A Cry For Justice

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

They Do It in Secret

Abusers almost always abuse in secret, unless they have gotten sloppy . . . and then they leak.  But that is a different blog post.

For the most part, abusers jab and mock (emotionally, physically and verbally) when no one but the victim can feel it, see it or hear it. This is part of what puts the victim in his/her own private little prison. The most disturbing things that ever happened to me happened in the privacy of my own home — both before I was married and after I was married (the first time).

One of the smartest things I ever did was to publicly publish letters and emails I received from abusers. It was not my idea. I was being tortured in private (post-separation abuse). Texts, emails, phone calls . . . I could not shut it out — could not even THINK. And, because I was very much used to keeping these things in (in the name of respecting my then-husband and others?), I only told one person. And he wisely suggested that I pick one or two letters and publish them. And I did. And then I was terrified for about 20 minutes. That is . . . until all the comments and emails came pouring in. Comments that showed shock and disdain for the words that I was hearing — and had heard — for years. And the letters that were not published on blogs were sent to wise friends for interpretation. And, wow. What a difference. I had opened up my little prison and 95% of people could not believe that I had been dealing with such verbal abuse and manipulation for all those years. 5% of people showed disdain for me because I was being “disrespectful to my husband”. But, I disregarded these objections because those same people showed disrespect for ME on a regular basis! Ha!

That being said, I know many many women who are under gag orders and cannot post anything from their abusers due to the court order. There is always the choice to post anonymously . . . and there are a few trusted and wise friends who can read the emails or listen in on the conversations and help to translate the abuserese. Find someone like that . . . expose the abuser only to yourself, if need be.

The letters, emails and texts stopped for a while. Then, they picked back up again, even when I asked for it to stop. Asking for it to stop should have done it, right? When you ask a normal person to stop doing something that is causing you stress, they will apologize and end the over-stepping. But, an abuser violates the rights of his/her victims time and time again. They have no sense nor reverence for boundaries. Alas, it seemed like my voice meant nothing so I got tactical. Once the letters, emails and texts picked back up, I began publishing again. And sending them around for dissection. By doing so, I reopened the doors of what used to be my little prison and allowed myself to walk out. I will no longer be hostage to the secret abuse. And it stopped.

I saved and printed all of the letters and emails and blog posts. I still have them. I have not published all of them but they are here in my hot little hands to show to my children (at the very least). I want them to see what kind of people these grown-ups are so they are not tempted to ever be in contact with them when they are older. (I do not keep them to be vindictive. I will not go there. That is between them and God.)

It was not easy to pass these letters around. They painted me in a horrible light (or so I thought for years). And I was always fearful that people would believe the words spoken about me. What I came to realize, though, is that those who constantly accuse and manipulate in secret only paint themselves in a horrible light. I also found that they make themselves look a little crazy. Making someone else’s divorce about yourself and your own hurt feelings is a little crazy. Getting over-involved in another person’s divorce is a little crazy. Insulting and verbally abusing and accusing a person who is already struggling with separation is actually more than a little crazy . . . it is cruel.

It is not aggressive to shed light on someone who is being aggressive toward you. I am not an aggressive person. I do not “come after” people. I do not see myself as being entitled so I do not think that I should (a) have their phone number (b) get to force emails or phone calls upon people or (c) try to sabotage their lives and their work and their friendships. I only react to what is hurled at me and try to do so with wisdom, protecting myself and those I love.

So . . . Whenever I receive something from a past abuser (because I am no longer their victim, which makes them so darned ticked-off!), I fling those wide prison doors OPEN! I send it to lots of people . . . I get opinions . . . I expose it. And, by doing so, I am free. This, by the way, is a biblical way to help a heart purge itself from the bacteria of abuse. Blaze the light in your dark little world and the darkness will not defeat it. Jesus is the Light; He is the Truth:

In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. 1 John 1:5 ESV

Do not be afraid to get opinions. Expose what is handed you, if you need to. Get opinions and affirmation from friends who do not have an agenda with you and from Scripture. God loves you . . . He did not come to condemn. Do not let anyone else condemn you.

27 Comments

  1. Been There Done That

    Wow. You have encompassed so many of the thoughts regarding abuse in this post. I think, for myself, I should read this everyday – even though I’m not IN it any more. It is a reminder as I continually work to overcome the EFFECTS and CONSEQUENCES of it still in my life. Good post!

  2. this is excellent Meg!

