1-1/2 years Later, Bethlehem Baptist Church Doesn’t Seem to get Domestic Violence: A Personal Story

Bethlehem Baptist Church, Pastor Jason Meyer, Domestic Violence, Emotional Abuse, Spiritual Abuse

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Pastor Jason Meyer, Bethlehem Baptist Church

Almost 1-1/2 years ago, I wrote an article about John Piper’s former church, Bethlehem Baptist Church (BBC) regarding domestic violence, Encouraging Shift from Bethlehem Baptist Church Regarding Domestic Abuse and Care for Abused Women. Around that time, BBC pastor, Jason Meyer, preached a sermon and humbly expressed how he and his church had not handled domestic violence appropriately.

You can listen to the sermon or read the transcript here: Fooled by False Leadership

The following is the opening paragraph of the Elders’ Statement which was also released at the same time:

Elders’ Statement on Domestic Abuse
We, the council of elders at Bethlehem Baptist Church, are resolved to root out all forms of domestic abuse (mental, emotional, physical, and sexual) in our midst. This destructive way of relating to a spouse is a satanic distortion of Christ-like male leadership because it defaces the depiction of Christ’s love for his bride. The shepherds of Bethlehem stand at the ready to protect the abused, call abusers to repentance, discipline the unrepentant, and hold up high the stunning picture of how much Christ loves his church.

I was cautiously optimistic about the steps Bethlehem Baptist seemed to be taking. They brought in professionals to help them learn and understand domestic violence signs. They professed to want a heart to empathize with women who were harmed by domestic violence.

One domestic violence case was ongoing at that time. Natalie had reached out to the Bethlehem Baptist leaders for help years earlier. But now, the church leadership was doing a complete overhaul in how they were going to counsel when there was abuse involved . . . . or so they implied.

One of the most destructive forms of abuse is emotional abuse. It’s destructive because it can go on for years. A wife (or husband) can get so beaten down by emotional abuse that she minimizes her own abuse, or blames herself for the abuse. When a woman finally understands what is happening to her and eventually reaches out for help, a lot of time has gone under the bridge. The very last thing she needs is to prove to her church leadership that she is being abused. But that is exactly what happens to so many survivors. The victim has to plead her case before her church leaders and is put on trial to see if the abuse she has claimed is in fact true.

It’s important to note that the church leaders at BBC were trained to understand about emotional abuse. Here is a quote from Pastor Meyer’s sermon from 1-1/2  years ago:

Emotional abuse is a pattern in the use of words and actions to assault, reorder, and control the emotions and affective state of the other person for the achievement of selfish ends. The more intense and longstanding the pattern, the more destructive it is to people.

So now, 1-1/2 years later, where is Natalie, and how has her case been handled?

I’ll let Natalie’s words speak for herself:

 

Full text:

Last night the elders of Bethlehem Baptist shared a few blatant lies along with some half-truths spun in context of those lies. They planted a few false ideas that never came up in my case (infidelity?) as well as left out pertinent information in order to flavor their testimony against me to the congregation. They did this publically and shamelessly. They murdered me last night in the eyes of many people who will never have access to the truth. I’ve been scared to death for years of what they could do to me. How they could ruin my life. But I’m pretty sure lying about me and shaming me is the worst they can do. What they’ve indirectly done to my children is the thing that really breaks my heart and pisses me off.

Are you my friend? You scared to stand with me? The BIG D for Divorce will be on my chest soon, and I’m the one who initiated it! Sinner Woman. Jezebel. The unforgiveable sin. I’m a pariah now. An outcast. All because I couldn’t gut out the hell of being married to my Ex for another 25 years.

I’m sick to death of living in fear of destructive men and organizations who control other people by using THE BIBLE. By claiming they have the radar on God while others don’t. They say I was not emotionally abused by my Ex for 24 years. Like they know. They call my story a “biased narrative” so they can minimize and dismiss it. They say I have no right to divorce him. They dismiss the 23 years I worked my butt off trying to fix my marriage, cooperate with all the men-leaders, be respectful, be vulnerable, grovel in sorrow and repentance, and obey – and when I finally say I can’t do it anymore – my kids need me, I need to heal, to focus on God, to move forward, they call me “resistant.” I needed and asked for friendship and love. They betrayed me with a smile on their face and a Bible verse on their lips. They use spiritual abuse to control women and children and even other men. This is reprehensible, and I will spend the rest of my life exposing it wherever I see it.

