Morning friends,

The POD is gone. It was packed to the brim and is being transported to Arizona. It will arrive the Saturday after Thanksgiving. It is amazing how much stuff you can fit into an 8 x 8 x 16 foot box. Thankfully we had a wonderful neighbor who stopped by towards the end and bought many large items we could not fit into our pod— a ladder, a large water cooler, two weight benches, etc.

Pray for us as we say goodbye to long term friends, leave our house of 29 years, and drive the long drive to Arizona with a big dog, and a car packed full of the rest of our stuff.

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Question: How do you help a friend in a destructive marriage who may not be strong enough to help herself?

Answer: This is a great question because as I read through all of your responses to this blog, that’s exactly what many of you do for one another. Sometimes a person doesn’t feel strong enough to stand up against abusive behavior, protect her children, or leave an abusive marriage. As her friend we know she’s in trouble, but we often feel helpless to do anything. Here are five things I think we can all do to help her build strength.

1. Listen hard, speak little. People who disclose problems at home usually feel a great deal of shame. It’s already difficult for them to talk about it but when we jump in with our response or offer our solution like “You should call 911, or leave him” we can shut her down.

Proverbs reminds us, “He who answers before he hears, it is his folly and shame” (Proverbs 18:13). Instead of offering answers, ask questions. “What do you need? How can I help? What do you think your next step could be?”

Once she puts her problem into words in the presence of a caring friend, an abused woman often gets clearer and she begins to feel empowered to work towards solutions.

2. Validate her experience. It’s normal to feel afraid to tell a family secret. She might blame herself for her partner’s abusive behaviors. She might say, “I should have been more submissive” or “I shouldn’t have argued with him.” Simply respond with a statement such as, “Gee, I haven’t been submissive at times,” or “I argue with my husband and he doesn’t act that way towards me.”

Also be careful not to minimize her experience, trivialize, or rationalize things away. Saying things like, “At least he makes a good living or doesn’t hit you” or “I can’t believe what you’re saying”, or “He seems like such a nice guy or godly man” can be hurtful, and makes her question her own perceptions.

Instead you can say things like, “It was good that you told someone.” Or “I can’t imagine what you’re going through, but telling someone is the first step to getting help.” Or “No matter how much you disappoint or upset your husband you don’t deserve to be treated this way.”

3. Pray. We often forget how potent prayer is and even when we don’t know the whole story, God does. Sometimes we feel helpless to really know what to do in these kinds of situations. Prayer is an important reminder that God is in charge and loves both the abused and the abuser. We must bring the situation before God daily, asking Him to intervene in a way that we cannot imagine. Pray that God will protect her and give her strength, wisdom and courage to act wisely in her marriage.

4. Offer tangible help. James says, “Suppose you see a brother or sister who needs food or clothing and you say, ‘Well, good-bye and God bless you; stay warm and eat well’ – but then you don't give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? So you see, it isn't enough just to have faith. Faith that doesn't show itself by good deeds is no faith at all – it is dead and useless” (James 2:16,17).

She may not be where you’d like her to be in terms of readiness to take constructive action, but where is she right now? Does she need medical attention? Counseling help? Legal aid? A safe place to live? Sometimes people need concrete support to break free from abusive patterns and it takes the loving and tangible resources of a community of people to help someone. The Good Samaritan didn’t just pray, he also carted the broken and battered person to the inn and paid for his care.

5. Advocate and/or report where needed and appropriate. If you are a mandated reporter and a child discloses that he/she has been a victim of abuse, you must report this disclosure to the proper authorities. However an adult victim of spousal abuse needs an advocate too. Someone who will come along side of her and speak with community agencies, attend legal proceedings and help communicate with church leaders in order to have the best possible hope for repentance, healing, and reconciliation of the family.

It isn’t always easy to stand beside a woman who is ambivalent about what she needs to do in her marriage. It can be frustrating and there can be set backs where she puts her hope in change where there is no evidence of change. But we have to remember we can’t take responsibility for the outcome, all we can do is what God calls us to do and that is to care, to pray, to listen, and to equip her to take the steps she will need to take to better steward her life.

I have a framed card in my office that says,

“On the street I saw a small girl cold and shivering in a thin dress, with little hope of a decent meal. I became angry and said to God: why did you permit this? Why don’t you do something about it?

For a while God said nothing. That night He replied quite suddenly: I certainly did something about it – I made you.”

Edmund Burke once said, “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is that good men (and women) do nothing” (Click to Tweet).

We may not be able to do everything needed to stem the tide of violence at home, but we certainly can do something. I’m encouraged that you want to stand with your friend through her journey of getting stronger and healthier.

Friend, what else would help you feel supported, encouraged, and strengthened so that you got better equipped to protect yourself and your children?

78 Comments

  1. Beve on November 16, 2016 at 7:40 am

    For many years I was one who was not strong enough to protect my teenage sons nor stand up to my husband. My husband, a Christian, threatened me if anyone found out about his abuse. When the day came that I finally confided a tiny bit to two friends, they began praying. One of those two women became my angel. She said that as she prayed God laid it on her heart to help me. This dear friend accompanied me to every appointment with my attorney and took notes as we talked. She supported me with her presence at the hearing to obtain a protection from abuse order. She listened and let me cry on her shoulder more times than I can count. She never judged, never gossiped to others, never criticized, never told me what to do. She prayed, she loved, she encouraged, she was there. By doing that she imparted strength and gave me the courage to face more pain than I knew existed. She validated me and helped me see that I was not crazy nor just imagining things. Without her strength I would not have become strong enough to face reality and do what was necessary to end the abuse in our family.

    • Marianna on November 16, 2016 at 11:08 am

      Thank you for your share. A great reminder of excellent service in God’s army of love and support. Inspirational to me!

    • ~ Pam on November 16, 2016 at 1:13 pm

      Thank you so very much for writing out those wonderfully encouraging words! Bless you!

    • Refocus Reclaim on November 16, 2016 at 2:04 pm

      I had a similar experience. I had two friends that I could confide in, and one went with me to all the legal proceedings. I hope I can be that person for another some day.

      • Leslie Vernick on November 19, 2016 at 1:49 pm

        I hope you can too. It is a blessing to play it forward.

    • Leslie Vernick on November 19, 2016 at 1:57 pm

      What a great friend Beve, thanks for sharing. Wish there were more of us willing to walk along side of other women who need a witness, an encourager, a prayer warrior and tangible help. Give her a big hug for me.

  2. Ann L on November 16, 2016 at 8:19 am

    What a wonderful, wonderful experience. I am glad for you.

  3. Ann L on November 16, 2016 at 8:29 am

    I am still dripping in shame and wrapped in fear. It would be so helpful if I felt that I could confide in someone, just completely let it out. Dumping them all out on someone wouldn’t change anything–both issues are mine to fix, and both will heal with time.

    Different strategies I have used: Went to about six sessions of Divorce Care (the group became some kind of toxic, so I’m waiting for the next round); enrolled in a Financial Peace University class; attended a Second Saturday seminar to become informed on legal aspects; am taking ownership of my spending/saving plan; occasionally share a little bit when it’s too much to bear by myself so that I can get rid of some tears; and dump here in every single post.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for this safe space, the one place where I can allow some of those emotions to bubble up from their deepest places and spill out.

