The Loneliness of the Abuse Victim

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.


[August 28, 2022: There have been some changes made to this post. For more information, read the Editors’ notes at the bottom of the post. Editors.]

I did not sit in the company of revelers, nor did I rejoice; I sat alone, because your hand was upon me, for you had filled me with indignation.  (Jeremiah 15:17  ESV)

Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted.  (Psalm 25:16  ESV)

I am like a desert owl of the wilderness, like an owl of the waste places; I lie awake; I am like a lonely sparrow on the housetop. All the day my enemies taunt me; those who deride me use my name for a curse.  (Psalm 102:6-8  ESV)

At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. May it not be charged against them! But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth.  (2 Timothy 4:16-17  ESV)

One of the most painful and damaging results of abuse is the isolation that its victims must endure. Aloneness. You look around and it seems that most everyone else is enjoying good company, fun times, and friendships. But you, you are alone. A lonely sparrow on the housetop.

There are several reasons for this. Here are at least a few:

  1. Abusers, as we know, work to isolate their victim so that they can control them more easily. An abuser frequently moves his victim and family far away from her family and friends, distancing her from her most natural allies.
  2. Abusers often work to sabotage his victim’s work environment or career path. Success in the workplace is a threat to his control.
  3. Abusers alienate the victim’s friends and associates and relatives by telling them lies about her.
  4. The church, yes, even her church….the place where she should find the warmest fellowship and support ostracizes and abandons her when she leaves the abuser or even reports the abuse.

All of these dynamics, as you can see, produce profound aloneness and enhanced isolation. The victim finds that she is, literally, on her own.

But there is still another very powerful and common factor that isolates victims of abuse and in some ways this may be the most common and damaging of all. Let’s call it the “no one wants to be around a whiner” dynamic. Let me see if I can explain it.

I have been the target numbers of times of wicked abusers, sociopaths, and narcissists all parading as sons of righteousness in local churches. Sometimes, and for long protracted periods of time, the intensity of the abuse caused me to be downcast, depressed, traumatized, and….well, you can fill in more adjectives I am sure. Now when you are in the midst of such suffering, you think of little else. You can’t think of much else. You don’t even fully understand what is happening (the fog, you know) and that confusion adds to dwelling on the thing because you are trying to sort it out.

So you talk.

You talk to whoever you can — to whoever seems to be a friend. (This is when you often get accused of being a “gossip”, you know.) But you talk. If you and your wife go out with another couple, for instance, you find yourself pouring your heart out, telling them about the whole mess. And it takes quite some time to tell it. The details of the evil. It’s intricacies and plots. Your fears and pain. You might even resolve that “next time you won’t talk about these things,” because you sense that people don’t want to keep hearing about them. Often they don’t. But sure enough, next time you talk again.

It has been years, in some cases over two decades, since the worst abusers I have been targeted by departed or were expelled from our church for their evil. But I still find myself recounting the wicked things they did. Not as often as I used to. With I suppose diminishing frequency. But I fully expect that I will tell these tales to some degree until the day I die. Such is the nature and depth of the trauma inflicted by deep evil.

But the isolation and loneliness. There are very few people among professing Christians who are willing to share one another’s burdens and thereby fulfill the law of Christ. Very few. Very few who are willing to weep with those who weep. Many have never experienced the pain of abuse themselves, so they are rather clueless. And often what happens is a distancing. “‘You know, he always has to talk about abuse.’  ‘Why can’t she just let it go and get on with her life?’ It’s such a downer.” So such people draw back. They want to keep on the sunny side of life, just like they order their eggs. The result? Loneliness.

I remember one very good friend and a true Christian to whom I was doing my usual outpouring of the pain which the deceptions and crafty evil of an abuser had caused sometime before. I caught myself and said “Sorry, I will try not to talk all evening about this stuff.” His reply? “It’s ok. It’s therapeutic to talk about it.” Now there is a wise man and a true friend. It IS therapeutic to talk about the abuse to someone who truly believes and understands.

I still experience the loneliness caused by abuse, but nowadays as a result of a bit different reason. These past five, now going on six years, of ministry to abuse victims here at ACFJ, I have heard story after story after story from victims which really largely turns out to be one and the same story, doesn’t it? Abuser claimed to be a Christian. Victim eventually reported abuse to her pastor. Pastor….you all know what the pastor told her with very rare exceptions. We hear it over and over again. There is a huge body of witnesses to the thing. Abusers left in good standing as a church member. Abuser even the pastor or a missionary. “Famous” pastors and church leaders and counselors giving these poor victims absolutely horrid (should be criminal) commands and counsel.

