Category: abuser blaming victim

I confront Phil about his abuse–College Memoirs: Life At Roanoke–November 1994, Part 2

On the third, Persephone and I joked about how Phil squanders his money.  I mentioned the tithe-disagreement when he said he’d handle our finances, and she said, “I’m never gonna marry him.  I’m not crazy!”

On the fourth, I wrote in my diary,

“I’m a better person when I’m not around you.”  Hogwash.  [And also, from accounts of his next girlfriends, not at all true.]  You’ve got to take responsibility for your own actions, since nobody makes you act cruel unless they hold a gun to your head or something.

If you treat me like dirt, if you feel like a bad person around me, that’s your problem, not mine.

On the fifth or sixth, Saturday or Sunday, my roommies and I were walking back from lunch when lo and behold, I saw Phil and Persephone off in the distance, walking on the drive over by the marshy field beyond.

I couldn’t believe it.  I have recorded many different times when Phil and I somehow “happened” to be in the same place at the same time, no matter how unusual.

When we had class at the same time and in the same building, it was understandable, but this often wasn’t the case.  It was as if Phil knew where I was at all times and made an effort to be in my sight.

If, in those days, American society had already grown paranoid about stalkers (which they were in the late 90s), I probably would have asked the question, Is Phil stalking me?

As it was, I was very upset, seeing yet again a reminder of how quickly he threw me away and looked for a replacement chick, after having insisted for months and months that we were truly man and wife.

On November 3, I had just prayed for help forgiving Phil.  I had also just written in the Journal to my friends the day before about the hurt and anger I didn’t know how to deal with.

I had to shelve new books in the Religion section of the library.  So I looked around for books on knowing God’s will and other spiritual questions.

Then I saw this little, white paperback with the title, Forgive and Forget: Healing The Hurts We Don’t Deserve by Lewis B. Smeade.  (Here is an interview with the author which describes the book’s philosophy.)

I snatched up the book and put it on the cart to check out.

It said hatred was stage 2 of forgiveness.  It said that in order to forgive, first I must confront the person who wronged me–say how he wronged me, and that I hated him for it.  It had to be done, or I wouldn’t be able to release him in my heart, and he wouldn’t know that he did something wrong.

On pages 141-2, the author described a college teacher who trusted the chairman of her department to put in a good word for her.  Instead, he stabbed her in the back, and she lost her job.

She knew about it, but he didn’t know she did.  She pretended each day to day that it hadn’t happened; each night she’d go home and throw up.  Finally, she told him he’d done her wrong, “and I hate you for it.”  After that, she stopped throwing up after work.

Dr. Phil McGraw also says that sending a letter is sometimes necessary:

As you consider your own triggering event and the nature and degree of the suffering you’ve endured, what is your MER [Minimal Effective Response]?

Maybe you don’t feel the need or have the courage right now to do either one of the kinds of things that were contemplated for Rhonda. Maybe what you need to do is write a letter and write down all your thoughts and all your feelings. Maybe that does it for you.

Maybe you even need to mail the letter, if your event involves another person. Perhaps, like Rhonda, if you can’t mail the letter, then you might need to go to the offender’s grave and read it to him or her in the cemetery.

Whatever your MER is, you need to identify it and you need to do it. You need to emit that response until such time as you can say, “OK, that’s it. That’s enough. My lens is clean. My emotional business is finished and I am free to go back to being that person that I now know that I am.”

So I confronted Phil in a letter, which I let sit, told my dad about, and then showed to Pearl for advice before sending.  It’s often said that we should confront people rather than just complaining about them to other people, that the pain of confrontation is brief in comparison to the pain of having a problem continue.

The letter went into detail about the emotional abuse Phil had put me through.  

It made clear that I saw him with my last letter coming out of Muehlmeier, and that I felt there was nothing about that letter to upset him.  It chewed him out for showing it around rather than considering it.

It gave my perspective on the marriage, which is that it was real and valid.  

The letter explained that I had to confront him if I ever hoped to forgive him.

I prayed a lot over the letter, asking for guidance, for the proper words and content, for God to work his will through it, soften Phil’s heart for it, convict him through it….I felt it was God’s will for me to send it.

Phil never responded to the letter–probably because I told him not to unless he sincerely repented.  I didn’t want to talk about it.  I’d already had quite enough of his dismissals any time I tried to tell him he did something wrong.

I wanted him to stop sitting with us at meals and getting mushy with Persephone, to stop greeting me in the halls; I wanted to be left completely alone so my anger would cool down.

I wrote, “No more will I be walked over.”

Persephone found the letter accidentally, but after talking with me about it, decided she had nothing to be angry with me about.

After reading this letter over again almost 20 years later, I would have deleted some things, though I put them in there for a valid reason.  But they could be misunderstood or seen as arrogant.

But I understand them: I was furious with him because, as I have shown over the course of these memoirs, he had emotionally, psychologically, and sexually abused me since we started dating.

I expressed so much anger because he ripped my spirit in two with his constant psychological abuse, gaslighting, playing hoaxes, and attempts to force me into painful or disgusting sex.

He sexually assaulted me.

He tried to change history on me and lie to me numerous times about my own behavior, to make me think I was bad, when I never did what he accused me of.

He shamed me and cut me down over and over again for things which were not wrong, such as solving a puzzle on a game differently than he would, simply so he could control me with his fury and verbal abuse.

