If I Leave It Will Only Get Worse

Morning friends,

I am so thankful for this community. I hope I get to meet you all at our CONQUER CONFERENCE in October. For a sneak peek at the speakers who will be there, I will be doing five FB Lives next week, one each day. Each day I will be chatting with you and one of the speakers for our conference. We will provide fun, valuable content, and will be giving away some free tickets to the CONQUER CONFERENCE! All you have to do is show up live to the FB event to win. It’s truly going to be life changing.

Our first Facebook Live on Monday, June 4th at 7:30 PM ET. Click here to watch it.

Today's Question: I love that you are helping women who are abused… and I loved your recent newsletter article about suffering for Jesus, while doing the right thing, not just by remaining abused… I sent it to my Pastor.

I guess my only fear is, what about the women who feel that putting up boundaries or leaving a severely abusive and suicidal spouse is even more dangerous than staying?

My husband was an ex-boxer so I'm pretty sure he has a head injury… he also self-medicates a lot… we've been married 35 years, and I do have some boundaries, but I've also done a lot of enabling… how can someone like me get free when he's not all there?

Answer: Great question. Studies do show that some women face more danger when trying to leave an abusive marriage either through separation or divorce. An abusive spouse is possessive. He often believes he owns you. If he’s also suicidal and/or homicidal it makes your safety even more perilous. That does not mean you should not leave or continue to allow yourself to be abused, but it means that you must have a well thought out and executed exit and permanent safety plan.

As I’ve said before, God cares about your safety. He does not value the sanctity of marriage more than your safety and sanity. Click To Tweet

The Bible supports this when it says in Proverbs “The prudent see danger and take refuge.” We see God warning Joseph in a dream that baby Jesus was in danger from King Herod, and told him to flee to Nazareth. He didn’t tell Joseph to submit to Herod, even though Herod was the King.

I’ve developed an acronym for victims of abuse to be more aware of their own level of danger in an abusive relationship.  The presence of any of these nine factors represents a danger. If multiple factors are present, your danger levels increase.

D – Divorce or Separation

A – Alcohol or Drug Use

N – Narcissistic Tendencies

G – Guns or weapons around

E – Emotionally Unstable (mental health problems, head injuries that lead to violent behavior, etc)

R – Rebellious (won’t listen to authority)

O – Other Violent Behaviors  (violent towards animals, road rage)

U – Unpredictable – Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde

S – Suicide or Homicide Threats

It is beyond the scope of this blog to provide you with an adequate and well thought out personal safety plan for your particular situation but here are some general things to consider.

First is your temporary safety. When you sense that an abusive incident is developing, take action to get safe. I shared a diagram of the abusive cycle several blogs ago. Click here to view the diagram. Once the tension building phase starts, you should start implementing your safety plan. Don’t wait until the abusive incident starts.

For example, make sure you know what rooms in your house have exits such as rooms with windows or rooms that have two different doorways. Pay attention to what rooms have locks on them such as your bathroom. Develop an exit strategy to temporarily leave the house when he’s getting worked up or drinking too much. Have extra money hidden somewhere, and know where you will go if you have to leave. Do you have a friend or relative with whom you have preplanned that you can to go to at a moment’s notice? Make an extra set of car keys and keep them in the garage or some other outside place so that if you have to leave quickly or he’s holding your keys, you can get away.

If you have younger children at home, make a plan on how will you get them out safely. For example, you can let them know when you say a certain word, or have a prearranged signal that they are to all meet you in the car, or at a neighbors house.

Leaving temporarily doesn’t fix anything, but it can help you avoid an abusive incident. If you’re worried about him getting mad about you leaving, here is a phrase that works for some women. They leave and then text their husband, this: “I saw you were getting increasingly stressed out and I left to give you some time and space to calm down.  I’ll be back later.”

Only you know how much time he will need. It may be an hour, it may be overnight. Make your safety plan accordingly. However if you are having frequent abusive incidents at home, this plan is not adequate to ensure your safety even temporarily.

Your second pressing need is more permanent safety. God is not asking you to be a martyr in your marriage. He is not asking you to sacrifice your life in order to enable your husband to continue to sin against you. If you sacrificed your life to save him from drowning or suffered because you were doing him some sort of good, that’s commendable. But the suffering that enables sin to flourish is not God’s will.

To develop a more extensive safety plan to separate or divorce an abusive spouse who exhibits one or more of those DANGEROUS signs requires strategic planning and usually a consultation with an expert in domestic violence. You can start now by gathering financial paperwork you will need to have copies of for your records. For example, make copies of past tax records, bank statements, investments. Make sure you have in your possession birth certificates, passports, and other important documents that you and your children will need when you exit. The phone number of the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse is 1 800 799 SAFE (7233). They will help you walk through a personal safety plan.

Here are 3 websites that offer detailed safety planning.

Focus Ministries

The Rave Project

Domestic Violence Resource Center

Please take some steps to get a plan in place and execute it.  Too many victims think it won’t happen to them. Don’t let that be you.

Friends, what did you do to develop and execute a safety plan – either to avoid an abusive incident or to get out of the dangerous marriage permanently?

71 Comments

  1. Susan on May 30, 2018 at 8:02 am

    “But the suffering that allows sin to flourish is not God’s will.”
    This sounds so simple. But for me, this truth is revolutionary. It changes our patterns of thinking and our actions. Leave, you are the only person that I’ve heard express this. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

    • Susan on May 30, 2018 at 8:03 am

      Spell check!
      Leslie, you are the only person I’ve heard express this.

    • Sherry on May 30, 2018 at 8:22 am

      That phrase jumped out to me also! Staying and being codependent just hurts both spouses.
      I had a safety plan in place complete with all my kids birth certificates, copies of taxes and bank statements hidden away and even found several motels in the area that would take pets (we had 3 cats). Also a bag with necessities like extra clothes and meds hiddennin my car. I never had to use my plan but it made me feel more secure because I knew I had what was needed if I ever had to leave in a hurry.
      As it worked out I left my husband permanently and am building a new life with God’s help.

      • JoAnn on May 30, 2018 at 2:15 pm

        Amen, Sherry! I am so glad that worked out for you and that now you and the children are safe. Praise the Lord!

      • Maria on June 1, 2018 at 9:43 am

        I sm so happy for you!

    • Nicole on May 30, 2018 at 1:35 pm

      I just took a screen shot of this exact phrase as well! Beautifully written. I think there is a real concern related to why I am making my choices-are they selfish? From God? I feel guilt when I think that I’ve left as he is dealing with new diagnosis’s of BPD and narcicissim. But what I’ve slowly been processing, is it is his choice to remain in this sin, and I do not have to remain in his sin/abuse cycle with him.

  2. Aleea on May 30, 2018 at 9:21 pm

    “Friends, what did you do to develop and execute a safety plan – either to avoid an abusive incident or to get out of the dangerous marriage permanently?”

