A Cry For Justice

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

Evacuate! — an analogy for getting out of abusive marriages

Evacuate. GET OUT of collapsing buildings. We are republishing this post in honour of the victims of 9/11, and because, just like the firemen in the Twin Towers who didn’t have a chance to put the fire out, we didn’t have a chance to have healthy marriages. And that was all we were trying to do.

“The firefighters had 29 minutes to get out of the World Trade Center or die. Inside the north tower, though, almost none of them realized how urgent it had become to leave.” — 9/11 Firefighters Told of Isolation Amid Disaster [Internet Archive link]

I was messaging a friend the other day. Her divorce was final just this year and she is still sorting through the emotions that come over her in waves.

Friend: My heart is broken. I really think it would have been better to just stay married and balance the cycles. I’d have my kids near me and under my influence instead of his family’s. I’d be more of an influence on my abuser than his family. And I’d at least have his up swings and good cycles. I wrecked us all by giving up. Everything is so wrecked.

Me: Cycles like this?

Abuse Cycle

Abuse Cycle

Me: You wrecked nothing. You can’t control him. You never could. Abusers want their targets to think we can. We can’t. His upswings cause as much stress as his viciousness. That’s because during the upswings you start to believe that he’s not that bad and you’re crazy. I am not the boss of you. But I REALLY believe you did the right thing. You are brave. You didn’t “give up.” You got legal protection. Now it’s time to use it. Please call the child support office and get the ball rolling there.

Your believing you could manage him is EXACTLY what he is after. Going no contact with him will help you to get out of this fog. He is not a Christian. He is not caring for you or desiring your well being. All he wants, ALL HE WANTS, is what he wants right now at this very minute, like a 2 year old (not an insult). And he has a big enough body and mean enough mouth that he will destroy whatever he perceives to be getting in his way.

Your children need you to pick a side and commit. You are being double minded. I’m not chastising you as though I haven’t felt the same emotions. You acted in integrity. You acted FOR YOUR KIDS. You are showing them how to love. A real life support group will be very good (I hope). I wish you could get into a Mending The Soul group. Your courage is pleasing to God. TRUST HIM. Trust that He is with you. Trust him. He is worthy of your trust and obedience. You didn’t sin. You didn’t abandon your faith. You didn’t give up. Your abuser is not safe. HE ISN’T SAFE.

I have an assignment for you. I want you to go to a fire station and talk to firemen. There are times that they can put fires out. And they stay and they FIGHT the fires, and there are times that they MUST evacuate a building and manage the damage from a safe distance. You evacuated. You didn’t give up. [Then I Googled for articles about firefighters and found this. It  has so many parallels to abusive marriages and the churches’ (rescuers’) responses (good and bad) that it gave me chills. The whole article will take your breath away.]

9/11 Firefighters Told of Isolation Amid Disaster — New York Times [Internet Archive link] Oral histories reveal that firefighters in the north tower of the World Trade Center had no idea that the south tower had collapsed. “The firefighters had 29 minutes to get out of the World Trade Center or die. Inside the north tower, though, almost none of them realized how urgent it had become to leave.”

You fought the fire. You got out before the blaze collapsed on you and killed you and left your children completely WITHOUT an advocate. You DID NOT GIVE UP.

“In stairwells or resting on floors, they could not see what had happened or hear clearly stated warnings. Even after the south tower fell, when few civilians remained in the lower floors of the north tower, throngs of firefighters lingered in the lobby and near the 19th floor as time ran down, the survivors said.”

You and I are out and we can learn to see the warnings. We can learn to help others and equip them to hang onto their sanity, their health, their dignity, and GET OUT of collapsing buildings. You didn’t give up. You couldn’t hold that burning building up by yourself.

“Firefighters wondered aloud how they could have attacked a fire reached at the end of a four-hour climb.”

They couldn’t have. That building was coming down whether they were in it and fighting the fire or not. Your marriage was destroyed by your abuser, not you. You DID climb that exhausting climb. Like the firemen in the north tower, your communication devices (preachers teaching bad doctrine about marriage) didn’t work and almost got you killed. But you got OUT by God’s grace. You survived.