The pain was still raw, and immediately after breaking up with me, he started up with a new girl.  He sat with my friends and me all the time to be with this new girl, and got cuddly and cutesy with her right in front of me, deliberately rubbing in my face that he had moved on already.

He told lies about me to his friends, a smear campaign to make others think I was the abuser.  He was still trying to control and abuse me after the relationship was over.

5 years later, I still saw it as an excellent letter, though I already saw the things that needed changing.  Even 12 years later, when I posted these accounts on the Web in 2006, I still thought it was a good letter, with nothing to be ashamed of.

In any case, the letter never threatened or begged; it gave my point of view completely, and told him to stay away from me so I could calm down my anger.  It was brief, only about 4 typed pages.

I did not yet know the terms emotional abuse, sexual abuse (forcing me to do things I didn’t want to do), psychological abuse, or gaslighting.

But this and the previous letter described many of his abuses, and begged him to get counseling for himself.  It even directly accused him of abusing his authority as head of the wife.

It’s a relief to read this many years later, because I did indeed confront my abuser with his abuses, and do not have that “unfinished business.”

This part I would not touch; it is the best part of the letter:

During our marriage I may’ve done a few things I shouldn’t have, but you’ve done your own things that make me think you just don’t know how to respect or love a wife.  Some of the things you say to your own mother were warnings to me, but I hoped you wouldn’t treat me the same.

And your refusals to respond to my needs in so many situations–only your “subconscious” really knew the proper way to treat a woman, and that’s why I fell in love with him.

Then I discovered he wasn’t even real, and that it wasn’t easy to get you to act like him, even though you said it was.  He was you, you said.  Yeah, right.

He was reasonable, unaccusing, cool-headed.  He could compromise.  He didn’t demand his wants over my needs, nor make me feel like I had to be a meek little slave to please you. 

He wouldn’t flat-out refuse to do something I needed done just because he didn’t want to, he’d have a legitimate reason. He wouldn’t force himself on me in ways that pained me, he’d slowly get me to want them. 

He wouldn’t take and take all I was willing to give, which was a lot, and then not give me what I asked for. He wouldn’t be chauvinistic nor treat me like a silly and naïve woman, when really I could often reason better or was better informed. 

[At first this seemed arrogant, but then I saw that he treated me like “a silly and naïve woman.”  It wasn’t about arrogance, but protested being treated like an idiot.]

He didn’t abuse his authority as head of the wife, or be a tyrant.

This isn’t a question of being meant for someone, this is a question of examining yourself and the way you treat your wife, changing what you can change and not taking the defeatist attitude that you can’t, learning to compromise, and thinking how your stage of rebellion (which really isn’t against me) can be gotten through without hurting and alienating the people who love you the most.

I feel sorry for Persephone, who has yet to learn these things about you.

Since he never apologized or repented during that time (at least, that I ever heard), and carried on his behavior to subsequent relationships, I was probably talking to a brick wall.  But somebody had to confront him.

Persephone also confronted him, calling him an a–hole for things he did to me and told her about.  Knowing her, she probably also confronted him about things he did to her.

So there you have it: First, I went to him directly with my concerns.  Then I discovered that Persephone told him off for the things he did to me.

Yet he did not repent.

Since we had no church in common, and he no longer went to InterVarsity meetings, there was no way to “tell it to the church.”  The next stage, adapting Matthew 18:15-17 to my situation, was to stop associating with him.

On the 8th, praying on the way, I pinched the letter as a symbolic “laying on of hands,” then dropped the letter in the Campus Center mailbox.  I went into the Campus Shoppe for a bit, then started out.

But who should open the door for me, but Phil!  How did he, a commuter on a campus with more than 1000 students enrolled, always show up in the same place and time as me?

I stared straight ahead and walked past him.  As I wrote in my diary the next day,

It is done.  It makes me nervous, but there’s also that consciousness of doing the right thing–facing up to my tormentor, taking no more of this abuse.

Pearl also has a theory on why I keep running into him all the time: Maybe God’s trying to teach me endurance.  Hm.

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:

 

My letter to Phil, Part 2–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–October 1994, Part 5

 

First part of letter

Trust seemed to be a problem as well.  Up until I found out about the games you’d been playing with me, like you termed it I’d have trusted you until the ends of the earth; but for some reason, you seemed to have trouble trusting me.  I don’t know why that was.

Like you thought that someone could steal me away from you even after we married, even though I told you how firmly I believe in the bonds of marriage.  As the Bible, the Catholic church and the Nazarene church affirm, those bonds are not to be broken, and I was not going to break them.

It hurt me that you kept thinking the “perfect” person would steal me away or that you could never introduce me to your friend S–.  (Really, we’d probably have gotten along well, but I loved you, and I’m not into sadomasochism!)

As a song by the Christian group 77’s says, “If you’re looking for a perfect man that you can worship, baby, He ain’t on this earth, baby, no more.”  Couples can’t be clones of each other; they’ve got to be individuals.  Your old-fashioned, non-feminist (usually) [as he said he wanted] girl was not going to run away to find somebody better!

That bit about “being a better person when not with you”–that was taken straight from “Mrs. Doubtfire,” wasn’t it?  Well, I didn’t buy it then, and I don’t buy it now.  It’s not a biblically sanctioned reason for divorce.  If you don’t believe me, grab a concordance and a Bible and look up passages on the subject.

