Healing can take a long time (Healing from abuse) : Repost from 2011

This was originally posted on October 25, 2011, here: https://nyssashobbithole.com/main/fighting-the-darkness-healing-can-take-a-long-time/

I thought I’d never see Richard at my church again, but there he was on Sunday.

A wound I thought was healing has been ripped open again, gaping and oozing.

It’s hard for me to even get myself up and going to church on Sunday mornings, for fear that they will be there.

They’ve surprised me a few times at church, or at my church’s Greek Fest, since the breach, even though I rarely ever saw them there before.  (They go elsewhere.)

It felt like they were doing it on purpose to terrorize me.  Every time I saw them, I’d barely make it through, feel like collapsing, have to fight to keep from trembling.  Only anger at all the abuse could give me strength to get through.

This time, Hubby Jeff and I saw their vehicle in the parking lot, so Jeff stayed to give me moral support.  (He has his own church and normally just drops me off at mine.)

(See here for reasons why I’d be scared of Richard: his huge size, his choking one of his kids, his past as a goomba, his almost physically assaulting a lady and saying he’d leave no trace that he was ever there, his threatening my husband with physical violence and saying he’s very easily triggered to it.

Also, he told me violent things about his past.  He said he’d been arrested more than a hundred times, but I have no idea for what, or if he was acquitted; it was before he lived in my state, which has a public-access website with details of court cases.

And his wife Tracy is also a very scary person, much larger than I am, violent physically and verbally.  Richard told me that once, in my house, she almost killed me over something, and I had no idea. 

I have no idea if he meant it literally or as hyperbole, but for months afterward, my mind kept going to that, imagining what it would have been like to feel her fists, wondering if Hubby or Richard would have pulled her off me in time, imagining Hubby calling the cops.  Just sitting and watching That 70s Show, one kid would hit another kid, and I’d flinch.

And yet I was expected to “befriend” her, be buddy-buddy with her, without so much as an “I’m sorry” from her, or else I was to “blame” for all the crap she threw at me.)

This time, it was just Richard and two of his kids, not the one who was choked.  It was all very quiet, no scenes or anything.  He didn’t even take communion.

During coffee hour, my son played with the two kids.  One is only about 5 and just happy-go-lucky whatever happens.  She’d pass by us and maybe smile or give a hug.  Just the sweetest, most adorable little girl.  The other one is 7, and upset at Jeff and me for not coming around anymore.

Before I left, I got waylaid by the two girls after Jeff and my son had already gone out.  I gave them hugs and smiles, but also got the older one’s scolding eyes.

She said things in a scolding tone like, “You guys don’t come around anymore,” “We miss you,” “It was fun to play at your house.”  Jeff also got her scolding eyes earlier.

My heart broke right there.  I couldn’t tell a 7-year-old child about the reasons.  I couldn’t tell a 7-year-old child about the abuse, how Tracy had verbally eviscerated me over a misunderstanding and had no remorse, how her father had done a terrible, evil deed to her sister, how he had once planned to do a terrible, evil deed to a lady who had upset him two years ago, and made me afraid of him, afraid of what horrible deeds he could do to me.

I couldn’t explain to her in a way that she could understand it had nothing to do with her.  All I could say was, “We miss you, too,” and try not to cry.  I’ve been miserable ever since, missing her and the other children.

I just kept hoping during coffee hour that Richard would come to Jeff and me and apologize for all the things he’d done to us, and was very disappointed when he didn’t.  I still keep hoping.

I hope that, because of the criminal conviction, he’s using his probation as a second chance to change things around.  I hope that one day things will be different, that his abusive home environment will become healthy and good, that he will come to us.

Websites on abusers keep saying, “Don’t hope for change.  Let go of the hope for change.  Accept that this is the way they are and will always be.  Don’t listen when the Church says they can change.”

But in my heart I just don’t believe that.  I was angry.  I tried to hold onto my anger to distance myself from Richard and all the pain.  But it’s all just vanished and sadness has returned.