And what do I do? What do all of us do here at ACFJ along with all of you? We talk about it. Often I suppose I even rage about it. I smash my fist down on my desk about it. And when we are out there in the social arena or hanging out with friends, what do we do? Well, I can tell you what I do. I talk about this stuff. I hate it. I despise it. I want to tell everyone about it and I want to name names. The result? A continuing degree of loneliness and isolation. Oh, I don’t really blame the people around me for it. For the most part they are right behind us here at ACFJ. It’s just that, well, here we are and guess what subject is going to come up?

But that is how it is. How can we keep silent when so many victims are suffering terribly? How can we keep silent when inept, naive shepherds of the church fail to protect the flock of Christ? How can we keep silent when we see abusers actually standing in pulpits in churches? We can’t. We won’t. And so while we do occasionally see the sunny side of life, more often than not it is the dark side that is on our minds. So when you want to help a victim, understand this — she has been and probably still is living in that dark side, probably for decades. Do you really expect that she is going to be able to talk about much else?

[August 28, 2022: Editors’ notes:

—For some comments made prior to August 28, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be an exact match.
—For some comments made prior to August 28, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be found in the post.
If you would like to compare the text in the comments made prior to August 28, 2022 that quoted from the post to the post as it is now (August 28, 2022), click here [Internet Archive link] for the most recent Internet Archive copy of the post.]


Further Reading

Living with Trauma Memories — video presentation by Diane Langberg

Abuse Produces Loneliness

46 thoughts on “The Loneliness of the Abuse Victim”

  1. Your abuser has convinced you that when you speak, terrible things will happen. People will hate you, they won’t believe you, you will be kicked out of the church for gossip…Then, oftentimes, those things actually DO happen and your voice has been taken away.
    Pastors are horrible listeners, to our shame. As I get older and have experienced certain things, I realize that people need someone to listen to them. This sounds so contrary to everything we’ve been taught as pastors. We are taught to find the problem, give the solution and everything will be fixed. Jay Adams even said, “After 8 sessions you have a discipline issue.” This does not make for good listening.
    Of all things, it was a book by Moises Silva on linguistics that got me thinking in another direction. We were created with this wonderful and astounding gift of communication. We were given ears to hear and mouths to speak so that we might edify one another and make known the wonders of our God and Saviour with our words. No wonder the devil hates our words and wants to shut them up!
    Abuse seeks to take away that vital image of God in us, to make us feel useless and worthless. So we quit talking. So we quit reflecting God. An abuser wants to shut our mouths; but Jesus wants us to talk. He spoke to the woman who touched his robe – “Who touched me?” He said, “My father’s house shall be a house of prayer”.
    He wants us to reclaim what it means to be created in the image of God, to gain back our voice. This is what salvation IS, the restoration of God’s image.
    When I saw that, I realized that my job as pastor oftentimes is to just listen. I try to ask questions to encourage more talk. Yes, I also teach, and counsel, and encourage, and even rebuke. But mostly I want to see the image of God restored in men and women who have been silenced and shamed for so long.
    The world needs to know that our Creator became flesh and walked among us, taking our sin and shame upon himself on the cross and rose from the dead so that we might boldly approach the throne of grace – he actually wants us to talk to him!
    What better attribute of God could be mirrored by pastors that Jesus’ willingness to listen?

    1. Sam, great post. Our words do matter; God used words to speak into existence that which did not exist before. And He has enabled us to use words to speak Life and healing into other’s souls, to maybe recreate newness in the broken-hearted and those crushed in spirit. Listening is proactive loving. 👍

