A Cry For Justice

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

A Typical Ally-Forming Letter from an Abuser

[October 25, 2022: There have been some changes made to this post. For more information, read the Editors’ notes at the bottom of the post. Editors.]

I have talked with a lot of men and women who have been contacted by an abuser (who is trying to form allies). Sadly, some of these people have been my friends and they have only wanted me to know what is going on. Other times, a third party has contacted me to ask about “this weird email I got from so-and-so’s soon-to-be-ex husband”. Lastly, I have been able to compare notes with friends here on this blog who have been contacted by an abuser-who-is-trying-to-recruit-an-ally. We have discovered that there are so many similarities among these little missives of desired collaboration! They often contain these elements. Perhaps not all, but some:

1) Apology: I use that term loosely. An abuser rarely apologizes for abuse. He or she will apologize by saying things like, “I messed up” with some sort of excuse tacked on. For instance, an abuser will typically find some way to blame someone or something else….usually the victim. But, it could also be upbringing, church, the victim’s lack of meeting the abuser’s needs, an addiction, etc..  If one delves deeper, one finds that an abuser believes that all he has done must be forgotten immediately in favor of reconciliation.

2) Declaration of repentance: This may or may not come in words like this: “I have changed.” “I have seen the error of my ways.” “I have hurt her but I never will again.” Nothing ever concrete or detailed. Just vagueness. They may write about how much they love their victim and how they have apologized over and over again and yet (goodness me) she just will not forgive (translation: “she will not come back and let me abuse her more”).

3) Concern: Next, the abuser may exude concern for the victim (who got away). He might try to convince people that she is doing bad stuff. In the abuser’s mind, she probably is. She is now free from his control and that translates into sin within the aggressive mind. The abuser also might feign concern for the children. All of a sudden, the abusive person cares about the well-being of the children?

The concern will also be for the intended ally. “I am concerned she is a burden to you”, or “I am concerned she is taking advantage of you” — all of which is directly opposed to the Gospel. Christ never saw our neediness or destitute state with suspicion as though we might be “taking advantage”, and praise Him, He never sees us as burdensome. Rather, He desires a relationship with us….He loves us….He cherishes us. We can run to Him and be safe.

Then, the abuser closes in….

4) Asks for help or for prayer: He may say, “Please pray for my wife (or ex-wife). She is really in sin….she has forsaken her marriage vows and I am really worried for her safety and her sanity.” This is where the abusive person plants seeds that his wife is neither safe nor sane along with shifting blame to the victim. (It is always interesting to me that the “big sin” is the victim leaving. This is a deflection from the fact that all the sin over years of marriage from the abuser is why she left.) She needs to go back to him, right? Plus, no one wants an insane woman on their hands, do they? In fact, this man must be a saint. He is willing to take her back after all she’s done….

Now, what would the good Christian do? He or she would probably feel some confusion and then just, somehow, feel it is right to encourage the victim to return. When people do this, they are being very, very unwise and foolish and have, evidently, never looked into the antics and behavior of abusers or covert-aggressives. 

Have you or anyone you know received letters or phone calls like these? What might I be missing as far as the elements of the conversation?

[October 25, 2022: Editors’ notes:

—For some comments made prior to October 25, 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 October 25, 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 October 25, 2022 that quoted from the post to the post as it is now (October 25, 2022), click here [Internet Archive link] for the most recent Internet Archive copy of the post.]


  1. Brenda R

    Fortunately, this has not happened in my case. Or, not that I am aware of. At least, no one has said anything.

  2. Barnabasintraining

    Almost all of this was in place in some form or another with the abuser. There were many attempts to appeal to many would-be allies, some received certain emphases, others received different emphases.

    He may say, “Please pray for my wife (or ex wife). She is really in sin….she has forsaken her marriage vows and I am really worried for her safety and her sanity.”

    To this I would add “I’m worried about her salvation”.

    In fact, this man must be a saint. He is willing to take her back after all she’s done….

    I don’t know if this was conveyed to would-be allies, but it was conveyed to the victim.

    The whole thing really was quite pathetic.

    • MeganC

      Oh, YES. I forgot about that, BIT. Worried about her salvation….

  3. IamMyBeloved's

    This is right on, Megan. I think you have covered each of those very well. We can all add to the “remarks” or “comments” made, along with the false accusations list, but I think you have done very well here in setting the basic gist of it all. I would just add, that if the abuser thinks you have someone else in your life that has abused you, they will probably be the ones that the abuser feeds into the most. He tries to ally them, because he thinks they will aid him in further abusing you – all under the guise of “helping” the victim. I also like that you covered the “I love her so much” part, and the ways that abusers will apologize. Not.

    Excellent post!

    • MeganC

      It was somewhat healing for me to read this, IMB. That is exactly what happened with me! Those who tend toward abuse allied themselves against me in one big group (whereas before, they weren’t really that close!). They built relationships upon the building blocks of hating me, under the guise of “concern”. Really, really good point.

      • IamMyBeloved's

        Ha! Exactly what is happening to me too, although it has backfired on my abuser to some degree. That is just the Lord’s hand protecting me – and I know that He has likewise protected and defended you as well. But take note of this, “Birds of a feather” – do what? Yep, that’s right, they “flock together”. I am finding that people who abuse tend to flock to each other and the most success any abuser has with allying people to his side, is if they are either abusive themselves or are bent with that tendency, or are in denial as to their own abuse and have never dealt with it, which leaves them open to just being re-abused by the abuser trying to ally them.