“On the 37th floor, Daniel Sterling, of Engine Company 24, had stopped with firefighters from Ladder 5 and Engine 33 – who did not survive – when the building rattled. A moment later, Firefighter Sterling said, Chief John Paolillo appeared. “He thought there was a partial collapse of the 65th floor of our building and that we should drop everything and leave,” Firefighter Sterling said. ‘Get Up and Go, Go, Go’ A few floors below, around the 30th or 31st floor, Chief Paolillo was spotted again. “He was yelling, ‘Leave your equipment and just get up and go, go, go,’ [Ellie’s insertion – I see that equipment as being the permanence teachings that we thought were gospel, or the earthly treasures we’d accumulated during the marriage, or the respect of others who we knew would think badly of us if divorced] like that,” Lt. Brian Becker of Engine 28 said. Chief Paolillo died.” Over and over, firefighters who had left the building in those final minutes, bewildered by the sudden retreat, the ruined lobby, the near-empty street, mentioned a chief covered in the dust of the first collapse, standing just outside the north tower on West Street. Some knew his name: Deputy Assistant Chief Albert Turi. “He was screaming, ‘Just keep moving. Don’t stop,’ ” Firefighter Thomas Orlando of Engine 65 recalled, adding, “I still didn’t know the south tower collapsed.” Chief Turi, he said, “saved an awful lot of people.”

I think Jeff C might be that guy covered in dust.

“We didn’t have a chance to do anything,” he added. “We didn’t have a chance to put the fire out, which was really all we were trying to do.”

We didn’t have a chance to have healthy marriages. And that was all we were trying to do.


  1. healinginhim

    Thank you for posting more truth. Still in the midst of the blaze but I can’t give up. With the Lord’s strength I must persevere to safety.

  2. a prodigal daughter returns

    This one brought tears to my eyes. What a powerful image this brings to mind. My relative that went back to her abusive spouse makes me think of a child playing with a rattlesnake, I fear for her life based on the history of violence with her non-husband. Yet I watch as she posts happy family pictures, expressions of love and devotion and paints an illusion of her reality to enable her to live in it.

    In fact, her abuser makes good money, and her attempt to live as a single broke woman that was unemployed was too frightening. She choose the familiar misery (the burning building) than the unfamiliar (escape with poverty). I’m not a good role model, I cut off all contact and found freedom but struggle mightily to keep roof over head. A shelter that is collapsing is to some still a shelter. Still, free and poor is better than having enough and losing your mind from the abuse.

    • bright sunshinin' day

      PDR, Proverbs 17:1 came to mind after reading your comment: “Better is a dry morsel with quietness, than a house full of feasting with strife.”

    • M&M

      PDR, I think you ARE a good role model because you found that “free and poor is better”, which is good for your friend to see.

  3. Anotheranon

    Thanks for this very moving post Barbara. I remember very well the horrible feeling I had when I heard the news on the radio that day.
    I think we could also relate the Islamic terrorists attack on the world trade center to the abusers’ attacks in our marriages. We were just going about our business, trying to be good spouses when WHAM– all of the sudden something hit us from out of the blue. We weren’t expecting it, and just like the confusion felt after the first plane hit the trade towers, we didn’t know what was going on. It wasn’t until after the second plane hit that we realized we were under attack. After that, we had to handle damage control.

    • Anonymous

      Anotheranon – your description is very precise. It is WHAM – and comes out of nowhere !!

  4. NewLife

    I needed this today. I am too weary to share my story now, but after meeting with my husband’s therapist last night, I have been sad all day. He is truly mentally ill and an abuser. I have started to doubt myself about separating from him and from filing for divorce. Sometimes, I need to be reminded of reality. Living in a fantasy world is what kept me in the abuse for 20 years. This blog has truly been a God-send to me. Thank you.

  5. anonymous

    I think as women by God’s design we are nurturers. We want to care for, love and encourage the growth of someone or something (our marriages). We are not looking for perfect husbands – they will not get perfect wives – and every good marriage takes a lot of work from both parties, but with an abuser I have learned it’s not about truth, truth does not matter to them, at all! Sad to say it’s “how you play the game” with an abuser because for them it is mere sport. It took me a very long time to acknowledge this truth…I am nothing more than sport to my abuser!!

