What Constitutes Abuse?

Morning friends,

Recently I’ve seen a few comments on this blog and others questioning what behaviors or attitudes are considered abusive in a relationship. Some people object to singling out certain behaviors or attitudes as abusive. They say things like, “sin is sin.” Or “We’re all sinners.” I don’t disagree, all abuse is sin, but I think it’s critical that we get more specific.

For example, all cancer is illness, but lung cancer is a much different illness than a common cold and as such requires a much different treatment plan. When a doctor tells his patient, “You're sick,” he’s correct but imprecise. If the doctor doesn’t also tell his patient he’s sick with lung cancer, the doctor is not telling him the whole truth.

In the same way when we tell someone “you’re a sinner” that’s true, but if we’re not truthful with the kind of sin patterns that he or she has been blind to, then he/she won’t get the help necessary in order to stop.

Not all sin is the same, nor does all sin have the same consequences on other people that abusive action and attitudes have.


What Is Abuse?

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse is characterized by hitting, slapping, spitting at, punching, kicking, yanking (such as by the hair or limbs), throwing, banging, biting, restraining, as well as any other acts of physical coercion or violence directed at another person regardless of the person’s age. In addition spanking children could be considered physically abusive if it is done in anger, leaves marks on a child’s body, or is excessive.

Many people who abuse others through physical force or threats of force attempt to control and intimidate others through violence as well as create an atmosphere or environment of anticipated violence. They might punch a wall; wave their fist or gun in someone’s face.

These kinds of behaviors are abusive even if they do not result in visible injury to the victim. Abusive actions demonstrate profound disrespect for the well being of the other person. If someone did these same behaviors to a stranger or in public, his or her conduct would unquestionably be considered abusive and the perpetrator might even be arrested. Sadly many of these actions are done to people in their closest relationships behind closed doors.

Wherever there is physical abuse, there is always verbal and emotional abuse. Often sexual abuse is part of the overall abusive pattern.

Verbal and Emotional Abuse

Words and gestures are often the weapons of choice to hurt, destroy or control and dominate another person. We often underestimate the power of words to harm others and as Christians or people helpers we can be unsympathetic to those trapped in verbally abusive relationships.

We say things like “Don’t let it bother you.” Or “Just let it roll off your back.” We all remember the nursery rhyme, “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” But God knows how words affect our emotional, spiritual and physical health.

For example, Proverbs says, “Reckless words pierce like a sword” (Proverbs 12:18), and “Wise words bring many benefits” (Proverbs 12:14). “Gentle words are a tree of life, a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit” (Proverbs 15:4). “Kind words are like honey – sweet to the soul and healthy for the body” (Proverbs 16:24).

Most often we think of name calling, cursing, profanity and mocking when we think of verbal abuse. However, verbal abuse can also be more subtle or covert. Constant criticism, blaming, discounting the feelings, thoughts and opinions of another, as well as manipulating words to deceive, mislead or confuse someone are also abusive. Proverbs warns us, “The words of the wicked conceal violent intentions” (Proverbs 10:6b).

Emotional abuse can also be characterized by degrading, embarrassing publicly, or humiliating someone in front of family, friends or work associates.

Nonphysical abuse is more than using words to hurt another. Emotional abusers systematically undermine their victim in order to gain control. Abusers weaken others in order to strengthen themselves. They know what matters most to their target (for example, her children, his work, her appearance, her family, his pet, her friends) and they seek to destroy it.

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse occurs whenever a person forces an unwilling party into having sexual relations or perform sexual acts, even within marriage. While teaching a class on domestic violence at a seminary, a student challenged my definition.

The seminary student argued that 1 Corinthians 7 was biblical proof that forcing a wife to have sex with her husband could not be considered abusive because it was biblically wrong for a wife to refuse her husband. From his perspective, it was man’s God-given right to force his wife if she denied him.

It is true that the apostle Paul cautioned husbands and wives not to deprive each other of sexual relations except under special circumstances. However, Paul also wrote that husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church (Ephesians 5:25). Paul describes what that kind of love looks like: it is a giving and cherishing love, not a coercing or disrespectful love (Ephesians 5:1, Corinthians 13).

If a wife refuses her husband, whatever her reason may be, a loving husband would never respond to his legitimate disappointment by forcing his wife to have sex against her will. At most he might try to gently change her mind but likely he would accept her decision and try again another time.

If his wife regularly denies him, ideally he would pray for her as well or ask her what the problem is, encourage her to work on the problem herself, or ask her if she is willing to go for help together. Forcing his wife to have sex against her will reduces her to an object for him to use as he sees fit regardless of her feelings. That is not only degrading and disrespectful to his wife, it is abusive and in some circumstances considered to be rape.

Other forms of sexual abuse are touching someone sexually without their permission, pressuring someone to view or participate in pornography, talking to someone in sexually derogatory or humiliating ways, taking sexually explicit pictures without a person’s permission or making uninvited suggestive comments.

Financial Abuse

At the heart of abuse is an inordinate seeking of power over someone else. Money can be used as a powerful weapon to control another person. In marriage, couples ideally decide together on a budget and both parties share power and responsibility for the management of the family funds. When a wife (or a husband) is given no voice or no choice in the family finances, it’s abusive. When a wife (or husband) must be accountable for every penny spent but the other spouse is not, then there is an imbalance of power. The spouse that is accountable is being treated as a child instead of an adult. In addition, financial abuse occurs when one spouse (usually the wife who is staying home with children), has no idea how much money her husband earns, nor does she have any joint access to that money. She is given an allowance, much like a child instead of an equal partner.

Financial abuse serves to keep a spouse overly dependent upon the breadwinner or controlling spouse. If she displeases him, he punishes her by withdrawing financial support. It also can be used to keep her from getting necessary medical attention, counseling support, or educational advancement.

Spiritual Abuse 

We read about leaders of cults who brainwash their members into subservience and unquestioning compliance. This brainwashing process creates people who cannot think for themselves or make independent choices without incurring the wrath or rejection from the group. When an individual, whether he be a cult leader, a pastor, or a head of a home requires unquestioning allegiance to his authority as the “voice of God” spiritual abuse is taking place.

In addition, spiritual abuse is misusing scripture to get one’s own way, to shame and judge others, who do not do things your way, or to threaten and intimidate someone into compliance.

The important component of abusive behavior whether it is physical, emotional, sexual, financial or spiritual is control over the mind, will, and feelings of another person.

Abuse treats someone as if he or she were an object to control and use rather than a person to love and value (tweet that).

Abuse of any kind is not only sinful; it is emotionally destructive and negates the personhood of the victim. Having a healthy relationship with another person is impossible when there is any kind of ongoing or unrepentant abuse.

Friends, are there any other definitions or categories of abuse that you have experienced?


  1. Lisa on February 24, 2016 at 7:27 am

    I believe that another action of abuse is aggressive driving with you as a passenger. There were four times in my life when my now ex husband was screaming at me in the car and I was sure he was going to Intentionally kill us both with excessive speeds ( 100 mph in a 40 zone) and overt dangerous driving.

    • Emily on February 25, 2016 at 3:26 pm

      Yes – thanks for adding that…my husband also drove erratically with us on the car..slammed on his breaks in the middle of the interstate, and drove fast to scare me, or get the kids’ attention. I tried to tell my church leaders, but they minimized everything. My husband would also control use of the car, since we only had one and he used it for work.

    • Ella on February 27, 2016 at 9:02 pm

      I have dreams sometimes of my husband driving erratically and me not having any control over what happens. I’ve been in a cyclic abusive relationship for over 20 years and each time something happens my husband will change the narrative to match his own definition of what happened. Especially when things get physical which they just started to. He wouldn’t let me pass through a doorway but I stood up to him and he shoved me so hard that I ended up flat on my back. His narrative was “I felt threatened.” He drinks, gets angry, wants sex and can’t understand why I’m not in the mood. He regularly accuses me of getting it somewhere else. For years he went to church but stopped suddenly 5 years ago and things have gotten worse. The difficult part is that he is in the legal field so he knows exactly what to say. I don’t have enough money to leave and the few people I’ve told (all Christian) say things like they’ll pray for me and that God can change him.

      • Ruth on February 28, 2016 at 9:46 pm

        What a manipulator!
        I am so sorry you’re in this situation. The next time he lays a hand on you call the police or drive there. Establish a record of his domestic abuse. You should consult a lawyer of your own just to know what your options are. Maybe you’re entitled to more than you think.

        • Ella on February 29, 2016 at 8:15 am

          Ruth, thank you. I haven’t wanted to call all the other things he has said and done abusive… Not until it turned physical but I have been experiencing forms of abuse for years and just came to realize and admit this. Thank you for sharing your story here. I can relate in ways I wish I couldn’t and have tried to bury. I’m beginning to understand that this approach only works for a while. You are right about contacting a lawyer. Thank you.

          • Ruth on February 29, 2016 at 11:33 am

            Ella: How old are your children?
            I’m sorry no one in your church wanted to get involved.

      • Roxy on February 29, 2016 at 9:04 pm

        Woman’s shelter here in pa told me they would help me with a relocation fund of $1500 if I left and my church has a benevolence fund I may fill out paperwork. I found out that lawyers have free consults and one firm north Penn legal services give free lawyer help based on income. I am married to a lawyer and am emotionally, verbally,financially, and spiritually abused. I am trying to get smart.also, document all the events,they may hold up in court. Pictures. Check out reachoutrecovery.org

        • Ella on March 6, 2016 at 1:49 am

          Our children are 22, 18 and 10. Just to clarify about the people I told… None of them are from my church so perhaps I will try talking to someone from there.
          I will look at some of the resources you mentioned. I hope you are able to find peace. My husband is not a lawyer but knows lots of them. He is in law enforcement. Both of us have delicate situations.
          Peace to everyone tonight. I really hope someday I can post something positive here so I’ll try to now by saying… I know God is with me and He has been showing me by answering specific prayers.

  2. Raylene on February 24, 2016 at 7:30 am

    I lived with every one of these during my 21 year marriage. My church leadership never referred to it as abuse. Only told me that I had to submit to my husband, be more respectful, don’t take his cruelty personally, don’t interfere with the children, stay quiet and let the Holy Spirit do His work. I finally got out, along with my 9 children, but without my church’s support, and barely clinging to my life and my sanity. The best decision of my life, and I have never regretted it for a single breath of a moment!

    • Kay on February 25, 2016 at 8:23 pm

      My first husband did this to me for 31 years and I have been hurt deeply by The Southern Baptist Churches. Even when my husband was physical, emotional, mental, verbally abusive to me, the church knew it, but I was told I had to submit to my husband’s authority and to the churches leadership. They took up for him, embraced him and turned their back on me. I was’t the only woman they did this to, their were many, many others. I have left the Southern Baptist because I will no longer submit to their way of teaching. My bad marriage ended in divorce and I am happily married to a wonderful man, who treats me like a Princess. Abuse is abuse no matter what kind it is !!!!

  3. Leonie on February 24, 2016 at 8:58 am

    I think that when a spouse is cheating – they are exposing the other spouse with out their consent or knowledge to disease. This is also a form of sexual abuse.
    My ex used to complain that gas pump handles are dirty and that he had to wash his hands after pumping gas. I would say that it was other places he was going that were dirty. (erotic massage parlours) and that he should never expose his family to what is transmitted there. He would come home and kiss his child and be intimate with his wife after having intimate contact with a (possibly trafficked) person who has to service up to 8, 12 or who knows how many clients a day.)

  4. Ruth on February 24, 2016 at 9:34 am

    In my marriage, one of the most painful abusive behaviors has been my husband’s lack of compassion towards me. If I have a physical problem, he looks at it as though he’s being inconvenienced. That’s when you know you’re not loved. I’m just like a car or household appliance. I’m just here to be used.
    Example: He wants to have sex. I tell him that I have a headache. His reaction is IRRITATION. Sometimes, he might take it ok but if he was REALLY wanting sex, then it’s best for me to suck it up and pretend my way through sex. In that case, it’s the lesser of two evils to have sex when I’m sad, hurting or tired than it is to skip sex and risk that he’ll go on a yelling tirade. I’ve become a master at calculating if I have built up enough ‘brownie points’ to risk asking for ‘the night off’. Sadly, Two nights ago I miscalculated this. He dropped hints thru the evening that he wanted sex. i didn’t push him away or send him any ‘No’ signals even though I didn’t feel like having sex. I’m always scared to tell him ‘No’ so I just didn’t have the courage to speak up. I was hoping that at bedtime I could summons up all my best acting skills or better yet by a miracle, he would change his mind. There was my mistake #1 – I gave him hope. I was physically and mentally exhausted so when we laid down, I said nothing. I did not touch him. (He puts the work of initiating sex on me 80-90% of the time – just another INSANE & UNFAIR aspect of my marriage). I lay there thinking ‘I do not want sex. My knee hurts. If he wants sex, let him initiate”. He doesn’t do anything. 10 minutes pass and I’m kinda nervous but I hear him start to breathe deep. I immediately relax and think “Yea!! I dodged that bullet” But I was wrong. In a few minutes he woke up and the fight was on. Even during a fight I carefully choose my words. I don’t want to say anything he could use against me later. When I tried to explain why it’s hard for me to decline sex, that enraged him. He said he was so angry that I had the audacity to say ‘he was just using me for sex’. He totally rejected my carefully worded explanation. To quote him, “that’s a lie from Hell”. He’s in complete denial about how he makes me feel.
    Then all day yesterday we didn’t fight but there was an atmosphere of hostility covered with a thin layer of civility. Right before bedtime, he hugged me. He never said ‘I’m sorry that last night I told you that I hated you.” The hug just meant I want to make up. Bam! Now, I’m on the hook for makeup sex. The wounds from his words the previous night were still so raw. But as much as I DID NOT want to have sex, I knew I had to. It was my only hope to restore the peace. During sex, I felt so objectified and sad. I silently cried. I tried not to bc if he knew I was crying then he’d just get aggravated.
    Growing up, I had a beautiful strawberry blonde Tennessee Walking horse that was a frightful, nervous horse when I rode her. But when I groomed her, she was calm and peaceful. I remember how nice it was to hug her big neck. It did something good for me heart. when sex is bad, that’s where my mind goes. I pretend I’m there grooming my horse.
    Do you remember in the movie Nemo when a girl is banging on the fish tank. the fish are being jarred. the pink starfish chants “Find your happy place! Find your happy place!”
    That’s what I do, I find my happy place. Only last night, it didn’t work. I was too overwhelmed with sadness. Fortunately, he never knew that I cried during and after sex. Now, we’ve had 2 terrible nights in a row. I dread whatever tonight holds. Ive got to somehow suck it up and like everything is ok for my children’s sake. Plus, if he sees me being mopey then he’ll just get mad again.
    I’m sorry for taking up so much space here. no one in real life knows how I live. It’s helpful just to write it out.

    • Liz on February 24, 2016 at 2:29 pm

      Hi Ruth
      Your story is also very familiar to me. I am so very sad for you.
      I hope you know in your heart that your husbands treatment of you is abuse – emotional and sexual abuse.

      I hear how carefully you are trying to manage your husbands abuse – for the sake of your children but please take care of yourself. I lived like that for so many years – and to a lesser extent I still am but I am in the process of leaving

      I don’t want to scare you and you’re not me but one day in particular – it’s a long story so I won’t go into to it except to say I tried to say no all weekend but on Monday morning I broke and crying uncontrollably acquiesced and said out loud yes when everything in side me was saying no – and it was one day too many – it was like I felt something tear inside emotionally and as he was inside me I saw the word violated stamped on my forehead – life has been so hard since them

      I thought irrationally at the time but everything changed – I couldn’t cope sitting in crowded places – I couldn’t cope with men being anywhere near me- I couldn’t cope with elevators or under ground car parks

      My counselor told me later that it was always going to happen that if it hadn’t been that day it would have been a different day. Since then I left my husband I came back and now I am planning leaving once and for all. I haven’t yet recovered from that day or the other more dramatic days of my 33 year abuse. But with Leslie’s help at least I know now it is abuse

      Please take care of yourself – I sleep in a day different room now but I still have mini panic attacks when I use the ensuite bathroom

      Our abuse it real and the damage it causes is real and there is only so much we can take before we break

      I hope this reply is ok – you are not me – but if this helps in any way I will be glad I shared. Please please take care of yourself it’s the best way you can help your children xx

      • LA on February 26, 2016 at 11:41 am

        Oh Liz, I’m very familiar with this scenario, I’m sorry to say! It is crushing to our hearts and spirits, it’s like being chipped away at, little by little until I wondered where my strong sense of self went? I know I left in my heart long before I left h physically. Living life in “emotional divorce” helped me to survive for a season until I could actually leave for real. My heart goes out to you and I just want to encourage you, that you are still alive and well and that God sees you and knows you and loves you! I pray that you will see the His light in the midst of all of the darkness…
        Just breathing and trusting

      • Ann on February 28, 2016 at 5:59 pm

        Ruth and Liz,

        I too do the same things. Just the thought of my husband walking up behind me and pressuring me for sex puts me right at the edge of panic. I can tell that I’m going to have to have sex with him soon by the way that he’s acting. And yes, it is easier to go ahead and get it out of the way and have peace for a while. I’ve also had sex so that he wouldn’t be so grumpy with the kids.

        What really hurts me is that this is a man that everyone things is wonderful and a great husband. He’s gotten better towards me, but he doesn’t give our kids the time of day.

        I pray that God would heal my family or release me and my kids from this pretend life.

        • Leslie Vernick on March 2, 2016 at 8:53 pm

          Can you stop pretending?

    • Maria on February 24, 2016 at 3:49 pm

      Ruth & Islangirl,

      Aleea posted the following sometime back:

      (Leslie wrote this)

      “I understand you are hurt that I don’t want to have sexual relations with you right now. That would be hurtful to anyone who is married (E- Empathetic without enabling). The reason I cannot return to our bedroom is because I feel distant from you. I talk and you don’t hear me. I tell you what hurts me and what bothers me and you don’t care and you don’t stop it. I am a person too. Why would I want to be with a man who clearly shows he doesn’t care about me? If I say yes to you, I dishonor myself and end up feeling like an object that is used rather than a wife that is loved.” (No pretending).

      You can deliver those words in a neutral voice tone with polite body language. That is emotionally and physically distancing yourself without having to be hard hearted or cold or bitter.

      When he approaches you again for something wifely, you can say something similar, “I don’t know how to meet that need of your without pretending and lying to myself and that is something I refuse to do anymore. Nothing has changed in our relationship and I am more than willing to do my part, but I cannot do your part.”

      Boundaries and consequences will show him much more clearly what the problem is between you instead of a cold and hard heart.”

      • Maria on February 24, 2016 at 5:19 pm

        Islandgirl, Don’t you think he needs to do his part to fix the marriage problems?

      • LA on February 25, 2016 at 12:03 pm

        My husband didn’t care either if I was pretending or not, as long as he got his need met… The problem with this is that getting his needs met was what the marriage became ALL ABOUT, it’s became all about him…my needs stopped factoring into the marriage at all! Totally out of balance… The Lord dealt with me about my “pretending” ie. “Lying” God led me to 2 Chronicles 20:17 about positioning myself and standing… That this was not my battle, but it was His… So, I was to position myself and stand regardless as to how he reacted. This stand took a lot of courage ( feeling the fear of his displeasure and standing anyway) and the fruit of it was that I regained my sense of self respect, my own sense of value and I gained back my personal power, which I had given away every time I cowered in response to his displeasure! So what if they are displeased, this is not a catastrophic event, feelings change… his response spoke about who he was and had nothing to do with me! He needed to learn to deal with his displeasure and sense of entitlement. And my cowering prevented him from having to do so! I was a stumbling block! Once I set my heart upon NO more pretending, my internal life stabilized my own sense of value as a child of God returned slowly, every time I positioned myself and stood. Enabling him to control me with his displeasure was doing as much damage to the relationship as his sense of entitlement was! This was a very hard lesson, but a very necessary one! I had to begin by getting honest with myself first! Leslie has much to teach on developing our CORE, search and read, change starts with you…

      • Remedy on February 25, 2016 at 1:31 pm

        LA…profound response. You have articulated beautifully what I have been trying for several years to explain…. once I took my stand and refused to move because just like you said…the damage was happening either way. To finally stand for the pursuit of something God honoring is the better path and I feel most honors the Lord. Thank you for sharing your insights and experience.

