A Cry For Justice

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

How do you get the abuser’s voice and perspective out of your head?

[May 8, 2022: There have been some changes made to this post. For more information, read the Editors’ notes at the bottom of the post. Editors.]

….How do you get the abuser’s voice and perspective out of your head? I have full faith in God, I see His hand in my life. I believe I am His precious daughter. But I’m having so much trouble feeling an intimacy and fellowship with God or discerning His voice.
—question asked by Becoming (link)

One of our anonymous readers gave this suggestion:

[May 8, 2022: Potentially dangerous teaching. Editors.]

….Think of your abuser as Satan. It is not that great a stretch, as abusers are children of the devil. Every time anything comes up regarding your abuser, inject “Satan” into the equation, instead.

….Let’s call your abuser “Joe”….instead of saying, “Joe wanted me to fold the clothes this way”, replace “Joe” with “Satan”….“Satan wanted me to fold the clothes this way.”

See how jarring that is? It works.

“Satan says I’m fat.” or “Satan said I’m worthless.” or “Satan said I’m a bad mother.” or whatever it is that “Joe” (your abuser) said about you or demanded of you.

Same goes for further contact — “Satan wants to me to meet with him and talk about this or that.” Would you go to talk and have a heart-to-heart with Satan? No, you would not.

Speaking for myself (Barb), it has not only been things my personal abusers said or did that had stuck to me like the Tar-Baby. The Tar-Baby is the second of the Uncle Remus stories published in 1880; it is about a doll made of tar and turpentine used by the villainous Br’er Fox to entrap Br’er Rabbit. The more that Br’er Rabbit fights the Tar-Baby, the more entangled he becomes.

A pastor I sat under for a year used certain verses repeatedly to teach what I now know to be false doctrine. Whenever I re-read those verses, the recollection of the man’s spirit contaminates me all over again. He’s poisoned those verses for me for the rest of my life. I try to apprehend the real meaning of those verses with the Holy Spirit’s help, but I seem to be unable to. Every time I come to read those verses, jagged, ugly, garish lines choke my view and stop me understanding.

Helovesme gave this suggestion:

….How do I reclaim the power that the abusers had (and still have) over me?

Their power over me put me in a position of living in a constant state of fear. Walking on eggshells, but somehow always stepping on glass instead.

Even though the abuse may (or may not) have ended in the technical sense—the person or persons still have a lot of power over me. Like you said, their voices in my head are still going strong, even though I may (or may not) have ceased speaking to them anymore.

Abuse is based on lies. 100% lies. The only antidote to lies is the Lord—who says He IS the way, the truth and the life. He doesn’t just promote or represent truth. He IS the truth. The more you abide in Him, and He in you—the more those lies will erode as He fills you with everything that He is. I believe, in time, He will eventually “push out” the lies that abusers have filled their victims with.

The Lord says He IS Light, and that darkness cannot compete with Him. Lies represent the kingdom of darkness. If we truly belong to His kingdom, which is full of His presence (no darkness exists in Him), we WILL start to see real results in our lives. The darkness had its way with us for awhile, but it will not claim victory over us.

Abuse represents nothing but death. A Cry for Justice beautifully wrote about how abuse, in essence, is murder. Lies DO murder a person from the inside out. I can tell you from experience that you can be technically alive on the outside, but inside you are dry, barren and lifeless because of what abuse does to a person. It is a slow, silent but deadly killer.

Jesus says He IS life. Since He lives in us and even goes so far to say He makes His home in us—we too are just as alive as He is. He died for us so that we would not have to abide in death anymore. He rose again so that He could give us the victory over whatever has torn us down. THAT is Who ultimately lives in us. Learning and growing and reminding ourselves about who He is (and who He isn’t) is potent antidote to abuse.

We who are born again in Him are required to NOT serve two masters. Our abusers are NOT our masters. They tried to be, but not anymore. My father was my abuser, and he darn well tried to rule my life. Even after I technically left that home, he “followed” me wherever I went and strongly influenced whatever I tried to do. I had a hard time with relationships because I had no idea how to relate to someone in normal, healthy ways! Sometimes I could feel the tug of war inside of me, with the Lord saying one thing, and my father saying another.

It truly was as if I was trying to serve two masters. Even though I hated my father for a lot of years, I also idolized and (in a strong sense) loved him—I think I feared him as MUCH as I loved him! That just made trying to get rid of his lies even harder.

This was my father, whose love and approval meant a great deal to me. I never got it. Even though he filled me with nothing but lies for most of my life, how does one reconcile getting rid of the very strong influence of the ONLY earthly father I’d ever had?

It became something of a competition. My Heavenly Father was saying one thing. My earthly father was saying the exact opposite, or something radically different. Both had VERY strong voices—pulling me back and forth.

I should add that I was (and still am) in your boat—trying to discern His voice from my abuser’s. But I WAS reading the Word of God, and there were plenty of verses that directly contradicted the lies my abuser had fed me. So even though I couldn’t always discern His voice, I had His written Word right in front of me—telling me that I AM worthy in His eyes. I AM valuable. I AM precious.

It seems obvious, right? Our Heavenly and earthly fathers (or spouses) are in separate arenas. How can they even compete? It’s too easy for professing Christians to say: Why don’t you just believe God over your abuser? You lack faith! You lack trust! You are “letting” your abuser control you! You have the power in Him now; rebuke those lies. YOU have the problem, because you know God is over and above everyone else, yet you continue to deny and disbelieve His truths.

Such persons aren’t technically wrong, but they lack empathy. They simply don’t understand the power of lies—and plenty of them. Try to imagine a house full of trash, built up over time. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the house is messy, smells bad and is probably hazardous to our health to live in. Trying to clean up that house is going to be a slow and steady process. It will take time, but you will see real results eventually.

If the Lord is patient as we work through the rubble and rubbish that abuse did to us, we too should be patient with ourselves. More than likely, we didn’t even KNOW how bad things were until we stepped back and saw things as they really were. In relationships that did not involve my father, it took over a decade in some cases to realize I had been fed a lot of lies that had really messed me up. Now I am in the process (again) of untying all the knots that those lies caused. Untangling the many cords that lies had tied me up in.

Untangling one lie at a time seems frustratingly slow, but it’s effective. You cannot expect a “rush” job when it comes to something as delicate and sensitive as our hearts and souls and minds. We are His treasures. He will not risk doing real damage to us by bulldozing those lies out of us.

Our Father is NOT an abuser. He is above all things—infinitely superior to everything—yet He will never use that superiority to tear His children down. He is in complete contrast to an abuser. For Him, it’s not about control, domination and having power over us. It’s about love, having a real relationship with Him—and letting a real Savior transform us into His image.

I used to believe that abuse could also involve half truths or could contain bits of truth here and there. Perhaps I shouldn’t discard EVERYTHING an abuser says. Maybe there were a few pearls of wisdom inserted into the ocean of lies he was feeding me.

I have ceased that way of thinking. Here is why:

Sometimes the things my dad would point out about me were truthful, even though it was used to feed his sense of entitlement to hurt me. So I had an even harder time getting rid of his voice inside of me. Don’t forget that I lived under his roof for years. Anyone that you spend a lot of time with is going to get to know you in ways that other people do not.

This is my personal viewpoint, but I take my cue from the Word. Discard EVERYTHING that an abuser feeds you. They take their cue from the devil, and they walk in his footsteps. The Lord said that he is the father of lies. There is NO truth in him. A murderer from the beginning. He lives only to steal, kill and destroy. He will masquerade as an angel of light. He goes around like a hungry lion, always looking for someone to devour.

I don’t care if they are “technically” right in some of the things they point out to you. The devil knows how to take Scripture and twist it up so that it SOUNDS Biblical, but it does not represent who He is. If anyone is doing anything like that—get them out of your lives. They have no interest in the truth setting you free as Christ intended. They are only interested in putting you BACK into the bondage that He set us free from.

And by the way, there is NO hierarchy with Him. None at all. Everyone who is born again is on equal, solid footing with the rest of His children. You do NOT have to give into a popular, beloved or charismatic pastor or preacher who tries to claim he or she has some sort of “upper hand” with the Lord. Same with a man who tries to claim he has some “special” authority over you as a woman. Therefore you better darn well listen to them—and give into your abuser or enable another abuser. That is 100% false. He doesn’t work like that. He never, ever elevates one gender or one believer in order to demean the other gender or another believer.

Each of us has the Holy Spirit in us as born again believers. And if you need to repel false doctrine or an arsenal of lies—all you do is ask Him for His Spirit and believe that He will be faithful. The Spirit of the Lord is all about freedom, based 100% on truth and brings streams of living water to the cold and dry desert that abuse has done to us.

When we see Him face to to face again, we will be 100% free from the trials of this world. In the meantime, fight the good fight. Never give up. Never give in. He overcame everything on our behalf. We have every reason to believe He will not give up on us as we too struggle to overcome what has dominated us for so long.

Readers, if you have any tips to share about how to get the abuser’s voice out of your head, please share them!

