“You’re a fat, worthless psycho with a piggy daughter and a loser son.”

Here’s an absolutely heart-breaking letter I got in yesterday. It’s used here by permission. Some details have been changed. I get more of these than, God knows, I wish anyone ever had to write. If you’ve ever wondered what it really feels like to be stuck in a horrifically toxic marriage, here you go.

Dear Mr. Shore,

I am sure by now you’ve received so many messages and emails in response to your article 7 Reasons Women Stay that you might be tired of emails from women like me. I read your article several days ago, and I have pondered and pondered and thought about it so deeply, having difficulty getting it out of my head.

I have been married for 14 years; I’m now 44 years old, with three wonderful children who are part of every breath I take. My marriage has never been great, but has gotten much worse gradually through the years. Before my husband and I were married, he told me that he would not marry me unless I earned a college degree. I earned not one, but two degrees, and then gave up my career to stay at home with my first born, and then subsequent children.

I feel crazy writing a perfect stranger, but frankly, I am at the end—with no where to go. I grew up in a dysfunctional home, with an alcoholic father. I grew up always guessing at what “normal” was. I felt “rescued” when I met my husband … but gradually I began to guess at what was ‘normal’ again inside of my own marriage. Always feeling uneasy, threatened if I didn’t do things just as they were supposed to be done. Always feeling that I, and now the children, have been a burden because he can’t join the golf club, or travel. Because I don’t “contribute” the way he does. He gave me a newspaper article with the pie chart with how much people earn, and told me that I am worth 19K a year because that’s what childcare providers earn.

I sought counseling and stayed in it for a year in a half … my husband would not go because all of the problems were mine; “when you get fixed, our marriage will be fixed” is all he ever said. Telling me constantly that I need to exercise, and, a week after our third was born, that I should start doing sit ups. I feel so worthless, and have remained for so long because he tells me that without him I will be on the streets. I am afraid. He calls me names to our children, and tells them that “mommy is ruining everything,” that “mommy doesn’t know how to do anything right.” I feel so afraid … I start to believe him .. that scares me.

Some days I am strong, but never strong enough to leave. I am Christian, and I keep reading the Bible, the part about marriage, and I don’t want to let God down. I ask myself if I have done everything I can. And to my knowledge, my husband has not committed adultery, but I know he has been to strip clubs, and his phone dialed home by mistake one night when he was on a business trip. I heard him talking about women’s body parts, and about them sitting on laps in the back room. I hear him telling his coworkers that he has wanted to get in so-and-so’s pants at the office. I told him about what I heard on the phone and he called me “weird,” and said that I live in fantasy world if I don’t think every man in the world does this kind of thing.

And I start to believe him … I struggle between being strong and normal, and falling weak to the ground, not knowing what to feel. I am always so nervous around him. He yells so much and yells at our kids. It scares me. When they are just being kids, he always blames me for their behavior, and tells me that he’s going to replace me with an au pair. We are so peaceful when he is traveling. I have raised our children for the last 10 years for the most part by myself … while he has been out working (yes he is a good provider), traveling, playing lacrosse through every season. My 6-year-old son plays soccer and he asked his dad to coach his team. My husband’s response: ” I can’t, lacrosse is my game, you should play lacrosse, soccer is a no-skill sport.” He constantly yells at my oldest daughter when she is eating .. telling her that she is getting as big as a house, and that she is being a pig. I sigh.

I think that you must wonder why I write it all down. It helps to tell someone. I live in a nice house, a beautiful house, my husband earns a good living. But I would trade it all for an apartment, my children, and a peace of mind. When I was a little girl, I was molested first by a babysitter’s husband, and then by an uncle. The most hurtful thing my husband ever said to me was that if he would have known that, he never would have married me; that people like me are psycho and never get fixed. Well, his words hurt—and I did tell him about all it a year before we were married. I will never forget how vulnerable I felt to disclose all the pain … and when he says I never told him, I just don’t understand.

I am having a hard time staying close to God. I am so confused and feel so worthless. I don’t know if it’s me, sometimes I wonder if it’s my fault. He tells me that I am not a normal wife like everyone else. I know I am not like everyone else. I know that I have work to do. I think what I struggle with now is all of the scar tissue which has built up. I have no love for this man anymore. I am nervous when I am in the same room with him, I don’t trust him. As much as I hate to admit it, his threats scare me. I hate him really. I am depressed when I know he is coming home. If God wanted me to stay with him … I have thought I would rather die. I love our children with every beat of my heart. I don’t want to hurt them. My parents divorced. I don’t want to let our children down. I know that when/if I leave, I will be blamed for everything. My husband talks to the children about me all of the time. I shouldn’t let it hurt me, but it really does. I want to jump off the diving board. I want to be strong and courageous, but I am so afraid. And I am afraid that God will not forgive me, that my life will be doomed from here on out. I never thought I would be here. I don’t know what to do. Thank you so much for listening. Through all of the typing and tears, somehow I feel relieved … even if to tell my story to stranger. Thank you.