It also feels to the other person like they’re being blamed for how their partner acts.  The person isn’t the problem, it’s how their partner relates with them. They just need to learn how to relate better.

As that very movie shows, divorce tears families and people apart.  That’s why God hates it (Malachi 2:16 and surrounding verses; also see Matt. 5:31-32, Deut. 23:21-23; verses that may relate: Deut. 15:12-17).

(You may call me a holy roller, may even say I’m preaching, but if I know someone’s a Christian, I feel free to make references to what God says in the Bible.  Not spouting off verses right and left, but mentioning or quoting things that apply when it seems appropriate.

(Usually, people seem to appreciate it because it reminds them of how God feels about something they’re struggling with, gives them a better understanding of things.  If it convicts them of wrongdoing, they might not always like it so much, but that’s human nature.

(I don’t like to feel convicted of something wrong, either, but sometimes a person needs to hear it.  You even tell me Bible verses at times.)

You say the counseling idea is “like beating a dead horse.”  Well, I don’t agree.  It was never given a chance to revive the horse.

Three “dead horses”–couples that were already divorced–saw those tapes I mentioned, and were brought back to life: they remarried their ex’s.  According to Gary Smalley, good results because of the tapes have been reported without exception.

Love, happiness are increased; even the once-divorced couples report more affection for each other than they had even when they were first married.  This would certainly include a restoration of cherishing, which means “to care for kindly” and “to hold dear.”

Maybe this sort of thing could even help your parents restore their first love–in fact, probably could.  [His mother had told him the only reason she hadn’t divorced his dad was because Phil and Dave were still at home.]  And keep things from breaking down again, as long as the principles continue to be applied.

Once again, one person could feel their life had been wasted until they met the other person.  [Phil used to tell me that his life had been wasted until he met me.]  If I didn’t think this sort of thing had a fighting chance, I wouldn’t bother with it, wouldn’t bother even mentioning it.

One of the principles, one example of how to break the communications barrier, is one Smalley learned from his wife: When a woman says “Don’t touch me,” what she really means is, “Hold me, talk to me, make me feel better.”

This is true.  I can think of an instance in which you apparently didn’t know this, and it had consequences.  It was after that horrible argument we had near the beginning of the summer, when you were getting overwhelmed by that second sales job.

[This was when I thought he was talking in his sleep as he often did, but he just had his eyes closed.]  I finally got you to come upstairs and go to bed, my bed, but I was so angry and felt so betrayed that I said, “Don’t touch me.”

If I’d really meant that, I’d have told you to sleep in the guest room.  I wanted you to hold me, to try to talk things out, to be so worried about my attitude that you’d make me let you hold me.  Instead, you took me at my word, and turned over to go to sleep, leaving me feeling abandoned.

If you’d known what a woman really means when she tells her husband not to touch her, we could’ve resolved the problem better and more quickly.  It isn’t that she’s lying, it’s just that she’s upset.

Another thing is the “space” issue.  I see that as another example of poor communication.  I’m not always a good reader of body language; I go by what people say.

When you’d say you just needed some space, that it wasn’t me but you needed to sleep in the guest room that night, I wouldn’t like it, but I’d understand and sleep alone that night without complaint.

When you just disappeared and I found you in there, I’d feel like you were deliberately snubbing me or running from some argument.  I’d feel hurt, angry, abandoned.

To kindly say you need some time alone is much more effective than just getting mad or running off.  I’ve done that sort of thing myself before (to Clarissa), and it didn’t work, just made me feel ashamed because I knew I was probably doing something wrong.

We used to be able to resolve things [in the beginning of the relationship, we prided ourselves on being able to resolve things using already established principles that we hadn’t even heard of until afterwards]; I think we’ve forgotten how.

And I think if we learned how again, plus more tips that we never knew before, we’d see that “first love” returning, remember why we wanted to be together in the first place, why we wanted to be married and knew we were each other’s ideal.

But even if we didn’t, we could learn principles that can be applied in other relationships.  Either way, we’d both win.

We wouldn’t have to “get back together” before watching tapes or reading books or whatever; we could watch them, and then see if we’d want to give it another try or to just move on.

But there couldn’t be a “yo-yo effect” afterwards.  If we decide to try it again, then we’ll have to both give it a good try, not keep changing our minds when problems don’t go away right away.

Maybe there wouldn’t even be any left by then; maybe they all would’ve been taken care of through time and through learning how to communicate more effectively.  And I think God would be pleased by our efforts and bless us.

It seems we resolved things better until after we married. Perhaps what happened was, you unconsciously tried to make it into your parents’ relationship, which is familiar to you, and I unconsciously tried to make it into my parents’ relationship, which is familiar to me.

The two conflicted–unhappiness is incompatible with happiness, “light has no fellowship with darkness”–and everything broke down.

I hope you take this letter well, and in the kind spirit it was intended in.  I wanted to tell you about the tapes and other possibilities, and to tell you some things that I feel you should know.

I don’t know if you’ll listen to me, but I couldn’t trust that these things would be said to you by anyone else, as much as some others want to say them to you.  If some anger or bitterness still came through, well, I felt I needed to say what I did.  [Reading it over, I don’t really see any.]

But forgiveness is divine.  I don’t hate you.  If I can never even be friends with you, it would kill me.  I hope and pray you don’t turn into another Peter, because that would just finish me off, to see someone else I care for turn scuzzy.