[May 8, 2022: Editors’ notes:

—For some comments made prior to May 8, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be an exact match.
—For some comments made prior to May 8, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be found in the post.
If you would like to compare the text in the comments made prior to May 8, 2022 that quoted from the post to the post as it is now (May 8, 2022), click here [Internet Archive link] for the most recent Internet Archive copy of the post.]


Further reading

Don Hennessy Digest


  1. E

    A suggestion I have heard several times:

    If your abuser used Bible verses to manipulate or crush you, the way Satan did to Eve and our Lord Jesus, and it has made reading or hearing scripture painful, use a different version than the abuser did, so a new fresh, encouraging impression of God’s love can come through, rather than just the old twisted meanings.

    • Becoming

      Thank you for this very practical suggestion. I just now ordered ordered the Matthew Bible translation Barbara recommends.

      It might be kind of nice to make new markings and underlining as well.

    • That’s a great idea! Thanks for sharing it, E. 🙂

  2. AppleofHisEye

    As I was healing from a childhood of family abuse, and spiritual abuse as an adult, I recall one point in my healing process when I came to realize that the voice who was constantly criticizing me the most in my head was my own. I think I had developed my own coping method to “keep out of trouble” with others who might be watching me with judgemental eyes. This was by watching myself so carefully that I could try to keep myself from making any mistakes. When I did make a mistake, or do something that could be interpreted as sin by someone or myself, I would then beat myself up for the error of my ways. Uggh! It was a never ending cycle. I felt like I was on one of those hamster wheels, running around and around but never getting anywhere.

    One day, the Holy Spirit showed me this truth about myself. I could actually see what I was doing to myself with my thoughts. I remember looking out the window and thinking to myself, “I am harder on myself than God is on me. God doesn’t even look at me this way, or expect this perfection from me. He accepts me even in spite of my imperfections, not because of anything I do or don’t do, but simply because I have trusted His beloved Son for my eternal forgiveness.”

    Once that reality pierced my heart, it was a truth which I reminded myself of every time I started to beat myself up again. Before I knew it, I was freed from that cycle. Once in awhile, it might pop up in my mind, and I immediately go to God with it and ask Him to help me resist the thought, and rest in Him and His grace, love and forgiveness.
    Now, it is much more clear to me when I have done something wrong for which I need to ask forgiveness, and when it is a false accusation from Satan or one of his messengers.

  3. Helovesme

    Barb, I wish I could express how I felt when I read this:

    He’s poisoned those verses for me for the rest of my life. I try to apprehend the real meaning of those verses with the Holy Spirit’s help, but I seem to be unable to.

    I can’t read certain verses or chapters, either. The ones about submission within a marriage cause me to be triggered and re-traumatized. Or, ones about honoring your parents. Or, chapters about unjust suffering and admonishing us to endure it for His sake. There may be a few others. Sometimes I don’t even realize how certain verses affect me (badly) until I re-read them, and realize how messed up I am.

    It pains me like nothing else, because as believers, we are to love the Word of God. It is everything to us. So I feel terrible that parts of the Word are closed off to me. It is not the Lord’s fault that I chewed up and swallowed so much bad doctrine for so long.

    We can’t go back in time and warn our former selves: “don’t believe that! It’s not true! It SOUNDS true, but it’s not from Him! Don’t swallow this “junk food” doctrine. It may “taste healthy” for a moment, but it will make you sick to your stomach later!”

    We also can’t undo the damage that is done. It is not fair for anyone to suggest or imply that the damage is reversible. I don’t mean that we give up and don’t bother to ask the Lord for wisdom and discernment to replace any and all false doctrines that were told to us. I just say that we need to tread carefully.

    What matters most is NOW, and the future ahead of us. One day at a time, by the way—I try not to live out tomorrow, when today is what I have in front of me.

    I used to be a a junk food junkie. I don’t think there was anything I didn’t put into my mouth, simply because it looked good, smelled good and would probably taste just as good. However, it caused my body a lot of damage. Weighed down (literally) by excess pounds.

    At the time, I wasn’t thinking about the short AND long term consequences. I was thinking and living in the moment.

    Sound familiar? This is similar to what was said about Eve in the Garden. The fruit looked good, seemed good for her, and would probably taste just as good.

    No matter how foolish she had been, the damage was done. You can’t undo eating something that you never should have put in your mouth in the first place. The best thing you can do is wait for it to pass through you (apologies, not at all trying to be gross)—-but most of all: be more careful about what you put into your system.

    I used to be a “spiritual” food junkie as well. Especially as a new believer. Like a newborn baby, everything looked good to stick into my mouth—-just to try it out and see what it tasted like. I also tended to trust those around me WAY too quickly. If they seemed mature and well-read believers, I tended to readily accept whatever they were saying as Biblical.

    This is not entirely unnatural—-when you are born again in Him—you’re trying to adjust and adapt to a whole new kingdom. You used to be a part of the kingdom of darkness. Now you’re in a brand new one—His Kingdom—and the two kingdoms couldn’t be more different from one another.

    However, in the same way I crammed my body with too much food (most of it junk food), I crammed my soul in the same way. And there is PLENTY of “junk food” doctrine out there. It sounds pleasant to the ears, but it does nothing to feed your soul—-to help you grow and mature in Him.

    Now I am extremely cautious about what I put in my mouth (literally), but just as careful (if not more so) as to what I put into my heart and mind. I can’t undo my lack of discernment in the past that caused me to put on extra weight that (literally) dragged me down. I also can’t undo how much “junk food” doctrine I gobbled up that only put extra, unneeded burdens on me.

    Here in America, there tends to be a lot of false advertising, or very misleading information to promote a product. They can put nearly whatever they want on a product to try to make buyers believe it is healthy, but it is anything BUT. It is all about profit and promotion for them. They don’t at all care about what is good for the buyer’s health and well-being. A buyer has to be able to see past what the packaging is trying to tell them, and educate themselves before impulsively grabbing what seems and looks good to them.

    By the way, I WAS able to shed the pounds off of me, literally. I had a lot to learn because of my previous paragraph. Everywhere I turned, some article or website tried to insinuate that I was doing it all wrong and was only harming my body more, not helping it. Eating right and exercising was a whole new world to me.

    It took a long time, though. Most people like to brag that they lost a lot of weight in a short period of time. But that’s not always the best way to keep the pounds off in the long term. Believe me, losing weight is one thing. Keeping them off is actually very hard as well. If you try to do it too quickly or carelessly, your body is likely pack those pounds right back on.

    Sound familiar, again? There will ALWAYS be someone or something trying to feed us “junk food” doctrine. When I go to a grocery store, junk food is all around me, pretty much the second I walk in. Stores will NOT hide it from me out of the goodness of their hearts. They count on people like me to give in to temptation. You have to learn how to avoid them.

    I stand with Barb’s words. I honestly don’t know if I’ll be able to read certain chapters of the Word again. My body still feels the “weight” of all that bad doctrine I ingested for so long. I may know NOW what the Biblical (and healthy) truth is behind those verses, but the weight remains.

    But I refuse to give up. Again, I can’t deny that I’m still weighed down. Even after all these years, I can’t seem to “shed” that weight that I KNOW needs to gotten rid of. But I will keep asking the Lord to feed me with what is healthy, Biblical and nourishing to my soul. What will cause me to grow and mature in Him.

    A spiritually healthy person WILL bear good fruit. I love His words about how healthy trees will inevitably bear good fruit. It is not something that might happen. It WILL happen.

    I also love how He spoke of cutting off branches in us that don’t bear good fruit. Those that are rotten, dead or useless. All those branches are doing is weighing us down, taking up space and aren’t being productive.

    Bear in mind that He never said that those with bad branches are NOT healthy trees. In fact, He said He prunes healthy branches so that they will bear even MORE good fruit! So I am in good Hands.

    There is no such thing as a 100% perfectly healthy tree, by the way. All of us will be unfinished, imperfect products until we see Him again. The book of James speaks of a perfectly mature person being able to perfectly control their tongues. Well, that is never going to happen to any of us on this side of eternity! I’ve never heard anyone even come close to suggesting that we shouldn’t even bother to ask God to tame our tongues, just because we will never be perfectly tamed.

    The voice of an abuser will try to tell us that we should give up, give in and declare ourselves as lost causes. Barb spoke about how man’s spirit “contaminates” her in reading those verses. I too feel stained and marked as “damaged goods.” I am not at all what Christ intended when He drew me to Himself and caused me to be born again. I have not turned out as I should have. He saved me to be a warrior, but I have become a wimp.

    Before I dismiss such things as lies, I actually HAVE been cowardly in my life. I should have known better, spoken up for myself, or chosen to act differently. However, only the Lord Himself should make such a statement defining my entire character. NOT our abusers, and not even ourselves. When our abusers brand us a certain way, it’s serious. But if the Lord doesn’t confirm it, those brandings should be treated as meaningless.

