Learning to see red flags
[July 5, 2022: There have been some changes made to this post. For more information, read the Editors’ notes at the bottom of the post. Editors.]
A survivor emailed me recently with a story of how she was approached by a man in her new church. She is in the process of divorcing her abusive husband and has moved to a new church (same old story: the church she had been attending with her husband took the husband’s side and condemned her). She recounted to me how this guy in her new church had been talking to her and emailing her. I explained to her all the red flags in his behaviour (and her emotions) that signified the guy was a creep. She then told me that she had only noticed one red flag, whereas I had seen about eight red flags. She was astonished how many red flags I’d picked up compared to her, and she asked me “How did you learn to pick up the red flags?” Here is how I have learned to pick up red flags that a person may be an abuser / a boundary violator / creepy / dangerous.
1) Paying good attention to my gut feelings when I feel creeped out or have the sense that “something doesn’t feel right here and I’m not comfortable!”
2) Validating those feelings by telling myself that the feelings give me useful information. Those gut feelings are worth noticing and paying attention to.
3) Giving myself permission (even instruction!) to let those feelings guide my actions. Even if I can’t yet figure out what the person’s red flag behaviours have been, I permit myself to distrust a person just on the basis of my gut feelings. This is huge. It means I don’t have to have intellectually discerned what the red flag behaviours are, all I need is to note my gut feelings, and when my gut sends out a ‘creep alert’ feeling, I extend my antennae to the full, watching for more information, more signs that may indicate what is going on. And I start guarding myself and setting up firm boundaries against that person. There is nothing rude about guarding oneself, it is just a sensible precaution until more information comes in.
4) Permitting myself to distrust on the basis of my gut feelings alone frees up space in my brain so I can pay more attention to what actual things the person did that led me to have that gut reaction.
5) Giving myself permission to be blunt and firm with people who I distrust: “That doesn’t feel right to me.” / “I’m not comfortable with that.” / “Please don’t say that!” / “Leave me alone.” / “Ouch!” / “Stop it!” / “Cut it out!” / “Get lost!” / etc..
6) Reading books helped: The Gift of Fear and Blink [*Affiliate links] are two books that helped me honour my gut feelings and intuition more.
7) I remain open to the possibility that my gut reaction may be due to having been triggered about something from my past, but that does not mean my feelings are less significant or should be discounted. Having given myself validation for my feelings (no feelings are ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, they just are), I can reflect on my feelings in due course and assess how much they have arisen from triggers and how much they have arisen because the person I’m with is actually violating my boundaries or behaving in a sinister fashion.
[July 5, 2022: Editors’ notes:
—For some comments made prior to July 5, 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 July 5, 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 July 5, 2022 that quoted from the post to the post as it is now (July 5, 2022), click here [Internet Archive link] for the most recent Internet Archive copy of the post.]
Are You Dating An Abuser? — An article at Psychology Today written for a general (non-Christian) audience. It contains some abuser-language that a few of our readers may find offensive, but I think it has some worthwhile advice.
*Amazon affiliate link — ACFJ gets a small percentage if you purchase via this link.
- Posted in: Abusers
- Tagged: Barbara Roberts, prevention, recovery, red flags, safety
Barb….this is excellent. I am going to share this with several people. Also, I LOVED “Blink”. 🙂
This is a great list and reminder that our instincts can actually be accurate and don’t dismiss our feelings so quickly. I am printing this and keeping it for reference. I had feelings on many occasions prior to marriage that I dismissed as overreacting. I should not have done this. Even on the wedding day when the minister was 2 hours late I thought it was for the best. When he arrived I felt trapped. Cold feet -no. Now I know I was being told to run, don’t walk to the nearest exit. I am now more inclined to listen to my feeling and not to minimize them.
Listening to your gut is good, but there is so much more that can be used to help evaluate those “red flags”, such as seeking and acknowledging the opinions of trusted friends or relatives.
Debbie – it really is true, isn’t it? The input of others we trust. But the trick is that trust business. Wise people seem to be rare today. The nature of evil is that it is deceitful, hidden in darkness, puts on a show of righteousness….etc., and most people just don’t get that. We Reformed types profess to believe in total depravity, but when it comes to believing that there is real evil in this world, and that it has its human emissaries, well that seems to be another matter. We zone out all of those Scriptures that warn us about Satan coming as an angel of light. Over and over again those who study psychopaths tell us that one of the number one characteristics of such a wicked person is their charm!
Can you share the red flags you noticed? Or is that too complex?
That can go both ways, Debbie. I had “trusted” friends tell me that he was a great guy and would never intentionally do those things to me. They told me I was over-reacting – all men are jerks. They told me I was not justified in leaving the relationship. They told me it was my own fault and I knew what I was getting myself into.