I know that in “7 Women” I said everything I would ever say to this woman. I’m deeply hopeful, of course, that she gets out. The last thing I wrote to her was:

You do need to leave, though; as I know you know. It’s going to get worse. If he’s not hitting you yet, he will. And then that will escalate. And then you’ll have to live with knowing that you didn’t do enough to save your kids, and on and on and on, straight into hell. Get out while you can still make a life for you and your children. You don’t want to be an old woman (if you make it that long), and see that you ruined your life and the life of your kids. Fuck that. Get out.

I’ll use your story to encourage others to know they’re not alone, which is how so many in your position feel, exactly. As you yourself have felt.

Be strong. He’s an asshole. Play nice; smile; simper; save money; make a plan; execute; leave his sorry ass behind forever, and never look back. Love to you.

About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. Don't forget to sign up for his mucho-awesome newsletter.

  • ohso

    This post made me cry bc it’s similiar to my life…i have it all except a healthy marriage

  • Jen

    here is something else you could possibly send her. http://beenthinking.org/2008/03/27/marital-abuse-the-bible/

  • http://blueberrypancakesfordinner.wordpress.com/ erika

    oh dear one….

    if you are in the PNW please get my number from john. i can help. you are not alone….next time your husband is out of town go to the woman’s shelter in your town, if you do not know where one is, ask. call the non emergency police line and ask.

    you cab DO THIS. you can leave and service and even…wait for it. THRIVE! i promise you that your children will thank you….

    right now your sons are leaning how to treat a wife. your daughter is learning what to look for in a man and she will look for someone JUST LIKE DAD….

    G*d wants the best for you, remember? he wants to give you a HOPE AND A FUTURE. you are WORTH LOVING. YOU ARE.

    more (((hugs)))

  • Sara

    My heart broke to read her story. I was there once. I was in counseling 3 years, and had the support of a wonderful team of friends who pulled me out of my toxic marriage. If it hadn’t been for them, I would have committed suicide – my ex had convinced me that I was so worthless that I didn’t even deserve the air I was breathing. “You’re lucky you have me, no one else would want you.” We were married 26 years.

    She needs to find a small voice recorder and carry it when he’s on his rampages. Then take it to the biggest shark divorce lawyer she can find. If he’s a “good provider” and she’s stayed at home with the kids then he’s going to be liable for alimony and child support and she needs to get a BIG share of it.

    Then GET OUT. Get a restraining order if she’s scared of him. Go to the local Battered Women’s Shelter until she can make plans to go forward. She has to get the kids away from him too. An abuser rarely worries about who he’s abusing, either wife or kids make a great target.

    She needs to find a counselor who will take her part 100%. The Battered Women’s Shelter should provide someone. Yes, she does need fixing now, now that he’s managed to break her down to bits. My ex did exactly the same thing. He hauled me to multiple counselors, completely determined to ‘fix’ me – our toxic marriage was all MY fault. We kept changing counselors because he couldn’t find one to agree with him, until finally a new pastor turned to me and said I needed to be a “better wife.” Huh.

    It will take her a while and lot of support to heal from it. It’s been nearly 10 years since my divorce and I’m still surprised by what we call “shrapnel”… emotional landmines that explode unexpectedly. Thank God I have an incredible husband now who has the patience and love to talk through these episodes..

    Prayers for this young woman and her children…many many prayers. And along with those prayers, she needs real tangible support – kind voices in her ear telling her she’s a wonderful person, a good mother, a smart woman who is doing the RIGHT thing for herself and her children’s futures.

    And, Smart Woman – there IS HOPE! There IS A LIFE OUT THERE, just waiting for you to grab it! God loves you, and has a plan full of love for you. It’s there waiting for you, and I hope you start that wonderful journey soon.

  • SierraStorm

    Letter writer, God loves you more than anyone on this earth ever has or ever could love you. He does not expect you to live like this. Matthew 7:11 asks us if we, being evil, know how to give good gifts to our children, how much more shall He which is in heaven give good things to them that ask Him.

    Do what John says. Make a plan. Save some money. There are organizations for people in abusive situations all over the country. They know how to help people make and carry out a plan to leave.He might not have started hitting you, but the years of demeaning you and killing your spirit are just as injurious. Your heart and mind have received a steady pummeling for a long, long time. Your children also deserve freedom from someone who so demeans their mother.

    I am praying for you. You can do this. I did it 28 years ago. You’re stronger than you think. Look what you’ve withstood for 14 years of marriage! You’re one tough cookie! God WILL help you through this. Don’t listen to the lies inside your head or the opinions of other people. What matters is you and your children, and your right not to live in such oppression.

  • Susan G.

    You have to leave to protect your children. Right now I have a foster daughter in my home – 19, formerly a “cutter,” all kinds of stuff. Her mom admitted to me that she didn’t stand up for her daughter ’til just a couple of months ago – way too late.