    I often wish that people would stop talking about me behind my back. This has dogged me for years, so it’s a real issue for me. Please deal with me directly, where I can tell my side of things, or clear up misunderstandings and misinformation that flows freely without my consent. So I have a strong hunch that I am being branded and re-branded and mega-branded in all sorts of false or inaccurate ways—-all without my input. Such things are not only humiliating, they’re also out of my hands. I cannot tame my own tongue apart from the Lord, and I certainly cannot tame the tongues of others.

    To this day, the Lord has not confirmed that I should be branded as a wimp. I only have strong, instinctual hunches about how I’m being branded outside of my home. But when I bring those hunches to the Lord, as far as I can tell—He has never agreed with them. And bear with me—these are professing Christians I am speaking of. It is a lie that those that profess Him are actually reflecting Him as He truly is.

    If He doesn’t agree with them, then neither will I. I won’t swallow what they are putting out there. No one tell me what to put into my system except for Him.

    I fear that whatever they are spreading around is poisonous. Why should I let it poison me? Sadly, I think it is themselves that they are poisoning the most.

    • Thanks Helovesme. I got a lot out of your comment.

    • Becoming

      However, only the Lord Himself should make such a statement defining my entire character. NOT our abusers, and not even ourselves. When our abusers brand us a certain way, it’s serious. But if the Lord doesn’t confirm it, those brandings should be treated as meaningless.

      Very helpful. “You are…” type statements are common in verbal abuse, and even when you try to fight it, it’s easy to believe the weakness and character flaws they labeled you with.

      • Helovesme

        Thank you both for such kind replies. It’s hard to describe how much it means to me to know the Lord is encouraging you in any way.

        Sometimes encouragement feels very uplifting (God loves you and always will. That will never change.).

        Sometimes encouragement feels anything BUT uplifting (God loves you and because of that love, He is going to convict you of sin.).

        My dad was very verbally abusive. I truly know what it’s like when words cut you up inside like a knife. Verbal taunts were not limited to my father, so I have a long list with a long memory of people tearing me down.

        Often times, verbal abuse is often not seen as serious as physical abuse, which is despicable on so many levels. Words hit hard, and when it’s someone close to you who is destroying you from the inside out, the abuse stings like nothing else.

        It’s hard to know how to respond to verbal taunting. The abuser is not interested in your response. They only want to see you suffer.

        It’s very difficult to escape being picked apart by those around you. Seems there will always be someone ready and willing to criticize you. Criticism is not quite the same thing as verbal abuse, but anyone who comes across as bullying and berating is no blessing to us. There are healthy, constructive ways to confront someone, and it never need involve crushing them to get a point across.

        It’s also impossible to hide your weaknesses from the entire world. When a believer, especially, dares to expose the fact that they struggle with sin, or is faulty in some areas—–why do those around us audibly gasp with horror? Does the Bible ever negate that we are works in progress in His hands?

        By the way, I speak of sincere, born again believers. Don’t let an abuser try to claim my previous paragraph. It doesn’t apply to them.

        When those around me have tried to “bring me down” by reminding me of my many, many weaknesses—-I try to have an answer for them that is respectful, but firm: —

        “My list of weaknesses certainly is long. You aren’t wrong in that. Take your pick, because there are many to choose from.

        But having weaknesses does not mean I am a lost cause. In fact, the Bible prizes those that are weak (and admit it), because His power is made perfect in our weaknesses. His grace is sufficient, and I am strong in Him. I’m not proud of my weaknesses, but I also not ashamed. He will change me from glory to glory, and what brings me down now will eventually lift me up to Him.

        I’m in good Hands. I belong to the best Potter there is. He loves me just as I am, and I don’t have to prove or change in order for Him to keep loving me.

        I understand that my weaknesses are problematic. They don’t just affect me, they affect others around me. This is why I cry out daily to the Lord, and I know He hears me.

        If you can’t bear with me or put up with me because you think I’m “too weak”—don’t let the door hit you on the way out. And if you hear me singing a song of joy once you’re gone, it’s because the Bible says when a scoffer is driven out, contention ceases. Peace is the result.

        I’m sure you have your own list to work on, by the way. You can add a few things to that list, if you’re not aware of them already: you have a problem with being a bully, being a negative person, and need to work on your false sense of superiority.

        Take them to the Lord. He is always listening.”

    • Now Free (formerly struggling to be free)

      Helovesme said:

      I often wish that people would stop talking about me behind my back. This has dogged me for years, so it’s a real issue for me. Please deal with me directly, where I can tell my side of things, or clear up misunderstandings and misinformation that flows freely without my consent. So I have a strong hunch that I am being branded and re-branded and mega-branded in all sorts of false or inaccurate ways–all without my input. Such things are not only humiliating, they’re also out of my hands. I cannot tame my own tongue apart from the Lord, and I certainly cannot tame the tongues of others.

      I agree and feel the same. I think only twice in my lifetime has someone lifted the phone or asked me outright in person what was going on and am I ok. On both occasions I could not say too much for my own safety. However, I assured them what they had heard was untrue and what they will hear will be false, for only me and God at that stage knew the true story. No one else had been told my side of the story.

      I deeply appreciated them for their bravery and their concern over and above what anyone else thought or were saying. They would not base their beliefs about me on hearsay or gossip. “Chinese whispers” comes to mind and some people just cannot refrain from adding a little juicy, twisted addition to some things they hear.

      I’ve always taken the attitude despite still being hurt by “gossip” or rebranding that I know my heart before God and I know in my heart before God that these things are not true. My conscience is clear and before God I can stand and know that I am not to blame.

      I stand on what God says about me, according to His word. I spent years in false guilt and self-blaming. Those days are gone. I know anything that comes my way to the contrary is not of God, but the father of lies.

      It does not make the lies or accusations less hurtful, but I refuse to let them stick to me as a label. I have found studying in the scriptures and getting to know my enemy through God’s word has helped me so much. In warfare it is vital we gain the advantage and we do so by knowing who we really are up against.
      I, still being imperfect, get wounded and let my guard down (take off my armour – Ephesians 6) or let satan say far too much before shutting him up. I have my bad days as a soldier still in training, yet much in the forefront of battle.

      Satan is the accuser of the brethren and father of lies. He is the prowling lion, the sly serpent or cunning fox. He is the trickster and deceiver. He is the deceiving angel of light. He wants to be God. He wants to be worshipped. He will do all he can to thwart true worship, and true witnesses for God to be heard. He wears many masks, but he still operates with pride and selfishness and with only one interest i.e. to isolate you and destroy you so you do not worship God.

      So when negative, false things come my way I ask myself who am I really dealing with, and I look at the evidence of words and traits.

      As someone once said to me, “Satan is like a roaring lion, but you have the Lion of Judah within you. He is the King of kings and Lord of lords. Let him (Satan) hear you roar with all your godly might back!! We don’t need to be polite to him.”

      I know this in my heart and I try to do these things. Sometimes I conquer, but sometimes I am so slow on the uptake and still despite all the preaching “forget” these things. I need to learn consistency. Actually I need to be more alert!
      When words devour us eat us up inside. You can be sure that is not of God.

      • Helovesme

        Now Free, I’m responding to your VERY wonderful comment identifying with me about being talked about. My goodness, it felt good to know someone knows what that is like (although again, I would never wish it upon anyone!).

        I’m nearing my mid-40s. It would be easy to say something like: “you’re an adult. You need to stop responding like a child or teenager when you hear or believe ugly things are being said about you. At your age, you should be far more mature than you’re acting. Are you going to go off and cry into your pillow every time you find out someone doesn’t like you? You have to toughen up, grow up—-and frankly, lighten up. Stop taking what others say about you so seriously, and personally. Let it roll off your back.”

        And to be sure, our Savior certainly had a lot of insults, false accusations, and gossip.

        I understand the need to “rise above” it all. Or, learn how to respond (or not respond) to such toxicity.

        However, I’m dealing with adults who are acting quite immaturely. Emotionally and spiritually so (I speak of professing Christians). Some of them are older than myself, and some of them are not. So, the age thing is a bit of loose argument. Age is not a proper measure of maturity.

        It is very brave when someone deals with you directly. My mantra now is: “deal with me directly, or don’t deal with me at all. If I find out you are talking about me behind my back, we’re done. I make the exception that if I am not approachable or available or impossible to connect with, I can understand why you might feel compelled to speak to another person or persons. However, I AM available, and approachable. I can be reached via text, email, even Facebook private messages. And I will respond to you, so you can’t tell me that I am likely to blow you off.”

        This pains me to write. The very few persons that DID try to talk to me directly were not sincere about it. I gave them very small pearls of mine, and they trampled them. They treated them like trash, and few things hurt more than that. I tried to be careful in which pearls, size-wise, I gave them—-but even the smallest ones mean a great deal to me.

        They came off like they cared, but obviously they were just curious. They didn’t really care about me at all. And sadly, who knows what they have done with those pearls. Who they gave them to, or how they “disfigured” them so that they were not properly represented.

        So, even though I thought their directness to me might have seemed like a blessing (I was on the fence when they did. I didn’t quite know what their motivations were, or how much was safe to tell them)—-it backfired badly. Actually, it made things much worse.

