way to deal with an evil person!

      1. Peacemakers is
        I cant think of an allowable word for this site that conveys my opinion.
        Dry heaves, flashbacks, barely drive home–wonderful program for the town of Stepford.

      2. Ken Sande is no longer with Peacemakers Ministries, but I did receive a response to my question of what their procedure for domestic abuse cases is. Steve Long, Director of the Institute of Christian Conciliation at Peacemakers informed me, as we suspected,they do not have a policy or procedure for domestic abuse cases. If your church sends you there, DO NOT GO!

    2. Jeff C, I got a chuckle out of your responses. I would love to be in a meeting where you respond like that so I could see and hear how those pastors, leaders, and counselors would react and try to answer those questions. Although, I would probably have a hard time trying not to laugh at their pious responses.

      Great phrase – “common biblical ignorance …. of the biblical experts.”

    3. The church applies “”Mutual causation”” that way they are not blaming anybody, because that would be. well? Un-Christianese (as somebody else put it). That “thinking” just imbeds in the victoms mind(which they already struggle with because the abuser is always telling them everything is their fault) that they are equally to blame. Abusers however, are quite happy with that assumption, because they KNOW nobody will focus on THEM alone since we all know that victoms of abuse “usually ask for it” This “”Two way street”” mentality they apply, makes it easier on them, gives the abuser ALOT of fuel to stoke his fire, then of course the victom gets sucked into only focusing on what he/sher can do more to feed appease their spouse…Interesting how that “Two way street”” is road blocked when it comes to WHO is told to submitt more, then ALL the responsibility falls on the woman…the abuser is asked to do nothing…I guarentee, when an abuser is told he is only “Partly” at fault, thats good enough for him, that actually gives him CONSENT to continue the horror show its like a big green light waved in front of his face.

      1. Even if the marriage was on a one-way street and the abuser was obviously driving the wrong direction, it still isn’t all his fault. “Sorry, we are going to have to give each of you a ticket.”

      2. Seems like any man in a “christian” marriage is only partly at fault, but the woman is always 100% responsible for fixing it. The man is never asked or expected to do anything.

    4. rejecting couple’s counseling is a denial of trust in Christ to powerfully work and change the sinner’s heart. They say that if we do not do couple’s counseling, we are leaving Christ out of the equation and taking a worldly, secular approach.

      I can’t make that fit in my brain…

      1. This came from a church leader who hates the position that couples counseling is not for every case, and never for abuse cases. I think it reveals the error in such a person’s fundamental assumption and approach. Husband and wife problems? Well the goal is always, always, always reconciliation and preservation of that marriage. Always. Anything else is failure. Reconciliation is a two-way street, so both are at fault and both need counseling. It never even crosses such peoples’ minds that there could even possibly be 1) A totally evil spouse, 2) an oppressed victim, 3) that success will be setting the victim free from the bondage to the evil one who has no intention of ever changing.

      2. What? Couple’s counseling so the counselor(s) can point out the victim’s weakness to the abuser, even more?!? I found that leveling the playing field in this sense, led to the complete demise of the marriage. As if abuse wasn’t bad enough, them wanting to blame me, the children and then his little portion of responsibility for abusing his family, was more than anyone could handle. However, it was a great aid to him, as he now constantly reminds all of us, that we are just as guilty as he is. Nice. They could have called evil, evil; realized they had no idea what they were doing or dealing with; and possibly done the right thing in sending the abuser to abuse counseling; but no – their pride became the biggest issue of all – and the abuse and my marriage now took second place to their indignation when I said “enough”.

    5. Thank You for giving me affirmation of what I am going thru and that ‘I am not crazy” 😉 Yes, sarcasm! Yes, once again the abuser in my case uses his charm even when I had forewarned the priest that he would- the priest got sucked into his wiles- and now I am on the same ‘level’ as the abuser?? Go figure? No ‘why haven’t you been the husband/father you are supposed to be’. No why aren’t you taking any responsibility including financial-but yeah pretty much, hey come to think of it ‘the abuser’ was drinking a cup of coffee the last 2 meetings! How upset do you think he was-but me stewing about it for days on end! So today I canceled the meeting! It’s not going to get me anywhere anyway. Thank You for pointing this out-let’s call EVIL for what it is! And YES!!! Behind closed doors, so in public they can put on their sweet, charming face to fool everyone thinking they are wonderful. Yes, your site aptly named-‘A cry for Justice!’ How many other woman are in the church going thru the same thing, let alone outside of the church? Thank You for letting me rant!

    1. Sictodeath, your comment is spot on, abusers inately want you to share the blame, or ALL of it. Thats why these idiot counselors are putting women and children to death. Yes!! your marriage is second to their indignation, the abuse is third place, and you will come in dead last. Facts are they are ignorant, responsible for that ignorance, and in fact serve the same evil that your spouse does. For a long time I worried I had enemys because I had “enough” and spoke out against the evil in our church, starting with my own family, then speaking out for others, then they counted ME as the wicked one, and all I have to say to them is ” I rather be outside YOUR walls speaking the truth, than inside YOUR walls prisoned by silence, gagging on stupidity” I am pissed they did that to you, and gave your abuser yet another fake victory over you. idiots.

  4. I had to learn the hard way, Jeff, that God does not, in fact, miraculously change a heart that is not open to His touch. I waited for decades. It didn’t happen. Just because I changed and learned how to forgive and to love the “sinner” doesn’t mean that my ex did. I was blown away when the church treated me as the sinner, and told me that God would not forgive me if I didn’t forgive my ex. Sadly, this particular person had no idea who I really was. She was not even a friend of mine, let alone one who knew the past circumstances. There is no compassion and justice in these churches, and you are right, we will have to wait until we see Him on that Great Day.

    I must add however, that when we went to outside couples’ counseling by a biblical counselor, he saw what was happening. The problem was that he didn’t wish to keep making it look like he was on my ex’s case so he tried to balance the scales a bit. I understood, but it would have been better had he told me to run and not look back!

    1. “I had to learn the hard way, Jeff, that God does not, in fact, miraculously change a heart that is not open to His touch”

      I was lamenting this very thing last night! Thinking about how souls are NOT like cars or computers, you can’t just diagnose and fix them. A person must OWN their problem and choose to work for change (sometimes God delivers them, other times it is hard work, either way there is no change without ownership!). The other side of that “souls are not like cars” is good for victims… no one can simply diagnose and change you, YOU must take ownership and choose what gets changed!

      All of this came from being “blame-shifted” again and the self doubt that it produces. As I processed what I was feeling, I realized, I LOVE my husband and (sometimes) WANT to own his problems for him just as much as he wants to blame me for them. I’ve been doing it our entire marriage, taking responsibility that is not mine. Herein lies the problem; no matter how much we want (either from true compassion or by being manipulated) to own someone’s problems and “make it all better” for them, WE CAN”T! Its not possible!

      1. It’s really the same mentality as going to a faith healer and trying to work up enough faith so God will work the miracle.

      2. I would have died for her if it would have fixed me ex. I’m not exaggerating her at all. In fact, my accepting the blame for stuff was my way of trying to control the situation- if I could make it MY sin then it was something I could fix (I’m not saying everyone who takes in their spouses sin is trying to control things- just me).

