ABUSE & VIOLENCE IN THE CHURCH, Christian Marriage, Divorce, Domestic Violence, Domestic Violence and Churches, emotional abuse, Gender Roles, Julie Anne's Personal Stories, Marriage, Marriages Damaged-Destroyed by Sp. Ab., Patriarchal-Complementarian Movement, Spiritual Abuse, Spiritual Authority, Spiritual Bullies

Julie Anne Gets Personal about the Silent Abuse of Domestic Violence: Emotional and Spiritual Abuse

My wedding ring. I took it off in 2012 after 27 years of marriage. I pledged to myself that I would not return it to my finger until I felt loved again. It never returned to my finger. Divorce was final two weeks shy of 35 years of marriage.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness month.

This last month, news and social media outlets reported on the couple Gabby Petito and her fiancé, Brian Laundrie. Gabby was reported missing, and was eventually found not just dead, but murdered. Brian Laundrie is a person of interest and currently missing.

Numerous domestic violence experts watched the police video and dissected Gabby and Brian’s behavior. Many people missed important clues and defended Brian. I watched the video and understood why Gabby responded the way she did. She had to in order to survive. (Check out victim advocate Jimmy Hinton’s Facebook post in which he breaks down the events in the police video.)

In the wake of Gabby’s death, I saw the following quote from Lundy Bancroft. It really resonated with me and I could feel intense emotion as I read it. I knew I had to discuss it here.

From Lundy’s website, he describes himself as “author, workshop leader, and consultant on domestic abuse and child maltreatment.”

Here is the quote from Lundy Bancroft:

Does Your Abusive Spouse Claim YOU are Angry and Hypocritical?


One of the basic human rights he takes away from you is the right to be angry with him. No matter how badly he treats you, he believes that your voice shouldn’t rise and your blood shouldn’t boil.

The privilege of rage is reserved for him alone. When your anger does jump out of you—as will happen to any abused woman from time to time—he is likely to try to jam it back down your throat as quickly as he can.

Then he uses your anger against you to prove what an irrational person you are.

Abuse can make you feel straitjacketed.

You may develop physical or emotional reactions to swallowing your anger, such as depression, nightmares, emotional numbing, or eating and sleeping problems, which your partner may use as an excuse to belittle you further or make you feel crazy.”

― Lundy Bancroft, Why Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men.

Ok, here goes. In the early years of my marriage, when my husband and I had a conflict, I tried to put it on the table to work out. I wanted to have a healthy marital relationship. However, these conflict engagements never ended well. I wish I would have known what Bancroft described above early in the marriage, because it would have told me what I was dealing with: an abuser.

In normal relationships, there will be conflicts. In healthy relationships, conflicts are addressed openly and honestly. Both try to understand each other. Both parties try to see what they might be contributing to the issue. There is an underlying goal to find a middle ground or make some adjustments to resolve the conflict. Or . . . sometimes there may be a mutual agreement that this conflict cannot be resolved, but the couple tries to find a way to work around it and make their relationship work in spite of the conflict. Again, this is normal, healthy conflict.

In my church circles, I was taught to submit to my husband. To me that meant to defer to him, to respect him, but it did not mean that I could not bring up conflicts to address. I assumed that he would take an honest look at conflicts, as I would, and we would move forward in a healthy way. This, unfortunately, did not happen.

What happened was this: we would argue for hours because we didn’t want to let the sun go down on our anger. Our arguments would go in circles. If I brought up an issue with him, somehow it always got turned around to me. The original issue became lost, and I was accused of having anger, which was by far the worst issue, according to him. Eventually, I was so emotionally beaten down, I would cry, confess the sin of my anger, he would forgive me, and then it was done. But it really wasn’t.

I had been coerced to repent of my “sin” of anger, and the original issue was never, ever addressed. I became the issue in every single conflict.

I don’t know why it took me so long to figure this out, but I eventually learned that I could not bring up any conflict for discussion without it turning out to be my issue of being an angry, unsubmissive wife.

Essentially, he was untouchable. He was able to continue bad behavior in our marriage. He never dealt with his own issues. He masterfully turned everything around to be my “sins,” and I was conditioned over the years to accept this as truth. (We see how Gabby in the police video linked above accepted responsibility that was not hers. She became conditioned in the abuse. This conditioning is common in emotionally abusive relationships where the victim takes ownership of the issues, and the perpetrator denies any responsibility, just as we saw with Brian Laundrie.)

I remember three decades later my husband said to me: “I miss the old Julie Anne, the one who used to start crying after a conflict, and who would apologize for her anger during our arguments.”

The thought of this now infuriated me. I recalled crying and apologizing. Now, however, I was a victim advocate and was seeing the history of my marriage in different eyes. I wasn’t crying because I was remorseful and repentant. I was crying because I had been silenced and shut down. I was battered emotionally and spiritually and saw no way out. He coerced me to submit to his “position of authority” and abandon my own personhood. He had no respect for me and my feelings/desires. It was all about me completely complying with him to keep the “peace” in our home. Peace meant that I didn’t have a voice, and meant he did not have to own up to anything. Let me tell you, I was not at peace even though there may have been silence.

30 years into the marriage when he said he was missing the “old Julie Anne,” he was frustrated that he didn’t have the same control over me that he used to have. Without having that control, he walked away from every conflict. He didn’t want to have anything to do with a marriage that included introspection and reflection. He thought spiritual headship meant he could do no wrong, and for me to challenge him meant I was disobedient and not submitting. Lundy Bancroft’s reference to a straightjacket is very accurate. That’s exactly what it felt like.

This was not physical violence, this was emotional and spiritual abuse that left me squelched inside and confused for decades. Eventually, it showed up in my body physically. During the last few years of our marriage, I was on anti-depressants, anti-anxiety meds, and sleeping pills, in addition to regular physical therapy for non-stop pain.

