Marriage Missions International

Leaving Your Spouse Because Of Abuse

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The following article comes from the book, Beloved Unbeliever, which is written to women with spouses who are unbelievers. However, the principles outlined in this article, in reality, apply to every spouse in an abusive situation. So whether your spouse professes a relationship with Jesus Christ or not, please prayerfully read and consider what the author Jo Berry has to say, as it pertains to your marriage. (And then afterward, please read the linked article written by Leslie Vernick, which is an important one to consider.)

Jo Berry begins this portion of the book by citing the scriptures in 1 Corinthians 7:15 explaining that letting the spouse “leave” goes beyond physically leaving the marriage. As you read the article you’ll better understand what she means by this:

But if the unbeliever leaves, let him do so. A believing man or woman is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace.  (1 Corinthians 7:15)

Rather than demanding that an unequally yoked wife stay in a situation where she is abused, defamed, and oppressed; where she is tortured by the temptations that such mistreatment put in her path, our precious Lord gives her an option. He does this because, Just as a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him. For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust (Psalm 103:13-14). He understands her humanity and takes pity on her.

LEAVING IS MORE THAN WALKING OUT THE DOOR
A Christian woman who is facing emotional or physical abuse needs to understand both the terminology and the implications in this verse, so she can act on it within the dictates of her own common sense and conscience. The word “leave,” as it is used in 1 Corinthians 7:15, means to depart or let go. While this most obviously refers to a physical separation, the concept of letting go embodies more than mere physical absence.

Since thought always precedes action, I believe we can assume that abuse and cruelty are outward manifestations reflecting a mental state of abandonment of the essence of the marriage. So, although Paul is dealing with physical separation, certainly there can also be a psychological severing, an emotional letting go, that is just as devastating and real as a mate’s actual departure.

Scripture does not deal specifically with this problem of abuse, but Christ’s attitude and certain biblical statements can help us draw conclusions about how to respond to it. The Gospels are saturated with statements about and examples of Jesus’ compassion. He was especially tender toward women and children. Think of how gently He approached the woman at the well; how respectful He was to the woman caught in adultery; how He met Mary’s needs by teaching her as she sat at His feet; how, during excruciating agony on the cross, He committed His mother to the care of His friend, John.

In the fifth chapter of Ephesians, the apostle Paul commanded husbands to love [their] wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25) and to “love their own wives as their own bodies (Ephesians 5:28). Christ, in love, sacrificed His life for the church. This example is the antithesis of abuse.

It appears, then, that any man that constantly mistreats and maligns his wife, who wounds her psychologically and/or physically, has “let go” and departed from the intent of his marriage vows. He may be living under the same roof and sleeping in the same bed with her, but if he neglects her needs and destroys her as a person by attacking her body, soul, or spirit, mentally he has left! If he is cold, cruel, and uncaring, he has already separated himself from her, even if he shares a house with her. In his sick mind, the relationship is over.

The idea of leaving, then, can legitimately include the unbelieving husband mentally and/or emotionally abandoning his wife. The final act of “leaving” may mean he will physically remove himself, but the psychological process leading up to that moment may manifest itself in ongoing abusive conduct.

The Bible says that when this happens a Christian wife is to let him leave. The Lord does not expect or want her to suffer mental or bodily harm at the hands of a husband who is supposed to sacrificially love her. God does not want her to be oppressed or incapacitated by fear. Quite the contrary, the sister is not under bondage in such cases (1 Corinthians 7:15), and any woman who is physically harmed or verbally belittled, insulted, or harassed by her husband is under bondage. Any wife whose husband controls her mind and activities with threats or brutality is enslaving her.

In this same chapter, Paul reminds us, You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men (1 Corinthians 7:23). God did not buy an unequally yoked wife out of the slave market of sin so she could be under bondage to another human being. He purchased her with the blood of Christ and freed her so she could voluntarily become His bond-servant.

She has to draw the line if her husband consistently oppresses her, by whatever means. In Luke 14:26, Jesus said, If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate[the comparison of her love for Me, her] own father and mother and[husband] and children and brothers and sisters, yes, even[her] own life, [she] cannot be my disciple. She has the right and responsibility to choose freedom impossible for her to fulfill her Christian calling.

We have already seen that submission is voluntarily choosing to yield or surrender to someone. When God instructs wives to subject themselves to their husbands, He is asking them to surrender to their husbands’ love and God-given position. Nowhere does Scripture imply that the Lord expects a wife to accede to verbal castigation or physical assault.

Many times women who are in this position convince themselves that they would be unsubmissive if they fled. So, instead of retreating and protecting themselves and their children (who may be scarred for life from exposure to continual abuse), they become passive; but passivity is not the same as submission. Whereas submission is voluntary, passivity is forced oppression. Whereas submission allows for individual dignity, passivity breeds self-hatred, and eventually a wife who subjects herself to abuse starts believing that she deserves it!

She convinces herself there is no way out and that she is only getting what she has coming to her. This is especially pronounced in cases where Christian women knowingly married unbelievers. Frequently they stay to punish themselves, to pay the penalty for their sin. Their attitude is: I got myself into this, now I’m stuck with it. So, they become passive. It is vitally important that a woman who suffers maltreatment in her marriage draw the distinction between submission and passivity.

