A Cry For Justice

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

Please Don’t Pray That My Marriage Will be Restored

[October 26, 2022: There have been some changes made to this post. For more information, read the Editors’ notes at the bottom of the post. Editors.]

From Dictionary.com [Internet Archive link]1:

[res-tuh-rey-shuh n]

3) a return of something to a former, original, normal, or unimpaired condition.
4) restitution of something taken away or lost.

6) a reconstruction or reproduction of an ancient building, extinct animal, or the like, showing it in its original state.
7) a putting back into a former position, dignity, etc.

I want to take a moment and share a pet peeve of mine about this “restoration” phrasing I see in many marriage ministry materials. I also hear it used often in churches when marriages are prayed for. Here it is in Piper’s Clarifying Words on Wife Abuse [Internet Archive link]:

….This legitimate recourse to civil protection may be done in a spirit that does not contradict the spirit of love and submission to her husband, for a wife may take this recourse with a heavy and humble heart that longs for her husband’s repentance and the restoration of his nurturing leadership.  [Emphasis added.]

And here is the same terminology at a Shepherd Press’s comment on God’s answer to domestic violence [Internet Archive link] [Scroll part way down the page to read Shepblogger’s comment. Editors.]:

Niki, Titus03 raises an important thought. If there is physical violence being committed in the home, that is a criminal offense. Safety is paramount. In this case both the civil authorities and the church should be involved. Solid church leadership will recognize this and work for restoration if possible or for discipline if necessary.  [Emphasis added.]

I have extensive remodeling experience. I have watched a ridiculous amount of This Old House [Internet Archive link], DIY, and HGTV to get ideas and learn techniques as I remodeled my homes and helped with my friends’ homes. When I hear “restore” I go back to my DIY days and consider what it is to restore something; to go into an old house and put in original period hardware and decorative touches. Would you restore a mobile home after a tornado comes through? Of course not. So don’t pray that marriages to abusers will be restored.

People often tell me they are praying for my marriage to be restored. I stop them and tell them not to. I don’t want that thing back in its original condition. I don’t want to go back to the fake life, his false humility, the show he put on, the secrets I kept to make him look good, etc..  Don’t pray that an abusive marriage will be restored. Pray that the Master Builder scrubs the lot, carries off the mold infested debris, and starts over (Lev 14:33-45). I don’t need a “McMansion”. A cottage would do just fine. Just give me a life built on the True Foundation. Can you imagine going up to the foolish man who built his house upon the sand, you know the one from the song (and parable) The Wise Man Built His House Upon the Rock; the house that “went splat,” and telling him that you’re praying that his house would be restored? It would just go splat the next time it rained. Now build it and splat it for decades and you might have an idea of how silly it sounds to restore a house with a bad foundation instead of knocking it down and building on The Rock. I don’t want that marriage back. I want a house built on Christ, not the fragile ego of an abuser.

I understand people’s intentions and I don’t reply to them in a mean spirited way. Often the restoration prayer might’ve been from a friend whose house I had helped remodel. With a twinkle in my eye, I might have threatened to come to her house and “restore” it back to the way we found it. She knew what I meant and she began to observe that X wasn’t the man he previously pretended to be.

I believe using that “restored” kind of phrasing betrays an underlying problem in the church; people assume abusers are having a bad day and they can learn coping skills and everything will be alright. Perhaps the pastor thinks he can hand him a men’s devotional and the abuser will become the godly man he’s masqueraded as for all these years. Maybe he’ll be “restored” because he reads Chicken Soup for the Abuser’s Soul…. Abuse isn’t a coping skills issue. It’s a heart issue; an entitlement issue. That man sitting on the same pew as you all these years, the one who seems so pious but terrorizes his family when you aren’t around, that man doesn’t need to be restored to the good old days before the abuse was exposed. He needs to surrender to Christ and demolish his present belief system that makes him the center of his world. And the sooner the church learns to recognize that the pious pew sitter abuser is not who he claims to be and never was, the sooner the church can make headway in rescuing the oppressed from him and abusers like him.

The LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, “When you come into the land of Canaan, which I give you for a possession, and I put a case of leprous disease in a house in the land of your possession, then he who owns the house shall come and tell the priest, ‘There seems to me to be some case of disease in my house.’

Then the priest shall command that they empty the house before the priest goes to examine the disease, lest all that is in the house be declared unclean. And afterward the priest shall go in to see the house. And he shall examine the disease. And if the disease is in the walls of the house with greenish or reddish spots, and if it appears to be deeper than the surface, then the priest shall go out of the house to the door of the house and shut up the house seven days.

And the priest shall come again on the seventh day, and look. If the disease has spread in the walls of the house, then the priest shall command that they take out the stones in which is the disease and throw them into an unclean place outside the city. And he shall have the inside of the house scraped all around, and the plaster that they scrape off they shall pour out in an unclean place outside the city. Then they shall take other stones and put them in the place of those stones, and he shall take other plaster and plaster the house. “If the disease breaks out again in the house, after he has taken out the stones and scraped the house and plastered it, then the priest shall go and look. And if the disease has spread in the house, it is a persistent leprous disease in the house; it is unclean. And he shall break down the house, its stones and timber and all the plaster of the house, and he shall carry them out of the city to an unclean place. Moreover, whoever enters the house while it is shut up shall be unclean until the evening, and whoever sleeps in the house shall wash his clothes, and whoever eats in the house shall wash his clothes.  (Leviticus 14:33-47  ESV) [Emphasis added.]

1[October 26, 2022: We added the link to Dictionary.com’s page for the word “restoration”. The Internet Archive link is a copy of that page. Editors.]

[October 26, 2022: Editors’ notes:

—For some comments made prior to October 26, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be an exact match.
—For some comments made prior to October 26, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be found in the post.
If you would like to compare the text in the comments made prior to October 26, 2022 that quoted from the post to the post as it is now (October 26, 2022), click here [Internet Archive link] for the most recent Internet Archive copy of the post.]


  1. Still Scared but you can call me Cindy

    This is fantastic!! I would climb walls anytime someone would say this to me. I started clarifying when I would ask for prayer, “please do NOT say anything about the ex-idiot when you pray for me”.

    • anewfreelife

      Me, too! Otherwise they always do! Ugh!

      A woman who prayed over her dying husband and later wrote a book about their experience says to never allow anyone who is going to “pray death” to pray for your sick loved one. She said you want powerful, life-infusing prayer, not prayers of acceptance and easy-passing. Yet, that’s what the church so often does to us! They pray “death” over us with prayers of acceptance and restoration.

  2. Anonymous for this one

    I post [comment] to this site regularly but am using a different login because I need to share something and I’m terrified. I don’t want to be identified to any people I know who I have directed to this site. This post is very timely for me and I’m desperate to talk about something that feels even more isolating than having an abusive marriage.

    My husband was emotionally abusive our entire lengthy marriage. I realized he showed all the signs of having “Narcissistic Personality Disorder” in recent years. After I moved out he filed for divorce. He has been secretly dating….and there are other things. I don’t want to take time to go into detail of all the marriage but it was abusive and he showed all the signs for narcissism, which were confirmed by a few counselors.

    We are still in the process of divorce. This is the part that terrifies me. I recently came across something I wasn’t supposed to find. After hearing what I will say many will suggest it was planted but without going into detail I don’t believe it is possible due to the circumstances. I came across a file of a journal of his. He hates writing and this is incredibly unlike him. In it he starts by questioning what is going on inside him. He starts praying. Juvenile prayers but still, praying. He talks about changes he can sense going on in him. He says over and over he wants to hear from God and loves Him and needs Him. (I know, I know….but this is what he wrote). Another time he questions if he did something to the marriage. There are hints at humility. I know him and I hear something in his words that I’ve never heard before. Vulnerability. And then the whopper…..one particular day he asks God if He wants to heal the marriage and wouldn’t that bring God glory if God did that? Wouldn’t that be an awesome testimony to our friends? These are his words.

    There is more of the same but he is also still seeing a woman who is separated as well as being active on dating sites. Yet even while he “prays” for her too, over and over he questions if it is right (duh….but in his state him even questioning is significant considering the man he is / was). I sense the Spirit is doing something and I’m terrified. I don’t know who to talk to about this because I fear people will think I exaggerated the abuse (I haven’t — if anything I’ve underscored [Eds: I think she meant “underestimated”.] it).

    I fear bringing this to any abuse sites (even this one) because I don’t want to give false hope or be shunned as “not one of us”. I’m crying as I write this because I’m so scared and this is just too much for my mind to process. It’s not just what my husband wrote….it’s what I sense the Spirit is trying to soften my heart to and I’m both embracing and fighting it equally. I want Christ to be glorified in this and I will admit that selfishly I want this long journey to end on something besides evil. Maybe he will regress once again and nothing will come of this and the divorce will go through. I don’t know what God wants me to do. The whole post about restoring is exactly what I was praying about last night. I told God there WAS NOTHING to restore!!! There was no real marriage to begin with.

