Thursday Thought — The Abuser’s Problem with Anger


One of the basic human rights he takes away from you is the right to be angry with him.  No matter how badly he treats you, he believes that your voice shouldn’t rise and your blood shouldn’t boil.  The privilege of rage is reserved for him alone. When your anger does jump out to you — as will happen to any abused woman from time to time — he is likely to try to jam it back down your throat as quickly as he can.  Then he uses your anger against you to prove what an irrational person you are.  Abuse can make you feel straitjacketed.  You may develop physical or emotional reactions to swallowing your anger, such as depression, nightmares, emotional numbing, or eating and sleeping problems, which your partner may use as an excuse to belittle you further or make you feel crazy.

Why does your partner react so strongly to your anger?  One reason may be that he considers himself above reproach . . . The second is that on some level he senses — though not necessarily consciously — that there is power in your anger. If you have space to feel and express your rage, you will be better able to hold on to your identity and to resist his suffocation of you.  He tries to take your anger away in order to snuff out your capacity to resist his will.  Finally, he perceives your anger as a challenge to his authority, to which he responds by overpowering you with anger that is greater than your own.  In this way he ensures that he retains the exclusive right to be the one who shows anger.

(excerpt from Lundy Bancroft’s book, Why Does He DO That? [Affiliate link] p59-60.)

***IMPORTANT NOTE:  While we endorse Lundy’s writings about the dynamics of domestic abuse, we do not recommend anyone attend the “healing retreats” Lundy Bancroft offers or become involved in his “Peak Living Network”. See our post, ACFJ Does Not Recommend Lundy Bancroft’s Retreats or His New Peak Living Network for more about our concerns.

48 thoughts on “Thursday Thought — The Abuser’s Problem with Anger”

  1. So true.
    We actually need to do anger well…The Bible is very realistic –
    (26) “In your anger do not sin”[a]: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, (27) and do not give the devil a foothold. (Eph 4)
    This verse acknowledges we are human, we are going to get angry, but we need to take care-there’s an art to giving expression to our anger. There are many instances recorded of God expressing his anger- especially against injustice. Though one of the most comforting descriptions of God that I am drawn to is ‘The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.’ (Ps 103:8) He is one we can trust and with whom we can have a safe personal relationship.
    As in Lundy’s quote- my h had a problem with any sign of displeasure or anger in me (even if not directed towards him) and quickly shut it down (often using the ‘anger is sin’ card).
    He also did the same with other emotions he may not be able to control like joy or enthusiasm and quickly dampened or criticised them away. I think he perceived there was not only power in anger but also power in joy and other positive emotions.. they may highlight what he lacked.. he did not want his position compromised by any thing..
    It was like being constrained in an emotional straitjacket.
    It was like “this ship is going down and you have to be on it and this is how I’ll keep you here”.

    1. Oh, so true. I don’t think I can say anything, positive or negative, strong emotion or simple comment, that he can’t explode about or twist against me. The projecting is beyond belief. Many have talked about abuse from the church, but I get it from the landlord, who totally believes him and thinks all the problems in our marriage and as tenants stem from me. Why a landlord thinks he has any right to comment on our situation (separation – shockingly, he is the one that left) is beyond me. I am surrounded by oppression, and can’t wait to be out of here. Only God helps me to hold my tongue, read his emails, and carry on meeting my children’s needs with a genuine smile on my face. “Yeah, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.” Praise God for the power of His Word!

  2. Here once more of course is still another area at which “Christianity gone wrong” plays into the hands of evil. We are taught that anger is wrong. “Now, it’s a sin to be angry, you know.” What a huge lie! God’s wrath moment by moment is revealed from heaven against all unrighteousness (Romans 1). Jesus whipped those yahoos right out of His Father’s house. Do you suppose David was calm and mild and kind when he let that stone loose at Goliath? People who lay this “anger is always a sin” mumbo jumbo on us need to be called to accounts on the spot. We should, hmmm, we should be angry with them.

    1. Jeff, I was just thinking the same thing. One of the first things done to a Christian who finally shows outrage, or even pointed disagreement, is to try to shut them down with the accusation of “he’s angry” or “she’s bitter.” Thus the righteously indignant person is dismissed and not heard.

      1. My ex continues to call me bitter. I am hurt, sad, disappointed, and yes, I have been angry. But even so, I am not bitter. I have forgiven him, but I will never forget. Not forgetting and walking away is not the same as being bitter.

    1. Stina – you definitely should read this book! The truth shall make you free. Of all the books I read to try to understand what was going on in my marriage, this one is the first one I found that is true, from cover to cover. I recommend it most highly.