Also, some women stay because of guilt. They believe that their faith in Christ is the reason for their husband’s abusiveness, so they think that staying is a cross they must bear —part of their suffering for Christ. They need to realize that there is an immense difference between being persecuted for the Lord and for righteousness’ sake, and being physically or emotionally abused by a man who is a tyrant.

Although, an unbelieving husband might use his wife’s faith as an excuse for attacking her, that is not the real reason. Men who batter or consistently demean their wives are emotionally ill. The emotionally yoked wife who is being vilified by her husband does not have to submit to his tirades. God does not ask her to yield to outrageous attacks.

Sometimes a Christian woman who is being harmed by her mate stays because she believes that the Lord will protect her no matter what her husband does. Candy thought that, until Glen shot her. Eleanor thought that, until Ed fractured her back and skull when he threw her down the stairs. Emily thought that, until Howard burned down their house when he was spaced out on pot and booze and fell asleep on the sofa with a lighted cigarette in his band. Their three-month-old daughter suffered severe burns over 30% of her body and was in the hospital for months.

Claudia thought that, until she had a mental breakdown. Her children had to be put in foster homes while she recovered because the court ruled that her husband was not a fit father.

If there are children involved, the repercussions of living under such disparaging conditions can leave them with lifelong scars. Scripture teaches the importance of example. We are warned not to associate with fools, liars, fornicators, idolaters, blasphemers, or hot-tempered people, because if we do we will imitate their behavior. Statistics show that many parents who are child abusers and many men who batter their wives were themselves mistreated as children, or came from homes where one or both parents were abusive. Like begets like. Removing herself and her children from danger isn’t selfish, isn’t sinful, isn’t unsubmissive —it’s smart.

God hasn’t called the wife to live in a spirit of fear and mental instability but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7 KJV). He hasn’t chosen her to live in a state of confusion, not knowing what to say or do next, or what tirades her well-intentioned responses might bring. God is not a God of confusion but of peace (1 Corinthians 14:33) and has called [her] peace (1 Corinthians 7:15).

The above article comes from the terrific book, Beloved Unbeliever: Loving Your Husband into the Faith by Jo Berry, published by Zondervan Publishing House. This book could truly help those who are married to unbelieving spouses. Jo knew what it was like to live with an unbelieving spouse and also interviewed dozens of women who are married to unbelievers. In this book they share the greatest difficulties they encounter(ed) and practical ways to handle the problems.

— ALSO —

On Leslie Vernick’s web site, she answers the question on whether or not scripture supports separation when the spouse has been abusive. I highly recommend you read it:

SCRIPTURE SUPPORTS SEPARATION FROM A DESTRUCTIVE SPOUSE

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Comments

119 Responses to “Leaving Your Spouse Because Of Abuse”
  1. Christine says:

    (US) I got married the weekend after my husbands divorce was final from his first wife. I was young and didn’t see any red flags. He had joint custody of his 6 week old son. I eventually got pregnant and he started to change. Told me if I ever left he would kill me.

    After out child was born it got so bad. She had bad reflux and never slept. He started calling me a horrible mother for not wanting to just lay her in her bed to cry and throw up. He eventually just dropped me and my child off at my parent’s house. For a year he didn’t see our child or ask about her. He would text me and say he wanted us to work and then spend the next few days saying he worships Satan and I’m a worthless whore. I put up with it because he threatened to take my child if I didn’t.

    When we together he threw things at us. Hitting my child with a cup of frozen coffee. I was terrified of him getting her alone. I found out he was getting food stamps claiming us and not sharing. He won’t help at all. I finally asked for child support. He said he will hurt me even if he has to use my child to do it. He filed for divorce and wants my child alone on the weekends even though she doesn’t know him and is scared of strangers. She has Aspergers. I am petrified and he says nobody will belie me. He has a lawyer. I can’t afford one. God help us please.

    • Shannon from United States says:

      Contact your local DVIS, Domestic Violence Intervention Services. They should be able to provide legal help.

    • Tracy from United States says:

      I agree with Shannon that you should contact a DVIS, a battered women’s shelter or the like. From my own experience, they will provide you with a place to stay and they will contact Legal Aid on your behalf. You will not have to pay for the services.
      The more afraid of losing you and the child, the more he will threaten you. Sometimes you will be convinced staying is the only way because you do not know to start, or feel nobody can help. I went back to my abuser a few times before the final physical separation. The cycle was mentally cruel and overwhelming: he blamed me for all the ills of the marriage, threatened me (luckily, not my children), he was not a responsible father and I was not able to leave my children with him alone for any amount of time. He broke things, called his family and the cops on me, made me out to be the crazy person, but the law protected me and my kids, the police saw straight through his lies.
      Once in shelter, you can get help getting child support, housing, food and medical care. I hope for the best for you and your daughter!

  2. Donna says:

    (USA) Hello, I have been married to my husband for 23 years. When I met him, he was wonderful to me, a totally different person. The day, we married, I became ‘enslaved’ to him. He turned the tables on me & became quite the opposite person – it was like Jekyll & Hyde. The things he would say to me made me cry -and this was on the way home from our honeymoon! When I would point out nicely how badly some things he’d say to me in front of others hurt me, please don’t do it again, he passed it off as it was all in ‘fun’ and I had no ‘sense of humor.’

