A Common Accusation by Abusers to Victims: “You Cannot Keep Friends”

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.


[January 17, 2023: There have been some changes made to this post. For more information, read the Editors’ notes at the bottom of the post. Editors.]

For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.  (Isaiah 53:2-3  ESV)

Abusers are the children of their father the devil. So it is not surprising that they share one of his favorite tactics — accusation. And one of the very common accusations that abusers level at their victims is something like this: You never keep friends. Your friendships never last. You always reject them eventually. Or they reject you when they see how weird you really are. Ever heard that line? I have. Plenty of times.

Of course the goal behind this lie is to make the accused feel worthless. If you believe this wickedness is true then you are going to see yourself as a person no one wants at best and at worst, someone who just uses people for a time and then dumps them. This is the kind of lying fog that helps abusers keep their victim under control. If the accused (victim) is in fact incapable of maintaining a friendship long term, no one is going to come to their aid if they ask, right?

If you are a true follower of Jesus Christ, then the words quoted above from Isaiah 53 are going to be applied to you at some point. You will be despised and rejected by men, acquainted with grief. Others will see you as having no form or majesty, rather, you are a person who repels others and from whom they hide their faces. Sounds a lot like the very stuff the abuser tells us about ourselves.

Also, if you are a genuine, real-deal Christian, then some, if not many, of your relationships ARE going to fall apart. As you grow in Christ, superficial friends, some of whom claim to be Christians, are going to withdraw from you. Or you may well have to withdraw from them. We are, after all, not to be bound together in intimate relationships with unbelievers or with so-called “brothers” who live like the devil (see 1 Corinthians 5). It happened to Jesus frequently:

After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?”  (John 6:66-67  ESV)

The real question becomes, you see, not why you experience broken relationships, but why is it that the abuser seems to be so popular with others?

One of the worst abusers I have ever known in my years as a pastor frequently launched this accusation at me — “you never keep relationships.” Of course I have many relationships with real believers who I have been close friends with for decades, but over the years I have indeed had to confront hypocrites and they almost always turn on anyone who tells them the truth. Yet this fellow who loved to revile us and make these accusations always managed to remain popular. How? He was like seaweed waving in the tides. He would take whatever position on issues that brought him the most favor and cost him the least. So he was the “go-to” man of the wicked and enjoyed popularity. Then he would level his accusations — “You never keep relationship. You dump people. You are too harsh. You hurt them.” That is how it goes.

It is all lies of course. It is the poison from those fangs that Paul says lie behind the lips of the evil man. Don’t believe any of it.

[January 17, 2023: Editors’ notes:

—For some comments made prior to January 17, 2023 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 January 17, 2023 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 January 17, 2023 that quoted from the post to the post as it is now (January 17, 2023), click here [Internet Archive link] for the most recent Internet Archive copy of the post.]


74 thoughts on “A Common Accusation by Abusers to Victims: “You Cannot Keep Friends””

  1. My mother told me that I was alone and had no friends when I was a child because God was preparing me for a life of complete loneliness. It’s hard not to believe she was right even after reading this as I raise my children alone and have no time for anything else because I work 50 – 60 hours a week trying to get to a place where I can once and for all get away from my abusive ex.

    I haven’t spoken to any church friends in weeks. And even if I could get off Sunday and get to church, talking to someone for five minutes really isn’t friendship. Christian women don’t have time for someone like me. They have their families to tend to and I have nothing to offer. Church makes demands on me that are burdensome. Fellowship is within the confines of pre-determined dates and times, all of which are for “normal” people who are not in my situation. I have tried to make overtures to my Christian friends, but none are terribly interested.

    But I did have have coffee after work with an atheist friend this week and a Buddhist friend asked me to go to a movie with her next week. I don’t think most Christians are wired to deal with people like me.

    I can’t praise God for the evil I have seen, and I call it evil. Those things turn Christians off. I’ve noticed if you can’t just be spewing out the praise, you don’t have a lot of friends. And if you call evil evil, it’s even worse. Anyway, I appreciate your post. I hope it will help others.

    [Paragraph breaks added to enhance readability. Editors.]

      1. I have found this too, Cher. The past Christian women in my life had an agenda for me. I was their pet project, their “ministry”. If I didn’t show improvement in their time-frame, or make the decisions they wanted, they eventually lost interest and rejected me. They were never truly friendships.

      2. Nope, they were female Diotrephes (see 3 John 1). Like him, they wanted to be “first.” Either praise them or you’re out. Seen it before many times in the church. Lesson learned — when you see someone, man or woman, in a church seeming to always be “discipling” someone, but the disciplee never seems to grow and then moves on away from those kind of people, you’ve got trouble. Such people must be stopped and told they are not permitted to teach. They will blow up, and soon be gone.

    1. Francis….you should be the first one that Christian women have time for. Sadly, that is not the case most of the time. In my experience, the Christian women that were in my life were only interested in “fixing” me so that I could fit into the confines of their “normal”. Conversations always revolved around the “spiritual” reasons [that] things were happening. For example, I had very low iron during pregnancy and had a near car accident. I was told that “God was showing me my pride because I said I was always so careful when driving.” I became the scapegoat because I “didn’t blindly follow” and stopped having all of these “highly spiritual” blamings of my supposed “pride”.

      I question things. I speak up when something is not right….I have a “track record of disobedience” (or so said my former pastor). I work outside the home and the women at the church I attended did not seem to understand the demands of my life. One particularly screwy woman asked me what if I “just didn’t go back to work” after I explained that I “had to go back to pay back time” (I owe a lot of borrowed time back that I took in advance for maternity, and in order to pay it back, I have to keep working). I just looked at her in awe of how out of the loop she was to the world of the mom who works an outside job.

      I have noticed too, like you, that it’s the people who are really hurting, or those of other religions / belief systems that are the least judgmental. Why are Christians so judgmental? IDK [I Don’t Know].

    2. Hi, Francis Needs New Shoes,
      Welcome to the blog. 🙂
      The church you are in sounds like the typical Christianese club where so many hearts are shallow and cold and they are all just following a script.

      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.

    3. My mother and older sister would say similar to me: “no wonder you don’t have any friends” as a way to taunt me. However the truth was that I was a very shy child and was being bullied by some previous friends of mine. When a small child hears this it sinks deep. I am still fighting that lie today, and now my husband reaffirms it.

  2. A Bible verse for the popular abuser:

    Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for their fathers used to treat the false prophets in the same way. (Luke 6:26 [NASB1995])

  3. Yep – accusations! “No one cares for you; no one except me loves you; your son and granddaughters do not love or respect you; your friends have all abandoned you; you don’t know how to be a friend; you don’t know how to love; I have instructed my friends to love you because no one else cares about you” (my ex would say). My ears heard this and MUCH worse….his accusations never stopped, morning, noon and ALL through the night.

    I recognize now (post-divorce) it was all part of his plotted and planned evil to tear me down, make me doubt and feel completely worthless; in fact, he would tell me on a regular basis I am “worthless”. In my broken-down emotional and mental state, combined with his other abuses and total isolation from my family, friends, and at times my country, I really was walking around in a fog, beginning to question if my “husband” was correct — perhaps no one does love or care about me!! My God-given personality by nature is very upbeat, always smiling, positive and confident, filled with lots of enthusiasm and a real zeal for life. I feel quite confident in saying my family and friends who really do love and know me, would agree.

    Effects of being held prisoner to an evildoer started to reflect visibly in my countenance. I realized I started to walk with my head down because I felt worthless. Loved ones would see pictures of me or hear my voice on a RARE phone call I would make and knew I was not the same person. Their alarm sounded! They began to reach out to me knowing something was very wrong.

    As I look back, I am still nearly speechless as to how very real EVIL is. I suppose I always knew it was “out there”, but when it preys upon YOU and holds you in its grip and sinks its fangs into you, you awaken to the reality you are now face-to-face with real evil. I, of course, cannot say it any better than Psalm 10:2-10:

    (2) In his arrogance the wicked man hunts down the weak, who are caught in the schemes he devises. (3) He boasts about the cravings of his heart; he blesses the greedy and reviles the LORD. (4) In his pride the wicked man does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God. (5) His ways are always prosperous; your laws are rejected by him; he sneers at all his enemies. (6) He says to himself, “Nothing will ever shake me.” He swears, “No one will ever do me harm.” (7) His mouth is full of lies and threats; trouble and evil are under his tongue. (8) He lies in wait near the villages; from ambush he murders the innocent. His eyes watch in secret for his victims; (9) like a lion in cover he lies in wait. He lies in wait to catch the helpless; he catches the helpless and drags them off in his net. (10) His victims are crushed, they collapse; they fall under his strength. [NIV]

    To be deceived to where we are used, abused, demeaned, devalued and discarded is almost beyond comprehension.

