How Do I Break Free From His Control?

Hi Friends,

Thanks for all your responses and comments to the video I posted last week on Fred and Marie. This past Saturday I spoke at a fundraising banquet for an organization called Overcoming Powerlessness which ministers to victims of emotional abuse. I closed by saying, “No epidemic has ever been resolved by paying attention to the treatment of the affected individual (George Albee).” We must do more than have compassion on the victims. We must speak out against the injustice.

In 1836 two sisters in an upper class Southern family, Angelina and Sarah Grimke, took a bold stand against their family practices, their church, and against their culture. First, Sarah and then Angelina began to speak out against slavery even though their family in Charleston, South Carolina owned slaves and their church taught slavery was biblically sanctioned.

These two brave sisters were attacked, persecuted and were not permitted to return to their own hometown because people were so outraged at their outspokenness. But today, when we look back, we applaud these young women for their courage and bravery.

Today, no Christian would defend slavery, even though the Bible never speaks directly against it.

I hope a hundred years from now no church would defend emotional abuse in marriage or turn a blind eye to a woman or man being treated as a slave or object in his or her own home.

I hope a hundred years from now we look back on this time in church history and feel great shame for the way we have failed to defend or speak out for the victim and instead often empowered the bully to keep bullying.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a young Lutheran pastor during the rise of Adolph Hitler, chastised the church for not speaking up for the Jews. He said, “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil, God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”

As my friend Chris Moles wisely asked in the blog comments when posting about his reaction to watching Fred and Marie, what would have been different if the men in Fred’s life would have spoken out against the way he treated Marie?

Friends, it’s time to speak!

Question: How do I talk to my husband when he is always right and I’m always the bad one that needs help? He can put me down but I better not ever put him down. He can disrespect me, but I better not disrespect him. He can say bad things about me and my work, but I better not say anything about him?

Answer: The short answer is that it is impossible. You can’t have a meaningful conversation with someone while he or she is putting your down, disrespecting you and saying bad things about you. As you have already discovered, the solution is not to retaliate and respond in kind, which most of us are tempted to do when being treated in that way. That only leads to more strife, abuse and arguments.

So what is the answer? Change begins with you and if you want to change this destructive pattern with your husband you will need to learn to do some new things. First you must accept that this kind of conversation is not only destructive to you as a person, but your marriage and you will have to learn to set limits on his behaviors and disengage when he refuses to stop.

I know you already see the evidence of this destruction but from your question I can see that your responses to his behavior only add more fuel to his fire. Second, ask God to help you be the kind of wife your husband needs. Ask God for his wisdom and help to speak the truth in love and to not be overcome with evil, but to overcome evil with good. God doesn’t want you to be a doormat for your husband to wipe his feet on but rather a helpmate to your husband so that he can also grow and change to become the man and husband and father God wants him to.

Next time he starts with his pattern of putting you down or blaming you for something, instead of having an argument, or pleading your case, or asking him why he thinks you’re the only one with the problem, put your arm out and hand up like a traffic cop and calmly say, “Stop putting me down or disrespecting me. I am not going to allow myself to be treated this way anymore. We can’t talk when you treat me like this” Then you must disengage and walk away. Conversation over.

When your husband says that he’s always right, you simply state, “That’s your opinion.” Then end the conversation.” This begins an important shift in your relationship patterns. You are no longer allowing yourself to be his verbal punching bag or taking total responsibility for everything that goes wrong in your relationship and either trying to fix it or blaming him as he’s blaming you.

As you continue to distance yourself from abusive conversations and refuse to engage, your husband may start to be more careful with words if he wants to talk with you. If there comes a moment when you see that he more open and less hostile, you can affirm that you’d like to have a real conversation with him and ask him if he’d like to talk about ______. However, the minute he starts with his abusive patterns, call him on it, “We can’t have a conversation when you think you’re always right.” Or “We can’t talk about this if I’m the crazy one who needs help.” Or “We can’t talk about this together when you keep disrespecting my feelings or opinions.” Then walk away.

You must understand that your husband’s strategies are meant to control you, manipulate you and keep you compliant (whether he realizes it or not). If you’re afraid of him or don’t contradict him or speak up with a different opinion because you’re bad or wrong, then he gets to have his way all the time. Instead of being an adult in your marriage you’ve allowed yourself to function as a child – a compliant child, a sullen child and/or an angry and rebellious child.

But a marriage will never be healthy if one person is the powerful adult and the other is the fearful child. Therefore, to change this pattern, you will have to start being the adult and responding in a healthy, mature and godly way when your husband is acting out. This is the best chance you have for influencing your husband and inviting healthy change.

You can read more about these strategies in my books, The Emotionally Destructive Relationship: Seeing it! Stopping it! Surviving it! and The Emotionally Destructive Marriage: How to Find Your Voice and Reclaim Your Hope

This week’s challenge: How have you have learned to respond differently to an abusive or disrespectful person? Has it influenced them to treat you differently?


  1. G on May 14, 2014 at 9:03 am

    Thank you. Very, very helpful.

    • Grace on May 14, 2014 at 10:00 am

      Yes, i agree.

    • Jane on May 21, 2014 at 12:25 pm

      My problem is when I try to walk away my husband refuses to let me walk away then he shuts the door blocks me at the door so I can’t leave the room I beg my husband to let me out of the room and he refuses then it becomes an issue where I feel I am being trapped and I will continuously beg him to let me out of the room and as he continues to not let me out. This is where things get ugly. now I am so upset all I want to do is leave. The problem is my only way to get out is now by force trying to move him physically where he is too strong but I cannot so then I am so upset I tried to punch him or pull him away from the door to get out. I’m not sure who is in the wrong because I don’t feel he should not let me leave. And the reason this issue gets worse is because my husband is fully aware that my relationship prior to him my ex had stocked and harassed me for over a year he tried to murder me and one of the things he had done was locked me in hotel rooms not let me out and I was threatened with guns many times and so I had to stay where I didn’t want to. Someone please tell me how my supposed to handle my husband keeping me in a room when I want to walk away from a heated conversation

      • Meredith Keeney on August 28, 2014 at 9:17 pm

        I don’t mean to be dramatic, but he is trapping you and holding you against your will, you need to call 911.

    • Jane on May 21, 2014 at 12:59 pm

      Wow it is unbelievable how many other women experiencing the same thing I am. the sad and scary part is all of you end up in divorce which I completely understand why. So I also and up in these conversations that become arguments that become my husband following me from room to room and then blocking me in from leaving I will admit I will not let him do this to me so I do try to grab him and move him from the door but he is too strong for me so I still cannot get out. I know he pushes me and tries to put me in the situation so he can turn things around on me and then claim I am the abusive partner my story gets deeper because prior to my husband I dated someone for a while who ended up stalking me harassing then eventually pulled out a shotgun and shot at me. My ex used to hold me captive in hotels threaten me with a gun if I tried to leave. My husband knows this but will still block the doorway so I can’t leave . If I punch him I’ll get in trouble for domestic violence someone please help me figure out how to get him to stop this

  2. Sherry on May 14, 2014 at 9:19 am

    I now leave the house when my husband starts raging. His response is to have 2 minute rages then storm upstairs. When he does this I feel as if he’s punched me in the stomach!
    Now he is trying to ‘work on our marriage’ and senses that I dont care. I have been working on it for 20 years and he wouldn’t listen to me so I am done.

    • Becky on May 18, 2014 at 2:58 pm

      Yep. I’m right there with you, sister!

  3. Connie on May 14, 2014 at 9:50 am

    Thank you very much for your help! It is most appreciated. I have a problem, though. What is to be done, when your husband doesn’t speak with you? No answers, no replies, no follow-up on serious issues. Withdrawal.
    Sometimes it would be easier to have something to put “your hands” on…
    Blessings, Connie

    • Leonie on May 29, 2014 at 9:29 am

      My husband is the same, I realized last week that he will not deal with our issues, he completely withdraws. But I am sure he knows how evil he has been with me. When I make ‘allegations’ it is based on me finding actual phone numbers of prostitutes on a paper that my 3 year old was scribbling on or some other concrete evidence, they are not just allegations. I have found lists of women’s names like Sapphire, Mariah, Megan, Theresa … like a top 5 list or things like Michelle @ Allure written on a page. When every I google it I get a positive bite for massage parlors whether it is a list of girls names or a phone number. A man who is repairing something in the basement might write down the phone # of Home Depot and a man who is using massage parlors will be writing those phone numbers down. This past weekend, we had been to his brother’s house. His wife has all kinds of behavioural & anger issues. My husband’s brother was so kind to her, they look like they love each other and she does absolutely nothing a wife should do, there is no cutlery in the kitchen to eat with, we used plastic cutlery from panera bread all weekend, the use of a dishrag is not on her repertoire, you can only imagine how dirty the home and especially the kitchen & bathrooms are. She completely ignores their 6 year old except to criticize her or do her hair. You can see the pain & hurt in the small daughter’s eyes! The wife yells at her husband & scolds him all the time ) he is 6’5″ & she is 5’2″ but when we go out he walks with her, holds her, speaks kindly to her …. He is so peaceful & easy going.
      All I said to my husband was how kind & nice he was to his wife inspite of her bad behaviour. He jumped all over me. I said ‘I am bringing this up only to deal with our own issues, I am not crappy to him, our home is very clean, not anything like his brothers, our daughter is not abused, why do you rage at me and act like I am terrible, all the time. He could not respond. I asked him over and over to address only our issues but he absolutely refused. Most of the time he just withdraws, now he says if I were like his sister in law he would just do the cleaning himself – no he wouldn’t he would leave so fast you would never know he was ever there!
      I know our marriage problems are not my doing, if his brother can be kind & loving to his wife inspite of her craziness & I am not anything like her what’s to yell about, plus I have tried to not throw him under the bus for his massage parlour addiction that I discovered about a year after our daughter was born. The only thing I get from him is misery, rage & anger as though it is from the devil himself. He feels that since he is black he doesn’t have to be faithful, he also says he came to this country & established himself by himself and his money is his is money & he can do what he wants with it, because he isn’t doing anything illegal. I told him I didn’t go to Nigeria to find a husband, he came to Canada and can adjust to Canadian values, I can’t begin to have Nigerian values having never been there. Also I didn’t point a gun to his head to make him marry me but what he is doing is incompatible with marriage. I have completely given him over to God. I know enough, I cannot track him anymore, I can not become emotionally upset over his nonsense, I put him on notice that I will leave because I do not deserve his crap & garbage. All of a sudden he wants me to stay??? But there is no repentance, just a ‘bone’ from a text message that he wants me to stay. No apology, no sorrow, no acknowledgement….nothing -just a text that he wants me to remain his wife? No affection, no affirmation, no love, no nothing, just distance, coldness, misery, anger … He is constantly fed up with life. If it weren’t for our small daughter, I would be long gone. If he got 1/2 custody which he says he deserves, he would completely ignore her or ‘chew her up & spit her out’ on a regular basis.