  2. Thank you so much. The loneliness that you speak, Jeff, is so deep. Right away I was awakened by what you said, my own heart echoing what I was reading. I didn’t think I would ever read into that kind of mirror. I remember the first time I called a domestic violence center and the wise lady said, “You’re walking on eggshells, aren’t you?” For the first time I felt validated. I was overwhelmed that someone could put into words exactly what I was living before I even got far. What compassion. The conversation had just began, but she knew. She sensed my panic. She put me on a list for a 3 bedroom shelter that she had in the heart of a drug ridden city. She called me a month later, and said she was offering me the apartment first. I didn’t think my situation was that “bad”, because most people minimize all that you go through with all the familiar “pat answers” of scripture, never acknowledged the evil.
    Yet she had given me first dibbs on the shelter apartment. I took it. I stayed there for four months, and then I finally got my own place. I do remember talking too much, wishing I could stop myself, thankful for someone who could hear what I was saying, always being anxious wishing I could talk about something else.
    The first shelter I went into was when my baby was first born. I had been living in fear like a walking bowl of Jello, always shaking on the inside and sometimes even on the outside. The isolation is horrific. The woman who ran the shelter in the little town had said to me, “You know some people have it so much worse than you do. They get broken bones.” I remember my heart sank, and I realized I wasn’t worthy of help, that my situation could be so much “worse”. I left the shelter and went back to my husband. it was a young girl who said that, and I was 42 with a baby. I’ll never forget that loneliness, that feeling that someone can’t tolerate you because you just have no reason to be in that much angst. You think you are crazy.
    But two years later, when I got up the nerve to call a counselor in the bigger city, she was the one who received me with a warmth and understanding that I’ll never forget. I then knew I wasn’t crazy. I knew someone could see my pain and confusion. That’s when I left my husband and never went back. My baby son was almost 3 years old.
    We were blessed. He never participated in his life, nor supported us. This past father’s day I got a call from my son, and he said, “Happy Father’s day, mom!!!”
    He’s 28 now, and I’m 70.
    For the first time since I entered that second shelter and began my new life, in reading this article that you have written about the loneliness and absorption, I see a genuine kindness and empathy. I felt validated that it wasn’t wrong to have so much anxiety and angst. I’ve always felt so self condemned for being absorbed with a situation. When my daughter went through it for 20 years, my own children would say to me, “you mention this every time we talk.” My daughter had a handicap, and was bizarrely controlled and coerced. My heart was broken to see her and my grandchildren in that abuse.
    I felt so much shame for telling people about it. Yet I thought I could talk to my kids, they would say, “she’s there because she wants to be there, or she would have left, so just let it be. There’s nothing you can do about it.”
    You are spot on. Most people don’t want to hear about abuse.
    Thank you for these particular scriptures that you quoted, that reflect the knowing, caring, and compassionate heart of God.
    Thank you for validating those who are in the center of a fog, wondering what’s real and thinking we should be doing so much better, and that we shouldn’t mention it, or that you’re not so bad off “because some people have broken bones”.
    Thank you isn’t a big enough expression for the gratitude I have in my heart for what you shared today.

  3. Thank you for posting this Pastor Crippen. This is a very timely article for me and I am sure many others.
    Thank you, ACFJ for ‘not keeping silent’ and ministering to many as the Lord wills.

  4. Thank you for this. Not being “heard” makes me feel panicky. Even here at ACFJ, I have often written comments and then deleted them–or wish I had–simply because I’m not used to people understanding. I’m always surprised and relieved when you write with such understanding. I think this is the first place where I felt understood and encouraged.

    Sometimes I wonder if I will EVER stop thinking / talking about it. And when I talk about it, I get scared that people will think I am angry, bitter, unforgiving, unloving, unChristlike, or a total mess–which is what people imply when they say that the abuser(s) are just wounded and I need to forgive, love, and give grace MORE. I have to fight against believing that I really am the terrible person who is at fault. I have to keep logically, step-by-step, reminding myself that what they said is false and listing the things I know are true.

    It seems to me that abusers create a very powerful false reality, which is made stronger when his (or her) allies and bystanders validate his actions and blame the victim. I have often wondered if the reason I talked about abuse so much was because I needed to be able to hold on to the reality that I KNEW was true. Speaking out was a way of declaring that the abuse reality was false and THIS IS WHAT REALLY HAPPENED. If that makes sense?

    Because my heart has been sensitized to abuse, these days I speak out more about what victims suffer from abusers and their supporters. My heart is constantly frustrated and broken because so many do not see or hear or understand. It sometimes feel as if I’m whispering in the wind. I am thankful that ACFJ continues speaking out.

  5. How timely. I am 2 years post divorce and the isolation is just awful. I was married for 18 years to a sex addict. I am retired military, as is my ex, and was very active in my military community until the divorce. Only then did I start to pull on the thread of the abuse within our ‘friends.’ The ‘friends’ I thought I had only want to chat with me to get the ‘good gossip.’ Imagine my disgust and revulsion after finding out all of my ‘friends’ KNEW my ex was cheating and they all said, “We just thought you knew and was going along with it.”