    Thank God I have never had to execute a safety plan, although I should have had one growing up and executed it. Growing up I wasn’t even aware enough to know I had any options. . . .My heart breaks for anyone abused without resources, because it seems to me that if I ever wanted to leave and never be found, for example, I think I could easily accomplish that. Move some place very far away and start filing court documents. The world is such a huge place and the court systems are not perfect but they work. I think that accomplishing that would be fairly easy, compared to, —for example, deciding what Jesus said on these topics in a comprehensive, balanced, fair and even-handed way (—taking into consideration what the church/seminaries taught for 1800 years). In fact, many publishers have told me that when people buy books on controversial topics, they don’t want even-handed treatments of Bible texts (re: divorce, remarriage, homosexuality, et.al.) They want proof that what they already believe is correct and they want their side vindicated, period. It seems so logical: God thinks this because I think this. . . .But Jesus is unbelievable radical and following Him is in no way safe. It sure looks like He is not interested in our comfort/safety when it comes to His commands. . . .But life is so very hard and life has so much suffering that no wonder people do what they do. . . .Again, 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 —Some days as I pray for people and read their stories, I just stare into space. . . .Maybe we did evolve from monkeys (. . .And I know humans did not evolve from monkeys and that they evolved from chimpanzees (including bonobos, and gorillas, etc. —I know that) but you know what I mean. It sure makes one wonder what is going on. When we are using evidence, logic, reason as to what constitutes human flourishing things are fairly clear. Once the Bible enters the picture with its context, language, translation, interpretation difficulties —things are simply radical and reading psychology back into the texts seems not at all what God had in mind in terms of interpretations. —God doesn’t want you to be uncomfortable or to put up with safety issues? . . .It just seems an important factor contributing to the parabolic escalation of divorce among Christians is possibly this total acceptance of the societal view of marriage as a social contract, governed by civil laws, rather than as a sacred covenant, witnessed and guaranteed by God Himself. Instead of promising each other faithfulness “till death do us part,” couples just adopt the modern version of the marriage vow, by pledging to remain together “as long as we both shall love.” . . . All of life is serious safety issues. . . .I often think that something else, something else is going on beyond the primary source textual evidence and what those for hundreds of years said the texts meant. —All those vast historical precedents. Maybe people have discovered that it is not possible to simply do what the Bible says (—sans text-twisting, context-shifting, cherry-picking, projecting post-modern psychology back onto texts.) . . .Anyways, the Bible may need amendments as we learn things and the honest approach would be to admit that vs. saying it said this and that all along when we know it did not. . . .And again, what is our friend: the things we know, or the things we don’t know? First of all, there’s a lot more things we don’t know than know. —And second, the things we don’t know are the birthplace of all our new understandings! So if we make the things we don’t know our friend, rather than just the things we know, well then we are always on a quest to more deeply understand. We are always looking for deeper insight into Scriptures in the off chance that somebody who doesn’t agree with us will tell us something we couldn’t have ever figured out on our own! It’s a completely different way of looking at the world. —It’s the antithesis of opinionated.

  3. Concerned on May 31, 2018 at 5:03 am

    Leslie thank you so much for your response. It has seriously released me from guilt I’ve lived with for leaving. My husband exhibited all 8 of the 9 risk factors you listed when i took my 2 girls and we left him. Within a couple months of leaving him he attempted suicide by cop, checking off ALL 9 factors. After much difficulty, I was able to get a restraining order which the judge made permanent for 3 years. Praise God! He was granted professional supervised visitations with our girls but that only lasted close to 4 months, in which case the supervisor terminated visitations and had to call the police to remove my girls because of his noncooperation and strange behavior. He hasn’t attempted to see our girls for 11 months. But what really frightens me is that I have heard nothing from him, we haven’t seen him, and he is not cooperating with the divorce proceedings although he filed for divorce. I understand that there is a restraining order which prohibits contact, but the quietness is creepy. Can it be that he truly is choosing to respect the restraining order? That he has moved on and is suddenly able to be done with us? I pray to God that this is true. But when I read your response to “If I leave it will only get worse?”, I felt a sudden sense of fear and reminder of how dangerous he truly is. And I recall reading that people with “with these types issues” rarely change. Can I believe he may be getting help and is changing and respecting the boundaries forced on him? Or should I continue to live (in the same town as him-under 5 minutes away from where my girls and I now live) cautiously and guard ourselves? I’m creeped out by the silence. Is this silence normal?

    • Leslie Vernick on May 31, 2018 at 11:07 pm

      I don’t think these people really change. Perhaps he’s found another girlfriend for now that is distracting him. But always maintain your vigilance and always have a safety plan in place if he comes near you.

    • JoAnn on June 1, 2018 at 12:21 pm

      Concerned, I am glad that you got away from him, and I wonder if it is possible for you to get further away, by moving out of the area? Do you have supportive family that you could go to be nearer to? Also, are the police keeping an eye on him? Do they know where he is, or does anyone else you know? If you move, you could get a post office box, so that would make it harder for him to find you. Pray for the Lord’s protection, and do whatever you can to be able to live in peace and safety.

  4. Starlight on May 31, 2018 at 5:21 am

    When I realized I had to separate from my evil husband I played my cards close to my chest and did not give any clues that I was about to leave. I went to my local shelter for help and counselling and a safety plan when I realized that I was living with someone who was my enemy, who hated me and would stop at nothing to destroy me!!
    I could not stay with my husband. God truly pulled me out of my marriage. He brought to mind all that I had to do while I was shaking like a leaf, I did it scared and in the face of the impossible – with the faith that he would make a way where there seemed to be no way! God truly desires that we separate from evil, not obey and submit to it!
    I love this scripture that is so powerful and it truly helped me when I found myself yoked to evil and desperate to escape!!

    – “Be not unequally yoked with unbelievers: for what fellowship have righteousness and iniquity? or what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what portion hath a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement hath a temple of God with idols? for we are a temple of the living God; even as God said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore Come ye out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, And touch no unclean thing; And I will receive you, And will be to you a Father, And ye shall be to me sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.”
    2 Corinthians 6:14-18

    I happened to be reading through the bible in a year at the same time that I was crying out to God for help and deliverance from the torment I was living in! God showed himself so powerfully to me through it!

    The bible does not make sense to the mind that is unenlighened by the Holy Spirit. It cannot be rationalized or explained, it is God’s revelation about himself to us. He chose and guided his people in his way and told us about himself and what He values. It is the plumb line, I amend myself and my life to line up with it. God puts his righteousness on me when I believe in His son Jesus Christ and confess that with my mouth!! If I am a wonderful person and do what is right and good to my fellow man but do not wear his salvation and his righteousness that he says I need, I will not be saved! Harsh, ruthless?? He is God, it is his way! I accept what he hates, and his declarations of how he deals with the wicked as opposed to the righteous! So much of the bible deals with this contrast, if God declares something offensive to him, I must distance myself and separate myself from that which he despises! He has chosen us to be separate and holy unto himself!
    I love that God is the searcher of hearts! He has not left us as orphans floundering with no help!!!
    No, thanks be to God for his great salvation which he has provided to the sons of men! His ways are not my ways and his thoughts are not my thoughts! Do I believe? You bet I do! Can I explain it, no I can not! Who can know and understand his ways? His Spirit speaks to us, leads us into and teaches us all truth but if we decide his word needs amending, where can we go and what can we line up that amendment with when we have walked away from the one who is the Way, the Truth and the Life? Faith accepts God’s revealed word and his Spirit affirms the truth in us when He resides within!

    • Aleea on June 1, 2018 at 7:37 pm

      Starlight, I very much appreciate you taking the time and for writing your experiences.

      “I went to my local shelter for help and counselling and a safety plan when I realized that I was living with someone who was my enemy, who hated me and would stop at nothing to destroy me!!”

      . . . .I’m so, so sorry. —I mean he hated you and would stop at nothing to destroy you? How does it get that bad? How does it go so wrong? I guess he truly hated himself because that is the only way he would be hating on you like that.

      “I could not stay with my husband. God truly pulled me out of my marriage.”

      . . . .Always follow God when it is clear to you. —Always ask the Holy Spirit to guide you. . . .I always pray: Lord God, I *seriously* lack wisdom but You said “. . . .if anyone lacks wisdom, let them ask of You, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given. . . .” Help us all Lord God, please give us wisdom!

      “He brought to mind all that I had to do while I was shaking like a leaf, I did it scared and in the face of the impossible – with the faith that he would make a way where there seemed to be no way! God truly desires that we separate from evil, not obey and submit to it!”

      . . . .I understand. I couldn’t live that way either but that doesn’t mean God didn’t say what He said in the Scriptures.

      “I love this scripture that is so powerful and it truly helped me when I found myself yoked to evil and desperate to escape!! – “Be not unequally yoked with unbelievers: for what fellowship have righteousness and iniquity? or what communion hath light with darkness? . . . .And touch no unclean thing; And I will receive you, And will be to you a Father, And ye shall be to me sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.”

      . . . .Oh Starlight, I know it says that. I know . . . .but Scripture says so many, so many other things too. I will not go through all the passages.***** I wish it didn’t say those other things but I assume it says them for reasons God has.

      “I happened to be reading through the bible in a year at the same time that I was crying out to God for help and deliverance from the torment I was living in! God showed himself so powerfully to me through it!”

      . . . .That’s fantasic and . . .and I don’t know what to say that wouldn’t be negative and based on bible manuscript evidence and what the church fathers said, and what was taught for hundreds of years.

      “The bible does not make sense to the mind that is unenlighened by the Holy Spirit. It cannot be rationalized or explained, it is God’s revelation about himself to us. . . . . So much of the bible deals with this contrast, if God declares something offensive to him, I must distance myself and separate myself from that which he despises! He has chosen us to be separate and holy unto himself!”