Call me angry. Call me rebellious. Call me a lunatic. Call me a bitch. Call me whatever you want. Spew out your venomous lies to serve your misogynistic agendas. My Creator calls me Beloved. He calls me Daughter, and I choose to believe and obey Him. No more groveling. No more apologies. I wanted to keep this private and protect my Ex and my church. But Bethlehem is just chomping at the bit to excommunicate me publically [sic]. Fine. You want to bring this to the public square? (And don’t drivel about how it’s “private” within the church. That’s a silly notion rooted in unreality.)

I dare you to show support. And if you can’t – you’re no real friend of mine and no real friend of women and children, in general. You’re only a cog in the well-oiled system of abuse. Be gone from me.

Yes. There’s a big, fat, deep line in the sand, and it’s time to rock and roll.

I think BBC leadership has forgotten what they were committed to do 1-1/2 years ago:

Remember the point of these passages in 2 Corinthians and the emphasis on deceit, disguise, and cunning. Abusers are not walking around wearing wife-beater shirts any more than Satan’s servants are going to carry pitchforks or have 666 tattooed on their foreheads. Abusers can be so charming around other people—that is part of the deception. Do you think they will really show their true colors in public? Don’t judge by appearances and discount what a woman says with flippant incredulity. Think about how much she is risking by saying anything at all. Take it seriously. Tell her that you believe her, that God hates abuse, and that you are committed to help her.

 

Yesterday, after reading Natalie’s post, I was angry about Bethlehem Baptist Church’s response to Natalie, and the many other cases of domestic violence I have heard and read. I tweeted the following:

 

 

Bethlehem Baptist Church, will never walk in Natalie’s shoes. They will never experience what she has experienced. They are re-victimizing again when they put blame on a survivor.

BBC, please stop the facade of helping domestic violence survivors. If a woman contacts you about domestic violence, tell her to notify authorities, refer her to outside domestic violence resources and outside counselors, and come alongside her in practical ways as she negotiates her new life away from her abusive husband. Let her call the shots on whether she wants to stay separated or divorce. If she divorces her abuser, support that decision. She is protecting her life and her children’s lives. Be the church that defends and protects the weak and oppressed.

175 comments on “1-1/2 years Later, Bethlehem Baptist Church Doesn’t Seem to get Domestic Violence: A Personal Story

  1. Calvin is confused about a lot of things, I think. For instance:

    When a spouse rants and raves, it feels awful. When a mate withdraws in silence for days, it feels awful. Now each will seek victim status.

    Is the withdrawal here meant to be a reaction to the ranting and raving?

    What is ‘victim status’? I think this is a huge issue, the idea that people this is a ‘status’ that one ‘obtains’. We don’t think this way about, say, robbery. A person stole from you, that is simply fact. A assaulted you, fact.

    I know I did not initially understand emotional abuse at all, from the lists I read of behaviors. They sound often like things anyone can do. It is only through reading much more on this topic that I began to see it in terms of patterns and control.

    Calvin, if he is at all sincere, should do much more reading on the topic. The idea that only children can be victims is just silly.

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  2. Calvin, Jesus yelled at the Pharisees and the Pharisees yelled at Jesus. Are you saying that Jesus was an abuser?

    You need to frame the entire discussion in that way. It is indeed possible that with two people, one is the abuser and one is the victim. Yet, because of broken theology in the church, like what you espouse, we say “it takes two to break a marriage”. So, when the victimized wife comes to the church, the church seeks to raise her sin to the level of her abusive husband. Again, returning to the framing, it is as if we look Jesus in the face and turn his yelling at the Pharisees into a sin that is of the level of the abuse he received. Did Jesus really die as a martyr, or did Jesus die because he was an insubordinate rejecter of legitimate church and civil authority? In the same sense, did the wife get hit/yelled at because she stood up for herself, or did it happen because she was insubordinate to her “godly authority” husband.