  3. This is so true. I never understood why my soon to be x would immediately hush me when I would get upset at his mistreatment. He would not even let me get to the anger part. I knew this was wrong. I would tell him that we can get angry but not sin. He would then make me feel guilty. I asked him one day, “why are you trying to crush my persona?” But it doesn’t do any good when a person gas a hidden agenda up the sleeve. Thank the Lord for His word.

  4. I’m so grateful for this blog and the truth shared here. There is a different between unrighteous rage and righteous anger which can be a virtue when used to protect against injustice. Rage or “losing control” is actually a vie to gain control over the people in the perpetrators vicinity. No one loses control of their temper, they are using fear and intimidation to gain control of their victims or situation. Even 2 year old children understand there are appropriate ways to express strong emotions.

    Certainly, real Christians with the governor of the Holy Spirit assisting them in expression of strong emotions don’t run around “losing their temper” (read, trying to control others with fear by excessive demonstration of irrational and violently expressed emotion). It is pathetic to see an adult work themselves up to an escalating temper tantrum and then unleash their rage on cowering adults nearby. Picture the tantrum thrower in a diaper to get perspective of how truly pitiful their fits are and then find grown up company. It is all smoke and mirrors, perpetrators are not omnipotent.

  5. Soo for me I played into his hands in this because it was not good for me to perceive myself as not being a “nice” person. Anger would make me not only not a “nice” person but I thought it would be hypocritical of me and if the “cracks” in my porcelain Christianity showed through I would not be able to lead him to the Lord, as it were, by a quiet spirit. So then I was fearful of my own anger and of being real with God and myself. That’s on top of fearing his anger. That made me a perfect storm inside wrestling with fears, anxieties, conflicts of epic proportion, confusion. I MUST be wrong. I must fix this. . Did I mention anxieties??? Doubting my perceived realities. I’ve heard it compared to a person who looked fine from the torso up in the water, but if you could see underneath they are treading desperately to stay afloat and survive. I love the scripture that says we are known by Him. Can’t hide anything from Him so it’s okay to tell Him exactly how and what I am feeling. Too volatile a situation to do that with said husband. I agree with above comment – don’t let sun go down or sin in your anger – but realize it’s okay to be angry about injustices. It’s okay to have a safety plan for escape. It’s righteous to allow your anger to want you to protect your children and stop the abuse. It’s okay to say enough!!! It’s okay to say I’m not going to continue walking on eggshells – thinking my next wrong word or action will send him into a rage. Its okay to feel defiled and angry when after manipulative and threatening behavior, you know a sexual favor being demanded immediately is your only option to protect your children against an angry tirade, things you are too embarrassed to say in front of anyone. hope its okay for me to say that. We’re playing into the hands of wicked men when we start to earn our own righteousness through idolizing martyrdom of abuse as pleasing to God – and then blame Him, or ourselves. At least that’s what I did. God – so gracious – so comforting. So real. Long time since my marriage (23 years ago) but this excerpt on anger wow – is right on.
    I wish I had this website 23 years ago. I always wondered why secular counselors recognized the hell I was living in and Christians did not. (To this day that makes me angry)
    Thank you Jeff and Barbara. Thank you thank you for offering help and support to all that are confused and hurting in this abuse, educating to the whole counsel of God.
    I remember pacing the floor in the middle of the night my heart pounding so hard It was pulsing through my whole body and my chest pounding, feeling so trapped and helpless (panic attacks). So your website is even now – after the fact, a comfort to me.

    1. MaxGrace, you described many of the things I also experienced in my almost 30 yr marriage.

      my heart pounding so hard it was pulsing through my whole bound

      feeling so trapped and helpless

      Anger would make me not only not a “nice” person but I thought it would be hypocritical of me and if the “cracks” in my porcelain Christianity showed through.

      That made me a perfect storm inside wrestling with fears, anxieties, conflicts of epic proportion, confusion. I MUST be wrong. I must fix this. Did I mention anxieties???

      I was an anxious mess. Always looking over my shoulder, so to speak. Always thinking ahead trying to predict what might happen if… Always trying to do this or that so he wouldn’t get mad.

      thinking my next wrong word or action will send him into a rage.

      I HATED MAKING MISTAKES OF ANY KIND because I knew it might get me in to trouble with him. Just leaving something in the wrong place in the house could set him off. I struggle with perfectionism and feeling bad about myself if I don’t do anything perfectly. His expectations of me and my own expectations of myself kept me in a constant state of feeling like a failure.

