In case you missed earlier headlines about Andy Savage here is a recap. Andy Savage was the teaching pastor at
This is in response to the Olympic gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar, who was convicted in court last month for molesting patients for years.
Thank you to the victims of these terrible crimes for using your trauma and pain for a great purpose that will serve future abuse victims.
Thank you, Rachael Denhollander, for using your talent to pursue justice. Sometimes it takes a wronged female attorney to change public policy and maintain a voice with which to be reckoned. I applaud you, thank you, and pray for you. By the way: your husband totally rocks for the powerful way he has publicly supported you and cheered you on through all of this. (I follow him on Twitter).
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is dispatching a team of civil rights investigators to Michigan State University to examine how the school handled allegations against former gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar, who was convicted of molesting patients for years.
“This new Title IX investigation will look at systemic issues in the University’s handling of sex-based incidents involving Dr. Larry Nassar,” DeVos said in a statement Monday.
The federal probe is only the latest for MSU, which is under investigation by the Michigan Attorney General’s Office and a congressional committee. It also faces dozens of lawsuits that allege it ignored reports and warning signs about Nassar’s predation going back to 1997.
DeVos’ announcement came hours before some of Nassar’s victims gathered in Lansing, Michigan, for a news conference on new state legislation prompted by the case. The bills would change the statute of limitations for sexual crimes against children, expand the class of people who must report claims of sexual abuse to law enforcement, and allow prosecutors to use evidence of prior assaults at trial.
“We are learning activism creates action,” said Olympic gold medalist Jordyn Wieber, who revealed last month that Nassar preyed upon her.
Rachael Denhollander top of page: photo credit; Twitter public profile picture
What a woman needs most from her friends in the middle of her shocking news…that her husband is being unfaithful is for a friend to listen. Affirm her, acknowledge her pain, pray for her…and other practical helps.
Many Christian counselors, pastors, and lay leaders are still woefully ill-equipped to handle this issue. Leslie Vernick is changing this!
Even the most well trained counselor can have a difficult time discerning between the two; after all, wolves are experts at deceit. Here are 3 ways to spot a wolf. Disclaimer: Usually only family members know the truth.
I’m not a tech person so I have no idea why ‘My Destructive Marriage’ isn’t showing up on my blog…so I renamed it, ‘My Toxic Marriage’ It comes from an extremely vulnerable time in my life. I share this story for hurting women who are not believed when they finally muster up the courage to tell their family, friends and/or church that they have been secretly abused in their own home and are now seeking help and healing.
Porn alters the brain: Bad news
If/when you stop using porn the brain can heal over time: Good news.
I’ve seen this TEDx lecture by Gary Wilson circulating over the last month and every time I think, “I’ll post this on my blog”. Today is the day.
When discussing sensitive topics I like to give a warning: This could be a trigger for different people in different ways. For the abused it could trigger painful thoughts or body memories. For the porn user it could trigger temptation.
There is a brief picture of women in bikinis at one point in the lecture/video.
I hope that every person who has access to the internet watches this video because sooner or later porn will likely rock your world. Porn is everywhere; especially soft-core, and it’s impossible to not have it turn up somewhere before your eyes. It’s not impossible to look away. Watch this video for clarification as to why we must look away and teach our children the importance in doing the same.
Here is why you don’t simply forgive, forget, and continue in the relationship.
My heart aches for Lysa.
I suspected this for several months. The times I listened to Lysa in Bible studies or on pod casts over the last year I wondered if this was the difficult circumstance she was living in of which she couldn’t speak. There are some things so profoundly deep and traumatic that when you hear someone else speaking with such words…your betrayed heart reaches through multi-media and feels their secret soul-hurt.
I realize publication dates precede the release of her letter. I don’t know when it happened or when she made it public, but I’m grateful she was obedient in her calling to write a book and Bible study that would help her, and help others who would go through similar circumstances.
Rejection, Heartache, and a Faithful God
No person’s rejection of me can ever exempt me from God’s love for me.