  4. Amy on May 14, 2014 at 10:25 am

    Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work to just try and end the conversation and walk away or change our response to their foolishness. My verbally and mentally abusive ex, whom I was married to for a long exhausting 20 years, would only get more heated if I ever did that and then follow me through the house all the while in a rage that I would dare walk away. Perhaps I didn’t try hard enough, but then, isn’t that what a victim of abuse always says??

    There are just some people that will refuse to change. Whether I was right or wrong or didn’t try hard enough or maybe DID try hard enough, my ex chose to continue in his ways which were controlling, manipulating and destructive to me, our sons and our marriage…which obviously no longer exists. And of course he told everyone that would lend an ear how it was only ME who didn’t want to reconcile and wanted a divorce.
    Ironically, I would have to say to that point he WAS right in the end…I just wanted to be free of his abuse and no longer wanted to try to save a farce of a marriage.
    And I never thought of that until now…he actually told one truth in all the time we were separated.

    I think your advice is spot on, but sometimes as much as the victim of this type of abuse tries to change their responses and actions towards their spouse, it may never be enough, but not for lack of trying.

    • Leslie Vernick on May 14, 2014 at 11:07 am

      You’re absolutely right. So you have two choices when you want to stop being bullied and being a victim. Stand up to the bully and see if he backs down, or leave the bully’s presence and refuse to be in a relationship with him or her. There is no other options if you don’t want to continue to be a repeat victim. So I gave the “how” to stand up. I think we’ve talked a lot about the other option as well.

      • Amy on May 14, 2014 at 11:22 am

        I’m sorry if my comment came across as abrupt, I didn’t mean it that way. I think perhaps I still at times beat myself up that I didn’t try harder because that’s what I heard from others for so many years. I got so much of the “if you would just do [this], then he will change.”

        I think your “how to” advice is right on the mark and I pray that someone reading this today would see results from implementing it in their marriage.

        • Leslie Vernick on May 14, 2014 at 1:19 pm

          There are no easy answers or quick fixes. Just like you say Sandra, he will forgive you for ‘leaving” but has no awareness of his own brokenness that made you feel like that was your only option. Amy your comment was welcome not abrupt, this is a safe place to talk about our experiences and the steps and missteps we take in dealing with these difficult and destructive relationships.

          • Holly on May 21, 2014 at 9:43 pm

            I was married to a man like this as well. I would try to disengage and leave the room and would be followed around the house or outside. I tried once to lock the bathroom door and the outrage and threatening behavior that generated made it clear that was not an option. I ended up having to leave the home sometimes overnight or for a week or a couple times for several weeks. He would talk with our pastor, go to the counselor I was seeing and swear he would make the changes necessary for me to come home and try to salvage things, but each time I went back he acted as if the battle was won and everything was beautiful in his world and nothing in his behavior got better it just got worse. The words still today after being out of the home for 6 years and divorced for one are – you just won’t forgive me and move on and give me another chance. This is a person who just isn’t going to “see”.

            I’ve had many people over the years who were friends when we were a couple or a few pastors tell me that I just need to try harder and not over react and obey my husband and win him over win my sweet christlike behavior. Trying to do that led to health issues. I couldn’t stuff the fear that the next time he would cross the line to physical abuse, the anxiety of constantly walking on eggshells and trying to avoid the next explosion or hours long lecture, and the emotional pain of being so terribly alone and isolated. It would not disappear even though I tried to pretend it wasn’t there. I was suicidal, had terrible allergies, my thyroid got out of whack, I was anemic, etc., etc. All those things resolved and went away once I “escaped” and retreated to a safe place to live on my own.

      • Robin on May 14, 2014 at 10:44 pm

        I don’t claim to have any magic answers, just what I experienced. It was helpful for me, to leave his presence. This did not mean – into a different room of the house. I found I needed to vacate the premises, so he couldn’t come raging after me. Sometimes I would ride around in a car with my 2 youngest children, for 2-3 hrs NOT to allow him the privilege to abuse us. I would wait till I knew he was likely in bed- and go visit a friend. Then come home later at night and by morning he ahd cooled off. For me, if you did this a little more each time, he did get the picture that I was removing my presence from him sinning against me. I did become his enemy as he viewed it as disrespect and standing up to him. Later yrs when I read Leslie’s bk – it was very helpful for me to learn the stages she’s presents about standing up and confronting his rage, abuse, etc……. I did that. And who it was good for was me- as I no longer was a victim when I learned to stand up for my sake.
        Unfortunately there wasn’t a happy ending for the marriage. He eventually quit raging for most the time, and we grew apart as he wouldn’t acknowledge his issues or get the help needed. But I would like to underline- women, DO IT FOR YOU! Not to stop their rage. DO IT AS GOD WANTS TO BUILD YOUR CORE!! AS you become more courageous, you will be able to see that it is true- it takes more than one to build a good relationship. In my ending of relationship, it left me knowing, I had done my part. I had worked hard to try and give him opportunities to stop sinning, I worked at better and healthier communications, and I feel now that we are separated, God is blessing my life, for doing my best at trying to make the relationship work.

        • Cait on August 9, 2014 at 9:07 pm

          Hi, I know this post was months ago… But I was hoping Robin or one of you other ladies can help me. I’m in an abusive marriage with two children, 2 years and 9 months old. My husband has physically and emotionally abused my 2 y/o son and verbally and emotionally abused me from the beginning of our marriage… 2 months after we married I found porn on his computer. I have finally built up some CORE strength and have begun to stand up for myself. At first, the outbursts increased, but now my husband has become so completely withdrawn. He hardly ever talks to me. When he does, he loves to go on about his dreams in life of moving us overseas, becoming a missionary or interpreter, even though I have told him very bluntly I will not move away from my family and church. He lives in his own little world.
          I have started planning and saving to get out and support myself and my children. It is confusing though at times… I am still trying hard to see reality… Should I wait around for him to repent? Even though he says he has, but it is evident his heart has not changed? Should I run the other direction for the safety of my children? Should I give him a period of separation that is long… Or divorce after a certain amount of time? I am only 25. I don’t want to wait around. I want to move on with my life.

          • Terri on September 30, 2014 at 3:13 pm

            Cait…you stated that your husband has physically and emotionally a used your 2 yr old….that’s a criminal offense! There are NO second chances with that! Take you kids and leave! IF your husband has truly changed….he will understand why you’re doing that to protect your children…from him!! If he gets angry, and tries to intimidate or threaten you…you can be sure that there has been NO heart change!!

    • Brenda on May 14, 2014 at 3:56 pm

      Amy, I concur. There are some who don’t want to change. It matters not what you do, what you say, how much you change or how much you pour into the marriage. It is their choice. I could end the conversation or walk away and he would follow me from room to room continuing his foolish talk. If I tried to leave the home, he stood in my way. I am told that I am uncaring and have no love for him, yet it was he that started talking about divorce within a month of our marriage. After 16 years of hearing that, I agreed. We separated and the next time he said the word divorce, he had one. Now he wants to reconcile. That is not going to happen, not now, not ever.

      • Confused on May 15, 2014 at 2:34 pm

        Brenda, it is so painfully refreshing to hear of everyone else’s experiences; their own versions of the hell I went through for 12 years. Even little things like your husband following you from room to room, blocking the doorway so you couldn’t leave, or saying that YOU were the one who didn’t care or wanted out, when HE was the one who brought up the “D” word first and often. Exactly my situation. Like you were living my life. My husband kept saying I was developing a “Plan B” to exit the marriage – I wasn’t. But after so many months and years, his prophecy rang true: I finally DID make a plan B and got out for good. And now he will point his self-righteous finger and say, “See, I KNEW all along that she wanted out and was planning it – and this is the proof!” So sad.