Because I listened to them, I stayed longer. I didn’t fully realize that they really didn’t know what was happening — they weren’t in the home, and I tried to minimize things because I was embarrassed. He also knew enough to not actually hit me, or call me names directly — he stayed above a certain line so it was far more difficult to define his behavior as abuse.
And the longer he got away with it, the worse it got.
This is also my story, Little Miss Me….these wolves in sheep’s clothing are very crafty to say the least….it took me 9 years leaning on my biblical principles to try and save our marriage, didn’t happen….the abuse left SO much aftermath psychologically and emotionally and at the very end (divorce) I will have to pick up the pieces of me and leave it in God’s hands. HE’S THE ONLY MAN that won’t let you down….stay strong in Him and Him ALONE….He will never leave you. I pray all for all victims of these heinous afflictions….guard you hearts. And let God go before you and fight for you and heal the damages….”His Promises”….
In God we trust!
Reblogged this on Hope for Survivors of Abuse [This link is broken and we were unable to find a copy in the Internet Archive. Editors.].
Has anyone here ever found their gut instincts telling them someone is a possible abuser to be wrong? If so, how did you realize that the person was actually safe, and how long did it take?
What a great question, LMM! I’ll be interested to see if anyone answers it.
After my divorce I realized that I still couldn’t spot abusers if they were of a different “type” than my ex-husband (the different types of abusers listed in Lundy Bancroft’s book).
So my ex was a classic “Perpetual Victim” mixed with “The Terrorist”. After the divorce I came into contact with 2 other types and that’s when I finally started to get my legs under me, as far as being able to pick up on the underlying attitudes of entitlement. The first guy was a “Player” and I’d never met one of those before — but it came out in his offhand statements about sexual fidelity (“if I don’t get my needs met then all bets are off” — as far as remaining faithful in a relationship!) —- and then I had a run-in with a “Mr. Right” on my blog. This guy started stalking my blog and sending me 12-paragraph emails, with instructions on all the ways that I could improve my woodworking skills. He was sooo high-and-mighty that it set off all the alarm bells.
So yes — I trust my gut feelings now even if I can’t pick out the exact details that are bothering me right off the bat. A lot of times I have to sit and analyze (ponder!!) on the person and their words for a bit….before it becomes clear.
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Isn’t it a tragedy that Christian women are often trained to dismiss their feelings. I like how you explained that feelings can give us useful information, Barbara. I am going to post that quote on my Facebook. 🙂
Interesting piece. I think as Christians w/ the Holy Spirit living inside us, that those gut feelings are typically the Holy Spirit quickening us. But we also have to learn to discern and what to do from there. As a child, I remember being too naive to imagine someone being abusive until my mom married a closet alcoholic / abuser. She never recognized it and neither did we because he hid alot. We did however recognize it in another man she dated because he lied to her and we saw it, she never did, was planning on marrying him anyway, but then then a HUGE hidden lie came out and she realized we were right.
My 19 year old recently was in a situation w/ a young man w/ all those warning signs, yet she ignored them. Thankful she got out of that and working on teaching her discernment. But we know it is the Lord who will give us wisdom and discernment if we ask.
I have this issue with a man in my church right now. I go to a small church so avoiding him is near impossible, but I have taken steps that I think to me are the boundaries I needed to set. I told him not to post on my FB page twice and he did anyway so I removed him as a “friend” and rejected his “new friend” request the next day (persistent isn’t he). I also told my Pastor and my best friend of my gut feelings. I did this for two reasons: 1) to receive validation and advice and 2) to set up a “hedge” of protection at church so that if I “go off” on this guy at any point they know the backstory and aren’t caught off guard. I have since found out that he is not completely “all there” and that he has not made a confession of faith. So in conclusion he sets of my “creeper” radar and I avoid him as best I can, set firm boundaries, and stand up to him when he crosses them.
Oh and I wrote a poem on this subject that covers the three “creeper” alerts I have run into since I left my abuser. Here it is:
Amen, Bethany. You go girl.
LOVE IT. 🙂
Thank you for adding the article from PT. It and your blog were so on target with things that I wish I would have been looking for. I always felt like the woman in the room full of Dr.’s and lawyers who found the one criminal and in my case I may have chosen a Dr. or lawyer who was also a criminal. One who was very charming on the outside but a serial killer on the inside. I am now reading your book which has kept my attention. I am finding out, even beyond my misunderstandings of God’s views on marriage, separation and divorce, that the fear that I had of God in my early years was totally man’s perception. It was not a healthy fear. Men are in charge and most are abusive, or so I thought. God is not abusive, He is kind and loving, the Father I so wanted as a child. He was there all the time and fear kept me from really knowing Him.
Oh, Brenda, this touches my heart:
(((((Hugs)))))) to you.