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  3. Julie Anne, thank you for your work on this site and your desire to help us care for the abused. If I may, I would like to respond:

    “… dismiss real emotional abuse. … don’t understand how damaging it is.”

    It is my desire to join with you and many others to address abuse in our families and everywhere it occurs. I am sorry to have used words so easily misunderstood. I care deeply about the issue and hope to learn much about abuse through your Spiritual Sounding Board.

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  4. Lea, thank you for considering what I said. I think we are misunderstanding one another.

    “Is the withdrawal here meant to be a reaction to the ranting and raving?”

    The sequence of the behaviors become impossible to determine over the years marital abuse occurs. Both spouses seek the status (advantage) of being hurt first, since this defines the other as a perpetrator, allowing license to what otherwise would be abusive behavior. Not only is the victim awarded a license to withdraw or rant, they also reap the social benefit of being looked upon sympathetically, while the perpetrator is condemned.

    “A assaulted you, fact.”

    One tenant of understanding emotional abuse, as I have understood from researching Barbara Roberts blogs, is that a victim must be believed and others should not judge or investigate the validity of their complaints. This rules out the collection of data by a third party. Abuses like “bank robbery” or “assault” are evident to all, where as emotional abuse as I described above, is hard to detect, especially in the fog of each spouse blaming the other. If abuse victims, as described above, allowed third party accountability, then perhaps “facts” would be more relevant. I approach this matter in the context of highly valuing the feelings and experiences of both spouses. In fact, perceptions are often more important than facts. How one feels is most important- as long as everyone is allowed to feel without being disregarded.

    “… I began to see it in terms of patterns and control.”

    Both the silent treatment and yelling become long term patterns perpetuated to control or exert power over the other mate. I see no abuse as justified. Being shut out or yelled at hurts whether you are labeled as an abuser or a victim.

    “The idea that only children can be victims is just silly.”

    What I am trying to suggest here, is parents have a choice when they rant or withdraw, where as children are truly innocent victims of their parents behavior.

    Finally, to restate. If we want to address one sided abuse, then we must be willing to talk about mutual abuse as well. If mutual abuse is not a thing, then ranting or withdrawal must be condoned as justified responses in the above scenarios. At this point genuine abuse loses because too often it looks a lot like the justified response.

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  5. Mark, thank you for reading my post and replying.

    I like the way you frame the conversation. Jesus is a bit of a paradox. In Isaiah, he does not open his mouth and is a lamb to the slaughter (Is 53.7). In Matthew he is flipping tables over and using pejoratives (Mt 21.12). If we look at the overall context of the gospels, Jesus is mostly asking us to reconsider how we think (Mk 1.15), by forgiving much and loving much (Lk 7.47).

    “…raise her sin to the level of her abusive husband.”

    I apologize for not conveying my thoughts clearly. I think all must be responsible for their own sin. Each one must give an account and each should reap as they have sown. No one’s’ sins should “rise” or fall based on the actions of another.

    “…did the wife get hit/yelled at because she stood up for herself…”

    In the scenario I painted, there were two mates, one ranted and the other was silent. I did not intend this to be interpreted as a wife standing up for herself. I tried to illustrate a marital conflict rooted in mutual abuse.

    My original post was seeking a deeper understanding on the concept of one sided abuse and the right of a victim to accuse their mate without any legitimate oversight. I am confused regarding who to blame if both claim abuse. If our rules protect the victim from accountability, then what rationale sustains denying this status to all who claim it?

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  6. The sequence of the behaviors become impossible to determine over the years marital abuse occurs.

    I disagree. I think in most cases it is quite clear. You don’t see it because you seem to want to make some sort of point about ‘mutual’ abuse, which is why you now have the children as the only victims.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Lea, I appreciate your insight here.

    Abuse is real, both emotional and physical. My question remains, is there such a thing as mutual abuse?

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  8. My question remains, is there such a thing as mutual abuse?

    My question remains, what is your purpose in asking?