      It’s okay to feel defiled and angry when after manipulative and threatening behavior, you know a sexual favor being demanded immediately is your only option to protect your children against an angry tirade,…

      I caved to this behavior numerous times. It seemed sex was the fix-all / cure-all and it was an “easy” way to get things back on track when things were really train-wrecked. I would often feel disgusted in the process, but I knew it could potentially “fix” things (until the next episode).

      Thank all you ladies who share here. You have no idea how much your testimonies help others of us.

      1. Wow, ditto here freeatlast8 and MaxGrace,
        I think these abusers must use the same playbook. Your stories are pretty much an incredible blow by blow account of what I also experienced before I realized what was really going on underneath it all.
        I was led to believe that I was the blame and no matter how much I did, or what I did, there was only validation and acknowledgement of what I did not do.
        I was in a vicious cycle with nothing getting better, and no way to help myself.
        Finally by God’s grace, I found this site, and their recommended books that helped to open my eyes and show how what was going on was intentional, to maintain power and control over me.

      2. I needed to be reminded of this today. Thanks.
        I get angry a lot these days, especially when I’m criticized and told I’m not affectionate enough etc etc.
        My abuser does not look at what his behaviour had been like for some years now. He brings up one episode where I made an utter fool of myself in public when I was provoked to the point I lost it bad….like a Christian woman should not. He tells me I have contempt of him. I have told him I cannot get over, giving him different examples, these things. He does not accept them. He has no empathy, sympathy, apology of any sort… he is the poor victim married to a women that was abused as a child and tells me read some books about the subject.
        I believe I have righteous anger towards him. I am so over it … I can feel myself getting closer, be it a low process, to dropping the big – it’s over card on his lap. I cannot bring love back … my love for him is dead.
        I raise my voice in exasperation and frustration. He says i am the one that is abusive.
        He wants us to be a perfect Christian couple … have affection for each other, pray together, be close and best friends… this is all very well BUT this cannot happen when one of the people in the marriage is abusive. He doesn’t get it. He thinks I should get over hus behaviour and move on.
        My husband has done some terrible things to me in rage over the years. Smash his phones by throwing them across the room, get the sharp knife and in rage go to stab the kitchen bench, throw water over me when I’m dressed to go out, lie in the driveway so I cannot get out, punch things, scream in my face with clinched fists, tear his shirt and the buttons fly all over the place in shear rage and other things.
        Acceptable behaviour??? That I should forget?? I don’t think so.
        Thank you again for this post I really needed this today!

    2. …if the “cracks” in my porcelain Christianity showed through I would not be able to lead him to the Lord…by a quiet spirit.

      There is a quote I love that says something to the effect: Cracks are where your light shines through.

      It is in the hour of being most broken, and a downright honest mess, that people have told me that they have been inspired somehow by me. Perfect people with no cracks are often the people who cannot empathize.

      God the Son did not come to Earth as a pampered royal. He came in a lowly position so He could empathize with us. He knew what would happen and He did not turn around and save Himself. Praise Him for willingly suffering to save us. What love.

  6. He used the instances of me showing anger as evidence of my mental instability and I began believing I had deep rooted Mental health issues. Funny how now that my vision is not clouded and I know more about personality disorders and abuse he seems to be the one manifesting serious issues.

  7. Oh my gosh!!!!!! I have GOT to get this book if not just for that one nugget of understanding and validation.

    My ex HATED when I would express displeasure at anything he said or did. He wanted me to be agreeable to all his tirades and he ALWAYS felt justified in what he said and did as “the head of this home.” I would ask him, “When am I ever allowed to vent my anger? Why am I not allowed to be mad and say so? Why are you the only one who can raise his voice and say what he wants to?” And, “WHO WILL EVER HOLD YOU ACCOUNTABLE FOR YOUR BAD BEHAVIOR?????”

    He said he was accountable to God. Well, knowing that should have put much fear in him to shut his mouth. But it didn’t. He was a roaring lion seeking whom he could devour. I could not show any signs of disagreement with body language, shaking of the head, rolling of my eyes, closing my eyes (he made me look at him when he talked), sighing, etc. He would tell me shut the f**** up, or hold his hand up to my face (not touching it, but very close to it) and block what I was saying, and at times he would put his fingers to my lips and sort of pinch them closed. He said he hated my voice, that I was like a dripping faucet.