      • Lonelywife07 on February 26, 2016 at 4:51 pm

        Yes Ruth and island girl, I understand..I was there…once.
        I’d been telling my husband for over 2 yrs that I didn’t like sex, that I didn’t want sex, and all he ever said was “I’m sorry you feel that way.” then the very next day, he’d want sex. He wasn’t listening to ME!
        My H had an emotional affair, and I was hurting sooo badly from that betrayal, and he just DID NOT care!!
        He would get angry with me if I brought up the affair, he gets angry if I bring up his flirting with other women even today!
        He does not care at all how I feel and I just couldn’t be intimate with him….I couldn’t be a Peacefaker any longer.
        So I told him, just like Leslie suggested in her book, and all he said was ” Ok, I understand.” And that was it. June will be 2 yrs.
        The freedom I feel has been so amazing! I no longer feel out of control, I no longer feel used!!
        Have there been consequences…yes. Things got very tense during the months afterwards…I’ve seen my husband become even more passive aggressive…but I’ve also grown a lot closer to my Heavenly Father, because HE is all I have!
        My husband has come to me twice in the last 1 1/2 yrs, asking when we can resume a sex life.
        I try to explain to him that I DO want an intimate, loving, marriage also….but that I NEED to feel loved, protected, listened to and he’s not doing that, he is still shutting me out, etc. My husband just walks away.
        His first therapist told him he’s emotionally avoidant, and has a lack of empathy for others, and he’s done NOTHING to change that.
        I’m content with my life. My children, my ministries at church, my wonderful, supportive friends.
        Would I LOVE to have an intimate, loving relationship with a man…YES!
        I’d love to know what it is to be deeply in love, to feel cherished, and protected by a Godly, loving man! I no longer love my husband, the emotional abuse has taken it’s toll.. he has killed anything I’ve ever felt for him.
        I feel I’m too old to start over (mid 50’s) and my life is not bad, he’s not verbally or physically abusive, just emotionally distant and at times, emotionally abusive in the way he treats me. But I no longer let it bother me…I’m working on feeling more empathy for HIM because he’s a sad, sad man.
        My husband travels a lot, he’s been gone the last month, only home on weekends, so I have a lot of freedom and space to live my life.

        My advice to any of you who are younger…get out NOW! Don’t waste your life trying to “fix” your husband…you can’t! I wish I would have left my husband 28 yrs ago when he had his first affair, but it was a “good, Christian girl” and divorce was a no-no! My family would have been scandalized!
        That is just MY opinion, but looking back, I do wish I’d done things A LOT differently….but we didn’t have Leslie Vernick back then, showing the truth of what a Biblical marriage should really look like!

    • Maria on February 24, 2016 at 11:03 pm

      “Ive got to somehow suck it up and like everything is ok for my children’s sake. Plus, if he sees me being mopey then he’ll just get mad again.”

      In what ways are your kids benefiting from you trying to appease your husband? Isn’t that peace faking, as Leslie puts it? Your kids will benefit most from a healthy you.

      Some people use anger and bad behavior to get their way. It’s important not to take responsibility for their anger and bad behavior. Let them make a fool out of themselves. When he starts yelling or being disrespectful, tell him you’ll talk to him when he stops and walk away. Shielding the kids from that behavior usually backfires – they will get the wrong impression of their dad and may blame you later for your differences. They need to see him for who he is.

    • Elizabeth on February 24, 2016 at 11:27 pm

      Dear Ruth, this is real life, Often I have been able to explain away my problems to myself as long as I never told anyone else about them. As soon as someone else knows, as soon as I articulate it, it becomes real – something that must be dealt with, or resolved. We are all real, and human, and so are you. So if you look up at the ceiling tonight thinking of your beautiful memory, you know that we’re praying right along with you.

    • Stacey on February 27, 2016 at 4:31 pm

      Ruth, it’s time to make changes in your life. You need to work on your core and get boundaries in place. You need to start taking care of you and doing what is best for you. It’s okay to tell your husband no more sex until he starts taking responsibility for his sin and make changes. Right now, you are burdening yourself with his sin, just to keep peace. I understand that, as I was guilty of doing the same thing. Keep in mind, that things are going to continue in the same path and get worse, UNLESS you are willing to make changes in your life. It’s not an easy road. There are many tears, but life on the other side is so much better. Best wishes, my friend.

  5. Joni on February 24, 2016 at 9:45 am

    Actually, this article generated a couple of questions.

    When my ex-husband would drive dangerously to intimidate me…is that physical and/or emotional abuse?

    I am normally very stoic by temperament and by need, so when I said I was too sick or weak to do something, I really, really was. I would have to fight for the right to take care of myself rather than him. He would ignore me in anger. If something wasn’t done because I was too sick to help him and he was too stubborn to ask for outside help, it was my fault. Again, is that physical abuse and/or emotional abuse?

    I have been divorced less than a year and I am still processing almost 29 years of growing abuse.

    Finally free

    • Amy on February 24, 2016 at 10:20 am

      I would say it sounds like your examples were more about mental/emotional abuse. It’s the type of thing I lived with for 20 years with my abusive ex.
      If he was sick everything revolved around him, if I was sick he had absolutely no empathy.
      The driving recklessly to scare you is about mentally/emotionally abusing you. Physical abuse would be more about actually causing physical injury to your body. If he had tried to push you out of the car that would be physical abuse.

      So glad you are free! Praying you find healing and peace.


    • Amy on February 25, 2016 at 6:01 pm

      I would say your first example is physical and emotional. He is using physical acts to abuse you emotionally. The second is emotional is emotional.

  6. K Michelle on February 24, 2016 at 10:07 am

    Thank you for direct and specific definitions. I tend to lose sight and get confused often, especially when something happens again.

  7. Am on February 24, 2016 at 10:31 am

    You asked if there were other types of abuse, and I think legal abuse is another form of abuse that is kind of lumped into other categories. I’ve always felt like it is so demeaning that it should be in its own category.

    Legal abuse is when someone uses relationships that the victim has (ie. police officers, church, the court, therapists and even other friends or family) to ‘gang up’ on the victim and be against the victim also. It is a type of mental abuse because the abuser does air the victims ‘dirty laundry’ to gain support, but it is more similar to spiritual abuse in nature because it uses the general community against the victim to support the abusers position. It isn’t always the bible being used, but societies moral compass is used against the victim. This is often seen in court to say the victim is lying or exaggerating to ‘keep children away from abuser’, ‘make them look bad’, ‘victim is mentally unstable’ or ‘cheating on the abuser’ even if those things have not been occurring at all.

    Just a thought anyway…

    • Leonie on February 25, 2016 at 5:06 pm

      My first husband was using the court to abuse me – he kept dragging me back to court over and over again, saying he would use the court to “decimate her” through the legal system. He showed no mercy – I was in school full time and every time I had a big exam I had to be in court the next day! Those were stressful days – it finally stopped about 8 years after we separated.

  8. Connie on February 24, 2016 at 10:43 am

    I think that the difference between ‘we are all sinners’ and abuse is our heart’s desire. The main common thread in abusers is that it is never their fault, hence there is never true repentance or willingness to listen to and obey the Lord. Non-abusers are empathetic and are always on the lookout for correction and to make others happier. We sin, yes, but as soon as it is brought to our attention, we are truly sorry and make every effort to change. Unfortunately we are also then often suckers for the false guilt-tripping of an abuser. Ask me how I know.

  9. Amy on February 24, 2016 at 10:47 am

    Except for physical abuse, I lived through all of these for 20 years. My ex walked out seven years ago but I still deal with the aftermath of it all.

    I wanted to comment on, “we are all sinners”. I had this very thing told to me often throughout my first marriage and would even find myself saying it after sharing with someone about the abuse I was living with. I think I said it because I was a new Christian and did not understand the true meaning behind those words.

    It is not true that Christians are sinners. A born again believer is no longer a sinner but have become saints. As a Christian we will still sin but when we do we feel more of a repulsion to it now that we are living for God. We realize how much our sin separates us from God and therefore we are more aware of our sins and more repentant about any sins.
    And this is where the question comes in: can an abuser be a Christian? Can someone who repeatedly sins against another, often with a lack of remorse or true repentance be a Christian?

    I realize now that when people make that comment to a victim of abuse it is truly a way to minimize what is happening, to lay part blame on the victim and to basically just not get involved. Because isn’t it always easier to throw out pieces of scripture or to warp scripture instead of standing against evil?

    So no, we are not all sinners. Abuse is sin and if an abuser continues in their sinful ways without acknowledging or repenting of it, without showing any true remorse and only wanting to hide the abuse so they do not get caught, then THEY are the sinners.

    Just my .02 cents. Something I’ve been thinking about lately. 😉

    • Samella on February 24, 2016 at 12:49 pm

      Amy, you should check out http://cryingoutforjustice.com, they absolutely believe abusers aren’t Christians. You’ll probably find salve for your soul on the website.

      • Amy on February 24, 2016 at 1:38 pm

        Thanks, Samella. I have visited their site for years and it did help in my healing. Another great site is Hurt By Love.

        I’ve been out of an abusive marriage for 7 years now and remarried a Godly man 4 1/2 years ago…in November will celebrate 5 years of marriage.

        I’m a testament that their are healthy marriages free of abuse…and through my marriage I can truly see how abusive my former marriage was.

    • Leonie on February 24, 2016 at 3:25 pm

      ACFJ says no, an abuser is not a Christian. I tend to agree. When you look at what is important to God, how we treat each other is very important. Oppression and causing distress causes a person to cry out against the abuser and to cry for help from God. He hears those cries and hates what is being done to us. After leaving an abusive person, the abuse dues still go on for a long time – yes, and they don’t repent or ever take responsibility – just laugh it off or minimize it but they never recognize the wrong or the harm done!

  10. Amy on February 24, 2016 at 12:00 pm

    Oh, how my heart is hurting for you! Your comment brought me to tears because I was once where you are. I was there for 20 years of my life.

    There is one person who can call it what it is — YOU!
    You know what you are living every day of your life. You are not imagining it, you are not making it up. It is real.


    It sounds like you are doing joint counseling, stop. Find a counselor who has experience with abuse. I know this can be hard to do, but ask around, research on the internet for someone in your area. Do what it takes to find someone to help you and only you.

    I read a quote from Lundy Bancroft the other day on Facebook:
    “Make a decision inside yourself–a deep decision–that you are 100 percent responsible for your actions, and he is 100 percent responsible for his actions. You have zero responsibility for what he does, and he has zero responsibility for what you do.”

    You are not responsible for your husband’s behaviors and actions, nor his being accountable for anything he does.
    You are only responsible for you.
    You cannot change him. Period. Only he can choose to change. And if he is a true believer then he would stop and repent of his abusive ways.

    As I said in my comment above, we are not all sinners. A born again believer is a saint and although we will still sin, when we should feel so convicted that we repent and immediately turn from it.

    Nobody else may ever understand your situation, people around you may just never get what you are walking through.

    You are seeking validation because all the crazy-making has created such doubt inside of you that some days you don’t even know what end is up. You feel the need for someone to just say out loud to you that this is abuse.
    You’re afraid you are making a big deal out of something or are maybe too sensitive or perhaps it’s you that has the problem which makes him behave how he does.

    You may never get validation from someone else, but you know in your heart what is happening in your life. You need to pray for God to show you without a doubt what is going on in your marriage, and I’ll bet He has already.
    While we wait for a burning bush or neon sign, He often speaks to us in more subtle ways like leading us to Leslie’s blog, finding a book on abuse, or bringing someone into our lives who has walked through what you are walking through.

    I told someone the other day to trust herself and what she knows to be true. I told her to figure out what her fear(s) are in moving in the direction she knows she needs to, and then to figure out how to face those fears.

    What are you most afraid of if you were to leave?
    And I can probably guess most of them: fear that he would get the children (not knowing your children’s ages); fear of being able to support yourself financially; fear of people turning against you if you were to leave; fear of being ostracized from your church; and the list goes on.

    Islandgirl, trust yourself and believe what you know to be true. I’ve been there and I can feel the fear clenching your chest and the hopeless feeling you have.

    I am praying for you to find that validation you so desperately seek…perhaps you just got it. 😉

    Contact me any time if you’d like to talk.

    • Amy on February 25, 2016 at 12:15 pm

      You can find my email address on my blog. 🙂

    • Lonelywife07 on February 26, 2016 at 5:44 pm

      Island Girl…you can find me on here…would love to hear from you, so you don’t feel so alone. I know how that feels, I’ve been there!
      The support you can get from blogging is wonderful!

      https://marriedtoapaman.wordpress.com I hope it’s ok to put my blog on here, Leslie 🙂

    • Searching on July 19, 2016 at 1:27 pm

      I had an affair after years of abuse. I was physically, mentally,verbally, sexually, spiritually and financially abused. I believe that I am just as wrong as he is and that it didn’t matter anymore what he had done because of my affair. I continue to live with my h and it is miserable. He is still abusive. I feel trapped by my own sins. I feel i am an abuser just like he is. I am no longer having an affair. I have repented. I have sought counseling and still do. I tell myself this is my lot. I messed up and now I have to stay in this situation no matter what. Any help, words of encouragement would be helpful. I know I am responsible for my actions and that having an affair is on me. I can’t blame my husbands abuse on my affair. But I’m struggling so much with living like this.

      • Leslie Vernick on July 22, 2016 at 5:33 am

        I don’t think staying in an abusive marriage is necessary penance for having an affair. Yes you were wrong. You stopped and repented and got help. He has not stopped, or repented or gotten help. Those are two very different patterns of sin. Continue to get some help for yourself to see that God does not want you to think the way you are thinking and we are transformed by the renewing of our mind.

        • Heather on July 22, 2016 at 9:12 am

          Let’s also remember that nowhere in the Bible does God ask for his people to do penance. This is important!!!

          There is only ONE WAY to recieve forgiveness of sins, and that is through the blood of Jesus! He has fully paid for every sin you committed. There is no more payment that can be done if you put your trust in him and repent. 🙂 Then in his eyes, you will be pure and white as snow.

          There is never any justification that can excuse evil, and your husband’s actions can never be justified by your behavior, whether good or bad.

  11. Remedy on February 24, 2016 at 12:00 pm

    With you Island Girl…..totally relate to what you are saying as well as asking.

  12. Aleea on February 24, 2016 at 12:34 pm

    “Friends, are there any other definitions or categories of abuse that you have experienced?”

    . . . . . Certainly, corporate abuse, legal abuse, institutional (the structure of the very systems) which institutionalizes abuses. . . . . BUT, I would say that the above definitions and categories are very complete and actually, more than enough for all of us to work on until Jesus returns. . . . . Because we so try to get beyond the fantasies on this blog, which is so healthy for us, maybe think about the many passages in the New Testament like Luke chapter nine: . “. . . .But the people of the village did not welcome Jesus because he was on his way to Jerusalem. . . .When His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” . . . .I mean think about that, really let that sink in. —James and John (the pillars) are walking around with incarnate Love (the Lord Jesus) and they are going on like that. —Lord, do you want us to barbecue these filthy Samaritans because they will not give us a room! (—that is what they are saying and exactly what that was about!). . . . I don’t even know what to say about that. . . . . Obviously, we are totally not even addressing other creatures experiencing abuse. For example, in the book “Animal Cruelty: Pathway to Violence Against People” by Linda Merz-Perez, Kathleen Heide, et.al. you see that the issues are wider than just people but actually involve system structures. . . . . Again, the above definitions and categories are overwhelming enough, no doubt. See: re:Soft Shepherd or Almighty Pastor?: Power and Pastoral Care by Annemie Dillen. . . . .Inside the church, could it be that abuse is the solution to a problem? A really ineffective, horrible solution (just like drugs, alcohol, etc.) but the solution to a problem none the less? What is the underlying problem that abuse is being used to solve? . . . . . .Symptoms are never just secondary failures or distortions of a basically sound System—they are indicators that there is something “rotten” (antagonistic, inconsistent) in the very heart of the System. Can we ever get everyone to agree to solve it another way? We did with slavery! . . . . . . . It is heartbreaking that humans don’t understand what marvelous responders other basically healthy humans really are if they get an environment of sincere, ongoing affection, caring, protection, nurture, thoughtfulness, love. . . . . This requires no “one and done” approach but that we and the church constantly be confronted with our own repressed truths. I see this in my churches approaches to marriage issues. It always usually ends up being little more than a game of whack-a-mole with a new symptom erupting every time a previous one is “dealt with.” To me, this indicates a failure of the very fabric of the structure. Could the only solution come from requiring we really acknowledge and actually, really embrace utter brokenness. . . . brokenness not competence, brokenness not triumphalism, brokenness not certainty and certainly not knowing? Most relationships exist like that for decades, never bringing up the unpleasant truth for fear of a total crisis. Not realizing that the crisis is already there, lurking in the midst and making its presence felt in a variety of destructive ways.

  13. Am on February 24, 2016 at 12:50 pm

    Interesting perspective. Perhaps viewing abuse through a slightly different lens can help narrow down the scope as to what symptom should be ‘dealt with’ first.

    Abuse is defined in the dictionary as misusing someone or something. So when we talk about relationship abuse, it is about a person misusing relationship in ways it isn’t intended to be used. When we look at abuse in the intimate partner setting, the cause is always based on someone consumed with the need to control another. How they accomplish this end goal of ‘control’, is when abuse can be seen happening.

    The causes or reasons for this abusive action don’t matter much when working with a victim because the victim can’t control why the abuse is happening. They can control how they wish to respond to it, but that is all they have control over. Any help for the victim in these situations will be directed at how they can react.

    The causes for abuse and how to ‘fix’ the root cause are based on the abusers needs and come up only when working directly with the abuser. An abuser can choose to answer their needs in ways that don’t involve abuse, but they need access to skills and tools in order to be able to accomplish this.

    The approach for finding a solution is completely different, depending on the lens the abusive activity is being viewed from.

    • Aleea on February 25, 2016 at 9:56 am

      Hello Am,

      “the need to control another” . . . . . Am, I agree, but maybe there is a higher place to go? Obviously, that type of control is *completely* irrational and destroys the abused and the abuser. Maybe think about this: You are *actually* out-of-control when they are “controlling everything.” You are actually in-control when you give as much freedom as possible to people. Smart husbands realized this very quickly. The more freedom they give you, the more energy, excitement, honor, respect just flows naturally. What smart husband wants to kill those off with controlling immature narcissistic responses? —You know what? We are in control of next to nothing in the larger picture, really almost nothing. More than that, anything under God’s control is never out of control. . . . . .I really believe relational psychoanalysis can find the reasons and knowing the reasons may solve the issue for that person. See Dr. Marie Hoffman’s “Toward Mutual Recognition: Relational Psychoanalysis and the Christian Narrative” and in her dissertation too. “. . . An abuser can choose to answer their needs in ways that don’t involve abuse, but they need access to skills and tools in order to be able to accomplish this.” I certainly do not know, but could it be that maybe those skills & tools which I assume are mostly cognitive are not an effective long-term solution but just symptom management? If we can get at the causes, the reasons and apply real love leading to real healing, maybe we should not have those symptoms any longer? See: Psychoanalytic Studies of the Personality by Christian Psychoanalyst W. R. D. Fairbairn. See also: An Introduction to Object Relations – page 54, forward.

  14. Refocus-Reclaim on February 24, 2016 at 1:53 pm

    Just a thought… While I agree that we are all sinners – the Bible is pretty clear about that, I think we need to be careful with stating that abusers cannot be Christians. No one can know their hearts but God. Yes, we can see the fruits of what is in their heart – but we can only act upon that as is it relates to our interaction with them. I agree, it’s unlikely because they are acting with the wrong intent in their life, but we cannot forget that perhaps they also realize what they are doing isn’t right. Because of their own life/childhood history, they either may not know what IS right, or how to BE right; yet they do often know that what they are doing is not – therefore they create a vicious circle they have no idea how to get out of. People who have experienced verbal/emotional abuse as a child without also experiencing non-abusiveness (in their family relationships especially) don’t have a “normal” frame of reference. They don’t know how to handle conflict. They DO know how to make sure they get what they think they want/need – their survival comes first. Is that an excuse? No. It’s just why they are what they are. How can they choose help if they can’t stop the merry-go-around? They can’t – but we CAN. Does that mean they aren’t Christian? I don’t think so. John 3:16 sets only one requirement for heaven – believe. That doesn’t mean they won’t have to answer for what they’ve ignored – they will. We all will. I agree they certainly don’t act (to us) like Christians – but the people outside our homes think they do act like Christians. Strange isn’t it. I just don’t want to play judge over a soul – only God has that authority.