    I must continue saying, thank you ACFJ for the light you continue to shed on abusers, evil, and the effects thereof.

  4. “Nobody really cares about you.”

    “Those people aren’t really your friends. Just watch, they’ll dump you eventually.”

    “You’re going to die miserable and alone.”

    “Your own kids can’t wait to get away from you.”

    “Your family are all losers. Why would you want to have anything to do with them? Flush them.”

      1. Anonymous and Stronger Now,
        Ditto on what my ex abuser said and did to me. They all indeed are playing from the same evil book.

        This was how it affected me as well..

        My God-given personality by nature is very upbeat, always smiling, positive and confident, filled with lots of enthusiasm and a real zeal for life.

        Effects of being held prisoner to an evildoer started to reflect visibly in my countenance. I realized I started to walk with my head down because I felt worthless.

        Yes – totally.

        I started to wonder if I could ever get back to who I once was — pre-abuser times. But now after being free from having to live with the abuse, the living Christ within me was able to restore all that I once was, and more. So don’t lose heart, because although we may still walk in the valley of the shadow of death (the world), we can fear no evil, and that allows us to walk in the fullness of light and joy that is in Christ.

  5. Jesus did not entrust Himself to any man because He knew what was in man. That was somewhere in John chapter 2 I think [John 2:24-25]. I think the Christians closest friend needs to be Jesus and that’s why it’s so hard for many of us to stay a social butterfly when finding a new church. It’s disappointing to realize they expect you to not have boundaries so they can give all kinds of unwanted advice and then they seem offended because you actually have biblical rebuttals to what they are trying to impose on you.

  6. Another great post that should be a lesson we all learned back in children’s Sunday School. But in many of our cases, if we’d been taught this so young, we might’ve seen that it was our parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousin’s, the neighbor’s etc. that dumped this lie on our heads and if we hadn’t been additionally allowed to know the truth about evil people and how to respond to them and that we had the right to speak truth or at the very least, the right to stay away from these evil ones, it might have made things harder. But guess what? We’ll never know and as a Christian I have learned that GOD always handles things on my behalf even when it seems like I will surely fail or be destroyed. When we give HIM the chance to be God such as when we teach truth to others and when we then allow them to live and speak it, God is there.

    My daughter is not like me. She was not “roped down” and told to “submit to all authority and to all men.” God woke us both up at the same time — when she was still a young teen. This biblical basic training camp that God sent us through was very thorough and stripped away all the layers of fat known as “lies and trite platitudes” and left us lean, mean fighting machines — biblically speaking of course. So she, as a young adult, is very different from how I had been at her age and also from the young people around her. She is not spouting Bible verses and trying to lead everyone to Jesus and spreading herself so thin that she is worn out and sick from people-pleasing. She actually has likes and dislikes and is adamant when others try to violate her boundaries or mislead her with guilt trips and “shoulds” that had paralyzed me my entire life. She is allowed to fail, to try things without being made to feel like it is a matter of life or death, and is not expected to try to be perfect. And because it was God who intervened in her life and who is her barrier and protection, I have been blessed to witness what a Christian walk “could” look like, if we were allowed to be ourselves through Jesus.

    The issue you addressed in this post, Jeff, was one of the early-on tactics my husband tried to control her with, as God was waking her up. She had been abused in school and had WANTED (begged) to be homeschooled. We (she and I) searched to find a homeschool program that was accredited with videos etc., so that it was legitimate and challenged her. When my husband realized that this homeschooling curriculum actually gave her some control and peace in her life, he started berating her by telling her that she would be socially stunted and that he was worried about her social skills. This child had always been extremely socially skilled and my husband knew it. (I didn’t realize this until years after I’d been married but my husband hid behind my social ability and manipulated me using these God-given gifts against me. These “skills” gained him access to others and he had used them to worm his way into others lives. My daughter had this gift as well, and he thought it was his right to use this to his advantage. I had been very active in school activities all throughout our children’s lives and he got credit for this — I always gave him credit. It had been a MAJOR source of “worship” for him when this daughter attended school, so when this was taken away because our daughter was homeschooled — he was mad and tried to force her to feel guilty so that she would go back to school. It didn’t work however and when this daughter graduated an entire year early from high school and received her diploma — he threw it across the table in anger!)

    He rarely tries to use the, “You never keep friends. Your friendships never last. You always reject them eventually,” anymore because I now respond by telling him that this just shows how healthy I am! That once I realize someone is toxic — I oust them out of my life. It’s amazing to see him for what he truly is — a person without wisdom or true knowledge or understanding about human beings. He has seen that God has been with me these past many years since I’ve refused to cater to him, and he on some level knows that what I do is right and good. Now he mimics me and acts like he is “healthy” too when he dumps people in his life. The sad reality here is that he only ACTS like he is discerning and when he “ousts” someone it is because they were on to him and actually dumped HIM out of their life. Thank you for another great topic!

  7. Another manner in which abusers will say “You can’t keep friends”: they are continuously busy triangulating every friend of yours against you and each other, so that all loyalties will be towards the abusers, who then insist, “Look how they treated you! We don’t need them”, in order to further isolate.

    Abusers never rest. There is never a plateau. It only seems that way sometimes because the abusers’ targets do not see what is going on behind the scenes. They do not choose to reach a “stable” level of manipulation where you can relax as if you have it all figured out. Never be surprised when you’re surprised.

    1. It’s all part of the evil….keep everyone confused and doubting fact from fiction. Nope, they don’t want “stable”. They want confusion, drama, better known as “narcissistic supply”.

      1. So very accurate. Having awakened to the evil lies, any suggestions for those whose circle has been narrowed to themselves?

      2. Possible ideas:
        —seek support from a women’s centre / domestic abuse support service, or a women’s shelter / refuge. Do this without the abuser’s knowledge. These centres often run support groups for women. My experience of such groups was very positive; I did two groups, one when I was with my abuser, the other two years after I’d left my abuser.

        —Consider leaving the abuser….start putting a plan together to leave him….look at our Safety Planning page in the Resources section

        —Disclose to your doctor if you trust him. He is bound by oath to keep your disclosure confidential.

        —Every time the abuser tells you nasty things, tell yourself in your head that he’s a liar.

        —Read the booklet Honouring Resistance (look for it in our search bar, and yes it does have a ‘u’ in the spelling). It helps you recognise how creatively you have been resisting the abuse all this time.

        —When and if you do manage to have a conversation with someone who you might want to become friends with, it’s wise to be prepared for how they may inadvertently say hurtful things to you when you talk about the abuse. My post Unhelpful Comments can be useful here, to help you mentally rehearse how you might respond to the unhelpful comments of such potential friends.

      3. Sheisovercoming —
        My circle is quite narrow. It was narrow to begin with and got narrower the longer I stayed with my abuser. It was a ploy of his; part of isolation – a type of abuse. For many, many years it was only the two of us….and he liked it that way. He hated that I tried to expand my circle while we were yet together and actively worked to dismantle my circle of safety by building allies within it. Eventually, I left my abuser and my circle became narrower still because when I left I also left my church (a different story) — and with my church, a part of my safety network stayed behind.

        I have always been an introvert to greater or lesser degree. So, if you are not in that category of personality then what I have to say may not bring comfort. I hope it does, though. What I have found in this pathway of healing has been this: It is not the size of one’s circle that matters most. It is the depth and quality within. What I mean is this: I don’t find satisfaction in the number of friends I have. As an introvert, I am quite happy with the “less is more” equation of friends. I like being by myself and agree with the phrase that “although I am alone, I am not lonely” .

        To be sure — I do not have very many friends. Those I do have, those precious few – are very close and extremely high quality. Several are women, like myself, who have walked these same miles and one or two have not. Each of them, however, are worth their weight in gold. In these friendships, I can be myself – my complete and uninhibited self. I trust them; completely. I know without a doubt that they will hold me accountable were I to suggest a course of action that was un-Christ-like. They would lovingly ask me if there might be another way. And if I was hell-bent upon that course, while they would voice their discomfort and their own opinion — they would love me still and walk that mile with me. And they would still be with me on the other side when I realize the sin-choice I made and the hard work of repentance I now have before me. This, too, they would walk along with me — without judgement and full of compassion and love; honestly, openly, empathically.

        I would do the same for each of them.

        I accept my small circle and find great joy within it.

