A Cry For Justice

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

Trying to explain, and trying and trying and trying

Lyrics [Internet Archive link]

[August 6, 2022: There have been some changes made to this post. For more information, read the Editors’ notes at the bottom of the post. Editors.]

Audrey Assad’s “I Shall Not Want” is to Ellie as “Eye of the Tiger” is to Rocky Balboa. Every line of that song has come to life for me in this ordeal. The second stanza, which speaks of wanting others to understand, is the part I’m really thinking about today. And deliverance has come and is coming for me in this area. I am so grateful.

I thought I could explain things to X’s allies and they would understand. I wanted them to understand, to help me, to help HIM! They didn’t and they won’t without God’s intervention. This explaining played a part in keeping me trapped, even after I had left X. I saw X as trapped and needing help. I thought he had become something he didn’t want to be and he needed his friends and family to help him see that and help him turn away. And I begged them to help. I told the people who I thought X respected about what was really going on in our home. I asked them to help my children, to help their son. I got lots of questions, some prayers, and once his dad even cried. I thought they got it.

They did NOT get it and they still don’t.

The explaining is a trap. We want to be understood. And the harder we try to clear up misunderstandings, the more we feel misunderstood. This keeps us stuck and it keeps the abusers and their allies in power. And we feel like we’re going crazy.

The questions. I realize now that there are certain people who don’t want to take action, but they don’t want you to know that. So they ask questions to make it look like they are interested. And I would answer these questions. And they nodded and asked more questions and I thought that there was understanding. The next time we talked though, it was the SAME questions. I assumed that they just forgot and I answered again. Wash, rinse, repeat. That should’ve been a clue. But I was naive and I kept on answering the incessant questions. Now when I hear someone who I know heard my first answer asking me a question again, it’s a big ol’ red flag flapping in the wind. That interrogator gets reduced interaction with me because I don’t feel he / she can be trusted.

Now I think that people who don’t understand, won’t. And I move on. Now, with ACFJ’s help, I’ve found lots of people who do understand – the first time I say it! Oh, this is so freeing! Finding support here and in person through church and support groups has been very healing. I am not enduring the stress of having to tell my story to someone who doesn’t want to believe me, who thinks that my reaction to abuse has ruined family holidays because I refuse to participate or to be around abusers. I am not telling my story to someone who doesn’t want to take sides or wants to appear objective so that my abuser won’t get his feelings hurt. I have found people who have been there, done that, survived, found coping strategies, and are willing to listen and help. If you find yourself explaining again and again and AGAIN to your abuser or his allies, you might find more help in a different place where folks are willing to stand against evil even if it hurts an abuser’s feelings.

[August 6, 2022: Editors’ notes:

—For some comments made prior to August 6, 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 August 6, 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 August 6, 2022 that quoted from the post to the post as it is now (August 6, 2022), click here [Internet Archive link] for the most recent Internet Archive copy of the post.]


Further reading

The Explaining Trap


  1. taylorjoyyoung

    Oh, AMEN!!!
    If I have to explain to ONE more relative, ONE more time, why trying to communicate with my parents is pointless, I just might scream. Thank you for pointing out that these questions/interrogations do NOT lead to understanding–I think they are actually very triggering and delay the healing process.

    • Ellie

      This might make them stop with the incessant questions.

      • Brenda R

        I really hope this is a poster. I want one.

      • Anonymous

        I agree with Brenda R. I’d like a poster, too! 🙂

  2. Forrest
  3. April

    Great article- I have been there so many times. The phrase that really jumps out is “won’t understand.” Some people WON’T understand. It’s interesting to see excessive questioning as a form of attack….it can be a subtle way to blame and judge. I recently heard…Was it PHYSICAL abuse? Meaning….if not…it isn’t “really” abuse.
    Note to self. Heed the red flag and move on.

    • Brenda R

      April, You could always say, of course it was physical abuse. Abuse affects, deteriorates and bruises your entire body, mind and soul.

