Extracting Reality from “Poppycock”

I don’t know how far and wide the word ‘poppycock’ is used, but it is a word used to refer to ‘nonsense’. The following is an example of extracting truth and reality from nonsense, in order to avoid being deceived and undermined.

Sometimes writing thoughts and feelings down helps us to see reality among the confusion of thoughts and feelings we’re having, because our sensible side has a better chance of being noticed on paper, than mixed up in our minds with all the nonsense we’ve heard, or told ourselves. Maybe singing the reality out of our minds in a made up song, writing a poem, creating some art, or making statements as we punch a punching bag, or dig the garden, might suit some people?

The following example statement (with an accusatory tone) is paraphrased:

An ex-husband was heard to say with some angst, “[Pastor’s name] said our marriage was repairable!” The ex-husband’s comment was made to his single ex-wife, after he had himself remarried.

A few thoughts:

  • Maybe the pastor left the “if…” unsaid, as it could be assumed the ‘repair’ would only be possible, if something changed to make it possible? The wife had evidently left for some reason, one would also assume? Certainly, I’d be surprised if a spouse would leave if they were very happy and contented, and had no significant concerns about their spouse’s behaviour?
  • Did the ex-husband think the pastor was omniscient (knows it all), like God?
  • Did the pastor think he was omniscient
  • Had the pastor educated himself regarding domestic abuse when presented with the estranged wife’s thought-provoking and perplexing concerns?
  • Did the pastor speak for the wife when he believed the marriage was repairable?
  • Did the pastor give false hope, or misplaced comfort when the estranged husband had a lot of work to do in rebuilding the estranged wife’s trust?
  • Had the ex-husband resolved his feelings toward the ex-wife, before remarrying another woman?
  • Had the ex-husband learned yet, to be respectful to the ex-wife?
  • Was the ex-husband still trying to undermine his ex-wife?

The wife left the home with a way forward for the husband. In essence he needed to demonstrate to her that he would respect her reasonable boundaries, and to keep doing so, for as long as it took for his trustworthiness to be re-established, even if it took a number of years. She assured him she would not remarry another man, so that it would always be possible for them to be reconciled, though she made it clear that she believed she was under no obligation to remarry him, as he had broken covenant with her through his unfaithful, abusive behaviour toward her. Even though she divorced him for disciplinary reasons, it was not irreversible in the eyes of the law or God, as she did not remarry another man.

Expressed this way, in reality the marriage was repairable “if”:

A. The husband responded by respecting the wife’s reasonable boundaries

B. The husband respected her reasonable boundaries for as long as it took to demonstrate his trustworthiness

C. The husband was prepared to remarry her after their divorce, after A. and B. had been achieved

D. The husband did not marry another woman before he had achieved A., B. and C.

Realistically, it was not likely to happen because love involves truth and work¹, and the husband had already avoided the work of love and living truthfully, in multiple marriages and other relationships. Still, it was possible, “if” the husband had wanted the marriage to be repaired so sincerely, that he was prepared to work at repairing the trust he had broken, as well as resolving the origins of his unloving and dishonest behaviour; wanted it enough to choose to do that work; and do it.

Instead, the husband was not prepared to work at either A. or B., or to acknowledge that C. was legally and scripturally possible, or to avoid D. His own actions in remarrying another woman, was what made their marriage irreparable, not anything the ex-wife did.

The ex-wife remained unmarried, yet the remarried ex-husband accused her with the words we began the post with, “[Pastor’s name] said our marriage was repairable!”.

What a load of poppycock!

 

¹Ascerted by M. Scott Peck among the treasure in his book, “The Road Less Travelled”

 

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Truth-telling, slander or gossip??

(This post is edited from a facebook post I posted at the Hadassah’s Legacy facebook page this morning, then realised my ‘quick facebook comment’ might as well be posted at the Hadassah’s Legacy blog.)

Telling the truth about your own story of abuse may be necessary for your mental health, and is different to slandering someone by misrepresentation and lies, with selfish and malicious intent, or gossipping about someone, likewise.

Abusers/ narcissists are themselves responsible for how they feature in their victims’ stories (not their victims and survivors). They try to accuse and blame their victims for speaking the truth, while they justify to themselves their own slander of the innocent; the very ones they accuse. (???)

Don’t listen to their twisted rhetoric and accusations; they do not have your spiritual growth at heart, and are foolish with their own. You do not have to keep their secrets for them.

Be wise to whom you speak, and the reason you speak, but you don’t have to hide their ‘secret sins’ if it will be to your further detriment.

They choose to write themselves into the stories of human beings who have free will, not robots who only operate ‘by their command’. They feature in the stories of others by their own actions; their choice; their risk; their responsibility.

Abusers/ narcissists alone are responsible for how the truth about their actions impacts their image, reputation and deceptions. Truly loving, kindly and honest people never need to worry about the truth being told about them.

Abusers may be worried because they know the truth about their actions, and that their image is a lie. If they are worried, and want their lies maintained, they have not repented, and any remorse they expressed was a sham. Don’t listen to them; don’t listen to them; don’t listen to them.

Your story is yours to tell, at your discretion.

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A life without regret

 

A life without regret

Listening; choosing by doing

Learning; knowing by doing

Accepting God’s forgiveness

 

“Jesus loves you”

“Build your house on the rock, not the sand”

“Follow the narrow way that leads to life”

“Jesus is preparing a place for you”

 

“Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life”

“Believe in Him”

“He is the same yesterday, today and forever”

“Trust in Him”

 

God knows

He knows who chooses truth and kindness

He knows who lies and deceives and slanders

God knows

 

In all the assumptions, ignorance and injustice

God knows

In all the deception and misrepresentation

God knows

 

“Fight the good fight

with faith and a good conscience”

“If we endure

we will also reign with Him”

 

He will be faithful in his promises to the faithful

He will be faithful in his promises to the unfaithful

God knows, and

“He will remain faithful”

 

Grateful Integrity

 

The words in quotation marks are supported by the following scriptures in order:
John 15: 9
Matthew 7: 24-27
Matthew 7: 13-14
John 14: 2
John 14: 6
John 3: 16, Romans 10: 9-11
Hebrews 13: 8
Proverbs 3: 5-6
I Timothy 1: 18c-19a
2 Timothy 2: 12a
2 Timothy 2: 13
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A New Thing

A New Year, 2019, and time for a new thing.

Isaiah 43: 18-19

18 “Forget the former things;
    do not dwell on the past.
19 See, I am doing a new thing!
    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland.

For me personally, and therefore for the blog, it is time for a new thing. I started the blog in April, 2018 and during those past 9 months I have been able to express the things that had been on my mind regarding intimate partner abuse for several years; where I grappled with my situation, then made choices to survive, disentangle and recover.

