Shortening The Abuse Learning Curve

Hi Friends,

We got quite a response to last week’s blog on five reasons a woman may be resistant to “seeing” or “stopping” the destruction in her marriage.

This week I want to talk about what we can do to shorten that learning curve. It does not have to take 30+ years of suffering to identify destructive behavior, to find your voice, to challenge what’s happening, and to develop the courage to walk away from continued destructiveness to you and/or your children if it does not change.

One woman I spoke to this week said, “After 43 years of marriage I finally told my husband, I will not allow myself to be talked to that way any longer.” It was the first time in 43 years she stood up for herself. She was shocked that her strong statement immediately impacted her husband’s behavior and he stopped cursing at her. That alone did not solve her marriage problems but in that moment she realized that she was not helpless and by speaking up for herself, she created a small change in her living environment.

Had she taken a stand the first year of her marriage instead of waiting 43 years, her marriage might not have developed the destructive patterns she partially enabled by her silence, her over-functioning and her false view of submission and godliness. Or, if it did, she would have seen much earlier that her husband was uninterested in hearing her concerns, respecting her feelings, or loving her personhood. She would have seen she was merely an object to use, not a person to love. Knowing that, she would have made some tough but wise choices about her marriage before she added children to the family.

Last week I promised to talk about some things that would shorten the learning curve for women in destructive relationships and marriages. If we look at the difference between the woman who took action to speak up and set boundaries in year two of a destructive marriage and the one that waited over thirty years to do the same, what would we see?

I think it boils down to three main areas:

1. A woman’s emotional and spiritual maturity: People who are emotionally healthy and spiritually mature are less likely to view “enduring” marital abuse a spiritual virtue.

Many women suffer in destructive marriages believing that it is their only option if they want to please God. Since she’s been taught (and believes) that God hates divorce above anything else, taking action to protect herself or speak out against abuse is seen as destroying the marriage.

Therefore she needs a new awareness of who God is, and that he hates what’s happening to her more than he hates divorce (tweet this)

True spiritual maturity is not possible without concurrent growth in emotional health. In one of my comments to last weeks’ post, I said that what’s going inside of us often repeats itself in our outside world. For example, when we’re unhealthy on the inside, we attract others who are unhealthy. When we beat ourselves up on the inside for our faults, flaws, mistakes, and failures, we are more likely to tolerate that behavior from others on the outside. When we don’t think for ourselves we are more likely to blindly follow or believe things people tell us without checking it out for ourselves. When we feel unhealthy, we also often feel incapable of taking care of ourselves or standing up for ourselves in appropriate ways. When we don’t care about ourselves or care for our soul, spirit, mind, or body then we are more likely to accept relationships with others who do not care for our body, mind, spirit and soul either.

On the other hand, when we are healthy and spiritually mature, we are less confused about truth and what God says is good and right. We are not double minded, or tossed about by every other person’s opinion because we have listened and read God’s word for our own self and studied to see what it says. (See: James 1:7,8; Ephesians 4:14 and 2 Timothy 2:15)

Proverbs 4:23 says, “Above all else, guard your heart.” Enabling or allowing someone who has promised to love us to abuse us is not a godly virtue. It is poor stewardship of the body, mind, soul and spirit that God has given us to nourish and protect.

It’s important as women and mothers to teach our daughters how to be God-centered women (not man centered or self centered) and good stewards of themselves. My CORE Focus Class teaches women how to change their view of how God sees a destructive marriage. If you struggle with thinking God will love you less if you leave an abusive marriage, I encourage you to learn  more about my class by clicking here.

2. Peer support and educational resources: Educational and informational resources on abusive relationships and destructive patterns are easily located on internet search engines including sites with Biblical values and support. If a woman wants to know what’s going on when the water she’s sitting in starts to feel hotter and hotter, she can find out.

Domestic violence support groups, on-line support groups and blogs (for example, A Cry for Justice ), validate a woman’s (or abused man’s) feelings, provide Biblical support, and give good information on what steps to take to gain safety and sanity. Isolation is not as powerful as it once was 20 years ago there was no Internet to easily access information and support.

3. Positive Peer Pressure: There is a good deal of research on the effects of positive peer pressure. More and more women (and men) are speaking out against all kinds of abuse in the news, on social media and thankfully in the church. For example, when bullies are confronted by other strong men and told, “We don’t act that way around here” or “We don’t treat our women (or our friends) that way” it does yield positive results, especially with young men.

Once I encouraged a client of mine to disclose to her small group the abuse she was experiencing at home. When she did, the couples surrounded her and her husband with truth and love. The men said to her husband, their friend, “We don’t treat our wives this way, it’s always wrong. No excuses.” And they said to her, “If you are ever afraid, you call us, night or day.” It was the love and support of the men from this group that kept her husband accountable and focused on learning new ways to manage his temper and how to love his wife. She also felt heard, valued, supported and safe.

The apostle Paul encouraged the use of positive peer pressure. He tells believers, “don’t fellowship with certain kinds of people who say one thing but do another” (1 Corinthians 5:11-13). Paul is advocating the use of positive peer pressure to help someone wake up and come to repentance.

Women will feel braver and be empowered to step out in faith and to take necessary action steps if they know their home church is behind them and will exert positive peer pressure on her spouse to look at his attitude and actions and repent.

As a church we must do much better in this area. Together, both men and women must exert consistent and relentless peer pressure for pastors and other Christian leaders to pay attention and as a group speak out publically against abuse.

They need to prioritize educating themselves about abusive relationships and how to handle them. We must refuse to allow them to minimize or cover-over abusive behaviors of any kind. The Bible says, “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly, defending the rights of the poor and needy” (Proverbs 31:8).

I believe with peer support and positive peer pressure a woman who feels afraid, frozen, or stuck, can find her voice more quickly and secure the resources to take positive and godly action hoping that her spouse will come to his senses. If not, then she and her children will be supported to find safety.

George Albee said, “No epidemic has ever been resolved by paying attention to the treatment of the affected individual. Healing is important but abuse will only stop when we impact the hearts and actions of abusers.

Friends: I so appreciate your wisdom and experiences. Do you think these things would have shortened the learning curve for you? Anything else?

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  1. Peg Gentle on March 11, 2015 at 9:15 am

    Leslie, this is excellent advice and so insightful!!! These are the things that helped me so much! My pastor pointed out scriptures and confirmed so many things for me as I first began to question my then-husband’s behavior. I know that my personal close relationship with God enabled me to find truth and to discern that I was indeed being treated wrongly according to scripture. Holding my husband’s behavior up to scripture showed me treat truth. I sought two counselors and they both brought confirmation in identifying how I would have to set boundaries and stick with them. Then, seeking guidance from you, Leslie, through your website, videos, and books brought amazing revelation and confirmation. A Cry for Justice was highly helpful! Jeff Crippen’s sermons were indeed exactly what I needed to hear. Their site provides scripts of all the sermons that pertain to abusive behaviors and so I would print out those sermons and re-read them and write notes on them about my feelings, etc. I found that my church friends didn’t want to hear about what I was experiencing. Or if I did tell them, they seemed to be in disbelief and would not seem to care. The deacons I approached just did NOT know what to do about it. They were totally not equipped spiritually to address the issues and basically seemed very uncomfortable when I talked about how I was hurting. I’m no longer at that church. Leslie, it is so evident that you are closely connected to God and that you have the gift of discernment. I am deeply thankful for your books and videos because I relied on them so heavily when I was moving through the time of learning about abuse and learning about how to set boundaries and move forward away from the destruction that was happening at the hands of my then-husband. Thank you for caring so deeply about this issue. Your insights and perceptions are helping so many women! God bless you!

  2. Marcia Murphy on March 11, 2015 at 9:15 am


    Oh how I wish I had this insight 24 years ago. I blindly thought once married, always married no matter what – “for better or for worse,” not knowing how bad the “worse” was going to be. The vows I spoke on my wedding day were authentic, but if I had known the signs to look for and if I had the strength and encouragement to look for support and to stand up and enforce my boundaries, things would most likely have turned out much different, and I would not be going through a divorce 24 years later.

    Your words are a blessing, and for that I am truly thankful.

  3. Becca on March 11, 2015 at 9:24 am

    Leslie, this is really great! I wish I had found these truths so much earlier in my marriage. It would have saved me from the pain I experienced from the lies I believed about being punished by God for standing up to my abusive husband.