But anyway.  If Mom can get ahold of these tapes or something like them, I plan to watch them.  But don’t tell me yet what you think of the idea, what you think of seeing them yourself.

Sometimes decisions made in haste are regretted later.  Give it maybe a couple weeks or more, let it sink in, mull it over and put it on the back burner; then decide.

Don’t listen to friends who don’t know what they’re talking about, which would probably be most of them–“The worst thing you can do,” Dad says, “is talk to your friends.”

[Dad’s advice used to be so influential with Phil.  He’d sit talking with him for hours–though Dad, at times, thought he was an idiot!]

Advice should be taken from the wise.  Pray about it, pray for guidance; God, the wisest of them all, hears the prayers of His children, and won’t leave them all alone.  That includes you.

Love,
Nyssa

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:

 

 

Fierce anger against Phil and PTSD from the abuse–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–The Long, Dark Painful Tunnel, Part 15

My friends were disgusted with how Phil had been treating me.  This included at least two guys–Mike and Charles–so it wasn’t just the female perspective saying he was an a**hole.

I later learned that James, too, thought he was a creep, and that Phil and Persephone deserved each other because she was the most negative person he ever met.

Sharon said Phil was domineering and possessive.  It was funny because he or his “friends” had been saying I was possessive!  I sure couldn’t remember being possessive.  She (the Psych major) said he had a psychosis, and that his whole family was psychotic, so she tried to stay away from them all.

Though I still had trouble letting go of all my feelings, I think this time I got so angry that I lost all the love I ever had in my heart for him.  Though at times the feelings returned, in my heart it was over.

The times I wanted him back, were probably denial of the truth, or fear of ending up alone.  His true self had been shown to me in vivid technicolor.

I hope I haven’t done too much ranting in these blogs, but I felt I needed to show what happened, just in case one of you finds yourself in similar situation.  You don’t have to stay there.  I also wanted to tell people what really happened.

I’ve read that women who’ve been abused in some way often have trouble with anger management.  That might explain why I got incredibly angry with Phil–more angry than I ever was with Peter or Shawn–and to this day still struggle with residual anger.  My friends and family heard me say things about Phil that they never heard me say about anybody else, and it shocked them.

Quoted from Abuse in a Christian Marriage:

“The feelings you’re likely dealing with Crystal are anger, pain, betrayal, fear, trauma, sadness, shame and more. These are very common feelings for abuse victims, and in order to get past them they have to be acknowledged and dealt with.”

Also see later on, “Healing from past abuse.

What also didn’t help me get over the anger: Recently [this was written in 2006], Dr. Phil McGraw said on his show that if a woman does not feel heard, she keeps saying it over and over until she does feel heard.

I did not feel heard, so I said what I needed to say in letters.  Still, I got no apology, just a guy who acted like I had nothing to be angry about.  Why on earth did I not want to say hi to him when he said it to me?  Gee, why do you think?

It’s hard to forgive and let go when someone never acknowledges they did something horrible to you, when they never show remorse.  Years later, it still burns you up, no matter how much you pray for the strength to forgive.

The only thing to make forgiveness easier is to finally receive an apology.  Even if it takes many years, that’s still better than never.

Bullying causes Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, lower self-worth and feeling helpless.  It is a psychiatric injury, which traumatizes a person.  

When a bully is supported by his friends, when authority figures aren’t interested in stepping in–even resorting to blaming you for the bullying, when the bully “gets away with it”–this makes it much harder for the bullied to reach “closure.”  

Here are listed traits of complex post-traumatic stress disorder and of psychiatric injury; I especially identify with these traits:

  • An overwhelming desire for acknowledgement, understanding, recognition and validation of their experience

  • A lack of desire for revenge, but a strong motivation for justice

  • A tendency to oscillate between conciliation (forgiveness) and anger (revenge) with objectivity being the main casualty

  • A constant feeling that one has to justify everything one says and does

  • A constant need to prove oneself, even when surrounded by good, positive people

  • An unusually strong sense of vulnerability, victimisation or possible victimisation, often wrongly diagnosed as “persecution”

  • Feelings of worthlessness, rejection, a sense of being unwanted, unlikeable and unlovable

  • A feeling of being small, insignificant, and invisible

  • An overwhelming sense of betrayal, and a consequent inability and unwillingness to trust anyone, even those close to you

  • The person is by now obsessed with the situation (or rather, resolving the situation), cannot switch off, may be unable to sleep, and probably has nightmares, flashbacks and replays

These things either have affected in the past, or still do affect, me.  [This was written in 2006.]

Sometimes Always” by The Jesus and Mary Chain played often before, during, and after the second time Phil and I were together: A guy breaks up with his girlfriend.  He comes back, she refuses at first, then takes him back.

I liked to mentally sing along with the female singer when she said, “You went away; you can’t come back.”  When Phil came back to me, I identified with the line, “You went away, but now you’re back.”  I also liked the image of the groveling ex-boyfriend.

On the 29th, I wrote in the new Journal my friends and I started,

There’s also this emptiness, like a part of me is missing.  Especially when I’m alone and doing mechanical, everyday things.  “Meaningless, everything is meaningless.”  (Ecclesiastes)

It makes friends and (Mike will recognize this) “future hope” so important.  [I think “future hope” must have been a term from Intro to Christianity class, probably meaning Heaven, hope that things will get better.]  The emptiness starts to go away a little bit.