    My heart screams with all that Ellie says here because this is the exact truth I’ve been telling people and trying to educate others on. This is just too overwhelming. I am entirely dependent upon God but I also need to let this out. It’s too much to carry inside.

    • Still Reforming

      It’s certainly a situation complicated enough that it’s hard for those of us who don’t know him to comment, but may I offer thoughts just based on my own experience with a narcissist husband? (I’m in the process of divorcing.) Consider — just strongly consider — that the journal you found may have been created and planted for you to find. Even if it took him much time to create – not just days but weeks or even months. In my experience, if the narc knows something is important to you, he will embrace [it] if only to use against you. Be very careful here. Take YOUR time. Keep going down the path you were going (re: separation and / or divorce). DON’T stray from your own path, but continue. IF that journal and everything in it is of God, you’ll know IN TIME. If it’s true repentance and not just smoke-and-mirrors confusion (the narc’s hallmark), you’ll know. If you’re still confused (and it sounds like you are), it’s not the sign of real change in him. I would tread very, very carefully and NOT change your current direction. Just my two cents.

    • Dear Anonymous For This One,
      I hear you. And I don’t think you are weird or ‘not one of us’ or anything like that. I relate closely to some of what you wrote.

      My first husband showed signs, at times, of having really been touched by God, God seemed to speak directly to him and his heart and mind softened and his conscience was clearly activated and pricked. One time it was so strong and so out of character that I almost fell over when he told me. God had spoken to him while he was at work, spoken very specifically about how he was treating me, and told him to come home to me that afternoon and ask how I wanted him to treat me. This did not happen because I had been making signs of leaving him, nor because I was putting pressure on him to go to counseling, or any of those usual things that provoke abusers to make a show of repentance. As far as I can remember, it happened out of the blue. And when he told me, it had a ring of truth and felt like it really had been a word from God.

      I briefly answered his question (when I’d got over my shock) — “Don’t swear in my presence or my daughter’s presence,” I told him, “and treat me with respect.” ….Well….he may have done that for a little while, but before long the old him returned and we were right back where we were before. And he never alluded to that episode again, and I didn’t dare to allude to it – because one doesn’t when one is walking on eggshells….

      I have also heard of, and read with my own eyes, the journal entries of other abusers which showed a kind of sort of repentance and a different voice, like they really were softening and humbling themselves before God. But each of those instances did not result in true reformation. They just reverted. It was a flash in the pan. A brief flicker of conscience, possibly / probably fanned to into that flicker by the breath of God’s Holy Spirit. But it did not last. The flicker died, the stony heart took the upper hand again, and the conscience, whatever vestiges of it were there, got more seared in the long run.

      So with that background, I am not able to say whether your husband (stbX) has had one of these brief flickers of conscience from the Holy Spirit giving him a(nother) chance, nor am I able to say whether in your husband’s case this will be the first little flicker that will come into a glow and then a flame, or whether it will just die away again like the cases I’ve seen. But I do know this: you do not have to be afraid of us rejecting or scorning you, and you do not have to be afraid of having to reconcile with your husband and drop the divorce process in a rush, just because of this little apparent flicker of his conscience. Wait and see. Wait and give it time. The Lord will make it abundantly clear, and He will not rush you into anything. And even if you do get divorced, that would not mean you could not remarry him, assuming he has not married someone else….

      So breathe, and know that it’s okay for you to have these feelings. Bless you and ((hugs)).

      • Anonymous for this one

        Still Reforming and Barbara,
        Thank you so much for your encouragement and comfort. It means more than you know. Truly it does. Being a target of abuse has been isolating enough but to think it is possible he might be the 1 in 1 million (or more) that changes because of God….well that is even more isolating. Just to write it I felt like I was being disloyal to the abuse community somehow but this is a very real struggle for me.

        In no way do I believe he has changed….it’s just the words he uses aren’t words that have ever been him. The slightest flickers of humility – toward God. What has ensued in my heart has been terrifying. It took all my strength to grieve and bury the ghost that never existed – the man I thought I married and loved. I came to realize he never did exist and therefore was a ghost. I have to confess it feels cruel that now I sense God asking me to open my heart to someone new who also wears the face of my abuser. It’s an emotional tsunami. I question if I am opening my heart to this in the least because I am so desperate for this to not end on evil. I have questioned how I can function well in the world after experiencing this level of evil from him that I have had.

        I am arguing with God and fighting any visions that pop into my head of him being in my future. I do not want him, I do not love him but I will be obedient to God because I know His ways are higher than mine and to do His will is the only way I will ever have peace. So far I have no idea what that obedience entails. For all I know if God asks me to reach out in kindness and he rejects it the purpose may be as that of Moses with Pharaoh in a sense – only storing up more wrath against him.

        Thank you, Barbara, for your insight and experience with the specifics you mentioned. To know that you have seen these other journal entries that sound very similar to what I’m mentioning helps me tremendously. He uses the word “feel” and lists some emotions at times. He says he can feel himself changing too. As I understand narcissism, they are not capable of using those terms because they have no mental library for them. They certainly don’t glorify God because they are their own God. So to read this what seems incompatible with a narcissist my only conclusions I can come to is that he was never a narcissist or he is a potential changing narcissist. A kindergartener can’t understand physics so it has to be explained somehow.

        I’m sorry if I have hijacked this post. Hopefully this dialog will help someone else. Thank you for your grace!

      • Marah

        The thing that comes to mind as I read your comment is that even if he is changing (and I agree with the others – SERIOUSLY doubt it), you do not have to be open to anything.

        I might be wrong but it sort of sounds like you may feel like God is testing you, to see whether you’ll jump through another hoop, to prove yourself a “good Christian.” That’s what abusers do, not what God does. But most of us have trouble separating the two.

        Stick to your instincts. That was the single-most important piece of advice I’ve gotten over the last nine months. You’re most likely right, and you need to start building the atrophied “trust myself” muscles.

    • Seeing the Light

      Anonymous For This One, I know you are scared, and I can relate so much to how you feel. I want to encourage you, but I don’t want to say this the wrong way. I don’t know how sensitive you are to the Spirit’s leading, and I don’t want to offend you in any way. I only want to suggest something based on my own experience.

      I grew up with a narcissistic father who was a religious whip. I then married a covert narcissist that used religious pressure, who did a whole lot of damage to me, including the destruction of my health, without any physical violence. It has been traumatizing to say the least. I share this to give you a little background. Part of the effects of the emotional and spiritual abuse was the impact it had on my ability to discern God’s will for me and His heart toward me. I ended up feeling like if I wanted something, it probably wasn’t God’s will for me, and that if I didn’t want something, it must be God’s will for me. Then the very fact that I didn’t want it became a source of self-condemnation because I was so very rebellious for not wanting it. This hounded me throughout the years of abuse, especially before my eyes were opened to so much that was covert.

      I am currently living separated within my home. I haven’t been able to leave because of how my health would affect custody issues. As I live in this context, there are a lot of conflicting pangs of my wounded conscience and sometimes I feel like I am resisting God. My husband puts on a very good show. He is the wonderful Christian husband and father and servant in the church for everyone to see. I have had months and months of hearing him so often say the right thing, humble-sounding things, even making the right facial expression, but there is no love in his eyes. Then as soon as we get into a deeper discussion about issues, his mentality comes out, the core of who he really has been and continues to be — the entitlement, the arrogance, the cold utilitarian mindset regarding my purpose in this world, the lack of empathy, the contempt for who I am as a human being and on and on. Then a few days later it is all hidden again under a veneer of good Christian man saying the right things. It is very hard to keep reality before me when I am so prone to guilt. I spent our marriage being his scapegoat and the recipient of his blame-shifting. I was [the] “bad, rebellious-to-God-guy.” He was [the] “good, God-is-well-pleased-with-guy.”

      I don’t know all the ways the abuse affected you, but when I read your story it reminded me of all the fear I have experienced that God would make me open up to my husband again, live like his wife again, and let him touch me again. When that happens it triggers that same terror that you describe. Then I fear that that must be what God wants and I am being rebellious for not wanting it, especially when my husband is on his best behavior. But I believe so much of this is the result of the trauma and the abuse.

      I also want to add that whether this journal was a plant or not (I lean toward it being a plant or at least not being something that reflects a genuine, lasting change in him), remember that he has not spoken these things to you or approached you as a changed man. I have to add, to quote you:

      And then the whopper….one particular day he asks God if He wants to heal the marriage and wouldn’t that bring God glory if God did that? Wouldn’t that be an awesome testimony to our friends?

      This bit here makes me very suspicious. This sounds more like someone building a case – using God – to “save the marriage” than someone broken at the thought of his sin against you and God and burdened to repent and make restitution. Just a thought.