  4. jmclever

    I completely and wholeheartedly agree with everything that you have said and have also experienced it myself. The hardest part for me is when my therapist tells me that I shouldn’t have said x, y, or z because it puts the kids in the middle. I am only attempting to undo the damage that ex is doing to kids by dragging them in the middle. (And NO I do not bad mouth their father to the kids.) Also hurtful are the pastors who I try to tell how to pray for me and the response is that I shouldn’t say stuff like that. I am made to feel like the detriment in my kids life and situation. It is definitely refreshing to be here at ACFJ 🙂

    • Heather2

      Jmclever, my ex used the kids by bringing them into it before they had a chance to know what he was doing. They were adults. And they immediately wanted me to fix it. However, one child, when I tried to explain in private, accused me if “talking Smack” about her dad. And all I was doing was explaining what happened and how it affected me! So yes, I understand what you experienced. And I keep telling myself that one day my ex will stand before the Judge as I will never believe that he is saved without true repentance. And that has not yet happened. The other kids now see, but that one is still blind.

    • JMClever, I had a therapist once who did similar things to me. Not only did she blame me for ‘making my daughter the meat in the sandwich’, she also labelled me as ‘vindictive’ simply because I had told her about how badly the church had treated me. What was worse, she pretended to be sympathetic and empathetic to me face to face, but labelled me as vindictive in a written report that she wrote for the tribunal that was assessing a victim of crime application I had made. I felt she was very underhanded in doing that. If she thought I had a problem with being vindictive, why did she not tell me so to my face?

    • debby

      Yes, the “Tell me what’s going on.” said by “Christian counselors” (CAA’s — Clueless About Abuse) with concern etched on their forehead. Then you tell them and you get, “That sounds rather unkind.” I’m thinking, “Well, that’s an understatement, but at least they seem to understand that the behaviors toward me and my kids are unacceptable.” And THEN…find out they were talking about ME and what I was telling them!! Oi, vey!! I have learned it is not “unkind” to speak the truth about someone’s hurtful behavior.

  5. Forrest

    There is nobody so blind as the one who does not want to see. If you have to keep on repeating the same answers then they don’t want to see the truth.

  6. Forrest

    The no contact rule doesn’t just apply to abusers. It can apply to their allies. They will never validate your experience.

  7. Heather2

    Unfortunately, the more people we share with the more rejection we find. Not one of us owes anyone and explanation!!!! We may share with our adult children or our confidants, but we need to realize that we may lose their support too.

    I lost a good 95% of the people in my life. And I realized early on that anyone connected to my abuser would already be biased against me. Regardless of how “close” you may be or may have been, if they are in any way related to your abuser you are much better going No Contact with them too. It is extremely painful because you feel the extent of personal loneliness that includes most of your world, but it is vital for your emotional health.

  8. Kathy seldon

    At Christmas time I met a childhood friend for coffee. I hadn’t spoken with her in years, but she was one of those friends who was more like sister that I would never stop loving no matter how much time had passed. As we started talking and she was asking innocent questions about my life her questions edged closer and closer to my elephant in the room. I still haven’t figured out how to drop the “I left my husband a year ago and am now going through a messy divorce, so how have you been?” bomb. She started asking what my husband was doing that brought us back to Texas and I took a deep breath and told her everything. At first she asked if the abuse was physical and as I prepared to explain that he hadn’t hit me yet, but that they psychological abuse had started to become more and more scary she stopped me by putting a hand over mine. She looked me in the eye and said “You’re awesome! You’ve such and awesome woman and I am so proud of you for getting yourself and your kids out of there. You’re just awesome!” I couldn’t stop myself, I started bawling in the middle of the Starbucks. She didn’t need proof or an explanation, she just wanted to support me. Few things compare to moments like that. If I have to say goodbye to 100 “friends” who turn into his allies, it is worth it to hold on to a few true friends like that.

    • Anonymous

      This is a great post – Thanks Ellie! And everyone’s comments are confirming the exhausting task of trying to be believed. I must confess to being naive about expecting others to believe me – they used to always say ‘I was a person of integrity’ – hmmm, I guess not now that I’m telling the ‘true story’?
      Kathy S – wow, wow, wow … What a precious true friend you connected with. Bless her, Lord!