Maybe this is really a cry for help.  You guys’ll have to keep an eye on me.  I’ve found myself not caring how close the cars are on the drive[way]s, and it’s scaring me.

I’ve been through bad times before but gotten through them.  [namely, Peter and Shawn]  Things always get better.  But how long until they do?

…Someone who accused InterVarsity of being a clique [Dirk] also said that maybe I should pull away from it.  He couldn’t have been more wrong.

I need InterVarsity–an oasis of spirituality and learning how to get closer to God.  My faith is really being tested since a couple nights ago.

I feel like God told me one thing but the exact opposite is true.  Which can’t be, because God doesn’t lie.  He wants me to trust Him, even in all this when I can’t figure out what He’s doing or if He’s even doing anything.  I’m sure somebody should be able to relate.

For years, He’s been telling me time and time again, “Trust Me.”  Which is so hard to do, when it should be so easy to trust someone as trustworthy as God is.  That Psalm 13 really fits.

(For those of you who weren’t at Pearl’s Bible study last week, that’s what we studied.  David crying out to God in desperate circumstances, and finally saying that he knows God will help him.)

I saw a poster in Counselor Dude’s office that asked, If you couldn’t write, would you die?–In my case, I think so.  There’s just something about putting words on the page that makes life worthwhile for me.  Another reason why I think this journal is such a good idea.  Probably also a reason why I write such long letters!

Written October 2011:

After doing more research into abuse and narcissism, thanks to dealing with two narcissists who abused and maligned me in 2010, I now believe that Phil’s first breakup with me was not intended to be permanent.  

I believe it was actually his attempt to control me.  Because I wasn’t submissive enough, he wanted to force me to submit, to show me that the consequences of not submitting meant losing him–to break my spirit.

And it worked, for a time.  For the week he was back with me, I was afraid to do anything that would make him go away again.  I was very submissive, giving in to anything he wanted, no matter how baffling (going to Thailand for a year), outlandish or distasteful (oral sex, which he knew I hated, and he had not washed himself, so it smelled awful).

Even during the two weeks between the first breakup and week back together, I was submissive during our negotiations:

For example, he asked if I would object if he started smoking and drinking, and I said I would not.  During the negotiations, if I started saying or doing things he didn’t like, the rage wall went up again, and he would ditch me, go off and tell Dirk what I was doing wrong, etc.

During those two weeks, Dirk (Phil’s puppet) came to me and told me to distance myself from my friends.  So Phil was, once again, trying to control me by separating me from my friends, the ones who saw him for what he really was.  

And when we got back together but I “screwed up” by not “supporting” him as he bashed me to my friends, he left again.  It disgusts me to think of how submissive I was just to hold onto this controlling man.

(For more on the above-described situations, see here.)

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:

 

 

Different kinds of abuse–same feelings: How Mark Driscoll reminds me of Tracy, Phil, and others

One reason why I read blogs and articles of all different kinds of abuse, is that I find the reactions of the abuse victims are the same everywhere.

Of course you’ll have differences here and there: Being molested by a parent is not the same as being psychologically manipulated by an ex-boyfriend, for example.

But everywhere you find the same common themes: loss of trust, hurt, pain, confusion, longing for the abuser to acknowledge the abuse and make up for it.

The other day, I read this account of narcissistic abuse and a smear campaign at Mars Hill Church:

My Story by Jonna Petry

Her husband was a pastor with the church for a time, until he was abandoned and smeared by Mark Driscoll.

In this and in other stories I’ve read about abuse at Mars Hill Church, I was struck all along by things that sounded very familiar, in my own experiences with narcissistic abuse, from exes (especially Phil) and from Richard and Tracy:

  • A person/place who at first seemed like God’s gift to you.
  • Pressure to conform.
  • Shunning someone you are told is bad.
  • Abuse and getting kicked out for questioning, disagreeing, speaking up about problems.
  • A person who throws tantrums and verbally abuses you for the slightest offenses, even when the offense is only in his own mind.
  • A smear campaign.
  • Others encouraged to shun you.
  • A kangaroo court in which you have no real chance to defend yourself.
  • Others put through the same abuse if they stick up for you.
  • A “conference” which is meant not to hear your side or your grievances, but to coerce you into agreeing that the abuse against you is justified.
  • A refusal of the abusers to admit they’ve done anything wrong.  As Driscoll and his henchman wrote to Jonna and her husband, “We still believe we have done nothing wrong.”
  • Begging others to help, but no one will.
  • Discovering this abuse is a pattern, that it neither began nor ended with you.

The hurt, pain and confusion as you long desperately for reconciliation:

In shock and heartbroken, Paul and I tried desperately that first half-year to bring about some level of reconciliation.

We so longed to be restored to our friends, to have our name and reputation exonerated, and to have peace in our relationships.

This had become our family that we loved and served and ministered to as our own dear children and as brothers and sisters. These were our dear friends.

How could they do this to us? Words do not adequately describe the shock, horror, betrayal, and rejection we felt. The weight of the loss was excruciating.

The PTSD and shaking of faith:

During this whole season since the firing and the months that followed, I was emotionally and spiritually devastated.

I was often tormented by fear. I had nightmares and imaginations of someone trying to physically harm Paul, me, and the children.