I have done all I could to raise concerns with the appropriate people, with scriptural principles as my guide. I found no one that would be in a position to act, who understands intimate partner abuse well enough to ‘hear’ what I was saying. I trust that the majority of Christians will gradually ‘get it’ about intimate partner abuse issues, and things will be different in the future.

For now, I seem to be done talking to local people face-to-face, and will be focussing on participating in the sharing of posts and comments online between survivors, advocates, and anyone else who is receptive to learn about issues of abuse. My hope is that survivors and advocates will all be encouraged as we continue to raise our collective voices, and that systemic change will occur as we do.

This year I am hoping to keep the posts a bit shorter and perhaps more frequent. I share posts from the blogs of other advocates as well as Hadassah’s Legacy (HL) blog posts on the Hadassah’s Legacy facebook page (note: earlier HL posts were not shared at the facebook page).

I will ‘forget the former things’ where God has healed me and made me new. I will not forget the oppression that others suffer, and will continue to pursue Truth, Courage, Compassion and Justice as the Holy Spirit directs me.

Grateful Integrity

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Liar, thief and coward

The foundation of abusive relationships is often a liar‘s deceit. The relationship then is of continuous theft by that thief; taking through dishonest means, through false pretense, swindling. The theft might extend to financial theft, theft of dignity, theft through sexual coercion; many things. If an abused partner recognises their partner’s behaviours as unacceptable, and enforces reasonable personal boundaries even to separating or divorcing their abusive partner, it is a coward who then publicly slanders the abused partner for their own ends, a partner they abused all along for their own ends, and a partner they vowed their love for; a very feigned and false kind of declaration.

Deceit in a relationship comes through many means, such as through manipulation, projecting onto, falsely accusing, gaslighting, putting down, bullying, blame shifting, outright lying etc. Every act of deceit breaks trust, so that over time, trust may be worn away completely, to the point an abused partner can’t believe a word their abusive partner says, anymore.

If forgiveness is granted by the abused partner (though it should follow repentance(1) not mere ‘sorry’ words and a few tears) and repentance has not occurred, so that trust has not been able to be restored, it is not the abused partner whose heart is hard. The abuser has simply done nothing to restore trust, because their behaviour is still untrustworthy. It is the unrepentant abuser whose heart is hard. The onus should be on the untrustworthy abuser to add trustworthy act, to trustworthy act for as long as it takes to restore the broken trust, not on the abused partner to extend trust again where there is no evidence to warrant it. Trustworthy acts might include honesty, care when the abused partner is unwell, sharing finances equitably, respecting the abused partner’s belief that a separation is necessary for the abused partner, choosing not to intersperse emails ‘blaming the abused partner for choosing divorce’ with emails ‘demanding the divorce’, and so forth.

Is it also pastors, who accept an abuser’s ‘apparent’ remorse as a done deal, without negotiating any accountability measures, let alone having a protocol that stipulates these, that are hard-hearted toward the abused partner? the partner the abuser has just confessed to abusing?? for whom justice should be pursued according to scripture??? Is it also friends and in-laws who are hard-hearted, having witnessed and even remonstrated with the abuser regarding his (or her) inconsideration toward his (or her) incredibly patient spouse, when they allow themselves to listen later, to accusations against ‘the patient one’, by ‘the inconsiderate one’?

Loving is giving. If there is an abundance of unloving acts, of taking and using and lack of care, the sincerity of declarations of love is logically and reasonably to be questioned. If public confessions by the abuser of wrongdoing, and professions of love for the abused partner, do not yield the results the abuser was after, and are followed by slandering of the abused partner by the confessor, discerning people should be very concerned. If the hearers (Christian family, Christian friends, or pastors) of both the confessions and professions of love as well as the slandering, or those who are aware of it do nothing, they are labouring under a lack of insight and discernment at best, and hardness of heart toward the oppressed, the abused partner, at worst.

In considering two situations that come to mind [edit (add): where a concerned party might not act for an abused spouse]; one situation was already being laudably attended to by a gracious church who provided a means of accountability and mentoring to the erring spouse. In the second situation, a professional was one of many who received a mixed-message letter from an estranged spouse, which his code of conduct prevented him from responding to in any other way except to the writer, if appropriate, in session. Certainly, reassuring an abused spouse (or a one minute exonerated, next minute slandered spouse) of one’s support, and any personal perceived barriers to standing with them in a vocal way, would give a very different message to complete silence.

Isaiah 1: 17

‘Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.’

If Christian friends and family don’t check in with the accused abused partner about the slanderous accusations against them, but rather accept them without direct enquiry of the accused, they fail to follow principles in Matthew 18:15-17 (below). If these principles are followed, the truth may be uncovered, and as a result, whether there is even any need of repentance on the part of the accused, or rather the accuser:

‘“If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.’

If friends and family did check in with the accused abused partner, they would understand why the accuser has not followed those principles himself (or herself) – because there are no witnesses to the abusive partner’s accusations, because the accusations are false.

If pastors fail to follow up the abused partner’s concerns about their abusive ‘professing Christian’ partner, they fail to follow principles in 1 Corinthians 5: 11-13:

‘But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people. What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you.”

They therefore fail to ensure safety for future victims, just as surely as failing to investigate allegations of paedophilia, inevitably results in further victims. The church is currently under scrutiny for their response to domestic abuse in their midst and yet pastors who don’t want to be involved and don’t investigate, and who don’t condone divorce yet find it in themselves to officiate at the abuser’s re-marriage to their next victim, are failing to meet either biblical responsibilities or current social expectations of duty of care.

Of course, we are all the Church who are believers, and a believing spouse who separates or divorces because of their spouse’s unrepentant sexual immorality, greed, idolatry, slander (whether behind closed doors or publicly), drunkenness (or intemperance by other means eg drugs) and/ or swindling (theft by deceit, which might include lying) may perhaps choose to do so with a clear conscience, in accordance with the 1 Corinthians 5: 13 stipulation to, “Expel the wicked person from among you”. This may be all the recourse left an abused, oppressed spouse in a community that identify as Christian, where none have either the discernment, or the heart to act on behalf of the oppressed spouse.

Even if the abuse in question is not currently criminal in their country or state, church discipline for conduct unbecoming a professing believer, at the very least may give pause to vulnerable future victims wanting to marry a Christian, and to family and friends of abusers who have some semblance of discernment, before they welcome the next victim into their unreformed family member’s or friend’s web of deception. Of course, the abuser may well accuse the church of some form of ill-treatment, and attempt to elicit more pity that way, but pastors make the abuser’s job easier, and fail to follow scripture, if they make no attempt to address the abuser’s behaviour because it is too difficult.

Accountability of pastors is higher because of their position of authority and the power base that comes with it. If they won’t get involved and won’t investigate, and instead enter the world of pretense of the alleged abuser, are they not cowards also? At best, they are still suckling ‘milk’, as they are not mature enough to chew on ‘meat’ or solid food.

