The relational cancer of abuse is not like the common cold
By an anon reader —
I wrote to you many months ago, shortly after leaving my N.A. (narcissistic abuser) husband. I was deeply troubled by the responses of several of my good, Christian friends who told me that they believed I was being abused but that I was not perfect, either, and I did act like a victim.
As I have now had several more months of experiences (with the N.A. and the friendships), and several more months to reflect on the 11 years of marriage and how so often I beat my head against a wall, wondering why these women who said they loved me as a sister seemed so nonchalant about my pain, I have come to yet another realization that I thought some other women might be able to relate to.
You see, it has become to apparent to me, that while I believe these women truly did love me to the best of their ability, and really do love the Lord, while I was describing the events of my daily life to them over the years, what I was describing was a daily norm and a terminal “cancer” of my marriage and my own spirit — but what they were hearing was situational; just another “cold” that would pass.
The advice I was given of course, was cold remedies; traditional “fixes” for common marital problems. It did me no good for my chronic illness that was progressing in it’s life-sucking skills, and it certainly was not responding to any kind of “treatment”. And the longer it went on, the weaker I got. Unlike a cold, where the longer it goes on, if you treat it with common cold remedies, you get closer to wellness, I was dying a slow death in my soul, and my friends kept waiting for me to stop feeling sorry for my “cold”.
I hope that you understand that in NO way am I trying to make light of cancer; I have actually watched several people close to me suffer through the process of the evilness of cancer, until death becomes wanted because it offers relief. I find it interesting that this is the point at which my analogy takes a turn.
In the real physical disease of cancer — I assume because we can see the weight loss, the ashen skin, the loss of life, the disheartened eyes, the struggle to breathe, the winces and moans of unbearable pain — we can’t wait for the struggle to be over and relief to come for that person. But in the relational “cancer” of living with an abuser, there seems to be very little concrete, visible evidence of the disease to others, and so when the person accepts the death and files the divorce papers, people sadly talk about “If you had only…”, or “God hates divorce.”
Would one ever say those words to the person who has wrestled with the physical disease of cancer, and is now on their deathbed welcoming freedom in eternity via death? No! So it saddens me that the most loving people, and the Church herself, are guilty of such things against those who have fought for their freedom from the relational cancer of abuse.
Cancer is a disease most of us can identify with. So choosing it as a means to create the picture of relationships surrounding abuse is good. Both are delicate, life altering realities. Thank you for discriminately opening our eyes, helping us to identify the source of:
A sadness settles in as I read your letter and imagine the life of yet another precious lady trying to navigate life while an abuser is holding the compass. I am so sorry. Thank you for sharing.
I can only say, wow. What a perfect analogy. And this is also a good way to understand why it is important for each of us to get to the point where we don’t feel the need to “get everyone to understand.” They won’t. Only those who have lived with the “cancer” can really understand how serious and debilitating and painful it is. It is not the “common cold” of marriage ups and downs as so many people think who have never experienced anything BUT that and is another reason why “marriage books / seminars / counseling” does no good in this situation. Counselors ignorant of the dynamics and seriousness of abuse continue to “treat your common cold” and chastise you if you don’t get better (“Did you TAKE the aspirin I gave you? Are you drinking more liquids? Are you getting the rest I prescribed?” ie: “It must be your fault you are not getting better…”) because they don’t get that aspirin and orange juice and rest is not going to make abuse go away. Thank you for this post!
Your post resonates with me as I just saw a FB post from a lovely Christian friend that rubs me the wrong way, yet I don’t dare explain why I disagree because to do so would likely have the opposite desired effect of pushing away a friend. What I saw from her in my FB feed was this meme: “If you’re going to show your family Biblical love, you have to love them unconditionally. You have to love them even when they’re wrong. Biblical love involves sacrifice.” (It’s attributed to Kenneth Hagee.)
I’d love to comment, “Does God show unconditional love?”, but I think the question wouldn’t be received well. It would likely be seen as provocative in a way that’s it’s not intended (other than to be thought-provoking). I don’t believe God does show “unconditional” love. Unmerited love, yes. Mercy and grace to sinners, yes. But not “unconditional.” We are to repent, whether one understands that from a Reformed perspective of being granted that repentance or not. It’s “repent and believe,” not just “love everyone unconditionally.”