    How worthless I was made to feel – and he told me on a regular basis I am worthless. The dream of working toward a healthy marriage is now but a shattered dream. That bitter pill is still very hard for me to swallow but with it comes peace. It is well stated that our emotions come in waves; it’s like a Tsunami that comes out of nowhere. And if we are not careful and grounded in truth and reality, these waves will carry us out to sea, a very dangerous place that may result in our demise. I can be doing well one moment and in an instant I am right back out to sea. It’s an ongoing struggle to keep my eyes fixed on my road to recovery. It is the first thing on my mind when I open my eyes in the morning and the last thing when I close them at night, and so I MUST stay in expectant prayer without ceasing. I can attest that one day in the emotional roller coaster that consists of all the feelings of being rejected, unworthy, unloved, disrespected, useless and on and on with all the horrible names hurled in my face and abuse heaped upon abuse, is still far better than one day with my abuser in that insane house.

    I read somewhere that good mental health is the ongoing process of accepting reality at all cost; and so it is. I struggle to do this even now. The cycle of abuse chart you displayed is heart-pin-to-the-heart accurate. I have learned a lot about abuse and covert narcissist sociopaths. But I am willing to admit I have learned a lot more about myself. Why would I EVER allow myself to be abused? How can I expect my family, friends and loved ones to respect me when I show no respect for myself. I recall many, many years watching my mother be abused and I shamefully confess, I was rapidly losing respect for her for not getting out of the “burning building.” It was different for her, though, she did not have the many avenues of support we have available to us today as abuse survivors.

    I nearly returned to my abuser at one point recently and by God’s grace, he put people in my path to enable me to see the danger and insanity of it all…I cannot manage my abuser and I don’t need to; God will. I now weep thinking that I nearly returned to all that insanity and danger. Why would I do this? I think often times going back is more comfortable / familiar than going forward. And we must see that in doing so, we will never get out of the pit. We will never respect ourselves and be positive role models for those watching. And we will continue losing ourselves in heart, mind, body and soul. Our person-hood will diminish. Our spirit will be crushed. Our dignity will be robbed. We will go back to being dehumanized. These abusers do not love or care about us. Tough words to hear, I know. They have no desire to change, so we must – we must take charge of our future or the abuser will. And we must never forget as children of God, we were purchased at high cost. Jesus did not hang on that tree to suffer and die so that we would live at the hands of an abuser and lose the very life He died to give us. Healing will come and I have no doubt good will also come from that which we cannot possibly see in the moment / amidst the storm.

  6. anonymous

    Clarity: I should have said we are not looking for perfect spouses. I do realize men also have abusive wives.

    • Thank you for this comment, Anonymous. There is much wisdom in it. 🙂

  7. KayE

    The analogy of escaping from a burning building is very real to me. One night when I was a child I woke up to hear crashing and banging and my parents speaking with panicked voices. I jumped out of bed to see flames from floor to ceiling. Our mother rounded us all up and we got out of the house just as the rooms were filling with thick smoke. We took nothing with us. The house was destroyed. It was extremely traumatic but we all survived. Getting away from my abusive marriage has felt exactly the same as escaping from that house fire.
    Yet I still have people saying things like “It’s sad that the two of you couldn’t resolve things” or explaining to me why divorce is so wrong. Well, I’m glad to be out and I’m grateful to all the people who showed me the way out. They did help save my life.

  8. Charis

    I was a firefighter / paramedic for 10 yrs. This is excellent.

    Even those of us trained, drilled and skilled struggle with the concept of triage. I think the “no man left behind” is ingrained somewhere deep within the fabric of our being. Call it sanctity of life, fear of our own mortality / morbidity or the desire to rescue. I’m not sure what it is. Regardless, it is extremely hard to leave an area where life dwells yet dwindles in the odds knowing that the mortality rate will skyrocket the moment you choose to leave. It is an act of courage that forces a person to acknowledge that their own life is more necessary in this moment either because a dead paramedic is no good to anyone or because the paramedic holds the capacity to yet sustain life for those whose odds of living a healthy and whole existence are higher – only if they leave the others in favor of those who can best be served by their skill.

    Many are clumsy in this area. It is simply too painful a choice. They cannot say “no” to one group and “yes” to the other. They will exhaust themselves and their resources trying to help everyone – even to their own demise. Not surprisingly, the public (family members) also struggle with this concept. “Why did you choose the one to save and not the other?”