“A Gut-Honest Look at Love.” That was the title of my first blog post of this year. Based on 1 Corinthians 13, I wrote, “Love isn’t what I have the opportunity to get from this world, love is what I have the opportunity to give.”
This perspective on love has been a lifeline during the most painful season and decision of my adult life. I so wish we were sitting face-to-face so you could see my tears and hear the deep grief in my voice as I share this with you. My husband, life partner and father of my children, Art TerKeurst, has been repeatedly unfaithful to me with a woman he met online, bringing an end to our marriage of almost 25 years. For the past couple of years, his life has sadly been defined by his affection for this other woman and substance abuse. I don’t share this to harm or embarrass him, but to help explain why I have decided to separate from him and pursue a divorce. God has now revealed to me that I have done all I can do and I must release him to the Savior.
Continue reading the continuation of Lisa’s letter here….
If you find yourself in a season traveling the same road as Lysa you may find her book “Uninvited” at Amazon or Christian Book Distributors (Book, study guide, DVD study, or Audio book)
The enemy wants us to feel rejected . . . left out, lonely, and less than. When we allow him to speak lies through our rejection, he pickpockets our purpose. Cripples our courage. Dismantles our dreams. And blinds us to the beauty of Christ’s powerful love.
In Uninvited, Lysa shares her own deeply personal experiences with rejection—from the incredibly painful childhood abandonment by her father to the perceived judgment of the perfectly toned woman one elliptical over.
With biblical depth, gut-honest vulnerability, and refreshing wit, Lysa helps readers:
- Release the desire to fall apart or control the actions of others by embracing God-honoring ways to process their hurt.
- Know exactly what to pray for the next ten days to steady their soul and restore their confidence.
- Overcome the two core fears that feed our insecurities by understanding the secret of belonging.
- Stop feeling left out and start believing that “set apart” does not mean “set aside.”
- End the cycle of perceived rejection by refusing to turn a small incident into a full blown issue.
This still makes my skin crawl. In light of innocent victims number 32 is off the charts unhealthy and twisted when considered in the context of predator and victim.
Do you have dysfunctional family dynamics or know someone who does? If you were raised by a parent with narcissistic personality disorder you will relate to these statements. Many of the sayings apply to being raised by someone with any type of personality disorder, but all of the below testimonials will validate children, young or grown, of a parent, or parents, with narcissistic personality disorder.
Someone so toxic they are willing to jeopardize
anybody’s reputation or future, including their own children,
to help themself get out of a sticky situation, conversation, sin, or
crime. In their personality disordered mind it’s no big deal.
Do you suspect someone you work with, or know, has a personality disorder? Has the leadership of your company, organization, or church been attempting to remove, dismiss, or terminate the person or their position?
Today I want to show you, with video, what someone with Narcissistic personality disorder may look like. While watching this short video, replace the character of Facebook co-founder, Mark Zuckerberg, with a dynamic speaker who has a witty sense of humor and is a leader in the Christian community. Keep in mind that narcissistic personalities can still appear different; some are charismatic—some boring, humorous vs.serious, highly intelligent vs. below average intelligence, well spoken vs. inarticulate, life of the party vs. quiet. Regardless of their differences they have many characteristics in common.
Consider a person who intertwines scripture as a means for emotional control and twists verses to support their dominance over co-workers. A specialist who tries to tell others who they are with no regard to reality.
A person who uses their title or place of leadership as a cover for control, dominance, or even abuse is not only not a leader in the way the Bible sets forth but is instead a moral and spiritual failure. Let me make this clear: When it comes to leadership, domination is never a teaching of the Bible. But servant leadership is.
When truth is revealed against the backdrop of their deception, sin, or crime they play the “I am special” card and, “This isn’t the way it appears” line. In classic narcissistic fashion they hold up a mirror and reflect the accusation being made against them back at the plaintiff. You will NEVER win an argument with a narcissist or point out their error since they are perfect and do no wrong. Remember the rules and laws do not apply to them: For more on this topic see previous Toxic Tuesday posts about Narcissism.