        More than likely, they expected me to say something that they didn’t want to hear, or didn’t want to deal with. Why such persons even ask, is beyond me, if they already have an idea as to what they want to hear?

        When I’m asked how am I doing—-I mostly do not even answer that directly, or I try to give the most minimum of answers. “I’ve written out real responses in the past, and then I hear nothing back. So, why are you wasting my time when I try to tell you what YOU asked of me? Apparently your time is more valuable than mine?

        I try to give leverage to people in general: they may be dealing with their own issues, crises, trials or seasons of difficulties—-believe me, life throws a lot at you—and I certainly try to understand that and be mindful of that.

        However, if there is no “room” for me in your life, maybe not now or maybe not ever—-be honest with yourself. Don’t lie to me, but also don’t lie to yourself.”

        I befriended a person who I truly thought cared about me. When I lost a loved one a few years ago, I thought she would be there for me. Well, nothing much came from her. I badly, badly needed even the smallest of attention from her. I confronted her finally, and she made it clear that she did not have room for me during my crisis.

        Okay. I tried to accept that. However, I cannot “time” my crises to happen when it’s convenient for her. At the same time, I had no idea if she meant our friendship was over for good? It didn’t occur to me to wonder about that, because at the time I was buried in grief and thinking straight wasn’t the easiest thing to do.

        It would be up to her to reach out to me when and if her personal issues eased up or whatever. She never has, so I guess she is done with me for good.

        Bear with me. Imagine how it feels to lose someone you loved so very much. So very deeply. And then you somehow find the courage to confront someone as I did, and made myself even more vulnerable. I made it clear I wasn’t asking for much—I really didn’t want to be imposing on her life if she was really that stressed.

        Your advice at the end was spot on:

        So when negative, false things come my way I ask myself who am I really dealing with, and I look at the evidence of words and traits.

        In the 80s, our president at the time was shot. When those shots rang out, his secret service sprang into action. One of them shoved him into the waiting care. Another one of them spread his arms out like an eagle, to protect the president.

        This is what they were trained to do. But in the moment, when those bullets started flying around (no one saw them coming), that was the real test of that training.

        The civilians around him hit the ground, or hit the road. I would not expect anything different from them. Protect yourself and your own. But the secret service are trained and taught to put the life of the president ahead of their own lives.

        Along with losing my loved one, before and after that I had other trials thrown at me. So it really felt like the bullets were flying.

        Without a doubt, God did NOT hit the ground or hit the road. Nearly everyone else did, but He spread His arms in front of me for sure. He stayed. He protected me. He put Himself out there, because that is who He is.

        By the way, the president DID take a bullet despite the actions of his secret service. But it was no fault of theirs for sure. I do believe that if they had not acted so bravely, he probably would have been shot multiple times. (He did survive his bullet wound, by the way.)

        No doubt, I felt the pain of what I was going through. It is NOT because God fell short of protecting me. It is because when you lose a loved one (or whatever the crisis is), it feels like you have been shot or stabbed. For me, I describe it like a knife in my heart. For those that showed little to no real concern for me (but acted like they were), I felt like a knife in my back.

        Without a doubt though, if the Lord had not stepped in and held me together—-I would have perished, disintegrated, or given up for good.

        I felt like He was holding me together “clumsily,” but what I mean by that is that I was so shaky and fragile that it didn’t take much for me to feel disjointed and cut up inside. But He didn’t let go, and I didn’t fall completely fall apart.

        A life broken into a lot of sharp, jagged pieces can make a person feel powerless, hopeless and absolutely helpless. I would have easily concluded that had I been completely alone. But I wasn’t. He was with me, and still is.

        Not only is He curious about how am I doing (and doesn’t mind if I tell Him the same things over and over again)—-He cares about how I am doing.

        The people that acted like they cared, but didn’t—-are missing out. Being a part of His work (being compassionate) gives you insight into His character like nothing else.

        They missed out. They can profess Him all they like still, and whether they are truly born again is not my problem—-but I would be careful about trying to admire Him from a distance and thinking that is good enough. It may or may not be (again, not my problem), but those that try to live their life in Christ that way are missing out.

      • Trying Again

        So when negative, false things come my way I ask myself who am I really dealing with, and I look at the evidence of words and traits.

        We had a relative that always said hurtful things, stirred up trouble, and criticized everyone. The response we used among ourselves was, “Take it where it comes from and charge it up to ignorance.”

        And that does not mean ignorance of not knowing the particular situation. It does not mean someone who said something in error because they did not have enough information. It does mean someone who is deliberately being hurtful. It means ignorant in the sense of ill-mannered, boorish, rude, and insensitive.

        And our response was to show that we would not allow ourselves to be hurt by someone like that. Brush it off! Ignore it! Consider the source and move on! It’s a handy phrase to have in our arsenal.

  4. justsaltwriter

    My abuser was a minister, someone I was supposed to be able to go to for wise biblical counsel. In childhood he sexually assaulted me and he also taunted me about my body, using specific scripture verses and then claiming he hadn’t done it, but that ‘God’ had said it’ as it’s in the Bible. I didn’t realize there even were that many explicit Bible verses about the female body. It took me many, many years to read those portions of scripture without chafing inside.

    In adulthood, he continued to have a hold on me by twisting ‘grace’ into licentiousness as he remained abusive, and quite perverted, without apology or change.

    I’ve always been one to analyze and dig deeply. I’ve also enjoyed Bible study and learning in general. I believe God gave me those gifts to help me endure what happened and to eventually make sense of it all once I was able to face it and study that portion of scripture on my own. When I was finally healed enough and able to dig into scripture and learn the meaning, on my own, it was very freeing.

    Turns out the verses used against me actually had meant the opposite of how he had used them, not surprisingly. He had twisted beautiful words meant to protect the dignity of someone who was vulnerable, in order to deeply wound my own vulnerable, self-conscious state. If that isn’t evil, I don’t know what is.

    I love the idea put forth here — ‘Satan said’ this, brilliant, and so helpful, wish I had heard that one sooner.

    As far as others being unable to read portions of scripture — I can relate, my heart aches for you, surely God understands and is with you in this. If and when you do get to a place where you feel ready to face it, I would suggest learning the real meaning, the context, etc. for yourself and letting the Holy Spirit guide you in that scriptural study. The truth is, IMO, the best way to undo any lie. For me, personal Bible study, asking God’s guidance and being careful in what teachings I follow, etc., has been really key to undoing the scripture taunting and twisting I endured.

    • Helovesme

      Justsaltwriter, that was a beautiful testimony. Thank you for sharing it!

      He had twisted beautiful words meant to protect the dignity of someone who was vulnerable, in order to deeply wound my own vulnerable, self-conscious state. If that isn’t evil, I don’t know what is.

      That was precious and right on point. Scripture is meant to bring life to our souls. Anyone who uses it to do the exact opposite will have much to answer for on Judgement Day.

      I think the thing that pains me the most is reading about how he taunted you regarding your body. As believers, we try not to get caught up in how we look or dress. Our true selves are within, and hidden in Him.

      But our bodies are just as much a product of our Creator. Yes, they will decay eventually, and we will have new, perfect bodies in Heaven. But they are not to be minimized, just because they are finite.

      Often, young girls and / or young women (and certainly adult women as well) are condemned simply for having bosoms, hips and curves. Shamed when her body changes in a way that now makes her, more than ever, a (supposedly) potential object of lust.

      The huge irony for me, however—-is that for a group of people (supposedly professing believers), who are supposed to abstain from such sinful urges, such persons seem to have sex on the brain way more than they should. They seem to see (or want to see) “sex” in just about any way a girl or woman dresses, acts or looks.

      It’s easy for any victim of abuse to hate themselves, and how they look. I was never sexually abused, and I hated myself on every level—-including the way I looked. I felt like the ugliest person on the planet, and those around me seemed to make sure I felt exactly like that.

      I’ll end with just a bit of humor. Puberty hit me kind of hard, so even now when I look at past pics of myself, I’m a bit horrified, I also didn’t take very good care of myself, so that didn’t help. So it was easy for me to buy into the lie that I was a very unattractive person.

      No one and nothing that God has made in His image is ugly. Or should ever be made to feel that way. Anyone who does that is insulting their Creator, and that is serious business.

      I may never get past that sort of taunting. I may never fully believe I am beautiful in Him. But I do believe that those taunts angered Him, on a personal level. Insulting His handiwork is no small thing.

      • Finding Answers

        Helovesme commented:

        ….I may never fully believe I am beautiful in Him….

        In reading your comments here and elsewhere on the blog, Helovesme, those around you appear to be unable to see your heart. For me, I have found the more people focus on my physical appearance, the less interested they are in my Creator. This knowledge does not lessen the pain of the taunts, but it DOES make it easier to – as you so eloquently write in another comment:

        If you can’t bear with me or put up with me because you think I’m “too weak”–don’t let the door hit you on the way out. And if you hear me singing a song of joy once you’re gone, it’s because the Bible says when a scoffer is driven out, contention ceases. Peace is the result.

        (Bold done by me.)