Thank you, Barbara, I can use all the hugs I can get. Hug you right back.
I probably said this already, but I signed the settlement papers for my “Legal Separation”. My soon-to-be-ex is sugar-coating. The love talk is nauseating and the thought of having a romantic or sexual relationship with him again makes me want to add extra bolts and locks on my doors and windows and never walk out the door again. Not that I would go to that extreme but you get the idea of how much I do not want this to happen. At this point even if he went to counseling and made a miraculous recovery I don’t believe I could go back to him having all of the memories that I do and the way he has stomped any love for him until it was buried. I know the Lord works in mysterious and miraculous ways, but in my eyes that would be bigger than Him making the blind see and the lame walk. I hope that doesn’t sound sacrilegious, but it would take a complete miracle on my views and heart as well as the ex. I know He is working on my heart and loving feelings for others and His Spirit grows in my as I spend time with Him, but not my feelings and heart for my ex. That has only turned to pity and [I] have no desire for a relationship of any kind.
I get that, Brenda, and have felt the same way. Bolts, bars and doors….my brain has been fecund with visualizations to depict how firmly the relationship is E.N.D.E.D. How could I ever trust him again? Not when all the evidence shows his heart has hardened even further against me.
I have a knack for thinking myself prideful and self-serving for feeling the way I do even though his true colors show up every couple of days. He says he doesn’t want a divorce so he had the papers drawn up as a “Legal Separation” so I am not rocking the boat. My attorney says it is very simple to solidify a divorce after the judge signs the final “Separation” agreement. We have both signed it so it is binding. There were more emails stating how sorry he is and that he misses me, but just this Sunday he wanted to know in at least 7 emails if I sold my wedding rings yet and wanted half the money for them, then says he is joking. I don’t think it was in the least bit funny. He was taking a hurtful situation and turning it into his version of humor. It is still all about control and intimidation.
Have a wonderful day, Barbara. All the writing I am doing is really helping me stay strong. God definitely led me here for a reason.
I like this post by Barbara, but I feel something is missing.
When you are coming out of a broken relationship, especially an abusive one, almost everything that you think or feel is distorted by the experience. You are a ball of confused emotions abetted by contradictory input from those around you. You will misinterpret what your gut is telling you. What you need is stability and healing. The last thing you need is to be trying to spot red flags in someone of the opposite sex who is trying to gain your attention. Healing does not come from an emotion-based relationship with another person. Not recognizing this puts you in great danger of recycling into another abusive relationship.
Please take time to heal. Grieve your losses. Strengthen your spiritual connection to God. Rebuild yourself as a single person, not overly dependent on others. Develop a network of trusted and proven friends and counselors.
Reject the overtures of those who would try to interrupt this process. You know what a mess you are, why would anyone be interested in you except as someone to take advantage of for their own purposes? The timeline for your recovery is going to be measured in years, not weeks and months. This period of restoration can be the most rewarding time of your life as you are reintroduced to the healthy person God intended you to be.
When you are restored as a single, complete and whole person your red flag spotter will be back in working order. You will be like kryptonite to abusers and they will move on to more fertile ground. Listening to your gut, or the Holy Spirit, will be possible again after the wreckage has been removed and the pathways re-established and tested.
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Good points. Healing is essential and I think that you’re dead on about the red flags popping up more often if you’re coming out of a bad relationship.
Personally, I needed to go through a process of learning the red flags of abusive and manipulative people not just from the marriage that had ended, but also because of an abuser that entered my professional life at that time. At first I thought that I was just over-seeing the signs, but it turned out that my gut was right.
I’m looking forward to being kryptonite — praying that we can all teach our daughters and granddaughters to be that way, and to teach our sons and grandsons to be super men who honor the women in their lives.
Loren, there is some truth in what you say. When I wrote the post I was aware that it wasn’t covering the hyper-vigilance that most survivors seem to have after leaving an abusive relationship, and how that hyper-vigilance can affect one’s ability to discern a person’s character and motives.
Having said that, I think that if one is hyper-vigilant one needs to honour that too, and recognize that although a given situation may not feel dangerous to other people (those who are not suffering PTSD) it MAY feel dangerous to a traumatized survivor of abuse and so the survivor is wise to honour and respect her own feelings and her need to be cautious and self-protective whenever she feels the need to do so.
Far more damage seems to come from survivors dismissing their gut feelings, than from them paying attention to their gut feelings. I know for myself that when my “creep radar” signals a person may be dangerous, I pay attention, and that attention has two focuses: (1) I pay close attention to what the person is doing that might be manipulative or dishonest; and (2) I gently ask myself “How much might my gut feelings be due to my having been triggered into a bad memory? Emphasis on gently. I have learned to not come down on myself like a ton of bricks by assuming that I’m over-reacting and there must be something wrong with me. It’s all about honouring our responses to situations, with the loving help of the Holy Spirit.