        I have had to employ stricter boundaries with my family (just recently) — so, my circle gets smaller still! I realize I have work to do in establishing, perhaps, a wider circle with more variety. For instance, as I continue to heal, I may need to consider adding a male friend or two to the group. That scares me and I (sort of) welcome the challenge.

        One step at a time.

        Much love and discernment to you. You can do it.

  8. I heard “the various accusations” over the years. Ultimately, my lack of close friendships is because I choose to be faithful to the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and the true Gospel.
    Thank you for this post.

  9. I am so thankful for this post. I have been told this many times by my abusive husband, with greater frequency the last few months. I get told “you always drive people away”, “now I know why you don’t have any friends….”, “if you leave me you will be alone for the rest of your life”, “you’re crazy” (so no one will want you).

    But the truth is that I lost some friends at the start of our marriage, because they insisted I divorce him (I didn’t). They got fed up and abandoned me. Then the rest have been me turning away from false Christians. The latest accusation of “you drive everyone away”, came from me ending a dual phone call we had with a marriage ministry that just affirmed his abuse and from me refusing to talk anymore with a ‘Christian couple’ who did the same. There has literally been no real Christians left in my life, and since I will not attend a local church for more false teaching and abuse / sin affirming, my abuser uses this to further prove how judgmental, unforgiving, harsh and crazy I am, and to prove that it is my fault I have no friends. It is really hard to stand against that in your mind when you are so alone and I have spent the last couple of months wondering if he is right and [am] in a deep depression over it. But when I really examine it, I know it is not true.

    It’s also sad that it can become a catch 22 for some of us….we get hurt and betrayed by false Christians and so stay away from ever attending any church, and thus remain without true Christian friends. This makes us even more vulnerable to the abuser and I honestly don’t know what the answer is.

    1. I know all of this too well. As a pastor, these kinds of people would target me and use those very same kinds of statements when they couldn’t get me to do their every bidding. They are wicked and evil and would rather see a church destroyed than to yield their power and control.

  10. Standsfortruth, I celebrate along with you in our “God rescuing us” abuse-free environment! And with heart-pin-to-the-heart accuracy you stated:

    The living Christ within me was able to restore all that what I once was, and more.

    I remain astounded in the knowledge that the power of Christ has and always will overcome evil.

  11. Has an abuser ever said the opposite? Like: “You love your friends more than you love me” and gotten mad whenever you try to hang out with anyone except him? Because my husband does this almost constantly and I used to think he was just insecure and that I needed to prove that he had nothing to be worried about. But now I’m starting to think something is wrong. I only ever hang around other girls so there would be no reason for him to be jealous. And if he hated any of my friends I told him he could tell me. But he just makes fun of them. And me for being dumb enough to have friends outside of him. It’s pretty exhausting.

    1. In my case, after marriage we moved out of state and so I left family and friends at a distance. I was “encouraged” by my “husband” to cut ALL ties, forget family and friends (and myself for that matter) and concentrate only on him.

      In a loving, God-centered biblical marriage, of course, we are to leave and cleave and our husbands must be first as we build our marriage. But with a wolf / predator / abuser, they have but one goal: isolate, abuse, terrorize, crush and destroy.

      So, I lived in complete isolation, forbidden to stay in touch with my friends, and not allowed to make new ones. I did not hear “You love your friends more than me” because he IMMEDIATELY built a prison wall between me and them.

      I’m free now. NO looking back. Everything this abuser said and did to me was EVIL. He will answer to God.

      1. I am so sorry you had to go through that. No one should be isolated and no one has the right to treat you like that. It’s basically kidnapping.
        My husband and I moved in with his family in another state for school. But he decided to quit school. As soon as he did I got him to move back to my home state because he was starting to seriously isolate me and his family was a bad influence on him. He would get angry with me, cry easily over the smallest of things. We were almost always fighting and he was so clingy. I was able to convince him to move back to my state and he isn’t happy about it but he is being nicer and I get to have my friends and family. He makes fun of them. But I get to have them. It’s confusing.

    2. I never had many friends. His circle of friends were to be my friends. When I eventually developed relationships with Christians he was annoyed. I don’t think he ever thought I could have other friendships. He didn’t like it though because he wanted me or in many ways needed me in order to enjoy certain outdoor activities. What didn’t help is my in-laws encouraged his brooding when I wasn’t around to entertain him. Now — he couldn’t care less — I am to just leave him alone as he does his own thing.
      What is even more disconcerting is the locals, both secular and churched seem to accept this as being “normal”?

      1. Yeah that’s not normal or okay. We shouldn’t be expected to be our husband’s accessories. Sometimes they act like we are their everything instead of Jesus being their everything. And then I feel bad because how sad do you have to be to not even handle being alone with yourself. God had given me peace so when I’m alone I can be okay. But whenever he’s alone he panics and texts me until I come home. It’s so odd. Nobody deserves this.

      2. NutMeg-

        how sad do you have to be to not even handle being alone with yourself.

        I realize that as an introvert I am probably off the charts at being okay with being alone with myself….it’s my mom who is not. And it has taken the past few years for this thought to permeate my mind. I don’t know how I never noticed it before. I guess as kids (my brothers and me)….we were always around, so how would we notice?! Right?

        Now that we are adults, each living separate lives that only occasionally intersect for brief weekend visits – it is hard not to miss. This summer we took a week-long vacation together. BAM! It was confirmed (as I was suspecting over the past few years). She cannot sit still nor spend any appreciable amount of time by herself. Wow!

        And then for the $10 million question: why is that?! Is she so uncomfortable with her thoughts, her….self that she cannot bear to face what is on the inside? Why can she just not sit and drift? She cannot even sit and read for extended periods (not that I observed). What is it?!

        It has become such an issue that the times we visit over the weekend are jam-packed with activity. There is very little “resting.” I need a second weekend just to recuperate from the weekend. And if I invite her to visit me….I better have the weekend planned….or else she’s bored and unhappy.

        Maybe I just have a slug-like existence. I’m fine with that. Really. She wears me out.

    3. I suspect that your husband is fabricating another reason for you to consider sacrificing your friends for him. He is aware that with other healthy people in your life you may become more aware of his unhealthy state of mind. So to eliminate them would afford him the advantage to further isolate you into his fog-producing world for further control. Mine did this to the extreme….

      When I finally got a break in the over-worked environment he created for me (with his in-home business), I took an afternoon off to visit a friend, to try to enjoy myself. On that same afternoon he fabricated a scenario where he texted to tell me that someone must have called Child Protective Services and they had come over to our home for an inspection, and were appalled at the condition of the home. This of course was a lie, but intended to make me come home to tend to the house. All of this to try to keep me from having the freedom of mind to establish healthy friendships. He pulled similar stuff every time I tried to get away.

      The abuser is afraid his target will become more aware of his abuse. If he had nothing to fear he would encourage her free time to restore herself.

      [Paragraph breaks added to enhance readability. Editors.]

      1. Standsfortruth: the more I think about it the more I fear you are correct. He will constantly text me when I leave. And he begs me not to see my friends. He also puts me down and calls me names. But whenever I try to stand up to him he says that he only acts out of woundedness because I’m so mean to him. My friends think this is ridiculous of course. And I have recently started to open up to them about it. He doesn’t even like [seeing me on the computer] — he tries to distract me when he finds me on the computer.

        I’m the only one who works. He has part time work that he can do whenever he wishes to, but he does it but [he] only does it if I’m at work. He promises to [do this work] every day but won’t. Then he gets mad at me when I say that I’m the only employed one. He’s shown me too much of his heart. I wish I had seen it before the wedding day. I’ve especially seen his darker side during this election.

        I was able to vote for the candidate of my choosing (he knows that would have been a deal breaker) but not before hearing about how brainwashed and stupid I was to vote for said candidate. He says I’m not intimate enough with him. And when I try to be he finds something that displeases him about it and calls me [unpleasant label]. It’s humiliating. I cannot kiss well enough. And sometimes I even wake up to him grabbing at me. My friends are appalled. And even the most “divorce is wrong! God predestined your spouse! Marriage is forever” friend I have is completely worried about me.

        I don’t want kids with him at all. And I take precautions so I don’t. But I still feel guilty about thinking these things about him. Especially since before I believed he was my friend and the only non-abusive family member I had. I’m in a hard place. But my friends are helping. [….]

        [Eds. Comment slightly airbrushed and clarified.]

      2. Nutmeg you are becoming more aware that he is devising ways to cover up his manipulation of you. They try to make you believe the reason that they do what they do is anything but for the reason it really is. Such great actors and performances they can put on.

