The Pain of the Invisible Wounds
[June 15, 2022: There have been some changes made to this post. For more information, read the Editors’ notes at the bottom of the post. Editors.]
A trusted anonymous reader wrote to us:
There is deep pain when you know you’ve spent many years with a man who really doesn’t love you, who really isn’t your friend, who really doesn’t care. And that you’ve basically been “alone” all of these years is sometimes unbearable.
My friend just shared with me a cute little e-mail between her and her husband. It was simple and beautiful — so ordinary for a married couple! But it left me in a pool of tears. Happy tears for what they have, sad tears for what should have been for us and what will never be in this marriage.
It’s beyond my imagination to see couples hold hands, enjoy being with each other, have arguments that show respect and even find resolution. I live with my spouse in what others consider a dream home and family, but I feel thoroughly alone and it’s oppressive.
He acts like the only way we could be companions is (1) if I adopt his ideas of spirituality and patriarchal rule, and (2) I repent to the family and say I’ve masqueraded as a Christian all of these years. In his mind I am the problem. He staunchly refuses to go to counseling.
I get angry with the complementarians at CBMW who try to make their message sound so palatable. Like this comment that Owen Strachan wrote about how wonderful CBMW is. “It is life-giving to work with a pulsing, dynamic, international movement that stands for a rich body of doctrine.”
It makes me want to vomit. I don’t want any woman to live under emotional and spiritual bondage. The reality for me is that the church wouldn’t care unless my spouse left physical black and blue marks on me. They’ve known of this situation for years. They’re indifferent. How is that like Jesus Christ?
Owen Strachan doesn’t care that he advances a message that controlling men may use against their wives to beat them down spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. If you really pressed him on it, he might say that he cares, but it would be just words. CBMW doesn’t do anything to show they really care. They don’t denounce or expel the men who abuse their wives. They don’t deal with pastors and churches that enable the abusers.
While there might be more discussion about domestic violence as physical abuse these days, there’s still a huge isolation in the church from those of us who feel imprisoned in our homes because of emotional and spiritual confinement. I hope that y’all continue to make noise about this situation. Many victims will dismiss it because “I don’t have black and blue marks.” Actually, they sure do have marks, but they are invisible.
[June 15, 2022: Editors’ notes:
—For some comments made prior to June 15, 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 June 15, 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 June 15, 2022 that quoted from the post to the post as it is now (June 15, 2022), click here [Internet Archive link] for the most recent Internet Archive copy of the post.]
- Posted in: Unjust church responses
- Tagged: church response to abuse, emotional abuse, guest post, John Piper, Patriarchy, suffering, survivors' stories
Reblogged this on Tùr Làidir [Internet Archive link].
Dear Writer, your words struck a chord with me. My abusive first husband never hit me either. For 16 years I tried to work it all out in my head and felt guilty, so guilty for wanting to be free from him. I pray God will speak to you and give you clarity in the midst of all the lies you are being told. God bless you.
I don’t think anyone here would dismiss your pain because the marks are invisible. There are black and blue marks that are internal. We all know the internal marks, the ones no one but Jesus sees. We know they are there. We feel our hearts breaking. We feel our personhood diminish.
The CBMW has their own interpretation which is far from God’s word. You are not owned by your husband. You are not a slave. He does not have dominion over all. A married couple is to work together, each bringing their own strengths into the relationship. If the “head” of the house doesn’t bring his headship with love and a willingness to give his life for his wife and her submission is demanded of her it is not submission but slavery.
Churches that go on year after year knowing that a woman is being oppressed will be spewed out. They are lukewarm, uncaring and unbiblical. Their lack of action is their action.
I do so enjoy seeing an older couple who have clearly been together forever holding hands. It also saddens me that it will never be me. But I have much to be thankful for. Christ is with me always even though there will be no man holding my hand.
If the “head” of the house doesn’t bring his headship with love and a willingness to give his life for his wife and her submission is demanded of her it is not submission but slavery.
That is exactly what it is.
And it occurs to me, thinking of Elliff’s treatment of the Exodus 21 passage where he says it only applies to a slave wife…. Well, the abused wife is a slave wife, Mr. Elliff.
Brenda R you said “You are not owned by your husband. You are not a slave. He does not have dominion over all. A married couple is to work together, each bringing their own strengths into the relationship. If the “head” of the house doesn’t bring his headship with love and a willingness to give his life for his wife and her submission is demanded of her it is not submission but slavery.” ……..