If Mark had had ecclesiastical power to burn Paul at the stake I believe he would have.

I literally slept in the fetal position for months. I stayed in bed a lot, bringing the children in bed with me to do their schoolwork.

I became severely depressed and could hardly bring myself to leave the house except when absolutely necessary. I cried nearly every day for well over a year thinking I must soon cry it out, right?

But, the sorrow was bottomless. My faith was gravely shaken. How could a loving God allow this?

Later it became clear that I had typical symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Depression and that these reactions were common in someone who has experienced spiritual abuse.

Spiritual abuse occurs when someone uses their power within a framework of spiritual belief or practice to satisfy their own needs at the expense of others. It is a breach of sacred trust.

Christians are commanded by Jesus to love one another. When that is projected, articulated, enjoyed and then treacherously betrayed, the wounded person is left with “a sense of having been raped, emotionally and spiritually” not by a stranger, but by someone who was deeply trusted. (See Recovering from Church Abuse by Len Hjalmarson)

At the beginning, Jonna wrote,

This past summer I saw the movie, “The Help,” and a seed of courage was planted in my soul. One of the last lines of the movie:

“God says we need to love our enemies. It hard to do.  But it can start by telling the truth. No one had ever asked me what it feel like to be me. Once I told the truth about that, I felt free.”

This story is an earnest attempt to speak the truth in love that freedom and new life may flourish.

At the end, she wrote things which encourage me to continue telling the story of Richard/Tracy–and express the same hope I hold, that one day my abusers will recognize their abuse and change:

In Acts, Chapter 20, the Apostle Paul pleaded with the Ephesian elders to pay attention and guard the flock.

This admonition, along with the mounting stories of abuse and misconduct coming out of Mars Hill Church, has added to our conviction.

We believe that to remain quiet now would be unloving and disobedient to God. As my husband stated earlier–if we fail to remember our history, we leave it for others to re-write. And, unfortunately, some of that has occurred.

And, in Mark’s own words from his book, Vintage Jesus:

“People are not perfect. As sinners we need to be gracious, patient, and merciful with one another just as God is with us or the church will spend all of its time doing nothing but having church discipline trials.

“It is worth stressing, however, that we cannot simply overlook an offense if doing so is motivated by our cowardice, fear of conflict, and/or lack of concern for someone and their sanctification.

“In the end, it is the glory of God, the reputation of Jesus, the well-being of the church, and the holiness of the individual that must outweigh any personal desires for a life of ease that avoids dealing with sin biblically.

“Sometimes God in his providential love for us allows us to be involved in dealing with another’s sin as part of our sanctification and growth. It is good for us and for the sinner, the church, and the reputation of the gospel if we respond willingly to the task God has set before us.”

What happened to us was very wrong. The way it was publicly described by Mark and the elders at the time was completely exaggerated and deceptive. The way the media and blogs have since reported on it has many holes and errors. Now it is open and plain to everyone.

If Mark and the organizations he leads do not change, I fear many more will be hurt, Mark and his family included.  To not speak is to not love or care and shows no thought or consideration for those who have been wounded and those who will be in the future.

We are witnesses. There is a pattern. There is a history. There is an ethos of authoritarianism and abuse.

Mark is the unquestioned head of Mars Hill Church and the Acts 29 Network. His elders have no way to hold him accountable. Those under him likely fear him and want to garner his favor so they don’t dare say nor do anything that might anger him. This is tragic.

Perhaps at some point, with enough outcry and exposure, Mark will come to his senses, own his harmful behavior, and get the help he needs to change. I hope so. Our common Enemy can make terrible use of our weaknesses and blind spots.

Our Lord’s harshest words were for leaders who used their status, power, the Scriptures, and God’s people for their own self-aggrandizement. Surely this is not what Mark meant to do.

We are all in this together, no matter what kind of abuse we suffered, or from whom.

We did not deserve it, and need to learn and remember this.  We need to put the responsibility for the abuse, and our subsequent hurt and pain, where it belongs–on the abuser–and take none for ourselves.

And we need to NOT look at each other and think, “I got it worse than you, so why should I bother with your story and pain?”

We also need to learn from each other, take courage from each other to speak up and tell our stories, and heal each other.

 

Phil walks away from me again–because I dare to have my own mind, opinions and needs–and because he’s a sociopath–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–The Long, Dark Painful Tunnel, Part 14

Intro to Psych was fascinating: It taught me a lot about such things as projecting your faults onto others, which I saw Phil doing.

The only problem was, it was an Intro class.  Like Intro to Christianity, I took it just to get credits.  For Christianity, I needed credits of any type so I’d have enough to graduate; for Psych, I needed Social Science credits.

But because it was an Intro, the class was full of immature freshmen.  Only a few people weren’t, like Astrid’s roommate Chloe and me.

Intro to Christianity, which I attended with Mike and Randy, taught how Christian doctrine developed and split over time.  The teacher, a preacher with the United Church of Christ, taught that Christ freed women, and Paul bound them up again.

We were also taught that the writers of the Bible saw a difference between Truth and Fact, which explains why, for example, the gospels have different versions of the same story, yet are still considered True.  The Truth is that Christ arose; the Facts are how many angels were at the tomb.

Unfortunately, we skipped over the section on Eastern Orthodox theology, so I knew very little about it until 2005, though I knew about the Great Schism.