    This is the rationale behind putting on your own oxygen mask before helping others when a plane is in distress. It is also why we struggle to do GOOD self care yet continue to exhaust ourselves expending enormous energy into kids, routine, volunteering, work, marriages, etc. when the better choice would be to stop – and take care of us first and then decide (triage) what truly needs our attention. Who or what needs to be taken care of in this moment? It is ever the classic dilemma between “can” this be saved and “should” it.

    • Anonymous

      Charis – this indeed is an excellent analogy. Thank you for saying it takes courage to make the life or death choice while in the course of the battle. I have struggled with “staying the course” and to remain No Contact. And then I read that which you have described and it all comes gushing back to me in an instant, there is no way I can get back in the furnace and expect to survive. It will either be a long slow torturous death, or it will be sudden, but it will be a death nonetheless.

    • Oh Charis! Thank you! I shall re-read and ponder what you’ve said here.
      Love from Barb

      • Charis

        I have been mulling over this analogy all weekend. There is one more layer I cannot get out of my head.

        In December of 1999 – well before the 9 / 11 tragedy – Worcester, MA lost six firefighters during a Five Alarm fire. It was the first line of duty deaths for their department in over 35 years where neither building collapse nor explosion were the cause and I remember as the details of that night unfolded. Fire Departments from around the nation sent color guard to their funeral in support of the fallen.

        The fire was at an abandoned cold storage facility where a homeless couple sometimes squatted for shelter. As such, the facility was enormous – it occupied an entire city block and was several stories tall. It was a nightmare for search and rescue – which was the only pertinent reason firefighters entered the structure. As a refrigeration & storage unit, it was a maze of room-sized lockers, with no windows above the 2nd floor and unconventional doors whose handles sat flush to the door – impossible to find in the dark. There was one – and only one – stairwell for egress. And…in two of the stories there was a significant hole in the middle of the floor (15×15) for the purpose of moving large flats of frozen cargo between levels. Much of the structure was in disrepair – if not entirely unsound; it had been abandoned for 10yrs. This building was a death trap waiting to happen.

        So why the six who were lost? At one point in the progression of events, an All Call was sounded – which means “everybody out, the building is no longer safe.” There is some confusion about what happened next. Some reports say everyone got out, was accounted for and then a decision was made to re-enter the building and perform one last search for the homeless couple, floor by floor – whereby the six got “lost” in the maze and could not be rescued by their brothers. Another report indicates the six were trapped in the initial building sweep and never made it out when the All Call was sounded. The official FEMA report says initially two became disoriented and trapped while searching for the homeless couple. The demise of these two firefighters was discovered during the All Call and four more firefighters were sent in to rescue the two – and eventually all six were lost.

        The Worcester Cold Storage Tragedy was an opportunity for departments every to come face to face with the reality of our job and learn. Programs were revamped and revitalized because of lives lost. Specifically, there was a resurgence in training called: “Saving Our Own.” Firefighters form a brotherhood and when one is “down” the rest jump in to save the one – even if it will kill him to do so, or he will likely die trying even against chief’s orders.

        After the Worcester incident, fire departments knew that we needed better training in how to Save Our Own. When to do so. When to walk away, sadly, because the structure isn’t safe and likely – our brother is already lost and gone. But most importantly…how to break through walls, create a means of egress where none exists, share air tanks, search through the twisted mazes and cavernous darkness to find the lost and hurting…to save ourselves and to Save Our Own.

      • Charis

        I hesitate to say more on this thread for fear of wearing out my welcome. Yet, my mind keeps connecting the dots.

        The cold storage facility in was actually two buildings that had become one unit. They were so integrated (and the fire / smoke so dense) many firefighters were unaware there even were two individual buildings. They could not tell when they were in Building A, Building B or had left one and entered the other. In an unhealthy relationship – this is called enmeshment.

        The maze-like layout of room-size refrigeration lockers largely only existed in one building. The other was largely open space and free of interior walls. It was this same building (the one with the labyrinth of freezers) that had the elevator cargo system in the floor – a 2-3 story hazard that the firefighters had to be aware of and steer clear of lest they fall to their injury (if not death). One could draw a similarity between the mind of the abuser and the maze-like existence created by gaslighting and psychological abuse. It is easy to get lost in the labyrinth. Interestingly enough, four of the six firefighters who lost their life were trapped in this building…and not the other.