      Finally, I always remind myself that I certainly do not have to reconcile with my husband unless the change is so genuine, so great that I might actually want to because he would be so different that it would be like he was a totally other person! (It helps a little.)

      And in the greater context of the original post – yes – I get triggered when anyone tells me they will pray for the restoration of our marriage, or want to pray with me for him. At this point, some days I can pray that God will have mercy on his soul. That is hard to pray after all that has happened even though on a human-to-human level, I feel compassion for him and don’t desire his destruction. My consistent prayer is for deliverance for my children and me from our oppressor – and I leave my oppressor in God’s hands.

      May God bless you. I have prayed for you.

      • Still Reforming

        Another thought about the journal. I too have seen on my husband’s bedstand in his bedroom notes from Scripture. In fact, he’s scrawled many here and there, but this one caught my eye because at the top of the page it read: “Closing”. And I pondered if he was planning a speech at our church, but I never asked. My narc husband has the same Bible I gave him to read and he’s never sought another version or any other supplemental reading – as many other Christians I know do. He’s left me notes like, “The foolish woman tears down her house with her own hands” [Paraphrase of Proverbs 14:1.], etc. – and I know he’s just using the Bible because he knows it’s important to me. That’s what they do. They find what you like and use it as a tool against you.

      • Not Alone

        Thank you for writing this, Seeing the Light. Thank you. My situation is almost identical to yours. I love your “name” and am also coming to see the Light myself as I focus on the Light of the world.

      • Seeing The Light, I think your comment here was magnificent, very apt and to the point, and not at all coercive to Anonymous For This One.

        Bless you! 🙂

      • Seeing the Light

        Not Alone and Barbara, thank you for your kind words. They mean SO much.

      • Anonymous for this one

        Seeing The Light, you said:

        Part of the effects of the emotional and spiritual abuse was the impact it had on my ability to discern God’s will for me and His heart toward me. I ended up feeling like if I wanted something, it probably wasn’t God’s will for me, and that if I didn’t want something, it must be God’s will for me. Then the very fact that I didn’t want it became a source of self-condemnation because I was so very rebellious for not wanting it.

        I have felt this way many, many times. I also grew up with a father who carried the non-physical whip. I also realize that my husband’s treatment has made it hard for me to see the Lord in truth and not through the distorted view of my abusive husband and to some extent, my dad. Thank you for sharing this!

        It has only been recently that I’ve been able to apply the truth that I’ve learned to my life regarding God’s will for me. I know that God asks us to do things that are uncomfortable and will put us / allow us to be in situations that stretch us. We are told we will be persecuted for His sake. But I have come to learn the difference between it being for His sake and for the sake of abuse (which has no fruit). I also keep myself rooted in the truth by recounting all the ways God has defended, shown up, blessed and comforted me. When I dwell on those things I am reminded of who God is and this helps me combat the devil’s lies that God just basically wants me miserable. I would never say I believe that but my mind shows traces that I do on some level.

        Thanks for sharing your story….it comforted me!

    • KitaBunch

      …be shunned as “not one of us”….want Christ to be glorified in this and I will admit that selfishly I want this long journey to end on something besides evil. Maybe he will regress once again and nothing will come of this and the divorce will go through. I don’t know what God wants me to do.

      I can totally relate and am going through this same thing right now and have posted my comments about my confusion too as to not knowing “what God wants me to do”. And, I too have been afraid that this community would reject me since my story is not the same as “the norm” (if there is such a thing). I have not divorced my husband and even though we have gone through a two-year process and finalized a legal separation, I let him move back in two months ago.

      Later you said the following:

      It took all my strength to grieve and bury the ghost that never existed – the man I thought I married and loved. I came to realize he never did exist and therefore was a ghost. I have to confess it feels cruel that now I sense God asking me to open my heart to someone new who also wears the face of my abuser. It’s an emotional tsunami. I question if I am opening my heart to this in the least because I am so desperate for this to not end on evil.

      YES! That is exactly how I feel, but you said it so WELL. I have seen changes, BIG changes, in my husband, but it is CRUEL….cruel, to expect me to love and trust a man who has THE FACE OF MY ABUSER. I totally get it. I went through two years of legal hell, with him fighting everything, telling the secular courts about what a bad mother I am and exposing painful private medical details about my shame (when I was 18 I sadly had an abortion (his child – and THE reason I ended up marrying him because I was SO ASHAMED and knew no other CHRISTIAN man would ever want me)). I spent tens of thousands of dollars and gained FULL CUSTODY and now he has changed? He who made fun of my faith for 22 years is now a Christian, raises his hands in church, and leaves his Bible around the house (the Bible my parents gave him 22 years ago that he didn’t open for two decades).

      I am wondering….in a way, if this isn’t the ultimate abuse? The ultimate power and control? He did everything to hurt me, shame me and humiliate me to get me to back down. I had the most magnificent lawyers who wouldn’t let me back down, but then he changes course and says “I am a new man”. But, it feels sick and twisted. Every day I see his face and SEE MY ABUSER. He seems to be truly changed in many ways, but he is still the same in others….no COVERT abuse like before, but he is still manipulative and sarcastic. Why was I so stupid to let him move back in?

      Anyways, I feel the others on this blog are so strong….and I am just the “typical” abused woman who went back to her abuser. Please pray for strength for me as I gather energy and resources to move out again.

      Blessings….you keep me going.

      • Anonymous for this one

        Kitabunch, this morning in my devotion time I read again Jesus’ remarks about causing one of His little ones to sin. I don’t see you as weak, but as one of the little ones who is able to love with an openness that has also allowed you to open your heart to God. An abuser’s heart is closed off, hardened, and therefore cannot experience that relationship with God. It is the willingness in your heart to forgive and want to believe the best in people that your husband has taken advantage of. This is his shame, not yours.

        You say you see yourself as the “typical” abused woman who went back. Well, what I read on countless forums and articles speaks to how the abused person is actually one of the strongest people you’ll meet. We often feel weak because we are in the midst of being pummeled. It is hard to feel strong in the midst of that. But your strength is seen when you step back and see how you have grown and realize when you’re not under the influence of your abuser.

        Please do not listen to the enemy’s name-calling. You are not stupid, you are not typical. This is a lie of the enemy!! God does not call you stupid, He calls you loved. As I mentioned, this is NOT your shame – this is your abuser’s shame. Give it back to him! Blessings to you!!

      • ….I feel the others on this blog are so strong….and I am just the “typical” abused woman who went back to her abuser.

        Dear KitaBunch, I do not judge you! Look at me. I let my first abuser back after having been separated from him for four years (and fought for and won custody of our daughter and had the court formally separate our property and assets in that four-year interval). He appeared to have been really converted to Christ after those four years, so I decided of my own free will to let him back and we renewed our marriage vows even though we’d never been formally divorced. Then one year later he was assaulting me again, but the emotional abuse had been going on all that year but I hadn’t seen it. Then I finally left him and eventually divorced him.

        Then more than a decade later I married another man, thinking he was a good man and a Christian. And had one year of happy marriage but then in the second year he started to show his true colours and just shy of our second anniversary he became physically violent and very much determined to intimidate me….

        So I’m not going to judge you, Kita. You are most welcome here, we know there are many reasons why people let abusers back into their lives….I bet you had multiple reasons at the time, and they all seemed sensible and logical and godly at the time. 🙂

        That is why we spend so much time on this blog exposing and discussing the tactics of abusers. Because the better we understand that, the easier it is for us to come out of the fog and stay out of the fog….

        Hugs to you. Never think you are unworthy of being here, or that we won’t accept you. 🙂

    • Searching

      Here I am, a month behind as I continue reading and searching, but something in me that has recently allowed me to speak is helped when I answer old posts [comments]. I have only reached out to one person, by mail, across the country, in a simple letter stating I am undergoing emotional abuse, but it opened the door. And here I am.

      I am trying to decide if I should talk to my pastor or not, and I suppose the day will come, but reading what people have gone through makes it hard to face. My heart resonates so much with this response. I am terrified that an attempt will be made for reconciliation, to restore what was never there. I will try to remember that a house built on sand should not be rebuilt.

      The abuse was so subtle, and I too, have letters that sound so genuine in his attempts to reconcile, follow God, will-do-anything-to-make-the-marriage-work, that would totally fool anyone else reading them. But they don’t jive with other letters, actions, and stings that are often hidden in them, much less the fear and trembling at the thought of living out my life with him. That had to come from somewhere.

      Just a few years ago I realized that one very damaging effect was that I had lost the ability to understand love. What does that mean? How does one love, or receive love? Can I even love my children or parents? I would see couples I knew or strangers on the street holding hands, and it didn’t make sense, still doesn’t; I can’t emphasize that enough. A part of me is broken.