        If you haven’t done so already, please email Twbtc and have her send you a free copy of” Why Does He Do That” written by a Lundy Bancroft. You can have it sent to a safe address where you can pick it up undetected.

  12. Sometimes it seems as if there is an unending parade of abusive people that rip me apart. Sometimes I wonder how many times I can get emotionally / verbally battered and still keep getting to my feet. They make me wonder who I am: Am I the monster they describe? But, for the life of me, I can’t figure out what I’ve done to cause them to attack me. Sometimes I wonder where God is. He has promised to protect and deliver but I don’t feel protected or delivered.

    1. There are many abusers. And there are many who are not abusers but are ignorant about —
      —the tactics of abusers,
      —how victims respond to ongoing trauma and oppression,
      —how superficial and out of balance much of the teaching in the church is.

      This makes the world of the Christian victim of abuse a pretty difficult place to navigate.
      It is not your fault. 🙂

    2. Un-Tangled, the man I married has made it clear that one of the things he doesn’t like about me is that I know too much about him….I am to just leave him alone to be in his comfort zone. As for my other abusers? My adult children have not come out exactly to say why they favour him over me? The children and “him” do not claim to be disciples of Christ and have their own life. I have been called “too religious” by them and my abusive siblings. There is much lying and deceitfulness and they do not appreciate it when I finally confront their lies.
      Praying for you Un-Tangled — that the Lord would provide even one close friend for you to comfort you. I do not have many friends but the Lord has slowly allowed me to entrust my life with a few. ((hugs))

      1. I have no desire for control or dominance. I have no desire to have things always my way. I have no desire to hurt anyone. I care about people, I listen to them, I don’t get angry about stuff that doesn’t matter. I give them the freedom to be different than me. I just want to have peace and live in harmony with people. Yet, it feels as if I’m constantly in battles that I don’t want to fight. And I don’t really understand why the battles exist.

        For example, I always felt parents had an important and loving place in their children’s lives when [they] became an adult or when they got married. But that place is no longer a parent / child relationship. The adult child is not disobedient if he / she doesn’t do what the parent wants. My Mom tried to get me to submit when I became engaged. I tried to balance keeping her in my life while not allowing her to take over control of my marriage. For that I was smeared and condemned. She turned my whole family against me.

        I knew one of my sisters was wounded, so I listened to her, encouraged her, and didn’t get offended when she was belittling and insulting toward me. She never forgave me for being (seemingly) more loved than she was when we were children. Eventually she rejected me.

        And my husband’s family tried to pressure us to have unlimited contact with their brother, who was evil. We resisted. Now we are labeled “unloving”, “unforgiving”, and so on. My husband had a friend who constantly tried to take advantage of him. When we moved to our new home, he began to make plans to use our property as a private (and free) vacation retreat for him and his friends. We would have been reduced to being his caretakers if we hadn’t said “no”.

        And we have struggles with our son, our only child, who is now 21 years old. He has always been extremely, extremely strong-willed, even as a child. I don’t think we were too harsh or too permissive. We were understanding and comforting. We set boundaries and consequences, which he fought and fought. We lived in a crappy little town where, we were told by several people, we would always be “outsiders” because “our family had not lived there for generations”. Many of the kids were nasty and our son was molested by a neighbor kid when he was about 7 – 8. We immediately got him counseling and did what we could to protect him. At age 18, he was diagnosed with cancer. We were there for him all the way.

        Our son has a lot going for him. He is intelligent and witty and enjoyable most of the time. We love him deeply. However, he has anger which he directs at us. He wants his way on his terms. Sometimes he wants conflicting things at the same time. Like, he asks for advice, but doesn’t listen to us give it. I don’t care if he doesn’t ask for advice, or if he doesn’t accept it, but he should at least listen to it if he asks. If I help him, I’m “controlling”. If I don’t help him, I’m “uncaring”. He wants his wishes respected but sees our wishes as trivial and not worth honoring. He accuses us of interrupting him, but he constantly interrupts us. When he gets angry, he calls us terrible, terrible names, including saying that I “have no friends”. If I try to defend myself, he gets angry. If I am silent he seems to provoke until I break and then uses my reaction against me. He says he is “hurt by things” I’ve said, but he doesn’t see his terrible insults — many times worse than anything I’ve said — as hurtful. If I walk away in order to de-escalate the conflict, he follows me while insulting me. He tells us that we don’t have much money because we have mismanaged our money, but doesn’t consider that the reason we have so little money is because we have / are paying for his medical bills, we paid to relocate to our new home, and so on.

        I feel so sad. I am not really sure who I am. On the one hand, I cannot see where I have been so awful but I get accused of being awful. Maybe I am? If I am kind and agreeable then expectations and demands heap up and I lose myself. If I try to lovingly set healthy boundaries then I am “mean and unloving”. I pretty much feel that no matter what I do, no matter how hard I try, I’m a monster. I’m just really, really tired of battles and sometimes life feels more like a burden than a gift.

      2. Dear Un-Tangled,
        It sounds like you and your husband are surrounded by selfish and hardhearted people. It sounds like the kind of people who would mistreat you no matter what you do.

        No wonder you are tired!

  13. I’d like to talk about my situation online with others who are familiar with emotional abuse. Is there a place on this website? Another? Thank you.

    1. Hi, Content,
      Feel free to talk about your situation on this blog, so long as you bear in mind that it’s a public blog, so it is wise to not write details that would identify you to your abuser and his allies if he is still trying to control and abuse you.

      We don’t have a private forum on this blog, but the more you comment on our posts and tick the box to be notified of follow up comments, the more you will find that other readers interact with you.

      If you are looking for a private forum, scroll down our sidebar ’til you find the heading Forums.

      And if you want to read our posts about emotional abuse, you can find them under out tag Emotional Abuse. Look in the tags tab in the top menu. Hope this helps. 🙂

      1. Thank you, Barbara. I need to separate from my husband and would like to find info on how to do that. I’ve never felt in physical danger….well, maybe one time which was the first time I drew a boundary about five months ago. His drinking escalated and he was pretty angry for several nights — darkness in his voice, looks, etc. that I’ve never seen before. Mostly, I have been gaslighted since before we were married and I am just coming to grips with that (over the past several months).

        This go-round, I’m coming to grips with it in a new way (I guess God has to take us in stages so we don’t get overwhelmed with the reality of it all at once). I feel confusion on how best to separate. I feel if I’m sneaky and underhanded about it (withdrawing money like some people tell me to do), it will trigger the darker side of him. It would be really nice if we could do this in a healthy way for the sake of our kids (I know that might not be possible, but I want to try as best I can, anyway). He is actually a very fair guy in financial dealings with other people all through our marriage and I would appeal to that side of him if I go this route. I’d like to just send an email, tell him I would like a separation and that I’d like to stay with the kids at our own house for their sake — he can rent a place somewhere — and let him know I’ll start looking for a part time job. I’m not even interested in getting into why I want the separation or asking anything else of him….I’m beyond that point. It’s up to him to figure it out or not. (My eyes are wide open and I’m ready for the “not” figuring it out on his end). I’ve explained the things I need enough to him, although I have never told him directly that I believe he has emotionally abused me for all of our relationship.

        I also haven’t worked for a long time and just need to hear some options about how to start rebuilding my life as a single parent.

        If anyone has any insight or thoughts on either of these situations, I am all ears. Thank you.

      2. Hi, Content, there is no ‘one best way’ to separate from an abuser. Each of our situations is somewhat different, and each abuser has his preferred tactics of abuse, the tactics he specialises in most heavily. And all abusers can be unpredictable.

        While I honour you for wanting to effect a separation with his consent and compliance, so that it is not too stressful for anyone (many victims want a separation to be like that) the sad fact is that most of us have found that abusers do not behave courteously and cooperatively with separation. They usually throw MANY spanners in the works, they often add new tactics of abuse they hadn’t used before, increasing their range of weaponry so to speak. So all the victim’s hopes for a cooperative separation are trashed by the abuser. The abuser wants to continue having control of the victim, and when the victim wants to end the relationship, the abuser usually escalates to try to regain control.

        So….be prepared, and don’t be surprised if this happens.

        You may find it helpful to read this post My abuser’s evil plan was to give me the “scorched earth policy”. But with planning, strategy and God’s help, I outsmarted him.

        And I also suggest you look at our Safety Planning page.

        And some of the posts that have our Financial Abuse tag may help you.

        Also, in our resources we have a page for Practical Tips for Independent Living After Abuse.

      3. I left a comment earlier and a reply to your last comment to me, Barbara, but don’t see it. Do they sometimes get lost in cyberspace?