        In the end, I learned that I did not have the power, the responsibility, or even the right to change her. And this is why I’ll no longer read any Christian relationship material- so much if it is steeped in this codependent idea that it is our job to fix our spouse.

        I still struggle with this- my greatest fear is finding out I was the problem and I could have fixed it, but didn’t.

      3. Jeff S,
        Your transparency is admirable… and helpful! It is encouraging to know I’m not alone in my feelings and processing of situations.
        The “self-doubt” is terrible, maybe the worst part! I believe it is a symptom of being manipulated for so long. Or possibly that sensitive conscience is what provided a fertile ground for the abuse to take place? For whatever reason, it is still painful, confusing and crazy-making in and of itself.
        The only good way out of that mire I have ever found is Prov 3:5-6. When I stop leaning on my understanding and trust Him, every time He is faithful and makes my path straight!
        Praying for all of us who are in this spiritual battle!

      4. “…my greatest fear is finding out I was the problem and I could have fixed it, but didn’t.”

        Thanks Jeff S. for sharing this. I really needed to read what you have written here, as I struggle with the same fear and the same guilt. Your writing gives me a great understanding of the fact, that I of course, am not God, and that I also cannot interpose my will into His. It is His to save or not, to change or not, to heal or not. We can and should do our part in working with God in those areas, but the decision is His, not mine. If we mess up, He will either fix it or forgive it. With Jesus, we cannot lose. I love that you say, we “don’t have the right to change” our abusers. Let it be so, for all victims, that they are free to know and believe this.

    2. …”he tried to balance the scales a bit” that right there is the WRONG thinking, unfortunately the unwillingness to put blame where blame is due is what perpetrates abuse.

      As stated many times on this blog, placating an abuer is easy…just tell them its not ALL their fault, even if you gave them a percentage of its 99.9% their fault, they will thrive in that 1%. That is the nature of the beast.

      Courts do the same thing, if the imbalance is obviously severe they bend over backwards to divy up the blame, so that they look like they are not taking sides.

      The church goes above and beyond to do this, I have personally been shown a diagram of what my percentage of blame is, based on the fact their was a marriage vow involved….yeeeeeeyaaaaaa??? They felt is was neccisary to draw me a picture because if I protested that was looked at as dim wittedness. Especially when all their “different applications” of how WE were suppose to approach him during his fits didnt pan out. Try to tell a pastor WHY and abuser starts an arguement? Try to tell a pastor that NO time is the right time to approach an abuser about finances? They just look at you as if YOU are not doing it right?

      1. …Pastors will reitirate to a victom of abuse “If you are unwilling to share the blame then its your fault that your marriage is in trouble” they literallly force victoms into sharing the responsibility for being abused……what kinda messed up cracker jack does that? I have been “forced” in counseling, brow beat, and guilted into saying “I will share responsibility for his actions” That is something an abuser will NEVER let a victom re-track. How can victoms in the fog possibly recover from that? Especially when you are dealing with somebody who chronically diminishes their own actions, denies their own actions, blame shifts anything they ever do on to you, tortures you with a smile, then crys when others are looking, somebody who pathologically lies and is lifted up in spirit when they crush yours……it is a true miracle that people make it out of that fog, especially when we all have been the ones willing to fix, take blame, do whatever it took to make somebody have empathy for you, love for you, and to live in understanding with you…and all that person does is take and finds rewards in the church for sheer evilness? My point is abusive people honestly do not possess the quality of Empathy or understanding, and nothing anyone says or does will impart that to them….God? Perhaps? But the odds of that persons heart being truly transformed? Especially when abusers can fake regeneration when it suits their purposes? I am not the expert, but I seriously think it is okay to LOVE somebody like that from another zip code….the church looks at that as a cop out, BUT they lack any understanding on the matter, and if it were them living with it daily, they would find some sort of neat and tidy scripture to align, and justify their way out?

    3. Why do people think that unless you are willing to return to the abuse, you have not forgiven the abuser? An abuser saying they are “sorry” or “oops I made a mistake” hardly qualifies for repentance. If the abuser is truly repentant, it may still be very hard or not even possible, for his past victim to return to him, due to continued fear of him bearing either false repentance, or the fear that he will eventually return to abusing, maybe just in other forms. I would think it would be completely normal also, for a victim not ever being able to trust the abuser again. So does God then hate the victim, because they could not find it in them to return? I think not. The marriage was broken by the abuse and if the abuser actually comes to true repentance, God will bless his/her life and the victim’s life as well.

      1. Why do people think that unless you are willing to return to the abuse, you have not forgiven the abuser?

        That is a very good question.

      2. Thank You for saying this, and the last 3 replies-actually all of them hit home hard! I really think/feel God doesn’t want his children to be treated this way! I have prayed for years, yes for a miracle too-never happened! It’s sad that things never change-but right if the abuser doesn’t ‘own’ or even want to change-the Marriage will never change! We can pray and wish all we want, but it’s not going to happen-maybe I am saying this and realizing this myself! These comments are helping me to see the situation for what it is. Thank You to all!

  5. JC said: “Woe to you, hypocrite! You whitewashed tomb! You dare to pretend to be a Christian and behind closed doors you practice this evil! Go! Begone! Leave her and don’t come back until you’ve truly been in the prodigal’s pig pen! And don’t try to fake it. We are quite familiar with counterfeit pig poo.”

    A merry heart does good like medicine! Thanks for the good laugh. And it is so true. If counselors dealt with abusers in this way, maybe some would truly repent and come to Christ!

    Rotten counselors remind me of Job 42. Vs 7 says, “…the Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite: ‘My anger burns against you and against your two friends, for you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has.” Then Eliphaz was directed to make burnt offerings for all the mess he and his cohorts created with their rotten counseling. And God continues with Eliphaz, “And My servant Job shall pray for you, for I will accept his prayer not to deal with you according to your folly. For you have not spoken of Me what is right, as my servant Job has.”

    I take away from this that God is NOT pleased with rotten counselors who don’t speak His truth and He is not afraid to call their counsel “folly.” What would happen if victims rose up from a bad counseling session and said, “Your counsel is folly. I’ll pray for you that God won’t deal with you according to your folly…” and walk out?

    1. “Your counsel is folly. I’ll pray for you that God won’t deal with you according to your folly…” and walk out?”

      Love it!! What an idea!!

    2. I have thought this about these Scriptures for a long time. Whenever I would mention other verses in the Bible regarding my situation, I was told by my counselors (Christian) that those verses did not explicitly deal with marriage, so they would not apply to me and my situation. I guess that means, that us married folk, can tear the majority of pages out of our Bibles, because it won’t apply to us anymore, at least concerning our marriages. Also, if they cannot apply the Word in all it’s completeness, then how can they say to an abuser, “do not let any corrupt communication proceed from your mouth…”, because that isn’t talking about marriage there either! You see, there would be no help for a married abuser, or a married victim, if you cannot use the Word of God in its entirety, but only Scriptures that have the words husband, wife, marriage, married, etc. in them. Nonsense.