Still Reforming: If she is truly a “lovely Christian friend” you should be able to dialogue opinion and truth with her (as she has felt free to do to you) without her taking offense. If she was just posting to the world, you can post to the world, too, but if she posted TO you and you are posting TO her, you might want to start with “I understand why you would say that. This is what I have come to understand:” and then explain about God’s unmerited favor and examples of how He DOES NOT show the legendary “unconditional love” that is so bandied about. Barbara and Jeff, chime in here, but isnt there an excellent article I think by Joe Pote about this unconditional love topic? (I’m sorry I have been reading SO much I cant remember WHERE or WHO exaclty but I do know there was a post on here not too long ago that might help here.) Your friend also is misunderstanding what “sacrifice” looks like. It means being willing to compromise and work WITH others (especially your spouse since that relationship has the most at stake), in essence “sacrificing” your right to be number one and getting your own way all the time. It should not be equated with actual, literal sacrificing of your body or spirit which is what happens when abuse is present, because the other person completely denies your right to EVER “get your way” as if you don’t exist except to fulfill them and their wants. (I believe that’s what babies and toddlers do?) And a last note: the word “love” is often used synonymously with sacrifice as if to sacrifice your body and spirit IS love, but love means wanting the BEST for the other person you are loving. Your spouse is not “loving” you by this definition, and more importantly (since this is the only thing YOU have control over) if you want the best for him, allowing him to contiuously sin against you with no consequences is not “the best” for him. Only those who live with abuse can understand this so your friend may NEVER see it this way. You need to surround yourself with those who DO understand and can give you the support you need.
I agree with you. I should be able to dialogue with my lovely Christian friend without causing friction, but I greatly suspect that it would cause a tension nonetheless. It was a post put out “to the world” (as you wrote) and not on my personal wall, so I didn’t engage. And I also agree – you and I and others here have come out of a situation of abuse and diligently want to know how to please the Lord, having lived through it (and many still living in it) in better understanding His Word about the matter. Many who haven’t lived it will be content with those kinds of memes. (Frankly, I find the word ‘love’ to be bandied about a bit too freely without real examination of what it means in any given context, but that may be another matter anyway.)
I don’t know about others here on this site, but I find the vast majority of women in church aren’t interested in matters of theology. Bible studies, yes but they invariably end up being like the one I just joined. Here’s an actual sentence from the study book: “You could draw a red heart around the word ‘love’ and shade the inside of the heart like this: [insert the word ‘love’ boldfaced with a heart drawn around it shaded in].” There was a whole section devoted to the tools we’d “need” for the study, including a recommended type of colored pencil to buy. We wasted time in class discussing how much everyone might want to buy and where.
While they were all chatting about that, I quickly flipped through the book and was disappointed to find most of it to be questions like “What would David do?”, “How’s your heart?”, and stuff like that. Since it’s a study of Psalms, I did ask the study leader if we’d be studying imprecatory psalms as well. She didn’t know what that meant (but at least asked and wrote it down). She replied that we’d study all psalms, but since she’s trying to hone down the study from 40+ weeks to about 10, I’m not holding my breath. (I have a friend in the study who was sitting next to me and started to giggle because she doubtless knew why I was asking; She has an abusive father and she’s followed my reposts from acfj on social media. Then I got embarrassed and thought people might think ill of me for inquiring about such psalms, but oh well. I’m learning to get past what others may or may not think.)
I find that most times, if I start to discuss matters of theology with people in church, they are more often put off than interested. I don’t think they want to take whatever the topic is and go back – as the Bereans – and search for themselves to find more – and then talk about it together. It feels less and less like church and more and more like a social club.
SR, may I use this in a post I’m drafting at present?
I completely agree! There is no such thing as unconditional relationship. Such a thing is impossible. God does not call us to unconditional relationship with Him or with others.
Here is a link to the article Debby mentioned: Unconditional? [Internet Archive link]
Blessings to you!
I agree, there are always conditions attached to God’s promises. You can’t just claim the promises without fufilling the conditions.
May blessings from our Lord be upon you too, Joe!
I commented over at your site on the “unconditional” post to which you linked. Thank you! You have a wonderful blog.
Far too many churches want to slap a band aid on a gun shot wound.
What a great analogy!
And, yes, the misdiagnosis is deadly.
If a doctor diagnosed cancer as the common cold, he would likely be sued for malpractice. When counselors misdiagnose an abusive marriage as simply requiring a higher level of commitment by the abuse target…they generally seem to refuse to admit error and stand by their original misdiagnosis of “if only you would have…”
Joe, you always seem to have just the right words. Always succinct and easy to memorize so I can “reread” them in my mind when I need a pick me up. This is going on my “quotes” page. Thanks!
THat is a really good analogy to assist in explaining it to others. It also inspires me to jot down my analogy…it the hopes that it will help.
My husband was pretty good at wearing the proverbial “mask” most of the time until every 2-3 months when he decided it was too tough to keep it on and took it off for some relief. In was in those occasions that I truly felt like I got hit with a Mack truck. This is what made leaving so hard: LIfe was pretty good and we have LOTS of great memories. I just don’t know how many more Mack trucks I can endure… especially when they would cause great rushes of adrenaline to surge through me for days at a time.
I can really relate to what you wrote. And it was what caused perhaps the greatest consternation in my marriage. I could not figure out why these explosions (spinning car around while we’re in it, sudden outbursts of rage and then fleeing the house or just crazed outbursts in which I couldn’t get one word in) only came about once a year. And they weren’t really predictable, in that there was nothing that I did or said that could be pointed back to in any logical way.