      4. Hi, Content, your comments were just in moderation and we hadn’t got to them. WordPress very rarely has glitches and if a comment has not been published yet it’s most likely just because we haven’t had time to deal with the comments that are in the “pending comments” folder. Occasionally we take a while to decide what to do with a comment, because some comments need editing for safety reasons.

    2. Hi, Content, I prepared in advance for a separation / divorce by:

      1) Quietly (discreetly) getting my animals in someone (trusted friend) else’s hands, and temporarily transferring ownership of them a few months prior to any divorce filings. (Ahead of time.)

      This prevented him from trying to take something that he knew was important to me, only to force-sell it, to split the proceeds during a divorce (as a vindictive punishment).

      So if you have anything that you truly care about, it is good to get it ahead of time into a trusted friend’s hands as a pre-emptive measure.

      Many of us have been gaslighted here so we understand the confusion and shock of waking up to it all only to wonder where to go from there.

      2) I then secured a used vehicle in my name that had been in my abusers name, telling him that since he had two vehicles in his name, I needed one in my name (didn’t say why, just say it’s the right thing to do). He initially did not want to do this and wanted to know what he would get out of it. I told him to just do the right thing and just sign it over to me. After much persistence on this issue he finally did do it.

      I went down to the DMV and immediately transferred the title into my name. I also had the door-locks of this vehicle changed once the title was in my name, because I kept the children’s birth certificates and bank statements, and anything else important locked up inside this vehicle to where the abuser could not mess with or take anything. And believe me he would have if he could. Best you secure the documents first. I also invested in a locking gas cap, to prevent and tampering with or syphoning while I was unaware. I always kept my purse locked up and clipped my keys on my belt to prevent the abuser from sneaking them or making copies. This required me to be very intentional.

      3) I applied for jobs to get steady income coming into a private bank account. Most jobs prefer on line applications. Ziprecruiter.com will help you find jobs in your area and send online applications of your interest to your email each day as they become available. They will also help you with doing a resume if you sign up with them. (I learned alot just Googling information about “good resumes” online, and found alot of free good tips available.)

      When my husband finally moved out of our house and into an apartment to punish me, he also at the same exact time withdrew all the money out of both of our joint bank accounts and opened a separate account and put the money in there. He left me strapped with the house and all the bills for months with no support. He did not pay the mortgage payments either, and purposely did this to destroy any of my remaining credit in hopes that the creditors would eventually cut me off, so when he filed for a divorce later, I would not be able to afford a lawyer while he could (basically to put me up a creek without a paddle). So look out, when they move out they may have an evil plan to go with it.

      But if your eyes are open to what he may be up to, you can do counter-stradegy to keep one step ahead of him. These are just a few things to consider to “start getting your ducks in a row”.

      1. Thank you both for your replies. I will read those links and be praying a lot for wisdom as I go forward. I am definitely feeling conflicted between being “sneaky” and just trying to handle things respectfully and out in the open (the way I want to). I have wrestled the fact out with God several months ago that I could lose everything. I feel God was saying to me that this is the most loving thing I can do for my husband. He has never had consequences in his life and it shows all over his actions. I can’t deny that I am hoping this is part of a plan to get a hold of my husband’s heart. One thing I have always liked is that he’s not a hypocrite when it comes to Christianity. He doesn’t claim to be a believer and is very blunt about that. In some sense, I’ve always thought that’s a much better place to be than a “wolf in sheep’s clothing”. But, I know that I can’t put too much weight in wanting my husband to know Christ. I need to let this marriage and him go and God can do with it all what He will do with it.

        I know it is possible I will lose my relationship with my kids. I had to face that, but that was part of laying it all down at the feet of the Father and deciding that I would worship Him and no longer idolize my husband. That was a painful period, but once I had let it go, I was “no longer a slave to fear”! Thank you, Lord!

        Actually, I told him I’d like a separation last night. I didn’t even say why or what I needed for him or anything. I’m past that point. He doesn’t have ears to hear anyway. He was calm and said “OK” and we talked briefly about needing to tell the kids. But, I can tell he’s mad at me (and I know why — because it is MY FAULT that I am “ripping our family apart”). Lol – kind of. :/

        I am reading “Why Does He Do That?” and this morning, had some fresh revelations as to why I’ve always had so much conflict with him in the area of raising our kids. Now I know the reason he never stepped in to help me in conflicts with my kids (if I had tried to correct them and they started being disrespectful and it turned into a battle — this was before I got strong enough to lay a boundary and stick to it well). He WANTED me to look like the bad guy. He wanted to remain the good guy. When I started getting stronger and more patient and calm in my parenting as the years went on, he made a point a few times to tell me what a bad parent I was. I remember laying in bed feeling utterly confused as to how he could say that when I KNEW that my conscience was clean, I knew God had changed me so much in that area. I was getting stronger and remember telling him in no uncertain terms that I knew that was not true about myself and I would not accept it. Now, I get it. I was getting stronger and he was trying to keep me weak.

        Even after reading half the book and all the things God has shown me in the last year, my mind says this morning….”Maybe all men are like this. Maybe I should just “stay on my side of the street” and let it all go.” Because the reality is if I did that, things would be somewhat fine around here. He is incredibly affectionate which I love, helps around the house, sweet in his own way (not in way that he really cares about me, though — I’ve never felt really valued by him or that he cares about me as a person who has gifts and talents and quirky personality traits, etc.). I’d just have to put up with his constant staring at beautiful women (and he’s got one already, but I’m not enough. See, that’s me valuing myself!! Yay for me, I’m not used to that!).

        Have an appointment today with a counselor that we’ve seen a few times. Today, I will try to nail down if I should stay with this counselor — see if he seems to understand the dynamic. I think he does based on some things he said in our one-on-one sessions, but there were a few “trigger” things that keep coming to mind and I know I cannot be paying someone the amount of money I’m paying if he us someone who wants to tell me to keep working on myself. God has released me of that.

        Well, I guess I need to talk to others who understand as evidenced by this long comment. Thanks for listening.

      2. Standsfortruth — thank you again for the sharing the wisdom you’ve gained while going through a separation and divorce. It never ceases to amaze me what horrors we go through but in the end it’s such a blessing to us and when we share with our brethren — a blessing to them as well.

        Content — I’m proud of you and your decision to not try to figure out WHY your husband is the way he is, but realizing that you are not able to live in such a spiritually abusive environment, and then realistically planning to leave.

        I’m sharing what follows as a testimony as to how God has worked in my life — not as a roadmap. God will be with you and He has given you clarity in the way he wants you to go — away from your husband. Your husband sounds similar to mine in that he will do the right thing when reminded of this and since you also seem to want to be fair to him, he may be able to be persuaded that this is actually good for him as well.

        I’ve had glimpses of what my husband may be capable of, which is what Standsfortruth described. My husband had been doing some secretive things that would have set me up for failure if I’d decided to leave. I was not emotionally strong enough at that time (to leave) and God blessed me in that my husband was gone for months at a time trying to make extra money to pay off the enormous debt he had once again incurred. This allowed me time to be out of the fog of my husband’s spiritual evil and to read and digest more about the abuse that was dumped on me, and gave me some time for healing.

        My husband was like yours and had been fair in dealing with people — when I pointed out what was right and good to do. (He comes from a family FULL of psychopaths and he had never met anyone like me — a person who did the right thing even when many were against me and when others disagreed with me. He’d seen that we as a family had been blessed when others in our situation had been destroyed. He also knew and I reminded him often of these things — that I had never tried to harm ANYONE and had gone out of my way to NOT harm others. Early in our marriage he had remarked that I never sought vengeance or tried to retaliate when someone harmed me — he had NEVER met anyone like this before and you’d think he’d be grateful for me — but psychopaths don’t process the emotion of gratefulness — a necessary thing required to be a Christian.)

        A few years ago when I couldn’t take anymore I broke down in front of him. Prior to this time I had stopped fighting with him and wouldn’t let him see my weakness because psychopaths usually use this against us. But when I did it this time God showed me something about my husband. My husband WANTED to stay married to me (to stay in a “positive” relationship with me) even though we hadn’t had any sexual relations in years and he knew that I knew he was a psychopath. Nobody loved my husband. Nobody cared about him. And even though he knew that I didn’t love him in the same way that I did before, he knew that I would not harm him deliberately — even after all he’d done to me and our children. This realization was NOT for his benefit — God did it for me. To let me see that HE would be there with me and that HE would make sure my husband didn’t destroy me. My daughter and I actually moved to another state before he was able to get a job there — and God ensured that my husband didn’t cut us off. (It took him nearly two years to find a job there and God kept us. During this time my husband tried online dating thinking he could find an easy replacement for me — God showed him that this was IMPOSSIBLE. When we had gotten married I had thought that I was garbage — God has shown me I’m NOT.)