      I read 1 Corinthians 13 to teach myself what Godly love is, and am thankful God loves me that way, but to understand it feels out of reach. I feel very alone in this, who could possibly understand what it is like to not “get” something as critical as love, or hand-holding, walking up the street together? So I am crossed between wanting what I should want, his seeing the abuse for what it is and really finding God and changing for real, and hoping he will “shoot himself in the foot” so I can – what feels like legitimately – escape and never come back.

      I don’t believe I feel hate him, he is loved of God no matter what; I just feel nothing, a numbness in regard to him and however his life goes. He says “I love you” ad nauseum, and really doesn’t like that I can’t even parrot it back, much less mean it (that makes for a really awkward silence).

      What really struck me about this “journal entry” was the last line —

      wouldn’t this be an awesome testimony to our friends.

      If it was my husband, that would be the clincher — all that still really matters is his reputation, how he looks in front of others. And wouldn’t this make him look even better than before, because he saved his marriage.

      Believe me, I struggle every waking moment with the crazy-making between the sweet talk, humble letters, and the snappy remarks and “I’m going to cut your income and you have to keep the house clean until ready to talk” letter. Guess what, I choose to keep the house clean and avoid yet more useless conversations until I figure out what to do next. Sorry for the long post [comment] – I guess I really need someone to talk to that can help me make sense of this (Bancroft’ and Roberts’ books are on their way).

      • Searching, ((((((((hugs)))))))).

        I am happy for you that you are finding your voice.

        I suggest you don’t spin yourself out trying to understand love, let alone imagine that you might be able to feel it for your abuser. He has done so much damage to you that I can totally understand you flinching at even the faintest imaginary thought of the marriage being resurrected. It doesn’t sound like it was ever a marriage. I understand your numbness too: that is one way you have creatively responded to the abuse, and it has helped you keep functioning, even if only in a limping way. That feeling of numbness is very common for victims who have been in long term abuse. Shutting down to the pain, the craziness, the trauma, the impossibleness of it all….it’s a survival technique.

        Bless you. And I shall pray for our Lord to shepherd you with the tenderest of touch as He carries you from the brink, from the prison, from the fog, from the numbed nightmare.

      • Anonymous for this one

        I am also coming back to this post in hopes that Searching will read this. I guess this reply goes out to anyone who read my response above about the “journal” I found.

        In the weeks since I posted this, it seems I was right to guard my heart as much as I did and not totally buy into this “journal”. As others warned I do believe it was a plant based on what has transpired since finding it. As I looked back over what he had written it appears carefully planned and worded. Asking God to “help me see my faults” while simultaneously singing the praises of his new girlfriend (our divorce is not yet final). He has since done other things that reflect his increase in wickedness and complete disdain for God….all the while continuing to profess he is a Christian.

        Anyway, I just wanted to update this. It would make me sick to my stomach for anyone else struggling through their manipulation to be further confused by my sharing the possibility that change is possible for these abusers. While I know that ANYTHING is possible with God, the near impossibility comes with the hardness of the abuser’s heart. Their conscience is seared. If in fact this was all a plant, it only goes to show the depravity of their mind in their desire to manipulate.

        [Paragraph break added to enhance readability. Editors.]

      • Searching

        Anonymous For This One – I am still here. I need this place — it is safe and warm and comforting and reaches out with help instead of just giving facts and information (which I need, too). I found it when I needed it, doing a search on using Scripture to abuse. I am also wondering, thinking about their desire to manipulate, how many of the e-mails I received were also carefully crafted. He claims he can’t think on his feet during a conversation, but he does know how to write. That is the crazy part, how much is manipulative and how much a brief moment of caring and sanity? Or is the latter possible? Can every word and e-mail be, kind or otherwise, carefully thought out? That would be mentally exhausting.

  3. Still Reforming

    AMEN AND AMEN! Cheers from the peanut gallery here. Oh, thank you for this!! ❤

  4. anewfreelife

    Fantastic! Excellent writing!

    It did give me chills toward the end though. I heard the restoration garbage SO much, but, interestingly, when I told my mom (my first abuser) about the physical abuse I was suffering at my husband’s hands, she responded, “Who are you to declare unclean what the Lord has declared clean?! I know what you’ve done in the past!” Your quoting of Leviticus took me back to her declaration. Struck me to the core. Thank you so much for writing this!

  5. Lighting a Candle

    I agree!!! This prayer sent me back into the marriage dozens of times. NO don’t pray for my marriage….pray for ME and for my children and for God’s healing in our lives!!

    • Still Scared but you can call me Cindy

      Yes, pray for ME!! Call what is wrong, wrong, what is unhealthy, unhealthy and especially if I ask you to NOT pray for him, don’t, at least not in my presence!!

  6. Lindsey

    Thank you!!! I have been so hurt by people close to me telling me that they are praying for the restoration of my marriage. I was never able to articulate why this hurt so much, and why it triggered all those feelings of anxiety, fear, anger… After reading this I think I will be able to lovingly convey why I am NOT praying for restoration!

  7. ESR

    True story. My brother bought a flipped house with structural issues. He thought they were minor and it was such a cute house. A couple of years later, the dining room floor starts to sink. He calls me, a designer in an architecture firm, and my husband, an engineer. We visit, crawl around in the crawl space, and develop a plan that involves hydraulic jacks, pulling out the dining room floor and sub-floor, pouring footings for new columns, sistering up beams, etc.. We, now including our dad and second brother, even offer our vacation time to help provide the manpower to make it a DIY job – very limited budget. My brother, who admits he has a tendency to take the easy way out, chooses not to do it, and figures out how to install a new hardwood floor so that it hides the imperfections. Meanwhile, the house is still sinking on one side. A year later, he calls me again, now the second floor is starting to separate. I explain that the new floor must now be torn out before this work can be done. “But I don’t want to ruin my beautiful floor, that was a lot of work and expensive” he says. I explain that when the beams are lifted and reinforced the new floor is going to buckle and probably splinter, the only way to salvage the new floor is to gently tear it out first. He is now trying to sell the house.

    The point….it is possible to do incredible RENOVATION (not restoration) work. In this case the house was built on sand, with improper footings. It’s possible to correct, but involves lots of work. You cannot legally renovate a house without the owner’s permission (and usually their financing too). If the owner insists on only doing cosmetic work, then the problem will remain. It will temporarily look better, until the problem rears its ugly head again, usually worse than before. Now of course the city can get involved and condemn a house….but even that doesn’t guarantee that the owner will address the issues.

    • healingInHIm

      Thank you for clarifying what ‘restoration’ really, really means!!
      ESR – your comment confirms the importance of a ‘firm foundation’….which is exactly what Ellie was referring to:

      ….how silly it sounds to restore a house with a bad foundation instead of knocking it down and building on The Rock. I don’t want that marriage back. I want a house built on Christ, not the fragile ego of an abuser.


    • Still Scared but you can call me Cindy

      ESR, that is an incredible, apt illustration. Thank you.

    • What a great story and a perfect analogy!

      I think we shall put this on our Gems page. 🙂

  8. Jacklyn

    Wow, great post….and great comments….I can SO relate….

  9. Marah

    Excellent piece. I wish I had the courage to post a link to this on my Facebook account, but I’m trying to keep a low profile until my divorce is finalized (and that is a long way off).

    Another one: By all means, pray for my husband if you feel so led. But please stop telling me about it. When I’ve mustered the courage to begin to speak the truth about the hell I’ve lived because of this man, I don’t want to hear about your concern for him. You may mean well, but when you feel compelled to tell me that you’re not only praying for me and the kids but for my husband too, my suffering is minimized.

    Women like me find it excruciating to begin to speak the truth, to expose ourselves to possible rejection:
    —because our stories are just so hard to believe (“He is such a nice guy.”),
    —because we’re breaking the spiritual gag order preventing us from telling how bad it is (“You must only speak well of your husband, build him up, show him respect.”),
    —because we are daring to cry out that it isn’t just broken, it’s pulverized (“God will honor your faithfulness to your vows.” “God hates divorce.”).

    When we scrape together courage to share bits and pieces of our story, we need your support. When we ask for prayer, we are asking for ourselves, not for the husbands who have wrought this havoc. When you tell us you’re praying for him too, you are communicating that his troubles are as important to you as ours. Would you tell a rape victim that you’re praying for her attacker?

    So pray for him if you want to. But keep that to yourself. All you have to say to us is, “I hear you. I’m so sorry for what you’ve been going through. You don’t deserve that. God hates abuse.”

    • soldiergirl

      Those are the same reasons that I kept my marriage issues disclosed to the church, Marah….

      Women like me find it excruciating to begin to speak the truth, to expose ourselves to possible rejection:
      —because our stories are just so hard to believe (“He is such a nice guy.”),
      —because we’re breaking the spiritual gag order preventing us from telling how bad it is (“You must only speak well of your husband, build him up, show him respect.”),
      —because we are daring to cry out that it isn’t just broken, it’s pulverized (“God will honor your faithfulness to your vows.” “God hates divorce”).