    Well, 23 years & two sons later, I’m still in the same boat. I’m a Christian and I have prayed for him for a long time to ‘come around.’ I’ve turned the other cheek, no matter how much he hurt me, I have ‘let things go’ but it HURTS me, cripples me and I have very little self esteem left. He has not physically hurt me but wouldn’t be surprised if one day he does. It is mostly verbal/emotional abuse, which is horrible. I know God LOVES ME & my children. HE also loves HIM but isn’t going to MAKE him change. My husband doesn’t think he does anything wrong & doesn’t ever say I’m sorry -ever. I don’t expect change anymore.

    I know my life has been in a ‘box’ for 23 years. It’s only because of finances and yes, some fear of what he would do, that keeps me in this horrible place in my life. I feel that I made a hideous mistake every getting married to this man as he honestly doesn’t KNOW what a Christian is or who God is… and he truly doesn’t seem to want to know. I pray that when my 14 yr old reaches 18 in 4 more years, if I can hang on that long, that I will have the finances and the strength to get out of this mess and live in the peace that God wants me to have. Divorce isn’t what God WANTS by any means, but He loves us and is a forgiving God. Jesus paid the price for our sins, past, present & future and I believe God wants us whole, happy and at peace so we can truly be what he needs us to be on this earth. Life is too short to stay in a prison at the hands of someone else who berrates you. God bless all who live this way. God loves you!!

    • Angie from United States says:

      I’m in your situation! There have have been so many cruel things said to me and he turns my words around. I always feel unbalanced and on the defensive with this man. I know I saw you wrote back in March of this year. Have things improved for you? I’m in such pain living here. I’m trying to get away but want to make sure I’m doing the right thing for the right reasons at the RIGHT TIME. I know timing is very important. Please advise!!

      • Cindy Wright from United States says:

        Angie, Please go into the “Links and Resource Descriptions” part of the “Abuse in Marriage” topic. You will find links to different resources listed that you may find helpful. One of them is titled, The Emotionally Destructive Marriage: How to Find Your Voice and Reclaim Your Hope written by Leslie Vernick. I believe you will find that book (and others) helpful as you prayerfully read through it (them) so you best know if you are “doing the right thing for the right reasons at the right time.” You’re right on believing that timing is very important –please don’t underestimate its importance. I heard Leslie talking about her book. I have no doubt that you will gain much from reading what she has to say. I hope you will, and pray the Lord will give you wisdom, discernment, and safety –emotionally and physically.

    • Nanette from United States says:

      I feel like you are talking about my husband. We’ve only been married 10 months (but together 9 years), and thankfully have no children together. The relationship had not been perfect, but tolerable. I married him (my and his 2nd) because I really missed being married and being a part of someone’s life. He changed the day I married him, and I didn’t find out until on the way home from our honeymoon (which I had to pay for with a promise he would pay me back, but never did), that his son was moving in with us because his mom kicked him out of their house. His son is almost 16, and is worse to me than his father is, and his father not only allows the child to act that way, but encourages it, and blames me, in front of the boy, for how the boy treats me.

      My husband constantly tells me he “doesn’t do anything” and neither does his son. I was in a car accident a few years ago and have a neck injury that keeps me from being able to work. I’m not immobile, but in a lot of pain and discomfort. Because of this I haven’t any money or any where to go, so I stay and live in hell. I won’t go to a shelter, I have seen them, not exactly great places. And, they are just a temporary fix, I need something permanent. So, I pray… A LOT! about my situation. My faith is my hope… and I refuse to give up.

    • David from Canada says:

      Where does the Bible promise us happiness!?

      • Tracy from United States says:

        David, your comment was very short but it seems aimed to make the point that abused people should suffer because happiness is not the ultimate goal in a Christian life. I apologize, if I interpreted it incorrectly, and please expand if I am being unfair.
        I do not believe abused people are seeking happiness and leaving marriages because happiness is what they are pursuing. Abuse stands in the way of a Christian life, it contradicts our beliefs. If we are in such a situation, most likely, we are unequally yoked. The Bible states believers may be free if the unbeliever walks away (spiritually, physically, emotionally) from the believing spouse.
        Marriage is to bring man and woman together with the purpose of His kingdom (not man’s, or even woman’s kingdom), and also, in many instances, to raise Godly children (though this may not always be the case). If a victim wishes to stay, then so be it, but never does God not offer a way out if we feel we can’t endure. This is the case in adultery, too. The innocent party may stay, but also may separate.
        Divorce or separation, pursuit of either, is not a path to happiness. Being brave enough to support your family, protect them and yourself, is merely a result of one person not fulfilling their godly role to love their wife as Christ loved the church. Abuse and adultery is not loving your spouse, it is hate, which is not from God.
        I pray I did not misinterpret the meaning of your comment and I wish no malice.

  3. Lisa from United States says:

    I faced all kinds of abuse in my marriage: physical, sexual, emotional, spiritual, etc… I was living in hell on a daily basis and I spent much of my time in the prayer closet on the floor crying my eyes out to God everyday. What God showed me in His word floored me because I thought surely God, I can leave him look at what he is doing to me… he might kill me. God said no.

    I asked God “How do I live then?” God said to wholly and completely trust in him and just come to him for EVERYTHING and watch him work… I did exactly that and it took 3 years but God did it! My husband became saved and baptized he no longer abuses me in any way and has become quite protective of me. I am so in love with the man it is ridiculous.