    • MeganC

      Thanks, Katy. 🙂

  3. Lovesthetruth

    Thank you Megan for a beautiful post. It was so encouraging. I was asking God this morning for a verse for this next week, and He supplied it through you! I will share this with my friends who are also struggling/recovering through abusive relationships. I am so sorry you have had to suffer through abuse also. My story is not as bad as most of the stories I have heard, and certainly not as difficult as what I have read on this blog…but I have suffered through emotional/spiritual abuse. I kept it a secret for many years….way too many! I started asking God to show me the truth about biblical submission, what it means to be a Godly wife/mother/friend. God never fails to answer! Once I started relying on God’s word, and not man’s interpretation of God’s word, I started to be let out of my prison! Once I stood up to my husband and others in my church, letting them know I won’t go along with their sick little ideas of what christianity was…I am slowly being set free!! I will NEVER go back!!!

    • MeganC

      Lovesthetruth — Thank you so much for your comments. Abuse is abuse . . . and I am sure that what you went through emotionally and spiritually was confusing and horrible. I am sorry you had to endure that. And rejoicing that God is showing you truth and setting you free!

      • Lovesthetruth

        Thank you 🙂

    • HI LovesTheTruth. welcome to the blog! 🙂

  4. Still Scared( but getting angry)

    Email I got yesterday when one son told his father that the ex-idiot should pay child support( we’re into month 18 without) .

    “Seriously, why are you so grossly dysfunctional?? What is **wrong** with you??

    Why do you actively encourage such disrespect from the son towards me??

    Do you think I’d let the kids – ever – talk to you or about you that way? Not if they want to see the sunrise! I don’t care how frustrated I get with your out-of-control, discount-warehouse-of-crazy behaviors there’s no way I’d let my kids disrespect their mother; when daughter told me she dropped the F-bomb on you( total fabrication, made up history, never happened) – twice outside of the Neighbor’s house – I read her the riot act, told her she was wrong, and I certainly didn’t cheer her along!

    You are wrong; you’ve encouraged your son to be disrespectful to his own father, so how does that work in your version of Christianity? How does that work out as a witness to his brothers and sister and folks outside the family? I know my faith and the NASB Life Application Bible that you bought me 20 years ago *clearly* doesn’t allow this behavior, so how does your faith and witness resolve this in the Bible? How does his faith make this right? I smell Phariseeism here because despite the good works with the children, the nice appearance, the weekly attendances at bible study and church, you’ve led son *deeply* astray and into sin.

    Does that mean *anything* to you??”

    Oh, and this came after the email suggesting I had nefarious purpose with wanting to know if he had truly given his comic books to the kids or would be demanding them back. Yeah, comic book schemes… I sit up at night coming up with them. 😛

    • MeganC

      Oh, Still Scared . . . I hope you see the extreme abuserese in this letter . . . How OFTEN he lays the blame at your feet! That’s what you GET for buying him a Bible, right? What in the world?! I am so sorry . . . Do you have to read these emails?

      • Still Scared( but getting angry)

        Actually I have all other channels of communication blocked so …and made up history, yes I bought him a Bible early in the marriage but he lost it on the subway when he was working in NYC,( along with losing the two other I bought him at his request over the years) so the Bible he has now…he must have bought himself!

    • SS,

      I hope you won’t be mad at me, but I have say I found this quite funny. Your x idiot is so ridiculous I was chuckling while I was reading it. What a maroon!

      I wonder if he likes a little cheese with that whine.

      I can only imagine, though, that it isn’t necessarily funny to you so I certainly wasn’t laughing at that part.

      And now that I’ve read it through a second time, it’s just boring and way overplayed. He should probably keep his day job.

      • Still Scared( but getting angry)

        IT is so typical and expected. Laughing is good!

  5. Kelly

    I had to do this in my relationship with an abuser and his supporters. I am a blogger, and I wrote openly about the threats and accusations. Once my abuser threatened me, and said that he had the support of others, and I wrote on my blog about it, made it clear that I believed that I knew who the “others” were, and that if any harm happened to me and/or my daughter, and someone knew about it and did not warn me, then there would be legal consequences. My ex-husband was mentally ill and behaving in bizarre ways. I have no idea what was going on in the minds of the “Christians” who were supporting him, but I was pretty sure that if they thought that they would be help accountable for anything that he might do, they might think twice about backing him up. In the end, none of his threats came to anything (at one point he told me that God was telling him to expose me as a psychopath if I did not allow him and his friends to “help” me, which was a serious threat, as I work with disabled children), and I credit the exposure from my blog as a part of that.