        • Amy on May 17, 2014 at 10:44 am

          My ex used to say to me that I was planning to leave, etc, when in reality HE was the one who made a plan and left me over 5 years ago. Although it wasn’t until 2 years later I came to realize that his leaving was just another calculated move on his part to make me look bad in front of our church family…he apparently told people that we had mutually agreed to a separation in order to reconcile the marriage and then when I put my foot down by saying no more and filing for divorce, he said that I had been planning that along.
          It is sad that marriages have to end in this way, but it truly takes two people to make a marriage and when one of them is abusive and unwilling to acknowledge it and change, there is nothing but destructiveness which ends up destroying all involved.

        • Becky on May 18, 2014 at 3:07 pm

          As read other posts, I’m realizing that the words, phrases, and actions that my husband uses are identical. It’s like they are using the same script. My husband is very self-righteous, even the Christian licensed counselor is wrong (according to him). I’m starting to realize that my marriage is going to end in divorce, after 25 very long years. I can honestly say, being sweeter, kinder, more patient doesn’t make things better. It just gives them more rope to keep sinning. I’m tired of constantly watching my back. I’m just tired. Thank you for this website. It’s the only place I can go where others really understand what it’s like.

          • Confused on May 19, 2014 at 2:56 pm

            Yes, Becky. We understand. Praying for God to give you the wisdom, grace, strength and courage to do what’s best…

    • Confused on May 15, 2014 at 2:27 pm

      Amy, I totally understand where you’re coming from. Experienced the same thing. Thankful to be gone now, but sad that our marriage is probably over and so many people have been hurt because of it.

  5. Sandra on May 14, 2014 at 11:25 am

    Thank you, Leslie. I agree with Amy, as saying I would no longer allow his verbal abuse and walking away didn’t work with my husband. I then set boundaries that he would not accept, so he left. Now he’s begging to reconcile, but I know it would be just more of the same. He even said he’d forgive me (?), but never admits to any wrong on his part.

  6. RayLene on May 14, 2014 at 1:13 pm

    Amy pretty much said everything I was going to say. I think I tried everything, including the advice Leslie gave. My husband would not let me walk away, or disengage. He would follow me around the house, raging at me. When I tried to hide or even lock myself away, he would look for me until he found me, and continue the raging. I would tell him that I would not respond to him when this is the way he was treating me, and he would stand over me continuing to do so, and demanding to know why I was ignoring him. When I tried to physically leave the house, he would take me keys, lock me in the garage, use his keys to unlock the vehicle, or hang on the side of the vehicle while I was trying to drive away. He would also threaten to put a stop on all my debit/credit cards so I couldn’t have access to any money, if I did manage to get away.
    I even tried the advice of calmly telling him that I would not participate in a conversation where he was screaming and yelling at me and that he doesn’t have the right to do so. His response was “Why not, haven’t you ever heard of submit and obey?”
    I stayed for 21 years; until I finally got desperate enough for myself and my nine children to force him to leave. It has been incredibly difficult, but I have not regretted it for one single moment. What I learned was that no matter what advice I followed, and I think Leslie gives great advice, there was nothing that I could do that could/would make my husband willing to change anything on his end. He would actually tell me that he wasn’t going to change, and he that he wanted to do whatever he wanted to do, and he expected me to be the bigger person, and just suck it up.
    There are people in my life who think I didn’t try hard enough. Do enough. Pray enough. Submit enough. But, I know that I tried, did, prayed, submitted, and endured until I had nothing left.

    • Robin on May 14, 2014 at 10:50 pm

      wow, you are a true ezer! well done!

      • Patty on May 16, 2014 at 12:12 pm

        Raylene: I come from very similar circumstance and unless someone has lived what we have lived there is no way they will understand. It’s OK. We have done everything humanly possible to work it out. My peace comes in knowing that God knows. He has been there at every moment of it. That’s all I need to move on.
        God bless you in your new freedom. Stay close to Him and you will watch the blooming of a delicate flower.

        Love in Christ

    • Confused on May 15, 2014 at 2:39 pm

      RayLene, I am glad you got out and are safe. Your husband sounds like mine, but in a much scarier manifestation of rage. I am glad I got out before it got that bad. For all those people who will never understand, I guess we’ve just gotta leave them in God’s hands. A pastor told me once, “A mind made up cannot be changed.” Only God can change anyone, but they (and we) have to be willing. Blessings on you and your children.

  7. Cyndy on May 14, 2014 at 1:36 pm

    Leslie, I have used that hand-out-like-a-cop before with my husband, his mom, and even a friend, and was told it was very offensive. Why is that? Even gesturing with my index finger when I’m getting animated has been called very offensive. I have watched myself and others, and it really seems to depend on the person and the conversation. How do I look at this in a healthy way? I don’t want to become paranoid!


  8. carol on May 14, 2014 at 2:23 pm

    Thank you Leslie for this post. I am amazed at how God has provided the answers that I have thought and were answered on your blog and on A Cry for Justice site.

    My husband does not admit he is wrong on any topic. He will not stop talking if asked or told. I have done the traffic cop stop and well, that makes him go on louder and longer. Walking away – he follows. He is determined to get his way no matter what. He always states that he really loves me but I am the one who does not understand he does these things because he loves me. He will also state when I ask him why he does something “it was the most logical thing to do” and then act like what he did was acceptable even if he offends me or others. He does acknowledge when praying out loud (I have been commanded to) with me about his behavior, asking God for help to communicate with me, his pride, ego, and being a better husband. He never has stated a apology to me or acknowledged the hurt he has caused to me or the children.

    I have changed my responses to him and i am the one who has a problem,or it is because I don’t feel well, I didn’t understand him or he doesn’t remember.

    I do see that nothing I have done or anything I can do will change him. Change has to be his decision. I do see that unless God intervenes then I will have no other recourse to keep myself and children safe. There are 8 children under 18 and several more above 18, and only 1 out of the house. Making this decision is extremely hard. I have seen God help me already with clothes, food, and medicine when I had no money. I know God will protect me and guide me through this decision. I would appreciate any prayers from others.

    Thank you again for this site.


    • Confused on May 15, 2014 at 2:43 pm

      Carol, there are many things I wish I knew 10 years ago. I don’t know if your husband has been threatening or abusive in any way, but if I was you (knowing what I know now) I would go to the police and lawyers (you can get free advice) and see if there is anything he is doing that would cause the law to remove him from the house so you and the children are safe. I learned just recently that I could have gotten an Emergency Protection Order against my husband in the first year of our marriage. I also could have charged him with assault, etc. Had I done this, it would have saved me many years of grief. Praying for you and the children.

      • carol on May 17, 2014 at 6:06 pm

        My husband creates chaos. He will not make a decision, and when things are agreed on he will turn around and say he never said or agreed to the decision that was made. I can tell him no on a topic and state he did not understand what I meant. He has aggressively grab me at the shoulders 4-5 years ago, has punched holes in the walls about 10years ago, and threw a book at me 6 months into the marriage. He controls the money and will just get loans,credit cards, start refinancing on without my knowledge or , taken out credit cards in my name, used them and signed my name to the sales on the computer.

        All the while stating he loves me, he is doing these things because he is trying to make me happy and wants to please me.

        I am so frustrated and tired of dealing with this attitude of he does not know what to do or “afraid” to do it because he will do it wrong.

        I keep thinking, am I blowing this thing up bigger than what it is? I have written down what has been said and agreed upon. I see that it is not me. I need to go to a lawyer for advise.

        I know I am not staying well but want to make sure that I know how to get him out without losing the children and the house because there are alot of 4-h animals involved and he does not want to be involved in caring and feeding them. I also garden and can alot of our food. I have been to a shelter for advise, which was get a lawyer.

        I greatly appreciate Leslie’s blog and books. I am strengthening my core. I do pause the conversations and other techniques. Nothing I have tried has worked. He has seen a counselor for 2 years and what I hear is, tell me what I did wrong so I can tell the counselor how I did not meet your expectations.

        I greatly appreciate all prayers.


  9. Dianna on May 14, 2014 at 6:27 pm

    Great question and answer…great discussion.

    I pray for all of you still in hard, abusive relationships and for those who have started over and have many challenges.

    I truly believe that consequences, not punishments, as Leslie describes in her books and videos, are key when talk, body language and walking away do not work. She describes and advises this well.

    In my experience, I was feeling and living a rather anxious life about thirteen years ago w/ a husband who has a major bipolar disorder. It was hard to tell when his ranting, raving, stomping, following me, cussing, mimicking me, taunting me were not caused from episodes of various extremes of his disorder. I came to learn as the behavior escalated and I became to anxious and worn out.

    It was quite by chance (surely God had intervened) that I learned that he had more control over his behavior than I thought he could. There was a ranting, following me to the end of the house in the middle of the night, followed by his turning off the electricity to the entire house. I knew I had to leave and quickly got to my car and left. He had never tried to stop me from leaving and did not that time. There were times that I had my car parked by a bedroom and was ready to exit the window if need be.

    What I am saying is, although I did not know Leslie’s advise, I had left to get away from the craziness a few times and had a safe way of exiting the house, if need be. That night, I went to the local hospital, ER, because it was a safe place to call the police to have them check and see if my husband was okay. I figured he had had an episode and that we would have been there sooner or later.

    A revelation happened, the policeman who checked on my husband found him fine and concerned about me! Apparently the closest neighbor thought it was just a harmless argument between us.

    I went to my sister’s to stay and call my husband’s shrink. She was open and understanding and briefly explained the law to me.