Hebrews 5: 11-14

‘We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.’

Such is also the case of family and friends who rate sentimentality toward an abuser over justice to those who were once their family member-in-law or mutual friend. Stand up for the oppressed, don’t turn a blind eye! Don’t pity the ‘poor soul’ whose spouse left with good reason – he (or she) should be alone until they are fit to treat their partner, or a subsequent partner, in a loving and healthy manner. Even if attempting to stay neutral, anyone who doesn’t stand for the abused partner, is complicit in support of the abuser.

Failing to address abusive behaviour of the abuser is actually a disservice to the abuser as well as to the abused, as much as to withhold discipline from a child is to fail to love the child. God disciplines us because He loves us. Isn’t the church failing to truly love abusive partners, if they fail to offer accountability measures (which for a time may include expulsion from fellowship) with an overall aim of restoration, not just in view of fellowship, but of the soul for eternal life?

Narcissistic abusers, who claim to be Christians, are constantly undermining their own goals, digging themselves a bigger and bigger proverbial hole of shame of their own making, in a series of doomed attempts at being an acclaimed success, and having all they believe they are entitled to. They do not stop short of further sinning against their innocent former spouses through slander, in order to deceive, and receive pity, and pave the way for their subsequent marriages to be deemed ‘biblical’.

If an abuser can’t come at accusing their abused partner/ former partner of adultery because there is ‘zip, zero, not-happening, nuh-uh, no’ evidence of any sexual unfaithfulness, another is to claim the abused partner was guilty of ‘desertion’ or ‘abandonment’. As indicated by comments on US divorce law, listeners to an abuser’s ‘pity me’ rhetoric, would do well to investigate what those grounds actually require, before they get sucked in by the abuser’s manipulation.

Abandonment means that one spouse has left the other without consent, but like adultery proving desertion means more than that a person left home without the consent of the other spouse.  Most states require that the defendant or respondent left home for a year or more; that the parties failed to agree about the departure; that plaintiff or petitioner failed to pay support; and that the departure was not caused by the plaintiff or petitioner.”

“Constructive desertion happens when one partner causes the other partner to leave the marital home through misconduct. If one partner is forced to leave the home because the other’s misconduct, he or she has been constructively deserted. In this regime, the conduct of one spouse makes it impossible for the other to stay in the marriage.” (2)

So an abusive partner whose partner leaves because of the abusive partner’s misconduct, has no grounds to claim abandonment or desertion. Rather, the abuse survivor who leaves the abusive partner has grounds to claim constructive desertion against the abusive partner. As always, it depends on the jurisdiction and the judge, or the church denomination and the leadership, what would actually be judged in an individual case. At the very least, an understanding of the legal terms can aide Christian leaders, along with scripture, in wading through an abuser’s rhetoric. It can also aide the conscientious Christian to act with good conscience before their One True God.

If the abuser extends his (or her) assertions to further suggest the abused partner’s leaving constitutes behaviour that indicates the abused partner should be treated as an ‘unbeliever’, may God have mercy on that person’s soul, and on any who intentionally fail to investigate the matter beyond a self-confessed liar’s deceptive misrespresentations.

Abusers who are genuinely repentant need to sort their rubbish out and take whatever time is required by their partner/ estranged or former partner and/ or their accountability team (if they seek a subsequent relationship) to prove they are now fit to function in an interdependent relationship of mutual goodwill. This is not an easy task, and consequently thrown into the ‘too hard’ basket by many. Not however, by many of the oppressed; the abused partners/ former partners, the ones with ‘SILENCE’ figuratively taped over their mouths; the ones way back in the background being asked if they have ‘forgiven and moved on’, or perhaps who are offered pastoral care or counselling in the face of their attempts to advocate for justice for others who are abused, and future victims.

Yet, in Luke 19: 8, “Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” That is repentance; eager and generous restitution, not remorseful words, followed by unrepentant behaviour, followed again by slander of the innocent.

Anyone who fails to listen to the pleas of the oppressed, and does not investigate their concerns, do not do a subsequent Mr or Mrs X the III, IV or V any favours by gushing their happiness for the new couple – seriously. The liar, thief and coward routine simply starts all over again.

Proverbs 19: 19

‘A hot-tempered person must pay the penalty; rescue them, and you will have to do it again.’

Galatians 6:7-8

‘Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.’

1 Samuel 16: 7

‘But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”‘

Proverbs 17: 5

‘Acquitting the guilty and condemning the innocent—
    the Lord detests them both.’

 

Epilogue

Following Jesus with courage, studying and following scripture diligently (to the best of one’s knowledge) leaves one with no regrets, whatever may be the choices of others.

I want to say (in case it means something to somebody) that though my separation from my abuser brought considerable relief from the day-to-day nightmare, and the divorce gave me considerably more relief through legal safety and independence (with no personal sense of obligation to ever reconcile and remarry him) his remarriage brought the fullest sense of RELIEF!! Though it was in a way the final rejection and fullest extension of his unfaithfulness, I celebrated! I found myself smiling, at moments, all that day and after!

Where the divorce did not preclude reconciliation and remarriage either legally or biblically, his remarriage to another woman did preclude any future remarriage between the two of us in biblical terms (Deuteronomy 24: 1-4) as I understand it. At any rate, ‘for the first time and forever’ no one in Christendom will ever ‘point the finger’ at me again, and say I am obligated to reconcile with a person who habitually chooses unrighteousness, who is unrepentant, and who ought to be treated as an unbeliever until he repents. YAHOO! Jesus, I’m all Yours!!

(That’s not to say there aren’t a myriad of issues that may attend a former spouse’s remarriage. The perspective shared above is just that, a perspective shared on one issue.)

 

(1) Jesus’ words to us in Luke 17: 3 are:
“If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them.” (Bold added)

(2) Quotes retrieved at https://www.divorcesource.com/ds/divorceprocess/abandonment-and-desertion-in-divorce-309.shtml

 

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Whether diagnosed or not

Many behaviours of abusive people have a devastating impact on their intimate partners. Whether or not those abusive behaviours happen to be sufficient for the abusive partner to fall within the diagnostic criteria of any given psychological disorder, in any particular edition of the DSM, has no bearing on whether the behaviours do, or do not impact that person’s intimate partner.

The intimate partner is the most expert in regard to whether or not the abusive partner’s behaviour is affecting their own well-being negatively. A measely hour or few, several emails, and ‘X number of years psychiatry experience’ does not trump the day-in-day-out lived experience the intimate partner has had, for however many years they have been married, or partnered to their abuser.