    • And Herod and Pilate became friends with each other that very day, for before this they had been at enmity with each other. (Luke 23:12)

      • IamMyBeloved's

        Ah, yes. Very good Scripture to make a very good point!!

  4. Deborah

    My abuser did all of this. I found out through the several people he contacted. He tried to tell them that I was unstable and needed help. He said he did all he could to save the marriage and I just wouldn’t try. He told them he was worried for the kids and that I was living in a rat trap of an apartment (this from a man who when we divorced, couldn’t tell you the names of any of the doctors the kids saw, couldn’t name any of the kid’s needs, their schedules, any of the kid’s school details or their friend’s names). Yet he was all of a sudden the “concerned and involved parent”.

    He claimed he never abused me and that I abused him. He claimed he wouldn’t have to do the things he did if I didn’t make him so mad, apologized for being a bad husband in general but would not admit abuse of any kind and alternated that with calling me expletives and making fun of me in front of the children. He twisted things around and told the people he talked to that I was the one doing the things he was actually doing. He told our son that he wished mommy would come home and he didn’t know why I had left.

    He found out I was trying to go to divorce care and showed up there, knowing I would not stay if he was attending. So he completed the program and I dropped out. Heaven knows what he told them. I could go on….

    [Paragraph breaks added to enhance readability. Editors.]

    • Barnabasintraining


      I saw a lot of that same thing with the table-turning. By the end of the thing he had the victim guilty of everything he was guilty of himself. I had to deal with some of his allies (who probably would not say they were allies as they were trying to be neutral, not realizing that ipso facto made them allies, but anyway….) and saw how he did this. It was the worst thing in the world for me to hear what they were saying when I knew what the truth was and there was not one thing I could do about it. Not one stinking thing. He’d hijacked the whole show.

      • Deborah

        I hear ya on that. It really is the worst feeling. Like the bottom just dropped out from under you.

    • MeganC

      Deborah — I could NOT relate more. I have seen this in emails and letters (speaking of myself), as well. “She is the actual abuser”. Um….OK. So, I finally admit to the word “abuse” after 11 – 12 years of marriage and then my ex and his cohorts quickly turn the tables? Wow….I am always amazed when people believe that!

      I hate what you’ve been through because it can make you feel a little bit crazy. It takes tons of validation and a lot of time in God’s truth to find your bearings again after someone has said something like that. Just know that we’ve got his number over here at ACFJ. He is so typical….

      • Deborah

        That’s exactly what it does. Make you feel crazy. Thank you for your care and support. This blog is so important!!

    • LorenHaas

      Deborah, I am so sorry that the “DivorceCare” leaders did not make your husband leave the group while you were there. My wife and I are “DivorceCare” leaders and it is accepted policy not to allow spouses to attend at the same time. He should have been asked to leave and attend a different group. “DivorceCare” is supposed to be a safe place and if it is not, it needs to be fixed. I have “black-listed” a few people because I suspect their goal is not healing but to gain allies and make their ex-spouse look bad. If they are sincere in seeking healing they can attend another group. None ever do.

      • Deborah

        I wish it had happened that way for me but the church really was convinced of his story, so I didn’t get much support.

      • IamMyBeloved's

        Seems the devil never sleeps, Deborah. Abusers are so inept at knowing how to make their victims give up and quit. We know that is not God, so…. What has helped me, is knowing that God knows the truth and all those people who believe your abuser are just people God is showing you, you need to stay away from. Anyone who is able to be allied to an abuser’s side probably has something in common – somewhere – with that abuser, in my opinion.

        I hate that this has happened to you, but as Meg said, it has happened to most, if not all of us over here, and that is why God has banded us together. You are safe here. God always has His good army to oppose the bad army. Just know, this too shall pass, and even though your abuser may never cease to try to ally people against you, you will become strong and just be able to walk on. Knowing the truth, at some point in your trial will just be enough for you, and your abuser’s ability to ally others will not have the power it now has. It is just about time and healing.

      • If they are sincere in seeking healing they can attend another group. None ever do.

        Funny that….

  5. Marianne

    Oh, is this ever familiar to me. My ex did that in his words and texts to family members he was trying to get on his side. He was “worried” about me, I had “mental problems”, I had “broken my vows before God by leaving him”. All the while, he swept under the rug that he physically abused me and strangled me in a drunken rage. And when confronted about it, he had “repented” and he also said that I, too, was to blame because I “provoked him.” His words caused me to really question myself at first….”was I really crazy?” “Did I really bring the abuse on myself?” “Did I really fail as a wife and not put him in the “proper” place on my priorities list?” This mental fog continued for quite some time.

    When these tactics failed to work, he moved on to another one – threats. He threatened my family members by saying he used to work for the government, as if he could somehow spy on us all. Broke into personal email and bank accounts. So be on the lookout for this type of behavior next, if their letters / pleas to family and friends don’t work. Very evil, indeed.