    After that, I knew that I had to decide to go through more nights of emotional abuse and escalation or make a new plan. I decided to call the police before things would get crazy the next time. And I did. It was hard but his behavior changed dramatically and he even called the police when he became angry!

    I truly needed to know how to build my CORE strength, as Leslie explains, and learn how to stand up for myself in a godly-assertive manner. We did go to many sessions of counseling but who can afford to have a counselor on-call? So, we have went through years of repeating this cycle of emotional abuse, myself included at times, and my leaving/separating three times. A few issues have been solved but the major ones have not.

    I believe that Leslie’s advise, teachings through various media and support can do a lot in understanding what is behind all the craziness and chaos. I think she has some fantastic ways to change the dynamics in the relationship positively, too. Ultimately, it is God’s changing people’s hearts. We can only change ourselves and not be sucked into the trap of enabling…w/ God’s wisdom and w/ godly support.

    Please do not give up in your situation and please make plans for safety and sanity for yourselves and your children.

    • Confused on May 15, 2014 at 2:50 pm

      Diana, many people have asked me over the years if my husband has bi-polar disorder or some other mental illness or chemical imbalance. I completely believe his problem is primarily (or solely) spiritual in nature. He is able to control himself in every situation, with every person besides me, and always behaves in a public place (except for verbal jabs against me). I believe that is just an excuse for many people who refuse to submit to God. There may be people who truly suffer from chemical imbalance or whatever, but they would be out of control or manic in any situation, inside or outside of the home. Forgive me if I am wrong on this. I just know that isn’t my husband.

      • Leslie Vernick on May 16, 2014 at 10:21 pm

        You’re wise Diana to realize the when someone is manic they can’t turn it off when the police come, or when the phone rings, or they go to church. Everyone who they are in contact with observe odd behavior or rapid speech or unclear thinking. So when someone displays rages or other entitlement behaviors only in their intimate relationships the issue isn’t chemical, it’s moral and spiritual.

        • Leonie on May 22, 2014 at 7:50 am

          Thank you Leslie, yes. I have wondered if my husband is bipolar but you are right. He turns his bad behaviour on at home & off when he is in public. All of his behaviours are only for me and sometimes the kids but he is always polite, pleasant, fun & nice in public. He is very concerned about his image.

  10. Melissa on May 14, 2014 at 8:13 pm

    Leslie, thank you so much for your continued efforts to help all the women in this world including myself struggling to understand what to do in these impossible situations. I can relate with every one of these posts today. I often wonder what to do when my husband is on his “he’s right” tirades and I try to stand up for myself. It seems that if I control my anger (no small feat and often I am unable to do this) and speak calmly and tell him that I will walk away if he continues to disrespect me, that it just makes things worse. His comments then change to how I’m disrespecting him by walking away, or controlling him by stopping the conversation. And, I wonder, am I disrespecting him by walking away when he’s still talking or not looking him in the eye when he demands it? I wonder, how would I feel if someone walked away from me while I was talking. I believe I would be incredibly hurt and I would feel rejected. Aren’t we abusing in return? I think, the answer would be that if we were abusing someone it would be in their right to walk away from us. And that we have every right to stand up for ourselves when we are subject to cruelty and harsh words. I know I have a lot of work to do to feel that I even deserve that right. Thank you again for all you do.

  11. Kay on May 14, 2014 at 8:36 pm

    I’ve wondered about whether stopping the conversation is right also, but when I have done it, I have been blessed with peace – His peace. Sinful behavior should be stopped -whether it is his or mine. Sin cause damage and separates us from God.

  12. Linda on May 15, 2014 at 12:49 am

    I also tried what Leslie recommended. I remained calm and politley dismissed myself from the confrontation. I was followed and harrassed in my own home. I feared for my safety and left the house. He ran outside after me. Long story short, I went inside to try and call 911, he ripped the phone from me. The police arrived and he said I made him do it. He was arrested, I got a restraining order and I filed for a seperation. 10 months later after attending a marriage “intensive”, we reconciled. I thought he changed. He did, he wasn’t physically abusive, but the emotional abuse took its place. Now, 7 years later, I have filed for a divorce and he’s beside himself. Of course he is, he doesn’t have someone to control. The divorce process is very difficult. But I have peace and am healing. I wish Leslie’s recommendation to set a boundary and walk away when it’s been violated worked for me. I don’t regret having done so for many years, I know I gave it my all. Unfortunately, I have to permanently remove myself from the marriage to stay emotionally safe.

    • Robin on May 15, 2014 at 12:37 pm

      Linda, thank you for sharing, its so encouraging to see someone standing firm, doing all she knows to do. But the truth is, some men will still keep abusing. Your story is much like mine. The confrontations and the standing up– did work, as they led me to the life God had for me. Its a good feeling, isn’t it, to know you did everything you knew to do. He made a choice contrary to what you had hoped for. and he gets to make that choice; unfortunately, ALONE. Bless you for your hard work in doing your part!!!! You are a True Warrior!!!!

  13. Brenda on May 15, 2014 at 7:09 am

    I agree Kay. Allowing X to continue his rant never produced anything. When he stopped and I said anything in reply he just started all over again. Stopping the conversation all together was the only peace there was. In the summer I used to spend a large amount of time in the garden. There were never harsh words there and I felt so close to God.

  14. Confused on May 15, 2014 at 2:22 pm

    Leslie, I laughed a little when I read your response. I tried all those things with my husband: telling him I wouldn’t listen when he was being disrespectful, speaking out against the lies he would say about me, walking away, etc. It rarely made him stop talking or carefully consider what he said. It just made him more angry. He would follow me from room to room ranting and raving, shouting through closed doors, standing at the bedroom door berating me for choosing to walk away and “not engage”. Many, many times after I told him I was going to bed he would come in the room, turn on the lights, sometimes sit on the bed and talk and talk and talk. I learned that nothing helped ME except putting in earplugs, praying and waiting for him to finally leave. It usually took 20-45 minutes before he finally shut up and left. Then the next morning he would be at it again.

    I have left and am free from the constant verbal assault now, but what would you say to a woman who may be still experiencing this kind of reaction from her husband day after miserable day?

    • Leslie Vernick on May 16, 2014 at 10:25 pm

      I would say it’s time to find a different place to live. I say after you stand up and you are repeatedly not heard or respected, it’s time to step back from the relationship for them to understand that by not respecting your soft boundaries – i.e. “leaving the conversation or the room” then you will need to set tougher more permanent boundaries in place for your protection and welfare – leaving the house, getting your own apartment so that there are “consequences” to his refusal to honor your boundaries.

    • Robin on May 16, 2014 at 11:16 pm

      Dear Confused, Boundaries and stronger limits are needed when they arn’t listening. I set limits for a year, asking him time after time to respect them, and get some counseling so we can work things out. What happened- is my core got built up and one day I realized I was done talking and done asking. I called the police and set up a Protection Order for his removal from our home, when he returned from being out of town. I also filed for divorce while he was gone. I was done, done, done. I had pleaded with him for change for 30 yrs. He didn’t think he had done anything wrong. You have to know- when you have hit a “Necessary Ending”, as Henry Cloud says…….

      • Confused on May 17, 2014 at 10:17 pm

        Leslie, thanks for clarifying that. I guess there wasn’t anything more or better that I could have done, and leaving was the right choice, giving him those “hard consequences.” Robin, This last separation is the necessary ending after trying everything I knew to try. I am moving on – not only physically, but also mentally, emotionally & spiritually. I tried getting a protection order against my husband to get him out of the house so I could live there, but I left the house before he was served (because I feared his reaction) and that has backfired on me. He appears to “win” again. I am displaced now and he is still comfortably living in the house denying he has done anything wrong. Am waiting to sort out a legal separation agreement so I can get my things from the house and split the finances so I can really move on from all this.

  15. Natasha on May 16, 2014 at 11:02 am

    Thank you for this post. I too have tried this approach but it just enrages him. The only way I have found to get through these episodes is to sit quietly for hours. Things are so uncomfortable now that we don’t even talk about anything except surface things. I can’t bring up any of the issues we need to discuss because it will result in an emotionally abusive situation. I have left twice and been separated. But now our life is so uncomfortable. When I came home the last time I decided to keep a little of my paycheck so I would have money and am paying off credit cards I had to get to survive whole separated. But he is so outraged and he now keeps most of his pay so I am further in debt.
    He has our pastor telling me to submit and repent for taking some of my income mad that I was selfish for separating even though he was physically and emotionally abusive. I have refused to go back to meet with the pastor. Although there is no physical abuse there is emotional abuse and there is very little relationship. Unfortunately it was easier to leave when there was physical abuse. Now I just find myself confused and questioning myself. I am so grateful for what Leslie is doing.

  16. carol on May 16, 2014 at 11:58 am

    How do you deal with the “unspoken” rage and anger that the abuser does? Most is done in private, some in public but always denied that he has done anything suspect. Example, on Mothers’ day he gathers all the children in the living room to give mom her present. Presented in a gift bag with sports items on it and the present stuck in a plastic bag. The conveyed idea was he doesn’t know where to look for wrapping paper or another bag. the gift – a rain gauge. Then when I go out and buy flowers for my self he hands me money to pay for half in the check out line. Then he tells others that he bought me flowers.
    It feels that if I open your mouth about the present or the fact I was buying the flowers to start with I am being ungrateful. He will say it weeks later that i am ungrateful.

