Morning friends,

We’ve had a good discussion this week about the issue of safety and whether or not separation or divorce is Biblical. Traditional teaching on this is that a wife should keep her vows no matter what and this honors God the most. I disagree.

Glad debated whether or not Cheryl was regularly in danger of being killed, even though Cheryl said she did fear for her life. So this week’s questions is, Does a spouse have to threaten to kill his spouse multiple times to make it make the danger more credible and dangerous to stay?

In my opinion, one threat is too many. I’ve been married to the same person for 44 years. Never has he threatened to harm me in any way. The very essence of a good marriage is safety. Proverbs 31, the husband of the virtuous woman, describes his marriage this way. “He trusts her to do him good, not harm all the days of his life.” When you don’t have that basic kind of trust then what? Does God require a wife to stay in a dangerous or harmful situation and does doing so honor him?

The Bible calls all adults to steward the one life we have been given. Are we called to lay it down sometimes for the welfare of another? Absolutely. Jesus demonstrated that kind of sacrificial love when he voluntarily went to the cross. But Jesus didn’t always allow himself to be mistreated. Often he escaped from those who were seeking to harm him. Jesus loved Judas, but he didn’t pretend to have a good relationship with him and was honest with him, giving Judas a chance to repent.

Every day we read in the news of a woman being murdered by a husband or ex-husband. Does this honor God? Does this speak of sacrificial love, especially when children are also murdered or left orphaned by two dead parents or one dead and the other in prison? I don’t think so. Throughout the Bible, God showed care for the oppressed and never once was he on the side of the oppressor. His heart is to rescue the oppressed, not force them into more oppression and abuse.

You cannot feel safe or live safe with someone who has threatened to kill you for whatever reason. Whether he is evil, wicked, or even mentally ill. God does not value the institution of marriage more than he does a person’s physical, mental, and emotional safety. Click To Tweet

The Bible warns, “The prudent see danger and take refuge.” (Proverbs 27:12)

Below is an acronym DANGEROUS that I developed to help counselors, pastors, and people helpers quickly discern the level of physical danger someone in a destructive marriage might be in. Please do not feel guilty for protecting yourself and your children from danger and harm.

D – Divorce or separation: If you plan to leave your spouse your level of danger may actually increase. Therefore, please develop a good exit strategy and safety plan. You can get some additional help from your local domestic violence shelter or the following links:

Focus Ministries

The Rave Project

A – Alcohol Or Drugs: Alcohol or drug use does not make someone abuse others however, it does lower internal controls and restraints. If your spouse has been abusive and threatening or has those tendencies and also is using drugs and alcohol, it increases the degree of your danger.

N – Narcissistic Tendencies: Someone who lacks empathy, objectifies and uses people and has little regard for their feelings and sometimes even their lives.

G – Guns Or Weapons: Are there guns in your home? Are they locked up? Are they loaded? Having weapons easily accessible greatly increases your danger levels.

E – Emotional Instability: Does your spouse or his family have a history of mental illness? If so it increases your danger levels.

R – Rebellious Towards Authority: Does your spouse have other people who he is accountable to? Does he submit? If he is rebellious toward authority, this indicates a higher risk level of danger for you.

O – Other Violent Behaviors: Does he have a history of other abusive behavior? Has he harmed pets or animals? If so, that increases your danger.

U – Unpredictable Dr. Jeckyl/ Mr Hyde: Does he have a secret separate life that only you see? Is he one person in public and another at home? If yes, that makes your danger levels increase.

S – Suicidal And Homicidal Threats: Anytime your spouse threatens to take his own life or someone else’s life, take it seriously. If you have experienced more than just this one danger warning signal, please consult with an expert on domestic abuse on your next steps forward. The hotline for help is 1 800-799-SAFE or 1 800-787-7233.

Please don’t ignore these warning signs. God is showing you that you are in danger. He cares about your well-being and wants you to steward your safety and your very life. And your self-stewardship could be the very mechanism that wakes your spouse up to his destructive and dangerous ways.

Friends, when you discovered you were unsafe or in danger what steps did you take to get safe? Include the mental, emotional, or spiritual preparation you needed to take those steps?

82 Comments

  1. Barbara Ann on February 12, 2020 at 12:11 pm

    I agree
    I would love to hear more about pulling down demonic strongholds

    • JoAnn on February 12, 2020 at 3:02 pm

      Barbara Ann, strongholds are deeply ingrained beliefs–lies–that give ground to Satan to cause trouble. We can learn to discern them in ourselves and then ask the Lord to replace them with His Truth, but it would not be safe to try to do that with another person, nor would I recommend it. As we learn to live in Truth by having our minds renewed, the enemy has less and less ground to trouble us. This is part of what Leslie calls living in CORE strength. Read about that in her book and in last week’s blog.

      • Aly on February 12, 2020 at 5:44 pm

        JoAnne,
        Can you give a couple examples of what an ingrained belief might sound or be like?

        • JoAnn on February 13, 2020 at 5:30 pm

          Aly and others, often, when a person grows up with abuse or trauma, they learn to believe things like “I’m worthless,” or “what I want doesn’t count,” “I deserve to be treated badly because I’m bad, shameful” etc. These beliefs are deeply buried in our minds because we have lived with them for most of our lives. They become our story line and all of our experiences are seen through those beliefs. Then, when we receive salvation, we are called to have our minds renewed, so that we can live by God’s TRUTH, not the lies we have believed all our lives. We learn from scripture that we are loved by God and are precious in His sight. We learn that we don’t have to live with shame and blame because He has died for our sins. When a lie is deeply buried, and the truth can’t penetrate to change it, we call it a stronghold. The enemy loves these, because he can use them to keep us in bondage and prevent us from living in truth. Nevertheless, it is the TRUTH that sets us free, and often in my counseling, we are able to open to allow the Lord to tear down that stronghold and replace it with TRUTH. Praying over the verses in scripture that are antidotes to the lies is very effective. That helps the truth to penetrate.
          I hope this answers your question.

          • JoAnn on February 13, 2020 at 5:32 pm

            A book that helped me understand this is called “The Bondage Breaker” by Neil T. Anderson.



