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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On Spiritual Abuse

Is your church infected by spiritual abuse?  The Apologetics Index has all sorts of links about this.

Also see Churches That Abuse and Recovering from Churches that Abuse by Ronald Enroth.  These are full books on PDF.  The guy who runs this website has a signed letter from Ronald Enroth giving him permission to scan these two books, both of which are out of print.

One practice, now widely discredited because it easily becomes spiritually abusive, was often used in the 60s and 70s: shepherding.

It’s giving yourself over to someone else, your “covering,” who makes all your decisions for you–even who to date or marry, how often to have sex, or what music to listen to.

If you disagree with your shepherd or suggest changes to the group rules, you just might find yourself out of the group, since the leadership makes all the decisions.  Congregations may find themselves with no vote or voice.

In groups which decided the “shepherds” must be the opposite sex, shepherding has also led to adultery.

It has also led to broken people.

Unfortunately, shepherding seems to have re-emerged in many churches and Christian groups–ones which seem orthodox on the outside, so you must watch out for it.

I’ve heard of accountability groups, which seem to have come from this practice; take care that it does not match characteristics of shepherding.

I’ve also noted that talks about wifely submission sometimes use the same terms used in shepherding: i.e., the husband is the “covering” for the wife and she “submits to his decisions” no matter what.

Webpages on shepherding, what it is, how it’s abused:

Shepherding Movement

Christian: Who is your covering?  A Christian look at the Shepherding Movement by Steve Coleman

Shepherding Movement–Discipleship Movement–Christian Growth Ministries–Advanced Information

National Shepherding Movement–Discipleship Movement–Promise Keepers Warning

Article by Don Matzat about this and other issues

The Shepherding Movement Comes of Age by Lynn and Sarah Leslie describes the practice of signing covenants, which exists in many groups and churches.  It also implicates the Purpose-Driven Church model.

Willow Creek charges Promise Keepers and Willow Creek Church with shepherding.  The writers are rather fundamentalist and I disagree with them on many points, but they still make interesting charges.  Whether the charges are true or not, you be the judge.

Here and here, you can investigate whether Willow Creek practices shepherding.  And here, you can check out Saddleback’s FAQ.  Unfortunately, there isn’t a whole lot on these sites.  I’ve heard of restrictive covenants and the like, but don’t have proof of them.

Nowadays, you can also find blogs about spiritual abuse, on which you can share stories, find comfort and validation, and learn which churches to avoid.  My favorites:

The Wartburg Watch

Spiritual Sounding Board

Healing from Complex Trauma and PTSD/CPTSD (includes posts about a spiritually abusive pastor)

Written between probably 2005 and 2007

Index to my theology/church opinion pages:

Page 1:

Tithing 
End Times and Christian Zionism 
God’s Purpose/Supremacy of God Doctrine 
Cat and Dog Theology 
Raising One’s Hands in Worship 
Christian Music 
On the “still, small voice” and Charismatic sign gifts
On church buildings 
The Message Bible 
The Purpose-Driven Life 
The Relevance Doctrine, i.e. Marketing Churches to Seekers 
Republican Party 
Abortion Protests 
Creation 
The idea that God has someone in mind for you 
Literalism in Biblical interpretation
Miscellaneous 

Page 2:

Name it and Claim It Doctrine, Prosperity Doctrine, Faith-Formula Theology, Word-Faith Theology,  Positive Confession Theology, Health and Wealth Gospel, and whatever else they call it
More about Pat Robertson
Dr. Richard Eby and others who claim to have been to Heaven
Women in Marriage/the Church
Spiritual Abuse 
Other Resources 

Page 3:

Why do bad things happen?
Should we criticize our brethren’s artistic or evangelistic attempts?  Or, how should we evangelize, then?
Angels: Is “This Present Darkness” by Frank Peretti a divine revelation or fiction?
Halloween: Not the Devil’s Holiday!
Hell and the Nature of God 
Is Christmas/Easter a Pagan Holiday? 
Is everybody going to Hell except Christians?
How could a loving God who prohibits murder, command the genocide of the Canaanite peoples? 
What about predestination?
Musings on Sin, Salvation and Discipleship 
An Ancient View which is in the Bible, yet new to the west–Uncreated Energies of God