    The other thing that he does is when making a decision on simple topics he will make the most chaos if he does not get his way. He can be in the discussion, agree to what is to be done and then do it his way. Then if I say any thing about the original agreement he states he doesn’t remember or I misunderstood or he forgot. The latest is that he gave the most logical answer.

    I have started to write these things down in a notebook. I am exhausted dealing with these issues. I have to be SO careful to listen to his exact words because he is so slick with twisting words.

    thank you for any suggestions that you all have.

    • Robin on May 17, 2014 at 6:27 pm

      Sounds like Carol- you and I could be good friends. We lived lived so much in common. These kind of men are so deceitful, as most don’t pickup on the way they manipulate others– so the wife is always the bad guy and no one understands her or supports her. I’m so sorry for your situation. In my life, there was no winning for me. He was always the winner. I did give up. I grew weary of fighting the battle. My counselor was the first person that actually saw the war I lived in. Little by little, as my core got stronger, I fought harder. Not to win, as there was no winning. Just for standing up for myself and for Truth. I would encourage you to find a great counselor that understands your situation. She helped me – when I was finally ready– to separate. I say almost everyday now, my freedom is so awesome, so beautiful, so peaceful not to have to defend myself for every little thing. People say, aren’t you lonely?? I don’t think that is possible. I lived with way too much stress and abuse for so long, I am delighting in quiet solitude. THank you Jesus!!! I’ll be praying for you, Carol!!

    • Grace on May 19, 2014 at 6:35 am

      Carol, your husband sounds like mine when it comes to decisions (‘I thought we agreed’ when he hadn’t asked me or I’d only sounded negative about the idea), twisting words, money and, once, presents – one year my Christmas present was a tin of biscuits. (I am British – I think the American word is cookies.). He knows I don’t like biscuits. He only wrapped it up so as to disappoint me. I had been working hard on everyone’s else’s presents and I was disappointed.

      He also punched a hole in a glass door once. Like your husband, he says he is afraid to do things in case he gets it wrong.

      He has just completed an abuser programme. The staff there say they see signs of change. He does seem to have more understanding of how his past has affected his behaviour, what is wrong with that behaviour and how it affects me and the children. I also see some signs of change: he intermittently makes an effort to restrain himself from lying and emotionally attacking me (generally in passive aggressive ways). I am waiting to see how it goes, and trying to apply Leslie’s advice about boundaries.

      Would your husband consider one of these programmes?

      I have prayed that God will rescue you from your situation one way or another, comfort you and give you courage and wisdom. I pray that for all the ladies on this blog. He shows favour to the humble and oppressed (Proverbs 3:34). That’s us – oppressed anyway. All best wishes.

  17. Patty on May 16, 2014 at 12:05 pm

    I am so encouraged by your book and the website and emails. I have just left my husband of 33 yrs for these very things. I’m DONE. No turning back for me.
    Moving onward with my love Jesus Christ, for higher ground.
    I am praing for this ministry and ways that we can give a voice to this abuse in the church.

    GOd Bless you richly for your faithfullness to him.

    • Leslie Vernick on May 16, 2014 at 10:13 pm

      Thanks Patty. Welcome to our blog community and I’m sure you will gain lots of love and support here.

  18. Brenda on May 17, 2014 at 6:51 am


    My first thought, was been there, done that. I have paid for more of my “gifts” than I want to think about. His “gifts” were far more expensive than flowers and he made sure that everyone knew that he bought it and it was a “gift” from him. It sounds like you are doing everything you can. He is not going to change without extensive counseling and Christ in his heart. Not necessarily in that order. He has to realize and take responsibility for his own actions. That doesn’t sound like it is happening.

    If I knew then what I do now, I would have left much sooner. My prayers are with you, Sister. Brenda

  19. Brenda on May 17, 2014 at 6:58 am

    In my opinion, you need a new pastor. This one is as abusive or more so than your husband. He has no right to tell you how the finances in your home will be operated. The face is there was physical abuse, which means there probably will be again. Your pastor is out of line and has taken the side of your abuser. Your bills have to be paid no matter which paycheck it comes from.

    ((((Huge Hug)))) Brenda

  20. Brenda on May 17, 2014 at 7:16 am

    Confused, Exactly, I was planning it all along. I should have ran on the wedding day when the minister was 2 hours late. God gave me an exit and I didn’t open my eyes and see it. I have never been much of a drinker and haven’t had one in years, but I had 5 while waiting for the minister and before I said I Do. There should be a breathalyzer test before a wedding. I should have realized something was wrong. Honestly, I believe I knew something was wrong, I didn’t know just what it was and didn’t accept it. I wasn’t listening to God’s voice.

  21. Brenda on May 17, 2014 at 7:22 am

    Amen, Leslie. I just signed my second year lease. He still reaches me from afar and as you know it can still bring me pretty low at times, but over all God has blessed me 10 fold since I left. He is a wonderful Father and knew I had to leave.

  22. Melanie on May 17, 2014 at 7:51 pm

    I tried setting up boundaries too. I told him about the boundary, & then tried leaving the room when he started raging/attacking. He would get more angry and follow me , accusing me of not wanting to work out our problems. I would try and leave the bedroom when he would not respect me or be controlling, but that would enfuriate him and he’d dummy spit, leave the house,etc. Then I upped the anti, & started leaving the house for a couple hours, our 5 k ids included, & he’d pretend like nothing had happened Then I decided that n interventio order was the only way to be safe. So I went to the police & applied for one effective immediately, & he was served that evening. It was one of the hardest things Ive done, because I still loved him and wished to resore our relationship. After that the peace and quiet and security, & ability to have fun with the kids was such a breath of fresh air. I should have done it years ago.

  23. Kris on May 17, 2014 at 9:46 pm

    The strategies you describe have actually been more beneficial in dealing with my adult children than in my marriage.
    At the end of my marriage, I was just learning more healthy behavior and often did not realize some of the crazy making or manipulation until much later or even the next day…..In any event, when I would later bring up the issue, he would deny the behavior or I was too sensitive….he never took any responsibility. He actually went to see a counselor that counseled “on the side” (someone that ‘counseled’ at the local prison???) and this ‘counselor’ told him that he was controlling, but not abusive (HELLO!!!)….so that was that….the problem was mine…according to him, so I left after 23 years.

    My kids (both in college) have been known to address me as their father used to…especially my oldest……fortunately, I have gotten better at setting boundaries and the boundary setting has worked fairly well with them. They still get angry with me, but they don’t put me down with the little sarcastic, snide comments as they used to. Hopefully, I am teaching them better behavior.

  24. Confused on May 17, 2014 at 10:27 pm

    Leslie, I have a question: When is it “right, okay or appropriate” to get a divorce? I am going for a legal separation, which is (in my understanding) essentially a divorce without the legal right to re-marry. My understanding is that divorce was always permitted in the Bible to allow for re-marriage. I fear God and want HIS will. However, several godly Christian friends have said to me something along the lines of, “We certainly don’t advocate for divorce, and we love marriage, but you have been through so much and have tried everything. Maybe it’s time to just be done with this.” Any thoughts?

    • Leslie Vernick on May 18, 2014 at 3:36 pm

      I think each woman has to make that decision for herself with spiritual counsel from someone who knows many more details about your particular situation than I have in your short question, but I do not think God forbids divorce in situations where a spouse has been repeatedly abusive, deceitful, and unfaithful to his basic fundamental marital promises to love, cherish, provide, and protect.

    • Lynn on May 18, 2014 at 6:23 pm

      Confused, in March my divorce as final. This year would have been 10 years married and four of them I endured all the pain that came as a result of his drug addiction. I believe that I did everything possible to stick by my husband and learned to forgive and learned to help him the best way I possibly could because it was the Godly thing to do. I finally learned that as much as God hates divorce, He also hates lies and deceit. He wants for a husband to love his wife as Christ loves the church. The divorce hasn’t taken away the hurt his action caused. I still feel that my emotions are homeless. There is nothing that I can do with the unresolved love I still feel for him but one thing for sure is that he can’t inflict additional pain and I have protected myself financially, mentally and spiritually. The only thing that I have in common with my ex is that I don’t trust him and I know he doesn’t trust himself. I couldn’t live like that anymore and I have no regret for my decision. I am by no means encouraging divorce because it hurts so so much! But you need to figure for yourself what God wants for you and listen for His voice. You never want to make any decision without being led by the Lord. God bless you as you figure out the next steps in your life. Its not easy but know that He will be your strength. And that … you CAN trust!

    • Robin on May 18, 2014 at 7:22 pm

      I chose NOT to get a legal separation for 2 reasons. First of all I needed financial support, which a divorce does give. A legal separation does not. Secondly, I was counseled a separation wouldn’t serve me well– as I had spent months and months confronting, setting limits and increasing my personal boundaries, and taking personal ownership and responsibility for what I needed to own,with no positive response from him. Thus, I chose to file for divorce. My husbands counselor even encouraged me to do so, as he knew my husband was acknowledging nothing and perhaps the divorce would wake him up. It did not.

