Tag Archives: destructive marriage

Toxic Tuesday: Emotional Roller Coaster

 

DMV awareness month

 

Today we will look at the duplicitous personality; the nice version and the destructive version of the angry and controlling partner. I refer to living in this type of relationship as a roller coaster ride because it starts out smooth and gradual, but once we arrive at the top and see the drop we know it’s going to take away our breath; in a bad way. For those of us who thrill over a fun amusement park roller coaster; we know the emotional roller coaster is not a ride of choice or enjoyment. Just when we think the ride is calm Toxic Tuesday biochem hazard smalland safe, and we are enjoying the cool breeze blowing through our hair; it goes through a dark cave, down a steep drop, rotates us upside down, or takes us for a cork-screw dive.

This is life when living with an abusive personality. They are nice one moment; argumentative, angry, controlling, withholding, or some toxic quality the next moment, hour, or day.

Please hear me, you are not crazy. You are not confused. You are however most likely exhausted and in need of validation, encouragement, and truth. 

It can take months or years of living with an abuser for a victim to realize that the nice, charming, or caring version of the abuser is in fact an act; a show, and is a phase of the abuse.

If we pay close attention we will come to find cycles in the abuse. It might go something like this:

Phase 1. Nice and engages in conversation or activities. (The ‘Honeymoon’ phase).

Phase 2. Discontent if they can’t control an aspect of the relationship with us. (Experts call this the tension building phase).

Phase 3. Turns to rage when they have no tolerance for our ability to make our own decisions, have an opinion, or perform a task differently than how they believe it should be done. They may withhold affection, attention, sex, or words of affirmation. They may verbally shred us, or become physically abusive. (Experts call this the incident or acute explosion phase).

Phase 4. They may give us the silent treatment for days, weeks, or months. They are in denial of their attitude/personality problems and place all blame on us.

These phases are not representative of a onetime relationship cycle, but of a continual cycling, phases 1 through 4…over and over.

Cycle of abuse (tension, incident, reconciliation, calm) was a term coined by Lenore E. Walker.

When we apologize or attempt to appease an abuser they will often interact more peacefully with us, but it isn’t real. The reason they show kindness is because they believe our apology or appeasement is an acknowledgment that they are right, we are wrong, and we deserved their abusive treatment.

They want us to believe:

  1. The kind version is the real them.
  2. When tensions rise and abuse takes place; it’s the victim’s fault.

They want to trick us and tangle us in their web of deception. They desperately want us to believe these lies; after all, it’s their unhealthy truth; their toxic reality.

They will use their justifications and deceit to discredit the victim should she decide to disclose the abuse.

Remember: Abusers look like everyone else. You can’t pick them out of a crowd or spot them by looking in their eyes. They come from all walks of life. They can work in the secular world or minister in faith communities.

 

“Those who are labeled as brilliant/godly/successful are accorded power simply by virtue of their reputation. They can walk into a room and because of their reputation people give their words/actions a certain weight or power. We assume such powers indicate character. They do not!” ~Diane Langberg, PhD

 

Abusers do not care for others as a soul with worth; they care about their own power and control. Do not believe for one second that we have the ability to influence the abuser’s behavior, or that anything we do will change the way they treat us. This thought has landed many women in the depths of depression, and has led to the murderous death of others at the hands of their abusers.

Domestic violence rates are on the rise. If you are unsure of your safety, or lack thereof, please click on the “Mosaic” threat assessment in the margin of this website.

 “Do not speak to fools, for they will scorn your prudent words.” Proverbs 23:9

 “As a dog returns to its vomit, so fools repeat their folly.” Proverbs 26:11

“Stone is heavy and sand a burden, but a fool’s provocation is heavier than both.” Proverbs 27:3

“Though you grind a fool in a mortar, grinding them like grain with a pestle, you will not remove their folly from them.” Proverbs 27:22

 

 

“Fighting Words”

Fear is like a broken record, same old songs of accusation play
Like, “who are you to speak the truth, just look at all your failures and mistakes”
And “If they really knew you, there’s no way they could love you anyway”
Oh-oh-ohh, but I will…

Fight the lies with the truth, oh-ohh
Keep my eyes fixed on You
I will sing the truth into the dark
I will use my fighting words
Oh-oh-ohh, fighting words
Oh-oh-ohh

The enemy keeps talking, telling me to hide my face in shame
Whispering that everything I’ve done will drive the Father’s love away
Saying, “It’s too late for hoping, that something in your heart could ever change”
Oh-oh-ohh, so I will…

Fight the lies with the truth, oh-ohh
Keep my eyes fixed on You
I will sing the truth into the dark
I will use my fighting words
Oh-oh-ohh, fighting words
Oh-oh-ohh

My debt is paid up
I’ve been set free and
You gave Your life up to rescue me
You say that I am
Worth fighting for and
Grace is like waves that keep crashing on the shore!