  6. Marianne

    This is so very familiar to me. When I left my ex-abuser, he would send text messages and emails to family members and friends. He was “concerned” and “worried” about me, especially my Christian convictions. I had “abandoned him and broken my vows before God.” I had no “Biblical reason to divorce him.” He so easily swept under the rug that he physically abused and strangled me in a drunken rage, His father excused the incident because “he was drunk” and the ex claimed I had “provoked him”. His antics caused me to really question myself for a while – “was I really this horrible person?” “Was I that selfish and unkind?” “Did I bring the abuse on myself?” “Was I somehow deserving of that treatment?”

    When his tactics failed to work, he tried something new – threats. He threatened family and friends by telling them the type of government job he used to have, as if he could somehow spy on all of us. It was very creepy and felt so evil. But, it’s something to keep an eye on, because when abuser’s letters to family and friends don’t work, they may try threats. And it can be dangerous.

  7. Katy

    I am witnessing this right now with another victim I have been helping. She has a restraining order against him. He texts her CONSTANTLY. The texts start out by saying things like “I am so sorry and I take responsibility for the breakdown of our marriage.” followed by declarations of love and adoration for her, respect for her, etc., etc.. THEN, once he gets that out of the way, he will start making demands, like “I don’t understand why I can’t see the children, they are OUR CHILDREN, why are you doing this to me? I just want to see them!” and then when he finally drives her up the wall and she has to re-assert the boundaries, re-state that she will not accept any more harassment, and that if he persists she is ready to go back to court (the judge was very much on her side). Then he backs off, immediately starts sending her more “love notes”, and the cycle starts all over again.

    He never relinquishes his control, never backs away, never gives her space to think. Never.

    This guy has admitted to his violent behavior, but has not done any hard work toward real change or repentance. He is always motivated by getting her back under his control. He is attempting to get her family members on his side by pretending to be a Boy Scout and whining about how much he loves her and how “hurt” he is. Thankfully most of her family is not falling for it.

    • Barnabasintraining

      He never relinquishes his control, never backs away, never gives her space to think. Never.

      This guy has admitted to his violent behavior, but has not done any hard work toward real change or repentance. He is always motivated by getting her back under his control. He is attempting to get her family members on his side by pretending to be a Boy Scout and whining about how much he loves her and how “hurt” he is.

      Yep! That’s it! That’s exactly what this guy did!

  8. Too loyal

    Thank you for this basic outline. I have definitely received this type of email from my abuser. His email included the elements you mentioned, and then included a list of what he wanted. He was making allies of the support group I was in and they were planning a trip out of town for training, and later a trip to another country. He said he knew he stepped over the line, but he wanted to attend these outings because they were his new friends. Of course the allies just saw it as someone needing support. I was interested in the fact that though he “knew he stepped over the line” the next words were “I want….I want….I want….I want”. Funny that this email was sent after a policeman had JUST told him NOT to call me, leave notes, come by work, no emails, don’t even give a note to a friend to give to her. Ten minutes later I get this email, he sounded desperate.

  9. Jeff Crippen

    The following comment was forwarded to me by a reader who wants to remain very anonymous. I am posting it for them. And many thanks to them for telling this story! It is a help to us all.

    In the case of our daughter’s abusive husband — a respected professional, from a respected preacher’s home — skillfully, cunningly manipulated not only the preacher and his wife and the members of their congregation to be his ally, but he also convinced some to confront “his wayward wife” who had left him because — as he confessed — “he had made some mistakes, and spoken harshly to her”, but “wanted her back, and wanted to reconcile with her”. They eagerly and willingly did his bidding and not only reported what they heard from her to him, but their pastor was willing to write a letter to our church about her that was read aloud in a congregation. (The letter told of her faithfulness in attendance, but also said that she was not responsive to meeting with them….(even though she did). I wonder why she stopped meeting with them….?)

    He also successfully accumulated allies in the majority of our church, 9 hours away, 3 states away, within the denomination of their father’s. Before we knew what was happening, the whole country of our denomination had heard of his accusations against the integrity of our daughter, and people who were members of our local body who did not even know her personally (because she had lived away from home the 2 years), they were quick to send us and her letters of rebuke for her “sins” that they were made aware of by our pastor who had aligned fully with the abuser, and had no problem publicly announcing what the abuser had accused her of so as to destroy her character. He did. And, those that believed him (who also never contacted us, or her, to affirm or deny his words) willingly raised their hands against her to ex-communicate her from the church she had not attended for 2 years!

    He also contacted my sister, and drove 10 hours to meet with her and her husband, and there told malicious character-damaging lies about her while in the midst of a “form of confession” of his own, thus attempting to justify why he abused her even to the closest of her relatives.

    20 years of “friends” within our denomination around the country, through the “gossip and slander” that was spread across the country from this “respected” young man, never contacted us, or her, and now 2 years later since her ex-communication, have remained silent, assumingly due to their belief of the lies of the abuser.

    A few letters, and a few allies with mouths that share “gossip”, he cunningly led to the near destruction of a human being — our daughter — and turned our entire world upside down.

    Just as reports of suspected child abuse MUST be reported to authorities, there ought to be a campaign that says:

    If you are ever told by a man,
    that his wife is accusing him of abuse, “falsely”.
    —Call the police on him right away!
    And let the body of evidence see who is the slanderer!

    Or better:

    Go get the woman and her children
    and take them to a shelter
    as soon as the abuser is away!

