A Cry For Justice

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

Abuserese sightings

An ACFJ reader reported this exchange between herself and an abuser:

At court today I was in a line (turns out it was the line for defendants) with a young couple. The girl (a witness/victim) was holding a baby. I remarked that her daughter was beautiful. She thanked me and the man said, “That’s my daughter. She looks like her daddy. Don’t she?” I repeated that she is beautiful.

Man: That’s my sperm.

Me. That’s inappropriate.

Others in line: laughter

Man: [embarrassed] What!? A man can be proud of his baby.

Later the man kept harassing the girl (L). He had no respect for her personal space. He kept trying to hold or touch the baby and the girl kept herself between him and the child.

Man: Let me hold the baby.

L: No.

Man: Why? Why you gotta be that way? I said I’m sorry.

L: I’m not playing.

Man keeps touching the baby.

L and I start talking. I tell her about the blog. Man constantly interrupts. At some point she tells him to stop doing a specific annoying thing. I don’t remember what.

Man: Why?

Me: The appropriate response is, “I apologize for making you uncomfortable.”


L and I ignore him and talk some more. She leaves the line for a minute. While she’s gone Man talks on the phone.

Man: I don’t know what’s wrong with her. I said, “I’m sorry.” I messed up. That don’t mean I can’t hold my baby. Why she gotta be that way? Why won’t she let me hold MY baby.

There’s something you should know about me. If I feel I have nothing to lose, I’ll go for broke. I’ll be very bold and confrontational if I feel I’ll survive it.

Me: You forfeited that when you hurt her.

Man hangs up and launches verbal assault.

Man: Just cause your man forfeited his rights don’t mean I did. Why you gotta hate men?

Me: Hold on. Let me get my voice recorder. Ok, go ahead.

Man blinks and looks astonished. Tries to hold his tongue but can’t.

Man: See, that’s why you here. That’s why.

Me: So I deserved it?

Man: I didn’t say that. You said that.

At this point I am seeing very clearly that although Man’s age, race, education, culture, background, are different than X’s, his tactics and words are almost identical. Of course, X would use proper grammar and obscure vocabulary words, but the message is the same. I am amused at this and I start grinning like a cat.

Man: Why you smiling? Why you gotta say anything at all? Why you gotta put your nose in my business?

Me: I have to stand between good and evil.

Man: [this remark would’ve been identical to X’s if he were in this situation] What makes you think you know the difference between good and evil?

I thought that was hilarious!

I wouldn’t have been so confrontational in the grocery store. He might’ve shot me. But we’d come through metal detectors and we were in the courthouse, surrounded by policemen and bailiffs. I figured, “Let him take a swing at me. Maybe a bailiff will shoot him. Then this poor girl won’t have to testify…” and I wasn’t too afraid.

Got any abuserese sightings to report?


  1. Katy

    oh uggggh!! My ex used to try to rip the baby out of my arms to scare me. That was the only time I really considered killing him in his sleep. :/
    “What makes you think you know the difference between good and evil?” — that sounds like something right out of Satan’s mouth.

    • MeganC

      Katy . . Mine ripped the babies out of my arms, as well. 😦 He would be mad that they didn’t want him. And then, when they screamed for me, he would spank them . . . as early as 3-4 months old. 😦 Broke my heart in two. 😦

      • Brenda R

        I think I would still be in prison. My husband could do what he wanted to me and I put up with it. The children–whole different ballgame. You don’t mess with Mama Bear

      • Katy

        Oh Meg that is so horrible, makes me cry just thinking about it. I took all the abuse and kept going – but when he did those things to the babies – i came apart at the seams.
        and just having this discussion has once again reminded me how awful it really was and how grateful I am now. 🙂 My kids get home on Friday. We made it through another summer!!

    • joepote01

      “’What makes you think you know the difference between good and evil?’ — that sounds like something right out of Satan’s mouth.”

      Yes, it does!

  2. MeganC

    Wow! That was BOLD and BRAVE and . . . . I LOVE IT. I’m so glad you were protected, though!!

  3. joepote01

    Good for you, Ellie! I love your response about standing between good and evil.

    A few weeks ago, I arrived back at the airport at the end of a business trip and was walking to my car. There was a guy speaking so loudly into his cell-phone that I (and everyone else) could clearly hear him from the other side of the parking garage. The longer he talked the louder and more irate he became.

    Obviously, I was only hearing one side of the conversation, but it sure triggered a lot of memories…wasn’t hard to read between the lines…wasn’t hard to diagnose the abusive situation. It was apparent that he had arrived unannounced at the airport and was frustrated by her unwillingness to see him…and to give in to his demands…

    The statement that most sticks in my mind was the guy literally screaming into the phone, “Aaaaargh! That was in the past! Why do you have to always bring up things from the past? We should be starting fresh!”