    Every day I wake up and tell myself “Today is the first day of the rest of my life”! I acknowledge the choices I have to live in truth, and accept God’s grace. I am empowered to make the choice, day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute to no longer live my life as a victim.

    It is a long hard battle out of the grips of an abusive marriage, but it IS possible. It just takes a lot of work.

  4. Mary on March 11, 2015 at 9:50 am

    My reason for not recognizing abuse was christian authors martha peace and debit pearl. Their writings encourage abuse and make it sound spiritual and Godly to live in it

    • Jayne on March 11, 2015 at 12:07 pm

      This is true because what they are saying is backed up with scripture. Or should I say twisted using scripture.

  5. Tami G. on March 11, 2015 at 9:50 am

    i have gained so much insight and wisdom through watching your videos and reading your material Leslie. I am very grateful to you. I am at the end of going through my divorce from a 39 year marriage. I am a Christian and went to many years of counseling with my emotionally abusive husband. I was always the one who did all the work trying to be a better wife but I was never good enough. I links that he had several long term affairs it has been very painful I am ever so slowly healing he has been out of the house 11 months our divorce should be final sometime this summer. In retrospect had I had more understanding of what I could have done in setting healthier boundaries and not enabling him to emotionally abuse me,and had gotten support from my church I probably would’ve left a long time ago. I have good support of Christian friends, but no one truly understands position I’m in. I’m hanging on by a thread these days holding tight to Jesus and God’s word. Learning much too late in life

  6. Jennifer Carrera on March 11, 2015 at 10:37 am

    I feel so validated by your words. I’ve been trying to get this point out but you have worded it so extremely well. Thank you so much for your work in this area.

  7. Carol Terpstra on March 11, 2015 at 10:42 am

    It’s not always that simple when dealing with a “covertly aggressive personality”. The best explanation for why women stay with this type is outlined in the book “In Sheep’s Clothing” by George Simon, Jr., Ph.D. If you do read it, be sure to read the preface.

    • Survivor on March 13, 2015 at 8:43 am

      “Covertly aggressive personality”! That’s the best description I have heard yet!!! I don’t know if this is an official diagnosis or not as I have never heard the term before, but those three words describe my H to a T!!!!!

      • Debbie on March 13, 2015 at 4:22 pm

        The book by Patricia Evans-The Verbally Abusive Relationship was eye-opening for me. It described what I was experiencing; it validated my perception that something was terribly wrong. Helped me get a handle on my reality. My husband doesn’t curse or scream; it’s much subtler and manipulative. I’m definitely going to read the In Sheep’s Clothing book.

        • Survivor on March 13, 2015 at 7:07 pm

          Subtle and manipulative are incredibly hard to deal with!!! It makes it really hard for any onlookers to see what is happening, and it makes the victim much more likely to ‘boil’ like the proverbial frog. I am sorry you experience this!!!! Hugs!!!

        • Elizabeth on March 15, 2015 at 9:21 pm

          Thank you, Debbie, I will get Evans’ book and In Sheep’s Clothing. I too have taken a long time to get a handle on my reality knowing that something was wrong and not being able to put words to it. That is because it is as you say much more “subtle and manipulative.” And also is presented in the context of Christianity. There were times I thought I would go crazy thinking it was me and yet knowing in my gut it was not.
          I was a very young and untaught believer when I first got married. Because of legalistic and wrong teaching about who God is for many years I believed God would punish me if I did not “submit”. Most of you know what I mean by that. If I had had this information and support I would have stood up to it much much sooner and probably would not have stayed. However I am thankful for all God has done for me in my relationship with Him. I would not trade anything for this. It is precious to me. Now I know what is true and what my Biblical faith choices are. I am growing in freedom. I am encouraged that we are speaking these things out loud and praying for one another. Love you all and admire your courage…

  8. Tanya on March 11, 2015 at 10:49 am

    Wow, this would have helped me 20 years ago. I am grateful for the courage God has given me to seek Truth and have my voice again. Thank you Leslie for being bold in sharing what is right and empowering women in a godly way.

  9. Elizabeth on March 11, 2015 at 11:44 am

    Changing my view of how God see’s my destructive marriage was key. Thank you for speaking the truth into my life. For years I have read so much that described my destructive marriage and made sense in my head but never penetrated my heart.

    Another view that has had to change for me was that children are better off with two parents. The Christian and physiological literature talks about effects divorce has on kids and the horrific statistics that your child would most likely be part of. But the parenting books rarely talk about emotional abuse and children. I really felt this was the cross I was to bear for my kids and that their happiness outweighed the pain I was going through.

    Praise God, I can now see clearly I retained an attorney this week. Moving forward. And I’ve never felt closer to God. My head is clear, no longer flooded and confused. I agree and have experienced how maturing emotionally and spiritually as well as peer support and educational resources has shifted my thinking!

    We’ve never experienced peer pressure. My husband would never join a small group and is a loaner without many friends. He refuses to be influenced in a Christian counseling. Refuses to do his own work. I am sad for him! But moving forward none the less.

    • Debbie on March 11, 2015 at 2:32 pm

      I can so relate to your story. I stayed largely because of the kids. I have spent the last 10 years of my marriage learning and growing. My husband has never been willing to join a small group at church either. I’ve asked many times. He has no Christian peer group to mentor him. I began 10 years ago to go outside my marriage and immediate family for support. A few close friends, two counselors, ladies’ bible studies, a Celebrate Recovery group and now this group have been my support over the years. I am recently resigned to divorce and optimistic about my future and my kids’ future. I am sad for my husband also. I know I am far from perfect, but I also know my worth now–he is losing a lot. Move forward; the battle belongs to the Lord–these are the messages I keep hearing and seeing everywhere. God bless and keep you.

      • Debbie on March 12, 2015 at 6:42 pm

        Thought of a couple more things that help me. I have found journalling very helpful. Emotional and verbal abuse can cause soooo much mental confusion and pain. If I just start writing and put my thoughts on paper it helps me sort things out and get a lot of the anxiety out of me. Also I love listening to praise music whenever possible. Mostly in the car. KLove has lots of stations all over the country-that’s the station I listen to. Praising God helps me look at Him and builds up my spirit. I have struggled at times with deep depression. I find exercise very helpful in improving my mood. Even a short walk around the block helps.

    • Jesus4me on May 15, 2015 at 3:30 pm

      When children are verbally abused or they witness it in their mother it can cause Borderline Personality disorder. This happened to one of my daughters and I could kick myself for staying so long. Most people w BPD are addicts from their former abuse and that has happened to her too. Warn young mothers to get serious help or get out before their spouse destroys their children. I have seen the same abuse in my ex father in law and it is truly generational sin. His wife became an alcoholic so your pain will come out later in life in a bad way.

  10. Survivor on March 11, 2015 at 12:54 pm

    These are 3 very good points!! Things I did not know early in my marriage, I am trying to learn now and am getting monster repercussions for it!! I am managing to scrape together enough strength–by relying on God and listening to the Holy Spirit–to stand up to my abusive husband but I am nowhere near strong enough to stand in the face of the onslaught of criticism from others that follows. This week is about to break me but when I even ask for help, I am guilt-tripped! How does a woman become strong enough to stand on her own with very little local support?

    • Becca on March 11, 2015 at 12:56 pm

      YOU NEED LOCAL SUPPORT. If the people you seeking support from now don’t see it or are not helpful then find someone else. Keep going until you find someone who is willing to love you through the mess you are in. If you have a Celebrate Recovery Group close-by that might be a good place to start. They are equipped to love and support people in a way that I have never ever seen in the church before!

      • Debbie on March 11, 2015 at 1:32 pm

        Celebrate Recovery was an awesome help to me. I grew tremendously while working thru that program.

        • Survivor on March 11, 2015 at 2:20 pm

          Thanks Becca and Debbie. There is a CR group in my area but I have been unable to go lately due to a lack of child care and the children’s program at that one is not running right now b/c the one who was doing had surgery and is having difficulty recovering. I am sorry to be such a downer right now but I am really struggling and it just feels like something is conspiring to take away all the good things I had in place that were helping me make progress. Much prayer needed!!!