“Jesus…is the Lion of Judah (Rev. 5:5) and the Lamb of God (Rev. 5:6) – He was lionhearted and lamb like, strong and meek, tough and tender, aggressive and responsive, bold and brokenhearted. He sets the pattern for manhood.” -John Piper
Narcissists like to explain why your accomplishments are of little importance and possibly not true accomplishments. They do not know how to encourage others and be genuinely happy for other’s successes. The only time you are praise worthy is when they can use your achievement to make themselves look better to someone else; or make it seem like your triumph was due to their input in your life.
You will not gain a narcissist’s understanding. You will be ignored, dismissed, and belittled while the narcissist manipulates behind the scenes with no remorse or twinge of conscience toward the path of destruction they leave behind.
Narcissists are entitled to treat people however they feel with no regard to the other person’s feeling, needs, or input. They make executive decisions for everyone involved without allowing feedback, questions, or creative involvement. They are a god unto themselves and they like to surround themselves with people who believe everything they say without asking questions.
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Narcissists have no boundaries with other people’s feelings, ideas, and needs. When dealing with this personality there are phrases that you need to memorize and keep in your mental pocket.
That’s not what I was thinking; or had in mind.
That’s your opinion.
My decision is final.
I’m not discussing this.
You need to know what you are going to say before confronting someone like this and stick with your script. Most importantly you don’t want to show any emotion. Positive or negative emotion only feeds the narcissist; known as narcissistic supply. You must starve them of the reaction they desire.
It doesn’t matter if you see this type of person committing a crime, yelling at someone, or telling a lie; they will deny it. Worse yet, because they are grand actors and liars it is easy to believe their cover story. I’ve been through this time and time again and I believed the actor/liar on every occasion…they were that good…until I understood I was dealing with a personality disorder. Before that I truly believed they were misunderstood, set-up, manipulated, not at fault, lied about, and…that I was the problem.
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To be clinically diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder a person must exhibit five of nine criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
Imagine being in a relationship with someone who meets all nine of the criteria. Once upon a time I lived with such a person. Now imagine the narcissism is the easiest part of the toxic relationship because underneath this surface lurks a tormented dark soul disguised as light.
One does not have to imagine long on this concept of darkness disguised as light since Satan has masqueraded in a cloak of light through the centuries.
Satan is not creative; just a good copycat who counterfeits everything he sees the Heavenly Father do. Satan produces many fake replicas; evil beautifully gift-wrapped with a forged logo or brand name. As with counterfeit consumer products, Satan’s imitations are of a lower quality, sometimes not working at all, and often have toxic elements; producing toxic people—resulting in a lesser quality of life for God’s beloved children. Satan’s bogus plans, interjected into the lives of humans, have resulted in physical and spiritual deaths. Fatal poison has been packaged as the healing balm of Christ.
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The complexity of a narcissist makes them interesting to study, infuriating to live with, frustrating to work with, and the subject of psychological and spiritual scrutiny.
People can suffer from more than one personality disorder, or have what is called mixed personality disorder where the person meets criteria from several disorders, but not enough in any one of them to make a formal and supportable diagnosis in that area, the appropriate diagnosis is Personality Disorder NOS (not otherwise specified) with X, Y, and Z (or whatever) traits).
One of several overlapping disorders that can co-exist with narcissistic tendencies is obsessive compulsive personality disorder (completely different from obsessive compulsive disorder); characterized by a preoccupation of concern with excessive attention to details, mental and interpersonal control, and a need for control over one’s environment, at the expense of flexibility (everything is black and white to them). Money is viewed as something to be hoarded. Read about the entire criteria of this disorder at PhychCentral. If you question if someone you know has a personality disorder you should research disorders in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manuel of Mental Disorders – DSM-IV.
Allow me to introduce you to Mr. Fatal Self-Love:
Are you confused by a relationship?
Does the person you love seem not to appreciate, or to like little, or to like nothing about you?