  6. Just a thought here, but it occured to me today that possibly the “counsel” of a wife “being more submissive” so as to foster an environment of support and change for her husband IS actually promoting an environment of manipulation. (AKA manipulation in sheep’s clothing)

    If we alter our behavior to effect another’s, isn’t that just manipulating? Is the church further supporting manipulation by encouraging the wife to join in on the game?

    QUICK! Pull me out of this quicksand of twisted truths!!!

    1. I would call altering our behavior to “fix” an abuser “enabling.” Altering our behavior to keep from being attacked, thus as a mere defense tool, is one thing. Enablement is another.

      1. Therefore the church “enables” abusers to thrive? They alter their stance to appease the abuser, not neccissarily wanting to “Fix” the abuser or stand against them, but to placate them? Make nice with them?

      2. Yes. That is true! I was thinking more about how the church encourages altering behavior to change someone elses. It seems almost hypocritical- don’t try and change him by changing him, change him by changing yourself. The behavior that I think should be altered and encouraged by the church, is setting boundaries,seeking God, not changing who we are just to change someone else.

        But most definitely, don’t be ashamed of the survival tactics you have had to use!

    2. KingsDaughter, I left a post above that actually talks about this and how they do this in couples’ counseling.

    3. KD i agree, and of course you were most sincere as most victims who love honor and cherish there spouses EVEN when nothing is ever returned. My comment was only a general statement about how we tend to present the best as small as it may be, as a sort of refuge of our hope for change. IF WHEN the MIW did anything I could be proud of, with utmost sincerety I would share that out loud because as spouses we have alot of hope in the regeneration process that can come through Christ. Unfortunately in my case, the MIW was regenerated most likely over 1000 times? None of which was true repentance, just the simple act of tears, saying sorry, swallowing some magical grape juice….it became more of a game of how to manipulate the people around him, how to get me back, how to win sympathy and support. As a newborn Christian I question all these Baptisms, all these radical transformations that only lasted days or sometimes dissipaited as soon as we left the building? I saw this? The church however, kept supporting him, NOT the people HE was mistreating. I definately do not underestimate the power of Christ, and what HE has done for me. But I understand your heart, and your thinking. I have been there, as with alot of other people on this blog, some also that still live with the person that abuses them and their children. We all endure, until its time to not endure anymore. That time is between God and ourselves. Its good we all can take and learn from each other, and we are free to express who we are in a safe place. oxoxo = )

      1. Memphis,
        I know its been a while since you posted this…life is still sometimes quite chaotic (although it is getting better) and when something touches my heart I don’t always have the emotional energy to process and respond right away.
        I just wanted to say “Thank You” for your empathetic and kind words.
        “But I understand your heart, and your thinking. I have been there, as with alot of other people on this blog, some also that still live with the person that abuses them and their children. We all endure, until its time to not endure anymore. That time is between God and ourselves. Its good we all can take and learn from each other, and we are free to express who we are in a safe place. oxoxo = )”
        I can’t tell you what a blessing it is to have my heart heard! After years of being told how aweful I am, how selfish and impure my motives are, it is amazing to have someone really HEAR me. It is beautiful to have that “safe” place and to interact with people who love the Lord and have been made “whole” in Him. Thank you for your heart and your contributions here! You are a blessing!

  7. Jeff C,
    I so loved your imaginary counseling session, I made one of my own. What Fun!

    Maybe the counsel should go more like this;
    “what is true, what is noble, whatever is right, what is pure, what is lovely, what is admirable—is anything is excellent or praiseworthy???? Lets work on developing and protecting these things… Oh! He is telling you what your motives are? Hmmm… Is that true? No? Lets find some ways to protect that! What? He is hurting you? That’s NOT noble, lets find ways to protect those GOOD things! Hmm… what are some ways we could make your marriage pure? lovely? Husband, you don’t want to focus on these things? You want me to tell her to ignore her own heart and mind so that you can lead better? No! Silly! Did YOU knit her together in her mother’s womb? Then why do you feel you have the right to toss out those parts of her that God made? We need to work on that false thinking, son! Oh, so she is not submissive and is in danger of offending God by being rebellious to you? You seem very concerned for her well-being! We certainly should address that! Let’s start with how she is rebelling against God. How about the Ten Commandments, Is she putting another supreme authority besides God? Oh! You want her to put you there and obey you like she would God even if it goes against what she feels God is telling her? Well, that certainly IS a problem! We will have to remove you from lordship in her life so she can truly obey and submit to God! You do know that no one can submit one to another properly until they are properly submitting to God? You are going to have to stop being her god! Oh, she is making you do these terrible things? Well, then, you better repent too! Remember the greatest command was to love God, the SECOND was to love your neighbor as yourself, NOT love your neighbor as God!”

    Ok so that felt so good (almost naughty) lol!

  8. Barbara, Jeff, Megan , Jeff and everyone else…
    Has anyone read ” How to Act Right When Your Spouse Acts Wrong” by Leslie Vernick?
    It’s a book being circulated by my pastor in a response to a dialogue on abusive relationships and divorce. I’m having strong reactions to it, not that the content is bad, it’s ok, but doesn’t apply to abusive relationships as far as I’m seeing it ( although she does mention extreme cases of abuse in a few paragraphs and suggests separation may be necessary but uses a miraculous story of a husband repenting and changing).
    Any thoughts?

    1. I’ve ever heard of it, but it sounds awful. The minute people start offering separation as a concession, I start running the other way.

      The thought pattern around allowing for separation is completely off, and usually it’s presented almost like its a gift. But there is no Biblical justification for it, and the person offering this “gift” has just admitted sometimes marriages are dangerous. So they believe that getting away from the marriage is healthy, but they don’t want it to be labeled as “divorce”, even though the couple is not functioning like a married couple. That is legalism.

      I’m not saying that separation can’t work, but I think it shouldn’t be offered as a morally superior alternative to divorce.

    2. I have not read this book, but her book The Emotionally Destructive Relationship deals more with abusive relationships. It was one of the first books I read when trying to discern what was happening in my marriage and helped me start thinking of steps to take to break free. Leslie does not condone abuse in any relationship. She gives very sound, biblical advice to those living in destructive / abusive marriages.

      1. Amy,
        Do you know if she addresses divorce in this other book ” The Emotionally Destructive relationship”. ?
        My concern is not so much the content of Vernicks book , but that its being used in response to the dialogue of Abuse happening in THIS VERY CHURCH!!

      2. Hi Leslie,
        I do not remember how much or how she discusses divorce in her book, the Emotionally Destructive Relationship. But if I remember right, she does talk about it. I would highly recommend reading this other book and ditching the one your pastor gave you. That book is not about abuse and therefore, is not going to be helpful to someone in an abusive marriage. The dynamics are too different.

    3. Leslie- my secretary read that book and although she respects Vernick, i remember her coming into my office one day and saying she could not recommend it. I respect her judgment so I say proceed with caution on that one.

      1. Thanks Jeffs and Amy.

        To add to the comment… This book has been given to our church leadership and a few of us women who are in Abusive relationships by the Sr. Pastor
        (I’ve given him Cry for Justice and In Sheeps Clothing )

    4. I just came across Leslie Vernick’s blog (have not read her books) and so far I have been very encouraged by her insights. She seems to take a hard stance against abuse and is supportive of victims. I would be surprised from what I’ve read so far that she would improperly address abuse.
      Maybe the book is being applied to the wrong situation? Marital discord is not the same as control and abuse. (The Five Love Languages is a great book, but certainly NOT appropriate for an abusive marriage). Could that be case here?