    • Marianna on November 16, 2016 at 12:10 pm

      The process of confession in the Catholic Church can be a very effective way to deal with shame. Is this something you have thought of? Do you have any ties to the Catholic Church.

    • Beve on November 16, 2016 at 11:07 pm

      Ann, my heart hurts for you as you go through this process. I’m so sorry that your DivorceCare experience turned toxic and pray that your next time will be much better. I went through DivorceCare and found it to be very helpful.

      There were two other things that were significant parts of my healing. One was Reading Leslie’s book “How to Act Right When Your Spouse Acts Wrong”. It contains an abundance of good information. The other thing that was significant was Kay Arthur’s study “Lord, Heal My Hurts”. Can’t recommend both of those highly enough!

      I will be praying for you and for someone to come alongside you. I don’t know where you live but if we were close we could get together to talk. Blessings and hugs to you. God will see you through this.

    • Leslie Vernick on November 19, 2016 at 1:58 pm

      Ann you are so right that you need a place to sort, sift, and dump. How about a journal – even if you don’t have another person to sift with you, at least as you get them out and give them space, you can clear your head and heart a bit to see them with new eyes.

      • Ann L on December 4, 2016 at 9:03 pm

        Hey everyone, Thank you for your suggestions and prayers. I’ve been mulling all this over, meditating, practicing a lot of self-care, started attending church at a place that is at once active and sincere, self-aware, and also willing to let me be the stranger in the back who keeps her distance. It’s so wonderful to be left alone while I work things through!

        I also wish to say to you and to so many other women who post here how important it is to me that you model a community of support and respect for each other’s respective journeys.

  4. ~ Pam on November 16, 2016 at 1:17 pm

    Grateful prayers concerning your move Leslie! Praise God for the way you’ve walked out CORE strength before our very eyes as you juggled the Conquer Conference, the sale of your house, the move and all of the cascading events that took place during the past few months. Bless you for being there for us in such creative ways in the midst of your transitional storm. Your ‘7 Day Challenge’ was a tremendous blessing to me. Thank you!

    • Leslie Vernick on November 19, 2016 at 2:00 pm

      Thanks Pam, I deeply appreciate your encouragement and grace. I haven’t always juggled so well, and let a few balls drop, but I am grateful for the compassionate understanding of people who understand that humanness is real and none of us is god or perfect or always “together”. What a relief huh? We put way too much pressure on ourselves and on one another.

      • Teena on November 23, 2016 at 7:19 am

        Leslie, I don’t put expectations on you to be perfect. I just need you, to be you! It was no accident that you came into my life. As thanksgiving approaches, you are one woman who has been there for me. You never judged me, you accepted me, supported me, and taught me. What an awesome woman of God whom I call my friend. I thank God for you. Thank you for being obedient to Him. I pray for safe travels and great adventures in Arizona for you, hubby and doggy.

  5. ~ Pam on November 16, 2016 at 1:27 pm

    Community changes everything!

    If anybody is looking for a ‘safe place’ to recover, why don’t you check out Celebrate Recovery: http://www.celebraterecovery.com.

    The open share groups and step studies are an excellent place to connect with others, get un-stuck, be empowered, and become encouraged and do the work of recovery in the safety of anonymity.

    Because CR divides up the sexes? And have a general structure to their share groups? You’re protected there in a way other recovery groups aren’t so good at.

    • Tu on November 23, 2016 at 5:55 am

      I wish we had a larger group because we are not divided into sexes.
      I don’t feel safe to share. I believe that’s one reason I don’t attend regularly.
      With marital issues of infidelity and my own unique struggles,I just feel like I can’t be real with the group, and I get the feeling that the men who struggle with sexual issues are too embarrassed to share because their are women attractive or not in the group.

  6. Bette on November 16, 2016 at 4:44 pm

    I will gladly welcome you to Phoenix! I live in Peoria and hope to see you here soon!

    • Leslie Vernick on November 19, 2016 at 1:50 pm

      Bette, wow, actually I’m moving to Surprise – much closer to Peoria. So glad you are near. It’s freezing here in PA as we start our drive out there. I got my toenails painted in celebration of our move to Arizona a bright turquoise. A color I love but never put on my toes, but I thought appropriate.

      • Barbara on November 22, 2016 at 8:09 am

        Miss you already Leslie but keep painting your nails bright colors 👣 love you.

  7. Wendy on November 16, 2016 at 6:37 pm

    Ann I can relate, I had to fly clear across the country to find a safe place and it took me nearly 4 months to finally be able to tell the whole story. When we become isolated in our experience and nobody really understands or knows what we are going through it is a very voiceless place to be. Not many churches offer a safe place for us to just dump a ball of confusing emotions in their lap. You are worth any fight my dear friend. Keep searching for a safe place, keep praying for a safe person. If nothing else I begin writing my emotions down on paper in a very raw way. You of course need to dispose of them ,however, getting your emotions out is so very important. Also coming to the knowledge that I am of great value and worth great effort to find healing. Leslie my Dad was a wonderful source for just being a great listener. It is so important to find someone who will just simply listen. This has taught me a valuable lesson as I move forward in new friendships.

    • Leslie Vernick on November 19, 2016 at 1:51 pm

      YOu are speaking truth Wendy. We don’t usually need a fixer, we need a witness to our truth, our suffering. Someone who sits in the ashes with us and lets us sift through all the rubble without judgement.

      • Marianna on November 21, 2016 at 9:58 pm

        Love that, sits in the ashes with us …

        • Tu on November 23, 2016 at 5:57 am

          Yes, me too. Thanks Leslie for showing us how to reclaim our power in a biblical manner without losing ourselves in our husband’s dysfunction.

      • Dawn on November 22, 2016 at 4:37 am

        Iit is a sacred place to be invited into someone’s ashes to sit for awhile and share their pain and wash their wounds.
        I am reminded of Jesus speaking to Peter in Luke 22:32 – after we’ve had our faith tested a sifted – we are to “turn back and strengthen our brother “.
        I call it the “Fed to Feed Principle”.
        Jesus prays (and ash sits with us) , we are strengthened , we have the privilege of modeling that same concept w others. Beautiful.

  8. Ann L on November 17, 2016 at 7:00 am

    Thank you, Wendy, and thank you, everyone. I often don’t “get” the community here and how it builds, but wow, today I sure do.

  9. Rosie on November 17, 2016 at 9:27 am

    “Friend, what else would help you feel supported, encouraged, and strengthened so that you got better equipped to protect yourself and your children?”

    For me, I feel most supported when I’m given the opportunity to talk about what’s going/gone on without judgment & given space to figure out for myself what to do about it. Strength comes from God leading me to do what is right for my situation. It doesn’t come from doing what worked for someone else in a similar situation. I think having freedom to make decisions, whether they’re right or wrong, equips me to grow, change, & develop.

    I have a couple of girl friends I try to meet for lunch or coffee with routinely. These friendships are encouraging, too, because I can listen to them & hear what’s going on in their lives & families & pray for them.