    My intention was never to attack of “come after” him or his friends, but to make their behaviour and threats public to protect my family and myself. In fact, many of my readers would not have known who I was referring to in the posts. But my ex and his friends would know. And that’s all that counted.

    Shining light on the darkness is a good thing. Thanks for this post.

    • MeganC

      Kelly — This is a really great comment and I thank you. It is such a comfort to me to hear of someone else doing the same thing. It seemed the only way to stop the insanity. I do believe that most abusers count on the fact that we will keep everything “in the family”. And those who believe such nonsense are usually those who have PLENTY they want to “keep in the family” in order to continue their impression management.

      There are some secrets that I wish the children to keep to themselves — for their own protection. For instance, I teach them not to tell everyone everything until a person has earned their trust. This way, the children are not vulnerable to strangers or those we don’t know very well. I teach them to test the waters and see how responsible a person is with a small amount of information. But, I do not expect the children to harbor pain in their hearts . . . keeping “those kinds” of secrets. The reason is because we are all accountable. We don’t get to say or do whatever we want under some umbrella of “keep it in the family”.

      • Kelly

        Exactly, Megan. Talking openly about the abuse creates accountability. My abuser was calling my family and telling them that I was a malignant narcissist (essentially a psychotic), and that I was making my daughter into one, too. As far as I know, no one that he told this to rebuked him, but when I made it public, the swell of support and love from my friends served as a strong and unmistakable rebuke. When ugly anonymous comments were left on my blog, I rebuked the anonymity as cowardly bullying. Of course it made them furious, and they felt victimized, but then I just had to sit back and let the people in my world respond to that, too. Most of the people who responded had no idea who they were talking to, so they were literally just addressing words and behavior. I think the most important thing is that I felt empowered by telling the truth. I had tried so hard to make things work, and had been silent except for my closest friends, but making it public helped me take back my power.

        One of the things that became obvious is that for abuse/bullying to be stopped, people don’t have to attack the abuser/bully. They just have to surround the victim with love and support. The darkness has a really hard time penetrating the Light of love and friendship and truth.

      • MeganC

        Kelly — I can so relate. I love what you said about being empowered by revealing the truth. I felt that way, as well. I was taking back what they took from me. And a lot of that just proved to myself that my mind was sane, as I watched them press further in and I watched the reactions of those who have proved themselves to be true sisters and brothers in Christ. I LOVE this:

        “One of the things that became obvious is that for abuse/bullying to be stopped, people don’t have to attack the abuser/bully. They just have to surround the victim with love and support. The darkness has a really hard time penetrating the Light of love and friendship and truth.”

        Truth and beauty.

  6. I’m just starting to expose my situation… Very scary place … I really don’t like my husband. At the moment we are on holiday with a lot of people and he is on his best behaviour. I emailed his best friend recently, after he had said a few things to me about what he had heard. I was so scared of doing this. I would get in serious trouble if my husband found out. So I’m at the beginning of bringing to the light and I really don’t feel strong enough somedays to deal with it.

    • Still Scared( but getting angry)

      Shine the light and one day, one hour, one step at a time. And, somedays it is okay to not be strong enough.

  7. Ellie

    I have asked X’s allies not to communicate with me until they have been instructed to do so by a counselor or a 12 step program. I have received some bizarre emails with accusations of secret messages in birthday gifts, with explanations that one of the allies wasn’t physically abused by her X – it wasn’t until she told him she was leaving him that he hit her. Seriously, she said that. As tempting as it was to take that ball and run with it and argue AGAIN and attempt to explain AGAIN that abusers abuse because of who they are, not who we are, I did not. I have finally realized that they will never understand. The cost to them is too high. He is their Golden Boy and seeing him as an abuser would collapse their world. At several points in the marriage he even did it in front of them. That just shows that he doesn’t respect them. He knows he can manipulate them, do whatever he wants and then tell them how to interpret it and they will. They are all lost. I can’t fix that.

    And the abusive emails and recordings I have of X have been seen and heard by only a couple of people. Getting that perspective was so important. They heard it. They were shocked and horrified. I didn’t invent it. I didn’t cause it. I can’t cause it and the only way I could prevent it was to end contact and divorce.

    • MeganC

      I am so glad that you have abusive emails and recordings that could help to prove your sanity, Ellie. You have your head on straight . . . there is nothing you can do about people who have some need to worship a “golden boy”.