  2. Debbi Rasmussen on February 12, 2020 at 12:27 pm

    It’s funny that this was posted today and I am sure in Gods providence not a coincidence. I am in the process of beginning divorce proceedings due to multiple affairs on my husbands part. In the course of conversations after I found about about the current affair, I expressed to him that I did not trust him, that I did not know what he was capable of doing (there was an entire double life he had constructed, po boxes, secret bank accounts etc). He looked at me and said, “Dont worry, if I were going to kill you and the kids, I would have done it a long time ago.” After that remark, I took the guns in the house to my brother for safe keeping. Yesterday, my husband discovered that his guns were missing and was angry and badgering me about where they were. And in that moment, even though I had doubted the need to remove the guns, I was grateful that I had done it. And then today, you post this. Thank you for posting it. I am praying that I will be mindful of Gods warnings to me for safety for my children and myself as we move forward.

    • Leslie Vernick on February 12, 2020 at 12:52 pm

      Glad you took heed and be very wise. He has a lot to lose as you expose his double life and his created image crumbles.

      • Debbi on February 12, 2020 at 12:55 pm

        Yes, he has a lot to lose. No one has known this side of him. They know him as the guy who sat next to me in church for 20 years, the successful businessman, the man who used to do youth ministry. I dare not be naive about the anger my filing will cause in him.

    • Donna on February 12, 2020 at 12:55 pm

      I’ve been enjoying taking steps for 7 years but met with roadblocks due to health issues, surgeries, long term recoveries, unable to work more than part time at home and little to no support from my adult children from my first marriage. I’ve seen attorneys and even chose one for when Im ready but the cost of contested divorce scares me truly and the thousands of dollars wasted that at my age can’t afford to waste. I pray all the time for guidance and core strength to know when it’s time no matter the cost.

      • JoAnn on February 12, 2020 at 2:56 pm

        Donna, Do you have a Battered Women’s shelter or a domestic violence agency in your area? They might be able to point you in the direction of an attorney who will do either pro bono work or a sliding scale fee.

  3. Linda on February 12, 2020 at 1:53 pm

    I had to be certain there was no hope he would change. He would drag me along, pretending to be better and then regressing. I found it to be really difficult to let go of hope. But recently in therapy I realized that I would always return, no matter what evil was done to me. I have a hard time letting go. I’ll even nurse a book along, hoping it will get better. Funny, I felt that way about Pride and Prejudice, and it did get better. But with an evil person, you go round and round in circles, and the bottom of the circle is always just a little closer to hell. Or deeper into it.

    There were 2 scriptures that helped me be ok about leaving. One was, “God hates divorce, except for hardness of heart.” The other is, “you were created for peace. How do you know if you will save your husband?”

    And finally, if it were something God could do, or would do, everyone would be saved. If not even God gets all he wants, why would we think we do? Love is open handed, meaning that we get choice. God will never force anything on us, nor will he manipulate us into what we wouldn’t choose if we weren’t managed into it. Free choice gives us full responsibility to make something of our lives.

    When I left, a thought I had was, if I’m going to be the one responsible for everything, then I’d rather only be responsible for me only. If he’s going to make me responsible for him and everyone he can con me into being responsible for, forget it. “The soul that sins, it shall die.” Not me for him. Jesus died for him, not me. He’s rejecting Jesus by forcing me to be responsible for him.

    Selah

    • JoAnn on February 12, 2020 at 2:52 pm

      Linda, I really like how you told us your thought processes. That was helpful, and really true.

    • MoonBeam on February 17, 2020 at 11:13 am

      I agree that the psychological portion of this discussion is the hardest aspect of escaping a destructive relationship. Even after one is out, the memories are hard to erase. We are wired to love, bond and submit, even to bad people, because of their assumed role as our spouse. It is normal to expect to be loved and nurtured in such a situation. It is abnormal for our destructive spouse to behave in the manner they have chosen. The incredulity of the situation is so disturbing it can seem unreal. We often denial the situation as a form of self protection. Then a fantasy develops as we savor the good times and can’t believe or acknowledge the bad times. Our brains just can’t process the erratic, horrible acts which are purposely planned to manipulate us day after, day after, day.

      People who leave abusive spouses need help. They need it for a long time. It is fair to compare their lives to prisoners of war or slaves. Be patient and gentle with victims. Safe friends and professional counseling is essential for survival after abuse. The transition from victim to survivor takes hard work, prayer, safety, provision, friends, love, counseling, courage, education and legal protection.

      • Aly on February 17, 2020 at 3:18 pm

        Moonbeam,
        This is well said! I also think part of the coping is feeling somehow ‘we’ can love and tolerate in a way that can bring an abusive person to change or see their destructive ways and the harm they are doing. This cycle can go on for a long time.

        It’s important for victims to know that their abuser doesn’t have to have mental illness or any diagnosis of any sort to be harmed by such a person. It’s even that much more recovery when it’s a sacred relationship- such as marriage or parent, sibling, child etc.

  4. Kathy Stolhand on February 12, 2020 at 3:33 pm

    My heart goes out to you who have fled physical abuse or are in the midst of it. Mly situation is quite different, and I would value some input.

    In September, 2018, I passed out. I have no history of passing out, and have absolutely no recollection of feeling faint before I hit the floor. I woke up two hours on the couch. Mly husband came and asked if I was okay. He didn’t seek medical advice, even from our daughter who is a RN. I nearly wrote it off until I remembered that ten years ago, when he felt faint, I had him in the ER within the half hour. Then many incidents came to mind from our 38 years of marriage when he ignored me, dismissed me, and humilitated me in public. I tried to squash these memories, but my Christian therapist urged me to write them down. I was amazed at how many incidents there were.

    I had been asking, pleading with mly husband to get marriage counseling with me for over 15 years, and he choose not to. My therapist urged me to think of the consequences of staying with him or separating. I chose separation after two months of prayer. We have been separated for 15 months now. He is seeing a counselor who is not a Christian. Although he is speaking the “right words” I do not see contrition or a authentic change of heart.

    I feel a sense of shame because I could not go on in an emotionally dead marriage. I have not shared with anyone in my church except for the pastor for fear of the reaction of others. I am worn out from his nightly texts telling me that he is working on changing.