Fight, the lies with the truth, oh-oh-ohh
Keep my eyes fixed on You
I will sing the truth into the dark
I will use my fighting words
Oh-oh-ohh, fighting words
Oh-oh-ohh…

I’m so tired of forgetting what I’m worth
So I will use, my fighting words

 

Listen…to her weary heart

This is a series of writings from women living in difficult, disappointing, or destructive marriages…or leaving destructive marriages/relationships. When women are physically abused the harm is often visible, but what about verbal and emotional abuse? The injury is internal…on the heart, soul, mind and strength. You may never guess her husband rages in a different way but the family knows. Her body knows and it often manifests in depression, anxiety, and/or auto-immune diseases. Allow me to show you the inner cries of these women’s hearts.

These are all true accounts from women I personally know.

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This friend suffered the breakup of her marriage after finding out her husband had molested a child. Her disappointing and destructive marriage led to divorce. Fortunately her husband admitted to the behavior, a crime against a young adolescent, and now he sits in jail. I am thankful for her that she didn’t have to wait years or decades for justice to be served. 

Krissy had been a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom since starting her family thirteen years earlier. She is living any woman’s worst nightmare while having the sole responsibility of meeting her children’s emotional, physical, financial and spiritual needs. Krissy and her children had to leave their home. The kids not only had their family dynamics change, they have also enrolled in public school so Krissy can go back to work full-time. You may be thinking, “Great, she was able to get a full-time job and take care of her kids.” If only it were that simple. Krissy didn’t have the necessary skills to find a job to cover the bare minimum of expenses. You may remember around two and a half years ago I published a GoFundMe account fundraiser for Krissy.  She had no money and needed financial help to get her family settled and on the road to recovery. She needed moving expenses, food, school supplies, clothes, Christian counseling, gas, utilities, insurance…

What you may not realize is that when the main financial provider goes to prison the spouse and children receive no alimony or child support payments. 

These have been Krissy’s toughest years and she has felt like she’s almost drowning in the difficulties and loneliness of single parenting and singleness. 

Here are her raw emotions she recently cried out to the Lord.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ 

 

I have come to the place where you last met me..

I have come hoping it is now holy ground…

I have come before you naked and weary…

I have come to see you face to face..

I have come to feel the light of your glory..

I have come to seek you in this place…

And I know… With all that I have in me…

That I am yours to treasure or dispose of…

I am yours to comfort or to tear down…

I am yours to lift up or lay lowly…

I am yours to do with as you want to…

But, Lord just please don’t leave me here…

Used with permission/2018

Domestic Abuse: 5 Biblical principles & 5 guidelines

October is Domestic Violence awareness month. I’m aware that DM is alive and well; which includes in the church.

I currently have 30 Christian women in my county who I advocate for in person and/or Toxic Tuesday biochem hazard smallon the phone, and for whom I pray. Many times they just need to be listened to and validated.  I can report that only 2 of these women have churches who believe them and stand by them. Most churches want the couple to come in and meet with the pastor so he can get a feel for what is going on and if abuse is truly taking place. Couples counseling DOES NOT WORK for a destructive, abusive marriage. The abuser will sit and lie his way through the session; denying or justifying the problems while acting the part of a loving, tender, and godly husband.  This is why the woman is not believed. (I also know abused men who have gone to their church leadership, but were not believed. Since I minister mainly to women I state women throughout my blog.)

