That’s a long title, but I think it is clear. In this coming Monday’s post (Oct 24th) I will be writing about this topic. In the meantime, you can be thinking about it. How long (in a couple cases it took me years)…how long did your abuser or reviler or sociopath attack you before you finally realized the nature of the person. That the attacks were quite intentional. That you needed to stop making excuses for the person.
Well, more on this Monday morning. In the meantime:
Eph 6:12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
Heb 5:14 But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.
I know exactly how long. Married in 1977 during the days of headship taught by the Fort Lauderdale Five and Bill Gothard. In 2012 I joined Weight Watchers which was actually my first exposure to married couples outside the church circle. I saw couples who respected and honored each other (not just the wife doing so for her husband). I saw husbands who spoke encouraging things to and about their wife. I saw husbands who supported their wives. And I saw husbands who actually demonstrated love, not dominance, to their wives. So, yeah, I can tell you pretty much exactly when I realized the true nature of my husband.
15 years …covert (“nice” to others) narcissist…still attacking me through estrangement from my family and allying with sociopath step family member (former mistress now married into family). My family members are naive and suspectible to their manipulation…until they become their next target. They don’t yet understand and soon will.
Now I recognize the behaviour immediately and either distance/remove myself or, with coworkers, protect myself.
16 years…..It took 16 years of a roller coaster cyclical ride with a covert abuser to realize I could never do enough or be enough to warrant change in someone who never intended on being anyone different than exactly who he was, an abuser and manipulator. Ironically enough my eyes were finally opened after doing a google search on “the silent treatment”and how to deal with someone whose favorite pastime was to use that manipulating tactic. It caused a huge deal of trauma, heartache and confusion. That one search opened up a whole world of people (narcissist abusers) I truly did not know existed. Naïve, I know. 🙁
Previously, I was stuck in the realm of reading every book from every “Christian” author I could get my hands on. You know, the ones that continually reminded me for years to give him more sex, forgive him 70×7, submit to him and win him without a word. My husband claimed to be a follower of Christ, now I know he was always a wolf hiding in sheep clothing. Once that happened, the confusion lifted, reality hit, I grieved the deep loss of a dream that was never going to happen and God picked me up dusted me off and helped me to move on with my new life of freedom. A little wiser, stronger and determined to teach my children the complete truth of Gods Word. There is a balance to being as wise as a serpent and harmless as a dove and they never, ever have to submit to abuse.
My mother – decades
My ex spouse – first week of marriage
Friends – weeks to decades
Best post I maybe ever read! (Well, many are great, but this one just seemed to echo my story!
Several things mentioned in these blog responses hit some serious notes with me! Even many of the exact words and terms “struck a chord.” To name just a few: “roller coaster,” “tried to be enough,” “silent treatment,” “google search,” “loss of a dream.” The question posed in this post is “How long did your abuser, reviler or sociopath attack you before you finally realized the nature of the person?” In my case it took 20 years until I walked away, but add an additional 3 decades of questioning whether I had really, truly done all I could to save this “marriage.” Now I cringe when I even write the word “marriage” as it proved to be anything BUT a marriage! I will spare many details, but I want to move to part of the reason I am now convinced I stayed in bondage! I was looking to every known Christian resource available back in 1970 – 1990 to give me even the slightest hint that removing myself from an “abusive” marriage was okay. I use the word “abusive” in quotes as I really had no idea WHAT I was dealing with in this reviling person. I had just read one short book on abuse (non-Christian) about 1984 and it was the first time I could (maybe) put a label to what was going on. In Pastor Crippen’s book “Wise As Serpents” he names some of the very same Christian preachers and authors that I had turned to. He calls them out for their hypocrisy! So here I was removed from this abusive man and yet was being relentlessly harassed by the thought, “Did I really do the right this in God’s eyes?” “Wasn’t there something I could have done better?” “Should I be asking forgiveness for something I don’t feel I should have to ask forgiveness for?” This went on for 30 years, from August 1988 until September 2018, when I did a simple google search: “Aren’t there ANY Christian leaders who think divorce is warranted for things other than infidelity?” Wow! I shouldn’t have waited 30 years to pose that question (although the internet wasn’t around quite that far back). What I found was quite a few links to what appeared to be solid Christian narratives explaining the mindset of an abuser, and also, not only the “permission” to separate or divorce an abuser, but actually the imperative to do so in many cases! I was absolutely stunned! None of this information was available to me when I was so desperately searching. This is why it is SO very important to dive into the scriptures and let God speak to you through them, just between you and Him alone! I HAD heard His voice and that is what I ultimately acted on, yet MAN was saying, “Oh no, that’s not what God was saying to you, no, you’re mistaken!” With the help of Pastor Crippen and a few other brave souls, I can now see how God Himself set me free, and I am all the more free realizing God has definitely led the way ever since! I am convinced, God has a special, woeful place for those who have refused to grant mercy to His children.
I knew things were wrong with my narcissistic parents in childhood, but with so many professing Christians both in my extended family and the churches I attended who turned a blind eye, made excuses, and guilted me into staying in relationship with them, it took me almost 4 decades to finally say “ENOUGH!”
Looking back at the isolation, the constant criticism, nothing ever being good enough, the gaslighting, the spiritual abuse, the financial abuse, the manipulation, and neglect that my parents inflicted on me, I know it was intentional. They hate me because they see Christ in me and have tried to squelch that light and get me to serve them as God instead. That’s how they raised me.
Thankfully God opened my eyes to their wickedness and helped me see that I do not owe them my life or allegiance. It is Christ’s alone.
It’s godly to flee from all types of wicked people, including family. We cannot expect to make an exception for family when Christ tells us plainly in his word that our enemies will be from our own household. Holding onto fathers, mothers, siblings, children, and spouses who are abusers is not godly. It is enablement, which is sin. Enabling wickedness is not what Christ has called his people to do. Those who do reveal the state of their own hearts.
So if you are still entangled with abusive people and fear walking away, please know that’s not what God wants for you. He wants you to be free from the enemy. There is an element of faith and trust in God that is required in having the courage to break free from your enemies.
Remaining in the mouth of the lion because it seems easier will only bring you more pain. I get it’s scary to leave and for some it may be physically dangerous. Know that whatever you choose, there is an element of danger to it. Ask God for wisdom to guide your steps. With God all things are possible.
I’m just finding this out this past week after 18 years of marriage, 22 years together, and a very brief attempt at Couples Counseling to address this back in 2018. It is incredibly comforting to have an “answer” finally but incredibly heartbreaking as well.