Tag Archives: Abusers never take responsibility

Recognize and Prevent Emotional Abuse

psy-abuse

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.

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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 hopecrossingcc@gmail.com

St. Louis Office
Castlewood Baptist Church
1220 Kiefer Creek Rd. Ballwin, 63021

Farmington Office
#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  clay@killeencounseling.com 

 

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 cbrimm@kaleostl.com.

 

 

Naghmeh Abedini: How Do We Respond? Part 2

Save Saeed
One of many times Naghmeh brought her husband’s unjust imprisonment to the attention of the world.

 

Domestic violence and abuse of any type is not a marital issue; it is an abuse issue.

The abuser needs healing.

If a woman’s husband has cancer she cannot go to the doctor and receive treatment for him, nor can she consume half of his prescriptions for him. He would need to take all the treatments and meds by himself; for himself. In the case of marital abuse; experts recommend isolated counseling for the abuser. Alone. Long term. Without the spouse.

 

This is a continuation of my last blog post, “Naghmeh Abedini: How Do We Respond?”

Saeed prayer vigil
One of several prayer vigils and times of fasting and praying, Naghmeh, led on behalf of her husband.

Today I again write from a place of vulnerability for the sake of abused Christian wives, especially pastors’ and missionaries’ wives, who are in abusive marriages. My heart goes out to 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.

As I wrote in my last blog post; Christian women are taught to stay, pray, hope, encourage, love through actions, and wait on God. Here is the catch—God gives us free choice and the spouse has a choice in the outcome. The above does not apply in an abusive marriage or a marriage plagued with unfaithfulness.  God does allow for separation and divorce. See Toxic Intervention. A Toxic Relationship and a Therapeutic Separation. Biblical Permission to Leave a Toxic Spouse.

You never know what goes on in someone else’s home. You have no way of understanding if the woman sitting next to you in Bible study, or worshiping next to you in church is secretly being mistreated in  her home. If she should muster up the courage to tell you; please listen. Please believe her.

GRACE 11

What is at the root of abuse?

Most abuse comes from one, or a combination, of these factors:

  1. Pornography and sexual addictions
  2. Substance abuse
  3. Personality disorders or untreated mental illness
  4. Deep seeded societal and/or nonbiblical religious views of women as objects/property
  5. The abuser has a background of victimization
  6. The abuser is emulating what they learned as a child from their own dysfunctional parent/s.

Yet an admission of guilt from the abuser is rare; and more exceptional is an abuser seeking heartfelt help to overcome their attitudes and actions. What’s more common is the abuser denying responsibility, placing the blame on the victim, and justifying every unloving word, dishonorable behavior, and/or violent act. As if this isn’t difficult enough for the wife to survive (or in some cases the man because there are abused men too) she has to endure his grand acting ability to win over anyone who will listen to him.

By the way; the above is not limited to marriages. It can be found in other relationships: Friendships, significant others, extended family, siblings, co-workers, politicians, community leaders, or neighbors.

In Naghmeh Abedini’s case she has to endure seeing television and internet interviews, and reading newspapers, blogs, forums and Facebook posts where Saeed acts like nothing is wrong except a wife who has undergone extreme stress for the last few years during his imprisonment and needs help overcoming her issues.

I understand some of Naghmeh’s heartache and frustration, but I never suffered in a media driven, national and international, environment as she is.

By the way—you’ll notice I don’t refer to Saeed as, Pastor Saeed. It is purposeful due to the fact that he is not an ordained pastor through any church denomination, or non-denomination; rather he purchased a mail order certificate.¹ Plus the Bible has clear teachings about those in leadership and teaching positions in the church for which Saeed does not presently qualify.

“Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task. Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap.” I Timothy 3:1-7

 

In a statement to the Idaho Statesman (January 30, 2016), Saeed thanked his wife for advocating on his behalf. He said that his marriage is troubled and that he is not perfect, but he downplayed the allegations of abuse.

“Much of what I have read in Naghmeh’s posts and subsequent media reports is not true,” he said in the statement. “But I believe we should work on our relationship in private and not on social media or other media.”

“In private.” “Not on social media or other media.”His words.

Two weeks later on social media Saeed posted this:


FACEBOOK:  Saeed Abedini
 added 2 new photos — with Saeed Abedini.