      1. Yes, that could be the problem. I had a copy but can’t find it right now. Other things I have read by Vernick have been quite good though. I don’t know her stance on abuse being a biblical grounds for divorce off hand though. For me, that is the watershed issue in whoever I am evaluating. If they say “no,” then I don’t recommend their stuff.

      2. KingsDaughter,
        I just replied to Leslie above about how the book she was given by her pastor is not about abusive relationships, whereas the other book, Emotionally Destructive Relationships is. And I agree that addressing marital discord is not going to help someone living with abuse, the dynamics are different.

        I love Leslie Vernick’s blog and her insight into abusive relationships is spot on, IMHO. She had a great blog post re: whether we are just called to suffer. Wish I had read that years ago when as a new Christian living in an abusive marriage everyone was telling me that I had to suffer for that is what God’s call us to do in life. In a nutshell, Leslie’s blog post regarding that very subject spoke of how we do suffer in life, but our suffering should be for doing the right thing and standing up to abuse, not just suffering through it. And when we do stand up to our abuser, when we do say that is not right and I will not continue in this, we usually do suffer, but not because we continue to take it in silence.

        Anyway, I highly recommend her blog and books, but again, the Emotionally Destructive Relationship is the one to be read if someone is dealing with abuse.
        And she has a new book coming out about abuse in marriage or it may be out already.

      3. Jeff,
        Leslie Vernick takes a strong stance against abuse in marriage and from what I read on her blog, she is concerned first and foremost about the safety of those in an abusive marriage and stands alongside those that have divorced because of abuse. I am hesitant to say she believes abuse is biblical grounds for divorce, because I cannot say I’ve read that per se, but I would say her main concern is how the Church is failing those in abusive marriages and making the abused feel that divorce is not an option, and they just need to stay and suffer.
        Just my .02 cents. 🙂

      4. Thank you Song. And I know what you took away from her “answer.” This is why I always want to know a counselor’s answer to the question “is abuse a biblical ground for divorce?” She does not answer this question, but the silence says it. There is all kinds of pressure in the Christian world among authors to not be black-balled by the powers that be in evangelicalism. If you say that the Bible allows divorce for abuse, you are going to be blacklisted by many of the big names. Books won’t sell as widely. Someone needs to ask Vernick this same question again. Notice that in her reply to the question, she guilted the victim – which is disappointing. She asked the victim to search herself and see if there is a way she is contributing to the abuser’s actions. And that is just wrong. She proposes separation – a common proposal that JeffS just addressed in another comment in this thread. But falls short of coming right out and saying “yes” or “no.” That is too bad.

      5. I just went back to Leslie Vernick’s blog searching for the post on abuse and divorce, then I saw that Song had found it already. And I must say, a little timidly because I was pushing her book, that I am disappointed in rereading this post she wrote on abuse and divorce.
        She totally side steps the question and yes, at one point puts the blame on the abused.
        I still think her posts on defining abuse are well done, but she certainly does tiptoe around the issue of divorce and some of her advice about “calmly speaking to your spouse about how his/her behavior hurts you” type of stuff made the hair on my arms stand up. Really? Talk calmly to your abusive spouse who will slam you against the wall whether verbally or physically for daring to tell him/her how to act when you’re the one with the problem??? Doesn’t work as we all know.

      6. I just read that blog post and my opinion is, that she gives advice, but never talks about divorce. She talks about women setting the boundaries and taking the reins, so to speak, but how many victims of abuse, are even able to be this strong? How many victims are actually able to gain any control in the situation? It seems like it is coming from someone who has dealt with a little bit of verbal abuse and thinks that if the wife cuts him off from something, even though it will make him furious, he will then abide by the rules of marriage. Not so, in my own personal experience. People who do not understand abuse and the dynamics of it, should really not try to give advice to victims as to how to handle the abuser. She talks a great deal about safety, but I can testify that cutting the abuser off in anyway, can be very dangerous. She talks as if the abuser is just an immature man who needs boundaries set and a little discipline from the ol’ wife, in order to even things out in the marriage. That could be in some situations, but I would say that it would not be true in most truly abusive marriages and even downright dangerous. Just my opinion.

      7. Yes, many times counselors dance around the “D” issue. She may have clearly addressed it somewhere but I would like to find it so that I know for sure.

      8. Yes. This paragraph said it all to me. “Also it is important to ask yourself if there is anything that you are doing to provoke and/or escalate a difficult or volitile situation. I have worked with couples where one spouse is trying to shut the conflict down because he or she is afraid of losing control, but the other spouse will not stop their arguing. The situation escalates and the one who feared losing control, does. I’m not excusing the abusive person in these cases, but sometimes we do create a situation where it is harder for someone to handle themselves in a godly way.” Once again, it puts the responsibility for the abuse on the non-abusive spouses shoulders. Ugh!

      9. yes her answer dances around, she can’t come out and say that someone can divorce – because some Christians disagree with that.
        Also the line about “you might be doing something to provoke the other to lose control” —- that shows she is really clueless about abuse, in a fundamental way..

      10. Jeff – maybe in her heart she knows it’s wrong, but as you say – she won’t sell books and her “career” could be sunk by the big men in the evangelical world…..

      11. “maybe in her heart she knows it’s wrong”. Katy, I believe she does. And yet…..the possibility of what you also said of being concerned she won’t be able to sell her books and her evangelical career would suffer a negative impact……sigh. The visual of two speech bubbles saying opposite things emerging from opposite sides of her mouth are too hard to repress. I feel for her and the cognitive dissonance that I imagine she may be experiencing. God and time will only tell.

      12. Amy, I too, really liked what her blog and book had to say when I found them. I consider her blog as a stepping stone to other information.

    5. I dont have any thoughts, but I suddenly have a pain like a nail being drove into my skull

      The title alone is kinda disturbing. I think a miraculous story of a truly repented, changed husband that was an abuser is in fact very miraculous….she should write a biblical book on the percentages of men that abuse, and how many of them actually repent and change.

      I would never read anything with that title, and just based on what you said about it, sounds like a lame attempt to address an internal church issue, without actually addressing abusers or abuse. Trust your strong reactions to this book.

    6. I read it, it’s not bad but has NOTHING to do with abusive relationships. Her other one on Emotionally Destructive Relationships is good, so I think they are just applying to wrong book to the situation, like what someone says about love languages, great for helping solid marriages, not good for abusive marriages.

      1. I agree with SS(BGA). It has nothing to do with abusive relationships. Her other book is good, not great, but it was one of the first ones I read and I appreciated it at the time. Lundy Bancroft and Dr. George Simon’s books were much more helpful.

      2. Thanks everyone.
        You’ve confirmed my “gut instinct” on this book being ok but just grossly misapplied to abuse.
        Much appreciated.

    7. I remember being very excited to hear her on a talk show since she addresses abuse in a book and on her blog. And I also remember feeling shocked and betrayed after listening to her responses on the show. I thought, “Someone got a hold of her and is making her retract her position about abuse.” I wish I had saved the show, but I didn’t. I just stopped reading her blog.