    • Brenda R

      Kathy, Amen, Friends like her are rare and priceless. I’m originally from TX. I haven’t lived there since first grade, so I’m sure no one would remember me. You are truly blessed.

    • BeginHealing

      Teared up for you reading this Kathy. I have a few friends and family members that have chosen to stand in this void with me. They are priceless. Absolutely priceless.

    • Finally Free

      Kathy S you are truly a blessed woman. I can so relate to this article about the rebounding abuse by the people who don’t “get it” or want to “get it”. The true empathy of someone who truly hears us reduces to tears. We have waited so long to be heard and assured that we ARE NOT CRAZY! I am so delighted that you have that one true friend.

  9. Lauralee

    this could not have come at a better time. I am at a domestic violence shelter, this being the third time I have left my abuser. No one in my family believes me, they believe him….that I am abusive to him and that I am crazy, after all, aren’t I the one on medication and the one that has been suicidal and ended up inpatient while running away to Florida to get away from him. Within a day or two of my leaving (after he told me to pack my bags and leave, which am I sure he will deny) he called my father….one of his allies. He wanted to see if my father had heard from me. While I was in Florida there was a family episode of the abuser and my father both surrounding me and calling me an abuser and ripping me apart. This came after my just being released from the hospital for depression and anxiety (CPTSD symptoms). It’s a long story and complicated, but I am facing yet another tearing apart of what little shreds of what remains of communication with family. They don’t get it and don[t want to get it because then they would have to look at their stuff. They need me to be a scape goat. I refuse to play the game. Thats why I am sitting in a shelter alone. Thank God for a handful of people who do get it. I thank God for this website and the people that get it and use their voices to share truth. Consider yourselves hugged by this fellow sojourner or truth. Please pray for the healing and direction I desperately need and that God through His mercy and grace would use my story to touch others in a meaningful way……LL

    • Brenda R

      Lauralee, I pray that God will give you the means to keep going from that shelter and not look back. Brush the dust from you sandals and go. No one should have her own parents as her abusive husband’s ally. Your Heavenly Father sees, understands and tears are being shed on your behalf. It has been difficult this last year for me not having anyone close by that I can really confide in that understands, but each day gets better. It will for you, as well.

    • beckylovesthelight

      LL, I am saying a prayer for you right now. I’m so sorry your family has ganged up on you. I pray you find peace and strength, and new friends, allies and loved ones who will stand by you.

    • Anonymous

      “Please pray for the healing and direction I desperately need and that God through His mercy and grace would use my story to touch others in a meaningful way……”
      Praying for you Lauralee. Wish I could be there in person – to help you – to comfort you – to let you know you are not alone. Dear precious Lord, hear our prayers. Protect the victims. Give wisdom and guidance for ministries like ACFJ who are pleading for church leaders to ‘wake up’.

    • “they need me to be a scapegoat. I refuse to play the game.”

      Good for you, LauraLee. Praying that you will continue to have the strength to choose firmly to not waste energy and time in the ‘explaining trap’ and to put your energy and time into pursuing short and long term safety plans for yourself.

    • Clarity

      “Consider yourselves hugged by this fellow sojourner or truth. ” yes you are and you are a sister to so many of us. We are family. Consider yourself hugged tightly back.

  10. Brenda R

    I got it, the first time around!! I have lived it. I don’t do much explaining anymore. People who don’t live it don’t get it and don’t want to. They want to believe what THEY SEE. Friends and family who live nearby were all his, I get no support from them. My closest relative, my youngest daughter lives 2 hours away. Praise God for email.

    Today X showed up at my work place with a belated b-day gift. He didn’t have the guts to show up on my b-day. My daughters were in from out of town and he knew it. Twice, I said I can’t accept this and that I want nothing from him, but he wouldn’t take it back and he left. This comes just a few weeks after he told me that he gave away all of the things he said he would store for me and didn’t. The things I really did want. I don’t want it. I think regifting may be a solution.

  11. Brenda R

    PS I don’t really care if abusers get their feelings hurt. Maybe someday they may even get the drift of what they do to others.