      • justsaltwriter

        Thank you and thank you for sharing your story. I am so sorry you had your looks insulted in puberty as well. It is a big wound for me, aside from the assault, the verbal taunting is in many ways worse as it got into my head and I believed the lies and so I understand how much those lies can linger into adulthood. I can relate to seeing photos of myself from that time and seeing how awkward I was and I had bad acne etc. It only makes me realize how evil the abuse was as those are the children who need even more affirmation and who really can’t handle being picked on. As scripture says:

        do not break a broken reed! Or snuff out a smoldering wick. [Paraphrase of Isaiah 42:3, Matthew 12:20]

        We battle not against flesh but against powers and principalities and that is evidenced by all the other stories of different, yet similar, verbal abuses and spiritual abuses that I have heard and read about after sharing my own. We are made in His image, which means at every stage of life we are physically beautiful — to those with eyes to see His truths! Healthy self-image is not vanity.
        Thank you for responding to my story!! Hugs and blessings to you.

  5. Now Free (formerly struggling to be free)

    I’ve battled over the years using three basic sets of simple childlike questions.

    Question: Is what is being said true or false?

    Sometimes Satan, as he did with Eve in the garden of Eden in Genesis 3 and Christ during His temptation in the wilderness (Mark 1:12-13; Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13), he would try to manipulate or confuse / deceive by mixing a little truth with lies. It was still false, but deceptive.

    Knowing what is truth is therefore important.

    Psalm 119:160
    ….your word is truth….

    It is also:

    ….a lamp unto our feet and a light to our path. (Psalm 119:105)

    I often knew in my gut the truth and [was] well-taught the scriptures since a child, so the false is less likely to stick. Knowing God’s word well and getting to know God and His attributes and character too is paramount. 1 Tim 3:16 really is true and like Paul said to a young Timothy we need to study:

    ….rightly dividing the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15)

    That meant not listening to just one view or that, but letting God lead and guide me without pressure of church or leaders. Listening to many viewpoints but not letting any man convince me but God.

    Jesus always combatted Satan’s words with “it is written”. He knew the word and He was the word. We need to do the same. We need to know both. To me that is the most important lesson for us to learn in life, to help with anything we face. It helped when faced with false doctrine. It is often man that confuses, but God is never the author of confusion.

    Another way I coped was, I would ask myself often during abuse or even things that still are said today, “but you know it just doesn’t sit right in your spirit – what would Jesus be doing / saying right now?”

    Not only is His word truth, He is truth.

    John 14:6: Jesus said, “I am the way the truth and the life….

    Question: What would Jesus say / do?

    Would Jesus have said that about me or just done what that other person has done? Would Jesus have done that to me? How would Jesus have acted or reacted?

    It’s a pretty good check on yourself too. You ask and the Holy Spirit, if dwelling within you, will soon answer you. Jesus said, He will send another comforter and:

    ….He will guide you into all truth. (John 16:13)

    In fact it’s in those abusive moments when I asked the simplest of questions, I really saw Jesus was not in my abusers nor many allies, despite calling themselves Christians. They most definitely were not Christ-ones. I don’t expect it from non-Christian people but still there are many decent-living and loving people who still know right from wrong out there and many who act more like Jesus and have better manners and morals than many who even profess to be His children. My abusers could call themselves Christians ‘until the cows came home’, but I knew there was little to nothing of Christlikeness in them. They did not show forth the fruits of a person who was truly Christian, in fact very much the opposite was true. When I hear “voices” I listen for the language of the fruits of the Spirit. Galatians 5. When God / Jesus speaks, they are present, but when Satan speaks it will be of the worldly, flesh.

    Just as I will not accept false guilt anymore from my abusers, which is not easy at times to do, nor will I accept the lies from Satan either.

    I battle daily with these things. Satan is persistent, but God is already victorious. It is not easy many a time, but the old hymn Yield Not to Temptation [Internet Archive link]1 comes to mind. It’s a great hymn in adversity as well as [in] temptation. We hardly hear of it today. One line in it says:

    Each victory will help you some other (victory) to win.

    Asking myself regarding truth and what would Jesus say or do really made it easier to walk away and see who I was really dealing with in my marriage and in other abusive relationships. It also helps me see who really is behind the voices or the things others may come and say to you. Sometimes even with sincerity and believing [what] they are doing / saying [is] for your great benefit. Sometimes the battle is a long fight and other days it is over almost instantaneous.

    The third help that I try to ask.

    Question: Is this loving and is this building me up as a person?

    Is this strengthening me, the relationship or my present position or is this actually tearing me apart and pulling me down as a person, in the relationship or in how I feel?
    That actually goes for any relationship, voice or thought? Have these “other people” in my life my best interests at heart or are they saying / doing for selfish gain or motives?

    Is what I’m hearing really doing me any good??

    An area I find difficult to battle in my silent moments.
    Sometimes we do need godly discipline, but there’s a massive difference between godly wisdom and correction / guidance than that which is false instruction and evil that will only be to destroy and crush our spirit. Satan is sometimes subtle, but his fiery darts are hard, harsh and unforgiving. Godly love is much different that only seeks to nurture us in the best way forward.

    It’s not exactly rocket science I guess, but questions that continue daily to help me. If I ask them, and if I listen to God’s voice back!!

    Sometimes Satan roars like a lion, when God wants us to be still and hear His tender, still-calm voice. I’m still learning this one! 😀

    1[May 11, 2022: We added the link to Hymnary.Org’s page that contains the lyrics for Yield Not to Temptation. The Internet Archive link is a copy of that page. Editors.]

  6. Now Free (formerly struggling to be free)

    Barb, can I ask if the following is relevant, if not that’s ok. I’m not entirely sure. If not maybe it would be good to do a post sometime if not already touched on somewhere on the site or steer me to anything you know might be helpful. It’s all part perhaps of what I see some already mentioning.

    My comment is below.

    Has anyone had problems of what I call “conditioning”?

    What I mean is my abuser over time through lots of manipulation and verbal, mental and emotional abuse, in a way I feel moulded me to think and react in certain ways I still struggle with today? When abuse happened I found certain ways around things, but today I know it has conditioned me into a person who reacts in a way that I never really did before. Part of it may be a good thing as I see it, but I know sometimes out of fear or just simply being so used to having to react a certain way for my safety, I say or do or even think things almost on autopilot.

    I don’t always recognise it happening right away, but by the time I do it has sometimes really annoyed others. It is not intentional it’s part of the way I’ve been conditioned to react by my abuser. There’s much we often need reworked out of us too, but it’s not always that simple if you are still undergoing abuses and need those defences or you feel you need them.

    One of those things for me is saying “sorry” a lot. I had to for my safety, plus a few other reasons.

    Another is around silence from a person suddenly in chat, which was very much used as [a] manipulative tool and a “battering ram” in my abuse. I struggle with both.

    I’d love to hear if anyone else has tips maybe they have found overcoming some of these kind of things, or perhaps it will just take time to work out of me.

    I think some of the comments already touch on similar and I’ve found [some] already very helpful. “Voices” I find come strong when I face those silences. As has been already said I tend to beat myself up a lot.
    Thank you 🙂 for each of your comments. Duly noting each.

    • Hi Now Free,

      Don Hennessy discusses how the abuser conditions the victim. I recommend you read my Don Hennessy series.

      And I will add the series as Further Reading the bottom of this post.

      • Now Free (formerly struggling to be free)

        Many thanks, will read. I must have missed it as thought I had read all on site of his series.
        Thank you.

    • You might also find it helpful to read the posts tagged Mind Control.

      • Now Free (formerly struggling to be free)

        Thank you Barb, as I know how I’ve been conditioned. It’s more how can I rework it out of my life. I was hoping I might gain some practical tips.

        Initium Nova gave one that I’ve already started and I would add it really helps if that song has a memorable good melodic tune and perhaps something you already have in your song collection. I find it’s those songs (rather than new ones) with words stay longer at the fore throughout the day.
        Looking forward to pondering more on all this and what you have already given, Barb.
        Thank you again. We are truly family and in this together. 😀

    • Helovesme

      Now Free, those were wonderful comments and questions. I got a lot out of what you were saying and related to a lot of it.

      Ironically, I was talking to my spouse about good manners just last night. I live in America, where our current political and societal atmosphere is quite toxic. Things that should be instilled in any and all adults (but especially those in the public eye)—common courtesy and a sense of emotional maturity seem to be thoroughly lacking.

      These are things that can easily go out the window—proper manners and treating others with a sense of respect—when and if you feel wronged.

      I personally find myself siding with the secular world in certain areas (not all!), and very strongly against those that profess to be Christians. I simply do not see Christ standing with them, concerning certain attitudes and viewpoints.

      That has been very hard on me, by the way. You want to agree with those that profess to belong to Him, but how can I, when you are speaking in ways that do not reflect a people that belong to Him?

      I believe you mentioned rightly dividing the truth (I love that verse). Recently a well-known professing Christian made an appalling comment that Scripture does NOT support. On Twitter, a fair amount of people reminded him of Scriptures that debunked his views. My strong hunch is that some or most of them may not be professing Christians, because their tweets were peppered with a fair amount of curse words. Bear with me—that does not automatically mean they are not Christians.