        Again, this is simply my testimony — to show the different ways that God works in each of His children’s lives. I am still married to him — working my way out — but as I stated above, my husband is gone for months at a time so I am able to have a reprieve from the constant onslaught of abuse.

        You are NOT alone when you belong to Jesus — He will help and love you as you make your way through this.

      3. Content – I’m glad you are reading “Why Does He Do That?” It sure is an eye opener for women in all types of covert abuse.

        Jesus instructs us that “by their fruits” you will know them. By this we too can know their mindsets are of an evil nature.

        I have discovered that once an abuser knows you are on to him, they become retaliatory towards their target, so I hope you are thinking preemptive in your moves.
        Anyway I also wanted to share with you how the Lord deals with people of different mindsets….and I believe this is a pattern for us to follow.

        (Psalm 18:26 [NIV]) to the pure you show yourself pure, but to the devious you show yourself shrewd.

        Also 2 Samuel 22:26-27 —

        “With the merciful, You will show yourself merciful; With a blameless man You will show Yourself blameless;
        With the pure; You will show Yourself pure;
        And with the devious, You will show Yourself shrewd. [NKJV]

        Is this not an instruction for us to follow and also deal shrewdly with the devious? Otherwise they have the mindset to rip us to shreds if given opportunity. (I keep my cards close to my chest — giving them “no information” once I know they are, as they may try to make you lower your guard and sweet-talk you into offering tid-bits that they can later use against you.)

        —Also remember how Rahab saved the spies of God and hid them in her household when “dealing shrewdly” with her townspeople who were the enemies of God. By doing so she spared her whole family from destruction later. I will pray for God’s protection and wisdom on your behalf.

      4. Standsfortruth,

        Thank you for your comment. I talked to a pastor yesterday I have a great deal of respect for. He gave me similar advice (not with biblical passages), but just said that as I start to go forward in this process that I could certainly try the respectful route, but if I started to see manipulative tactics, that he did not buy into the belief that Christians could not protect themselves in such situations. So, I will take all of this advice to heart.

        What are some of the things that I should be looking for as signs I might need to take more action to protect myself financially or regarding custody of the children as we move forward? Checking bank account / credit card activity daily? What else?? He has mostly been in charge of the finances our whole marriage.

      5. Hi, Content,

        Is it safe to email you? You haven’t done anything wrong — no worries. I just have a few thoughts regarding one of your comments.

        Twbtc (the woman behind the curtain)

      6. Once you understand the abuser is being intentionally abusive, and they know you know — their gig is up, it really becomes like playing a game of battleship. At this point they are experiencing inward panic mode. (Although they wont outwardly admit or show it.) I have to say I slightly enjoyed this part, only because my presence at this point intimidated him so much that he couldn’t stand being in the same room with me for very long (because he knew I knew the truth). So he would always end up leaving the room to go outside, or somewhere else when I came in the front room to fix food or do something. (I felt strong and brave during this time. It was obvious my presence made him uncomfortable.)

        After that he would not tell me anything that he was planning or doing and became very mysterious with his activities. By doing that he was leaving his options open to change at any time, depending on what benefited him the most, which was how he liked it. He also was watching me to get his cues of what to do next (which I tried not to let on to).

        One thing I did while there was still money in our joint account, was to quietly pay the mortgage payment a week early, because I knew it was a matter of time before he was going to take the money out of the bank. This way at least I had the first months mortgage covered. In hindsight I wish I had paid a few other house bills while I was at it. At this point I also did not tell my abuser anything that I was planning or doing.

        If I was going to be in the dark about what he was doing and planning, I certainly wasn’t going to give him any information about what I was planning either. You have to be in control [of] what you choose to say and answer, and what you choose not to say and answer to everyone. It requires “you being in control” and being very intentional — remember anything more offered can and will be used against you.

        I also took advantage of his heavy sleep patterns during this time and gathered lots of information during the night and while he was gone that might help defend me during an upcoming divorce. I even found a different bank account deposit slip that he had secretly opened, and had already made several “large deposits” into without my knowledge, just by rummaging through paperwork piles on his desk. So you bet I grabbed that for evidence! I knew he was going to get nasty and falsely accuse me so I was pre-emptive with getting proof of the facts so he could not later twist the truth. Your cell phone can also get pictures of things in a pinch, but it’s better to have the actual documents or copies of them.

        One night after my abuser went to sleep, and was snoring, I actually moved a whole room full of my supplies into another room in the house, and had to tippy-toe past him sleeping in the main room at least 75 times with heavy stuff without him waking up once. In the morning he was shocked to see that everything was moved into another room without his knowledge where I had installed a keyed door-lock on it to keep him from plundering it. Surely God was with me by keeping him in a deep sleep that night and many others.

        I do not regret any of my gathering of information during his unawareness, because I uncovered information that helped me find out things that I otherwise would have never known that he did that was wrong. This evidence later helped me. And that very knowledge that I gathered became a useful tool to strike the agreement I wanted, when I mentioned it during mediation. (Separate room divorce mediation.)

      7. Hi, Content,
        I think it’s a good idea to change your screen name. When you decide on one, just let me know at twbtc.acfj@gmail.com

        As you suggested I’m not going to publish the comment you just left. Regarding forums – I will check on that and get back to you privately.

        Praying for you today!! I know it’s hard, but God will give you strength in the moment when you need it.


      8. One last thing to mention. Although my abusive husband and I shared two joint bank accounts (one was a personal account, with a few hundred dollars, and the other was our joint business account that brought in the money for the personal account), I knew that our joint business account had lots of bills because I was the bookkeeper, so although it had several thousand dollars in it, I knew that money was needed to go to the business expenses to keep it going.

        So although a friend was counciling me to remove the funds before he did, I could not bring myself to do so because there were no extra funds in the business that was not already allocated. But in one afternoon without warning, he took all the funds out of both accounts and left me with .96 cents in the personal account, and moved into an apartment somewhere. So in hindsight I should have probably been pre-emptive and at least secured half of the available personal funds into a new private checking account before he did….because the funds are legally yours and his while your still married. So at least my taking half before he took IT ALL would have been the right thing to do for both of us.

        Afterwards he did not provide any food or help with bills for the months that followed. (Thank the Lord there are lots of food banks in America!)

        I had a job durring the day and he would call the kids durring this time to find out if I was gone and come home, but always left before I came back. — (Another good reason to keep important stuff locked up in a secure room or vehicle.)

        As far as custody of the kids went, most of mine were teenagers and set in his preferred lax style of parenting — no chores, endless access to video games, and little to no accountability, so it was obvious who they wanted to go with when we finally went our separate ways once the house sold.

        Also my income did not provide enough money to secure a place of my own, so the kids all went happily with him. No sweat off their back. And in mediation we agreed to have the kids stay with him (since that is also what they wanted), and we both have shared legal custody, and I can visit and take them places just by texting in advance. I don’t have to pay child support and I don’t have any set schedule to visit, because of my lower income. — But my abuser has to pay $100.00 a month alimony. This was a very strategic move of mine, because although it was deemed as “non-modifiable”, there was included actually 2 stipulations that will allow it to be legally modified or increased.
        —One is if he tries down the road to charge me any child support.
        —And the other reason would be if he tries to dump or leave the minor children with me, claiming he couldn’t take care of them anymore.

        You see now he is “in a checkmate position”, so he cannot further abuse or punish me, and that is the most important thing to get in a divorce.

      9. Standsfortruth,

        Thank you for what you’ve shared with me. I don’t like hearing this stuff, to be honest, but I know I need to hear it.

        Interesting that you brought up the checkmate position. I saw an excellent movie last week, “Queen of Katwe” and God spoke to me several times as one of the main characters was coaching a student on how to play chess. “Don’t tip your king too early” (don’t even THINK about reconciling until you KNOW THAT YOU KNOW that repentance is real which will take a LONG time), “Think ahead, be strategic, know your opponent and what his next moves will be” and “Find your safe square” (that’s Jesus, for sure!).

        Pretty amazing, huh?

        I was contemplating “tipping my king early” just this morning. Graciously, God allowed an incident that brought me back into reality. Painful, but in other ways liberating because I know this is what I need to do.

  14. Those are helpful ideas, Barbara. And I did some that were applicable before and since l leaving. I am mainly referring to those in situations such as the first comment mentioned. The continued narrowing of associations that comes after leaving. Ideas for those? It has been 5 years since we fled our home.