    • Free on November 18, 2016 at 6:04 am

      I agree, a few friends (who are not in abusive relationships themselves) is the best salve. I have found that even none believers can be helpful. It fact, in some ways, even more so. They usually cut through the spiritual dimension (because they don’t understand it or live that way) and tell the truth. I once heard, “What?!! Your man hit you?! If that happened to me I would grab me a big old fry pan and whack him up side of the head! I’d beat that man like he didn’t know what hit him.” Although I am not recommending such language or such actions, the response startled me. It was a nature reaction to being attacked. I had buffered all those feelings, because I was a nice Christian woman who could “bear all things” and had “hope eternal.” My theology had become distorted as I lamely applied scripture to situations inaccurately. Now, I keep my mind and spirit in check, am I applying the word of God out of context?

      • Tu on November 23, 2016 at 6:02 am

        I’m from a different cultural background, so one think that is a no-no is a man putting his hands on you.
        We usually speak up quick not only to each other,but to him.
        We’ve just had more equality between the genders.
        Unfortunately, that equality doesn’t always translate to respect.
        That’s what’s important to me feeling loved and respected.

  10. Wendy on November 17, 2016 at 2:57 pm

    I agree Rosie, God is so patient and kind with us and he longs to personally get involved In our very different journeys. True friendships give us the space and encouragement to find our way with him. I believe this is where I was a little confused. I forgot that he owns me, that he bought me that I belong to him, and he is the authority in my life and the power to overcome anything. Leslie’s CORE strength is a wonderful place to start. God bless you all.

  11. Pauline K. Ceprish on November 17, 2016 at 4:28 pm

    My women’s resource counselor helps me see where I am emotionally, mentally and spiritually abused. She says here does go to church anymore to try to hurt me and it has nothing to do with God. He has many threats like taking the garage door opener when I won’t immediately agree to make nut rolls again for his kids coming for Christmas. When I don’t do something for him he would like me to he says, “You would do it for your kids”. We are having Christmas at my daughters this year being my daughter doesn’t what to be around him. It hurt to not have Christmas at our house for that reason. It is a good reason and I don’t mind going to her house. My other older daughter is coming this Friday evening with my 9 year old son, inspite of knowing he said I couldn’t have them come up if I didn’t go along with him to his granddaughters ball game. I did go this past weekend and had a very stressful time with him and when we came home he gave me back the garage door open. I was really hurting that I did go with him and had to miss church and worship team practice and all that meant so much to me. I didn’t have to go, but at that moment he was leaving to go I was feeling very alone and felt I need to be around people with my sister in intensive care for heart failure. It fulfilled a need to be with some one. The worst abuse I feel is when he says he wants sex with me to relieve stress. I don’t want to become his stress reliever. He has a terrible tongue and thinks it’s OK to say whatever comes out of it, which isn’t pleasant words. He has a lot of pend up anger that he gets out verbal around me and no one else, projecting it all on me. All his hatred of women he has had before me-3 other wives. O God how can I keep being his venting machine. The less I say when he is venting the better. The pastor said “A soft answer turn away wrath and I learn that as a child. I have many bible verses and songs that carried me through the weekend. There is no room for a posing what he wants me to do, and he plans things himself without me saying a definite agreement to go with him. He views a wife like some cookie cutter he wants and tries with all kinds of derogatory words about me when I don’t do what he expects of me. O Lord, I feel like a nobody with him and that all the critics against me it what he is and not me at all. He tries to get me to believe I’m the way he is acting and being in other word whats me to take all the blame that comes out of his mouth or action are because of what I did or said. Help me not to believe lies and be able to discern the truth and to not engage in threat and negative talk about me. Show me my true self, who you think I am, and I know I am but it get confusing and cloudy. I know you are not the author of confusion. Keep me focus on doing what desire me to do and pleasing you. Help me to know the difference, when it is your will and pleasing to you and to let my husband fix his own problems that are his. I can’ change him. I can change only me. Keep me focus on myself and how I react, speak and let you do the work you need to do in his heart. O Jesus, give me the strength to endure any tragic thing you may bring on my husband to wake him up. I still battle whats best for me when it comes to putting my children first or him. I alway get how I’m not putting him first. You are for most in my life and you want me to put the best interest of my children before his. That the way I’m happiest. Who can forsake there children. I can’t and not matter how much my husband desires my to do just that I will not. You gave me my children to raise and now grandchildren to be there for too when needed. May the Lord keep my mind body and soul in good health and standing with him and him only.

    • Free on November 18, 2016 at 5:51 am

      I am very glad you are seeing a women’s resource counselor. You know they are right, don’t you? What other resources does this organization offer? Can they find you alternate housing, a temporary shelter, offer financial counsel or an escape plan?

      Your only hope is escape. Hear me loud and clear. This is NEVER, EVER going to stop. YOU deserve better.

      Sadly, you are an accomplish to sin. Satan is bing glorified by permitting yourself to be treated in such a manner. It mocks God’s glorious design for Christian marriage. Can you make a plan today to stop contributing to the farce?

      I am reminded that so many young people see a marriage like this (and many others described on this blog) as hypocrisy. They choice hooking up or living together over this distorted mess their elders have declared is “something God will change”. Ladies, there is no sign of God’s hand in any of this. This is the work of Satan.

  12. Free on November 18, 2016 at 5:41 am

    I would not have used the phrase “friend who isn’t strong enough.” It takes incredible strength to endure an abusive relationship.

    A lack of strength is not the issue, rather it is the behavior of accommodation. This coping behavior is normal among those living in trauma. Her “weak” behavior is rather a psychological adaptation to her bizarre living arrangement. The friend lives in a dripping, persisting world of psychological torture, uniquely camouflaged, and sinfully enmeshed in marriage.

    Sweet platitudes and making excuses does not help this friend. She needs you to listen and believe her. Then, she must be open and available to hearing the truth in love. It probably needs to be repeated in many ways and repeatedly is this friends unique love language. They are in bondage and denial. (It is the only way one endures such a horrible life.) Yet, you can be a loving “reality check” with love and discretion, tell the truth.

    In addition, if there is any opportunity to physically remove the abused from her surroundings even for an hour or two she can begin to gain psychological freedom. Encourage HER thoughts and feelings. Embrace something she loves (If she can even remember what that is anymore) and encourage it. Her wonderful heart and mind are still inside the shell of a body she is inhabiting. It is there. She will soar when, one day she plucks the keys from the jailers grasp and walks out of the relationship and into the life God prepares for all the captives set free.

  13. Ann L on November 18, 2016 at 7:26 am

    Free, in response to your comment, “non believers… usually cut through the spiritual dimension (because they don’t understand it or live that way) and tell the truth.”

    Unfortunately, people who identify themselves as Christians all too often have allowed the human-made structure of religion to think that there is inherent in Christianity the ability to identify saved from unsaved, spiritual from unspiritual, etc. And yet, we say that because they are free from that structure, those friends can tell the truth. That’s pretty scary.

    If it is the truth that sets us free, and the spirituality of the saved Christianity clouds our ability to see truth, what does that say about what we’ve accepted as a tenant of faith?

    This is what Leslie’s purpose is: To challenge the assumption that wrapping oneself in a self-defined cloak of righteousness gives one the authority to govern the decisions of others.