    I tried to stand there, numbly detached, in order to take it and say to myself, “I know he doesn’t really mean all this. He is just mad and he will be better later on.” Sometimes that worked, but mostly it didn’t. I became fearful of talking to him about almost everything. I could hear his words in the back o my head, “I hate your voice.” Satan would use that at other times to make me afraid of speaking up, especially about things that I knew I had to say. Our kids were afraid to go to him with serious stuff because you never knew if he would be in a mood to receive it or not. The kids would confide in me and I had to process whether or not to include their Dad on the issue. I carried some heavy stuff that was awful to bear alone. It was crushing not having the freedom to approach my husband with anything at all and to know it was a safety zone of loving acceptance.

    The bad thing is I was reading books about submission that also endorsed that any type of “disrespectful” body language was dishonoring to a husband, and in a way I get that. It can surely show an attitude of disrespect. But to stand there and listen to stuff I completely disagreed with and not be able to express any sort of emotion / expression / etc made me want to

    *********^^^^^^^^+++++******** E–X–P–L–O–D–E *******^^^^^^^^^+++++++*********

    I think this all just hit a trigger for me. WOW! I need these reminders, though, as I have been going through phases of wishful thinking and wondering if after over a year he would be different. I so want for him to be different. I know that may never be, but for the sake of the children (there are many of them), I so wish our family could be whole and healthy.

    1. Explode. That is the feeling. I don’t miss having to live with pressure building up until I reach that point.

      The book is only about $10 on Amazon, if I remember correctly.

      I am doing a one-word resolution this year and my word is speak. Like you described so well, the constant negative reaction causes you to lose the ability to pipe up. Speak. I am getting better at it every day.

      1. Wow….I have been thinking the same thing for months, Marriedtohyde. Speak Now. Amen. This blog post really hits home for me. I have been fighting the urge towards wishful thinking because to my surprise, I miss my h., but then again…I don’t. I have been having some physical symptoms too. I realize now from reading here, I haven’t had a nightmare since he left the house. I still am nervous and tense much of the time. All the posts here help strengthen my resolve to let this separation stand. I am not giving in.

      2. It takes time to adjust — think of it as detoxing. My PTSD got worse for awhile after I moved and was in an emotionally safe environment. I think about it like a herxheimer reaction…the cure of a non abusive environment caused everything in me to go haywire for a little bit
        (Herxheimer Reaction [Internet Archive link]).

        [another link added by ACFJ admins: Jarisch–Herxheimer reaction [Internet Archive link]]

        Reading about peoples’ experiences helped me see the truth of what I went through because I was in a deep fog by the end. I can highly recommend A Cry For Justice for clarity on God’s Word about abuse.

        Keep strong, Rebecca. YOU are worth fighting for.

    2. I find it disturbing how many women here say that they have many children. I do, as well. Kept having them through serious illness, because of teachings on how wicked it was to use birth control, and, because even when I begged to use it, he would promise to and then not keep his promise. He loved for other men to wink at him and say, “I know what you’ve been doing!” And now, many years after the divorce, he has convinced friends and family that the marriage would have survived if it weren’t for all those children that SHE wanted. Now, it seems he only ever wanted 2 or 3.

      So my question is, why are so many stories on here from moms of many? Is it partly that having lots of children keeps the little lady stuck at home where she belongs? Or that the patriarchy movement has produced a crop of controlling men? That they love to see the ‘fruit’ of their most important activity? All of the above?

      Yes, he was angry all the time, but claimed he was just ‘rattled’, or that I made him so depressed. But if I got mad once a year, well, there you go, she’s lost it, she is wicked and crazy, and now I have to protect the children from her.

      1. Yes, Sunflower! This is also a thought I have had since following along here for the past couple of months. I have seen reference to moms having many children in other messages, too, and wondered if I was just picking up on a kindred spirit, or if it indeed is a by-product of some other “thing” many of us have been a part of but nobody has yet discovered it.

        [Note from Admins: some material removed here because we simply don’t have time to field the discussion that might have ensued, which was raising so many questions about research and statistics. Please don’t take offence, Freeatlast8.]

        Here is an observation I have made. It seems most of the women here are very good writers / communicators. It appears to me many are educated and have a strong ability to put into words what their thoughts are….albeit many have been in the fog and are just now being able to articulate the reality of what they endured. How can so many smart women be duped into this and not walk away?

        Which brings me to the “I have to stay because I am a Christian and I made a vow to God to stay” thing. Is this a tool of Satan, as well, to keep women trapped in terrible marriages? Being committed to the Scriptures/Word?

        […] Sunflower commented:

        Or that the patriarchy movement has produced a crop of controlling men?