    Knew about the cheating? Knew he was a sex addict? Knew he was going out on dates with other women I KNEW and sleeping with them while married to me?

    Seriously? You can’t make this stuff up. And now… 3 years post split, 2 years post divorce, I am alone. Not one person I used to know is now a ‘friend’ and for that I am glad. Even though the loneliness gets to me at times, I am forever grateful for this blog, as it opened my eyes to those who were in my life and now understand who they are and how they were co-enabling my ex. I am thankful to be alone, but now am wondering how I am to make new friends in the future, without falling into the same abusive patterns as before.

    Thank you, ACFJ, for allowing us victims a voice. I don’t know where I’d be today without this blog and forum, as it has served as a lifeline to me on many days in my dark journey. After my ‘church’ family abandoned me and I no longer attend services in a building. I’d much rather have my relationship with God be pure, and one on one, than sit among the serpents of the ‘church.’

    God bless you all.

  6. Thank you for this article. One of the things I appreciate about your site is that it is a place where it is safe to talk about my past abuse. Friends who don’t really understand do want to stop hearing about it; mostly I can see it in their faces but some have told me I won’t get past it if I keep talking about it. They don’t get it the therapeutic part of talking. That sometimes I need to talk to get past it!

  7. Tears……

    I’m so glad you wrote this!! I feel like I talk too much on here. I get embarrassed at what I wrote and how I got carried away. Wishing to delete it, shorten or just not have wrote it at all. I feel like I’m taking everyone’s time and too focused on ME and that I can’t handle anything alone.

    For me it has been an entire LIFETIME. Starting at birth. It is isolating. I’m different. It is difficult to separate abuse from ones life and “Be normal” and not talk about it. I only could do it if nothing of my life was discussed. I didn’t discuss most things growing up because it immediately separated me from everyone. No one could relate, no one had answers, there was no help.

    The ones that should love and protect you added abuse daily. Even the family members I love the most now have abused me in some very serious ways. My entire life has been surrounded by wolves. No joke here or exaggeration.

    The last few years with ACFJ has been an eye opener. And in some ways for a time made life more unbearable. Now I didn’t just have recurring thoughts with questions of “what is that?”
    I have answers….it’s abuse.

    A family member calling me retarded in front of my spouse and other family members on a regular basis. Nobody ever denied it or stuck up for me. They used it as proof I was crazy and stupid. Then say how intelligent I am and how could I ever think that I wasn’t? I don’t even know what I want to do or be in life. I think I do but I’m not sure if I just picked it or if I really do want to do it yet. I don’t know what I like or should like or how to use free time. What music to listen to? Books to read? I don’t know. It’s like I don’t know how to be me. What am I like? What do I like? I like to watch other people and see and hear what they like. I like to be with my children. When they aren’t exhibiting all the effects of abuse.

    It seems impossible but I want to be free of abuse in my life it seems to be a sticky web I’m caught in and at times even a place I don’t realize is bad.

    As usual I got side tracked. I wanted to say another isolation from the points listed is….
    With #3- I don’t know if the lies are happening but they don’t want company over. I’m blamed how CLEAN I try to make the house before company coming over. It’s true I do go into a bit of FREAK mode. At times I have been careless about who came over not thinking of being scrutinized for every detail. I can’t seem to get past it and since nobody wants to contribute to the daily jobs much less when company comes it does out a lot of pressure on me mingled with the whole he doesn’t want company to begin with. It becomes such a chore to invite anymore I don’t. My strength is up but when I start to prepare for people I am almost completely shut down physically. Which leads to isolation. Most people will not get to know the new people apart form some hospitality. And I’m finding the People I want to invite don’t seem endeared to my husband making it less likely for couples to friend us. Lonely.

    When I hear how just about every couple in the church is mingling at each others houses it hurts. I want to hear it but I know we aren’t part of the fun. My h doesn’t want to be either. It’s just me. I can meet with different ladies outside the church(if they have time) which is a once or twice a year thing. I’m so needy it seems to repel others. Which I get it, but it still hurts. I thought about group counseling just to talk with others and get out the trauma so I’m free to not talk about it with others. 🙂 I guess I am doing that here, haha. 😀 it’s working.

    Great post. Thanks so much!!!

    1. Then say how intelligent I am and how could I ever think that I wasn’t? I don’t even know what I want to do or be in life. I think I do but I’m not sure if I just picked it or if I really do want to do it yet. I don’t know what I like or should like or how to use free time. What music to listen to? Books to read? I don’t know. It’s like I don’t know how to be me. What am I like? What do I like?