      The “conditioning” rang a bell with me, too. For years, I have been taught in one way or another—-that I am inferior to others. This is why it has taken many years for me to even realize that certain things that were said or done to me were insulting. Very insulting.

      At the time, it was just “business as usual” for me to be treated in certain ways, and while I may have sensed some amount of disrespect at the time—-I simply tried to bury it and move on. I didn’t think I deserved any better. I was used to being treated as a lesser form of life, a lesser human being. She’s not “one of us.” Or, she’s a believer, but not like we are.

      I would say I was conditioned to be and become a people-pleaser. One that easily gives in to what others want or desire, or demand. One that has a hard time standing up for herself, and an even harder time saying “no.” One that tries to “buy” friendship and fidelity from others by giving away my time and energy—all in the hopes that they would accept me in return. Now, if they would also love me in return—that would be even better. But minimal acceptance was the best I thought I could hope for, given my (false) but strong sense of inferiority.

      Now, bear in mind that I tried to wrap all of that up in a nice, Christian ribbon—assuming this was what Christ was like (loving others) and while it would be tough, I needed to stick it out. Never occurred to me that He would never ask me to sacrifice my sense of dignity in order to make others feel loved, and to be loved in return.

      But I was conditioned to believe I wasn’t lovable, not without earning it—and not without it being clear that I could be cut off at any time, should I dare to stop any and all efforts to keep and maintain that love. Basically—it was never enough. Never good enough. Never could I stop making others feel special about themselves. However, never should I dare even hint that I might like to receive some of that sort of love in return!

      The “autopilot” description was right on. A good example is this: someone comes to you with a complaint against you, expressing hurt feelings. They are angry and upset at you, and you know it.

      The autopilot reaction in me was to say things like: “I’m sorry. I hurt you and that is wrong. How can I make it up to you? Or, how can I make you feel better?”

      Those sorts of reactions are not always wrong. But in a few situations that this sort of thing came at me, I was NOT in the wrong. But I readily accepted that I must be (if they have said so), and I took all the blame. After all, if they are hurting, I need to take that seriously right? Isn’t that what Jesus would do? Ask for forgiveness, try to mend fences, try to salvage the relationship (especially with fellow believers)?

      I used to be told that you teach others how to treat you. So, if you are disrespected or treated badly, you probably “taught” them to do just that.

      The point of statements like that is to motivate a person to make it clear what is and isn’t acceptable to you. Therefore, those around you are very clear on what you will or won’t tolerate. And they will respect you for it.

      There is nothing wrong will having a certain level of tolerance, setting that limit and knowing what it’s become intolerable for you.

      HOWEVER, there is never any guarantee that others will respect you. Unless you become an abuser yourself (as you brought up, you believe you were conditioned by an abuser to act or react in certain ways), you cannot control how people choose to treat you.

      For me, this is a classic form of enabling an abuser, and blaming the victim. Aka: if you had told your abuser that they had gone too far (possibly from the first act of abuse?), you wouldn’t be in the position that you are now in. You “taught” him or her to abuse you, and while the abuse isn’t your fault (that was his or her choice; no one is denying that!), you are at least partially responsible.

      I can’t stress this enough: those are lies, from start to finish.

      Here is partly why I readily took at least some blame for how others (and my abuser) treated me. If I am not at least slightly to blame, that means that there is some pretty hard core evil out there. They don’t just exist in other countries, in other families, in other churches. They exist right in my backyard. Right in my own home. Right in my own family.

      What is worse, all that hard core evil was so cleverly disguised with nice looking people, nice looking families, seemingly very nice people. With normal, everyday looking people.

      That was (and still is) too much for me to grasp. But be careful. Grasp it we must. Or else we will go into denial, and then into full blown deception. That is another form of conditioning. The lies we are told become the truth to us, and suddenly we don’t know the difference. Suddenly the darkness is not only blinding us, it is owning us.

      While I believe the Holy Spirit can overcome such darkness, it is best if we never become embroiled in it in the first place—-if we are vigilant and diligent—-and as Now Free said:

      Listening to many viewpoints but not letting any man convince me but God.

      As a young woman and Christian, I remember the narrative that men want to be with women that they can respect. And who will respect him in return. A woman acting in certain ways is not attractive to a man, because he cannot respect her if she acts like that.

      I really liked this line in your comment, and I would beg of all of us to take it to heart:

      When I hear “voices” I listen for the language of the fruits of the Spirit.

      Whether they are the voices from your past, or in the present—whether they are audible or echoes from people you used to know—-listen carefully. Test what they are saying. Do not be fooled if they wear a “name tag” that says “Hi, my name is so-and-so, I love Jesus!”

      • Now Free (formerly struggling to be free)

        Helovesme, as usual there is so much you write I can relate to and just kept saying “yes yes yip amen” to. I agree with you so much, including where have courtesy and good manners gone today? Thankfully there are still many who adhere to common decency.

        I couldn’t possibly comment on much of what you said but it was very interesting and uncanny how much I’ve been through similar. As for conditioning I’m still working on that one. A lot of healing I hope also.
        Includes reworking things out of me. I only know I try my best but it never works fully. I know God will have to perform His own surgery for a few things that I hate to be removed and be healed. I leave that to the Great Physician and know I’m in good hands.

        One tip: read posts and comments on ACFJ. Often my day has been rough and I read something here from many of you precious people and regain my senses and perspective.

        God as head of the family brings His arms around and says “it’s ok”, whispers in your ear words of comfort, acceptance and love. Then often it’s like a family group hug. A word or phrase can mean so much.

        As you say, Helovesme, we are in the same boat (despite not wishing it on anyone).

        There’s great help and love in the boat. I appreciate every one of you in my life. That’s my tip for tonight as I head for sleep. It’s been a good day! Hugs back to you all. 🙂

  7. Initium nova

    Speaking to the word “perspective.”
    It’s a very important word that is used in the heading.
    1) The art of representing three dimensional objects on a two-dimensional surface.
    2) A particular attitude or way of regarding something, a point of view.
    3) A way of seeing something.

    Before Christmas I was in a second hand bookshop and found Cloud and Townsend’s book “12 “Christian” Beliefs That Can Drive You Crazy”.
    The authors speak to perspectives and points of view that are considered normal in church these days, but are truly false teachings. It has really opened my eyes to how poisonous some of these points of view are.
    I’m slowly working through these false assumptions / beliefs. It’s both a challenging and freeing message for me, because it has spoken to my needs in a way I can understand easily. I can see now how a couple of these false beliefs have taken a great toll on my day-to-day life.

    About the voices in the head:
    Recently I have had some success in overcoming these voices. I started to notice a few months ago that I would wake up with a song or hymn in my head, and I found that it was with me for the best part of the day.
    It helped so much. One song I remember well is “I’m no longer a slave to fear, I am a child of God” [No Longer Slaves [Internet Archive link]]1, another is “All my fountains are in You” [Fountains [Internet Archive link]]1, and the last one yesterday is “You are my hiding place, You compass me about with songs of deliverance, what time I am afraid, I will trust in You.” [You Are My Hiding Place [Internet Archive link]]1.

    God bless you Barbara and commenters, this is such an important topic!

    1[May 12, 2022: We added the links to the songs listed by Initium Nova. The Internet Archive links are copies of those pages. Editors.]

    • Now Free (formerly struggling to be free)

      Initium Nova, I must thank you for your comment as I will perhaps try and get music back into my life.
      It has been something until recently I have struggled with. As a former worship leader I know how important it can be in therapy of the soul as well as in just praise and worship.
      Your angle on it rings true as often a song before bed or in the morning seems to stay in us for best parts of the day. Our sub-conscious minds being worked on by filling it with good thoughts is something I had not fully thought of in this area of “voices”.

      I will from now on try and listen to music on the way into work and late at night rather than news items that are never really good news on the whole.
      Thank you again for all your comments here. Very practical and encouraging.

    • leaningonhope

      Hi there,

      Could you list a few / many of the beliefs that are actually false teachings? For the benefit of those of us who do not have access to that book….
      Thank you!

      I have had a recurring question run through my mind at random and various times. I think it is from the Lord. He will ask me, “If you are believing a lie, would you want to know it?”

      I have dwelled on this question many, many times. It makes me think of the times when I would react to my H’s abusive behavior and he would criticize me for it. The lie was “I was just as bad as he”. Even when I was certain that I had considered my response and “made sure” it wasn’t harsh or disrespectful. When I had purposed to be thoughtful yet direct, I would still be falsely accused. (And, yes, there were other times that my response to him or a situation would be a poor one, and then those times would warrant an apology from me.)

      But then I learned the truth about myself, through this site and reading other helpful material, that a healthy mind will react because they know that what they are experiencing is so unhealthy. It became “OK” to respond. It wasn’t wrong for me to speak out about the truth, or what I was observing. My perspective was valid.

      I’m still learning. I have a long way to go. This site and all you commenters have been so helpful. If you ever have a thought that your comment will sound unimportant or irrelevant, think again. You never know when what you have to say will be the “light bulb moment” for another struggling with the same issues.