        I honestly think she is on to something with this thought. I have often thought the same thing.

        It just seems to me there has to be a link. I think it may be a spiritual thing more than an “anger issue” or a “mental issue.” Satan perverts so much; it would be just like him to undermine the woman’s efforts to please her man as unto the Lord by causing the man to become entitled and demanding instead of more appreciative and loving.

        Any ideas? Please do comment. I am very interested in hearing from others about this.

        On a side note, I was not a believer when I met my (ex) husband. I accepted Christ early in our relationship, partly due to his witness. I was crass and kind of wild then, more of a fighter who was not afraid to speak her mind. Although I had accepted Christ, I did not begin to grow in Christ until about 10 years later. When I did, I loved it so. My then-husband would dabble in church but was never committed. I wanted commitment and to become a softer, sweeter woman. I asked the Lord to tame me the day I was baptized about another 5 years later. I so wanted to please my ex by becoming the sweet-spirited woman he wanted. He would point out examples of this kind of gentle, feminine, subdued woman in people we knew. I studied women, questioned them, and practiced everything I learned from them, but it was never good enough.

        Fast forward to now. I know that I am NOT the same person I was back then….when I would speak my mind, get right back in his face, cuss just as well as he did, etc. That person is gone, although once in a blue moon she would surface to defend the more timid, quiet, tongue-biting girl I made myself into for him. But even after almost 30 years, he still didn’t / doesn’t like me. God has transformed me a great degree, and I know that I know I am not who I was. Yet my ex CHOSE me and MARRIED me AS I WAS, in that terribly unrefined state. And now he hates who I have become….the woman who was so much closer to the woman he said he wanted me to be.

        So, this illusive woman / wife he has in mind is just that….an illusion, an idea….a “fantasy wife” as Leslie Vernick puts it. I don’t think I could have ever arrived.

      2. So my question is, why are so many stories on here from moms of many? Is it partly that having lots of children keeps the little lady stuck at home where she belongs? Or that the patriarchy movement has produced a crop of controlling men? That they love to see the ‘fruit’ of their most important activity? All of the above?

        Sunflower, I think all of the above.

        When I began to come out of the fog (ever so slowly) anti-husband tried to push me back in. He said with a sly grin, “I’m going to keep you barefoot and pregnant.” And the distancing for me began right there. Couldn’t let him inflict any more pain in another child’s life the way he did our other children.

        And isn’t that just like an abuser to pretty much disown his children by saying having them was just your idea–how evil!

  8. May I just say OH MY GOSH! again. Lundy, you are amazingly insightful. I will have to print this except out and read it again and again. This nails it. This just says it all.

    —he considers himself above reproach
    —he believes that your voice shouldn’t rise and your blood shouldn’t boil
    —the privilege of rage is reserved for him alone
    —abuse can make you feel straitjacketed
    —he perceives your anger as a challenge to his authority, to which he responds by overpowering you with anger that is greater than your own. In this way he ensures that he retains the exclusive right to be the one who shows anger.

    This is amazing stuff. It’s everything I have felt and known but have not been able to process into words. This has been my life for Y-E-A-R-S. Thank you, Lundy.

  9. SO true of my ex! I had acid reflux the last several years of our marriage, which went away within months of being free of living with him. I felt like I finally got “my voice” back, in that I was now able to say what I wanted without fearing his backlash.

  10. I’ve just been lurking before now, but have to chime in to say how helpful this was to understand what I’ve tried to tell people for years, but couldn’t really explain. Soooo true from my own experience!

  11. It seems to me that anger is sign of healing. When the victim is able to see the abuse for what it is anger is the result. For so long I believed he was a good person and that what ever I was experiencing was the result of my unhealthy perceptions. He thoroughly convinced me that my view of his behavior as abusive was because of my past and I was seeing it through a lens. I still go round and round with this in mind. However, when I start to feel angry about the perceived abuse I feel closer to seeking the help I need.

    1. Earthenvessel,

      I had to start viewing his behavior (controlling, manipulating, scripture-using, anger, crazy-making, etc) and my responses (“submitting”, cowering, acquiescing, taking all the responsibility for his happiness by “trying to be better” in all ways, making sure I was “kind” and “gentle” and “sweet” and “Godly”, etc) through the eyes of a healthy couple, whom I had observed for many months, T & G, I will call them. As I began to learn about abuse and what it looks like, sounds like, the tricks of the trade so to speak, from this site and, I began to ask myself, “Would T EVER say something like this in this way to G?” or “Would G just take this without speaking up and would T ever respond to T’s pain and words of truth in such a bizarre and hurtful way?” I began to see that my h behaviors were not NORMAL or acceptable and I began to see that my responses were not NORMAL, that I was keeping it all bottled up because I was afraid and thought that’s what being a Christian was, to always just “take it.”