      • Kris on May 20, 2014 at 10:09 pm

        I chose divorce for several reasons…Mainly because my ex did not have a one or two time bad day…His abusive behavior was a PATTERN that worsened over the course of time. He admitted he had a temper, he said a counselor told him he was controlling, but never once did he admit to being abusive or even apologize that I felt him to be abusive (he always had a reason for throwing things/yelling/punching holes in walls…any type of temper fit of his choice…he had a bad day, was stressed, was tired or something…he had many excuses) but never appeared to truly repent and take the steps of being accountable and truly trying to change. He did have a fan club that would call me and tell me how great he was. When I was so depressed that I was crying every day, I knew that God did not mean for me (his daughter) to live like that.I began to seek professional counseling, ended up on antidepressants….and made the decision for divorce after much prayer. The more I started to set boundaries with my ex, the worse things got. As soon as I started talking about leaving, my ex had no patience and told me that I needed to make up my mind soon and not keep him waiting. Then he proceeded to join an internet dating site before I even moved my things out. I know God hates divorce, but God also is a God that taught us love above all things and also taught of consequences of persons with tempers and a hateful tongue….and consequences of sin. Divorce was not an easy decision for me and a decision I did not take lightly….and I still sometimes feel uneasy about it, but I made the best decision I could at the time.

  25. Alene on May 18, 2014 at 12:37 am

    For twenty years, I listened to him speak disrespectfully about our son and stood up for my son. Something had come up with our son, complicated by this odd pattern overall with my husband, and I realized that all my words had done no good. Nothing had every changed. Too many of my good words and been directed toward my husband as I held up those good words as thought to shield the family from them. Which is didn’t. More should have gone to my son. I stopped listening.
    I know my husband’s background and some rejection from his father.
    I calmly told him, I will not listen to that any more, if you do it, I will calmly leave the room with a smile on my face (no rejection), and I will return with a smile and we can talk about solutions or some other subject.
    He basically stopped.
    This did not mean that he changed however.
    I can hear the underlying feelings creep out from time to time.
    My lovely ears within my boundary however no longer have to listen. His thoughts are in his head.
    I told my friend after that day and she said, I was praying you would get boundaries.
    I was so thankful…wow.
    That is a good way to help someone!!!
    I have held up my hand at times, without hearing it from Leslie, as the idea of boundaries began to sink in and become more a part of me.
    One day in the kitchen he started going on in frustration about something and I realized it was pointless (I think we all have times we do need to express our feelings), it was more of that inappropriate frustration. I kind of smiled a bit, calmly said, talk to the hand (his sister has used that phrase), kept it light, and turned to finish what I was cooking on the stove.
    Another time, he started going on about another driver. I did the same thing in the car.
    He stops.
    Again, it is not heart level change. It is just behavior change. It may slowly be building some awareness however and may be chipping away at the heart level little by little.
    A few years ago now, he chose to stop disrespecting his dad with put downs and frustration (his moms way of handling things, and had been his dads, was generational for his dad). I’m not sure what he would say about why he stopped. I know on my side, I’d been praying, even fasting some I believe. He did not see how that attitude and infected so many other areas. I am thankful the nasty words and attitude toward his dad stopped: that was heart level. He even told his dad thanks earlier this year.
    I wish I’d been strong enough to stand up for his dad; both my mother in law and husband have strong personalities and anger, even pride. I am getting stronger now however about many things. That is what counts. Thank you Leslie for being part of that.
    Every step takes me farther along, though I know there are many steps ahead, I am thankful I am moving forward.

  26. Alene on May 18, 2014 at 12:40 am

    One of you mentioned that you didn’t want to appear rude when holding up your hand or walking away: what I did was warn my husband of what I would do. This eliminated the rude factor. I did not do it abruptly or without warning or for no reason. I had made it clear.
    I had also taken action in a warm, calm, light-hearted or smiling way. I find that this allows him to concentrate on himself, not on me. I am not a part of distracting him from the problem itself.

  27. Jennifer on May 18, 2014 at 1:31 pm


    My husband is so like yours. I have a hearing loss so he used to say I didn’t hear or understand correctly. One year for my birthday I bought myself an iPhone. We went to dinner that night with his family. He too tried to play off that he had gotten me the phone (even though he didn’t pay one cent). Last year he physically purchased a car using my Monet that I earned, then was telling people he bought me a car. The title is still in his name! It was the proverbial straw that broke the camels back! I have filed for divorce. Of course as soon as I did, he came back to the house (he had been fixing up property his mom owns most of the last six months) and is treating kids like royalty now (presumably so he can get custody). Does anyone have advise on what can be included with child custody? Or how to get through this still emotionally intact?
    I very much appreciate Leslie’s advise as well as the stories of those that have been there. I hope and pray my daughter doesn’t have to go through what so many of us have!

  28. Becky on May 18, 2014 at 3:23 pm

    Need advice ladies.

    My husband has never hit me physically. He loves telling people about our “marital” problems, which is really his problem. Five years ago I realized that I was stripped of my identity, I couldn’t breathe anymore. So I stood up to him and have paid for it deeply. He is seeing a licensed counselor, but it’s just mumbo-jumbo and holds to credibility, according to him.

    I practice Leslie’s techniques, but I’m at a loss on this one. Lately he said, “You are drunk with power, and you need to get on your knees before God and repent of your sin.” See, he’s the only one that has direct communication with God. At least, that’s what he believes.

    I have repeated reminded him to just focus on what he knows he should do, go to the counselor and work on himself. I’ve tried walking away. Nothing will get him to stop

    So when he starts his raging of how I need to repent, be submissive and sweet, etc., I just ignore him and go about what I’m doing. If I say anything, it just makes it worse. If I try to walk away, he follows very close.

    What do I do?

    • Leslie Vernick on May 18, 2014 at 3:30 pm

      Ladies, it’s important that you understand that you are not standing up to control and abuse in the sole hope that your destructive husband will “get it” and stop. It’s obvious that most of the time that doesn’t work. But that doesn’t mean you should not do it. You are standing up for yourself, naming what’s happening – “that’s disrespectful, that’s not true, that’s hurtful, that’s your opinion, not mine.” Each time you stand up for yourself, a little bit more of you comes back and you begin to reclaim your voice and your spirit from his grasp. It may not make a bit of difference in him or your marriage but it will make a world of difference in you. You are sticking up for you. You are respecting you. You are validating you and your feelings, perspective and values. That is huge.

  29. Robin on May 18, 2014 at 7:31 pm

    Wow, great explanation Leslie. I remember with each time I stood up, I became more whole!!! One thing also that happens is your children learn what a healthy mom does, when a bully bullies !!!

  30. Betty on May 19, 2014 at 1:26 am

    Leslie is right about the steps to stand up for yourself in a calm manner is almost more for yourself than for him. No matter what I do or say, it is wrong in his eyes and he gets angry, but when I patiently take my stand, I feel right inside. Otherwise i feel like I am condoning his bad behaviour.
    The other Thing I want to remind myself and all you hurting ladies out there is don’t forget the MERCY of God. The Pharisees could only see the letter of the law and the Lord rebuked them for their lack of justice, Mercy and faithfulness. Remember the Caananite woman in Matt 12, she cried for MERCY and Jesus granted it to her. When the disciples picked the grain on the Sabbath and the Pharisees criticised them, the Lord said that He desired MERCY not sacrifice. When despite our best efforts our marriages go south, I believe the Lord looks down in Mercy and understanding.

    • Grace on May 19, 2014 at 1:24 pm

      Amen to that.

  31. Brenda on May 19, 2014 at 6:35 am

    Your husband has biblical submission all wrong. Submission is not him playing God and demanding what you should do, say, or act. Submission is given freely because he is loving you as Christ loves the church. He does have a big problem with God. He wants you to bow down to him and his demands. You can’t do that. You would be making him an idol.
    No one can make the choice for you, but he needs to know that you won’t do as he says. Each of us must bow before God on our own. I can’t tell someone else what their sins are and how they must attone for them and niether can your husband. He is not the almight King, Jesus is.

  32. Confused on May 19, 2014 at 3:57 pm

    I wish there was a “LIKE” button here, so I could just add my “Amen” to all your comments without having to submit a reply! I do want to say though, that I am loving the positive, encouraging words that so often point us back to the BEST way of handling any situation: Give it to the Lord, seek His wisdom (through His Word, His Spirit & His people), accept His love, allow Him to change us personally, and follow where He leads.

    There are very few friends and aquaintances who truly understand what I have been through; they don’t know what to say or how to respond to my difficulties. But you ladies “get it”. May the Lord bless you as you seek Him.

    p.s. I am no longer “Confused.” Next post I will change my name 🙂

    • Robin on May 20, 2014 at 10:52 pm

      Confused, glad you are on this blog and part of our group , as we all go towards healing for brokenness. I am so glad you are not confused anymore, but how will we recognize you with a new name??

    • Grace on May 22, 2014 at 10:34 am

      I had the same thought about a Like button! And preferably an Amen button as well!

    • Cyndy on May 22, 2014 at 4:31 pm

      YES!!! That is where we’re all heading! REALLY happy for you! 🙂

  33. carol on May 20, 2014 at 8:28 am

    I have been to the counselor that my husband has been seeing for that last 2 years and told him of my husband recent attitudes, actions and lying about finances, where he has been etc. I told him that I have only seen a change in methods that my husband has been doing. Now my husband is waking me up in the morning and at night on purpose and i heard him dealing the phone and what he does afterward.

    My question is this, has anyone who has used a time of separation have any advise about what to work on first about our selves and then how to prepare for children?

    I do not see any change. I would think 2years is more that fair and reasonable to see any change. Does anyone else see that the abuser actually weigh the pain of the outcome to the pleasure of what they do?

    I am reading Leslie’s books and blog. I have asked others for help and I am grateful for any advise and prayers. I will pray for others in their situation. God has helped me in ways that are so unexpected and in little ways to make my ends meet. I know God will walk through this with me as I hide in folds of His robe as He guides me along the way.