    My thoughts at the time: “Yeah, good start, Bozo! Screaming at her over the phone isn’t much of a fresh start!” Followed by, “You go girl! Way to stand firm! Defend that boundary!”

    • Brenda R

      I heard those exact words just this week. That was in the past! Why do you have to always bring up the past? I thought we were going to start over.” Seriously, he accused me of sleeping with my boss LAST NIGHT. How much of a past is that. This isn’t even the first boss that he accused me of sleeping with. No sirree, there is no starting over, at all, in this lifetime.

      • joepote01

        Yes, I used to have to deal with that a lot. She wanted a complete disconnect between her patterns of behavior and my trust. And she would play the “that’s in the past, I can’t change it” card, frequently. The thing is that everything we know is based on past experiences. Therefore, my trust has nothing on which to be based other than a person’s past track record at trustworthiness.


      • Brenda R

        Exactly! I know that yesterday I was being accused of adultery and being called names, today he wants my total trust and lets talk about us. Not Happening!!! What us? There is no us. There is me in my new apartment where I feel peaceful and content. There he is in the mortgage free house. Not that I want it. I have MS and it is all I can do to continue working and take care of my little place.

        I am so tired of hearing the same things over and over again. It is as if I could press #5 for one response or #6 for another. It wouldn’t be heard anyways so why not just record it and save my breath. He was given a warning last week no longer to communicate. The emails and phone calls only got worse. The paperwork is being drawn up and he wants to talk about us. He lives in his own world.

      • Just Me

        The “in the past” aspects of the emotional abuse were probably the most difficult for me to see through when I was in the fog. I used to beat myself up over the fact that I didn’t trust him. My self talk was literally “you’re such a terrible wife that you can’t get over this. Why can’t you just trust him that this time he really does mean it?” The hardest part was forcing myself to trust him when all my instincts were telling me not to. And believing that God was requiring me to trust such an untrustworthy person. I was so confused. Then when he would break my trust yet again, once the shock wore off, I would feel relieved because it proved my instincts were correct.

        I can’t even count the number of times he would say “I said I’m sorry. There’s nothing else I can do about it now. If you can’t get over it, that’s your problem.” He would even say this in marriage counseling, and the counselor never called him out on it. I was left assuming that the problem really was mine for being so unforgiving. Those days were so dark.

      • Brenda R

        I have come to realize that there is a difference between forgiving and allowing yourself to continue being manipulated. I can forgive him, but that does not mean that I will not set boundaries and discontinue being manipulated. Being seperated has given me the opportunity to get much stronger in that respect. I don’t have to look at my email or answer the phone when I don’t feel strong enough to not fall into a trap of self doubt. I can give myself time to pray and let God’s word and promises consume me. Then I realize that God has rescued me and given me such a wonderful blessing. I pray that he uses this for His glory and maybe to help someone else that is going through these things as well. I will be praying for you Just Me. I pray that some sort of support group will rise up in your area and mine. Bloggin is great but it is not a substitute for having real people in your life. People you can feel safe with and will support you whether you stay married or not.

      • Jeff S

        Yes, I too was subject to the accusation that I was living in the past and couldn’t we just move on. That’s a hard accusation to withstand, because it SEEMS so biblical.

      • Barnabasintraining

        That was in the past!

        The constant hue and cry of the abuser I know. There were some other similar ones. Mostly that he should suffer no consequences and it’s wrong to assert otherwise.

      • Ellie

        “Consequences” . . .One of his favorite words. Perhaps this should be commented on in “Gaslighting,” but he’d go on and on and ON about how I “live a life without consequences” and he “has to pay for my incompetence” and so on. He has to work, he has to play on fb for hours, he has to look at porn without being confronted, he has to never be told where to go or when, he has to get sex on demand, he has to have his coffee made and the cup tested to make sure the lid is on right, he has to watch TV in the bedroom at the volume he wants and I am the one who has a life of no consequences.

      • Brenda R

        I think these guys are pointing a finger at you while they should be seeing the remaining fingers pointing at themselves and don’t. They are in complete denial and need a scapegoat for their sins. It never ends. I left and filed for divorce a month ago. Now I get emails and phone calls telling me of my incompetence and sin because I gave up and didn’t try to make it work.

      • Barnabasintraining

        Perhaps this should be commented on in “Gaslighting,” but he’d go on and on and ON about how I “live a life without consequences” and he “has to pay for my incompetence” and so on.