This is so very true. I am seeing my husbands ownership of me. I hate it. He controls me and thinks he owns me. He says he has expectations of me. He thinks we have a good marriage .. .. I am of course saying we have a marriage in crisis!
I feel like I live in a prison…. I feel shackled in chains and I cannot get out. If I try to escape and be free (being myself) I get beaten to a pulp verbally until I retreat and go back to my cell. I live every day in emotional pain…every morning I break out in stress hives.
My heart goes out to all the people on this blog that are struggling. Dear God please open the eyes of churches worldwide to the pain of victims of this horrific abuse! Please God give people insight into the abuser and his antics, lay it on the hearts of people to confront them and offer protection to the victim. Amen
Dear God please open the eyes of churches worldwide to the pain of victims of this horrific abuse! Please God give people insight into the abuser and his antics, lay it on the hearts of people to confront them and offer protection to the victim. Amen
Yes, Lord. I agree with this plea. Amen.
Loves6, We need to extend your prayer to you. If you are feeling that you are in a prison and breaking out in hives, then the term “marriage” is not relevant. You may have a piece of paper which says Marriage Certificate, but what you really have is broken vows. My heart breaks for you.
You say: “I feel like I live in a prison…. I feel shackled in chains and I cannot get out. If I try to escape and be free (being myself) I get beaten to a pulp verbally”.
I felt and lived this way for so long and X still tries to keep me there even though we are no longer married. Last week I was having difficulties with him and felt the chains being wrapped slowly around my body . Leslie Vernick reminded me to concentrate on God and not on X even if he is standing right in front of me. She also recommended that I read Psalm 73. I did several times. The chains came back off. Whenever I start to loose focus I am going to read that Psalm and look to God. I know this is not easy while you are still living together and I am not sure I could have done it then, but I do know now that I didn’t have a marriage and he didn’t love me, he still doesn’t and never will.
Brenda R, I have started to realize that my husband has broken his marriage vows to me. This morning I was writing things down and I also saw myself as a person that is traumatized. I feel like a woman that has been abducted and is unable to escape. I’m desperate to be free but I’m also comfortable with my suffering, as I couldn’t imagine life without being under constant stress or walking on eggshells.
I have been in touch with Leslie Vernick, she challenged me on the reason why I’m still here, to build my CORE and said that I was in a toxic environment.
Two weeks,ago my husband had a major outburst…I broke out in a very bad case of welts on my body a day afterwards….this being stress hives. Every morning I get so itchy as this is when a lot of issues arise and he gets very stressed. This morning his phone jammed up and he got angry and clinched his fist in frustration and got angry, I then get anxious and fearful that he is going to blame me and go into fixing mode trying to calm him down. I managed to get him over the hump this morning but it could have turned bad…these are the sorts of things that wear me down.
Today at church I approached a lady that is a councellor. I asked her if she knew how to work with victims in an abusive relationship. She said yes this is her field of speciality. I will be going to see her next week.
My husband says he loves me to bits and everyone that sees us thinks this too. They would think I’m the one that isn’t as into him. I well, this is true but it didn’t used to be like this. I do not like him touching me affectionately, I don’t like kissing him goodbye. I would rather he leave me alone. This sounds so callous but he has hurt me so much. I don’t feel his touch is genuine. I don’t trust him nor like him anymore, something inside me is dying.
Thanks Brenda R
loves6, It is crazy what we can get used to and think there is no other way that we can live. Then once away from the abuse and realize what we have missed, even living completely alone, it is amazing. It would be nice at some point to have an actual loving relationship, but I think it will be a long time before I would allow anyone to get that close. I have lived my entire life around abusive men and love the fact that most of the residual of the abuse if from afar, even though periodically he will just show up at my door.
I am so glad that you found a counselor. That appears to be sent straight from the Lord himself. Leslie Vernick–great advice. I hope you have read her books along with Barb’s and Pastor Jeff’s. My stinkin’ thinkin’ has changed so much since I was helped to see how God sees me and wants my life to be. I’m not saying that I don’t have steps backwards, because I do, but I am able to trap those thoughts much faster than I used to. I pray this counselor will be able to help you see that you do not have to live this way and help you gain strength with Jesus by your side.
