A Cry For Justice

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

The indefatigable badger – deciphering manipulative speech

caspian badger3

Lewis’s Trufflehunter couldn’t be more right. Badgers refuse to let go. “David Burello” has offered further proof of his lack of repentance. Let’s read his attempted comment and then parse it to see what he’s up to.

Original comment:

So, if your husband or wife treats you badly, or puts you down, and gets angry, you feel that instead of seeking professional help to try to change bad behavior, improve communication, and save the marriage and the family, it is best to basically ignore them, shun them, leave the room when they enter, and don’t communicate with them in any way. Is there any time where counseling, or trying to save a marriage? Or if 1 person feels mistreated, should you just give up, file for divorce, and proceed to follow the Gray Rock method?

Translation in red, comments in purple italics:

So, if your husband or wife treats you badly, or puts you down, and gets angry, you feel Flag on the play. Don’t ever tell me what I feel, think, want, or believe. People who try to tell you what you feel are trying to manipulate. Big red flag. that instead of seeking professional help to try to change bad behavior, There’s nothing, not ONE thing stopping this abuser or any other abuser from seeking Christ and professional help. He doesn’t need access to, help from, or power over his target to change. improve communication, This isn’t a communication issue. It’s an abuse issue. You don’t improve abuse. You stop it by getting away from it. and save the marriage Your abuse ended the marriage. and the family, Your abuse destroyed the family. it is best to basically ignore them, shun them, leave the room when they enter, and don’t communicate with them in any way. Straw Man. This is an attempt to redefine our advice and argue with the new definition. Grey / Gray Rock is a way to protect the targets from manipulation and abusive behavior. It isn’t punitive, it’s protective. Is there any time where counseling, or trying to save a marriage? That’s an incomplete non-grammatical question; we’ve noticed that abusers often write and speak without regard for syntax or grammar. Perhaps it shows how distorted their thinking is. But since we can join the dots and work out what Burello is getting at with his shoddy syntax, we’ll reiterate once again that marriage counseling is for non abusive situations. Or if 1 person feels mistreated Minimizing. He’s denying his actions and making the target the actor because she feels, should you just give up, after decades of enduring abuse, praying for change, making my life easier, and feeling a slight reprieve until the cycle restarts, she’s going to give up now? What if there’s a magic counselor I’d listen to or a Super Pastor who could explain things in a way I could understand? I could change if she’d just get me the right help! file for divorce, and proceed to follow the Gray Rock method? It’s driving me crazy that I can’t get her to respond. If she’d just talk to me, I could convince her that I’m right and she’s wrong and I’d have my power back. Since she won’t respond, I’ll comment here. Lots.

Barb comments:
See how many times Ellie has intervened in this single-paragraph comment from ‘Burello’? At my count it was eleven times. Eleven points to translate or decode in one paragraph.

Imagine how this feels when one is in the same room as the abuser and this stuff is coming at you thick and fast . . . lots more than one paragraph of it. The abuser’s cluster bombs are exploding all over the place. Almost every clause he utters has at least one manipulative element in it and he piles the clauses on so fast that his sentences seem never-ending and overwhelming (that’s his goal: to overwhelm the target). Imagine how hard it is for the victim to think straight or keep her head out of the fog and not be drowned and suffocated in a frazzled mess of trauma-frayed nerves. While the victim is attempting to think logically to translate and rebut one or two of the explosions from the cluster bomb, half a dozen more bombs from the cluster are going off. And there are more coming every minute.

If we descended to the vernacular we could advise abusers to shut up — but instead let’s use the Bible’s way of saying it

If you have been foolish, exalting yourself,
or if you have been devising evil,
put your hand on your mouth.
For pressing milk produces curds,
and pressing the nose produces blood,
and pressing anger produces strife.
Proverbs 30:32-33

Now, back to Ellie —

We recommend that the abusers seek Christ and surrender to Him; that they repent, that they become a new creation, and that their change be due to a surrendered heart, not to their targets’ enticing them or earning their good behavior. And we recommend that they do this no matter what their target is or isn’t doing. Change for Christ, or it isn’t change at all. This is very important and I will say it early and often. As long as the abuser is saying that anything other than his abuse is causing the divorce or harming the family, HE HAS NOT REPENTED.

The target’s seeking legal protection and legal recognition of the fact that the abuse has destroyed the marriage and the family IS NOT WHAT DESTROYS THE FAMILY. Abusers destroy the family when they abuse. When the abuser can make the unqualified statement “I destroyed my family and my marriage with my abuse.” I might start to think he’s making some progress. Maybe. Keep saying it. Make sure your targets are provided for and free of your harassment and I might believe it for two days in a row. Any abuser saying anything other than “I destroyed my family and my marriage with my abuse” is looking to con the listener.