  4. Renee from United States says:

    I sympathize with all of you, women and men, who have had to suffer through abusive marriages. Abuse does not demonstrate the love of Christ. NO WHERE in God’s Word is there scripture to support the idea that an abused spouse must continue to live with their abuser! That is absurd for anyone to even speak such blasphemy. Many women and children have lost their lives believing man’s word instead of God’s Word. We’ve all been commanded to love one another. For those of you who are searching for answers, please know that LOVE IS NOT ABUSE. God is not the author of confusion….man(kind) is.

    It is quite evident that the Scriptures have been twisted in order to keep an abused spouse under horrific bondage. God has never given authority to the husband to turn his wife into a punching bag. Christ never treated the church that way. So if Christ lived the perfect example of how a husband should treat his wife and has commanded that husbands love their wives, then why on earth does a man think he has authority to treat her otherwise??? Man cannot change God’s Word and enforce his own rules. SUBMITTING TO ABUSE IS MAN’S RULE, not God’s. Wives are to submit to their husbands as unto the Lord. Not submit to the husband as if he is the Lord. The husband can never supercede or take the place of the Lord in your life because he has to submit to God too.

    Husbands have been commanded to protect their wives. He cannot rationalize nor justify being the abuser and the protector at the same time. He is simply out of order. The same goes for wives who disrespect their husbands with abusive language and actions. You too are out of order. God is keeping record of all who have disobeyed, twisted, and mislead people concerning his Word.

    I’m inclined to believe that some of these comments where people are recommending that the abused wife continue to live with her abusive husband are actually written by men posing as women. These “men” have no desire to follow God’s Word. They only want weak-minded, confused women to feel guilty about the thought of leaving the home/marriage so that they can continue their reign of terror. No woman in her right mind would ever encourage another woman to stay in an abusive marriage.

    • Alana from Australia says:

      I agree with you completely Renee. I too was in an abusive marriage for almost ten years. My children suffered terribly! My oldest child ended up on drugs and alcohol due to the physical and emotional abuse he endured from that hideous person I was married to. My son tried to take his life on a few occasions. Praise God he didn’t succeed. It didn’t help either having Christians from my church at that time telling me it was my fault that my ex husband treated us this way! I ended up divorcing him 15 years ago. I am disgusted and appalled by the other comments made that women must stay in an abusive marriage no matter what. Her comment should be erased immediately! I don’t believe for a second that staying in a sham of a marriage and having your children and yourself brutalized brings glory to God in any way shape or form. Shame on that persons wicked and vile comment!

      • Cindy Wright from United States says:

        Alana, I agree with you and Renee that NO human being should pass judgement on those who are being abused, telling them that they can’t leave under any circumstances. Somehow, Lisa’s comment was posted without my being aware of it. Because of what you pointed out and the tugging of the Holy Spirit, I took out her statements where she said tells abuse victims to stay, no matter what. Those types of blanket statements are dangerous and just aren’t scriptural to project upon others.

        Lisa’s testimony still stands, as far as how her marital situation was turned around in a redeeming way. But it is rare where this type of situation turns out where the abuser (whether male or female) turns his or her life around and stops abusing. It DOES happen as Lisa testifies, but it is rare. For this reason, it’s often best to find a place of refuge when it can be done for the safety and best of all, rather than staying and subjecting her or himself to violent, demeaning, and dangerous behavior, no matter what.

        Thanks Alana and Renee for your compassionate comments. We appreciate it (and so will others who are in such horrible circumstances, who need help.

        • Monica from United States says:

          I was not able to read all of Lisa’s comments but her testimony is so powerful. My mother was getting abused in her marriage to dad and left. In no way am I saying anyone should put themselves in harm’s way by staying. That person should separate for a while. But if they divorce they are not allowed to remarry. God hates divorce. I agree someone should leave the spouse, if abuse is involved. But according to God’s word they are unable to remarry. In 1 Corinthians the wife is bound to her husband until he passes away vice versa. God’s word is true and there is no error. I believe people read God’s word is taken out of context to fit their own personal needs. Please ladies, pray about this matter and try not to go against someone’s comment because you disagree. We are all Christians so we need to present ourselves as such. There is a way to correct in love.

          • Cindy Wright from United States says:

            Monica, Lisa’s testimony IS a wonderful one –one that should cause us all to rejoice and praise God along with her and her husband. I’m glad she wrote it. But the part of Lisa’s comments that you didn’t see was where she said that ALL women who are being abused should stay. I won’t even go into what she said because I believe it is harmful for those who are in true danger. Yes, if God Himself tells a spouse to stay, they should… If they are certain this is what God tells them, then there’s no argument there. But she gave a blanket statement for everyone else to do as she felt God told her to do.

            As far as divorce, I’m the last person who will push someone towards it. That’s not what this web site is about… we’re trying to HELP those who are married, not push them to divorce (although we realize that not all marriage “partners” are open to being helped). But lets not forget the next part of Malachi 2:16 (that you referred to) where in the same sentence it says a “man covering himself [or his wife] with violence” is on the same level of God’s hatred, as it is with a man divorcing the wife. If we refer to God hating divorce, lets not forget God hating the “violence” that is committed against a wife too.

          • David from Canada says:

            The posters on here will NOT like this – you speak the truth! It is not welcomed here. If they disagree with a post it will be erased.