And yes, it is wise to take time to heal before going into another relationship. However, I am cautious of making a rule about this, or stating a time-frame for remaining single and closed to any new relationship. I personally know some survivors who have re-partnered quite quickly and are happily married to godly husbands, and I know others, including myself, who did not remarry for many years (therefore having plenty of time to heal while remaining single) but when they remarried it turned out to be another abusive relationship. I don’t think there is a formula, and I am wary of putting ‘shoulds’ on others about the length of time they need to remain single. In God’s providence, there is so much variety in how things transpire.
I agree. I don’t believe there is a magic formula as to when you move into another relationship. It all depends on where you are at emotionally, spiritually and is the past in the past for you. For myself I would like time to make good friendships with other ladies first. I don’t have a single person that I consider a friend. My husband’s friends wives were not my cup of tea. Most were drinkers or foul-mouthed. I truly wish to make Christian friends that I can also be a friend to.
I did speak very briefly to a man at church the other morning. Ordinarily, I would blurt out the answer to the question he asked and quickly got away. This was the first time speaking to a male in many years that I felt relaxed and comfortable carrying on a less-than-2-minute conversation with. If my ex would have seen or heard about that he would have been accusing me of wanting another man or adultery thinking it was obvious that I was hiding something. It is so freeing to not worry about stupidity. I have no idea what the Lord has in store for me, but I do know I am very comfortable being all by myself at this juncture. I am free to be me in Christ.
I don’t think I made my point clearly. Please do not take my comment as critical.
What I am trying to suggest is that when you are coming out of a bad relationship you should assume your discernment is affected by the trauma. My point is not to try to test new relationships for red flags, but just avoid new romantic entanglements categorically. Regain your balance, get re-centered with God and re-established as an independent single person.
Starting a new relationship too soon after ending one is the number one predictor of divorce in the ensuing marriage. There are many exceptions, but this is a strong tendency.
My wife and I saw a movie in the theater last week that illustrates this point. “The Way, Way Back” is about 14 year old boy whose mother started a new relationship very soon after divorce. Now she feels stuck with an abusive man who alienates her only child. It actually is a decent movie without bad language, violence or nudity. (Trigger warning for suggestions of adulterous behavior.) It would be interesting to hear what others think about it.
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I haven’t seen the movie but it sounds interesting. I hadn’t heard of it before so I will be on the look-out. I saw “Sleeping with the Enemy” while [in] a stay in the Underground Railroad during my first abusive marriage. It would have been a tear-jerker for me under ordinary circumstances but with the reasons I had my stay at the UR I could barely see while viewing. I started dating far too early after that divorce. I met my current almost-ex within a year. I had just started working, going to school and beginning to make new friends. Within the first two years of that relationship I was no longer going to school, going out with my friends but working overtime working. I felt stuck in that relationship for a total or 22 years. I am now free but no longer have a desire or energy to finish school but have a much better job than I did at that time so I am ok with that.
I am working towards making a friend or two have a couple of things going on in that area of my life….a dinner with an older lady at my church that I enjoy spending time with and I’m going to another lady’s home and a relaxing day visiting with her on her pond. I’ve known her for a couple of years, but until now we’ve had a hard time finding a mutual time to get together. God’s timing is God’s time. He knows what is best.
I have made it clear that I am starting my life and WILL NOT be sitting around waiting for a call or email from the ex. Right now if I don’t respond right away he will continue to attempt contact every few minutes. Over the weekend he wrote and left voicemails with his typical accusations so I stopped responding. Slowly he’s backing off a little. After signing the settlement agreement yesterday his emails are getting much sweeter. I’m not falling for the sugar-coating. I already know what’s underneath.
Thanks for sharing.
Three years ago today I started getting to know a man who had gone to my former church when I was still married to my ex. This man is now my current husband. 🙂
I had been married to my abusive ex for twenty years. He left four years ago.
When my current husband and I were getting to know each other I used Lundy Bancroft’s book mentioned above as a guide for helping me discern whether he was being real with me or just a player. I still had major discernment issues and did not trust my judgement.
Unfortunately, there was a couple from my former church who did not like my husband at the time for personal reasons and would try to tell me how terrible he was and how I should stay away from him because he would only hurt me. I felt so confused, because I did not see any red flags and believe me I was looking for them! LOL. And my gut did not tell me to run, just the opposite.
So, I decided to take what they told me and give it to God in prayer. I never told my current husband what they had said and one night after we left a wedding of a mutual friend, God answered my prayer, confirming for me what I already knew in my heart and gut….he was a good guy and had no ulterior motive. That night while we were driving back from the wedding whom this couple had also attended, my husband shared with me out of the blue how this couple did not care for him very much and went on to explain why. Blew me away!