      But even after I tirelessly befriended so many of the women at this church by “selflessly giving of my time, money, and resources” — they still rejected me in the end….

      Only in the beginning when I worded it to the church that I was going through a “spiritual battle that I struggled with daily” did I get their complete unanimous support, and they prayed the right prayer to God. (Little did they know that this was regarding my marriage, but I knew they would not believe me if I did.)

      Once they found out that my struggle was linked to my marriage, they minimized the abuse, and prayed for this foundationless marriage to be restored. They could not see behind the mask that my husband wore in front of them and bought into his phoney humility and repentance – hook, line, and sinker – and left me flopping on the shoreline….

      [Paragraph breaks added to enhance readability. Editors.]

      • Still Reforming

        Soldiergirl, that was beautifully summed up. I think you captured in words here what so many of us live daily. I’m still in the trenches, have retained a divorce attorney, met with the right state authorities (DCF, CPS), and will start a path of counseling (psychologist) for self and child next week (one recommended by the attorney, who said this professional’s opinion is respected by the circuit court judge). It’s the beginning of the end of this long (22-year) descent for me. I’m learning that courage is being terribly afraid but acting anyway. Narc spouse doesn’t know yet about all that – and frankly, I’m a bit afraid of how this will play out, but bring it on. I wear an iPod and headphones when it’s just us two. When our child is present, I keep things brief and non-answers really (“Can’t talk right now” or “busy writing something,” etc.) because I’ve learned that any information I give him comes out in conversation and [is] used against me later.

        I’m learning that my small church has appearances of being supportive, but scratch the surface and the truth comes out. It was laid on my shoulders that I should seek Christ to grant forgiveness to a “brother” who chose to not read my prayer request when things started escalating in our house two months ago when narc husband started using our daughter — or rather, it became known to me that he was so doing. In a meeting called by our pastor, it was laid on my shoulders to forgive him, even though he wasn’t admitting to anything. I laid out why his refusal to read my request and total lack of response about it to me wasn’t what I expect from a brother in the Lord. It’s kind of a long story to put down here, but I’ll sum it up by saying I’m realizing there’s a lot of “CYA” [Cover Your A*****] in the church and self-protection I’m sensing alongside a whole lot of talk about “love limits” and “boundless love” and “bearing one another’s burdens,” while in real life, there’s more “keep warm and well-fed” language.

        It still amazes me that the “brother” is able to just walk past the poor sod (me) on the ground on his (Levite) way to church to preach to the brethren about love, as this fellow (a ministry leader) does each week. One blessing I’m learning is that I have to daily depend solely on the Lord. Because some people who claim to represent Him – don’t.

  10. Still Reforming

    Maybe slightly off-topic, but anyone else find this secular song so descriptive of the narcissist in a relationship? It’s “Stranger” by Hilary Duff. Hilary Duff – Stranger with lyrics

    • Seeing the Light

      Wow, Still Reforming. Yes!

    • soldiergirl

      I hear ya about the church stuff. You’re right, the camps are starting to divide, and many are not helping the hurting. Some are singled out for accusations, and fault-finding. Each time I went to church it seemed like the message was set up to try to guilt me into going back to my abuser perpetrator (and probably so, because my abuser was having daily conversations with the pastor). But since the church would not give any validity to my allegations of my abuse, their “forgiveness = restoration shoe” did not fit me, so I was not going to apply their “Stepford Wives” message to my situation. This made them mad and one day I was singled out while the message was given directly to me in a group about not drinking coffee, and wearing more modest clothing, and not wearing lipstick. I was shocked because when he started taking directly to me about these so-called offenses in front of everybody, I knew he was desperate to hang something on me, and being legalistic at it.

      It was funny because I don’t wear lipstick, and I don’t have nice clothes, but I’m not immodest, and I like my occasional cup of coffee! Lol. They were looking hard for a fault to break me, and they were digging deep!! Lol. I really think that God wanted me there as a testimony against them, because I really was guilty of nothing they accused me of….(except maybe drinking coffee lol).

      It got to the point where I started to dread thinking about what the next message might be about. (It seemed like the messages were contrived by pastor and husband to try to guilt me, or pressure me back to my husband / abuser). I felt bad for the other people that were there to hopefully hear an uplifting message about Christ, as it never came. In the end it was shameful what they did.

      [Paragraph breaks added to enhance readability. Editors.]

      • ….let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink…. (Col 2:16 ESV)

      • Still Reforming

        Soldiergirl, “wearing lipstick” and “drinking coffee” in a sermon? Do you sometimes wonder as I do if perhaps God is also removing us from these churches as a way to take us to another church where His Word will be honored in truth and justice? I don’t know, but there are times I’ve wondered about leaving my church. Were it not for the other members whom I love, I might have left long ago. Well, that and the fact that for a season it was serving my daughter well, but seems to be less and less so. Interestingly she too has recently begun expressing interest in attending another church where she’s been invited. I wonder if these things are helping to push us out to get us to another “safe place” among His people where real truth is taught, not just an “appearance of godliness.”

  11. poohbear

    Wonderful writing here, all of you! I still live with my children’s father (I don’t refer to him as my husband any more), and I know how convincing he can be that he is a truly kind, loving, Christian man. I, too, often held out hope that things would change, but I finally gave up. Maybe a month ago after yet another horrible spell, he sighed and said, “It would be so wonderful, if you would just stop being so mean!”

    Looking back, I realize that in 32 years he has never once admitted to any abuse. He’s convinced me that I’m rotten to the core and that the only reason so many other people like me and tell me how nice I am is because I’ve fooled them all. Everything hurtful he’s ever done, was deserved because I “provoked” him. I am the contentious woman who’s worse to live with than the dripping water.

    Yet, he becomes enraged if he gets any inkling that I’m trying to get out from under his control. You would think he’d WANT to be free of such a despicable person….amazing how their words and actions show so clearly their contempt for you, yet they refuse to let you go.

    For me, I could never reconcile wanting to end my sham of a marriage, and being right with God. I’ve always felt like I was in rebellion and hardening my heart for not WANTING it to work anymore. It never DID “work,” because it was never based upon mutual love and respect, but control and manipulation by a bully / wolf posing as a sheep, over a needy, vulnerable young girl so long ago. I try to tell myself that a tree rotten to the roots cannot be nurtured and prayed back into health; it must be cut down.

    Yet I still feel guilt about my feelings toward him….I wish I could set this straight once and for all. I’m so glad I can come here and read others’ posts….it’s so helpful. Thank you for listening.

    • Hi, Poohbear, you might like this meme from our FB page Theater.

      • poohbear

        (I think I deleted my reply….here goes again.)

        What a fitting picture! It’s all our fault, isn’t it?

        Sadly, we have a precious 10 year old son together, born later in life, who’s breaking my heart. Last night, his dad said, “We need to stop arguing in front of him.” I heartily agreed.

        My son has been showing signs of depression and hurting himself. He stabbed himself on purpose in the wrist with a pencil at school, and last night, I saw what looked like fingerprints on his face….when I asked him what happened, he said he’d hit himself.

        I went upstairs to his father’s bedroom to quietly tell him these things. I said ever so nicely and sincerely, “You need to spend time with him….he needs you.” Suddenly I remembered I’d left a pan of popcorn on the stove, and darted downstairs. HE followed, but instead of simply helping me open some windows, he proceeded to loudly bawl me out for “almost burning down the house” because I came upstairs to yell at him. On and on he ranted. But he says we need to stop this in front of our son.

        I never yelled….I spoke in a normal tone of voice. But it’s “nagging” for a woman to ask a child’s father to please make him an important part of his life.

        My son is in counseling, and basically tells his therapist that he loves and gets along with me, but not so much his dad. But, his father says that’s because I turned his child against him, as though the boy can’t see things as they are on his own. My own mother put my father down my entire childhood to try to get me on her side when they argued, but I saw right through her tactics. I don’t need to say a word….my little guy knows. But his father just can’t see it.

        How they blame us for it all, though! 😦 I didn’t mean for this to be so long….thank you again for a safe place to vent.

      • Still Reforming

        Poohbear, I think venting here is really healthy. So few people I have met who haven’t lived it just don’t get it. They can’t relate. It almost seems like they don’t believe me or they think I’m making a mountain out of a molehill. I reached a point, like you, where I told my husband I wasn’t going to bicker anymore, because it seemed like even casual talk would end up going in circles, endless bickering. I wanted to be true to Scripture and not argue. So what does he do? One day when I’m telling him something simple like “the garbage is full” or something like that, he exclaims, “I’m not going to bicker with you anymore!” Totally not on-topic or relevant.