    When my daughter was 2 her father called her “stupid,” one day. I immediately explained why we don’t do that. The next day he called her “stupid,” again and I told him if that word ever came out of his mouth towards MY daughter he could call his lawyer, because I’d be calling mine. I don’t bluff and he knows that – he never, ever called her a name again. I was being a good mother and protecting the gift God gave me.

    Get the tape recorder, tape the abuse, get the shark lawyer and live happily ever after with your children. Love, strength and courage to you from me, and my daughter!

  • Gretchen

    I hope this woman is reading our comments.

    One thing I want to say about divorce in the bible, is that divorce was rampant in those times d/t the hardening of our hearts (well, it is now, but you get my drift). It was God who put down some ground rules for reasons NOT to get divorced. Unfortunately, Christians everywhere have considered these biblical laws to pertain to any relationship, whether good or bad, and wrong counsel, even from clergy who are not trained in abuse, has led to tragedy.

    Anytime there is abuse-whether emotional or physical, which is NOT something God supports, it is time to get out and get help. Your children will not benefit from you staying married. Their living in this environment of fear will lead to trust issues and depression. You are a brilliant woman, and know that there is help out there for you and your kids. You are not dumb. You have just been mislead by someone that you were supposed to be able to trust. Please, PLEASE get out and get help for yourself and your kids. He refuses to help himself. You need the help to take the steps you need in order to lead a much better life. I looked up some abuse and divorce sites when it comes to scripture. This one came up–”Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.” (1Corinthians 3:16-17) You are a woman of God and have no right to be defiled by your husband. He is supposed to love and support you and also make sure not to exasperate his children. Please don’t listen to his lies any longer. I love my little apartment, btw–I’m single and have been for a long time. I hope that financial issues don’t hold you back. God is asking you for a leap of faith. Trust in HIM! Be blessed. I hope you write John on your progress. :)

  • Jeannie

    Please don’t think that this is how your life has to be. I know it’s scarey! There are resources and you can do what you need to do for yourself and your kiddos.

    I left and sometimes it is really frightening. I have very little money. I have very real health issues. One of my kiddos has some special needs. Honestly sometimes I joke that I just need to keep putting one foot in front of the other and never look down. BUT, I have peace. I have joy. I have freedom. I have people around me who love me and enjoy me again. After being lost for years, I am finding myself again. Those things are priceless. Please don’t miss out on them. God bless you. You will be in my thoughts and prayers.

  • Brian W

    That letter made me weep and to love my wife even more..truly tragic a letter. May God give her guidance and strength in her decisions to leave that toxic marriage or better yet gloriously save her husband and he repent of his actions and beg forgiveness from his wife and kids.

    • Joanne

      Brian, she needs to get out. He can save himself and then repent, but he is so incredibly toxic that her is not her problem anymore. Maybe if she left it would be the message he needs in order to straighten himself out, but I doubt it. Besides, how many abusers cry and beg forgiveness and give bouquets of flowers and then wam! Before you know it, they are abusing you again.

      GET OUT. SAVE YOURSELF AND YOUR CHILDREN.

  • Tarry

    I hope she is reading this, and can find a city or county office that will help her create a plan.An office for battered women, a county mental health clinic. There are options. I can only imagine that in a situation like this, being told to create a plan — true as that is, might feel impossible. She’s using every bit of energy just to get through a day.

    Find hope. Picture where your life might be in 5 years — it might be in a smaller house, but there will be air and light in it. Maybe you’ll be working on a nursing degree, something, you’ll be fine. This is a well written letter, you are an intelligent woman. Your future does not have to be your past.

    And picture the way your children will talk about you. You were strong, you were brave, and you made choices to protect them and yourself. If faced with a similar situation in their future, they will not take abuse from another. They will find their own strength.

    About what a Christian must do, yes, we do not return evil for evil, but I find no scriptural reason to take the abuse of an oppressor if one can move away from it. This situation serves no one, including your husband.

    When you visit the battered women’s shelter, ask them for accounts of other women who have been in your shoes. You’d be amazed, likely, at how many women who are professionals, who are in good relationships, who lived full and good lives — once they got free of abuse like this. And many of them, have taken their experiences to help other women. Many of them waited longer than you — but you do not have to wait another moment to make a phone call, and to start to make a plan.

    We’re praying for you, we believe in you — remember what they say: Today is the first day of the rest of your life.