    I say, fellow beings. love the Lord with all your heart and trust that God is bigger than the mistakes we make. Trust truth and wisdom regardless of its source, because, ha-ha, as the saying goes, even a broken clock is right twice a day.

  14. Ann L on November 18, 2016 at 7:28 am

    *Leslie, I spoke out of turn — I don’t know what your purpose is, and if I could edit that phrase, would amend it to “This is how I understand Leslie’s approach to church leadership…”

  15. Wendy on November 18, 2016 at 9:23 am

    The crazy making of an abusive relationship is just that crazy! Until I was able to pull away and begin thinking for my self and reading about the disorder in my husband I could not get clarity. I did have to pull from many sources of wisdom to begin to see the damage that he was causing and I was playing a part in. We are to protect our children and to guard our hearts against manipulation and evil. Jesus Christ came to heal us and set us free. When you get away and put boundaries in place for the crazy making, you truly do begin to see how we put ourselves last and the devil spins us in worry and self-doubt. But as you take quiet time with Christ you begin to see how gentle and kind and patient he is in our situation. He will absolutely lead us out and guide us to the wisdom that we need if we are searching. This is a hard decision to make because we fear to walk away from our families as we see it. However, God wants to heal our families and sometimes that means saying no to the abuse. For me I had to begin looking at it from a series of small steps. Step one in my case I needed to get out and go think. Then allow God the quiet time to heal me and get my head on straight. Some of us can begin putting up boundaries and getting stronger in our selves before we leave. Having a plan in place before you leave when you have children I believe is very important. The greatest gift that God gave me from all of this was that he is there for each step. He will give us the wisdom for the next step as we trust him to take us where we need to be. I also had to realize I was putting my husband and his needs before my relationship with Christ. My boat was sinking and I had to care for my heart first before I could care for anyone else’s. Going to the one who created my heart and allowing him to strengthen me was the beginning of leaving for me. I was able to tell one Lady I trusted the truth and after that I found Jesus just ushered me out. I was scared but I did it scared. I just knew this was evil! I agree with you Ann, we are strong and that’s why we stay. We believe we can bring change some how but that is not true. I was trying to play Gods role in my husbands life by thinking I could be Godly enough to change him. I had to totally let go and get out of Gods way.

    • Marie on November 21, 2016 at 9:40 pm

      Amen amen! Thank you for these words Wendy

      • Free on November 22, 2016 at 6:15 am

        I agree! I like the sentence which mentioned that she was scared, but she did it scared anyway. Stepping away helps us see the situation more clearly. It is often very surprising!

        Close friends are noticing my husband’s odd behaviors now. I tell them, it has always been there, I was just the buffer. Now that the buffer is gone his behavior is revealed in all its ugliness.

        Meanwhile, I am free, growing, thriving, reflecting and remembering how fun life can be. The peace with Christ is the most astounding gift!

  16. Wendy on November 18, 2016 at 9:26 am

    Free, your post was right on! That is exactly what we need. God bless you sister.

  17. Wendy on November 18, 2016 at 9:44 am

    I don’t know if any of you experience this as I did. I was not loved by many people, but I took care of everybody. It was hard for me to let God love me and shine a light on just my needs. I had devotions with him a few times every week and I would have told you we had a relationship. I came to see I was not receiving his love for me. My mind was constantly putting the needs of others before my own. This has been a real exercise for me to bring just myself to the Lord each day and let him love on me. Have any of you felt this way as well?

    • Dawn on November 18, 2016 at 10:48 am

      Wendy,
      You’ve hit a sacred space ~ the space where we begin to align the “inner” and “outer” man.
      I can totally relate to your story. In my life I spun many different “leadership” plates and the church fed the insanity. Unfortunately, they had needs in programs, I had qualifications, and no matter how much I was embedded in the crisis I was denying, I allowed more and more responsibility to be piled upon myself. It was a way to avoid dealing with the issues at home and more importantly in my own heart.
      Fast forward to where it has all been removed, life crumbled, the ugly was exposed, a large percentage of the body fled at the horror of it all… and the healing of my own soul began. Beautiful. To STOP, just STOP, and receive … Finally receive … my identity in Him from Him was a sacred birth. To allow a Father’s love into my CORE, one I had been denied as a child and didn’t know how to receive, has allowed Him access to show me perfect love. To learn to walk intimately in the Spirit with Him, allows me to see the error of my previous ways (so culturally deeply embedded from feminism ~ we are responsible for doing and having it all). NO … He gently whispers, “I will fight for you, you need only to be still.” Ex. 14:14. I am learning, as well as you are, to receive that perfect love and accept the new name He has given me ~ precious bride, beloved, unashamed, redeemed, free. Ladies, He thought we were to die for. It had nothing to do with us. That was all done “while we were yet sinners”. The question is … can we see ourselves that same way? Can we help the hurting and battered see themselves that way? May we each be able to do so. Moment by moment, release to receive.

    • Kandi on November 23, 2016 at 1:45 am

      Wendy,
      I too, being a nurturer, take care of everybody else’s needs and neglect my own. Even now when I am scheduled for divorce hearing on Dec 19, I am preparing Thanksgiving dinner for me and my two daughters and wondering how bad I am going to feel to NOT invite my soon to be ex.
      Not one of my family members have even offered to be beside me through this whole ordeal.
      I have always had to deal with things on my own. I know Jesus is with me every step but sometimes I would like to feel like there are physical arms to run into when I need a hug.

  18. Marie on November 18, 2016 at 12:17 pm

    Currently awaiting my next court date for a two year protective order and filing papers as well. We have not been in this area that long and currently my main community is our church. Long story short the church has created a drama of trying to challenge my husband, men surrounding him and asking the hard questions and also inviting him and the kids into their homes during visitations (is that odd?). I feel devalued and unheard. It is as though everyone came in and covered but forgot that my husband has a protective order on him by the courts! Why is it that if I am truly an ezer (a female warrior/helpmate) that my brothers in the church are not standing alongside me and asking me about the abuse? They are saying that they are wise and can not be affected by him manipulation but what does that say about me in the last seven years? I’m dumb? (Sarcasm there). But seriously I think the brother’s in our churches need to be shaken as well as these leaders who have abandoned me to go help my abuser deal with his “emotions” (he is playing the victim card). I’m sad that the people who are seemingly there for me are letting pockets of darkness in and in the midst of are hurting their sister but wrap it in kindness. Does that make sense and how do I navigate not wanting to burn bridges but ultimately knowing the Lord is currently asking me to fully FULLY trust him. I’ve got nothing else out here– all my resources are back home.

    • Free on November 18, 2016 at 4:55 pm

      Maria, Isn’t this surprising? This happened to me too (only my kids are older and do not need custody). You could have knocked me over with a feather!! The men’s ministry just swooned over my “poor” victimized husband.

      My only explanation is that his belly aching is getting the desired affect. We can be pretty sure that he is not feeling convicted of his sin or revealing his horrible behavior to the congregation. (If he did they would have to shun him from worship!!) Eventually some leaders recognize the wolf in sheep’s clothing. (Have you been on the Cry for Justice site yet? Jeff Crippen is one such pastor who was fooled and has materials for other pastors to learn from in the area. Also, resources are free.)