Do you feel mildly harmed?
Do you ever think about the other person, “Oh, that wasn’t very nice. Or…Oh, they didn’t mean it”?
Do you justify the words and actions of this person?
Do you find yourself denying your instincts?
Are you the person responsible for making everything in the relationship okay?
Do you feel greatly harmed?
Do you feel like you’re losing your mind?
Do you feel like you can’t do anything right?
Do you feel manipulated?
If you answered yes to one or more of these questions—the below video may be the best invested 22 minutes of your week.
Gain strength, become educated, increase clarity, seek help. For me, Patrick Doyle is the best of the best for sorting out relational questions and difficulties.
I’m again passing on lessons I’ve learned the hard way. There is one glaring clue for spotting an unsafe person; an abuser…so, please, let me enlighten you…
This is for those of you who don’t have time to watch the almost hour long video attached at the end of this article. If you are in an abusive relationship and you do have time to watch; you will be greatly validated and encouraged. You’re not crazy…it’s really happening…you’re living through untold trauma, and you are incredibly strong to have endured for so long. My prayers are for you.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
I present to you, Patrick Doyle, counselor at Veritas Counseling and theDOVE.us
Recognize and Prevent Emotional Abuse
The core of marital counseling revolves around emotional abuse.
I was aware of a situation involving a woman in another state. Her husband was a very well respected man who early in the marriage; and thereafter, was abusive. He was a stalwart member of the church who was well respected. The abuse kept going on until finally the woman realized through some counseling, and finding out her husband had a longtime porn addiction, that she needed to speak up. Well, her church didn’t really get it; they didn’t understand what she was trying to say. They genuinely wanted to help but they thought maybe she was making this stuff up…how could this be; we all think this guy’s great. As time goes on and she becomes more and more bold about revealing the truth to the pastor of her large mega church, he finally gets it. She actually went in the pastor’s office and had him watch my (Patrick Doyle) video on emotional abuse. Here are some excerpts from a letter that he wrote to his leadership after watching the video and ‘getting it’… about what the church is going to do to deal with this issue because he’s starting to see that they’ve missed the boat on this.
I am disturbed by the fact that women are coming forward telling me sad stories of long-term calculated abuse by their husbands. I’m aware of 6 or 7 cases that are current. These are good women who have experienced long term, 10-25 years, of abuse to varying degrees. In some cases the abuse has been physical leading to domestic assault charges and imprisonment. In other cases the abuse is more subversive yet no less damaging. Emotional abuse, verbal abuse, psychological abuse, roll abuse, financial abuse, and sexual abuse. Sometimes I wish they would all just walk into my office with a black eye so I could see the indisputable evidence and call the police. Instead they tend to walk in with blackened and bruised hearts that bleed pain. It is more difficult to discern the extent of non-physical abuse but I am becoming more attuned to the signs of an emotionally and psychologically battered woman. These are not crazy women who are trying to find some sinister way to get out of a marriage; thus, submitting false charges against their husbands. I’m talking about good and godly women who over time have lost hope that they will ever be treated with honor as a wife, a woman, or a fellow heir of the grace of life. I am typically taken off guard thinking that their husbands were charming, gentlemen of God. Oh, what a false front an abuser is able to display.
We all know there is a difference between a difficult marriage and a destructive marriage. We all have difficult marriages to some extent. There’s no such thing as a pain-free, argument free marriage. There is anger in every marriage leading to disputes, hurt feelings, and the need for healing. I have not called this meeting to discuss difficult marriages, but I am talking today about destructive relationships where one person is being systematically and consistently broken down by the other.
I am most deeply disturbed by the fact that in several of these cases these men are protecting their place within our church while the abused is made to feel like an outcast. The abuser sings in the choir, sits in the front row, leads in the men’s’ ministry, carries the friendship or support of a pastor or an elder, serves on some ministry team, plays in the band while the wife is made to feel like an unforgiving, un-submissive, self-willed, hardened sinner. The wife feels embarrassed around our church people while the abusive husband smiles and drinks coffee with his boys (church members).