Page 4:

Dialogues
The Didache 
Technical Virginity–i.e., how far should a Christian single go? 
Are Spiritual Marriages “real”?  (also in “Life” section, where it’s more likely to be updated) 
Does the Pill cause abortions, or is that just another weird Internet or extremist right-wing rumor?
What about Missional Churches, Simple Churches, Fluid Churches, Organic Churches, House Churches or Neighborhood Churches?
Is Wine from the Devil–or a Gift from God?
What is Worship? 
Evangelistic Trips to Already Christianized Countries
Fraternities, Sororities, Masonic Lodge 
Was Cassie Bernall a Martyr?
Some Awesome Things heard in the Lamentations Service (Good Friday evening) during Holy Week

Conversion Story

Phariseeism in the Church

 

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Running my abusers’ e-mail through the narc decoder

Back in May 2012, my abusers, Richard and Tracy, discovered this blog, then threatened and began to stalk me.  You can read their e-mail below.

Especially note that whichever of them wrote the e-mail (it “sounded” like Tracy’s “voice”), accused me of making things up and accusing Tracy falsely, downplayed Richard’s criminal conviction of choking his daughter, warned me not to go to the priest/church, and threatened to sue.

And yet–Through our own local version of a “police beat,” Crime Reports, published for all to see on the Fond du Lac city website, I have discovered that a domestic dispute occurred in May.

The report points to Richard and Tracy’s last-known address, at least according to Google Earth, which is used by the website to locate each crime event.  A follow-up occurred about a week later, so it appears that an investigation was begun into the incident, beyond the initial police report.

No charges have been filed as of yet, so I don’t know what happened, who was involved, or if charges ever will be filed.

But it–along with Richard’s conviction of choking his daughter–supports my statements that Richard and Tracy are abusive, and that I am not making up “false facts” out of a “not-all-there” brain.

And gives more strength to my mind to resist their attempts to gaslight me, and attempts to intimidate me into silence through constant surveillance of this blog.  This discovery has even more emboldened me to not be silent–and to laugh at their attempts to scare me.

It gets easier all the time, when reading old posts or remembering things that my abusers said or did, to laugh it off.

Yes, laugh it off.  I see how ridiculous it all is, and see right through it all.

Not only does it help pull me out of the pit and back where life is beautiful again, and I am no longer a “victim,” but it should help me identify such behavior in others, before I get pulled in again.

(Not that it is in any way a character failing to be a victim of someone abusing you.  Victim-blaming and -shaming is a huge problem these days.  The only one who should be ashamed of how the victim is affected by the abuse, is the abuser.)

Nowadays, when I remember what happened, it no longer affects me, just as it no longer affects me to remember what Phil, Peter or Shawn did back in college.  It’s become a story I revise for the masses to read, which may inspire a brief burst of anger, but then I forget about it again.

I see right through the things my various abusers did, and no longer let it worry and oppress me the way it used to for years.

Yes, it took me years to get past what those guys did, just as it has taken years to deal with what Richard and Tracy did.  But eventually I got through.  As Trent Reznor titled a song, The way out is through.

Because of this, and the discovery above which provides even more evidence that my abusers were full of bullsh**, I am now ready to turn my abusers’ threatening e-mail to me in May of 2012, into a piece of high comedy, by running it through my own brand-new narc decoder.

Blogger Tina Swithin has popularized the idea of a “narc decoder,” through which you run messages from your abuser.  This handy little “machine” translates those messages which fill you with fear, dread, anger, and the like, into what they really mean.

First, read the e-mail from Richard and Tracy:

Nyssa,

We read this in amusement. It gave us a good laugh to find
that almost 2 years later you are still fixated on something that we
forgot about a long time ago. As for your threats, promises whatever to
expose us you can take out a law book and read about defamation laws.
Richards’s court case may be public access and you are free to speculate
all you want without having all the information and facts. However the
rest of your writings about how horrible a person Tracy is and abusive
mentally deranged etc. have gone beyond statements of opinion. You have
represented in your writings false facts, not just opinions, about Tracy
that constitutes an actionable lawsuit. You are free to have your
opinion and feelings however the minute you go public to the members of
the church or community as you have threatened to do we will exercise
our rights to sue you for defamation against Tracy’s character.