      You are not alone in feeling this way! My whole family abused me growing up. My parents homeschooled me to keep me under their power and sabotaged my college education to keep me isolated and under them. I feel like an empty shell as well. In one breath they will say I’m stupid and in another that I’m perfectly smart and shouldn’t doubt myself. It’s so confusing! What do I like? Who AM I? I don’t know. And my husband doesn’t enjoy socializing with other people either. So I feel doubly alone. I get it. You are not the only one who has felt this way.

  8. Thank you for all that you do, for being wise to abuse and talking about it. You are so right that it’s lonely most people don’t understand and if they don’t get it, they’d like you to just stop talking about it. To read your articles and say, EXACTLY! That is therapeutic too. It gives me strength to be understood finally, and it helps me feel less alone. God bless you.

  9. Jeff, I love your writings. And every one of them is teeming with spiritual wisdom and practical insights into abuse. This one today is, in my opinion, one of the best you have ever written. Thank you for highlighting the ongoing need to tell the story of our lives. How awesome is it that our God redeems and uses all kinds of abuse… Uses it in our lives for his glory. Thank you for reminding us that the desert owl in the wilderness, though hopefully joined later in life by other birds of fellowship, never forgets the wasteland- and doesn’t HAVE to forget it. God uses her wasteland experience to help others living in that same place. Incredible blog! Thank you!

  10. Thank you for continuing to talk about it and for smashing your fist on your desk! We need to get angry about it, bring it out in the light and destroy it.

    When my ex walked out on me in ’09 in all this fanfare and with what I later learned was a very well calculated plan to make me look like I’d kicked him out and was not willing to reconcile, I had people from my former church say, “well, we can’t take sides” and then try to ‘help’ my then-husband with his problem. He was surrounded by people, I was left alone and only when someone did talk to me it was to make sure I understood how much God hates divorce and that I needed to forgive him and move on.

    I left that church, I divorced that man and I am living my life today full of happiness, love and acceptance.

  11. I was so lonely. I hid everything. Who would believe me. Everyone loved him and, because I hid, no one knew me. He left and his mask came off. I give thanks for a church that is the exception and a family who believe me. Only very few believe what he says…those who are like him and want to believe him.

  12. Spiritual Sounding Board posted something similar last week about the need to speak about these things and I really do think it’s true. I know I told a family member (about a different non-abusive situation) that I just had to ‘get the dumb thoughts out of my head’ and she was very helpful.

  13. I don’t know how you do it, but once again you have spoken directly to my struggle.
    The countless moments, repenting and promising myself that “I will never speak again”. Reluctantly I accept the next invitation, taking my time while getting ready – psyching myself into a happy silence has become part of my make up routine – then it’s always the same. Starting out beautifully and peaceful, but then comes the ultimate “question”, oh please, did they really say those words? Maybe I could lie, just this once Father?, would it be wrong to just lie the good lie to keep me,from ruining the moment? Would it be merciful to just fudge a little? Please Father? Do I have to answer? Please, I don’t want them to relent asking the words I’ve come to dread …
    “So, how have you been?”

  14. Thank you, Pastor Jeff, for what you shared, and for giving others the freedom to acknowledge how lonely it is sometimes to stand on a truth that others either can’t or won’t attempt to understand.

    This stuff is messy and ugly. A lot of people don’t want to know. They prefer that we keep our terrible secrets and plaster on a fake smile. It takes time to purge that hurt. And most prefer that we just get over it.

    But victims of every kind of abuse need to be heard and seen and validated.

    Thank you for acknowledging the need to identify the source of our pain, the right to ask for some emotional support as we walk through it, and the sweet gift of acceptance and validation when we receive it.

  15. It takes a godless person to silence an abuse victim. That silencing is not what God has taught His Church to be.

    This post is so timely and truthful. For me, the loneliness rages on. But the loneliness I experience it not about being divorced from an abuser. It is about being alone to figure where we go from here to reintegrate ourselves into life again. It’s about not having people to listen or support you. It’s about being afraid to speak or share for the dreaded fear they will take you five steps backward with their criticism or lack of knowledge and understanding of abuse.

    That is why I am so thankful for this place to come to. Amazingly, people I have never met or people living far away are my support system. Just should not be this way.