Initially I thought there was some reason to it, because he wasn’t always like that, so …. what did I do? Surely I must have done something. It drove me batty until finally it dawned on me that it wasn’t me. I had long been willing to share the blame or burden or whatever – (not that he ever did) – but… finally I knew it wasn’t me. That was actually about as hard as realizing if it had been me, because then I had to face what I was living with – or “why he does that.” And that was a journey all unto itself. A better journey, but still not a happy one.
This is really good and visual. I remember reading somewhere that when we say, “Until death do us part,” we always think of a physical death. But, death can be of our spirit and soul as well as our body. Living in a toxic environment caused that slow death in my soul and spirit to the point where one day I heard in my head, “You should just take your life.” Then, I saw how and what I would look like in that dead position. This followed with an internal dialogue of self-pity. Thank God I recognized that and cast down the thought, but that was the beginning of my process that led to freedom. Looking back and reflecting on my dying process, it is amazing how slow and insidious it was. There were many mornings I woke up crying and wishing I would just die. It is very disheartening at how people don’t seem to grasp this kind of death, so I didn’t share things with too many people. I learned to be selective. I was finally able to get to a point where it didn’t matter to me anymore if they didn’t. I am in the process of moving on and reinventing myself. It took 3 1/2 years from that day I had that suicidal thought to the day the divorce of 2 decades married was final. And, yes, I still cry at times but, it isn’t dark anymore.
I started realizing how bad things were when I would have panic attacks and longingly daydream about the day that I would die. At 40 years old I was hoping I would die before I was 70.
Yea…..I always thought it would be cool to live to 100 years old, a century. Now I could care less. Maybe it will change as time goes on……
I can’t say that I ever really wanted to die to end the abusive relationship, but I did think for many years that death was the only way God would let me out of the marriage. How twisted my view of Scripture was to think that way. I really thought He must want me to suffer and this was my cross to bear. I thought that maybe God wouldn’t even save my husband, but that I had to bear it all anyway.
Maybe that’s why for so long I dreaded morning. I liked going to bed at night and escaping it all in sleep. (Oddly, or perhaps not so oddly, our child recently told me the same thing.) And when I awoke in the morning, I didn’t want to get out of bed. I recall months if not years feeling that way. But it’s getting much better. I’m glad to greet day now (since we’re not under the same roof anymore) and eager to get back a real life again.
What a great point, Lisa!
The Bible essentially equates sin as death. One is the product of the other. The day Adam sinned, he died…he became a subject of that dark kingdom of sin and death (Genesis 2:17). The Apostle Paul said “the wages of sin is death”…when we serve sin we are paid in death…service to the kingdom of darkness results in enslavement to the kingdom of darkness (Romans 6:23). Sin always results in death.
Why would we expect a marriage to be any different? If one unrepentantly sins against one’s spouse, the relationship dies…the marriage dies.
Sin results in death.
Joe, perfectly described
What a great analogy!!
Great analogy! I could not have put my situation in words like this. Everyone here has been my voice! You all understand exactly what I had been going through. My stbx and I still do that tango as we are still trying to sort out divorce stuff, he still manipulates, although he has no direct contact with me because of the restraining order, but it is one of those things I need to get through, and I will with the Lord’s help. Lisa, yes, I still cry too! I’m sure the tears will stop when I finally get it in my head that there was NOTHING I could do to change my situation as my husband was NOT willing to have a ‘heart’ change….
In the Bible the Pharisees chastise the apostles for gleaning grain on the sabbath because they were hungry. Jesus then rebukes these Pharisees, saying the sabbath was made for man, man wasn’t made for the sabbath. In other words they were only concerned about rules and laws. They had no love I there hearts for their fellow man. They were hypocrites and did not love God or others. God does allow for divorce in certain situations.
It was that exact text that God used to get me feeling OK about leaving. He showed me that, likewise, marriage was made for people, not people for marriage. I left in the hopes that ex would see how damaging his behavior was to his wife and family. Instead, he filed for divorce 4 days later. I now understand that this part of the narcissism. If he can no longer control me, he has no use for me. It seems as if many of us here have lived from the same horror movie script for several decades before becoming strong enough to take action. I am grateful for this place where I do not first have to convince anyone of the truth of what my children and I went through. I am grateful that my witness here is not damaged because I am divorced.
I have been thinking of this a lot lately, as I’m resolving to start talking about the abuse instead of ‘being respectful’ as is expected of me. I know people will be horrified that I’m not ‘covering’ for him anymore, am not ‘forgiving’, am being ‘disrespectful’, etc. I have long ago forgiven, but the silence doesn’t seem to help anyone, much less him.