  • Connie

    What Erica just said, really hit home to me: Right now your boys are learning how to treat their future wives. Right now your daughter is learning from her you and her father how she should be treated as a wife and what is “acceptable”. If not for you, then do this for her – let her know that the way your husband treats you is NOT OK. You wouldn’t want this for her, would you? How much would you cry if years from now she came to you and told you that her husband treats her this way? How would your heart break? Imagine your sons as grown men. Imagine that they marry beautiful, Godly women… and then they treat them they way your husband treats you. Why wouldn’t they? This is what they have learned. This is what they know. This is ALL they know. You said that you didn’t want to disappoint your children – If you want to do anything at all for them, then you will sit them down and let them know that the way he treats you is not acceptable. It is not the way to treat a spouse. Please, I beg you, get out now and get help so that your children will not perpetuate this abuse. I feel for you, I have been divorced and I am now remarried to a wonderful man – one that doesn’t make me feel stupid, one that doesn’t treat me like a child, one that I don’t have to beg to come to church on Sundays. There is hope. I have gone through rough times to get where I am at. 6 years ago today I was pregnant and alone and sleeping on an air mattress in a tiny apartment. It seemed as though I couldn’t get any lower – but in just 6 short years, my life has become so full! Let the Lord do what He wishes with your life. Free yourself from this man who does not deserve you and your beautiful children. I heard something great this morning: Don’t let insecurity stop you! – Instead … LOOK at what Christ has done, not what you have done. – LEAN on the God you know, not the people you know. – MEDITATE on what the Bible says about you, not on what people think of you.

  • http://thesewingexperiment.wordpress.com/ Sensible Seamstress

    I know it’s hard to believe in yourself or your future right in this moment because of the abuse you’ve suffered, but what you CAN do is believe in your children and in their futures, and, for their sakes, GET AWAY FROM HIM. All of our thoughts, prayers, and energies are turned toward you as you read this, and we know you can do it. GO!

  • http://NotThisGirl.com Sarah

    John,

    I wish there was a way to repost this *with all the comments* from your blog page and your Facebook family over on the site I work with. I think it would be cool to show our family that your family exists and that we are less alone than we could ever imagine. <3 Until something more creative can happen, I will re-post and hope they can read through the comments too. You have an amazing group of supporters.

    Sarah

    • Don Rappe

      Maybe putting in a link would do the trick.

  • Suz

    “that people like me are psycho and never get fixed”

    No, it’s the predatory abusers who are psycho and never get fixed. You CAN get past it, and you are well on your way. He (and your childhood abusers) won’t. Ever. You have two choices: be a part of the abuse or be apart from the abuse. There’s no middle ground.

  • http://ihopetomorrowisbetter.blogspot.com/ Molly Bandit

    God’s idea for marriage is a relationship where two people love, nurture, and take care of each other. Anyone religious leader who says someone should stay in a toxic, abusive marriage is blaspheming. Harsh words, but I don’t use them lightly. I stand by them.

    God loves you and God cares for your safety. It’s never easy to start a new life, but God will stand by you and help you.

    John is 100% correct about abuse escalating. I learned that with my first boyfriend. It was a very systematic plan: first he broke down my self-esteem, then he isolated me from my friends and family, and finally the door was open for physical and sexual abuse. It took something incredibly awful to get me to make a move for my own safety, and I pray that it doesn’t get that far in your case.

    Because of that, I felt worthless. God doesn’t think we’re worthless. We’re very valuable in God’s eyes. You are worth getting help. You are worth the effort.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

    Thank you guys, all, so much.

  • http://www.sparrowmilk.blogspot.com Shadsie

    Two degrees…. I know the job market is in the toilet right now, but seriously, that gives you a leg up in finding good paying work. That could be something to look into practical-wise in regards to support once you leave the jackass. You may not have a house anymore, but apartment living can be very nice and if you look hard, you may be lucky enough to find one where the landlord doesn’t do a credit check – the one I’m in is like that and it’s good and in an upscale neighborhood, surprisingly enough, weirdly cheap for where it is. Though I do live across from a cemetary – but I *like* that. The Internet is your friend when it comes to this stuff.

    I think if my guy even started in with the crap your man gives you, there would be hitting: I’d be the one doing it, though.

  • Kat

    This made me cry. Poor lady. I will pray for her and that she finds the strength to seek the joy that God surely wants her to have in her life by setting herself free.

  • http://www.sparrowmilk.blogspot.com Shadsie

    Another thing: Transportation….

    My SO got us a free car through a charity site. I think it was charitycars.com – something like that. I can ask about it to pass it along. However, it did take a year of being on the site to get it and he was on it reviewing and socializing with the people there to bump up his name every day, so it was quite a bit of work, still, by strangeness, we got a free (used) Lexus. We got a rich people’s car in a very poor people way. If you find yourself (once you’ve left) not able to afford even a used vehicle and in a place without mass transit, it’s an option.

    Here everyone’s giving you love and support, all I can think of of practicalities…

  • RoeDylanda

    Someone awhile back called the letter writer Smart Lady, and I love that, so that is what I will call you. I am pretty sure that John encouraged you to read the comments following your letter, as this community usually turns out in force to support people who need it (especially when they’re not sure if they deserve it).

    Your “husband” chose someone he thought he could control and belittle. Of course you told him about your history before you were married. And for an abusive narcissistic petty Napoleon, it was like Christmas came early– you would have no yardstick to judge his behavior by, so he could do and say whatever he wanted! But you, Smart Lady, figured him out. You can tell by your heart that he is wrong! This is wonderful, and I believe that this is God whispering in your ear. How else would you know? Wouldn’t you pull one of your beloved kids out of a situation like this? You’re a child of God, and so beloved, so… I think that’s who is tapping your shoulder right now.