    If you have had the patience to read this, I would appreciate your insights.

    Kathy

    • Leslie Vernick on February 12, 2020 at 3:59 pm

      Thanks for sharing Kathy, and I believe God wants you to feel safe and trusting in your marriage. If your husband isn’t doing his work as to why he was so indifferent, neglectful and unsafe as a spouse, there isn’t a relationship to return to. It is an emotionally dead relationship even if you are still legally married.

    • JoAnn on February 12, 2020 at 4:11 pm

      Kathy, I don’t know how long you have been following this blog, but in previous episodes we have discussed the matter of the uncaring husband. His lack of concern for your welfare is dangerous for you. What if your faint was an indication of something serious? (I hope that you have discussed this with a doctor.)
      There is no shame for you in this situation; you have done what you could without his cooperation. He is the one that is behaving shamefully. As we have said many times on this blog, his actions will prove or disprove his “change.” When he can truthfully and with feeling identify and repent of the harmful things he has done in this marriage, then that is only the beginning of change. He needs a heart transplant. Please don’t let yourself be talked into reconciling until you see definite evidence of a change in heart. Even then, wait a year or two. As you heal from his abuse, you will be able to more clearly sense what his real situation is. Meanwhile, turn your phone off after dinner. You don’t need to answer his texts. Set some boundaries.

    • Maria on February 13, 2020 at 3:59 am

      This book is biblical and soooo sooo good.
      ”Divorce- God’s gift of love”

  5. NeedHelp on February 12, 2020 at 4:45 pm

    What if he does things that harm your physical health and drives in a threatening manner but never utters verbal threats nor uses drugs or alcohol nor has mental illness issues in him or his family? He definitely lives as a covert narcissistic Jekyl and Hyde. What level of danger does that represent?

    • Free on February 13, 2020 at 8:34 pm

      I believe you only need one category to be labeled as in danger. It sounds like you are definitely in danger. You may not see him exhibiting the other characteristics because you respond well to the ones he does at present. He controls you with them.

  6. Cheryl on February 12, 2020 at 5:42 pm

    I am not familiar with the term an emotionally dead marriage. All relationships have emotions, even if they are negative, right? I have also heard it said a marriage is dead. What does that mean?

    Thank you for the many comments people have made about my situation. Yes, I live in constant fear of being harmed. I try to be wise and protect myself. Yet, I remain stuck in my thinking that my marriage vows are my vows. I do not feel responsible for his role or his vows to me or to the Lord. I am accountable for my actions and promises. When I stand before the Lord, I don’t want to say, I wasn’t strong enough to take what I was given to endure. I look to the book of James and try to count it all joy in my suffering.

    • R on February 12, 2020 at 10:20 pm

      I think what started to change my mind on this topic was the question, “Does being a doormat actually help the abuser?” To put it bluntly: If you stay no matter the cost, and he kills you, has your staying really been what he needed? Has that really been the best way to love him?

      • Cheryl on February 13, 2020 at 12:39 am

        R, at this point love has nothing to do with any of it. I am called to obedience to my vow. I have a covenant with the Lord, regardless of whether I am happy in my marriage or not. Thanks for understanding.

        • Maria on February 13, 2020 at 4:05 am

          Please, Read this biblical book” Divorce- God’s gift if love”

        • Janice D on February 13, 2020 at 8:17 am

          Cheryl,my heart is burdened for you as I read your words.I pray that your spiritual eyes might be opened to the severe oppression you are living under at home and also at your church.I encourage you to keep reading Leslie’s weekly blog as well as the group participants as we “ flesh out” the weeks topic. Cheryl,love has everything to do with it,starting with your Heavenly Fathers deep and abiding love for you.He has led you here for a reason.

        • HopeJoy on February 13, 2020 at 8:30 am

          Just pondering on your comment about obedience to your vows… if the vows you said were about loving him in all situations, then it is about love. In my destructive relationship, in which I was unwittingly enabling his sinful behaviour until God opened my eyes to it, I’ve come to understand that the most loving thing I can do for him is to not let him keep doing it. I cannot control what he does, but I can choose what I will not stay to have happen to me. I think the most important thing for a person is their soul and being right with God. It has eternal consequences. If I allow my spouse to continue his harmful behaviours towards me without consequences, I believe I am with-holding from him the opportunity of allowing him face his sin and get right before God. There is of course no guarantee that me not allowing him to sin against me anymore will cause him to pull up and seek God and repent. But at least I know that I have done what I could to give him the opportunity to see that his behaviour was not ok. If I made no stand, I feel like I am an accessory to his sin. I believe that the stand I’m taking of very tough love is being true to my vows, as it is with his best eternal interests at heart.

          • Sly on February 13, 2020 at 6:45 pm

            Hopejoy,
            Love your post and completely agree with you on our soul and eternal consequences.
            Well written!



        • Libbie on February 13, 2020 at 10:08 am

          Cheryl, for the sake of understanding…..Let’s say that leaving and divorcing your abusive husband would be a sin. Do you not think that it is forgivable by God? Isn’t that what Jesus died for? Our sins. Do you and I not sin in many other ways daily? If you were to leave, don’t you think the fruits of the Spirit would shine better through you? Instead of now, living in oppression? Do you think this is God’s will for your life?

          I pray that you feel God’s thumb in your back, and little nudges along the way. Whether God wants you to stay or go. I kept getting little nudges, and “signs” where doors were being opened for me to leave. And ignored them for years. Finally, it became all too much, and I walked through that door. I have to walk in faith that God wanted my best, and my kids.

        • JoAnn on February 13, 2020 at 4:58 pm

          Cheryl, was love part of your vow? Then how do you “love well” in this situation? I agree with others here that to love well means to love him enough to force him to bear the consequences of his sin. I see where you are coming from; there are plenty of verses for you to justify staying, like “turn the other cheek,” and “go the extra mile.” But you also have 1 Corinthians 5:11, where Paul charges us not to mingle with, among other things, “…a reviler or a drunkard or a rapacious man, with such a one not even to eat…” Then how can you live in the same house or get into bed with such a one?
          Cheryl, I do hope that you will be safe, and that you will open your heart to the truth and experiences that are shared here. We are concerned for your welfare. The Lord loves you and wants what is best for you. Let Him love you.