We got married November 2011, over [one?] year after that incident and this couple now sees how very happy I am and has come to accept my husband.
So, yes, while I believe it is important to get an objective opinion about someone we are dating, I think we really do need to learn to listen to our gut also and pray, pray, pray. In my case I would have made a mistake listening to this couple instead of my own gut.
I am so happy for you and glad to hear a positive outcome. Although, I just signed the separation agreement today and am enjoying my singlehood I am still getting the same treatment from my soon-to-be-ex from afar. I am trusting in the Lord that it will all work for His glory in the long term.
I will pray for you, Brenda. I remember that feeling of relief once I was separated from my ex initially. I felt I could finally breathe and make decisions without having to worry about his wrath. Oh the freedom, it was wonderful!
And yes, you will continue to get the same treatment from him for a while. My ex left four years ago and we’ve been divorced for over two, but he still continues to try and manipulate, at least our two boys, ages 21 and 18.
Just a few weeks ago there was an incident between our two sons and my ex got in the middle of it and pitted one boy against the other, to the point of trying to extort money from our youngest. 😦 Now my youngest son has had his eyes opened for the first time and sees his dad for who he truly is….an abusive, manipulating liar who likes to play games with people. My son’s words.
So I thought ok, maybe things are finally over with my ex, but then two weeks ago he tells my oldest that he [ex] most likely has cancer and my oldest tells his brother, “dad probably has cancer, so you better go see him and apologize.” (My oldest still believes his dad’s lies and feels sorry for him.) My youngest son was feeling torn as to what to do, feeling his time to reconcile with his dad was cut short, so should he or shouldn’t he. Lots of guilt and worries of regret down the road. A few days ago we find out….no cancer! Yep! I was feeling like maybe this whole cancer thing was a ploy so my ex could continue getting sympathy from our oldest and get our youngest to feel guilty and start talking to him again. Well, that kind of backfired because my youngest has completely washed his hands of his dad. Sad for my son who should have had a respectable, trustworthy father, yet relieved that my son finally sees the truth.
So, long story to say that your husband will continue to try to control and manipulate you. And should you divorce, it most likely will not end there either, unfortunately.
My husband and I were watching some TV show the other night about women who have been wronged and end up killing their significant others. And the announcer of the show says, “if a psychopath doesn’t have someone to manipulate, they just aren’t having any fun!” Haha!!! So true. We crack up every time we hear that. 😀
Oh my, that is true, but I don’t want to see him dead either. I have however thought of moving out of state with no forwarding address. Unfortunately, I have a reasonably good job in todays job market, have MS and a boss who puts up with me (and vice-versa), so I will be staying a few more years. I don’t think I could make as much money anywhere else, even though not the best, and at my age and medical ailments may not land another job at all. I’m too young for “Social Security” and too old for anyone to want to hire. Woe is me. Lol.
I am glad that your younger son has opened his eyes yet sad that he needed to. I am sure your older son knows there is something wrong with his dad, but just doesn’t want to accept it. It is incredibly sad and maddening that he would lie about his health that was and putting worry on his children. There will be a reckoning for his behavior and abuse of all of you.
It has only been a few hours since I signed the “Separation” agreement and all of the sudden honey wouldn’t melt in the man’s mouth. No matter, I am still not picking up the phone. I know all to well where that sweetness gets me. Although it is not Biblical….”Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me!”
[Comment sent to us by email because the writer wishes to remain anonymous.]
I am in a situation now where I have had many red flags about the abuser and those giving me counsel. [Those giving counsel are] saying they want to listen about a bad situation that I am in. If I say “nothing is wrong”, oh the problems I saw before were “just me and my inability to be understanding.” If I say something is wrong, I am “a bad person” and am put under pressure. Oh I “must just trust them, they know what they are doing.”
My gut feeling is saying that they are really not planning to help me. Any truth I speak will only be used to further hurt me. All of the abuser’s previous behaviors are ignored or downplayed as “a lack of understanding on my part.” I don’t think I can trust those giving me advice. I sense that they talk to the abuser behind my back and get another story. I can never be sure but the ways they respond to me so kind and caring wanting to hear and then when I am honest about what it happening, they take the other person’s side. They don’t understand or listen. The other person has too many marks to their favor. “Surely they can’t be doing anything wrong.”
Standing Strong, I encourage you to believe your gut feeling. How these ‘counselors’ are behaving is very typical of conceited bystanders who believe they are equipped (and even ‘called’) to respond to domestic abuse situations, but they are so ignorant of the dynamics of domestic abuse that they actually make the whole situation worse when they fiddle with it.