      My responses SHOULD have been righteous indignation and outrage at such treatment from the man who promised to love honor and cherish me. I was told so many times by Christians “You can’t change him (which is true) you can only change you” (which is also true) but I took it as “You can’t do anything about his abuse except learn to live with it and you better do THAT in a Godly way, sister or you are sinning!” It made me feel so trapped and hopeless! After learning how I SHOULD respond, how I SHOULD feel if I was a healthy person, I began to get angry and made some changes in how I responded. At first, I was both barrels but over time, as my anger subsided and I no longer felt obligated to have sex with an abusive and unrepentant person, I was able to respond in mature and neutral ways, to the point of removing myself whenever his control/anger tactics were used.

      So your comment “anger is a sign of healing” is spot on, sister!! I have been separated for about 6 months now and I find I am not really angry at him now because I am not TRAPPED, being forced to be with a person who is acting in a way that were I anyone but his wife, NOBODY would ever say, “You just need to be patient and kind and blah, blah, blah.” No, if they really knew what the toxic environment of our home was and if I was anyone but a WIFE, I would have the FREEDOM to choose NOT to associate with him. But that is a lie. As a wife, or friend or associate or acquaintance, I have the choice to give my fellowship or not. That was a truth that took all my anxiety and fear and trapped feeling away. Wives of abusers somehow are treated as if they are in a special category of martyrs. That everyone else on the planet can choose whether to fellowship with a certain person or not, EXCEPT a wife? Why would anyone get married with THAT hanging over their heads? It would just be a crap shoot.

      1. Yes, Debby. I told my ex many times, “You would never talk this way to your boss, or the secretary.” Or fill in the blank with any other person. His response was something like, “Yes, you’re right. You are my WIFE.” As in, it was okay for him to talk to me this way because I was in a different category that made me the exception…I was supposed to accept this behavior because I lived with him and he should have been able to let down his guard with me.

        But it wasn’t that he was just venting about a bad day at work, or being on hold too long on the phone, or not getting a delivery from UPS on time …the vents became DIRECTED AT me. It reminds me of a kid who gets a verbal reprimand from the principal at school and then goes out and verbally unleashes on some poor guy in the hallway who accidentally bumps in to him and causes him to drop his books. The kid’s anger was toward the principal, but he couldn’t say what he really thought or felt to the principal. Instead he takes it out on an innocent person who quite accidentally bumped him.

        I got so sick of hearing the F word (among many others) almost daily.I know darn well he did not say that at work. But at home it was open season. There was a young lady at work he respected very much. I told him I KNEW he would never say that in her presence, so why me, his WIFE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! He respected her more than me. Go figure.

        And then hearing him call people demeaning names…his coworkers, our neighbors, my friends, his family, my family, a waitress. He could really pick people apart…always zeroing in on their weaknesses. I became quite good at it, too. Until I read an article about “scorn.” I was so convicted. I knew it had to stop. Sometimes I felt I could score points with him if I agreed with him in his bashing sessions (sick confession, I know). He had a way with words such that he could say something derogatory about someone and it would actually be funny. I hated to laugh at the stuff he said, but he had a way of making me laugh. That was one of the things that I first loved about him. But I hated it later on. The things he tried to make me laugh at were not funny to me anymore. I would just sit and listen to him and it would make me sick after a while. I would have to get up and leave the room. But other times I felt it was the only way to get to spend time with him. So I would stay, but not participate. What a sad way to spend time together.

        I am feeling some guilt right now writing all this. I hear that voice in my head telling me I have said too much. It also says Jesus sees what you are writing–should you really be saying all that about him in such a public place? Anyone else ever hear that voice, and is there truth to it? Is it Holy Spirit conviction, you think? None of you knows me or him. So is it okay to say all this?

      2. Freeatlast, I think it’s okay to say what you said.

        My first husband had that knack of making me laugh at some of the things he said even though they were really nasty. Sad to say, my daughter developed that ability too (probably modelled from him). It was a way for the irresponsible person to avoid taking responsibility for bad behaviour, AND for stopping the target, the abused person, from reproving the irresponsible behavior. Provoking me to laughter took all the air out of what I wanted to do, which was show indignation about the bad behavior and bad attitudes the other person was displaying.
        It’s a very effective way of pricking the balloon and controlling the target.