    Be NOT a companion with a destroyer….

    Whoso robbeth his father or his mother, and saith, It is no transgression; the same is the companion of a destroyer.
    He that is of a proud heart stirreth up strife: but he that putteth his trust in the LORD shall be made fat. (Proverbs 28:24-25)

    • IamMyBeloved's

      For goodness sake! It sounds like the same pastor that all of us have endured at some point. Sigh.

      Be comforted, Anonymous, that you have found a safe place here, to discuss something so very heinous that some of us have been through. The treacherous dealings of a pastor who wants power and control over his congregants — even after they have left his “c”hurch. This is spiritual abuse, at its best. Too bad God doesn’t hand out rewards for that!

      This man and his wife and all the others will eventually be found out and justice with judgment will be dealt out to all of them. Sad day for them.

      You will find lots of help toward recovery and healing here at ACFJ. Your story is so similar to what we have gone through, that I am certain you will find tons of posts to help explain the abuse your family has endured and help aid you in identifying the truth about what has happened to you. Perhaps it would do good to your daughter, for her to read some of the posts here as well.

      So sorry for the abuse you have all suffered. My heart goes out to you and your family.

    • Dear Anonymous, thank you so much for sharing this story via Jeff C. I join you in your outrage, and was groaning with dismayed anger and making fists in the air as I read it (sitting in the cafe of “Ikea”, but who cares what I look like, eh?).

      I really like the Scriptures you ended your comment with. I had never thought of that ‘robbeth father and mother’ verse in relation to domestic abuse by a son-in-law, but your application is spot on!

      The effort and time that man put into winning allies and how far afield he went to recruit them….he was very dedicated to his evil project wasn’t he? The assiduous painstaking dotting of i’s and crossing of t’s; the thoughtfulness, planning, persistence and follow-through…. Imagine how much he might have reformed his defective character if he had put the same amount of effort into contrition, repentance and reparation of the damage he had done.

      • IamMyBeloved's

        Imagine how much he might have reformed his defective character if he had put the same amount of effort into contrition, repentance and reparation of the damage he had done.


  10. Still Scared (but getting angry)

    I would add what was slightly touched on in another comment: the ex-idiot and another one of a good friend of mine (we went through separation basically together). Both idiots told stories how they suspected our dads of abusing us and that is where the stories were coming from. I had three counselors come up to me separately and skirt around the issue and finally ask about how I was abused as a child. I don’t think one of them ever really believed that it was a total falsehood and made up by my abuser.

    • AJ

      I am wondering if this is a relatively common experience? Oddly a friend and I had just discussed this mutual experience recently. How the sexual abuse within the relationship caused trauma that was later blamed on non-existent childhood sexual abuse.

      Any thoughts?

      • Happy2bhere

        I don’t know if it’s common or not, but with these type of people it seems not many lines go uncrossed. I grew up in an abusive household, later sexually abused by someone else. I confided these things to my husband, who now uses them against me calling me “damaged goods”, “I think everyone is abusive”, or “it’s the reason I don’t trust him.” Funny enough, before I met him I was probably too trusting and thought most people were nice. After being married to him, I feel like I could never get involved in a relationship again. In marriage counseling, he would attempt to derail the conversation by bringing up my childhood. I once told him “if I’m so damaged, then it makes perfect sense that I’m with you!”

        I think these abusers will do just about anything to make their victim look crazy. Whether you’ve had a traumatic childhood or not, the tone of what they are doing is the same. They are trying to remove their victims means of support so they can devastate us enough to go back for more abuse. You’d think they’d one day get a life and be exhausted from all this hate, but it’s like it fuels them.

        [Paragraph break added to enhance readability. Editors.]

      • Brenda R

        Happy, I hope you are well away from your abuser, you have been through enough. X tries to use my past abusive experiences for “why I am the way I am”. “It’s not him it is everyone else causing my feelings.” I feel as you do. I don’t want another relationship. The thing is what we had were not real relationships. They were prisons with twisted invisible bars meant to meld us into their dream-world where no one is independent of them. We were not real people with our own thoughts and desires. Some day your heart will open and the walls will come down for someone who will love you because of your differences and not want to change them or use your frailties against you.

      • BeginHealing

        My stepfather was an emotionally abusive narcissist. I never thought I would repeat the mistakes my mother made. I sure do wish she was still alive right now so I could apologize for being so prideful and not understanding the depth of what she was dealing with.

        My husband would very often aggressively proclaim, “You think I am just like him (my stepfather)” or “You just see me as another (insert step-demon’s name here)”. My knee-jerk reaction was to defend myself while reassuring him by denying that horrible truth. It would be a nightmare to have repeated that pattern in my life. But as time has worn on I see that minus a few things he is exactly like my stepfather. It IS a nightmare realizing that I HAVE repeated that horrible pattern. I have subjected my children to the same abuse that I suffered. I pray that they are able to forgive me. I pray that my mother knows that I forgive her and that I am so very VERY sorry for ever being mad at her for my stepfathers actions. I pray that by leaving my husband I can help break this horrible cycle. I pray that this awful burden and pattern is corrected in my children. I pray that God gives me the healing words to say to my children. I pray that they forgive me for not protecting them better. I pray that I have the strength to resist the external pressure to reconcile unless it clearly becomes God’s will not the will of man.