        Finally, in the FEMA report, it is noted that a key failure that needed to be addressed as a “lesson learned” was the fact that there was too much radio chatter at the time when the first two men issued their distress call. In other words, their cries for help fell silent and they had “no voice.” They tried, several times, to be heard and failed. It was not until the chief issued “radio silence” that crews were even aware that personnel were in danger. Even then – there was confusion about who was in trouble, where they were and how to help. There were two “emergencies” by this time: one was to get everyone out of the 2nd floor and evacuate, the other was to try to locate who had issued the distress call, hear them, and find them before time ran out. As victims, we are often silenced by the “noise” around us. We pray it isn’t too late to get the attention of those who can truly offer the help we need.

      • Charis, have no fear of outwearing your welcome here! In fact, would you like to write up this story of the cold storage facility disaster explaining how each part of the story is analagous to domestic abuse? What you’ve given us here is good, and we can leave it here, but expanding your story and insights and spelling out the analogies more fully in a stand-alone post would be great! If that interests you, draft it up as a Word doc and send it to us by email. 🙂

  9. KayE

    As for those people that push victims back into danger and encourage new victims into the fire; one day you will have to answer for that.

    • poohbear

      Amen, KayE!

  10. Moving Forward

    What a great analogy. Its sad, though, that the children have to keep being dragged in, suffer from smoke inhalation, then return home for me to help heal and clear their head, just in time to have to return, over and over again. I am thankful that some are able to permanently evacuate, but I have some that are not to the point of being allowed to make the decision to stay out of that toxic environment. My heart aches so much for them.

  11. Amy

    Excellent post! So many of us did try to put out the fire and I got to thinking how so many people expected us to. I the abuse victim was expected to know how to put out a raging fire when I was the one caught in that fire. A firefighter would never hand the fire hose to the person in the midst of the fire and tell them to respect, submit and love the fire more and it will go out, yet that is what so many in the church do to the abuse victim while they continue to get burned by the raging flames.

    I’m glad to have escaped and pray for others to get out while they can.

    • A firefighter would never hand the fire hose to the person in the midst of the fire and tell them to respect, submit and love the fire more and it will go out, yet that is what so many in the church do to the abuse victim while they continue to get burned by the raging flames.

      ^ That!

    • Anonymous

      Amy, God surely did answer you very clearly. And for those people that tell you that you need to have faith that a miracle will come…and you believed it meant staying in the abuse and suffer, I say good for you for allowing God to rescue you!

      My abuser told me on a regular basis and even more so now that I refuse to go back to him, that I have no faith because if I did I would return and trust God for the outcome. The lies they hurl in our face if we are not careful will throw us off balance. It is part of their devious and wicked plan to control. And when we are under the same roof with them, in the foggy room, continuing to be beaten down verbally, mentally, emotionally and spiritually our world becomes VERY confusing. We begin to believe their lies or worse yet, yield to their schemes because we are so broken down that we just want peace (in my case it was constant sleep deprivation!! – form of torture in itself). For me, what needs to be said when I am told to exercise more faith is, that I have long trusted in the Lord for guidance, and that He indeed has provided that guidance…CLEARLY…and He has given me the wisdom to know that I should not remain in an abusive relationship (or return to it) when He has so undeniably provided for my escape.

      Another wicked tactic with my abuser was the constant attempt to wound my conscience and not only wound but indeed shred it (and I witnessed him doing this to others who would afterwards walk away downcast never knowing what just hit them!! – took me some time to figure it out). 1 Corinthians 8 gives stern warning about this. My abuser desires to produce followers starting with me that look to him (abuser) to be their conscience… whether by dint of his personality or his obsessive self-aggrandizement and in-your-face monologue. In essence, he would rather I did NOT HAVE a conscience…just a mindset of letting him control my thinking and actions. In other words, park my brains, conscience, God-given gifts, talents and passions at the altar on my wedding day. And just a thought, in doing so, whose place is abuser seeking to take?

      PS – my therapist helped me see all of this and she helped me immensely to connect all the dots

      • Amy

        Oh yes, my ex-husband used to tell me that I was an un-Godly wife because I all I wanted was a divorce. And between him telling me I didn’t have enough faith and others condemning me because God hates divorce, I really did question my faith.
        Was my faith not big enough as we so often hear in Christian circles? Maybe I just really didn’t believe enough or trust God enough to turn my marriage around.

