Month: September 2013

Another website on toxic people in the church

Ingrid Schlueter writes about toxic relationships on her blog.

From this post on enablers:

The trial of child molester Jerry Sandusky gave the public a glimpse of how desperately evil enablers can be.

Jerry’s wife, Dottie is Exhibit A. Despite cold, hard evidence of her husband’s brutal sexual abuse of children, some of which took place in her own home, Dottie stood by “Jer.” She stood by him even when it meant throwing their own son, Matt, under the bus.

Matt had the temerity to testify about his own father’s abuse. This, to an enabler of a toxic spouse, is unacceptable. Truth telling children must be abandoned and demonized.

“Jer” was more important to this pathetic excuse for a woman than the fact that her man had destroyed the lives of countless children to satisfy his depraved lust.

When a father or mother turns on adult children and behaves in reprehensible ways towards them, and the spouse and sometimes adult siblings hunker down in silence, refusing to stand by the victim, they are part of the team of destruction. For professing Christians to behave in this way beggars belief.

A number of times, I have seen pastors or Christian leaders go under for behavior like gambling, adultery, porn or other kinds of abuse, with their enabling spouses clinging to their arms.

These women, nearly always, were aware that things were going on, but rather than stand boldly and firmly for truth and for the victims, clung to their “Jers” and watched innocent people go down instead.

 

This also happened to me, when my best friend Richard told me all about the emotional, verbal and physical violence committed by his wife Tracy against him and the children, and I witnessed some of it. 

But because I believed him, and spoke out, Tracy became my enemy, smearing me to him, until he finally threw me under the bus and stood against me. 

Now he is my enemy, too, because he enables her when she does this to people (not just me but many others), and stands behind her even when she verbally abuses, damages and chases away his closest friends. 

Because I spoke out, he turned against me, even though I spoke out against the things she did to abuse him.  (The whole story is here and here.)

Ingrid also writes that the enabler of an abuser should be like Abigail in the Bible, who refused to do what her evil husband demanded, and

That is the only right response of a spouse to a toxic person. Failure to do this is to become complicit with the Destroyer. It really is that simple.

Evil triumphs when Christian spouses enable sin instead of taking a principled, godly stand. Standing for what is right is never easy, but if we really follow Jesus, we have no other choice.

This is exactly right, and what I tried to express to Richard.  But because he continues to enable her, he is also an abuser.

This is also why I felt a prick of conscience every time I clammed up over some instance of abuse by Tracy, and why I felt led to speak up about the abuse.

This is also why I was finally scapegoated by them, and psychologically and verbally abused until I finally said ENOUGH.  Because I was the Abigail who spoke out and even reported them to CPS, I became their enemy.

It does not have to be this way: They could repent.  But they choose not to.

More posts:

Toxic people are defined and ruled by their Luciferian pride. They will never humble themselves and admit wrong because, in their own minds, they have no problems. The problem is always, always with everyone around them who fails to meet their expectations and insatiable desires.

Toxic people are known by the turmoil they create around them. Whether it is a family member, spouse, co-worker, fellow church member, neighbor or someone else, these people are able to inflict considerable pain in the people they hurt.

They are not happy unless there is drama and intrigue and strife in progress. They seem to take pleasure in creating chaos where there is peace, and in hurting those who are otherwise happy by finding their weakest, most vulnerable area.

In my experience, there is sometimes almost a supernatural ability to sniff out an area of insecurity and to put the knife into that tender spot with glee.

…..When we give abusive and vicious people permission to repeatedly sin against us without consequence, we enable them to sin.

There are some times when the best thing we can do for that openly sinning person is to part company with them.

When we do this, we deny the person the further opportunity to sin against us. This helps us to forgive them and cut off further chances for the enemy to take advantage of the situation. Dealing with toxic people

 

The hallmarks of this kind of ministry are unbalanced messages (much Law and no grace) and a track record of destroyed relationships.

Anyone in any kind of church or para-church ministry is going to make enemies. I am talking about a consistent pattern of unreconciled personal issues with others that results in persistent, malicious conduct. (In Phelps’ case, outright Satanic hatred for others.)

Attempts at reconciliation with such people are greeted with contempt and further attacks. Years ago, I sent one such individual an apology over my tone in our disagreement.

An hour later, my fax machine spit out two full pages of personal attacks that were way, way below the belt. (I guess the man wanted me to have a hard copy, so he faxed it.)

I realized that moment 10 years ago what is confirmed today: He doesn’t want reconciliation.