  12. loves6

    Awesome post! Just what I needed… I’m in this place right now.
    I have told his best friend and other friends of ours what is going on. My older children know too but it is all my fault. One couple had a round table talk to us. The husband said that my husband’s behaviour is not good but I have a responsibility to not react.. (This guys mom was abused by his dad) His wife tells me my husband loves me and God knows what I can handle, read the Psalms she says. This friend knows a lot of specific stuff that has been going on……and she tells me this?!?

    I’ve just been to the doctor, now have high blood pressure and am on medication. My body aches, I have headaches, anxiety. I can feel the end is nigh …. The next outburst I sense is going to tip me over the edge…. I have two people in my life that believe me…my mom and one other older woman. My new church know what I’m going through and I am not getting any support from them. If I leave this toxic environment I lose so much… Friends and family.
    Just this morning I decided that I am not going to explain it to these people
    anymore..enough is enough!!! Either believe me or I will not have anything to do with you. I find it hard to open up my heart to people, I find it very hard to trust, so when I do take the risk of sharing and it is not believed I recoil back into my shell.

    As for the hurt feelings of the abuser… Oh my gosh I am sooooo sick of hearing that come from my abusers mouth.. He is constantly telling me that I hurt his feelings. I always hurt him. Falling asleep on the couch at night, due to emotional stress, go to bed and I apologise for being so tired…I apologise because I can tell it has hurt his feelings, he says in a soft sweet voice ‘It ok thats just the way it is’, no comment from me because I read the situation right. I hurt his feelings everyday, I am always failing to be the ‘fantasy wife’, he needs constant affirmation, touching, affection, kisses, sex,hugs…never in our very long relationship has he needed this so much. I just don’t have it in me to do it. I cannot be this woman….no one sees this.

    Being a victim of abuse is just so lonely !!

    • Loves 6, as well as those two people who believe you, there are all the readers of this blog who believe you! We are cheering you on. 🙂 And it’s okay to be tired. Being tired is not a sin!

  13. Ang

    I am so thankful for this song and all of your comments. It was just what I needed at the end of a long day. I am in the thick of the battle of trying to get away from my abuser. I hired my 5th attorney last week….will see if I can do it this time. The hardest part for me is my kids not understanding. The verse I’m clinging to is….Though the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, I will trust in God. Blessings to all of you!

  14. Wow Ellie, this post has touched a chord! — so many comments on it! Well done 🙂

  15. AJ

    Loves six, I hear your pain and lonliness💛. With abuse and separation there are just so many losses, all interconnected. I pray that God will comfort you in a special way and show you where to find some true support.

    Ellie, thank you for the reminder not to waste my time and energy convincing people who don’t want to hear. Even if I am only doing it in my head:) I need all of my resources to begin creating a new life for me and my kids.


    • loves6

      AJ my situation is very active. My marriage in crisis. I am unbelievably lonely right now. Thank you for your prayers. It is helpful to know that I’m not alone when I read other women’s situations.
      In the last two days I have one of my young children complaining of feeling sick. He says he’s been feeling like this for weeks. I believe it is the stress of our home. My other little one is reacting badly to her fathers reprimands squealing and getting very very upset.
      I feel like I’m standing on a cliff and contemplating if I’m going to leap or not. Once I make that decision to leave things will never be the same. I am in crisis. The Women’s Refuge rang me the other day after I had made contact …the women said she would email me a time for an appointment to make a safety plan. She has not made contact.
      My councellor, whom I havnt seen for a few months, is there if I need, my reluctance to contact her is her thoughts on how God can change my husband. I don’t believe this can happen….his thought processes are so entrenched and he is in such self pity a lightening bolt is the only thing that will do this. It is like he is mentally ill.
      This morning we had a situation erupt…… I am totally at my wits end. I am amazed at how A Cry For Justice and Lundys book are spot on about abusers and their antics… It’s just me having to find the courage to do the hardest thing of all.
      I just wish so much that my family and friends would believe me and see that I’m reacting out of crisis not from being a crazy women.

      • twbtc

        A safety plan is a good idea! There is a safety planning page on our resources, if you haven’t already checked it out. It may be helpful to look at until the woman from the Women’s Refuge contacts you. In particular the English Safety plan will give you an overview of what to be thinking of when preparing a safety plan.