      • BeginHealing

        Happy, I can really relate to what you said about being too trusting. I always assumed the best of people. Why do you think we do that? After being abused as children (mine was emotional but my stepfather would say inappropriate things to me) you would think we would be more cautious. I also feel like my husband has benefited from my abusive past. I was well-programmed to be his narcissistic supply and emotional dumping grounds. Any woman that did not have the conditioning that I had would not have put up with him for as long as I did.

        Brenda R, very well said. I wonder if I would be able to recognize or function in real relationship. I pray that someday I am.

  11. Still Scared (but getting angry)

    Don’t know copyright and all that stuff, but this comic seemed so appropriate for this topic. The Flying McCoys by Glenn McCoy and Gary McCoy for December 06, 2013 [Internet Archive link] [November 20, 2022: The comic Still Scared (But Getting Angry) is referring to is the top one on the page. Editors.]

  12. My ex (oh, I love calling him that 🙂 )….

    My ex used code-words and half-truths. Sounds like that’s what you’re referencing? He purposefully misled people and let them think what they wanted. If they didn’t ask him to clarify or come to me and ask, then that was their problem. Technically, he never lied.

    For instance, “She left the marriage bed.” which got him tons of support from almost everyone, including my mother. The reality was that our mattress was completely broken after twenty years and it killed my back. I went to our bed and fell asleep but woke and wound up either on the sofa or the guest bed. He refused to spend the money to buy another mattress but bought a $9000 lawn mower instead. But by using the code-word “marriage bed” everyone assumed I quit having sex with him. Still wish I actually had stopped….

    Or my favorite — “I take full responsibility for what happened.” He went around saying this to everyone. The kids and I were the only ones who heard the rest of that — “I take full responsibility for what happened. I should have been the spiritual head of the household but I allowed my wife to take the lead. I should have put a stop to the rebellion in my family, but my wife wouldn’t allow me to discipline the kids.”

    Now he’s comparing himself to Job. They just do not change, do they?

    • Deborah

      Oh mine does this too! Still does it. He told everyone that it was so sad that I didn’t come to my daughter’s Thanksgiving play. What he didn’t tell them is that he had her when the information about the play was handed out and never told me about it. I was on a business trip when it happened that I could have postponed had I known. The first I heard of it was when he sent me a picture of her in costume, AFTER the play. Lesson learned. I have spoken to every teacher since and make sure I get the kids information directly from them. It’s amazing how they all seem to use the same tactics.

  13. Amy

    So interesting! I left & divorced my abuser 2 years ago and the other day I came across a letter he wrote me. It used the EXACT same tactics you outlined almost word for word — only it was to get me to come back, not gain an ally. Wow!

    • Brenda R

      Now that I do have. Letters from him to me trying to gain sympathy from me and get me to come back. I have over 2k emails in a 6-month period ranging from “I love and miss you, I’m sorry, I’m changed” and then it goes on to the hateful, “I’ll see you in hell stuff”. I was told that he used to tell people when he would go to visit his friends or relatives that I “just didn’t want to go”. The truth was that he would always go when I couldn’t go. I was at work or grocery shopping, taking the kids where they needed to be. Not one of those people have spoken to me or even tried to contact me since I left 6 months ago.

      • Happy2bhere

        Brenda R, thank you for your kind words and support. I’m glad you are away from your abuser, although I’m sure you are still in much pain dealing with the aftermath of his destruction. Mine used to pour his heart out to get me back, now he’s just mean because he knows I’m aware of what he’s doing. It’s too bad they don’t use all this energy they have towards something good, for people other than themselves.

      • Brenda R

        Happy, if they used that much energy for good there would be [a] wonderful world out there. There would be so much joy going on we’d think we were already in Heaven. There would be no one left hungry, sick or afraid. But instead we have an over-population of abusers doing Satan’s work everywhere they go.

  14. Leslie

    Still Scared….that is so frustrating and unfair to you. So sorry you have to deal with this….it’s unfortunately something I can relate to as well.

    My abuser went to a “Christian counsellor” who had him read the book “Wounded Heart”, a book about recovery from childhood sexual abuse. Together, they used it to to explain why I don’t trust my abusive husband, clearly I must have been abused as a child and don’t want to deal with that, so I accuse my “loving husband” of abuse instead (note sarcasm). My abuser is now passing that book around to senior leaders of my church and denomination, full of his underlines and notes in the margin of how sections apply to me. Makes me nuts! There is no way to put out all the fires he spreads of his delusional story.

    All I can do is trust God with my reputation and pray that the truth will be revealed in time. I am thankful there are a few leaders who have taken the time to know me, hear my story and they see right through his crap. Others still buy in very easily. 😦

    • MeganC

      Oh, Leslie. I know that book well. A book about a woman who went through therapy to discover hidden, repressed memories of satanic ritual abuse as a child. The book is a “Nouthetic Counseling” tool. I cannot believe it is circulating in reference to you!!! Unbelievable.

      I do think it is common for an abuser to try to find other things that “caused” the “confused memory of abuse” to surface for the victim. I remember my ex sending me messages via “Skype” saying that “it is not my fault” but is the fault of my family….it seemed he was trying to blame everyone else for what he did?