      . . . .I love what you are getting at there and I love what I feel from your heart. I agree with it in my feelings but it means what God is saying is floating along with culture, with people’s personal experiences, modern psychology, etc. I can tell you how I feel when I read what you have written: I feel you have done the right thing. That is what I feel but I do not see how people get there from the texts. I think it is dangerous to say that early Christians so many whom died for Christ and had better access to much cleaner manuscript evidence than we are just wrong.

      “I love that God is the searcher of hearts! He has not left us as orphans floundering with no help!!! . . . . . . . Faith accepts God’s revealed word and his Spirit affirms the truth in us when He resides within!”

      Starlight. . . .I would say you certainly did the right thing but who am I against the actual texts, interpreted by people for hundreds and hundreds of years who died for Christ. Our understand here is a post-modern understanding infused with lots of post-modern psychology about what constiutes human flourishing. I think we change the documents by cherry-picking, harmonizing, et.al. I think the documents need amendments.

      I feel that you love Christ and you did the right thing, absolutely. . . .But that is very different than what those texts say and mean and meant for hundreds and hundreds of years. . . .*****See for example: “Defining the New Testament on Divorce and Remarriage” Yordan Kalev Zhekov (Chapter three: The New Testament Passages p. 84-on and Chapter four: The New Testament Canonical Context p. 188-on. . . .Also, “The Sayings on Marriage and Divorce” —Institute for Textual Scholarship at the Department of Theology, University of Birmingham, UK., technical but pin-point accurate. . . and readable . . .See also: Divorce and Remarriage (In early Christianity): Joseph A. Webb Th.D., Ph.D. & Patricia L. Webb Ph.D. . . .And: “Voices of Early Christianity: Documents from the Origins of Christianity; Backgrounds of Early Christianity”; Margaret A. Schatkin, “’Divorce In Early Christianity”, 2nd ed., edited by Everett Ferguson, pages 340 on (―everything they say went through rigorous *international* peer review).

      Anyways, Starlight, what you say feels so right. It bypasses my head and goes right to my heart. Yours is a beautiful testimony and if feelings count for anything, I felt all the times I read it (three times) that you did the right thing and that you love God and that is so, so beautiful.

  5. Maria on May 31, 2018 at 10:20 am

    Here’s another safely plan from a recent podcast on Family Life Today.
    From Is It My Fault? by Justin 7 Lindsey Holcomb

    http://familylifetoday.com/program/prepare-to-be-safe/

  6. Jenni on May 31, 2018 at 9:42 pm

    I would have to disagree with the previous comment about the Bible possibly needing amendments. God wrote the Bible. It’s not there so that we can change it. See Revelation 22:18-19. It is meant to be studied, obeyed, loved–not changed.

  7. Trudy Rogers on June 1, 2018 at 1:13 am

    A friend allowed me to park my car in her garage with the garage door closed. Therefore, my then husband would NOT know I was staying at her house. It was a safe refuge in a time of trouble. Simple. Practical. SAFE.

    • Free on June 3, 2018 at 8:57 am

      Great post, Thanks! Our friends can be lifelines!

  8. Annie on June 1, 2018 at 11:58 am

    When I first read through the question, I understood the poster to be asking how she can become free when her spouse is not “all there.”

    What I assumed she was asking was how she could leave her spouse when he had needs that needed to be attended to by someone other than himself due to his mental and heath problems.

    I wonder about this as well. How does one find freedom when dealing with a spouse who is dealing with physical, emotional or mental diabilites that are causing them to become abusive?

    The poster also mentioned that she was an enabler, at times, but also that she has boundaries.

    It seems to me that the person who asked the question has genuine concern for her spouse due to his mental and physical problems, but that she no longer can cope with the resulting aggression and abuse, which in part are a consequence if other issues he perhaps cannot control.

    I understood her question to be directed at not knowing how to take action to care for her own needs when her spouse has some issues that seem to be beyond his control. Hence the comment, when his is “not all there.”

  9. Upwealthy on June 1, 2018 at 3:05 pm

    You should know what is good for you. When you need to compromise and when you need to speak up. This article is very helpful. Thanks for sharing.

  10. Barbara B on June 1, 2018 at 4:08 pm

    I’ve never needed a safety plan, but reading this blog has helped me realize the importance and necessity of being a part of someone else’s safety plan. I’m learning to ask a question like “Are you safe?” when I see a friend with bruises on her face. I wouldn’t have done that in the past. Now when I hear about abuse I tell my friends to come straight to my house any time day or night if they need a refuge. I don’t know what we’ve been thinking in the church all these years. The provision of safety should be a normal part of church life. If abuse were openly addressed, with no tolerance given, maybe there wouldn’t be so much of it in the church.

  11. JoAnn on June 1, 2018 at 4:31 pm

    Barbara B, You said, “If abuse were openly addressed, with no tolerance given, maybe there wouldn’t be so much of it in the church.” I whole-heartedly agree. You made some good points, and I am glad that you are willing to provide safety for others. I have done the same thing myself. I just wish there was never a need….

  12. Aleea on June 1, 2018 at 8:43 pm

    . . . .Oh, and Starlight, I also really believe it is very important to pray for your ex-husband every single day. Somebody treating you like that [re: he hated me and would stop at nothing to destroy me] is already in hell. No one who acts like that is not doing that to themselves too. The Bible says everywhere in the New Testament that God in the radical transformation business. Now, either God is or He is lying all over the place in the New Testament. In hating you and stopping at nothing to destroy you, he has obviously walked ten thousand steps away from God. . . .But it’s only one step back: Psalm 34:16-18, Romans 10:9-13, etc. I also believe this helps you heal, although you seem very healthy and grounded. ―Praise God for that!

  13. JoAnn on June 1, 2018 at 11:43 pm

    Aleea…..why? Why throw in all those doubtful comments? The difference between logos and rhema is that the Lord activates the logos to into rhema in our spiritual mind. In this way, He can use whatever He wants to to speak to our situation. Starlight got a clear and liberating word, rhema, from the Lord through His word, and it freed her from the bondage of a relationship to an evil man. Why wouldn’t you just rejoice with her without casting doubt on the word, rhema, she received? You said “it feels right.” Yes, that’s the sense we get in our spirit when something registers within that it is from the Lord. But when you switch to your exegesis of the scriptures, that sucks the life out of the word of God. The word of God is living and operative, and when the Lord activates it in order to speak to us, it frees us and it “feels” right. Let that be good enough.

  14. Aleea on June 2, 2018 at 6:53 am

    Hello JoAnn,
    Okay, as honestly as I know how, but I am guessing at this. . . .So, at the risk of being used: Because I care if what I believe is true, not just that it works somehow. . . .Also, if I just say “Priase God Starlight” then . . .then it is just over and we don’t talk anymore and I like to talk and discuss and I love to hear people’s experiences of God and I want her to tell me more beautiful and hopeful things. That’s why, as honestly as I can understand myself.

    JoAnn/ Starlight, . . .So, I’m talking to myself here in the off-chance someone may know why —you too:

    . . .So if these DANGEROUS types of people never, in any statistically significant way, ever, —they never, ever change . . .and the probabilities are so, so low as to make it unworkable then why would we just not recommend and support people immediately using the legal systems to get away from them and divorcing them? —I mean ASAP after they know. They act and the faster the better. Why these delay tactics and scripts of what to say to husbands and increasing consequences and separation and trying to work it out? —I simply do not understand that. For example, if God never, ever heals amputees and it sure looks like He never has (except somehow in the Bible), why even pray for people to be healed of certain type of issues? Why not accept the reality that God does not do that for those certain type of issues? If God does not heal DSM-V style (DANGEROUS) issues or whatever the issues may be —why not accept that and speak honestly about it? The whole thing seems simply circular and self-deconstructing and it seems we are simply dealing with raw nature and reality. —Natural forces that obey laws of physics. Anything else becomes some type of a language game where slogans and cherry-picked passages and “mystery” are utilized to . . . .to I don’t even know what to. . . . .It is so frustrating on one level (i.e. You would think that it is either demonstrably true or it is mystical, secretive, pass-codes, hinty vaporous concepts about God) and yet it is so, so beautiful on another level. So beautiful and so meaningful. When I use my feelings, it’s all there but when I use logic, reason, evidence-based thinking, facts (like you would use when living in reality). . . .