  16. It is often a lonely and difficult road when one suffers abuse. I am so thankful for this blog and for God’s love.

  17. Why do you use the pronouns ‘he’ for the perpetrator and ‘she’ for the victim? My husband experienced all of these things in his previous marriage, including not being believed because he was a male victim. I am also a survivor, although the abuse wasn’t as severe and was not physical.

    1. Hi Joyam, please see a brief explanation of the pronoun issue here. And in our Definition of Abuse in the sidebar, we acknowledge that sometimes the genders are reversed.

      We can’t help the fact that the English language does not have a gender neutral personal pronoun. 😦

  18. This is so true. I find myself talking about the abuse all the time. Sometimes when people get sick of hearing about it I journal. It helps me to organize my thoughts and clear my head.

  19. Yes, yes, yes.
    The loneliness, the isolation, the judgment, the marginalizing, the patronizing.
    Isn’t this EXACTLY what the enemy wants us to feel? The enemy thrives when the abused are suppressed. When we are isolated. Alone.
    And yet the church itself becomes an ally of the enemy when it silences our voices, when it minimizes our pain, when it fails to hold the abusers accountable.

    I have written before about a dear & trusted friend who failed to hold my abuser accountable while simultaneously telling me that my desire for justice was bad for my spiritual & emotional health.
    I wanted to scream: “no!! NOOOOO!!! It is the ABUSE that is bad for my health! It is the abuse that is causing my pain!”
    But no one listens, no one hears, no one gets it, no one wants to.
    And. It. Is. Lonely.
    And to this day, the pastor who should have put the wolf out continues to take the wolf to lunch, coddling the wolf while the sheep are devoured.

    No wonder we all feel sick…..

  20. I agree with your post. Something that further isolated me was feeling like I couldn’t tell the truth. You know, I’d be at Bible Study & the ladies would be talking about their husbands doing nice, normal, everyday things for them. I never knew how to respond. I didn’t have anything to contribute to the conversation. “That sounds nice,” can only be used so many times. And there was the temptation to become envious. How could I add to the conversation without appearing like I’m complaining to them? How could I say something true, like, “oh, my husband ignored me for the better part of the week & screamed me into a corner with his finger pointing down at my face?”

    I’m glad to have some new friends who get it. Friends who understand life isn’t a formula, & a bunch of fake, flowery stuff. Also grateful for this website. Thank you.

  21. I’m feeling rather lonely tonight. And angry. Sometimes it seems as if every time we turn around, we encounter people who are abusive, or who support abusers.

    I have written in previous comments that after years of enduring my Narcissistic Mom / family, we are now dealing with my husband’s family. His brother is manipulative, has vandalized and stolen from those who tried to help him, is immoral, and really weird. Years ago engaged in behavior toward our son that is typical of a child molester. His siblings –many of whom are “Christian”– found out a couple of months ago that we have had limited contact with their brother. They were outraged and tried to pressure us to have unlimited contact with him. The brother wasn’t even really aware that we were limiting contact since he lives quite far away and we didn’t make an issue of it, but he found out because of the turmoil the other siblings were causing. My husband explained to his brother why the family was in turmoil and he asked “Was what I did so bad?” My husband said, “Yes.” The brother than complained about Christians who don’t give grace and deleted his FB account. Tonight our son just discovered by accident that his uncle has a new FB page under a new name. All the family is friends with him, but he has blocked my husband and me. I feel angry because my husband is a very good guy — very generous, loving, and with great integrity. He has helped all his siblings at one time or another. He deserves better than to have his siblings all side with the terrible brother.

    How can people be so blind? Yet, they think they are so godly and that we are unChristlike because we want to protect our family from abuse. I’m beginning to think that we can tell who the false Christians are by who they support. How could true Christians support wicked people? My heart is aching, but there is so few to talk to. Yes, it is very lonely.

  22. Thank you for all you express, Jeff- the things we wish we didn’t feel or think we shouldn’t feel… But we do and it is healing to read it. This healing is taking soooo much longer than I anticipated. Sometimes I wonder if I’m healing slower because I haven’t really exposed the man – I just left him, stopped the game.
    Am I stronger now? I hope so.
    I’ll never be strong enough to fight those doomed, one-sided battles again.
    Does anyone want to hear about it? Not really.
    Am I isolated? Absolutely.
    Do I regret leaving? Not at all.
    Is God good to me? Every single moment of every single day.
    I’m free. This quiet, simple life is the life that gratitude built.