        And if the target later tries to express indignation, the abuser can decry it by saying “But you were laughing too!” The abuser has pushed the target into immoral laughter, so the abuser can discount any attempt the target may show later to stand for righteousness.

        I’m very relieved that as an adult my daughter no longer shows any of that behaviour. 🙂

    2. Sounds like I need to start getting angry, then. HA! My adult daughter once said, “Mom, you NEED to get mad. You are too nice to him.”

      Even after all the craziness that has happened, I still find it hard to be mad at him. I feel sorry for him and I hate the things he does, though. Just this evening he pulled a quick one on me when he brought the kids home from his place. He had driven away before I knew what he’d done. He did not communicate with me about what he did. Now I am left with a big responsibility that I am not willing to deal with. However, the kids feelings are at stake if I choose not to agree to this thing he has dumped on me.

      Why can’t I get mad??? It would make things easier if I could just say SCREW YOU and not give a d*****!!!! What’s wrong with me?????!!!!!!!!!!????

      1. I started writing earlier comment to Freeatlast8 where she was worried about sharing. I accidentally sent it before I finished it sorry -. (I’m cyber challenged). Just extending to Freeatlast8 – encouragement and prayers. . This is a great place to learn about abuse, abusers, ourselves, and hear teachings and testimonies. I wish I had this years ago. People (Christians) sharing freely and honestly without being judged or demeaned. .
        I hope you keep on coming back without guilt. Blessings

  12. Wow, this is precisely how my dad was like throughout my childhood. Why isn’t there any post about emotional abuse in childhood instead of just in marriage? Anyway, I’ll make sure to buy the book, it’s exactly what I need.

  13. “To snuff out your capacity to resist….perceives your anger as a challenge… …responds by overpowering you with anger that is greater than your own…..[thus] ensures….the exclusive right to be the one who shows anger.”

    My abuser recently wrote to me, “if anyone has the right to be mad, it is me!”

    Abusers demand the exclusive right to be angry: angry that you label abuse for what it is, angry that you dare to name it, angry that you dare to expose it, angry that you dare to oppose it. Abusive anger does not always look ugly to the bystanders or outsiders–it can look pious, caring, or even humorous. But the goal is always the same–to silence you. To shame you. To control you. To deny you a defense.

    As Jeff & Barbara have said, abuse is all about power & control. The church would do well to be outraged at that.

    1. The puzzling thing to me is this:
      If even the abused is in a fog and can’t see clearly the abuse at times, and if the abused LIVES with the abuser and still can be duped and dazed by his manipulation, I can completely understand how the church, an outsider (so to speak), can easily be duped as well. Add to that two people who both attend the church coming to the pastor pointing their fingers at each other. The woman, say, is the true victim, but the man puts on a great front and denies, hides, and shifts the blame. How could the church leadership know whose side to take???

      At a church I am familiar with, a similar case played out where the pastor was called to be a character witness in such a case and he felt he had to side with both parties. I think he honestly didn’t know whose side to take. As time passed by, the abuser’s true colors showed, but at that time, it was a toss up as to who was telling the truth. I knew the abuser’s charismatic public persona, but he was obviously someone else at home. You really could not see it. He was attractive, charming, and had a winning smile and handshake. I swear his teeth blinged and dazzled when he smiled. Who knew he was the devil at home!?!? UGH! But his wife had a messy past that would lead one to think maybe she had issues that were to blame.

      I think we need to give pastors some slack; just a little. It’s a hard call for even the abused to label abuse for what it is. I feel for the pastors who are caught in the middle and don’t know who to believe…him or her?

      1. UPDATE Sept 2021: I have come to believe that Jeff Crippen does not practise what he preaches. He vilely persecuted an abuse victim and spiritually abused many other people in the Tillamook congregation. Go here to read the evidence. Jeff has not gone to the people that he spiritually and emotionally abused. He has not apologised to them, let alone asked for their forgiveness.


        I agree with Jeff C’s response to you, FreeAtLast, and will just add this link. Hopefully some pastor may click on this link if he realises he needs help to discern a genuine victim from a phoney victim.

        The language of abusers who portray themselves as victims — Vagueness & Contradictions

        [note: unfortunately I never had time to add any more parts to that series, but our Language of Abusers tag would elaborate on this subject for those who want to go further. ]

      2. freeatlast8 – We are all for giving pastors slack, if they are willing to acknowledge that they don’t know and that they need to learn about abuse, abusers, effects on victims and abuser tactics. Those who will utilize the resources we list on our resource page and admit that they don’t have the training in abuse that is necessary to properly deal with these situations are on the right track. We don’t run across these kind of pastors nearly as often as we would like.