Many years ago, when I first told my doctor about having separated from my h, he was shocked, as I was a Christian and had tried to share Christ with him in the past. He looked at me and said, “See, that’s what I don’t like about Christianity. All it is is men using the Bible to take control of women and money.” I gulped and said, “Yes, that’s what has happened throughout history, but that is not what God intended, or what the Bible teaches. The Bible and God are all about delivering the oppressed. That is the theme all the way.” He said, “IT IS???” Sad, I know. Then he gave me a paper he had written about marriage, and the theme was that asking “Why?” is a challenge to the other person to come out fighting. I’ve thought about that a lot over the years, and find too that when we try to share with a supposed friend or with family about our situation, the person often starts asking why, asking for details. It leaves me feeling like what I say is only valid if they get to judge, if they can weigh the evidence and come to a conclusion. That all my living in the situation and research of these dynamics are not valid unless they get to decide if it’s valid. Like I haven’t looked at every angle and every possible way of relief and every supposed solution many many many times over? Like I haven’t prayed and tried and prayed and tried and……….Like I would just flip out my whole family on a whim and their 2 minutes of thinking about it will just fix everything?
I guess I just wish that people would peel their little buns off of God’s chair and let Him back on.
Sunflower: I LOVED this post you made! The whole “I have been dealing with this and looking at solutions and trying everything imaginable to no avail and I have everything at stake and you have nothing at stake and yet you hear a 5-minute pain-filled “mini-rant” because i need to vent to SOMEONE and you think you know enough to make a “fix-it-fast” judgement” thing. Oh, my.
Your point is well taken. In years passed, when I have had a friend embroiled in an abusive marriage (although I wouldn’t have known to call it that at the time), I just listened to her and supported her. The church didn’t, and in fact the pastor at the time told her to apologize to me (and one other woman) for sharing with us. That made me mad inside. Why shouldn’t she share with us as her sisters in Christ? Aren’t we to bear one another’s burdens?
I listened and supported her when she chose to divorce him. One of the red flags about the church I just left was that the pastor (a different one than the aforementioned) not only remarried the guy my friend left, but he trumpeted from the pulpit how we can be thankful and rejoice that this “brother” was getting married! (And he did so within mere months of his wife leaving. She suspected he had a relationship going on-line, because he married and moved out of state. When I mentioned why I wouldn’t attend the wedding to our pastor’s wife, she said, “Well, I don’t know about all that. All I know is she left him.” That was good enough for her. Oh, had I known to read the writing on the wall back in the day.)
But your point is well-taken because when I too finally spoke up – more than just the teary appearance on a Sunday morn or a detailed prayer request about his lies on a Wednesday night, when I finally mustered up the courage to type a prayer request and make known what was happening to the leaders of the church, I was the one pushed back. I was told many reasons for this: Either it was because I was the wife and not the “head” of the family or I was not to be believed (not spoken that way in so many words, more like saying “I don’t know because I wasn’t there” or “all men lie” or euphemisms stating same). Why don’t they believe us? What’s deluding the people of God so – or who, I should probably better ask. In which case, I know the only one who could so delude the people of God, but they are submitting willingly. Because we are speaking up, and they’re covering their collective ears.
Thanks for this analogy! No one seems to get it that you have gone through more then you expect them to go through. These words will help 4 others that I am trying to help. One young lady I asked prayer for several months ago to have the strength to leave he abusive husband, she finally left. It was hard for he was nice part of the time but really was mean and physical abusive to her at other times. She wanted to look at the good times but fearing when it would end in a rage. I share this blog info with her and you all have helped get her help. Thank you! Keep praying for all the ladies and men out there that has been led to believe it is their “Christan Duty” to keep living in an abusive relationship. My their eyes be open to the real love of God!
Someone once said to me that any marriage is only as good as its’ worse day. So even if the abuser is nice sometimes, the truth is, a good marriage doesn’t EVER have the terrible times.
Ok so I’ve recovered so that might make a difference, but I’ve been abused by my husband, and I’ve had cancer. I’ll take the cancer, thanks.
Wow, Fluffybabybunnyrabbit, that’s intense.
That is Wow… !
My husband has cancer and is abusive. You’d think a person that has an illness would soften after the shock of the diagnosis. No, not my husband his abuse intensified.
Cancer is hideous. I have lost numerous friends and family members since my husband’s diagnosis. All who suffered to varying degrees.
We have had counselling with two different counselors, neither of them picked up on his abuse. I was honest about what he would do to do. He did acknowledge his anger but he had this way of getting on very well with the counselor, both men. I now refuse any more counselling.
Very sad xx
That says a lot! You are truly a survivor Fluffy! ❤
Yes…I was always told by these ladies. “God is using this to change you. Stop speaking about what is happening to you, speak what you want to see, how you want your husband to act. Decree and Declare he will Love you and will serve God………Watch your confession. 15 years I suffered…… …now 4 years going through divorce as he FINANCIALLY abuses us and spends all our money on SIN while driving around town with scriptures on his work truck and attending church only 1 time in over 1 1/2 years. God Bless their opinions.