When he came to our city four years ago, I had no idea things would turn out like this.  I gave them so much of myself, trying to help them, because Richard’s friendship was so important and special to me.  He never said anything about an abusive homelife, not until then.

One person on an Orthodox message board noted that I sound emotionally and spiritually traumatized.  This is certainly true.  If you are religious, please pray for me and this whole situation, which affects not just me but four innocent children.

And if you are Richard and somehow found my blog, please, PLEASE work on yourself and get rid of the violence.  For me, for Jeff, for yourself, for your children.  And then feel free to get in touch with us.  (It’s impossible to send any of these things directly to Richard because his wife is insanely jealous.)  But these are the things you must do and say:

1) Assure me that you are not going to go all goomba on me.

2) Apologize for the things that went on the final week of our friendship:

  • a) Threatening Jeff with verbal and physical violence for sticking up for me on 6/28/10.
  • b) Throwing me under the bus when Tracy went ballistic, rather than explaining to her the truth of what happened and what I meant by my e-mail.  Letting her go off on me.  Giving in to her so I was not even allowed to explain and exonerate myself.  You knew very well that I was referring to a sisterly/brotherly hug of gratitude, and that it had been your idea.
  • c) Getting into Hubby’s face and intimidating him for sticking up for me.

3) Apologize for, a month later, justifying Tracy’s verbal abuse of me, blaming me for it, then lying to me about why you hadn’t seen my e-mail and why you blocked us on Facebook.  Being so deceitful that I actually thought Tracy was going to finally apologize, when instead I was opened up to more verbal abuse and accusations from her.  Treating me like this was all my problem that I had to get over, rather than admitting that Tracy had been bullying me and getting you to do her dirty work.

4) Admit to your violent tendencies and demonstrate that you are working on them, that you will not threaten us again, will not choke your daughter again, will stop lecturing us on how to discipline children.  Take anger management courses, study the Philokalia and Ladder of Divine Ascent, take parenting classes.

As for Tracy–I don’t want to hear from or see you again.  Don’t come to my church.  Don’t call me on the phone no matter what you see my son doing.  Unless, of course, you’re ready to forgive me for being naturally shy and quiet, and acknowledge your own share in the problems, your own abusive behaviors.

Why do you come here
When you know it makes things hard for me ?
When you know, oh
Why do you come ?

 

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Now my church is officially merging with my abusers’ church…..

The announcement came out in the media this week.  I voted in favor of the merger because it seemed to be in the best interest of both churches, and because people (at least in my church) were nearly unanimous.

But it will be interesting:

Tracy–from what Richard and a once-mutual friend have told me, and what I myself have observed–apparently has inherited an abusive form of Borderline Personality Disorder and/or other disorders from her mother.  Her behavior interlaps with Narcissistic Personality Disorder as well.  She has caused trouble with other friends and in other churches, from what I’ve seen and what Richard has told me.

And Richard himself shows many signs of Narcissistic Personality Disorder.  He claims to have hypnotized me without my knowledge, and he manipulated me.

Both have demonstrated stalker tendencies as well, and have even tried to intimidate me at church.

And both of them are child abusers.

And neither of them have ever admitted to abusing me, or to the legitimacy of my pain, or to the fact that I deserve an apology.

In fact, they told me they laughed at my pain.  These are your classic Christians-In-Name-Only.

I admit a certain trepidation at the thought of the poison that could now enter my church.  I hope they will not destroy it.  Though I hope the priest would be able to stop any such thing.

Of course, I have no clue if my abusers are still involved in the other church.  It hasn’t held services for three years, so they very well could’ve moved on to someplace they like better.  These days, all I know about my abusers is that they still live somewhere in town, even though one of their regular, confirmed IPs shows up in my blog stat trackers as Missouri.  Hubby believes he saw them walking a dog near our house three weeks ago.