        But that night when I read Psalm 118:5-6 I felt validation that my ex leaving was well orchestrated by the Lord Himself. And then it dawned on me for the first time that perhaps God, Who is so capable of mending anything which is broken, could also tear down something which is causing destruction to His children.

        Over the years, and yes, it has taken me over 6 years later to find healing, I’ve come to the conclusion that God does work miracles and answers prayers but just not how we want or think He will.
        Christians are so good at putting God in a box and thinking that He will save every marriage and if you’re truly a Christian then you would never divorce because that would be showing the world your faith is not big enough. And we wouldn’t want the Christian community to be tarnished by someone divorcing.

        Personally, I’m so tired of the Christian community being so concerned about the divorce rate among Christians because heaven forbid the world would see how human we really are! Instead the church should be more concerned with the abusers who sit in their pews Sunday after Sunday, attend Men’s groups, and lead Bible studies and then go home and continue abusing their families. All the while no one wants to call them out for their evil behavior and hold them accountable, and when necessary excommunicate them from the church when true repentance does not occur.
        That is the real problem among Christians, not the divorce rate.

  12. PressingAhead

    This is a great post! I can very much relate to the thoughts and feelings of “friend”. I have been there so many times in the last number of months following separation. For me it’s an old habit of feeling the pressure and the need to FIX a one-sided relationship and just find that one missing piece, or have that perfectly worded conversation that will magically change his heart and make everything work like it’s supposed to and we all live happily ever after. Then The Lord reminds me that His will for relationships is not for them to be one-sided, but “the two shall BECOME one.”

    My will was to create an atmosphere of a happy, healthy family; being a peace-keeper and doing whatever it took to maintain that charade. Husbands will was to do what he wanted, when he wanted, spend money and not-interested-in-what-you-think-about-my-irresponsible-behavior-because-it’s-my-money. And I’m-going-on-vacation-over-here-and-you-are-welcome-to-come-along-if-you-want-to. And I-work-more-hours-than-you-do-so-your-job-at-home-is-to-clean-up-after-me-and-by-the-way-let’s-have-sex. And yes-I-know-I-drink-every-day-but-It’s-not-causing-problems-(as he falls down in a drunken stupor and gashes his head and then screams wonderfully colorful names at his wife)-and-it’s-none-of-your-business. Married almost three decades and every year kept getting worse. Much like the people in the Twin Towers who didn’t realize the very real danger that their lives were in because they didn’t have the information, and they were hyper-focused on helping other people and putting out the fire.

    A few years ago, after gobs of tears and prayers, The Lord began to give me the information that I needed to see the TRUTH of the situation that I was in. Not all at once, but bit by bit; whatever I needed for the next step in finding freedom. I had to surrender to the truth that the dream that I had for the “happy, healthy family” was really just a dream. God showed me that what was REALLY happening was that I was enabling my husband, I had no boundaries, I was allowing his dysfunction and selfishness to pollute me emotionally, psychologically, physically and financially. One day after another mind-twisting, dead-end, manipulative conversation with my husband, I walked away and I literally heard in my mind, “something is very wrong here, you cannot make him see the truth because he doesn’t want to see it. You need to get out of this atmosphere (EVACUATE!) and get to a place of safety and sanity as soon as you can.”

    The post from CHARIS resonates with me deeply — thank you so much for your words! I have other relationships to foster, family members that require care, ministry responsibilities. The time and effort that I was expelling into my marriage was reaping only chaos, heart-ache, and unhealthy emotions that were having a negative impact on everything else in my life. As I prayed and pondered over the pros and cons of leaving my husband, I often thought of the analogy of the necessity of having to put on my own oxygen mask first so that I would have the capacity to stay engaged in the healthy parts of my life and the ability to help and minister to others.

    In the past months I have left a destructive way of life behind and started a new life, lost two jobs and found and a great one, left a passive, empathy-less church and joined a loving, caring one, and The Lord carried me the whole way. Maybe much like many of those who survived 911 survived by being carried out from the chaos and destruction that was caused by terrorists, to a place of safety.

    • twbtc

      Hi A New Life,

      Welcome to the blog! Glad to hear that your new life is moving forward.

      You will noticed that I changed your screen name and edit your comment just a bit to protect your identity. If you want a different screen name feel free to contact me twbtc.acfj@gmail.com And if you haven’t already may I suggest you read the New User’s page. It gives tips for staying safe when you comment.