    1. The continued narrowing of associations that comes after leaving. Ideas for those?

      Sadly, I have no suggestions (apart from this blog) which doesn’t fill the need most of us have for face-to-face contact with friends). I confess that apart from a few people I interact with in my apartment block because we share interests as owners in the block, and interactions with my family who are all unsaved and so tolerate me but aren’t very warm to me, I don’t have face-to-face friends. Some of that is my own choice: I am so dedicated to the blog and this cause that unless someone shares my dedication, I don’t have all that much interest in a friendship with them. I have cyber-friends and cyber-colleagues. But the few friends I had before I became an admin on this blog have not followed the path I’ve taken so what I’m into now doesn’t interest them all that much.

      So if you’re wondering whether I sometimes feel lonely, the answer is yes.

      But some other readers may have better stories than I’ve got on this one….

  15. This is a great post and so many helpful comments!

    My husband told me, when I admitted to him I was going to counseling to help with the hurt he was inflicting, that I “was hurting him too, but he had no need of counseling as he had friends to talk to.” Boom! He thought he got me with that one!

    I do have a wonderful support group of friends, most have moved away, but they are always there for me. Two of them were the first I admitted to that I was being abused emotionally. Both were totally accepting and one, having known me from a very young age, said she knew that [my] husband wasn’t healthy for me as I’d changed so much from the happy, optimistic, enthusiastic person I had been. She’d heard me recounting my struggles with being his wife all these years — hearing me say “abuse” made everything click in her mind.

    And I also have several close friends locally that I’ve known for years as well. I do things with them when I can. One is a very strong Christian and was involved with the spiritually abusive church [my] husband is so in love with (she’s left it now)….my husband likes her so I’m allowed to see her as much as I like and time allows. Another has some health problems, so if I say she needs help with something (and she often does), I’m allowed to go because she “needs” me. Other friends, I space my visits and activities with them carefully so I don’t get criticized for running around having fun while he’s “working so hard”, because of course (sarc on) “I just want to spend all the money he works so hard to earn like he’s just my personal ATM machine” (/sarc). Note: I DO work outside the home and bring in money myself to contribute.

    He also has said that “you can’t have real relationships with those living at a distance” and mocks me for thinking you can….he’s written off relationships with two of his children because they live far away. Funny that….I talk, text and write to them almost daily….I miss the-face-to face….but our relationships are as strong as ever. We have a running group-message that we send bits of our day, photos, stories, things that make us happy or sad, etc.

    He says he has friends, but I’ve always thought it strange that the only “friends” are from church. They go to breakfast once a week. He has never, in all the years I’ve been married to him, ever just gone out to hang out with friends, to see a movie, do something outdoors, do “guy things”, whatever. I even encouraged him to go when activities with people came up and he always found reasons not to go. 100% of his social life is tied up in church ministry and activities. In an unhealthy church. Even the breakfast (and not saying this is wrong, it’s good and worthy) is a time to pray for others and Bible study.

    But I’m the one with “no friends”. Go figure. Lol.

  16. Hello, Content, your comment:

    Mostly, I have been gaslighted since before we were married and I am just coming to grips with that (over the past several months).

    Sadly, I know a lot about gaslighting and I know it only ever spirals downward, it only gets worse. I really did think I was going crazy with my abuser’s evil tactics. I have said many times on this blog, this is a game to these terrorists, it is sport to them, it’s their “golf game”. Think about how cruel and wicked this is! I am of the mindset I don’t even care why they do it, I only know they do. And I am now all too familiar with it and know we are to flee from such evil lest we end up just another statistic.

    Barbara is right, there is no “one best way”. In my case, I did not make plans while we were still sharing the same house; I fled in the night. I went “No Contact” (as best I could and when I would fail at this, I would absolutely suffer major setbacks). The reason I chose to flee and then make a plan was, I knew he could not be trusted and was not a man of his word. He would only continue to mess with my mind. And because he is a liar I could not trust anything he said. I was SO broken down mentally, physically, emotionally, financially and spiritually, I needed to “save” myself. Content, I hope you will concentrate on “saving” you….

    1. Yes, I’ve gotten to a point in the marriage where my trust is absolutely gone because of ongoing lies throughout our marriage — never horrible (well, except for the re-writing history that I am finally coming to grips with — I can’t believe I would believe my husband over my eyes so many times! Haha, and now that I say that, yes, I guess it is horrible. I am still in denial, obviously!). I have no idea what to believe anymore. And, there’s no way you can have a marriage like that.

      I am excited about moving forward to find healing — and of course, also nervous about the struggle that lies ahead — so many unknowns. But, I know God will guide me, I know He will hold me. I’m so thankful for His love and presence and showing me that I have value and whispering to me “If you can gain your freedom, do so.” And, He told me to “submit to where my husband was taking our marriage.” (He knew how desperately I wanted to submit!) How do people do this without Him?

      I am going through periods of extreme peace and then utter confusion in a couple of hours. I know this is spiritual warfare. The moments I have peace are when I KNOW that God is saying to separate. When I start thinking of staying and wondering if I’m “seeing things right” or if I’m out of God’s will, that is when the confusion comes. I’ve learned to follow God’s peace and so I will.

      1. I’m so thankful for His love and presence and showing me that I have value and whispering to me “If you can gain your freedom, do so.” And, He told me to “submit to where my husband was taking our marriage.” (He knew how desperately I wanted to submit!) How do people do this without Him?

        Those words God whispered to you are profound and powerful.

        I am enjoying you sharing your journey with us. 🙂

        And the peace and the confusion in quick succession, oh boy, I remember that. And the qualitative difference: the confusion always had the taste of oppression and condemnation; the peace was pure, simple, unalloyed, immediate, indelible, indubitable.

        He reached down from heaven
        and took hold of me;
        He pulled me out of deep waters.
        He rescued me from my powerful enemy
        and from those who hated me,
        for they were too strong for me.
        They confronted me in the day of my distress,
        but the LORD was my support.
        He brought me out to a spacious place
        He rescued me because He delighted in me.
        (Psalm 18:16-19 HCSB)

      2. Thank you, Barbara.

        Yes, I think back to those words a lot when I’m starting to feel confused again about whether I should try to remain in this marriage. I’m also convinced that God showed me that it is not loving at all for my husband for me to remain with him. The most loving thing I can do for him is to leave him and possibly divorce him — we’ll see where this separation takes us. I’m not living in fantasy land and am prepared for whatever outcome, but I never want to decide that this situation is impossible for God. It’s a strange thing to try to remain hopeful, yet I know that keeping this marriage can’t be my motivation. My motivation has to be that God is calling me to do this and so that I can be healed, whole and free.

        I do remember one day on my back porch having a thought hit me out of the blue that I believe was the Spirit. The thought was “You are going to have to be removed from (my husband’s name’s) life for him to be able to come to Me.” At that time, I had gone through a period where God had dethroned my husband and I was becoming very grounded in who I am in Christ. I think of that day often, and then I think of the time months ago where I felt God was asking me if I was willing to lay my marriage and my family down. I felt like He was asking me if it was worth losing it to save my husband’s soul. I knew that may or may not mean we will end up together in the long run. Now, are those my thoughts or the Spirit’s? I don’t know. I wish I was more confident in that. I know my mom endured an emotionally abusive marriage with my dad and she felt that God would restore them and they would have a ministry one day. They never reconciled although they remained married.

        It’s good to know I’m not alone and that you (and I’m sure many others) understand that confusion that hits you like a freight train. Yes, the peace is really that “peace that passes understanding”. I just remembered this morning something about this peace and what I’m going through. When God first started opening my eyes to all of this a few months ago, I went through these same cycles of feeling strong at times during the day and then falling apart in confusion and grief. Interestingly, though….always by the time my husband walked through the door, God had brought me back to that peaceful state and I was able to deal with him respectfully and kindly but very much becoming detached from him. This morning it hit me that He is doing that again for me. It is not a peace of “I’m with my husband right now so everything is fine.” It’s a peace that I know is from God and He’s enabling me to [be] strong in front of my husband who is so unused to this strength from me. I believe the peace is more of a testimony to my husband and the spiritual world around me that God is on my side and fighting for me. Isn’t there a NT verse that says something like that our peace being a testimony to unbelievers? I’m not thinking of the verse that God makes even our enemies to be at peace with us….it’s something else. Anyway….