This abuser is attempting to make us his ally. He is attempting to persuade us to get his target to come back under his control. A repentant person would be respecting the boundaries of the people he’s wronged. A repentant person would be seeking to glorify God, not seeking to regain his power.

But there is no convincing the abusers/badgers of this and I am not so delusional or arrogant as to think I could. This post is to expose manipulative communications patterns. I write these posts to highlight the way manipulators attempt to guilt and convince; how they try to convince us that WE or their targets are ruining their families or causing some terrible thing to happen. Nope. Abuse destroyed the marriage. Abuse destroyed the family. We want to empower the targets to heal.

morpheus placate


  1. LH

    AMEN! “Imagine how this feels when one is in the same room as the abuser and this stuff is coming at you thick and fast . . . lots more than one paragraph of it.” That is soooo true. He used to say “We have to talk…” and we’d be in our bedroom, just the 2 of us, for hours while he talked at me. It was very overwhelming,

    • Annie

      Oh, my gosh…my husband started this at the beginning of our marriage. Hours and hours he’d drone on about his needs and how I was failing him. We’d be up until 2 or 3 am! The last time he started at 11 pm and kept it up until 4 am. I have to admit I dosed off several times and when I’d awake I grunted or coughed so he wouldn’t start yelling at me for not listening(usually we’re sitting in the living room but this one time we were lying on the bed). Honestly, after all these years I can’t say what his point of these monologues were! He says the same thing over and over yet says nothing–it’s all so non– specific. He can’t give examples. All about how awful I am and how I’m failing him and not being respectful of his needs. These monologues end with me being emotionally exhausted. They’re not constructive.

      And , of course, there’s never time for me to “air out my feelings”. LOL!!!! The few times I approached him saying I wanted to tell him my feelings on things ended up being hours of him talking. I’d try to interrupt and say this was about my feelings! He’d talk over me and say something like you had your turn!

      • Lynn

        Eeek! You were married to my husband 😉 He used to follow me around and monologue, even when I would get in the shower or go to bed. I learned very quickly not to ever ask to talk and discuss my own feelings, because it very quickly became all about him.

  2. Scarlett

    My dear abused and beleaguered friend called me again last night. She’s the one who’s husband has threatened to shoot himself, then sending conflicting and abusive messages that she is the cause of his misery while at the same time threatening to shoot himself. This to me is a no brainer, and literally screams unrepentant, abusive control freak.
    Anyway, yesterday she said there was an ad in the paper for a big gun sale, which she tore up in front of him. He said, “Whud you do that for!”. She said, “Because I hate guns”, at which he retorted, “Why? Whud they ever do to YOU?!” Never mind the fact that as a child, her own father did the same thing in the home in front of her, or….that he, the abuser, has been waving his gun around as his latest most fun control, abuse tactic for the past month”. On the positive side, she did tell me that she didn’t know how much longer she could take this before leaving. I know she is very close now. I just reaffirmed the fact that she can neither change or reason with him at this point, so her options should be pretty clear. She seemed to agree, thank God.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Scarlett – your friend needs to do whatever she can to get away from that abuser now. All of those issues with guns and along with his talk of suicide are very well-recognized among abuse experts as high-level danger warning signs. This is a man who is quite capable of killing her.

      • Scarlett

        Thanks Jeff…how well I know this. The problem is that she seems to be convinced that God has spoken to her and convinced her that He will never allow her husband to harm her physically. I’ve tried to reason with her that even if that is true, her husband’s abuse has escalated to gun play, and he is using this to abuse her even more. It is reaching critical mass in my opinion and she needs to leave now…and…without telegraphing her intentions. I can’t force her or tell her what to do, only try to convince her she should leave for both their sakes.

      • Scarlett, I’m sure you trying everything possible with this lady, but just in case you haven’t thought of this one, maybe this scripture might get her to wake up. She thinks that God has spoken to her and convinced her that He will never allow her husband to harm her physically. Okay, but even if He has, it is foolhardy to stay in harm’s way. Not even Jesus put himself in harm’s way despite the promises of God.

        And he took him to Jerusalem and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written,

        “‘He will command his angels concerning you,
        to guard you,’


        “‘On their hands they will bear you up,
        lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”

        And Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”

        (Luke 4:9-12)

      • Scarlett

        That’s brilliant Barbara! I thank you for being in remembrance of that passage. How wonderful it is that we have the bible and the Holy Spirit to guide us in these things. There truly is wisdom in a multitude of counselors. I shall share this with her tomorrow.

    • Survivor

      This may be too late – but maybe not. … Scarlett – Jeff and Barbara are absolutely correct.