          • Melanie on March 17, 2015 at 10:49 am

            So sad to hear about your lack of support, but honestly remember, the monster repercussions will not stay Monstrous for long… and the beauty of them is they are exposing truth.

            I remember thinking, Oh my God, did I do this? My husband was never breaking things and punching doors and scaring my kids before I started standing up for myself… And it struck me, this is the Escalating Behavior I read so much about. It has a goal and a purpose. Well, so do I– My goal and purpose is to follow God and Glorify him.

            I was getting criticized about my response to him… not by everyone but by people who I valued greatly… how could you even think about divorce, God hates divorce… it took so many years to realize that God loves me… he hates divorce because of what it represents– a hardened heart of someone who refuses to repent, who refuses to love…

            I wasn’t that person. I was pleading with him for insight and strength and wisdom. No one who judged me worked harder on their marriages than I did– they didn’t have to!

            One of my leaders, one who stood before me and pleaded my case for filing for divorce from my husband before the elders of our church, texted me one day in the midst of this: To her own master, she stands or falls; and she will stand, for the Lord is able to make her stand.

            I told him recently I didn’t even know what he meant by that until I read the passage in Romans 14 years later: the context of the verse is judging someone else’s servant, someone whose faith might be weaker or stronger. It takes a strong faith to grab hold of God’s grace when it doesn’t fit into a nice little easy package. To hear him speak to you, to hear him tell you I love you more than this, that this isn’t about following rules, it’s about following me…

            I pray you never forget it:
            To your own master you stand or fall; and you will stand, for the Lord is able to make you stand.

  11. Alene on March 11, 2015 at 3:10 pm

    I thought I was supposed to trust in the Lord and do good, Psalm 37. I tried to walk with patience, love, and perseverence, speaking words of light. I persevered. I held on for the kids. About … ten years ago my doctor noticed I was struggling and said, you can tell him “I don’t want you to talk to me like that.” wow. I was committed to marriage, didn’t want to give up, had a lot of hope, prayed. I didn’t have a plan B if he didn’t change. I didn’t listen to the words he was saying that he didn’t want to change, after all, he was a Christian right? and should know better…and God can work . I guess I felt like giving up would be like giving up on God. My sister in law said about something else “my husband would never get away with that” and I thought HOW do you do that??? I truly didn’t know how to stand in such a way as to make a difference. I have been slowly learning for a couple of years now. I have to learn in steps and slowly gain understanding. I tried marriage counselling at various points but Leslie’s point that if both people are not interested in improving the marriage, and if there are destructive elements, mutual counselling is not advised now makes so much sense. When I got help for me, that is when things began to change. I tried to hold on for the kids, yes, thinking it was best to stay BUT also feeling like he would pull them towards him and away, a real possibility. I needed strength to stand strong in the face of very strong problem patterns. I sought some counsel…she didn’t really recognize it as abuse though. The domestic violence shelter is taking it one step further for me. Until I see it clearly, and name it, I can’t deal with it well. Outside sources are helping me to see what I can do with these tough patterns. I am 26 years into the marriage. I wish when I had known how to seek help earlier…to seek help myself…and that when I did approach two churches that they had had something to offer besides…nothing. I needed help. It is so very difficult when someone you should be able to trust is not trustworthy and you feel alone.

    • Leonie on March 11, 2015 at 10:37 pm

      It would be amazing to have the peer support in my church, maybe I need to get bolder and disclose what is going on to a few close friends at my church, they might come alongside us with support and encouragement. My pastor is very hands off and is telling me to call a shelter but I wish he would be willing to speak to my husband. I would much prefer the peer support, I feel like the system is very much ” get him” – which I think might escalate and make the situation dangerous and would love if the guys in our church would get involved like the small group in Leslie’s example and my husband may be more receptive and far less threatened as well.

      • Leslie Vernick on March 12, 2015 at 2:00 am

        Leonie I wish church’s would get more involved. We play it “too safe” We don’t want to get our hands dirty. And we are impotent and ineffective that way.

  12. Repol on March 11, 2015 at 11:46 pm

    I do think knowing this would have helped me–would have prevented an emotional breakdown. I stood a long time under abuse, without realizing it was abuse. As that clarity came, though, I did not have support from believers. All the “you must stay; God hates divorce; it’s up to you to endure a destructive marriage, for better or for worse, even unto death” –those opinions from my church were what really helped me break down. I expected support and got more condemnation, more “you are worthless.” I do not think, however, that setting boundaries earlier would have helped my husband. Even after moving to a more supportive church which hit such sins head on and set boundaries and expectations for him, nothing changed. He liked the physical benefits of being married. He liked having a target on a daily basis. He did not care about boundaries. He would say whatever he needed to in order to escape the moment, and then return to the same pattern as soon as he was off scott-free. Nothing would have worked.

    • Anewanon on March 14, 2015 at 11:27 pm

      Same is true here that none of this would have helped. In fact, none of it DID help. I am in the been there done that phase of getting “church” or “ministry” support. Any type of pressure from the outside only serves to help the abuser conform, so long as it doesn’t get too hard and so long as there are “benefits” for him too. It also gives HER a false sense of security – now that she feels “safer” with others validating her. Well that safety net drops our from under her the moment HE decides that thsi all ain’t working and he quits. Then she is left with a big empty basket of hope. Or rather a big basket of “hope deferred”, which we all know “makes the heart grow sick”. And sicker I got after each cycles of “this is too hard, when are YOU going to work on YOUR issues. Jesus did not go to the cross for a bride who was working on her issues. She loved us and died for us will all our spots blemishes and wrinkles. And THAT is what a husband is called to do. If he has conditions, then he is not transformed into a follower of Christ. He is still ME focused. He is NOT focused on loving her and no amount of cajoling by the wife or the wife’s support system is gonna change that. Only God can change hearts. Her job is to accept what IS and respond to THAT appropriately. If done early in the marriage, then I agree she may have saved herself many lost YEARS. But for most cases, standing up for herself marks the beginning of the end of the marriage, sadly. But it is also the beginning of a newfound freedom in Christ and the in the image that God wants her to see herself. Hearts cannot be protected when “submitting” to “doubleminded” men. THAT type of submission is NOT fitting unto the Lord.

  13. Donna on March 12, 2015 at 12:06 am

    My husband and I have been married now for 38 yrs. A year ago with the help of Respectfully yours I got off the crazy cycle and am attempting to respect my husband. When we were first married…I knew nothing…my husband was abusing and paranoid…I could do nothing, go no where…I was afraid of him…he confessed to be a Christian and we were somewhat “told” we should be married by the church we attended…my husband drank to excess, did drugs and there I was little sweet Christian girl having no idea what was going on…he worked away from home and when our 3 kids were old enough I went back to school. We left the only home I had ever known and moved to Milwaukee, WI where he worked 7 pm until 7 am, I left at 7 am and got home around 5 pm…life was not good…I was screamed at to have dinner ready keep the kids quiet, have weekends organized and everything packed so we could drive to the lake where he slept in the car, I slept on the beach and I don’t know what the kids were doing…I hated Milwaukee and we moved to Alaska where I taught school for 20 years…my husband stopped working full time in 1989 when we moved to Alaska and became disabled in 2001…he has not worked since…in 2008 my husband became paranoid schizphrenic and “we” or I dealt with it by having the troopers transport him to a local clinic where they put him to sleep for awhile and sent hm home. I took early retirement in 2009 to get out of Alaska and closer to people I knew. We ended up in a little town in Redfield, NY where I love my church family…my husband does not go to church. In 2012, Nov. my son in Alaska called the troopers in Ny to come check on things…my husband was taken to a county mental health ward…it was awful and peaceful at home….then he came home and started to rip the electric out of the house and was taken back to county mental health…I never never wanted to see him again…but he was my husband and mental health was not his fault…right…finally was given a prescription which helps with his mental illness…he takes one of the two pills per day…so Now….My husband loves me, wants to be with me all the time, wants us to be in bed together all the time…me…I have no idea what love is…I don’t love…I have dogs, I love them…I want to get healthy, go to church, Bible studies and have a real life…I don’t know how to do it….I can’t get the bad things out of my head…he forgets them, says things never happened….I can remember every bad thing….I am 61…I would like being happy for awhile…to be left alone to relax…I don’t know.