    • Katy

      My abuser is now passing that book around to senior leaders of my church and denomination, full of his underlines and notes in the margin of how sections apply to me.

      That is sooo sick & evil. This tactic really scares me, because I might have fallen for that if some abuser tried to recruit me by crying over his wife’s childhood abuse and blaming it for the marriage problems. I can see how that is a very effective tactic, because all of us have experience with abuse in one way or another — and child abuse very commonly causes people difficulties later in life.
      I am so sorry that your abuser is so cunning. 😦 I wish we could all have the dumb abusers who can barely get their sheep-suit on backwards, let alone convince entire congregations of lies!

      • Leslie

        Katy….the really sick thing is that I was NOT sexually abused as a child….I have abandonment issues and was emotionally deprived, but not sexual abused. The counsellor and abuser totally made that up!!!

        It is actually helpful in a sad and scary way to have people respond to the ‘sickness’ of this. It’s so easy to minimize what’s happening, I did it for years of course to survive, and although I minimize less all the time, there are things that happen that I still don’t see as clearly evil or sick until someone reacts when I share it. I am realizing more and more how cunning he is…. 😦 (Love your image of “dumb abusers who can barely get their sheep-suit on backwards”. That’s awesome!)

  15. Happy2bhere

    This is post was really helpful for what to watch out for. From reading the stories on here it never ceases to amaze (or anger) me at the lengths these abusers will go to. Mine deserves an award for his acting abilities. He’s great at playing the “blameless victim” in front of just about everyone. Of course my role is the “cold-hearted, moody, unstable wife seeking to destroy the family”. I used to think that because of his academic credentials, everyone will believe him. Many do, but I now I doubt he’s fooling everyone. He can be condescending and his sarcasm eventually shows through even though he makes it slight. Also he loves to talk about himself, dominating the conversation on how great he is. I think that’s where I’ve seen a few puzzled looks. It’s interesting how the “nice person” act disappears toward people he can’t use.

  16. nowfree

    When will it ever end? It’s been over 2 years since I left him, and right from the start he has been uttering and writing to people telling them I am “unwell in mind and body” and a host of other malicious and vicious lies. He even sent me a threatening letter last winter, with Bible verses he twisted to make me feel guilty for leaving him. I immediately called police and they spoke to him telling him he would be arrested if he ever sent anything like that again. Yes, Leslie, those last 2 sentences also describe my soon (I hope) to be ex and his monopolizing the conversation. Sigh. This gets so old. I’ve taken the high road and refuse to do what he has done to me. I leave it to the Lord.

    Thanks for the post, Megan.

    • His Child

      Nowfree, what favor you received from the police that they actually warned him! In my case, the police told me to “let it go over my head and throw the letter away. They had more pressing duties.”

      Leave it to the Lord — that ain’t a bad thing. He loves to surprise those who trust Him!

      • nowfree

        His Child, he was already known to the police for the physical abuse, even though I didn’t report it ’til over 40 years later! Long story.

        Romans 12:19 comes to mind often…I love this verse:

        Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. [NIV]

        And yes, the Lord is repaying my abuser! I love how creative He is in doing so! Makes me smile. 🙂

        Even his lawyer is onto his tricks. 🙂

      • Brenda R

        NowFree, that verse is wonderful and a very good reminder of who is in charge.

        He is my rock and my salvation, He is my fortress I will never be shaken. [Paraphrase of Psalm 62:6.]

        Don’t remember Book, chapter and verse, but I do so remember the feeling in my heart when it comes to mind.

      • Barnabasintraining

        Brenda R,

        Psalm 18, 27, and / or 62?

      • Brenda R

        Thank you, BIT. It is from 62. I used to know the chapter by heart, but my memory is not as good as it used to be. Praise God it is in my heart.

      • Barnabasintraining


        Yeah. It’s a good one! 🙂

  17. 10 are Free

    I also have experienced this. After I made my husband leave, I know he sent letters to my mother. After I found out about the first one, I told him that my family was off limits and he was not to have any contact with them. He of course ignored that and wrote to her again. She wouldn’t tell me what was in them. She just told me to trust her enough to know that she couldn’t be fooled. He also texted my siblings. They couldn’t believe his nerve.

    A few hours after a particularly vile phone call, he then wrote letters to my church leadership, and even had my pastor read one before the church body. He talked about “taking responsibility”, that he had been “cruel and selfish” (it was very vague), that he had now gotten saved “for real”, and that he “just hoped I could find it in my heart to forgive him and rebuild our marriage”. He also wrote similar letters to my adult children, and his family. My adult children have heard it all before, so he didn’t make any headway with them. He wrote no such letter to me. My Pastor did not talk to me before the reading of the letter….which occurred as my children and I were sitting in the congregation….and so had no idea of the true state of things. People were so excited by his letter, and swallowed his words without any proof based on actions. Immediately, people started pressuring me….just as he intended. He would complain to others not only about me, but about our children and “how poorly they were treating him, and hurting him”. Then those people felt free to criticize me or my children, based on the lies he told them. His letters gained him great sympathy and painted me as “angry, vindictive, and unforgiving”. His conduct privately did not change, but things became so difficult that eventually my children and I had to flee our church and Christian school. I still can’t wrap my brain around how it all happened.