      Yes, your friend is dedicated to love her husband in obedience to the Lord, but she is deluded at the highest and deepest levels (apart from Christ, but His Holy Spirit is NOT the one she is listening to here)!!! I could be wrong is saying that, but I don’t think so. Please read on.

      It took four secular (as far as I know – but they may well have been believers in cognito, without advertising it and that is the precise reason why they chose to ACT on my behalf and that of my three children) women to speak to me very clearly and concisely as to the position I was in, i.e. the level of risk I was LIVING in and my capacity to survive another DAY.

      This happened within ONE DAY.

      THEY were acutely aware of the danger I was utterly oblivious to, so in shock was I from all the “bombing” that I could not even feel or think with any measure of effectiveness.

      Within three weeks, I was on my own with my three children in subsidized housing, albeit forced to continue giving the children to this man every second weekend by the courts. My neighbour told me years later that they had thought I was mentally retarded.

      I plugged along, minute by minute, day after day, week after week. It was indescribably gruelling. I have absolutely NO doubt whatsoever that they only reason I survived this was through the power of the Holy Spirit. He shows up in real life, in everyday situations, with amazing loving power. Amazing loving POWER.

      My point is – HE is the One who led me out, HE is the One who sustained me every single moment of every single day … and HE is the One who gave me a very sudden, clear prompting one day when I was coming out of the parking lot of my residence with a friend in her car that he was near. At the exact same instant that I felt that, I saw his truck about to turn in! I immediately ducked under the seat as I said to my friend that that was him and to look normal and keep on driving. (The children were safe and not at home so his unannounced “visit” would prove unfruitful for him.) She was freaked out but was able to do as I had said (you KNOW who gave me the presence of mind, creativity of thought and quickness of response!) and was amazed at how I even knew.

      This is the man who suddenly showed up at a later date trying to hide a rifle to get his kids.

      God is GREATER than ANYTHING the adversary can throw at us. He sent Yeshuah (meaning Salvation) – Jesus, His Son – who went out like a lamb but who is coming back like a lion – to SAVE us from the wiles of the enemy. LISTEN TO HIM!


      She can absolutely NOT lean on her own interpretation of the situation and her ability to reason with or handle it – not while she is still wearing the glasses he put on her face that distort her vision and messed up her mind. Think the constant back and forth blur and focus coupled with loss of depth perception that you have to deal with when you wear bifocals/progressive lenses … multiplied by 100 – CRAZY-making!

      Perfect love has NO DISTORTION to it whatsoever and does NOT live with or tolerate or work fear in any way; it sends it out of doors like a broom sweeps all the dirt and dust and bugs and mice out! NOT IN MY HOUSE!!! (Remind her that her very body is the Lord Jesus’ house – His temple: RESPECT IT, not the man at the kitchen table sputtering out his poison toward you.)

      The Kingdom of God has NOTHING to do with guns or intimidation or threats of violence – it beats them into ploughshares and pruning hooks. The WORD is His – and our – weapon: a mighty sword that penetrates right between sinew and bone/to the heart of the matter. USE IT (by speaking it aloud)!

  3. Barbie

    I have written a statement about my parents, “My parents are charade masters, well-disguised manipulators of fools- so skilled at their task they hurt with an invisible hand and an undocumented rap sheet.” The pain of words penetrates to the core. I have confronted my parents and am on the path to healing. I find the best method is to not let them know any pain, any anger. To do so tells them they’ve won, but ‘m not playing that game any more.

    • Hi Barbie. So sorry to hear about the evildoing your parents are masters of. Have you read “People of the Lie” by M Scott Peck? We do not find him a very sound theologian, but as a psychiatrist he has some very good observations and case studies of malignant evil people. Some of the case studies were of parents who were evil to their children.

  4. I “love” how the badger puts the responsibility of seeking professional help on the victim, not on the abuser. As if it’s the victim that is causing the conflict. To me, this is the giant red flag in that whole rant. Kudos to you, Ellie, for pointing that out: abusers can seek help for their atrocious behavior anytime they like!

  5. Lighting a Candle

    So much blame in one comment….

    So, if your husband or wife treats you badly, or puts you down, and gets angry,
    …(this means they are abusive AND it’s not the victims responsibility or place to change the abuser’s evil choices.)

    you feel …(YOU feel….hmmmm…..)
    that instead of seeking professional help to try to change bad behavior, improve communication, and save the marriage and the family,

    (It is not a feeling. It is an evidence based response.)
    it is best to basically ignore them, shun them, leave the room when they enter, and don’t communicate with them in any way.

    (It is not the victim’s responsibility or calling to change the bully/abuser/sinner. That is God’s job and if the abuser refuses the tugging on his own conscience to make a 180 change and deal with himself…how in the world can a human do it?)