    • Leslie Vernick on March 12, 2015 at 1:59 am

      Wow you are going thru a lot. Please take some time to take care of yourself, get the support you need to make wise choices. It’s not all about your husband but also about you. YOU are important and valuable too.

    • Susan C on May 16, 2015 at 3:11 pm

      My dear dear friend and sister in Christ, I’m so sorry for what’s happened to you and to everyone else. It’s beyond grief. I too am struggling with what to do. Foe me its 15 years of control and manipulation, fear,anxiety . Depression. These posts you’all talk about has given me courage little by little, gaining strength to leave. It’s dangerous and scary on staying and dangerous and scary on leaving. I must make a choice and all of you have helped me. I hope one day we could all be together. God bless and God speed!

  14. Leslie Vernick on March 12, 2015 at 2:02 am

    You’re come to a great place of acceptance and love – to help you grow, to see things more clearly and to work on you. You can get stronger. You can gain clarity. You can become a God-centered woman rather than a husband centered woman. Stay in this process and God will show you how.

    • Leslie Vernick on March 12, 2015 at 1:47 pm

      Island girl – there is help available. You can join an on-line support group, you can go to Celebrate Recovery in you area, you can go to your local domestic violence shelter and attend a support group there for free and ask for referrals for competent counselors in the area of emotional abuse. Helplessness is feeling, not a reality. It’s crucial right now that you not listen to the lies inside your own head, the lies from the enemy and the lies from your husband and start to get yourself healthy. Even if you go to counseling just for yourself right now, that’s a start.

    • Cyndy McCollum on March 12, 2015 at 9:30 pm

      God is your Daddy. He loves you immensely! He can –and is willing to–provide EVERYTHING you need. I am proof!

    • Anewanon on March 17, 2015 at 12:29 pm

      > to help you grow, to see things more clearly and to work on you.
      I struggle with these words whenever and wherever I hear them, Leslie. And I don’t mean to be cantankerous nor argumentative when I write this, but rather, I am writing to invite dialogue.
      There are many places in God’s word that (IMHO) define the laws surrounding marriage similarly to those governing, say, physics. For example, there is absolutely NOTHING we can do the escape the effects of gravity. NOTHING. It WILL pull us to the earth, period. No one can escape that reality. God made it that way – usually for our good 99.9% of the time. (Probably 100% if we could see it from God’s perspective.) Likewise, the Bible states on plenty of occasions that the natural pull of a wife is towards her husband…

      In Genesis 3 … your “desire” shall be for your husband
      In Song of Solomon .. daughters are charged “not to awaken love (desire) until the time is right”
      In 1 Pet 3:7 … she is the “weaker vessel” deserving of honor
      In Eph 5 and in 1 Cor 11 … “for man is the HEAD of the wife”

      She was created FROM Adam.
      She receives new life (sperm) from him.
      Science once again backs up Gods word: her brain experiences the bonding agent of oxytocin FROM from her relations with a man (hopefully her husband).
      God CREATED ALL OF THIS. I am not saying she is lesser of a human being, but God created her to NATURALLY hunger FOR a good relationship. She was created to naturally, willing and usually voluntarily be submissive. It is what makes her GOOD because Adam was NOT to be alone. It makes her vulnerable to him and it is God ordered and God created. She is not commanded to Agapo love her husband (ever!) because she ALREADY does! She was MADE that way. When he is a good leader, it is her natural tendency (and if not natural, then it is her Christian bent) to sit back and breathe a deep sigh of relief and “follow” or submit to his good lead “as unto the Lord”. And when that happens, all is well.
      And when he is NOT being a good leader, but rather is abusing his role, it is NOT the wife’s fault that she is having trouble submitting, or trouble with feeling at ease, or trouble hearing from God, or trouble feeling loved, or being in the spirit. She is affected or “pulled” by him much like we are pulled by gravity. She is affected by him as the weaker vessel. She is fed death, not life. She can’t change the fact that her HEAD is deadly.
      And so I have a problem whenever I hear or read > to help you grow, to see things more clearly and to work on you.< because in it lies the suggestion of more blame. Now whether or not that suggestion is intentional or if it comes from her (or my) wounded hearing system, it doesn’t really matter. And here’s why: she readily takes in that “she needs” to make herself better in order to make her marriage better, to make life better. She believes that “She MUST be doing something wrong”, when in fact she is actually doing everything RIGHT (where the marriage is concerned) as a natural responder (responding rightly to the death he feeds her). God needs her to be this way for a season (1 PET 3:1 is that season) and if God can’t use her natural responses to “help” this husband see the error of his ways, then God gives her a pass to get OUT of the marriage in 1 cor 7:11 (and in plenty of other scriptures that speak of not associating with sinners and of letting unbelievers depart)
      Husbands have the power, the God given source of life and strength or source of death. The ONLY way she can be unaffected by this “power” if he uses it incorrectly is to CUT the power ‘OFF’.
      So frequently when a wife sees: “help you grow” or “to help you see things more clearly” and to “work on you”, the last thing she expects to hear next is about turning away from the husband (to be his true ezer knegdo). Instead her first ‘go to’ is to presume that SHE is inadequate – just as her husband has made her to feel up to now (“his woman you gave me Lord”). So, I was wondering if we can find a way to re-assure the wife that, up to now, she has done EXACTLY as God has called her to do. She has been the responder that God created her to be. There is NOTHING WRONG with her. She has done everything right. Where the marriage is concerned, is NOT HER FAULT that she is AFFECTED by the death he feeds her. This is not due to some immature area inside her. She was created to respond and to blossom under the authority and life and strength of a God-surrendered husband.
      When he does not fulfill his role rightly, then YES she DOES have some unexpected, uninvited, unanticipated work to do. And it is work that she did NOT sign up for and say “I do” to either. It is work that the enemy dumped on her. And the enemy’s pawn or his agent is her husband’s selfish act of surrendering to his flesh instead of to God.
      So even though she must rise up and become someone who she never anticipated becoming, I want to find a way to assure her that this is God’s path and plan “for her life” even though it veers off God’s “perfect design for marriage”. It veers off HER dream or the desire of her heart for a “perfect marriage”. This is God asking her to give up her “dream” for Him. The husband BROKE their marriage, God’s design for marriage. And in God’s created order, the wife does not have the power to put it back together. The husband IS the head. And without the husband’s lead and agreement (I don’t care HOW MANY pop psychology books you read on this subject) it is an exercise in futility to even try. Moreover, she won’t get the voluntary agreement of a carnal man until the HUSBAND decides for himself that he wants to surrender to God. And she will soon learn that he won’t really decide for that type of surrender until he HAS to. (the road is narrow and FEW will enter) And, He won’t get to that point so long as she stays and submits to him and enables his sinful ways. He would have no reason to surrender. Thus she has a decision to make.
      So her “new growth” that she is now FORCED to do is in making God her only focus and turning away from her husband. We cannot serve two masters. And if the husband is not serving God, then, neither can we when we are married as one flesh to him. It is a tough path to walk. She didn’t choose it nor would she wish it on her worst enemy. Neither would Jesus have wanted to walk the path to Golgotha if he could have opted out. But he had the choice to choose God and so he walked. SO too, to wives, the choice to follow God sometimes looks very different than what the carnal men would have us think when demanding that women submit to their twisted and self-serving idea of God’s word.
      Oftentimes we have to come out from under the carnal man before we can hear clearly from God.

      • Anewanon on March 17, 2015 at 12:59 pm


      • anniehall on March 23, 2015 at 5:12 pm

        Amen and amen to this Anewanon! Thank you, this is SO true! and plainly spoken!!