Remember a common cold is not sent by satan just to give you something to stay in bed a few days…A common cold is SENT TO KILL YOU!!
(So suck it up sister! You should be rejoicing when hubby humiliates you in public! God is changing you!) (He took what was evil and used it for good. He used evil to give me wisdom, I agree. I DON”T agree that God CAUSED this to happen).
Stop speaking about what is happening to you (because it is negative and we dont want to hear it
Speak what you want to see, how you want your husband to act (because it is for this reason that he abuses you, you are not speaking what you want him to do instead).
Decree and Declare he will Love you (manipulation) and will serve God (without his whole heart and will being in it?!)………
Watch your confession (“I confess he keeps screaming at me about the refrigerator being messy.” See that’s what MAKES him scream at you!).”
Wow, these LADIES must have a playbook! (Although I don’t equate their ignorance with the abuser). They all seem to follow the same script. They told me the same exact thing! I have no problem with “speak what you want to see.” I have a problem with “speak what you want to see WHILE STILL LIVING WITH AN ABUSER!” Speaking the truth of the sin being perpetrated against you is somehow “ungodly?” While allowing someone to continue to sin against you, while you ignore it and speak the opposite IS godly? Who came up with THAT? We are not dealing with some guy who is just “not very romantic” or “not as attentive to my needs as I want him to be,” or “he doesn’t lead us in devotions” etc. You can LIVE with that and decree all you want without him crushing your spirit. Believing that speaking words, human words, coming out of a human mouth, somehow will MAKE someone DO something sounds voodoo-ish / black magicky personally. If you tack on some scripture, then its using God to manipulate a person’s behavior. Pretty sure that’s not scriptural!
The problem is they (the well-meaning but clueless ladies) are speaking to women who WANT the abuse to stop, who WANT things to get better, who have DONE everything they can possibly do to make it all better, women who love God with their whole hearts and desire to live their lives for Him, to raise their children to love God, and be content and feel safe in their own homes, to no avail. So when these church women come up with these “surefire answers” they SOUND good, and we WANT it to work, so we try it, but they end up heaping guilt on and placing responsibilty for the CHANGE in the abuser’s heart, something no human can do, no matter what they “declare.”
I heard the same thing….Speak what I want to see…etc. I have since renounced Word [of] Faith but it caused an enormous amount of damage to my household. I didn’t “agree with” my son’s autism for one. I am so thankful to be living in reality now…with God’s grace all around me. WOF is such a trap. You can’t call for help because that’s “agreeing with the curse.” Ugggggg. I can relate!!
Lighting a Candle,
My father was a believer of that kind of doctrine – The Power of Positive Thinking and speaking things into being. Much as I love my dad, who is now passed, and I think he was a true believer, there was much that he held to that brought such pain to me. I don’t think he could understand why my child’s autism couldn’t be “healed” just by praying over her.
He used to say “believe with me that she’ll be healed” and cite verses like “because of your faith, daughter, you are healed” or “by His stripes we are healed.” Most of the time I’d just have to smile and say nothing. Otherwise, I was assumed to be “of little faith.”
It was particularly painful because he was the only one of my family of origin who was a real believer who’d care to discuss the things of God, but there were certain areas like that I just had to avoid. I tried to discuss with him why Joni Eareckson Tada wasn’t healed, and he confessed to struggling with that – along with the death of my brother in an accident two years before my dad died. It didn’t follow his doctrine, so it brought him additional pain on top of the death itself. I didn’t question him in this area. Likewise with my mother when she asks “Where was God?” or states that it wasn’t fair or just for him to die, who can argue with the pain of a mother losing a child? I can only listen.
When I came across Reformed Theology and sent my father emails about it, he thought it akin to Catholicism (St. Augustine, etc) and couldn’t accept it. So there were many areas we couldn’t discuss even though we were the only family members receptive to talking about our faith at all. But that “speaking things into being by our mere belief” – assenting to believe and all that – I just had to let it all go and just love dad for all that he was to me that was good. And he was a praying father, so that’s good too.
There are lots of awesome analogies here..it might be good to have a collection of them in the resources section.
That would be a worthwhile little project. If TWBTC has time and the inclination to do it, along with all her other jobs that she does so faithfully, maybe it will get done. I think we could do it most easily by changing our tag Light Bulb Moments, to fairy tales, allegories and analogies. (or something like that). Then each time someone gives us a post with a good analogy or allegory in it, we could ascribe that tag to it. And maybe we could also compile the analogies that people give in comments into some other page or post (rather like the GEMS page?)
I’m thinking out loud here, and hope I’m not giving too much work to TWBTC.