      1. I have never heard of her before but I have a prediction. She will end up doing more harm than good if she is not willing to allow divorce for abuse. I don’t see any alternative.

        Being against abuse AND against divorce for abuse is kind of like saying you are for the slaves and can’t stand how they are treated but can’t quite see your way clear to support abolition.

      2. I love that analogy, BIT.

        From reading the discussions here, I now can make sense of my own conflicting feelings when I first came across Leslie Vernick’s book, The Emotionally Destructive Relationship. Loved it so much I offered it to my counselor as one of the few Christian books I had come across that recognised and addressed abuse head on. But it did leave me hanging in the air, because it didn’t offer the way forward. Not tolerating abuse is one thing, but how does one survive in a marriage where abuse is a daily thing? Not many authors would address that, when that was the bottom line issue for me, and I suspect for most Christian victims in a marriage.

      3. MovingForward- Which always brings us back to what I maintain is the fundamental question to ask of a counselor, pastor, or anyone who is giving advice to abuse victims: Do you believe that the Bible authorizes divorce for habitually, unrepentant, ongoing abuse out of a mentality of entitlement to power and control? If their answer is “no,” or if it is “well, hmmm…” – then all they do is take you to a dead end. And it is time to move along and stop listening to them at that point.

  9. I have to just say, “Woe to those who call good, evil and evil, good.” I just came back from court and had to set up mediation to deal with the parenting schedule. Mediate with a sociopath? Impossible.

    I’m beyond disgusted at how the judge chatises ME for “alienating the children from their father.” Their father is an abusive LIAR who paints himself as a caring angel of light, yet owes over $15,000 in child support. I’m feeling despondent and wish my Heavenly Father would do something about the injustice and bullying I had to endure for the 5th time this year so far (I’ve been to court 17 times since October, 2008). I want to live my life and have this harassment stop. Why does God continue to let evil triumph?

    1. Psalm37 I so know what you are going through. I get my own lawyer( my parents help me pay him) to do any mediation because my lawyer recognizes and is aware of the abuse. But yes, the courts don’t get it and I am screaming inside as I watch, from the sidelines, him groom my 14 yo daughter. I pray protection and hope that he never crosses that line but he crossed sexual abuse lines with me, what will stop him with her, he can’t seem to deny himself anything he wants. ( Oh, and yeah, last count was 14K back child support)

      1. Thanks for the replies, ladies. I have had the most atrocious judge for the whole divorce. He’s a bully and believes the “parental alienation” tactic my ex, the abuser uses against me. I have been wrestling with why God allows these lies and injustice to continue. I read the Psalms and see the liars exposed and swallowed by their deceit. Same in Proverbs, but not in my experience. I know how much I love my kids and what I’ve sacrificed for them. God’s seen what I lived through, but it still demoralizes me hearing it from two degenerates in the same courtroom.

    2. My first instinct was to quote Ps 37, but I noticed that’s your name! It’s a great one to hang on to – unless God is a liar, He has the final say, and woe to the liars and wicked people who propagate injustice.

  10. About Leslie Vernick… I read the link and see it differently than some have commented. She clearly condemns abuse but wisely does not condemn the abusor. I think that is a Biblical approach. It seems that she recognizes that all situations are not the same. And since no two situations are the same it seems loving of her (although it doesn’t feel good) to gently remind a victim to evaluate themselves. What’s the sense of escaping an abuser only to hold on to the poison. Something I felt God gave me for my husband may apply here, “You are not your sin! …. therefore there’s no shame in addressing and forsaking it!” I KNOW that early on in my marriage I had some terrible attitudes and really let bitterness creep in and take hold. No excuse for abuse whatsoever, but in addressing my own sin I could stand more firmly against my husbands.
    About divorce, Leslie does address it (ie. understanding that in some situations you will have to file just to protect yourself finacially) and in no way condemns it. What she does do, that I see as using great wisdom is that she attempts to put the power back in the victims hands by giving them the tools to make their own choice. Notice that in her tool bag there is no guilt of what it will do to the children or how it will offend God. Actually she mentions that an abuser must experience the consequence of their actions and that may be loss of that relationship (sounds like divorce to me). I’m sure I’m in the minority here, (I’m learning how to be OK with that and even the fact that I may be VERY wrong), but I didn’t have a problem with her approach.
    So many situations are vastly different… and really who knows the best details of your situation but you? So, I have to agree with her, if sin in your own heart needs to be addressed do it so you can see more clearly and if you decide divorce is best, own it.
    Remember, she does instruct separating for protection, but the final dissolusionment of the marriage must be your own choice.

    1. I could not agree less then, with Leslie Vernick. That would be a marshmallow roast I would not attend. Sounds like she hangs out in the Grey Matter, not the reality of where the church hAS actually fallen, in regards to the rampant abuse issues, and the abusers they aid and abed within church walls. The stance needs to be against abuse, in support of the victoms period. If abuse continues to remain this debatable, (as it has been for Centurys) soft fuzzy warm thumb sucking issue then all she is doing is adding more fuel to an already out of control fire. Books like that within the church keep victims hopeful that true help has arrived. But it wont be the answer. There should be a warning label that reads “” Beware of Fog Not lifting for another ten years” I may be in the minority also, but I find this unfortunate that her authority as an aurthor has missed the mark, in this book. (i dont know about the others)
      Thank God for this blog, or I may have went back to getting caught up in all my own doubts about what abuse actually does, and what an abuser actually is. I think there are WAY better biblical, and secular books that hit the bulls eye of the truth.

      1. Anonomyous, In case you could not tell by my comments, I agree with you about the author. I agree she does not get it….and “kinda” does not cut it!! I feel the same as you do, I like your responses, how personal you have been = ) Thank you for all that you wrote! So “Ditto” what you said.

    2. KingsDaughter, Does not condemn the abuser? What does that mean? She doesn’t hold him responsible, because he is just a sinner, like his victim? I believe is it excellent to evaluate ourselves, the problem is that most victims of abuse, have already been blamed by the abuser for his own actions and have also blamed themselves for years and years, hence over-evaluating themselves, to the point of losing their mind. In my own case, I never provoked the abuse nor did I say anything when things escalated. I know those things for a fact. My children also lived in intense fear and intimidation – none of it being provoked. I just say this, because the tendency for the counselors to blame the victims is prevalent. Even to say something like, “Well, I am not blaming you for his actions, but you do need to evaluate your behavior, not that it excuses his.” This to me is a clear indication, that the playing field is being leveled and the victim IS IN FACT being questioned as to what his/her responsibility is in being abused. You just cannot do that in abusive marriages. I cannot imagine anyone on this blog, actually aggravating their abusers, or smarting off to them or fighting with them, when they are being abused. I actually, cannot stand even having this conversation, because it triggers me. I am truly tired of people not getting it and acting like they do and then trying to push their own agenda, at the expense of all the victims. Sorry.