While I was reporting on abuse in the church in 2012 on this blog, this is what I was living in my home. And while I was sharing stories of domestic violence, including emotional abuse and spiritual abuse here, I was connecting with these stories in a personal way, weeping, and knowing one day, I’d be telling my own story here. The time is now.

Follow-up: I filed for divorce in October 2019. Divorce was final July 2020. I will be sharing more about my story, including the remarkable story of my pastor who recently apologized to my kids and me for how he mishandled my case. The reason I share my story is because I have had countless women reach out to me when I share bits and pieces on Twitter (my Twitter handle is @DefendtheSheep). There are many of you who will resonate with my story because emotional and spiritual abuse is common place in Christian churches, especially those that teach that husbands have authority over their wives.

If my story resonates with you and you need help, please feel free to reach out to Kathi or me.

61 thoughts on “Julie Anne Gets Personal about the Silent Abuse of Domestic Violence: Emotional and Spiritual Abuse”

  1. Thank you for explaining my life!!

    I oozed out of the family home after 38 years (still not divorced – his control of the finances is the reason) – how I long that my adult children (who have swallowed his lies) would come to know that what you have written here is describing my ‘relationship’ with their father.

    I, too, had periods of time when I did not wear my wedding ring – it seemed to be a lie to continue wearing it.

    God bless you for the work you are doing.


    ‘The Truth is learned, never told.’

    LORD you have been our dwelling-place… psalm 90

    My flesh and my heart may fail but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73


    Liked by 1 person

  2. Tracy, thank you for your comment. I removed your last name for safety reasons. If you really want it there, please let me know and I’ll put it back.

    I’m sorry to hear that you have experienced the same heartache. You’re right – the wedding ring was certainly an emotional attachment. I loved that ring and what it signified. I felt like such a hypocrite with it on. I remember when my daughter came back home from college and noticed I wasn’t wearing it. I hadn’t worn it in over a year by that time. I think it became clear to her what was going on. She actually was the first to ask what was going on in our marriage. After that, I began seeking help from the church. That is another story to be told.

    As far as your adult children – – – give them time. They might know more than you think. Mine sure did.

    I’m sorry to hear you are still tethered financially. That must be so difficult. Please keep me posted on how you are doing. Grace and peace to you, Tracy!


  3. I’m so glad you’re in a better place now. All these years of helping others and you were living through it yourself. It’s never been easy, but you’ve been so helpful to others. I hope you’re able to find strength and release by continuing to share your story. Hugs and love to you!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Thank you, Kathi. And thank you for being my sounding board during the whole time you’ve been here on the blog. You sure heard many tears, anger, and heartache. You are such a dear friend. Love you!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. You described my marital relationship and our times of conflict, so exhausting. I eventually stopped approaching him about issues I had with his treatment of me and worked hard on “my” sin. After all, exactly as you wrote, the issues were all turned around onto me and my sin problems. Frustrated with his stonewalling, my outbursts of anger made it worse, he said as he pointed out how he never got angry because he always spoke in a very quiet and calm voice.

    Marriage was extremely hard, and I grew jaded, but I didn’t recognize it was abuse…until I watched his increasingly oppressive mistreatment of our adolescent children, and then I started to see that something was wrong — not with them but with him. Our marriage imploded in 2017, and we divorced (at his filing after I insisted on separating) in 2018 after 23 years of marriage. I removed my rings and left them for him. It has been the most painful experience but a great blessing to be freed from the shackles of abuse.


  6. mkstone61 – thank you for sharing your story. I’m sorry that you, too, had to experience this kind of abuse. My ex was also calm and quiet. And that only added to the confusion about anger: we must have been the real problem because we raised our voices. Ugh! I’m so glad you are free!


  7. Julie Anne, I’m glad your pastor at least apologized. That’s a good start.

    It’s been a few years since I read Ruth Tucker’s book Black and White Bible, Black and Blue Wife but your story reminds me of that. I’m glad physical violence wasn’t part of it, as it was in Ruth’s. I highly recommend her book.


  8. Hey Ted – good to hear from you. I’ve read her book and it was good. I used to wish there was physical violence. And I’ve found that I am not alone with this thought. Emotional abuse is so confusing that victims often take the blame for the demise of the marriage. And then we can’t figure out why it doesn’t get better. It takes a long while to see what is going on clearly. Also, outsiders can’t see evidence, so it’s difficult to prove. With physical abuse, the evidence is there for all to see.


  9. YES!!!
    I so know your story – it is similar to mine.
    I helped women leave abusive and controlling relationships as a licensed professional counselor for 15 years while I lived it at home.
    Jesus brought light and healing – my memories of severe sexual and physical abuse by my “mother” returned 2 1/2 years ago and my eyes opened. I. Was. Devastated. And ANGRY. AND God helped me stand firm. And see the Truth. And my wolf spouse filed for divorce after 38 years of marriage rather than face his issues, repent and heal.
    I. Am. So. Grateful for be free at 60 years of age!!

    Thank you for your work and opening your experience.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. JA, agreed, emotional abuse is so hard to recognize and heal from. My family portrayed itself as a “meritocracy” from the outside, but no matter how many awards I got and how hard I worked to measure up, I was never offered a seat at the table with my siblings.

    My place in my family is dead last, lower than even my wife. We were making funeral arrangements and I asked for something, which was immediately denied, but when my wife requested the same thing, they decided it was important to do.

    I’m nearly 10 years down the road from naming emotional and spiritual abuse, seeking professional help and it is still tangled in my sense of self.