Let’s suppose for example that you identify with 20 out of a list of 26 experiences of a non-Autism Spectrum Disorder (non-ASD) or neuro-typical (NT) intimate partner, in an ASD/ NT marriage; does an absence of a diagnosis mean your relationship isn’t evidently dysfunctional, unhealthy, and likely to be causing grave deterioration in your own emotional, psychological and/ or physical well-being? We also might consider whether the absence of a diagnosis is due to a psychiatrist being unable to categorically diagnose according to DSM criteria, or whether the abusive partner is undiagnosed because he/she won’t even get a referral to be assessed? Maybe the referral lays at home, and months go by before the abuser makes an appointment, or attends one.

Maybe the psychiatrist talks about personality differences between the abusive person and the intimate partner, but never mentions narcissism, let alone makes any kind of a diagnosis; does that have any bearing on whether or not your spouse’s behaviours are the same tactics that narcissist’s use? Just because no-one will ‘call a spade a spade’, doesn’t mean it isn’t a spade. The psychiatrist doesn’t live in an intimate relationship with your partner, and psychiatrists often differ in their conclusions.

Personalities that lack  empathy, the capacity to understand the perspective of others, or the humility to learn how, are not compatible with an interdependent and mutually beneficial relationship. Taking months to get a ‘win-win’ agreement (one step forward) on one of many issues, only to find three months later your partner has ‘forgotten’ the agreement, or claims a different understanding of it, written or otherwise (two steps backward), because you’re the only one who cares about the changes you need, is essentially the same degree of progress as going nowhere at all.

At that rate a decade could easily go by with needs never being adequately addressed, and maybe your own well-being requires resolution without delay? Maybe your relationship with your diagnosed or undiagnosed partner is extremely challenging, but he/ she is genuinely engaged with making changes, even if for their own benefit. Either way, some professional support for yourself as an individual, could be beneficial for getting perspective on your situation, and your level of coping. It can be very difficult to get that perspective alone, if your own well-being is already significantly impacted.

I have read numerous places that couple counselling is not recommended if your partner is abusive, including in some of the links included in this post. My personal experience has lead me to question the practice, also.

Maybe you can highlight 80% of the Power and Control Wheel (Duluth Wheel), but your spouse has not committed a crime he can be arrested for, and will not acknowledge he abuses you. Maybe the relationship counsellor has failed to recognise that your uncertainty about where your spouse’s ‘breaking point is’ (before he uses physical violence) raises a question about whether you really do feel safe, even if you say you do. Maybe you have not linked your sense of vulnerability, or being unable to depend on your partner to be reasonable, or to self-regulate, to a sense of not feeling ‘safe’; so you don’t say the magic words, “No, I do not feel safe” that would otherwise lead a counsellor to follow a domestic abuse process.

I once read a comment on a forum that said, ‘Autistic men aren’t abusive, abusive men are’. I think this is an important comment. We hear the term, ‘adorable aspies’¹ and are reminded that ASD behaviour is easier to accommodate and provide for once we understand why we are encountering it, and adjust our expectations. This does not mean there will be no frustration, and it does not mean the person is incapable of making intentionally hurtful choices. Abusiveness is not the exclusive domain of non-ASD people, and not all autistic people are abusive. Some ‘aspies’ are adorable, others are not.

Susan Heitler, PhD, a clinical psychologist has written an article discussing the similarities between narcissism and autistic spectrum disorders (here) published by Pyschology Today. In a subsequent article (here) highlighting two case studies, Susan says this to conclude:

“The bottom line from my perspective is that there is often overlap between these two syndromes [narcissism and Aspergers].  Is that because some people have both?  Is the border between the two disorders a fuzzy boundary, so the label is a function of which features the diagnosis is primarily focusing on?

In my view, the essential feature of narcissism is a listening defect.  Narcissistic behavior is behavior that focuses only on oneself—what I want, what I think.  This ‘all about me’ tendency creates, or maybe results in, deficits in ability to hear others thoughts, feelings, preferences, etc.  When others insist on trying to be seen or heard, the narcissistic tendencies lead to anger.

As to Aspergers, I regard the addition of social oddities, avoidance of close social interactions, gaze aversion, and difficulties reading others’ feelings as signs that Aspergers as well as narcissistic non-listening may be present.  Also, narcissistic self-aggrandizement is typically less pronounced or absent with Aspergers.  And Aspergers individuals do not as often have the social charm that many individuals with naricissistic features have.

Paradoxically, people with both diagnoses can be very empathic and generous.  The bottom line is that these are not all-or-nothing syndromes, and they can easily co-exist. Very complex.”

The good news is some high functioning people with or without diagnoses choose to learn, and choose different actions. The bad news is, some high functioning people with or without diagnoses have no intention of changing; maybe changing looks like too much hard work, or they don’t want to give up the power base they maintain through manipulating their circumstances to suit them; maybe they don’t want to give up the allowances made for them because of their difficulties, or their ideal image of themselves makes no allowances for acknowledging there is any problem at all.

An apt quote by Charles M. Blow says:

“One doesn’t have to operate with great malice to do great harm. The absence of empathy and understanding are sufficient.”

A list of tips from the Neurotypical Site for neurotypical spouses of ASD partners is a very illuminating read (here). It could provide some welcome validation for anyone struggling with having a stakehold in their own life; having anyone appreciate that their partner’s disorder is not their fault either; and, that their neuro-typical condition is precious, and worth preserving, not an inconsequential and expendable sacrifice for the altar of accommodating their ASD partner’s needs.

Even with a diagnosis, if it’s not their fault, it’s not yours either. A disorder is not an excuse to abuse one’s partner. What is the point of a neurotypical person gaining a psychological disorder because of the excessive pressure put on them by their abusive spouse, whether diagnosed or not, whether ASD/ narcissistic/ or both, or anything else?

From a biblical perspective, abuse breaks the marriage covenant, a parity covenant, which is dependent on both parties upholding their vows to care for and be faithful to the other. Sometimes we are blinded from the truth of the scriptures by the extra-biblical traditions of men. That is a topic for an entirely different post, but it is worth mentioning that the tips for neurotypical spouses are not invalid for Christian spouses.

God condemns oppression and injustice, and He does not qualify that with an exemption for married people, allowing spouses to oppress or accuse their partners unjustly. That would not reflect a just God. Nor do we need to excuse abusive behaviour whether someone is diagnosed with a disorder, or not. Essentially, if someone were to be incapable of choosing right or wrong behaviour, they would be incapable of maintaining an interdependent and mutually beneficial relationship, such as marriage.