Probably on Thursday, I went to lunch, went through the deli line, and spoke with the cafeteria lady who was at one of the food stalls.  (This may have been where the fries, or some other side dish, were.)

Sandy happened to be nearby as I told this woman I was engaged, and smiled and gushed about it.  Sandy didn’t say a word.

Amazing how, both times I got dumped, I had just been gushing about my engagement to someone the same day, and Dirk or his girlfriend Sandy happened to be standing nearby, silent–as if they knew something I didn’t.

Thursday, September 29, Phil took a nap in my apartment, after agreeing to go to the IV Bible study in the lounge that evening.  When it was almost time for the prayer group, I woke him up so he wouldn’t miss it.

Nothing at all unusual about that.  It’s polite, it’s kind, it’s helpful.

But he said, “I thought you said you wouldn’t tell me when to wake up and when to go to sleep.”

Can you imagine such an irrational comment?  I said this wasn’t the same thing.  I wanted him to join us because it was important to me, and he also said he wanted to come.

But he was so–weird about it, and acted like a jerk, like I had no right to wake him up for anything, no matter how important it was.

You see I couldn’t even be a normal human being around him.  Normal human beings wake up other normal human beings for things they want to go to.  I felt helpless, like the tiniest slipup and I could lose him.  (To me now, that doesn’t make him sound very loving!)

He finally got up, leaving some textbooks and pencils (some of the books were Dave’s) in my room.

(Just to clarify, since I’ve discovered that back in the ’70s, “jerk” often meant “stupid person”: I use the modern meaning of “jerk,” or someone who’s mean and nasty.)

We had a fun meeting with lots of people sitting on chairs arranged in a ring around and inside the TV nook.

After the meeting, Phil talked with someone; I believe it was the guy who came to InterVarsity once junior year, and wondered if Jews and Muslims, as People of the Book, would be saved.  Somehow, they got to the topic of how many kids a woman could potentially have.

Phil came up with a hundred, and I said from the couch on the other end of the room, “I don’t want a hundred kids!”  It was all playful and fun.

Later on, after the meeting ended it was just Charles, Pearl, Phil and me.  Phil and I cuddled together.

Phil and Charles got into a political argument.  I thought Charles was right and Phil was wrong, but said nothing at all about it.

Finally, the argument seemed to have ended.  Phil later complained that I didn’t support him in the argument, but how could I when I didn’t even agree?

Wasn’t I allowed my own political opinions?  And was I expected to back him up no matter what he said or how much I disagreed with it?

Soon, I quietly asked Phil to drive me to the store to buy milk and orange juice, but he said, “I’m not your taxicab.”  So I’m not even allowed to ask for a ride now? 

He then asked Charles and Pearl,

“Do you think a guy has to take his fiancée to the store if she asks?”

Charles and Pearl both said, “Yes, of course!”  Charles said yes if they’re going out and serious, and especially if they’re engaged.

I felt vindicated, and very upset with Phil for trying to humiliate me like that, though I still said nothing.

There may have been a few more words said between them, but I don’t remember.  He complained to me about people who don’t listen–though I thought the stubborn person here was him, not them.

I whispered to him, trying to be very calm and loving in my tone,

“Sometimes–I feel–you do the same.”

He said to me, “Thank you for being so supportive.”

Supportive?  After he’d just slammed and embarrassed me in front of my friends?  He treats me this way and expects me to support him?  My friends have just vindicated me and he says I should support him?

He got up and left the apartment.  I hurried after him, but couldn’t catch up with him, and he wouldn’t stop.  Then I did something that to this day I’m very glad I did: I yelled down the sidewalk to him,

“So you’re just going to run away?”  I used a tone that showed how cowardly I thought he was at that moment.

I went back inside and sat down on the armchair.

Charles had some choice words to say about Phil and his behavior that night.  Pearl was mad at him, too, and she showed it.  

They both thought his question about a fiancée was unfair to me, and that he was trying to embarrass me.  One of them, or I, said he seemed to be taking out his frustrations in the political argument on me.

A few minutes later, he called me up and said, “You’re more than free. Good-bye.”  Then he just hung up.

I tried to find him by calling Dirk’s apartment.  Dirk’s roommate Carl answered the phone, and promised to have Dirk call if Phil came there.  Unlike Dirk, he was very supportive of me.  Later Dirk called or I called him, and when I told him what happened, he said, “It sounds like you two have broken up.”

I think Dirk was very kind to me despite the lateness of the hour (probably after 11), and didn’t want to see us broken up, but felt powerless to stop it–even though he had done severe damage to my attempts to work things out.

Phil’s behavior all week long, especially including this, is well described in the “Disproportional Reactions” section here:

One of the favourite tools of manipulation in the abuser’s arsenal is the disproportionality of his reactions.

He reacts with supreme rage to the slightest slight. Or, he would punish severely for what he perceives to be an offence against him, no matter how minor. Or, he would throw a temper tantrum over any discord or disagreement, however gently and considerately expressed.

Or, he would act inordinately attentive, charming and tempting (even over-sexed, if need be).

This ever-shifting code of conduct and the unusually harsh and arbitrarily applied penalties are premeditated. The victims are kept in the dark.

Neediness and dependence on the source of “justice” meted and judgment passed – on the abuser – are thus guaranteed.