Speaking of bad preaching and red flags, the pastor of the last PCA church I just left set off my “creep-radar” by:
1) Informing the women of the congregation that they weren’t invited to the upcoming men’s “feast,” but we could come by later and clean up after them.
But, I stuck around.
2) Then, he gave an awful sermon about how Jesus wasn’t “feminine” or a “mamsy-pamsy mamma’s boy.” No, Jesus displayed “Biblical Manhood.” ??? Gag.
I took offense to this and sent him an email about it — he apparently now denies saying these things at all.
3) Then, during Sunday school, he bragged about being a “lady’s man” and told stories about ex-girlfriends and partying — all before his conversion of course — with his wife there!
And the final straw,
4) He wolf-whistled at my mother as she helped clean trash from the refreshments time.
I have attended all of the PCA churches in my area, all with similar results. I wish I was kidding. The PCA doctrine is right on in my opinion, but its pastors stink!
What does PCA stand for? I agree this pastor should not be one in any church.
I’m whistling at this myself, but in a very different way! Yikes!
Brenda, PCA is Presbyterian Church of America.
My experience with the PCA in Atlanta has been much different. Like any denomination, there are going to be good and bad churches. Around here there seems to be a strong influence from “Perimeter”, an enormous PCA church in Atlanta. I don’t know much about it, but every person I’ve net coming out if that church has really blessed me.
It is worth noting, however, that the PCA is “dyed in the wool” complementarian – the ordination of women was THE issue that broke the camel’s back and led the PCA to split off from he PC(USA). Now how that looks varies from church to church. Some churches are clearly patriarchal, where some churches (like Tim Keller’s) have women deaconesses that can teach and preach (though he does take some heat for pushing the envelope).
My church is fairly on the light end of complementarian, but it definitely is. If the pastor charging the men to take responsibility for spiritually leading their families would make you feel uncomfortable, you probably would not like my church. However, my pastor would never do the things listed above and there are strong women in the church who do a lot more than just cleaning up after men. And Sunday School isn’t relegated to women’s work – our pastor even took a turn working in the 3s and 4s class one Sunday.
That pastor(?) is crude and down right disgusting!
A-h exhibited 12 of the 15 red flags listed above from Lundy’s book. And that was before I married him! Which begs me to ask myself, what was wrong with me that I allowed him in my life at all?! I wish “now me” could warn and support “then me” to walk away and not look back.
I saw a lot of red flags before I married stbx, a friend offered to do a background check on him, but I refused to have them do that. I know I will not make that same mistake. I will do a background check if and when I start dating again.
I stayed in the relationship for several years before deciding I had had enough. I, too, question why I even married him knowing he had issues, such has how he talked (complained) about everyone else, and he has no patience….especially while driving or while in the market. Abuse toward me didn’t happen until shortly after we married.
We all have strength and weaknesses, sometimes it takes some of us longer to have the nerves or strength to walk away. Whatever your situation is, I pray you stay safe!
Still in the pit; looking for a way out. Very difficult with health situation and financial abuse. Truly it will be only if God parts these waters.
Same here — trust and obey. Better to suffer loss or ill-health than your person! Not minimizing – may the Lord strengthen and uphold you!
I wonder how much the teachings from some churches play into our ability to not listen to our feelings, gut reactions? When feelings and emotions are treated as only coming from the sinful fleshly part of us it is easy to learn to ignore your instincts.
The San Bernardino shooter had a long history of perpetrating domestic abuse. He was taking revenge on his wife for leaving him.
A man who abuses his wife HATES it when his wife leaves him, because it means he is losing control over her. Often the abusive man pays her back by killing her. The man’s motive is REVENGE pure and simple….he takes revenge on for her defying his “Rules”. And he doesn’t care who else he hurts in the process.
San Bernardino school shooting suspect was ‘wolf in sheep’s clothing,’ murdered teacher’s mother says [Internet Archive link] [The article in the link starts below the video. Editors.]
Abuser-h has most likely “buried” me in debt — may well be $20,000 or more. I also fear for my life once divorced. He has so much money he will have someone do it for him. I will have to have my car locks retooled since he has a key. Rents in a decent neighborhood are out of reach for me. Jobs hard to come by at my age and left with no health insurance, while have serious multiple diseases. He murdered my soul for 30 years. And he won’t be satisfied until he finishes the job.
Anonymous100, I can’t tell you how relieved I am to hear from you and have been praying for your safe escape and will continue to do so…. Re-keying you car door locks is good. They can’t tamper with your engine if they can’t get inside to release the hood. Plus if you have your door locks changed on your vehicle, it becomes a secure place to keep documents and paperwork that you don’t want the abuser to take.
I also opened a seperate phone account and a private P.O. Box to re-route and protect my incoming mail and contacted my bank and credit card companies and change my numbers….(since my abuser had the numbers of all of my previous accounts).