      1. Oh Anon, I am sorry! I did not want to hurt anyone with my comment. I’m just beginning my journey out of the fog, learning patterns and feeling out what I actually think about things (finally). I am sorry that my comments hurt you!
        I can totally see how painful it is for one more person to suggest that your pain is not valid and that you are in some way to blame. Please know that it was not what I was trying to communicate. While I don’t know your exact pain, I have to a small degree experienced what you are saying, people judging and pretty much dismissing/diminishing the evil that was done to you by suggesting that either it was not really that bad or you in some way precipitated it. Yup. been there and it hurts bad! That really was not what I was trying to say. I won’t go into explaining what I meant by what I said, because quite honestly it really is not that important. I’m just sorry it came across as agenda driven and was a trigger for you.
        Thanks for being so honest about your feelings. It is the vulnerability of everyone on here that is so encouraging and helpful.

      2. KingsDaughter – It was not your own comments, but the fact that the author basically makes those comments, by the way she writes and talks to victims. I am not offended with you, personally. I know what it is like to be in the fog and to also wonder or think or actually believe, that God somehow expects wives to save their husbands by tolerating their abuse. How could that even be true? We are never to condone nor submit to a spouse’s sin (ie abuse), and the only way out of it, is to leave. Some will separate, and some will divorce, but all need to be free to follow God in it, and not allow men/women who think they know what they are doing and know God better than the rest of us, to make those decisions or even influence those decisions. The Bible says that we are all able to “know Him”, so this idea that authors or anyone else know God better and what He would want for us in our individual lives, is just pure nonsense. If we make a mistake making decisions out of fear, or because of the fog we live in, God can either repair it or forgive it. These people want to live as if their sin is forgiven, but a victim’s sin would not be. It doesn’t even make sense. I just also think the author does not get abuse and the dynamics of it, or she would not be trying to teach women to stand up and draw the line and set boundaries, etc., as if the victims are just so dumb, or as if that is so easy to do with an abuser. She would realize how dangerous that could be to victims and she would just send them down the road to an actual abuse counselor for help, or call the police herself. It was her comments that triggered me, once I went and read her blog for myself. So, no worries or apology needed – but thank you for the nice note! I should have been clearer about “who” was triggering me! So now it’s my turn to apologize, and I do!

  11. To Sum Up – We have had a very profitable discussion here. I know it has been for me. And the thread is still open for, let’s see, what was the original subject? Ah yes, no couple’s counseling for abuse cases:) But let me see if I can kind of tie off and summarize the accompanying discussion about Leslie Vernick’s books and work in the area of abuse. One of our readers checked with Leslie directly and Leslie stated that she allows for divorce for abuse sometimes. Now, of course, we would say that abuse is always biblical grounds for divorce, though divorce is not mandated by the Lord. But when we ask the question, “is abuse biblical grounds for divorce?” (an excellent and central question in this whole subject), we are going to have to more specifically define what we mean by “abuse.” Leslie Vernick didn’t know our reader personally, so just what does someone mean by “abuse” when they as this question, you see. Perhaps we could clarify things if we say “by abuse, we mean the ongoing, habitual, unrepentant quest for power and control which stems out of a mentality of entitlement and is able to use a variety of tactics and feel quite justified in using those tactics.” Is divorce permitted by Scripture for that? We answer a resounding yes! And we would go on to say that even IF there were genuine repentance by an abuser of this type, the victim would still not be obligated to remain married to him.

    So, I would still (my opinion) recommend The Emotionally Abusive Relationship by Leslie Vernick as a good tool for victims as they begin to work on understanding what is happening to them. And I think that Leslie has other very useful resources as well. I will be interested in reading her newest book, The Emotionally Abusive Marriage, which is either just recently released or is upcoming.

    We continue to use discernment in evaluating counselors and authors, as always. But as JeffS told me earlier, he feels we can give her at least a “B” grade:). I am learning that if we don’t have to alienate someone who is all in all an ally in this battle, we shouldn’t. With all of that said, I would like to hear a clear, biblical presentation from Leslie as to that key question – “Does Scripture permit divorce for the ongoing, habitual, unrepentant quest for power and control over one’s spouse which stems from a mentality of entitlement and is able to use a variety of tactics and feel quite justified in using those tactics.”

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


      Thank you Jeff C.
      I appreciate the value in tying up the discussion about Leslie Vernick and I don’t really want to open it up wholly again, but since I’m only just now finding my feet in US soil after having made the journey over, I am catching up very late on all that has transpired on this thread.

      I simple want to tell our readers that I went to Leslie Vernick’s blog post about Divorce for Domestic Abuse and submitted this comment [Internet Archive link]: [Barb’s comment doesn’t show on the Internet Archive of Leslie Vernick’s post. Editors.]

      Leslie, my book “Not Under Bondage: Biblical Divorce for Abuse, Adultery and Desertion” examines all the passages in the Bible that relate to divorce, particularly divorce for domestic abuse. My conclusion is that the Bible most certainly allows divorce for domestic abuse. You can browse some of my book Not Under Bondage

      I also blog with Ps Jeff Crippen at A Cry For Justice where we have many posts about divorce for domestic abuse.

      I hope you don’t mind me promoting my book on your site, but this is such a vexed issue that I think you and many of your readers might appreciate becoming aware of my contribution to the debate.

    2. Let me add a bit more information about Leslie Vernick’s position on divorce for abuse. I am currently reading her manuscript for her new book which is going to come out in September 2013 and it is entitled The Emotionally Destructive Marriage. This book is going to be top-notch and we will be recommending it. The book makes it clear that Leslie does hold to divorce for abuse, though she emphasizes that the decision has to be made by the abuse victim. Leslie’s book also gives a description of headship and submission that certainly is one of the best I have ever heard. Leslie Vernick is on our side.

      1. Yes! I have personally worked with her and her biblical wisdom and insight is top notch!

  12. I have been thinking some more about marriage counseling and where it can so easily go wrong. Here is a couple in your church. Let’s say the wife broaches the topic about trouble in the marriage. What to do? What is the primary and fundamental goal? The common answer is “we must preserve this marriage.” But that cannot be the essential mission in such cases. Marriage is about people. Our basic goal is not about helping “marriage,” but helping people. In a non-abuse case this help may consist of assisting the couple in coming to an agreement about an issue. Or about dealing with the fallout of some confessed and repented of sin. But still, the counseling is, at its root, about helping people – not about keeping marriage intact. That may happen, but as a secondary result.

    I propose that all marriage counseling be a ministry to people, while we put preserving the marriage on a back-burner for the time being. What are the real issues? If it is abuse, then we are trying to preserve a human being, and that means that we are going to identify the culprit, protect the victim, and render justice. That justice will very probably entail ending this “so-called marriage,” or at least helping the victim see that this is her right.

    So, how about this kind of “marriage” counseling”? — “You (the abuser) have wickedly and without repentance destroyed this marriage. She has the right to divorce you, and we are going to give her resources so that she is protected and so that she might be enabled to understand what has been happening to her.”

    To such righteous counseling you will hear voices scream, “You told them what? What kind of a marriage counselor are you, anyway? This is horrible. Now there is going to be a divorce!”….yada, yada, yada. And to which we reply, “What kind of counselors are we? The kind who call evil, evil – and good, good.”

