Helping women of faith find hope and healing after emotional and spiritual abuse

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If a tennis player is playing a game with someone who isn’t hitting the ball back, is that person still a real tennis player? Emotional abuse victims are often labeled as codependent. But we’d like to make a case for the idea that some victims may just be playing tennis with the wrong player, and they aren’t codependent at all. 

Resources referenced in this episode:

Total Truth by Nancy Pearcey

Why You’re Probably Not Codependent and You’ve Got These Super Powers Instead

Click To Play:

Read the transcript for Episode 77 here!


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  1. Jennifer

    Dear Ladies,
    I think the title you are looking for is Love Thy Body by Nancy Pearcey…thank you for this clarifying conversation!! You three make a fantastic tag team and provide such incredibly encouraging validation for us who are jot as far along but who are free by His grace! Thank you!!

  2. Sharon

    I really appreciate this conversation. As the panelists said in the podcast, sometimes the effects of abuse look like codependency. When codependency was a trending idea in the early ’90s, my counselor told me I was codependent. I believed her because she was the expert, but in hindsight I realize that wasn’t true about me. She completely missed the abuse that was happening in my marriage, and I was distracted from recognizing the abuse because I was working to stop being codependent.

    If I understand codependency as it was initially recognized in families of addicts, the behavior of the codependent person ensures that the addict remains addicted so that the codependent family member can continue to exercise control in the addict’s life. In the case of abuse, the victim is trying to get rid of the abuse, not perpetuate it. The coping behaviors are for survival, not to keep the abuser hurting them. And the victim’s coping behaviors don’t cause the abuser to be abusive–they keep the victim from escaping the relationship. Saying a victim is codependent perpetuates the lie that abuse victims have control over the abuse cycle.

  3. just ... K

    Thank you all so much for this podcast – the co-dependent label is something that I’ve been thinking about a lot over the past while and I deeply appreciated your thoughts and wisdom.

    I don’t know if it is helpful for someone else, but for me, the major stumbling block that opened the door to extremely unhealthy relating was the twisted interpretation of Genesis 3v16 that I’d been spoonfed in Christian circles since the 1980’s. The “permanent text” of the ESV even went so far as to codify this twisted theology into Scripture itself and interpreted the text “your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you.”

    Wendy Alsup writes poignantly of how she sees this playing out (I know you may not agree with her entire position):

    “Practically speaking, this paralyzes women. We have seen this in our own lives as well as the lives of the women we disciple. When women are told that their very desires are sinful in a way that men’s desires are not, godly women end up doubting everything they think or do or say. Rather than risk the possibility of imposing her “contrary” desires on to her husband or the men around her, she will stop desiring entirely.

    “Ironically, this does not fulfill the Biblical concept of submission; it actually undermines it. When a woman abandons her own opinions, she is not submitting. She is abdicating her imago Dei identity. Submission only happens when two conflicting desires meet and one defers. A woman can only submit when she holds an opinion in the first place and then chooses to defer out of her own agency. She does not defer because her desires are corrupt, but because she loves her husband and the Scripture. Anything less is co-dependency.

    “Further, the ESV’s current rendering can lead a woman to doubt the work of God in her heart. When the Holy Spirit moves her to take action, she will question whether it is truly God or the deceitfulness of her own contrary desires. Having lost a category for goodness of her desires, she will freeze and become subject to the control of those around her. She will be led by the desires of her husband, her children, her friends, and her community. Rather than being led by the Spirit, she will be led by other human beings.

    Finally, this rendering will cause men to mistrust women. Not only will women doubt their own opinions and the Holy Spirit’s leading, men will begin to doubt the validity of women’s voices. If women’s desires are de facto “contrary,” when a woman speaks up or offers an alternative view, men will naturally be suspicious. Is she simply trying to undermine the men around her? What’s her hidden agenda? And when she rightly challenges evil men for evil behavior, her words will be neutralized entirely. Because after all, the woman’s “desire shall be contrary.” She’s unsubmissive and not to be trusted.”

    (The whole article is here:

    HOW I identify with this! 90% of my struggle to come up for air, are right here!!

    Thank God that there were people who came in to counter the text – as did the Westminster Theological Center – here:

    If the rendering of the second article is correct (which I believe it is) a woman’s desire tends to focus TOO STRONGLY on her husband – hence the reason we try over and over and over again to fix a completely broken relationship. Hence the 1.8 billion dollar romance industry geared towards, and supported by, women.

    I find it agonising that in so many Christian circles, women are being told to submit more and to try harder – when what they need more than anything else is to be helped to come up for air and to figure out who they are – and then as imago dei bearers, to live life fully.

    Thank you again for the podcast. Awesome stuff. May God bless you!

    • Natalie Hoffman

      Good stuff! I love Wendy Alsup. Thank you for sharing this.

      • Lisa

        Thank you for sharing of that including that powerful and revealing quote! SO helpful!


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