  15. Olivia on March 12, 2015 at 10:25 am

    This knowledge would have definitely shortened my learning curve. I would have left in my 2nd year of marriage when we didn’t have children. I only stayed out of pride. Everybody had said we weren’t going to make it (because I married just out of high school, etc). I was strong-headed enough to want to prove them wrong. Alongside that was the understanding that Christians aren’t supposed to divorce. If I had known all of this then, and had support, I probably would have left. Thirty-two years ago today, I said “I do”. I have prayed for years for me, for him. I have asked, pleaded, begged and invited him to change. I have prayed. I have stood between him and the children. I have prayed and prayed and prayed and prayed. He has always denied his anger, blamed it on me or whatever, the kids, whoever else, etc. Just recently, I gently approached him again about his anger towards me. He got mad about me bringing it up, and in a “YOU are TOTALLY LUDICROUS” tone, he angrily told me that if I couldn’t see how he had changed and if I couldn’t see he wasn’t angry anymore like he had been in the past, then it was because I wasn’t looking or trying to see it. I was bashed by him, but at least he did admit that he did have anger issues. Until this angry retort from him, he has always held his ground that he is completely fine, and has no anger issues at all and that I am the one with the problem. I will be talking to him about separating this Saturday. I have worked and worked on me so I can separate well. I wish him no ill or malice now. I wish him health. This is my wake-up call to him. I would like for us to be reunited. I love him. Yet, I know it is best for him to see himself and his sin. Hopefully, he will truly repent and change.

    • Leslie Vernick on March 12, 2015 at 1:48 pm

      LEt us know how it goes on Saturday. Praying.

    • Listening Ear on March 12, 2015 at 5:40 pm

      thank you for sharing your heart
      I wiil be praying for you and your family
      I am in s similar siutation….where do you think all that anger comes from? Dont know if it really makes a difference as we have no contril over it.

  16. Cyndy McCollum on March 12, 2015 at 9:26 pm

    ABSOLUTELY!!! All 3 were very significant for me. God brought me a few key people and educational resources at the right time when I was spirituallyrics andemotionally ready.

  17. Becca on March 13, 2015 at 8:51 am

    I have found these all to be helpful for the very same reasons!

  18. […] then I read this post by Leslie Vernick about the things that we need to help women understand so abuse can be stopped earlier. So good! Leslie’s book, The Emotionally Destructive Marriage, is one of our March picks for […]

  19. Aleea on March 13, 2015 at 8:41 pm

    Shortening the learning curve (-If you can only realize it’s you.)
    Here is the way I think about it: If you were on a deserted island, by yourself and one morning saw a bruised and battered child that had washed up onto the reef, -what would you do? You can see the child is bleeding, battered, caught on the reef. What would you do? Would you say “Wow, look at that! –That child needs a lot of care and has been through enormous emotional and physical trauma but the water is over my head near the reef and I can’t swim.” Would you then just turn and walk away saying: “I’ll pray for that child.” –Or, would you (praying every step of the way for God’s help) really reach inside and tap your UNSEEN POWER, -grabbing some material that floats: wood, plastic sheets, whatever you had and rescue this child even though you can’t swim? Even if it meant learning NEW skills, totally depending on God to help you, really reaching deep inside? Once rescued wouldn’t you then nurture, love, protect, and care for that child? Okay. . . . 
    That child is YOU. . . .that’s you. . . . .We are in our own care, each of us! Why would we do for someone else but not ourselves? How sick is that? Show up for yourself. You are in charge of your heart (guard it -without walling it off, love it, clean it, forgive it, keep it committed to the Lord). Love yourself well, parent yourself, heal your broken parts, disinvest from all those relationships that keep you stuck. It is not just your husband, it could be your parents, your friends, –And it could even be you. We often need to divest ourselves from dysfunctional parts of ourselves. The broken parts of the “factory of you” that need replacement/ repair.
    Positive Peer Pressure:
    We have a current tax case against a large medical clinic in a major city. When at the location last year and this year, I noticed on the walls, on the doors, in the exam rooms, in the ladies room, my colleague told me even in the men’s room (I went in and verified that because I could not believe in the men’s room too!), are message posters about how to recognize abuse; report abuse; get help for abuse. I asked one of the doctors there, she said it was not a temporary awareness campaign they had those up all year long. Now that’s progress!!! One day there will be a low tolerance for abusive behavior coupled with real costs for perpetrators and lots of peer pressure (Studies show peer pressure is very effective: American Medical Association, RE: “Screening for Domestic Violence in a Community Pediatric Setting,”, “Changing Abusive Men,” “Improvement Lies in the Entire Community Doing a Better Job of Holding Men Accountable,” “Intervention Systems: Issues, Outcomes, and Recommendations,” “Confronting Abusive Beliefs: Group Treatment for Men,” “Ending Men’s Abuse.”) Moreover, there are just too many professional women who are financially independent and that will only increase with time.   Attorneys I know in that area tell me the court systems have the same changing attitudes toward abusive men. If the trajectory holds, it should be as sensitive as racism before long. This is obviously win/win because the lives of women, children and men are just eviscerated by abuse.
    It is heartbreaking that men don’t understand what marvelous responders women really are. A woman gets an environment of sincere, ongoing affection, caring, protection, nurture, thoughtfulness, she just blossoms. Men have no idea, no idea how much fun that is too. We destroy men and women through the stereotypes we project onto them. Men can’t be tender or they are homosexuals and real men don’t love Jesus –that’s homoerotic, women can’t be aggressive without being called the most vulgar things, etc.
    The Lord is not served by us playing small, shrinking so that others don’t feel spiritually inadequate or spiritually insecure. God wants us so close to Him that we are radiating His glory. When we do, we liberate others from all their fears and give them permission to do the same. Look at part of this e-mail exchange I had recently with a women whose husband really gets it (creates that environment I talked about above) and she is really born again (Her commitment to Christ just rebukes me):
    “. . . . . . That is what I want!!!  The biggest possible faith. And Him to work mightily among His people to bring a massive Great Awakening!!!!!!!!! My ministry is nowhere near as important as us seeking the true Prize. I am desperate for Him. I can do nothing on my own. I want to be fully, totally submitted to Christ and I want His power flowing through me fully. I want to be in the very center of His will – whatever that may be. Jesus is the Treasure. The Pearl of Greatest Price. How I pray that He might live through me so that I can live in a way that is worthy of Him and all that He has done for me!
    Thank you for praying with me and for walking beside me on this journey, my dear sister!
    Much love, . . . . . . “
    Get your marriage or NOT marriage as solid as it can possibly be but remember, what’s eighty years compared to an eternity? We went too far in the church only focusing on heaven and hell and now we live like there is nothing even after this life.
    One Last Thing That Might Help: Only Accept Systematic Theology

    Realize that that theology has to be systematic. Only accept systematic, integrated holistic conclusions. That means when you say “______” you have to account for ALL the others Bible verses and issues that impact “______.” Not just bumper sticker lines: “God Hates Divorce” “You Will Convert Your Husband If Allow Him To Abuse You Enough” Those are not a systematic, integrated holistic conclusions. That’s proof texting conclusions. We can’t operate under the “Here is what I want to say, now let me find a verse or two to `prove’ it approach.” (I know I do that here too, I know and I apologize. . .but when I have tried to put everything in the comment box, it crashes. More than this, unfortunately, no one will tolerate comments going on for 60 plus pages –but it would be a good comment –I can tell you that– because it would be a systematic, integrated and holistic conclusion not T-shirt message Christianity: “Wife Submit!”)
    -And, as always, my disclaimer: Listen to the Holy Spirit’s guidance. If you don’t have the Holy Spirit, repent and ask God for Him. Ensure you have the Holy Spirit witnessing to your spirit that you are born again and let’s all keep “examining ourselves” (2 Corinthians 13:5) and then let the Holy Spirit lead us (Leslie’s “O” of the CORE).

  20. Robin on March 14, 2015 at 12:39 am

    Do I think the things Leslie listed above, would have shortened the learning curve for me?? Yes, I do. I was neither emotionally or spiritually mature. I came from an alcoholic family, that didn’t talk, and certainly spoke no truths. We were to remain silent. I went into marriage thinking A Godly wife makes her husband the center of all. It is my job to please him. All I saw was anger. I had noone available to share with me his rage was abuse. I didn’t know the truth about many things. I didn’t even know, I had permission to walk out of my destructive relationship. I wish I could have had some books like Leslie’s and esp her video’s. I wish women in the churches I attended, would have not closed their eyes and pretended they didn’t know what was going on in my home and walk away. I wish just one leader or Pastor or good friend would have said, lets stand up against this abuse, this is wrong, and God hates it. I think mentor/leaders and people who are standing up against abuse, training church leadership and women in pain could have been most helpful. I felt all alone, and couldn’t understand why noone stepped in. But I also realize I came from a very unhealthy family of origin, and that it would be years before I would be able to ‘hear the truth’. But I still wish that a supportive person could have come sooner, to help me get my children out of a destructive environment. I am thankful today for the supportive persons who have come into my life, and walk closely by me, spurring me on to more and more truth. Thank you Jesus!! But having to go thru so many years of wondering why noone was coming, seems like it is turning into my purpose. I will get training. I will make myself available to hand a abused woman a cup of water, or her and her children a safe place to spend the weekend while they are making a plan of escape. I have a mission now. Be involved, help educate and inform, and be that person someone needs as God sends them ……………. May we all be faithful to do this and more.