          • Cindy Wright from United States says:

            Hi David, You’re wrong in thinking that we erase posts that we disagree with. We erase posts that don’t line up with the guidelines laid out above the box where people can leave comments to be posted. We post many, many comments we don’t agree with. But we won’t post comments that involve name-calling, disrespectful, hostile wording, personal information and/or advice that can cause danger, and the such. The original testimony was great… it’s just that some of it involved advice that could endanger those who read it –that might take that advice. We took that part out because of the possible endangerment issues, but left the rest to stand. Remember, this topic is on the topic of abuse. We won’t be a part of allowing advice to be given to women (or men) to just “take it” and subject themselves to violent, dangerous abuse. Please don’t be so quick to judge. We try to do the best we can to help those that we can, as God leads.

  5. J from Qatar says:

    Dear Sir, Only one question. I’ve been married 9 months ago. I’m a husband to my wife. My wife and myself are working members in the family. All I need is, my wife to respect and value my words. I don’t believe when a husband tells his wife, lets go for praise and worship, (if she is not interested), she would bluntly say, I’m not feeling well, or say, I feel sleepy, etc… something to slip the going. At the same time, she is an evangelist and she loves going to her church. As per our family set up, it’s the husband’s church the wife is supposed to follow (by saying this, I’m not saying, her church is wrong or bad). Above all, if the husband is more interested in going for praise and worship sessions, I would claim, a normal wife should be more than happy, shouldn’t she? Regards, J

  6. Trusting from United States says:

    For 14 years I’ve been married and my husband was verbally abusive and emotionally abusive also. Then it became physical on a handful of occasions. We went for counseling. He yelled at me. On the way home he would scream at me and want everything to be my fault. I separated from him for a short time after he hurt me. I got the cops involved. He was more concerned at how they treated him than how he had ever treated me. He continues with the verbal and emotional abuse occasionally.

    I have prayed. I have been living or just existing. I have no love or passion or trust in him. He gambled away thousands and thousands of dollars of our money. He visited a stripper for close to a year and spent over $30,000 on her and bought her flowers twice. I’ve stayed through it all, only for the kids to live in the same home they grew up in with both parents. I prayed for my own happy life where I can worship God in church. He won’t or doesn’t want me to go to a church of my choice.

    He yelled and swore at me repeatedly about my face. He has called me everything in the book. He talks over me, makes fun of me. We have no quality time. I feel alone. I want to leave him but am nervous about how he’d act. I’d rather leave in a few years when the kids are in college. But I want to leave now. There is no physical abuse anymore for ten years. But it has taken its toll in me. Please give me some advice. Thank you.

  7. Jill from United States says:

    Trusting, please leave. Get yourself and your kids out now. It is never good to wait. You need distance to begin to heal and just to breathe. You need to to find a place of peace so you can get a relationship with Christ and his true people to see you through.

    I just had a 3 month marriage to an abuser who I thought was at first the most Godly man. I was fooled but got out quickly. It is not easy to love and be torn apart. We need Christ and like the Bible says trust the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. Amen! Only Christ can give us peace.

  8. Ann from United States says:

    Hello, I have been with my husband faithfully since I was 16. I’m now about to be 41 (Lord willing). We have 7 kids. I had a very rough childhood. I was abused in every way by my father. I always swore I wouldn’t be in an abusive relationship and I would have a family of my own. My husband has been abusing me verbally, emotionally, mentally and physically. The most hurtful things are verbal abuse when he calls me names and throws my past in my face as if I wanted my father to molest me or something.

    He’s also controlling, jealous and obsessive. He accuses me everyday of being unfaithful, whether it’s looking at a man, to looking at a man on TV, or sleeping with every man who is around. I have never cheated on my husband and never gave him a reason to think otherwise. About 2 months ago the last incident he broke my nose. I got the 4 kids that are left in the home and went to my grandson’s mother house. I have no friends whatsoever. The domestic violence shelters didn’t have any room for all 5 of us and I have an autistic son who is 17 so it was harder to get help.

    I came home, he promised he will change. I want to believe him because I never left him before so I figured that was enough to get him to change. He hasn’t hit me since then but he still says negative things. I prayed about it I had forgiven him for the past 25 years of abuse. The problem I’m having is that when he starts his nonsense I get very angry because I feel like nothing is going to change and I have nothing to look forward to. He says sorry sometimes afterwards, but lately I have been not feeling so forgiving. I feel used and abused. He is not a provider financially but he cooks. Could it be my heart has become hardened? He has gotten away with a lot before. I now feel so stupid. How many chances should I give him? I’m starting to feel like this is not God plan for me. I pray the kids can have normal healthy life.

  9. Dawn from Canada says:

    I am 40 and my husband is 55. We’ve been married for 12 years. I was a single parent when we married. My oldest daughter is on her own but we raise her 2 and 4 year old children. Our youngest is 18 and will be moving out in July. She longs to remove herself from this home. She often has told me I was a perfect mother until I married but I never really realized why until the grandchildren came to live with us.

    My husband came from a home where is father was really abusive. His mother was meek and perfect. She could raise 5 kids, keep a perfect home and was a high up leader in the girl guides. I’m not her. Yes, my husband has tried to support me but when he gets angry… watch out. I started to become angry… then lonely. I was embarrassed by how he would ‘joke’ to my friends and family about all my negative attributes. But he was so nice about it.