    Is there any time where counseling, or trying to save a marriage?

    (An abuser has broken the marriage by their sinful, foolish, and destructive words, attitudes and choices. Repent.)
    Or if 1 person feels mistreated, should you just give up, file for divorce, and proceed to follow the Gray Rock method?

    (The abuser, manipulator, controller, has no say in the victim’s response. She is permitted to respond in whatsoever manner she chooses. He has lost the right and credibility to speak into her behavior- having a massive beam in his own eye. She has chosen this course because of HIM. His choices. His behaviors. His character. If the man is humble and willing to believe her testimony against him….he may have hope of changing. If he cannot accept blame and responsibility….there is a high likelihood that he is personality disordered. Prognosis and rate of change with these unfortunate, yet destructive souls- minuscule.

    Do you care about her or about being right?

    If she is Grey Rock…it’s because we are looking at a serious personality disorder. Do you really want to “save the marriage?” Go to individual therapy – specializing in personality disorders and abusers. Find the male experts on domestic abuse and work with them until you have had a massive life change of attitude and heart. By that time, you wouldn’t dream of pushing her to reconcile…you would be broken by the pain YOU caused. Not your parents- not life- YOU.

    If you had one sliver of the empathy she has…you would not be asking these questions. The solution is out there. It is painful and humbling. You would become a completely different man at the end of it all.

    Joel 2:13 Rend your heart
    and not your garments.
    Return to the Lord your God,

    • Round*Two

      Wow. Ellie & Lighting a candle!

      Thank you!

  6. jmclever

    I appreciate these lessons in coded speech. It helps me tremendously with the emails I get from my ex. It also helps me with other relationships. Once I can see them for what they are, it is easier for me not to get drawn in.

  7. Still Reforming


    Your translations go a LONG way in helping to step through and past the quagmire. Thank you!

    Your posts help me to turn around the double-speak and stop that train right in its tracks. Your translations help me to reframe the discussion, turning it around in my head to: “Wait a second! If you (whether abuser or church leader) are more concerned about yourself (or saving the abuser) than in me as his target, there’s no repentance. I am instructed by my Lord to be wise as a serpent and innocent as a dove. In being wise, I’m not going to let this unrepentant person run me over yet another time. I’ve got to be about the Lord’s business. I know my own way out, thank you.”

  8. Valerie

    The abuser’s native language is deceit and manipulation. It is seen here in the ways everyone has wisely pointed out. There are many “trees” that can be inspected in his monolog but there is also insight to be gleaned from the forest. Abusers often take truths and use them in a manipulative manner. There is further twisting done by making unfounded implications. His strategic use of words displays this: “You feel that instead of seeking professional help…” an example of manipulating truth. These types have a way of taking a universally agreed position and twisting it for accusatory purposes. The undertone could be translated: “See, this person/people don’t agree with what we all know to be true and good…see how bad they are?” I see several examples of this in just one paragraph. You are so right, Barbara, when you talk about the whiplash that occurs when someone is subjected to this. I remember it all too well. 😦

    “It is best to basically ignore…shun…” an example of unfounded implications, again for the purpose of making accusations. They use highly charged words to persuade their audience.

    I am not seeing indication that this person is seeking information but instead is just having a monolog. In light of that, his using the terminology of gray rock is particularly disturbing. An abuser doesn’t seek information for the purpose of unity and peace, instead it is used for manipulative purposes or to gain information for better understanding his prey. My stbx would use this strategy of acting curious but the information he gained was used against me, not to gain unity or peace. Its the equivalent of giving a volatile person the internet address for bomb making instructions. When he is caught doing this he would likely respond by saying he wanted to see what is used in order to make sure he didn’t have any of it lying around the house where someone with bad intentions could make one. Twisting, twisting, twisting.

    • Lighting a Candle

      And to think of the years- or decades- many of us very listening to this sort of twisted speech. Slow poison indeed.

    • Moving Forward

      Abusers often take truths and use them in a manipulative manner. There is further twisting done by making unfounded implications.
      Wow. I received an email full of this recently. It is not a nice thing to see a narcissists thinking on paper. The nastiness, the contradictions, the blaming, the twisting of scripture – sometimes I wish we could send in personal emails for analysis. It takes a word from God and the wisdom of this site to get one through the tailspin of one of his rants.
      Question – I read often of people having PTSD. Does he have a leg to stand on if he starts claiming that my nervousness around him is a sign of PTSD? I may have signs of it, who wouldn’t after 25 years of emotional abuse with recent crisis moments, but he is threatening that it makes me incapable of having custody of the children. He knows that is an out and out lie – anyone who can homeschool, cook, clean, and deal with him is pretty capable, I think. I don’t know if this is more hot air, or the nastiest, lowest thing he could come up with. I have learned the hard way not to give a narcissistic abuser any makings for a bomb – he is guaranteed to use them.