Here is a transition: This man wants to do the right thing, but it’s hard because people come in and you don’t know if they’re trying to work you, manipulate you, or what.
Listen, someone who is in an abusive relationship…one thing abusers do is they never take responsibility.
Abusers never take responsibility. This is a key to recognizing one. As Christians we should be leading the way in taking responsibility. With abusers you can never get a clear answer in a question, or there is a constant blame shift, avoidance, minimization, justification, and spiritualization. They shift blame and everything becomes your fault.You start to feel crazy and doubt yourself which empowers the abuser all the more.
In the church what is said is, “If you’ll just love them more, if you just cook them the right meal, if you just have more sex with them, if you’ll just be patient then this will clear up.”
Listen, if you allow an abuser an inch they will take a mile. The more you submit to their abuse the more they are going to abuse because every abuser I’ve worked with is in abject denial. The abuser believes their own rhetoric. They will stand in front of you, look you dead in the eyes and believe what they are saying. When this happens; listen to your spirit!
For outsiders who wonder if someone is in an abusive relationship; listen to your spirit. You may want to ask the woman or her children, in a safe setting, if there is abuse in their home and ask if they need help.
When someone says they are a believer but they have no conviction or comfort—they don’t have the Spirit. I don’t care what they say, how many church services they go to, how much Bible they know—the evidence is in whether or not they are convicted. The conviction will lead to the fruit of the spirit. Right? You can feign the fruit of the spirit for moments at church, in front of your pastor, in Sunday School, at a pot-luck dinner—but behind closed doors with the person who knows you the best…if they aren’t the ones seeing it, then I’m really concerned.
If your wife (and kids) are feeling abused (and I don’t care if you’re an abuser or not)—that’s real—and we have to deal with that. If the wife, or kids, are misinterpreting something it will be easy to fix, but if they’re not then maybe we can heal the marriage before it absolutely is destroyed.
Sometimes they do this sham of responsibility taking…”I’m sorry. I know I did that.” Then they just keep on doing it. Listen, the evidence of conviction is a change in your behavior not just words. God does not convict in general; He convicts specifically. So when the abuser comes to you they need to confess specifically the sinful words, thoughts and actions (to God and to their spouse). Changed behavior is the evidence of conviction. Conviction, repentance and changed action all have to take place.
Are you abused and feeling trapped (which is part of the abusers arsenal) but you’re at a point where something has to break, something has to stop; you recognize that it’s coming to a head?
I say this with all due respect. Don’t call the church. (Yours may be the exception, but there are tragic stories about women who went to their church and were placed under church discipline for talking poorly of their husband, and/or removed from the church for separating from or divorcing their abuser.) I don’t know if the church is prepared for this; you’ll have to make that assessment. Somebody has to know what they are doing and someone has to be willing to get involved. If somebody comes to counseling he can get involved in a certain degree, but really where the church has the ability to be transformational is to get involved in a big way on a day-to-day basis. That’s how we can really help these people. In my church we’ve set up funds to support women temporarily; to give them money so the abusive husband can’t control them financially. I’ve seen it a thousand times if I’ve seen it once. They start controlling the money. How’s the woman going to live? Those are real questions. That’s where we can come (help) balance the power.
If you think you are, or might be, in an abusive relationship talk to somebody who knows what they’re talking about. If you’re going to go to someone who gets involved and then they back away; that is way worse. In that case, don’t even broach the subject until you know you have support that’s going to stay. This is where the church has done a lot of damage. They get involved and then they back out because they get uncomfortable, in over their head, or whatever.
Do your research, ask around the community, take the knowledge you’ve learned to find long-term support because I’ve never seen an abuser who has gone that far and said, “Oh, you’re right. I’m going to quit being abusive.”
It’s possible churches get it and they do want to help; such as the pastor who wrote the email read at the beginning; earlier. They recognized it and set up something in the church to address abusers and the abused. The pastor; along with church staff and leadership took training for it because they care about the people.