    He is now gaining much sympathy playing the “I love and miss my children” card. He never wanted our children, he resented them, and punished me routinely for being pregnant. He physically abused them, and was completely and totally disconnected from them in every way. Now, he gains all kinds of sympathy because he has been reduced to every other weekend, supervised visitation. I wish for my children’s sake that I could really believe he had changed, but I believe that the only thing he cares about is using the issue of visitation and custody for sympathy.

    He is a master at “playing the victim”, and I just keep seeing it played out over and over again. Thank goodness, God knows the truth. I have to rest in that, no matter what I may lose in this “game” he plays with our lives.

    [Paragraph breaks added to enhance readability. Editors.]

    • Brenda R

      he had now gotten saved “for real”, and that he “just hoped I could find it in my heart to forgive him and rebuild our marriage”.

      10 are free, that statement alone should have told your pastor something was wrong. He was not concerned about following Jesus and a change in his heart, he was aiming to get you back any way he could. Your pastor had no right to read that letter publicly without discussing the situation with you. He put you in a very bad place and it must have been very painful for both you and your children. There have been so many examples mentioned on this blog of those who put marriage so high on a pedestal they are willing to believe anything to make it work even though they are not the ones that will feel its torment. Praise God your mother and siblings weren’t fooled.

      • MeganC

        My ex got saved “for real” half a dozen times (I am not kidding). Dramatic, crocodile-tear-filled moments of re-salvation. It was dreadful to watch and my heart could barely bear it because I knew he would have a high and that it would not last before he decided he was not saved again and was going to hell, which would then become a nightmare for the kids as me as he sunk into a depressive and angry, black emotional state. It also almost knocked out my faith….like he was mocking salvation and rendering it powerless. 😦

      • Brenda R

        In my opinion, Megan, he was mocking salvation. You may have doubt along the way, but if one is truly saved there is going to be a change of heart even if it is gradual. We will all have doubts and feel like we aren’t good enough, because we aren’t, but we still know somewhere in our hearts that we were redeemed. I know with X, he can bring on the crocodile tears when he needs them for effect. He can shut them off just as easily.

      • 10 are Free

        When I talked to my Pastor about this later, he told me that he just assumed that my husband would have made things right with his family first. I told him that my husband made a fool of him when he got up there and read that letter.

        My husband wrote a letter to each man in church leadership, as well as the church body. I realized that he quit trying to convince me, and instead focused on trying to convince those that he felt could pressure me into doing what he wanted. He was sadly mistaken to think that would work.

      • Heather2

        That was exactly what he was doing, 10 Are Free, and I praise God for the wisdom He gave you at that moment. Your husband was doing a great job of manipulating others. He was probably very pleased with himself too. Predictable. Sadly, few see beneath the mask. Good for you to tell them they had been duped!!!!

      • Brenda R

        You are a strong woman, 10 Are Free. The Lord will provide and protect you.

    • Barnabasintraining

      that he had now gotten saved “for real”

      Again? Huh. Most of us only had to do that once.

      And it’s so interesting how this happens at just the time when it would suit the abuser’s agenda the best. How convenient!

      • Brenda R

        That’s what I am talking about, BIT!!

    • BeginHealing

      10 Are Free….wow just wow. I am amazed that the church did that. How horrible. I hope that you and your children were able to find a more supportive and understanding church family.

      My husband openly admitted to me that he resented the children, he even openly raged at the children that he f***** hates being a parent. All of this just months ago. Now, he is broken hearted to be away from them. He has made a concerted effort to stop raging at the children and does appear to be trying to change how he relates to them. I am hoping that if he is capable of any change at all that he can maintain this change. But, I worry that he will slide back into old behaviors and crush my boys who are so happy that their father is finally involved in their lives.

      He is using the children to gain sympathy from others. Claiming that I am keeping him from them when in all actuality I was being very generous in how much access I have allowed (this will change if his behavior changes). A pastor at my church actually stepped in when my husband was “playing the victim” and pressuring me for more time. He saw that there was an inequity of time and that I was giving too much away. This blessing of a pastor lovingly stepped in and helped me. He mediated for us and pointed out to my husband that the current arrangement was unfair and that it was even more unfair to be asking for extra time. I walked away from that conversation with more time rather than less. I can’t express how grateful I am that I have a smart and realistic man that has stepped into this chaos to help. God provides what we need.

      • Happy2bhere

        Begin Healing, I couldn’t reply to your other post [comment] for some reason but I want you to know your life and mine sound a lot alike. My husband also says to me that he’s not my father and stepfather. Maybe they just need to keep telling themselves that to sleep at night. I have two children, one from my previous marriage and he is definitely treated like a stepchild by my husband. I plan to never remarry again, mostly for my children’s sake. I have a plan to leave and am looking forward to living in peace, where God and my children are my primary focus. My mother is still with her rotten husband but thinks he takes good care of her. She sees nothing wrong with the way he is. I am thankful at least my eyes are open. Hang in there and so glad your pastor is supporting you. That is really wonderful.

