A Cry For Justice

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

Abuse is FORCE Used to Control Others

In his great book Physical Abusers and Sexual Offenders [*affiliate link],  Scott Johnson makes a wonderfully insightful statement. Read it and think about it carefully.

Psychological force and psychological abuse truly are similar phenomenon and I will use the terms interchangeably throughout the book. Force technically is abuse, and it seems needless to make a distinction between these terms.

Abuse is force. The abuser, in his entitled mentality, demands to control others and have power over them. To effect this, he uses all kinds of tactics, all of which involve some kind of force. Forcing someone to do or not do something is not always a bad thing. Pushing someone out of the path of an oncoming car to save their life, taking little Johnny by the arm when he is about to punch his little sister. Those are good uses of force. Self-defense is another. But the abuser uses force for evil, self-serving motives and therefore his force is never good.

Now, here is more from Scott Johnson on this subject. Read and chew on what he says:

I strongly believe that the perpetrator and victim will not heal from their traumas if they fail to understand the type of force involved in the assault. What you will find is that the types of force used in the physical abuse and/or sexual assault are occurring in the perpetrators’ everyday lives. If they utilized physical force, they likely have a history of fighting or using threats and intimidation in their relationships and at work. If they utilized manipulation or game playing, they likely continue to engage in manipulation in their relationships and at work. Look and you will find the types of force the perpetrator used and continues to use. They may have different examples of how they use each type of force in their daily lives, but regardless of how the force is used, using force is still using force.

The process of identifying the types of force used in the sexual or physical assault will be assessed ongoing as the perpetrator becomes less defensive and more invested in therapy. Therapists working in this field should be aware that if physical abuse, threats, or intimidation are occurring, then rape is occurring as well (marital, date, and/or acquaintance). Consent involves the ability to safely give or refuse permission to be sexual. How could anyone who is the victim of intimidation, threats, and/or physical abuse safely give consent? If victims refuse the demands or requests of the abusers, the expected outcome would be further abuse. It is easier and safer for them to agree to do whatever their perpetrators demand than to risk being physically abused. I cringe when therapists from domestic abuse programs fail to identify sexual assaults and rapes as occurring in their clients’ relationships. How naive it would be to believe that if you were afraid of refusing the sexual requests of your partner because you might be physically abused for doing so, that you actually had a choice. You did not have a choice, at least not one that was worth considering. If you refused, it was likely that your abuser would coerce or physically force sexual contact anyway. To refuse the perpetrator’s requests would be to ask to be physically and psychologically abused.

The second step is to correctly label the psychological force as abuse and place the force in the perpetrator’s cycle, as different strategies of force would be used at different stages within the cycle. Again, perpetrators should be giving specific examples of each type of force they engage in. Observe perpetrators in group and individual sessions to assess first-hand how they use force, and to document noticeable progress for dealing with problems without force. Confront them when they use force. I find using sarcasm and humor is extremely helpful to point out to the perpetrators when they are using psychological force. The sarcasm helps the perpetrators experience the sense of being put down, as well as the loss of power, which for them has become paired with their process of using psychological force. Using empathy to confront psychological force only serves to reinforce the perpetrators’ persona by offering a gentle form of nurturance in the form of empathy. This is not the goal. Use sarcasm and confront the perpetrators immediately when they engage in the use of force. Remember that you are either part of the problem or part of the solution; you either support the perpetrators’ healing or the perpetrators’ persona. You can undo months of therapy with one moment’s support of force. [Scott Allen Johnson. Physical Abusers and Sexual Offenders: Forensic and Clinical Strategies (Kindle Locations 264-283). Kindle Edition].

Now there is a treasury of profound insights! If I observe a person acting abusively in our church, for example (and it is a pattern), then I can safely assume that he or she is using those same abusive tactics in their other relationships, whether at work or at home. And if the abuser is using force in his relationships at home, such as in his marriage, he is necessarily raping his wife. Think through what Johnson says about this. It simply cannot be consensual sex when the victim is a victim of force!

And did you appreciate what Johnson says about how we are to deal with the abuser when we see him using force? That is to say, when we spot him using abusive tactics – perhaps against us?  We are NOT to show him any empathy!  What? WHAT DID YOU SAY? But, but we are Christians. We have to show mercy and love and be kind and…..  No!  We are to, dare we say, mock them with sarcasm! Show them the irrationality of their tactic. Make them feel the put down, just as they make their victim feel it.