    Those around you may or may not recognize what happened, they may be afraid of what it means to acknowledge your story, but you know and that is what is important.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Julie, you have carried far too much burden and I, too, am very sorry for your extremely long journey. Reading your story this past week has helped me connect some dots in my healing process. Your wedding ring issue caught my attention. It is 10+ yrs since divorce and I still have a few boxes of household items that we shared in marriage; fine China, silverware, etc. The jewelry box that ex gave me sits on my dresser. It suddenly occurred to me that I want every last remnant of his destructiveness out of my home; every last thing we ever shared. That includes pictures. So I am painfully making this purging happen. I am simmering in anger and hate right at the moment. I know there will be a release of emotions in the process and certainly afterwards.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Celeste…let those healing tears flow. Your comment really touched me and actually brought tears to my eyes. We are sisters who share a similar journey. Thank you for your comment.


  13. Part 1.
    I read this post a few days ago but didn’t have time to comment then.

    For anyone reading, you may or may not be aware that many (all?) of the same dynamics at play in abusive marriages are, or can be, also at play in families, friendships, and careers / jobs.

    It’s beneficial to learn about all this stuff so you can put it to use in your career, friendship, or with family members – not just in the context of dating and marriage. Because it will (or can or may) show up in other areas of your life.

    I don’t know if Julie Anne has looked into this or not, but if not, Julie Anne (and anyone reading this!), I would really, really strongly encourage any one to start researching areas of psychology, including what mental health professionals call the Cluster B personality types or disorders, which can include APD (anti social personality disorders, such as sociopathy and psychopathy), NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder), and I think Borderline Personality Disorder is among these.

    There is also pathological narcissism – which is not in the diagnostic manual, but therapists and psychologists who are competent and actually study narcissism well tell you that yes, narcissism (a set of traits and thinking patterns) exists, and it does a lot of damage to people who are married to, related to, or who work with and for pathological narcissists.

    Once you’ve started researching narcissism, and then you begin reading online about the abusive experiences women have had (usually with spouses, but sometimes with parents, bosses, or whomever else), you start noticing a lot of the abusive behaviors described sound just like traits in narcissism.

    I’ll get into this in another post or two
    (sorry I am not better at writing shorter posts).


  14. Part 2
    Unqualified therapists, or ones who are ignorant about narcissism, may not recognize narcissism in a client, which can have some pretty negative, profound consequences on those married to, or related to, or working for, this type of person.

    (This is a point that educated therapist and psychologists will mention in their own material; it’s not just me saying this.)

    Some of this was stuff I studied back when taking psychology courses back in college, but I’ve been reading up on it again lately.

    By the way, there are several You Tube channels by licensed psychotherapists or psychologists (and a few educated lay persons) who, IMO, do an excellent job describing narcissism, bullies, etc, and offer tips on how to deal with these people or leave them, etc.

    Here is one You Tube channel by one of several people (I believe she is a psychologist) who does a really good job of explaining narcissism, narcissistic abuse, and how to handle these people:
    _DoctorRamani – You Tube Channel – what is Narcissism / Narcissistic Abuse and how to recover from it_

    I don’t know what Dr. Ramani’s religious beliefs are, and I don’t care what they are.
    All I know is that Ramani (like a few other speakers I’ve found on You Tube, or authors whose books I’ve read) cuts quickly to the heart of the problem you’re having and she point blank tells you what you need to know and how to effectively cope or fix a situation – which is the sort of content of what I am after.
    I want explanations of what is going on, and I want solutions that work.

    Ramani actually gives helpful advice, and not the usual platitudes, ineffective advice with Bible verses tacked on, or victim-blaming or shaming theology most Christians give to people who are being bullied by bosses, family, or spouses.


  15. Part 3.
    I think too many Christians shame or convince other Christians it’s wrong or worldly to consult non-Christian resources (including psychology or therapy).

    Some of the most effective advice and pointers I’ve ever received in dealing with my own issues (including but not limited to, anxiety disorders, standing up to mean people, etc) have mostly come from Non-Christian materials!

    I’ve found very few Christian authored books, podcasts, etc to be helpful regarding how to deal with abuse, bullying, depression, anxiety, and many other subjects.

    If anything, much of Christian created materials foster behaviors, attitudes, and mindsets in people that keep people “stuck” in whatever problem they’re having. It’s really perverse.

    I found much of the Christian content I read for over 2, 3 decades (about how to handle bullies, how to beat depression, whatever the subject) was totally unhelpful.

    A lot of Christian books on those topics actually are victim blaming… they encourage you to keep on maintaining the very behaviors or thought processes that are keeping you stuck in an abusive relationship or stuck in depression or whatever.
    Totally not helpful!

    I just did a blog post on my Daisy blog days ago, pointing this out
    (that blog post is here: “_Most Self Help Vs. Christian Advice: Do You Want a Solution and Healing or Not”_):

    Sadly and infuriatingly, most Christians are more concerned with defending or advocating their favorite theology or biblical interpretations on some topic or another than they are in actually helping people.

    Most of the Christian advice I read back when I had depression, or was being bullied by family or bosses, dealing with anxiety, etc, basically kept me stuck in those problems.

    The sort of advice most of those Christian books (or televised church services – and these days, that you will find in Christian podcasts, blog posts, etc) gave was feeding into the very dynamics that played into making me an attractive target for abusive people to start with, or that made me think I had to stay and put up with mistreatment.

    Some of the Christian advice made it sound like I deserved the mistreatment, or I should be fine with it, because God was supposedly using it for X, Y, or Z purposes.

    So, there was no hope in the majority of Christian materials I’ve heard or seen. There were no solutions that could actually work to fix a problem.


  16. Oh, sorry – I didn’t mean for the rest of the post above to be in bold face type. I didn’t close a bold tag in that.

    Part 4.
    Anyway, one of my big take aways after having studied pathological narcissism (and NPD) in months past (and this holds true for sociopathy and psychopathy and a few other personality disorders as well), is that these conditions cannot be changed or cured.

    So… if you are married to, working for, friends with, or related a pathological narcissist (or someone with NPD or sociopathy or another category of Cluster B disorder), this person is never, ever going to change, no matter what you say or do.

    There are no medications to “cure” these disorders.