    “But when you switch to your exegesis of the scriptures, that sucks the life out of the word of God. The word of God is living and operative, and when the Lord activates it in order to speak to us, it frees us and it “feels” right. Let that be good enough.”

    . . .But JoAnn how? How is that done behaviorally? I can’t seem to get my mind turned off. —Christ keeps me in love with Him because, generally, I love the person I become when He is with me. . . . .But, we have the exact same evidence for Christianity as we do for every other religion. The exact same areas of the brain light up. The exact same brain states when “feeling” God. God made us to think and deeply reason. He gave us super strong rational reasoning abilities. . . .So is the key to understanding in life to shut them down (—especially for the level of claims involved)?

    —Can’t rhema be used to justify anything? What do we use to keep ourselves grounded if not logic, reason, evidence-based reasoning, historical interpretations? I just don’t undertstand that . . .but I certainly know what I feel. I feel all those beautiful things and I praise God for rescuing Starlight. Fantasic treatment of this: “The New Testament and Its Modern Interpreters” by Eldon J. Epp and George W. McRae. . . .I just love when it bypasses by head and goes right through my heart but then why do we even have the Bible holding us back? If it glorifies God and feels right. . . .it’s right regardless of the texts???

    . . .Anyways, I certainly know what I feel. Again, I feel all those beautiful things too and I praise God for rescuing Starlight. People sharing their experiences with God is so beautiful and hopeful. I think anything of spiritual significance that happens in our lives is the result of God’s activity in us. He is infinitely more concerned with our life and our relationship with Him than you or I could possibly be. It seems to me that God doesn’t want people to do what they think is best: He wants them to do what He knows is best, and no amount of feeling will discover that. I mean, maybe not, but doesn’t that come from the Bible’s texts?

  15. Aleea on June 2, 2018 at 7:29 am

    Ανβρεθείτε να βιώνετε μια συνεχή επιθυμία να αναζητήσετε τον Θεό τότε ο Θεός είναι ήδη στην δουλειά—which being translated means: If you find yourself experiencing a constant desire to seek God, then God is already at work in you. (re: From Christian leaders who would meet in a place of worship in Gaul —at that time, 135AD, an outpost under the Roman Empire. Today that church is still there in Lyon, France.) They loved God as much as we do and they were experts in the languages of the Bible and what the texts said and meant. . . .As were so many in the first five hundred years of Christianity. To just blow off what they said on our issues seems so deeply wrong but maybe it is not, I just don’t understand how.

  16. Free on June 2, 2018 at 8:24 am

    I am concerned that we have been hoodwinked again into a theology discussion that has nothing to do with the post. Imagine if you came to this site desperately seeking help, would this discussion turn you away?

  17. Free on June 2, 2018 at 8:31 am

    For me it is too emotionally exhausting to answer this question. I need to write a book rather than a post.

    Yes, it hurts if you stay or leave. Pick your poison. Both situations are difficult. The difference is one leaving is a temporary pain and staying is a permanent pain that devalues you.

    Some us don’t mind bring devalued because we think it is better for the kids. The answer to that varies by situation.

    There are many dead women would don’t have a voice anymore who would like to remind us of the seriousness of this issue. Domestic violence is a crime for a readonm. There is no reason to aide a criminal. Even if you have talked yourself into a spiritual corner, it is still aiding evil and hiding a fool.

    • Free on June 2, 2018 at 8:34 am

      Should read …
      Some of us don’t mind being devalued because of the kids.

  18. Janice on June 2, 2018 at 10:42 am

    No one has all the truth,no one completely understands exactly what the word of God says 100% of the time.My sense from the women who post here is that we are in very difficult situations and are sincerely trying to discern what God expects from us.I have decided to separate from my husband after 26 years of marriage.My son is grown and married so child custody issues are not present and I appreciate how much harder that makes things.I am praying that this separation will enable my husband to get the help he needs yet I am realistic in how deep his denial is.After much prayer and counsel I have peace that this is the right next step( 2 years of in-house separation didn’t change anything) I am seeking clarity and truth for myself as well as my husband.Jesus is our ultimate healer and counselor.I believe this because he is continuing to heal me from childhood trauma( sexual abuse from my father) as well as hurt/harm from my marriage.I understand some of my husbands issues,however he doesn’t share with me his inner world so I am left in the dark about his thoughts and feelings.I believe I am ” leaving well” and will continue to pray for a miracle.

  19. Seeing The Light on June 2, 2018 at 4:01 pm

    Aleea wrote: “Christ keeps me in love with Him because, generally, I love the person I become when He is with me. . . . ” That is a very telling statement. This is very disconcerting and really quite amazing to see anyone admit such a thing. Did this stand out to anyone else?

  20. Seeing The Light on June 2, 2018 at 4:02 pm

    Free,

    Exactly.

  21. Jolene on June 2, 2018 at 7:19 pm

    I say this with respect and kindness. Aleea, you seem to be a person who seeks facts. It is a FACT that an abused woman’s life is most at risk when she attempts to leave her abuser. There are people here who are literally in life or death situations. Please respect that we did not come here to debate God, who for me, is the only hope and help I have. I don’t need to question Him, for I BELIEVE, which is why I am on THIS particular blog. In concern for your own healing, I wonder if a forum that deals with daughters and narcissistic mothers would better suit your issues? I seem to read more about your abusive mother than your abusive marriage. I had to work the mother issues out first. Maybe you do, too? All the best to you.

  22. Jolene on June 2, 2018 at 7:40 pm

    Thank you, Leslie for such an informative post. I pray that everyone here is safe and well today.

    I recently used another source from Gavin de Becker, the author of “The Gift of Fear”, which is a book about learning to trust your intuition when in violent situations. I highly recommend the book (God provided this for me through my husband, who gave it to me to read because he thought one of the fathers at my child’s school was expressing romantic interest in me, but mostly the book has helped me with knowledge of my husband’s abusive behavior. Thank you for providing, Lord). De Becker has a free online assessment that the LAPD uses to determine how much of a violent risk someone poses in a DV situation. I scored 181 points out of 200. Quite eye opening. It really had some useful insights to consider, as the author is a former law enforcement officer. The free Threat Assessment Tool can be found at MosaicMethod.com.

  23. Aleea on June 3, 2018 at 6:17 am

    . . .Realizing that when I suggest something, I am guilty too and I could be totally wrong . . .but the fundamental structure of scapegoating, used here to build community is not broken in the acceptance of the latest “other” even if -somehow- it would be me. If the underlying scapegoat mechanism is not decommissioned (—decommissioned!, not soomthed over), then new “others” will always arise to protect the group from its own internal conflicts —and they are huge. . . .Such as being far too simplistic about what the Bible teaches; —blaming/ scapegoating various others, etc.

    . . . .Everyone here claims they are a Christian. Jesus’ passion teaches us that the scapegoat mechanism is not to be utilized by Christians to build any community and yet. . . . Rather than finding unity in the sacrificing or exclusion of a chosen victim (―anybody that disagrees with you/us, ―various selected evil birds, et.al.) this community who says they identify with Christ’s loss of identity on the cross, is not called to play the game of identity. . . .Yet here we see a complete dominance hierarchy with tribal cliques, Christian gangs even, people who pile on and calls for others to pile on and exclude. . . .Tell me how people didn’t evolve from territorial, hostile precursor primates! . . . .Sure, anything is possible, but what is more likely?

    I’ll look hard at myself and I do appreciate the suggestions, they are worth considering. ―Lots of us here have not really resolved and transcended what has happened to us. We have not adequately confronted ourselves, we just perpetually find a new whatevers that resemble but also differ from the source of the original issues (ex-husbands, ex-moms, et.al.) . . .And yet Christ talked endlessly about ther power to understand, address, resolve, and transcend. Where is it, where is that power ―honestly?

  24. Maria on June 3, 2018 at 8:25 am

    Aleea,

    Let us focus on the points the other posters have asked you to consider:

    1. Many women posting here are hurting tremendously. What they need is empathy and input from others who have walked in their shoes. It is very insensitive to have a discussion about the validity of the Bible with them. Don’t you see that? A few have suggested that you start your own blog for such discussions.

    2. No one is scapegoating you. You have your views about the Bible. We accept that you do. No one can change you. Let’s move on.