Good stuff. Really, really good stuff.

* Amazon affiliate link — ACFJ  gets a small percentage if you purchase via this link

 

49 Comments

  1. This brings to mind Galatians 5:12 again. No sweet talk there – rather rude of Paul, really. 🙂

    I think people connect rape with violence, if it’s between 2 adults. But this is interesting because at no point in my marriage did I ever “want” to have sex. My thoughts were always along the lines of “Oh God I must have sex now or else….” 😦

    • Still Scared( but getting angry)

      I know, It’s like I didn’t even realize how bad it was until I came out of the FOG but I have been wracking my brain to try to remember when, if ever I wanted to have sex with him. It is so twisted now in my head that I have no clue if I am normal or not or crazy….

      • Still Scared( but getting angry)

        and I desperately want to go back to the ridiculous counselors from that first year as I recognized the abuse and tell them about the repeated RAPES!!

      • Still Scared( but getting angry)

        Oops…I think I am a wee bit triggered! 🙂

  2. Brenda R

    I am taking it that the sarcasm tactic should only be used once the abuser is well into therapy. Using sarcasm on X only got me into more serious abuse. Are there good examples of how this tactic could be safely used?

    • Not Too Late

      I second that.

    • IamMyBeloved's

      Good point Brenda. I think if I had used that tactic, I may not be here today. Too scary for me to have done. Perhaps this tactic is best used by the others the victim has reported the abuse to, such as pastors, friends, family, etc., although most victims hide the abuse. I would think though, that even that could cause a potential danger to the victim, if not done and carried out rightly.

      “If you refused, it was likely that your abuser would coerce or physically force sexual contact anyway. To refuse the perpetrator’s requests would be to ask to be physically and psychologically abused.”

      Glad to see that coercion is considered force. I have always said it was, but nice to hear it from someone else. Also nice to hear that the punishment is not just physical abuse, but can also be psychological or emotional abuse, for not giving in. I think it should have been written “physically and/or psychologically abused” to be more accurate. Not all victims of abuse suffer immense physical abuse, but we know that the psychological terror and fear experienced from either forms of abuse – physical or emotional – are just as damaging and long-lasting. Both cause trauma-bonds to form and scarring.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Brenda – Yes, Scott Johnson is speaking of using sarcasm when you are a therapist or someone in a similar capacity. I apologize for not emphasizing that. I think that it is something that pastors should use, or any others in the church who are working to hold the abuser to accounts. Empathy is the huge mistake here.

  3. fiftyandfree

    I used to always refer to the anti-husband as a “mental bully.” He used psychological force to control me for 12 years. He used threats, intimidation, manipulation, and deceit, to force me to stay in the marriage, never complain, ask nothing of him, and have sex.

  4. Reblogged this on Speakingtruthinlove's Blog.

  5. So very affirming to read this. I remember wondering… “when does this become rape?”

  6. AJ

    Great find Jeff! This is brilliant, so affirming to read the things I know at one level but have a hard time facing. He makes it clear how our Christian love of abusers creates a culture that enables them. He is so clear about the sexual abuse in my marriage, which helps me understand the PTSD symptoms I experience. My struggle with how the church condones this sexual abuse, and how that makes it ten times worse. Just reading that someone gets it helps so much when all around me people are saying its okay either directly or indirectly.
    Blessings

    • Jeff Crippen

      AJ- Thanks for telling us how much it helped you. The whole book is a really, really good one.

    • IamMyBeloved's

      AJ – the “true” Church of Jesus Christ, would never condone sexual abuse in marriage, as it falls under sexual immorality, which in turn falls under the Scriptures, as just noted in a recent post, which falls under 1 Cor. 5, which falls under the command to throw the sexually immoral person out of the true Church. I am so sorry that this has happened to you. Just know, that God Himself hates this heinous sin and will heal you.