    Psychologists and psychotherapists will admit that most narcissists are in denial and/or blind to their own disorder, so they rarely seek treatment for themselves.

    If they are forced into treatment, the first time the therapist tries to hold the narcissist accountable for his/her actions, the narc will blow up in anger, never to return to any more sessions.

    People with these personality disorders generally do not see a reason to change how they are.

    Mental health professionals will admit that therapy can and will do little to fix, cure, or change a narcissist.
    They also say that marriage counseling, or couples therapy, cannot and does not work in a marriage where one partner is a pathological narcissist (or some other type of abuser, or who has some other kind of personality disorder).

    There are different types of pathological narcissism. Some of the most common forms of pathological narcissism you will see discussed include Grandiose, Malignant, Overt, Cover, and Vulnerable.

    These different forms or narcissism present in different ways, but they all share the same core traits.

    One of them is lack of empathy.

    From what I’ve read, narcissists can technically experience and feel empathy, but more often than not, they choose to stuff it down and ignore it, because it interferes with their psychological defense mechanisms.

    Another core trait common to all flavors of narcissism:
    the narcissist will refuse to accept responsibility for his or her actions.

    If you do confront them with something they said or did to hurt you or offend you, they will either resort to gas lighting you (they will deny they ever did or said any such thing),
    if you can get them to admit the truth, they will say, why yes, they did “such and such,” BUT, then they will rationalize the thing they said or did,
    or they will say you deserved it, or you brought it on yourself by the way you spoke to them.

    The narcissist will always, always, always deny blame, fault, won’t take any responsibility, and they will turn it around on YOU.

    It’s part of their psychological defense system, and even psychologists who specialize in this disorder will say in their videos and books even they, the psychologist, cannot get the narcissist to stop doing this (and other harmful behaviors).


  17. Correction above:

    That was supposed to be “Covert,” not “Cover”

    Part 5.
    No amount of prayer, faith in Jesus, will change the abusive person (this includes the pathological narcissist, or the person with NPD), either, especially not if the abuser has a Cluster B disorder.

    This point makes many Christians very uncomfortable or upset.
    I did another blog post about this days ago, too (it’s pretty long):
    _Christians Asking “Don’t You Think God Can Change X” is an Irrelevant (and Dangerous) Question_

    You can waste years and years of your life expecting, praying, and hoping God will supernaturally intervene in your abusive marriage, abusive work relationship, or whatever, with this narcissistic person, but it’s not going to happen.

    I embedded a video on my blog in one post where an ex preacher guy admits though he didn’t believe in divorce and thought Jesus could change people, after having spent like 24 years married to a covert, lady narcissist, he realized she was never going to change… so he divorced her.

    This Christian finally realized and admitted to himself that no amount of prayer, faith, and taking her to therapists or subjecting her to Christian counseling, etc, changed her, made her better, etc.
    I wish more Christians would come to this realization on many a topic, whether it’s spouses or family or bosses with Cluster B personality disorders, or being afflicted with depression, or whatever.
    Some people and situations will not and cannot change. Not even via through faith in Jesus or by prayer.

    But anyway, please start looking into the topic of Narcissism online – not just NPD, but the entire spectrum of narcissism.

    Start reading articles about it, and watching You Tube videos by psychologists. It is quite eye-opening!

    You may start to recognize that some of the people in your life have now or in years past have one or more of the traits discussed under Narcissism.
    You will stop being entirely mystified by why the person did what they did. Their crummy, weird behavior will start to make more sense to you.

    It can help you deal with these people, or know how to avoid getting involved with one to start with… and it will help you realize that most Christian advice fails horribly at dealing with people with personality disorders.

    You may come to realize (as I did) that your time would be better spent looking to Non-Christian resources on these issues, rather than reading or watching Christian takes on it.


  18. And in closing.

    Yes, most Christians will recognize physical abuse as being wrong and bad, but not verbal or emotional abuse.

    My Mom (and the Baptist church generally) sure brainwashed me from a young age to tolerate a lot of verbal and emotional abuse.

    I’m not sure if my Mom expected me to tolerate physical abuse, but even if she did, I knew from a young age that physical abuse (including sexual abuse) was totally wrong and off-limits, so I never, ever sat silently by whenever any one tried to molest me (and yes, I had that happen), or slap or punch me.

    But I did unnecessarily endure a lot of verbal and emotional abuse over many years, as I was taught that was the proper, godly, loving thing to do.

    And honestly, at some points for many years, I was so accustomed to being verbally / emotionally abused by some of my own family members, that I thought it was NORMAL to be treated that way.
    It didn’t dawn on me until much later in life that this behavior they were doing was abusive.

    I also had to learn later in life that not all verbal / emotional abuse is the overt kind, with screaming and name-calling.

    Abusive behavior can also include consistent, quiet and calmly stated put-downs, with-holding praise for accomplishments, “jabs” meant to deflate (like mocking a trophy you won at school and brought home to show off, etc).

    I didn’t know when I was growing up that those behaviors (which my Dad and siblings did quite often) was abusive and wrong – but it is.

    I just assumed growing up that it was “normal” behavior.

    I didn’t like it, I didn’t like being subject to ridicule or sarcastic jokes at my expense, not receiving praise for straight A report cards I brought home, etc, but I didn’t realize it was abusive for a long time.

    A lot of Christians will try to rationalize emotional and verbal abuse as being acceptable, or as supposedly being for your own good, or it’s no big deal – if you’re not being punched, kicked, or slapped, they think you should just keep putting up with it.

    Kind of like how so many Christians will recognize cancer, broken arms in casts, and other physical problems as being “real” and worthy of compassion, but they don’t recognize depression, PTSD, anxiety disorders, etc.

    If you have depression, anxiety, or what not, most Christians switch to victim blaming mode or tell you, or strongly imply, that “real” Christians never get mental health problems.