    • Robin on March 14, 2015 at 12:49 am

      I don’t want to be heard saying, I was looking for a person to rescue me. Only God could do that. But I am saying, too many people saw what was going on and ignored the abuse. Because of the dysfunction of the family I came from, I needed a wise woman to help me find the truth I needed. I am so grateful today, to feel I know the Truth, due much to the books and info I have available, and the wonderful counselors who have comealongside. Its an awful thing, to feel so alone, while so entrenched in abuse. I believe God does everything in His Perfect Timing. I love how on this blog a force is being built, to battle this war against abuse. Amen. Amen.

      • Robin on March 14, 2015 at 1:48 pm

        I think Leslie’s 3rd point – positive peer pressure would have made a world of difference for me. When I married, I had just received Christ into my life and very much wanted to live a life that would please God. Unfortunately my husbands family was heavily in a Conservative Baptist denomination and all I heard was SUBMIT SUBMIT SUBMIT. I also heard a woman is to serve her husbands needs. I didn’t have anyone to tell me differently. While I take responsibility now for thinking for myself now I did not think I had permission to do anything else. I wish there had been a strong advocate saying this is abuse, he is sinning against his family, and you have options. Looking back at all the obstacles, yes I believe education, spiritual guide, and having church people stand with me rather than against me, would have changed the direction of my life. But I can honestly say I forgive myself and understand that sometimes it will take more than 2 years for a woman to get healthy enough– to make the kind of changes I now have. I’m very grateful for all the wise women that have come into my life, willing to stand up against abuse .

  21. Aleea on March 15, 2015 at 9:17 am

    I forgot to add: RE: Shortening the learning curve by writing Christian women speakers and their organizations   
    Unfortunately, lots of popular Christian women speakers (-including lots of women who affiliate with LifeWay, etc., —-Wonderful, good, solid Christian women who do lots of honorable things for the Lord) –few- ever give women in difficult situations any specific guidance to discern the will of God in terms of parameters of abuse: submission, separation, divorce, etc. In fact, it is like they can’t get off that topic quick enough. Oh, many mention it only in wandering generalities but NOT meaningful specifics (-like a compliance checkbox, -okay I mentioned it-style.) This is a glaring omission and comes from their “theology” not being systematic, integrated or holistic. These women are no doubt shaped by their failures to recognize the reality of spiritual immaturity, serious sin, and real abuse in Christian homes (–Just lots and lots of flat-out unregenerates! RE:What happens when their sometimes non-systematic, ivory-tower theory goes “live” with controlling immature responses, narcissistic personality disorders, high-conflict, emotionally-absent sex-addicts, etc?) –Sure, the Christian men they know treat their wives as precious treasures. They dote on them, admire them, depend on them, rejoice in them, cherish them, praise them, and sacrifice for them, while it is wonderful that this has been their experience of Christian men, it is simply NOT representative of the realities of many “Christian” homes. Numerous godly individuals in Scripture were persecuted by domestic and religious authorities and repeatedly had to refuse to submit to them. You know them: David, Abigail, Elijah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Peter, John, Stephen, Paul, and most significantly, Christ himself. It is often overlooked that Christ’s religious authorities were the Sadducees and the Pharisees. He defied their authority virtually the entire period of his three year public ministry. We all know men who come to church, who claim to be saved but inside there is no light in them. They are not in danger of losing their reward. They’re in danger of hell. They don’t know God but who brings this up? (One wife recently told me her husband just tells her: “I’m as saved as you are, now drop it!” If I was “litigating” that case, I would –at that point- ask the judge for summary judgment, that statement says it all.) There is both a narrow gate to God’s Kingdom and a narrow way. We must walk in the narrow way. When many in churches doubt their salvation, very often they are told, “Did you pray a prayer?” but the Bible says to examine ourselves in the light of ALL of scripture (and keep doing it!) If you claim to have entered the narrow gate, but abuse your wife verbally, physically, emotionally, shouldn’t you be terribly afraid that you do not know God? The Lord and husbands, both are not served by us playing small, shrinking so that others don’t feel spiritually inadequate or spiritually insecure. When we really address issues, we liberate others from all their fears and give them permission to do the same and we help men to be rescued from God’s judgment (Us doing the right thing rescues them!!!). Given the potential harm to wives and children that ungodly, unhealthy and immature men cause, it is surprising and disturbing that so many Christian women speakers would state that the benefit of [biblical] submission is that the consequences of a decision falls on the husband and not the wife, —outrageous!!! unsystematic, unintegrated, unbiblical. So, we need to be writing to them and telling them. Everybody knows the lists of people and organizations. Even two line e-mails from us are far better than saying nothing. I write Christian women speakers and many times hear nothing back (-Okay a form letter comes back but mostly -just crickets). . . .That doesn’t mean they didn’t hear what I said or the Lord will not use it (-And they may just be waiting to “hear it” from more than one person). Our job is to be faithful, the battle belongs to the Lord. –But we are commanded to Occupy (not retreat) until our Lord marches in (1 Peter 5:8-11, Mark 13:13, Revelation 14:12, Isaiah 14:24, 1 Corinthians 16:13-14).

  22. Elizabeth on March 15, 2015 at 9:26 pm

    Olivia, how did it go on Saturday? I have been praying for you….

  23. Amy on March 16, 2015 at 10:02 am

    I find your comment “shouldn’t you be terribly afraid that you do not know God” intriguing given my current situation. I certainly would think so, but that has not proved to be the case with my husband. This is a man who grew up in the church, when to Christian school, read the Bible daily, STILL goes to church….but in reality does not live a Christian lifestyle – he won’t pray and says God doesn’t want to hear from me, at his absolute lowest moment said I don’t give a “bleep” about God. My comments / concern for his salvation are considered “nagging by him”. How can a man who is so aware of truth be so irresponsible. We certainly have issues but I don’t want the father of my children to end up in hell from crying out loud. For me it comes down to “not everyone stays on the narrow path” and “God will not be mocked”…..I have no clue – outside our marriage he is in serious jeopardy of hell in my opinion and could seriously care less… has no impact on him. Unbelievable and Sad.

    • Elizabeth on March 16, 2015 at 10:21 am

      I prayed for years for my husbands salvation. Now that he has accepted Christ (7 years now) his faith is extremely shallow. We can sit in the same church and hear the same message and he doesn’t want to talk about it or pray together or be in a small group or bible study. When reading your comment Amy I thought of free will. is it our job to make our husbands wake up? I’m learning the more I say the less he listens. So I continue to pray!

      • Amy on March 16, 2015 at 10:37 am

        Good point. I actuall no longer see it as my job to make him wake up. I say far less then I use to in the past….this change makes him nervous for sure and he bugs me to talk now. I must admit, this was a big big problem for me past – way way too much talking. I am much better now, certainly not perfect. He keeps approaching me now….it is probably hard for him to adapt to me being so quiet. I think as a Christian I just find it shocking that someone can know the consequences of their actions and have ZERO concern. He knows the consequences of turning your back on God! Since he has his life has spiraled – he doesn’t acknowledge that – of course I am to blame – he actually said he would flourish without me.