Leslie Vernick is a Christian and biblical counselor who has spent years in the trenches teaching women in destructive and abusive marriages how to reclaim their voice and strength. Now she is helping first responders (church leadership) so they can correctly apply scripture when a woman in an abusive relationship approaches them for help. To do this, church leadership needs to respond to the abused and the abuser. How? It’s not difficult if you have the proper training, but sadly most pastors, church leadership, and even Christian counselors do not have a background in spotting and dealing with domestic abuse. Leslie provides the opportunity for church leadership to fill this void and provide hope and help those seeking it.

Please remember; abuse is not a marriage problem—it is an abuse problem. The abuser needs private counseling and serious, firm accountability

 

What Does The Bible Say About Destructive And Abusive Relationships?

 

Leslie Vernick receives frantic calls and e-mails each week from Christian women (and some men) who feel scared, trapped, hopeless and helpless because their most intimate relationship is abusive; verbally, physically, economically, sexually, spiritually or all of the above. The Bible has something to say about the way we treat people and as Christians we should all strive to be Biblically wise in how we handle these difficult and painful family issues.

Below are five Biblical principles that will guide your thinking about this topic.

Leslie Vernick, Author

1. Abuse is always sin. The scriptures are clear. Abuse of authority or power (even legitimate God given authority) is always sin. Abusive speech and/or behavior is never an acceptable way to communicate with someone. (Malachi 2:16-17; Psalm 11:5; Colossians 3:8,19).

2. Abuse is never an appropriate response to being provoked. In working with abusive individuals they often blame the other person. This can be especially tricky when trying to counsel couples. There is no perfect person and victims of abuse aren’t sinless. However, we must be very clear-minded that abusive behavior and/or speech is never justified, even when provoked. People provoke us all the time but we are still responsible for our response (Ephesians 4:26; Luke 6:45)

3. Biblical headship does not entitle a husband to get his own way, make all the family decisions, or to remove his wife’s right to choose. At the heart of most domestic abuse is the sinful use of power to gain control over another individual. Biblical headship is described as sacrificial servanthood, not unlimited authority and/or power. (Mark 10:42-45). Let’s not confuse terms. When a husband demands his own way or tries to dominate his wife, it’s not called biblical headship, its called selfishness, and abuse of power. (See, for example, Deuteronomy 13; Jeremiah 23:1-4; Ezekiel 34:2-4 for God’s rebuke of the leaders of Israel for their self-centered and abusive shepherding of God’s flock.)

4. Unrepentant sin always damages relationships and sometimes people. Sin separates us from God (Isaiah 59:2-5) and from one another (Proverbs 17:9). It is unrealistic and unbiblical to believe that you can continue healthy fellowship with someone who repeatedly sins against you when there is no repentance and no change. We are impacted in every way. (See Proverbs 1:15; 14:7; 21:28; 22:24; 1 Corinthians 15:33).

5. God’s purpose is to deliver the abused. We are to be champions of the oppressed and abused. God hates the abuse of power and the sin of injustice. (Psalm 5,7,10,140; 2 Corinthians 11:20; Acts 14:5-6.

What’s next? How should we respond when we know abuse is happening to someone?

We must never close our eyes to the sin of injustice or the abuse of power, whether it is in a home, a church, a work setting or a community or country (Micah 6:8). The apostle Paul encountered some spiritually abusive leaders and did not put up with it. (2 Corinthians 11:20). Please don’t be passive when you encounter abuse.

However, because we too are sinners, we are all tempted to react to abusive behavior with a sinful response of our own. The apostle Paul cautions us not to be overcome with evil, but to overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21).

Below are five (5) biblical guidelines that will help you respond to the evil of abuse with good.

1. It is good to protect yourself from violent people. David fled King Saul when he was violent toward him. The angel of the Lord warned Joseph to flee to Egypt with Jesus because Herod was trying to kill him. Paul escaped from those who sought to stone him. We must help people to get safe and stay safe when they are in abusive relationships. This is not only good for her and her children, it is good for her abusive partner. If you are not experienced in developing a safety plan and assessing for lethality (often women are more at risk when they leave an abusive partner), refer or consult with someone who is knowledgeable in this area (Proverbs 27:12).

2. It is good to expose the abuser. Secrets are deadly, especially when there is abuse in a home. Bringing the deeds of darkness to light is the only way to get help for both the victim and the abuser. If you are working with a couple and notice that the woman defers to her husband, regularly looks to him before she answers, blames herself for all their conflicts, speak with them separately. (Proverbs 29:1; Galatians 6:1; James 5:19-20). If you are a victim of an abusive relationship, it is not sinful to tell, it is good to expose the hidden deeds of darkness (Ephesians 5:11). Biblical love is always action directed towards the best interest of the beloved, even when it is difficult or involves sacrifice (1 Thessalonians 5:14; Hebrews 3:13).

3. It is good not to allow someone to continue to sin against you. It is not only good for the abused person to stop being a victim, it is good for the abuser to stop being a victimizer. It is it is in the abuser’s best interests to repent and to change. (Matthew 18:15-17; James 5:19-20).

4. It is good to stop enabling and to let the violent person experience the consequences of his/her sinful behavior. One of life’s greatest teachers is consequences. God says what we sow, we reap (Galatians 6:7) A person who repeatedly uses violence at home does so because he gets away with it. Don’t allow that to continue. (Proverbs 19:19). God has put civil authorities in place to protect victims of abuse. (Romans 13:1-5) The apostle Paul appealed to the Roman government when he was being mistreated. (Acts 22:24-29). We should encourage victims to do likewise.

5. It is good to wait and see the fruits of repentance before initiating reconciliation. Sin damages relationships. Repeated sin separates people. Although we are called to unconditional forgiveness, the bible does not teach unconditional relationship with everyone nor unconditional reconciliation with a person who continues to mistreat us.

Although Joseph forgave his brothers, he did not initiate a reconciliation of the relationships until he saw that they had a heart change. (See Genesis 42-45.)

Biblical repentance is not simply feeling sorry (2 Corinthians 7:8-12). Repentance requires a change in direction. When we pressure someone to reconcile a marital relationship with an abusive partner before they have seen some significant change in behavior and attitude we can put them in harm’s way. We have sometimes valued the sanctity of marriage over the emotional, physical, and spiritual safety of the individuals in it.

The apostle Paul encourages us to distance ourselves from other believers who are sinning and refuse correction. (See 1 Corinthians 5:9-11; 2 Thessalonians 3:6,14-15).

A person cannot discern whether a heart change has taken place without adequate time. Words don’t demonstrate repentance, changed behaviors over time does. (Matthew 7:20; 1 Corinthians 4:20)

As Christians we have the mandate and the responsibility to be champions of peace. Dr. Martin Luther King said “In the end what hurt the most was not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends.”

In honor of victims of domestic abuse who need wise help, please forward this article to other Christian leaders who may need to learn how to see domestic abuse through the lens of the Scripture.

 

Many Christian counselors, pastors, and lay leaders are still woefully ill-equipped to handle this very important issue despite 1 in 4 Christian women reporting being in a destructive marriage. Leslie Vernick invites you to visit her new website that she designed to educate and equip pastors, counselors and church leaders on this very important topic.

 

My Toxic Marriage

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A recent Toxic Tuesday post, How to Love a Woman In a Destructive Marriage, detailed how to respond to a friend who confides in you about abuse taking place in her home.

Unfortunately for some women—friends, family, and church members don’t believe her story. After all, many abusers are wonderful at playing the devoted victim! I believe this is true because many abusers suffer from narcissistic personality disorder and consider themselves special. They are not held to the same standards, morals, or laws as the general population. Even when caught, if they admit to doing it, they insist it is not who they are. It’s a twisted mind for sure!

After nine years in my own destructive marriage I finally told my parents, and my husband’s and my ministry adviser, what had been going on in my home since shortly after I said, “I do.” No one was surprised. The adviser told me that he had believed for some time now that my husband was mentally ill but he hadn’t said anything to me since he didn’t know if I was aware or if I would believe him.

Why did I take so long to tell? you may be asking.

Good Christian women don’t tell.

Good wives don’t talk poorly about their husbands. You never tell your family because that will incite them to not like him—and they might encourage you to leave him. We are taught at Bible college, in the church and by godly older women that we never speak poorly of our husbands; especially when you are in the ministry—which we were.

We are to encourage our husbands, respect our husbands, forgive them, pray for them, hope in them, help them, and make love a daily action even when we don’t feel like it. Be intentional about how we respond in love; not frustration or anger. Don’t dwell on the negative; concentrate on the good parts. Be the one to set the tone for the atmosphere in your home to keep it positive and productive. Let go of pride.

Don’t compare your marriage to anyone else’s marriage. Don’t compare your attitude or actions to his. Pray that God will change your heart and through that, improve the difficulties in your marriage.

Care, adore, smile, kiss passionately, forgive, forgive again, be gracious, listen, compliment him, comfort him, and be content. Stay…always stay the course—it WILL pay off. It will!  It does not matter how you feel; what matters is how you respond. With God, all things are possible!

Here is the catch—God gives us free choice and your spouse has a choice in the outcome. The above does not apply in an abusive marriage or a marriage plagued with unfaithfulness.

Through the advice of our adviser I confided in one local friend, a long distance friend who would help our adviser confront my husband in hope of reconciliation and healing; as well as, tell a friend/spiritual leader of ours and our advisers from a former ministry who was very concerned about my marriage, concerned about my husband, concerned about me and wanted the very best for my daughter. It wasn’t easy telling a single detail. I didn’t know if they would believe me, tell on me to my husband, or walk away from the relationship.

Two of these close friends who knew all the ugly details of the abuse and walked the road with me for a time after telling them of my destructive, abusive, and unsafe marriage, still attempted to silence me from speaking truth and achieving safety. I can’t speak for what their heart motive was; perhaps my truth made them uncomfortable. Did it hit too close to home? Was the evil, messed up truth about my spouse unbelievable? Had the narcissist won them over? Was legalism involved?

One of my friends told me, “I’ve prayed about this and God will remove his hand of protection from you if you go through with this divorce. You are taking yourself and your daughter out from underneath God’s covering, blessing, provision and protection. You are not supposed to do this and you will be sinning against God if you go through with it.”

I thanked her for her concern and told her I would pray about it more before finalizing the paperwork; however, I had only taken these measures after prolonged prayer, in depth Bible study, extensive counseling, and out of obedience to the Lord. I felt like God had held my hand while I skimmed the surface of hell begging my husband to return to me. He refused. In fact, during our time of a therapeutic separation when he was supposed to be seeking professional help and healing so our family could be reconciled; he instead took a preaching ministry and moved away. Because after all, God had called him to preach first and foremost and he was following God’s calling on His life. Good-bye to his wife and daughter—we were in the way of his career. I had spent the last two years refusing to seek another ministry because he needed spiritual guidance and serious professional emotional, psychological and psychiatric help. He decided to no longer wait for my permission; he left and moved on without me.

The other friend, George (name changed to protect his identity), whose own wife was delivered from an abusive marriage through the death of the abuser (first husband), wrote me an email after I gave him the latest report I received from my husband’s psychiatrist. I received discouraging news at every psychologist’s, neuro-psychologist’s and psychiatrist’s appointment I attended with him. But on this given day I heard the final blow that sealed the fate of reconciliation.

Unfaithfulness I had forgiven and mental-illness and a personality disorder I could live with if he would acknowledge it and seek help and stay on his medications but hearing, “He has started down the slippery slope of pedophilia from which there is no return” was the death blow.  I knew our daughter would never be safe. Before this day I kept thinking he had mental illness and a personality disorder with an addiction to pornography. I hoped that with help he could get better.

My optimism for my husband’s healing was over. I asked the doctor a few questions and sought clarity but the doctor was clear, serious, and gave me his professional opinion about my daughter’s safety.

George had asked to be kept updated on doctor appointments, progress and prayer needs but the pedophilia information proved to be, unbeknownst to  me, the last straw. Here is the reply I received via email:

Carolyn-

I understand that life has been difficult for you. But please don’t make it more so by continually pleading your case in the court of public opinion. Whenever I hear from you it is a constant stream of bashing your husband. I’ve not said anything before, but now I must. Your husband is my friend. I know he is not perfect, but then again neither are you or I. It’s almost as if you’ve been building a case against him ever since the first hint of problems last year. Your husband has always been different. Always. He was when we were in college. He was when you fell in love with him and married him. He is now. He could make us laugh like no one else. His nice guy looks and golden vocal cords along with his love for God and the church made him a joy to be around. All he ever wanted was to succeed for God. That dream appears to be a long shot now. But give him some dignity. Stop confessing his sins for him. You said in the email that you have been able to help some women whose husbands have left them, as if that is your situation.  Carolyn…he didn’t leave you.

If you made a mistake marrying him, say, “I made a mistake. I left him because I couldn’t take him.” Don’t write husband bashing emails. What good is that doing??? Are people lining ups saying, “Poor Carolyn,” and that’s helping you? If so, then something’s wrong there.

In love (for all three of you),

George

To this day I cannot imagine how I could have made it through this time in life without my godly ministry adviser and his wife.

Sobbing, I called them and asked if I had been inappropriate with the details I had given about my marriage and my husband’s issues. They said I had not been and then asked me to read the email from George.

After hearing George’s reply they recommended I stop all contact with him; immediately. They were dumbfounded at how he could feel this way after seeing and hearing first hand, my husband’s delusional and irrational behavior and his denial of needing help for his problems, mental illness, and personality disorder. All they could guess was that the classic textbook narcissist had struck again; a professional liar and actor who had won over another pawn in his game.

As for, “His love for God and the church made him a joy to be around,” investigators from three different law enforcement agencies have contacted me through the years investigating allegations of child sexual abuse by my ex-husband. All these investigators have said they believe his pedophilia goes back to his teen years and that he purposefully chose the ministry as a way to access child victims from a place of trusted leadership; pastor. The investigators also believe the list of child victims is well into the hundreds but because he targets very young children, who are mostly too young to tell, he stayed under the radar. Until summer 2014…his reign of terror was over.

No, my husband did not file the separation papers, I did; but make no mistake…he was the one who left in every way except for the paperwork. For him to file the papers would potentially ruin any hope of his future in ministry and preaching. He HAD to be portrayed as the victim.

Had I listened to George and my other local friend, my daughter and I would most likely be dead; at the very least we would have been further abused with my daughter suffering the greatest through it.

God allowed, encouraged, and provided a way out of this marriage along with Biblical grounds for divorce.

I hope this testimony brings awareness to women who desperately need help, friendship, and love while they seek safety and support during an unsafe and/or difficult marriage.

Be a blessing. Pray scripture over them; in person. Offer to watch their children so they can see a Christian counselor, run an errand, or just need an hour to be alone. Invite them over for lunch. Take their children to the park for an hour. Give her a gift certificate for a massage. Drop a bag of groceries at the door. Or head over to Give Her Wings ministry website to find out how you can help. There is a , “Books we like” tab for suggestions on books that would make a great gift for a hurting wife, and it would be one way you could show her you understand and care.

You could not plan for this
No, there was no silhouette
Up against the pink horizon
To warn you of the hit
But you absorbed it all with grace
Like a child you spoke of faith unmoved
That holds onto you

This thing is going to try to break you
But it doesn’t have to
You’re showing us how
This thing is going to bend and shape you
But He won’t let it take you/You know it somehow
This thing is not going to break you

You could take your loss
You could hide away from us
With your grief lassoed around you
But you’re laying it in the sun
And you stare straight into the light
You say you’d rather go blind than look away
What can I say?

This thing is going to try to break you
But it doesn’t have to
You’re showing us how
This thing is going to bend and shape you
But He won’t let it take you
You know it somehow
This thing is not going to break you
This thing is not going to break you
This thing is not going to break you

Why Men Don’t Change

Source: Why Men Don’t Change

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I’ve been a reader of Gary Thomas’s books for several years and I’m always thankful for his spiritual insight and practical applications.

This article will be helpful to many of my readers who are in difficult marriages, or know a friend or loved one in a difficult marriage. The difficulty could be due to mental illness or ‘functional fixedness.’ Although some mental illnesses have roots in chemical imbalance or genetics; many are due to long rooted sin that has become a ‘normal’ way of life, but make no mistake, it is a sinful pattern and it CAN be changed. The person has to want to change and that is where Gary Thomas has insight into how to pray for this change. His future blogs will have practical application on the subject.

“Many wives live with great frustration because even though they point out to their husbands how much they are hurting, their husbands don’t seem to care and they don’t change. In many cases, this is due to ‘functional fixedness,’ which means a man isn’t motivated by his wife’s pain; he’s only motivated by his pain. This is a spiritual condition and directly related to his spiritual maturity. If you or someone you know is stuck in the mire of living with a recalcitrant spouse, you might find this post particularly helpful.”

 

Read more…