  25. Maria on June 3, 2018 at 8:35 am

    Aleea,

    Let us focus on the points the other posters have asked you to consider:

    1. Many women posting here are hurting tremendously. What they need is empathy and input from others who have walked in their shoes. It is very insensitive to have a discussion about the validity of the Bible with them. Don’t you see that? Many are in a state of confusion. What do you want to add to that? A few have suggested that you start your own blog for such discussions.

    2. No one is scapegoating you. You have your views about the Bible. We accept that you do. No one can change you. Let’s move on.

  26. Grateful on June 3, 2018 at 8:47 am

    Well this is my first time to post and I can confirm it does get worse when you leave. However, I believe in my merciful God and if this is what is being sifted thru His hands, I can only imagine what He saved me from. I struggle with discerning safety. My husband never hit me but the emotional and verbal abuse cycle is so much shorter now that I filed for divorce – I just don’t know if it will evolve to a violent unsafe situation. I have been so wrong so many times it is hard to trust myself.
    But if there is anything I have seen, it has been God’s faithfulness abundantly. So many answered prayers and detailed prayers that matter to no one but me. It is so hard to see my children (12 and 9) get caught in the crossfires b/c he is verbally abusive about me to them. I learned long ago to not say anything back – not even truth anymore-
    But i have not one regret – I am grateful it has only been 15 years. But would love any guidance on signs to look for as it escalates –

    • Free on June 6, 2018 at 8:12 pm

      Hello Grateful. Escalation can look like nothing you have ever seen before. Are you familiar with the power and control wheel? Expect your abusive spouse to try new spikes on the wheel. He wants to win at all costs. No area will be out of his imagined right to use against you.

      I’ve done silence to survive too. It was not only a waste of my time and breath, it was dangerous. Let your lawyer or guardian ad lidem do the talking now.

      Also actions speak louder than words. Your destructive spouse may claim he is great and YOU are the problem. Don’t try to reason with a fool. He may try to sweet talk you into his agenda. Remember his goal is to have power over you and everyone else he encounters.

      Get ongoing counseling for your kids. Focus Ministries has a youth program for children of abuse.

  27. ContentinChrist on June 4, 2018 at 10:01 pm

    Hi, friends – I could use a little help, support, advice, truth….

    I’m 19 months separated from my husband. In the process of divorcing. Tonight, I am supposed to be filling out a financial affidavit to attach to divorce papers and once all of that gets completed, I should be divorced within a month.

    I have not experienced much confusion for many months, but the confusion has come back in the last few days or so. I think many of you know will know the kind of confusion I’m talking about: Was it really that bad? Did I see things wrongly? Maybe I was the problem, etc. I had extreme confusion as I separated and I believe it’s because of the covert nature of my husband’s abuse (but even as I type that, I’m thinking….well, maybe he wasn’t really emotionally abusive to me). He was always very affectionate to me – he was great to me as long as I was happy all of the time. But, almost always, if I brought an issue to him about something I needed in our marriage or parenting, I was blamed and he took things highly personal. He would unload all of these past resentments that he seemed to hold onto until I brought something to him. But, it wasn’t like this was an everyday thing in our marriage. There were good times. Of course, no emotional depth or connection whatsoever in our marriage. Our topics of conversation were the three subjects he wanted to talk about, consistently. He gaslighted me and lied to me from the beginning of our marriage. (See, I’m typing these truths out, but I’m still confused – I hate when I get like this!)

    So, I think as I’m typing this I’m realizing why I’m being triggered into confusion again.

    An old friend of mine from high school and I ran into each other a couple of months ago. He (yes, he) is a strong believer and is also going through a divorce from a (it sounds like) bipolar woman. She had multiple physical and emotional affairs and he admits that his self esteem was so low when he married her and that he was always just smitten with her. OK, I gave that much information because I wanted to say up front that I totally believe that he is going through the same thing as I am. I panicked for a good few weeks wondering if he was manipulative and lying to me, but the more I have heard of his story, the more I believe he was delivered out of a destructive marriage. He asked for my number and we have had several phone conversations and I saw him a couple of times last week.

    We have a lot in common. We were always very good friends in high school – had an easy friendship. He is still the same. We have had similar spiritual journeys and have similar viewpoints. The main one being that Jesus is enough. 🙂 This was one of the first things he said to me when I found out he was going through a divorce and I asked him how his children were.

    There is no doubt we have a connection. We are trying to be careful and thoughtful and wise as we step forward with this.

    But, the last few days all I hear in my spirit is maybe I’m the one who broke my marriage down – maybe I was the one that doesn’t know how to relate well to others. I am fearful of going into another relationship and being hurt again, obviously. But, I wrestled with God on that during a five week period of not talking to my friend and came to peace that I can trust that God is good. Even if this doesn’t work out the way I kind of hope it will, I can trust that God is good, that Jesus will still be enough. I don’t want fear to hold me back from exploring something God might have for me. I know without a doubt that God had us run into each other.

    I think possibly, too, that I might be feeling confusion as I’m about to fill out this form and the enemy seems to always hit me when I’m ready to take another step away from this destructive marriage. Each step further away seems to be difficult in some ways to get through and I do believe there is a spiritual warfare element to that.

    So, that’s where I am and I was just hoping that some of you who have been where I am could speak to whether it’s normal to still have confusion crop up months later after being so confident of your choice – and also any thoughts from those who might know of others who have stepped forward into another relationship and the process that looks like.

    I am aware that we both still have healing to do – much – but I also know that we are both through grieving our marriages and are living in healthy ways. We are working on ourselves. I’m also aware that I don’t think it would matter if it were four years down the road, both of us are going to have to walk through the process of learning to trust again. And walk through fear as it relates to exploring a second marriage.

    Thanks for listening.

    • K (who's posted before, different from K who posted in early April) on June 5, 2018 at 3:22 pm

      Hello, Content in Christ. I’m glad you shared your thoughts and heart here, and that you are receiving wise feedback. I too want to caution you about moving too quickly in this circumstance with your old friend. Here are some things to think about:

      1. without either of you being legally divorced yet, you are not in a place of Biblical freedom to explore new relationships. You are not single, and are not available. Even though your husband, (and likely his wife), created the crazy-making destruction in your life and marriage, you have consistently chosen the high road in being respectful and faithful, and taken a next step only when you had the certainty of the Holy Spirit in the way to go. Don’t lose the focus of that at this point!

      2. You describe being very confused in this time, as you approach the difficult, but necessary task of completing documents and signing the final petition to be legally emancipated from your marriage. The addition of a ‘feels tender and safe’ relationship in this time can only add to the confusion, because it is about FEELINGS and not the facts. Be clear about one important task at a time in this stage of your journey, Content. Right now, that is ending well from the marriage you could not stay well in.

      3. You are both badly wounded people who will each need time to heal, grow, and ‘come to life again’ following these destructive marriages. Don’t rush, or be rushed, in this process. You cannot be each other’s healing — that is God’s job. And you cannot recognize yourself or the other person clearly, completely, and with the wisdom to weigh truth while you are both still covered in the wounds and pain of the destructive marriages.

      4. And don’t be fooled by hormones!! The flush of “feeling good” in the presence of this gentleman you knew years ago is a mixture of adolescent reconnecting, plus the rush of “it’s been so long since a man was kind to me, it feels wonderful!”. Slow, slow, slow — the rush & flush will subside when you have more distance from the pain & confusion of the marriage you are ending. Only then will you be able to determine if it IS truly a solid choice to explore, or only seemed that way, since it all felt better by comparison.

      With Nancy, and JoAnn, and Janice (and I’m sure many others!) I want to encourage you, Content, to hold yourself carefully in check. I would suggest you seek support through a DivorceCare group, where men and women with similar stories can share & move forward safely as a group. It might be good for you each to be in a different DivorceCare group!!! Be wise, dear sister.

    • Free on June 5, 2018 at 6:40 pm

      Content, I believe you need to abstain from all contact with your high school friend. You are in no way ready for a make friend. It is impossible for you to be well enough for that. If he is a good guy he will wait for you. Tell your most intimate thought to your counselor, not another wounded man. Have even met his wife? He might be an excellent manipulator too? Go slow, be caution, now is not the time to much up your mind with a new relationship.

      Yes, your husband is abusive. You did not do anything wrong. Abusive men rarely ever change and there so few programs that offer successful results for those kinds of men.