      At the moment, your husband has them eating out of his hand. You should take comfort that he can manipulate any and everyone, the Judge, clergy, neighbors and friends. It isn’t just you he manipulates. He is not a safe man. (Maybe the kids are at least a tad safer at other people’s houses because he is putting on his act while in the presence of others.)

      I continue to pray that you receive a strong and lengthy restraining order. God knows the truth! Our God is a righteous God and although, we may not see it until we get to heaven, at least we have the hope and knowledge that one day EVERY knee will bow. That includes know it all, sneaky, controlling husbands.

    • Leslie Vernick on November 19, 2016 at 2:03 pm

      Marie, you share some wise insights and it’s easy to get lost in what others should be doing differently, or better. Please don’t go there. Walk your own path, do your own work, get support that you need, even if it has to be outside the church. God has people for you too, but it may not look like you thought. Sometimes we get more grace and true help from those who dont’ “know all the answers”.

  19. Marianna on November 18, 2016 at 1:39 pm

    I so can relate. I’m in the positive zone after much darkness. Stay focused on God’s love and grace through troubled waters. Look for authentic understanding. You have an amazing support with Leslie and us ladies. Peace and blessings and love to you.

  20. Wendy on November 18, 2016 at 2:58 pm

    Maria, I can totally understand everything that you were saying. No one can believe the level of manipulation coming from these men. I would define it more as evil. The longer I am away from the manipulation and lies the harder it is to be leave that I was a part of it. The denial and self-preservation that we go through trying to hold onto our families, churches and ministries is so very real. We know in our hearts they are manipulating everybody around them and we know that their repentance is not true. I am not saying that your husband has not truly repented I am saying that mine claimed he was a changed man after just one month and that he had repented from all he had done to me. Everybody in the church rallied around and believe his story. I chose to get out of the situation and find another church to support me. It was not my voice they were going to hear. It was not healthy for me to try and convince them of who he was I had to get healthy and allow God to strengthen my core in order to simply tell myself the truth. I completely and totally understand your heart in this matter. You may need to search outside your church to find someone who will listen to you. The church simply is not equipped with the ability to believe that someone in their midst would be such a manipulator. However, these men will not get the help they need in order to heal unless godly men are willing to stand up and look at the truth and listen to the victims. This is a huge burden on my heart it is my prayer to somehow be able to give back in this area as I was working with divorced and separated women in my church before I left. I had a group of about 20 women none of them know why I had to leave. Very heartbreaking but again I had to get myself help and heal if I was ever going to make a truthful difference in anybody’s life and in my own heart.

  21. Wendy on November 18, 2016 at 3:02 pm

    Thank you for your words Dawn,all of it truly what my heart feels.

  22. Wendy on November 18, 2016 at 3:32 pm

    Every day I have to look away from my old life and the lies my husband is telling the church. Every day God reminds me the battle belongs to Him. People who are willing to lie to others will see their kingdom will fall sooner than later. However, the warriors who choose to build a life on truth we become part of God’s kingdom for eternity. Everything we do from a place of truth is then blessed and used for His glory. Let us focus our vision on Jesus Christ alone asking him for the next step and he will be faithful to help us! This is not easy to do when our hearts and bodies scream out in pain and we long for justice. That’s where faith has got to step up to the plate. We say we believe him for the salvation of our souls yet we doubt him for the salvation from day today. Life gave us a message and the devil tried to use that to put us down. Jesus Christ gave us a very different message! We are more than conquerors through Jesus Christ! However, this only happens one decision one step and one commitment at a time.

    • Leslie Vernick on November 19, 2016 at 2:04 pm

      You go girl. Wise words Wendy.

  23. Free on November 18, 2016 at 5:05 pm

    I know this is a random comment, but today I bought birdseed. I whopping $11 dollars worth. My hand still trembled when I bought it and I find myself instinctively trying to hide it. You see, the affects of abuse last and last. Every little aspect of life has to be relearned and each thinking pattern needs to be evaluated and chosen. Although, much of this happens quickly once the process of abuse free living ensues, little things catch you.

    So, what’s with birdseed. My husband didn’t allow it. He didn’t like bird droppings on his porch, sidewalk, whatever…. He didn’t like me spending money on it. He didn’t like where I stored it. He didn’t like where I bought it. He didn’t like the way I opened the bag or dripped some seed on the floor when I carried it. Control, control, control and put downs.

    Yes, ladies God’s love will heal it all. He meets us exactly when and how we need him. ……So today, I have cardinals, doves, finches and woodpeckers at the feeder. Wish you were all here to enjoy it with me!

    • Aleea on November 18, 2016 at 7:02 pm

      Free,
      . . . .So, sad and I bet it was that extreme with lots of things: food, clothes, household furnishings, et.al. . . . . I have friends who used to be Mormons. I have seen their hands just tremble when they buy coffee because of the restrictions against it in their youth. They grew up in “devout” Mormon households where neighbors and church leaders viewed drinking coffee as a violation so bad that it made your very worthiness questionable. As long as people want church techings to be true, more than they are willing to face the possibility that they are not, they will not entertain evidence or reason. . . . Anyways, our woodpeckers like seed but also suet. It is like the best enticement to attract woodpeckers. . . . But those woodpeckers do peck on the side of the house now and then, but no worries, it is all aluminum siding. They find no real wood and go right back to the suet feeder.

    • Leslie Vernick on November 19, 2016 at 2:05 pm

      I love this Free. What a great metaphor for seeing the healing in your heart and life.

    • Ruth on November 23, 2016 at 2:40 pm

      Free,
      The next time I see a happy Cardinal or cute little finch, I will remember your freedom. Thank you for sharing your story of encouragement. I need visual reminders of God’s gentle, steady healing.

  24. Dawn on November 18, 2016 at 8:52 pm

    Yes, Ladies. I can relate to it all. One of the things that I found to be extremely destructive and frustrating to me were well meaning people in the church leadership that were uneducated in dealing with these issues yet freely dispensed advice. It took me about two years of intense counseling to go back and have the conversations w this leadership that they should not be counseling these issues. They were not issues that could be effectively understood or counseled by lay counselors. To this day I am very skeptical of lay counseling in the church.

    • Aleea on November 19, 2016 at 6:49 am

      . . .when we need help, as hard and as expensive as it is, consider using the best experts you can find, especially experts that have had the abuse issues themselves. Dawn, as you say, it is very hard with lay counseling in the church. Maybe just go and pray with them, everyone can use more prayer, I love meeting with people at church just to pray, pray, pray but when you are dealing with neuropsychological measures outside of the norm: NPD DSM-V style issues: interpersonally exploitative, emotionally unavailable, devoid of empathy, et.al. you need serious professionals and we also need to be up-to-speed re:The Everything Guide to Narcissistic Personality Disorder: Cynthia Goodman, Barbara Leff or whatever ones specific issues are. . . .I think that same approach applies to everything. Try to give people/ get people to the best sources from all perspectives, that helps them think for themselves and learn to crtically, carefully evaluate things: I like the Spectrum Multiview Book Series from InterVarsity Christian Press. They offer all kinds of topics. In the books, they give proponents of major positions an opportunity to make their cases. Each of the other contributors then offers a response. For example: Psychology & Christianity Five Views, —that book has become a standard introductory textbook for students and professors of Christian psychology. Five views on Divorce and Remarriage. The Historical Jesus Five Views (—that book has Dr. Robert M. Price, Dr. John Dominic Crossan, Dr. Luke Timothy Johnson, Dr. James D. G. Dunn and Dr. Darrell L. Bock —five extremely divergent views in a really hard hitting but totally understandable dialogue. That book was 2011 Christianity Today Book Award winner!) I think this helps us think more carefully about what we believe and appreciate more the perspectives of others. Biblical Hermeneutics (How do you interpret the Bible) Five Views. I have never seen a book like: Reflections on Narcissistic Personality Disorder Disorders, Five Views. . . . Reflections on Abuse, Five Views but those would be incredibly helpful. . . .Dawn, how did you keep from becoming bitter, how did you get that out of your system? Re: “It took me about two years of intense counseling to go back and have the conversations w this leadership that they should not be counseling these issues.”