    • Becky on May 21, 2014 at 12:19 am

      Since you know he is an abuser and shows no change, is there a reason why you want to bring children into this marriage?

      • carol on May 21, 2014 at 11:06 am

        I must admit to a confused mind when I wrote -then how to prepare for children. I wanted to say how do you prepare them for the separation that will be coming. we have 13 total 9 18 and under to 6. I am just looking to lessen the pain and confusion.

        I just read Jeff Crippens’ Abuse Without a Word — Nonverbal Abusive Communications
        by Jeff Crippen

        I had to admit I wanted to jump and holler because this is exactly what my husband does. It is so extremely hard to articulate my husbands actions and body language. At the same time it is so oppressive.

        God is good and he knows exactly what we need and when to give it. I am convinced that if we got all our answers at one time we will never comprehend much and the reality of it all would be totally over whelming without Gods help.

        Leslie thank you for following Gods leading to write the books, blogs, Mid day connection and other things that you do to help the oppressed.

        May God bless you greatly.

  34. Becky on May 21, 2014 at 12:28 am

    I have a question. I have never heard of a controlling man changing (at least, not any longer than 2 weeks). Even the counselor we see said that very few men will lower their pride and change.

    Has anyone experienced a permanent, positive change in their husband and you continued on having the best marriage ever?

    • Leonie on May 22, 2014 at 8:51 am

      I am realizing this as well. My husband was happy and pleasant for about 10 days this past month and I was starting to feel like my old self again but of course it doesn’t last and sure enough his regular misery is back. I have been staying at home with our 3 year old for the past year. He is upset that I am not working. When I was working he would yell at me so much that I would sit at my desk often in tears, not able to control the pain of being yelled at. One day I called in sick after my husband yelled at me because I just couldn’t ‘t go in and sit there in tears all day, the office was losing business and a few of us were let go. I decided to stay home for a while because our daughter would not eat at the daycare and was getting too thin. (BTW she has grown so much and looks great now). I feel like I need to move out and get away from my husband before I go back to work because I am so heartsick from his behaviour. My daughter loves her daddy, I feel I will break her heart if I leave him. She is our only child and he speaks only to her while ignoring me most of the time. A few years back I also ‘discovered’ he had a secret life when I kept finding phone numbers and women’s names on his work papers. When I searched the numbers I discovered he was using massage parlours during work hours. (He always comes home and never leaves until he goes to work the next day). We have been doing devotions together on a semi regular basis and we’ve read a lot of ‘good stuff’ so I’m not sure if he still is but has stopped writing it down. He has always kept his finances separate from mine and now I know why. I am afraid of who will end up being a mother to my precious little girl if I separate from him and he gets 1/2 custody, which he says he wants. I am scared for her.

      • Grace on May 22, 2014 at 10:44 am

        Leone, I really feel for you. I prayed for you and your daughter.

        Leslie does say in her book that it can be worse for a child to stay in a home where one partner is abused than to be a child of divorce, bad as that is. I have prayed for the best possible legal advice for you as to how much custody your husband would be likely to get. ((Hug))

        • Leonie on May 23, 2014 at 7:51 am

          Thank you Grace, I really appreciate your prayers. I should not discount God’s care & provision. He has brought me through hard times before & when I look back I see how complete & beautiful his care really was (inspite if myself), why should I doubt him & stay in a bad situation now.

          • Grace on May 29, 2014 at 9:44 am

            Thank you, Leonie (sorry I spelt your name wrong). I didn’t mean to tell you you should go. I think the key thing is for each person to seek God’s will for them in their situation. (I believe God is telling me to stay at the moment.) But I was thinking it would be good to gather information, e g legal advice, and know what you are dealing with as far as possible.

            I do know that if God tells you to go, he will provide for you and your precious little girl. Hugs and prayers.

  35. Brenda on May 21, 2014 at 6:42 am


    God hates treacherous divorce and the sin that causes it. Your situation and mine are similar. I also chose divorce. I was locked out of the house before I could move all of my things, until he was told by an attorney that he needed to change the locks back before I broke into the house to get them and had every legal right to do so. Then he started seeing his ex-wife that he said he couldn’t stand for 30 years.

    Kris God loves us. He doesn’t want this for his daughters. Once you have tried everything you can, there is no repentance from H and won’t be I truly believe in the depths of my heart that God would rather see us divorce than loose our light. I did not abandon H, he abandoned me while still living in the same house. He broke his vows. I look at the way that Jesus was so gentle with the women he encountered in the Bible and ask did my H treat me like Jesus wanted. The answer was emphatically, NO.

  36. Brenda on May 21, 2014 at 6:49 am

    Confused, AMEN. I don’t know if I’d push a like button, but an AMEN button would come in handy. I totally agree with all that you said. 🙂

  37. Becky on May 22, 2014 at 11:42 pm

    Another question, specifically for Leslie.

    Leslie, the counselor we, or mostly he, is seeing told me that when hubby acts one way in public and different at home, it’s because he feels safe with me. My husband was physically, emotionally, and sexually abused as a child. I had no idea to what extent, but neither did I know that those experiences would hurt our marriage. Leslie, could you explain here, or on another post, why this happens.

    Ladies, those of who have been posting, does your husband have childhood trauma? It would be interesting to know.

    • Leslie Vernick on May 28, 2014 at 5:50 pm


      I’ll address your question in next week’s blog.

    • Grace on May 29, 2014 at 9:55 am

      Hi Becky, yes, my husband’s mother was emotionally and sometimes physically abusive to his father and to him. It sounds like she had mental health problems (I never met her – she was dead when I met him.) His father was probably passive-aggressive: he was the son of an alcoholic or near-alcoholic, which no doubt affected him. My husband (I will call him X) is passive-aggressive.

      X had suppressed all memories of his mother’s abuse and only recovered them a few weeks ago while attending an abuser programme. The other men were talking about their childhood memories of abuse, and the abuse they carried out themselves, and it brought back the memories. The other men on the programme had all been abused themselves.

    • BONNIE on June 1, 2014 at 11:08 pm

      it really helps reading everyones experiences-many of same issues show up! I have been married 40 years to an emotional abusive man-he was addicted to alcohol 1st 15 years,started about 1 year after marriage-couldn’t deal with pregnant wife, so he worked then he would drink -not at home tho- I am sorry to say my passive personality did not set up healthy boundaries which allowed much emotional abuse. he did get saved in 1992 quit drinking but after 2years he hurt his back and that was 1st of 4 back surgeries, much more emotional, verbal abuse, then dealing with prescription drug abuse that led to 4 rehabs he always had a way of making me feel sorry for him – his behavior was always blamed on pain. our relationship became so damaged by the ups and downs-his JEKEL/HYDE personality, so much depression-I have left because feel stuck and emotionally shut down. I am sorry for his condition -right now he is only taking nonnarcotic meds and going to counseling- I am too, but a different one -my family and friends even his family encourage me to stay away- I am trying to hear from God and please Him but I cant emotionally go back-don’t want to go back -after this long dealing with these issues could GOD BE RELEASING ME so I can live in peace and find my joy in living again?

      • Grace on June 3, 2014 at 8:57 am

        Bonnie, I really sympathise with you and I have prayed God will show you his will for you in this situation and give you wisdom and strength.

        I do know just what you mean about the Jekyll and Hyde personality. (Our pastor only sees Jekyll. He says I shouldn’t call my emotionally abusive husband ‘an abusive man’ as that puts him in the same category as physical and sexual abusers. I wish he knew more about emotional abuse.)

        My husband too is big on trying to get me to feel sorry for him. Or anyone who will.

        When you didn’t set boundaries, you might not have altogether seen what you were dealing with? It’s harder to set boundaries then. I didn’t realise fully what I was dealing with for 20 years. Before then I did object to the lies I saw, and try to reason with him; but it didn’t make any difference. If I had known he wanted to control me, and that he didn’t care what was true, I guess I would have used consequences. They should teach about emotional abuse in schools.

        Hugs and prayers.

  38. Brenda on May 28, 2014 at 6:03 pm


    The final straw of my marriage was when I was not allowed to leave the room or house. I found an attorney, apartment and moving people. You are in an invisible prison with your husband as your jailer. He knows that he has you trapped. I showed X that he no longer had the keys to my cell

  39. Leonie on May 29, 2014 at 11:10 am

    Thanks so much for your input, I have been thinking for the last 5 months that I need to leave, I have peace when I think about leaving. My husband isn’t anywhere near respecting me as a person or being transparent or accountable or willing to go to counselling or even admitting to anything! When I mention the glaring elephant in the room, I get punished. He knows I am not stupid, when we first met he used to tell me that he was smarter than me but now I think he was referring to the fact that I was not street smart, I didn’t even know what a massage parlor was!!
    When I look at it, any interactions with him are only about him. The existence or needs of anyone else, even our daughter’s are only about him & his image as a man.
    I learned 2 things by listening to Erwin Lutzer’s sermons yesterday! Sometimes God wants us exactly in the Center of the storm (we are in his will & he is with us when we are there.) and also he (spiritually) blinds the eyes of some who see & refuse him. I woke up with ‘Shelter in the time of Storm’ in my head & am thankful He gave me a song. When I do devotions with my husband I think he is just ‘ throwing me a bone’ so I will be satisfied. What he doesn’t realize is the power of God in the words of scripture. He is now without excuse ! Blessings, may God show you where he wants you too!