    One caution– beware attempting to record abuse. If discovered, it can escalate the situation to violence pretty quickly. Other than that, Smart Lady, gather your precious children, your precious self, your obviously awesome survival skills and GO. Much love to you. You can do it, and you & they can THRIVE.

  • Michelle in San Diego

    Dear Amazing Woman of this letter.

    My heart aches after reading this and the tears keep falling. I have been in this situation myself and so many things you have written sound so much like what I also have experienced. But, take heart because that proves you are not alone! It proves it is not your but HIM that is the cause ot the toxic enviroment you and your kids suffer through each day. I know you are scared and confused, so was I but as my mother taught me, “Fear from is the enemy.” and “Satan is the author of confusion.” Hold on to God’s promises instead and put your trust in Him. I remember being fearful that if I divorced my husband that I would look like the one who quit on the marriage and I would be the bad guy. I worried also that I would be sinning against the God I love. I wanted to be obedient. But the bible says that God allows divorce because the Hebrew men hardened their hearts against the wives of their youth. It’s not about whether your husband cheated or not. It’s about him hardening his heart against you and your kids. HE is the one at fault. If you have been married to this hateful man 14 years then I’d say you have lived out your obligation to fulfill your vows more than most people! That proves that you are tenacious, obedient and self-sacrificing. You are a strong woman!

    You have the right to live free of his abuse. God does not need to forgive you if you file for divorce. You are not wrong in divorcing because you have, in my humble opinion, the best reason for why you need one. So, don’t fear that you will disappoint God. He loves you. Your are his daughter. When your husband spews his rage at you, I hope you will think in your head and someday when you are brave enough- say it out loud, “I AM THE DAUGHTER OF THE MOST HIGH GOD.”

    Your husband had been able to make you feel worthless but you do not have to continue to feel worthless. Remember that “A woman who fears the Lord is WORTHY TO BE PRAISED!” You are worth more to your Father in Heaven than anything else, that is why he sent his Son to die for you, right? Pour out all your fears to Him and pray for your children and yourself. God knows all of it anyway but he loves to hear us pour it out to him. I found praying for others and taking the focus off myself helps too. And if you cannot bring yourself to pray for your husband (I certainly could not) then ask others to pray for him instead. It is possible he may change because through God all things are possible, but it is NOT up to you and no one can make him change but himself through obendience to God, which is his choice-not yours.

    Your safety and the safety of your kids comes first. Take the advice others have written too. So many good ideas have been shared. Record the rants! Get help from professionals trained to deal with abuse. It was the best thing I did for myself. It made a difference for my kids too. 1-800-799-SAFE is a good place to start.

    Go to the library and look for books like, “The Verbally Abusive Relationship”,” It’s my life now: starting over after an abusive relationship or domestic violence”, “Why Does He Do That” (one of the best books I’ve read), ” Domestic Violence : What Every Pastor Needs To Know” (which will be helpful too you as well as pastors.) Also, be careful about protecting your computer because your husband may become very angry if he sees you have written certian things, made an escape plan and emailed it to family or looked up information pertaining to abuse. You should use a friend or family members computer or the library. Be sure to let people close to you know what you have been through. I tried to hide things but my family and friends knew far more than I realized and once I opened up to them I got immeasurable support.

    God bless you my sister in Christ!

  • http://www.barnmaven.com Mary @Barnmaven.com

    This is heartbreaking. This kind of abuse is not the vision of marriage that God has for us. Marriage is meant to be place where we can experience deep love and respect for our partner, not be cruelly assaulted. Whether your husband’s actions are a result of his own hurts or whether he is consciously aware of what he is doing is irrelevant, it is wrong and it is abuse. I agree with John that this type of abuse will eventually escalate into actual physical harm. Do not stay any longer in this situation, please, start making your plans as quietly and below the radar as you can. Once an abuser senses his control over his victim slipping he will typically ramp up the attempts to keep them under his thumb.

    Even if you didn’t have a responsibility to care for and protect yourself, you DO have a responsibility for your children. At least one of their parents needs to take their best interests into mind and take whatever steps are necessary to protect them from their father. Children learn a great deal from the interactions between their parents, and the wounds that your children already have may not be visible but I assure you they are there. My own children suffered greatly having a father who could not control his screaming or his temper, and I didn’t realize the extent to which it was affecting them until I ended the marriage and we were able to exist in a more peaceful environment. Unfortunately there are long-term effects we will be dealing with for a long time to come, and I hold myself responsible for not getting out sooner.