Here are a few other websites and interesting articles:

Websites:

The Neurotypical Site at http://www.theneurotypical.com/about_us.html

Aspia at https://www.aspia.org.au/

The Truth About Aspergers at http://heartlessaspergers.com/

Articles:

http://heartlessaspergers.com/effects-of-neurodevelopmental-levels-on-relationships/

http://www.drpsychmom.com/2015/02/28/am-i-aspergers-or-narcissistic/

https://www.theneurotypical.com/tips-for-nt-spouses.html

¹’Aspie’ is a nickname for someone diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome, listed in the DSM-IV.  Asperger Syndrome has been dropped from the DSM-5 as noted below:
Asperger’s was considered related to but distinct from autism. DSM-5 contains a new disorder that replaces both the old autistic disorder and Asperger’s: It is called autism spectrum disorder. Retrieved at https://www.livescience.com/37333-dsm-aspergers-disorder.html 

 

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Jesus Loves Me This I Know – I am who You say I am

I’m thankful for a childhood with songs like, Jesus Loves Me This I Know, that told me affirming truth that I have believed and held on to all my life. In this post there are five songs from contemporary Christian artists that are a balm to my heart and soul as a survivor of intimate partner abuse, and I imagine they could be for other abuse survivors also. The sixth one is a contemporary worship song that encourages those of us who know Jesus, to stand tall; chosen, not forsaken.

I am chosen
Not forsaken
I am who You say I am
You are for me
Not against me
I am who You say I am

Our worth is in who Jesus says we are. He has set us free for freedom, not slavery.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5: 1)

If you don’t know Jesus, I encourage you to be curious and check him out – google, read his words from the Bible, pray, ask other Christians (don’t give up if they fail you; Jesus won’t fail you). If you seek him with all your heart, you will find him.

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29: 13)

The You Tube clips of the songs are followed by their lyrics below, for those who don’t have enough data for the videos. (I’m sorry that without my fiddling with the coding, some line spaces will be missing when the post is published.)

A love story…

Warning:
The next clip for Love Song, by Third Day has an image of Jesus hand on the cross and a large nail, and an image of Jesus on the cross with severe injuries that are both seen briefly three times. There is another clip of Love Song on You Tube that only has one artist’s drawing of Jesus’ face and the rest of the video is lyrics only, on a pink background, if you want to try that one. I tried to use it here, but it wasn’t playable on other websites.

 

And an anthem…

So Far to Find You

You were broken, abandoned
And crying all alone
We were waiting and praying
And longing to bring you home
And then we saw your face
In a moment you were wrapped up in our hearts
We took a step of faith
And now here we are
Will you let me hold you in my arms tonight
I have come so far to find you
So far to find you
Will you take my love and give up the fight
I have come so far to find you
So far to find you
From a world away, I journeyed
Just to hold your hand
You will never be alone again
I’ve come so far to find you
So far to find you
You were fighting and fearful
You were hiding your heart away
But I was trying so hard to show you
‘Cause there were no words that I could say
If you could see my heart
You would know that all I want to do
Is care for you
Will you let me hold you in my arms tonight
I have come so far to find you
So far to find you
Will you take my love and give up the fight
I have come so far to find you
So far to find you
Here in your eyes I see
Reflections of myself
How I’m the child that’s really running
But I can hear a voice that’s whispering my name
Saying come to me, don’t run from me
I’m all you need and I am calling
Will you let me hold you in my arms tonight
(I have come so far)
Will you take my love and give up the fight
(I have come so far)
Will you let me hold you in my arms tonight
I have come so far to find you
So far to find you
Will you take my love and give up the fight
I have come so far to find you
So far to find you
From Heaven’s throne
Down to a rugged cross I came
It was My love for you that brought Me all the way
So far to find you
So far to find you
You were broken, abandoned
And crying all alone
Songwriters: John Mark Hall / Steven Curtis Chapman

You Say

Lauren Daigle
I keep fighting voices in my mind that say I’m not enough
Every single lie that tells me I will never measure up
Am I more than just the sum of every high and every low?
Remind me once again just who I am, because I need to know (ooh oh)
You say I am loved when I can’t feel a thing
You say I am strong when I think I am weak
You say I am held when I am falling short
When I don’t belong, oh You say that I am Yours
And I believe (I), oh I believe (I)
What You say of me (I)
I believe
The only thing that matters now is everything You think of me
In You I find my worth, in You I find my identity, (ooh oh)
You say I am loved when I can’t feel a thing
You say I am strong when I think I am weak
And You say I am held when I am falling short
When I don’t belong, oh You say that I am Yours
And I believe (I), oh I believe (I)
What You say of me (I)
Oh, I believe
Taking all I have and now I’m laying it at Your feet
You have every failure God, and You’ll have every victory, (ooh oh)
You say I am loved when I can’t feel a thing
You say I am strong when I think I am weak
You say I am held when I am falling short
When I don’t belong, oh You say that I am Yours
And I believe (I), oh I believe (I)
What You say of me (I)
I believe
Oh I believe (I), yes I believe (I)
What You say of me (I)
Oh I believe (oh)
Songwriters: Paul Mabury / Lauren Ashley Daigle / Jason Ingram

Face Down

I try to find a new way to tell You
Some way to show You what You mean to me
There’s nothing new
I exhaust myself searching
The world just keeps turning
What else can I do
‘Cause I find myself empty and
Face down
Having nothing else to cling to
But need of love that only You can give
Face down
Where I know that I belong
And I pray with grace that this world sees in me
Someone humbled and broken at Your feet
I stand amazed, see the work of Your hands
Still I don’t understand why You would rescue me
An empty cross
Where You suffered and bled
Overcoming my death
Recreating me
With this freedom I will be
Face down
Having nothing else to cling to
But need of love that only You can give
Face down
Where I know that I belong
And I pray with grace that this world sees in me
Someone humbled and broken at Your feet
So I’m asking for Your help
Just can’t do this by myself
After all, this life’s for You and not for me
Through Your mercy now I see
Brokenness is what I need
So I’ll stay right here at Your feet
Right here at Your feet and
Face down
Having nothing else to cling to
But need of love that only You can give
Face down
Where I know that I belong
And I pray with grace that this world sees in me
Someone humbled and broken at Your feet
Oh, humbled and broken at Your feet
At Your feet
Songwriters: Hector Alonzo Cervantes / Marc Byrd

Love Song

I’ve heard it said that a man would climb a mountain
Just to be with the one he loves
How many times has he broken that promise
It has never been done
I’ve never climbed the highest mountain
But I walked the hill of Calvary
Just to be with you, I’d do anything
There’s not price I would not pay
Just to be with you, I’d give anything
I would give my life away
I’ve heard it said that a man would swim the ocean
Just to be with the one he loves
How many times has he broken that promise
It can never be done
I’ve never swam the deepest ocean
But I walked upon the raging sea
Just to be with you, I’d do anything
There’s not price I would not pay
Just to be with you, I’d give anything
I would give my life away
I know that you don’t understand the fullness of My love
How I died upon the cross for your sins
And I know you don’t realize how much that I gave you
But I promise, I would do it all again
Just to be with you, I did everything
There’s not price I did not pay
Just to be with you, I gave everything
Yes, I gave my life away
Songwriters: Johnny Mac Powell / Samuel Tai Anderson / Bradley B. C. Avery / David Carr / Mark D. Lee