        I think you are being very wise to put a safety plan in place. It is a known fact that abuse usually intensifies when the abuser either senses that the woman is going to leave or after she leaves.


      • twbtc

        You may find this article helpful: Leaving an abuser: What to expect and how to stay grounded [Internet Archive link]. It is under the Understanding Domestic Abuse page on our Resources.

      • Brenda R

        twbtc, I know you meant this for Loves6, but I also needed to read it tonight. Since X stopped at my place of employment on Monday to give me a B-day gift, he has tried to start the whole cycle all over. I didn’t want it and attempted to hand it back, but he left instead of taking it back. Now he is telling me what a great job he did in giving me something special from him that he saved for. He was always buying me “gifts” while we were married and I would have to figure out how they were going to be paid for. If he had to save more than $30 for this one I would be quite surprised. When I used to talk to him about saving for what we purchased the gifts would be hundreds or even a couple of thousand dollars.

        He said that he told God the truth and He knows the truth. As if God needed X to tell Him what the truth is. I still don’t know what “the truth” is in X’s mind. We have been divorced since last November. He finds ways to contact me. I block whatever means he finds and he finds another way. My work email address is public record on the company website, I can’t change my work phone number. I try to keep a “no contact” rule, but he steps over it. We do not have children together. There is really no reason for him to continue this other than his sick entitlement to have access to me.

        I found myself giving him the same answers as to why I won’t “meet with him”, why I can’t “show just a little trust”. I took a step backwards today and don’t want to do it again. He has not been able to get others to really give me a hard time or ask questions. Most are just wanting to stay out of it, which is fine with me. Now, I would just like for X to move on and leave me alone. The answer is “No. I won’t meet with you and No, I won’t just trust you a little bit. 20+ years of proving that I can’t trust you is more than enough.” Why is this so hard for him to grasp?

      • twbtc

        Yes, Brenda R, abusers can be relentless. He is grabbing for any last threads of control that he can keep. It is wise that you keep the “no contact” rule in place even if he doesn’t acknowledge it.

        I have been single for two years and until just recently my ex would contact me on birthdays, anniversaries, or just out of the blue. In addition to the “no contact” rule, I also took a “no response” approach to my ex: I wouldn’t respond to any email, texts, letters, etc. — even communication that seemed to be innocent. It still took him two years to figure out that he couldn’t get a response out of me.

      • Brenda R

        twbtc, Two years almost seems like a light at the end of the tunnel. We have been separated for a year, divorced for almost 6 months. I have to be more consistant and stronger with the not responding rule. I am good at No Contact. I have no reason to contact him.

      • twbtc

        Brenda R, I don’t want to move the proverbial light on you, but if we are including the separation time before the divorce, then it was closer to three years. Sorry 😦

      • Brenda R

        No problem, twbtc. I know that God won’t give me more than I can handle in his strength, even though sometimes it doesn’t feel that way.

      • Brenda R

        twbtc, 1st email deleted without any response from me. I’m on a roll. 🙂

      • twbtc


      • Brenda R

        Loves6, Do your family and friends see how it is affecting your child? If the woman from the Women’s Refuge don’t contact you, be your own advocate. Call them again. Continue calling them and let them know the severity of the situation. People can slip through the cracks waiting on others that are suppose to be there to help and perhaps over worked or notes being lost. You are never alone. God is with you no matter how bad it gets. He walks with you every step of your journey.
        Your counselor is half right. God can change anyone. The problem is that your husband must be willing. God does not change people who do not want Him. One of the thieves that Jesus was between while on the cross chose to accept Him the other did not. He saved the one who chose to believe. He leaves those who do not wish to believe to their folly.
        Take care of you and your children. Your health and well being are far more important to God than your marriage. You know the truth. You are not crazy. Do what you need to do. Hopefully, your family and friends will catch up with reality. I will pray for you and your kids.

  16. bright sunshinin' day

    Ellie, you know how to say things simply and capture the feelings of being misunderstood for many! Good idea to hold up the “red flag” for those who ask the same questions over and over and who don’t really want to get it…and to move on!