Several years ago, one friend told me that church could be a good influence on my abusers, so not to be too upset about seeing them there.  At this point, I can’t tell them to stay away if it’s also their church.  But sharing the Eucharist and other church activities could be terribly problematic.

I also have many friends in my church.  Then there’s my BFF at that church, a fellow convert-NOT-by-marriage, introvert, writer and German-speaker.  🙂  I haven’t felt lonely for a long time.  Maybe they will help me feel safer.

I will have to play things by ear.

Hubby says they may not even come, but if they do and try to badmouth me, the people there know me way too well to listen to them.  It would only go back on them.

Or who knows, maybe they’ll take advantage of tomorrow’s Forgiveness Sunday (Orthodox thing right before Lent) to make peace.

But in any case, if my abusers start coming to my church, things will get interesting.  Please pray for me, or good wishes, or whatever you do.

StalkerQuote

 

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A few blog posts on sharing Communion with your abuser

I found a blog post, Abusers at the Communion Table, written in response to a post by Sarah Moon about taking Communion at church with her rapist.

Quote:

If you have wounded someone, repented, and done what you can to repair with them (including serving your sentence in the case of abuse), then part of repairing is respecting the other person’s boundaries.

This is just common sense love for the person you have wounded. If you are repentant, do not show up in the place of worship of the one you sinned against.

And those counseling and pastoring repentant abusers need to lead on this as well. I understand the predicament if, for a 50 mile radius, there is only one assembly of believers. But that is rarely the case, at least in the US.

In the event that you do not live in the plains of Nebraska an hour away from the nearest congregation, then repentant abusers should find another congregation away from the person they wounded to receive communion. The Body of Christ is large. It’s expansive. It’s worldwide.

There really is no excuse for an abuser to stay in a local congregation in a way that his/her presence is felt regularly by the one he/she abused. Find another congregation, be honest about your history, and allow them to walk with you. —From Abusers at the Communion Table

I don’t recommend reading the comments, because some of the people don’t seem to understand what it’s like to be abused.

Or–maybe more likely–they (and the blogger) didn’t realize Sarah Moon’s blog post was about UNrepentant abusers.  The ones who will hurt you again if given a chance.  The ones whom the Church is actually directed in the New Testament to put out of fellowship and not even eat with.

For example, if my abusive exes and a few school bullies were at my Communion table, and they were Orthodox, I could share it with them with no problem, because apologies have been exchanged.  People have grown up, moved on.

However, if my abusive ex-friends were at my Communion table, even though they are (last I knew) Orthodox, I could NOT share it with them, because they chose mocking, stalking and intimidation over repentance.  For the safety of abuse victims, such things must not be allowed.

Now for Sarah Moon’s When my abuser is welcome at the [Communion] table, then I am not.  Quote:

EVERYONE is welcome. But more and more it seems the “EVERYONE” that Christians are really going after is abusers.

And why not? How radical and Jesus-like does that sound? Abusers and survivors, sitting at the same table. Sharing the same bread and wine. The lion lying down next to the lamb.

Sure. That sounds great. Excuse me while I go have a panic attack or two.

I don’t know how to respond to this trend anymore. When I express discomfort about calling a rapist my “brother in Christ,” people accuse me of being a  bitter,  grace-hating person.

When I say that I can’t get over the hurt my abuser caused me, people tell me to get over my “perpetual victimhood.”

When I ask for a safe space, people tell me I’m acting just like the exclusionary fundamentalists, and that I need to learn that Christianity isn’t about being uncomfortable [sic].

There’s no grace for me, as I try to work through all the festering hate toward my rapist that I don’t know what the hell to do with. There’s no grace as I try to figure out whether I ever want to forgive a man who hurts me more each day even though we haven’t spoken in six years.

Maybe they’re right and I am the bitter, hateful person they think I am, but what about all this talk of grace?