        It kind of all blends in after a while. TAIK (the abuser I know) used gaslighting a good deal on his victim too. Lots of it after the separation. Oh, he was awful. And for my mini rant for the day — the church was no help at all in this regard. If they could do something to make it worse by golly they sure did. I think they fueled his gaslighting a lot by their table turning (not sure who got who started on that but the church leadership and the abuser sounded just like each other by the end) and teaching on how bad divorce was and how it was her job to forgive so he was always able to make her out to be the bad guy and look how noble and humble he is because he’s putting up with her and wants to work on the marriage, and she’s so unforgiving, blah, blah, blah. Cry me a river. Not one iota of change from him, though. Not one. All gaslighting or blame shifting or whatever the abuserese du jour was. So they did way more than their fair share of making sure he didn’t experience the consequences he should have.

        Sigh. 😦

      • Brenda R

        I believe this is what is happening in my church right now. My husband isn’t even a member, but I have been told that “this is tearing HIM up”. I went to my pastor and told him what was going on and was told “that we have to get him saved”. I know this is true, but where was the help for me. Not even a scripture of support. He did pray with me before I left, but he never even asked me afterwords how things were going.

        A couple of nights ago I forwarded an email from my husband to my pastor that proved that he accuses me of adultery with my boss and implied that perhaps his wife should know. This morning I have an email from my husband saying I had misunderstood the email and he was actually saying that I was going to get this man to go “beat him up”. Seriously, how is this better, and how did you know to try to make this particular email sound better? I doubt he came up with it on his own. He doesn’t think twice about what he says, how it sounds or what affect it has on me. That only leaves one scenerio: Pastor brought it to his attention and hung me out to dry. In the long run I am sure this will not help. I pray my restraining order goes through today.

      • Still Scared( but getting angry)

        BIT, I was struck by what you said about counselors helping with the gaslighting and found this email from his pastor…note how the blame is spread equally. The email is to my ex-idiot, he forwarded it to me.
        “Why are pushing this? Don’t do it. That’s my warning to you. If you push this
        I will not longer be involved in helping you two reconcile. Do not
        underestimate the seriousness of my words. I’m not playing these games any
        more. I believe ( Still Scared but getting angry)’s fears have gone haywire, but you are not helping. You
        need to be the spiritual leader in this. You blew off my counsel last week and
        that’s why she called the cops. I don’t believe she should have done that
        either, but if you continue, this whole thing will be taken out of the hands
        of Godly counselors and put in the hands of secular one’s.

        You’ve been warned.”

      • Yes, SS, no matter how much it may have sounded like the pastor was talking tough to the abuser, he was washing that all away by the things he said that invalidated and criticized you.
        Stuck record from Barb (my rant for the day 🙂 ) neutrality is not neutral.

      • Barnabasintraining


        “we have to get him saved”.

        Oh dear. I could rant on this alone for quite a long time but I don’t know how edifying that would be so I won’t. Suffice to say I hope he doesn’t actually believe this as it is stated.

        I hope your restraining order went through OK. Please let us know how that went.

      • Brenda R

        The restraining order is not ready yet and my MS symptoms just went from very low to high within a few minutes time. I just got a 42 page document requesting proof of income, income tax returns, my last 20 pay stubs, a list of my household furnishings. The list goes on and on. They are asking for everything but what I had for breakfast. Our incomes are fairly close. I made more at times, him at others throughout the marriage. I am pretty sure that they would probably zero one another out. I will pay him alimony over my cold, dead body which I am sure could be arranged.
        I have 3 years of income tax returns and I can guarantee that I don’t have all of them since the first year of marriage even at the home where he is still residing. It even asked for a description of Beanie Babies. It is no wonder he kept calling and saying I found things that you might want and trying to get me take things that I had nowhere to keep.
        He asked me about my health from time to time. After getting this paperwork, which I am sure is not a requirement in this state, I know he could care less. He knows what stress does to those with MS and definitely knows what it does to me. He cares not.
        I had an email from him yesterday stating that we should get together within the next few days to discuss “US” and our future. I know he was aware this document would be coming. There is no longer an us, there hasn’t been for a long time. From what I have read, I believe he just declared war on me. I make $28k a year. I cannot afford to fight for very long. My attorney said to disregard it for now and she will take care of his attorney. I hope this will be the end of it. All that should be necessary are statements saying what we had on the day that I filed for legal separation, which as of today has become a divorce. I will not turn back under any circumstances.

      • Praying for you, Brenda.