In fact, these toxic religious people consider it a sign of their own rectitude that they DON’T reconcile with their antagonists. That would be unbiblical compromise. And so the self-delusion goes…

As Christians we are told in Scripture not to “strive”, to live as much as possible in peace with all around us, and to be “tender-hearted, forgiving one another.” So how, with this biblical teaching in view, do we handle things?

I will start answering this question and continue it over into my next post. When you are in a situation with a professing Christian who has engaged in a pattern of abusive and malicious conduct, without remorse and without willingness to reconcile, you need to protect yourself from them. It’s that plain.

When your heart craves peace and reconciliation with someone, and you take that humble heart to the other party only to be effectively cursed and further abused, you are taking what is precious and casting it before dogs. —Dealing with toxic people part 2

This is precisely what happened when I tried to initiate peace and reconciliation with Richard and Tracy. 

And this is why I walked away again–and was accused by Tracy of needing to “grow up” because I refused to take any more of this abuse.

Even worse happened when they threatened a lawsuit (see here).

Ingrid also explains how Christians MUST walk away from such people, because engaging them, even trying to get them to see the error of their ways, disturbs our peace in Christ.

Another helpful post on dealing with toxic people is here.  It goes into more detail on steps we can take to reduce the toxins, even when forced to continue dealing with such people.

This post speaks of narcissists in ministry.  It reminds me of what I’ve seen over on Julie Anne’s blog: She wrote about being spiritually abused in Beaverton Grace Bible Church, only to get sued by the pastor there–who then began his own blog when he lost the suit.

 

Reblog: Making your abuse story into God’s glory in your life

Something to remember:

Trust that God has allowed all of your pain with a greater purpose in mind. Unflinchingly face your story—all of it, both good and bad—and realize that the very tragedy in your life has made your story compelling.

That God is gaining great glory as you wrestle your way toward him through the weeds and muck of tragic circumstance.

Trust that in the end, whatever man might have meant for evil, God means for good, for the saving of many lives (Genesis 50:20).

God is doing his good things all the time, and someday we will only regret that we did not trust him more. —From Who Writes Your Shattered Life? by Liberty for Captives

 

Whiteheart Concert–Phil Meets Shawn–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–March 1994, Part 1

I first started to listen to WAPL (the Apple in Appleton), Lazer 103 and 93Q and their mixes of classic and new rock because I thought it was Phil’s kind of music, and I kind of liked it.  (93Q was the best mix, playing songs the others didn’t.)

Now that I was all into that stuff, Phil said, “The only reason I can handle your music is because of a certain friend I have who’s into that stuff.”  And he said that otherwise, he might have broken up with me because of it!!!!

Breaking up because of music, when you are with the person you’re meant to be with????  It made me feel bad to think that he would’ve broken up with me if it weren’t for that one friend.

The Whiteheart concert was on March 4.  Phil agreed to drive us.  He was not a good driver; for example, once Mike, Pearl and/or others told him to turn at a certain spot.  They told him as we neared it, and again as we got to it, but he kept on going.  Then they got annoyed, and said he was supposed to turn back there!

I believe that nearly all my InterVarsity friends were in the minivan with us, and at some point they began singing various hymns, some old and some new.  (I didn’t join in because I didn’t like singing.)

Phil recognized none of the hymns, and tried to start a song he knew from his church.  Nobody knew it, so nobody sung along.

He took this personally, even though it had nothing to do with how they felt about him: They just didn’t know the songs. Protestants and Catholics sing different hymns.

We stayed in the room of one or two of Pearl’s friends, in a Whitewater dorm.  We were amazed and impressed by the numerical keypads on the locks.  Instead of always having to remember your key, you just memorized your number and punched it in to unlock the door.  No more worry about locking yourself out of your room or dorm!  No more lost key cards!

We slept on the floor, Phil and I next to each other.  We were happy in love and a cute couple, probably gag-cute to our friends.

We got to the concert.  Shawn was there with another group, probably his youth group.  Pearl had not been able to get Phil and me tickets for seats with the rest of our group (though now I wonder if she did this on purpose because people in the group didn’t like Phil).

Soon after we found our seats, Shawn found us.  He talked with me for a few minutes, and I introduced him to Phil.  He shook Phil’s hand.  He laughed and smiled, but I wasn’t sure how much he wanted to talk to me.  Then Shawn said he wanted to go find Pearl, and left.

I had told Phil about Shawn.  I had felt that when I got engaged, I should tell my future husband about Shawn.

You see, in the Christian Evangelical/Fundamentalist world, we are taught as teenagers that our bodies belong to our future spouses, not to ourselves.  Even if we have not met them yet, if we allow ourselves to be touched sexually before marriage, we are betraying our future spouse.