  7. Anna in the temple

    Hi everyone

    I just wanted to say I completely agree with this. This is exactly how I felt. Things in my marriage had gotten to the point where I didn’t feel I had the right to think for myself let alone say either yes or no to sex. I felt completely controlled. My husband had gotten so angry one night when I wouldn’t agree with him over a simple issue (how dare I want to look at my own phone and how dare I not agree and think as he wanted to just because he told me what was real and what was not) and as a result he had been unbelievably aggressive to the point where I felt we were likely to be injured or die when he was driving dangerously over the speed limit and was so enraged. It became hard to articulate why I felt sex was like rape. For a while I have identified that this was due to the fact he had tried to exercise supreme and total control over every aspect of my life. I had no voice, no rights, and was not permitted to act or even think in any way he disagreed with. In that atmosphere how could I possibly consent to sex? It is little wonder it felt like rape and just another way to exercise control and dominance. I remember going along with it one time after repeatedly saying no because my parents were staying with us and I felt they might come in at any moment and the only sense I had was that I felt no control over myself and my life at all. Jeff you are right – where there is abuse there must be rape. Thank you for this very validating post

  8. Anna in the temple

    I also want to say to every woman who has experienced this that it is terribly terribly wrong and you did nothing to deserve it. God loves you so very much and this is not His heart at all. The church has gone far far off track in suggesting that this is acceptable conduct in marriage which is what they do when they send women home to abusers. It is not and it is very wrong. God clearly agrees with this and the scriptures show rape is not right. To be forced to submit to an intimate sexual act because you have no voice in the marriage is WRONG. It is a perversion and you shouldn’t have to suffer it.

  9. As I’ve written elsewhere on this blog, consent is the Yes you say when you are free to say No.

    Great post Jeff.

  10. As I See It Only

    Here is what I’m hearing from this blog:
    1. Abuse may begin at home, but it squeezes out the pores of the abuser elsewhere too. Look for the little league coach whose team must win at all costs or a rage ensues. Watch out for the savvy executive that undercuts wages & benefits, who is out to annihilate competitors, who has the ‘Me Boss, You Not’ attitude.
    2. If Christians really loved abusers, they would confront them. Power is only crushed by power, not by love bubbles blowing in their faces. Get real, put on your warrior gear, and go rescue the person caught in this web of entitlement.

    • Jeff Crippen

      As I See It — I would only tweak one point in your excellent summary here – I would use another phrase besides “rescue the person caught in….” “Get real, put on your warrior gear, and go reveal the evil entitlement.” I think that abusers love for us to think of them as victims — as people who have been “caught.” I think that language is too empathetic. But I love the rest of your observations here in this summary. The insight that abuse comes out the pores of the abuser in other scenarios is vital to understand. Thanks mucho!