I wanna buy TWBTC a cuppa (whatever caffeine or decaf floats her boat) and a Cinnabun or cake pop or other sugary sweet for all she does. Maybe we should have a tag like “Give Her Sugar” (a spinoff of Give Her Wings) to keep TWBTC going. 😉
I don’t drink coffee, but I do have a sweet tooth! 🙂
Will put it on my to-do list!
I think I will make a PDF of “best of” and bring it with me to church.
Reading articles like this shows me- in a practical real world way- of God’s enormous care for me. In the churches and amidst “well meaning” (albeit ignorant and/or arrogant,) believers I am frequently re-injured and triggered.
But God has provided words of comfort. You all are truly ministering to my heart and my need. I am so thankful for that and for you all.
When I tried to confide in a minister’s wife about my abusive marriage, she then told her husband what I had confided in her. The next Sunday, the only response I had from that minister (and I had personally known him for years) his response was ‘The ball is in your court now.’ In other words, I had finally had the guts to confide in [him about] my abusive marriage, so I was STILL going to have to go it ALONE with no one to help me. Very soon afterward, our Christian fellowship group began to fall apart and falter, Satan coming in to disperse the sheep. I am still no further along than I was ten years ago. I am like so many other women out there whom no one wants to believe.
I left a comment on one of Barbara Roberts posts which was about two years ago, and I was a bit disillusioned as I had used a scripture verse where I had received some comfort from the Lord, (which that verse was deleted from my post for some reason) which to me, that verse is the ONLY VERSE which has kept me going, knowing that I had to literally throw myself into God’s keeping, in order to make sense of my life. The verse being: Isaiah 54: verses 4 through 6:
This was the only comfort I had during a time when I knew no one would believe the verbal abuse (and all other forms of abuse) not just abuse I was tolerating myself, but my four children were enduring abuse too. It is the smooth talker, the one who provides physically for his family, and goes to church, and who has lots of possessions, and by golly no one better not mess with his possessions or you will have hell to pay! Yet the wife of a so-called Christian man should be the dearest treasure he owns, but this was never the case in my marriage. I was the faithful little submissive wife, just like in so many cult Christian groups. It is one of the most difficult situations to distance oneself from. I did stop sleeping in the same room as my husband, which did give me some consolation and a bit of freedom to do things without coming to bed late, as he said “If you can’t come to bed by 11 o’clock, don’t bother coming to bed!’ And this was at a time when my children were young and needed me as babies. And it was always he, at dinner time, when he was finished eating, he was immediately up from the dinner table and up to his study to watch T.V. for the rest of the evening while the children and I cleaned up the kitchen and his parting words would be, as he was going up the stairs ‘You know where to find me if you want me.’
Very seldom would he come back down stairs, and if he did, we would be shaking in our shoes wondering what in the world one of us may have done something the ‘wrong’ way, according to him. And this man claims to be a Christian, yet you step one toe out of line, and it was instant anger or a hit on the head to the nearest child. This was our life.
My children are grown and married or on their own as they all left as soon as they turned eighteen years old. I wish it were as simple as that for myself. Oh, he is ‘nice’ to me, gives me ‘things’ always has a nice birthday card, yet […description of recent abuse by the husband deleted as it could have identified the commenter if her husband happened to find this blog.] It’s that ‘back and forth’ nice guy, verbally abusive guy which is the crazy-making where you do not ever feel safe. The threats of abuse, and then the reciprocation, of Mister Nice Guy. This is the typical Narcissistic personality disorder and THEY NEVER CHANGE. And they are the most difficult one to escape from.
And I had one comment from another person on another blog where I left a similar comment and a gal made this reply to my comment: ‘Well, dear, you need to put on your ‘big girl panties’ and make a break.’ With some men, you don’t just ‘make a break’, and since I seriously have no one to turn to, God is my only witness. Maybe it is my resilient nature and trust in the Lord, call me crazy, I know my children would back me up. My oldest child told me ‘You don’t have to stay with dad anymore because of the abuse.’ And I know this. It’s kind of the so-called ‘obligation’ a person feels for taking care of your daily food and shelter needs, as I am a stay-at-home mom. Yet my husband does not feel indebted to respect me or cherish me. It is a this indebtedness which is the culprit of my own empathic reasonings. I can totally relate to the comment by Debby, March 1st, 2015. I still have no plan of recourse, God help me to see it when it comes!
I had a dream where I was driving a truck to a city I was born in years before. Then I saw a public bus which was headed in the same direction I was going in. I parked my truck and got on the bus, but realized, why did I stop driving myself to my destination? So, I told the bus driver I wanted to get off. At the back of the bus where there was a door to get off, a man and a woman got off the bus when I did. The man began screaming at the woman, and pulled out a gun and shot her. I began to run to get out of harms way, and I felt the bullet in my back and I woke up from the dream. I could interpret that dream to tell me to not leave the path I am on, and try to do it ‘my way’. But just what am I waiting for? No one seems to be able to point me in the right direction. Fear is a terrible master of ones fate. Yet greater is He that is within you than he that is in the world.