        • Leslie Vernick on February 13, 2020 at 8:34 pm

          Actually Cheryl, love has everything to do with it. God calls you to love, even your enemy. Staying married out of grit and determination with no love – how does that please or honor God? Loving your enemy might mean showing kindness if he has a specific need, but it also means speaking the truth in love, holding him accountable for his or her wrongdoing and exposing deeds of darkness. If a doctor tells a patient who has terminal lung cancer “don’t worry, nothing is wrong” Is that loving? Or is it more loving to say, “You have terminal lung cancer. I hope you get your affairs in order, say goodbye to those you love because you will be dead in 12 months.” Love hurts but is not intended to do harm, it’s intended to bring healing, repentance and growth. Rethink your perspective on this please.

    • Aly on February 12, 2020 at 10:42 pm

      Cheryl,
      The fact that you are in fear of being harmed should signal to you … the wrong kind of suffering as this is supposed to be a marital union of love in the highest degree humanly between 2 people of flesh – especially what God has created to reflect his glory.
      Does this (what you are going through) reflect His glory?
      Because of the way you are being treated by your husband it is clear that he is not surrendered to Christ.

      We teach people how we will be treated and what we will tolerate. Often those type of individuals not surrendered to Christ, are the kind of people who DO NOT care about how they treat others, especially those closest to them.

      Leslie has an archive about the difference of long-suffering and just plain suffering.
      What you are experiencing or at least expressing is not a disappointing marriage but a truly unsafe and destructive marriage! One that is clouding your understanding of the marriage covenant overall and what you are participating in.

      Who do you fear more? Your husband, being on your own or making choices? or the Lord?
      When we fear the Lord, He places our feet and gives us wisdom as we whole heartily ask and seek Him.
      Have you looked into a women’s shelter or outside help in your area? You need assistance in your circumstance. You need a plan and this isn’t about divorce but about your safety.

      • Cheryl on February 13, 2020 at 12:36 am

        Thank you all for your insight. But does anyone know, what is an emotionally dead marriage? What does that mean? I don’t see anything about dead marriages in the Bible or heard of such a thing in my church.

        • K on February 13, 2020 at 7:06 am

          Nor have I. And the Bible is the right place to look.

        • Aly on February 13, 2020 at 2:23 pm

          Cheryl,
          Maybe others will post here so you can hear from many.
          You also won’t find the word ‘blog community’ written in exact form in the Bible, but it does exist.
          Just as an emotionally dead marriage can exist or be experienced. You can be in a relationship that is unsafe and not be the cause of it.

          So, Cheryl I was also called to the obedience of my vow to love my husband (with the love I have already received of the Lord).
          This meant I took action to Love my husband from a healthy place even if that meant separation .
          I followed my vow I made to God even if it meant that my husband was challenged or unhappy. My life was not threatened, but tolerating my situation was me not following my vow to Love my husband.
          Your situation is that much more serious based on how you steward your safety overall given what you have posted. (Maybe you don’t think so given that it is common that victims are desensitized in their everyday environment)
          My heart and prayers go out to you!

          • Nancy on February 13, 2020 at 2:56 pm

            Hi Cheryl and Aly,

            I also believe that the vow to love our spouse is a deep commitment.

            Like so many here, I honoured my vow to love my husband by going to battle FOR him. This involved separating and holding him accountable for his sin. That was me honouring my vow to love him.

            A word study of the hebrew word Ezer (helpmmeet) helped me realize that my role as wife is deep and rich.



        • JoAnn on February 13, 2020 at 5:12 pm

          Cheryl, you are correct; the Bible does not refer to a dead marriage, but it DOES give us a wonderfully full picture of a vital, living and loving marriage. Read Ephesians and the letters to Timothy. 1 For 13. So, it also would follow that if there is no love, no care, no cherishing…. then that relationship is, in fact, emotionally dead. So, you can always find verses to support your view….obedience to your vow. Lots of them. But you also have to balance that with God’s loving care for you as His child, and also for your husband, who may or may not be saved.

          • JoAnn on February 13, 2020 at 5:14 pm

            That was supposed to be 1 Cor. (Corinthians) Auto correct did it.



    • Maria on February 13, 2020 at 3:55 am

      My dear dear, sister and friend, please read Psalm 55:20-21. He has BROKEN HIS COVENANT it says, by laying his hands on you, bringing violence physicsl or emotional, mental or finacial or spiritual violence into your marriage. Your marriage is alredy broken. You do not have to stay in the splinters. God wants you whole. God wants you for himself. Please, sister, LEAVE!

      Would you like your best friend, your daughter or your little sister to suffer and stat in danger, like you do? No!! Noone should withstand this!!

      If you stay you help your husband to keep on sinning. Help him by leaving!
      If you stay you admit that his actions are right. You distort the truth if you silently agree to his behavior by staying.
      When you leave you still can be faithful to him and love him in distance, ( if you feel you nerd to) but you do not have to be close to him. To jerp close to him is DANGEROUS!

      Please sister, LEAVE!
      Listen to the truth, love yourself and Leave!!!

      • Cheryl on February 13, 2020 at 9:58 am

        Maria, I listened to Psalm 55 over and over this morning on my audio bible app. It speaks to me. Thank you.