If you don’t cover these bases – up ’til the time a divorce is filed – the abuser can legally take money from your account and probably get away with it….
Another great tip is get iPhone pictures of everything on the property once the divorce is filed…. This is usually the time when the abuser tries to get things off the property that are legally now property to split…. But if you mention you have been taking photo proof that these items have been photo-documented, once the divorce was filed, then his hands “become tied” by your truth….or your bluff…. You can also do and say this with all documents that he may try to take away thinking he can destroy evidence (by your saying “I’ve got photographs of everything”). I even took pictures of paperwork in front of him from my phone – just to let him know that I’ve been doing that…. This way he can’t think that destroying evidence will do him any good if you already have a copy of it.
The debt you mentioned is close to what my abuser left me with post divorce, but it has been close to two years now, and I have been making regular payments, so it is slowly going down.
Hang in there, we are praying for you….
[Paragraph breaks added to enhance readability. Editors.]
Thank you for all the tips, Standsfortruth.
I copied some documents and put them in what I hoped would be a safe place; he may have taken them, or I may have misplaced them. He took the original copies of many financial documents so that when I went to court I could only get very limited temporary support since I lacked backup info.
He left the family home in disrepair inside and out; this means when the house sells it will probably net zero in profit.
He taunted and provoked me, and he taped my responses which were filled with anger and frustration. My lawyer said it will keep me from getting permanent support; I have to sit through a trial about this and get slaughtered.
He was taping me without my knowledge [details redacted by Eds]. His lawyer is a total bully and only does divorces.
My lawyer thinks my abuser-h did a fiddle with the marital finances so there is no money left in the superannuation / retirement fund for me, only mountains of debt he created.
Through all this I have been very far from God and only recently have repented.
Thank you for praying for me. I’m truly astounded that you even remember me!
I could never forget you…. Many of the replies you once gave also described my ex-abuser to the Tee. (A hater of all that is good.)
God is not done with your situtation or your oppressor yet…. So don’t give up on getting a better outcome even though you don’t see any signs yet….
I remember feeling like I was going through the spin-cycle of the washing machine going through my divorce, but as I prayed for God to help me, I started to defend myself better and was able to retrieve stolen paperwork and my abuser was getting confused about more things as I “gray rocked” him through the process. (Kinda like the way the Lord confused the Philistines in the Old Testament, to allow His people to prevail in battle….)
You may have to change your battle strategy more than once, but I believe God is with you.
Regarding tapings…. A policeman once told me to try to audio tape my husband when he is going on rampages — because if the police ever get involved, it can be a deciding / discerning factor as to who is the original instigator of trouble.
—I’m just adding this for the other women out there (and male victims) that may be being constantly “set up” by their plotting abusers….
—The more secret incriminating evidence you have on your abuser (although you may not have to use it), the better leverage / position you are in.
Depending where you live, taping or recording someone WITHOUT their consent may be illegal. In some states it is legal, in other states it is illegal. We have several links on the Legal Issues section of our Resources.
I am pasting the most relevant of those links here. Please bear in mind that we are not lawyers, and that we gathered these links a while ago so we are not sure how up to date and accurate they are.
Recording Phone Calls and Conversations [Internet Archive link]
Private Investigator Tips: Is it Legal to Record a Phone Call or Conversation? [Internet Archive link]
Digital Recorders — Not Diamonds — Are a Girl’s Best Friend: Tips, Laws, and Possibilities [Internet Archive link] (this is available in Spanish and English)
And lastly, a link from Victoria, Australia: How to collect evidence if your intervention order is breached
Anonymous100, I am so grieved to hear of your situation and am praying for you. I, too, am in the thick of it with my anti-husband, though neither of us has filed for divorce yet. I can truly feel for you. I wondered and wanted to ask, if he recorded your responses, are not his taunts and provocations also recorded within the conversation?
Dear Standsfortruth & Barbara,
He no longer lives in the house….I have no opportunity to recover the paperwork.
My lawyer said he can record in his own home.
He will probably put the recordings through a program that allows him to edit (cut out) any ugliness on his part. He was also VERY good at maintaining his composure, because he knew what he was after.
I do have a limited amount of my own recordings where his nasty side is revealed. But he has a lot more. I’ve been very sick and overloaded with other responsibilities so I would forget to turn on my recording device most of the time. [….]
Most likely the judge will rule both are at fault and I will be denied permanent support; I’ve already accepted this as the outcome. It’s just going to be brutal being grilled by his bully lawyer who mirrors my abuser-h to a “T”. Having been taunted and provoked all these years unfortunately my default response is to be highly reactive and I’m worried I will “lose it” in court. He has many “character” witnesses as he has been able to be social and knows a lot of people here; translation — he has fooled them about who he really is. I’ve been home-bound for most of our lives here. Those that were going to testify for me have now backed out — their spouses don’t want them doing it.