    A dear pastor friend describes those who don’t want to get it this way, “Willful blindness.”

    You do understand and it sure does my heart good!

    • Ellie

      Thank you dear. It only took me twenty years to figure that one out… Now the questions sound a big alarm in my head. There’s someone in my circle of friends now who has asked the same questions of me. And I know she listens and remembers the answers because she interrupted me once when I was telling her something that I’d told her before. She followed up that interruption with a repeat question. I answered, but later I was thinking over the entire conversation. That’s what it all came together for me. I remembered the X’s allies doing that and not ever seeming to understand. I remembered that the questions tricked me. And I felt like I was required to answer. I no longer feel that way. We’ve talked about that at ACFJ before. Questions do not require an answer. I can tell someone that I need to think about that before responding, that I’m not ready to discuss that, that they can email me and we can follow up that way, and so on. If the abuser is the inquisitor, I have found that it’s best not communicate with my X at all unless it’s in a written format. I only communicate via email and text and only about the children’s needs or activities.

      I have a couple of friends who are in the process of getting their abusers out of the house. We’ve talked about ways to limit verbal communication. One way is to ask them to email and then refuse to talk. This would probably only work with abusers who are not physically violent. But I’ve suggested that one friend write “EMAIL” on an index card and keep it in her pocket. When her STBX tries to talk to her, she can just hold up the card. I saw someone suggest that the dancing squirrel be given a photshopped sign that says “EMAIL.” I think that would be quite fun.

  17. Happy2bHere

    This has been a very helpful reminder. I keep forgetting my husband doesn’t think rationally or in a loving way and I keep trying to explain to him why I’m upset after he does something. i don’t know why I keep doing this as its always me being disrespectful to him for not trying to see his point of view. My mom now believes me, but only because my husband doesn’t like her husband (my stepfather). So because my stepfather told my mom he is mean, now she thinks that way (at the moment anyway). Both of these men are manipulative and mean and seem like two dogs fighting over territory. One friend I used to have would ask questions too, but only to show me that somehow I must be doing something to provoke his behavior. Another person we used to know told me I should be thankful I have a man that wants to be a family. Her husband left her for another woman and she just didnt get it. Im over it, what little energy i have goes to my children. My problem is that I keep entertaining my husbands arguments. I hate how he has affected my children and turned their home into a place of stress.

    • Ellie

      I hope that ACFJ and the resources we recommend can help you with this. For me, I know that I can go over an argument in my head thinking “if I say this, he’ll say that. Scratch that one. Let’s try ___. That won’t work either.” and it’s maddening. It takes so much energy. For me, listening to sermons or the books that Jeff and Barbara recommend helps me to have something else to think about. And this reminds me of TRUTH. I need to have my mind filled with truth, not imaginary arguments that I can never win.

      • Anonymous

        YES!! 🙂

      • Happy2bHere

        Thank you. A part of me knows better, but like you were saying maybe if i say the right thing, i’ll make some sort of connection to get him to see he’s hurting us. Well plus i get so angry with him and want him to go away. This week has been especially rough and confusing. Thanks again

  18. Marah

    I’m looking forward to NOT explaining anything to my (ex, eventually) in-laws, after the vicous call I got from MIL several weeks ago. After telling her I could not have an active addict in the house with my kids, her response was an acid-filled, “No one would have to know if you didn’t tell them!” That was the only conversation I will ever have with her about any of this.

    • Brenda R

      Marah, MIL’s “no one would have to know” is her wanting to be in denial and saving face. I am in no way defending her, she should be supporting your decision and wanting to protect her grand children. I have an addicted son. He is not married and has no children, Prase God!! I haven’t spoke to him in 3 years and it breaks my heart. I pointed out to him his addiction and abusive treatment of his girlfriend and my mother. He said he was a man and could do what he wanted. An addict may be male, but he is not a man. We as mothers have to stand firm and acknowledge the sins of our children and speak that truth to them. If I could speak to your MIL, I would tell her so.