      • Brenda R

        X tells me that he is not my stepfather (who did sexually abuse me) or my X who cheated, stole, hit me many times, brought home STDs and tried to push me out of a car at 70 mph. Granted he was not these men. He was his own kind of rotten. He used them to tell himself, “look how great I am, I treat you better than they did”. From my perspective, NOT. He knew these things had happened and instead of being my knight in shining armor, he would tell me those things never happened. He wasn’t there so he didn’t know if it actually happened and smiled as he said it. He would say these things to get me to doubt myself. Then when he would go on a rant of verbal and emotional abuse, he would remind me that he never hit me so in his mind he was not abusing me. Objects flew my way, but they didn’t hit me dead on.

      • BeginHealing

        Happy —

        Maybe they just need to keep telling themselves that to sleep at night.

        You are very right. I never ever said he was like my stepfather, seeing that truth would have [been] hard in my denial. He drew that conclusion himself. He assumed that was what I was thinking. Perhaps it was a guilty conscience.

        I hope that you are able to find a safe place for you and your children soon. I understand your aversion to remarrying I think that may be my path as well. I am so sorry to hear that your mother is still stuck. It is hard to leave and break through denial especially after so many years. Just love her she is doing the best she can right now. I wish I had my mother back to be able to extend her some love and grace. Especially now that my eyes have been opened.

        Brenda R — I am so sorry for what you have had to endure. They do tend to look to other examples that are “worse” than they are and use that to dismiss and minimize their abuse because “it was not that bad….” It was still abuse to the person on the receiving end. It still feels awful and scary. Even if it wasn’t “as bad” as what someone else experienced.

        My husband just moved out last night. Not really sure how I am feeling about that right now. Because I have had decades to master emotional numbing I don’t often know how I am feeling right away.

      • Brenda R

        I understand that, BH. When I left in June I had it all together. It took several months for the flood gates to open. It didn’t last very long, as he continues to remind me why I left. That makes it so much easier. Thank you for your support. I will be praying for you.

      • LorenHaas

        BH, I am glad that you have such a clear-thinking pastor in your life. Many of the stories on this site include pastors that just seem hopeless. I have experienced [them] myself and seen enough egregious behavior by pastors that I thought about just not being part of a church community anymore. (I love my current church and pastor.) You are blessed to have this Godly man in your corner.

        For others, ones that need support, but now see that their church is in Crazy-town, JUST LEAVE! Find a healthy church, or do not go to church for a season. Do not allow misguided and ill-informed people [to] falsely judge you and keep you in bondage. You can become part of a virtual congregation while you are healing. Take advantage of the great teaching available online. Get grounded again in the Word away from those whose agenda is not your healing. When the time comes you can find a healthy church, but do not sit under the teaching of tyrants and buffoons.

  18. Heather2

    Megan, I find that whenever you post a post it’s my own bullseye! You nail it! My experiences mirror so many things you share. Thank you again, for whenever I begin to have doubts and my thinking gets twisted the Lord gives me these reminders. I’m ashamed to admit that I still think as a victim.
    Hugs, Megan.

    • MeganC

      Don’t be ashamed, friend. it takes time. I still struggle with this as well, and sometimes just want to hide and / or give up. But, my confidence and understanding and just a sense of solidarity is slowly growing and settling in. I am sure you are right there with me in spirit as we come out of that deep grooves / patterns of thinking. You are well on your way. xo

  19. JeanMarie

    That is so exactly spot on with the multiple recruitment letters and conversations people have had with my dad (abuser).

    His current classic is….”I have done everything I can to help poor Jean, nothing can help her, she is too mentally messed up.” Ain’t he so admirable?

    Excellent post, I am glad I read it.

    I recently wrote a blog post about what my father could have done if he wanted his fake repentance to have actually been real.

  20. nowfree

    It saddens me to know that so many others have been vilified by their “concerned for her safety and well-being” abusers. My abuser, who showed me that he didn’t really care at all if I lived or died while we were together, suddenly developed an “oh so concerned and worried persona” after I left him. He pretended to others that he was “a caring husband that was so worried that his crazy wife would harm herself”; after all, in his own words, I was “unwell in mind and body.”

    He called a crisis centre, shelter house, sent letters to my son, etc., with evil lies about me, expressing his concern “that I might harm myself”. Harm myself? I would have harmed myself even more by staying with him.

    Over a year ago, I made a list of some imprecatory Psalms that really encouraged me, and among them are 69, 71, and Psalm 94:20-23.

  21. K

    What I glean from this post is that abusers are fluent in double-speak. It’s always “I take full responsibility, but she provoked me,” “I was sometimes selfish and cruel, but I love her,” “I’m really sorry, but what I did wasn’t that bad.” It reminds me of the post from last week, about the husband assuming responsibility for his wife’s perceived “sins.” Managing to work opposite concepts into a single sentence. It just doesn’t make sense.

    • Managing to work opposite concepts into a single sentence. It just doesn’t make sense.

      You put that in a nutshell.

      I am continually amazed at how many nasty digs can be encapsulated in a single sentence. It’s like a cluster bomb: lots of sharp nasties that fly all over the place when the thing explodes.

    • Brenda R

      This is so true, K. It is how I felt the whole time I was married to X. He sees none of it. I have stopped saying anything since he is now X. But he keeps writing emails and is doing the same thing as usual. “I wasn’t that bad”, “I’m sorry for hurting you”, “I love you”. Those things add up to zero.

  22. Anon

    Spot on. Always “gently” questioning salvation, concern about usurping authority, pitying the victim, assuring that he would never leave the relationship (of course, duh).

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