  7. Jennifer Jones on February 12, 2020 at 5:42 pm

    I am brand new to this blog, group, Leslie V, and being on the road to divorce. My husband of 40 years left me. We had never discussed divorce. But he told me for 2 yrs. using this coined phrase, “you have a mental disease that no doctor can find and if you don’t get it fixed, I’m not going to make it.”
    He said this exact phrase over and over. I thought he was about to have a mental breakdown.
    Finally, one night, he said, I will divorce you before I let you ruin my health. He has afib and told me I gave it to him. I recanted. Well, he said, you make it worse. I recanted.
    The next day, I made an appointment at a treatment center to “find out what I had” to save my marriage. I knew I had chronic migraines and that is all that doctors had found.
    I stayed at treatment center for 1 week. At the end of the week, they said I was codependent and had migraines.
    I called my husband and told him thinking he would be glad it wasn’t anything too bad. He told me that I could not come home for 8 days. He was having a boys week at our house for the Master’s golf tournament and then he was moving out and separating from me.
    He didn’t care what I did or where I went but I couldn’t come home. I didn’t have a car.
    I ended up at a friends in Atlanta.
    Fast forward. He moved out.
    In South Carolina you have to be separated for 1 yr before filing for divorce.
    He did not file for separation. I didn’t because I didn’t know how God would look on this.
    It has been 9 months and he has refused to see me or speak to me or come do anything that he used to do around the house like cut grass, do finances, handy man, etc.
    I started learning everything.
    He is living in a friends furnished apartment. He gets mad when I hire something done. He is paying the bills.
    He wants an amicable divorce.
    I truly thought God was going to resurrect this but he isn’t. I do not feel good about filing for divorce but it’s getting where I think I need to.
    God has brought something sinister to my mind that I had been repressing.
    I took Ambien to go to sleep many nights and many nights, I’d wake up in the middle of the night and my husband, elder of church, Mr. Church man was having sex with me–different kinds. When I said something to him. He said that I was more relaxed after Ambien. But I had been asleep. So I believe this is wrong. And it happened a lot.
    Then the night before I left to go find out if I was mentally ill (which I’m not) we had sex and afterward, he got up, straddled my face and sat his butt on my mouth. I hate that I have to write this but it happened. I repressed it for awhile. Is that sexual abuse? I did not consent and have no idea why he did it. He never said a word afterward. I was stunned.
    This is not the man I know/knew. What would make a Christian man do that? It’s just weird and odd and demeaning.
    I didn’t tell anyone for the longest time. But now that I’m thinking of being the one to file, how will God look at me?
    This is why I joined this group because I don’t want to dishonor God but something has happened to this man that used to be different.
    My counselor thinks he’s a narcissist.
    I’m 62 and this has thrown me because I don’t see that I have a long life ahead to have any good to look forward to.
    Need some Leslie advice.

    • Aly on February 13, 2020 at 6:42 pm

      Jennifer Jones,
      I do hope Leslie will answer directly here!
      Oh my goodness!! Your post is very alarming and sad. I’m so very sorry for what you have experienced.
      Yes, in my opinion you have experienced sexual abuse because (abuse) is really misUSE of many things.
      Your spouse has misused your sexual intimacy especially if he’s giving you Ambiene.
      Let alone his behavior. I’m so very sorry!
      Your husband is probably involved in more sexual things than you may be informed of.
      “Church man” doesn’t mean safe guy or guy who doesn’t look at porn.
      I think you are brave to write your post. Get free of feeling any shame or wrong.

    • Leslie Vernick on February 13, 2020 at 8:43 pm

      Dear sweet child of God. You were sexually violated You do not deserve to be treated like an object to use for someone’s own sexual gratification even if you are married to this person. You have been given a reprieve. Get out. He is not good for you. He uses and abuses. And then blames you and twists your thinking into knots so that you are confused. Whether or not he is a narcissist I dont’ know, but I do know that he has harmed one of God’s children in perverted way with no repentance. It’s not OKAY. Put your boundary down, not only for you, but for him and for God’s glory.

  8. Autumn on February 13, 2020 at 12:53 am

    I lived with five of the letters in the acronym of Dangerous. Even after removing myself from my abuser, I am still in danger. My husband liked to say, “I have been abusive, I am not an abuser. Correct your terms and stop calling me names.” Sound like a good, safe man? Ha!

    The only noticable change in my situation occurred was when my abuser finally found a new victim. He needed to exert a great deal of energy building his fake persona and had less time to bother projecting his fantasy self at me.. My suggestion is to hope your destructive spouse finds a new person to harm and then move as far away from him as possible.

    • Free on February 13, 2020 at 7:34 am

      My husband said, ” I didn’t say I WOULD kill you, I said I COULD kill you. There is a difference.”

      Oh, the power of words! I think it is important to sort through the veiled threats we hear day after day in a destructive relationship and tell a safe person. I think we need to trust someone to give us a reality check. I like that Leslie said that in 44 years of marriage, her husband never threatened her. I need to reflect on her story, and others I know, who have never been mistreated in their marriage. That SHOULD be everyone’s reality.

      • Debbi on February 13, 2020 at 8:13 am

        That is so chilling. And you are right. It can be hard to see the truth when threats are the norm.

      • JoAnn on February 13, 2020 at 9:59 pm

        From reading on this blog, it can be easy to believe that all marriages are abusive….not so! I have been married for more than 52 years, and we have never fought, nor have I ever felt unsafe or threatened. I could say so much, but the main thing to realize is that in a NORMAL godly marriage, you feel loved, cared for, and safe. Many couples do argue/fight, but that doesn’t mean unsafe. Yes, Free, that should be everyone’s reality. And I am so very sorry for those here for whom it is not.

        • Free on February 14, 2020 at 1:34 am

          Ah, Jo Ann, sounds like an alternative universe to me. I am happy for you and all others who didn’t get tricked at the altar.

          • JoAnn on February 14, 2020 at 2:57 pm

            Thanks, Free. Your posts have taught me so much, and I am glad that you are now in a better place.



  9. Sofia on February 13, 2020 at 4:48 am

    This post has been an eye opener for me. Some years ago I lost sensation to my left arm and could not even button up my shirts. I had problem using my left fingers. This lasted 2 weeks. I told my husband that I may have suffered a mild stroke but he shrugged it off. Did not take me for a brain scan or to the hospital for examination. He has always been cold and detached in the marriage and we are pretty much housemates living together with me providing the finances for all his expenses since he does not work. In a way it proved to me he could not care less if I died.

    One year later I caught him having an affair which blame he laid at my feet. I am regarded as a money vending machine and the sad part is I let him thinking it was my duty to support my family. We hardly have fights or arguments now so there appears to be no danger. I wonder if God is telling me that since my husband is not as violent or mean as some others portrayed here, to just use whatever coping mechanism I have and rely on all the encouragement from this blog to live my life well. The only thing is I have to live in a loveless marriage for the rest of my days and continue to churn out money.

    • Aly on February 13, 2020 at 6:28 pm

      Sophia,
      Why is your husband not working?

