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Ten Christian Women Who Got Out of Their Emotionally Abusive Marriages

Ten Christian Women Who Got Out of Their Emotionally Abusive Marriages

Do you ever get the feeling of total hopelessness? Like you’ll be stuck in your toxic relationship for the rest of your life? That you’ll never know what it is like to feel emotionally and spiritually safe or have the ability to think clearly, share with vulnerability, and have hope for the future?

To live the rest of your life in your current situation feels like a living nightmare. But to get out feels totally impossible.

Recently I read an article that said this about getting out:

“You want to avoid the pain. You may rank your relationship as a five out of ten on the happiness scale, but breaking up will temporarily bring you down to a two or three. Even though eventually you’d be happier (let’s say a nine), you stay with a five because you don’t want to slip down to a two or three.”

Ten women made the choice to break up even though the process took them down a black hole of horrific pain.

In the end, they had no regrets. They could testify that it was worth it.

Here are their stories, and I hope they will encourage you. God doesn’t marginalize women who are divorced. He doesn’t cast you out as a reject. He loves you, regardless of your marital status or past. God isn’t like people. If you decide to make that Herculean effort to cut loose, He will NOT abandon you. He will help you make it through hell to the other side.

Ten Christian Women Who Got Out of Their Emotionally Abusive Marriages

I’m the happiest I’ve ever been in my life…

It was totally worth it. Filing for divorce was the hardest thing I have ever done. I didn’t understand that my 26 year marriage was abusive until I read “Why Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men” by Lundy Bancroft,  but once I read it the scales fell from my eyes and I could see my life clearly. I wanted a divorce, but I didn’t have the courage to do it. I didn’t want to experience that much pain. I knew what was right for me, but I still worried about him and my children. I was sleeping on a camping cot in an unfinished basement when my 17 year old daughter snuck downstairs and asked me when I was going to file for divorce and kick him out. My children were just as miserable as I was. In his attempt to win me back, he treated me like a queen, but he shifted his anger onto the children. He told the kids that he would do anything to keep the family together, even if that meant that he went to prison and the kids went to foster care. My children were scared and I was terrified, but I knew we could not live like that anymore. I filed for divorce on our 26th wedding anniversary. I have now been divorced for almost 2 years. I lost every friendship that we had together. I lost family members and my church family took his side. I was pretty much alone.  The first 6 months after the divorce were the hardest, because I was so lonely. Today, I am a full time college student and I have new friends. My life is wonderful. I am the happiest I have ever been in my life. Yes, going through the divorce and picking up the pieces is hard, but the living on the other side is worth it.


Ten Christian Women Who Got Out of Their Emotionally Abusive Marriages

It was worth the peace and tranquility we now have…

Yes, I too was afraid to make that first move. I was afraid I was stepping out of “God’s will” by leaving my husband of 20 years in hopes that he would recognize his part, repent, get help…and reconciliation. That was my hope as I packed my bags, packed my four children, packed a moving truck…and left TX and journeyed to CO. I didn’t have a job. I didn’t know what the next step was. But enough was enough. We all needed healing. We needed safety from the ‘un-noticed’ abuse that was taking place. The abuse that the pastor labeled as ‘me being un-submissive.’ ‘If I tried harder, he wouldn’t make the decisions he was making.’ Even though I was the one who faithfully showed up to church every Sunday, with my children and served in several different ministries.

So we moved. And he never changed. He didn’t care. It was all my fault. And always would be. But, he “still loves me” he claims. His empty words no longer affect me. They don’t pierce my heart anymore. And I’m not confused as I try to figure out why he would say he loved me yet he would purposefully hurt me.

We no longer have to live like we are walking on eggshells anymore. We don’t need to worry what his mood will be like, or if he ‘left’, would he come back again. The constant state of confusion is gone. And in its place, is FREEDOM, PEACE…and despite everything, a joy that has prevailed through my steps of courage to break through the unknown and the what if’s. To dare to pass through living a life of 2…to live in 9. I love coming home now. I am at peace. I am free. I’m discovering who I really am, as I became lost through the 20 years of broken marriage I covenanted to keep.