    • Leslie Vernick on November 19, 2016 at 2:08 pm

      Even professional counselors don’t always know what to do. I was speaking to a woman who recently graduated with her masters in Marriage and Family counseling from a Christian college and did not have any classes in any of her curriculum on dealing with domestic abuse. Can you believe it?

      • Aleea on November 21, 2016 at 3:43 am

        “Can you believe it?”

        . . . And beyond believing, can you verify it with more evidence, which in this case should be very easy. If you asked those professors, maybe they would say it is contained, “dealt with”, in parts of other classes? —And if not, that may come (—but we would need real data, evidence and studies) . . . that may come from the idea that Christians can’t be abusers because they are “Christians.” —And if they think that, maybe they got that from the Bible? . . .Is a person really transformed by Christ? I believe that, oh my gosh, that pull on your heart when you read the New Testament. . . but maybe that is being just naive and gullible. How would we really know that? The apostle Paul was murdering people, totally transformed? —Maybe, but we only get second source data, we don’t really know that. We get a story in a book with lots of textual transmission issues. I think believing things without evidence that scales with the claims causes people to drop their guards and they port that error to other parts of their lives, not good:
        • Does he try to cut you off from, or limit your contacts with, your friends and relatives?
        • Is he extremely jealous?
        • Does he often suspect you of infidelities with friends, coworkers, or acquaintances?
        • Is he belittling?
        • Does he resort to verbal or physical abuse?
        • Does he punish you?
        • Has he suddenly withdrawn emotionally?
        • Does he lack the ability to admit when he’s wrong?
        • Does he try to control your time?
        • Does he threaten or otherwise try to intimidate you?
        • Does he purposefully destroy your things?
        • Does he claim to know your feelings and motivations “better than you do”?
        . . . .Now all that is pretty blatant but think about Free’s example above: “. . . .He didn’t like me spending money on it. He didn’t like where I stored it. He didn’t like where I bought it. He didn’t like the way I opened the bag or dripped some seed on the floor when I carried it. Control, control, control. . . .” How do we teach people to pick-up on that when they are first dating because at that stage it is going to be very subtle? That means they have to be looking for what is wrong and not just right. They have to be trying to prove things wrong, not prove them right. Logic, reason and evidence evaluation that scales with the claims. . .I don’t know, maybe there is no real answer but a vast clean-up operation after people wasting their lives, but it just seems so sad and possibly preventable. Maybe not, maybe emotions are running so high at that point. . . .Obviously, I don’t know.

        . . .Once that woman is counseling in the real world, she will probably see abuse issues left, right and center. . . . Along with the classes on domestic abuse, maybe also courses on logic, reason, critical thinking, primary source evidence evaluation. Like those scholars who study Christian origins always talk about the vast difference between “the truth” and “all the truth.”

        . . . . Anyways, our bodies heal without permission but our hearts seem to need consent. Somehow we have to give that to ourselves. Somehow, we have to keep moving forward with an open, kind heart but without being gullible, naive, bitter or resentful. Somehow. . . . and it is nearly impossible. Once you cry it out over and over and over, it’s supposed to vanish…right? It’s just not true. It’s just…well, a little less. That said, locking ourselves in the situation where we wish for sympathy and want to be looked at as the aggrieved party normally makes us totally powerless.

  25. Aleea on November 19, 2016 at 5:46 am

    “Friend, what else would help you feel supported, encouraged, and strengthened so that you got better equipped to protect yourself and your children?” . . . . Thank you Leslie for all those points. They are extremely helpful.

    “I should have been more submissive”

    . . .Many pastors use God as “remote control” where they tell women and men what to do via God. “It’s not me, its God saying it.” . . . I see no way to avoid these issues without using the super-strong, critical reasoning and thinking skills that God gave us. Blind faith, without carefully inspecting of the *primary* source evidence is a horrible gift to return to the creator of human intelligence. . . .You might say: Can we look at those “submission” verses together in the best sources we have for them and study the equivalently and earlier dated textual variants? Can we look together at the chain-of-custody on the variants, textual alterations, scribal redactions to those “submission” verses and then see if you still feel you should have been more submissive —or submissive at all?

    God gave us our super-strong, critical reasoning, evidence based thinking skills to help us survive. He is going to judge us for not using our talents and thinking for ourselves. Swallowing intellectual dishonesty is not the same as submitting our wills to our Saviour. Intellectual dishonesty of biblical scholarship is a vested enterprise and secret fundamentalists posing as “objective researchers” of the truth are a constant issue. They are “remote control” theology promoters disguised as scholarship. Anyone can say anything, but scholars are very careful and all of a sudden not so sure once they get together and start looking at *primary* source evidence, context, textual variants. Read, if you choose to, internationally peer reviewed journals and papers. Truth is what is left when everyone stops pretending abuse isn’t widespread. Truth is not a safe discipline and can not be practiced without challenge to theological convictions or without risk to faith commitments or “truth” assertions.

    “Listen hard, speak little. . . . .” —That’s always the way ahead. So many times people have the solution already inside of them. They know what they need to do/know but they don’t want to fully accept it yet. I think when we can really, deeply, listen and validate, maybe we can help them to accept what they already know. It’s also very hard to listen without bias. Actually, listening is being able to be changed by the other person, when you deeply listen to understand often you are changed by that other person. Maybe that is the reason we don’t deeply listen.

    “At least he makes a good living or doesn’t hit you” —That is self-deconstructing language and so is this: “He seems like such a nice guy or godly man” for all the obvious reasons. It seems to me that we can all do better than saying things like that. While lecturing and overtalking is bad, those types of comments seem far worse.

    “Pray.” Prayer is totally, completely other. . . I can’t say enough good things about it. Prayer also is listening for God’s replies. But prayer has its limits (Re: a small girl cold and shivering. . . . re: “I made you”) —right there is where we can learn something even from Madalyn Murray O’Hair: “Two hands working can do more than a thousand clasped in prayer.” —Lets not let people die while we are praying for them! I think the biggest thing is to be a safe, judgement-free zone, a palm tree garden oasis so that all issues can surface.

  26. Leslie Vernick on November 19, 2016 at 2:09 pm

    Thanks Aleea.