  11. 10 are free

    I have really struggled with this issue. I find the concept of “marital rape” is a very touchy subject…especially in churches.
    I cannot remember the last time that I had a sexual encounter with my husband that was something that I actually wanted. It was certainly nothing that ever came with a choice. I came to my marriage having been molested and raped when I was a child. I did my best to function in a healthy, sexual manner within my marriage. I was never comfortable with initiating, but I never turned my husband away.
    About 5 years ago, he told me that for the previous 5 years he had been purposely, continually witholding all affection from me in order to punish me. He told me that he was punishing me because I had sex with him whenever HE wanted it. I did what I thought I was supposed to do, and I never denied him, and he said that I deserved to be punished for that. He felt that my cooperation was really only ME using HIM. He said that he knew that the only reason that I was willing to have sex with him was because I hoped I would get pregnant, so he felt used. His exact words to me were that I was essentially raping him and that I had held him down and ripped the children from his unwilling body. He refused to use condoms. I told him that if he felt that way, but still continued to have sex with me, then I think he was the one using me. He told me that he wasn’t using me, because he always made sure I “came”.
    I have to admit this broke something in me. I never desired sex with him again. I still never denied him, but there wasn’t a single encounter that I didn’t lay there and wonder if he was holding it against me and what my punishment would be. There were many times that I laid there and cried. I tried to explain that was he was doing felt like rape (having experienced this in my childhood, I know what I’m talking about). He would get angry with me and tell me that I didn’t get to feel that way, that I don’t get to think that or say that. He would go on and on about how bad I made him feel when I told him that, and that I was just trying to punish him, and that I was the one in sin because I was bitter and unforgiving.
    He knew how I felt, and if I ever tried to make it clear that I did not want to participate, he would say “Your body belongs to me, and I can do what I want with it. You don’t get to say no”. We had this argument all the time, and he would snarl this at me along with the supporting Scripture verses. I hated kissing and he would pin my head down and force “kisses” on me. He would tell me that having sex with me was like having sex with a prostitute. I never told him no, but there were times I would try to discourage him. It did not matter if we had had a terrible fight, if we weren’t speaking, or even if I was crying. He took what he wanted, because he felt it was his due. Several months before I was able to get him removed from the home, he forced himself on me while I was sleeping. (All sex would be initiated while I was asleep). I was pregnant at the time and he hurt me. I told him he was hurting me, but he did not stop. When it was over, I thought I was bleeding. thankfully, I wasn’t, but I knew that I could not do this anymore. After that, I refused to share a bedroom with him any longer. Things escalated and we fought about it almost daily. He would tell me that I was sexaully abusing him by denying him, he told me that when he cheated on me it would be my fault. Eventually, he would badger me constantly with the idea that I was out of line with Scripture if I wasn’t initiating sex. His reasoning was that I was to give him his “due benevolence”. And since it was what he wanted, it was his “due benevolence”. When I wouldn’t give in, then he would hound me with “how did I justify my sin?” It was a nightmare, but I did not give in. I knew I could not.
    Now, we have been separated for over a year, and I am glad that I am not forced to deal with this anymore. I believe this part of my being has been permanently broken, and I don’t even care.
    I know that he does not believe he raped me. When our marriage counselor addressed it, my husband’s answer was that it couldn’t be rape, because I was his wife. He views rape as violent, and outside the bounds of marriage. Mine was not violent. I never even acutally said the word “no”. Even though it felt like rape, I never knew if I really got to refer to it that way. I still don’t really know what I can legitimately feel over this. For years he would tell me that I didn’t get to feel that way. He would just say that I was oversensitive, and making mountains out of molehills. My own feelings about it had no validity and I realize that I still don’t know if they do.
    The above article helped clear away some of the confusion about this. The very fact that I was not allowed a choice, made it force. What a concept. I certainly never heard that as we sat in our pasotr’s office receiving “marriage counseling”.

    • !0. I am almost without words…. you have had so much pain. What he did was rape and blame-shifting and mind games in the extreme! I followed every word you wrote really closely, and understand it all, and my mind felt like it was getting tied in knots in a hall of mirrors, and that was MY mind, only reading the account second hand, so what YOUR mind must have felt like being in it I can hardly bring myself to imagine.

      Him saying you raped him and ripped the children out of his body! When he refused to use condoms!

      His gargantuan attitude of entitlement— it breaks the sound barrier!

  12. 10 are free

    My mind felt like it was getting tied in knots in a hall of mirrors…what an apt way of describing it. I got to the point that I could not tell what was right or wrong anymore, and I lived in a constant state of confusion.
    Birth control was a constant battle. I don’t believe in birth control. I always wanted a large family. I wanted every child God would be willing to bless me with. My husband forced me to go on birth control against my will when we got married. I felt like I had to submit and obey my husband. After we had been married for 10 years, I refused to do it anymore. I told him that I would make sure that he always had condoms in his drawer, and I would not fight him or have a bad attitude if he chose to use them. It was his choice. But I would no longer let him force me to do something against my beliefs, and that should get to be my choice. I realize now that a lot of his passive aggressive punishments were because I took that stand. Over the course of the next 12 years, he wore a condom twice. I gave birth to five more children and had three miscarriages. He was hideous to me during my pregnancies and by his own admission, punished me for being pregnant. He greatly resented our children. We argued about this often. I told him that if he felt that strongly, then I would think he would wear a condom. He told me that if I knew he felt that strongly, then I should be on birth control. I was just being selfish and only cared about what I wanted. He would be so ugly to me when I would get pregnant, even though I would warn him when it was the fertile time of the month. A couple of years ago, I heard him bragging to a friend that he had an app on his phone where he kept track of my periods and when I ovulated. I was dumbfounded. He KNEW when I would get pregnant, would get me pregnant, and then would punish me and blame me for being pregnant. He acted like I had tricked him into something.
    Yep…felt like I was going crazy, because I was living with crazy.