      • Ann

        If you can get a professional to declare you have PTSD as a result of his abuse, then a federal law prohibits him or his lawyers from dealing with you in courtroom in an abusive way. *Don’t* inform your husband of this—- find someone to diagnose it in you and if he violates that federal law that will be a strike against him. I believe the protection under the federal law for PTSD comes under The Civil Disabilities Act.

        I have a friend who has PTSD and she has shared custody and the children live with her.

        [Edited to add that this is not meant to be legal advice. We are not lawyers. Please ask your lawyer for advice on this matter]

      • Ann

        This group, started by Lisa Hockett, a domestic abuse survivor, offers services (these are not free) to assist with PTSD in court:


    • StillBlessed

      “…..unfounded implications, again for the purpose of making accusations.”

      This is one of my husband’s favorite tactics. I have known it for years, but would never have been able to explain it so accurately. It’s hard to take something so subtle and put it into words. He is seldom overtly verbally abusive, especially since I called him on it about 12 years ago. He usually only reverts to the overt when he’s feeling the covert stuff isn’t working, or when he’s in a certain kind of mood. But the covert stuff has never stopped.

      Some examples of unfounded implications meant to accuse: “I’m sorry I’m not as perfect as you are. I’m just human, and if you expect me to be as perfect as you, you’ll be waiting a long time.” “I know, you don’t care. Nobody cares.” (Often said before I or anyone else even realizes there is a problem, or before we even have a chance to respond to the situation.) “Oh, that’s right, I’m not supposed to ask questions.” “I know, it’s all my fault.” “When was I going to be told about this?” (Right after I get done telling him!) These statements may not sound ‘mean’ in themselves, but when you know the basis for them, and the implications behind them, they are meant to accuse, blame, put down, and hurt. They are meant to make me or the kids appear to be at fault and/or being against him. He enjoys making statements like these that implicate me in front of the kids – statements that cause them to question or wonder what he’s talking about, but then he will refuse to clarify, which leaves it looking like I’m the problem.

      He also loves to ask questions of me. Sometimes it will be a whole day where he asks lots of questions, or it might be a series of questions in a short time about a certain subject. When I realized that he often used my answers against me, as weapons to give him more information to use against me or ways to blame me or put me down, I became very careful in how I answer. Sometimes the question seemed innocent enough, but as soon as I answered, it was like the trap sprung and I was caught in his verbal claws. For a period of time, God had given me the instructions to answer most every question of his with “I can’t answer that.” I was surprised that it didn’t make him really mad. Instead it seemed to work kind of like throwing a stick in the trap – it kept the trap from being able to close on me, kept him sort of ‘blocked’ from doing what he was trying to do. Sometimes he would say, “You CAN’T or you WON’T answer that”?” And I would respond, “I can’t answer that.” Kind of left him stuck! I also realized that sometimes his questions were simply to control by keeping me busy answering him. Rather than finding something out for himself, he would ask me. No big deal, except it kept me focused on him – which is what he wanted – thus he was controlling me.

      But when I ask him questions, even simple questions about day-to-day life, watch out! I’m being accusatory, suspicious, snoopy, etc. etc. Once, after asking him a question, he snapped at me to ‘stop asking me questions’. So I did. For one or two weeks, I didn’t ask him even the simplest, most basic question, like “do you want chips in your lunch?”. At the same time, I kept a record of all the questions he asked me. Then I showed it to him. He seemed a bit surprised and convicted, but I don’t think it made any difference in the long run. It didn’t change him, that is. But it was another eye-opener for me.

      These are the kinds of things that sound so silly and minor when you try to explain them to someone who has never experienced them. They are so hard to explain, and you end up sounding like the crazy one for making a big deal out of such ‘little’ things. But when you live with it all the time, it’s crazy-making. I’m so glad for this blog, because reading on here has helped clarify and give words to what I’ve experienced, and I know that when I talk about my situation, others will understand. Such a blessing!

      • No More Tears

        Just claim the 5th Amendment to the Constitution if the answer would violate your privilege against Self-Incrimination!

      • Moving Forward

        Your second paragraph really sounds familiar! I have heard all those statements so many times from him, and like you said, the abuse is so subtle, how would anyone understand why it is such a problem. He doesn’t ask a lot of questions, mostly, “how’s your day”, and five minutes later, “how’s your day”, and an hour later, “how was your day”. I have no voice with him, not even about the day. But then, like you said, “why didn’t you tell me about this sooner?” Well, I did!!!! But he never believes me. I, too, have learned that even the simplest of things can be used against me, and it is not worth it to ask questions of him, either. By the time I have been told all the minute details of how a machine runs, or how everyone is against him and doesn’t appreciate him, I am wondering why I asked. Trying to show them these things is pointless, and finally, I know the reason why. It was good to hear your story and know someone else hears the same things. It is crazy-making, but I know I am not crazy!