        I read a blog post here from October 2013 and can’t remember the title and can’t seem to find it now. (I was using InPrivate mode so I can’t locate it with history). It was about how emotional abuse can be very hard to detect. Then commenters gave their own points and experiences about what they had gone through. I really related to it and would love to find it again. If someone knows how to locate that without a lot of trouble and link to it, that would be great!

      3. Hi, Content,

        This is Twbtc (the woman behind the curtain). I am one of the moderators and team members on the blog. I wanted to add my “Welcome”. You are in a difficult spot right now, but you are doing well — you are learning about abusers (their mentality and tactics), you are thinking things through, and you are reaching out to others for support. All excellent steps!!

        You may have noticed that a lengthy comment you left yesterday has not yet published. I wanted you to know that we (the administrators of this blog) are not comfy publishing that comment because it had so much identifying detail and if your abuser read it he would get too much info about your thoughts and plans. We are happy to have you commenting on blog, but when you want to talk over your plans for leaving with other survivors, our blog is not a safe place for that, but the forums in our sidebar might be. There was nothing wrong about your comment — we just want to keep you safe!!


      4. Hi, Content,

        TWBTC here again. I noticed in a few of your comments that your screen name is ContentinChrist instead of Content. If you would rather your screen name be ContentinChrist, just let me know and I can change your previous comments so your screen name is the same. Great screen name by the way! 🙂

  17. Clarity on my previous comment:

    I am of the mindset I don’t even care why they do it.

    I misspoke here. I know exactly WHY they do it and I do care….they do it to keep us confused and off balance so that we concentrate on our instability and confusion and this takes our attention off them and their wicked plotting and planning. And of course when we begin to doubt ourselves it shows, and then others begin to think, “wow, maybe her husband is right, she does seem to be unstable.” EVIL to the core!!

  18. I know exactly WHY they do it and I do care….they do it to keep us confused and off balance so that we concentrate on our instability and confusion and this takes our attention off them and their wicked and plotting and planning. And of course when we begin to doubt ourselves and it shows, and then others begin to think, “wow, maybe her husband is right, she does seem to be unstable.” EVIL to the core!

    You are precisely right, Anonymous. This is exactly what abusive husbands do for they are of their father, the devil. My husband has done this since the day I signed the marriage certificate, for I did not pay attention to the red flags during our dating process. I was too naïve and trusting of this man and should have recognized the few signs that were right in front of me, but chose to let them go.

    My abusive husband told me after we were married that I would have to give 60 percent to our marriage, and he would give a whopping 40 percent in making this union work out. When I desired to spend time with my parents / extended family and friends outside of the marriage, his verbal and emotional abuse would escalate so that I would leave the house crying and my insides were a twisted up mess. And every trip to see my side of the family consisted of his verbal and emotional abuse in the car until we reached our destination, then his demeanor would instantly change and the angelic, most attentive husband academy-award-winning performance would come shining through. Meanwhile, I was a mess inside with a fearful, depressed look on my face. Yes, “Mr. Fun and Exciting Husband” until we got back into the vehicle, then his demeanor would change back into that dark verbal and emotionally abusive man. He is still the same thirty years later, but claims he is “getting better”.

    He still tells me on a regular basis that I “have no friends”, “have trouble keeping relationships”, and that I “scare people and am hard to be around”. Yet, when people in the community call and want to get together for coffee and cake, he violently yells as me about all of “the work” I have to do, so I am not able to go. Several years ago, I was asked by a couple of church ladies if I would like to help [with a volunteer project….details redacted]. I signed up for one day, having my cold lunch packed and ready to go. My husband found out I was going to spend the day helping the pastor’s wife and literally blew up at me for even thinking of leaving our house because of all the work I had to do around our place. So I called one of the ladies and told her that I had too much work to do so I had better stay home.

    My abusive husband however, does not apply the same standards to himself. He can come and go as he pleases, [….] while I stayed home with the children. I wanted to join a craft class for one night a week for short period and his response was, “Am I not good enough that you would want to spend that time with me?” I didn’t join the class. On another occasion I wanted to sign up for a short community education class on [a recreational pursuit]. His response was that is cost too much; it wasn’t costly (< $50) and I already had all of the materials so I didn’t need to spend money on extra materials. He didn’t like that fact that I would be around other people without his watchful eye. And yet, when it came to his vehicle, he was happy to spend many thousands on that [….]. He has allowed himself to attend so-called Bible Study to fellowship with the guys, when there is plenty of work he could do at home. He has allowed himself to have a relationship with his parents while I was to sever my relationship with mine, a “no contact” relationship, because he said I was to cleave to my husband, not my parents. And yet, he forced his own parents on me as if they were to replace my own.

    For the abusive husband, they cannot stand to see their wives laughing, having fun, and enjoying their lives with friends, family, and community, outside of their sick and twisted world. My husband glares at me, watching me like a hawk with that look of darkness when I leave his side to go and visit with extended family, old neighbors and friends from my past, at weddings, reunions, and the like. He sits there, glaring at me, watching my every move, and I end up paying the price all the way home with his yelling, cutting me and my family down, and telling me what an “awful person and wife I am for not being with him every minute”. And yet, at his class reunions, it doesn’t bother him a bit when I sit there alone while he is off visiting with his old classmates. And I’m supposed to not say a word concerning the double standards he has for himself.

    I am thankful for this blog for it has helped me tremendously in knowing that I am not the reason for all of my husband’s insecurities and abusive actions towards me. And although I know that I am being purposely isolated through his wicked and evil tactics of control and manipulation, there is still hope in Jesus Christ. And it is because of Him and His special children here and throughout my limited community, that I am becoming more confident and brave in my coming and going. And I also no longer feel that I have to open up to my abusive husband concerning my life, for he does not desire good health and well-being for me, his wife. I feel no more guilt and I bear no more shame because I am now educated concerning his tactics, and his blame shifting no longer affects me.

    I am learning there are many wives within the church system, who are being abused by their so-called Christian (?) husbands. I am not alone.

    1. Good for you, Karen, for understanding the double-standard of your abuser.

      I used to announce that I was getting ready to go somewhere for the afternoon, but afterwards saw a meltdown begin in the family. It seemed like the closer it got to time to leave, the more family problems that would arise. The home atmosphere became so unstable and volatile, that most of the time I would just cancel my plans. Somehow my abuser could manufacture chaos between the children at will and then tell me he was not sticking around to make sure they would not fight and hurt each other.

      After a while trying to get away started to feel like playing a losing a Tic-Tac-Toe game. I ended up not making plans, and learned to just leave unannounced. Funny the games we end up playing just to cope with living with abusive people.

  19. I trust your discernment, Barbara, and fully know in my heart that you are for those who comment here on your ministry, not against us. I felt so alone for many years thinking and believing that this abusive behavior by my church-going abusive husband was only happening to me, until I discovered this blog. It has been a God-send to me and now I have the confidence to refer ACFJ to others in my community, unashamedly so.

    God bless you, Barbara!

  20. I have discovered that once an abuser knows you are onto him, they become retaliatory towards their target….

    You NAILED IT, Standsfortruth. And at this point, they are even more dangerous. We are no longer of any use to them because after all, remember, we are mere objects to be used for whatever purpose their sick minds need at the moment and so they MUST crush and destroy, and in my case my very-recently-divorced-abuser has, and still is, seeking to destroy my reputation / character. BUT, just as the Lord promises, He will be our Defender, and so as I stay hidden in the shelter of HIS wings, my abuser continues getting more frustrated and desperate.

    Ex is in the public eye and so his “self-pity” game continues as he remains in total denial as a result of his self-deception after so many years living a lie….living in a made-up world in his own mind. So day in and day out he must keep up the game, cover his tracks. As Alistair Begg once said, “The only thing that keeps them to the task is the task itself.” And this: “I rode this tiger of deceit for so long I was afraid to get off, lest it eat me up” (not sure who quoted this).

    As we learned in Esther, Vashti said one word to the king, “No”, and he dumped her; she was of NO further use to him. I, too, said “no”, no more abuse! Best thing I EVER did!!

  21. Hi, Content,

    I just wanted to add a reply to your last comment. You asked:

    Isn’t there a NT verse that says something like that our peace being a testimony to unbelievers?

    As soon as you said that this popped into my head. Could this be the NT verse you were remembering?

    Don’t be intimidated in any way by your enemies. This will be a sign to them that they are going to be destroyed, but that you are going to be saved, even by God himself. (Philippians 1:28 [NLT])

    1. Yes, that’s the one! Thank you. Wow. What an interesting verse. This is so so painful. I am not enjoying this. I wish in some ways I could turn back the clock and live in denial. I know that is probably some messed up thinking.

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