    It’s the same strange dichotomy Christians have with a lot of topics.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Daisy, I agree with you with the clinical info. My concern is that there are a lot of narcissistic tendencies that are not full-blown NPD. I think the meteoric rise in narcissistic tendencies coincides with the [Jesus and John Wayne] intertwining of Evangelicalism, Authoritarianism and Southern Honor/Shame culture.

    Shame culture produces narcissistic tendencies because the reward/punishment system is based on external actions and expectations, and mostly towards those [authoritarianism] who hold the power in the system. So, it is okay to spit on the unmarried pregnant woman because she needs to experience shame, but not okay to spit on the pastor who had an affair, because, as with narcissism, image is more important than truth. So, the shame of the pastor is repressed and the shame inflicted on the least of society is “proof” that the church is fulfilling her mission.

    Even my siblings that my therapist labeled as Narcissists – I don’t think she was making a diagnosis. I think she was giving me a label for my experiences. I do believe they could change, but I think the system they’ve embedded themselves into will make that very difficult. The underlying shame problem of narcissism is that they refuse to accept shame at all costs, and they do it by first projecting a false, perfect image, and then when they hurt people, they always gaslight or rationalize or project it away because their perfect self could never do anything wrong.


  20. Mark said,
    “My concern is that there are a lot of narcissistic tendencies that are not full-blown NPD. ”

    Yes, I acknowledged that in one of my posts.

    But even the nature of pathological narcissism (not even full blown NPD) is such, that the person with narcissistic traits rarely to never will or can admit to themselves, let alone a spouse, child, friend or a therapist, that they have a problem.

    If you can’t admit to having a problem, you cannot receive treatment from it and heal or become better.

    Dr. Ramani gets into all this in her videos (I linked to her You Tube channel above). She mainly addresses pathological narcissism on her channel, not NPD.

    Other resources online also discuss that lesser forms of narcissism are largely impervious to therapy and change.

    All the advice I’ve seen from psychologists and psychiatrists will tell you regardless of low grade narcissism or full blown NPD, that your only full means of protection is to stay away from the person.

    If you cannot swing that, they offer strategies, such as “grey rocking,” where you limit what you say to them and how much you reveal and refrain from showing emotion… because they will never, ever change.

    As a matter of fact… a lot of narcissists (not just NPD) will hold our false hope and show glimpses of fake empathy and caring to keep the victim hooked, to keep them from leaving.
    They will “bread crumb” and “future fake” and engage in other behaviors.


  21. @Daisy:

    People with these personality disorders generally do not see a reason to change how they are.

    Why would you want to change when You Are Already Perfect In Every Way and Can Do No Wrong?

    With me it wasn’t a spouse. It was my younger brother while we were growing up. Probable NPD and Sociopath, definite Master Liar and Master Manipulator. I fully expect him to lie his way out of the Last Judgment, that’s how Convincing and Sincere he can be; looking straight in your eyes in wide-eyed Innocence, every word out of his mouth a lie delivered with butter-wouldn’t-melt-in-his-mouth Sincerity. And everyone else always believed every single word he said, a Sweet Little Angel.


  22. When that Rabbi from Tarsus wrote “For Satan himself can transform himself to appear as an Angel of Light”, he wasn’t talking about Great Spiritual Doctrines; he was describing how a successful Sociopath/User/Abuser is a Master of Camouflage.


  23. But someone I know got it worse. My other writing partner, the self-educated son of a steelworker who is one of the hottest raw writing talents I have ever come across. And who is not only on the autism spectrum, but PTSD from abuse growing up has all but destroyed him as a functioning human being. The physical abuse came from high school (which was even worse than mine), the emotional abuse came from (and still continues) from family.

    He is constantly apologizing to everyone else for existing, too beaten down to write. And this is a guy who in the Thirties could have been giving Manly Wade Wellman, Bob Howard, and Seabury Quinn a run for their money in the pages of Weird Tales.


  24. Julie Anne – can I say that when I read initially and now in this post that you were splitting up from your husband it made me feel sad. Obviously you are in a different part of the world and in one sense remote, and seeing this also with a relative not so long ago makes it more personal and close, but no-one ever walks up the aisle thinking it will turn out like this notwithstanding ‘for better for worse, in sickness and in health …’. The initial youthful hopes and dreams coming to nothing is never a nice thing to see and is always a shame.

    I think it is quite something to have carried on helping others in this situation whilst not only not having the support of your husband, he seems to have been positively unhelpful (if that isn’t a contradiction in terms).

    You have also had me, whom you don’t always agree with, wittering on from time to time, but sometimes it is right to lay that aside for a while and have a virtual brotherly hug, of course from a very, very long way away!


  25. Thank you for your kind words, KAS. It has been a very difficult journey and I have cried many tears, and still do. I never wanted to take off my ring, and I never wanted to end up this way. But I am going to be ok. I have wonderful family and friends.


  26. Julie Anne:
    At least you’re back and posting. Maybe we can rebuild the community SSB had before the hiatus.

    Looking back through the archives, I ran across several regulars like “Serving Kids in Japan” (SKIJ). And two former regulars:

    “A Amos Love” whose shall-we-say unique style of commenting prefigured QAnon breadcrumb drops. Never was able to figure out just what he was trying to say. (There was a “Sopwith” or “Sopy” on other blogs with a near-identical style; don’t know if they were two handles for the same guy.)

    “Chapman Ed” who left SSG’s comment threads around 2016-2017 to become Wondering Eagle’s resident Bible-Spouting Trump-Fanatic Troll until he got so nasty Eagle first doghoused him, then finally banned him.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. The community here was awesome and the regulars played an integral part in helping many survivors wade through the muck of their really damaging experiences. SKIJ still comes around and is very active online posting in various places. He’s awesome.

    Amos posted here recently. He’s been such a support to me over the years.