    I was so lonely I spent a lot of money. I know… stupid. 3 times I did this so now he holds that against me. I work for a living. It’s your fault we can’t do anything. I already know this. I’m sorry and trying to rectify it. I can’t work because of the kids and the tax bracket thing. It was my fault we live where we live… my fault we got involved and then a bully family brutally bullied me. If we were not involved in the small town that would not have happened. He says to get over it then brings it up again if something goes wrong.

    He tells me to go make friends. Sure, as long as he doesn’t have to meet them. One day my favorite chicken was mauled by a raccoon. I was going to cry when he started yelling horrible things at me. I was stupid and yelled back. He overturned a coffee table… 150 records thrown… 20 kids puzzles everywhere, and then he grabbed me and shook me so hard my teeth banged and I chipped a tooth. He claims I spoil the kids… I don’t potty train fast enough… his mother knew how to do these things.

    I can’t seem to do all the chores fast enough. I get more depressed and start moving slower. I sleep on the couch. One morning he woke me up screaming at me because I’m so selfish and I don’t think of anyone but myself because I forgot to pre-make the coffee. He tells me I’m not to speak anymore unless it is positive, and if I want to stay negative I should find a bullet and do everyone a favor. He told me he only loves me when I’m happy. He doesn’t understand why we only have sex about 4 times a year. He has been overly aggressive and belittling of my children. Yes, my oldest is in a bad place. But pray…don’t call her names, especially in front of her children. And he will tell the kids they can go to a foster home if they aren’t good… they are children! My biological grandchildren.

    I know I deserve everything I’m getting… but now the kids… they don’t. Overall he’s a nice man. Everyone loves him. People tell me all the time I should be so happy with a supportive man like him. He tells me no one pities me… get happy or just kill yourself. I have nothing. If I leave there is no where to go. Plus I owe him to stay as I can’t afford to help pay down the debt so I stay to earn my keep. I am his servant and I do deserve it… but please pray for me to find contentment and pray the Lord puts a covering of protection from the words, for my grandchildren.

    • Cindy Wright from United States says:

      Dawn, I’m so sorry for the horrible circumstances that you are living through right now. NO one deserves this type of abuse… NO ONE. Your spending, when you shouldn’t have, or whatever else you think that you did that was “wrong” doesn’t justify his inhumane, monstrous behavior, when he is abusing you… and your children and grandchildren. Please know that they’re an audience to all of this. YOU are not the problem… his inability to stop himself when he goes where no man or woman should go, or do or say what no man or woman should is the problem. Please realize that. He doesn’t abuse EVERYONE in his life (or others wouldn’t think he’s so “supportive” or “love” him as they do). For some reason he has given himself permission to just act out and abuse you and your family.

      What’s so sad is that he is writing on the slate of who those children are and will be for the rest of their lives. And what he’s writing is negative and horrific in so many ways it’s difficult to put into words. Name-calling and belittling is degrading and changes who they think they are. And for him to lay his hands on you and to say horrible, demeaning things to you is ABSOLUTELY unacceptable. Who does he think he is to do such a thing to you and the kids that the Lord has entrusted to your care? I’m sorry that he had a difficult upbringing, but his being abused doesn’t give him the right to abuse. Please, please, please know that. And please don’t go down the road of thinking ANYTHING you have done causes you to deserve this type of low-life behavior. It never, ever, ever will.

      Dawn, I HIGHLY encourage you to talk to a counselor who specializes in abuse –perhaps at an abuse shelter or elsewhere. You need to put together some type of plan to rid your life of that type of talk and behavior –for your sake and for the sake of your “kids” and grandkids. He is riding high under a false impression that other people are painting of him. But what REALLY matters isn’t just what goes on in public but what goes on behind closed doors. Right now he is going further and further down into treating you and your family as sub-humans –those who he feels entitled to abuse and kick around. That is flat out wrong! And the longer you allow it, the worse it will get and the less energy you will have to make the changes you need to. Your past spending habits do not make you an indentured servant. It doesn’t justify his loathsome behavior.

      If you do something at this point, perhaps he will be motivated to get the help he needs and your marriage could be saved. But if you wait, the resentment and bitterness and horrible memories will continue to grow and will wipe out any chance of that happening. Putting together a plan to get out on your own, with a planned separation until and unless he changes may be a viable thing to consider. Perhaps your 18 year old or another adult (such as a family member or such) can work on some type of a plan with you. Perhaps a counselor can help you to come up with a plan. You might even contact Focus on the Family – Canada to help direct you to someone who can help (just put that term into Google and you’ll find their web site).

      Yes, you have a 2 and 4 year old to consider. And I understand very well the tug on the heart that grandchildren can bring. But for them to be raised in this type of place is horrible. Even a foster home with visitation rights would be better for them… and I say that with MUCH hesitancy (I LOVE my grandchildren… and I’m sure you love yours). I just know that your husband is not thinking or acting right and he needs to have reality hit HIM in the face so he stops, realizes the depravity of his words and actions, and makes some serious changes. Abuse escalates, if it’s not dealt with properly. You need to be the hero here for those yourself and especially those little kids. They need YOUR bravery to help them have a better life, now and in the future. I understand depression… but what’s worse than pushing through the haze of depression now to make the necessary changes, would be to wait longer and longer and longer and THEN push past the haze (which would be even worse then) to do what needs to be done. Adding more damaged emotions on top of what you’re already dealing with is worse.