Much of this teaching can also apply to parent/child relationships.
This is Carolyn speaking: There aren’t many Christian counselors out there who know how to handle abuse in the Christian home. Most will want the abused wife to attend counseling with her abuser. THIS SHOULD NOT BE. When calling a counselor’s office ask them what their policy is for helping abuse victims and their abusive spouse. Separate counseling is best. I’ll give you three recommendations for the St. Louis area at the bottom of this post. They do not take insurance; so you have to file ‘out of network.’ If you’re local and have an excellent referral please comment with contact information at the top of this post. There is also a link in the margin for Focus on the Family: Counseling service and one time free referral.
Counselors in the greater St. Louis area:
Terri Dempsey – (West county & Farmington) Encouragement, validation, and practical application for setting boundaries…with humor. Double majored in Psychology and Theology receiving a Bachelor of Arts from Blue Mountain College. Received Master of Arts degree in Psychological Counseling from Southeast Missouri State University in May 1991. The combination of a Christian and secular education allows her to understand and fit into both worlds. Scripture tells us to be in the world but not of the world.
She treats most mental health issues and specializes in trauma, personality disorders, and difficult cases in adults, adolescents, and children. She is certified in EMDR. In treating anxiety and depression whether in adults, adolescents, or children, there is often a common thread – trauma. Trauma can be the basis of eating disorders, anger management issues, and severe stress as well as identity issues in children and adolescents. If your spouse suffers from a personality disorder you will find help for staying, or leaving.
(314) 983-9300, by text at (314) 960-7589 and by email at email@example.com
St. Louis Office
Castlewood Baptist Church
1220 Kiefer Creek Rd. Ballwin, 63021
#7 South Jefferson
Farmington, MO 63640
Dr. Clay Coffee (St. Louis County) received his Ph.D. in Family Therapy from Saint Louis University and his Master of Arts in Counseling and Masters of Divinity from Covenant Theological Seminary. He is a Counselor in Training working with couples, families, and individuals. For typical marital issues he does couples counseling. For family issues he does group family therapy. He has served as a pastor and counselor in church-based settings for over fifteen years: working with couples and families in conflict
providing premarital education and counseling
caring for individuals and families walking through divorce and remarriage. His additional areas of clinical interests and experience include working with adults experiencing grief and loss
anxiety and depression
the trauma of emotional, physical, and spiritual abuse
spiritual transformation and relational distress
parenting issues and season of life transitions.
Clay has also taught graduate courses on ethics and counseling and presented at national conferences on topics such as addressing family violence in the church and coordinating care between counselors and churches for the well-being of clients. His dissertation explored the influence of at least one partner’s religious conversion on the marital relationship and developed a tentative theory for helping both partners navigate potential loyalty conflicts.
Clay has a wife, 3 children and a black lab named Pepper. He enjoys playing tennis & golf with his wife, co-managing a fantasy football team with his sons, watching and discussing movies with his daughter, and playing his guitar. (314)720-2710 ext 5 firstname.lastname@example.org
Christy Brimm (St. Charles county) at Kaleo Counseling: kaleostl.com – Her bio states she works mostly with kids, but I’ve been told she is terrific, due to her passion and personality, for women who are in extremely difficult and abusive relationships.
Christy received her Master of Arts in Counseling from Missouri Baptist University and her Master of Arts in Theological Studies from Covenant Theological Seminary. She has gained extensive experience working with children, adolescents, women, and families via her 20+years serving in the Church. Her ministry experience has come in the form of working in children’s ministry, youth ministry, leading a life group for young families, and through leadership in Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS). Christy has training in both school and clinical settings and is interested in offering gospel-centered counseling to youth and adults who find themselves in need of healing and wholeness. She also has a special interest in doing play therapy with children and working with families on parenting and relational issues. Christy is a Provisional Licensed Professional Counselor and is supervised by Martha Ankney, LPC. She sees clients at the St. Charles office and is an out-of-network provider. You may email Christy at email@example.com.