      • Still Reforming (previously newlyanonymous)

        You have articulated so well what living with the covert narcissist is like. It’s endless circuitous pointless soul-numbing traps, only the target doesn’t realize the trap – at least not until later. I have had so many of the conversations you have had as well. These volleys back and forth – and when I finally make a point that makes sense, the conversation shifts to something else. He knows when he’s been caught, but it doesn’t matter to him.

        I will always remember the time he asked me about my day. (It had been a particularly trying day with therapies for our special needs child and chemo for a pet we had; Interestingly, the condition was brought on by some rat poison the anti-husband had left where the pet could get it). When he asked, I started to tell him and he promptly walked away! I said, “You don’t seem to be interested,” to which he replied, “If you want me to be interested, tell me something interesting.”

        I can’t believe how many years I’ve tried and tried to make things work without realizing they never could unless the Lord intervened. And He has, in quite unexpected ways, but not to the “they lived happily ever after end” that I have been conditioned to believe was the only way it should be.

        How off my Scriptural interpretation has been for years! Why didn’t I see all of the imprecatory prayers or the necessary link of repentance to forgiveness? How did I not tie the words of Christ to the Pharisees and Scribes to the religious leaders over me? How did I not see that our God is one of justice – and that we are to uphold that as well, not remaining doormats, but speaking Truth to the lies and those who support those liars.

      • Annie

        I started to read this and stopped. “Wait. What? Did I write this?” No, I didn’t but I could have. It’s this subtle behavior that others think you can fix if you just change your own behavior! Arggghh!

  9. StandsWithAFist

    In her efforts to control, my abuser kept ramping up the attacks, & after making her pastor an ally, pointed to my refusal to go to counseling with her as evidence of my guilt.
    I finally shut her up when I said she was mistaken–I had already seen a counsellor who advised me to get out and never go back.

  10. marriedtomyself

    I asked my abuser to seek help for his severe passive aggressive behavior which really is covert aggression. He said he don’t do counseling. I tried a several more ways since then in hopes of him seeing what he is doing has destroyed our marriage but to no avail. So now, I feel like I’m being forced to leave because of him not wanting to work on himself to help our marriage. It seems like he was waiting for me to go back to who I was which was more for his benefit. I can’t be that person anymore. Once my eyes has opened and I have seen the truth (which took many years), I can’t justify staying with him anymore and feel like I have to leave for my sanity. I told him recently that I was leaving because I needed healing from everything I’ve been though. He said he felt a peace about this and felt good about it. And since afterward, this is the happiest I’ve seen him in a long time. This behavior is so confusing to me because its not his normal reaction. The normal reaction is filled with drama and covert revenge. Do anyone have any insight to this behavior?
    I often feel so confused by his words and behavior.

    • Maybe he is intentionally not showing drama and covert revenge in order to make you doubt the wisdom of your decision and thus get you to give him another chance. Abusers typically try (as their first option) the calm nice persona to get their target to second guess her decision to leave/end the marriage. When that persona fails to achieve the end the abuser wanted (getting you to back down) the abuser generally switches to aggression.

      The only way to know whether your abuser is doing this typcial manoever is to keep on your stated path of ending the marriage, and see how long his ‘nice calm’ demeanour lasts for.

      If he is truly content that the marriage is ending, he will not switch to aggression, and you have a relatively easy separation road from now on. If he is just faking peace for manipulative purposes, you will know it in time when he switches. So, my sugggestion is, just keep on your chosen path calmly, but privately have your guard up in case he suddenly switches. If he doesn’t switch, you haven’t lost anything by privately keeping your guard up.

    • Ann

      He may see you are resolved to leave so he maybe spending his time getting legal help, securing as much of money as he can, gearing up to fight and punish you in court. Or maybe he has a honey on the side? and he thinks that’s a sure thing so you leaving is no big deal.

    • Valerie

      From my experience this “change” in attitude is due to what Barbara said- trying to make you feel conflicted- or it is the calm before the storm like Ann spoke of. He wasn’t sure at the time how to respond to your statement of his abuse so he is a lion sitting down in the grass. He has stopped actively hunting and is looking for a new way to approach to increase his chance at victory. It is his time to throw you off his scent so he can regroup and be working in the background to get things in order from himself…whether that be slandering you to your support or getting things in place like Ann talked about. When they start acting nice, it is something to be extremely wary of from my experience.