    And Ed…that’s news to me about Eagle blocking him. We seemed to be like minded for a long time until it came to the topic of clergy sexual misconduct. He and I differ greatly on the power differential and responsibility of the one with power. He puts blame on victims as well as clergy, and I will never agree with that.


  28. Julie Anne,
    Always remember that God counts the tears of women (from Rabbinic and Islamic lore).
    Years ago, Mrs. Muff and me abandoned much (but not all) of what fundagelicalism teaches about marriage. The stuff we did part with is toxic.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. @Mark:

    Shame culture produces narcissistic tendencies because the reward/punishment system is based on external actions and expectations…

    The axiom of a Shame culture is “If no one knows of my sin, I Am Not Shamed.”
    Which can very easily segue into “And Dead Men Tell No Tales.”


  30. Dr. Ramani.
    :Yep, she’s good. I’ve watched a good deal of her videos.
    I’ve even linked some of her videos on my blog recently while talking about Mark Driscoll, my recent ex, and a former pastor from the 80s.
    I’m sick to death of Narcissism in the church and so sorry that I wasted so much time with a Narcissistic spouse.


  31. HUG said,
    “Why would you want to change when You Are Already Perfect In Every Way and Can Do No Wrong?”

    People with NPD or who are on the narcissism spectrum are insecure deep down.

    But where this gets murky or complicated…

    Some therapists and psychologists will say that Narcissists are aware that deep down they are flawed, insecure, etc, while (it seems that most) other therapists and psychologists say and believe that Narcissists are unaware at a conscious level that deep down they feel or are insecure.

    Mental health professionals also disagree a bit about – when Narcissists act like jerks to their spouses, siblings, children, etc, are they aware of what they are doing, is it intentional?

    Some professionals say yes, the Narcissist is aware they are acting like a jerk, some say no, not entirely, that their jerk behavior is just an outcome of their Narcissism and not necessarily done on purpose, with intent, etc.

    One thing I did learn about Narcs is that (according to mental health professionals) that unlike APDs (ie., sociopaths & psychopaths), they are capable of feeling and having empathy, but, they make a conscious decision to stuff that empathy down, ignore it, for one of several reasons (which I won’t get into here).

    (I haven’t spent as much time studying BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder), but they are also difficult, are, I believe, among the other Cluster B disorders, and share some overlapping traits with Narcissists.)


  32. HUG said,
    ““Chapman Ed” who left SSG’s comment threads around 2016-2017 to become Wondering Eagle’s resident Bible-Spouting Trump-Fanatic Troll until he got so nasty Eagle first doghoused him, then finally banned him.”

    I’ve seen Chapman Ed on a few other blogs, and he was banned on some – over his refusal to see that CSA (Clergy Sex Abuse) is a real thing.

    He wants to live in Fantasy Land where each and every woman, single or married, who has sexual relations with a pastor, is a Jezebel harlot – he chalks it all up to randy adults and adultery and nothing more.

    He refuses to acknowledge that sometimes men in positions or trust or authority abuse those positions to prey on vulnerable women.

    (It’s similar to the way adult pedophiles groom small children for sex – they pick vulnerable kids from troubled homes, etc – similar dynamics as to what preachers do to prey on lonely, mentally unstable, or women in messed up marriages)

    Chapman Ed’s pro-Trump views (if he has them, I don’t know) don’t bother me, as I don’t hate Trump (who I didn’t vote for, but Trump doesn’t bother me).

    I’ve seen Chapman Ed get blocked off other blogs the last few years, usually over things like denying that CSA is real, it exists, and it’s not always a case of simple “adultery.”

    I went back and forth with him for a few days over at TWW blog years ago on this. I think I tried on here, too. I got really tired of it.


  33. Hi Julie Anne!! I saw my name and I figured I’d defend myself. Both you and Daisy are correct in your assessment of my position. I don’t see a victim in CSA, when it pertains to an adult, who is not ignorant of the Ten Commandments. The law states that clergy must have that counseling hat on, in order for it to be classified as a differential. Who can be prosecuted and sent to jail?

    Outside of that, I’m always perplexed when it is advocated that church’s do their own investigating of sexual misconduct in a church, instead of someone calling 911 and having the professionals investigate felonies, those who actually get paid to do it for a living. Prosecutors would love to prosecute sexual criminals, but since the church’s are doing their own investigations, instead of law enforcement, we have a mess.

    Lastly, Christianity exists outside of the Baptist world of “evangelicals” and Calvinism. If only people knew that.

    Regarding Wondering Eagle, he refused to understand the historical founding fathers intent on Christian involvement in the US Government, thinking that our founding fathers brought forth upon this continent a secular government. According to Benjamin Franklin, there were no atheists in America back then. Wondering Eagle is a Trump hater, for sure. Me, I kinda like cheap gas prices, more money in my paycheck, and affordable bacon and milk. Let’s Go Brandon! Then he falsely accused me of saying derogatory things about his parents, who passed away. Nothing can be further from the truth. But that accusation is what got me banned from his blog.

    For the most part, I rail against the SBC’s doctrines, with the B meaning BAPTISTS, which includes their inclusion of Calvinists. The word “Evangelicals” has given those of us who are not Baptists a bad name. The word, “Christian” and “Evangelical” are not synonyms. I am a Christian, but I am not an Evangelical. Does that make sense? Christianity exists apart from Evangelicals. Does that make sense?


    Ed Chapman


  34. Hey Ed – long time no see.

    The 10 commandments have nothing to do with a person in a position of power/influence who takes advantage of someone in their care. This is why there are laws against doctors, teachers, therapists, etc, who have sexual relationships with their patients/students. I’m also not going to allow a back and forth with you on this topic which is why you have been in permanent moderation. You know how I feel about this place remaining safe for survivors, and it simply is not if you are saying victims are responsible for sex abuse.

    Thank God Christianity exists outside of Baptist world, evangelicalism, and Calvinism. Hope you are well!