    • Aleea on March 17, 2015 at 1:17 pm

      You say “. . . How can someone who is so aware of truth be so irresponsible?” –I believe it is because applied saving faith is a gift from God alone. Your husband’s spiritual condition is a serious prayer concern and I will make it one. It is horrible when one spouse really has a heart for God and the other could just care less. Keep your heart as clean as possible, that keeps letting your husband know God IS real, there IS a narrow path, and God WILL not be mocked (as you said). But remember to guard your heart too, without walling it off, of course. Marriage is NOT: I will take care of your heart and you take care of mine. Only Jesus gets your heart and you are responsible to parent yourself –and parent yourself well- applying God’s love to any broken parts of yourself that need to healed (the factory of yourself, your CORE). We never lose responsibility for our OWN hearts! –And realize that your actions do impact your husband, even if he acts like they don’t. So let the Holy Spirit guide you. Keep cleaning your heart so God can pour His love into you. I can’t say enough good things about how effective keeping your heart clean is to your spiritual growth. Always remember, if you are redeemed, Jesus loves you, you have the greatest value; He gave His life for all you’re worth (Matthew 10:31) –But, still it is true that unsaved people will be cast into utter darkness, forever. That should keep us praying!!! My prayer is that you and your husband will always hear God’s voice and obey Him. I also pray that words I share might be in alignment with God’s Word  –but I ask you to always compare anything I say or anything anyone else says with the Bible before you accept it. If you see me say something that does not line up with God’s Word, please call me out on it. I only want to exalt Christ –I don’t ever want to detract from His wisdom and His Word.
      There is a certain verisimilitude to what you say. For some, this is NOT the way to influence him for Christ. Some husbands who are far from God, the more wives try to verbally move them towards God and towards us, the more they run the other way! Again, saving faith is a gift from God. I do think it is reasonable to conclude that a “saved” person who does not want to pray and does not want to talk about the things of God or read the Bible is unsaved. Your husband is a serious prayer concern too, so I will add him to my list. An unsaved husband cannot understand the concepts of dying to self, picking up our cross daily to kill our own pride and sinful nature and to live in the new self in Christ. That is foolishness to an unbelieving man.

  24. Carol on March 16, 2015 at 10:55 am

    You have expressed so well what I’ve been thinking. Even Christian women speakers who have been abused themselves don’t adequately speak about those things. Just as the general, safe topics don’t reach people devoid of empathy, the general, safe topics are more harmful to women in destructive relationships.

  25. Robin on March 16, 2015 at 1:36 pm

    So many good thoughts on shortening learning curve to stop abuse sooner. I’m so glad to hear so many sharing parts of their story as there are many different angles on this. The one that stuck out for me was how long it takes to recognize what the destructive behavior in your life takes- to finally know THIS IS ABUSE. We all come from different backgrounds and for some they have experienced some level of abuse– so a new abuse may seem uncomfortable but not totally unfamiliar . If you grew up in destructive behaviors with parents and siblings even the best books out there take a long time to penetrate — this is not to be acceptable behaviors. While it did take me 30 plus years to identify and be healthy enough to do something about it– I have chosen not to regret my history. Yes I have wished my story could have been different, but I have wondered if some of that is pride and arrogance. God allowed me to be brought up and thru abusive relationships – and perhaps His plan for me was to allow those scars to serve His Purposes, and not what I would have chosen. I’m going to trust Him, and yet be a strong warrior to speak Truth into sbusive situations, and thoroughly embrace my freedom today.

    • Robin on March 16, 2015 at 2:29 pm

      IF I was going to add anything to the above note I might say 2 things.
      1. If I could do one thing different Id like to have saved my children from what their painful experiences were, being raised in an abusive environment. But in my personal life, I struggle with that just a little because it has been my own pain, that has brought me to where I am today.
      2. I am deeply grateful for the *teachers/counselors/mentors that have walked beside this little girl, who needed a healthy parent very much. I so delight in knowing all of them were part of Gods Plan. It wasn’t a mistake even where some of them faltered, it was ALL OF HIM .
      My bottom line today feels like WE ARE WHERE WE CAME FROM. It seems, that considering how unhealthy my famy of origin was, had it not been an abusive relationship w/husband, it might had been porn or drugs or worse. I am at a place, that I can see that now. We are all born I to sinful situations. I might have been in my late 50,s when I turned the direction of my life, but age does not matter. All that matters- is that I chose well.

      • Robin on March 16, 2015 at 10:19 pm

        3 out of 4 don’t acknowledge the issues anymore and are angry at me for filing for divorce. They really don’t at this time understand the intensity of siciopath behaviors. Although they know what they grew up under and were abused.

        • Robin on March 16, 2015 at 10:23 pm

          I meant sociopath behaviors. My children have suffered greatly. They will come back to reality in Gods timing. Right now my husband has a strong manipulative, evil hold on them and they are confused.

        • Robin on March 16, 2015 at 10:26 pm

          They all have painful issues they are not ready to face. For that I very much grieve for their pain.

        • Robin on March 16, 2015 at 10:34 pm

          I would say to anyone thinking they are enduring a destructive relationship for sake of the children– please don’t!! You can’t save your children from abuse unless you show them by your courage the determination to stop participating in the abuse and leave it. Your precious children are looking at you as their example. Staying will not break the cycle.

  26. Elizabeth on March 16, 2015 at 6:34 pm

    Yes, Carol, those “safe” topics are so damaging because they give the abuser fuel for his defense and short circuit true repentance. I experienced this with too many counselors who simply did not understand emotional abuse and thought it was their job to put the marriage back together. No one was successful.
    I had never heard the term “attachment disorder” before but I think it is the same as emotional dependency. My h. had zero nurturing and unconditional love as a child. It was an alcoholic and prescription drug abuse type of home with both parents. As an adult who has never really grown up emotionally he continually looks for people to rescue him and of course he thinks that I am his main source. It has been hard for him since I have stepped back from rescuing him and doing for him what he must do for himself. It is very sad to watch and I am concerned for his salvation as well. Thank you for all your support.

    • Amy on March 17, 2015 at 8:04 am

      I apologize that this is so off topic and have looked elsewhere. There must be a way to type comments and not be restricted to seeing just a few words at a time in a tiny box. Help? Thanks Ladies

  27. Robin on March 16, 2015 at 11:46 pm

    Island Girl, I just read your post that said you try to cover up for him. Have you been successful at that?? In my life I found it was just keeping my husband dishonest as no one was Holding him accountable. For me I had to come to a place to see covering up for a destructive man is like pretending everything is okay. I wanted to live in a True Reality so I had to quit covering for him and let the chips fall where there may. Of course this means I had upset the apple cart, and could no longer hold things together. Everything started falling apart, as I became healthy and I started living from a truer place- honest and for not covering evil things did get ugly. But if you were to ask me today if I regretted those decisions, IT WOULD BE A BIG NO WAY!! The truth about our destructive husbands must be exposed. But you can do this. I did and so have many on this blog!!!!

  28. Remedy on March 17, 2015 at 12:12 am

    Oh my Aleea….thank you for that! You have articulated my thoughts precisely.

    • Aleea on March 17, 2015 at 10:36 am

      I hear you, clear and loud. It is an idol pulled in from the Corporate America culture of positive thinking and an aversion to a commitment to realism. It is completely enshrined as a dominant, mandatory, attitude. You either have positive —cheerful, optimistic, and upbeat things to say or “get to steppin!” –Most just want treacle! -Just mention that God hates abuse and abusers and has overwhelming serious judgment on them. Your time is UP! –So this becomes their reputation as well as their self-image. But more than a temperament, being positive, we are told, is the key to Christian success and “prosperity.” That pulls the rug right out from under our 1st “C” –Justice Department-style full disclosure.
      You can’t just tell people (or yourself) that they/you are cherished, esteemed, loved, and happy –when they are not! Reckless optimism causes individuals—and churches—NOT to plan for inevitable issues and disasters. On a personal level, it leads to self-blame and a morbid preoccupation with stamping out “negative” thoughts. We actually have to do something about it (RE: systems, procedures, teaching, support, awareness, real church discipline, actually censuring church members) even if that also involves some failures (-going too far in the other direction, male witch hunts, et. al.)
      —I never realized how good this approach was for the perpetrators. (RE: I will not allow you to stay emotional distant, abusive, have no interest in really following the Lord, wallow in being a carnal, counterfeit Christian, etc. We don’t love our husbands if we allow them to stay stuck, we are being selfish and harming them. –And we don’t love others and ourselves if we allow the “factory of ourselves” (our CORE) to remain broken producing defective product and dances year after year after year after year.) So we are actually facilitating saving people’s very souls.

  29. Carol on March 17, 2015 at 12:17 am

    Is it possible that the children show “adoration” as a way to stay on his good side and protect themselves from his hurtful behavior?

    • Robin on March 17, 2015 at 12:29 am

      DEFINITELY CAROL!! Children follow the one with the most power and control!!!