      • ContentinChrist on June 5, 2018 at 9:18 pm

        Thanks for your thoughts, Free.

        No, I haven’t met his wife. To be fair, I wouldn’t want anyone contacting my husband and asking him what he thinks about me – I highly doubt he would tell the truth so I’m not sure how helpful it is to think that this is a good thing to do in a case like this. Not that I haven’t considered it. 🙂

        I have most definitely considered that he might be an excellent manipulator. However, the more he shares, the more I am convinced that he was in a relationship with a destructive spouse. When he caught her in her third affair, and they were talking about their relationship and the future of it, he told her he just wanted her to fall in love with Jesus again. She rolled her eyes and he said he knew immediately in his spirit that their marriage was over. I had a similar experience (that I still have not shared with him, so he was not using language he had heard from me when sharing his story) with my husband. These types of things that he shares lead me to believe he is rock solid in his faith. He is extremely respectful of my boundaries. Our relationship is on way slow down mode as he wants to pour into his daughter as much as he can before she enters college – which is exactly what he should be doing. He is an amazing guy from all I can tell so far. Is it possible he’s manipulating me? Sure. But, so far, I see none of the red flags and I just can’t live in fear about this. However, I am definitely intent on remaining aware of any red flags. But I don’t want to look for things that aren’t there, either.

        Just curious, why would it be impossible for me to be well enough to have a male friend? At what point does one know whether someone else is ready? Is there a certain amount of time that absolutely must elapse? I say this in all sincerity. I do not think I can believe that we can say these things for sure in a blanket kind of way. I totally understand your heart and the warnings I am seeing here. I do, I promise. But, I am concerned about the idea that there must be a set time.

        You asked what my counselor thinks of this relationship. The first thing she said was “You need to wait until a year after your divorce.” I said to her “Why do I need to wait until a year after my divorce when I’ve been separated for 19 months (almost 20 at this point), have most definitely grieved my marriage and am not grieving anymore and have come to a place where I am truly content and happy to be alone?” To which she didn’t really give me an answer. We spoke more about him and the things he has shared with me, we spoke about other specifics of my circumstance of where I was working when I ran into him, etc. We spoke about my dream and what I knew God had said to me many months ago and what I felt like it could have meant. I think my counselor trusts that I will continuously put this before God and let Him lead me.

        I surrendered this issue to Him a couple of weeks ago. It is His to do what He will with it. If it was just to reconnect us for a short time and that’s it, then all glory will go to God. If it’s to reconnect us and have us wait for more healing and more time to pass, then I know He will make that clear to us and….all glory will go to Him. If it is that we progress much quicker than others around us think we should, He will give us clarity and peace and….all glory will go to Him. (One thing I’ve learned even through going through all of this is that I have to get my marching orders directly from the Lord, no one else – God’s ways many times don’t make sense to others – even to strong Christians around us at times).

        It is very possible you guys will all pray me into waking up tomorrow morning and knowing that I need to end this for the time being. 🙂 I am open to that, too. I am open to whatever God wants right now in this situation, but I do have to be convinced and convicted by His Spirit ultimately – and I know you would all agree with me in that.

        I do receive all of the warnings as love for me – even if I have sounded defensive, please know I am challenging some statements that I believe need clarification in a couple of the comments. Free, you have spoken of your “bluntness” and I am similar.

        Hard to read tone through writing in a forum like this, but I can assure that I am not angry or upset, but simply speaking freely in response to others who have also spoken freely their views.

        Love to all of you protective sisters!

  28. JoAnn on June 5, 2018 at 12:08 am

    ContentinChrist, I haven’t been where you are, so maybe that means I can be somewhat objective about what you are going through. Your confusion is, I believe, normal for this time in your process. The thoughts you mentioned, like thinking that it wasn’t all that bad, are the reason why we often recommend writing in a journal, so you can remind yourself later why you are leaving. If you have done some writing, then go back and read it. Those good times really don’t outweigh the bad times, do they?
    The other point I want to make is about the “new” relationship. Please, give it time! You are both on the rebound, and that is a dangerous time. You are commiserating with each other, comforting each other, and you understand each other, but that’s not all there is to a successful relationship. Both of you have lost parts of yourself in your dysfunctional marriages, and until you have given yourself time to recover, you will not be equipped to have a satisfying and successful relationship. Continue to work with your counselor, and discover who you are again. Build a new life on your own, while maintaining the friendship, but don’t let it go into a romantic relationship, and for sure, don’t let it get sexual. You both need time. I’m saying this with much love and care in my heart for you. Please be careful. You are very vulnerable right now. Give yourself time.

    • Nancy on June 5, 2018 at 9:55 am

      Hi Content in Christ,

      I agree with everything JoAnn said – but especially about this new relationship.

      What surprised me was the very end of your post you mentioned ‘exploring a second marriage’!

      I was expecting to read, ‘…process of learning to trust again. And walk through fear of exploring a deeper friendship’. I think that would have been a healthier thought. To be even thinking about another relationship at this stage, let alone marriage is FAR too early.

      I think you should S-L-O-W things W-A-Y down inside your own mind, and take a big step back to look at the following question :

      ‘what’s the rush?’

      • Nancy on June 5, 2018 at 10:05 am

        And perhaps God has brought this man into your life at this point. But be careful not to ‘lean on your own understanding’ of why that is the case. Trust in Him, and HE will make your path straight 🙂

      • JoAnn on June 5, 2018 at 1:59 pm

        Amen, Nancy. Thanks for affirming my concern. What’s the rush, indeed! “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread” applies here. I have learned, in my lifetime of learning to know the Lord, that the enemy is always in a hurry, and the Lord has all the time He needs. When we feel urgency to do something, it is nearly always the enemy pushing us into something that we will regret later.
        “Be careful to not lean on your own understanding”….well said. The renewal of this relationship might rather be a test: Where is your heart?

        • ContentinChrist on June 5, 2018 at 4:40 pm

          JoAnn and Nancy,

          First of all, I want to address the idea that I am rushing into something haphazardly. I don’t think there’s enough information in my comment to assume that. I have no sense of urgency or feeling like I must make something of this relationship or anything else close to rushing in my heart that I can see. If anything, the steps we have taken so far have been to make sure we are doing the opposite. (It helps that he lives a couple of states away to begin with). At some point, we took a break from even talking to each other for over a month because we knew we needed to. As I said, I believe we are being cautious and wise; we are being very prayerful about what our relationship should look like right now.

          If I could only control the feelings I have for him and erase any idea that there is more to this, that would make things much simpler, trust me. Somehow, I don’t think that’s necessarily always in our control. I’ve prayed for God to shut this whole thing down, to take my feelings away, all of it….so far, the only thing that I’m hearing from God is that I need to let go of my fear and trust Him (actually, I take that back – the other day I heard Him tell me to just relax and enjoy this process). Which is what I detailed in my first comment. He reminded me that He is good and is always for me and my good and that I can trust Him no matter what the outcome is. Praise God for that! The song “No Longer Slaves” was meaningful to me in my separation and God reminded me again that I cannot let fear hold me back from anything else He might be doing in my life.

          Even though we are not talking about marriage, there is something about being in your mid 40s where you don’t want to have a deeper friendship (create emotional intimacy) with someone if you don’t think that’s a possibility down the line. Pretty sure a majority of Christians feel the same way about embarking on relationships with the opposite sex even when they’re much younger. I think that’s healthy. When I said exploring a second marriage, this again is not something we are actively talking about, but again….you almost have to go there in your mind to keep stepping forward in this process. Maybe I’m getting something wrong there, but to me, these seem like natural thoughts that would happen for anyone in my shoes.

          Please understand that the strong warnings you are giving me have been and are all being wrestled out and prayed earnestly over from the onset of the situation. I am taking all of this to God. I can confidently say I am *not* leaning on my own understanding. I never, ever want to put another man above God again in my life as I did before.

          Mostly, my comment was to ask to help me work through what was triggering me (JoAnn, you addressed this – thank you) and if anyone had any thoughts on the process of what it looked like as it related to stepping into another relationship after being in an emotionally abusive one. And, I’m still interested in thoughts on that, if anyone knows someone personally or has been through it themselves.