Faith Newport wrote in the comments about her own pastor,

She protects her people. If there was someone in my life or my past who was a danger to me, who had abused or harmed in me in any way, the minute they walked in the door all I would have to do is tell someone in leadership, and that person would be asked to leave. They would not make it to Communion.

This is an issue for those who have been abused by people who share a church with them.  Abuse victims really need to be allowed to deal with their various emotions without judgment or feeling pressured into “making nice” with their abusers.

How can you forgive someone who does not repent?  I have heard all sorts of definitions of “forgiveness,” but the only one that really sounds correct to me, is that forgiveness means reconciliation.  This is the definition used by God when WE repent.

And if you reconcile with an unrepentant abuser, they will only hurt you again.  And again.  And again.  While you paste on a Stepford Christian smile.

However, lack of forgiving does not mean we remain trapped in bitterness, anger, and desire for vengeance.  ESPECIALLY if we are not forced to push down our feelings during the healing process, or pretend that our abuser is innocent.  If we are allowed to process our grief and anger without judgment, then eventually it will pass.  Maybe once in a while we’ll remember and feel angry, but it won’t consume our thoughts and lives.  In other words, “letting go.”

But that does not mean we want to be in the same room (let alone church) with this person, or share Communion with them.  That would just lead to yet another abusive episode, over which to grieve and heal AGAIN.  Letting go is not the same as stupidity.

If Jesus is the head of the Church, shouldn’t His church be the greatest protector and supporter for the vulnerable and the hurting? Where is Jesus when churches fail to respond wisely to sexual abuse and then refuse to take responsibility or repent for such colossal failures?

Where is Jesus when churches make expedient decisions that affirm offenders, rather than making difficult decisions in the best interests of children and abuse survivors? Where is Jesus when churches go out of the way to advocate for offenders, while hurting victims watch in terror and isolation?

Where is Jesus when churches refuse to acknowledge their need for help from experts, thinking that they know best? Where is Jesus when churches simply aren’t teachable? Where is He? These are the painful questions I am asking all too often these days. –Boz Tchividjian, Churches That Are Making Good Decisions About Protecting Children and Responding to Abuse

 

Something is wrong when churches protect perpetrators and marginalize victims. In recent months, we’ve seen a bit of the underbelly of covering up sexual abuse, demanding victims forgive and forget instantly for the sake of the poor offenders whose lives might be ruined if they were found out.

Cover up that exalts the “ministry” or a ministry personality over the well being of one who has been sinned against does not represent the Jesus I follow. –Mary DeMuth, Churches That Prefer Perpetrators Are Being Contrary to Authentic Christianity

A few good blogs on abusers in church are:

Grace for my Heart

Spiritual Sounding Board

Samantha Field

The Wartburg Watch

Wondering Eagle

 

 

 

 

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Reblog: How to deal properly with abusers posing as Christians

From Jeff Crippen of A Cry for Justice, just posted today:

So why is it then that we keep hearing things from churches such as “the abuser must be held accountable and taken under the care and discipline of his church. He must be informed that there are going to be consequences if he continues to abuse.” What?

You will notice in such an approach that the abuser actually is still being considered a Christian, still a member of the church, even though now busted with his guilty hand in the cookie jar (a pretty rare event in itself in most churches) he is going to be forced to put the cookie back and stop raiding it anymore.

That is to say, this “Christian” is having external pressures put upon him to force him to live like a Christian! Of course we all know where such an approach is going to end. He isn’t going to change, except perhaps for the worse.

Why in the world churches and pastors and elders and church members persist in treating the abuser as if he were a Christian just boggles my mind. Why will they not, for the glory of God and for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, openly announce the truth of the matter? “This man is no Christian and he is to be put out from among us. Do not even eat with such a one.”

Why? Why is that so hard? What is “in it” for a local church keeping such a wicked person in their midst? I can think of a number of answers to that question. None of them are good reasons. Every one of them involves disobeying our Lord.

Read the whole blog post here.

 

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