      I pray for you Dawn… and for your children (even though they are mostly grown) and your grandchildren… and yes, your husband. He needs help. You all do. PLEASE get the help you need to cause the “wake up call” to come into your husband’s life, so the future doesn’t look as bleak as it does now for you and your family. A call to action is very, very necessary here. Dawn, with my whole heart, I pray the Lord helps you, guides you, comforts you, speaks to you, and works in and through you in this situation. I also pray God infuses hope into your heart that you will eventually experience better days –ones that will bring a smile to your heart.

      • Dawn from Canada says:

        Thank you. I think it has reached the haze stage. We do not speak… at all. I can’t seem to say what he wants to hear. He knows he can be difficult but if I would just be a happy housewife and do my job he said he would be happy and could love me. He has made it clear… there is no love when I am like this… but I have realized how I became this way.

        I know it’s circumstance depression. I’m normally a strong positive and spiritual woman. I’ve had a hard life but through grace I was able. My biggest mistake was not dating him. I was homeless and no where to go, and for appearances sake we just married… unequally yoked to boot. I really screwed up. I feel I deserve what I brought on. I just went too far. I walk on eggshells or cry. I’m fine until about 1 hour before he comes home then the tension makes me shake. I live in a full house but am very lonely. I have no real friends. I pace not knowing who to call… and thank you for praying because I just can’t seem to even pray right now. I am sorry… I truly feel guilty about that.

        • Marylynn from United States says:

          You sound like me. Please just leave. Just leave. It will be one of the hardest (or the hardest) thing you will ever do, but you will feel better. You may feel worse for a while but once your head is clear and your heart is healed you will not regret leaving. I am only 3 days into leaving and I’m fighting myself every step to go back to him because I miss him. But do I really miss the insults, the names, the threats, seeing my daughter being oppressed? No thank you. I’m sure you had friends before him. Go to them and tell them what’s going on. They will listen, understand, love, support, and help you to leave. Sometimes your friends are your true family.

  10. Debbie from United States says:

    I’m glad I found this article. I left my abusive husband of 32 years, a month ago. He was neglectful, indifferent, belittling and sexually abusive (to name a few) for that whole time. I did think it would be wrong to tell anyone or ask for help. Anyway, my point is that he DID profess to being a born again believer just before we got married, and agreed that we would attend church etc. All these years that’s what held me back –his professions of love and faith. And I always believed him, but his behavior never really was consistent with his words.

    A few years ago God opened my eyes to the destructiveness of his behavior, and I caught him repeatedly lying to my face. Anyway, since then I have been setting boundaries and letting him know I don’t buy the things he says. That made him become more and more controlling and bullying. I begged him for many years to seek help but he continually refused –right up until I moved out. My husband even got abusive about my time of devotions and Bible study.

    So either he never really was a Christian or Christians can be abusive. Either way, I believe God still has provisions for wives like me, or I wouldn’t have left. I have been faith-filled for many years and agonized about this decision every minute for 3 years. I finally realized that God had a plan for me that could never take place in such a toxic environment with all the health problems it had caused. He has worked everything out so far and I finally feel at peace in my home. Maybe you could shed some light on this, it would be appreciated. May God bless. ~Debbie

  11. Jane from United Kingdom says:

    You are God sent. That’s me right there you are describing. I had to leave. Clutching my 3 week old baby I was called a cow, fatso, ugly girl echoed by my 2 and a half year old son. Hearing his father abuse me…what does he know? But my husband – a “born again” Christian – didn’t stop. Neglect, malice, treated me like a slave. He threatened that I would lose my kids and home and called and told social services that I have postnatal depression. I was broken.

    Our church said I wasn’t born again. That I should submit more. Little as buy me food..I was insulted that’s all I do at home. My baby was just 3 weeks, I was in pain, I had to clean, take care of the kids and stay awake all nite from day 1 I gave birth and came home. No help or support. I was told I will go to hell fire…I could go on and on. But I went back to God and found peace and left my abusive marriage. I left the church. Am happy now. You are saying the truth. Am a living proof. God bless!

  12. Toni from United States says:

    This is a great article. It sheds light on what I am dealing with in my personal life. Thanks for posting this article. Toni

  13. Ashley from United States says:

    Wow! This is by far the best Christian article I have seen on women who are abused by their husbands. It brings me a lot of clarity on what me and my children should and should not tolerate. Thank you so much.

  14. Marylynn from United States says:

    I just “left” my husband. After 3 years of constant mind games, verbal abuse, emotional abuse, and more recently physical abuse, I have decided to save my 2 year old daughter and myself from any more pain. I love my husband (I know, I wonder why as well) and I am scared to live my life without him. But I know that I can’t make him see what he does nor change what he does. I feel bad for him and guilty that I am leaving him because he has nothing (which is the same way he came into our relationship).

    I have just about the same that I had but I feel like I took from him. I am trying to talk to him and be peaceful and tell him that I still love him and want him to be a big part of our daughter’s life. But he has chosen to curse me and threaten that he will only watch our daughter until I can find childcare and then he will disappear out of our life forever. I had hoped that he might wake up and realize our relationship is toxic when I told him I was leaving (my intent on telling him was not to make him change or scare him; it’s truly for my daughter’s and my well being) but he turned into a victim. I know I need to be strong and look forward, but this loving heart and soul wants to give in and run back.