    Sorry for the length… I just had to put my 20 cents in.

    • Maria on February 24, 2016 at 2:50 pm

      Doesn’t the Bible talk about repentance?
      1 John1:6 says:
      6 If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth.

    • Lonelywife07 on February 26, 2016 at 6:49 pm

      Refocus-reclaim. While I agree with some of what you’ve said, “People who have experienced verbal/emotional abuse as a child without also experiencing non-abusiveness (in their family relationships especially) don’t have a “normal” frame of reference. They don’t know how to handle conflict.”
      This is what my H claims…and I’ve TRIED to help him…I’ve bought books for him to read…he never read one… showed him articles online…he says “Very interesting”…and never mentions it again….I’ve found him several therapists, and he quits after 3-4 sessions.
      The fact of the matter is…he doesn’t WANT to change…he’s quite comfortable with who he is and how he acts. He had an emotional affair 5 yrs ago…his second one..and he blamed his parents because his dad was an alcoholic and his “family life” was dysfunctional, so 3 yrs ago, he cut off ALL contact with his parents.
      His first therapist told him he has “a severe lack of empathy for others” and that didn’t faze him at all.
      Did he scour the internet, looking for ways to develop empathy….No. Did he continue with his therapist, ANY therapist…No.
      I’ve offered to go with him, to be there to support him. Nope…not interested.
      Last year one of our children had a appendicitis and had to have surgery…My H was 5 hours away, working, and left for home as soon as I called him.
      Instead of coming to the hospital to be with me, and see our son before he went into surgery…he decided to come home first, because he had to have a shower…He missed seeing our son before he went into surgery by 20 mins!!
      And again…he didn’t seem to care!

      I’ve learned that I can’t change him, I can only work on myself, and I can learn to have more empathy for my husband, which I haven’t had, so I’m working on that.

      • LA on February 28, 2016 at 9:49 am

        Hi lonely,
        I’m curious, how do you propose to have empathy for someone who doesn’t have any empathy for others and thinks only of himself 1st? Is it really possible to learn how? Empathy is the ability to not only detect what others feel but also to experience that emotion yourself. compassion perhaps, but empathy is about tuning into the others feeling, and this post implies that h doesn’t have any feeling, ie. Doesn’t care…
        Just breathing and trusting

        • Leslie Vernick on March 2, 2016 at 8:57 pm

          LA – you have empathy for someone because you are a compassionate person. He doesn’t have empathy because he is NOT a compassionate person. Is that who you want to become? Even having compassion for someone who is so absolutely blind and lost keeps our humanity in tact. We don’t want to lose our ability to care and love (with STRONG boundaries with some people) because that’s what Jesus calls us to, even towards an enemy.

          • LA on March 12, 2016 at 6:31 am

            I’m sorry Leslie, but I disgree. Empathy is the ability to tune into the feelings of others and to feel what they feel within yourself. Compassion is different from empathy. I can feel compassion with someone’s suffering or struggle or loss,I can feel compassion for someone who doesn’t even make an effort to understand others or the needs of others or their inability to feel compassion for the plight of others, What I can’t do is feel empathy for them because they are not feeling anything but self importance or even caring to understand, I cannot have empathy (feel the feelings) of someone who doesn’t have any feelings. I can feel sympathy for them, pity, compassion but not empathy. This may be semantics, but each word does carries a different meaning.
            Just breathing and trusting

    • Ann L on March 3, 2016 at 8:46 am

      Nicely stated, Reclaim-Refocus. Your thought describe my understanding of detachment. Love the God-created person for who they were called to be regardless of where they are on their journey. This detachment might be an aspect of forgiveness. Neither detachment nor forgiveness implies that we must continue participating in a harmful relationship.

    • Robert on December 8, 2020 at 8:42 am

      Hi. Separate, absolutely. But God hates divorce. The Holy Spirit does not and never will approve of your first covenant divorce. For a woman is bound by the Law to her husband as long as her husband lives, and remarriage is adultery–Luke 16:18, Mark 10:11-12. Repent, submit yourself to God, for the kingdom of God is at hand. Best, Robert

      • Leslie Vernick on December 11, 2020 at 12:39 am

        Sorry Robert, but God does not hate all divorce. The verse in Malachi has been misquoted. God hates certain kinds of divorce where a man treacherously discards his wife. God instituted divorce for the protection especially of women, who in Biblical days, had no rights. Men could divorce their wives but wives had no rights. Yet God cared for these wives who were discarded. But when someone breaks covenant, the marriage is broken. Whether you legally declare that or not, the marriage is broken, sometimes dead. No use keeping a dead body in the house, pretending that you are a couple when you are not. That is not living in truth or reality.

  15. Maria on February 24, 2016 at 2:42 pm

    Leslie, thank you for a very well written article. A lot of brush away abuse by saying we are all sinners that need grace. While it is true that we are all sinners and need God’s grace, there are major consequences of abuse that a victim feels/ goes through as you point out in your article.

    Leslie, you say in your article that at the heart of abuse is usually control. Is this always true? Isn’t it possible that some people do mean things to others because it brings them pleasure? Isn’t that abuse too?

    • Leonie on February 24, 2016 at 3:38 pm

      Wow, yes! I’ve had experience with that. Isn’t that a psychopath?When they enjoy seeing that they are hurting you? If you spill your heart or tell them your feelings it gets worse. They relish doing what they do to you and are looking for your reaction and somehow get enjoyment from it. There is something sick inside of them and they have no conscience.

      • Maria on February 24, 2016 at 5:11 pm

        Leonie, Yes, but how about kids that bully? They probably do it because it feels good?

        • Aleea on February 24, 2016 at 5:52 pm

          . . . The research shows the bully fights people littler and weaker than she is because she thinks it’s fun and it generally comes from the home training they have gotten. No matter how kind your kids are, always expect bullies. . . . . I am pretty sure when kids were gathering around Jesus, He was telling them something like: “Look for the person everyone hates, and love them.” That would be so like Jesus. . . . . . . Anyways, legally, abuse is a lot clearer when it comes to children. Because each state defines what constitutes abuse, states include categories of abuse for kids and they incorporate them under the definition of physical abuse or neglect. For example, increasing numbers of states have laws that make the very presence of alcohol or controlled drugs in the presence of children constitute abuse. Some states list specific drugs that children may not be around, and if they are in the presence of these drugs, that action constitutes a child abuse offense. Crazy they don’t do that with all alcohol, must be the corporate lobby for alcohol is so strong. That is the problem with institutional abuse it becomes institutionalized (part of the System). For example: The Federal Reserve devalued the currency by printing Trillions (huge Economic Abuse), $4.2 Trillion in the last seven years and counting) and it goes for absolutely nothing. Most people don’t even understand it, they just can’t understand why they can’t make ends meet. It is because your dollar is now worth 48 cents. . . . .Anyways, the only person that deserves a special place in your life is someone that never made you feel like you were an option in theirs. And that trauma, when they don’t, well it does not disappear if it is not validated. . . . but so often the pain is unnecessarily prolonged because we buy into the notion that the abuser must be coming from a wounded place and that only patient love and tolerance will help them heal. And it could be that not even Jesus can help them heal because that is not the way God sets up the laws that normatively govern the Universe. And it is not even all the bruises on the body that hurt. It is the wounds of the heart and the scars on the mind. To not have your suffering recognized is an almost unbearable form of violence.

    • LA on February 26, 2016 at 10:43 am

      Hi Maria, I think if you look a little deeper, underneath control is the need to feel powerful. It’s the need to feel power that fuels the control. I believe that the “pleasure” they feel comes from the “power surge” that is felt when they believe they have power over a person or circumstance, like the bully on the playground? The pleasure that comes from making someone else feel “small” so that they can feel “big”. And yes I believe it’s all very abusive in that it’s not the heart of God to demean or crush anyone! God is Love, Peace, Joy, Patience, Kindness, Gentleness, Goodness, Faithfulness and Self-
      Just breathing and trusting

      • Lonelywife07 on February 26, 2016 at 5:41 pm

        I agree LA…Abusers want ALL the power in the relationship…and sadly, it’s a mindset that abusers have and they never change.
        Can God change them..YES!!! But they have to first admit that they are wrong, and seek God…and that rarely happens…if ever.
        Lundy Bancroft in his book “Why Does He Do That” states that abusers rarely change…and he’s worked with abusers for many, many years.
        Sad, isn’t it?

      • amber on February 26, 2016 at 6:47 pm

        I would add that they also get to feel big in the workplace or society. Sweet as pie they can be on the outside, head volunteer, helping widows and orphans, organizing fund drives and throwing a huge party for someone at work yet……at home he is a tyrant. The chameleon personality is all about him. The mask only lasts so long, so when he gets home he just can’t keep up the charade. Besides he knows we can’t be so fooled and join the cheerleading squad like the unknowing public can.

  16. Maria on February 24, 2016 at 3:25 pm

    You had mentioned that you live in a small area with no access to good counseling. Are you able to take any of the classes Leslie offers? Your counselor doesn’t either understand the abuse dynamic or is not bold enough to speakthe truth to your husband. Assuming that your husband does not know he is doing wrong, the most important thing he needs is someone to tell him the truth. Otherwise, like you say, how will he change? It is illogical to think that marital problems are always caused by two people. No one is perfect, we all sin but it only takes one person to destroy a marriage. I went for joint counseling for a while and had to stop because i felt like I was re-living the abuse and becoming weaker. My husband was happy to stop. I then started seeing a counselor myself.

    Why do you feel you have to initiate sex? It seems like you’re taking responsibility for for bad behavior. When he pouts and behaves in a cold manner towards him, ignore him. Don’t you think you’re enabling him by your behavior?

    You had mentioned in a previous post you are concerned about your kids. I am in the same boat. In order to help my kids, I need to be healthy. I would encourage you to focus on that. One thing that helped me was focusing on pleasing God, not my husband. I realized that catering to mu husband’s wants and moods was not pleasing God, and not for my husband’s good. When I focus on pleasing God, things get clearer.


    • Amy on February 25, 2016 at 1:56 pm


      As you know, no one can make you change. You are 100% in control of you and you can work on you only. And I am NOT saying you are to blame for any abuse, I’m simply saying that we all fail at times and we are the only ones who can change our own behaviors, actions and responses.

      On the same note, your husband is 100% responsible for himself. Neither you nor the counselor can make him change. And no matter how much you try to change into someone you think he wants you to be, it will not be enough to make any real changes in him.

      God only can work in our hearts to help us change things in ourselves we need to. I would say to quit the counseling as a couple and seek individual counseling. Not sure though this counselor is the best for you to see even by yourself. She does not sound experienced in dealing with abuse.
      Joint couple counseling does not work in cases of abuse. Because abuse is not a marriage problem it is an individual problem just like alcoholism or porn addiction.

      Sex in marriage is meant for both spouses to enjoy and although we are commanded not to abstain except for a time by mutual consent your husband is being selfish in this area.
      And if all you have to put up with if you don’t initiate are his bad moods, sighs and basically stupid acts of poor me, then so be it. If he isn’t willing to listen to you and take responsibility for his abuse than this is one of those consequences.

      I feel for you, I truly do. I felt the same pain, rejection and feeling of hopelessness in my former abusive marriage. I do not know how long you’ve been married or the ages of your children, but any amount of time living with abuse is too much!
      I was 24 when I met my abusive ex-husband and I will turn 51 in 2 weeks. I’ve been free from that marriage for seven years now and I can say that life does go on, you do survive and this is the best time of my life!

      You say you live with daily fear for your children and try to protect and shield them from the abuse and mend their broken hearts. That is why I stayed as long as I did, along with a few other reasons like fearing God would stop loving me.
      But I can tell you that while you live in a toxic environment you can never fully protect your children from what is going on in their home.

      You have to face your fear head on and the first step in doing that is figuring out what makes you most fearful of leaving.
      And I know it’s a long, long list, but part of the reason for all those fears is the crazy-making you are living with each day. It puts doubts in your head and leaves you spinning and feeling hopeless. And that is what he wants.

      So write out those fears and then take a close at each one and figure out how you could conquer it.
      For example, if one of your fears is thinking your husband could gain custody of the children seek out legal counsel to know the options. In most areas you may be able to find free legal counsel. Knowing what could happen may put your mind at ease.

      I obviously don’t have the answers for you but I can encourage you to seek a better life whatever that may look like for you.
      I pray you gain the wisdom and strength to stand up to the abuse and be able to eliminate it from your life.

      Do you have any family or friends who would support you? If so, it’s time to go to them and ask for help.

      Praying hard for you.

    • Roxanne on February 25, 2016 at 9:23 pm

      Island girl, It would seem you would be entitled to a scholarship. Does Leslie offer such things? Might a women’s group consider grants for such important work. I think all you need to do is ask Leslie or her assistant. Certainly a discount or sponsor may be found. Do not lose hope. You are wonderful, just the way you are!

    • Elizabeth on February 25, 2016 at 11:49 pm

      My husband told me to stop getting up early to go for a run. He said it made me look tired and old. It turned out he just wanted me in bed when he woke up, so he could have sex with me. It didn’t matter to him at all that I was trying to stay healthy, or that running made me feel good. He was willing to manipulate me into feeling bad about my appearance in order to suit his sexual convenience.
      I don’t think I’ll ever trust a man again. I’ll always be looking for the wolf.

  17. Maria on February 24, 2016 at 5:07 pm

    I think one of the reasons the church and leadership of the church does not acknowledge abuse is because of ignorance. My family had a very hard time understanding what was going on. It was only after reading books and hearing what was going on multiple times, that they understood. Honestly, if I hadn’t gone through this myself, I would have had a very difficult time understanding abuse. A lot of abusers wear a completely different face in public. They are quite skilled at giving out little doses of abuse at a time. If they went all out, it would be very obvious. I think with Leslie educating other counselors, appearing on FOF etc, word is slowly getting out.

    • Aleea on February 25, 2016 at 10:54 am

      Exactly, Maria, awareness. Most of it is solved with awareness. I fully agree. . . . . .My bigger point may be, I am not certain of my thinking, but the bigger point may be that abuse is trying to solve some problem like alcohol or drugs try to “solve.” These are horribly ineffective ways to solve “the problem.” . . . . Think about beliefs. What are those beliefs keeping you from confronting? For example, I realized, not even that long ago (I was really blind on this), I realized in deep prayer one day that I was believing in God because I felt if I didn’t He would throw me in hell. I believed, but for all the wrong reasons. Think about this: If you are a Christian ALL things are lawful for you; All things are permissible for me, but all things are not advantageous. So we seek wisdom. We are free and can get divorced, remarry, drink, et.al just do not let yourself be deluded. Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. . . . . .Anyways, to me, it can be helpful to think about along with what is consistent with real love, with Christ’s love: Jesus, Luke twelve: “Why don’t you judge for yourselves what is right?” Think for yourself and maybe remember that: She who has learned to seek nothing but the will of God, will always find what she seeks. . . . . The chains that keep us bound to the past are not the actions of another person. They are our own actions/ non-actions, fear, stubbornness, abuse (past, current, spiritual, et.al.) It is not other people that keep me trapped; it may be the entitled role of victim that I, for example, sometimes enjoy wearing. Often, with me, there is a familiarness to pain that I enjoy because I get a payoff from it. BUT, when I figure out what that payoff is and really confront it, then, at least for that issue, I am sometimes finally on the road to freedom (—for that issue, at least; I don’t have peace like the Bible says we are supposed to have: “perfect peace” et.al.). . . . So, what problem is abuse trying to solve because it is a breathtakingly ineffective way to solve it. . . . . I never really talked to you about resistance, but with a little training, it can be so easy to spot in other people, but it is very difficult when it comes to myself. However, when confronted with something that challenges us, we must be sensitive to our own reactions, working out whether we experience emotional resistance and, if so, what it is we are hiding from ourselves. Lots of people could have been out from under abuse long ago but they did not what to know what they already knew (re: my mother).

  18. Pamela Leding on February 25, 2016 at 11:19 am

    Very good article. I would agree that there are different levels of sin and some are more grievous than others. However, I think it is important to note that all of us can have mild forms of some of the abusive behavior mentioned. For instance, all of us can have anger issues to some degree which sometimes takes awhile to be worked through even for a Christian. This said, it does not excuse an ongoing pattern of sin that needs to be dealt with. Thank you for your work in this regard.

    • Maria on February 25, 2016 at 3:01 pm

      Pamela Leding, You bring up a good point. But I think it’s important that when we hurt others we accept we’ve done wrong, ask for forgiveness and repent. Sometimes we may fail again during that process, but it makes a huge difference to the person we’ve hurt when they see we’re truly sorry and working hard to change the negative behavior (counseling, accountability groups may be needed). I know many of the ladies here would be overjoyed if our husbands acknowledged their sin and sincerely repented. But the problem is that abusers do not accept they have sinned and take responsibility for the hurt they cause. Instead they blame others and become more cunning. There have no desire to repent.

      • Lonelywife07 on February 26, 2016 at 5:19 pm

        Exactly right Maria! I’ve talked to my husband about the way he treats me…coldness, emotional distance, etc….and he turns around and blames me for not being affectionate, even though he tries so hard to be nice to me! What??
        He NEVER truly repents…he always says “I apologize” very formally, but he never means it and he certainly NEVER comes back to me to ask if we can talk…that he’s been thinking about what I’ve said, and he wants to work on himself! NEVER!
        It’s always MY fault, I’m unforgiving (not true at all!) and and I have too high of expectations for him.
        Hmmm…yep, don’t cheat on me again and stop flirting with women in front on me, and go back to counseling to fix what’s broken inside of you…Oh, and stop faking that you’re a Godly man at church, and then act like a different person at home…Oh and actually READ that bible you carry around…those are my “expectations” not too radical if you ask me!

    • LA on February 26, 2016 at 11:26 am

      I’m not sure that I agree that there are different “levels” of sin. I think we humans evaluate sin. There are most certainly different affects of various sins. But scripture says all sin leads to “death” or the wages of sin is death. Death to self, death to integrity, death to your conscience? I liken sin to a rock. All “rocks”, when tossed into a calm pond, each cause a different ripple effect! No matter the size, the calm water is affected and brought into disruption. The amount of disruption depends on many things. The depth of the water, the amount of rocks present at the bottom, how big the pond is… Sin is sin and all sin produces death, scripture says God hates sin, it doesn’t say He hates some sin more than other sin… Sin does not produce any good
      Repentance can and does produce a change of heart, which is what I believe God is after, a change in our hearts
      that will bring about His character in our lives. I Love the saying by St Francis of Assisi, “Preach the Gospel, and if you must, use words.” I’m just saying…
      Just breathing and trusting

      • Maria on February 26, 2016 at 7:04 pm

        LA, what do you think of the following verse?
        “Jesus answered him, ‘You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given to you from above. Therefore he who delivered me over to you has the greater sin’” (Jn. 19:11).

        – John 19:1-16

        All sin requires Jesus blood to make things right with God, but doesn’t this verse suggest different levels of sin?

        • LA on February 27, 2016 at 11:52 am

          Hi Maria,
          Yes this verse does suggest that there are different levels of sin, however, the words in this verse, ” to have sin” is an idiom that actually refers “to have guilt caused by sin”
          In essence, those who handed Jesus over will bear a “greater guilt”. I very much enjoy doing word searches of Scriptures, and this is what I found on this verse. I Hope this helps? In doing a cross reference, this is the only verse I’ve seen that talks about “greater sin” I cannot find a cross reference?
          Just breathing and trusting

      • Valerie on March 1, 2016 at 10:49 am

        I’ve heard, “If we’re all guilty than no one is guilty” and I see that mindset being used to excuse evil. Of course, no one would admit that the “c”hurch is excusing evil, yet this is the ramification of buying into the notion of sin leveling.

        I once also held to the notion of sin leveling as what I believed scripture taught, but I have seen in recent years that I was believing in a version of scripture that was translated by man and different than what the whole of scripture taught by God.