It never starts out the way it ends up in these relationships. We don’t seek to find someone to abuse us. Well I suppose there are a few with issues that might thrive on abuse, but not most people. We want the loving relationship and white picket fence. Now, I only feel sorry for X as he doesn’t see that even though he says he has changed, he hasn’t. He has called me several names in the past couple of weeks, but it is just water off a ducks back. He says he is sorry after saying that I should just be able to take a joke and that if anyone else called me names I wouldn’t say a thing. How ridiculous! If anyone else called me those names we would not have a friendship–they aren’t friends. He called me those names and many other things–he is no longer my husband.
Loves6, I will keep you in my prayers. ((((Hugs)))) Brenda R
I also just wanted to say that I’m not trying to sound dramatic, nor under estimate the dramatic horrific effects abduction has on these women. I am just trying to explain what I’m feeling. Don’t want that comment to cause any offense to anyone…. I think my PTSD is alive and well. How do you get better from this PTSD?
The other thing is… My husband is being soooo nice … Nice lovely and sweet. When he is like this I feel like I am making a mountain out of a mole hill. I feel like these comments I make on here are ridiculous. I feel quite embarrassed of myself, like I’m over dramatizing my situation. Is this normal?
Yes, Loves6, this is totally utterly and completely normal.
Your husband’s nice behaviour at the moment indicates how calculated he is in the way he behaves. He senses you may soon be leaving / calling the marriage O.V.E.R. And knowing he is on the knife edge, he is being super nice because he knows this is the best way to make you doubt yourself and make you start thinking that you are ‘exaggerating’ and ‘making mountains out of molehills’.
Have you been through this part of the loop before? I bet you have. He probably does this super-nice behaviour whenever he senses you are about to go.
Be prepared. What most abusers do when the victim decides to actually leave is they may be the nice guy for a while (especially if that gets them brownie points with the kids and the bystanders) but when that fails they become worse than normally vicious. I’m just warning you about that so you don’t get thrown for a loop when it happens.
love from Barb
Be prepared. What most abusers do when the victim decides to actually leave is they may be the nice guy for a while (especially if that gets them brownie points with the kids and the bystanders) but when that fails they become worse than normally vicious. I’m just warning you about that so you don’t get thrown for a loop when it happens.
My friend got the nice treatment too, although it was so pathetically executed and so obviously crap it was almost funny. When that didn’t work she got “what the bleep is wrong with you that this isn’t working?!”
There was absolutely nothing genuine in it except the genuine desire to get her back under his thumb and keep her there, with the secondary goal of being able to play it as a high card in making her look bad to everyone else for rejecting him.
I could have written this, and I can’t express how much I needed to open my e-mail to read this, this very day.
I spent all of yesterday experiencing that deep pain, trying to hold it in, but eventually getting upset and having it coming spewing out all over the atmosphere, only to have my 4 adult children living here at home yet, go to other rooms and commence mocking and laughing at me(to keep things light I am sure).
One of my daughters, is now home from a very prominent Christian Univ. for the summer. She used to be my “angel on earth”. The one who would come running to me when he left me in an emotional heap, while the other 4 would scatter in other directions, because he would convince them to look at me and see that I was/am crazy.
She now, informs me, after a conversation filled with nasty looks and snappy comebacks, that she has grown up and sees things differently now. She now sees the other side of the arguments. I could immediately feel her seeing me as her father does. As they all do.
I could imagine the smile on his face, as he quietly whispers his “see what I’ve had to endure”
I lay awake half the night feeling guilt and shame for letting out my pain.
Wondering if I truly am crazy.
Should I slither away into some God forsaken hole and live out my days alone?
I still cannot comprehend my Loving Father not bringing this all to light and justice.
Thank you so much for posting this….it doesn’t change anything
but it comforts a bit.
REM I can totally relate to you.
My older children abuse me just the same. They all think I am the one with problems. My heart goes out to you. I feel your pain.
I am now at the point where I simply cannot take it anymore. One more explosion at me and I will be off. I feel so broken and beaten up inside as this post speaks of.
I pray that God will strengthen you and help you to find a way through your fog.
Thank you. I’m right at the edge of that same cliff. But, I have one very real(at least in my mind) stronghold. One I reckon I built myself. Validation.
I need to know for sure it’s not me. I am certain my reactive behaviors through these past 24 years have not always been innocuous to my children.
I used to have dreams, fantasies, goals, visions, just like anyone else. That feels like a lifetime ago. I still know what they are but they are locked away in a “hope chest” in my mind, while I watch others living theirs.