You
talk about threats and bullies yet what are you doing? You are
threating to falsely accuse and expose lies about an innocent person if
they do not concede to your demands. We will not be threatened or
intimidated. We are free to go to church to worship our Lord God without
fear of retaliation from someone we see as not all there. You want
closure here it is. We are not sorry. We did nothing wrong. You will
never get what you want from us because we do not feel we owe you
anything. We will continue to be active in our church our community and
our town; if you cannot handle that then that us your problem not ours.
We will not move or change our faith to make you happy and comfortable.
As for the local parish being ‘your’ church. I think the archdiocese
would have a thing to say about that. The church is for everyone. We
have stayed away out of respect to give you time. We have gone to other
churches in town outside of our faith when gas prices or work schedules
prevented us from driving 40+ miles one way to church. However we miss
going to a church of our faith, participating in the mysteries having
that commune with our Lord, so we decided that when we can’t drive out
of town we will go to the local parish. We will not be pushed out of the
church by you, two years is enough time. So as fair warning for the
perceivable future our work schedules make long distance an issue as the
other parish is moving to summer hours and Divine Liturgy starts early.
So we will be attending locally A LOT this summer, we will even show up
on Saturday nights.

And now I run the e-mail from Richard and Tracy through the narc decoder…..

Snap, crackle, pop….

And here it is, all decoded:

Nyssa,

How dare you ever speak a word to anyone about how we bullied, abused and gaslit you for years?  How dare you ever speak a word about Tracy’s abuses of Richard, the children, and others?

Tracy tried her hardest to shut you up so that only you knew what was happening, so we could keep you under our control and even your husband wouldn’t know the truth.  We wanted even him to think you were crazy.  We wanted you to think you imagined it all.

How dare you break out of our control and think for yourself?  How dare you tell your husband and all your friends and family what we did?  How dare you have a mind and will much stronger than we gave you credit for?

You were so nice and easily intimidated that we thought for sure we could twist you every which way we wanted to, and continue to use you and get money/stuff/living space out of you.

It scared us when you showed signs of wanting to kick us out of your house years ago for bullying you and being generally abusive, so we had to re-assert our control and make you think you were in the wrong.  We had to make you think YOU were the one with the problem, so we could stay put till we were good and ready to leave.

Now, a few days ago, you actually stood up for yourself and told us to stay away from you.  But we don’t want to leave you alone.

We’ve always hated your church, and barely stepped foot in it even while we still pretended to be friends with you.  But we want to guilt you into thinking we’re pious Christians who long for the Mysteries, even though we have never lifted a finger to resolve this like Christians, have never behaved like Christians.

We have no interest in actually behaving like Christians, or in getting the Mysteries out of any sense of longing for Christ.  No, this is only so we can harass you and pretend to be pious, by making big shows of making the sign of the Cross, just like Pharisees!

We want to shove up against you, breathe down your neck and snarl in the Communion line.  We want to pretend to everyone at your church that we’re just innocent Christians, so that no one will believe you if you try to tell them what we really are.

We want free reign, so we can control you at church, too, by forcing you to keep quiet and telling everyone you’re a nutcase and not all there.

We know it’s a lie.

We still think you’re easily manipulated through threats.  The truth is that we are afraid of anyone else knowing what kind of people we really are.  We don’t want your priest to know, either, especially since you spoke of showing him Richard’s criminal records.  This is why we repeatedly threaten you and tell you to shut up.

We don’t want you to get help from the church.  We want you to be destroyed because you know what we really are.

We are well aware that you never made threats to retaliate against us.

But just as Tracy did with Todd, when she accused him falsely and smeared him all over the game forum years ago, we will try to make you think you made threats.  We will tell others that you made threats you never actually made, to get them on our side and turn them against you, make them think you’re crazy, just as we successfully got all those people thinking that Todd was crazy.