It was scary, but IT WAS WORTH IT. It at times may be lonely, but the truth is, I was always alone, even when we were together. IT WAS WORTH the peace and tranquility we now have. The journey is not over. It is just beginning. And now, I get to live as a free person, and be who God has truly designed me to be!

Be courageous. Have a close group of sisters who love the Lord and love you. And BE BRAVE. IT IS WORTH IT.


Krista Joy

Ten Christian Women Who Got Out of Their Emotionally Abusive Marriages

 Jumping off that cliff is just jumping into love’s fresh air…

It got to the point where I felt like I was wrestling the Enemy in my own home… every…single…day. I just never was able to agree with the notion that my husband was everything and I was nothing. During one of our daily disagreements, my husband responded to my statement that things didn’t have to be this way by asking me, “Why? Are you going to change?” Something in my mind snapped. In that clarifying moment, I knew I would no longer dig deeper into Christ to change myself for the sake of our marriage, as I had already done for years. Instead, I silently put our marriage on God’s altar. Whatever He decided to do with it, I would follow Him.
Behind me, there was this roaring lion seeking to devour me and my kids; before me, there was a cliff. It’s been over a year since I jumped off that cliff. Incredibly, I didn’t fall to my death. To my surprise I flew! Flying in fresh air feels marvelous compared to twisting in tangled knots each day, desperately struggling just to catch a breath. Being a single mom is actually easier than being a patriarchal tyrant’s “wife.”

  • I no longer waste hours every day wrestling the enemy.
  • enjoy my time with the Lord now. We only have to ‘process hurts’ occasionally.
  • I have energy to care for my kiddos.
  • I am free to meet my kids’ needs. All of them.
  • Zero arguments. I don’t have to persuade Christ to see me as God sees me or to meet our family’s needs before personal greeds. Refreshing!
  • It feels so good to be free!!!!!

As it turns out, jumping off that cliff is just jumping into love’s fresh air. Love catches you and enables you to fly. Anticipating death, I found sweet Life instead. You already know His name. And He knows how to love you like Christ loves the Church. Submitting to Him is no trouble at all.


Ten Christian Women Who Got Out of Their Emotionally Abusive Marriages

I would never go back into the bondage of abuse…

It took me a long time to realize that I was in an abusive relationship. It didn’t click when he continued to threaten to kill himself because I wouldn’t agree to the long list of faults he kept telling me I had. I didn’t realize it when he didn’t care when I started bleeding during my pregnancy. Not even when he was content to see us all out on the streets weeks before the baby was due. When he physically assaulted my oldest I knew something had to change.

I was afraid to change but also afraid to stay the same. I had quickly realized that my church had joined him in the abuse. I was the unrepentant and rebellious wife for wanted a man to provide and protect his family. One day I knew that if I didn’t do something I was going to either die or go crazy. I couldn’t do either. My boys needed me. So I took a stand … alone. And never once looked back.

It has been a long hard journey. And there are times when I’m still afraid, but I would never go back into the bondage of abuse and control. I’m working on getting healthy and safe for myself and my boys. I want them to see that no matter how hard things got, Mama never gave up on God.

LaToya Edwards

Ten Christian Women Who Got Out of Their Emotionally Abusive Marriages

You don’t need to be with someone who treats you horribly…

During my senior year of high school, I was in an emotionally abusive relationship, He used to control what I said, wore, and did. He used to call me every name in the book and call me down for every little thing. I was always glued to my phone or the computer because if I did not respond to his messages he would get paranoid about it. If I tried to leave he would say If you Love God love me and he used to threaten to kill himself if I tried to leave. He made the relationship to there was no way out. He caused me so much stress and heartache that I had a seizure two days before his birthday. A close friend of mine helped me break it off with him.