      Thank you.

      • Hi leaningonhope,
        This link will take you to 12 “Christian” Beliefs That Can Drive You Crazy on Amazon.

        Once there, click on the ‘Look Inside’ which is at the top of the image of the front cover. That will enable you to read the Contents page of the book. The Contents page shows the twelve beliefs: each belief is a chapter in the book.

      • Helovesme


        a healthy mind will react because they know that what they are experiencing is so unhealthy.

        I love that!! What a simple, beautiful way to express it.

        I’m with Finding Answers—it’s very hard to list across the board false teachings because there are so many out there, and so many variations of them as well. And how we deal with each one of them requires discernment from the Holy Spirit.

        Here is one that I have recently thought of. Some or many of us may have heard the phrase: “it takes two to tango” when allegations of domestic abuse come up. It’s a way to claim that BOTH persons must be at fault, because marriage is a two-person thing.

        Two people dancing must be in unison to be able to dance the tango. If you’ve ever seen couples dancing, there is no doubt that in order for the dance to be successful, both persons have to be “in step” with each other.

        If you’ve watched professional dancers, their routines can be breathtaking to behold.

        It only takes one person in the dance to spoil everything. Both persons do NOT have to out of sync and out of control in order to ruin the entire routine.

        And if you want to describe a marriage like a tango, then what the heck is one of those dancers doing—trying to dance on his or her own, because their partner won’t stop ruining things? He or she refuses to work with their partner, respect them or show them any regard at all.

        Or they have left the dance floor for good, leaving him or her all alone to keep it going without them. That is not a tango. That is a solo performer, desperately trying to do enough dancing for BOTH persons.

        I don’t believe there is such a dance as a a “solo tango,” but that is exactly what abuse victims are reduced to. Dancing without a partner, yet desperately still trying to keep the dance going. Trying to keep up appearances, smiling and trying to act as if this is all normal. But he or she is exhausted. Unhappy. Lonely. Humiliated.

        The dance was over the moment his or her partner refused to respect and honor his or her partner. The abuser dancer wasn’t ever interested in dancing the tango. He or she didn’t even want a partner to dance with to begin with.

        To claim that both persons must have contributed to a disastrous “tango” (aka marriage) isn’t valid at all.

      • Initium nova

        It has taken me two months to read three chapters, because I just don’t want to read a book. I want to confront stuff and hopefully get a little wiser.

        The first perspective (lie) that I worked through is:

        “It’s selfish to have your needs met.”, “Get your eyes off yourself.”, “Just focus on Jesus.”

        I’ve had that drummed into me so much that it became a lie in my truth drawer.
        It was only when I deliberately began to look at my thoughts, emotions, behaviours, and conversations, that I began to understand God’s endless grace allows me to bring what I experience to Jesus.
        The people who told me to get my mind off myself actually prevented me from working out my salvation; in the words of the authors, the “process of cleansing, healing, and sanctification.”

        Then I felt that I should skip to a chapter titled “If I change my behaviour then….”
        The church perspective that one just has to “give it to the Lord’, “Take it to the cross and leave it there,” has had the biggest impact on my life of all.
        It has denied to me the compassion and the understanding that other believers are meant to be able to provide for those in distress. It sounds like the Bible, but this perspective allows Christians to avoid their responsibility of caring for one another.

        This aspect has been my biggest challenge so far. Because of the many years of neglect and emotional abuse I was conditioned to be self-sufficient. I had to be.
        Now it seems that I have to unlearn all that and find people who can help me! Aargh!
        It means that I have to reach out, to ask, to trust.
        It’s great that I have been able to find a few who I can share my story with, and who have been able to even say “I’m sorry to hear you had to go through that.”
        I’m in a small group now that I feel like we really are Jesus’ family. I shared with them last week that I have been too independent, and I wanted them to know that I’m going to ask when I need any help.

        This is all that I have read so far in the above book.

        So bit by bit, I’m moving along to a healthier me by recognising and unlearning these two lies.
        And I have been able to say “I am who Father God says I am, my needs are important, and I don’t have to do it alone anymore.”

    • Helovesme

      Initium Nova, that book you brought up sounds wonderful. I’m hoping to have better energy in the future, and if and when I do that book sounds like a quite a blessing.

  8. Finding Answers

    I cannot list the myriad of ways I have found worked for me – each situation was resolved through different means.

    Some required research for the truth about specific health issues, some required untwisting Scripture, and some required learning who was the source of a particular form of abuse.

    Many of the perspectives were identified through hindsight, those “I’m slow on the uptake.” moments.

    Some methods would not have worked had they been attempted prior to healing other aspects of long-term damage.

    For me, the bits and pieces were assembled every time I asked “Why?”.

    My search continues.

  9. Starlight

    Thank you, this is helpful! Yes, you are so right, my con artist ex was all about control and oppression and even the “good” that came from him was evil and self-serving. Reading this has helped me to reflect on how an abusive parent who was not as overt as my ex had me tangled up in lies, oppressed and controlled from the inside as well, and that entanglement was much deeper, it is still taking time to untangle.

    There is a considerable amount of mess as I experience the parts that I internalized that are lies – some from misdirected, misquoted and misunderstood scripture and some from having a narcissistic parent, sometimes well-meaning and other times totally unreasonable and against imaginary harm that the slant of the narcissistic world view implants in your head. I am discovering the lens was coloured even though I didn’t know it was!

    My struggle is how to protect my young child from a parent [the abuser] who is selfish in the extreme and who works overtime to get into her head – she is full of fear and being harmed from walking in the shattered eggshells that is 1/3 of her life – the fight within herself is mortal, the struggle so observable. May God give her eyes to recognize the lies and cling to the freedom that she learns in the 1/2 of her life that does not involve coercion and control but still requires guidance and parenting every other week!

  10. LM

    Music we loved in childhood or youth or at a time in life when we did not know the abuser (if possible) can help our minds rest in a different, healthier period of our memories.

    Reading a different Bible version than the abuser “quoted” (twisted) helps some people, if spiritual abuse was involved. (Already mentioned, I think.)

    Audiobooks and adventure fiction also have been helpful.

    Walking in nature and describing to yourself with a grateful heart the sights, sounds, smells, and feels with colorful adjectives that are around us in the different seasons help the mind slowly repattern and heal in layers.

    And looking around for little ways to help those around us or making something beautiful can also bring a change in how the negative affects us.

    Several have reported to me that fasting has helped anxiety symptoms of all sorts cease or greatly decrease, in a biologically health-building way, not only a “spiritual” way.

    • Thanks LM. These are great suggestions!

      • Finding Answers


  11. Helovesme

    Finding Answers, thank you for your kind words above!

    Physical appearance is an interesting topic. There is NO doubt that how we look (gender, ethnicity) matters—-because the Lord made each one of us in His image. Of all of His creation, human beings are the only ones who can claim that.

    We DO have a tendency to put way too much emphasis on our looks, however. How much is too much would be way too complicated to go into.

    What’s interesting is that even though we are beautifully and fearfully made by Him, looks are very low on the totem pole in terms of value in the Lord’s eyes.

    If you’ve ever watched the Twilight Zone episode titled “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” I think that message comes across very well. What is beauty to some, is considered ugly to others. I don’t want to give it away to anyone who hasn’t seen it.

    The so-called “beautiful” people in the entertainment world do not impress every person on the planet. There is a certain standard of attractiveness that every society has, but not every person IN that society agrees with them.

    However, whatever the majority pushes and promotes tends to put a LOT of pressure on those that don’t meet those standards, or simply don’t want to conform to them.

    • Trying Again

      I tell my students and children, “Beauty is as beauty does.” Behave in a kind, caring, beautiful way! That is beautiful!

  12. Helovesme

    Initium Nova, oh my goodness thank you so much for sharing! I got so much out of what you said.

    One has to read the Word in full context. It is too easy to take a verse, or take a chapter, or take a certain episode or event from the Word —-and build a false narrative around it.

    I believe this is one of the many ways false teachings and theologies are shaped, formed, and then they spread like wildfire. It only takes a small spark to start a huge fire.

    Just about everything you spoke of resonated with me. I now work hard to warn others to NOT fall for such things that are terribly misleading. And dangerous. What seems benign is actually very destructive.

    The things you brought up: “don’t be selfish”, “focus on Christ” are indeed Biblical, but when improperly applied to every situation without careful discernment and asking the Lord for wisdom—that is again a recipe for disaster. People will likely get hurt.

    One thing I am now adamant about standing up to is the “don’t be selfish” attitude.

    Putting others first is Biblical. Neglecting yourself is NOT. And yes, there IS a difference. No one should spread themselves so thin that they are nearly consumed with the needs of others.

    This doesn’t mean that if you help others, you won’t pay a price. You do sacrifice time and energy to help others. Other people are valuable, but you’re just as valuable as they are.

    The Bible is so clear that we are finite. Frankly, I get tired of reading about that! There is NO shame in setting limits, and admitting to others (and yourself) that you are limited in what you can give. Your resources are not limitless, and neither are you.