We have already done that, by telling some person Tracy goes to school with, Chia, that you did these things you never did, that you lied when you told the truth.  She never even met you before.  Then she changed her profile to a passive-aggressive diatribe against you, and “friended” you on Facebook.  But it was only so we can peruse your Facebook for posts about us.

Of course you never threatened to push us out of the church or Fond du Lac.  We just suffer from poor reading comprehension, combined with our fear of somebody exposing our real selves to the whole world.

We have worked very hard to suppress our real selves around other people in Fond du Lac, so that we can make inroads in politics and other circles, but your very knowledge of our true selves–and Richard’s conviction–threatens our feeling of security.

It is all a lie.  But you’re not supposed to recognize that.  You’re supposed to doubt yourself and come under our control.

The true threat is that because you know the truth about us, your very existence is a threat.  We are scared that because of you, that perfect image we want to present the community, will come crashing down as the facade that it is.

You have kept careful notes of our abuses, and that frightens us.  We want you to think even those records are fake.  Even though everything you wrote is the truth.  Even though Richard sent you an e-mail years back which proved your assertions.

This is why, years ago, we tried to make you think you were a stalker for keeping such notes, so you would stop doing that.  This is why we are now trying to gaslight you into thinking that Tracy has never abused anyone and that you’re just lying.

So we will ridicule you and make you think you’re the one with the problem (even though your reactions to being abused and seeing your abuser again are all perfectly normal), because we never matured past elementary school.

We will pretend to be amused by your blog, when in truth it scares us to death–or we never would’ve threatened you.  Especially your knowledge of Richard’s conviction.  We read that page of your blog constantly.

Though your pain, your desperate suffering, caused by us and our actions and words, so much so that only blogging could get it out, does amuse us, because we are sociopaths.

We like to cause pain and refuse to apologize for it, refuse to make it right, because we have no human feeling–except for our own selves.  We laugh at others for needing this strange thing called “closure.”  When we hurt someone else, when we cause them pain, it is hilarious to us.

Though we are so faulty with reading comprehension that we did not get that it’s not “closure” you need, but for us to recognize we have done wrong, and make it right, through apologies and changed behavior.  This would make a Christian restoration of friendship possible.

But that won’t happen, because we are superior to all others and never do anything wrong.  And because we were only pretending to be your friends to begin with.

We even laugh at the collapse of your faith, even though Richard claimed for years to want to be a priest.  Which shows our own faith is actually an act put on to fool you and others, to give us an air of respectability.

We want you to think that even your perception of Richard’s conviction is wrong, even though you have official, public information saying otherwise.  We want you to think Richard is innocent, even though he himself admitted to choking his daughter.  All to further gaslight you into our control.

We easily got over the breakup because you were blameless, so we had nothing to be angry about.  Well, other than the fact that you broke free of us before we could dump you first.

But you had been showing signs of breaking free from our control for years, which is why we let you go so easily.  We knew you would be trouble, that you already saw Tracy’s true nature and were beginning to see Richard’s as well.  We knew you may even report us to the police or Social Services–which you did eventually do.  That scared us.

We would never admit to being to blame for the suffering you’ve gone through.  It’s your fault, after all.  It’s never the abuser’s fault.  How dare you try to make us take responsibility for how we treat and hurt people, including our own children?  We are perfect, can’t you tell?  It’s never our fault when we abuse someone!  It’s always the fault of the person we abuse!

It infuriates us that you are sticking up for yourself and telling about what happened!  So we will make empty threats, hoping to shut you up, even though we know we could never have the legal basis to carry them through, and no lawyer would take us on because we have no case or money!  We talk about Constitutional Rights, but that’s for US, not for you!

How dare you insist that we never contact you?  Just by sending this e-mail we are violating your rights and request to be left alone!  Because we don’t care about anybody but ourselves.

–Richard and Tracy Doe

Ah, that was therapeutic.  This is a good way to turn the horrid e-mails/messages sent to you by your abuser, into a piece of see-through garbage that no longer bothers you.