    1. Jeff since the Church believes they should have a lower divorce rate than the rest of the world…they think that Christ’s name is tarnished when Christians can’t keep their marriages together any better than the heathen.
      But people who habitually, cruelly abuse their spouses don’t belong in the church….I wonder if the stats on divorce are skewed because of who is doing the self-identification as “believers”… there is just no way to know. I’m thinking that the church needs to ignore these sorts of divorce statistics.
      and put the focus back on the people within the marriage, as you say.

      1. Before I ever got saved my life long assumption was that the Christianese-ish type churches were all about showing the heathen up. They had all the right answers, and the rest of us did not….plus I viewed them as “clickiy” and a bit “nerdy”” but overall they thought they were better than everyone else- I was an unbeliever, I got ill everytime I overheard the Christanese-ish Mums talking at soccer practice. WHY? Because to an unbeliever they sounded fake, and full of canoga. (cow pattys)….they shunned us secular indulgent Mums, and our kids….I can think back on MANY conversations that these poor women were so terribly fogged out, and in a sense brainwashed. This IS the secular church, and it is NOT set apart from the rest of the world, so my looong drawn out point IS the ONLY thing right now that makes them ANY different than their heathen counterparts is complete and utter hypocrasy.

        HMMM? What changed for me after I was saved? Was I welcomed with open arms? Or felt like I ever belonged to the secret club in my midst? I was never asked to be apart of anything? I was ignored just like my heathen self at the soccer game?

        I understand that my relationship with God stands alone, but then we always had the stock lingo shoved down our throats “” Get PLUGGED in” like that alone was going to make us better off. If I chose to stay home with my kids, or take a break from being judged and or shunned ..There was the MIW pointing that out to everyone, and they truly believed that somehow made me less than them, no I was not considered “A fellow friend that had stumbled” Or like my spouse “Who has simply backslided” rather just my mear absence from my MIW was enough to prove I was being willfuly disobidient chosing the SIN of divorce. ( wow…how they USED over and over the word “backsliding” as if it covered all sin, they used for the MIW but NEVER me, my sin was specific “”not serving the beast””(the MIW) the graphic sin of Abuse falls under this category, Backsliding) The poor guy was/is simply in a fallen state, a hapeless sort that needs more and more emotional stoking. Abusers suck everyone dry, thats why eventually they move on to a fresh church, a fresh victim. Good luck to them, in filling emotional well, his “emotional abyss”” because the problem is there is no emotion, just a big black hole.

        Abusers run a muck in church, thats the truth….marriage is not marriage by ANY standard IF you are being abused by your spouse…I dont even like to think about how many children, families are doomed to suffer because of the church worshiping the marriage vow. Seriously what a bunch of Cracker Jacks. Literally welcoming Abusers, embracing the mentality of abusers, becoming abusers themselves.
        I know I am not going to be everybodys “”Shining Star” by saying that, but its not just my own experience, the church works over time to keep victims in the abusers fog!
        Yuck! Now I have a rash.

    2. I love your comment, Jeff. Maybe you should think of a new term for marriage counseling. It should be about counseling people, not counseling “the marriage.”

      “You (the abuser) have wickedly and without repentance destroyed this marriage.”

      Someone who is repeatedly and systematically abusing is destroying a person as well as the marriage.

  13. Lots of god stuff in this post and comments. One thing I want to add though, is that when dealing with an abuser and being asked if you are provoking him…ANYTHING can set them off. I know women who got hurt because they walked into the room or they smiled at something! A spouse should not have to walk on eggshells and be so aware of every move they make or what they say in case ‘they might set him off’. That’s just more blame shifting towards the victim.

    1. Well said, Lynette! Something that your spouse requested you do yesterday could set him off today. Trying to explain that to people who don’t live it…

  14. Scripture teaches us that this earth is a battleground between the forces of darkness and the light. It makes sense that evil would gravitate to our churches and without boundaries; they would be infiltrated by, and overtaken by sin. Anyone can make a profession of faith to obtain church membership, and it seems that much of the church leadership that we discuss here is content with that as proof that everyone within their doors are genuine Christians. These pastors refuse to examine the actions of their members, and will not exercise discipline for abuse or other serious sins. They are more like wooden Indians than shepherds in regard to protecting the sheep. I would not have believed this had I not lived through it.

    So it seems that when marriage counseling is prescribed, the assumption is that the victim must forgive and forget the ‘christian’ perpretrator . In my case, they attempted to convince me that events did not really happen as I described them, (another abusive technique, crazymaking), They almost successfully penetrated the safety boundaries that I set up by guilting me into thinking that he was not dangerous, and finally, the church gave my private comments to my husband, further inciting him against me.

    My experience has taught me that joint marriage counseling is a sham when abuse is present. Rather than walking in the truth, the church perpetrates this act of concern with the intention to force victims back into domestic violence. They allow the victim to vent briefly, thinking that the church will help, and then it is back to where you came from. It’s like they throw one a rope only to let go of it.

    I wonder how these counselors and pastors can sleep at night. The Lord will hold them accountable for this.

    1. PW – One of the major complaints we (myself and our elders) have had about other pastors and churches that claim to be Bible-believing churches is that they will not practice church discipline. I cannot tell you how many times we have disciplined people for open, ongoing, unrepentant and obvious sin, only to have them sitting in another church the very next Sunday, welcomed with open arms. Oh, I should say in light of what we have all learned through this blog and through hard experience, is that yes, such churches will discipline people – innocent people! They do what we have said here, they call evil good and good evil.

      There is no excuse for this. The Bible is FULL of instruction and warning about how Satan creeps into our churches, sending his emissaries as angels of light, as hidden reefs among us, as the Diotrephes types craving power and control. How many times does the Bible talk about false prophets, about a false gospel, a false spirit and a false Jesus?

      I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel– not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.
      (Galatians 1:6-10 ESV)

      That last verse nails it. We can be true servants of Jesus Christ, or we can be man-pleasers. It is one or the other. And in my opinion, the mass of evangelicalism today is infected with man-pleasers, which necessarily means that a false gospel is being preached. We must understand that you can mouth all the right doctrinal words and still be preaching a false gospel that pleases man. All you have to do is twist and pervert the application of that doctrine so that it is no longer truth. You can talk about people being born again, about how true faith produces good works, but if you don’t apply those truths in real life application, you preach a false gospel. Thus, when we say that someone is born again and yet their life shows an ongoing pattern of abuse to others, we deny the gospel. This is why when I look at a church I just give a rather cursory glance at their constitution and bylaws and doctrinal statement. I have found that those things can look very good, and yet in reality be meaningless.

      So yes, good luck with “marriage counseling” in a “church” like that.

      1. Yesterday, at the courts, the evidence that I gave to the church counselor concerning the violent nature and misconduct of my husband was examined. My husband’s attorney, appearing nauseated, immediately began making visitation concessions. He went from every other weekend to two afternoons a month. The Guardian ad Litem did not even think that was safe, and is standing in the gap for us, trying to reduce even that.
        Isn’t it telling that the court respects the boundaries that I put up in the counseling, while the church wanted to discipline me for it? Beware of church marriage counselors as they may elevate their agenda above truth.