      Again, Welcome!

      • PressingAhead

        Thank you so much Twbtc!
        ACFJ has truly been a God-send and an answer to prayer as I continue to learn to discern truth and pursue healing! Thanking God for you and everyone here 🙂

      • thank you, A New Life. Every bit of encourargement we receive helps us keep going.

  13. Terry

    That is so very true. All we really wanted was a healthy marriage and the comparison is remarkable. It is also amazing how many pastors are ignorant of the abuse that so many woman endure. God help them see.

  14. Scaredmomma

    seperated but still forced to live in house with soon to be x (hopefully soon). Doing as much no contact as I can with kids involved living in same house. Still feel like in burning house, but able to get away from most of heat and get some fresh air. He is in a friendly phase now, and I get tempted to talk to him, but most times he immediately makes some small jab to remind me to stop talking to him. Nothing big just reminder that nothing good comes from talking with him. Have started doing most of my communication via email-seems to be much more effective, and nicer because he knows I could forward his reply to someone.

    Well, my Laywer just informed me he wants co-parenting therapy, and it will look bad if I refuse. Laywer thinks no harm in trying but worried throwing myself and the kids back into the fire. Anytime it is brought to lawyers attention that x has done something inappropriate or wrong the x punishes the middle child. The child is verbally assaulted for no reason out of nowhere. The first time he has child in room alone without me, they are assaulted. A few times, I was still in the home, just in another room. Feel if I would bring up any issues will put child in harms way, if don’t bring up problems I must be ok with what he is doing. Doesn’t sound harmless to me. Anyone ever done co-parent therapy. Sounds a lot like couples therapy and that was horrible.

    • I have never heard of coparent therapy. It sounds like something that money grubbing lawyers and pschologists have cooked up in thw USA. To my knowleged, that term is never used in Australia.

    • Amy

      Perhaps you need a new attorney. And who exactly will you look bad to if you refuse?? Of course the attorney thinks there is no harm in it, it doesn’t affect him! He’s still getting paid no matter what!
      When my ex decided he wanted joint custody of our then 15 year old son when at first he had agreed to my having soul custody, my attorney said NO WAY! He said that even if my ex wanted to fight me over it, a judge would grant me soul custody without hesitation. But I bowed down and agreed to change the papers just because I was afraid, and now I wish I’d followed my attorney’s advice.

      I’ve never heard of co-parent therapy but it sounds like a bad idea in the case of abuse. As you said, it sounds as bad as couple’s counseling where there is abuse. Your husband has to deal with his issues and change his behaviors before any co-anything therapy would be helpful.

      Stand strong and stand for your children. I know how hard it is, truly I do. I can feel the fear in your heart through your words.
      I will be praying for you…

      • Scaredmomma

        The judge, I guess. Lawyer says judge in our area likes people to work things out-mediate-and we are not even close and by not going to co-parenting therapy it will look like medation did not work because I refused to work things out. Says judge doesn’t concider emotional abuse, only physical. So no er report, no foul. Sad state of things.

    • standsfortruth

      Is there any way you can see if the courts will consider child evaluation therapy?
      This has more to do with what is best for the child, and you may be able to choose your own child therapist.
      See if this can be an option to the co-parenting therapy.

  15. Anonymous

    PS – I would also like to add this for any of us that second-guess having left an abuser:

    In those moments when the old life seems better than the new, when complaining replaces gratitude, when immediate gratification appeals more than delayed satisfaction, we need to put our brains in neutral and survey the full picture. Our enemy is invisible, deceitful, and bent on our destruction. The one who tells us there’s no need to wait wants to hurry our demise. The word of God isn’t a series of rules to prohibit freedom but a divine guide to provide victory over that which would kill. (Direct quote, Wayne Stiles)

  16. Anonymous

    Not sure why, but this morning I was reading and I thought about the comment posted, “I really think it would’ve been better to stay married and just balance the cycles…I really wrecked everything.”

    I think often times God takes things out of our lives, to replace them with things of greater value! In my own life I can attest I often grumble and complain while waiting on God, and yet I know that’s considering only half of the truth. And then it is easy for me to forget the bondage / abuse that Christ freed me from. And then I must remember now that I am separated and No Contact, it is I that cried out to the Lord in my pain and suffering at the hands of an abuser and indeed he rescued and delivered me and put me in a safe place.