    I keep writing these long posts…I hope it’s OK. What a relief to lay this out there and have the validation that I WASN’T the crazy one!

    • Jeff Crippen

      10 Are Free- write on! It’s a perfect forum for it. And nope, you weren’t the crazy one:)

    • fiftyandfree

      Wow! My anti-husband did the same thing to me. He raged at me accusing me of tricking him into getting pregnant. I did no such thing. In fact we were intimate very rarely, and when we were intimate it was almost always the result of manipulation and coercion on his part. He screamed like a lunatic about how I tricked him into getting pregnant and how I had “used” and “abused” him by agreeing to have sex only when I was ovulating. I told him that was ludicrous and he screamed, “I know because I kept track of your cycle.” Now he had backed himself into a corner and I responded, “Well, if you were keeping track of my cycle and you didn’t want children then why did you insist on having sex when you knew I was ovulating!!!!!?????” He replied, “I never said I didn’t want to have children, but you still tricked me!!!!!” What kind of insanity is that??

      • 10 are free

        I had someone tell me one time that even though he resented our children, he knew that each pregnancy tied me to him even tighter. He just had to make himself (and your anti-husband as well) the ultimate victim all the time…..
        And you said it….insanity.

      • Katy

        It is interesting to read others’ experiences with the birth control/pregnancy stuff. My husband would swing between punishing me and demanding I get an abortion to acceptance and acting like he liked the kids — but then he would swing again and scream that he never wanted all these kids (3) and that I tricked him by getting pregnant the first time.
        He had a vasectomy after the last one, which of course was FINE BY ME. But shortly afterward when he was roping his new girlfriend into a relationship, I found out that he promised her a baby. They are married now and sometimes I wonder if he ever told her about the vasectomy. They’ve been together 4 years now and there’s no baby yet.
        the crazy making 😦 So sorry you had to experience that kind of control over what SHOULD have been a precious time in your life. Sometimes I feel like I’m “making up lost time” with my kids since their babyhood was so awful for me. We all snuggle in my bed every night and have prayer time now. 🙂 My oldest son is going to be 9 years old and he still commands me every night at 8pm- mom it’s time for snuggling!!! 🙂

      • fiftyandfree

        Katy, it’s very comforting to read your and 10 Are Free’s accounts because I still struggle with tremendous grief over how I was treated during my pregnancies, labor and deliveries, and post-partum periods with all of my babies. Like Jeff said in his book (and it’s surprised me immensely that any man would understand this), the abuse was always worse when there was a new baby. To this day I cannot look at my children’s baby pictures without waves of grief flooding over me. The years that they were babies were the worst years of my life. A time in life that should be so beautiful and so joyful, was filled was so much pain and sorrow.

        My youngest is now 8 and I’ve finally gotten over grieving every time someone I know has a baby. It used bring back so many bad memories that I would end up in a minor depression for a little while every time someone close to me had a baby. I would see the attentiveness of the husbands, the way the wives were pampered, the babies welcomed and loved so much. I was treated like a worthless harlot when I had my babies, and he wouldn’t even hold the baby, much less participate in their care. I was forced to deliver and then resume life as usual – no rest – no recovery – just back to life as usual; taking care of him and his needs, plus the new baby and the older sibling(s) while he relaxed. He told me all three times that paternity leave was HIS VACATION, and that I wanted the kids, I was going to take care of them.

        Two of my babies were sickly and required round the clock care. That didn’t matter to him. None of them would nurse and I had to pump 10 – 12 times per day to feed them. That didn’t matter to him either. He would not even hold the baby while I pumped. I had the kids, they were my responsibility. He hated that I was so busy; pumping, feeding, and caring for the children 24/7, and he hated that I had post-partum anxiety and depression. He told me he was going to take my breast pump out the the driveway and run it over if I didn’t snap out of it and BE HAPPY. I was to be the Stepford Wife, always smiling, always happy, meeting his every need, no matter how tired I was, or how sick I was, or how stressed I was, or how lonely I was. None of that mattered to him. I had no family in the state and he was the only one available to help me, but he refused. He went to work and that was all he felt he was required to do, and I was “dysfunctional,” “unstable,” and “belligerent” if I asked for his help, or complained that he would not help me.

        I learned over the years that the only way to live in peace with this man was to ask nothing of him, expect nothing of him and complain about nothing, ever. The sick babies were my responsibility, period.