  8. Healinginprocess

    Thank you Megan. This was a great relief to read. I did keep my abusers antics a secret for a long time so I would not discredit him. Eventually I did open up and tell a few close friends what was happening. Once I moved out the text, emails and calls continued. I showed the emails and texts to those close friends and they helped see the abuserese. It was freeing. Although there are the people he had gained as allies, they never saw the emails and texts. I don’t know if it would have made a difference since they hold to the belief that you should not divorce for any reason.

    I printed out the emails so I could get rid of them ony computer but I would still have the proof. We have been divorced 1 1/2 yrs. the texts and emails have dwindled to holidays and what was our anniversary. I have wanted to shred the emails I have printed as I thought I don’t need the evidence anymore. Although we do not have children together (truly a blessing I am greatful for) we both had brought children from our previous marriages together. You have given me a new perception for holding onto the old emails and texts. Thank you. It is not so painful seeing it but I now realize it is truth and the truth does not need to be hidden but exposed to the light. I will keep it until I feel The Lord leading me to do otherwise. You post helped in some more areas that needed to be healed. Thank you again Megan!

    • MeganC

      Healing . .. I am so glad that you were able to find freedom. I, too, did not show anything to anyone for a long time. And, then, when I did begin to reveal the emails, texts, etc., my biggest mistake was revealing them to the wrong persons. I still had MANY abusive people in my life and I showed them to people who could have written them, themselves, with no twinge of conscience. It takes time to find safe people . . . and I am glad that you have had those in your life!

  9. Rebecca

    Amen! This is exactly right…..Excellent post Megan…you absolutely captured the cycle and then what to do. I remember the days when I thought *I* was the crazy one. There are still times when I need a wake up call to be remined of who/what I’m really dealing with.

    Thank you! Rebecca

    • MeganC

      Yes, Rebecca! Sometimes, I go back and read things — not to grow bitter — but to remind myself that, “Yes. It really was THAT BAD.”

  10. Valerie

    Thank you. I really needed to read this today. You said,
    “And I was always fearful that people would believe the words spoken about me. What I came to realize, though, is that those who constantly accuse and manipulate in secret only paint themselves in a horrible light. I also found that they make themselves look a little crazy. Making someone else’s divorce about yourself and your own hurt feelings is a little crazy. Getting over-involved in another person’s divorce is a little crazy. Insulting and verbally abusing and accusing a person who is already struggling with separation is actually more than a little crazy . . . it is cruel.”

    That….that is exactly where I am at right now. One by one “trusted” “church” “friends” have decided that no matter what I’ve shared they either don’t want to get involved (not realizing that to not take sides is in fact to take the abusers side) or they want to condemn me. Rebuke me mercilessly. In my heart I know this exposes THEM for who they are but God’s justice seems so far away to me right now. Though I know God is with me, I feel so alone. Why does my abusive H have a rally of support but the one who is hurt, been victimized and tormented for years sit crying by herself? This just isn’t RIGHT!!!!! 😦

    • “Why does my abusive H have a rally of support?” Because he is such a cunning manipulator, and because the people he is recruiting to his side are ignorant about domestic abuse dynamics and have been feeding on Christianity-lite so they don’t understand how to recognise and deal with evil and false doctrine when it is right under their noses.

      “Why is the one who is hurt, been victimized and tormented for years sitting crying by herself?” Because regenerate born-again believers — who have the Spirit of Christ — are much less common than the number of nominal believers in most churches. With unregenerate people, their hearts are still hard, they lack empathy, they run their ‘c’hristianity on traditional rules, rather than being guided by the Spirit of God. They don’t care all that much about people who are suffering unless those people are in some remote third world country or in some slum where you can offer them help at arms length, keeping yourself unsullied from the great unwashed. They are discomfited by people in their pews who are suffering relationship horrors. It might remind them of all the emotional baggage they’ve got locked in the back of their own cupboards. . . And rather than being honest and telling you how uncomfortable and helpless they feel when they witness your pain, they just stiffen up and disdain you. It’s chilling. But you probably can’t change them. I have found that the best way for me to handle such people when I’ve been in the throes of suffering is to stay away from them if I can, and, if I have to mingle with them, I try not expect any warmth from them. That way, I am less disappointed when they show me no warmth.

  11. Finding Answers

    Not all of the abusers in my life wrote things down, but those who did write were always careful. Words were kept within legal limits or under the guise of a “loving” covert rebuke.

    The few times someone overstepped the line, I countered and they changed tactics.

    The vilest, most hurtful words were saved for private communication.

    There is no permanent record beyond my memories.

    At times, I have questioned some memories, thinking I am twisting “the facts”. Yet the flashback / trigger response is too visceral to be faked.

    Truly, they do it in secret.

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