A Cry For Justice

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

Thursday Thought — Abuse: Cancer or the common cold

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…”  (by Joe Pote)

From our Allegories, Analogies, and Fairy Tales page

The original cancer analogy can be found at this post: The relational cancer of abuse is not like the common cold.  Joe’s comment can be found in the comment section of this post here.



  1. Brenda R

    Taking this one step further, “if only I hadn’t been born, I would not have been sexually assaulted by the wicked step father!!” The fairy tale, actually realistic ending, is seeing my blessed Savior in Heaven. Fairy tales can’t do better. Sure wish that one would have been read more when I was young.

  2. Herjourney

    It’s like the counselor(s) lived in my home. Paid the bills. Prepared the meals. What to have for dinner. Told me when to have sex with my abuser. What to wear. Where to sit in church. Who I could make friends with.
    Currently not attending a regular church.
    And it’s 👌 .
    I know the truth. He leads me beside the still waters.

  3. LH

    When you’re in an abusive marriage, your spouse has secretly and deliberately inflected you with cancer, and will do all he can to prevent you from getting treatment. Meanwhile, the church keeps telling you that your spouse has a cold and you’d better take good care of him so he can get better.

    • Anne

      Spot on, LH!

  4. Kim

    I call narcissism the moral AIDS of our time.

  5. Yvette

    I’m curious if you have an estimate for how many marriages are infected with this cancer? My Christian counselor tells me I’m an exception and that my abusive marriage is extremely unusual. It has made me feel all alone and it’s easy to fall into the guilt ridden thought patterns when you feel like you are an exception. When I look at the statistics for child abuse, rape and physical assault in our society it just leaves me thinking that marital abuse has to be occurring in a similarly high % of marriages. Am I wrong?

    • Welcome to the blog. 🙂 I changed your screen name to Yvette as a precaution. If you want us to change it to something else, just email The woman behind the curtain: twbtc.acfj@gmail.com — she will be more than happy to assist. 🙂

      We always like to encourage new readers to check out our New Users’ Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

      How many marriages are abusive? We tend to avoid statistics on this blog. We are not experts on the stats, and we steer clear of it because the statistical aspect of domestic abuse is hotly contested because abusive men like to disseminate distorted statistics. Having said that, the population-based studies in western world countries indicate that one in four women who have ever been partnered are abused by an intimate partner at some point in their life. The incidence of males being abused by female partners is a fair bit lower than that.

      I think your counselor is most likely not well trained in domestic abuse to have told you that your abusive marriage is ‘very unusual’. Basic counseling training does not usually cover domestic abuse well at all. And ‘C’hristian counseling training covers it VERY poorly in many cases. (see here)

      You are by no means alone. Most of the readers at this blog have experienced abuse from their partners, some have experienced abuse from other family members, fellow Christians, and / or church leadership.

  6. Finding Answers

    (Airbrushing as I write through the pain…)

    The Holy Spirit led me to this post, omitting reading the post from which the comment originated.

    Even finishing Joseph’s quote, I could feel my whole body withdraw into itself, feel like a child shrinking into the deepest, darkest corner of my soul.

    I have had counselling in the past, though not by Christian / “C”hristian counsellors.

    (I am fighting the old pattern of self-blame to write what I now know to be truth.)

    None of those counselors identified any of my relationships as abusive….considering my entire family of origin, work relationships, and “friends” were abusers, that is misdiagnosis indeed.

    The only accurate diagnosis was from one counsellor’s file notes. When the notes were read aloud to me, I heard for the first time that what I knew as incest was sibling sexual abuse.

    I was almost forty years old when I received the information.

    The same counsellor was frequently late in starting appointments, had difficulty remembering names, ensuring preparedness for the session, and played heavily on my need for validation. Unfortunately, the validation backfired. (Omitting all other details for my protection.)

    One counsellor was inconsistent in the approach used, and I was often the one deciding on the mode of treatment (Omitting all other details for my protection.)

    Another “counsellor” was, themself, an abuser. In hindsight, the red flags were there…including grooming. (Omitting all other details for my protection.)

    I am aware complex trauma is hard to diagnose, let alone treat, but the breadcrumbs were plentiful and plentifully scattered.

    (I am still hearing, “They were your choice!” in my head.)

    I am immobilized by shame, by guilt, by self-blame.

    (I had tried to muster the courage to speak up in “c”hurch in times past, but was an invisible voice.)

    I thought I was following God’s leading, but missed asking Him some valuable clarifying questions.

    And thus began my journey through hell….

    (Omitting all other details for my protection.) I was led farther away from God, farther away from myself, farther into the morass of despair.

    The misdiagnosis has proven costly – mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually, and financially.

    In over five decades of life, I have experienced only one hour of joy.

    I am tired of hearing I will have joy in eternity.

    I am tired of hearing of those worse off then me. I know – and am profoundly grateful for – this fact. (I mean no harm or pain to anyone…I am aware comparison is a sin.)

    I am tired of putting together misdiagnosed pieces.

    Mea culpa, Papa God.

    Mea culpa.

    • Dear Finding Answers, whoever said to you “They were your choice” did great wrong in telling you that.

      You are not culpable. The people who are culpable are the abusers, the counselors who misdiagnosed you, and everyone who blamed you for making the choices you did.

      I am sure you made all the choices you made because at the time each choice seemed to be the best choice from a set of very unpleasant options.

      I’m guessing you’ve read this link before, but if the Holy Spirit prompts you, you might like to look at it again. 🙂

      Honouring Resistance [Internet Archive link]

      • Finding Answers


        Thank you for reminding me of the link, Barb.

        The Holy Spirit did, indeed, take me through the Honouring Resistance booklet.

        Far, far more connected….

        As I read, little vignettes came to mind, images previously seen through the abusers’ lens. It was like untwisting Scripture…the kaleidoscope was turning, the small prisms changing the final picture. The differences were subtle, but important.

        I felt like I was viewing my entire life through a completely different lens, and not performed as an academic exercise. The understanding was spontaneous, unchoreographed, unscripted.

        Many, many things became readily apparent…

        First, I would re-label all my counsellors as abusers. And I need to stop making excuses for them. (From your reply, I suspect you already knew this…. 🙂 ) FWIW, they were all women.

        The number of people about whom I need to stop asking myself “Why?” has increased. I definitely need the Holy Spirit’s guidance on His application of “Why?” While the “need to know why?” part of me is a vital, God-given gift, I have tried to apply it indiscriminately.

        (Sounds reminiscent of “c”hurch / twisting Scripture, doesn’t it…and the need to learn discernment.)

        I need to accept all the damage done to me was intentional, the harm to me much deeper than I previously comprehended.

        I have more responses to re-evaluate. Not in a “scheduled” sense, but gently. Looking at past memories through the new prism lens. In new Light.

        I also suspect the Holy Spirit will lead me through the Honouring Resistance booklet at regular – not “scheduled” – intervals. I would lay odds on more revelation with each reading.

        Again, many thanks Barb, for your thoughtful reply. The timing of your suggestions was impeccable…

      • 🙂 🙂 🙂

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