        I honestly don’t know how I survived that time in my life. I used to wake up every morning praying, “Dear God, how am I going to do this again.?” Every day was an exercise in survival. Pump, feed, take care of all three children, pump, feed, cook, clean, take care of the children, pump, feed, over and over and over again with no help, no compassion, no companionship. It’s only by the grace of Almighty God that I made it, and not only did I make it, I was a darn good mother and those babies got the best care a baby could have!! I praise God for that, but it still hurts so much.

        Sorry, I’m rambling. I never really talk to anyone about this because no one can possibly understand unless they’ve been through it. I don’t know how Jeff understands but the fact that he mentioned this numerous times in his book touched me so deeply. Thanks Jeff for the validation and the empathy, and thanks Katy and 10 Are Free for sharing your stories here.

      • Jeff Crippen

        50Free: 🙂 You’re welcome.

      • He told me he was going to take my breast pump out the the driveway and run it over if I didn’t snap out of it and BE HAPPY.

        Ouch! Flinch!

      • My oldest son is going to be 9 years old and he still commands me every night at 8pm- mom it’s time for snuggling!!! 🙂

        happy happy happy!

  13. I can totally relate to this post. I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. I was abused for 10 years. Now in my marriage I am happy when I get my period each month. I cannot ever say No without him throwing my childhood back in my face. I hate kissing him, I hate his touch. He has no idea why I’m not into kissing or I sometimes walk away when he touches me. He thinks its my past abuse. I could say much …. My counsellor recently told me I’m sexually abused in my marriage but she also said ‘work on yourself and get stronger and others around you will change’ … This advice is something I’m starting to not agree with.

    • ‘work on yourself and get stronger and others around you will change’ … This advice is something I’m starting to not agree with.

      I’m with you on your feeling of caution about that counsel, loves6. I was sexually abused as a child and it caused damage to my body/mind that badly affected my sexual responsiveness as an adult. But I was astonished to discover that this damage was totally healed in the early (good) part of my second marriage. Prior to that marriage I had done heaps of work on myself to try to recover from the childhood sexual abuse. That work had done some good for my emotions it had not healed my fused wiring (neurons). What healed the fused wiring was a loving respectful non-judgemental sexual relationship over time. It didn’t happen overnight. I am not saying that my experience would apply to others, but for my healing I needed to have the actual experience of an accepting and no-coercive sexual relationship with a real man who did not freak out when I was triggered and just held me in his arms without putting any pressure on me till whatever God wanted to do in me while I was feeling triggered subsided. All that therapy and counseling couldn’t produce that healing.

      The two links below are comments I made on others’ blogs where was I describing some of that healing, but bear in mind that when I wrote those two comments I was married to my second husband and at that stage was very happy in that marriage.
      https://thoroughlychristiandivorce.wordpress.com/2012/01/31/sex-in-an-abusive-marriage-part-2/#comment-153
      http://morvensblog.wordpress.com/2012/02/10/a-hard-post-part-i-by-ida-mae/#comment-100

      • loves6

        Thanks Barbara. I have been working on my past abuse for 15 years. The Lord has healed me of much. I know in my heart that my husband holds the key to the healing that is left. i need a man that will just hold me and hug me and let me cry. i need a safe place. my home and relationship is very toxic. I have gently mentioned to him about letting me go, to be free as Jesus wants me to be and he has gone into a awful rage…ripping his clothing and yelling.
        My husband gets this look in his eyes when the subject of sex comes up. His eyes change and I do not like this. I have wondered if its awkwardness on his part but I’m not so sure. He mentions things during sex such as another woman in the room..threesomes, woman he has seen that day that were very attractive and many other things. I am sure he has a sexual issue and I have felt this for years.
        He knows of one of my triggers. He used to respect this trigger and not do it. Now he does it all the time, saying that he thinks I have to get over it and that him not doing it isn’t helping me…..me having to put up with it, in his eyes is a way he can help me recover.
        I have PTSD. I’ve had this for years. I disassociate when very stressed. I was severely abused in my young life. A story in itself. Many christian people that have heard my testimony marvel that I am sane. I know it is God and Him only that has saved me mentally.
        I really long for a loving man in my life that I can feel safe with. I really don’t know if that will ever happen. I guess what I’m saying is I want peace, not chaos, love and not contempt.