    • Leslie Vernick on February 13, 2020 at 8:35 pm

      Sophia, since he’s had an affair and you have Biblical grounds for divorce, (at least according to most Biblical scholars) why are you staying?

    • Deb Robinson on February 28, 2021 at 7:17 pm

      Melony, oh my I am so sorry, dear one! I get your train of thought, because for too long I was so protective of my abuser. I guess my heart feels guilty as if I am betraying my loved one! But what I couldn’t see for so long, was I was betraying the truth thereby keeping my loved one from the consequences for their actions!
      This unfortunately is deception! I’ve had to learn how to look at my circumstances with a manipulator more clearly!

      Check out Stockholm Syndrome. It’ll give you greater insights!

      May GOD continue to bless you on your journey towards safety, peace, and truth!

  10. Melanie on February 13, 2020 at 10:42 pm

    I shot my husband and seriously hurt him. He came home drunk, high, or both and before he was able to enter our home, I asked him to leave and go back where he came from. I don’t feel comfortable when he inebriated and wanted him gone. My teen daughter was also in the house. He left but came back and that is when the shuffle and pushing back and forth began. It eventually got to the point where he pushed me against the wall and put his hands around my neck chocking me; that was something he has never done before and I was in complete shock. Things got very bad. He picked up a heavy, metal chair above his head and I was afraid he was going to throw it at me. I begged him to put down the chair and he refuse. I then pulled out my gun from my bra holster and pointed it toward him, and asked begged him again to put down the chair and he began mocking me and further degrade me by calling me every name in the book. I have no idea what came over me but I just wanted all to stop…the pain, the threat, the name calling, the yelling….so without really intending to harm him or pull the trigger, I ended up doing both and the bullet entered his abdomen.

    This was over a year ago. He has recovered but is living life now with survivor’s entitlement. Does what he wants and how he pleases. Completely walked away from God’s way but tells me he is closer to God than he has ever been. Flirts and crosses the line with women behind my back among many other things. I am filing for divorce because the abuse is intolerable. I am so worried that he will set me up. I have accepted a plea from the DA and have probation rules I have to abide by. He has made a false report already claiming that I threatened him and said I would shoot him again. All because I asked him not to come home drunk again a few weeks ago. I asked him to stay gone for the night and then move out. He attended a women’s oil wrestling even that night and took an Uber. I knew he would be very drunk and I was scared to death of what may happen. The police believed me and asked him not to return that night. I was so thankful for that. Now I am preparing for a divorce. I don’t have a job, a bunch of pets, and my teen daughter to worry about. I will leave him….I just have to make sure my daughter, my pets, and I are save when I he is served.

    The reason why I took a plea is because I was too scared to speak up to tell what happened. So I did not make a statement. He made up a story conveniently leaving out the part where he chocked me. The investigator knew somebody was not telling the truth and covering so the State Attorney went after me. My husband never filed charges against me.

    • JoAnn on February 14, 2020 at 2:55 pm

      Melanie, I am so sorry for what you have been through! Please, do whatever you can to be safe. Begin now to prepare for the separation, if you haven’t already. Make copies of important papers, open your own bank account in a different bank from the one you are currently using. Keep an emergency suitcase at a friend’s house and extra car keys hidden and accessible. Make an escape plan, so you can get away fast if you need to. Buy a prepaid phone. I wish that you had pled self defense, as that is what you did. This man is dangerous, so do what you can to be safe. And please, get a counselor who knows how to work with victims of abuse. Do you have any relatives where your daughter could go to stay for safety?

    • Moonbeam on February 18, 2020 at 7:33 pm

      Melanie, could you Foster out your pets for now. They could be holding you back in getting an apartment as well as being too expensive to manage. Once you get on your feet you could get your pets back. My friend did this. It was hard for her but better for the animals. She was able to concentrate on her daughter’s and her finances much better. The pets cost money too. She needed every dollar she could make. To help her pet needs she started feeding the birds stale bread from her rental home window. That made her happy and she felt less lonely.

  11. Cheryl on February 14, 2020 at 1:29 am

    Regarding those speaking to be about love, I would like to say, I have been loving. I have been patient and kind. I have bore all things and not been self seeking. I can be loving even if he has not been loving. In that way I am fully upholding my vow.

    I hear many of you saying to give consequences is loving. That is a trending approach, but I don’t see that in the Bible as what love is. You can imagine my confusion with this advice.

    I know what many of you is saying is logical. I agree with all of your logical comments and some of you biblical examples of Jesus’ behaviors yet, they are not directed to marriage and married women. I wish they were.

    What makes me stay, is the image of standing before the Lord in heaven and having to give account for not keeping my vow. I will not chose sin, even if my spouse does. In the process of suffering, my faith has grown stronger.

    In today’s pleasure centered world, I have very few pleasures or comforts, yet my spirit is strong. I run to the Lord and he helps me endure my situation and gives me joy despite my circumstances.

    Thank you all for listening and caring. I agree I am suffering. I just don’t agree I am allowed to reject the road set before me. It is not my choice.

    • Janice D on February 14, 2020 at 2:40 am

      Cheryl,I believe the fact that you have reached out to Leslie and her teaching indicates that you are seeking answers other than what you have been taught.That is how I began my experience here as well.I arrogantly believed I knew better and women who left were disobedient.As I humbled myself and read Leslie’s weekly q and a along with the responses,the Lord in his kindness spoke truth into my life.I encourage you to stay with us and learn.You always have a choice as an adult,even as a married woman.Choose life.

    • Nancy on February 14, 2020 at 9:01 am

      Hi Cheryl,

      As believers we are to walk in truth. Right?

      When a person abuses us the truth is that we, and the relationship get damaged. Trust is broken. When a person genuinely repents and then asks for forgiveness then the relationship may be healed and trust may be able to be restored.

      These are examples of the consequences that our actions and words have on others and on our relationships.

      These are not consequences that we give (as you say above), these are consequences that The Lord has designed.

      When we, for example, continue to act kindly and lovingly toward someone who has repeatedly damaged us and the relationship, then we are no longer truth telling. We are standing in the way of God’s design, and of God’s consequences.