I also have a disabled child son, so my reasons are even greater for that child’s financial security. I know, excuses, but sometimes, some of us take the route of the martyr, God helping His sheep who are slaughtered daily. I could write a book about this journey, and I do keep a journal and confide in my own sibling, but they are my only support. I have tried to keep my grown children out of this. Just letting others know, I know your dilemma and I am praying for wisdom and carefulness.
These charlatans who we are married to, are manipulative and they know how to press our buttons, in order so they never have to be accountable or responsible for their own sins, and that is really the whole issue at stake. If they are Christians they have never embraced this truth: ‘I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless, I live, yet not I, but Christ lives in me, and the life that I now live, I live by the faith of the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.’ See? Our husbands can’t even do what Christ did for the church! He GAVE HIMSELF for HER! Most of what they do is for their own benefit. And yes, I have read many posts on many psychological blogs, and Christian blogs, and I have the answers, but I just don’t have the plan.
‘By humility and fear of the Lord, are riches and honor and life’ and this LIFE is in his Son! And it is the spiritual riches which makes a person truly rich!
Hi Many Years, it is good to hear from you. 🙂
I checked your earlier comment (to see it, click here). It did include Isaiah 54:5. And I very much doubt I would have edited out verse 4 and 6 when publishing that comment of yours, so perhaps you didn’t include them when you submitted the comment.
I am sorry you felt disillusioned, perhaps there has been a misunderstanding. If there’s anything you want to discuss with me further about how I edited your comment, feel free to email me.
I have edited this current comment of yours a bit. I removed the details of the recent incident in which your husband abused you, because they could have identified you if your husband had come across this blog. And I airbrushed the sexes of your children and exactly how long you’ve been married. I did all that to protect your safety.
You may like to review our New Users’ Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.
I’m so sorry for what you are suffering. I encourage you to keep commenting on this blog and looking up items that may help you. Our new FAQs section may be of some assistance. And you may also find it helpful to read Lundy Bancroft’s book Should I Stay Or Should I Go? [*Affiliate link] It’s on our recommended books list. If you can’t afford it, we are happy to organise to ship you a gift copy at a safe shipping address (maybe the address of one of your adult children).
As for the commenter on that other site who said ‘Time to put your big girl pants on’ — that was an unkind and cruel comment to make online to any victim of domestic abuse. It was demeaning, derogatory, snide, almost sarcastic. We would not allow anyone to say that to another reader here. If a reader wanted to say it to herself and wanted to write about that in a comment here, that’s okay; but we don’t allow readers to issue orders to other readers let alone mock other readers!
Making a plan to leave is something that many victims do. Others do not make a plan, they just end up leaving in the crisis of an abusive episode … but they’ve been contemplating leaving … on an off… for a long time. There is nothing wrong with either way. Each of us is at liberty to do what we think will work for us best in our own unique situation and with our own unique personality and support network (or lack thereof).
We will support you whether you stay or leave.
You may find it helpful to look at our Safety Planning page. 🙂
Thanks once again for commenting, and especially for your courage in telling me that you were disillusioned.
*Amazon affiliate link — ACFJ gets a small percentage if you purchase via this link.
Thank you, Seeing Clearly for your ‘clear and present danger’ message to those of us who have not seen our way clearly to leave. I will take note of all of your insight and use the utmost care when and if I choose to leave. And yes, I too have felt that I have ‘missed my window of opportunity’ like your therapist mentioned when women become older. I have three friends who feel they are in the same predicament, and they are in different parts of the U.S. I don’t know if it is because we are so tired, and older, and also weary in spirit because of the same scenario which never seems to change with the verbally, mentally, emotionally, financially, and spiritually abusive spouse, or that we hope they lose some of their cantankerousness, which I am finding is just not the case.
I do know this, I have become bolder in the Lord, and what my reaction is to the verbal put-downs from my husband which seem to come out of nowhere from him, yet are right there on the tip of his tongue (in James chapter 3 “the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity”) says it all; which boggles my mind as to how a truly, born-again, Christian can even begin to say such things against another believer in Christ. I have begun to say ‘What?’ When he says something critical to me which makes no sense, or if he threatens me, I am beginning to say ‘No, you’re not!’ When he says he is going to do ‘thus and so’ to me. Which the ‘threats’, if he followed through with them, could be very bad. It is seriously pure evil, as in the ‘lying lips’ in Proverbs chapter 6. Yes, when the evil is right there, where he doesn’t even consider what effect his words will have on the one he is verbally hurting, that is an indicate of a evil heart. No doubt about it, as there is no cause or excuse for any of it.