    • Aleea on November 19, 2016 at 4:07 pm

      Thank you Leslie for providing all of us with this place to think, reflect, comment and try to understand and work through our abuse and confusion. I cannot believe how much you and so many others I have interacted with here are willing to give of their time and life experiences. . . . The mind of God is a mystery and none can understand it but a common mistake I think we make is that we look for God in places where we wish to find Him. The great thing about God is that He is working even in the pain of our past abuse showing us/ showing me that we have the power to adjust our life experiences simply by being grateful. I don’t know how those here got so good at not retraumatizing re: it was childhood maybe it never happened, was exaggerated, we brought it upon ourself; and in any case it is time to forget the past and move on. . . wherever they learned it, the care and carefulness is evident.

  27. Free on November 21, 2016 at 5:32 am

    For me, there were no signs before we married. My husband explained his thinking this way…..He said, he didn’t “own” me yet. Once he married me and felt he owned me, our becoming one meant I would become his property, his object. He admits to objectifying, being incapable of empathy and not realizing I am really there. Despite his sincere desire at times to change his thinking, he just can’t/won’t release his entitlement thinking. He believes in his very core that he is entitled to “own” me.

    Anything I do that is contrary to his expectation for my behavior is an infraction to his rule. There was not a whiff of this during the years that we dated in high school and college.

    I just read an article in this month’s Reader’s Digest about the BTW killer. His daughter wrote the article. She describes a loving, supportive father who served in church and was a boy scout leader. He just occasionally strangled/ raped and killed people. No one knew. No one knew for years and years. So I would just say that manipulators are masters of disguise.

    Sometimes we just have to cut our losses and realize we were tricked and move on/out/over and around the mess.

    • Aleea on November 22, 2016 at 7:36 pm

      “…..He said, he didn’t “own” me yet.”

      ―Oh, Free I am so, so sorry. That’s just horrible. Free, I think he must be abusing and objectifying *himself* internally for that to be manifesting *externally*. That is the way most psychologists, psychoanalysts, et.al. have explained it to me. The abuse (―whatever form it takes: controlling; objectifying; belittling) would not be happening *externally* if was not happening *internally* first. He is doing that to himself internally: objectifying, abusing, belittling. That is the only way it happens externally. It is coming from his CORE, his factory of himself. However, the thing that always, totally floors me is how a man could not comprehend what marvelous responders women are when they get an environment of sincere, ongoing affection, caring, protection, nurture, thoughtfulness. . . ―Everything just blossoms.

      “There was not a whiff of this during the years that we dated in high school and college.” ―Wow, that’s a long time. Many famous psychoanalysts say the signs of sociopathy are usually there before we are abused but most of us just don’t have enough training to recognize them. But I bet it takes massive training and people can’t get PhDs in it, nobody has that kind of time and you can’t just have knowledge, you would have to have clinical skills too.

      “His daughter wrote the article. She describes a loving, supportive father who served in church and was a boy scout leader.” . . . . I guess psychopaths are on a spectrum and that guy was the “perfect” psychopath. Totally defective emotional responses. Anyone who finds it impossible to truly understand why it is that you might actually find that behavior wrong just needs to be warehoused because they are operating in a totally different moral universe. They say psychopaths never experience grief, honesty, deep joy, or genuine despair and it looks like the psychopath never ruminates on anything. Anyone who kills for fun, obviously needs to be warehoused.

      I think that people who torture and kill animals are pure evil and often these psychopaths have tortured animals in their past. We do not have to be mental health professionals to identify the traits of some possible psychopaths among us. Get that person to read down a list of the traits of a psychopath and if they begin feeling worried that they may be a psychopath, if they recognize some of those traits in themselves, if they are feeling a creeping anxiety about it, that means they are NOT one because those psychopaths feel nothing. I don’t trust people who don’t like animals and fluffy critters. The difference between neurotics and psychotics? Neurotics build castles in the sky, sure, but psychotics move into them.

      ―Anyways, Free I am so, so sorry. Indifference (psychopath) to me, is the epitome of all evil. . . . I saw the most beautiful rainbow yesterday when I was coming out of Wal*Mart, every color and the bands were so thick and it went from one end of the sky to the other. Grateful moments, blessed time. . . .All we can do is just praise God for the good and try to move on. It is so hard.

  28. Free on November 21, 2016 at 5:38 am

    Thanks for the suet tip. I had a big turn out of bees at the feeder this week. I got out my binoculars and really studied the fuzzy fellows. Apparently they were honey bees attracted to the grain dust. In my mind, every living creature reflects God’s design, so I enjoyed the bees too.

    • Aleea on November 22, 2016 at 5:35 pm

      “honey bees attracted to the grain dust”

      . . . .Wow, grain dust brings them in. . . .Bees are very interesting indeed, especially the bumblebees. They say that if the bee disappeared off the face of the earth, humans would only have something like four years left to live. It seems crazy but many bees are now endangered species. . . .The whole thing, all of it, is on a razors edge held together by God. Metaphorically we humans are bees; our honey is language.

  29. Vanessa on November 21, 2016 at 7:29 pm

    I can’t do it anymore. I’m buried under the weight of all the things I do wrong and all my failures. I’m always reminded of what a bad mother and wife I am. His ways are sometimes subtle and sneaky and other times outright and cutting. I hate that my children are hearing him and thinking that this is how a marriage works. I hate my life and dream of getting away from him or just ending myself. I wish I was strong enough to straight up tell him i can’t do this anymore. I never wanted to be this woman who gets put down by a man and made to feel like a piece of trash. He puts on an act when we tried counseling that I’m blowing things out of proportion. I feel like I’m going crazy sometimes when it seems like I’m the only one that’s upset. I have no friends and my family lives 3 hours away. I don’t know if I should try to get a job before I leave or just leave. I have 4 kids. I’m so overwhelmed. I’m trying to trust that when it’s time for me to leave God will show me, I just don’t know if I need to take the first step or not. I know in a few days he’ll act like everything is normal while I’m dying on the inside. Thank you for letting me get this out of my system I have no one to talk to. He won’t let me go to counseling by myself. I’d go and tell him all this but then we’d still have to go home and I don’t think I can do that. Ok. I’m ok. Thank you for letting me vent.

    • Rebecca on November 22, 2016 at 2:08 pm

      Vanessa, you are in the right place to begin to get community support from many women who know exactly what you are talking about. Do you have a domestic violence shelter in your county? You are right, it will all start again. The safest time to leave is during the “honeymoon”stage. You need a safety plan, you can worry about a job later. He will undermine your efforts if you try now. Have you read any of Lundy Bancroft’s books? The 800 number for DV has 24 hour call. Please let them give you important tips like, bringing important papers with you and getting an emergency phone.