        All sin leads to death, so in the matter of our salvation sin is the same in that all sin separates us from God. However, sin is not considered equal in regard to severity or punishment. Scripture teaches about varying degrees of reward, does it not follow there would be varying degrees of punishment? The basic principle of scripture is sowing and reaping. If God saw all sin the same in terms of severity and punishment that would go against the law of sowing and reaping. He also classifies the kind of sowing (those who sow sparingly will reap sparingly and vice versa). He doesn’t just state that you won’t get if you don’t sow but specifies degrees in this.

        Consider what our court system would look like if all sin were viewed and punished the same. We would have a very scary world (should I say scarier)! The one who throws a bottle out the car window is punished the same as the murderer. We would call that injustice. Do we believe that the God whose name is just would operate on a different principle? I’ve heard it said that we will be judged according to the amount of truth that we have. “For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment handed on to them.” 2 Peter 2:21

        Some other examples in scripture that indicate God does not view sin equally in terms of degrees of severity or punishment:
        The one who has delivered me up to you has the greater sin. John 19:11
        And that slave who knew his master’s will and did not get ready or act in accord with his will, shall receive many lashes, but the one who did not know it, and committed deeds worthy of a flogging, will receive but few. Luke 12:47-48
        Therefore anyone who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it sins. James 4:17
        Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others. Matthew 23:23 (note he uses the concept of “weightier”)
        Then Moses said to Aaron, “What did this people do to you, that you have brought such great sin upon them? Exodus 32:21
        Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:19
        Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. 1 Cor 6:18
        Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven. Matt 12:31
        All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that does not lead to death. 1 John 5:17

        Ultimately I don’t believe God would have us rating our own or others sin as a rule of living. As I see it, where sin leveling becomes a sin in itself is when the thought that “we all sin” leads to someone telling a victim to overlook, forgive and attempt to live in harmony with an abusive person rather than separating from him or calling the abuse evil as God does and holding the abuser accountable according to his degree of awareness (or refusal to acknowledge that awareness).

  19. Lee on February 25, 2016 at 11:45 am

    This article was a great brief description of each of the types of abuse. I had never read of spiritual abuse before. Being married to a pastor that is verbally/emotionally abusive adds a different slant to the situation. My faith was much stronger before I got married. I loved church and was very much involved in the church (not his church) Since being married I no longer even like going to church. Please don’t get me wrong, I haven’t turned my back on God, I’m just struggling. I’ve been told I’m not a Christian because I listen to Christian music, God doesn’t hear my prayers because I don’t know how to pray, and I’m going to hell because I will not get on my knees and confess all of my sins to him. I know he’s wrong but just being told over and over. He told me he had an easy fix for our marriage I just needed to forgive. I have kept silent for over 13 years.

    • amber on February 25, 2016 at 9:44 pm

      Oh, my, you are definitely deep in spiritual abuse. Forgiveness? What a creative way to abuse you. He shifted his bad behavior on you. How about he changes his behavior so you can live the fully gifted life God intended for his daughter. Does he have any accountability people? Are his Elders aware of his attitudes and behaviors at home? Power and control is his game, Satan is his leader, don’t be fooled.

    • Ruth on February 26, 2016 at 9:26 am

      To Lee: I’m so sorry. He sounds more like a slave master than a husband. You’re in a bad situation. If your church leadership and hierarchy is like most and you reach out for help, then they’ll just try to keep everything Hush, hush. They’ll guilt trip you into silence, suffering subservience.
      As a pastor’s wife, I’m sure you feel pressure to keep up appearances.
      There’s a lot I want to say but the main thing is this. He’s given himself over to a controlling religious spirit. I would call his salvation very much into question. HE is the problem.
      I would reach out for counselling outside of your denomination. Is there someone you could talk to outside of your house? Even if they’re not a counselor? Maybe an old friend, classmate, or family member?

      • Ruth on February 26, 2016 at 9:28 am

        By counselling, I mean just for you – not couples counselling.

    • LA on February 26, 2016 at 9:37 am

      I totally understand your desire to no longer attend church, only in my case, I quit going because during sermons I would be elbowed by h if something was said that h felt I needed to hear, I wasn’t allowed to praise and worship by raising my hands because he insisted that we hold hands, it didn’t feel personal any more. H wanted to control my entire experience. It was all for show, so I quit going altogether. I was told by h that God would not speak to me except through h. Are you kidding me!? I told h that I had been hearing from God long before I met him and that I would continue in my relationship with God without h’s interference! I told h that the Holy Spirit was alive and well and still speaking to me and showing me things. My relationship with God was My relationship with God and that the position of the Holy Spirit in my life wasn’t h’s job to fill. H would continue to point out my sin to me, like a broken record, ie., refusing to have sex as after a disagreement that I was still processing and trying to understand, in his eyes not submitting, not forgiving, and going outside the marriage for ministry and counsel. I continued anyway and now I’m free of his abuse and I attend a small home church where I feel loved and accepted and when I leave I feel so enriched by the experience! I’ve been gone now for almost 4 mos, as I finally left last Nov. my children are grown and I feel like I
      escaped a consentration camp where I lived under a microscope, a place where h attempted to micro manage my spiritual life and relationship with my Father in heaven. I thank my Father above every day that He made a way out for me!
      Just breathing and trusting

      • amber on February 26, 2016 at 6:56 pm

        There was an article in this month’s Reader’s Digest about a French reporter who posed as an Islamic recruit to lure an ISIS leader online to expose their evil actions. It shocked me to read your post because the ISIS said some of the same things your H said to you as he tried to brain wash the reporter. The ISIS leader told the recruit that she would hear God thru him. Thankfully the reporter’s boss pulled her away before she was captured. Read the article, the similarities are profound.

        • LA on February 27, 2016 at 1:02 pm

          Oh Amber, that’s a scary thought! Yes, I will read the article! May not like it, but I’ll read it! Lol
          Just breathing and trusting

  20. LA on February 25, 2016 at 12:15 pm

    Other areas of abuse that I’ve experienced: Mocking me to my face and to others,his condescending attitude toward my requests or needs, and his tactic of taking things I shared early on in the marriage when I thought it was “safe” to do so, and turning them around to inflict hurt and pain… Pouring salt on exposed wounds…
    Just breathing and trusting

    • Maria on February 25, 2016 at 1:29 pm

      LA, are you still married? How do you respond his behavior.

      • LA on February 26, 2016 at 10:20 am

        Hi Maria,
        At first I was so confused by his behavior, because for good reason he didn’t show this side of himself while dating. It wasn’t until a few years into the marriage that he began to use these tactics to shame me. As I “woke up to the truth” I began to just walk away. Then he would further mock me by saying, “there you go, walking away again! See, I can’t even have a conversation with you!” And I would just keep walking away. Sometimes I would get my purse and leave, drive somewhere and pour out my tears and my heart to my Father God. Only when I was calm would I return, and he would act like nothing happened, all goodness and light. It was very confusing and sometimes I would say, ” you know, I walk away because I don’t want to say something that I will regret later, I walk away to protect my heart”. Of course he never understood or “heard” what I was saying because in another instance he would accuse me of leaving because “you just can’t handle the truth!” Omgosh it was crazy making! There was never an apology or emotional connection of any sort, just destruction. Conversations were not safe at all. I did my best to let it go, telling God that “he’s your son, you deal with it”. Then I got to a place where I would tell h that I wouldn’t speak to him about our relationship without a third party present. Several counselors later… I left him. He would eventually quit counseling as soon as the focus shifted to him, and of course the counselors were all wrong!
        I left because I realized that he wasn’t interested in having a loving, honest, or safe relationship with me. He was only interested in getting his needs met no matter the cost. So I’m gone… And loving my life now, the peace is incredible and I can look back and see how much oppression I was living under! Hindsight comes with 20/20
        vision! ???? I know it was only by the grace of God
        that I stayed so long! It wasn’t all a loss, as much healing came for me as God continued to show me areas where I needed to heal and change my own heart. Much healing came from childhood wounds that surfaced during the marriage and I was able to confront false underlying beliefs that we’re keeping me stuck! Thank you God for using the marriage to bring me healing! Now, I liken the marriage to the sand grain that forms the pearl in
        the oyster! It’s was a Major irritant for sure, but it brought forth something beautiful and stronger in
        me as I continued to look in the mirror and ask God to change those things I saw in me that did not line up with His character!
        Just breathing and trusting

    • amber on February 25, 2016 at 9:49 pm


      Sorry to be a broken record here, but everything you mention can be found on this diagram. Yes, it is abuse.

  21. Josh on February 25, 2016 at 3:19 pm

    Typo in the 2nd paragraph – “You’re Sick”

    Abuse, much like illness, is hard to diagnose yourself because of your feelings. If you feel sick, you can either deal with it or go online and try to self diagnose, or you can go to a doctor, who usually says self diagnosis is bad. You might think that you can run away from abuse, while you can’t run away from illness…I think, especially when there are kids, you can’t run away from either. As Leslie speaks about building up your CORE, it’s about building up your immunity to the alleged abuse. Sometimes that means you need to change your surroundings, but sometimes, it just means you need to wipe down the surfaces more often.

    • Remedy on February 26, 2016 at 10:28 am

      Is that what you are saying Leslie…. By building your core you build your immunity to the alleged abuse so that you may wipe the surface more often…..since you really can’t run away from it?


  22. M on February 25, 2016 at 3:53 pm


  23. Emily on February 25, 2016 at 4:08 pm

    My spouse was verbally, mentally, and spiritually abusive, as you describe above, but there is another side to many of these symptoms. My husband did force me to do things sexually that I was not comfortable with, but most often, I consented begrudgingly because he withheld sexual intimacy from me. I wanted that intimacy so badly that I was willing to do what he wanted in order to get it. Additionally, quite the opposite of keeping me from knowing how much money we had, my husband refused to work, insisted I handle all the money responsibilities, and he demanded that he get an excessive spending account. He leased cars back to back and took us heavily into debt. I had all the responsibility of the money, but no control. He would go into rages over any missed bill I had, but refused to be responsible for it. There are so many facets of how abuse can look!

  24. Aleea on February 25, 2016 at 4:40 pm

    I am so sorry you are going through this right now. I know how horrible and crippling it can be. I understand how much you hurt and how hard this is for you. Please know I am praying for you.

    I want to encourage you to redefine “success” and “failure” – neither of you have given up, and marriage can be really, really messy! Marriage is HARD. I want to encourage you to read, cover to cover, “Emotionally Destructive Relationships” and “How to Act Right when Your Spouse Acts Wrong” (start with that one first) by Leslie. You might also get more information about your situation by “A Way of Hope, Seven Steps Toward Breaking the Cycle of Violence”. Even if he isn’t hitting you, there are steps you can take to stop the emotional battering that may be going on.

    I also want to encourage you to see a doctor, and to not manage your medication yourself. I’m obviously not a medical anything and I have no idea what your issues are, but a real medical doctor is worth checking out.

    Know you are prayed for by all of us here, and that where there is breath, there is life and hope. God wants to teach you about you and Him through the context of your marriage. Be willing to do hard things and learn. He loves you and means it for your good. And sometimes hard things mean dying to self (I so hate that too), other times they mean confronting another sinner, sometimes it means walking away with Christ.

    So glad you are here. You are not alone. When you are feeling better, try reading “The Courage to Be” The Courage to Accept Oneself as Accepted in Spite of Being Unacceptable Paperback –by Dr. Paul Tillich, theologian and probably the most influential theologian of the twentieth century. As someone said about it and it is totally true “That book has more good ideas in it than clam chowder has calories. It’s packed into every page, every line.”

  25. BELOVED on February 25, 2016 at 4:54 pm

    I have chosen to comment on the sexual abuse section because you have not mentioned in any way that sexual abuse can also be very coercive and COVERT.
    I will speak of 4 very different situations that show clearly that this is prevailent.
    1. At the age of 16 I fell in love with, and idolised a guy, 3yrs my senior.
    I was not aware that he was coercively threatening me never to refuse him, with cubtle and covert tactics to always have my obedience and submission for sex… Never overtly threatening, only ever sensing the underlying threat/danger not to say no. For any reason… (Even when I said I was ill, he claimed the medicinal powers of sex).
    Until 1day when I actually did say no, because I was too upset, (crying and angry with his false accusations. His (coercive) demands came after he had been angry with me, he went on to rape me. I had got out of bed and began to dress, in my upset, when he dragged me back in, tore off my underwear, and raped me.
    2)my 7yr old daughter was sexually abused by a predator, peadofile (her best friends dad), believing he was her boyfriend!!!! He abused her from the ages of 7-11 yrs (by chance we moved house)… He continued to send her 12,13 & 14, respectively, red roses; EVERY Valentine’s day (mysteriously delivered by cab)!
    To celebrate her beauty and growing age… Even to this day, she believes it was “not really abuse” because he was her boyfriend, and she consented.(she is 27 yrs old). She RECOGNISED the abuse (and reported it at 15,yrs old), the police said, because it was historical and his word against hers, they could not pursue criminal activity. I believe this endorsed his lies, to her, of “LOVE” at 7yrs old!!!! Not one threat of violence or any sense of power or danger was used.
    3. My covert narcissist husband was also sexually abusing me for the last 5-10 yrs of our marriage. I have ONLY JUST begun to understand this was also a part of HIS ABUSE. I thought this was the ONLY SACRED PART between us, until JESUS opened my eyes these Last 2years, as i have been separated from my husband.
    My husband used his power to control me, mentally, emotionally and sexually, while taking a sadistic pleasure & gaining more power over me, from the fact that “I would succumb” and know that my submission to him, because of my Christian beliefs to forgive and not to go to sleep angry, but in my bed, search “my own” heart, as well as his gentle persuasion and/or arousal techniques, subtle and manipulated, coercively, abusing my grace, forgiveness, love, and respect for him (never to reject him sexually through my anger)…in your anger, do not sin… along with my lack or knowledge/awareness of personal boundaries/rights etc. (self-sacrifice beliefs from spiritual abuse also throughout my abusive childhood).

    Not one of these situations had any previous violence, force, anger or sense of persuasive force.

    • Aleea on February 25, 2016 at 6:55 pm

      . . . . Heinous criminal acts of abuse. . .That just makes me cry and I don’t know what to say to that. I’m praying for you that God will do exceeding abundantly above all that you could ask or even think in the rest of your life! Sounds totally pathetic up against that abuse. . . . . .But we can build a bridge by teaching kids about abuse. Give them a chance to run to us should they encounter it. Be their hero. Let them become the site of our salvation. . . . . It takes Wonder Woman courage and Superman strength to heal the wounds of our abuse… because it brings change… and we are inclined to hold on to the stability we created in the total chaos of our past experiences. To me, healing is about collecting as many of the pieces as possible. It’s finding words for what we are seeing and feeling, even when it sounds just crazy. It’s daring to speak our truth until it makes sense. . . . .I tend to blame God for not protecting me and I call it “the sins of Abba, Father” but that doesn’t lead to any healing. Silence is so very inviting, but when you share, tough as it is, you rob it of its sting because others know they aren’t alone. . . .You help me confront the reality of my abuse, not so I will despair, but so that I will be free of the despair that already is within me. The despair that really enslaves me.

    • roxanne on February 25, 2016 at 10:03 pm

      I see the love of God in your post. What a warrior you are for the Lord. Surely your jeweled crown will be beyond description. I’ll look for it when we get to heaven. In your love you were exploited in ways only the rest of us on this blog can understand. What a precious, precious, amazing woman you are. I hope you are finally free from your abuser.

  26. Sheila on February 25, 2016 at 5:11 pm

    I think one of the key components of abuse is intent, rather than just action. For instance, lots of people yell. Yelling is not always abusive–but it certainly can be. Lots of people drive fast, and driving fast is not always abusive, but it certainly can be.

    Here’s what I notice when abuse is present: there’s a consistent pattern where one spouse feels as if they’re walking on eggshells, trying to prevent something bad from happening, and the other spouse constantly denies responsibility and puts the blame elsewhere (usually on the spouse). Certainly they may cry and apologize afterwards, but inevitably it comes back to “you made me do this”. Or “you aren’t good enough”.

    And that’s where it really gets bad, because lies and manipulation are at the heart of it. When someone is abused, they often wonder if they’re crazy, because it seems as if their spouse always has an explanation or alternate version of reality, and they start second guessing everything.

    I have known couples who would hit in anger who needed to work on their anger, and they did. It wasn’t really an abusive relationship; just two immature people who didn’t react well to each other. Then I have known relationships where there was no hitting, and to outside people there may not even have been belittling/verbal abuse, but the husband was constantly telling the wife she was wrong, or she didn’t hear that, or she didn’t see that. It didn’t “look” like abuse to most people, but it was. This propensity to never accept responsibility and to always blame the other seems to always be a characteristic of abuse, no matter what the form.

    • Melanie on February 25, 2016 at 11:51 pm

      I appreciate the contrasts in these thoughts. My ex raised his voice to me a handful of times in 20 years–I’m 1/4 Italian so I’m the loud one– but he would undermine me on a regular basis with the kids (you don’t have to do that, don’t tell your mom), blame me for his choices (“I lie to you because you get so mad when I tell you the truth”) disrespect every boundary I tried to set with him (“I told her because I thought she needed to know, and I forgot you said that was personal”), ignore the past (“well I never really agreed to that”) until I thought I had the worst memory on the planet. (My memory problems cleared up miraculously … a year after he moved out.)

      I think there’s another aspect: The repetition. I sin against people pretty much every hour of the day, but if someone says: when you talk like this, it hurts my feelings… I pray about it, I try to change it, I try to do better, I check back in. I don’t keep doing the same thing for twenty years, apologize every other time, and alternately say: “Well you’re too sensitive.”

      I remember the day a woman in my church came to me and said something like: I said x to you, it was hurtful, I had no excuse, and I will not do that again. Will you forgive me?

      And I did not know what to think. I tried to say it wasn’t that big a deal (it wasn’t) but she insisted on saying it again (because it really was).

      A couple days later I realized: That’s it. That’s what it means to be sorry.

      Was my ex trying to control me? In a way, by trying to make me responsible for everything so that he could do and live however he wanted to with no consequences, and when I was agitating for better, he would pick up the pace of the manipulation or ‘depression’ or he’d withdraw until I backed off my demands for respect in our relationship… because I ‘needed’ him more than he ‘needed’ me. (Said this in counseling once. Didn’t think it was bad.)

      He was a different person to everyone in the church so they couldn’t know, because I wouldn’t say anything. Until I did. And then they didn’t understand. And neither did I. So I read and talked and read some more and talked some more, and meanwhile because I wasn’t going his way anymore because I wasn’t afraid of losing him anymore, he escalated so much that finally what was in my house leaked outside and all over everywhere. And then in one last ditch effort to manipulate me into being the scared girl he married, he left.

      And God delivered me completely and fully and set my feet on dry ground.

      I dream sometimes that he’s in the house and I’m trying to explain that he’s married to someone else now and he can’t be here, but he’s not listening to me and he won’t leave even though I keep saying no, no, I don’t have to live like this anymore… it’s terrifying.

      And then I wake up in my bed with just the dog sleeping there. And I whisper:

      Thank You.

      • BELOVED on February 26, 2016 at 5:25 am

        Melanie. I want to comment on your post because the nightmares are a sign of post traumatic stress.
        Sadly my husband had no intention of leaving me (well, his house), for several reasons, 1) He doesn’t do anything wrong so why should he.
        2) It’s his house, money, etc… So why should he leave.
        3) He needed me for his source of food… He fed off my emotions, in order to live.
        4) I was his plaything, He took sadistic pleasure from “playing” with me. (his description).
        5)He enjoyed being the victim. (Manipulated me, my children, our friends, my church… Well, everyone really, into seeing, thinking and believing he was the sweet, innocent, good guy, rock and martyr, treat so “irrationally” by me).
        6)I was his source of Victory. (He always wins. He is god. he can do what he wants, he will beat me and prove that he is god, now that IV found the real God, the source of my healing and salvation from my husband too).
        He planned my ultimate death by suicide! This RESULT would cover all his delusions. if I FAIL to participate this time, plan B… Hel (feign) his role reversal ABUSER/VICTIM to the police, as he breaks down telling them how he couldn’t take “my getting on to him” anymore.
        Oh, I forgot to say, I discovered
        Another trick he had, when I tried to enforce positive and negative BEHAVIOUR techniques, boundaries, speaking out etc…
        If I praised him, and said, that’s good, I like that. Please will you do “this”
        If I said that’s HURTFUL, harmful, upsetting, please don’t do that.