Now, my only dream is to have someone(I fantasize that it is Dr.Phil and the whole world will see what happens to the mind of a victim) sit down with me, hear my entire story, talk to my friends and family, and then, after hearing and discerning all, look me straight in the eye and honestly say, “It’s truly not you. He is truly an emotional abuser, and your reactions are due to your ignorance of a societal parasite.”
I need to know that they are not patronizing or appeasing. I only seek truth. If it is truly me, then I will humbly repent and apologize to my children….and to him.
I know that feeling REM. It’ll drive you mad. I listen to this sermon often Rejecting the Real Jesus [Internet Archive link] and it is very helpful. So so helpful. Keller makes it so clear. X and his allies aren’t rejecting me; they are rejecting Christ and His perfect love. It’s a very helpful sermon and I hope you get a chance to listen to it.
The only opinions that matter are yours and God’s.
REM, I could certainly relate to your post as I am very much in the thick of the hurtful responses, lack of responses and lack of understanding of my children. Indescribable pain. There are two words which I have been reminding myself of often theses days….”God knows.” God knows we are not crazy. God knows our hearts even in those emotional meltdowns. God knows the day that He will no longer allow any of this….He WILL bring light and justice. Praying for you my sweet sister as we continue to cry for justice.
Yes, God knows …
You’re in a double bind and there is no right answer under the present circumstances. Your pain is going to come out, one way or the other and that sort of purging makes those around us very uncomfortable. From experience I can say, the longer you stay, the worse it gets. (Cheery, I know.)
But your kids can’t really help ease your burden because they have grown up in the crazy pit. They do not know normal. As long as you stay, they will continue to be confused. At some point, they must withdraw from the drama to get healthy. As much as it hurts, that could be what your angel-on-earth may be doing– putting distance between herself and your emotional pain.
When one of my children laid blame at my feet–even unintentionally–it hurt like bloody weasels gnawing at my innards, even if they didn’t mean it quite so bad as it felt. As long as I stayed with their biological father, they gave me equal billing. It wasn’t until I left and they saw me out and getting healthy again that they realized exactly who was responsible for all their torment.
I don’t know if this will help but each of my kids has come to me privately at some point during the four years I’ve been out and said the same thing–you are a normal person. Not perfect, but not the cause of all the pain. After a full year without one raised voice, one raging fit, one harsh word, my son said, “You never lose your temper, you never berate us, you never nag or whine or belittle or make us walk on eggshells the way dad said you did. I can see now, you were suffering the same as me.”
I can assure you that I may be alone, but I did not slither away to some God forsaken hole 🙂 The Good Lord has provided abundantly more than I could ever have imagined and I am safe and healing. It’s a wonderful feeling. There are much worse things that being alone as we all know!
Also, I can assure you that all the things are out in the light and those who walk in the light can see the truth. There’s no need to bring anything out in the light. Your kids will see as they heal and as they learn to walk more and more in the light of truth. There’s really no other way.
Very well said Ida Mae. Food for thought for me too. I am longing for the day that I have time without him raging, berating, ordering, abusing etc. When my husband goes away things are so quite and calm around our home. The kids comment on it. The kids then comment about what it’s like when he comes back…..the tension rises and he has everyone walking on eggshells.
My children recently said that to me. We were having company of far away friends and a wonderful time reminiscing and he came home from work. After a while they said, “did you feel the energy change when he walked in?”
You’re right. they notice. but he also turns moments of my absence into a conversational game of, “when she’s not here…”
I could have said this myself. When my husband travels (which is T-F, nearly every week for years –despite being a known adulterer and porn addict) we usually have such a nice week. I resent having to keep the kids quiet, not bothering him, and if they do, boy do they get it. Ugh.
Oh thank you! You have given me something very real to think on! Thank you!
Ida Mae, Thank you for your encouraging words regarding the children. The further I try to get away from my abuser, the more the children distance themselves from me and buy into their Dad’s deceit and lies. God please hasten the day they understand. Until then…..trusting God, which is a good place to be. I stayed in this for 23 years because I wasn’t able to truly trust God with my children. Prayers for all the hurting women whose children are caught in his trap as he feeds them lies. I must remember God loves them more than I could even imagine to. He WILL redeem!
I have felt the same pain for many many years…amazed at simple acts of kindness that occur between spouses. A local church has the men serve the ladies on Mother’s Day. It is so profoundly moving, that I can barely make it through the line. It almost takes my breath away to witness such an act of humiliy and service…and to think for many couples- that’s normal!