Literally, everything he has needed for positive outcomes has happened for him; totally opposite for me.
He’s also grooming our children to oppose me and they are becoming very distant and obstinate and contrary towards me.
He is and will continue to win on every front — he makes A LOT of money and “he who has the funds holds the power.” I’m too sick to care; have very little fight left in me.
I removed or altered some of the details in your comment which I thought might be too identifying. I believe every word you wrote. But since this is a public blog, it’s not safe to write details that might identify you to your abuser or his allies.
I am so sorry about all you are suffering.
Dear Anonymous100 – I feel your pain. It feels like he can do what he wants, get what he wants, at home, at church, in court. Meanwhile, we pray, struggle to do God’s will, try to do the right things, fight for ourselves and the children, behave honorably, and everything goes wrong. Why!?
I know I feel like I can’t do or say anything right. Like you, while he puts on the charm and appears to have right on his side, I struggle to stay calm in the midst of the lies and half-truths, while my lawyer presents a fumbled case. Then I have to listen to him gloat while my children ask why do they have to see him more. He also works on them behind my back, and I don’t know what to believe anymore. It is so very hard when your children start treating you like your ex. I keep writing down everything he does and says that I hear about, but will it ever do any good? But I have to, for my own sake, even if it never sees the light of day.
Hang in there. You are cared about and supported here.
Hi, Anonymous100, as my own divorce saga continued, my children also continued to distance themselves from me. Partly because my abuser gave them “perks” for stonewalling and being indifferent to me. The children also knew if they had helped me in any way or listened to me, their father would make sure they suffered later in some random way in a covert undeserved punishment. So for their own self-preservation, they maintained little or no contact with me….
By mid-divorce proceedings, I had suddenly lost my job, and had to change my original strategy and allow my ex to be the primary care parent for all the the older children (while maintaining joint legal custody). This ended up being the best decision I could have ever made, because I could never have afforded a place on my own on that income. Not to mention that I needed to maintain a full time job just to keep up with living expenses and the bills that I was left with. It would have been way too much on my plate to also care for indignant older children that preferred to stay with their dad, due to his constant doled out-undeserved privileges to them….
Durring the final “mediation” with our lawyers in seperate rooms, it was determined that I could visit the minor children whenever I wanted, as long as I gave short notice ahead of time….
This worked out so good because the children have personally witnessed my positive emotional, psychological, and physical transformation since the divorce…. Fast forward a year…. Plus my time with them on my days off now are always quality time.
My children now see clearly how much I loved, cared, and fought for them — totally contrary to what my abuser would have wanted them to believe….
—Today they see much more truth then they would have ever seen had I not gone through with the divorce.
Durring the final mediation I had accumulated and documented so much truthful and incriminating information before and durring the divorce filing, my abuser finally agreed to pay a minimum amount of “non-modifiable $100. a month spousal support”…. Which contained an important clause — that it can ONLY be modified or increased IF he ever tries to demand child support from me OR if he should ever try to make me the primary care taker of the minor children BY his refusing to continue to care for them..
—This type of mediation agreement holds him accountable, and keeps him from abusing me financially in the future.
Hopefully some of this info might help someone….
Thank you so much for this, Standsfortruth!
Your situation sounds so difficult.
Much of the details of our stories sounds the same – my anti-husband makes a lot of money; he is financially controlling and abusing; he has many people who would step up as character witnesses as he has served and served others to garner favor from the time we were married to the detriment of things at home; many are fooled about who he really is; I have serious health problems that began with the marriage and have also been mostly homebound much of our marriage; my anti-husband has been recording conversations; I have been very reactive to his provocations (though I am finally learning and starting to control myself in this area, which is so hard, I understand).
[Two paragraphs redacted as the details they mentioned might have been identifying so might have increased the risk of danger from abuser-husbands….]
I wish I could encourage you more somehow. If nothing else, I really believe once you are completely free of him and this battle that your health stands a better chance of improving. I know I don’t know any of the details, but the stress and the weight of the evil coming against you must exacerbate just about any health problem – I know it does mine. Don’t give up. Even if all you have is a little bit of fight, that’s okay. I will be praying for you.
Thank you Seeing The Light.
Although court ordered to pay a small amount each month for temporary support, he deposits monies late or not what was agreed upon; it will cause bills to be late. My lawyer is slow to answer my concerns, adding to time being wasted to resolve. I just can’t win.
Yes, I too have been sick right from the very start of the marriage (horror show).
Thank you for your prayers. I need the house to sell quickly and a job.
Thank you; I appreciate your good judgement.