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  9. Thought it might be helpful to add to the discussion this definition. This is from the blog Crying Out For Justice:

    The definition of abuse: A pattern of coercive control (ongoing actions or inactions) that proceeds from a mentality of entitlement to power, whereby, through intimidation, manipulation and isolation, the abuser keeps his (or her) target subordinated and under his control. This pattern can be emotional, verbal, psychological, spiritual, sexual, financial, social and physical. Not all these elements need be present, e.g., physical abuse may not be part of it.

    The definition of domestic abuser: a family member or dating partner (current or ex) who has a profound mentality of entitlement to the possession of power and control over the one s/he chooses to mistreat. This mentality of entitlement defines the very essence of the abuser. The abuser believes he is justified in using evil tactics to obtain and maintain that power and control.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Lea, I have two friends, whom I love dearly, both of their stories sound so similar. I am having difficulty determining who the real abuser is. They both feel hurt by the actions of the other and have now separated. They have a beautiful family and it is heart breaking to watch them go through this difficult period. They both tell me they have been emotionally abused. My purpose is to learn about “real emotional abuse” as Julie Anne mentioned so I can help my friends.

    Incidentally, how do you get those marvelous italics in your post?

    Thanks for your interest.

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  11. Avid Reader, I appreciate the definitions. I see one mate using intimidation by admitting to outbursts and I see the other controlling the relationship through days of withdrawal and silence. They both seem to be coercing the other to submit to their will. Their issues are over what appears to be minor grievances like who watches the kids, how the house work is done, and who works hardest to pay the bills. There is no physical abuse, no immorality, and both are hard workers. I just don’t know who to blame. I want to blame them both, but I don’t want to invalidate or minimize the real hurts they have experienced.

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  12. jc, I think there are situations like that, but they are very rare. I read an article that defined different types of narcissists and then talked about how they would interact on a first date. I’m sure in marriage, the gloves could come off.

    However, that is not what we’re talking about here. I think there are general principles and there are unique circumstances. The general principle that many of the people have seen is that a true victim of abuse walks into the church, and the church tends to choose one of many abusive roles. That can be sin-leveling (Yes, he beat you, but didn’t God call you to be a faithful wife, including making sure the dishes were clean?), victim blaming (Yes, he beat you, but surely you were doing something that made him angry enough to do that), reconciliation-at-all-costs (Okay, that was bad, but you’re called by God to forgive him and go back)…

    I think the point is that you start by believing the person in the room. The situation is going to unfold how it is going to unfold, and if it’s the abuser trying to use the church, or a mutual situation, I would like to think that a church that is devoted to the truth is going to uncover that, and if not, maybe they need to be protected from each other.

    I also want to mention co-dependency. The co-dependent person, yes, is trying to manipulate the abuser, but there is still a one-sided abuser/victim relationship. The co-dependent person does contribute to the abusive situation and could potentially appear manipulative as well.

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  13. jc, ” If we look at the overall context of the gospels, Jesus is mostly asking us to reconsider how we think (Mk 1.15), by forgiving much and loving much (Lk 7.47).”

    I disagree. Jesus is not a flat character. He is a real person with real likes and dislikes and a real personality. It is the evangelical church that tries to generalize Jesus, and even worse, tries to claim that Jesus’s strong emotions were really something reserved for God and his anointed leadership(TM) – anger, weeping, etc.

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  14. Mark, I agree that Jesus was a dynamic individual. But the theme of his stories centered on asking others to change their thinking and behavior regarding forgiveness and love. He also spoke much about faith, which relates to how we think and what we hope for. He also liked to talk about sin. Sin that is present in the abused and the abuser. In fact, as you indicated, in “rare situations” mutual abuse does exist. I think my mistake here is to define sin as abuse, but it is hard not to see sin as abusive. It is also hard for me to blame one mate and shame the other.

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  15. This treatment of Natalie is horrific. BBC does not represent God. He hates abuse and mistreatment of the defenceless. A church that does not defend His heart is simply not Hix church. BBC needs to stop speaking and acting for God. I dare say, they don’t really know Him.

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  16. I see one mate using intimidation by admitting to outbursts and I see the other controlling the relationship through days of withdrawal and silence. They both seem to be coercing the other to submit to their will.