The cruel snare of abuse- To this type, you can give all…and it’s never enough. If you did “admit you’re not a real Christian” …the next day it would be something else. You can never win. The game is rigged. He will only “grant” you relationship if you will allow him to destroy everything about you that is YOU. Cults do the same thing. The purpose-control. You must be utterly subservient to him in every way. He must be god in your life.
But God says to every other god: ‘LET MY PEOPLE GO!”
And that it’s NOT too late for us:
The LORD says, “I will give you back what you lost to the swarming locusts, the hopping locusts, the stripping locusts, and the cutting locusts. It was I who sent this great destroying army against you. (Joel 2:25)
Isaiah 52: 2
Rise from the dust, O Jerusalem. Sit in a place of honor. Remove the chains of slavery from your neck, O captive daughter of Zion.
More to think on! Thank you!
I have read each one of the comments posted here. My husband is not an abuser, but my father was. I watched over 6 decades while he belittled, insulted, denigrated, neglected, falsely accused and isolated my mother. He refused to support her, denying her money for clothing and other necessities and refusing to pay for her medical care and a life insurance policy to provide for us if he should die. They never shared a bank account; everything was in his name. He would rage for hours if she saw or spoke to her parents or siblings or a neighbor. He allowed her no friends and refused to accept that she needed to work to support herself and her kids, He criticized everything she did. He was an alcoholic but never allowed her to drive HIS car, even when he was intoxicated. When she asked him to go for counseling at their church the pastor told her Dad was entitled to do what he wanted because he worked so hard to put a roof over our heads. He ended his days waited on hand and foot even in the nursing home where he would scream for her at the top of his lungs and order her around like a servant in front of the staff and other residents. Now in her eighties she is left with nothing because, as he screamed at her for 60 years, he considered her worthless. Her children will support her but she is ashamed to accept our help and it hurts her. I say all that to say this: Don’t stick around as long as Mom did. Get out while you’re still able to heal and build a life. Flee from a church or anywhere else where you’re told to stay in an abusive relationship. And remember that while you are suffering your kids are watching and they are being scarred for life. I know because my siblings and I will likely never recover from the effects of my father’s abuse and neglect of the people he should have loved and cared for.
Thank you. You just described the first almost 20 years of marriage. As they became older he morphed his actions into the “victim” role, so as to win my children over. I am so close, yet so far.
Pray that Father will help me…somehow.
A prophetic lady (whom I barely know) from a church I visited had a very vivid vision of me and searched me out through friends to tell me.
“I saw you standing on the edge of a cliff. It was the scene from an Indiana Jones movie, where he stood in front of an invisible bridge. He had to take a ‘step of faith’ in order to reveal it. Which meant he had to muster every drop of faith he had to step off the cliff into mid air. He closed his eyes. Stepped out. Dropped a bit and landed on a suddenly appearing bridge”
She said, I don’t know what this pertains to, but one day you will come to that edge, and He said He will be with you.
Hi Suzanne, welcome to the blog and thank you so much for your comment! 🙂
You’re welcome, Barbara. I can’t do anything to change the past but my hope is that someone may benefit from my experience and leave while there is still time to heal and rebuild their life. It has also been my experience that those closest to the abused seldom admit the truth about the abuser and even encourage the victim to stay in an abusive relationship. That is why anyone who is able must speak out. The victims need to hear the truth and know that someone understands what they are going through.
Thanks Suzanne for sharing those hard-learned lessons.
You are welcome, Jeff.
I’ve learned so much on this website and Jeff’s teaching. I look back over the years at the women who were close to me who had abusive husbands, including my own mother, who turned to alcohol or have suffered from nervous breakdowns. I judged them. I thought if they were a strong and obedient Christian women they can overcome their struggles. I looked at them as weak. I had no idea.
Being in a emotionally abusive marriage without really knowing it until I listened to Jeff’s sermons was an intense revelation four months ago. My own father was physically and emotionally abusive, but my own husband appeared to be the opposite. My father would use his hands, my husband used money and falsely accuse me. My father used this screaming, and my husband would retreat and almost only talked to me when necessary.
For the life of me I couldn’t figure out why I felt more love in my old home than I did in my present. Why did I feel my life passing by? Why did I have this horrible void and fear that would wake me breathless in the middle of the night in pure panic? Why do I feel like I’m nothing, worthless, used trash?
I finally had the words after listening to Jeff’s sermons and reading this blog. I finally could call him out if my husband tried to re-write history or blame me for something I didn’t do. I’m smarter now and the gig is up! I won’t let him treat me this way anymore! I fell for the garbage in my Titus 2 group. No more! He is in sin and someone needs to say something.