Attempting to obtain closure with an abusive, narcissistic and/or borderline woman (i.e., Crazy) is almost always a maddening exercise in futility.

You’re not going to get closure with this kind of woman for several reasons. First, she doesn’t meet the three most important prerequisites for giving and receiving closure:

  1. A reasonable degree of sanity
  2. A foothold in reality
  3. Empathy

Being able to give an ex closure means you’re able to accept your share of responsibility for the demise of the relationship and when has your BPD and/or NPD ex ever taken responsibility for her behavior, especially when she was clearly in the wrong?

…I hate to break it to you, but if you’re waiting for this to happen or, heaven forbid, an apology from this woman; IT’S NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. If you try to get closure from your NPD and/or BPD ex by detailing the many ways she hurt and tortured you, she’s unlikely to acknowledge what she did. –Dr. Tara, Shrink4Men, There is No Closure with a Narcissistic or Borderline Woman

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When our abusers get honored: Dang newspaper tells me about my abusers

Recently, the newspaper told me Tracy graduated college, and her major.  I’ve also seen her back in town recently, right in the same parking lot I pulled into.

From various IPs linked conclusively to them, it looks like one of them has been in town this whole past year, even while she went to college on the other side of the state–even though her IP location came from a city near the college for much of the year.

Her main IP address is screwy, because the locations keep changing even though the IP does not.  Sometimes she’s in Eau Claire, or Madison, or Rochester MN….

And now the same IP shows up as Fond du Lac, then Madison, then Fond du Lac, then Madison…. Other local IPs from that Internet Service Provider, including mine, always show as Fond du Lac.

She recently used one other IP that showed Missouri, but it was identified by my stat trackers as her cell phone–and she used that same phone on my blog a short time later, from Fond du Lac.

And sometimes I get hits from Texas, someone who has used Richard and Tracy’s unique search terms.

I have no clue what’s going on.  All I know is that now she’s graduated and was in Fond du Lac again back in June.

I’ve heard of people leaving town to get away from their abusers, but that’s not possible here: We own this house, and were in this town long before they were.

The other day, I open up the newspaper and it tells me that Tracy got some kind of honor at her college.  A couple of years ago, it said she was in an honor society of some kind.

I did not want to see that.  She does not deserve honors after the way she has treated so many people over the years.

But unfortunately, academic-based honors often have little to do with the kind of person you are, and are based solely on grade point averages, so even sociopaths and various forms of abusers can get degrees and honors.

Abuse victims want justice.  We don’t want our abusers getting accolades.  Just ask the daughter of Woody Allen what that’s like:

After a custody hearing denied my father visitation rights, my mother declined to pursue criminal charges, despite findings of probable cause by the State of Connecticut – due to, in the words of the prosecutor, the fragility of the “child victim.” Woody Allen was never convicted of any crime.

That he got away with what he did to me haunted me as I grew up. I was stricken with guilt that I had allowed him to be near other little girls. I was terrified of being touched by men. I developed an eating disorder. I began cutting myself.

That torment was made worse by Hollywood. All but a precious few (my heroes) turned a blind eye. Most found it easier to accept the ambiguity, to say, “who can say what happened,” to pretend that nothing was wrong.

Actors praised him at awards shows. Networks put him on TV. Critics put him in magazines.

Each time I saw my abuser’s face – on a poster, on a t-shirt, on television – I could only hide my panic until I found a place to be alone and fall apart.

Last week, Woody Allen was nominated for his latest Oscar. But this time, I refuse to fall apart.

For so long, Woody Allen’s acceptance silenced me. It felt like a personal rebuke, like the awards and accolades were a way to tell me to shut up and go away.

But the survivors of sexual abuse who have reached out to me – to support me and to share their fears of coming forward, of being called a liar, of being told their memories aren’t their memories – have given me a reason to not be silent, if only so others know that they don’t have to be silent either.

Just ask any girl who’s been raped in college, but her abuser went on to get a degree.  Even a degree seems too good for our abusers.  This does actually happen, as a victim’s concerns are minimized and the rapist is allowed to graduate:

Woman is accused by college of harassing her rapist

A graduating senior at Central College who was found responsible for “non-consensual sex” with a fellow student was given a choice: be expelled a month before graduation or stay in school with the conditions that he not walk in the ceremony and allow the college to notify a future employer and other schools that he’d violated the code of conduct….