      What I pray for my girls, is that they will always tell the truth (kindly and firmly). This is the first thing we teach our kids. Tell the truth.

      And no, there is nothing in the Bible that specifically talks about truth telling in marriage. We don’t throw out truth telling when we get married just because there is no specific verse referring to this in marriage.

      Truth telling is not optional. It’s foundational in all relationships, especially marriage.

    • Aly on February 14, 2020 at 10:33 am

      Cheryl,
      You said what matters to you is standing before the Lord and giving account for not keeping your vow.
      See you think you ARE keeping your vow by your response to your situation & commitment you made but I believe the Lord will be consistent with His scripture.
      You are not keeping the vow you took by pretending or lying about the situation you are in!

      Our first accounts are if we have Loved the Lord with all our hearts. When the Lord is in his proper place- meaning who do we desire to please most, many things/ choices can be clearer regarding love and sometimes consequences that even the Lord has designed. The Lord is very clear about this!

      Cheryl, It isn’t just about staying or going (married or divorce) but about telling the truth! You are not telling the truth and this is not keeping your commitment. You have a vow to love well, which is also not happening.
      You need a safe environment and with safe individuals that can help intervene.
      Are you seeing an individual christian counselor?

      I believe you have some biblical understandings that have put you in a ‘either -or’ black/white situation of reasoning.
      If you have children, you are also modeling this dynamic and false commitment to them and they will have to navigate through and could very well make choices like yours – out of what’s familiar. You will be held to account for this also.

      I have lived and kept my commitment to my husband for many many years now, I have experienced the difference of ‘unhealthy’ and healthier marriage.
      Trust me a healthier marriage is far better – as it gives Glory to God and reaps fruit in so many others ways.

      In the unhealthy places, I was stagnant and felt tied to follow my ‘lost husband’ because of what was taught to me and because of how my parents saw commitment in scripture.
      It was a very misguided/ misapplied understanding that is pretty rampant in our culture.
      I was surrendered to my husband and keeping his ‘wants’. I was not surrendered to Christ with all my heart.

      I believe you have been taught false guilt about marriage and boundaries in general when it applies to loving someone well from a healthier place.

      You giving healthy boundaries for your safety is not about you desiring ‘happiness’ But you being a wise steward as the daughter of the King!

    • Connie on February 15, 2020 at 12:14 am

      A vow is between two people. It takes two to keep that vow, but only one to break it. Redemption is the release from a vow not kept, as the Israelites were redeemed from Egypt because the Pharaoh did not keep his vow to them. God divorced Israel at another time because they broke their vows to Him. He never broke his part of the covenant, yet He divorced them.

      • Cheryl on February 15, 2020 at 5:06 am

        You know Connie, I just never thought that the vow was between two people before God. I always thought the vow was to God regardless of the behavior of the person who stood beside me. Something about your wording just clicked in my brain.

        I remember the priest saying “before God and these witnesses” and “join you in Holy Matrimony.” I know this sounds crazy but I never thought about the whole ceremony. I just assumed I vowed TO God rather than “in the presence” of God. They are two different things.

        I know to love the Lord my God with all my heart, soul, and mind is my life’s purpose. I also know there is no marriage in heaven too, so how important is it really? I wonder if for all these years, I made marriage much more important than it actually is.

        Thanks for your comment. I know others have tried to reason with me, yet today, something you said clicked. If the vow was BEFORE God rather than TO God, then the whole marriage has been under God’s watch. I bet he is really disappointment in my husband for being so selfish and cruel to me. How it must grieve God to watch what he has done to me.

        Now, I am beginning to I think my husband is the one who should be shaking in his boots at the pearly gates, not me!

        • Janice D on February 15, 2020 at 6:23 am

          Cheryl,Isn’t it amazing how such a ( seemingly) small change in our thinking can allow clarity and truth in? I had the same “ aha” moment when I read Leslie’s point that God doesn’t honor the sanctity of marriage above my safety and sanity.Suddenly God became less of a finger wagging perfectionist and more of who he really is,my loving,caring Heavenly Father.And yes,your husband has grieved Gods heart by harming you,his precious daughter.Think about your need for a safe sanctuary in order to heal.Begin to imagine living in faith and freedom instead of fear.It is never easy to make such a huge change but it is so worth it.You are so worth it.

        • Connie on February 15, 2020 at 12:10 pm

          It took me a long long time to get to this point. Old teachings die hard, don’t they? One of the main ways that these abusers hold onto us is through guilt. I think that’s why they chose us, because they could tell that we were easily guilted into submission. The Bible says there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. The love of God drives us to do right, not His anger. 1 Cor. 5:14

          • Nancy on February 15, 2020 at 5:57 pm

            Connie and others here,

            When you said «  his love drives us to do right »… ilove that. I looked up 2 Cor 5:14 it says Christ’s love compels us. Yes. And I often ask myself when things have gotten tough or gone wrong ‘what is the next right thing for me to do?’

            Today has been rough with my mother, and I have been asking what is ‘right’ in interacting with her.

            She does not handle truth telling at all well, and yet I re-read my own post above about walking in truth and see that I can slip into compromising the truth for false peace with her. It’s just exhausting.

            But if I don’t have the truth, then what do I have?

            I think of Peter saying to Jesus ´to whom shall we go? You alone have the words of life.´



        • libl on February 17, 2020 at 3:57 pm

          Just to be clear, the Catholic Church does allow for separation and even legal divorce in the case of safety. However, you are still considered married in God’s eyes and cannot remarry.

          • Cheryl on February 17, 2020 at 4:23 pm

            libl, I completely agree with their thinking. Still married and can not remarry, but one should be safe. Thanks. I didn’t know that.



          • Nancy on February 18, 2020 at 7:58 am

            If a man stands in front of God, a pastor or priest, and his fiancee and his community and promises to love, honour and cherish his wife for the rest of his life, but is not even capable of doing this, is this marriage in the eyes of The Lord?