    Just saw this older thread pop up (Hi Karee Lee, I think most of us would agree with you on your point!) and had missed jc’s post here. It seems MIND BOGGLING to me that he/anyone would see withdrawal in the face of intimidation and outbursts as an unreasonable, controlling or abusive response. FWIW.

    What else is a person supposed to do? Yell back or leave maybe. I’m sure both of those would be frowned upon as well.

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  17. They both seem to be coercing the other to submit to their will.

    If the ‘will’ in question they want someone to ‘submit to’ is ‘stop being a jerk’ then I’m entirely on that persons side.

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  18. Calvin Juelfs said

    What confuses me about a victims right to determine their status as an abused victim is this: Are not both mates allowed equal rights? If victim status is solely up to the victim, then who is to correct anyone? As it has been routinely noted in these comments, the kettle is always calling the pot black, that is broken human nature.

    How do secular workplaces determine what is and what is not sexual harassment (or racism)?

    Take that and apply it to abuse in relationships.

    It used to be that when a woman on a job complained that her male co-worker Joe was sexually harassing her on the job or engaging in some type of sexist behavior,

    Joe would get this complaint by Mary dismissed by saying that him doing “thus and so” behavior was only offensive to Mary, but in reality, the behavior was not offensive to him nor was it considered offensive by the other men in the job, in his opinion.

    And that argument worked for quite some time.

    So, from what I remember reading years ago, laws and corporate policies were changed, and sensitivity training that was given to employees in workplaces that explained that behavior is in part defined and understood to be sexist, sexually harassing (or racist, or offensive), if it is perceived as such by the target of the behavior.

    I remember reading about sexual harassment in the workplace in the papers in the 1980s.

    So often, women back then were expected by the culture and employers to endure sexually harassing work environments because men doing things on the job such as taping and stapling photos of nude women from nudie magazines on to work place walls, (like by the company coffee pot or water cooler),
    was deemed by many male bosses as being,

    “Aw shucks, that’s just boys being boys, it’s harmless, women who don’t like it are just up-tight prudes who need to shut up. We are not going to force the men to remove the photos.”

    Many women who work around that stuff, though, find such imagery demeaning to women, it makes them feel devalued and threatened at the job.

    In one such case I read about, the woman sued the company and, IIRC, she won.

    The company forced the male workers to throw away all nudie women photos at the job and to stop displaying them.

    In those cases, the women who found the behavior objectionable got to define that it was harmful to them – the men did not get to define what was offensive or not to that woman (or to women generally) and say,
    “Well too bad Mary finds these images or such and such behavior sexist and offensive, because I do not, Mary will just have to put up with the nudie photos.”

    That attitude about sexism in the workplace kept the status quo in place for decades, until the victims of the behavior were allowed to define what they found objectionable- the ones in power no longer got to make all the definitions about this.

    If you have a relationship where one partner says that being continually lashed at by her partner, or being belittled, is harmful to her and she finds it abusive, then it’s abusive to her, and that behavior needs to stop.

    If you are married to a woman who tells you that your constant put downs, yelling, and/or criticism is hurting her emotionally, and that SHE finds it abusive, I would think if you truly love her and care about her, you will stop engaging in the behavior she is telling you is abusive / hurtful.

    If you want to understand what emotional and verbal abuse is, and how it is defined, and what it looks like, I already recommended this book up-thread for that:

    _The Verbally Abusive Relationship, by Patricia Evans_
    – (Google books, free preview of several book chapters)

    Also this is a good post, it’s on page two of the comments section:

    _Post by Avid Reader with explanations and definitions of Abuse_

    I was emotionally and verbally abused in my family from the time I was a kid into my adult years, including by my older sister.
    I did not realize their behavior was abuse until later in life.

    Because when you grow up in a family where you are being abused, you assume that abusive behavior is acceptable and normal behavior and all families act like that.

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  19. JC said

    Avid Reader, I appreciate the definitions. I see one mate using intimidation by admitting to outbursts and I see the other controlling the relationship through days of withdrawal and silence.

    They both seem to be coercing the other to submit to their will.

    Their issues are over what appears to be minor grievances like who watches the kids, how the house work is done, and who works hardest to pay the bills.