      • He knows of one of my triggers. He used to respect this trigger and not do it. Now he does it all the time, saying that he thinks I have to get over it . . .

        that little phrase “have to”. Ugh. Should. Must. Have to. All words to avoid when advising victims of abuse. The fact that he’s telling you you have to shows he has no idea about helping someone recover from trauma and it may also indicate that he is saying ‘you have to’ in order to cause you more hurt.

      • Just

        love6, It sounds to me like your husband has very little conscience and is very manipulative too. He’s doing something that hurts you. You have told him that it hurts you. And he is not only still doing it, but is attempting to convince you that it is for your own good.

      • My husband does do these things to cause me more pain and he is very manipulative and at times it’s very subtle. He is very intelligent and we have been together for over 30 years so he has his unspoken ways of manipulating me.
        What makes me doubt myself or makes me feel like I’m crazy is one week he can be so mean and cutting about a trigger, for example, then the next week he could be nice and apologetic.
        I always thought rape was non consensual…to think that an abused wife is raped makes perfect sense. In my situation I have to use methods I used as a child to sometimes survive the experience. For years I haven tried so hard to be the submissive wife that’s alive in the bedroom, and even that wasn’t enough….now I just cannot do this anymore. I feel like i have lost the sense of what a normal sexual relationship looks like in a Christian marriage. What is a normal way for a man to be with his wife and what is normal for a wife to be with her husband?

      • Jeff Crippen

        loves6 – The first section of your comment here is really the core of the issue. It seems to me that the physical relationship between husband and wife is an outgrowth of the nature of their heart relationship. If the heart is bad, all that proceeds from it will be colored by that. So the fact that your husband is manipulative, mean, and cutting tells us that his heart is bad. He does not (these are hard words to hear) love you. The typical abuser only loves himself. His non-love for you really has nothing to do with you as far as a cause. He simply sees himself as the center of the universe and you are there for his service and pleasure. The alternating back and forth between “nice” and “mean” is all part of his abuser tactics. And yes, it does make you kind of crazy doesn’t it?

        In this kind of relationship then, there can never be a healthy (I think that is what you mean by “normal”) sexual relationship. The healthy way for a husband and wife to be together in the bedroom is for both of them to truly love the other, to desire to give more than receive, and no one feeling forced to perform. It is an atmosphere of no pressure, of lightness and sometimes a sense of humor (especially when expectations don’t quite turn out), and a relationship in which both still look forward to time together on a date as much or more than they did decades before. That’s normal in terms of how it is supposed to be.

        But if one’s spouse is an abuser, then make no mistake – even the apparent “good times”, aren’t. It’s all just part of that abuse cycle, setting you up for the next abuse attack.

        I think that you would do well (advice only, not telling you) – to realize that after 30 years of this abuse, you are never going to see “normal” in the bedroom or any other room of the house with this guy. Sex, under such conditions is forced. And forced sex = well, you fill in the blank.

      • MeganC

        That was such a good response, Jeff. I want to print it out . . . it makes so much sense to me.

      • Loves6,
        I’m inclined to agree with Jeff and Megan (below).

        I’m not sure what normal is, but I do know at the end of it you should feel close as a couple, should not have regrets and you should feel loved, not used and at no time should you feel unsafe in any part of your person. You should also not feel like you have to pay with your body for acceptance/approval nor should there be a sense of imposed obligation, such as being the submissive wife who’s alive in the bedroom when that is artificial for you. You shouldn’t have to be someone you’re not nor feel ashamed of who you are. But other than the elimination of degrading practices, it is too individual to use a word like normal, I think.