    • JoAnn on February 17, 2020 at 10:56 pm

      Cheryl, When you read the Old Testament, every time the Children of Israel failed to keep their covenant with God, He provided consequences. Even in the New Testament, when we fail to maintain a clear and open relationship with the Lord, we lose our peace (Rom. 8:6,13; Gal. 6:8). Even so, when another person fails to maintain a healthy relationship with us, we must, for the sake of our own health and safety (emotional, if not physical), withdraw from that relationship, just as God withdraws His peace from us when we violate His covenants.
      I am encouraged that you have a strong spirit and that the Lord is supplying you to live the life you have. Do continue to guard your heart and your mind. And be open to the Lord’s leading, should He direct you to terminate this destructive relationship.

      • Cheryl on February 18, 2020 at 4:27 pm

        Another thing I am contemplating is the discussion of a marital covenant. I have been taught that marriage is a covenant between man, woman and God. Yet, I just don’t see that in the Bible. There are no marital vows in the Bible either. I see to “pledge”, “join together as one” and leave your mother and father. But other than a “cord of three strands that is not easily broken”, I don’t see that marriage is a vow to God at all.

  12. Sophia Morris on February 19, 2020 at 3:01 am

    Such a great acronym for Dangerous. Yes, it’s important for women to understand that god will never punish them for escaping a marriage that can cause harm to them and their children. It’s imperative that women understand this and report abusers to authorities. There is absolutely no guarantee that an abusive spouse; either male or female will mend their ways. Mostly, that never happens.

  13. Autumn on February 23, 2020 at 4:41 pm

    Has anyone been reading the book of Jude lately? I can’t help but notice that the description of false teachers sounds so much like an abusive husband. Aren’t they leaders too? Aren’t abusive husbands false teachers in the home, and won’t they be subject to punishment for the evil they have done?

    Verse 16 caught my attention.

    “These people complain and blame others, doing the very evil things they want to do. They brag about themselves, and they flatter to get what they want.”

    Sounds just like a narcissist to me.

    • JoAnn on February 25, 2020 at 11:47 am

      to Autumn: LOL. I agree!

  14. Jennifer Jones on February 23, 2020 at 5:24 pm

    This blog/site has meant so very much to me. I was so stuck on what God wanted me to do because I had always been taught the wife only has to submit. Until I read that there were two parts of the submit verse and both must be maintained, I was hunched over like I had no choice.

    After listening to Leslie and reading her book and reading the blog, I am standing up straight and know that I am on the right path. This is not anything I want or what I thought my life would be at 62.

    I have prayed that God would reveal anything that I needed to know before the divorce in 2 months. Just this week, two things were revealed. My husband “forgot” that he bought a piece of expensive property to start another business last year while we were married. He never discussed it with me nor told me. He had never let me look at our financial records until he had to disclose them for the attorney.

    When the attorney called for all of his accounts, he had to “‘remember” he bought the property so he disclosed it. He said he owes me some more money. And even though he has said I’m not smart with money, I may choose to keep it in the property as an investment because I heard him talking that this business is going to be a cash cow!”

    Oops! I just remembered, I’m not dumb at all.

    This all came just after he sent me an email that since I’m in the house I spend more money than he does per month so I will need to pay him money when we divorce…you know, just to be fair.

    Then God helped disclose his “oops, I forgot I bought a big plot of land.”

    • Free on February 24, 2020 at 12:05 am

      Keep standing tall Jennifer. I learned that the behavior of men such as your destructive spouse is predictable. They cycle round and round doing one abhorrent thing after another as long as it serves them. The consistency of their selfish behavior puts them in a psychological category called pathological because it repeats. People in this category don’t change, even with consequences. They are prone to evil, rather than foolishness. You are brave and wise to flee such a person.

      • Jennifer Jones on February 24, 2020 at 2:10 pm

        Just found out today quite by accident that he has a girlfriend. He went to Nashville and went to a party. The party host posted a picture of my husband and his very cozy date ( it was obvious it wasn’t their first time together) on my son-in-laws facebook. My sister in New Mexico saw it and quickly text me. I saw it and it mysteriously vanished. So, not only did I find out my husband has a girlfriend (who looks like me) my grown daughter and son-in-law were at the party of 10 people.
        Yea for my long distance sister who saw my husband with another woman.
        Was it an accident. I don’t think so. I’ve prayed that all things will be revealed. Wow! I’m hurt and sad and humbled that God has shown me.

        • Free on February 24, 2020 at 3:23 pm

          Your daughter’s betrayal must hurt even worse. Glad you are getting out of this relationship. Do you watch Patrick Doyle’s videos? He has good teaching on so may subjects, all free for your viewing.

          • Jennifer Jones on February 24, 2020 at 6:05 pm

            Thanks. I don’t know about Patrick Doyle’s videos but will look them up. I cannot believe what I am living.



    • JoAnn on February 25, 2020 at 11:46 am

      Jennifer, given what you said about your husband, I’m thinking that it probably will not be a good idea to remain partners with him on that property. Get as much from him as you can legally and then sever all ties. He will continue to lie and cheat on you if you have any remaining ties with him.
      May God’s grace supply you abundantly.

      • Nancy on February 25, 2020 at 8:13 pm

        I had the exact same thought as JoAnn. No amount of money is worth keeping any ties with him. Get your share and then get out.

        BTW, Jennifer I love that you have treated yourself to those fancy teas. Great idea. One of my favourite things to do is wrap myself in my favourite blanket with a hot drink and the Bible. So simple. Like you said, it’s the little things.

  15. Free on February 24, 2020 at 10:59 pm

    Jennifer, I just want to say that during this time or extreme pain, you need to be good to yourself. You have done nothing wrong and you are being asked to suffer much more than is normal for most people. What little pleasures will help you stay well and strong? Certain music? Buy yourself some flowers? Puppies or kittens? Whatever it is,make it happen. You really need to pleasure to cope with the hardship.

    • Jennifer Jones on February 25, 2020 at 6:25 pm

      Thank you for your caring reply. I did just that. I’m not a coffee drinker so I never had a coffee maker. But yesterday, I got a one k-cup tea maker and bought those little pod thingies.

      Some hot tea; some cold tea and some hot chocolate. I’ve had a blast making myself some Irish breakfast for the morning, Hot Chocolate for an afternoon snack and will drink Sleepytime for before bed.

      It’s the little things isn’t it?

      • Free on February 25, 2020 at 7:41 pm

        I like nicely scented candles. They are my luxury item.

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