He willingly listened to one of Jeff’s sermons on abuse. It even seems that my husband is really trying now. I don’t know if what he learned was from his own father, but he seems to stop himself more. He is more relational and responsive. I rarely hear about the finances. He is giving me money for clothes and actually having biblical devotional with our family.
Thank you for giving my voice and saving my sanity and even my husband. I understand those ladies now and I have much, much more sympathy towards them. I’ll never look on another woman in a abusive marriage with contempt again; even my own mother. I’m so ashamed…but in a good way.
God bless you!
Thank you Denise! 🙂
I too was judgemental of victims of domestic violence. . . until I realised I was one. The shame was engulfing.
Denise, It is so good to hear that you both appear to be coming out of the fog. I hope you get the fairy tale.
Denise – Thank you for writing and encouraging us! Those sermons! What a story. As a result of waking up to abuse in our own church and how abusers parading as Christians targeted me over the years, I began to read and learn. Then I knew I had to share what I called the “Psychology of Evil” with our congregation. There was opposition – from the abusers! But we pressed on and after 21 sermons, put the on Sermon Audio where abuse victims began to find them. And to this day people like yourself are still finding that series. It is great, and obviously it was the Lord’s doing.
Thank you everyone for your encouraging words. As I sit this Lord’s day and try to regroup from the week behind and prepare for the week ahead, they are treasures of much needed love to a weary soul. I am trying to break free from 23 years of abuse, and am in the beginning stages of my 5th attempt with mediators/lawyers. This past week has been devastating as he denies, lies, twists, hides bank accounts, uses the children, convinces pastors, family and friends that I don’t know how to love and on and on. Pastor Jeff, a HUGE thank you for your book. Thank you for being a Pastor that is not afraid to speak truth, stand for justice and suffer for Christ’s sake in doing it. Lifting this website ministry and all involved in it in my prayers. Thank you!!
Your soon to be Ex has been a busy boy, hasn’t he? But this is typical of abusers when they feel they are losing control of their victim: they pull out all stops to try to make her cave in.
The fact that he is pulling out so many stops indicates that he knows how determined you are. So, I know it is not easy, in fact it’s as horrible as all-get-out . . . but if you can see that his intensification is indicative of your burgeoning strength, that may shine a bit of light inside the cloud. ((hugs)) from Barb
Thank you, Barbara.
Have heard it said that different periods throughout history have presented different types of harrassment to the Lord’s redeemed. Domestic abuse sounds like persecution of the saints. You are in my prayers and this blog is going on my link list. It’s sad to know that even in the LORD’S House, one must be careful. So glad your blog is on the net, because your writings may keep someone from departing from the Faith. Can’t help but to wonder how many abused people from “Christian” families are now hanging out over at ex-christian.
Yes Susan, we know that some victims of abuse seem to lose their faith.
Some give it up for a while but then come back, thanks be to God! Some seem to forsake their profession entirely. Only the Lord knows what is going on in each of their lives, but we have to trust that He will bring back those who are His, for Scripture clearly says not one of them will be lost and no one can snatch them out of the Father’s hand (John 17:12 and 10:29).
I don’t know if this comment will even be seen because the blog post was from last year, but I keep reading all the comments and it leaves me confused.
There are so many that have dealt with their abuse for 20, 30+ years. I’ve only dealt with it for 4 years and I feel so much of the same stuff. The hopelessness, the sense that I’ve lost who I am, the sense of feeling crazy / insane the majority of the time. I even had my previous pastor compare me to another woman in the church that was dealing with abuse & his comment to me was the other woman had tried in her marriage for 20 years while I’ve only tried for 2 (at the time), so God would look at her situation and say “yes, I see you tried at working on your marriage” while to me God would say “angh, you’ve really not tried long enough”. And I left thinking, how long do you try? how long is enough?
Then, I actually met with the woman that had dealt with it for 20 years and she told me how her teenage daughter now has to go to counseling because she was cutting herself b/c of what she endured and what she saw her mother endure for all those years. And my thought was, so I need to try for 20 years and then possibly have my son and myself in counseling because of the effects of staying that long (my son is 3 right now). I don’t want to put my son (or myself) through that. I can’t even imagine having to live like that for 20 more years! I’d rather die.