    • Teresa in California on November 23, 2016 at 1:34 am

      Dearest Vanessa
      Jesus is our burden bearer. He holds us up when we can’t do it on our own. I know it is scary to know when to leave especially if there is hidden violence just under the surface which can erupt at anything you might say to upset your husband, even when you don’t think you are saying anything, the abuser can turn it around and twist it for no apparent reason. It is craziness and confusion. Confusion comes from our enemy, Satan. Know that in your heart of hearts, that Jesus sees all, and knows all, and he is the one who can comfort our hearts in this ridiculous situation. I am still trying to figure out when and if God wants me to leave. There is not a simple answer for this. I am so sorry you cannot talk to a counselor by yourself. Isaiah 54: verses 4 thru 6 truly helped me to see that I needed to lean upon my Lord for my strength and he would be there for me in my afflictions. Those verses gave me hope and empowered me through the Holy Spirit to face daily trials. I know that God knows all things, and sees, and hears our prayers and our cries which we utter to Him. I know all about the dying inside. Men like this please us with their gifts to us, yet they cannot relate to our inner feelings. I would like for you to go to the blog http://www.ibelieve.com/blog where there is a post by Leslie about ‘5 Indicators of an Evil and Wicked Heart.’ You can type in that title on a search and find it that way too. It helped me tremendously, as in the past several months, I asked God to reveal to me who my husband truly is. And so much of what Leslie wrote fits my husband almost completely. Just saying, be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might, as he will strength you and help you and guide you. Our reactions to our spouses need to be that of rebuking the subtle things they say, and not letting it affect you, because you know you are above what he makes you out to be in his own mind, as it is only in his mind, and he does not have the mind of Christ, but YOU do. You have the mind of Christ to let your husband go. You are strong in Jesus. Hold on to that strengthening thought and pray, and pray and pray, because your life does depend upon those prayers to see you through. I know it is frustrating when people say ‘Just leave!’ But that is not the preparation of the heart, as there needs to be preparation and foresight, not just up stakes and walking out. Maybe some people have done that, but they had help from a woman’s shelter, with wisdom involved. Don’t count on the clergy to help you out. One of the pastors whom I confided in his wife to first, afterward the pastor said to me ‘Well, the ball is in your court now’ which for a hurting wife, that was no counsel at all, but it dug the pain in deeper as I knew, then and there, I would be getting no help whatsover from that lay person, whom I had known for 30 plus years. I hope this helps, and yes you did vent and that is good. Begin keeping a journal, and every time you are verbally abused, write it down the best way you can, and try to remember the circumstances and the real words. I have been doing this, and I have also been emailing my sister whenever this happens so that not just I have a record of the verbal abuse, my sister has a copy, for my sanity and peace of mind. Believe in yourself, because Jesus believes in YOU.
      Take heart, as there are many, many women and even men who are in abusive relationships, and it is a very difficult position to be in and the knowing when to leave is probably the hardest thing you will do, but with the help of the Holy Spirit God will show you the timing. It may be that you can say ‘I am done with your abuse, and I am taking the children and leaving’. If he resists, then call the police, and make him wake up and smell the coffee. And get out of there.
      I am praying for you and every other woman who is commenting on this site. ‘In quiteness and in confidence will be your strength’ this is one verse my own mother-in-law kept in her house, as she lived 86 years with her verbally abusive husband. She was a rare one of faith, and did not have available the tools we have today on the internet to strengthen her faith. She relied totally on the still, small, voice, of the Holy Spirit and would tell her husband ‘You don’t know how much you hurt my heart when you say bad things to me.’ She stood up to him the best she could, and she also had friends she confided in. May the Lord bless and keep you in his care.

  30. Dawn on November 22, 2016 at 4:48 am

    Hi Ladies,
    Coming this am to ask again for your prayers as I head into what I am hoping can be the final mediation on my divorce at 9 am est. I covet those prayers specifically for the following. That I give an accurate representation of Christ today. My heart is asking for the heart of my husband to be softened towards Him for the healing of his relationships with children. That all information necessary for a fair settlement that is currently hidden can be revealed. That the legal / forensic / mediating teams will possess the discernment and the wisdom of Solomon. That my heart and soul and mind would be protected. And most of all, and the hardest of all, God’s perfect will be accomplished today.
    Believe me when I tell you I am asking that it include an equitable settlement so this can be finished — and that would take a God sized movement. Thank you, sweet sisters. I am ever grateful for this tribe.

    • Free on November 22, 2016 at 6:25 am

      Praying now for all you ask and for a God size movement. The movement might not happen in the timing we expect, but I fully trust he’s “got” this!

      Now, let’s surround you and your children with angelic activity and comfort so divine the it could only come from the Holy Spirit!

    • Marianna on November 22, 2016 at 6:40 pm

      Thank you for your share. I was at the lawyer’s office today settling the sale of our house. So I can relate to your day. And your words are soothing to me, to remind me of God’s will in all things. Last night, late at night, laying in a beautiful tub of water, I listened to an amazing sermon that served to strengthen me for the day. Once again, it was like handpicked for me for this special moment in my life, waiting for the morning events to unfold. It was a sermon on “God’s family” not our earthly family. It was from my local church and I could not be more appreciative of the reminder that I must keep my focus on God’s will for my life. Your share does that for me as well, later in this yucky day of mine, when I’ve been slighted by my family one more time (it’s my birthday). Oh my, the Lord does have a lot of grief to carry on his shoulders from me … and like you said, thank you dear ladies!! This support network is amazing. This week there was another post from someone who had a birthday, who got ignored, and it prepped me for today. God is good, in all the small wonderful ways he helps to sustain us.

      • Free on November 22, 2016 at 8:36 pm

        Wishing you a very Happy Birthday. Sounds like today was an especially difficult day. Bubble baths do a world of good. Just because your “family” didn’t remember your birthday, you did, which is so important.

        I worked on my birthday this year. I took myself out to dinner at a place that has counter service. It was charming and it was a great spot to dine alone.

      • Dawn on November 22, 2016 at 10:20 pm

        Happiest of Birthdays, Marianna. Thank you for sharing. I hope you made it an extra special day for yourself.
        I am now just learning the value of really celebrating me — regardless
        Of who is along for the ride. Treating myself kindly the way I would treat a friend is helping me to appreciate me. So today, Marianna , I am choosing to celebrate you and your new life start. I am so proud of all that you are accomplishing – house sale is a big thing!!! New chapters make life beautiful and walking through it all is just hugely brave. So enjoy yourself today – you’ve earned it!!

    • Teresa in California on November 23, 2016 at 1:39 am

      Dearest Dawn,
      Praying for you at this time of your decision, that the Lord will protect and keep you in his care. God bless you!

  31. Marianna on November 22, 2016 at 7:49 pm

    Leslie, is it possible to delete or make changes to our posts here?

  32. Rosie on November 22, 2016 at 8:56 pm

    I’m sorry about what you’re going through Vanessa. I’m glad too, that we have a safe place here to vent & get support & encouragement from other ladies who get it.

    I wish I knew what to say to help.

  33. Dawn on November 22, 2016 at 10:22 pm

    Thanks, Ladies. I so felt all the prayer and love that you gave me today. You all are awesome. So while we are not finished. I asked the Lord before I went in today to let me know I was in the right space continually by His trademark “you’ve long past understanding” kind of peace 👍. I can honestly say that after nine hours of negotiation I was still in that beautifully sacred peaceful place – unmoved. So while we didn’t conclude — we are obviously right where we are supposed to be. He finishes what He starts.
    Thank you, and please keep it all up.
    #itsallHimnow

  34. cynthia on November 28, 2016 at 1:37 pm

    Just hearing that I am not crazy and being there to listen is a big support. Praying with me and for me is also very helpful. Be a supportive person in my children’s lives. Speak truth into them when I am struggling to do so.
    All these help.

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