    It is very common for children of alcoholic and abusive parents to have issues with codependency, which can very often lead us to forging relationships with people who are toxic to us. I strongly recommend Meloday Beattie’s book Codependent No More as a starting point. Once you have successfully left the marriage, please get a copy of David Richo’s Freedom from Fear, it will help you begin the recovery process that will be very necessary for your continued commitment to care for yourself and seek healthy relationships.

    Take care, dear letter writer, and should you need any resources locally I believe all you need to do is let John know what city/state you are in and he can find someone who reads this blog who would be willing to offer assistance. I’m in Eastern WA, just for reference.

  • http://djfree@blogspot.com DJ

    Oh my gosh, this letter absolutely BREAKS MY HEART!

    If the writer is reading along, let me just say to you:

    What your husband is doing to you is ABUSE, plain and simple. (And being a gay man who grew up in a conservative church, I know a lot about that – and why we stay behind to take it, believe it to the point that it’s in our bones, and live it.)

    YOU MUST GET OUT. We’re all damaged. We’re all broken. And many of us need years and years of therapy to overcome our past (molestation, rejection, shame, etc.) If there’s any hope in Jesus at all, however, it’s that WE CAN CHANGE. For him to tell you you’re worthless, damaged goods who will never be put back right, really allows me to see that HE is the one who shoulders most of the damage. And I feel pity for him, because he’s blind to it.

    Because of his blindness, he is TOXIC – to you, your kids, and probably everyone else around him. YOU MUST GET OUT. There are organization who help women separate from emotionally abusive husbands like yours, and help to build a sustainable life for their kids. I hope you can find one in your city…a Google search ought to cover it. I pray you find the strength and help you need to find yourself (your TRUE self), and do what’s healthiest for you and your family.

    All God’s blessings to you…

  • Ann Y

    Your letter reminded me of the seven years I spent living with the man who became my ex-husband. I’m so sorry you are going through this. The verbal abuse cuts through to your very identity and is wrong, wrong, wrong.

    Two things helped me through that time. “What God has put together, let no man put asunder” What I finally realized was that God did not put me together with this man. I did. He was my choice for a number of reasons. Most of those reasons came from the dysfunctional home I grew up in. The second was my budding belief that change was possible. And the subsequent realization that people change when they feel a need to change. Not before. My ex was a man who saw absolutely nothing wrong with his behavior. He was not going to change, but that didn’t mean that I couldn’t. Change is a gift from God. No matter where you’ve been or what you’ve done, you can change. “Go and sin no more.” implies change.

    I did change. I got my MA in Counseling Psychology, became great at being a single parent, learned how to do the vast majority of home repairs by myself and much more. And I have loved every minute of it. I am now married to the man the God chose for me. Everyday is a blessing with him. No man can put asunder what God did for us.

    As for being the bad guy in this. Go for it! You know that you are not intrinsically bad. You know the truth and, yes, the truth will set you free in more ways than one.

    Forget planning, forget money, forget your belongings, forget about anything practical. Just grab your kids and leave. When you do, call a domestic violence shelter and they will help you as there are many resources out there. God has given you the first steps for a way out. Take them. You are His beloved child and He understands far more than we ever can.

  • Jack

    \ But I would trade it all for an apartment, my children, and a peace of mind. \

    Then DO IT!

    You’ll be a whole lot better off!

    And don’t think you can let God down. As Tess said in TOUCHED BY AN ANGEL, “You can’t disappoint God because you can’t surprise Him!”

  • Cindy

    You’re right! This is absolutely heart breaking. Tears are running down my face. My dear, dear precious sister, the God I’ve come to know would NEVER condone staying with this man. Please make sure to read Jen’s link (Bless you, Sister Jen.) It’s obvious from your words that you love your children VERY much. So think on this please ~ when he tells the kids how awful YOU are, he is also telling them that they can’t be of much worth either, because one half of them is YOU. And that’s what is going through their minds when he says those things. It’s not just you he is belittling-your children are getting the same impression: “I’m worthless.” Certainly not true of you OR the kids. But when someone hears it often enough, they begin to believe it. You’ve begun to believe it, so why wouldn’t the children too? Leave for them. I think God has plans for you (& w/2 degrees, you’re a smart cookie!) but those plans can’t come to fruition because of your husband.. If you cannot bring yourself to divorce him, then still LEAVE him . There is not a person on this board that won’t help you, whether it be spiritual, physical, or otherwise (yes, I am THAT confident in my fellow Christians here, sight unseen.) God Bless.

    /Sorry for the long post, just had to let her know we love her

    // I’ve been where you are now

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

    What an awesome, awesome group we have here. I’m so deeply proud and touched to be part of this collective.