        When I pointed out how he always imitates me, picking up my language and using it against me, he said, “Why not? It works for you!” I didn’t reply, but his response stuck with me: “WORKS for me.” Nothing “works” for me. I just speak as I see and understand things. I’m speaking truth. I’m not “working” anything. To me that said more about him than it did about me. He’s speaking what he knows and lives. As is your husband. His accusations point back at him truthfully, not honestly at you.

        [Paragraph break added to enhance readability. Editors.]

      • But his father just can’t see it.

        Or perhaps his father sees it but chooses to pretend he doesn’t see it. 😦

    • Still Reforming

      Poohbear, you wrote:

      Yet, he becomes enraged if he gets any inkling that I’m trying to get out from under his control. You would think he’d WANT to be free of such a despicable person….amazing how their words and actions show so clearly their contempt for you, yet they refuse to let you go.

      Wow, I never thought of that before, but it makes so much sense. Of course, my narc husband would say that he won’t divorce because “God hates divorce.” God bless this ministry for educating us better.

      • poohbear

        Thank you, Barbara and Still Reforming. He is the one who almost always starts, and perpetuates, an argument, but just doesn’t get it.

        Yesterday (Sunday, the only day we all have off from work / school), I’d planned a trip with our son to a small petting zoo that he loves. I’d had foot surgery last spring which left me in far more pain than I was in before I had it (I can barely wear shoes). Wanting to be comfy, I put on my old raggedy sneakers with the holes so my foot wouldn’t hurt.

        He downright ordered me to take them off and wear something else. I protested that my foot hurt and it was the only pair I had that I could wear comfortably….he still yelled. He said people would think he was too cheap to buy his wife a decent pair of shoes. We weren’t going out to dinner in a classy restaurant, or church, we were going to a tiny muddy petting zoo in a remote little town where nobody knew us or even cared. Nobody CARED what he did or didn’t buy his wife or if I was even his wife at all. 😦

        But all he kept saying was what “people would think.” It was so absurd! And all I could remember was my own mother, who was an abusive narcissist, fretting and shouting about what people would think, and not caring that she was hurting those whose opinions really mattered, those she claimed to “love.”

        My son kept saying, “Stop arguing.” in a half-hearted way like he knew it would fall on deaf ears. I didn’t argue, but I stood my ground, and wore my holey sneakers.

        Why don’t they ever seem to have their priorities straight?

      • Your holey sneakers were your mark of holy living: standing upright against coercive control and browbeating!

  12. Remedy

    I have been on this blog for nearly a year. What is utterly amazing is how similar all these types seem to operate. One day I will post more details of my 25 year story. For now the words my abuser uses to define me: uncommitted, untrustworthy, irresponsible, evil, godless, unsubmissive, rebellious, detriment to the family, a dreg of society, and a horrible wife on every level. Of course he’s a Christian man who wants desperately to avoid a divorce because he loves me….and goes frighteningly ballistic if talk of my leaving begins.
    Several of you are living my story exactly including the shocking responses in pastoral counseling, which I have stopped going to months ago. Now I am to be questioned about worshipping among the ‘redeemed’ while I have the ‘clear & open’ sin in my life by my refusal to reconcile. My attendance at church is an invitation to continue being confronted about my sin. I’m sorry I ever went thinking they would help me get to root of problem and resolution.

    • Hi, Remedy, welcome to the blog. 🙂

      That church is no good! They don’t get it at all and are taking the side of the abuser, whether or not they realise it.

      I’m glad you have realized that it is not safe for you to continue receiving pastoral counseling from them. If they ‘ex-communicate’ you, I suggest you don’t let it bother you but wear the ex-communication like a badge of honour. Who wants to be a member of the synagogue of Satan anyway?

    • Still Reforming

      Remedy, wowzers. Sounds like we’re married to the same man. You wrote:

      ….the words my abuser uses to define me: uncommitted, untrustworthy, irresponsible, evil, godless, unsubmissive, rebellious….

      I have for years told my (soon-to-be ex-) husband that he needs to stick to facts about what it is I’ve done wrong instead of descriptors. I’ve heard “judgmental, unmerciful, uncompassionate, dripping faucet, nagging wife, foolish wife, unreasonable….” and on and on the list goes, including I’m the “lawyer” and he the “poor defendant.” (That one was years ago; I found it in an old email sent to a prayer partner.)

      I finally started wearing headphones when it’s only him and me because he can be downright nasty when there’s no one else around, yet plays really nice in front of our daughter (“Can I rub your feet, dear?”). The lack of reality and consistency is remarkable. I’m not sleeping well through this process, and somehow feel stronger by at least doing something (initiating divorce) than nothing. I’ll trust Jesus for the words to give my daughter as we go through the bumpy months ahead.

      With respect to the church, I hear ya. I’m kind of having it given to me with one hand and taken away with the other. Some remarkable inconsistency there. I’m being asked to forgive a church leader “for whatever it is you think he did to you.” “You need to seek the Lord more.”, etc.. Nothing required from the church leader for refusing to read my prayer request (because he “was lead by the Lord not to”). And the burden falls on me to forgive even though there’s no remorse from the leader for walking by me when I held out my hand in need.

    • poohbear

      Hi there, Remedy, and (((hugs))). What a nightmare it is….I’m so sorry to hear that you are going through the same. How alike they are, indeed! Mine has done likewise, claiming to love me while doing little else but making me feel like a hopeless piece of trash he picked up off the side of the road by mistake.

      But when we wonder why they want to remain married to a piece of trash and talk of leaving, they go crazy. It makes no sense.

      I hope you can find a true church where you can be built up instead of run down for your decision. I haven’t found one either, but at least I have a few supportive friends. My last attempt to talk to a pastor was met with a “deer in the headlights look”, and the question, “How is he abusing you? Is he beating you up? Well, everyone does things we don’t like, and we need to learn to live with this….” 😦

      Take care of yourself….

  13. soldiergirl

    Poohbear and Remedy, I hate hearing how you are suffering under the bondage of your abusers….I have to admit I was in the same place about 2 years ago….I remember that sleeping at night was the best part of my day, ’cause my daytime nightmare would end. And I might be allowed to sleep.

    I would go to sleep praying for help and crying out to God to give me answers that made sense. I blamed myself for the longest time, for all the problems that I faced, but deep inside I knew that my abuser was behind it with all his abuse, and undermining of the things that I tried to make right. One night I asked God to tell me when I got to Heaven, “why my life had to be filled with such suffering and contempt and hatred from my husband, and why it was so thankless and miserable.” If I just had that answer, it would make me feel better.

    The next morning my daughter asked me to go to the used bookstore and I found a book by Jaycee Dugan, called “A Stolen Life”, about a 11 year old girl that was abducted waiting at a bus stop by an abusive man. She stayed with him without resistance for many years because he convinced her that she was worthless, and no one would want her or be looking for her anymore. He stripped her of her self-worth, and caused her to live off of his little tid-bits of relief from his oppression as her reward. But even those were cruel control tactics to make her even more subservient to his wishes. It opened my eyes to many similarities that I was dealing with my abuser.

    I’ve also read Michelle Knights book called “Finding Me” (about the Cleveland kidnappings). After that I read other books on verbal and emotional abuse and discovered that I am not crazy after all! I am abused! Psychological, emotional, and verbal abuse, are covert forms of destroying another persons sense of self-worth, thus making them feel helpless, thus fulfilling the abuser’s plan to break you down, so they can further control you by covert means.

    You need to get educated on this subject because you’re worth fighting for, and your offender has long ago crossed the line. Right now I am reading Lundy Bancroft’s book called “Why Does He Do That?”. This book is a good eye-opener for you both. If you have to get a private PO box to make sure you get these types of books it is a good idea. (That way you also have some control over your mail.)

    I also have a private “G-Mail” address because my abuser had copies of my regular e-mail sent to him. Blessing and prayers to both of you. You are worth fighting for. You are loved by the King of Kings and you are His precious daughters, and deserve a better life.

    [Paragraph breaks added to enhance readability. Editors.]

    • And if you don’t have a PO box, maybe you could ask a trusted friend or relative if you can have it shipped to their address. I have also heard of women asking their local DV service to receive mail for them.

    • poohbear

      Thank you so much, Soldiergirl! I know I’m so far from perfect and have some ungodly traits (sins) in my life, but how he enjoys making me feel SO hopelessly worthless.

      I do have one of those books, and am looking into getting a P.O. box as well, if I can ever get out of work on time to sneak down to the post office without his knowing.

      God bless you….