      • Anonymous

        Brenda, You are right on! In the past my family was annoyed with me because I did not condone the ‘bad’ behaviour of a brother. Now, the same criticism is rearing up again as my adult children do not ever want me using the term ‘sin’ – their father supports them in this behaviour. When I have attempted to distance myself from such family members because they complain about me anyways, well, then I’m seen as snubbing them or not very loving, etc …. Remember, Christians are suppose to forgive and forget!
        “Thank you” to everyone for sharing your experiences; helps to know that I’m not the only one and that we are praying for one another.

    • StandsWithAFist

      Marah: I am struck by how your MIL devalued YOU, by saying, “no one would have to know”. The fact IS….that YOU know. YOU KNOW! YOU are the “one” who knows!! Why isn’t that enough? Why isn’t protecting yourself / your kids the priority? Why isn’t living in the truth enough? We all know the answer: because they can no longer live in denial and it makes them squirm; having to face reality requires too much of them. The fantasy of the perfect little family just got shattered….and it’s YOUR fault b/c YOU told the truth. It’s classic “blame the victim” behavior. They prefer the lie…which makes them complicit with the abuse. This is when 2 Tim 3:1-5 is so prescient: “understand that…difficult times will come, for people will be…blasphemers, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, slanderers, savage…opposed to what is good, treacherous, reckless…..so avoid people like these.” Notice Paul does NOT say “….unless it’s family”. He says “avoid”, period. Some translations say “from such turn away”. You are right to end the conversation.

      • Anonymous

        StandsWithAFist – You get it! After years of distancing myself from family’; mine and his I feel that I am getting sucked back in because my decision to ‘forgive’ is being misconstrued to mean: “Whew, she has hugged and forgiven us. Surely, she won’t reveal the lies and deceit that we keep covering up with more lies.”
        It saddens me as I just talked to ‘one’ yesterday … they were attempting to comfort me by saying I should remain firm and not be taken advantage of. HUH?? This particular one’s accusation of me years ago had me segregated for years. It kinda reminds me of Haman …strutting on; wanting others to pay attention to them and not wanting to ‘ever be exposed’.
        My has taken advantage of this circumstance by becoming more friendly with my family because he knows I am the one to that has to defend the truth. It hurts has my brothers are actually displaying that it is acceptable for me to be abused.

  19. Lesley

    I used to try to explain to people what was going on in my marriage and i used to try to explain myself to my husband, thinking if he understood me better the abuse would stop. I realized after a while that i was wasting my time explaining to both sets of people.
    I came across the JADE rule – dont Justify, dont Argue, dont Defend and dont Explain and it summed up all i instinctively knew to be true.
    Now i feel totally different if people dont believe me. Its ok, I believe myself.

    • Brenda R

      Lesley, JADE. That is an excellent little word to help remember when confronted with questions that don’t need to be answered.

  20. Sunflower

    I used to talk and talk and talk to my x, trying to explain, hoping if I tried one more example he would ‘get it’. After all, I’d read the Gary Smalley stuff how we should use parables and our husbands would just see the light…….so I just knew it was all my fault because I didn’t find the right parable, right? One day the Lord said to stop talking. I was shocked. Aren’t we supposed to communicate? (this was 20 – some years ago before much information was available about all this) So I said I wasn’t going to talk about stuff that just went around in circles. He ran to the phone (it was Easter Sunday) and called the pastor, “Come quick, our marriage has just fallen apart.” Pastor of course didn’t have a clue. Now I know that an abuser needs to keep his victim engaged. In any way, shape, or form. Focused on him. Always. No matter if the children are crying, or anything, just focus on him, whatever it takes. So he talks in circles to keep it all going as long as possible. He doesn’t care about the problem, just about keeping you engaged. Hook in your nose. He is addicted to you…..to attention……I think he actually goes into withdrawal when you ignore him. However, when I broke down and cried, he’d ‘get it’ (for the moment anyway). One day I said that to him and he said, “Well, don’t you know that if I can make you sick or cry, that makes a man out of me?” Bingo! I quickly wrote it down because I knew he’d deny having said it. He liked me sick, that’s when he treated me sort of ok.