        As for your nightmares, make JESUS LORD or your dreams, ask him to cover and protect your subconscious and unconscious mind and bring healing to you through your sleep and dreams.

        I was having very similar nightmares for 8years before I knew JESUS (post abuse, in a relationship prior to my husband).
        When JESUS came into my life the dreams changed shape and I began growing stronger, each time i said no, spoke our, stood up to him, in my dream, instead of feeling fear/panic etc,).
        I could see I was getting stronger and being healed in my daily life too.
        Sadly my husband (who, at that time, I thought was the perfect husband, kind, gentle, vulnerable, sensitive, etc) was COVERTLY working behind the scenes to bring me down and then destroy me.
        I was blind to this for many years, partly because I was perfectly GROOMED FOR HIM, by my parents, &partly because I genuinely did love and believe his “fabricated” image of being all the things I wanted in a man…
        He really has got this ART (OF ABUSE) PERFECTED. Not one person believes me, every person (including my children) believe that I am the bad guy. He really does seem to be good, kind, gentle, sensitive, reliable etc. Etc… Until I upset him. He only seeks revenge on me, because HE CHOSE ME TO GUARD AND PROTECT HIM FROM ANY UPSET, FROM ANYONE, AT ANYTIME, AT NO POINT MUST HE BE “MADE” TO BE UPSET. in other words FEEL HIS INNER RAGE.
        Obviously, I would fail. But believe me I tried. EVERYTHING, AND MORE.
        GOD BLESS.

    • LA on February 26, 2016 at 11:58 am

      Hi Sheila,
      I’m curious if you have a blog page called ” To love, honor and Vacuum” ? You look familiar? If so, there are a few things I’d like to share with you?
      Just breathing and trusting

    • Aleea on February 26, 2016 at 12:33 pm

      That is helpful and balanced, thank you. . . .I appreciate your thoughts when I see them posted around the web: on your site, Nina Rosener’s, et.al. I wish you would post here more! . . .Do you have a theory as to what is behind abuse beyond things like internal locus of control (re: accept responsibility) vs. external locus of control? I really have no clue. Why does someone want power and control? Especially when it is so often clear, even to the controller, that it completely destroys relationships. Here is the question: What problem are those power and control “hits” trying to solve? What are they afraid of when they want power and control? What is the issue beyond just the generic “oh, people are filthy, dirty, self-centered, hell-bound sinners.” That does not explain much of anything. There must be a higher place to go? Obviously, that type of control is *completely* irrational and destroys the abused and the abuser. Maybe think about this: You are *actually* out-of-control when they are “controlling” everything. You are actually in-control when you give as much freedom as possible to people. Smart husbands realized this very quickly. The more freedom they give you, the more energy, excitement, honor, respect just flows naturally. What smart husband wants to kill those off with controlling immature narcissistic responses? —You know what? We are in control of next to nothing in the larger picture, really almost nothing. And I think everyone knows that anything under God’s control is never “out of control.” So what is really going on? Would not your power diminish each time you declare that something is not your responsibility? And your power increase every time you accept responsibility for something? —even when that “something” is a total failure. —Or again, What is the real problem that abuse is trying to solve because abuse is doing a really lousy, horrific job of solving it. In my thinking, you are only “in-control” when you are “out-of-control.”

    • Ann L on March 1, 2016 at 4:58 pm

      “This propensity to never accept responsibility and to always blame the other seems to always be a characteristic of abuse, no matter what the form.”

      Awesome summary. Thank you.

  27. Karen on February 25, 2016 at 9:04 pm

    Like Leslie, I am a professional counselor. I believe it is essential to define abuse in it’s proper context if we desire to have healthy relationships. We certainly put our emotional, mental and spiritual health at risk if we lack this knowledge. My most heart breaking of experiences as a counselor is to sit with the man or woman who refuses to define abuse properly, and either chooses a false definition or no definition at all just to endure abuse so they can remain attached in an unhealthy relationship. Attachment problems help explain why it is difficult for some to admit the reality of abuse but attachment problems don’t have to mean choosing to ignore abuse. There is a better way to secure relationships and preserve the love we need. If what a person desire most is to be in a strong healthy relationship where love is shared and attachment is secure it begins with knowing the difference in a healthy relationship and in destructive abuse one. And then holding to a no tolerance view of abuse. I certainly know there are many reason this is difficult for some people to achieve. But with the help of the right counselor it is possible to grow to a place of confidently asking for and seeking out a healthy relationship.. Thank you Leslie for this blog with the clear definitions of various kinds of abuse. I pray it will help many know better how to interpret scripture as well as how to define abuse.

    • amber on February 25, 2016 at 9:55 pm

      Karen, I believe some people in abusive relationships do not have attachment issues. They are staying in the relationship for the money and the roof over their head. Many would gladly leave their spouse and love was lost long ago, it is financial survival that keeps them enduring the abuse, it has nothing to do with attachment. Another motivation is Christian vows and the teaching that women must not divorce for any reason and that a covenant lasts a lifetime. Never mind what the spouse does, the holy Christian woman can take it. Bear there cross and endure. There is no love or attachment here, it is an act of obedience to God, not the abuser. What do you say is these kinds of circumstances.

    • BELOVED on February 26, 2016 at 5:34 am

      Karen. Please can you tell me where u are a counsellor? I live in the UK. Unfortunately there are no counsellors that seem to see, understand or acknowledge COVERT emotional /mental/sexual abuse.
      I have looked for and prayed for a Christian counsellor for two years. IN VAIN.
      If possible I’d like to speak to you privately/personally, I do not know how. Can you reply with a personal contact opportunity (email???)I would like to discuss your response further.

      • Maria on February 26, 2016 at 6:14 pm

        Beloved, Leslie offers real time online classes. Maybe you can sign up for one.

    • Aleea on February 26, 2016 at 6:50 pm

      I have no idea, but is the person healed by attachment to a new, good, healthy relationship with the counselor? In other words, that relationship shows them the healthy process goal? If it is not too situation specific, can you describe the basic trauma, attachment and healing process of. . . . . of, I don’t even know what to call it, corrective attachment therapy? or the model you use and why? Here is the question: If the attachment system opens up during a crisis (trauma), do you have to re-open all of it to get a new healthy attachment? Or, maybe that is not even what is going on or what you are describing? Do you “rescue” the patient by helping her to recognize her own resources? . . . . .One thing seems clear, if we have had serious abuse, we are “occupied” and not by good internalized relationships. Karen, how to you get at non-physical internalized relationships? It seems pretty straight forward to get a divorce from someone but how do you “divorce” someone who you have internalized in childhood trauma, lets say even though you don’t even see them much anymore?

  28. amber on February 25, 2016 at 9:31 pm


    Power and Control Wheel. There are so many forms of abuse. Here is the wheel most domestic abuse counselors use.

    • Aleea on February 26, 2016 at 9:15 am

      Thank you amber! I appreciate that. . . . .Do you have a theory as to what is behind that symptom wheel? I really don’t.

      I want power because…

      I want control because…

      Why does someone want power and control? Especially when it is so often clear, even to the controller, that it completely destroys relationships. What problem are those power and control “hits” trying to solve? What are they afraid of when they want power and control? What is the issue beyond just the generic “oh, people are filthy, dirty, self-centered, hell-bound sinners.” That does not explain much of anything. There must be a higher place to go? Obviously, that type of control is *completely* irrational and destroys the abused and the abuser. Maybe think about this: You are *actually* out-of-control when they are “controlling everything.” You are actually in-control when you give as much freedom as possible to people. Smart husbands realized this very quickly. The more freedom they give you, the more energy, excitement, honor, respect just flows naturally. What smart husband wants to kill those off with controlling immature narcissistic responses? —You know what? We are in control of next to nothing in the larger picture, really almost nothing. And I think everyone knows that anything under God’s control is never “out of control.” So what is really going on? What is the real problem that abuse is trying to solve because abuse is doing a really lousy, horrific job of solving it. You are only “in-control” when you are “out-of-control.”

  29. Judy on February 26, 2016 at 12:14 am

    The only thing I did not endure during the 32 yrs I stayed married—physical hitting or beating. But, when he began hiding with guns, my family said it’s time to get out!!! So much I could tell here. I never believed in divorce, so having 3 children, I THOUGHT it was the Christian thing to stay with my husband. During those years, many told me that I needed to let God change ME, then my husband would be different!! Well, I learned that it takes more than 1 to make a marriage work!!! To make a long story shorter, I was blamed for abandoning him!! I lived with our daughter’s family, eventually my ex began to be friendly with us, we actually had meals together, we’re friends. After a few years, my son-in-law walked out on us, leaving us with no bills paid, including rent, we HAD to get out of the house—with 2 little girls, we had no where to go. So behind my back, my daughter asked her dad if I could stay in his extra bedroom til we could get a place. It will be 5 yrs this June that I have been here!!!!!! The 1st yr—-he was so nice to me, we shared cooking, doing dishes, taking care if our little granddaughters, no issues!! Then, for some unknown reason—after that 1st yr, he turned on me!!! He got rude, was eating up all the food if bought, I was doing all the dirty dishes he was leaving, he was telling lies about me to others, giving me trouble when the girls are here. And as I have learned to set boundaries & take a stand for myself, he has gotten worse! Mostly when the girls are here. I’ve been trying to get out to my own place—I won’t go into all those issues—another nightmare!!! This past yr, is the 1st time he ever hit me—he slugged my hand twice with his fist, yes, I filed a police report, don’t think that will ever happen again!!! I eat in my room, stay in my room most of the time I am home. I’ve stopped confronting him as much, although he tried to falsely accuse me in front of the girls again Tues night—I put a stop to that! I also learned a new word this past year—–narcissist!!!!!!!! Exactly what I’ve lived with all these 40 years!!!!!! Get her upset, then turn it on her for not being a good Christian, get the focus on her so that he looks like the victim!!!! And the guilt I’ve lived with all these years!!!!!!!! I’m still in counseling twice a month!!! I now have church family who are trying to help me in getting my own place. I pray it happens soon, this room is shrinking!!! So are my nerves. I’ve been mocked, smirked at, called filthy names, he has turned our 14 yr old grandson against me. I’m so tired of living this way. Our oldest son died 10 1/2 yrs ago, the same day we buried him, my husband attempted suicide—– running the van with garage shut,. I’m the one who found him & I’m the one who took blame—from his family!!!! He got mad at me & my Mom for stupid reasons, ran out of the house, it was MY MOM who insisted that I needed to find him & see if he was ok. Talk about a nightmare!!!! He had people thinking he did it out of grief—-NOT!!! I’ve gone way too long here, so much more I could tell, but, my message would be, yes God does not like divorce, but no, 1 person can’t make a marriage work alone. I read all the books, did counseling, took him to counseling, went to marriage seminars, pastoral counseling—you name it I tried it!!! The more I did—the more he expected!!! And I was forced to do things I’d never in my life heard of!!!!! I’m trying to teach my granddaughters, that, when they get old enough to like boys, pick good Christian boys!! Young men willing to listen to you, pray with you, do kind things for you!! I THOUGHT I married one—found out different after the wedding!!!! ; ( ???? The girls get so much emotional abuse from their dad, they see how papaw, treats me so they don’t like being around him either. So heartbreaking how Satan has destroyed our family. My daughter???— is in a lesion relationship because of the men in her life that have hurt her so bad. ; ( ???? but she knows right from wrong, her mate was also raised in a Christian home so they both know! I sure don’t condone it, but, this is what happens when you have lived with abusive people!!! Thank you for letting me share here. As the old song goes—-“no one knows what goes on behind closed doors!!!” —except those of us who have lived with it; ( ????

    • Ann L on March 1, 2016 at 5:04 pm

      I pray that my granddaughters enter healthy relationships with healthy men. If they want to be Christian, fine, but in my opinion, it’s not a reliable screening tool.

      • Maria on March 1, 2016 at 5:23 pm

        Ann L, You are right. It’s important to make sure that actions match words. It’s very easy to say one is a Christian, but it important to look at their fruit or lack of. If you have a good relationship with them, maybe they will listen to any concerns you have.

  30. BELOVED on February 26, 2016 at 5:46 am

    Karen please can you contact me, or leave me a contact address. I have looked for over 2years, in vain, for a Christian counsellor who understands COVERT emotional, mental,sexual, financial, physical abuse.
    I live in the UK, and this kind of abuse “apparently” does not occur or exist.

  31. BELOVED on February 26, 2016 at 6:01 am

    Emily yes my husband also knew that I loved him PASSIONATELY (did not recognise his ABUSIVE tactics) and that I fancied him and wanted as well as enjoyed our sexual intimacy. (2 years separated from him and I’m only just understanding and recognising that he was in fact sexually abusing me too.I thought this was our only sacred area. Untouched by any anger, hurt or abuse).
    He could withold (forever) or go through the “motions” and let me do all the “work” chasing his arousal, in the hope of getting an affectionate, loving, valued, mutual enjoyment response.

    THIS is the one part of our last years together and me “trying everything”, that really hurts me. And the greatest evidence that I was in fact, wasting my time and adding to his sadistic pleasure of having POWER OVER ME. And the KNOWING that HE actually AND ABSOLUTELY DIDNT EVEN LOVE ME, ONE BIT.

    Gods healing is coming, and I have to make myself forgive, EVERYTIME, THE THOUGHTS, EMOTIONS OR PAIN ARISES AGAIN.

  32. Leonie on February 26, 2016 at 9:48 am

    Or constantly being scolded or given ‘heck’ for silly things that you should be able or allowed to laugh about – like ex h snorting while snoring while asleep on the couch and the kids laughing!!

  33. Refocus-Reclaim on February 26, 2016 at 11:05 am

    Well said! I agree with you.

  34. Ruth on February 26, 2016 at 12:52 pm

    To LA (responding to what you said about no more pretending and not cowering his your husband’s anger)-
    I am so impressed by your strength to do that. All of my life I’ve been extremely afraid of conflict. What you did is very inspiring! I’ve read what Leslie writes about being authentic while empathetic. My thoughts were “that would just be too hard. I couldn’t deal with the fallout”. (Not physical, only the emotional and verbal assault)
    one difficulty in “standing my position” in a fight with my husband is that the fight might start about sex. But if he’ll quickly start attacking me on another front. Like- “you don’t keep the dishes washed” or “you waste money” or “you were late to work”. Then he moves on to accusations that infuriate me. He accuses me of doing something that HE DOES FREQUENTLY. Like on Monday, he said I had been rude and condescending (yes, in a small way I had disagreed with him over something). But his accusation was completely hypocritical. He is the king of rudeness and impatience!
    If my husband can’t find a way to justify his bad behavior through blaming me for something I did the day of the fight, then he’ll just shift his assault onto another subject. Sometimes, he’ll throw out a blanket statement like “you’ve made me this way after YEARS of dealing with disappointment.” Then he gets to be the suffering prisoner. It’s hard to stomach such words. 90% of the time, I feel angry and EXTREMELY ANXIOUS when we’re in one of those fights. But even worse are the other 10% of the time. During those times, I’ve felt like a failure, wanting his love and affirmation. I felt crushed and alone with no hope of escape. I never want to feel that way again.

    When you became strong and no longer cowered under your husband’s anger, what was your his response?

    • LA on February 26, 2016 at 2:20 pm

      Hello Ruth,
      Unfortunately my H used the same tactic of changing the subject when he couldn’t hook me into his diatribe, I began to think to myself, there goes another clay pigeon. I would liken this tactic to clay pigeon shooting, continually throwing various clay pigeons out to see if I would “shoot” at it or address it? It took me quite awhile to understand what was happening, and I too would become angry and anxious during the diatribe, but somehow at times I managed to continue with what I was doing and eventually I was able to say things like, “I’m sorry, but I cannot address all of those issues at once, can you please pick one and let’s talk about it?” But he didn’t know how to do that! He would often just sigh and throw his hands up and walk away. His favorite time to do this was was minutes before he had to be somewhere, like back to work? I’m thinking because he really didn’t even want to address an issue but he wanted to “dump” some of his frustration on me. I remember one time I said, “I am not a recepticle or a garbage dump, if you want to have an adult conversation about any one of these complaints, pick a time when you have the time and allow me the courtesy of giving you a response to one thing at a time!” Of course this never happened, because his objective was not to listen and understand, his objective was to release his anger and frustration, I just happened to be the target. This realization allowed me to take his words less personally. He wasn’t interested in having a healthy relationship, he was interested in unloading his frustration. It took me years to get strong, I didn’t wake up one day with strength! Lol oh how I wish! My strength built one small baby step at a time, then one bigger step, then a huge leap the day I left! I started with sitting down and writing out what I needed to
      feel safe during a conversation. Writing is “Making it real” as I could have great conversations with other people! I began by comparing the two, side by side. What was missing in his approach? I believe it was a lack of respect for me as a person. He didn’t even see me as a person, in fact after I told him I wasnt a recepticle, he said, “yes you are!” ARE YOU KIDDING ME!? The Lord showed me a bucket, one with a whole in the bottom, and that no matter what I put into it, it would drain out! I so clearly heard, “you didn’t break it, you are not going to fix it” So, I prayed and prayed that God would plug the hole! It didn’t happen because God will not override a persons will. Bottom line, my h did not want to change, so very stuck in his pattern of trying to get others to fill his bucket of needs, OR DUMP HIS BUCKET OF TOXIC FRUSTRATION! The abuser has to WANT to change and find a “better way” of dealing with his emotions or nothing changes! So, I continued to run to the Lord and get my bucket filled, I began to dig a deep well in relationship with my Abba, I read books about emotional and spiritual abuse and got ministry for my early childhood wounds, and just kept moving forward, focussing as much energy as I could in healing myself 1st. Like they tell you on an airplane, put your oxygen mask on 1st before you attempt to help someone else! My focussed switched from trying to Get him to see me and understand, to fixing what was broken in me… To see myself clearly, to understanding myself, to loving myself and realizing that my needs matter too… I determined that when I meet the Lord, I want to have as much of my heart present as
      possible in that moment, so I began to ask the Lord to show me where I had given my heart away or lost pieces of it to others or where I had just flat out given it away! I asked Him to bring them back to me and to heal me… So, the strength that you see was hard fought for, it was built through the course of years and years… It was painful growth but rich in blessings! I am so grateful for all I’ve been shown and for the peace that I carry in my heart these days… I sought for the truth, and I found it…
      Just breathing and trusting

    • amber on February 26, 2016 at 7:09 pm

      Ruth, he behavior is crazy making. Don’t take the bait. He knows what he is doing. It is really cunning isn’t it?

    • amber on February 26, 2016 at 7:12 pm

      Ruth, his behavior is crazy making. Don’t take the bait. He knows what he is doing. It is really cunning isn’t it?

  35. LA on February 26, 2016 at 2:44 pm

    Ruth, I don’t know if this answered your ? Or not? My response was to grow in my integrity and in the Lord, his responses never changed… However, the stronger I became, the more his behavior escalated at 1st. I call this “change back.” He did everything he could to get me to “go back” to being the people pleaser he married, which I could not do, even if I wanted to… Once you begin to gather strength, a certain momentum begins to happen… It’s like I couldn’t stop moving forward? Discovering that I could live with his displeasure, and that it wasn’t going to “kill me” was one of the 1st steps. Over the course of many years, he finally gave up trying so hard to change me into the “dream wife”, he switched into avoidance mode at times, which was a welcome relief for me! So we did live “apart” in the same house for years, occasionally doing family things, like birthdays and holidays… Until he escalated again and I finally had the strength and resources to leave. My youngest was 21, and I no longer had a reason to stay. That was last Nov. 2015
    Just breathing and trusting

    • Maria on February 26, 2016 at 7:26 pm

      LA, How are your kids doing? What is their relationship with you and with your ex?