  11. missdaisy

    Regarding this:

    Almost every clause he utters has at least one manipulative element in it and he piles the clauses on so fast that his sentences seem never-ending and overwhelming (that’s his goal: to overwhelm the target).
    Imagine how hard it is for the victim to think straight or keep her head out of the fog and not be drowned and suffocated in a frazzled mess of trauma-frayed nerves.
    While the victim is attempting to think logically to translate and rebut one or two of the explosions from the cluster bomb, half a dozen more bombs from the cluster are going off. And there are more coming every minute.

    This sounds exactly like a family member of mine. Exactly.

    First of all, this relative is a “hot head” (she has been for years) and I recognize now that she is verbally/emotionally abusive. My mother raised me to be a passive, quiet, doormat and never show anger. I took that message to heart.

    In many of this person’s rants, she does just what that quote above describes. She will start out screaming about “Topic X,” that is what sets her off initially…

    But in the midst of screaming about “X,” she will then drag up totally unrelated issues Y, Z, A, G, issues number 6, 82, and 12, and something you said or did dozens of years ago that bugs her.

    Then she will scream about issues J, K, and Q, which are also unrelated, and happened 5 or 15 years ago, and don’t even have anything to do with me.

    Not only did I used to sit there in silence during such rants because my Christian mother taught me showing anger is wrong (even in the face of being verbally abused)…

    However, I also had no clue how to respond because this person’s list of grievances come rapid-fire fast, they are disjointed, she brings up unrelated topics in under eight minutes, she dredges up things from decades years ago (that I can’t see how they contribute to what originally set her off)…

    I can’t even make sense of what she is saying when she gets into her angry tirades. I cannot even keep track of the many complaints (which are usually mingled with vulgar language and insults, delivered with a beet-red, angry, hate twisted face) that are lobbed so quickly at me.

    (This person has been a major, recurring source of stress and heartbreak in my life especially after my mother died a few years ago. I was having to deal with losing mom and also deal with this perpetually angry person who takes her anger out on me.)

    [Eds: some details disidentified for safety reasons]

  12. joepote01

    Ellie –

    You do a great job of cutting thru the decptive fog and exposing the verbal abuse tactics!

    There is a scene in Tolkien’s ‘Two Towers’ (2nd book of LOTR trilogy) where Gandalf and Theoden, King of Rohan, confront Saruman after his defeat by the ents. Saruman’s only remaining power is his words and voice…but his words are still powerful tools of deception. There is one point in the conversation where Theoden seems almost ready to give in and believe Saruman…almost willing to go back under the oppressive abuse which had previously dominated his thinking and from which he had been but recently freed. Then he breaks free and responds to Saruman’s arguments with startling clarity.

    Your ‘translations’ remind of that scene. Where the pull of the abuser’s logic momentarily seems almost persuasive, though not quite right…then your clarity of response breaks the spell and exposes the lie.

    Great job!

    • NoMoreTears

      Excellent observation! How many times have I seen this in real life …

  13. Gary W

    As with Saruman in the scene Joepote01 describes, “David Burello” is subtle. Nevertheless, it strikes me that the hidden thoughts and intended inferences behind his faux reasonableness may be something along the following lines:

    “You know, wives are no different than husbands, and really they’re worse, so no matter how outrageous you think my treatment of my wife might be, it’s really no big deal. So what if I regularly treat her badly, and so what if I am always putting her down, and screaming and yelling at her, and treating her worse than dirt? She deserves it! She needs to get with the program. It’s absolutely up to her to feed my ego and keep me happy and in control. If she refuses to get professional help so she can see just what it will take before she is totally yielded to my every desire and expectation; so she can recognize and accept that she is nothing more than my toy, then somebody needs to get her attention and whip her into shape. If she can’t or won’t see that this marriage is a one way road, and that she is the pavement, then she is the one responsible for tearing apart, not just the marriage, but the whole family. If she doesn’t get help submitting to my every whim, and soon, it will be her fault when the children suffer. How dare she choose to ignore me when I am doing everything I can to compel her to yield to my inalienable right to complete and utter dominion over her body, mind, soul and spirit! You all might as well be saying that, no matter how minor the difficulties, there is never a place for counseling, or even for trying to save the marriage; you all might as well be saying that even in good marriages, the remedy to the slightest difficulty is to just give up, file for divorce and invoke the old silent treatment. Therefore, you are morally contemptible and ought to just butt out and leave me to have whatever way I want with my wife. She is my property, not yours!”

    • standsfortruth

      For sanity purposes I had to laugh at this Gary, ..which is a preferred default now to what once use to trigger me.
      I believe you are also right on the money with your analogy of this David Burillo.
      Thank you for sharing a vivid picture of how the abuser thinks to further expose the mask of evil he hides behind.