  15. Anonymous from United States says:

    I am a husband of a verbally and emotionally abusive wife. She has been abusive to me and the kids for 6 years. I confronted her months ago and things haven’t gone well. She has pushed me physically, tried to destroy my character, badgered, belittled, criticized, condemned, cussed at, and threatened the kids. All the while the church ignores the accusations of abuse by myself and kids. I am tired of “love her like Christ loves the church” being an excuse to live with her abuse. Thank you from me and all those who have been abused by our spouses while the church condones it.

    • Anonymous from South Africa from South Africa says:

      Men can be abusive but I have found that emotional/verbal abuse (and even physical) by women to be equally common. The continuous admonition of “husbands to love her as Christ loves the church” is quite out of context. Any “church” where Christ is treated with contempt seems to not have the presence of God. He leaves and does not put up with the abuse.

      The problem is the children. Men find themselves in a situation where they can’t leave and want to do what is best for the children. This requires Godly grace and wisdom.

      As the husband of your wife you have authority to bind and to loose in your wife’s life. That is, declare abuse illegal and mutual respect legal in your house, as it may be a demonic work of darkness. Nevertheless, I’m seeking wisdom on this issue myself and I’ll let you know what I discover. God bless, brother, be strong in the strength of the Lord.

  16. Nikita from United States says:

    I am in the same type of abusive marriage. I married my husband 5 years ago. He dragged me down financially, emotionally, and physically. Recently, I had been staying with him and his mom, and I was told to leave because of course, he wanted to go our separate ways. I left without a place to go, grabbed whatever I could in tow. Now he expects to live separate lives and for me to still meet his sexual needs. I mean I do not know what I have done for him to treat me so low. I am tired. He is winning. I feel like the loser because, I am the one that has to start over and over. So you guys I feel your pain.

  17. Renee from United States says:

    So it’s only ok for a Christian woman to leave the above situation if her husband is a non-believer? But if we are married to a Christian who has emotionally left the marriage and is emotionally abusive, we just have to grin and bear it?

    • Cindy Wright from United States says:

      Did you read the Leslie Vernick article that was linked to this one? If you read both, I’m not sure why you would ask the question you did.

  18. Kathy from United States says:

    I have been married for twenty one years to a man that finally admitted over the phone to talking to his friend that he has bad intentions towards me. He says that God will not forgive me if I leave or divorce him. I should have known better since I only knew him for three months.

    My biggest mistake was listening to others that had no clue about physical or mental abuse. I feel fustrated and burnt out living with someone that puts me down, trying everything within his power to stop me from getting my masters. What hurts the most is that he used the children. I pray that one day he will realize what he has done. After reading what Jesus wants us to do and what Jo wrote, gave me the strength to mentally and physically let him go even though he let me and the children go years ago, for drugs.

  19. Dale from United Kingdom says:

    I’ve been married for 6 years and in total I’ve been with him for about 11 years. My husband is sweet for a while then we fight. I am guilty too because I fight him back when he pushes me around and puts so much fear in me. He is really big and extremely strong. He breaks things! He has slapped me before, strangled me and sexually mistreated me. I’m almost certain he has been unfaithful as he has had some questionable mails on his phone that he has strange explanations for. When I try to leave, he dramatically apologises with tears in his eyes and begs me not to leave.

    We have 3 children. I cannot survive financially on my own. What do I do? I fear for my life. I stay because of my kids and financial reasons. I have no friends; my parents did not raise me but my granny did. No parents to run to. What do I do? Therapy does not work, we’ve done that. It’s ok for a while and then it just goes haywire again. I haven’t been to church for almost 2 months, I know this is wrong. Please help, people I do know do not know what I’m going through, I have no one to turn to.

    • Cindy Wright from United States says:

      Dearest Dale, How I wish we had the resources to help you, but other than what we offer on our web site, and praying for you, which I am, I can’t do too much more humanly for you. But please know that I care and am praying for you. I also encourage you to read everything you can in the “Abuse in Marriage” topic to try to protect yourself, as best you can. It’s important for your sake and the sake of your children. Tragically, once a spouse crosses the line of abusing the other, it usually escalates in danger. So please, please be careful. And sadly, your children are being exposed to this behavior and it WILL change who they are and who they become unless your husband stops giving into his impulse of trying to resolve his frustrations by abusing you, all of this will spiral down into an ever-growing, impossibly unhealthy one.

      Please know that in the “Abuse in Marriage” topic you will find Recommended Links in it. There are two in particular that may be able to give you some direction in some way. The ministry of Hidden Hurt is based in the U.K. The gal who runs it may have suggestions for you as to what you can do, given your circumstances. Also, Hot Peaches has lists of hotlines, shelters, and much more that could possibly guide you in some way if you contact those who could possibly guide you. Both are a good beginning for you to try to get some guidance on this. I hope you’ll take advantage of them. You definitely need some guidance.

      Also, you need to let some other people know what’s going on. I know this will be hard, but it’s more dangerous for you to try to go this alone. You need others who are aware of the dark side of your situation. Your pastor may be a good one to talk to, as well. I hope he is wise… some pastors are good on these types of situations, and others aren’t. But it’s sure worth a try to reach out to him and/or others in your church. You need help –especially God’s help in gaining wisdom in what to do concerning your husband’s abusive behavior and your children being exposed to this. Even if they don’t see it all, they will still pick up on the toxicity of what’s going on. I pray that you’re able to find the help you need and the wisdom and discernment you need, as well. May God help you, and wake up your husband to reach out for the help HE needs to stop all of this before it’s too late.

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