    By the way, the Bible speaks of money as a legitimate resource that can help others. But it warns us that it can easily consume our lives—the pursuit and love of it can cause much ruination.

    People are NOT resources in the same way money is, yet I’ve noticed that they can be treated just like that. People get used up and then thrown away when they are not longer useful. Their value is only calculated in how useful they are, and that is simply wrong.

    The other ones you mentioned have very much captured my life as well. They are all kind of tied together with the same conclusion, as you put it so well:

    It sounds like the Bible, but this perspective allows Christians to avoid their responsibility of caring for one another.

    Without a doubt, NOTHING can replace the sweet yet powerful presence of the Lord. No one can duplicate that, and no one can match what He is and gives to us all on His own, apart from anyone else.

    But the Bible has NEVER denied, and actually very much admonishes us to look out for one another. There are so many precious and beautiful verses that make that astonishingly clear.

    Yes, there is such a thing as being TOO dependent on one another, or a group of people. Idolatry is evil and wrong. He is our all-in-all, and no one can compete with that.

    Telling me to give it to Jesus, focus on Him, take it to the cross, stop focusing on yourself (isn’t that a form of self-idolatry?)—-are NOT necessarily bad things. Isaiah 26:3 speaks wonderfully about keeping a heavenly perspective. Paul also spoke of focusing on the glory that was to come, and how it will outdo whatever sufferings we go through.

    However, I would ask WHY the Word is so adamant about the body of Christ—-how there are places for each of His born again children—ways that we help and bless each other—if He is supposedly “all we need.” Then why has He asked us to be His hands and feet?

    It was NOT set up that we run out on one another when the needs arise, and then cover it up with a: “just go to Jesus and stop thinking about yourself.”

    Then it’s like: “by the way, we need you to serve in this and that capacity. Will you please stop thinking about yourself and do this, for the “glory of the Lord” of course?”

    Christians who love to give and serve and bless often end up getting “burned out.” It has happened to me, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. There are lots of reasons why this happens. One of them, however, is that we are not treated as real people. We are treated as mere resources. We exhaust ourselves and claim we are being “used by God,” but when we are used up, we are useless.

    Some people become jaded and bitter after such experiences. Others may have more mild and mellow reactions. It really depends on a whole lot of factors.

    From start to finish, our salvation is between an individual and the Lord. Working out our salvation, as Initium Nova put so well, is vital. It is not selfish to do so. It is Biblical. It is also sinful if someone (anyone) is trying to prevent you from doing that.

    I remember, years ago—I was so burnt out and I started to backslide. One day I looked in the mirror (spiritually) and I didn’t recognized myself. I didn’t see the reflection of a born again child of His anymore. I saw a very angry, troubled and terribly cynical young woman—-who wasn’t sure who she belonged to anymore. Was it to the world, or to Him?

    Before I read Initium Nova’s comment, I thought this morning how terribly stubborn I am. I too have a very hard time asking for help, or letting others see me in pain. The reasons why are actually very understandable—I’ve had too many people run out on me, and too many people had no interest or desire in seeing me in pain.

    To be clear, I can understand why people run off, or stay away. Watching someone break down, or admit they are in a real crisis of faith with the Lord—-it’s like being at a crime scene. It is very ugly, and you don’t want to be around anything ugly.

    Understandable doesn’t make it justifiable, however. Ask the Lord to bring ONE person into your life that you can ask for prayer, for example. There has to be ONE sincere born again believer that will gladly stand with you. Perhaps it will be in an online way, not face-to-face.

    Most of all, I now try to BE that person that others can reach out to, and trust. It’s 100% fair to ask the Lord for someone you can lean on, and depend on for emotional and spiritual support. It’s also 100% fair that we are each asked to be that type of person that others can lean on as well.

    Would love it if Initium Nova would share more, if he or she ever feels led to. Her comment really blessed me, and I am sure others.

    • Initium nova

      Thank you very much, that’s a lot of wisdom there!
      Yes, I’m learning to say ‘thank you’ as well.

      On this topic, not only am I thinking generally of people as I learn about these perspectives, I’m trying to get to the point about my primary abuser. That person had the ability to tell me “it’s not about you”, while at the same time requiring me to focus on them. It’s about them! It usually happened when I was in discussion with one of my teenagers. The conversation was turned around somehow to be about them. Frustrated for my child one day, I remember using the same response that I was used to getting. “Today, it’s not about you, it’s about our child.”

      What I’m trying to say is, that in abusive relationships, those who use the Bible to require us to get our eyes off ourselves are usually the ones who want our full attention, and if we give our focus to someone else while they are around, they don’t like it, and try to swing it their way.

      I totally remember the look of shock and disbelief on their face that day. Then they stood up and left the room – didn’t want to participate in the conversation if it wasn’t about them!

      My child told me years later, they were surprised that I said that.

      • Helovesme

        Initium Nova, that is an amazing story. It is one of the most interesting things to look back and if the Lord allows—-have a much clearer perspective on past events.

        I was usually told to “forget about my past; to stop living in it—-to leave it behind, let it go, give it to God and move forward. Why let your past have so much power over you?”

        The more I supposedly “obsessed” about it, the more I was letting it define me, and keep me from receiving whatever God had in store for me—-for the present and of course for the future. Back to your original statement: focus on God, not on your past, not on yourself—-and not on things you can’t change.

        Part of the problem for me, in hearing things like that—was that there are Biblical verses that support that sort of thing. Paul spoke of moving forward, leaving the past behind. Jesus spoke of putting your hand on the plow and not looking back.

        Statements like: “don’t let you past define who you are (you’re a new creation in Him now!).” “Don’t let you past determine your future (He knows the plans He has for you!).”—-they only fed these narratives.

        When I was trying learn how to eat more healthy, I learned to read the list of ingredients on a package before automatically believing the advertising on the front. This is something I had to learn how to do, because I had never done that before. I usually grabbed whatever was cheapest since I usually have very little money to work with.

        SO, that is what I now try to do when it comes to spiritual food. Instead of swallowing everything handed to me, I try to step back and break down what I’m being told.

        And money is not an issue in this case, because it’s not dollars and cents I am working with. We’re talking about what sinks into my very heart, soul and mind! I better be dang sure I don’t feed myself with the “cheapest” of foods!

        SO—your own story about your child illustrated some of what I had been told, directly or indirectly.

        I am on board with not letting my past consume me, rule me and define me. I really am a new creation in Him, and I would very much like to live as a free person and not as a slave—-to sin, my past, my abuse, or to any and all toxic, abusive persons in general.

        Should I bring up or admit that my past still has a hold on me—-and then be rebuked for being too “self-focused”—-I now wonder if such persons wanted the focus to be on them, their agendas, their needs or wants.

        It wasn’t about concern for me. It was about wanting control of me.

        A good example is ministry or serving in any capacity. If you are having real problems, and it begins to interfere with your labor—persons around you might fear that you’ll falter in your work. They don’t want to “lose” you as a faithful, valuable worker. So the argument might be: don’t neglect the gift or gifts God has given you.

        However, they probably don’t really care about you, or your God given gifts. If a person is dealing with past trauma, or is getting burned out—do not speak to them in such ways.

        Look at the person inside, not at the work of their hands. Your agenda, seemingly Biblical and God fearing—isn’t lining up with the Lord’s if you are looking at people as cogs in a wheel, not as precious children of God.

        Your words about focusing on your child, not on them were spot on. If the Lord leads, I would encourage those to keep that in mind if you are unsure about the solidity or sincerity of relationships around them. Try to get the focus on you (or an issue that doesn’t involve them) for once, and more than likely they will expose themselves as they truly are.

        I try to be extremely cautious about “one-sided” relationships with others. It is NOT sinful or selfish to ask for attention. To have needs of your own.

        Don’t disguise your needs as secondary. There are times to put your needs on hold, but that is temporary. Your needs don’t go away when you put them aside, they are just set aside. They should absolutely be brought up to the front, not forgotten about as if they weren’t real or valid.

        I try to remind myself that the Lord intended for me to be whole in Him. He did not save me just to shred me—-all for the “glory of the Lord” of course.

        It brings Him NO glory to see one of His own swallowed up by the “needs of others,” and choosing to suffer in silence, because he or she was told that was “Biblical.”

  13. Soulsoar

    This article was awesome. Thank you so much for sharing. I too believe 100% that saying scripture will start overriding every lie the abuser (abusers) has said. I too look at it as the enemy is speaking right through them. If the abuser’s words are not lining up with the word of God, I realize it has to be the enemy! I write the scriptures on index cards and read them out loud when I hear the abuser’s voice in my mind. God’s word is more powerful…. I am learning more and more about God’s love for me as I continue on this journey. A few years ago I thought for sure my abuser would take me under….but instead I found my relationship with God continues to grow stronger and stronger….thanks again.

    • Hi Soulsoar — I like your choice of screen name!

      I’m glad you found the article helpful. 🙂

      We 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.

      And after reading the New Users’ Info page, you might like to look at our FAQ page.

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