    • “She is my property, not yours!”

      This brings to mind Lundy Bancroft’s statement:

      Abuse grows from attitudes and values, not feelings.
      The roots are ownership, the trunk is entitlement, the branches are control.
      (Why Does He DO That? p 75.)

    • No More Tears ...

      Thank you for this reply Gary W. You hit the nail right on the head. I am interested to know how you had become so insightful. This seems to be a quality not many men have.

      • Gary W

        Whence comes such insight as I have? Part of it, I suppose, has to do with having made something of a study of why people in my own life can be so difficult. No doubt it has to do with my having examined the circumstances of my own life, both as passively experienced and as actively lived. C.S. Lewis wrote something along the lines of how easy and, therefore, disturbing, it was to write The Screwtape Letters–but that he preferred not to share his method. If I am correct in supposing that Lewis entered into something of a private mental and emotional living out of his own dead and yet undead flesh, I can identify with him. Now if only nobody will notice the dynamic involved in my having associated myself with C.S. Lewis.

      • Hi, No More Tears. Blessings to you and welcome to the blog 🙂

    • loves6

      This would be very much a reaction someone would get if they challenged my husband on the way he treated me.
      It would trigger him into a tirade of saying these very things. He does not appreciate anyone having an opinion about marriage, divorce…. I am his and he has every right to say and do as he wishes, with some Christian behaviour thrown in just to prove he is a good man

  14. loves6

    At first I thought what was wrong with that comment, sounds like my husband then I read Ellie’s wise words and realized I am so used to hearing this kind of talk. Maybe I’m just so blind to manipulative talk.
    I see it clearly…. my husband told me to get him help if that’s what I thought he needed. I got us marriage counseling. It was a disaster. He doesn’t verbally abuse as much now but has found other subtle ways of getting power and control.
    I have started rereading Pastor Jeffs book A Cry for Justice. .a year later I am seeing more in the book than I did then. I am seeing my husband’s traits daily. I cannot bear to pretend anymore. I’m coming to a point where I am going to explode, implode or escape.
    I appreciate hearing that Abuse destroyed the marriage. … simple statement but so true. My husband’s abuse of me is destroying our marriage.
    I need a support network but have none. I came from a fundamental church and my temptation is to go back there, after having left 2.5 years ago, they know me and would support me. I have no where to turn and nowhere to go. We go to a large church now and I have tried to reach out for help by sending an email to one of the pastoral team, no support has come from it.
    The more I read the harder each day becomes. I have been pretending in this marriage for many years and cannot do it anymore.

    • At first I thought what was wrong with that comment, sounds like my husband then I read Ellie’s wise words and realized I am so used to hearing this kind of talk.

      Like another commenter said a Shelter Worker had told her, the longer we live in abuse the more we get desensitized to it so we don’t realise how wrong and damaging it is. 😦

    • No More Tears

      Thank you Gary W. I wish more men learn to gather this kind of intelligence!!!

    • No More Tears

      Hello Loves6!
      I understand where you are coming from. I could no longer bear pretending after years of marriage. I was embarrassed to share my situation with the church. I even pretended to mollify my husband’s daughters, of his previous marriage, so they would again find respect for their father after he had left their mother. I could not share with friends either.
      Then the cup was too full to keep it all in and it spilled over. I shouted out loud the truth
      and there was relief. The truth will set you free! I did not care any more what people thought. The church shunned me. I know, however, it is difficult to find people with
      empathy and understanding. Pray for God to give you peace and send an angel your way
      to share this burden. I shall say a prayer for you.

  15. Lisa

    You wrote: “I destroyed my family and my marriage with my abuse.” This is sooooo direct and to the point. There is no wiggle room in this statement of truth. I finally own this one instead of taking the blame and false guilt, but I so wish my daughter didn’t have to hear “how mom wrecked the family by divorcing me” from her father, my ex. This badgering verbal vomit is so incredibly exhausting and brain twisting to the point of pain. I nearly cried reading this post remembering how intense it used to be (20 years worth). I’m free at last! and grateful.

  16. Not Too Late

    “instead of seeking professional help to try to change bad behavior”

    Professionals don’t help you try to change another person’s bad behavior. You can’t change somebody else’s behavior. You can only change your own. The person with the bad behavior is responsible for the behavior, and only that person can change it. If you’re the person exhibiting bad behavior, own it and don’t blame someone else for not seeking professional help to change your bad behavior.

    It’s called Boundaries 101.

  17. Round*Two

    So the badger is badgering once again? ! Sounds like someone I once lived with! I love how you are able to decipher what he is saying. I wish I could have been able to do that. Maybe it would have given us something to communicate about!? 🙂

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