    There is no physical abuse, no immorality, and both are hard workers. I just don’t know who to blame. I want to blame them both, but I don’t want to invalidate or minimize the real hurts they have experienced.

    I don’t know about this particular relationship you are talking about – what you are describing can either be a run of the mill couples spat, or it could be abusive, depending on the dynamics.

    One thing you have to be very careful of is not assuming a 50/50 share of blame or responsibility in all marriages or relationships, because it may be an abusive marriage and not a garden variety marital spat.

    Books on domestic violence explain that if one partner (and it is usually the husband) is abusive, that that partner’s problem is abuse, and there is nothing the victim can do or stop doing to make the abuser stop abusing.

    Such a marriage won’t be helped in traditional couples counseling because a normal counselor will assume that there is more or less “equal” blame to go round, and the therapist will assume that the targeted wife can “change” her mate’s behavior by changing hers (by being nicer to him, by avoiding doing things that trigger her mate’s anger).

    In abusive relationships, whether in marriage or in families, the abusers abuse because they are entitled, not because the victim they are targeting is to blame or is doing or not doing something to “earn” that abuse or bring the abuse about.

    You can learn a lot more about that in the book “Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry And Controlling Men” by author Lundy Bancroft.

    Some types of verbal abusers, as described in the book “The Verbally Abusive Relationship” have different styles of verbal and emotional abuse they use to keep their partner in place, and one thing some of them do is emotionally withdraw, give the cold shoulder, go silent for days, pout, etc.

    Emotional and verbal abuse is very damaging to people, not just physical abuse. From skimming over some of your posts, it appears to me that you seem to only consider physical abuse to be harmful and are more dismissive about emotional / verbal abuse don’t consider it as ‘bad’ as physical abuse (?).

    I was emotionally and verbally abused by my dad and older sister from the time I was a kid into adult years (it ranged from mild to moderate, and with my sister, it can run to severe at times), and believe me, it’s just as devastating in its own way as is physical abuse.

    I believe it was the Bancroft book on domestic violence where he said many of the abused wives he has spoken with over the years have said the emotional and verbal abuse was much worse, and had longer lasting effects, than any of the physical abuse their husbands dished out.

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  20. Mark said, (and I’m not sure what comment by someone else prompted this)

    I also want to mention co-dependency. The co-dependent person, yes, is trying to manipulate the abuser, but there is still a one-sided abuser/victim relationship. The co-dependent person does contribute to the abusive situation and could potentially appear manipulative as well.

    I was deeply codependent for many years, as was my mother. I am now a recovering codependent.

    (Christian gender complementarianism teaches women that girls and women having codependent behaviors is Godly, biblical, and good, which is part of the reason my mother and I were codependent.)

    When you say codependents “manipulate people,” I just wanted to clarify that if they do, it’s not a cynical thing.

    Codependents (and “people pleasers”) are very conflict avoidant, they are afraid to express anger or to possess boundaries,

    And they may even believe that doing either is “being selfish,” and they don’t want to be selfish, because they believe they must always put other people before themselves, even at their own expense.

    Codependents believe that the best and safest route to protecting themselves in a situation where someone is getting angry or abusive with them is to not react at all – do not show anger, do not be assertive, do not yell back – say and do nothing is their creed and motto.

    (However, that strategy does not work – it actually enables the abuser to keep abusing. But you don’t realize that until after you are getting out of codependency.)

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  21. jc said,

    Sin that is present in the abused and the abuser.

    So, every time my sister (unprovoked by me) began yelling and screaming at me, engaging in her usual verbal and emotional abuse, and was threatening to me harm in some fashion, was somehow my fault, due to my personal sin?

    The Bible doesn’t even say that.

    When people assumed other people died or were born blind due to some sin of theirs, Jesus corrected them and said “No.”

    See also the book of Job in the Old Testament:
    God permitted many bad things to happen to Job, not because Job sinned, but because Lucifer and God had a personal, behind- the- scenes bet going on. God even referred to Job as being a “righteous man.”

    If someone is walking down the street and gets mugged at gun point, would you say they are to blame because they did some sin, and God is getting them back for their sin by sending a mugger to mug them, or allowing them to be mugged? I don’t think the Bible teaches that.