      • LA on February 27, 2016 at 12:28 pm

        My kids are doing well, of course they were all shocked at 1st when I left last Nov. My two girls are from a previous marriage, ages 31 and 27, both married, each has a child, so I have 2 grandchildren also! They are Delightful!
        My son will be 22 this year, and he our child together. My daughters are very close and they are very supportive of my descision, although they also grieve and wish the outcome was different! They were grade school ages when I married h. They have some very fond memories but also have had some not so fond interactions with h. So they do understand why I chose to leave. My son was heart broken at 1st and didn’t understand completely why I left. He heard his dad’s side of things. He has a very different relationship with his dad than my girls have. My son and h are close and do many things together. His experience with his dad is much different than the girls had. The girls love h in their own way an do appreciate all of his provision for them growing up!
        My son has such a good heart as well, and I have a good loving relationship with my kids. My son was away working in another town when I left in Nov. and has since moved back in w his dad.
        Most of the “control” issues of my h were played out in our marriage relationship only, so I am thankful that my son was not subject to it! My girls, very little and I made sure to stand up for them when he was on a power trip. I was a momma bear at times, protecting her cubs! My girls still see him occasionally, and he loves those grand babies! My take is this, “their relationship with h is their relationship, my relationship with them is my relationship”, they are all grown and perfectly capable of handling how they choose to live and love…
        Just breathing and trusting

    • Ruth on February 27, 2016 at 12:43 pm

      Thank you for responding. Yes, that answered my question.
      “Learning I could leave with his displeasure and it wouldn’t kill me.”
      That’s the place I want to be!
      Like Leslie says, I need to work on my CORE and my relationship with God.

      • Ruth on February 27, 2016 at 1:57 pm

        Oops- supposed to say “LIVE with his displeasure…”

        • LA on February 28, 2016 at 10:11 am

          Hi Ruth, I’ve been thinking about this some more and I wanted to share a technique I learned called “Observe, Don’t Absorb”, it’s about choosing to not engage your emotions in a confrontation or discussion, and simply going into observer mode, watch their reaction from a detached place. I found I could think more clearly and respond with clarity from this place of observing. It seemed that “the hook” for me in wanting to please came when my emotions were involved. So in choosing to detach and watching h’s reactions and power plays allowed me to use my brain and integrity when responding to him and this helped me to keep “standing” in my core strengths… I hope this helps? The videos about this are on you tube… Ross Rosenburg teachings…
          Just breathing and trusting

          • Ann L on March 1, 2016 at 5:15 pm

            LA, I’ve been attending Al Anon meetings at the suggestion of our marriage counselor, and your path sounds like the path that Al Anon recommend. I’ve learned a lot in the past three months.

            In marriage counselling the other day, my husband did the 20-minute download of all my faults, only in pleasant tones of voice. What a gift it was that he did it in front of the counselor.

            When I said that I needed something specific to respond to, he came up with two sentences that were ambiguous in content and in time. I asked for clarification. One issue, please, so I know what it is, and then can frame a response.

            It seems that “crazy-making” should be intentional. But I think that this very smart guy lacks the will to take the step to clarify. So maybe the original problem is poor communication, but the refusal to help move the conversation forward–I guess that’s intentional.

            Anyway, thanks for the clear thoughts.

          • Maria on March 1, 2016 at 5:55 pm

            Ann L, it may be that your husband is intentionally vague, so he can keep stringing you along. By being vague, he can keep changing his accusations.

          • Leslie Vernick on March 2, 2016 at 8:55 pm

            Yes it’s an effective strategy in a highly emotionally charged moment.

          • Ann L on March 3, 2016 at 8:30 am

            It’s very hard for me to imagine that he selects that strategy on purpose. I put it down to selecting it as a default tool that he’s not aware of — it keeps me off balance, and it lets him continue to say that our failure to resolve our difficulties is my fault.

            But then, that’s the same thing that physical abusers do. Physical abuse is so much easier for me to call by name and recognize by boundaries.

            If he can’t (or won’t) acknowledge it then it does put the onus on me. I am so tired of feeling guilty for the mess we are in.

            He is/has been so amazing and supportive. He’s done the things that I no longer tolerate. And yet I am still confused by the contradiction.

            I feel as though our marriage counselor is encouraging separation. In my heart I think it is the right thing to do. And yet the confusion. (note to self: Trust yourself!)

  36. Maria on February 26, 2016 at 3:51 pm

    Aleea, Here is my theory on why people control others even when it doesn’t make sense (they sometimes know that it will destroy relationships). You are making the assumption that these people value relationships, they don’t, they have an agenda and want it done, that’s all they care about). This is true in corporate America. Many want power, control and fame, and don’t care who they hurt on their way up. In my opinion, these people have a warped belief system- they think they are above others and therefore entitled to special treatment. They feel they are too special to do what us common folk do- cleaning, cooking , taking care of the kids are above them. They want the benefits of marriage and family, yet don’t want to put in the work. Lundy Bancroft does a good job explaining this. To change their warped belief system, they need their minds renewed. Sometimes these men only have this entitlement attitude to their wives. They are fine working under a woman boss. Some of the ladies here have mentioned that their husbands just want their needs/wants met, they couldn’t care less about the relationship. These husbands’ would be in heaven if their wives continued to give and would just be quiet stop complaining. They would love that kind of relationship.

    • Maria on February 26, 2016 at 3:57 pm

      Aleea, some other thoughts- our actions are a result of our belief system. It is interesting to look at our actions and ask ourselves what we truly believe. For example, it’s easy for me to say I trust God. When my actions show otherwise, I really need to examine whether I truly trust Him.

    • Aleea on February 26, 2016 at 4:44 pm

      Thank you for those thoughts, Maria —very helpful. . . . You were using the example of corporate executives but I was also thinking about politicians as I read your posts and how they never seem to accept responsibility for any of their mistakes or misdeeds. On the newscasts and in newspapers all we read are pitiful denials. First, they deny any knowledge of the problems. Then they say someone else is the culprit. In case something good happens, they are quick to say they were the ones in charge of that, even if it is clearly an act of God. . . . . Moreover, it is so true that beliefs can guide behaviors but I think behaviors are far more important than beliefs. You can have the right beliefs but for all the wrong reasons. Do I really, r-e-a-l-l-y love and want Christ or do I just want Eternal Life and Happiness? (—yes, the later for me —lots of times!!!) and when I want that, I am broken and I am alone, even if I fill my life with activity or numb myself. . . . . I tell myself I am this nice person so I don’t have to face the fact that I deny the resurrection of Christ each day in so, so many ways. I deny the resurrection of Christ each day when I turn my back on the poor and it seems like every day there are more poor. I can’t believe it. I have learned to just walk by them faster and faster. . . . .I deny the resurrection of Christ when I close my ears to the cries of those exploited by and lend my support to, unjust and corrupt systems. I sit in Starbucks talking about the evils of major corporations and Starbucks is a major multi-national private investment corp. with many violations of foreign corrupt services practices acts. Anyways, as I always say, I have a lot to work on. . . . .How are our beliefs functioning? What are they keeping us from confronting? Beliefs are so often used to cover over our serious anxieties and prevent a head-on encounter with this disturbing fact: lots and lots of precious women are abused. We must prevent the Bible from being structurally used as a defense mechanism that provides psychological cover for all forms of abuse, even and maybe even especially, spiritual abuse.

      To you specifically Maria I would say this: Your body is a temple, not a daily dumping ground for another person’s denial, blame, jealousy, pain, anger, betrayal, judgment, hypocrisy, et.al. When you are being psychologically, spiritually or emotionally abused by a person, and they don’t care how it hurts you, then it is time to leave what is polluting your relationship with God.

      . . . . And as came to me this morning while praying for everyone here: Mind control is built on lies and manipulation of attachment needs. . . . . One in four have experienced emotional, psychical, sexual or spiritual abuse (McQueen, Itzin, Kennedy, Sinason, & Maxted, 2008), in itself a figure unimaginable and totally hidden even twenty years ago. . . .Again, to me, ultimately, behaviors are more important than beliefs. God’s hiddenness is necessary on this account, since His presence would have people behaving as if good out of fear of Him or selfish interests, not out of courage, compassion, kindness and a sense of personal integrity.

  37. amber on February 26, 2016 at 6:41 pm

    For my abuser, it is about abandonment. At his very core he fears abandonment. He was unwanted as a child and that pain has never healed. The power and control is to stop their object of choice from leaving or ever hurting him. “He wants to be wanted.” His words. Like a child who takes bad attention over no attention, this struggle is never about the marriage it is about his own low self worth and his past, damaged childhood bleeding into the present.

    • Aleea on February 27, 2016 at 6:37 am

      Thank you Amber, I appreciate those insights. . . . . . That is very helpful and makes sense. What is amazing is how irrational the current actions are: “power and control” = you are going to be abandoned. . . . . but I guess that “solution” makes sense to the arrested development side of the wounded child? The bad attention over no attention is a solid insight too but just as irrational for the adult. Acting out = no attention. . . .Jesus constantly showed us that the way we think is backwards: The way right is left; the way up is down; the way to save your life is to lose it completely. You are “in-control” when you give up control. Control is force and force is never consistent with love. Very helpful and concise, excellent.

      Amber, what about solutions if any exist. If the whole counseling process is kind, gentle and caring will it go nowhere? Does that person need that monster (the wounding parent) front, center and live to stay with all the feelings so that one can really grieve and mourn. Touch and stay??? In other words, does the counselor need to be willing to be (I know this sounds crazy but remember the way Jesus thinks. . . . . does the counselor need to be willing to be attacked, shredded by the patient and survive their childhood trauma and in that the patient discovers the counselor and others are not the wounding parent they thought they were. (Obviously, your husband mistakes you and probably others for whomever wounded/ traumatized him, even though rationally he completely knows better??? i.e. it is repressed very deeply?) Does this require the counselor unjustly suffers (bears the sins of those parents) and survives being essentially crucified? Crucified by the patient (client) in hand-to-hand combat with evil? That would bring that rage out in the open so it could be truly grieved, mourned and healed??? That would be relational vs. just cognitive techniques that are only temporary and eventually repress the trauma further??? Amber, I don’t know. I am just asking. I put it in those theology terms because I don’t know anything about psychology. I assume the healing is like the death-resurrection process so that the restored person, in gratitude, can serve God by making a difference in the lives of others?

  38. Robin on February 26, 2016 at 9:49 pm

    I love this quote, in re: to my destructive marriage……

    • LA on February 27, 2016 at 12:37 pm

      Hi Robin,
      Great quote! Much the same for me… Waking up realizing, then setting my intention to walk toward that goal of not wanting to feel that way for the rest of my life and so seeking and embracing change! Thank you for this quote!
      Just breathing and trusting

  39. BELOVED on February 27, 2016 at 7:39 am

    from FEAR…
    Them saving themselves.
    The distorted belief that if they can control every person (or that person)….
    And/or situation, they are saving themselves from ….
    (Hurting) FEELING…
    Power is their fix to keep them from FEELING. (FEAR OF FEELING)… MAYBE???

    ITS MY UNDERSTANDING FROM MY EXPERIENCES AND Godlu insight throughout my last 5yr journey of a 50 yrs if abuse cycle.
    I am now in the painful process of being set free, completely.
    It still hurts, when u realise u have actually been part of the problem. And to let go….
    Self, others, to find what?????
    Iv yet to find out.
    Abrahamic faith….
    Job journey
    Hopefully Joseph calling
    And Esther’s legacy.
    God bless.

    • Aleea on February 27, 2016 at 11:43 am

      Thank you, this is helpful:
      from FEAR… WHATEVER THEY FEAR MOST… FEAR OF ACTUALLY EVERY SINGLE EXPERIENCE THAT MAY BRING AN EMOTION WITHIN THEM and CONTROL OF OTHERS IS. . . . . “. . . . Beloved, is it distorted because of the arrested development side of them believes it? The “adult” in them should find it irrational: “power and control” = you ARE going to be abandoned; Acting out = NO long-term attention. . . It is crazy because you are just a Zombie without hurting/ feeling.

      “IF THEY ” FEEL GOOD.” THEY ARE GOOD.” . . . . . hmmm, that seems an important insight, even if the logic is insane! . . . . .Maybe, emotionally neglected and abused children bond with assertive spouses, only to have their childhood feelings of being engulfed surface? They could not “smash their parent” and still receive love, but it sounds like they find that they can engage in intimate violence with partners who respond to their acting out by trying harder to connect with them emotionally, hoping that the love offered in the present will heal the wounds of the past? But if only one party in the relationship is working to create love, to create the space of emotional connection, the abuse model, I think, remains in place and the relationship just becomes a site for continuous abuse?

      “I am now in the painful process of being set free, completely.”. . . . . thank God!!! I’m so sorry for what you are enduring. . . . .It is a privilege to pray for you.

      . . . . And, yes, I bet it is all of them: It takes a faith like Abrahams and a calling like Jospehs to survive a journey like Jobs and leave a legacy like Esthers. . . . .beautiful way to put it!!!

    • LA on February 29, 2016 at 9:14 am

      Beloved, I believe we find out who we really are in Christ, we become established in our CORE, we begin to have healthy boundaries and we begin to walk in the peace that passes understanding on a daily basis. We aren’t so easily tossed to and fro, we become whole without the desperation of seeking validation from outside of ourselves and we begin to rest in who God is, who we are and it begins to feels like we’ve “come home” to ourself and who we were created to be.
      Just breathing and trusting

  40. Patricia on February 27, 2016 at 4:43 pm

    Gaslighting!!!!!!!!!!!! The idea of controlling an outcome for personal reasons, that causes the victim to think that they are wrong > that they are crazy. Next to spiritual abuse, I have to say that this is very damaging.

  41. BELOVED on February 27, 2016 at 7:31 pm

    Unfortunately the price for this excellent counselling is far more than I can afford. Unfortunately, any possibility for help is always made impossible because the prices are so exclusive.
    The need for help does not equate with the ability to pay.
    Unfortunately, nowadays, it seems if u cannot pay you cannot be in need.
    Thank you though.

    • amber on February 28, 2016 at 6:34 pm

      Counseling at Domestic Violence shelters is free. Focus ministries in Illinois will do one free phone consultation as will Patricia Evans. Try utube teaching by Paul and Judy Hegstrom from LifeSkills too.

      • Beloved on February 28, 2016 at 8:53 pm

        Amber, Thank you for that. Unfortunately I live in the UK. I mentioned earlier that there is no support for covert emotional/mental abuse.
        Sadly, the uk must be a million miles behind the USA for understanding domestic abuse and violence.
        I was homeless for 6 weeks during Feb-March 2013, and spoke to many officials about my situation, Including Women’s Aid, Women’s refuge, Police, GP, Our relationship/Family therapist, my Pastor, etc….. and also since then… My solicitor and many more officials too. Every one asked the same question; Has he physically abused you?
        When I answered “NO” I was either met with indifference, arrogance or a request for PROOF!
        The humiliation and shame I feel each time I try to explain, as I still seek help, in vain, only adds to my pain.
        I will view the LifeSkills teachings.
        Thank you

        • amber on February 29, 2016 at 5:54 pm

          Having stayed for brief periods of time in the UK, I must agree you have a valid point! Keeping a stiff upper lip and being too polite to talk about such issues must make one feel very trapped as a British woman experiencing domestic abuse. How discouraged you must feel. Your best source for support at this point is certainly online education so you can have services beyond your geographical borders. Focus on the family has a UK division, have you tried anyone there? I imagine you have already watched Lundy Bancrofts lectures on tube. They are such a great help. Did we find out is scholarships are available for Leslie’s programs?

  42. BELOVED on February 28, 2016 at 12:08 am

    I can only talk from personal experience using the insight and understanding the LORD has shown me since splitting with my narcissistic husband 2.5yrs ago.
    There are degrees of damage to the spirit and soul (person), and this can be reflected by severity in the outplaying of these destructive behaviours.
    We were created to relate…
    Our basic needs, from birth, are identity, security and significance. (God given, spiritual needs).
    If these needs are not met within the critical and formative years, (0-2, 2-4 & 4-7yrs) the child will have a distorted belief system, about him/herself and those around him/her. The child will learn to get these basic needs met him/herself. (Self-preservation, Self- belief, Self-trust, Self-love, Self-identification, SELF-RESTRAINT…in order to protect &validate = SELF IMPORTANCE, SELF-ABSORBED). If By the age of 15 their has been no healthy correction to these personality traits, their identity becomes established, and change irreversible.

    How they artempt to fill their basic needs will depend on many things…
    “UNHEALTHY BEHAVIOURS’ are learnt in order to get these needs met. Fear breeds and grows as the God given spiritual needs continue to starve through lack of nurture, identificaton and intimacy from another person.

    As the child learns to manipulate and control other people’s emotional reactions, he/she realises a sense of power, this translates into him/her ” winning” he/she got what he/she wanted. The “feel good’ endorphin is released, (achievement/success) This becomes the goal. Their purpose and being!!!

    This endorphine rush/power surge triggers a hunger as it (appears to) ‘take away’ the
    ” feel bad’ emotions… As with any artificial ‘stimulant’ the feeling cannot be sustained and crashes, therefore, more and more of the ‘feel good’ endorphin is needed to maintain the status quo.
    These behaviours are validated and reinforced by the reactions/attention gained.

    If the childs emotions are MANIPULATED to get a desired outcome, The child will learn that “THERE IS NOTHING WRONG” with USING his/her behaviour to manipulate “the reaction” he/she needs, TO control the situation AND ‘get his/her needs met’ always aiming for the ‘feel good’ emotion.
    ANY emotional reaction to their behavour is a ” win!”. THEY HAVE THE ATTENTION OF THE PERSON.
    EACH TIME THESE UNHEALTHY BEHAVIOURS are indulged or allowed, either through lack of awareness, knowledge or healthy discipline, IT VALIDATES the child, and he/she learns that he/she can CONTROL other people’s emotions to get their needs met.
    AS PREVIOUSLY STATED, these basic needs are spiritual and if they are not met in the way God intended, the spirit will become damaged.
    The emotions (soul) are impacted and damaged as well as the min, and their thoughts become distorted.
    Eventually a deluded mindset becomes established because the whole belief system is distorted.
    Power is the reward…
    Control and manipulation is the key to getting power…
    Fear is translated momentarily into a feeling of personal achievement.
    Personal security is experienced with each ’emotional reaction.”
    result =
    “It worked/ his/her needs were met”== safe!!!
    Arrogance/ambivalence grows with each ” win”…
    An unsatiable hunger grows to maintain this ‘sense of self’ as the Spirit continues to starve and dries up.
    Self-Satisfaction becomes the desire which becomes THE NEED… and replaces the need for God…. And for the God Given basic needs to be filled.
    As the Spirit continues to starve and the momentary filling dissipates sooner, &/or becomes ineffective, fear grows, threatening the false sense of securuty.
    Their own emotions become a barrier, because they are less able/unable to control this growing FEAR.
    REMOVED”, In order to MAINTAIN FULL control.(Self-restraint).
    The more emotions he/she disables, paralyses or kills off,
    the greater the sense of emptiness.
    The greater “A NEED” grows, and this need must be filled at all costs…WITH ANYTHING THEY NOW CHOOSE.
    Failing to fill this need is not an option. Their survival depends on “them” AND ONLY THEM filling this need. THEY CANNOT TRUST ANYONE ELSE TO FILL IT, EVERYONE HAS FAILED THEM UP UNTIL NOW.
    By the age of 7yrs old, the personality has developed around these distorted/deluded mindsets.
    Their very core (Spirit) now believes they are their own saviour.
    This description is not based on any particular psychological model.
    I have hopefully described, as best I can, to varying degrees, the chain of emotions and thought patterns that lead to a person controlling another, (at all costs) and the pay off that, to them, gives them THE sense of significance AND SELF GRATIFICATION THEY CRAVE. Power!

    in simple terms….




    RESULTING IN A Lack of care, compassion and empathy for anyone but themselves.Their NEEDS ARE IMPORTANT NOT YOURS!!!.

    ACCOUNTABILITY, IS THEIR PROTECTION and interim ego boost.
    THEY’VE BEEN FAILED SO THEY DESERVE……. Everything except reproach!!!

    If u dare to question them or don’t agree with everything they say, you will be punished or cast out and discarded.
    You are not worthy of him/her.

    • Robert on December 8, 2020 at 8:41 am

      Hi. Separate, absolutely. But God hates divorce. The Holy Spirit does not and never will approve of your first covenant divorce. For a woman is bound by the Law to her husband as long as her husband lives, and remarriage is adultery–Luke 16:18, Mark 10:11-12. Repent, submit yourself to God, for the kingdom of God is at hand. Best, Robert

      • Robin on December 8, 2020 at 2:50 pm

        God also HATES ABUSE!!