    • Grace on June 3, 2014 at 9:07 am

      Thanks, Leonie. I’ve prayed that if that peace is from God, He’ll send you something to confirm that it’s His will for you to leave. Also that He will provide for you and your daughter in all ways.

  40. Robin on May 29, 2014 at 1:48 pm

    I have walked thru what many of you are experiencing now. Constant – daily – disrespect and several kinds of abuse. Thinking you should stay for the children. It is a difficult place to be. Its easy to doubt you can make it on your own, and that it would be the right decision. Noone can tell you what to do. But I will say, I gained alot of my strength from this blog- reading how others had escaped their abusive enslaved lives- it gave me the boldness I needed to stand up for myself and my children. On a good day I would say I am incredibly blessed and grateful God removed me from the home of destruction. On a bad day, I would say I am incredibly blessed and grateful God removed me from a destructive home and life. There is never such a bad day, that I wish I could go back. There are a few days that I am in denial and think I would like my old life back. But honestly, the only regret I have, is that I didn’t leave sooner. My life is full of seeing God’s Grace and Mercy to me, and yes He does provide everything I need. He is a wonderful husband. My counselor has said to me, I lived a life as if I was in a German prison camp. I know now that is true. But I couldn’t know it, till I separated from all the chaos and pain; and could see daylight. My life is full of peace and joy and new opportunities. I wish my husband would acknowledge the generations of men before him in his familyline that were abusive, so he could come to terms with his own childhood wounds. I pray for his repentance and healing constantly. I am not full of anger and rage anymore, because I stopped the insanity by moving out. (Actually he was removed from our home by the police.) He told my friends last weekend, he was humiliated because I had him removed. I said to my friends did he also say, he was humiliated when I had to jump out of car in Seattle downtown traffic and walk 3 miles– because of his rage out of control and my fear he was about to hurt me??? Thankfully, those days are over. This blog has done so much, to give me a new life. I encourage all of you, to seek the freedom and the newness of life – God has for you. He never intended any of his daughters to live oppressed.
    Love you all,

    • Grace on June 3, 2014 at 9:15 am

      Thank you, Robin! I don’t think he wants us to live oppressed either.

      ‘The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed,
      a stronghold in times of trouble.
      Those who know your name trust in you,
      for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.’
      Psalm 9:9-10

    • Grace on June 3, 2014 at 10:30 am

      I also found these verses. I hope they will encourage everyone here that God is on their side against oppression.

      Psalm 10:17-18
      You, Lord, hear the desire of the afflicted;
      you encourage them, and you listen to their cry,
      defending the fatherless and the oppressed,
      so that mere earthly mortals
      will never again strike terror.

      This is from a prophecy about Jesus:

      Psalm 72:13-14
      He will take pity on the weak and the needy
      and save the needy from death.
      He will rescue them from oppression and violence,
      for precious is their blood in his sight.

      This is what God says to his people. I don’t think all the churches are doing it when it comes to abuse:

      Psalm 82:3-4
      Defend the weak and the fatherless;
      uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed.
      Rescue the weak and the needy;
      deliver them from the hand of the wicked.

      (I think an abusive man is acting as ‘the wicked’ [in the OT, those who do not trust and obey God] whether he is saved or not.)

      Psalm 103:6
      The Lord works righteousness
      and justice for all the oppressed.

      Psalm 119:134
      Redeem me from human oppression,
      that I may obey your precepts.

      Psalm 146:7-8
      He upholds the cause of the oppressed …
      The Lord sets prisoners free,
      the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down,
      the Lord loves the righteous.

      [In the OT, ‘the righteous’ are those who do follow and obey God, even if not perfectly.]

      The Lord says to his people:

      Isaiah 1:17
      Learn to do right; seek justice.
      Defend the oppressed.

      (All NIV.)

      I think I will pray that Psalm 119 verse. I need redeeming from human oppression. I guess it’s easier to obey God (like by loving your neighbour) when you’re not emotionally shut down and spending energy coping with emotional assaults.

  41. Brenda on September 4, 2014 at 1:15 pm

    You said that he physical abuses you and your child. Get out, get out now. Do not wait. Worry about what you will do in the long term later on. There are programs that can help you and your children get started. I hope you have reported the abuse.

  42. Needing Guidance on January 4, 2015 at 6:00 am

    I have been in an emotionally abusive and controlling relationship/marriage for over 5 years. I saw signs of manipulation and pressure before marriage, but we rushed and I was desperate to be married after many single years. On the honeymoon I saw his anger and it scared me. As we opened wedding gifts and cards I saw what he really valued. When we got in arguments over something he raged and purposely would spit in my face. Instead of callling it abuse and leaving, I would call him a lunatic and yell back. He spent so much “time worshipping God ” that I felt he was the more spiritual one , as I become more angry, cursing, yelling. I left him a few weeks before the birth of our daughter. Family tried to help me get a divorce. I was confused and faced the pressure and anger of my father. My baby and I moved to my grammy’s home for peace. I let me gueard down. I waffled between emotions, fear of being alone, what the church always says, what wise family members said…and bounced back to him. I shocked and scared my family, but thought I was being wise by going back to restore the marriage. A christian woman I respected at the time told me,”Anyone who tells you to leave your husband is a fool.” I tried for 6 months and left on Christmas day after he said, “I would kick you out on the street if it weren’t for our daughter.” I was back with my parents, swallowing my pride, trying to keep my guard up, and again didn’t file papers or stick to me resolve, diminishing the agony I went through. Finally after months of counseling, our Christian counselor finally saw through his act. She was lashed out on by him and she warned me. I was afraid of how to step out and once again listened to well meaning yet misguided christian women. Fast forward a year or s0. We are still together, he still struggles to find/keep a job. Pressures me to work harder to find better paying work for myself. I have no tolerance for the same old stuff. He has gotten better in some areas, but still blaming, threatening, manipulative. I feel I’m in a web I don’t know how to get free from. I want to run and scream to anyone “please see what’s going on.” But I don’t have proof of words said that are later twisted and denied. I regret not sticking with divorce proceedings and ever returning to him. I struggle to believe that Jesus will help me get out of this.

    • Becca on January 6, 2015 at 11:07 pm

      If you feel that you have reached the point that you are ready for a divorce, then do so. You can’t change him, nor can you make your marriage better by yourself. Only you know when it is time to throw in the towel. If you chose to divorce, please prepare yourself financially, etc., for that day. Don’t file until you have your finances in order, a decent job, etc. Planning is very important. I served my husband with divorce papers several weeks ago. Now all of a sudden he wants to go to a counselor. Nope. I’ve been after him to get help for 7 years. I’m done. Do what you think is best and don’t worry about what others think. Those who are judgmental have never walked in your shoes before. Blessings!

    • Amy on January 7, 2015 at 12:23 am

      Dear Needing Guidance,
      Call me a fool, but I would encourage you to leave your husband. You are living in an abusive marriage and the thing is, you know it.

      It sounds like your family and counselor support you, and just because you didn’t proceed with a divorce doesn’t mean you cannot file again.

      You say you struggle to believe that Jesus will help you get out of this, but from all that you wrote, He was helping you. He sent help in the form of your counselor who warned you about your husband’s behavior when she herself was a target for it and Jesus sent you help in the form of a family who doesn’t want to see you continue in an abusive marriage and sounds like they would support you if you chose to divorce.

      If you’re waiting for some miraculous sign from God telling you to leave, you may just be missing the help that is right in front of you.

      And if you’re wanting approval from other Christians, you may wait a long, long time.

      God will come along side of you no matter what you choose to do, but He cannot help you until you step out in faith.

      I was in a 20 year abusive marriage and have been divorced for 4 years. It took me four times as long as you to finally open my eyes to the fact that nothing was going to change no matter how hard I tried to change myself or ignore what was going on.

      I will pray that you God will give you clear direction and that you will listen to your heart since you already know what decision is best for you and your daughter.


    • Grace on January 7, 2015 at 9:18 am

      Needing Guidance, I feel the same as Amy, Robin and Brenda. I think it’s important to discern what God wants you to do as far as you can. If Jesus wants you out of that marriage, I am sure he will help you get out. And if you ask, surely he will give you all the strength, wisdom and courage you need. So I think it the key thing is to be as clear as possible about what he wants. I have prayed that you will be, that you will have strength, wisdom and courage to carry out his will, and that you will have all the love and support you need.

      It doesn’t matter what other Christians think compared to what God thinks. They don’t know the full picture when it comes to your marriage. They don’t know what God’s will is for you in this situation.

      I haven’t left myself so far, because I have seen some change (I’m waiting to see if it lasts and increases) and I think the Lord told me I was free to leave but he would rather I persevered at this point. But if the change does not last and increase, I will separate, then divorce later if there is still no change.

      ((Hugs)) and all best wishes to you.

  43. Robin on January 7, 2015 at 12:38 am

    Ditto Amy– my thoughts exactly. Jesus is always ready for us, as we are ready to take a step toward him. It’s not easy to give up your home and the life you want– but I promise you, when you see how good it is over on the other side- I truly doubt you’ll ever look back.

  44. Brenda on January 7, 2015 at 7:38 am

    Ditto to Amy and Robin. NeedingGuidance, you have been getting guidance. Please take it before it gets worse. Don’t wait decades like many of us have. You know what he is capable of. Don’t listen to folks who don’t understand what you are living. Praying for you.

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