          “To be even thinking about another relationship at this stage is far too early.” That’s a subjective statement. As we all know, life isn’t packaged up in perfect boxes and perfect timetables. I wasn’t looking for a relationship or even thinking that it could possibly be on the horizon when we ran into each other. But here it is and I do not feel God is telling me to shut it all down. On the contrary, as I said before, I believe He is telling me the things I’ve clarified already.

          One other thing – I believe God was telling me that I would be remarried again – pretty early on in my separation. There was a specific thing God said to me very clearly in my spirit and I also had a dream that I knew immediately upon waking was spiritual. Both of these things have made me wonder if God was telling me I would remarry. I tried not to think about it too much because I knew when I separated that I might be single for the rest of my life and I gave that to God; I didn’t – and still don’t – want my hope to ever be in things of this world again and so I didn’t allow myself to hang too tightly to those things that I felt God might be saying to me. But now, I do wonder…

          • Nancy on June 5, 2018 at 5:00 pm

            Hi Content in Christ,

            You had asked for feedback, and now your response reads as quite defensive.

            I agree that life is not all ‘perfect boxes and timetables’.

            Still though, I think the question ‘what’s the rush?’ is a valid one, and worth careful consideration.



          • Free on June 5, 2018 at 6:49 pm

            Content, tell me what you thought of his wife when you spoke to her.



        • ContentinChrist on June 5, 2018 at 6:22 pm

          Nancy,

          Could you please let me know what specifically felt defensive about my response? Was it the comment about the “perfect boxes and timetables”? If so, please know that I wasn’t being sarcastic at all when I said it. It was just a simple fact of how life throws curveballs and rarely goes as we expect it.

          I think I’ve answered the question in your last paragraph extensively and so won’t go into more justification of where I am on that. If what I’ve said already doesn’t help you see that I *am* being thoughtful, prayerful and not rushing into things, then there’s probably not much more I could say to assure you at this point.

          Also, my comment wasn’t really asking for opinions about the relationship itself, but if you’ll read back you will see that I was asking for feedback on being triggered back into the confusion cycle and also any feedback from others who had gone through or knew someone who had gone through going forward in a new relationship after an emotionally abusive one and the fears and hurdles that come with doing so.

          Oh, I can see that maybe where I quoted your statement about it being too early to even think about a relationship might be what comes across defensively to you. I can understand that you might feel that way, but I really do feel like what I wrote is the truth. It is a subjective statement and just like we don’t put timelines on people’s grief, who are we to say when another person can begin to explore the possibility of another relationship or not? Those seem to be things that each individual will need to take before the Lord themselves and hear from Him directly on. One thing that I think we as believers need to be careful about is trusting the Spirit in others to lead them. Ultimately, we can give our advice and have our own opinions, but on things that are not clearly marked as sin or are not clearly black and white, I believe it is best to err on the side of allowing that person the freedom to think differently than us on issues such as these.

          To be honest, Nancy, I was a little caught off guard with the comments from you and JoAnn that seemed to focus in on this idea that I was rushing headlong into something without a care in the world. It felt strange and still feels “off” that you are bringing up the question of “rushing things” even after I carefully explained how I’ve prayed and am seeking God, etc. and we aren’t talking marriage. Goodness, we are not even texting or talking on the phone daily.

          Anyway, I guess I tried to justify myself more which I don’t really need to do.

          I’m sorry if I sound defensive, but perhaps I am defending myself against what I think are some misconceptions of how it seems to be that you think I am rushing into things. ? Maybe I’m missing something. ?

          • Free on June 5, 2018 at 6:51 pm

            What does your counselor say about this relationship?



          • JoAnn on June 5, 2018 at 9:42 pm

            ContentinChrist, I do want you to know that I am comfortable with your reply, as I now know how careful you have been with this new relationship. The confusion you asked about is an indication of how vulnerable you are right now, and as others have shared on this blog in response to other questions, many have felt that the “fog” begins to clear once steps have taken place to get out of a destructive relationship. You can surely thank the Lord for the good times you had with your h, but the bad times are not intended to be part of a godly marriage. Remind yourself of that! That is really the source of your confusion: there were good times, yes, but to live in fear of the next “bad time” is not part of God’s plan. It seems clear to me from what you wrote, that you know how to sense the Lord’s speaking in your spirit. Hang onto that. He is faithful, and He will do what He has promised.



          • Free on June 6, 2018 at 5:21 am

            Oh, Content, I didn’t mean to be hard on you. I can be blunt though, typing on a small screen, hence so many grammatical errors in my posts.

            I always recommend to anyone that they must mean the former partner before one considers remarriage. St some point you owe this to yourself.

            Also, neither of you are divorced yet. Do you have young children? Your husband could claim you are having an emotional affair now which could affect custody. Nineteen months separated (and going through the trauma of divorce) is not nineteen months of Independent freedom.

            We all want you to be happy. Yet, we all it is too soon.



          • Nancy on June 6, 2018 at 5:46 am

            Hi Content in Christ,

            Thanks for responding so openly.

            To your last statement about ‘misconception about how it seems to be that you think I am rushing into things’.

            Let me start by saying that from your recent replies, it’s obvious that you are being careful and I’m relieved to know that you are.

            The timing though, is fast. That’s not a misconception. You aren’t yet divorced.

            Your counsellor has expressed clear concern – I’m guessing based on the timing too ( since she talked about waiting at least a year).

            What do your friends say?

            In the end, yes, you need to ultimately make this decision with The Lord. We all need to discern his voice and ultimately move in that. The Lord also speaks through the community of people we have around us. To heed that is an important protection for us, both against spiritual pride (this is not my sense with you, at all) as well as when we are vulnerable.

            What confuses me is that you are surprised by JoAnn and my initial response? Especially after your own counsellor has cautioned you against the speed of this. The flag that I see is.. you are so ‘in it’ that a practical / logical concern about the speed of this would actually surprise you…?

            Wouldn’t you be surprised if you read such an account on this blog? From an objective point of view, the timing is simply way too fast.

            Now that you’ve explained how careful you’ve been, and my point of view is a bit more subjective, I am more comfortable, ( not that you know me from a hole in the wall! Or that my opinion should be given significant weight in this.)

            Do you have someone you could go to for spiritual direction? Someone who could pray protection over you as you seek The Lord in this?



          • Maria on June 6, 2018 at 5:41 pm

            Content in Christ,

            As you probably know, I am in an ED marriage. One thing that has really kept me grounded is close, female friends. I have given them permission to speak the truth to me. My advise to you would be to identify some women and put in the time to develop same sex friendships. These friends will help you see red flags. As you know, it’s important to get to know potential suitors. Confiding in them about your marriage problems can create an artificial closeness, in my opinion. As Nancy an Joann have said, it is so important to move slowly.



  29. Janice on June 5, 2018 at 5:10 am

    In response to ContentinChrist…I believe whenever we make a step toward truth and clarity the enemy of our souls attempts to derail us.I have experienced the same confusion as I am walking through the initial phase of separation i.e. am I just over sensitive,too idealistic etc.Your soon to be ex h and mine sound so similar( only talk about safe topics,never share and connect at a heart level) As to the timing of your divorce and possible new relationship with an old friend it is only you who can determine if you have healed enough to proceed at this time.Pray for wisdom and discernment as you take each new step.We never want to get ahead of Gods timing,nor ignore His good gifts to us as He provides them.

    • ContentinChrist on June 5, 2018 at 4:56 pm

      Janice, thank you for your thoughts. I wrote a long reply to JoAnn and Nancy above so I won’t go into more detail here, but yes, I am definitely praying – a lot!

      I love your last sentence – it speaks to me right now and fits perfectly with how I feel.

      I hope you are doing as well as you can be. The initial stages of separation are so hard. I trust God is holding you close. This *is* a time of exposing childhood wounds and I know that God will continue to reveal truth to you about your past childhood abuse (I’m so so sorry you had to go through this). He wants you whole and healthy. He is committed in love to doing that in you so you can truly be free.

      I will pray for you now. Much love to you. Don’t forget you are valuable and worth investing in (counseling, a massage, something that will bring comfort to your soul). This is a time to focus on you and not to let the enemy condemn you for doing so.

  30. Nancy on June 5, 2018 at 4:43 pm

    I’m wondering Aleea, if you will take responsibility for being insensitive?