For us, it is irrelevant that we had not even met yet if we were sexually active with someone else beforehand: It is still a betrayal that we must repent of, the same as if we were married at the time.

So even though we’re the ones currently dating our girlfriend/boyfriend, if we touch them sexually, we are, as Christian pop singer Eric Champion put it in the song “Don’t Touch That Temple,” touching the temple of the Lord.  As the song goes, when you’re with your date, “What would you do if you knew that somebody had their hands on the temple God made for you?”

So when an Evangelical feels guilt when confessing his sexual history to his fiancée, this is why.  And when a friend advises the fiancée, who is now upset that they won’t be giving their purity to each other on their wedding night as she has dreamed of since childhood, “But he slept with those girls before he even met you,” the friend’s words have no meaning or consolation to her.

Of course, as it turned out, Phil had had oral sex with his exes, so he’d gone farther than I did.  But in any case, he was disgusted because Shawn would touch me but then say he didn’t want me.

So now, after Shawn shook his hand and left, Phil turned to me and made sure I saw him wipe his hand on his pants, like he’d touched something gross and wanted to wipe it off.

He later asked if I’d known Shawn would be there, and why didn’t I tell him?  (Pearl had told me, but I didn’t think it was important enough to mention.  Shawn was going to be with another group, after all, not ours.)  Did I not tell him because I was afraid he wouldn’t drive us to the concert?  He said if he had known, he might not have gone to the concert.

WHAT?  Would he have really left us all without a ride just because of one person he might see but who wasn’t even near us during the whole concert?  (I believe Shawn was somewhere way in the back, while Phil and I were near the middle, in the same row as my friends.)

Would he really have disregarded my longtime desire to see a Whiteheart concert?  I’d been a big fan since 1986, but had never been able to go to one of their concerts before!

I’ve been at the same SCA event as a woman who I knew had once slept with Cugan.  I also knew that she had been like Shawn, playing with Cugan’s mind and doing all these things with him, but it was all fun and games for her, no love, no desire for a relationship.  I even danced along with her, taking her hand during the jigs and reels.  It was rough, and jealousy did flare up.

But I still went to these events, knowing she would be there.  It was comforting and validating that Phil found Shawn’s actions disgusting.  But for Phil to behave in such a fashion, to not even want to go if he knew Shawn was there, to even refuse to drive us all there if he had known–What does that say about him?  I think it’s more evidence of a desire for control.

During the concert, I didn’t clap during the whole thing like other people did and like I used to do as a teenager at Christian rock concerts.  But then, I was getting older and not as into clapping anymore.  Phil thought I wasn’t that into the concert, but I loved it.  It was heaven.

I loved the setup on stage (a Scottish castle); to begin, a guy (dressed as on the album cover) came out and played the bagpipes.  I wasn’t expecting him, and then all of a sudden, he was there with the spotlight on him.

The tour was for the Highlander album, and this Scottish theme made me, the descendant of Scots, even happier than I was already.

I hadn’t had enough time to get emotionally attached to the songs on the new album, as I told Phil, but they did play a few older songs.  One was “Fly Eagle Fly,” which Rick Florian barely even remembered.  It was the first Whiteheart song I ever heard, back in 1986, a gorgeous, ethereal ballad.

I whispered to Phil that I loved that song, so he paid close attention to it.  I wasn’t sure if he was impressed with Whiteheart or not, but at least he wanted to know what was important to me.

Florian also told something I didn’t know, that there were albums before Don’t Wait for the Movie, and that there was another lead singer then, a guy who left because of a scandal involving him and two underage girls.  This was a shock.  I didn’t want to hear the pre-Florian songs after that.

After the show, I got myself a concert T-shirt with the album cover on it.  This T-shirt became one of my favorites, a reminder of the wonderful time when I finally got to see Whiteheart in concert.  Yet because of one person, Phil would not have taken me there.

****

I tried to tell Phil about the time I went to Mammoth Cave, and even offered to show him the copy of the letter I wrote about it to my Luxemburg pen pal, but he refused to see it.

He didn’t like hearing about people’s lives that were more interesting than his, since, as he said, his was just sad and nothing ever happened to him.

I wanted the man I was to marry to know about my experiences, the weird and unusual as well as the merely mundane.  They were a part of me, and knowing me fully meant knowing about my experiences.  I couldn’t see how a person could love someone and not want to know everything about her.

Phil told me he wanted to read my diaries, and everything I’d ever written.  So I pulled out my first diary (started at age 9) and let him read it.  However, he soon complained, saying he didn’t want to read things like “A spider crawled across the ground,” but more important things.