  30. Elizabeth on March 17, 2015 at 8:25 am

    Thank you, Robin. I needed that reminder to live in my true reality. I have been doing that but just yesterday I realized I was not doing it and being sucked in to just go along and maybe it will be alright. I know it will not and God has called me to speak the truth in love to this man. It does get ugly but I have the peace in my heart that I am being honest in my heart with God and to myself. It is God’s Spirit within me that gives life and not living in my flesh to try to keep the peace. I know now that is a dead end road. Blessings!

    • Robin on March 17, 2015 at 10:01 am

      Elizabeth it seems to me to be part of an abused wives process to question if she is living in a true reality- or are we settling for what we wish our reality was. I commend you for having ears to hear truth and want to act on it!!!! God bless as you walk towards it knowing living by conviction does bring an escalation of abuse. But I remember well how much it did for me – to walk honestly and not cowardly. God will carry you with every step!!!!

  31. Elizabeth on March 17, 2015 at 8:35 am

    Hi Amy, if you drag the lower right corner of the box it will open up for you….

  32. Monica on March 17, 2015 at 9:24 am

    I just want to say I love and admire all of you ladies. This blog is divinely from God. Thanks for sharing, being vulnerable, encouraging and even challenging! God bless you Leslie!

  33. Elizabeth on March 17, 2015 at 7:35 pm

    Thank you, Robin. One day at a time. One step at a time by faith….

  34. Amy on March 18, 2015 at 9:53 am

    Love it – definitely worthy of prayer….God don’t allow up to produce defective product or be in an unhealthy dance for years and years, Amen to that. Aleea you made me smile this morning. I not only had to look up scripture when reading your posts…when someone mentions I scripture I like to see for myself but I had to use a dictonary as well. A few of your words I had never in my lift heard before – yay to learning something new – I doubt I would be too good at crossword puzzels.

  35. Amy on March 18, 2015 at 9:55 am

    Ignore all my spelling. I am still having issues with my posts and can only see three words at a time, I’ll try something else.

  36. Aleea on March 18, 2015 at 12:52 pm

    Amy, I am so glad I made you smile.  I love to smile and laugh at myself and life, –it is just too, too crazy! –And the Lord is so, so good!!! –But I also know the matters here are very, very serious (Eternity, Abuse, Brokenness, etc.) and I would never want to appear as taking them lightly because I don’t, –Oh, I don’t.  I understand and then some!!! I know what you mean about typing into that text bar –I’m doing that on a BlackBerry cell, usually from a plane using WiFi (ha, ha, ha, ha. . . .—just think about that!!!) I never know what kind of a mess it will be when I actually see it “live” . . . . ha, ha, ha, ha.  Psalm 126:2 –I’ll put the whole verse here so you don’t have to look it up: Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, “The LORD has done great things for them.” –Oh, and verisimilitude means the appearance of truth, probability, likelihood. –Now, I used that word (–I’ll give you the FULL first “C” of the CORE answer here) . . . I used that word because Elizabeth made a real life –excellent- point that was so darn good that. . . Well, I was too childish to admit it and instead clouded the issue (obfuscated it) by admitting –merely- that her reasoning had the ring of truth. . . . I apologize to you Elizabeth!

  37. Brenda on March 19, 2015 at 7:42 am

    Leslie, you said: People who are emotionally healthy and spiritually mature are less likely to view “enduring” marital abuse a spiritual virtue. I don’t think this is only an issue for the person being abused, but the leadership in churches who preach this message.

    • Carol on March 19, 2015 at 2:33 pm

      So true, Brenda. Add counselors to that list.

  38. Survivor on March 20, 2015 at 8:08 am

    I am just realizing that, even though at this point I KNOW that my husband is abusive, there are still things I don’t understand–and I understood them FAR less 10 years ago. I learned by experience. I think that understanding what the abuse cycle looks like and how abuse–particularly manipulative mental abuse–works would have shortened the learning curve for me. Even now, he comes to me declaring how hard he is working, how much effort he is putting into changing, how different things are going to be, etc, etc……. Someone please tell me if I am wrong, but I am VERY skeptical at this point and extremely cautious about believing things that he SAYS–I need to see FRUIT before I get excited about change. So, he’s not getting the response from me that he wants. So last night, he ripped into me and told me that I am a hypocrite, I am judgmental, unforgiving, hateful…..and on and on…. I can’t even remember what all he said but it was a whole row and he was yelling at me. I can’t believe he didn’t wake the kids! And after all that, he is mad that I don’t believe that he is changed?! Really?! To me it looks like he just proved that he isn’t!!!!! 5 years ago I would have been feeling guilty for ‘being hypocritical, unforgiving, judgmental’, and whatever else he said…….for some reason, I would have felt that if he said he was changing, I should believe him. I still struggle with this–and can tend to feel guilty that I don’t trust him–but to somewhat of a lesser degree than before……

  39. Brenda on March 20, 2015 at 8:13 am

    If H were actually changing, he wouldn’t have to declare it. It would be obvious. You are completely correct. By turning right back to the same old thing. Yelling, accusing, name calling–he proved that he is the same old man that he was, a new man has not replaced him. It is not you dear and he is not going to change.

  40. Survivor on March 20, 2015 at 8:13 am

    Aleea, this is a powerful illustration!! Do you mind if I share it on Facebook? I am willing to do it with or without your name attached–whichever you prefer–if you permit me to share….

    • Survivor on March 20, 2015 at 8:17 am

      My comment posted at the bottom of this series of replies–I am referring to your illustration of the child washed up on the island….

      • Aleea on March 20, 2015 at 1:19 pm

        Survivor, sorry for the delay. You can share, modify, adapt, correct, et. al. anything you feel would help others -always. With name, without name, anything you feel would help others. That’s humbling!

    • Aleea on March 20, 2015 at 1:23 pm

      Survivor, sorry for the delay. You can share, modify, adapt, correct, et. al. anything you feel would help others -always. With name, without name, your name -anything- you feel would help others.

  41. Elizabeth on March 20, 2015 at 10:21 am

    I agree so totally with you Brenda. Survivor, you will know when there is real heart deep change and it will not have to be spoken. Ephesians 5: 6 speaks of “not being deceived by empty words”. Far too long I was deceived only to be devastated. Now I tell him “your words are empty to me” and end the conversation. Praying for you as you keep standing firm on true reality, Survivor.

  42. Andrea on March 20, 2015 at 3:45 pm

    Thanks! 🙂

  43. Stephanie on March 21, 2015 at 9:53 pm

    After 27 years of marriage, I finally left my alcoholic, narcissistic and borderline PD husband. The 3rd affair was his strike out. There was generational sin in his family and his mother is an alcoholic today because of the abuse she sustained from his dad. I now have a daughter who is on drugs because of the verbal abuse from her father (he picked on her). What I want to pass on to young mothers is that it’s not ok to stay in this kind of relationship because this is the end result. The pain that your husband is causing is NOT ok and it will resurface in you and your children in years to come and it is not worth it. God does not think that abuse is ok and his commandment is to love. Abuse is not love and sorry means different. If you haven’t seen anything different, then check into his past. Why does he continue to do and say the things that he does? If I would have only left sooner, the extent of the damage would be so much less for my daughter and I wish I could turn back the clock. Don’t make the same mistake that I did. God bless you as you ask for His discernment for your life.

  44. Caroline Abbott on March 24, 2015 at 7:36 pm

    I think the best part of your post was that men can affect and change other men with positive peer pressure. If more men will stand up against abuse, I believe there will be less abuse period.

    • Anewanon on March 24, 2015 at 7:48 pm

      In theory this would be nice to think that this works. But until the wife stands up for herself, it only works so long as it doesn’t get TOO HARD for the abusive husband. My reasons for saying this is because whenever our backs are to the wall we always default to old ways (unless there has been a real heart change). The old ways worked to keep the little wife in line before and those “other men” aren’t there in the moment to stop him from keeping her down now. Some how some way, she has to find a way to rise up and say NO on her own two feet. It is actually better for HER to have other guys come along and talk to her husband for it DOES VALIDATE HER. But to have much of an effect on the husband if the wife doesn’t also learn how to stand up will be a short lived proposition.

  45. Brenda on March 24, 2015 at 8:36 pm

    Amen!! Too many people think there is an easy fix for abuse. There isn’t.

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