This past Sunday at church, while everyone else was singing songs about Heaven and God coming back for us one day, I was praying that God would just take myself and my son on now if this is the life we have to live…..About 3-4 weeks ago, I had resolved that I was going to ask my parents if my son and I could move in with them and I would look at moving towards divorce. So, I tell my parents but then my dad and my sister both tell me they do not think I have biblical grounds for divorce (my dad is Assoc Pastor at my church), but he would talk to another church to see if they have a counselor my husband could talk to so we could hopefully work things out. (Mind you, they have known about my situation, along with a few close friends for a little over a year, yet they NEVER mention it or ask me how I am unless I bring it up. But, once I finally have come to terms with the situation and found comfort that God’s grace would cover me and am ready to face the uncertainty of being a single parent, then they start “caring” and want to help us and don’t want me to make a decision I will regret. And I feel like I’ve been pushed right back into the pit where I had been living. I was so close to freedom, but now I feel the weight of bondage back on my shoulders.
Another confusing part of reading the comments on the blog is that unlike many women on this blog, I never really let my husband get away with the emotional and verbal abuse. I would yell back at him. If he told me he didn’t want me to go out with friends or spend time at my parent’s house, I wouldn’t always allow it to affect my plans (it would bother / hurt me, but I would still follow through with my plans sometimes). When he yelled at me for not cooking or washing his clothes, I would let him know he had two hands too (I did cook & clean, although I did have days where I wouldn’t).
When I awoke to him molesting me with his finger two nights in a row, I showed him where the couch was and we stopped being intimate (I do want to say, I didn’t stop being intimate with him to be mean. I simply can no longer be intimate with someone who would molest me and then continually lie about it to me. I can’t be intimate with someone I do not trust, my mind will not allow it. I can’t even let him touch me affectionately anymore). And after I let him back in the bed (with separate blankets) & he continually kept trying the same thing, he now has a permanent bed on the couch. I never even knew what he was doing was abuse while it was happening (there’s more details that I haven’t mentioned, as well as some that I think my mind has hidden from my memory), but I do remember telling him over and over again that he always made himself the victim and I was always the one that did something wrong. But, I somehow feel like I’m less victimized because even though he said and did things, I spoke up more and challenged him more than other woman that have been in the same situation. So, I think maybe I wasn’t really abused or it’s not as bad as other women.
And the even more confusing part is that my husband is now, more or less, “Betty Homemaker”. After I told him late last year (after the last time I felt him inching his hand towards me in the bed while he thought I was asleep) that I could no longer take it & would be making steps towards divorce (I said I wanted to wait until after the holidays and my son’s birthday, which was in January, so as not to put stress on him during what should be a happy time), he has taken charge of almost all the chores of the house. He cooks, cleans, wakes up in the morning to iron my clothes for work, goes out of his way to do anything I need or want. He seems like an amazing husband. And he’s been doing this for months now, so it almost seems like he has changed. Although, I know if I were to let him back in the bed, he would go back to exactly the same thing as before.
And I fear that what he can no longer do to me (because I stand up for myself), he could do to my son instead. For example, this past weekend, while playing outside, he asked my son if he was deaf because my son was not doing what my husband wanted. Not that my son was doing anything wrong, just that my husband wanted to show him how to do it and instead my son, being a normal 3 yr old boy, wanted to explore for himself instead. So, my husband started raising his voice and getting mad and said “are you deaf?” because my son wasn’t listening. In and of itself, it may not be or sound that bad, but it IMMEDIATELY took me back to early on in our marriage when he would do the same thing to me…he would be on one of his rants or belittling me and I would recoil to which he would always ask me “are you deaf?”. It made me feel so humiliated. And I regularly have to challenge my husband’s tone with our son because it just doesn’t seem to fit (having such a harsh voice for someone very minor), but this past weekend was the first time I’d ever heard him use some of the same language to our son that he had used on me.
I honestly feel like I’m going insane. I see the “nice guy” side so much now and he cries in church and seems to feel convicted, but at the same time he is a habitual liar (lies to my face, lies about the most minor stuff, lied to women he used to chat on the internet with about minor stuff when they didn’t even know him) and I can’t help but feel he is deceiving me and putting himself on “good behavior” so that he can keep me from leaving. I don’t know what to do or how to stand up for myself to my family (when I didn’t listen to them when they told me not to marry the guy in the first place, so now I feel like I owe it to them to listen this time around)!! 😦
Anonymous – Thank you for telling your story. You are questioning and confused because abusers intentionally confuse us. They cast a fog around them so you can’t see or think clearly. Your experience certainly is indeed abuse. Your husband has habitually and unrepentantly broken the marriage vows and destroyed the marriage covenant thereby. Leaving and/or divorcing has to be your decision, but in our opinion here at ACFJ you certainly would be justified in filing for divorce. A person who lies, deceives, sexually molests, and who puts on a facade to make you think he has changed – that is a person who destroys the marriage covenant and who is never going to change. What you see now in other words is what you are always going to have with this guy.