  • Cindy

    You’re right! This is absolutely heart breaking. Tears are running down my face. My dear, dear precious sister, the God I’ve come to know would NEVER condone staying with this man. Please make sure to read Jen’s link (Bless you, Sister Jen.) It’s obvious from your words that you love your children VERY much. So think on this please ~ when he tells the kids how awful YOU are, he is also telling them that they can’t be of much worth either, because one half of them is YOU. And that’s what is going through their minds when he says those things. It’s not just you he is belittling-your children are getting the same impression: “I’m worthless.” Certainly not true of you OR the kids. But when someone hears it often enough, they begin to believe it. You’ve begun to believe it, so why wouldn’t the children too? I think God has plans for you (& w/2 degrees, you’re a smart cookie!) but those plans can’t come to fruition because of your husband.. If you cannot bring yourself to divorce him, then still LEAVE him . There is not a person on this board that won’t help you, whether it be spiritual, physical, or otherwise (yes, I am THAT confident in my fellow Christians here, sight unseen.) God Bless.

    /Sorry for the long post, just had to let her know we love her

    // I’ve been where you are now

  • Cindy

    Goodness! It looks like somehow I’ve posted twice! Excuse me.

  • A survivor

    john has previously posted one of my letters to him on abuse. so, i know, sweet soul, where you are at. and i know-from my own journey- where you can (and SHOULD) be.

    a few things, as i read your letter….

    -You wrote you feel like you would be letting God down if you left. You are actually letting God down by staying. I truly believe that God does not want us to live this way. He did not create you to live like this. Think, really think, about that. Think of the Creator…all knowing. all seeing. Do you believe the God you love wants this for you? For your precious children? That’s not the God I know. The God I know created us, was excited doing so. He LOVES you.

    -According to the bible, your husband has already committed adultery by going to the strip club. “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’; but I say to you, that everyone who looks on a woman to lust for her has committed adultery with her already in his heart”. (NAS, Matthew 5:27-28)

    Something my sister said to me, before I got out, when I first found the courage to start telling my family what was going on. She said, “If you saw a stranger treating your children that way, what would your reaction be? You would want to get your kids away from that dangerous person. This is no different.” That really hit home with me because it made sense. As a protective, loving mommy I would not stand for one second a stranger abusing my kids like that. It is worse when it’s someone they trust, like your husband. If you stay, understand you will either be raising abusers (kids learn how to treat others by example) OR you will be raising adult victims.

    When I left, I got a restraining order. I took my 4 kids-all under the age of 9- and got a one bedroom apartment. I was too afraid to take any furniture so for 3 months we slept in sleeping bags on the floor. A Walmart box was our dining room table. He refused to help financially-not even for food for them. i was a stay at home mom. he canceled the credit cards, etc. We had nothing BUT our freedom. and that is priceless. We had to go on public assistance until i got a job. That was almost 3 years ago. We are now doing fantastic! It was the hardest thing we ever went through but we are free. Now, the kids are in therapy and i am teaching them the correct way to treat others. Undoing all the wrong, abusive things they learned from my ex.

    It’s a long road but you can get there. i promise. you. can. do. this. I never knew how strong i was until i had to be. when i look back now, i am amazed with myself. you can be too. but you won’t be if you stay. you will be stuck in the same abusive marriage. and more importantly, your kids will be stuck.

    Please consider getting out. work your way toward that. also, please visit http://www.ourplaceonline.net. This is a forum for current people in abusive relationships and also for us SURVIVORS!! :) The people there led me to the light-i was right where you are when i first joined that forum and now, 3 years later, i am my old wonderful, happy, successful self. You can be that too! xoxo

  • Karen

    Please feel free to share with the women on here, if you think it would help.

    I grew up with a father that is like your husband, and I used to sit in my room and pray that my parents would get a divorce. I am the youngest of 5, and I grew up on a family farm that has been in the family for centuries. My father never let my mom forget that everything we had was his, and that she could never leave. They were married for several years before she was even allowed to have her name on the checking account.

    You will be blessing your children if you leave.

    As well, we were in a fundamentalist church, and I do not think that my my feels she would have had support (although she would have. Now that I am an adult, several members of my church asked me why mom never left).

    They just “celebrated” their 49th wedding anniversary. My dad is no longer the raging, emotionally abusive man that he once was. He is now a passive aggressive toddler that throws tantrums when he doesn’t get his way.

    Also, you may be condemning your daughter to the same fate. I was in a very abusive relationship when I was in college, because it was all I knew. Luckily, I got therapy and broke the cycle, but one of my sisters has not.

    God does not want his children to suffer, and this is not God’s plan for you. This is not his plan for your children.

    Ask yourself: Would this be good enough for your daughter? If the answer is no, then why would it be good enough for you. You are just as valuable as she is.

    I am not saying this to scare you, but it is the truth, this will affect your relationship with your daughter in the years to come. I spent a lot of time as a young adult being very angry with my mom, because I felt like she didn’t do her duty to protect me. You are chancing a future relationship with your children if you stay with your husband.

    God will provide for you if you leave. Child support, alimony, and the grace of God with help. Find a church that supports abused women. They can give you strength. Know that God will also use you in the future to help other women. It will be very empowering.

    I now teach high school, and I have helped several young women leave abusive relationships because I can identify with them. I know what they are feeling, and I do not judge them. God will use you as a beautiful and powerful tool as well.