      2. PW – This comment probably needs to be a post of its own. First, I am very glad you begin to see some justice. Excellent. Second, “biblical counselors” continue to nauseate and anger me. This underscores the whole argument we have been making against “me and my Bible” counselors that are so prevalent in our conservative churches. This is also why we have repeatedly pointed victims to secular books on abuse, recommending them above most Christian ones. Your warning to everyone to beware of church marriage counselors is right on and one to be heeded. They do so often have personal and philosophical agendas disguised as Scriptural ones.

        The court respects the boundaries I put up in the counseling, while the church wanted to discipline me for it.

        I’m putting that one on our Gems quote page.

      3. Isn’t it telling that the court respects the boundaries that I put up in the counseling, while the church wanted to discipline me for it?

        Boy. There’s a lot going on right there. Houston, we have a problem!

        Very very glad you are being taken seriously by the court and even his own attorney is disgusted with him.

      4. I wish I lived where you live PW. I had 9 full years of documented restraint orders, hand written letters from the MW STATING he was sorry for all his physical, emotional, etc abuse(trust me I KNOW that the MIW just did to show the church counselors in writing his grieves pain)…but I had ALOT of evidence. It was casualy lookied at, wether they thought he was a liar, creep, whether his attorney was frustrated with him, wehter ANY body had any sense of recognition of what was going on regarding the abuse issues, they refuse to connect the dots to my children, the assumption that “”he sincerely wants to see them” granted him Unsupervised extended visits, no matter what I said, no matter what I presented, no matter what y testimony was, I had sole custody of my children and that gave me very little power to have any control over their safety. I fought for 3yrs straight, he kept getting fed more and more information on how he could gain control by terrorizing me through the courts, he lived for it, he had the money….in the meantime I was left to defend myself because the first two attorneys were bullys, took my money then sat on their hands, I only paid them out of desperation (that took my apt, and then car from me) the MIW kept tryin to press charges against me, had his attorney bully me, and other hired PI continually following me around, harrass me, even lay their hands on me, then when it even got too much for all the people involved they did an about face, and so sickeningly faked concern, and niceness towards me in front of the judge so they did not look like bullys…..on that day the judge threw out their paper work, saying we will NOT contest custody in this divorce, so I had that small victory, but in the end it didnt really matter. His parenting time was the same, we were locked into him legallly being able to continue abusesing us weekly, and his main mission was to gain control using my worst fear against me “His ten years of threats of taking my children, and me never seeing them again” No matter what Idid I couldnt manuver away from him, I couldnt, nobody would let me protect my children? As another reader commented, the money gave him power to do as he pleased, and we all know thats why abusers use finances to abuse us. I couldnt get through divorce safely, BUT I am so amazed and glad there are hopeful stories out there. This MIW will never stop, why would he? He would have nothing else that gives him so much pleasure. My outcome became my worst nightmare, my worst case scenario, my “after this I got nothiing left”” stage. The place three years ago I never imagined in a sane world I would end up. I can see that the MIW has all his backings, he will trump around with his court victorys to prove his christion-dom, he will play the card for all his followers, all the people who will gather around him, throw benefits for him, take turns inviting him to their family barbeques, all the finances that would of been for my kids futures will be gone to the same people that slayed us, and the MIW will be praised for all his generosities, ugh, its nauesiating, and I admitt that these are the things I strive so hard to NOT think about, its hard when I am in the midst of seeing the results of what the MIW has done, and continues to get away with. I do feel much better when I hear of positive outcomes, the bad outcomes make me feel as if its being done to me, then I get all sick inside, and honestly a little enraged, then I wanna cry then I am just one big hot mess.

        So PW I am really cheering for you!!

      5. Memphis, the legal & systemic abuse (abuse by the System) you have experienced has been enormous. Using the word in its true sense, what has been done to you by the legal system has been an enormity.

        Enormity [Internet Archive link]:
        1) The quality of passing all moral bounds; excessive wickedness or outrageousness.
        2) A monstrous offense or evil; an outrage.
        Enormity is frequently used to refer simply to the property of being great in size or extent, but many would prefer that enormousness (or a synonym such as immensity) be used for this general sense and that enormity be limited to situations that demand a negative moral judgment, as in Not until the war ended and journalists were able to enter Cambodia did the world really become aware of the enormity of Pol Pot’s oppression.

  15. Okay, so in reading so many of these comments where the abuser has sat in counseling feigning remorse, I am very thankful that my s t be E X does not have that capacity! Its Such a struggle already to break out of the fog I just don’t know if I could do it if he were pretending to care. But, on the other hand he does keep things just as confusing with his lies.

    1. Walk away from the ones who won’t listen. The few who will, hand them a book and suggest they read and learn.

    2. SJR,
      I fell into the trap of thinking if I could just explain myself better or was more specific and clear I could get my X to get it. I have sinced learned that it is not my responsibility to make my X or anyone get it. That is their responsibility.

      The old saying about leading a horse to water, but can’t make him drink is the same for people – You can lead a person to knowledge, but you can’t make him think.

      1. My H doesn’t get it. Never has. I just want my pastor to get it. Maybe that will help if H finally runs into someone he can’t snowball.

      2. Patricia Evans talks a lot about the ‘explaining trap’ in her books (we list her most popular book in our Resources section). It was a light-bulb moment for me when I read her advice to victims: Don’t Fall Into The Explaining Trap. Trying to explain yourself to an abuser is a waste of time and only gives them more ammunition to shoot back at you, or enables them to conjure up more red herrings to block and divert your attempts at logical discussion. Evans advises that if you ask an abuser a question and they don’t answer it but instead come out with some sideways comment that throws you off balance, ignore their comment and simply restate your question in the exact words you stated it the first time. . . . the stuck record approach, I call it.

      3. It works, hacks him off, eventually gets mad and says I treat him like a child.
        One of these days he’s going to haul off and hit me again. I hope it leaves a bruise or draws blood. Maybe then I’ll be believed.
        Me being logical makes him mad, so does when I don’t back down when I’m right, or I back down right away. It’s always about the friggin balance!

      4. Yes, SJR, this is typical of the dynamics of abuse: the victim is constantly walking on eggshells trying to make best-guess micro-subtle calculations of what responses she can make that might reduce the risk of the abuse escalating. She can’t prevent the abuse, but she thinks (or desperately hopes) that she can keep it to a minimum. It’s false thinking because no matter what she does or doesn’t do, the abuser can choose to abuse. And the abuser often chooses to claim his conduct is justified precisely because of what his mate did (BLAMESHIFTING). It’s a no win situation. 😦

        Bear in mind that Patricia Evans tells her readers that her advice about how to speak to abusers is not applicable to all cases of abuse, and that if your abuser uses physical violence (on you; or on other things — as ‘demonstration violence’) or you feel afraid of what he might do, the victim should seek help from police, domestic violence advocates, and the courts.

      5. Very rarely is he physically violent. So much so that I could almost say never. In 20 years he has only hit me 2-3 times. Verbally assaulting me to the point that I disassociate. That’s not very often because I don’t usually stand my ground enough for it to go to that point. Twice this summer is the most recent.
        Right now I want to escalate things so there is proof outside of what I’m told my perception is of his behavior. I’m on track. Hopefully it doesn’t backfire on me.

Leave a comment. It's ok to use a made up name (e.g Anon37). For safety tips read 'New Users Info' (top menu). Tick the box if you want to be notified of new comments.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.