    • Brenda R

      That brings back memories, Sunflower. When I had foot surgery, I was totally under his control. I ate what and when he wanted to bring me. Ladies from the church offered to help with meals, but he refused. He’d bring large bags of chocolate and with nothing to do but lay there with my foot in the air I gained several pounds during that 3 month period. He always made remarks about his ex-wife’s weight, but I think he wanted me that way. In his mind no one else would want me even though he forever accused me of having other men. He also liked me to cry. If I wanted anything at all and discussed it with him, he would yell and say that I didn’t need it or why do you want that “all of a sudden”, when I had talked about it for years. He didn’t listen to me. He would make me cry because I wanted to save for the purchase and then go out and buy it as “a gift” and then I would have to figure out how we were going to pay for it that quickly. When he found out that I had MS–that’s when he began to ignore me. That was a permanent illness and that he could not deal with. I feel so much better than I did when he was around. I still have MS and realize that I can’t do a lot of the things that I used to. I can’t shop all day as I found out on Saturday. Trying on 20 dresses in 2 stores was too much for me. Friday I mopped 2 small floors–I was done and took a 3 hour nap. But it is ok, there are no more expectations, except at work. When it gets done, it gets done. If work is all I can do on a given day, well there is always Chinese take out.

  21. a prodigal daughter returns

    To those that say “I didn’t want to get involved” they did get involved in their complicity of silence. Silence from those that had the power to intervene or support, only supports abuse and not the abused. To those that said “there are 2 sides to every story, and stopped their ears to real suffering agreed with the 2 sides explanation the abuser sells and those sworn to indifference buy. Growing up in an abusive home, as a child, I had no choices at all pastors and others aware of the threat on our lives, only accused my mother of a hard heart and left us to the carnage.

    When I chose an abuser myself, all the stories I hear in this place are the same ones I endured. Try, try, try, try to be a better wife as if 24 / 7 efforts at perfection were not met with raging fury. If not outright indifference always the onus of blame falls on the battered one. You learn the shame of their reproach “what did you do to deserve that” only echoes the abusers voice. And worse, the absolute indifference when the question asked “are you hurt, do you need to see a doctor” would have been appropriate.

    I love this song and this story, the relief of knowing I never was crazy is immense.

    • Brenda R

      a prodigal daughter returns
      There is complete truth in what you wrote here. You didn’t do anything to deserve that. You are not crazy and neither are the rest of us who’s abusers tried so hard to make it true. Prayers, blessings and cyber ((((HUGS)))) are going out to you right now.

  22. leaningonhope

    Now I think that people who don’t understand, won’t. And I move on. Now, with ACFJ’s help, I’ve found lots of people who do understand – the first time I say it! Oh, this is so freeing! Finding support here and in person through church and support groups has been very healing. I am not enduring the stress of having to tell my story to someone who doesn’t want to believe me, who thinks that my reaction to abuse has ruined family holidays because I refuse to participate or to be around abusers. I am not telling my story to someone who doesn’t want to take sides or wants to appear objective so that my abuser won’t get his feelings hurt. I have found people who have been there, done that, survived, found coping strategies, and are willing to listen and help. If you find yourself explaining again and again and AGAIN to your abuser or his allies, you might find more help in a different place where folks are willing to stand against evil even if it hurts an abuser’s feelings.

    Hi Barbara,
    This paragraph hits close to home for me. Are there any others articles or writings that expound on the statement about refusing to participate or be around the abuser? Could someone please talk about this? How to speak to family members about my position, my decision to not invite the abuser to my home? I am in a situation where a family member is “requiring” me to invite the other abusive family member to stay at my home, imposing conditions on me if I don’t cooperate. Just not sure how to tactfully and graciously stand my ground and try to preserve my relationship with this good relative, over the bad one. Does this make sense? Hope so. Please reply! Thank you so much for your ministry.

  23. Ex Pr wife

    I found that the church and leadership did not want to know the truth. They continually told me that they did not want to take sides- I wasn’t telling them what happened for them to take sides- I was telling them in the desperate hope that they would help us escape the abuser. They never did. When I was finally able to leave they chose to support the abuser and abandoned the children and myself. I can never go back to that church- they helped him keep us trapped, it is a trap I never want to walk into again.

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