      • Thank you Jeff for your response. The truth is hard to bear but I hear it. I have been saying to him for a few years now, ‘How can you say you love me and then speak and treat me with such contempt (I have felt hate come from him at times)?’ … He says, I just carnt handle anger and conflict (which he says is normal). He says anger is a normal human response and I have to learn to deal with it.
        What I meant by ‘normal’ is, with abuse lines can be blurred, I know this from being a sexual abuse survivor, so I guess I was meaning losing a sense of normal. I have got so used to just ‘doing’ out of duty as my body is not my own, my husband has needs within 48 hrs, it puts him a good mood, if I don’t he is going to start being moody, it is what holds a marriage together etc etc. I think about this day and night…it kind of plagues me. He has got so angry with me over the years over saying no, I guess I traumatized by these experiences, so I try to avoid these outbursts. He has used porn, with me on different occasions, because he thought I needed something to get me feeling sexual…. I didn’t think there was an issue at these times, now I can see that this was an excuse so he could look and use me as the reason. Me, having no voice, because of my past just let this and other things happen, makes me feel sick just thinking about it.
        As for him being the centre of the universe, he often says I I I when it comes to arguing. I do this I do that, I have supported you, I I I. Self pity is a biggie. I carnt talk when it comes to that, I’ve had my moments. I guess I just would like to see a grown up 50year old man, not a pathetic boy in a 50year olds body. One thing I do not like is men that are mice and I live with one…. BUT the mice turns into a monster when it comes to me and my ‘behavior’, my decisions etc etc.
        And Jeff, at the moment I would say we are in a ‘good time’ but I’m exhausted and feel like this mountain is too hard to conquer. My eyes are being open to so much and I’m processing the heartache of it all. I’m also asking God what He wants me to do.

      • Jeff Crippen

        loves6 – I have heard abusers tell me “but we have had such good times.” I used to fall for that. Now I know the proper response is “no we didn’t have any good times. None. They were nothing more that you working to sucker me in again so that you could whack me all over again.” So with an abuser, there are NO good times in the relationship. It’s only Hitler working to convince Chamberlain “Oh yes. There will be peace in our time.” Yeah. Right.

  14. MeganC

    Without what you describe above, Jeff, sex in the bedroom between an abuser and his victim feels violating. A victim will feel used . . . like a prostitute. She will disassociate during sex . . . perhaps pretend she is someone else or is someone else . . . and she will cry afterwards . . . maybe in the bathroom or into her pillow privately. It is awful, awful, awful. 😦

    • Yes Megan I agree. I just don’t cry. I feel nothing. I’m so numb at the moment, just carnt allow myself to feel too much. I just deal with the whole thing like I did when I was a,little girl. I keep the pain, confusion, hurt all inside. I have believed for years that God was going to make it all ok. That he would change my husband, as He worked in his life and mine and would make an amazing testimony out of our lives. I also carry the burden that, if I leave him I ruin the testimony that we have always talked about. It will be all my fault.

      • if I leave him I ruin the testimony that we have always talked about. It will be all my fault

        . . . I’m sure you know this already, loves6, but it probably bears reiterating: it will not be your fault that the testimony is ruined. It will be his fault. You will just be the one coming clean and saying that all those years the testimony was a sham.

  15. And I have just reread this article…. We have family friends…the guy is in Christian ministry…he has a close friendship with my husband…these friends are aware of some our situation. This man gives empathy to my husband and advice… Believe me it does more damage than good to me, no sarcasm involved nor anger towards my husband for what they know he has put me through.
    The wife recently said I could go and stay with them if needed, she got back to me that afternoon and said, her husband didn’t want his friendship to be affected with my husband so I would have to go and stay somewhere else if the need arose.
    People that are involved in complex abusive marriages, especially where ministry in concerned, need to do their research, or listen to what the victim is saying. Too many people get sucked in my the abuser. Just my opinion 🙂

  16. G. F. Mom

    Ugh, our assistant pastor was trying to warn us years ago but I didn’t let him. I got offended at him for saying to my husband he’s using me as a shield and for some other things. He went really aggressive on my husband in front of me but I was protecting him, even though we came in for counseling because I had it and I broke down crying in front of the pastor. And he has used force in bed numerous times and orgasms were painful. Most of the times no warm up and he finishes just using me to relieve his tension.

  17. Finding Answers

    I need to add Scott Johnson’s book to my list.

    While reading the original post, I was reminded of some of the recent posts in Barb’s series on Chris Moles.

    Barb or TWBTC: Perhaps you could add this post to the Chris Moles Digest, rather than me adding it in as a comment?

Trackbacks

  1. Pushing Past the Trauma of Parental Alienation | Moms' Hearts Unsilenced
  2. The Difficulty and Necessity of Accepting the Unlove | A Cry For Justice

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