Wedding Day

There’s a stirring in the throne room
And all creation holds it’s breath
Waiting now to see the bride groom
Wondering how the bride will dress
And she wears white
And she knows that she’s undeserving
She bears the shame of history
With this worn and weary maiden
Is not the bride that he sees
And she wears white, head to toe
But only he could make it so
When someone dries your tears
When someone wins your heart
And says your beautiful
When you don’t know you are
And all you’ve longed to see
Is written on his face
When love has come and finally set you free
On that wedding day
On that wedding day
She has danced in golden castles
And she has crawled through beggar’s dust
But today she stands before him
And she wears his righteousness
And she will be who he adores
And this is what he made her for
When someone dries your tears
When someone wins your heart
And says your beautiful
When you don’t know you are
And all you’ve longed to see
Is written on his face
When love has come and finally set you free
On that wedding day
On that wedding day
When the hand that bears the only scars
And heaven touch her face
And the last tears she’ll ever cry
Are finally wiped away
And the clouds roll back as he takes her hand
And walks her through the gates
Forever we will reign
When someone dries your tears
When someone wins your heart
And says your beautiful
When you don’t know you are
And all you’ve longed to see
Is written on his face
When love has come and finally set you free
On that wedding day
On that wedding day
Songwriters: Bernie Herms / John Mark Hall / Matthew Joseph West

Who You Say I Am

Who am I that the highest King
Would welcome me?
I was lost but He brought me in
Oh His love for me
Oh His love for me
Who the Son sets free
Oh is free indeed
I’m a child of God
Yes I am
Free at last, He has ransomed me
His grace runs deep
While I was a slave to sin
Jesus died for me
Yes He died for me
Who the Son sets free
Oh is free indeed
I’m a child of God
Yes I am
In my Father’s house
There’s a place for me
I’m a child of God
Yes I am
I am chosen
Not forsaken
I am who You say I am
You are for me
Not against me
I am who You say I am
I am chosen
Not forsaken
I am who You say I am
You are for me
Not against me
I am who You say I am
I am who You say I am
Who the Son sets free
Oh is free indeed
I’m a child of God
Yes I am
In my Father’s house
There’s a place for me
I’m a child of God
Yes I am
In my Father’s house
There’s a place for me
I’m a child of God
Yes I am
I am chosen
Not forsaken
I am who You say I am
You are for me
Not against me
I am who You say I am
I am chosen
Not forsaken
I am who You say I am
You are for me
Not against me
I am who You say I am
I am chosen
Not forsaken
I am who You say I am
You are for me
Not against me
I am who You say I am
Oh, I am who You say I am
Yes, I am who You say I am
Who the Son sets free
Oh is free indeed
I’m a child of God
Yes I am
In my Father’s house
There’s a place for me
I’m a child of God
Yes I am
Songwriters: Ben Fielding / Reuben Morgan
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Good Girl

I’ll preface this post by saying it was written, as was the previous post, God Knows at a point at which I was again accepting an end to pursuing justice in my own situation, and feeling the injustice for myself, my children and the new victim, keenly. I am happy this time to have found a greater peace; that it is definitely time to ‘shake the dust off my feet’. I have spoken up, but have not been heard. Having God’s specific words to me coming frequently to mind, has helped immensely this time – summed up now by these words, ‘Leave it all behind’.

For as long as I can remember I’ve wanted to be a good girl.

I made a decision to follow Jesus at a young age, and have wanted to be a good girl all the more since then – be a good girl, not just pull off looking like one. I wanted peace inside, so deceit could have no part in it. I hated having guilty feelings from doing the wrong thing, so I was very grateful when I came to understand justification, Satan’s defeat, my value as a child of God, and the relief of believing, trusting, and having faith in the one and only all-knowing, all-powerful, everywhere-present God. After all he did for me, I wanted to be a good girl and please him. So, I made choices that I knew were necessary to please him; honesty and humility were vital to that. Doing what He wanted first and foremost was essential to pleasing him.

As a child I wanted to please my parents, my teachers, my extended family, church people, my friends. I much preferred things to be well between me and others. I felt unhappy when admonished. I was afraid of incurring admonishment at school or friends’ homes, so made every effort to be a good girl in every situation. I got a little tied up in knots trying to please everybody, with perfectionistic tendencies appearing, but gradually came to understand my equal value to others before God, and that my first responsibility was to please him first and foremost, not other people. He is the only One worthy of my worship, so I couldn’t be distracted from pleasing Him by depleting myself trying to please everyone else.

I also came to understand that loving others is a way to love God also. I needed to find His will for me, so that my energy was spent doing what He wanted me to do in regard to pursuing love, justice and mercy, for His glory. I didn’t have to fix everything in the world, just do the part God wanted me to do, knowing others had their part to do, and God was overseeing everything. I also learnt that smothering people is not love, enabling them to continue in self-destructive behaviours is not love, and that addressing sin with truth and grace is more loving than ignoring it, with counterfeit mercy.

I served in a few short term missions, became qualified in the health care field, and eventually married and had children of my own. Loving my husband and my children, so they were encouraged and knew the love of our Heavenly Father, became a primary focus for my loving worship of God, my first and foremost love. Loving sacrificially, serving, affirming, having grace toward my husband and children, and apologising promptly when I hurt them, pursuing our seeking God together, accepting our children as blessings from God and training them to love God and love others were all part of my worship response to my God, who had sacrificed so much for me. I expressed to my husband that my love for him and our children were part of my worship of God.

I had shared with my husband that as a child I wanted my dad to think of me as a good girl. I felt very sad as a child when I didn’t meet his expectations. As an adult I was more focussed on God thinking of me as a good girl, and one day calling me His ‘good and faithful servant’. I had also told my husband that the couple of times he had said, “Good girl” to me had meant a lot to me. Other women might think it was patronising, and maybe it was, but I had pleased my husband and it brought happiness to me to hear him say so.

Unfortunately affirmations were few, and there was considerable inconsideration toward me. I still felt great contentment as I was so thankful to God for the blessing of marriage and of each child, for all His wonderful provision, and for the lessons I had learnt over the years.

Some years later I was patient with aberrations from what I could ever have imagined a loving Christian husband doing, or saying to me. When it came to a significant conflict in our marriage, one that further impacted trust and eventually care of the children, I found over time that there was significantly more unjust reproaches, accusations, and manipulative control tactics being used with increasing frequency.