I have been trying to get copies made of all of our documents, as, with most abusers, they have the control over everything, and when you begin to want to know more, they will make up some kind of an excuse such as ‘You have never wanted to know before’. I know how to go about it, and let him know that I have read stories where women have become widows and have had no clue as to how to go about taking care of finances. He does have an analytical mind, so that would appease his ego. I shouldn’t have to have any kind of an ‘excuse’ of any kind at all to know all about our finances. Pray for me and other women who are going through this very scenario.
I am so glad the community came to your rescue where your church could not. I doubt very seriously if he would ever suspect me of separating from him. And I do blame the ignorance of many leaders who are in churches, where it is constantly drilled into wives who are told to ‘submit’ to their husbands AND the abusive spouse, unsaved in many cases, ‘may’ or ‘might’ be won by your chaste conversation, coupled with fear, and that fear is NOT to be the fear of that man who is supposed to be ‘over you in the Lord’ but that fear, is a godly fear of Christ, and how Christ can deliver you from such a marriage. And I hope your response to me will also help others in the same situation. God bless you!
Hi Many Years,
I changed the screen name in your recent two comments to “Many Years”. The name you’d given in submitting those comments looked like your real name and the state you come from — which may be the default name your computer or phone is inputting into the comment box, whenever you submit comments. If so, we would like you to manually change that default name to “Many Years” when submitting comments to this blog.
Our New Users’ Info page gives instructions on how to do this.
To read the instructions, go to New Users’ Information and scroll down to the section headed Fields in the Comments Box.
Our moderators can’t be always relied on to fix your screen name for you. We sometimes miss things! So we ask you to take responsibility for that if you can.
Dear Many Years, it is the wee morning hours and I have been awake for a couple hours. I just decided to read email and, thankfully, discovered your letter with Barbara’s response. Thank you for taking a risk and adding your comment earlier this month. A decade ago, I was in pre-op for a medical procedure. It was a routine question asked of all women, “Are you in an abusive situation / relationship?”. My first response was, ‘only emotional and verbal’. The nurses reply was, “That counts”.
I was dumbfounded! The church had not recognized my abuse and cries for help for over [three decades] yet the medical community responds in a heartbeat. I told her in a strong voice, “Yes, I am”. So began the process of dignity. They responded as if I had bruises and broken limbs. The medical procedure was halted, my physician stepped in to let me know he was aware that we had transitioned, that he would be standing by, that I would be assisted in any way needed. My now-ex was in the waiting area and was not aware of my statement and was not allowed to leave the premises until I was in the care of a safe person. My safe person picked me up, drove me home to gather belongings and reside temporarily elsewhere. There was offer of police escort if I felt I needed it to step inside my own home.
Within the previous [number redacted] years, I began to wake up a see my mess; unpaid taxes for [number redacted] years, no will, no advanced directives, no escape plan, no money of my own, etc. I began to organize my life, make copies of all of our legal papers, paid my own taxes, interviewed two divorce attorneys. Never said the word ‘divorce’ to my now-ex. Didn’t know if I would divorce.
Shortly thereafter, I returned home, waiting for something to finally change. My therapist made two gentle statements in a short period of time. When I asked him why old couples stay together when they are miserable. Along with 2 other reasons, the one that resonated with me is that they miss their window of opportunity. (No longer able to establish their own residence, begin earning necessary income, etc.) Being in my [fifth decade] I sat up and took note.
His second comment was that I was far past the deadline I had given myself to see positive change in my marriage. That was tough to acknowledge because it asked to be admitted and be accountable to myself. Ultimately, I was the only one who could make my choice to file for divorce.
I did file and fear struck me to the core, and in THAT fear, a beautiful support network began drawing around me. I landed into a secure housing situation where, [about one decade] later, I still reside. Security is a basic need and it has afforded me opportunity to heal. I continue to work at my healing, it is hard work, learning healthy patterns of relating.
Last week I had major surgery. When no one was present, the nurse explained that she needed to “complete her final paperwork”. It is the hospital’s term for giving me opportunity to tell someone that I am in an abusive situation. From there they are prepared to step in. I was thankful to tell of the last time I was asked and that I have been set free. The medical community saved my life.
I write in hopes of encouraging you, that at least one sentence will resonate with you to help you continue moving forward in your life, whatever that looks like for you.
Also, Many Years, in case you’re wondering why your comment sat in moderation for a while, it’s because I had to spend the last two weeks painting an apartment. I’m the one on the ACFJ team who deals with the comments that are held in moderation for some time, and I only just now had the time to deal with yours. 🙂
Oh! Thank you so very much Barbara for your heart-felt comment to me, and for protecting my identity. And thank you for taking the time to let me know that Isaiah 54:5 was definitely left in my comment of May 16, 2015. I will try to be more careful with details in my comments so as to protect myself too. I do tend to get very detailed at times. Yes, it was a misunderstanding on my part. As I do want to be grateful for the community here of support and I do not want to abuse it in anyway, as I know most who comment and post here have been abused and I appreciate my brothers and sisters in Christ who have been there too.