9 comments on “If You Endured Spiritual Abuse, It Was Not You Who Failed

  1. I will be sharing this with my divorce recovery group at church… It is a sad place when abused women wear the invisible scarlet letter to church. The inner dialogue continues to eat away at the heart-the feeling of being “judged”, by the very people who claim that only God judges. I have learned to walk upright into the church, and praise God in worship as if nobody was watching me.

    • I wrote about this topic because I see too many enduring this very thing. In my situation, my congregation had no idea what was going on. I didn’t start studying or attending meetings until after I began living with him. He was very controlling and wouldn’t let me really get to know anyone. When he successfully found a way to keep me in the house (he would beat me before and after the meetings and hide my literature, get in the way of my Bible study etc.), I continued reading and battled against his twisting of Scripture. To make my point I began putting up post-it notes all over with various verses showing how wrong he was. After i left him, I found out he began calling some of the sisters asking about me, so I changed congregations. When the original and the new one learned about him and what he had done, I received nothing but support and kindness and compassion from all of them. It hurts my heart every time I hear the opposite, because we each deserve the response i got. I was not married to my abuser, but in things I have seen, i have peace knowing if I had been and i left, it would be the same. When you share this, please pass on my love and prayers. It’s a hard battle to face those who twist God’s Word and scrutinize others for splinters in their eye when there are rafters weighing them down. Please remind them that Jehovah sees the pain they endure and feels what they are going through at the hands of men. There will be no better justice than what our Father can give. In the meantime, endure in prayer and continue to be there to support each other.

      With love and support,
      Amy

      • I am so glad you received support from your spiritual friends. That can make a world of difference! My domestic violence center therapist credited the spiritual groups I joined with, helped the healing process. Many churches here frown on divorced women.

  2. This is a really comforting article. Thank you very much. I have been confused by my (separated) husband’s abuse of me and his quotes from the bible. I did all I could to please him as God wants me to do but still I had to suffer. When he left I was slandered and people believe his lies about me. He is a pretend Christian talking down to me like I’m nothing but dirt beneath his feet. I feel much stronger after reading this. Thank you.

    • I am sorry you are going through this. Abuse is difficult enough to handle surviving and then figuring out how to navigate the damage afterward without the added smear campaign they initiate. They have to do this to try to protect their image as much as possible, and as long as people believe him, he is safe. If this is occurring within the congregation and others are accepting his reviling of you, you may want to watch your spirituality. I thought of Titus 1:16, 1 John 2:4, 9-11. These speak on those leading double lives. There are some Scriptures earlier that deal with the extents people foolishly try to go to cover their transgressions but I can’t seem to find the one I want now. I will have to pull out my concordance when I get home. First and foremost, remember that God loves you and does not condone how you are being treated. And also be assured that you have not failed Him in the ways your husband would like you to believe you have. Stay close to God and pray for strength. I want to thank you for commenting. Because so many people react so unexpectedly with abuse of this kind, it’s difficult to step forward and open yourself up to the criticism you fear may follow. I think it would help you to connect with others who have endured spiritual abuse as well. While no survivor of abuse (that I have ever experienced) would criticize you, there are things that they may not understand if they are not Christian (or practicing). There are a few who follow my blog, one of them commented on this post already. I would recommend Army of Angels and secretangel. While I do not know her entire story, I am sure Jessie Jeanine (she liked this post) would be helpful to you as well, in addition to Shannon over on Just Show up (you can access her blog via my shortcut to my guest blog I did for her It is the image with the three inter-connected hearts in the top right of the page). And you can always contact me if you need to. We are here. Some of us may not be so easy to find, but we are here.

      With love and support,
      Amy

  3. Thank you very much for your support. I find the slander the hardest part to cope with although I am not in touch with the people he is lying to. If I try to tell the truth to them they won’t believe me so it’s best left alone. I have been reading Proverbs this week and found some comfort. There are verses which refer to wicked people not being loved by God. But those words in your blog are a real comfort. At least I feel loved by God.

    • Depending on your familiarity with Lamentations, you might raise your eyebrow at me in disbelief when I suggest you read the latter part of chapter 3. Jeremiah penned this about the 18-month long siege of Jerusalem, and the weight of the desperation felt in the slow languishing and suffering of the people is very real in this book. Some people question me when I say that the last 20 or so verses of chapter 3 were in my head daily as I endured the abuse with my ex. Really, it’s about Jehovah not forgiving the continued disobedience of His people, but it also shows Jehovah’s mercy to those who repent their wrongdoing and to those who wait Him out and remain faithful in their struggling, even amidst chaos, destruction, and persecution. For me, Lamentations 3:49-66 was actually encouraging, because in reading this book you see how dark things can get, how desperate people can become, how much suffering, strife, and struggle that sometimes has to be endured due to circumstances, but it doesn’t stop by simply describing the heartache and misery. It gives hope by showing us that (even in instances where you commit grievous transgression of God’s law and you honestly repent and turn back to Jehovah), there is no darkness that can prevent Jehovah from seeing what you endure. There is no abyss, no matter how deep it plummets, that Jehovah is not able or willing to descend into to raise you up out of grief. There is no noise that can block your petitions to His ear if you are sincerely calling on Him. There is no destruction He cannot salvage if He desires. These verses at Lamentations 3:49-66 were a lifeline to me. While the destruction I survived did not match the extreme level of the events Jeremiah spoke of, I still had the reminder in these verses that nothing no one said or did could keep Jehovah from helping me or sustaining me until I was able to successfully get out. Verses 55-57 should be a comfort to any of us, as here is shows Jehovah’s willingness to incline His ear to our cries for help, and even though we may be in the darkest pits, hidden away in the farthest recesses that no man can reach, Jehovah hears us… He hears us, and what is more, He is moved by love to come down to our level, no matter how dark things are for us, to comfort us and assure us that He is not some abstract idea, but our Support, our Guide, and our Friend. It has taken me some time to get to this point, but I trust that Jehovah will do for me as the verses in 58-66 say He will… I believe that Jehovah will make everything right, and in so many ways for me, He already has.