A year-long investigation by the Center for Public Integrity found that students deemed “responsible” for sexual assaults on campus often face little or no punishment from school judicial systems, while their victims’ lives are frequently turned upside down. –Lee Rood, Central College lets rape suspect select punishment

 

Scott is a graduating senior, so some people may wonder why I care anymore. He’ll be gone soon enough, so what if the school didn’t do anything?

When he was first found responsible, I was told that the purpose of these sanctions was to help him learn from this. It is clear to me he hasn’t learned anything, and that scares me.

When he gets his diploma, he will officially be a representative of what Macalester stands for, and I fear that he will represent my school as a place that protects rapists at the expense of the people they victimize.

If I return to Macalester for my senior year in the fall and get my diploma next year, I will also be representative of Macalester.

For better or worse, I will be tied to Scott forever. I will also be tied to what I see as a pattern of survivors of sexual assault who are forced to watch their school choose to protect the future of criminals over their own safety.

My fear is that if I stay, I will become a silent accomplice to rape. Not just to my own rape, but to the future people I believe Scott will victimize. –Anna Binkovitz, Sharing a degree with your rapist

Just finding out that my ex Phil is a math teacher or professor, makes me cringe.  Him, molding young minds?  The guy who psychologically abused me and even tried to sexually assault me several times?  And of course, to be a math teacher, he had to get a couple of degrees.

Years ago, I told people I hoped he would become a monk, so he could not hurt more women or, as a priest, advise married couples.  Instead, he went on to marry, have two kids, and get divorced, making me wonder how that woman and her children have been abused.

My bullies, Richard and Tracy, denied the truth of what I wrote in this blog about their many abuses of me and others.  I had already told Social Services about the abuse in their home.  They threatened to sue, and began to stalk me at church for a while, then by keeping tabs on my blog.

And that’s despite the fact–or maybe because–Richard had been convicted of choking one of his kids, proving I wrote the truth.  I kept my blog up despite all the hell they put me through, because the truth needed to be told.  I told my friends and family about it, too.

The Forum we all used to belong to, was convinced of my credibility when they saw the facts of Richard’s case on the state’s and newspaper’s websites.

Yet still Richard and Tracy imagined they could somehow threaten and scare me into believing I was a liar.  Apparently they were the only ones who did not see Richard’s conviction as proof I was telling the truth about domestic violence in their household.

Yet I opened up the paper yesterday and read that Tracy had received some sort of honor at college this past school year.

I previously learned that Richard, while convicted, plea-bargained and got merely a fine and year’s probation.

So he’s out walking free despite nearly killing a 9-year-old girl, and I still see the kids with them both despite Tracy’s verbal (and sometimes physical) abuse, despite my detailed report describing how Tracy had been tormenting the children and exposing them to her domestic violence against Richard.

I want these people in jail for abusing their kids and terrorizing me.

I want Richard to have gotten the sentence he deserved: many years in prison, which he would’ve received if he hadn’t plea-bargained.

I want Tracy put in jail for punching Richard.

I want them to either shape up or get their kids put with better parents.

I want them to apologize to me on their knees.

I do NOT want them moving on with life, getting honors, manipulating and abusing other people, being told how wonderful they are, continuing to physically abuse and psychologically torture and scar their children.  (They have hurt a lot of other people besides me.)

One consolation is, while Richard wanted to become an Orthodox priest, my priest tells me that’s impossible because of the child abuse conviction.  And a friend who sometimes has to help hire people, was directed to screen out anyone with domestic abuse on their record, because of the nature of the job.

It boggles my mind (and my husband’s) that Tracy got a degree in business management.  HER, a MANAGER?  She can’t even manage her own household or temper!  I fear for anyone who, in the future, is put under her supervision–just as I fear for her children under her supervision.  I pray for her children’s safety nearly every day.