    Liked by 1 person

  35. Julie Anne,

    I consider you very a very dear person, as I do with all of your postings and comments. We simply disagree on this issue, and that’s OK. However, like I said before, there is no power differential without that counselor hat on. That’s the part that you fail to acknowledge, numerous times.

    And I think that the Ten Commandments has everything to do with it, for it’s the basis for morality, for both men and women.

    Thanks for posting my comment. I don’t expect this one to get posted tho. However, I’ve never lost sight of what you do FOR people hurting. You are a Godsend!



  36. LOL, Ed – but BECAUSE there is a title, there IS a power differential. Even God deals with power differentials in Ezekiel 34.

    And thank you for your kind comments aside from the one in which we will forever agree to disagree – lol. I truly appreciate it! 🙂


  37. It’s also not always about a power differential, but also one of power, trust and influence.

    The same reason a clergy cannot prey on a vulnerable woman who comes to see him (whether he has “counselor hat” on or not – morally, it’s still wrong, no matter what the law thinks), is based on the same reasons a school teacher cannot prey on students, or psychologists cannot have relationships with their patients…

    Re: MHPs (mental health professionals) and patients:
    The MHPs are dealing with people who are going through a difficult time, they will be easily influenced, easy to prey upon.

    It’s no more ethical or moral for a preacher to prey upon women who come to see them for whatever reason (counseling or no) than for a MHP to prey upon their patients.

    Preachers are in a place of trust and influence, which is what makes it so much easier for them to prey upon women.

    It’s also one reason of several Jesus warns women that some preachers are wolves in sheeps’ clothing.
    Just b/c someone claims to be a Christian does not mean they are one or that they can be trusted.
    Any one who thinks that no dirt bags seek out the profession of clergy expressly to prey on vulnerable women is naive and in biblical error.


  38. I think Chapman Ed isn’t taking into account that even if you haven’t had formal sit-down counseling sessions with your pastor, you’ve probably still sought his advice at some point, or he’s sat by your sickbed, or he’s buried your parent, or something. Your pastor isn’t your furnace repair guy. There’s a closeness of relationship that’s automatically there. Plus, he’s supposed to be a spiritual authority, so you’re going to tend to trust him and question yourself (rather than him) if he does something that seems “off.” I hope that I would be wise enough to know if a pastor was preying on me, but think about a woman who’s young and naive, or especially about a woman who has suffered abuse at the hands of family members and others. If the pastor is manipulating her and turning up the temperature very gradually, she might be super confused and think she’s just hypersensitive because He’s the Pastor! He loves God! Surely he wouldn’t lead me to do something wrong…


  39. It’s not about me or my opinion. I’m looking at the law, it’s wording. I’m extremely meticulous when it comes to topics like this. If you want a prosecution, then your accusations need to be based on law, not opinion. Your best source of legal matters would be a lawyer, however. But I can read law. I had to in the Navy to understand the legality of pay matters that Congress passed. We had two manuals. The DODFMR (Department of Defence Financial Management Regulations, aka LAW), and a procedures manual called, Paypersman.


  40. I know that already. But if you read the CAVEAT, the word COUNSELING must be included. Without that caveat, it’s not clergy sex abuse. Read the law again. I’ve read it.


  41. It’s both legally and morally wrong for pastors to groom women (married or single) for sexual relations.

    Some times when people are abused by someone else, they are not aware what happened to them was in fact, abuse…
    especially if they were abused as a kid, then they come to see name calling, sexual molestation, etc, as normal.

    (Do research on why so many women end up married to abusers, especially the Narcissistic men – it’s because their abusive husband feels similar to the abusive Dad they grew up with; it’s all they know.
    Being treated with kindness feels weird and foreign to such women, they don’t know how to cope or deal with a non-abusive man.)

    I know that happened to me.
    My friends told me years ago that my sister’s non-stop yelling and name calling of me was a case of verbal abuse and emotional abuse, but not to me it wasn’t,
    because my Mom and the church raised me to think that me being screamed at and name-called was normal, acceptable behavior.

    I was taught by Mom and church that allowing myself to be yelled at by sister, co-workers, etc, was “loving” and “godly” of me.

    I was not taught to recognize crummy behavior as wrong and abusive.
    So I accepted that trash treatment as being normal for many years.

    Took me until middle age, when I began researching abuse to finally see that yes, my ex bosses and sister screaming at me, name calling, put downs, etc was abuse.

    And so it goes with sexual abuse.

    A lot of women who are groomed and / or abused later in life by manipulative preachers will find the behavior feels familiar and not realize they are being taken advantage of. In such cases, they are not committing adultery – they are being preyed upon.

    If a person is going to dismiss these women as all being man-hunting harlots, you’d have to make the same argument in cases of teachers preying on kids for sex, and psychiatrists preying on their patients.

    I was once almost sexually fondled by a middle-aged doctor when I was around 16 years old.

    I had to see him for a strep throat test, and he had me lay back on his examining table, had me un-button my jeans, which I felt was weird, because I had many strep tests before, and that was the first and only one where the doctor had me lay back and half take off my pants.

    My Mom had taught me never to confront people or have boundaries, not even when people were abusing me, being mean to me, name calling me, hitting me, etc., so when that doctor tried to stick his hands down my pants, I froze, not knowing what to do. I also never phoned the police to report the doctor…. one reason of a few was I was relieved to just get out of the dude’s office non-molested.

    I also have a post on my blog citing a report or study about how most police do NOT believe female sexual assault victims, which a lot of us women know, which is one reason we do not always report our sexual assaults to cops.

    I guess guys like Ed would say I was not a victim then, that I was guilty of adultery. Even though I was just a scared, inexperienced teen kid who was trusting a doctor, who I was under the impression is “on my side” and there to help me.

    Never would’ve occurred to me at age 16 that a man in a position of influence, who is supposed to be a care giver to me and care about my health, would take advantage of me…
    and my initial reaction was to freeze in shock when the man began his attempt to grope me, and so I was unable to react.