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  22. Lea said,

    Just saw this older thread pop up…
    It seems MIND BOGGLING to me that he/anyone would see withdrawal in the face of intimidation and outbursts as an unreasonable, controlling or abusive response. FWIW.

    What else is a person supposed to do? Yell back or leave maybe. I’m sure both of those would be frowned upon as well.

    The Bancroft book on DV gets into this a bit.

    He says some abusive men, after slamming their wife up against a wall and giving her black eyes, will then cause further abuse (emotional) when the wife naturally reacts to getting beaten by the man by withdrawing: she will cry often, avoid the man for days, be skittish around him after being beaten, etc (all perfectly normal and understandable reactions to being abused by one’s husband).

    The abusive husband will then point to THAT BEHAVIOR – that was caused by his abuse in the first place!! – to punish and blame her further. It’s abuse on top of abuse but then the abuser gas lights the victim.

    It’s very warped.

    My big sister does that sort of thing, too. She will verbally abuse me but then later blame me for it, though I didn’t do anything to instigate it.
    (I spent years on egg shells around her, as a matter of fact, doing all I could to AVOID triggering her out bursts at me.)

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  23. And I’m sorry, I forgot to add.. to this…

    “My big sister does that sort of thing, too. She will verbally abuse me but then later blame me for it, though I didn’t do anything to instigate it.
    (I spent years on egg shells around her, as a matter of fact, doing all I could to AVOID triggering her out bursts at me.)”

    When I was younger, and even into my 30s, and my sister screamed and yelled at me as she did, and if I cried as a result, or got up to leave the room to get away from her (I would not fight back, not until a few years ago), she would then scream and yell at me even more for crying, for trying to avoid her, etc.
    She did not like how I reacted towards her abusive treatment.

    It’s a person abusing someone else and then lashing out again when the target as a result of the abuse, cries, acts upset, acts hurt, acts scared of the abuser, etc.

    It’s blaming the victim for acting and being hurt by the abuse.
    Abusers cannot even accept the consequences of their abuse, but blame the victims for that too!!

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  24. JC said,

    I am confused regarding who to blame if both claim abuse.

    It’s going to be a tricky situation, because people who are truly abusers will always claim to be the victim.

    In the book by Evans about verbal abusers, she strongly cautions readers of the book to NOT confront their abuser by telling them, “You’re an abuser,” because, she says, nine times out of ten, the abuser will claim to be a victim and tell the victim, “You are the abuser.”

    Abusers love to play victim. Abusers love to paint their victims as abusers. It’s what they do.

    You keep talking about a married couple you know who each claim the other is abusive. You may never know from the outside looking in.

    (I know this will rankle many, but I believe most abuse in our culture is the male on female variety, so I generally tend to believe the females in these cases, especially if we are talking about marital situations or workplace harassment claims.)

    People who are trained in treating Domestic Abusers could probably make an accurate call on this, to determine who, if anyone, is an abuser in the marriage.

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  25. Jc said

    Abuse is real, both emotional and physical. My question remains, is there such a thing as mutual abuse?

    I think “mutual abuse” is the wrong phrasing.

    It sounds as though you are describing every-day disagreements. A disagreement or a heated exchange is not necessarily “abuse.”

    I had co-workers on one job I could not stand, and they were rude to me, but I would not categorize all their behavior as being “abusive.”

    I did have one female boss there whose behavior, however, I would categorize as “abusive,” though.

    IMO, the word “abuse” can be used more accurately when describing a troubled relationship where there is some kind of power differential and that differential may be physical, financial, or something else.

    My boss on my job who harassed me – that was abuse.
    Not just the manner of her behaviors toward me, and not just because it was a pattern, and because I felt it was abusive, but because she was one of my supervisors and had power over me to get me fired.

    In some marriages, where the man is abusive towards the woman, often, the man is several inches taller and weighs 30 or more pounds than the wife – he has more physical power.

    He may have control over all the purse strings in the marriage, leaving him all financial power, so the wife is trapped and cannot leave to get in a car and spent the night at a hotel, if she does not have access to credit cards, check books, etc.

    Like

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