      I am glad for you that despite what you endured living with your husband and the trouble you still endure that you have not forgotten God loves you. So many who experience spiritual abuse find their faith severely shaken or destroyed altogether, so it speaks of your trust in Him that you can still feel that He loves you. It’s not an easy thing to survive. Rebuilding your life afterward is not either, but it will be easier for you if you maintain to trust in God and seek out others who have endured what you have. Spiritual abuse is a deeply personal trauma, and even among our own brothers we can find lack of support and compassion. Those of us who have endured it feel your hurt, even if we can’t entirely say we know exactly how you feel. But we understand, and we all have love for you as well, even if we are strangers in life, we are sisters (and some brothers) of circumstance, and that bond is often times stronger than many real life connections we share with people who inhabit our daily lives.

  4. Interesting read. I came to your blog because I am searching for other women who have been mentally abused, like myself by their “partners.” I was never hit, but had to deal with his rage and anger all of the time. I was, in another sense “hit” with lots of emotional abuse, and he always played the victim. He gave me drugs, which I became addicted to, and gave me more to try to make up for his awful behavior towards me. I am a Christian. I love both Jesus Christ and God. I talk to God alot throughout the day, and before I go to sleep. Until I accepted Jesus Christ as my savior, my life and mental state was definitely on the decline. Note: I was never married to my partner (thank goodness!) I have never read the bible because it promotes giving into patriarchy, and for women to be “submissive” to a man. This is just not the way I am geared. Reading some of the scriptures above made me feel very upset. I believe a marriage should be based on equality, not the subordination of the woman to the man. This already creates an unequal environment from the start. My God made me strong minded, independent, and an alpha female. BUT, even though that is my nature, a man (my abuser) DID manage to eventually beat me down emotionally. I think the scriptures are outdated. After all, the bible was written by a man. I believe the best way that women can feel in control of their lives is to empower themselves. This doesn’t mean she doesn’t have to have a partner to date or marry, but her life can be lived on HER terms, and not a man’s.

    • I am sorry my post affected you that way; I promise you that was not my intent. Unlike some who would try to argue further, I will decline to do so, because I feel that, especially in the case of survivors of ANY kind of abuse, criticizing or trying to invalidate what someone else feels (as long as they are not harming someone) is wrong. I respect your views and hope you were not offended by the post.

      So many mistakenly believe that nothing can qualify as abuse without being physical in nature, but the common link and the almost always the gateway method to other forms of abuse is verbal and emotional. They are not exactly the same thing, but due to the extremely close correlation of the two, it is not always so easy to discern where verbal blurs into emotional. There are seven types of abuse, and I experienced all seven. However, if I was ever put in the situation where I had to choose what to endure over the other forms, I would definitely choose the physical methods over the verbal and emotional abuse. Always. Healing from physical injuries is often a slow, painful process and while there can many times be leftover symptoms and pain from the injuries and scarring, there is no way to describe to anyone who has not been verbally and emotionally abused just how desperately destructive it is to our emotional life, our confidence ability to trust. It brings about a torturous emotional death with damage that lasts for years, even decades after leaving, and even then, there will always be residual side effects from the abuse. The worst of it slowly fades, but there are wounds so deep inside us that I am not sure ever entirely heal. I will always see verbal and emotional abuse as the most evil, specifically because of this. And because the wounds and scarring cannot be seen with the eye, it is an added struggle from those who choose to live without being compassionate and write it off as something we should “just get over.”

      I am sure that almost every survivor of abuse you will talk to, no matter how long, how brutal, and how many types of abuse they endured, will tell you they, too, were verbally and emotionally assaulted relentlessly. My ex was (is) an addict. It was fortunate for me that he was so greedy, selfish, and jealous that he would never dare tap into his supply to share any, because it would mean less for him. However, I did see several woman who were introduced to drugs by their abusive boyfriends.. and they used it as a means of control and a way to torment them and a few even destroyed relationships with the victims’ families by outing them and successfully forced isolation on them. Absolutely vile that someone would do that to another human being.

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