      3. I see what you mean, but I believe it all begins in the heart of the pastor whether or not he is able to discern the abuser’s words. I experienced 2 completely different reactions from pastors in my process of getting out. The pastor I was under at the time didn’t react to my concern that I just didn’t get the rage thing in my marriage. At that time I was still in the fog that it was domestic abuse and was all about having to fix my marriage. We prayed as I told him, “I give up all expectations of marriage.” That prayer was actually when I put down the idol of marriage without even knowing I had that as an idol and God began to move. But, one day, a year later, when some conversation twisted up somehow, my now ex jumped up out of his chair; ran across the room at me like a bull; grabbed my cheeks between his hands and squeezed them so hard while staring me down with that ugly red face with bulging eyes and veins, I knew I had to tell the pastor. So, I met with him and told him this series of events. His first reaction and response was, “What did you say to him?”!! I was so happy that I had just read this could be someone’s response, so even though I was shocked and disappointed, I entertained his question knowing he didn’t get it at all. Second scenario was with the pastor I was under years before the one already mentioned. My now ex had made some phone calls after receiving the divorce papers and he was one of them. I received an email from him offering help to resolve issues. I didn’t respond but, a week later ran into him in town. So, I went over to him to acknowledge receipt of his email and he proceeded to lend an ear. I hesitated, never thinking he would get it. But, guess what? All I had to do was say, “He has a rage issue” and this pastor said, “Oh no. That’s not marriage.” He proceeded to talk encouraging words to me. He didn’t have this need to know what I may or may not have done to provoke the now ex to such rage. Plain and simple, it’s wrong. This pastor wasn’t coming from that entitlement position, so it would never occur to him that I was the reason the ex acted that way. His idea of marriage doesn’t include this ungodly behavior. No questions asked. He also wanted to know and understand more about abuse because he was aware that after 35 years of pastoring that the church didn’t get it. He purchased the book I suggested and continues to investigate abuse so that he is better equipped to help, counsel and perhaps help to change the church’s views. Anyway, the reactions / responses of the 2 pastors were opposite. The second pastor’s response was the correct response because his heart is right in this area. He has known my ex as long as he has known me, but he didn’t need to discern who to believe because he knows those actions are plain wrong.

  14. I agree, Jeff, that most folks just don’t know there is something deeper with this stuff. I didn’t even know, and I lived with it. I, myself, have felt at least 75% of the time in my marriage that it was ME who was the cause of my ex’s fits / upset / frustration. I knew something was wrong with him, but I always owned my part in it….my not agreeing with him, or my questioning him, or my snapping back when he was rude to me, or my making a sour face when he said hateful things, and my yelling back at times. I really thought my “disrespectful” behavior was fueling his upset. My “unsubmissive, head-butting, rebellious” behavior was the problem. That’s what he told me and I believed him.

    Why is the truth of the matter so hidden? It’s not like abuse is something new that just appeared and no one has had to deal with it before….like some new disease researchers are working quickly to find a cure for. This behavior has been around forever. Why is it so few people are aware the root cause of it?

    I am fortunate my pastor understood. It helped that my ex did not go to church with me. That spoke a lot to my pastor right there. But I also wanted to be sure it WASN’T me, and the only way I thought my pastor could be SURE it wasn’t me was if he would talk to my then-husband and compare our viewpoints. Pastor reached out in several attempts but my ex refused them all. Another pastor from another church reached out, too, but my ex said I obviously had them persuaded toward my side, so ex quickly stopped talking to him. I was more than willing to sit down with them to discuss it, but my ex never would. I wanted someone to tell me it was ME so I could change and everything would work out. No one ever did.

  15. As I’ve noted elsewhere on the blog….

    I learned the “anger” lesson before I was three years old. Anger was rarely aimed at me, as other weapons had far greater effect. I could, however, feel a righteous anger for those I saw wronged.

    Also as noted elsewhere on the blog…

    Now, I am angry at God. Not a righteous anger. Voicing the anger I didn’t have the opportunity to express.

    I am so tired of being angry, of riding the wave of filth. I’m tired of aiming the anger where it doesn’t belong, yet holding it keeps me stuck in a lifetime pattern.

    I’m tired of being angry.

    I’m tired of the hurt, the inevitable source of my anger.

    Quite frankly, I’d rather deal with hurt than anger…..

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