I believe this was indeed premeditated, that he wanted nothing but a subservient puppet with no mind or will of her own, and as soon as I expressed my own desires, my own opinions, that would be “the last straw” and he would leave. 

And somehow, it would be “my fault” even though the unvarnished truth is that he was an A$$HOLE and I did NOTHING wrong.

I talked to Phil on the phone the next day and asked him to come meet me and talk with me.  At least he gave me that much.  However, he insisted it be in the Pub, though it was public and often noisy.  We set the time for 3 p.m., after I left work.

During these weeks, I read books–a book on the Psychology of Love, which I’d bought sophomore year, when it was used by a Winterim class I didn’t take, “Love and Hate.”  I also started reading a book Helene lent me, on how to let go when you get divorced.

Both were very helpful to me.  I read them while there was still hope, and read them after the second breakup.  The first one I read when Phil and I first got back together.  I read it in just a few days to learn how to deal with our arguments.  The second one I read as I needed to.

I tried to set up rules to keep our discussion civil, probably using things I’d learned in these books.  The rules were to keep me in check as well as him:

  1. Issues will be honestly dealt with–not turned into arguments or “clamming up.”
  2. Each will listen to the other–not interrupt or get angry–and really think about what the other is saying.
  3. No getting up in a huff and stalking off–issues will be brought to a resolution.
  4. Each will be calm–no yelling, hitting, raising voices, or the like.
  5. Honesty–but not cruelty (including jokes).
  6. If someone violates the “rules,” the other one will calmly tell them– the talk is not over yet.
  7. Any and all apologies will be accepted.
  8. No accusations–use words like “I feel” or “It seems to me.”

I showed these to Pearl, and she thought they were fair.  I wrote them not only to protect me, but to protect Phil, because I could see myself breaking any of these rules quite easily.

Anna stopped at the library and gave me a pep talk about the meeting.  I prayed hard that it would go all right.  I think I even started to feel a peace about it.

3:00 came, and I headed over to the Pub with my books.  Phil was alone there.  I think I didn’t want to go there because I expected to find too many people, but only one person came in the whole time.

I showed him the House Rules, the pact I wanted to make with him.  But he refused to go by them, so I ended up not going by them, either.  What was the point, after all, if he wouldn’t play by any rules, to stick to any myself?

He was so pig-headed he wouldn’t even entertain the notion that I might have some good ideas about how to keep the talk at a reasonable, productive level.

Instead of sitting down and talking quietly with me, Phil played pool.  It seemed he didn’t want to talk with me, didn’t want to listen to a word I had to say.  He just walked around the pool table, shooting the balls.

It was frustrating.  It was done to show me that what I had to say was unimportant because it disagreed with His Majesty.

I tried to work out some problems, and it didn’t work.  He was so unwilling to listen to anything or even try to talk things over that we got into an argument.  I said he didn’t know the meaning of love; he said, “You’re right.”  Okay, for once we agreed on something!

Phil said cruel things; one thing was, he made me sound undutiful or uncaring because I didn’t confess to Mike that I had a little crush on him (and it was little–it had only just budded a couple of weeks before).

He yelled at me for never talking to Mike like he kept telling me to do, in those two weeks after the first breakup, and yelled that if I’d done so, I’d know it wasn’t returned.  He’d talked to Mike, and learned that “he does not“(that’s how Phil said it) return my feelings.

Not only did he overstep his bounds by scolding me for not broaching a subject with a friend without feeling right about it–

but now he made me feel like crap by not only saying Mike doesn’t return my feelings–

but saying it in such a way that made me feel presumptuous to even think that somebody else would like me. 

So now I was left with nobody at all, as he kicked me in the emotional side and made me feel like there was something wrong with having a tiny crush on somebody who didn’t return it.

But it hadn’t been right for me to talk to Mike, not while I was with Phil, and not so soon after the breakup.

There was also no sense risking Mike’s friendship over something that was so insignificant at the time.

But Phil had gone ahead and done that for me, a shocking betrayal, overstepping his bounds.

It was a blatant disregard and disrespect of me and my feelings on the issue.  It also could have jeopardized my friendship with Mike.

He also said at one point, “I’ll probably do things with other people,” meaning have sex.  I don’t know why he told me this, except to make me feel like crap.

I became furious, lost patience with his disregard for civility, and began saying what I felt.  Phil kept saying, “You’re right.”  This infuriated me even before, because it was an angry tone, and he’d once told me he did this to deliberately upset people during an argument.

All of a sudden, while I still had things left to say, Phil abruptly walked out of the Pub into the Campus Center lounge.  I almost followed, but when I got to the door and looked around he was already out of sight.

Rather than waste my time looking for him, I picked up my bookbag and left.  Sharon later said it was good I didn’t follow him.

I believe I said what I should have said, though it didn’t go very well.  I’m not at all ashamed of the chewing-out I gave him, either then or in later letters–I’m quite proud of standing up for myself, of refusing to sit back and be the victim of his abuse.

Because Phil was a classic abusive monster, even without hitting me, and I was well rid of him.  He was a narcissist, a sociopath. 

He broke things off with me because I dared to have my own mind, my own thoughts, my own opinions, my own needs. 

He was an old-fashioned chauvinist pig.  He broke things off with me because I was not a subservient, submissive slave who never does anything but what the Master wants, even if he doesn’t tell me what he wants.

My anger was fierce because I knew I’d been mistreated and abused.  I hated him.

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: