Depraved

Sexual abuse in marriage isn’t just about whether or not your husband rapes you. Marital rape is wrong, and it’s certainly abusive, but there are other, more subtle, forms of sexually abusive mistreatment. It’s wrong for anyone to do things to you, force you to do things with him, or force you to do things to him, that are painful, or humiliating, or that make you spiritually, emotionally, or physically uncomfortable. These actions might be harder to define than rape is, but that makes them no less abusive.

I’m not talking about having differing views of what’s fun or acceptable in the bedroom. There are widely differing views even among Christians about what a husband and wife should, or shouldn’t, engage in as far as sexual play goes, and discussing them isn’t the point of this post. In a good marriage with open communication, those things can be discussed. In an abusive marriage, the abuser—usually but not always the husband—demands his way while disregarding his wife’s feelings.

You are important. What you want matters. Your comfort, belief, and desires should be considered before you are asked to do anything. Your husband has no right to demand anything of you. That’s not submission; that’s abuse. God never commanded the man to force his wife to submit or obey. Submission is something God tells the wife to do; He never commands the husband to make sure she does it. God also tells the husband to love his wife as Christ loved the church, to love her as he loves his own body. If a husband is doing this—if the wife has absolutely no doubt whatsoever that her husband loves her, and will protect her heart, her mind, and her body—it becomes much easier to submit to him. A wife gives submission in response to her husband’s love. If a man loves his wife, he won’t even consider asking her to do something that makes her uncomfortable. He certainly won’t demand it of her.

Sexual abuse, in any shape, form, or fashion, is a corruption of the gift of sexual intimacy. It is a sin against the wife, and—as all sins are—ultimately a sin against God. Sexual abuse in marriage isn’t about love. It’s not about romance. It’s about one partner inflicting pain and humiliation on the other in an effort to control and dominate in order to satisfy their own twisted vile lustful desires. Such a man is depraved.

What will he (or she) do this time?

Grace for my Heart

It’s Narcissist Friday (a little early)    

(I rerun this post occasionally, hoping to offer some encouragement for those who have to handle holidays with narcissistic people.  Although the references are to a male narcissist, we all understand that wives, sisters, mothers, daughters, and other women can be narcissistic as well.  Please understand that this is not meant to empower the narcissist, but to help you have a reasonable holiday.  This is about you and your family/friends.  I would not suggest these for normal use in a narcissistic relationship, but these things might help to make the narcissist’s presence bearable for you and others.  I hope this helps you to have a blessed holiday.)

Narcissists aren’t very good about holidays or family gatherings.  Unless they can be the center of attention, they sulk or tell odd jokes or intrude on conversations or something strange.  He might even flirt with…

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More than an abused wife

Even though abuse has dominated my life, I am more than an abused wife. I’m a woman, created by the Lord, for a purpose outside of pain. God, not my abuser, has a claim upon my life. No matter what my abuser has said or done, no matter what lies he’s told, no matter what excuses he’s made, none of it can change who God created me to be.

I’m a Christian, a woman, a mother, a homemaker, and a homeschooler. I love the Word of God. I devour books, love words, and steal as many minutes as I can to write. I can’t imagine life without children or pets. I read cookbooks like novels, and easily get lost in the beauty of trees. I like to escape outside for a few minutes just as day is breaking and night is falling. I am created in God’s image whole and complete apart from my abuser’s definition or treatment of me—I just failed to grasp that for a long time. I gave up many of the things I loved because my husband demanded that I do so. I gave up me, trying to please him. But there was always a real me hidden behind the facade of the fearful, broken woman I became. Due to the grace of God, I’m rediscovering who I am.

The Word of God is sufficient to help as we seek to cast off the cruelties of the past, and embrace who God has created us to be. God, through His holy Scriptures and the application thereof, can help us not only to overcome, not only to survive abuse, but to thrive. We no longer have to feel like a kid standing outside of a candy store, with her nose pressed against the glass, looking at the goodies she knows she can never have—except, instead of looking at sweets, we looked at and longed for normal, didn’t we? For kindness. To be loved unconditionally. I know I did, and I imagine you did, too. But God fulfills all of that—and so much more.

It can be hard work peeling back all of the layers of your abuser’s lies but it’s worth it. You, just as God created you, are a fabulous person. Sure you’ve got flaws, we all have flaws—but there is a world of difference in having flaws and being flawed. Dear one, you aren’t flawed. Your abuser lied to you when he told you that. You are beautiful. You are precious. Anything you don’t like about yourself and want to work on, you can—but because you want to, not because he’s forcing you to. Always remember that you are worthy of finding you and of finding the freedom that awaits you.

Futile? No, but hard!

Grace for my Heart

It’s Narcissist Friday!     

I often read or hear about people who suggest that we should just fight the narcissists in our lives. After all, they are wrong and we are right. Stand up to them. Gather others against them. Tell your story and others will listen and believe you, they say. Just say no to the narcissist.

But that’s easier said than done. In fact, I wonder if those who give that advice have ever tried to do it, and I wonder if they succeeded. Most of those who try to stand against a narcissist find an opponent far stronger than they expected.

Why is it so hard to fight a narcissist? Well, most of us have never really fought anyone, and a narcissist is one of the most formidable people you will ever meet. Many strong and capable people have lost everything when they dared to go…

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Who is he really?

You’re married to a man who sometimes seems to be the greatest guy in the world. When he wants to, he can be so wonderful. During those times, he’s a loving husband, an involved father, and just an all around great guy. At those times, you just wish that you could stop time and it would last forever. But those times won’t last forever—will they? He won’t remain a loving husband and father because that’s not who he really is. He isn’t really the greatest guy in the world, is he? No, he’s not. Because the greatest guy in the world wouldn’t systematically try to destroy you. He wouldn’t try to hurt you. He wouldn’t lie to you or about you. He wouldn’t be addicted to porn or use it as justification for sexually abusing you. He wouldn’t break your heart again and again and again. And he’d never, ever, do anything that would endanger his children. But your guy does, doesn’t he? All the time.

But maybe he’s not really an abuser; maybe he just hasn’t gotten over the things he went through as a child. Depending on the case, that is possible but it is also doubtful. It’s true that there are some folks who take a long time to heal but it is also true that, even if this were the case, if he loved you, he’d be doing his very best to be a better man, a better husband and father, and he wouldn’t be systematically hurting you and your children. Maybe he wants to do better but hasn’t learned how to yet. You must ask yourself if he is doing everything he can to heal and to grow? Is he actively working on improving himself? Has he stopped abusing you? Is he devoting himself to being a better husband and father? Or is he making excuses for why he’s not farther along in his healing? For why he’s not able to control his temper or his mood? You need to seriously consider these questions, pray over them, and be honest with yourself.

The most important thing to consider when you’re trying to decide if your husband is an abuser and you are a victim of domestic abuse is this: Are you afraid of your husband? If you are afraid of him, something is dreadfully wrong and needs to be addressed immediately. If you are in danger, don’t just continue reading—find a way to leave NOW.

Do you need more convincing or you are just not sure? Ask yourself these questions: Do you walk on eggshells around your husband? Have you changed your beliefs, the way you speak, act, or dress, or what you like or dislike, in order to please him? Do you go out of your way to accommodate him? If you are constantly stressed when you are around your husband, if you believe you must do whatever he says or accommodate his wishes no matter how bizarre, if he gets angry for little or no reason, if you’ll do anything to keep from setting him off, the chances are very, very great that you are in an unhealthy or even a dangerous relationship.

Questions for the abused woman

 
Has your husband or boyfriend ever hit you, slapped you, pushed you, or gotten physical in any way with you—even once?

Are you afraid of him?

Has he ever threatened to kill you?

Are your children afraid of him?

Do your children show signs of fear or anxiety when he is around?

Has he hurt your children or threatened to hurt them?

Has he hurt your pets or threatened to hurt them?

Do you feel that you have to make excuses for his behavior?

Are you afraid to let your family or friends know how he treats you?

Can you say “no” to him without fear?

Do you feel as if you can never please him?

Does he control your time, your money, your choices, everything?

Do you feel like you are going crazy?

Do you feel hopeless or helpless?

Are you stressed when you are around him or when you think about him?

Does he make you feel small?

Do you stay with him because you are afraid to leave him?

Do you have any solid reason to believe that things will ever change?

This man is an abuser. Now ask yourself this: What are you going to do?

A message to my abuser

You’ve told me that you loved me and to “go to hell” with equal passion.
You made me feel beautiful, loved, and cherished, and I had hope for our future; you made me feel stupid, worthless, and so very alone and I had no hope for anything.
So many times you told me that I was suffocating you; when it suited you, you demanded attention even when I was too tired, too sick, too broken, to give it.
You would treat me well when it pleased you and my hopes would soar; you’d get tired of trying and I’d find myself alone, my dreams dying in the dust.
You told others you were glad I was your wife; you told me that I was beneath you in every way possible.
You said I was enough for you but endlessly lusted for other women as you looked at porn.
You say that you are sorry for all of the times, all of the ways, that you hurt me; you “just weren’t thinking” as if that makes everything alright.
You fooled me so many times and believing you, I threw caution to the wind and trusted you; only you hadn’t changed and my heart, and my mind, were broken anew.
I’ve lived so long with the shame of the words you broke me with, with the humiliation of what I let myself endure in order to please you.
How can I see the truth and just ignore it? How can I live if I know who you are but do nothing? How can I stand for anything if I believe your lies?
I can’t do it, not anymore. You’re not the broken little boy you like to pretend you are and I’m not the woman you wish I were.
I refuse to be your doormat ever again.