This hurt me, because I wrote those things when I was a child, and they were important to me then.  I thought my first diary was cute and interesting, but he thought it was boring.  He said he wanted to read everything I’d written, but when I showed it to him, he didn’t want to read it.

Index 
Cast of Characters (Work in Progress)

Table of Contents

Freshman Year

September 1991:

 October 1991:

November 1991:

December 1991: Ride the Greyhound

January 1992: Dealing with a Breakup with Probable NVLD

 February 1992:

March 1992: Shawn: Just Friends or Dating?

April 1992: Pledging, Prayer Group–and Peter’s Smear Campaign

May 1992:

Sophomore Year 

Summer 1992:

September 1992:

October 1992–Shawn’s Exasperating Ambivalence:

November 1992:

December 1992:

January 1993:

February 1993:

March 1993:

April 1993:

May 1993:

Summer 1993: Music, Storm and Prophetic Dreams

September 1993:

October 1993:

November 1993:

December 1993:

January 1994:

February 1994:

March 1994:

April 1994:

Senior Year 

June 1994–Bits of Abuse Here and There:

July & August 1994:

January 1995:

February 1995:

March 1995:

April 1995:

May 1995:

 

Reblog: Introverts and NLD

See Socially Unaware’s post on introverts and NLD here:

Introverts and NLD

A quote:

I know that people with Nonverbal Learning Disorder are commonly introverts, but I never clued in to how closely NLD is actually linked with being an introvert until I read this article.

A lot of the socialization and behavioural attributes tend to coincide with each other so much that the line between the traits of an introverted personality and symptoms of NLD seem almost blurred.

 

Excellent blog post for victims of abuse who are told they “deserved” it

When Abusers Act Like Victims, Victims Get Abused by Liberty for Captives.  Quotes:

But it also sounded familiar.  Almost every victim of abuse–whether verbal, physical, sexual, or spiritual–has sat sweating in the presence of his or her abuser and felt the lens of blame turned back on them. This is called blame-shifting and it results in re-victimization of those who have suffered abuse.

Why Does it Happen?

When an abuser is in control—when his victim squirms beneath his gaze or suffers beneath his lash—the abuser feels that all is right with the world. …. He believes that the victim needs him—wants him, even—or that the victim at least deserves the abuse.

He admires his own golden qualities and may feed off the body and blood of religion like a parasite. He lives in rationalization and denial for so long that his lies become his truth.

But shatter those windows, expose those deeds, and pull an abuser wriggling into the sunlight and watch his sudden breathless explanations. Exposed for what he is—an abusive person guilty of sin—he feels outraged at the accusations…..

An article from NBC’s Today Show explains why Jerry Sandusky and his wife feel like they are the victims, despite Jerry being convicted of 45 out of 48 counts of child sexual abuse.

This is a pattern, folks. Perpetrators are often master manipulators and deceivers who blame-shift and accuse their victims of persecuting them or lying.

 

Article on how to confront an abuser

By Ken Singer, LCSW:

Disclosure is the act of telling someone about a secret or private information. With survivors of sexual abuse, it may occur immediately after the abuse, or years later.

Sometimes it is a planned or purposeful disclosure. Other times it is forced or accidental, or may come out in a therapy session where there was no intention to discuss it or any recollection of the abuse.

This article is written for survivors who want to disclose their abuse. Disclosure may made to a partner or spouse who is unaware of the abuse, a non-offending parent or relative, sibling, friend or other person the survivor believes should know.

This article is also about confrontation which will be covered in Part 2. The two acts, disclosure and confrontation, need to be well thought out to ensure success and reduce the possibility of additional trauma for the survivor.

As a rule, if there is going to be confrontation with a perpetrator, some disclosure will likely have taken place before the confrontation. There are reasons why disclosure should precede confrontation (if confrontation is going to take place at all. In many cases, confrontation is not recommended, but more on that later.) —Confronting Your Abuser

 

An Excellent Article on Emotional Abuse

The stuff in this article by Natalie P. sounds very familiar from various emotional abusers, including my ex Phil.  It also shows me that even Richard was a direct emotional abuser of me, not just an abuser of me by proxy for his abusive and controlling wife.

Some parts I especially noted as familiar for my most recent experience of emotional abuse:

Emotional abusers often display different personalities to other people in their lives – watch for a completely changed demeanor, behavior, body language and even tone of voice, when they are at work, or with a circle of friends.

The abuser may claim that this is just different “facets” of his personality, but in fact, it is a warning sign that he puts on different personas to suit the situation, and you will never know which one is the REAL person. It belies huge insecurities – the way children try to act like the crowd they are with in order to be accepted – and is an indication of the emotional immaturity of the typical abuser.