  23. The tears flow as I read all the responses. I could have replied to more than one, I resonate with so many. So I decided to just come in at the bottom. Just when life seems like it can’t get worse, it does. But you all have been there, and I cry for your pain and for mine. There comes a point that there is so much loneliness and abuse and blame, that I just can’t talk about it any more, even here (not that I respond often – just don’t feel like I have much to contribute – it is all said so well by others). I guess I just shut down. Thank you for that reminder, that God is good to me, even when no one else seems to think I am worth anything except to use as a punching bag.

    1. Moving Forward,
      Thank you for sharing …. I’ve been the same as you. I am commenting every now and then but indeed other commenters have stated their hearts so well, and I grieve over all of our loneliness and pain.
      Yes, God is faithful and you are worth something to the King of kings. Praying for you. ((hugs))

      1. Thank you. I needed to know that I am not invisible somewhere, and what better place than here.

  24. I am thankful for a place like ACFJ:
    –where it is OK to expose evil,
    –where Christian verse cliches are exposed for how they are used as weapons against hurting people,
    –where people are NOT blind, to what has happened in the past with ‘the church’ based on traditions of men, and NOT the Word of God.

    I am so thankful…for ACFJ and Pastor Crippen and Barbara and all those who labor with ACFJ.

    I have nowhere else to communicate and be understood, when the impact of abusive behaviors is made evident to me.
    I see more clearly now, what use to cloud my judgement…about ‘good people.’

    I want to share with people what they too may be blind to, that is happening in their midst.

    Here, I find new strength, to go back onto the battlefield, alone, to fight.

    Thank you, for making it not feel quite so lonely…

    1. This is true for me as well.
      It is a place where we as believers can all come together and acknowledge the truth, which sets us free from the lies.

    1. Hi Show Me the Way,
      Your comment wasn’t deleted, we just held it in moderation because it has so much identifying info in it. When there are details in a comment that would identify the commenter to their abuser (if the abuser happened to be reading the blog) we are pretty cautious about publishing it. Especially when we know that the commenter is either living with the abuser or is under post-separation abuse.

      If you can safely email me (if your abuser is not monitoring your email) I’m happy to discuss this further by email.
      My address is

  25. Am feeling very much like this today.
    Thank you for reminding me that others feel like this too, as well as also experience friends not wanting to hear about it anymore.

  26. Jeff, I love this post. It’s so true and beautiful.

    This part,

    Now when you are in the midst of such suffering, you think of little else. You can’t think of much else. You don’t even fully understand what is happening (the fog, you know) and that confusion adds to dwelling on the thing because you are trying to sort it out.

    There’s a comedian who did a bit about a car accident he had been in. The other driver had been drunk and clearly at fault but the police officer who wrote up the report made a series of errors and the fault ended up being put on the innocent party (him). He ends up having to track down the police officer (via phone) who had obviously been ducking his calls, and when he finally gets a hold of him, the police officer tells him, “Do the right thing and pay for the guys car.” Now this comedian gets irate and starts surfing the web looking for ways to bring justice to the situation, never mind not wanting to pay $12,000 to fix the drunk drivers car. And by the end of the bit he jokes about how nobody can even call him to chit-chat because he is consumed by the injustice of it all.

    The horror of it all brings us to our knees so it’s good to hear someone talk about it in comedic form.

    (I’m putting the link here but feel free to take it out if you think it’s not appropriate to post.)
    The Accident Report

  27. This.
    Lately I feel swallowed by the loneliness.
    By the outrage and inequity.
    By the lies and the sabotage.
    By the inability to defend myself without coming across as a shrew…while the abuser has the sympathy and support of the entire world…..(not really, but it feels like that).
    The loneliness has a hollow, aching emptiness.
    Yet, I am reminded that Jesus was a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief.
    I guess that is company enough.

  28. I can’t thank you ACFJ [enough], for the place to come and get answers. When I reach out to my church family (I live with my Pastor and his wife, and they ARE most certainly my brother and sister), I get so frustrated by their not understanding that I NEDED to talk about it.

    I grew up in an abusive household…and lived in an abusive marriage for 30+ years. So all of my years EXCEPT for the last 5 have been traumatic. How do I NOT talk about it? Especially when there are happenings that trigger the memories? How do I NOT live in the past as they have accused me of (though frankly I don’t believe that mentioning memories and triggers ARE living in the past). And how do I stop needing the abuse to be acknowledged on an ongoing basis, not just once and done? Yes I made bad choices that hurt mostly my children (and myself)…but honestly why do I have to accept responsibility for not wanting to be beaten again…not wanting to be chained again, not wanting to be sexually abused again, or starved again…all because I was “disobedient.” Yes I drove without a license…but I didn’t want to be beaten again. WHY does that make ME the criminal???