And I’m not the only one who has to deal with this.  I see the same frustrations, anger at the injustice of it all, permeating other abuse blogs.  For example, this one, because this woman, a PTSD sufferer, was spiritually abused by a predatory pastor, then reported him–yet now he’s been made senior pastor at a new church:

Just found out that Pastor Andrew Allison has been promoted to Singleton Baptist Church

I am really angry and I have a right to be. It is righteous anger.

Allison also occasionally checks up on her LinkedIn profile, which is creepy.  Yes, those of us who have been abused know how creepy it is to be “checked up on” by our abusers!  I get “checked up on” every week or so by mine!  Keeping my blog up has required a lot of courage, and has earned me a strength I did not have before.

This kind of thing happens in our churches, and it should not.  It’s not just a Catholic problem.

It’s also not just a Christian problem:

Narrow Bridge, movie addressing problem of Jewish leaders who are predators

Hopefully the more we spread awareness of these things, through our blogs or other means, the more things will begin to change.

Already there is an outcry about abusive pastors going on to other churches, or keeping their current posts.

Abuse victims of all kinds are spreading the word that this evil exists, so that hopefully society can begin to stamp it out.

“Narcissist” is becoming a household word, and Cluster B (abusive) personality disorders are becoming better-known.

Talk hard!

 

 

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Phariseeism in the Church

After reading the Gospels and Acts over again, and starting on Romans, I have noted things that often seem to be lost in today’s American church.  The church is consumed with legalism, legislating morality, and shutting the door of ministry and even the church to certain groups.  Instead, the church should be consumed with carrying out God’s redemptive purposes in the world.

In many ways, the modern church is just like the Pharisees.  The Pharisees were so obsessed with keeping the law that many of them looked down on those who broke the laws.  Not content with the laws they already had, they came up with more.

Christ came along and, rather than calling them righteous as they would have expected, accused them of neglecting what was really important.  He preached about following the spirit of the law.

For example, it was common for a man in those times to divorce his wife over trivial matters when the wife had done nothing wrong.  Since the law of Moses did not forbid divorce, a man might do what he liked, thinking he had circumvented the law against adultery.

But Christ taught that lusting after another woman, divorcing the wife who had done nothing wrong, and marrying the new woman was adultery.

The sin was compounded when the man did not even give his wife a certificate of divorce, which made her appear guilty in the eyes of the community, and brought the label “adulteress” on her if she tried to marry again (from text notes in Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible, NASB).

Rather than putting us under a new law which might keep people in destructive marriages, Christ is instead showing us how to love our spouses rather than deserting them without cause.

Another example is Christ’s chiding of the Pharisees for tithing so exactly that they even tithed their mint, dill, cummin, rue and all kinds of herbs, but neglected justice, mercy, faith and the love of God (Luke 11:42, Matt. 23:23).

With this example, that of the temple tax, and that of the woman who gave her last coin to the temple, we see that we are not to tithe in such a way that every dime is counted, and then think we are righteous.

When collectors came asking Christ’s disciples for the two-drachma temple tax, which came from the law of Moses, Christ said that it is the populace who is taxed, but not the king’s children (Matt. 17:24-27).

Paul wrote, “Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver (2 Cor. 9:7).

Christ tells us he did not come to change the law, but to fulfill it.  This means he came to fulfill the law’s obligation for a sacrifice, one complete, perfect, final sacrifice which covered everything we ever did or will do (from text notes in Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible).

We are released from the necessity of following the law and offering up sacrifices for forgiveness of sins.

The apostles, recognizing the stifling nature of the law, further released the church from the law of Moses, including circumcision, requiring only that the members abstain from “things polluted by idols and from fornication and from whatever has been strangled and from blood” (Acts 15:20).

Paul released us still further, saying that since idols are nothing, it does not matter if we eat something sacrificed to idols, though we should be mindful of how it would affect fellow Christians (1 Cor. 8).

The law was given to show us what sin is; without law, we cannot be held accountable for sin, even though we commit it (Rom. 5:13).  When we become aware of the law, we become accountable for it.

But Christ’s sacrifice and Yahweh’s grace mean that we can be justified, or declared righteous, even if we have committed and still commit every sin.