The Christian response to domestic abuse

Psalms 72: 4, He shall judge the poor of the people, he shall save the children of the needy, and shall break in pieces the oppressor.

We know domestic abuse exists within the world but can it really exist within the families of the redeemed? Sadly, the answer is yes. But because most church families don’t have any experience with domestic abuse, because pastors don’t usually address it from the pulpit, because church leadership isn’t prepared to identify it or help the abused, and Christians in general have only a vague, often incomplete and incorrect understanding of it, the church often isn’t a safe place for victims of domestic abuse—even when the victim is a member of the local church and is reaching out for help from her own pastor, elders, or her brothers and sisters in Christ. When abuse victims get up enough courage to reach out for help from the church, they are more often than not given bad or even dangerous advice—if they are given advice at all. Too many are either turned away without any effort to help them, or are sent back home to their abuser.

Our love for Christ demands that this change. Even as you read this, there are members of God’s church, perhaps from your own congregation, who are being abused by their spouses. These precious Christians are living in a man-made war zone in their own homes and many have no one to help them. Think about how this affects their children. What do they come to believe about family relationships? What does living in abuse do to their sense of security? And, if they see their mothers being refused help by the church, what does that say to them about believers? Or even about Jesus? Then think about the moms. What would you think, how would you feel, if you desperately needed help, but God’s people treated you as if you were a leper? What if you were blamed for what isn’t your fault? What if they sided with the one who was hurting you and turned you away? All of these things and more continue to be the reality of godly women who are being abused by their husbands, women who have tried, and failed, to get help for their situation from God’s people.

If we desire to serve our Lord, we must learn to help the moms, and help the children, who are living in abuse. We must respond to them in a way that glorifies Christ and that actually offers them a way out of abuse—should they desire it—rather than just teaching them to tread water in it. As Christians, our first job is to do all that we do in a way that glorifies our Lord. Our goal should be to serve these women as Jesus Himself would.

Characteristics of a potential abuser

 

There is no one personality type that is more or less likely to be abusive. There are, however, characteristics that you can look for that might help you to identify potential abusers. Some of these are:

Pushes potential victim for quick involvement
Rushes the physical aspect of the relationship
Declares love for potential victim within a matter of days or weeks
Displays jealousy
Minimizes his actions or abuse
Might have been abused as a child
May have witnessed abuse as a child
May have had problems with angry or cruelty as a child
Abused or killed animals as a child
Has a persecution complex
Sees himself as smarter, stronger, more successful, more handsome, etc., than he actually is
Blames his problems on others, on stress, or on circumstances
Believes others are jealous of him
Has a Jekyll and Hyde personality
Has unrealistic expectations
Feels out of control in his life
Has an explosive temper
Suffers from low self-esteem
Secretive
Known to be a charmer
Lies
Manipulative
Unpredictable
Controlling
Possessive
Is cruel to animals or children
Is a narcissist
Moody
May have a drug or alcohol problem
Easily insulted or offended
Uses cruel humor
Demeaning
Condemns known abusers

The effects of domestic abuse on children

Even if a man isn’t abusive towards his children but is abusive towards their mother, they are still affected by the abuse. Witnessing their mother being abused is often more damaging to children than actually being abused themselves. Having to witness domestic abuse is a form of child abuse.
Children who live with abuse often struggle with:
Depression
Being withdrawn
Anxiety
Aggressiveness
Hostility
Resentment
Being a bully
Being a victim
Problems in school
Behavioral difficulties
Learning difficulties
Low self-esteem
Feeling numb
Anger
Fear
Nightmares
Sleep problems
Inability to make or keep friends
Inability to trust
Addictive behaviors
Long term effects of abuse on children are:
Alcoholism
Drug abuse
Stress
Anxiety
Health issues
Mental health issues
Poverty
Criminal behavior
Drifts from thing to thing
Can’t maintain relationships
Controlling
Perfectionist
Becomes a victim of domestic abuse
Becomes an abuser
As a mom, you recognize that your husband’s abuse is hurting your children. This is true even if he’s never lifted a hand to them. Children who live in abuse suffer the effects of the abuse, even if they themselves aren’t abused. Do whatever you can to protect them, even if that means leaving your abuser.