    God…I need you to help me Figure it out. God I need you to talk to your son, my brother, and get him to understand how he’s hurting me (I’ve tried on a weekly basis for the last three years). And Father God, I really need you to cause my sister to understand that I NEED to talk about it all and it doesn’t mean I’m living in the past. But most of all…God, I am asking YOU to heal me…..and help ME to understand.

  29. ^^^^THAT!! (Rather than commenting on the original post and most of the comments.)

    In the past, I listened to those who had no voice.

    In the past, I spoke up for those who had no voice.

    Now, I listen to those who have no voice.

    Now, I speak up for those who have no voice.

    In the process, I learned to speak for myself.

    In the past, I defended those who had no voice.

    In the past, I protected those who had no voice.

    Now, I am lonely, though loneliness is preferable to abuse.

    Loneliness has been my lifelong companion, the only one who has stuck by me.

    ^^^^THAT!! (Rather than commenting on the original post and most of the comments.)

    1. Adding on to my own comment….

      Loneliness has been my lifelong companion, the only one who has stuck by me.

      How do I explain the tears shed, the loneliness, the loss of my paper-friends, the books containing pieces of me in their characters?

      How do I explain triggering when reminded of one of my paper-friends?

      How do I explain my spontaneously telling a practitioner during a healing session “I wish you could have known her.” about one of my paper-friend characters?

      How do I explain the grief that leaves me doubled over in silent pain?

      How do I explain these paper-friend characters were more real to me than people?

      How do I explain a picture in my mind, a “figment of my imagination”?

      How do I explain the grief and the tears?

      1. I don’t know how you explain that….but I know you have in a way explained it here in your poignant lament.

        Lamentation and tears and grief can’t be explained fully, but they are felt, they are witnessed, they are entered into by silently sitting and listening to the lamenter and offering to hold their hand or put an arm around their shoulders. Or just sitting and saying nothing, like Job’s friends who in the first few days sat with him….(before they opened their mouths and put their foot in it ginormously, repeatedly, aarrrghhhh).

        Cyberspace does not allow us to sit right next to you, Finding Answers, but I trust you can feel I am sitting next to you in spirit, hearing you and offering you my hand to hold as you weep with or without tears. The heart grieves even if tears are not shed.

      2. Your comment, Finding Answers, brought back to me something I read years ago by a woman who was on the autism spectrum.

        To the best of my recall what I read from her….
        As a child she had no words, no speech, no ability to relate to or interact with people at all. Her parents were both heavy drinkers and were totally insensitive to or didn’t care about the needs of their daughter: they had lots of parties in their home, with the adults all getting drunk and behaving wildly.

        She, the daughter, described her earliest memory of making a ‘friend’. While these wild parties were going on in her parents’ home, she, as a young child, felt and made friends with the wallpaper in a hallway or passage of her parents’ house.

        The wallpaper was the (now old fashioned) kind which has a pattern of flocked raised fuzzy feeling texture. You can run you fingers and hands across that kind of wallpaper and feel the pattern, even if you can’t or don’t want to see the pattern. Your fingers tell you the pattern. And this dear woman / child made friends with the pattern on the wallpaper, through her fingers. It was her first experience of having a friend.

        I will never forget her story. I don’t know where I read it on the web. But she is now an adult woman who is very creative and able to communicate in words and speech and writing and art. And she is not ashamed of her neurological difference. She is proud of being the individual she is.

        I think that people on the autism spectrum have a lot to teach ‘neuro-typical’ people’ (of whom I am one) about reality and perception and feeling and trauma and empathy and ethical interaction with others and friendship and compassion.

      3. Thank you, Barb, for both of your lovely replies.

        You wrote :

        Cyberspace does not allow us to sit right next to you, Finding Answers, but I trust you can feel I am sitting next to you in spirit, hearing you and offering you my hand to hold as you weep with or without tears. The heart grieves even if tears are not shed.


        Or, perhaps, sitting in a coffee shop, watching a sketch artist draw the picture in my mind.

        You also wrote :

        I will never forget her story….

        Thank you for sharing her story. (Omitting many details for my protection.)

        Her story has provided some hindsights / insights I need to process / untangle.

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