I was patient and prayerful, but even after a significant period of professional relationship counselling, I came to realise my husband’s behaviour indicated to me that he had no intention of changing his behaviour toward me; no intention of relinquishing his belief in his entitlement to maintain control over myself and the children, and little ability to empathise with our felt needs if he had to give up anything he wanted for himself.

For a woman wanting to be a good girl, and disciplining herself her whole life to that end, being consistently, unjustly accused cut at my core needs and values. It was hard work to stand against it all. Though I maintained my self-value, it took a lot of energy to do so. I was sure God had other purposes for my energy than being enslaved and oppressed by a man pretending to be a worshipper of God, who was coveting secret sins, and who’s home life when out of the public eye, bore no resemblance to that of a godly man; words and actions inconsistent with that of a caring and loving husband, a father who doesn’t exasperate and embitter his children, or an honest man.

I addressed my husband’s unrepentant behaviour by separating, with a view to giving him the best chance of addressing the dysfunctional behaviour he was aware of, and respecting the reasonable boundaries I had laboured to explain my need for. He followed this up with continued disrespect of boundaries, reproaching and accusing me while seeking the pity of others, pleading ignorance of why I left, making some remorseful-sounding confessions, and misrepresenting me to our children, to extended family and to friends.

I decided to apply for a divorce on the basis of his continued abuse. My husband made penitent sounding promises to some, but neither his promises and confessions, or the concerns I raised, were followed up with agreed accountability measures within the Christian community. The Christian community’s failure to address his confessed sin or his broken promises, or in fact his slander of me for his own ends, left him in a state of being undisciplined for his wicked conduct as a professing Christian.

To discipline is to love. I discipline myself because of my self-value and my love for God, including confessing wrong-doing to others and to God. I was a good girl who loved my husband; a good girl who brought discipline to him through separation and divorce, valuing both my husband and myself, a child of God, in doing so. Because the church has had only counterfeit love for him, they have not loved me either, leaving a good girl; a survivor of abuse and oppression, and then of slander, without vindication. The most unloving thing my former husband could do to me, he’s done; misrepresent me as guilty, when he knows I am innocent.

Acquitting the guilty and condemning the innocent–both are detestable to the LORD. Proverbs 17:15

 

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God Knows

I was just reading about Malala¹, who started advocating for education for girls in Pakistan as a teenager, and who survived an assassination attempt at the age of 15. She is the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.

While many laud her bravery in seeking justice for girls denied their Human Right to an education, others detract because of their own agendas. While leaders around the world decry the assassination attempt as heinous, cowardly and reprehensible, Taliban stated she is a symbol of infidels and obscenity, and that Sharia says that even a child may be killed for propagating against Islam and Islamic forces.

Good is made to look bad. Advocating for truth and justice is made to look like evil lies. Oppression is made to look justifiable.

I am writing on the heels of news from one of my children that dad is in fact being married in the near future. My last attempt to address his ongoing reviling of me as a professing Christian has come to a point of “shaking the dust off my feet”² also. A witness to my former husband’s commitment to honour me and protect my reputation, has no where to take it further with me on my behalf, when my former husband’s pastor refuses to get ‘involved’.

Yes, we are divorced. But the fact remains, the issue has been raised that a professing Christian in that pastor’s congregation is continuing in sin, which we are cautioned about in I Corinthians 5:11-13 (quoted from NIV):

11 But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.

12 What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? 13 God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you.”

The justice I was motivated to seek, was for the future wife, and my children primarily, and yes, I wouldn’t mind vindication either. I was once in that woman’s position, when apparently no one in a former church had followed up his first wife’s assertions about him, that he told me of himself. Of course he told it to me as if she had been spreading lies about him, and I felt compassion for his apparent suffering.

So, after receiving injustice over many years in relative silence, and after counselling made no significant difference to my concerns, I maintained a boundary regarding my right to feel safe by separating. Some understood, some didn’t. Slander continued. Then despite so many ‘sorry’ words to me (and once to another  pastor) there was no apparent accompanying sorrow, because the abuse continued and further abuse was added. How could someone who is truly, sorrowfully, ‘sorry’, continue to use the same tactics as he was apologising for? There was obviously no accompanying repentance; no turning away from his sin (and no accountability, as there was no follow up by the pastor).

So, I applied for a divorce, which some understood and some didn’t. Slander continued. Despite addressing concerns numerous times over the years to no avail, I finally felt compelled (after prayerful consideration) to give further effort to address his ongoing sin, for the sake of his new girlfriend. The witness I approached understood, others didn’t. The pursuance of biblical intervention with justice in view, was described in a negative light by my former husband because he had his own interests to protect. He is not concerned for anyone else’s interests, certainly not mine, and not even the interests of the woman he is now professing to love, I assume. I would not like to be in that unregenerate man’s shoes, nor have to answer for his example to his children.

His deceptions, lies, abuses and theft have caused me and my children pain, and he has been the cause of the theft of my good name, and the good name of my children’s mother. And that through the injustice of misrepresentation, not through the justice of truth.

However, God knows the truth. He knows who I am, my heart, my actions, my words, my prayers. My poor children are sometimes confused, but they are not silly, and they do come to their own insightful conclusions.

I am finding online and in person, that many more people than I knew are awake to the inconsistencies of thought among Christian tradition regarding marriage. We may be decades away from the tide swinging in a more righteous and just direction, as it was for Wilbur Wilberforce³ and the abolition of slavery, and as may be the case for Malala and her quest for the right of girls to be educated, and in fact the right to education of all children, to become undisputed across the world.

Our just, thoughtful and prayerful actions, may be viewed negatively through ignorance of all the facts, or through the deceptive misrepresentations of slanderous, self-indulgent narcissists. We  cannot always protect ourselves against this further injustice, but that does not mean we should back off from pursuing justice anyway. Nothing will change, nothing will be gained, if we are not prepared to lose anything, even our good name.

Our reputation, through staying the course for righteousness and justice, may yet be restored many times over, only God knows. Certainly, the attempt on Malala’s life catapulted her fame and her voice to an ever-increasing world stage, the complete opposite of the Taliban’s attempt to silence her.

Who’s opinion do we count most dear? Those that will treat us respectfully even if their opinions differ from ours, or those who value us so little that they trample us underfoot without care, or without even seeking our perspective for themselves? When all is said and done, no one’s opinion of me matters more than that of Jesus Christ, who will be the one to judge.

2 Corinthians 5:10 (NIV)

‘For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.’

John 5:22

‘Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son…’

I want to be found to have obeyed God’s word, and responded to the Holy Spirit to me directly, and so I act when certain He is directing me. So that our willing, and fulfilling service to God may be long, and not cut short, prudence is certainly necessary; being patient and diligently waiting on God for guidance. When certainty comes, that is when we can act without the fear and dread that Satan tries to scare us with, knowing that God’s hand is on us, and nothing can separate us from His love, come what may. I ask Him to preserve my life until my children are grown and independent, but I trust Him to take care of them in what is beyond my control.