    When you’re about to be raped and groped, you freeze.
    You don’t always fight back. That is reality.

    But I guess good ol’ Ed likes to side with the perverts.
    Such a victim-blamer.


  42. Ed said,
    “I know that already. But if you read the CAVEAT, the word COUNSELING must be included. Without that caveat, it’s not clergy sex abuse. Read the law again. I’ve read it.”

    There’s legal, and there’s moral.

    You’re nit picking.

    It’s immoral, unBiblical, unGodly, for a pastor to use his position, trust, influence, etc, to groom a woman for sex.

    If you’re going to argue like this re: pastors, you’d have to apply the same argumentation to medical doctors, psychologists, school teachers, etc, who also use their relationships vis a vis their jobs to sucker people into sexual acts.

    Liked by 1 person

  43. R said,
    “Plus, he’s supposed to be a spiritual authority, so you’re going to tend to trust him and question yourself (rather than him) if he does something that seems “off.” I hope that I would be wise enough to know if a pastor was preying on me, but think about a woman who’s young and naive, or especially about a woman who has suffered abuse at the hands of family members and others.
    If the pastor is manipulating her and turning up the temperature very gradually, she might be super confused and think she’s just hypersensitive because He’s the Pastor! He loves God! Surely he wouldn’t lead me to do something wrong…”
    — R quote end —

    All true.

    Also, many churches are into “complementarianism,” where they brainwash women from the time they are girls to think it’s godly to be submissive, boundary-less, compliant little doormats, especially with men, and with pastors in particular.

    Depending on which “flavor” of complementarianism and which type of church the woman is going to, she will believe it is wrong for her to say “no” to a pastor who is pushing her into sex.
    Girls and women are indoctrinated to think they must obey the male pastor and/or men in general.

    That also makes women “easy pickings” for the sexually abusive wolves in sheeps clothing who masquerade as preachers.


  44. If you need help making the argument that abuse is not limited to direct physical attacks, I would recommend a book called “The Deepest Well: Healing the Long-Term Effects of Childhood Trauma and Adversity.” The author provides hard evidence that adverse childhood experiences (which are not limited to physical abuse) can have a negative impact on a child’s PHYSICAL health and development. She also talks about the effect other types of abuse have on adults, but children are especially vulnerable and the effects can have a negative physical impact long into adulthood.


  45. Julie Anne,
    Thank you for your story.
    It adds more substance to the fact that fundagelicalism is an unsafe and toxic environment for women.

    Liked by 1 person

  46. This is what I am realizing after 23 yrs of marriage. I keep hoping for salvaging it, but it’s not possible to do that with killing every part of myself spiritually and emotionally. He has likes being the godly husband and church leader in his church circle while hiding a secret double life at home. He forced me to find a new therapist to prove I loved him, I can’t spend time with friends because it shows I don’t love him, he needs to have him time doing whatever because I made him give up hobbies and friends when are kids were younger (per him), I made him start a church for spiritually abused Christian’s against his will (yes he see this as manipulating him vs standing up for the oppressed), his career is at a standstill because of me and my kids, I am an angry bitter leftist who needs to be deprogrammed, I give time to everyone but him, He suffers from anxiety, depression, dysphoria because of me etc. every horrible thing he feels, thinks and experiences is somehow because of me.
    my therapist told me last night flat out that I need to just leave him or be miserable for the rest of my life. I just don’t know where to go – everything is in his name and he controls all the finances


  47. Sweetie – your story sounds like so many others I’ve heard from women in abusive marriages. I am so sorry! I’d love to get you some support. Can you please reach out to me at spiritualsb@gmail.com? If you’d like to join a group with other women who completely understand what you are going through, please let me know!


  48. Hey JA
    I hadn’t looked at your blog since Alex stooped his.

    You were always to be admired for your tenacity and strength and fortitude.

    Weak men hate that in women and resent it.
    I got that book many years ago. Pretty on point.
    Many of us who have a passion to defend the defenseless know the struggles only too well.

    I’m glad you are doing well and I’m sorry you have been persecuted.
    I remember you were going back to school for computers I think. All the while homeschooling the youngest of your kids.

    Yes the church is patriarchal for the most part. And totally useless to women IMO. That’s why I’ve been away from church for years.

    And yes the quiet ones seem like the victims when they are with strong women and are usually insecure and with pent up anger issues going back to their childhood. And narcissistic.

    You will never get any sympathy for what you feel bc they can’t empathize.
    It’s very frustrating. It’s a game to play. Sometimes they get sick and you have to make a choice. It makes you realize where your strength comes from…
    And who keeps you standing.
    Blessings to you JA


  49. Appreciate Lundy’s comments about anger. I’ve also been on the receiving end of comments acting as if Jesus cleared the Temple with a Mr. Rogers voice, and I’m persuaded that one of the nastiest bald-faced lies from the pit of Hell is that Christians ought not get angry–the rhetoric is more or less “yes, God’s anger is OK, yours is not”, without actually looking at why someone might get angry.

    In looking through the matter in Scripture, I see Moses getting angry, the Prophets getting angry, John the Baptist getting angry, the Apostles getting angry, and the most common use of “anger” (literally “nostril” in Hebrew–isn’t that cool?) is of God’s anger. And so I’m persuaded that when we chastise people for anger, we’re ignoring a crucial part of God’s character (and hence Godliness) while tending to blame the victim.

    It makes me angry, to put it mildly.

    Liked by 1 person

  50. Bike B – Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger,

    I don’t think this is a command to be angry, but it is permission to be angry over what can go on in Christian circles. It needs to be kept under control though.

    The apostle James tells us to be slow to anger, and follows with a verse that I have frequently had to remind myself of in view of sundry goings on in churches:

    for the anger of man does not work the righteousness of God.

    Not quite my life’s verse, but would be a strong contender!


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