    In God’s love, Karen

  • Karen

    As the child of an abusive father, but more as a woman who has left an abusive relationship, I have a word of caution for those who are helping other women to leave.

    Sometimes the things that you say to that you think are helping, are not. Saying things like, you are better than this? Why do you lower yourself like this? What do you put up with…? Why don’t you just leave? …

    These questions only make a woman feel stupid or weak. In order to find the strength to leave, a woman must be empowered. Compliment her strength, without mentioning the abuser? Don’t ask her the same questions that she stays up at nigh asking herself. Listen without judgement, even if it is the same story that makes your blood boil and you are hearing it to for the 100th time. Do things that empower her, that doesn’t reference her relationship. Don’t be frustrated or take it personally when she doesn’t heed your advice. She must do it in her time, on her own strength.

    The only time you should overstep your boundaries is if a child is in danger. I believe it is everybody’s job and position to protect those who cannot protect themselves.

  • Don Rappe

    Dear sister in Christ. May God give you the faith and trust in God;s Self to overcome your fears and realize your hopes. I know you need that much power, but, I believe it is available. There is such a wealth of knowledge of your situation in John’s article and all these comments that go far beyond my own experience. But from my experience, I do know this. While many of your fears for the future may well be unfounded, your direct fear of your abuser is founded. It’s not just that you don’t owe him your confidence, but that it is important for him not to sense an impending change in his control over you. (You are going to turn this control aspect over to God.) If that happens he may act in any reckless and irresponsible way, since he is a bully. Keep your plans to yourself and to trustworthy allies.I expect battered women’s shelters with their physical protection is an excellent idea. Do not confuse yourself into thinking you are not battered YET. In the two experiences in my extended family, giving the abuser an opportunity to react was tragic. But you are a mature woman and you know how to keep your own council.

  • David

    And of course, it’s helpful to remember that women aren’t the only ones in this sort of situation. It’s not only men that can produce abusive relationships; I should know, as I relate to what this sister says so much.

  • Don Whitt

    That struggle with what’s “normal” and acceptable in a relationship is really difficult when your role models stank. It screws-up everything. There’s no balance. So you have to listen to your heart, your gut. The writer needs to get out ASAP. Even if she were to get hubby to a counselor, he’d be out the door as soon as the focus fell onto his issues. He might even become violent.

    David’s right – the focus is 99% on women as the victims in relationships, yet, from my personal experience it’s a 50/50 proposition. Manipulation and dysfunction isn’t attached to the Y chromosome.

  • Mindy

    Go, Karen. What got you into the relationship in the first place is the fact that no decent “normal” was ever modeled for you. Don’t continue to model dysfunction for your children. If for no other reason, that is why you go.

    Do as John says – continue to follow his every command, all the while saving money and executing a plan. Find an attorney familiar with abusive relationships. Make sure that your kids will be with you when you leave. No father should EVER be badmouthing mommy to his children. Ever.

    I survived an abusive relationship, and I’ve survived divorce. I didn’t marry my abuser; my children have a decent father. But we did have to move from the big, beautiful house to an apartment – and you know what? It’s way better. It’s peaceful. It’s home. You can do that.

    Know that your are not alone – I wish you strength, resilience and peace.

  • Mindy

    Oops, didn’t mean Karen – was directing that at the Letter Writer. Sorry!

  • http://www.facebook.com/john.shore1 John Shore

    I am hereby testing this here fancy brand new comments management system.

  • http://www.facebook.com/john.shore1 John Shore

    I’m testing Disqus on my blog.

  • Val P.

    I can relate so much to this woman’s story, it kind of makes me nauseous. I was in a marriage a lot like this for 16 years – seemed like 100 years. My husband pushed me and screamed at me – but never hit me. So I didn’t think it was abuse. The threw things at the walls but never at me. So I didn’t think it was abuse. He screamed and physically fought with my oldest son – but then the son was screaming and fighting back. So I still didn’t think it was abuse. When I started having anxiety attacks I went to a counselor, and by the end of the first visit she told me I was being abused. He came with me to a counseling session, and while he was standing over the counselor screaming at her, she looked at me and told me the name of a women’s shelter. He left that night, and I started going to counseling at the shelter. And I found a whole bunch of women just like me, all just trying to keep our families together. And I found the courage to leave his sorry butt behind.

    The sad thing is, now that my children are grown they all have emotional scars. My oldest blames me that I didn’t “do something” sooner than I did. So I feel a lot of guilt.

    My ex is remarried and he and his wife are very religious people. Pillars of their church. They went on an trip to the Holy Land last year. I don’t believe in Hell as a place of fire and brimstone…nevertheless, it would be a comfort knowing there’s a pitchfork with his name on it.

    Actually, that might be the reason so many people hang onto the concept of eternal punishment in Hell – we know so many people who deserve it.

    I am sending prayers and telepathically sending strength to this woman. Hope she gets out with herself and her kids intact. It’s really hard, I know.


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