  43. BELOVED on February 28, 2016 at 12:32 am

    For the perpetrator, gaslighting is how they get their sadistic pleasure. They enjoy seeing you squirm… (searching) for the reason to “your”problem.
    Like it’s name suggests the insidious stench of an unseen gas… Then the metaphorical flame is lit under your seat…. And they sit back emotionles!!! yet receiving an energy boosting thrill at watching you squirm under the heat and becoming Ill with the unseen sickening smell.
    Well come on, you haven’t fed their need for your emotions for a while, they need more of your life’s blood… And anyway, they’re bored….
    More flames are lit, at the perpetrators Will and their fun and sadistic pleasure is heightened,
    The more they can light without you knowing, the more they get away with lighting, without being discovered.the more fun they have.
    Their Greatest pleasure is gained when they can control the heat perfectly to make you crack as and when they desire. Or maybe they will cool things down a little if you suspect or even just as part of the fun…
    Don’t you dare crack before they have subvertedly said so …. or before they have had their fill of fun…
    Oh you can’t take a joke!!! You’re too sensitive… Don’t be stupid…
    What’s matter with you???
    “Oh this is such fun… I love having my own plaything”
    Do you want to play again?”
    “No??? Well I do! Let’s go!”

    • Aleea on February 28, 2016 at 3:32 am

      Thank you so much for explaining all that. . . . .Wow, that is some serious information. . . .I also liked how you linked in the spiritual . . .
      Re: distorted belief system, about him/herself and those around him/her.
      Re: By the age of 15 their has been no healthy correction to these personality traits, their identity becomes established, and change irreversible.
      Re: The “feel good’ endorphin is released, (achievement/success) This becomes the goal. Their purpose and being!!!
      Re: Eventually a deluded mindset becomes established because the whole belief system is distorted.
      Re: Self-Satisfaction becomes the desire which becomes THE NEED… and replaces the need for God…. And for the God Given basic needs to be filled.
      Re: By the age of 7yrs old, the personality has developed around these distorted/deluded mindsets.
      Re: THEY’VE BEEN FAILED SO THEY DESERVE, Everything except reproach!!!
      Re: If you dare to question them or don’t agree with everything they say, you will be punished or cast out and discarded. You are not worthy of him/her.

      Beloved. . . . .I am going to have to think much more about all those linkages BUT that is, obviously, a TOTAL, complete nightmare. Again, I like how you linked it to spiritual needs too.

      Re: Unfortunately the price for this excellent counselling is far more than I can afford. Unfortunately, any possibility for help is always made impossible because the prices are so exclusive.

      I hope and pray you get to work with professionals and forgive me if you may know all of this already because it sounds like you may. . . . but no matter whom you had working with you, you are going to have to do lots of the real work yourself. Two of the “greats” from UCLA Medical:

      “. . . .most patients are good only to support us financially and to allow us to learn from their cases: counseling, psychology, psychoanalysis as a therapy may be worthless.”

      “. . . . any intervention by the therapist was quite worthless. It became clear that the patient only moved forward when she was vulnerable and at her own pace. The therapist actually interfered.”

      Bravery, trust, is about leaving in the dark, when we do not know the route ahead and cannot be certain we will ever return. . . . . We enslave in the manner we talk to ourselves. But the truth is, as you know, God already set us free. He secured our release. To constantly hurt ourselves, resting in our inadequacy, is to call Him a LIAR (I do that at times.) The counselor can’t get you to act and believe, that is all you.

      Most counselors (no fault of their own, people are so unique) have no data showing what works? Reference population, sample sizes? Relapse rates? Longevity Data? Out-of-sample results? Cross-validated by whom? Confidence intervals? Percent of times it does not work and Why? Moderating influences?

      When my counselor told me at the start: “You can do this yourself,” I simply did not believe her but I had no idea how true those words she spoke would be. We do all the techniques but to me the most useful thing we do is pray together. How many psychoanalysts does it take to change a light blub? Not even one if the light blub really wants to change. All the information available is out there to read and study (as it looks like you have) but you can’t change yourself with will power or force. God’s in the transformation business and that is where our REAL metanoia (μετάνοια) as the Bible says: A throwing off of every conceptual cloak of self-defense and a giving up of the resistance of ego, an ecstatic self-emptying, et.al., takes place. ―Many times it is only as hard as we are resistant to the Holy Spirit and I don’t know about you but I can have serious resistance at times. Anyways, that is why I like how you linked in the spiritual.

      Again, I hope and pray you get to work with professionals, always better, but don’t stop yourself from starting and just don’t stop yourself. It is about the process of our thinking, changing our thinking. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. “Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.” – Rumi, thirteenth century, no professional counselors back then!

  44. BELOVED on February 28, 2016 at 9:36 am

    The LORD has touched me by some of the things you have said, and sadly this is where my pain is….
    I cannot articulate the burden in my heart,
    The LORD is my teacher, my healer and my ever present help in my time of need,
    But to have JUST one person who understands, who cares, who wants to listen to my heartbreak and then love me regardless, is an unfulfilled need and prayer, from childhood.

    I will take the things you have said, that have touched my deepest parts, to the LORD, and reflect on what He wants me to hear and KNOW,

    The insight and analogy’s you have used are so pertinent to where God has brought me…

    The LORD has blessed me enough to have you read and understand my posts, (I feel that you have ‘cared enough to listen’ and you’ve shown this care, by responding).
    Your response, with insight, wisdom and compassion, can only come from living it, learning from it, and allowing the LORD to make the necessary assimilations, that we need to understand and DISCERN in the deeper parts of our Spirit.
    Yes we can be transformed by the renewal of our mind, and many people go on to live successful lives by allowing the written word of God to penetrate their minds,.
    From my understanding and my own healing journey experiences, the fact that we are tri part beings, makes it necessary to seek a deeper, inner healing, (which is the part that no amount of therapy can heal, and is, i believe, confirmed by the examples you have used from the eminent professionals of UCLA…our spirit can only be healed by JESUS and the living power of His Holy Spirit. Our conscious minds and our souls can be healed (thoughts/emotions) through knowledge and action….but as it is never just one or two parts of our being, that is damaged through trauma and/ or abuse, .Complete healing and freedom can only come, and our pain be released, when we allow The lord into the deepest innermost parts if our Spirit, and submit our self, yielding to the work of the HOLY SPIRIT within us.
    In my experience, this is when God actually uses the very thing that broke us, to heal us… And that’s why, the healing journey can be painful.and our faith is challenged, and at the same time, strengrhend. We may begin to doubt Gods presence/goodness at these times. YET He surely is with us and working for us!!!. Because His word says so!!!!! Then He confirms it, IN HIS TIME not ours….
    God is preparing overcomers today for the TRUBULATIONS of tomorrow.
    We will stand before Him in GLORY wearing the crown previously prepared for us.
    SEE YOU THERE!!! 🙂

    • Aleea on February 28, 2016 at 3:41 pm


      >”But to have JUST one person who understands, who cares, who wants to listen to my heartbreak and then love me regardless, is an unfulfilled need and prayer, from childhood.” . . . . . Beloved, I really think that is what FUTURE church looks like. The church thirty years from now. A place where people come and instead of all this triumphalism (excessive exultation over spiritual success and achievements) we relate in total brokenness and acceptance. No more masks to hide behind. To me, Christianity’s radical insight is that we do not see Christ as simply another identity to place alongside our others: mother, lawyer, et.al. Instead, He cuts across all these concretely existing identities [Jew/Gentile, slave/free, male/female, etc.] those who identify with Christ are no longer held captive by categories… In that way, Jesus’ passion teaches us that the scapegoat mechanism is not to be utilized by those in the Church. Rather than finding unity in the sacrificing or exclusion of a chosen victim (lesbians, agnostics, narcissists, atheists, et.al.) the Church, as a community of those who identify with Christ’s loss of identity on the cross, gathers around a table where we break bread and remember our crucified Messiah. We are called not to play the game of identity. . . . .Now, I understand we have to bracket off neuropsychological measures outside of the norm: —interpersonally exploitative, psychotic, emotionally unavailable, devoid of empathy, etc. . . . . . The point then is to help break the false distinction between the idea that there are those who are whole and those who have a lack. For the true distinction is between those who hide their lack under a fiction of wholeness (narcissists: pride renders faith impossible) and those who are able to fully embrace it. Think of the Lord Jesus, our example, on the cross: instead of eyes that burned with hate a look of love was there. We have already won, it is FINISHED. It can’t end wrong at this point. . . . Even if at the time No One knew the meaning of the final words Christ said (it is FINISHED). Where are my accusers, nowhere to be found.

      >“Complete healing and freedom can only come, and our pain be released, when we allow The lord into the deepest innermost parts if our Spirit, and submit our self, yielding to the work of the HOLY SPIRIT within us.” . . . . .that is beautiful. I fully agree!!! God cares more about our response to His Spirit’s leading today, in this moment, than about what we intend to do next year. God wants an invitation from us to permeate everything and every part of us. It just dawned on again today . . . . “Wow, . . . .Why would we need to experience the Comforter if our lives are already comfortable?

      >“In my experience, this is when God actually uses the very thing that broke us, to heal us…”
      >”In my experience, this is when God actually uses the very thing that broke us, to heal us…”
      >”In my experience, this is when God actually uses the very thing that broke us, to heal us…”

      . . . . .Beloved, I purposely copied what you said there three times because that is so, so meaningful…..it is like helping the poor or the homeless or the abused. . . . We don’t rescue them, they save us!!! They are the site of our salvation. They totally rescue us, not the other way around. . . . just like you say. At the root of all real experience of love is grace and truth.

  45. BELOVED on February 28, 2016 at 11:25 am

    Thank you for sharing this technique.
    I have always struggled emotionally to not get sucked in… I know I have been an absorber…. I hear God telling me to observe and respond, not absorb and react.
    You have shone JESUS’ light on this teaching for me.
    I will ask the Lord to help me apply it and the Holy Spirit to prompt me in times of forgetting or weakness.
    Observe don’t absorb!!!!! Thank you so much.

    • LA on February 28, 2016 at 11:36 pm

      I understand Beloved, I too am an empath, very emotional creatures and very compassionate! I came to understand that Jesus loved my compassionate heart and that the compassion just needed to be tempered with His Wisdom. I was so grateful as well, “stumbling on this technique” , I say stumble upon, but the timing was perfect and I believe Jesus put it there so that I would stumble upon it! I truly hope this helps you as well! Also I see a lot of wisdom in your post about God using what wounded us, to heal us! Beautifully written and very insightful! This process of growth does carry much pain, of being undone to be made whole, is also rich with blessings! Thank you for sharing!
      Just breathing and trusting

  46. Ruth on February 28, 2016 at 1:06 pm

    Some behaviors don’t cross the line into abuse, but like when they’re frequent they poison a relationship.
    Here’s an example of what happened at my house this morning. I wouldn’t call it abuser behavior but just acting like a jerk. However, there’s only so much of this a woman can take before you snap.
    Here’s the backstory- If I take on full responsibility for a particular job and he does not contribute at all, then I resent getting criticism for how I do it.
    My 11 yr old has mild psoriasis on her scalp. I didn’t think it warranted a visit to the doctor yet. I wanted to find a shampoo that might help before we go that route. I’d spent time researching shampoos. Even in the store, I spent a long time reading descriptions of each shampoo’s claims.
    So this morning before church, I was helping my daughter with the new medicated shampoo (it’s the Neutrogena T Gel). She began to cry “It’s burning!” He yelled at me for that. Plus he read a warning on the bottle that said “this product contains chemicals that are known to cause cancer in California”. I never saw that warning, but he acted like I was unresponsible and evil. He hadn’t spent one second researching a treatment for her scalp but he was quick to jump in and tell him what I should have done “if I had any sense”.
    She was so upset between her poor scalp and his yelling that I told him it’s be better that she stay home from church with me and the youngest child who wasn’t going to church anyway bc of a round of strep throat.
    I know he cares about her best interests but he acted like a jerk. The whole situation would’ve been much easier if he wasn’t home.

    • Maria on February 28, 2016 at 6:26 pm

      Ruth, Leslie has said that when we overfunction (I’m not sure if you are), the other people does nothing, but finds fault (my words). Your husband doesn’t do anything to solve the problem, but when you come up with something he takes the role of fault finder.
      LA mentioned a great method when dealing with people like this- observe and stay put your emotions aside. When I have done this, I have had more success.
      Aleea has mentioned a few times that when we demonize someone, it’s easier to hate. The California warning is on a lot of products. Your actions were not evil.

    • amber on February 28, 2016 at 6:38 pm

      It was abuse, child abuse. The chaotic and traumatic environment was dangerous for your daughter. How frightening for the poor child

    • LA on February 28, 2016 at 11:50 pm

      Oh Ruth, this was awful for you and your daughter to experience! I’m glad you opted to allow her to stay home! I can hear the frustration in your post as you really tried to do what you thought was best! I’m sorry that you came under attack and that his behavior escalated the whole situation to beyond manageable! Very undermining! Kudos to you for bringing some peace into the situation!
      Just breathe…

  47. BELOVED on February 28, 2016 at 8:19 pm

    Aleea you certainly have a gift of writing and expression.

    I’m not sure that 30 years will be the future Church… My personal revelations lead me to believe the TRIBULATIONS will bring this radical church you speak of, (prophetically?)far sooner.

    Please pray for the LORD to restore my hope, Aleea.
    Or maybe renew and strengthen my hope in Him…I don’t even know what to pray for any more. Even to ask for anything in prayer now seems exhausting.
    Lack of faith?? Trust?? Hope??? I don’t know anymore.
    I think I need to stop asking for anything now and just rest in Him, trust Him and believe Hes got it sorted. .
    He will not forsake me.

    I’m sorry I cannot be more enthusiastic in my response.
    I’m tired now.
    I know my LORD loves me and has my whole life in His hands, but I’m tired now.
    Im tired of fighting alone. Yes I know JESUS intercedes for me, but I’m physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually spent.

    I’m choosing to opt out for a while and just rest in Him.
    He knows where I’m at, He knows my heart, my needs, my heart’s desire…. I know nothing anymore… And I need to just stop and be still, until He does what He knows I need next.
    I Thank Him for the blessings IHe has bestowed on me, unril now, For my children and our health.
    I pray for Him to pour out His favour on you, and His peace and healing to flow through you abundantly.

    I think He’s emptied me of me, I need filling now.

    God bless. And thank-you.

    • LA on February 28, 2016 at 11:56 pm

      Janet, I just want to encourage you in that Resting in your Trust in Him is a very important part of the journey! Be kind and gentle with yourself and please do REST IN HIM! He’s got this, always has, always wil! Be blessed as you rest!
      Just breathe for awhile…

    • Aleea on February 29, 2016 at 1:30 pm

      >“Please pray for the LORD to restore my hope, Aleea.” . . . . . Beloved, I certainly will pray for that for you and I would ask the same for myself.

      >”Or maybe renew and strengthen my hope in Him…I don’t even know what to pray for any more. Even to ask for anything in prayer now seems exhausting.” . . . . . . Then just be in His presence, Beloved. Just lay in His presence and say “Lord, You know.” He knows our hearts without saying anything.

      >”I’m sorry I cannot be more enthusiastic in my response.” . . . . . Please Lord, show us your power. May our darkness be broken into by inescapable light from You. Be with us in the times of flooding unbearable emotions, painful memories. . . . .Beloved, I will not forget to pray for you each day. . . . Just keep doing the next small step everyday.

  48. Leslie Vernick on February 28, 2016 at 8:41 pm

    I have been sick with the flu since I posted this blog. I’m sorry I haven’t been able to comment to your comments but I’m just now starting to feel better. I will try to get to them tomorrow.


    • Maria on February 28, 2016 at 8:58 pm

      Leslie, Praying that you will have a quick recovery.

    • LA on February 29, 2016 at 4:53 pm

      Hello Leslie,
      I was wondering where your voice was! I hope you are up and going strong very soon!
      Just breathing and trusting

  49. Ruth on February 28, 2016 at 11:33 pm

    Island Girl, I wanted to read your posts again but I don’t see them. I hope you’re ok! I’ll be praying for you.

    • islandgirl on March 1, 2016 at 8:17 am

      Thank you Ruth. I am afraid I won’t be able to post any longer. Please keep me in your prayers.

      • Ruth on March 1, 2016 at 1:18 pm

        When I saw your posts removed I became worried.
        I’m praying for you and your children

        • Robin on March 1, 2016 at 1:24 pm

          Ditto we are praying!!!!

          • Maria on March 1, 2016 at 5:35 pm

            Islandgirl, I am praying for you and your dear children too. Be safe.

          • amber on March 1, 2016 at 9:37 pm

            Island girl, is their someone, anyone in your small community that you can trust? It might be time to talk to law enforcement. Just gently alert them to your situation. Ask for a female detective or sensitive crimes officer. No one would ever fault you if you just said you needed some advice and needed to talk. They will usually patrol your area more and watch out for you and the kids.

  50. BELOVED on February 29, 2016 at 12:00 pm

    LA thank-you for that. Yes. You’re right. I think that’s so right for me now. This is the season to rest in Him.
    God bless

  51. Heather on February 29, 2016 at 1:01 pm

    This is how I’ve learned to distinguish abuse in marriage versus just an unhappy or difficult marriage where there needs to be some spiritual growth:

    A husband’s God-given role is to love, cherish, protect, and provide for his wife, mirroring the way that God does so for his bride the Church.

    Many husbands (in fact all, to some degree) may struggle with fulfilling those duties as well as he could, or should, or in a way that his wife can recognize and respond to.

    But there is a BIG difference between failing to fulfill those duties well and actively pursuing the opposite actions.

    What opposite actions? All the abuse behaviors Leslie talked about come down to hating, reviling, hurting, and stealing from the wife.

    That’s right; an abusive husband doesn’t love his wife, he actively hates her. He doesn’t cherish her, he reviles her. He doesn’t protect her, he hurts her. And he doesn’t provide for her, he steals from her.

    “The thief came only to steal, kill, and destroy; but I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10)

    A wife married to an abusive husband has someone in the oneness of the marriage bond that is actively and persistently behaving towards her as the Thief, not the Bridegroom.

    • Robin on February 29, 2016 at 10:01 pm

      Heather, I love what you said so excellently. Well done!!!

    • LA on March 1, 2016 at 9:51 am

      Wow Heather! You hit the nail square on the head!!!! Excellent post! Thank you! You captured exactly what’s been swimming in my head and you put it into words!
      Just breathing and trusting

    • Ruth on March 1, 2016 at 4:24 pm

      Heather- What wisdom! That’s one I’ll have to copy down!

      • Maria on March 1, 2016 at 5:39 pm

        Heather, And that is why submission becomes impossible. How does one submit to a husband that wants evil for his wife? That is not the relationship between Christ and his bride.

        • Heather on March 1, 2016 at 7:35 pm

          Yes. This is why I finally made the decision to separate from my husband. There is no submission to the devil. If at some point my husband repents and begins to ACT like a real Christian husband, then I may be able to be a wife again, but until then, he has lost his rights to me. But I had to find a way to theologically understand why it was ok to leave. I believe God brought that verse to mind to show me that my marriage was a sham. By God’s definition it wasn’t a marriage at all!

  52. B on February 29, 2016 at 2:09 pm

    I knew I was being abused, but didn’t know I fit into every catagory of abuse.

  53. BELOVED on February 29, 2016 at 3:47 pm

    Aleea and LA
    Thank you so much for your prayers and encouragement.
    I will REST IN HIM and TRUST THAT HE does KNOW, and HE is STILL WORKING HIS PURPOSE out in me.

    God bless all of you ladies out there/and men… Struggling in this situation, and all you wonderful prayer warriors, interceding and holding our arms up while we are tired.
    The battle belongs to the LORD and we must learn, only to fight it on our knees.