      • It is possible his attorney advised him to slap that 42 page document on you just because they know it is likely to stress you greatly, and that is their goal. I am not an attorney, but that list of things they have asked you to provide sounds ludicrous. If you can take a deep breath and just say to yourself “This is the game-playing and ambit claiming that goes on during divorce proceedings and my attorney has probably seen it all before and will know how to handle it, and I don’t have to freak out,” that might help you a bit. ((hugs))) to you, Brenda 🙂

      • Brenda R

        The husband is claiming that he knew nothing about it. I wasn’t born yesterday or even the last decade or 4.Many of the things that were asked only he would have known to ask. My attorney said not to worry about it, she would handle his attorney. She doesn’t have much use for the guy. She states he is a pain in her backside and telling him that he was so stupid she couldn’t figure out how he manages to find the court house. I hope she is right. On the other hand you have two inept, evil thinking people working together. That can’t be good. I am just so tired and it has only been a month. Then I remind my self that I have tolerated this type of thing for 20 years from this man. I can handle a couple of months. I will just continue to remember what the Lord did for Daniel. I trust Him completely. I feel more and more each day that I made the right decision. The manipulation and intimidation are much more visible now that I am standing away from it and not right there in it. Nothing has changed, I am just so much more aware. Thank you for your prayers.

      • joepote01

        Sin projection (accusing their partner of what they themsleves are guilty of) seems to be a common abuse tactic. In fact, for me, it became one of the “tells” by which I knew when a given cycle was liekly starting again…accusing me usually indicated guilty behavior on her part.

        Jeff S – Yes, “forget the past” can be made to sound so “Christian” but is really an excuse for no accountability or consequences. Another similar tactic is minimizing the abuser’s major covenant violations while elevating minor unintentional offenses of the innocent party. It sounds so “Christian” when the abuser says, “Sure I’ve made mistakes. We both have. And I’ve forgiven your mistakes, so why can’t you forgive mine?” Obviously, because my mistakes were unintentional whereas yours were both intentional and repetitive!!!

        Brenda – Praying for you. You’re in a tough spot. Cling to Jesus and the truth! Reject the lies and deception. Jesus redeems us from ALL covenants of abusive bondage!

      • Barnabasintraining

        Praying for you, Brenda.

        Second that.

      • Still Scared( but getting angry)

        Brenda R. So hard, hard! Praying for you. I would listen to your attorney and not carry the stress. Easy to say, hard to do but in little things as the stress starts to rise, say ” I am letting my lawyer handle it, that is what I am paying for. I will listen to her wisdom.”

  4. jritterbrunsonj

    Way to go! “Man” didn’t get the message, but your readers sure will.

  5. Just Me

    This is such a great exchange! Hopefully that girl learned some valuable insights from you.

  6. ranthegauntlet

    A huge part of me is jumping and cheering about this interaction. With total respect here, I also wonder 1) what type of court – custody, divorce – and how safe L would be after she left the courthouse, 2) how abusive he had been, as 3) how L’s life circumstances were set up at the time…as in, is she in such a tough spot that she might return to him? I ask this because I tried to intervene in a way when seeing abuse (in a coffee shop, not court – as pointed out it’s a big difference), and was told by several DV advocates that I had not responded wisely (We Learned Something Post #1 [Internet Archive link]). I was told that by my engaging when the abuser was present, I may have set her up for a worse beating next time. Again, it wasn’t court. Thank you to author and all commenters – it is so good to know others out there are identifying abuse and making moves for education and change. Blessings! Diane

  7. cindy burrell

    Just reading the exchange made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. Made me kind of sick. So familiar to me and so many other here. That poor girl. I hope she gets far away from that man and takes her baby with her.

  8. Mari Ann

    I have never been allowed to confront my husband about any of his abusive behavior without being abused even more and basically every confrontation ends up with him saying, “There you go again bringing up skeletons in the closet.” I wish it was a skeleton but it is all flesh standing in front of me. Love this website and especially the section on “Triggers.”

    • ranthegauntlet

      Mary Ann: Great analogy!

    • Hi Mari Ann
      welcome to the blog!

  9. Abidenhim

    I am new here and just spending some time reading through some of the older posts. This one is awesome. I am so proud of you Ellie for “standing between good and evil” and having the wisdom to know when, where and how to speak up. Bravo!

  10. Anewanon

    There’s something you should know about me. If I feel I have nothing to lose, I’ll go for broke. I’ll be very bold and confrontational if I feel I’ll survive it.

    Ellie, I think you just changed my life. I came here due to a new post Most “Christians” Cave When it Comes Down to Standing With an Abuse Victim

    In finding this article, and then reading your post, it is good to find someone who does NOT CAVE when it come to standing with an abuse victim. The Bible calls for this type of boldness. Speaking truth in love is still LOVE.

    So now I can think: will I survive this? And the answer is “yes”, I haven’t “not survived” yet!

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