Emotional abusers, like physical abusers, can be exceedingly charming -that’s why it’s so hard for the victim of abuse – their friends only see the charming side, and don’t see the discourtesy, lies, meanness, condescension and rudeness that happens inside the relationship.

Because abuse is about power and control, the abuser will often try to become “buddies” or friends with his partner’s closest friends.

…Like physical abusers, emotional abusers will often stalk their former partners. The stalker’s objective is often to control her through cultivating fear rather than making direct or specific threats, or confronting her.

Sometimes this stalking can take the form of simply moving into the same neighborhood as a former partner, and letting her know, through friends, where he is living.

His move into her neighborhood will be “justified” by him for some specious reason, but the reality is, he can’t let go and is still trying to control her and inflict pain on her after the relationship is over.

This is a subtle form of terrorism, because abuse victims are often very emotionally (if not physically) afraid of their abusers once they wake up. She will know that she might run into him at the local convenience store, gas station, supermarket, or on a walk.

He is, in effect, pissing on her boundaries (something abusers have no respect for) and trying to make them his own. He may even begin dating someone who lives very close to her, so that he has an excuse to go by her house, or park his car nearby.

Ex-partners of abusers will often express fear of their abuser, and will have no desire to be anywhere near the abuser.

On the other hand, the abuser may try to appear as if he is calm, rational, and still supportive of his ex-partner, despite the fact that he will also express the opinion that he believes she is quite unstable.

He will make statements such as saying that he “bears her no ill-will”, etc., but then will show no respect for her boundaries or her requests for him to stay away from her.

The abuser will still inquire with friends as to how she is doing, implying that his inquiry is because he cares about her – he does care – about retaining those last vestiges of control, even after the breakup.

What he really wants to know is if she is suffering or doing badly, because that feeds his sick ego. He feels best when he puts other people in as much pain as he is in.

…If you are a victim of emotional abuse, you have to wake up to the fact that this person *does not love you* and probably hasn’t loved you for a very long time, if ever.

Because the truth of the matter is, someone who can be emotionally cruel, malicious, and compassionless with people who have given him their love and their trust, is so absorbed in self-hate that he is incapable of loving himself, much less anyone else.

What the abuser feels is obsession, not love.

…It is NOT wrong, or unhealthy to want someone to love and care about you and care for you, and to want to reciprocate. It is only through this kind of openness that we can achieve true intimacy with another individual. And two emotionally healthy people, CAN do this without becoming co-dependent.

Unfortunately, abusers violate the trust that this kind of relationship requires, and are incapable of true intimacy. They want you to be dependent.

People who ARE capable of genuinely loving you in a healthy and safe way, DON’T WANT TO HURT YOU, and do not DELIBERATELY DO THINGS TO HURT YOU. They don’t play on your insecurities and they don’t wage psychological warfare on you. They don’t blame YOU for all the relationship problems, and they don’t fabricate problems just so you can be the scapegoat.

This fits all my emotional abusers.

 

Carolyn Hax (and the “nutterati”) Stick It to a Jealous Girlfriend

A letter writer is quite upset that her boyfriend of two years still talks–all the time–with his ex-wife of 30 years.  Even “put her foot down” over it, only to find he was still talking to the ex.  Carolyn Hax’s response was not what she expected.  For example:

But this is not up for debate: He has every right to this friendship. You can point out things that bother you, take offense at being lied to, and decide they’re too cozy and break up with him for it, but you can’t tell him who he can or can’t care about based on the way you think coupled people are supposed to behave.

The commenters “below the line” (whom Hax calls “nutterati”) also, for the most part, appear to agree with Hax, and consider the letter writer to be controlling, jealous, insecure, etc.  They note that she’s trying to control a grown man.

YES!

Column here: Why can’t these exes who are “bestest buddies” move on?

And here’s another one in the same vein:

Her hostile reaction to misfired introduction shows trust issues

This girlfriend throws a hissy fit because her boyfriend accidentally called her by his ex’s name, and still has pictures of the ex on his Facebook.  Then he didn’t grovel enough for her taste.  The commenters then started calling her very immature, hoping she’s about 21 and will grow up soon.

One commenter says, “Impossible to care about a person who is so intent on keeping score. Her behavior is poison to any relationship.  Assess the bigger picture, accept what is or don’t and move on.  IMO anyone this insecure and high maintenance is just too exhausting to bother with.

I can attest to that: Even if you’re not the significant other, but a friend of the SO, this can be so exhausting that you finally say screw it and leave.

 

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