  54. BELOVED on February 29, 2016 at 6:40 pm

    Thanks again for your suggestions.
    I have a Lundy Bancroft book which I found very helpful.
    I really don’t want to sound like one of those excuse makers that just prefer to wallow,
    But facts are facts and the facts of my situation are now the reason I am finally becoming warn down. As much as I know the LORD is with me AND HELPING, HE MAKES HIS PRESENCE KNOWN EVEN IN THE SMALLEST DETAILS IF MY LIFE, yet, the trials keep coming thick and fast. Finances are and have always been an obstacle for me to seek professional help from Leslie or any other excellent accessible help.
    Now, I am in a financial famine, unexpectedly… I am a good steward and the LORD tried to warn and prepare me, but I failed to understand He was talking about me!!!
    I will view the Lundy Bancroft utube teachings. And I know Ross Rosenberg discusses some amazing things… I think I’m simply overwhelmed now by the ongoing emotional tumult of the last 4years.
    As the LORD has taken me, willingly on a rapid healing journey, my husband has been intent on still trying to destroy me at every turn. He’s manipulated my children against me, so IV been focussed on their healing as well as building bonds again.
    I have had many breakthrough S and miraculous healings. And if my husband was my only problem I think I would cope better, but I was a magnet for abusive or negative relationships before Christ took me in hand…. Iv completely had to be stripped back to my dry bones. RE-PARENTED and taught everything from scratch. As well as being humbled big style from the spirit of Independence that I pronounced over myself as a small child.
    As I was severely abused as a child also, I was fully fragmented and still dissociate (naturally) even now. The lord has only just been able to bring these things to my understanding this last year. He has miraculously enabled an integration process, which i am still learning to understand (with his teaching) and adapt to as well as walk through for my complete healing and wholeness.
    My story is not typical. I know that…. I’m 51 and only just understanding that what I experienced and have believed was normal life, for 47yrs was in fact abuse.
    God is good though and He has carried me when I could not walk and lifted me when I could not stand.
    I have walked this journey alone, with if course the MASTER of all teachers, but not another living person to walk with. This is the ONE PRAYER OUR FATHER HAS ALWAYS SAID NO TO, IR MAYBE STILL, NOT YET!!!!
    Mostly I understand why, but when I’m really struggling, I find it hard to accept that this is right and just. He is God not me, My TRUST and love for Him sustains me. His constant LOVE flows through me and is the reason I LIVE. I PRAISE Him for who He is. I TRUST that He has the ANSWER that I am unable to see.
    In the meantime, I believe that HE IS STILL WORKING in me and where I am now, is not where I will be in 6 months time.
    I will rest in Him for this season, and simply KNOW He is MY GOD!!

    🙂 ;-*

    • Maria on February 29, 2016 at 9:50 pm

      Beloved, You have gone through so much, You sound like a really strong woman. It’s amazing that you have figured a lot by yourself. Shows that you have a sound mind. I pray that God will put people in your life who can help you.

  55. Leonie on February 29, 2016 at 10:27 pm

    Wow, Heather, that was well said – that was my experience with my ex h. Thank you for expressing that so clearly I have no doubts, he was deliberate and intentional in the behaviour you described. It was as though he said to himself – ok, if she is willing to stick around and be a slave too, ok, I’ll take it. He can’t have been surprised when I made moves to separate and probably asked himself “what took her so long.” His treatment if me and his behaviour was that bad.

    • Robert on December 8, 2020 at 8:40 am

      Hi. Separate, absolutely. But God hates divorce. The Holy Spirit does not and never will approve of your first covenant divorce. For a woman is bound by the Law to her husband as long as her husband lives, and remarriage is adultery–Luke 16:18, Mark 10:11-12. Repent, submit yourself to God, for the kingdom of God is at hand. Best, Robert

  56. BELOVED on March 1, 2016 at 6:13 am

    Thank you for your prayers. I must now live to TRUST the LORD for His will no matter what now.
    I appreciate your kindness, but my hope for someone to come along side me to understand etc. Is also the source of my spiritual exhaustion now.
    If the LORDs will is to have me alone until my healing is complete, then that is the best thing for my life.
    Maybe, you could pray, instead, that I am able to accept the hardest decisions from the LORD with joy in my heart and less emotional sadness..
    I know the pain is past pain that still hurts. It is not relevant for today. It is not through lack of trust or faith and love in the LORD or His work in me. I know Gods got my back, and I know His purposes and will are perfect.
    I just cannot find the Joy or enthusiasm to rejoice in this decision because of the unhealedablerow still within me.

    Maybe this would be a more powerful and effective prayer.

    Is it in Philippines…. When I know the LORDs pleasing and perfect WILL my JOY will be complete.

    I would like prayers for that, if that is possible.
    For some reason, my words simply trail off when I pray now. Maybe the spiritual despondency. Yet I am able to freely and joyfully talk with Him all day, and pray for others. It is just when I try to speak to Him about me, ask Him for anything, or try to pray specifically for an effective outcome.
    I just don’t know what I need anymore. And what I thought I needed, I must not have needed it, or asked for the right thing. What I hoped for must have been mis placed hope.. In me, or the world..or another person…
    My hope must be firmly held in the LORD and His will for me, only.
    Praise God for all your encouragements. He is keeping my thoughts focussed through knowing I am not alone, despite how I feel.
    God bless you all.

  57. janet on March 1, 2016 at 9:10 am

    Sin is sin and the difference between sins is the consequence of the sin that we experience and that others can experience from our sin. God allows us to experience the consequence of our sin. Sometime the consequence is a guilty conscience from throwing the paper out the window of my car with the no littering sign whizzing by because I was not caught in my sin and sometimes the consequence is the death penalty for murdering a person. It is all sin and Jesus paid the price for all our different types of sins. The consequence of sins is different though. If my husband calls me names every day, ignores me, and tells me I’m too dumb to do anything; the consequence will be a strained, separated relationship between us, along with a few other experiences. Sin causes separation that is why Jesus came to restore us to God. Our sin separated us from God. That is why in the old testament they had all the sacrifices to give so that they could reconnect with God. Until there is a change in behavior such as admitting the guilt; the relationship will be separated. Until we come to the father and ask forgiveness to help us restore ourselves to the character and likeness of his image; the relationship will be separated. It’s the model of the Father’s great love for humankind. It’s pretty simple in that god forgives us freely and is there when we are ready to be restored. Now during the separation I continue to love myself and everyone even if that means that I can’t connect with them and I must live at a different address because the other persons sin had a great consequence. I can’t control an outcome of a person’s behavior; I can only follow the model God gave to us and that is called faith. All of this is in the bible and is for our good. Denial of what is occurring is lying and lying separates. A good example is from the Garden of Eden.

    • Leslie Vernick on March 2, 2016 at 8:51 pm

      Very true.

    • Ann L on March 3, 2016 at 8:34 am

      Well said, Janet. We do not get to pick the consequences for either our transgressions or another’s. Going to re-read your comment several times as a reminder.

  58. Ann L on March 1, 2016 at 5:36 pm

    For me, thinking about abuse in terms of love or hate is not useful. Labeling the emotion doesn’t explain or justify the behavior and doesn’t provide the information needed to change the behavior. It might make me feel better to decide that my abuser hates me, but in reality, he’s just stuck in some behaviors that he’s not ready to change. And I’ve reached the point where I’m no longer willing to be stuck there with him.

    I’d like to hate him (and sometimes I think I do!). So my task is to accept him as a fellow beloved creature of God, accept that he loves me or hates me or is indifferent, and to set my boundaries and live my own life separate and apart and divorced. Wasn’t in my plan, but probably better for us both.

    • Maria on March 2, 2016 at 6:20 am

      Ann L, your husband maybe stuck in certain behaviors and may not hate you. But in some situations, because of the repeated nasty, hateful behavior of the abuser, one can easily conclude that these abusers are out to hurt others. Especially in the case of narcissists, who make it their goal to destroy anyone who stands in their way. If one is in such a situation, it’s important to know what he/she is dealing with, especially when it comes to divorce and custody of minor children. The hard thing is to love such a person and not repay evil with evil, but as Christians, we are called to do that.

      • Robin on April 4, 2016 at 2:31 pm

        I think it is important Maria, when you say a Christian is called to love- to KNOW what love is. This is where I think the church has misinformed us. Love is standing up to sin, Love is not tolerating sinful behaviors in our homes, Love is expecting respect and kindness and love to be be walked out in our daily lives. Love is accepting reality and allowing the abuser to walk away rather than pretending a healthy relationship is intact. Love is spelled STRENGTH, SANITY, BEING CHRISTLIKE. Jesus over turned the tables in His Fathers house—– where sin tried to dominate. And so we should also turn over some tables and quit allowing sin reign, in our family’s.

  59. Refocus-Reclaim on March 1, 2016 at 11:21 pm

    I agree. I just didn’t go there in my previous comment, but you’re 100% right – no one can make another person do the work of changing anything unless they want to. Mine did pretty much what yours has done, and finally left… It’s hard to accept that truth when we really want to help someone, but we have to trust that God will still be working on them just as He is on us.

  60. Leslie Vernick on March 2, 2016 at 9:00 pm

    Thanks Aleea, I love Rumi too.

  61. G on April 4, 2016 at 5:57 am

    Just wondering if a man who claims to be a bornagain Christian be involved in all these. Just dated a guy who said his a bornagain Christian but he told me subtle lies, from there it progressed to overt ones but usually laughed it of as ‘grey areas’. Then I discovered he visits erotic sites with poorly clad lady as his profile picture. But he said things like he just stumbled into it, only for me to discover he went back there. Then when I tried discussing it with him, he made a statement that infact I’m not a beautiful as he always imagined his wife to be that the first day he saw me, he would have thrown away his phone and not call me again. That its just that he wants to do God’s will. Then I decided we had to postpone the wedding indefinitely only for him to scream and shout and give me 24hrs to make up my mind on it. Well, he didn’t seem to like the idea that I was going to tell people what caused the postponement so he came back crying and telling lies and saying he really wants to marry me and loves me. It’s all so confusing. On the surface he looks so humane and calm when discussing with people at the church/fellowship. And my heart was already invested in the relationship before all these happened. I’m just confused. He’s supposed to be a good christian. I just don’t know what to do.

    • Ann L on April 4, 2016 at 12:43 pm

      What would you tell your best friend to do if she was considering marrying a man who acted one way in public, and another way in private?

      My guess is that you and most of her other friends would lovingly point out that the inconsistencies are big, huge, red flags that are not going to magically go away after the wedding. Even if she didn’t want to listen to you, you would all be thinking that she was making a foolish mistake.

      You do not owe the person anything. Dating and engagement is a time of discovery — of the good and the other.

      On paper, this man is not husband material. Focus on that. It could be that some counseling to help you trust yourself would be very helpful. Good luck!

  62. G on April 4, 2016 at 6:34 am


    Just wondering if a man who claims to be a bornagain Christian be involved in all these. Just dated a guy who said his a bornagain Christian but he told me subtle lies, from there it progressed to overt ones but usually laughed it of as ‘grey areas’. Then I discovered he visits erotic sites with poorly clad lady as his profile picture. But he said things like he just stumbled into it, only for me to discover he went back there. Then when I tried discussing it with him, he made a statement that infact I’m not a beautiful as he always imagined his wife to be that the first day he saw me, he would have thrown away his phone and not call me again. That its just that he wants to do God’s will. Then I decided we had to postpone the wedding indefinitely only for him to scream and shout and give me 24hrs to make up my mind on it. Well, he didn’t seem to like the idea that I was going to tell people what caused the postponement so he came back crying and telling lies and saying he really wants to marry me and loves me. It’s all so confusing. On the surface he looks so humane and calm when discussing with people at the church/fellowship. And my heart was already invested in the relationship before all these happened. I’m just confused. He’s supposed to be a good christian. I just don’t know what to do.

    • Robin on April 4, 2016 at 2:24 pm

      Run!!!!!!!! There is a quote that says, listen to a person long enough, and he will reveal his true colors. From your first line I wondered why you wanted to know if he was a born again Christian. Does not his words and behaviors tell you different?

  63. Connie on April 4, 2016 at 11:07 am

    Please, please run run run as fast and as far as you can. Of course he claims to be a born-again Christian. Most of them do. How else would they deceive and draw in a nice girl? Has he shed crocodile tears yet? If not, that would be next. Charm, self-pity, are two of the biggest red flags. I’m surprised he’s shown his anger before the wedding, they usually spring it on you just after.

    I just read the book, “The Sociopath Next Door” by Martha Stout. One of the things she says is to go by the power of three. One lie, could be a slip. Two lies, not good. Three, get out, fast!!!!! We empaths tend to forgive and ‘give the benefit of the doubt’ much too easily. This is not a time for that. There are so many red flags here, it frightens me for you, that even when you break it off before the wedding, you will need to protect yourself quickly and thoroughly. No contact, etc. Please make sure you have support before you do that, and a safety plan. Share this with people who understand the dynamics of abuse and who will help you be safe.

    • Robert on December 8, 2020 at 8:39 am

      Hi. Separate, absolutely. But God hates divorce. The Holy Spirit does not and never will approve of your first covenant divorce. For a woman is bound by the Law to her husband as long as her husband lives, and remarriage is adultery–Luke 16:18, Mark 10:11-12. Repent, submit yourself to God, for the kingdom of God is at hand. Best, Robert

  64. G on April 6, 2016 at 2:45 pm

    Thanks dears,
    And to think he kept on telling me that its very important that a man marries someone that will always respect and obey him. That his decisions are final. And the defense machanism of yelling and anger when you want to discuss something important. Yet he’s sooo good to people that are not that know him from a distance. Plus his wondering eyes that he explained off. He kept saying nobody is perfect and since it’s something I’ve heard repeatedly, I initially decided to overlook.
    Right now, I can’t even trust myself again as regards relationship. Scared of entering into another disappointing relationship. Because of this experience, I just keep wondering if the desire of a nice genuine Christian man that will love his wife and family dearly is just a childhood fantasy that does not exist in this generation. Really don’t want to settle.

    • Ann L on April 7, 2016 at 8:03 am

      Well, the fairy tale is a fairy tale. The key is, I think, is for each partner to be willing to work both separately and together on themselves, the relationship, and themselves in the relationship.

      In my opinion, cultures put forth the ideal as the reality. So we think that the Leave-it-to-Beaver family is the norm, and should be the norm for everyone. In reality, the Beaver family had its own issues that they had to confront all the time. If all we see is the picket fence and the flower garden, then it is quite a shock to realize that it comes with shovels and blisters, droughts, weeds, and lots of TLC — which is love disguised as work. Ooh! Tweet that! 😉

      • Leslie Vernick on April 7, 2016 at 9:35 am

        Loved that tweetable too.

    • Leslie Vernick on April 7, 2016 at 9:26 am

      Dont’ settle. I think for many people it’s more desirable to be alone than to be with an abusive spouse. Proverbs certain affirms that.

  65. G on April 6, 2016 at 2:47 pm


  66. Kath on April 14, 2016 at 9:41 pm

    Question: I married a man 3 years ago who started refusing all affection and physical contact within the first 24 hours of being married. Since then, he has routinely asked me to not pressure him physically by holding his hand, initiating hugs, etc. Within the first few months, he asked me to not change in front of him or let him see my body. He asked me not to initiate affection, even something like sitting beside him and leaning against his arm, because it made him uncomfortable. He did not want to go to counseling at first, but eventually did when demanded, and shared in counseling that he does not find me attractive and does not enjoy physical encounters with me, but is willing to make himself do it for the sake of the marriage. Sometimes he will show some signs of affection (such as sitting beside me on the couch, and once every 3-6 months something more purposeful will happen, such as basic cuddling and sometimes we’ve had sex).

    When I started asking him what was going on, or if I was doing something, he said that his struggle with anxiety ends his attraction. While he does have a legitimate struggle with anxiety (he has been diagnosed with mild social anxiety), I am having a hard time believing that anxiety is all there is. I have a STRONG sense that something is not right, but I can’t prove anything and am just starting to feel absolutely crazy. I have never found anything suspicious in the spending of his money, in his internet activity, in his interactions with others, etc. He tells me at least every few months that a man hit on him, but he always talks about it as thought it made him so uncomfortable.

    As time has gone on, my husband has started to say that part of the problem is my emotional upset about this – for example, if I am upset and crying he will point out that it puts pressure on him to be affectionate, which only increases his anxiety. I understand that I bear responsibility for how I act, and that my sins are on the table too and causing heat (primarily insecurity, struggling to find my identity primarily in Christ and not being so affected by my husband’s rejection), however, it sometimes galls me and I feel like there is no room for me to be sad about how things have been going because it might pressure my husband and make things worse overall. My husband is insistent that he wants to be together, and says he prays that he’ll be able to habitualize himself to being with me given more time and more treatment surrounding anxiety.

    His counselor believes that he says he is not attracted to me as a defense mechanism when anxious, and that the whole reason he is not affectionate is because of anxiety, but that she has seen nothing else to be concerned about. When I brought up concern that he might be closeted, she and I asked him about it together, he said no, and that was that. However, don’t we speak out of the abundance of our hearts? Do you think it’s possible that this is just anxiety, or that there is more to the story when a husband, chronically for 3 years, closes down affection (with an occasional interruption which is frankly traumatic)? I am concerned that my husband is closeted, and may never be willing to admit it… but I don’t know!

    Either way, we’re well into year 3 of marriage, 2.5 years of Christian counseling, etc, anxiety medications, etc., and everything continues to be more alienated between us.

    I am not sure what else to do – I believe this marriage is destructive, it is taking a big toll on me to maintain this image of wifeliness when I have never been more isolated, and I am now thinking that regardless of what he and the counselor are saying, there has been no positive/consistent change in the past 3 years, only a downward trend.

    Does God allow a biblical release from marriage in this circumstance? Any thoughts about the issue of withholding sex and affection would be very helpful, whether you know why it’s happening or not.

    • Robert on December 8, 2020 at 8:39 am

      Hi. Separate, absolutely. But God hates divorce. The Holy Spirit does not and never will approve of your first covenant divorce. For a woman is bound by the Law to her husband as long as her husband lives, and remarriage is adultery–Luke 16:18, Mark 10:11-12. Repent, submit yourself to God, for the kingdom of God is at hand. Best, Robert

      • V on May 3, 2021 at 6:47 pm

        Kath , Robert is in error.
        Please seek help for yourself through Leslie, Sarah Mcdugal, Sheila Gregoire (google them)
        God cares about the people in a marriage MORE than the institution of a marriage. Praying for you! (((Hugs)))

  67. […] SOURCE:  Taken from an article by Leslie Vernick […]

  68. Renee on July 20, 2016 at 9:29 am

    Thanks you so much for this blog. I am living in Kenya as a missionary. I have been in a very abusive relationship, it was not always that way.

    Verbal Financial and Sexual Abuse.

    We came to Kenya giving up home and family to build a ministry filled with love and the joy of the Lord. I have been living in a prison of abuses for almost 4 year straight. The Kenyan law is against women in general. I have been cut off of all finances, except for a small pension I get. He has tried to ship me back home. Leaving the house we built and land we bought. The damage that has been done to me and the relationship is severe. I want out of this marriage. I also want what should be mine. His addiction to porn has driven him to do so many things. We are not living together but, he continues abuse me in some way mostly verbally and financially. We have been apart for 1 year.

    The church blames me for asking for a divorce.

    I am tired and afraid.

    I need help!.

    • Heather on July 20, 2016 at 8:04 pm

      Renee… Your story breaks my heart. I was also in an abusive marriage, but I am separated and safe now. I am with you in spirit, sister. I’m praying for you. I’d recommend you call a domestic violence hotline in the United States if there is any way for you to do that. They should be able to get you some help in your country. Don’t give up until you are safe, dear sister. You have people who have never even met you who care about you. (I do!)

      • Robin on July 20, 2016 at 8:22 pm

        I’m praying for you too Renee. I’m so sorry for your situation but I know God has a path of escape for you. We do care for you and will be asking God to give you a plan????

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My sister is in an abusive marriage. How can I help her?

Question: My sister is in an abusive marriage and I just don’t know how to help her. I see the toll it’s taken on her and the kids but she doesn’t want to leave him. What is my role here? Answer: There is no more helpless feeling than to stand by and watch someone make…


Was I Wrong In Speaking Up

Morning friends, I have a whirlwind schedule over the next few weeks speaking mostly on the East coast so I will be away from home for almost 3 weeks. Pray for my safety and stamina that I do each event with excellence.   Today’s Question: My husband and I began reading The Emotional Destructive Marriage….


My Adult Children Treat Me Horrible. What Can I Do?

Morning friends, We are in a new normal and I hope all of you and your loved ones are safe. It is unbelievable how just 4 weeks can change the entire world. Crisis of this magnitude has a way of introducing you to your best self. Your bravery, your courage, your perseverance, and fortitude. Your…