Romans 8:38-39 (NIV)

‘For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.’

Thank you, God, for rescuing me and for all of your loving care and provision for myself and my children. Thank you for the lessons learned in difficult times, that make times of blessing all the more appreciated. Thank you that there is nothing to lose by choosing to walk in righteousness, and everything to gain from peaceful companionship with You. I am comforted to know that others who may suffer at the hands of abusive people (who appear to get away with it) will find you in their circumstances if they seek you, and can know the joy of your rescue and provision, and your healing and renewed purpose for their lives. I praise You for Who You Are, and thank you for all that you do, in Jesus’ Name. Amen

Ephesians 6:10-18 (NIV)

The Armor of God

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. 

Remember, God knows.

 

¹https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malala_Yousafzai
²Matthew 10:14 (NIV), ‘If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet.’
³https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Wilberforce
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Caught Out

I always believed that I had consented to intimacy, but later realised with regard to one aspect of it, I had been coerced.

A lack of awareness of what constitutes sexual coercion, as well as being deceived by my former husband, led to my failing to see what was really happening. This story of coercion is mild in comparison to others, but hopefully it illustrates the underhandedness of coercion.

These are a few definitions of sexual coercion:

Sexual coercion is unwanted sexual activity that happens when you are pressured, tricked, threatened, or forced in a nonphysical way.1

“Sexual coercion” is the use of violence, threats, harassment, drugs or alcohol, nagging, repeated pressure, or other psychological means to get sex from another human who is not interested, i.e. against their will or consent.2

Coercion:

  • Coercion is a tactic used by perpetrators to intimidate, trick or force someone to have sex with him/her without physical force.
  • Coercion is an issue of power and control.
  • A perpetrator who uses coercive tactics knows that his or her victim neither wants nor enjoys this sexual interaction.3

Somewhere in the first couple of years of marriage my husband introduced the possibility of me ‘kissing’ him other than on his mouth. The suggestion was put forward as an option for foreplay. Song of Solomon in the Bible got a mention, and though very conservative in some of my views as a Christian, I was not aware of any prohibition in the Bible to kissing any particular body parts.  I wanted to love my husband generously, without holding back from him, so even though I had previously had no personal desire whatsoever to participate in such an activity, I consented willingly. It became an every now and then occurrence.

It was a little off-putting after my husband initiated the suggestion, that he then voiced concerns about it, which led me to feel somewhat responsible for having agreed to it. However, because I had consented only after considering any Biblical prohibition to it, I put myself at ease over it.

Because my husband had requested my ‘kissing’ him in the alternative region, but repeatedly recoiled at returning the favour to me, I became a bit upset that there was no mutuality to it, and felt a bit degraded by his reluctance. He eventually acknowledged the justice of my concerns, and reciprocated. Though I appreciated some aspects of it, as time passed I came to generally decline it for myself, but continued to ‘give’ in that way to my husband. Personally, I was perfectly satisfied with unquestionably natural love-making.

The frequency of the alternative kind of foreplay increased somewhat in the latter years of our marriage, and I gradually became more inclined to think it might after all fall into an ‘unnatural’ category of sexual intimacy, as expressed in the Bible in Romans 1:26-274 for example, though homosexuality is most obviously being discussed in that instance. My husband was aware of my uncertainty.

After a health incident, I did some googling around the issue, and came to a place where I decided I did not believe it was a natural thing to do. I had no personal desire to participate in it, it was physically uncomfortable for me, and I no longer felt it was acceptable to do it. (My husband had sometimes queried whether I enjoyed it, and I would reassure him I did, as I had found some enjoyment from knowing he appreciated it.) Despite communicating to my husband my new certainty that I did not want to be involved with it, I still found myself obliging him for a couple of reasons.

On occasion it was because my husband had been particularly attentive to me, and I so appreciated it, I would do what I knew he wanted most (hoping it perhaps wasn’t, after all forbidden and God understood my motivation was love, not lust). I hope my husband’s attentiveness was genuine, but wonder whether his motivation was to ‘inspire’ me to relent on my (apparently wobbly) boundary, regarding this activity.

My husband also claimed he had loss of sensation due to his health disorder. He did not have any noticeable trouble with impotence, but it seemed plausible that the disorder was causing sensation issues. As a consequence, I sometimes found myself ‘helping him out’ with the activity I had attempted to draw a line on, because of this issue also.

He may have been just as likely to have arousal issues due to his porn use and masturbation, but I was unaware of it at the time. After I had separated from him he disclosed that those issues continued through our entire marriage, even though I had specifically checked in with him at infrequent intervals through our marriage, and he had always denied there was any problem.

There were times when love-making was taking so long that it would become apparent that he was probably ‘needing’ another form of assistance. I would enquire what he was thinking, willing to help, but obviously hesitant to participate once again in the activity at issue. Sometimes he would put forward the suggestion of my ‘kissing’ him there, and other times he would’t say much at all, or say he didn’t want me to do anything I didn’t want to, but he didn’t suggest any alternative either, or call it a night. He knew I was always determined to pursue his full satisfaction (though he did not show the same determination for me). It seems on reflection, that he sometimes just waited ‘meekly’ until I made the choice to put my wishes and concerns aside for him.

I became firmer in my expression that I could no longer ‘kiss’ him there with a clear conscience, and that I was very sorry, as I knew he particularly valued it. Sometime later it dawned on me that the frequency of that activity had actually escalated from every once in awhile to every time we were intimate.

I called him out on the fact, stating what I had noticed, and that I believed he had been holding out on purpose, waiting for me to ‘help him out’, and that despite his statements that he wanted to respect my wishes, he had in fact disrespected my known wishes. He lay there with a look of someone who recognised ‘the jig was up’, that he had been caught out with no defense, and he said nothing to deny it.

He had been deceiving me, tricking me into doing something he knew I did not want to do, for his own gratification. He abused my love and generosity, and had no concern for my earlier hesitations, or respect for my certainty later, that I was not happy to participate in that activity anymore.

The thing that hurt me most was his deception. He abused my trust in him. He spurned my generous love for him; though he used me, he did not cherish me. He is a thief.

I am still stunned when I think of what happened. My only comfort is to turn my eyes to Jesus, who gives me life, and joy and loves me faithfully.

This is my comfort in affliction, that Your promise has given me life. Psalm 119:50

 

1Retrieved at https://www.womenshealth.gov/relationships-and-safety/other-types/sexual-coercion
2https://medium.com/@DuffCoach/why-is-sexual-coercion-wrong-6f7d3d0dcac3
3https://sapac.umich.edu/article/205
4Romans 1:26-27 (NIV) 
Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.
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