  31. Sunny on June 5, 2018 at 7:09 pm

    Regarding the tips for asuccessful exit from an abusive partner, one needs to proactive in finances and employability. Don’t underestimate your future employment and think I can’t do this alone. Anything and everything is so much easier without a destructive partner. Trust me, you will soar!

    Investigate every joint account. So to a lawyer, an accountant and a domedtic abuse shelter counselor to get information. Read everything you can find out about this topic on both Christian and secular sites.

    Be careful who you talk too. Talk the most to God. Keep a journal, even if you have to use code words for people and events. Hide your journal so you can speak freely into it. Use the record button on your phone to tape your destructive partners rants. Take his laptop of a computer place and ask to have the history revealed. View all his credit card records.

  32. Sunny on June 5, 2018 at 7:19 pm

    Regarding the tips for a successful exit from an abusive partner, one needs to be proactive in finances and employability. Don’t underestimate your future employment and think you can’t do this alone. Anything, and everything is so much easier without a destructive partner. Trust me, you will soar!

    Investigate every joint account. Go to a lawyer, an accountant and a domedtic abuse shelter counselor to get information. Read everything you can find out about this topic on both Christian and secular sites.

    Be careful who you talk to. Few people can comprehend the situations we live. Many offer trite platitudes or legalistic judgements.Talk the most to God.

    Keep a journal, even if you have to use code words for people and events. Hide your journal so you can speak freely into it. Use the record button on your phone to tape your destructive partners rants.

    Take his laptop to a computer place and ask to have the history revealed. View all his credit card records.

    Always look for your exit in any public or private space. Pack multiple survival bags, not just one. What if he blocks the closet with your survival bag, like my abuser did. Thankfully I multiple survival kits packed. Also, I never ever went anywhere with him without my own set of keys, my own phone and a hidden $100 iny wallet. I learned to pack a coat and food in case I got pushed out of the car or locked out of my house. I also hid my entire life in my car. I always have a pillow, blanket, food, water, tooth brush, shampoo, towel in my car.

    • JoAnn on June 5, 2018 at 9:48 pm

      Those are very good tips, Sunny, but I am so very sorry that you need to do that. Are you still with him? I hope not! It sounds like he is dangerous. Please stay safe. Your advice will help others here, I’m sure. Be well.

      • Sunny on June 6, 2018 at 5:13 am

        All is well now, JoSnn. I am safe. It took a long strategic plan to leave. I was patient and plotted each move carefully. Leaving can be the most dangerous time for a victim. I needed support to do it, police, counseling, clergy, friends and family.

        The evil thoughts and actions of an abusive partner run deep in depth and duration. In their mind they are fine and we have the problem. Ha!

  33. lauriemizu on June 7, 2018 at 10:51 pm

    Just a technical issue…the links I’ve seen to the RAVE project don’t seem to work…all I get is “page not found”….has the website moved?

    • Leslie Vernick on June 9, 2018 at 11:34 pm

      I’ll double check this as when I posted, I did check to see if they were live.

      • lauriemizu on June 10, 2018 at 11:23 am

        Ok thanks! 😊

  34. Lynn on June 13, 2018 at 12:35 pm

    I left and then chose to stay married and work on things….because of my decision to stay I have lost friends and even my own brother and sister in law that I considered my close friend has shut me out. I felt like I was doing the right thing and now that things are better these people continue to shut me out, and I have been told by my sister in law that I have hurt my entire family through the decisions I have made and that she feels used by me. I needed the help/support of my family and close friends but since I did not take their advice I am looked down upon. I have been praying for God to help give me strength and guidance through all of this. I have made so many mistakes and wish I could have been stronger but I wasn’t. I tried to leave, tried to do the right thing and I failed. I keep wondering what God thinks of me, of my decision. I believe he wants my family/marriage safe and healthy. I don’t believe he just wants me to shut my husband out either but I was given so much advice to leave due to his actions. In the process of leaving I grew more and more depressed and felt hopeless. He begged me to let us try one more time and in the process of trying, I got pregnant. So here we are still trying, things are better, not perfect, not scary anymore…but I will never really know. I can’t help but feel like a bad person through all of this. I have lost friends and even family through this process. I feel like if I would have left they would have continued to be my friends, but then I would have lost my husband and our family being together. They can not support my decision so I have been cut off and I understand to a certain degree. These situations are not black and white and are so complicated I don’t think anyone understands unless they have been through it themselves. Did I fail because I stayed? Because I got pregnant? What message is there for those of us that do stay? That we are no longer worth being friends with or cared for? That we are not strong women because we didn’t leave? I am really struggling with all of this.

  35. JoAnn on June 13, 2018 at 4:19 pm

    Dear Lynn, My heart is aching for you. What a terrible position your family has put you through! They offered help with attachments: “I’ll help you only if you do what I tell you to do.”

    Lord, strengthen our sister into her spirit. Grant her a rich supply of your all-sufficient grace, and wrap your loving arms around her, even now, so that she will be encouraged in the hope that only You can give.

    Lynn, read Leslie’s book again and work to develop your CORE strength. Also, put some really clear and protective boundaries in place with your husband. This is for your own protection, not to punish him, but to protect your heart. The Lord has led you to this point, so be strong and let Him do His work.

  36. JoAnn on June 13, 2018 at 4:21 pm

    Lynn, another word: don’t think of this as a failure. It is what it is. This is the situation you find yourself in, and though it might seem like it is “between a rock and a hard place,” the Lord is in the “cleft of the rock,” so He is in there with you. Flee to Him, and He will be there with you.

    • Lynn on June 14, 2018 at 9:13 am

      JoAnn,
      Thank you so much for your prayers and support.

  37. Wiser on June 19, 2018 at 2:28 pm

    I remember after I left my bipolar, alcoholic husband me asking the Lord why, even though I was kind and loving and tried my best to please him things only got worse. The Lord showed me that it is not MY love that heals people, it is the LORD’s love that does. It is not MY love that saves people, it is the LORD’s love that does.
    The Lord had not asked me to sacrifice my life for my husband. The Lord had already sacrificed HIS life for my husband, but my husband refused to accept or believe this. Suffering is not holy, only suffering for Christ’s sake (in defending our faith) is holy. I was miserable because I was doing something the Lord had not asked me to do.

    The Lord described it to me like a person who is drowning. My husband had defiantly refused to learn how to swim, metaphorically, his whole life, because he felt it wasn’t his responsibility to. I was trying to save him and he was drowning me. And the Lord showed me that my husband would have drowned me and then been angry at me for not saving him and leaving him in the water, without any remorse that I was dead!!

    The Lord repeatedly frees or saves those who are mistreated, oppressed or brokenhearted. His heart is for the weak, the broken, the ashamed, the disgraced, the hurt, the enslaved. He repeatedly freed, restored, and healed those in that condition. The meaning of Redeemer in Isaiah 41:14 is “one who frees another from enslavement and avenges their sufferings”. Does that sound like a God who wants you to take repeated insults, hits, or subject themselves to constant humiliation and degradation because another fails to see you as a person deserving respect or love?

    Yes, the Lord has made covenants, but those who chose their own wicked desires were excluded from them. Ultimately, the Lord wants a relationship filled with love, respect, honor, commitment and sacrifice. He is merciful but those who purposely choose themselves over and over (idolators) do not inherit God’s kingdom.

    I now have Christ as my husband. I am healing into the woman God created me to be. I know I will remarry someday-God is preparing me for that day by showing me how a husband should be so that I do not make the same grievous mistake. I didn’t know the Lord back then but I do now and for my sake and my children’s sake we will take our time healing and becoming whole.

    • Concerned on June 19, 2018 at 4:34 pm

      Wiser, your words brought tears to my eyes. God has given you a deep revelation and incredible wisdom about this. I could never have explained it better. This truth, God’s truth, is what sets us free. This has helped to set me free from the guilt of leaving. I thought I would save my husband too. I remember thinking precisely that I would save him from the dark life he had been living. I understand now why my love was never enough for him. Only God’s love is perfect and sufficient and able to transform. I plan on reading your response over and over because I tend to forget.
      Thank you for sharing your experience. God is already using you to heal others.
      May God continue his transformative and healing power in you as well as all of us going through this painful process, until completion. I am grateful He is faithful!

      • Megan on June 13, 2020 at 11:46 am

        I too forget daily that my love can’t save my h. And I love the way you have worded this. Thank you for sharing. I’ll be reading this every day for awhile. ❤️

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