  14. Remedy

    Thank you, Barbara and Soldiergirl. Barbara, I have read both your book and Pastor Jeff’s. When I finally went to pastors for counseling and demanded that my husband go, I began reading every book I could get my hands on. I’ve read Lundy Bancroft, Patricia Evans, George Simon, Leslie Vernick. There is no doubt what the reality is. The pastors call it a “lashing tongue” because the word “abuse” is just too emotion-charged. I have hoped for support from them but because I have sinned in the marriage by not submitting to him on a financial issue….and I got a dog after 3 years of pleading (we have 3 boys who desperately wanted a dog after our first one passed away) and he insisted “NO DOG”, but would not sit together as a family to make a decision….I am now deemed “a rebellious wife”. We have “sinned equally”. “A wife is supposed to do what her husband tells her to do”….period.

    • soldiergirl

      This is just food for thought so this is how I would handle it….
      If the dog should present or ever presents itself to be a problem, couldn’t you then offer to find a home for it on “Craigslist” or through some other avenue? This way you take away your husband’s “ammunition to hold it over you”. This might be a good suggestion to see what his reaction would be….I think he might quickly decide that the dog isn’t such a bad idea after all.

      If he still considers the dog “his dirt on you”, than you can vindicate yourself by being “willing” to re-home the dog, and now what is his position?

      Either way it’s a win-win for you. You show your willingness to re-home the dog, and if at that time if he decides to keep the dog, than he has accepted the dog as a good thing. He should no longer have something over you on this, “as you have shown your willingness to fix the problem.” And he should not bring it up again after that, because you already crossed that bridge with him.

      This happened with my oldest daughter when she wanted a puppy companion at 17 years old, and my husband reluctantly said she could get a dog, but then changed his mind later. After he saw that she needed something to love, and realized that a dog was a better choice than a boyfriend, he admitted that he was glad that she had the dog instead. (And [he] quit complaining about it.)

      [Paragraph breaks added to enhance readability. Editors.]

      • Remedy

        Did that, Soldiergirl….took the dog to our local humane shelter (with children crying as I left) but had to pay a fee to release him which I could not cover. When I returned, he tore into me for the decision to get rid of the dog because it upset the kids. Well, in his world someone was to be tortured….it is me. That is why I begged for 3 years for family discussion on the issue. He adamantly refused because he knew he would break his kids’ hearts. There is no winning….only being a doormat. Do as I’m told and no one gets hurt. I’m not a human being.

        Poohbear….yes I get it….the crazy of why he would fight to hold on to a total piece of trash!! Makes no sense except that I believe they know it is a lie they try to convince us is true because they have not known the beauty of real love. In their mind, this is the only way they can get someone to stay. And they end up destroying the very thing they thought they were holding on to through this sick tactic.

      • Still Reforming

        Remedy, you wrote:

        Makes no sense except that I believe they know it is a lie they try to convince us is true

        That reminds me of something someone told me once: “Some people would rather climb a ladder to tell a lie than to just stand on the ground and tell the truth.”

  15. Still Reforming

    I’ve seen several comments here referring to “please don’t tell me you’re praying for my husband”, and I too have had this stated to me by our pastor. Every time he says it, I just kind of shudder inside because it’s a tip-off to me that he (pastor) doesn’t get it. In thinking more on it, I suspect it’s because by saying he’ll pray for me and for my husband – or how he’s so concerned about my husband (“because he too is a church member” and “I’m concerned about his soul”, etc.) – then he’s making our situations (mine and my husband’s) equivalent, as if we’re equally in trouble here.

    Yes, my husband needs salvation, but I’m the one crying out for a life raft here. While I’m drowning in real water here, you’re telling me that the guy who pushed me over needs help too. The guy leering at me from the deck is in the same need of prayer as the person flailing about in treacherous waters? Save me first! And my kids who need me! Then, only when I’m safe and can breathe again, then think about that guy on the deck, but please, don’t tell me how that guy in control who’s abusing it needs prayer.

    • soldiergirl

      Amen, Still Reforming, well spoken….
      And your suggestion about finding a new church, yes I for sure will need to do that, as the so-called “good friends” that I thought I had there did not even bother to call me once the pastor gave the go ahead to for the head Elder to tell the others to shun me. I guess they preferred to be found among the majority and not the minority.

      Basically my abuser unscrupulously hacked into my emails and found one or two where I questioned the validity of some of their teachings / doctrine to another person, and sent them to the pastor (for his consideration). They were looking for a reason to get rid of me anyway, as I was not taking their medicine to reconcile. And as you can see they were mining for dirt on me. So this was just the ammunition they needed as their “cover up to ex-communicate me”. I saw right through their evil plan. Doesn’t this remind you of the story of Haman and Mordecai?

      Since I didn’t submit to their decision on how I should respond to my marital abuse, they (Husband and pastor) “hatched a plan” to make me look bad, so they would have another reason to shun and ex-communicate me. God will hold them both accountable.

      • Still Reforming

        It absolutely amazes me how the leaders of the “church” choose to respond – and how I’ve even heard it said by someone in church, “Well, they’re just being stupid.” No – they’re being willfully compliant standing on the side of an abuser. Hubby hacked your emails, huh? Well, I’ve decided to start speaking up on Facebook, even posting about abuses by the church, heaping on to the carnage to the soul of the abused.

        Just this morning I was asked (via someone else but at the request of the pastor) if I wanted to “step down from my teaching on Wednesday nights and Sunday mornings” – just to take a little break. I said I didn’t need to, and she agreed, but said the pastor asked her to ask me. All because he (pastor) chose to call a meeting to “reconcile” me to another church leader who chose (saying the Lord lead him to) to not read a prayer request of mine related to possible abuse of our child in our home. The leader said he wouldn’t speak to me about it — after I poured my heart out about what happened and why I thought it wrong — but wouldn’t address any of my concerns unless I said I forgive him. When I asked what he thought he was asking forgiveness for, he said, “Whatever it is you think I’ve done.” I replied “I don’t know. I don’t hold any animus against you, but I don’t trust you. And it seems like you don’t care.”

        And what happened? I was counseled (not the leader) by our pastor to seek the Lord so He could grant me forgiveness to extend to others. And when I tried to tell the pastor that I have done so over time and in fact pondered does forgiveness mean that I now must forgive anything that my husband will do against me or our child in the future – a blank check as it were? The pastor’s reply? “(My name), sometimes you think too much.” So I’m damned if I do and damned if I don’t.

        Interesting how much we can learn about where people really are with the Lord by seeing how much their walk doesn’t match their talk. Abuse is a messy business, and it takes getting to know about it when someone in the body is suffering. I am grateful that the Lord is showing one or two people in our congregation who really do care, even if just by saying they’ve read my FB posts and are praying.

      • ….sometimes you think too much.

        Ooh it riles me when people say that to the questions posed by those who have experienced abuse. He slickly patronized and belittled you! Cut you off at the knees.

      • Snappy comeback: “Pastor, sometimes you think too little!”

      • Still Reforming

        By the way I told our pastor in this “reconciliation” meeting that it all seemed legalistic to me. Forgiveness? Check. Reconciliation? Check. Good, now that’s done – regardless of the leader not saying a word about my situation. Nothing. I cited the parable of the Good Samaritan and how I felt like the poor sod beaten on the ground reaching out to a church leader, and that leader looks down and says, “Well, I can’t help you unless you do this one thing first. No? You won’t? Okay, I’ve got to go now….”

        I also said to our pastor that this smacks of “be warm and well” (pat pat pat on back) “now go your merry way and don’t darken our church with this messy business.”

        To both of those things, the pastor just said, “Well, now we’re tasting a little of what our Lord went through,” as if justifying the treatment of me this way by the church. I replied, “But this is a brother! In the Lord! I expect more.” He just shrugged it off with an “I know.” As you said, the Lord will judge them. Especially given their positions in the church.

      • To both of those things, the pastor just said, “Well, now we’re tasting a little of what our Lord went through,”

        Mutualizing! Red flag of abuserese.

        Mr cushy-pastor is not tasting a little of what Jesus went through, but Still Reforming and her daughter are! Mr wash-your-hands pastor is tasting what Pilate went through.

      • Still Scared but you can call me Cindy

        The ex-idiot stole my emails three times. The first two times we were still in counseling (albeit separately) and the first time I think someone might have told him he was wrong because he apologized (with lots of caveats as to why he was justified). The second time was right before an actual group meeting about the kids where the pastor that was counseling him and then my two counselors were all present. One comment was made that he was “stupid” to come into my house and steal my emails. He was “stupid”. Now I realize that it was ILLEGAL he STOLE my emails. That is not being stupid that is being a criminal and yet no one pointed that out.

  16. soldiergirl

    Short note, Still Reforming.

    and that leader looks down and says, “Well, I can’t help you unless you do this one thing first. No? You won’t? Okay, I’ve got to go now….”

    This analogy is a typical play of an abuser….another red flag to me! It is the basic “bait you with something that you must do, before they are willing to do what they should do”. I deal with this all the time with what my abuser has taught my family….