    I think of the betrayal, loneliness, heartache and suffering Jesus met with and so why would it be any different with me?? It is my prayer that all of us as victims yet overcomers of abuse will not second-guess our decisions but will put all our hope and trust in our Lord who indeed has a perfect plan for us. May we be still and quiet and patient as we heal, truly heal, and know that He is at work in our lives.

    • Amy

      Psalm 118:5-6 In my anguish I cried to the Lord and He answered by setting me free. The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?

      This was the verse I opened up to the night my abusive ex walked out 6 years ago. I prayed and prayed that letting go of that marriage was the right thing and God answered me very clearly.

      I too believe God removes things from our lives only to replace them with something much better. People would often tell me how I needed to have faith that God would work a miracle in that marriage and I believed for a long time it meant staying and suffering until he made it all better. What I came to realize years later is that God DID work a miracle — He rescued me by removing my abusive ex and He destroyed that abusive marriage so that He could make something beautiful out of ashes.

      I love how to you say to be still and quiet and patient through our healing, and know that God is working in our lives. It is so true! Through our waiting patiently on Him we will be rewarded with something much greater. I’m an example of how God can turn our lives around after abuse, but it certainly didn’t happen overnight — but it happened!


  17. Anotheranon

    I forgot to thank you, Barbara, for including the cycle of abuse diagram. This is helpful for me to see.

    • actually, the post is by Ellie! I shall change the byline now. It was my mistake: I did the task of republishing it, so it came up as my byline.

  18. lisilou

    Thanks for the cycle of abuse diagram and the post that describes so well what I dealt with for two decades…so glad to see things for what they were and to be breaking free finally. this is my first reply and I appreciate the support found at this blog.

    • twbtc

      And we are also very glad you are able to break free!! Welcome to the blog and thank you for your comment!

      And if you have not already, may I suggest you look over the New Users’ page found on the top menu bar. It gives tips for staying safe when commenting – though I sense you may have already read it as your comment is tip top safe 🙂

  19. For Too Long

    This was an excellent post! I think another interesting thing to draw out from the 9 / 11 analogy is the INTENTIONALITY of the perpetrators in the deaths of all those people, versus the heroic actions and goodwill of the firefighters in seeking to save lives. Our abusers are very intentional in what they do, whether that be overtly aggressive or insidiously passive-aggressive like my non-husband. For example, knowing that I’m planning on divorcing him but not knowing when (actually, I’ve already filed – he’s just not been served papers yet), he’s been playing a ton of “games” with me lately. And I mean a TON. It’s really rather ridiculous, but I recognize now that it’s his way of seeking to maintain some control over me.

    By comparison, we – as survivors of the abuse, have been equally intentional. We’ve heroically tried to save our marriages, going back time and again to draw up new plans as others have failed, calling for backup support (most of those called in have been untrained rookies in abuse, however), “suiting up” (with the right materials – be it books on marriage, video series, etc.) and expending ourselves for the sake of our family. All of this has been done with an underlying sense of goodwill toward our spouses, which stands in stark contrast to their lack of it.

    • healinginhim

      For Too Long — Praying for you. Our testimonies sound very similar:

      … or insidiously passive-aggressive like my non-husband.

      … and expending ourselves for the sake of our family. All of this has been done with an underlying sense of goodwill toward our spouses, which stands in stark contrast to their lack of it.

    • what good extensions of the analogy, FTL!

      By the way, you might be interested to read this post on Covert Aggression is not the same as Passive Aggression.

      We have learned from Dr George Simon’s books that abusers typically employ ‘covert aggression’ not ‘passive aggression’. Following Simon, we try to clear the muddy waters of pop-psychological terminology, so we tend to talk about ‘covert aggression’ rather than ‘passive aggression’ when describing abusers. The term ‘passive aggression’ has quite a narrow and specific meaning when used correctly in professional psychological discourse. Hope you don’t mind me giving you this tip. 🙂

  20. For Too Long

    Healinginhim, thanks for your prayers – I’m pretty sure things are going to get worse before they get better once my husband is served… and thank you, Barbara, for the link. I’ll definitely read that – sounds like something I need to understand! 🙂

  21. Free

    Thank you.

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