February 14 at 8:38pm ·

Warm Greetings Dear Saints!

We Love because He first Loved us. (1John 4:19)

This is my first post on Facebook after 4 long years of imprisonment. I see there is a LOVE story between us as I went through hardship of imprisonment by you showing your support with sending hundreds & thousands of letters of encouragement and LOVE to the prison. 1000’s of cities and countries and locations gathering for pray vigils, sending gifts to my wife and children, etc.. .
You created a LOVE story that even Muslims in Iran talked about.

My beloved sisters and brothers, I want you to know how much I LOVE you and how much Your prayers and support changed my situation and how much I am thankful for your heart and Care.
I am grateful for marriage counselors who have been helping me but my wife’s relationship with me is not good at this point, so we need prayer that she joins this counseling process with us.

Free By Christ For Christ
Saeed Abedini

 

An emotionally and spiritually healthy husband would not put such a spin on his words. I read an agenda, an ulterior motive coming through loud and clear. He could have requested, “Please pray for my family” but didn’t. He referred to marital problems and stated, “My wife’s relationship with me is not good.” He manipulated words to indicate to his readers that Naghmeh is the one getting in the way of reconciliation; not him.  Please refer to my opening paragraph, “Domestic violence and abuse of any type is not a marital issue; it is an abuse issue.”

Abusers lack humility and honesty. They fail to take responsibility for their role in the condition of their family and marriage.

A godly man would not treat his wife like this—he should advocate his willingness to seek healing and restoration, or make a full admission and acknowledge she has biblical grounds to leave him. Publically, Saeed is making no attempt to win her back. We read nothing like this.

 

This reminds me of my own ex-husband. He was abusive in the home, ripe with mental illness, and void of conscience all while publicly portraying the godly, soul-winning, personable, full of charisma, scripture quoting, dynamic speaking pastor.

While he was sitting in jail, awaiting trial for being a child molester he penned a letter. The letter was downright disturbing for me to read but what angered me was the fact that the evangelistic association he sent it to believed him. Then they adored him—and praised him—and forwarded the letter to their prayer and financial partners all over the world so they could pray for this (supposed) humble, misunderstood, wrongly accused man of God. Read the letter here: Man Sentenced to Life in Prison Under Jessica’s Law

 

Based on personal messages I receive from readers; abusers know no boundaries and come from every walk of life including Christian ministry homes. I read of abuse in evangelical homes being common place. I read of some church ministries which recommend the wife stay silent for the sake of Christ’s reputation. What!

Christ does not need us to protect His reputation. He is completely secure in who He is. There is nothing we can do, good or evil, that changes who He is and what He can do.

The book of Isaiah holds a prophecy of the coming Messiah: “He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,  to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners,” Isaiah 61:1b

He came to set us free; on earth, and for eternity.

“Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead expose them;” Ephesians 5:11

 

Sincere sorrow, true repentance, and a renewed heart toward his wife and children would keep Saeed Abedini out of the spotlight, or at least initiate confessing his problems so healing and reconciliation could happen in his family.  Instead he is enjoying the fame and taking advantage of the free press, television air time, and financial help while it is available while showing no remorse for his actions toward his wife.

 

As my ex-husband insisted, God had called him to the ministry and not even his wife and child were going to keep him from his calling. The truth was he relished the public popularity ministry afforded him, and he enjoyed his sinful, messed up choices in life more than he desired healing and reconciliation.

Many friends, mentors, family members and church leaders attempted to call my ex-husband (at the time my husband) to accountability. People saw character flaws, sin issues, and leadership problems but he refused help, church discipline, and would not listen to those in authority over him.

 

I’m glad Saeed Abedini was delivered from an unjust prison sentence. I pray he finds the strength and courage to repent, honor God and honor Naghmeh, and show both God and Naghmeh respect from a grateful heart; a heart full of healed, true love.

In my next post I will give scriptural precedence for blame not being split down the middle for a marriage in crisis due to abuse.

Naghmeh remains verbally, publicly challenged by many who do not believe her story.  I hope through sharing my history and insight with my readers that more people choose to trust her testimony, and lift her up in prayer.

 

GRACE 5

 

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¹. Facedbook; Naghmeh Abedini, public profile page, March 1, 2016, 6:07 a.m.

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