    After a while it starts to feel like you are working with a bunch of civilized terrorists! And remember, God does not expect you to reconcile with someone you have forgiven. After all, what if they are abusive? Those two are separate decisions, that don’t have to go hand in hand…. Reconciling is your choice to do through your God-given discretion.

    Sorry you are going through this. But I support your decision to hang in there “as long as you feel led”, to shine forth the light that God has given you.

    Hopefully they will do what is right. Otherwise your witness could end up being be a testimony against them.

    [Paragraph breaks added to enhance readability. Editors.]

    • Still Reforming

      I’m still aghast at what transpired – how a leader of the church can hear all of what I said regarding his choosing to not read my prayer request involving the physical safety of my child, and then come to me (because his wife is upset at the disruption in our relationship) out of concern that it’s affecting his family, not mine. To go through the motions in front of our pastor who supports his (lack of) action, but counsels me to forgive. I said I wanted to hear what the leader thought of all of what I said after I laid out what happened, and he said he wouldn’t tell me anything until I said I forgive him. I asked, “For what? You don’t think you’ve done anything wrong.” And that was pretty much it – until I spoke privately with the pastor, who chose to do this “reconciliation stuff” the night before my first meeting with a divorce attorney followed the next day by my child’s being interviewed by CPS.

      I was in the process of telling my pastor how I awakened to see a light on outside my daughter’s room at 1:45 a.m. that previous night and I checked to see if my husband has breached my daughter’s bedroom (baby monitor in her room and mine). All this going on, and as I’m telling him this the pastor says, “I think you’re close to a nervous breakdown.” because I’m getting weepy in his office. I try to tell him that this reconciliation business feels to me like adding another burden to me while I’m laying splat on the ground and the Levite passes me by. (That’s when he made that comment about “now we know how it feels to suffer as our Lord.”)

      Btw, I told someone at church about all this and her counsel was to not talk with the pastor anymore and re: the other leader, “maybe he’s just stupid.” I used to think that about my husband too – giving him the benefit of the doubt. No longer. They know exactly what they’re doing.

      [Paragraph breaks added to enhance readability. Editors.]

      • It sounds to me like every contact you have with those church leaders is only adding to your trauma. You have so much to deal with already, what with seeing CPS and legal professionals. You might like to consider just cutting your losses and shunning those leaders, since everything they do just adds to your trauma.

        And I agree, they are not stupid, they are willfully trying to sweep all this under the rug.

      • Still Reforming

        Thank you, Barbara. Sometimes I feel like it takes me a long time to see people for who they are (at least abusers), but I remind myself that that’s a good thing – trying to give people the benefit of the doubt and still having compassion and mercy. But I’m learning the tactics of abusers better, nearly finished with Jeff’s book and yours is on its way to me from “Amazon”. I’m not waiting for the “Kindle” release. I’m done with abuse.

      • soldiergirl

        It sounds like the pastor is covering up for the leader in the church, and helping distract [from] this fellow man’s accountability. And since they’ve led you down the “forgiveness and reconciliation” phase first, they have conveniently side-stepped the accountability phase for themselves….Sounds like a game of charades to me.

        “Reconciliation means to restore a relationship back to its previous form.” But how can they expect you to do that before addressing the real issue that concerns you? That’s like blind man’s bluff. Excuse me but I am starting to see why you are so flabbergasted with their behavior. What it seems that they have done is asked you to forgive and reconcile in advance, so that they can escape any accountability. So do they now expect you to go home and put this whole thing behind you as if nothing ever happened? Without giving any validity to your concerns. I feel some shameful hoodwinking going on here. You are desperate to be vindicated and they are desperately dodging the bullet.

        Sorry, Still Reforming, but I think you deserve a better church than that. It sounds like if the head leaders of the church are behaving like that, you probably won’t get much support from the members either.

        I had friends at my old “small church” too, but once the pastor put the word out on me, they turned their backs on me too (except one friend who believed me and is still my good friend). But they asked her to not associate with me anymore.

        You can join some of us in wearing the ex-communication badge of honor if you want. It’s better than belonging to a blind church….

        [Paragraph breaks added to enhance readability. Editors.]

      • Still Reforming

        I hear ya, Soldiergirl. For me it’s going to be a matter of timing with respect to taking my daughter and me to another church. I can see the writing on the wall. I sat alone in church yesterday, wondering why no one offered for me to join them. Could I have gone to sit with others? Yes, but I just kind of was hoping someone would see me alone and offer. I was grateful for one man — a sweet soul and former pastor — who came up to me quickly during a meet-and-greet-shake-hands-during-a-song-refrain, hugged me, and said, “I feel very burdened for you and I’m praying for you,” and yet I haven’t told this person anything. (I think he sees my Facebook posts.) I just teared up and said, “Yes, please do. I appreciate it.” Everyone else politely nodded during the meet-and-greet fellowship. Kind of the polite smile type of thing and nodded “hello”. No warmth. No hugs. Nothing. I’m starting to feel like a pariah at my own church. It’s hard because I’ve long thought of my church as my true family, as Jesus said it is (or should be).

        I’m thinking that I’m making people uncomfortable by bringing this into the open (and I haven’t even really done that – except with the pastor and one other congregant – well, and this leader who refused to read my prayer request). But word must be getting around. Well, I’m not bothered by their discomfort with my problem; I’ve been uncomfortable for 22 years. If they’re unwilling to help me carry the burden but want to just preach carrying burdens from the pulpit, they can keep the wolf. I’ll take the little lamb and seek truth at another church. Sorry to hear you went through the same at your small church. But….it’s par for the course, isn’t it? The Lord never leaves or forsakes us. I sure wish His people (or those who claim to be) wouldn’t either.

    • poohbear

      To Cindy….I feel your pain re the e-mails. I foolishly used to share a computer with him, but had a password on my “Yahoo” account. Well, one day I forgot to log out and he took liberties to not only go through and read everything, but print up one very personal one and threaten me with it to this day.

      It was over 3 years ago, 6 months before our oldest son was to marry. I used to be close to my now DIL’s mom, and had an online heart-to-heart with her. I shared the abuse with her, and expressed concerns that my son, who was marrying her daughter, might have been negatively affected by it. This was a valid, rational concern in my opinion.

      Well, HE went ballistic (how dare I “lie” about him!) and almost didn’t go to the wedding. I’m still hearing about how I “disparaged” him to our daughter-in-law’s family, how I wrote a “crazy” e-mail. I still have the e-mail and have read and re-read it several times. Honestly, there is nothing crazy about it. I think HE’S crazy, though, and in denial.

      He still says sometime he’s going to show it to our son. I don’t know why he thinks that would scare me….

      • soldiergirl

        Blackmail, extortion and the thumbscrews.
        Don’t they love to have something over us to further their situational power and control of us.
        These are underhanded ways, and show how they prefer tyranny over love.

        I realized one day that whatever he understood that I valued, became the next item or person for his manipulation game. So now that I’m “on to him” and his games, I don’t tell my business to him anymore, and I must say what he doesn’t know, he can’t sabotage! Before when I told him what I was doing, he had the information to mess me up and he did!. But now that I keep important stuff close to my vest, it’s like being in a dark lot with your enemy, but the lights are off so he doesn’t know where you are, to shoot at you.

  17. Louise

    In reading the post, particularly Anonymous For This One, I know I am not alone. I too prayed for restoration, but of what. Hurt, pain, lies, deceit and humiliation both private and publicly. I hate him, and I feel bad about it because I know Christ and love Christ and we aren’t to hate. But I loath him, as someone wrote not using the word “husband”. He has done some very unpleasant things, and it is not to say I have not. I am not perfect, but anyways, I chose to discontinue all contact, but it was not enough for him, he would initiate contact and say things like “I love you, you will always be my wife.”, “I miss you and want to talk all the time, but I don’t want to hurt either of us.” I’d allow myself to be drawn in and then whammy “I don’t want the marriage, I don’t even want to explore being together.” This would be followed with a barrage of my wrong-doings and saying that he believes and is no living. I am at fault.

    The bottom line is I have to forgive myself and move forward, I seem to be stuck with why? The last incident ended with me finally filing for a divorce, which I just became okay with. I have never been married and this has been a nightmare and a blessing. I don’t want to hate him, which it’s not him it’s the behavior and character I hate. I don’t want any part of that and will move forward and go on.

    • Hi, Louise, welcome to our little blog family. 🙂

    • poohbear

      Hello, Louise, and welcome! 🙂 Your words ring true with me. So many times I realize that we can’t love God and hate others, even our abusers, but I struggle with such negative emotions toward him sometimes. It’s so hard to feel anything but hate when I think about what I let him do to me for so many years. I need to step away and realize I hate what he DOES….sometimes though it’s hard to separate the actions from the person.

      Good for you for moving forward, as you say.

  18. wbgl0

    I just wanted to say that all of you are very brave, and I have so much respect and admiration for you.

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