This does not mean we should continue to sin.  Should we be legalistic?  Will we lose our salvation if we sin?  No.  Rather, we have been feed from slavery to sin and should voluntarily choose the way of righteousness (Rom. 6).

What does this mean?  This means we are not to again put ourselves under the restraints of the law, which would also mean we will be judged by the law rather than grace (Gal. 2:15-3:14, Gal. 5:2-6, Rom. 2:12-16).

We must not place legalistic rules on ourselves: cut your hair, don’t cut your hair, wear only dresses, tithe ten percent of your gross income to your local church, obey your husband, don’t get a tattoo or dress in black, say anything you like as long as you don’t cuss, belong to this particular denomination or you are not saved, don’t drink alcohol, don’t go to movies, don’t dance, don’t go to that apostate mainline church, don’t let your children go to public school, don’t believe anything science tells you, don’t go trick-or-treating or read Harry Potter books or you will be practicing witchcraft!

Not only do we place ourselves under this law, but we begin to condemn others for not following it, exactly as the Pharisees did.  Not only does this place us back under a law which Yahweh never gave us, but the world begins to view the church not as a place of love, but as a place of ridiculous restrictions, even hatred for those who are different.  As it is written in Matthew 23:13-15:

But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  For you lock people out of the kingdom of heaven.  For you do not go in yourselves, and when others are going in, you stop them.

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  For you cross sea and land to make a single convert, and you make the new convert twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.

Another verse, Romans 2:24, carries on this theme, referring to those who require others to follow the law without following it themselves: “For, as it is written, ‘The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.'”

This goes to the point of legislating morality.  Not only do we make ourselves follow laws that Yahweh never put us under, but we try to force unbelievers to follow the same laws.  We do not acknowledge the freedom this country gives to all religious groups, not just our own.

We are also all guilty of judging unbelievers for sinning.  We are not to do this (1 Cor. 5:12-13).

Christ did not come as a politician, but as a spiritual leader.  He acknowledged the sins of a sinner, and said to sin no more, but did not call upon the Romans or the religious leaders to punish that sinner.  Not only did he not try to change the law of Moses, but he did not even try to change the law of the Romans.

The facts of the story of the woman caught in adultery (John 7:53-8:11) are disputed, since it was not in the earliest biblical manuscripts.  But it is consistent with Christ’s teachings and character to release her, rather than calling for her death under the law of Moses.  He instead wanted her to follow Yahweh voluntarily.

The church also has put restrictions on the Holy Spirit.  Some who are gifted for ministry or leadership are told not to follow through because they are not the right gender.  Some women have been called Jezebels for preaching or even for teaching a Sunday School class with men in it.

The words of Paul are twisted to put women in secondary status, despite the fact that Paul had fellow ministers, deacons and apostles who were women (Priscilla, Phoebe, Junia, Mary Magdalene, Rom. 16:1-7).  This disables a huge chunk of Christ’s workforce, and being under subservience to men puts a tremendous burden on women who have their own views, gifts and minds.

Do not give under compulsion, but what you decide in your heart to give.  Have compassion.  Fight injustice, not just for yourself but for others, such as the third world peasant who is being tortured and persecuted by military groups for having the wrong ideology or religion.  (American “persecution” pales in comparison.)

Have mercy on the lost.  Follow the three basic commandments which Christ gave us: Love God, love others, and spread the Gospel.  Give honor and praise to God because it is from your heart.

Spend less time watching for signs of the Tribulation, and more time watching out for the poor, needy and oppressed of America and the rest of the world.  Be a good steward of the earth.  Throw off legalism and become free in Christ to work for God’s redemptive purposes in the world.

(“The Scripture quotations contained herein are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A.  Used by permission.  All rights reserved.”)

[This was written around, I believe, 2004/2005, while I was Presbyterian (USA), before I became Orthodox.  I’m not sure what happened to it after I put it on my website: Did I delete it at some point? 

While I still agree with most of this post, some of the theological bits are slightly changed, such as the meaning of “justification,” which truly means to become righteous, not to be declared righteous.]

 

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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:

 

 

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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.

 

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