Dear Anonymous, you are not alone. Some victims stay with their abusers for only a relatively short time. I can think of commenters on this blog who have shared things like “I stayed with my fiance for 9 months and then left because I saw he was abusing me”; or “I stayed with my second husband for two years and then left.” In my own case my marriage to my first husband was 5 years together, 4 years separated, one year back together and then FINAL END. My marriage to my second husband lasted just under two years. I think I had learned some things from the first marriage so as soon as I saw my second husband’s behaviour was abuse, not ill-health and physical disabilities, I ended it.
I think the fact that you have resisted your husband’s demands quite strongly does explain why you feel less of a victim than some of our other readers. However, you are / were still a victim, still a target of a cunning covert manipulative abuser who wanted to use you entirely for his own selfish ends. So you are no less a victim than the rest of us here, in that sense. Rather than try to measure your experiences against other survivors so much, I suggest you just accept the reality that your husband is an abuser. And that his Betty Wife act is — as you said — just a ploy to get you to doubt your conclusions and second-guess yourself so that he can keep you stringing along under his power for as long as he can. The fact that he is doing all those ‘nice husband’ things, just shows how much he senses that you are very close to calling it quits for good. However, if and when you do announce that it is O.V.E.R, expect the nice guy act to suddenly switch to nasty and mean and perhaps even violent. (just be prepared, it may not, but better to be safe than sorry).
Re your family. Yes, their care for you is not helping is it? IF your father would buy himself a copy of Instone-Brewer’s book(s) (Divorce and Remarriage in the Bible: The Social and Literary Context [*Affiliate link], Divorce and Remarriage in the Church: Biblical Solutions for Pastoral Realities [Affiliate link]) on divorce, and my book Not Under Bondage [Affiliate link], he might alter his views on what constitutes biblical grounds for divorce. If he is unwilling to reexamine his thinking on that subject, then he will certainly be of little help to you as you divorce your abuser. But it’s your life, and you can choose freely what to do for your own wellbeing and safety and that of your child. You are not obliged to follow your father and mothers’ advice. Yes, they may have been wise in advising you not to marry that man, but that does not mean their advice is always wise. And you can admit to them that you were silly not to have listened to their recommendation not to marry that man, but at the same time you are not going to try to ‘make amends’ for that by following their advice about ‘biblical grounds for divorce’ when you think that on that matter they are quite wrong. And tell your dad that you are not alone in thinking abuse is grounds for divorce: there are growing numbers of Bible-believing Evangelical Christians who hold to inerrancy and full inspiration of the Scriptures, who are convinced that the Bible DOES allow divorce for abuse.
(hugs) — Barb
*Amazon affiliate link — ACFJ gets a small percentage if you purchase via this link.
You have set boundaries by moving your h out of the bedroom, but he has not truly repented. He physically assaulted you by misusing you in your sleep. He thinks he is entitled to do this. You are a possession and so is your child. Saying, “are you deaf” to a 3 year old is abusive and really does a 3 year old understand any of what is said to him. What he understand is that dad is yelling at him and doesn’t know why. Dad should be watching his child in awe of his wonder and experimenting as long as he isn’t going to get hurt. Doing more chores is not repentance.
If you can’t get others to read the books that Barbara suggested, I hope you will. Don’t believe the nonsense that you are being told about God would say that a woman married 20 years had really tried. Don’t let it get to that point. I believe God is blessing you by making you aware early. He is merciful. Praying for you.
Brenda has brought attention to a valuable lesson: doing more chores is not repentance. But guess what? Even ‘C’hristian counselors, churches etc will allude to the fact that the victim should recognize this as the abuser’s form of appeasement. It’s like they don’t even want to recognize the ‘sins’.
Praying for you, Anon along with others who are desiring to please the Lord with their life and relationships while on this earth.
From the original post:
Brenda R commented (16TH MAY 2014 – 6:39 AM):
The post’s title::
^That can be caused by ANY form of abuse.