As I look back on the experience, I decided to end it because if I stayed it would have escalated into something far worse than what I was in at the time. It took me a very long time for me to learn how to love again and how to love myself because after the relationship I felt broken and worthless. When people ask me if leaving was worth it, I say yes because all of us deserve to be loved and treated with respect. You don’t need to be with someone who treats you horribly. An important message that all survivors can take from their experience is you can find hope in the ashes of pain and suffering if you dig deep enough to find it. Transitioning from victim to survivor is difficult but it is totally worth it. All of us are worthy.

Eleanor, age 19

Ten Christian Women Who Got Out of Their Emotionally Abusive Marriages

I am now learning to breathe, walk, and speak…

16 years of severe psychological, emotional and spiritual abuse.  My husband began to unravel – I only now know it is due to the duplicitous life he leads teaming with hidden sins coming out of hiding.  I was told it was a “communication” problem.  We needed more counseling… from our pastors and elders.  I, wanting nothing more than to keep him happy, willing obliged.  I was told I was not loving him enough (I could not possible have loved him more), I was angry (I was not, I was heartbroken and desperate to please), I did not trust him – and needed to trust him in “ALL things” (I had and I was trying), I needed to forgive “ALL” things (he had already, as a church leader, started his smear campaign, and I needed to move past it – though he took no responsibility and enjoyed watching me hurt), I was not submitting as I should – or obeying.  I pressed into the Lord … I gave the last ounce of what I had to my husband … trying… trying.  

Then it happened.  The day I said – NO.  He was not prepared for this.  I had never defied him.  He, in a terrifying fit of rage, lunged at me, attacking me, leaving me wounded: badly bruised all over and bleeding. THAT was the wake up… as he (TWICE my size) stood in front of me… cold, and hard … explaining that this was necessary because he “loved me so much.” I was told I was wrong – that *I* had started that.  I had not… unless saying “NO” is “starting” something.  He took no responsibility.  I died that day.  But the Lord woke me up – a new person.  One who saw my two sons and daughters also hiding in fear – silenced by intimidation and legalistic chains.  I knew this could not be.  The Lord never meant for this to be. I was faced with a choice – to stay and continue to forget and deny the truth … and, eventually die – definitely spiritually and emotionally — but, also, very likely physically … OR … to trust the LORD Jesus, my Priest, my Creator … and step forward – trusting each step – enduring intense fear, magnified by such betrayal and loss – knowing the Lord is with me.  I chose LIFE – I chose to step forward into the unknown …. WITH my Jesus.  My name is Hope.  And, no, the irony is NOT lost on me!  I am only a few months out of waking up — and am only now learning to breathe, walk and speak.

Ten Christian Women Who Got Out of Their Emotionally Abusive Marriages

God is enough. For all of it…

I am still healing.  Still trying to figure this out.  What I have learned is that God is enough.  He just is.  His love is like nothing else.  And He does not call any of us to slavery. Not men and not women.  We are not called to live up to these false expectations of manhood and womanhood.  To have this ridiculous tug of war. To offer this illusion of grace when really what we are doing is aiding and abetting sin. And then no one is free.  We are not meant to worship marriage.  We are not meant to hang on at all costs.  So through it, I have learned what God really says about divorce and marriage and remarriage.  I would not have otherwise.  God, in His grace, allowed me to finally see the truth of this teaching.  And that was where I was able to let go. And it was scary.  Because I thought that maybe I was letting go of what God had joined.  And if I didn’t wait, then what?

If I did get the ball rolling in anyway, it was the day that I found, once again, “stuff” on the computer…dating websites, etc. So I just asked, “Do you want to be married to me? Because I am not doing this anymore.”  And he said, “No. I’ve been trying figure out how to tell you. I don’t.”  And eventually kicking him out 3 months later.  But even then, I took him back 3 more times, and I was not the one who filed. It’s okay, though. I am free. And God is enough. For all of it.


Ten Christian Women Who Got Out of Their Emotionally Abusive Marriages

It has been almost 4 years since I left home. It was a hard thing to do, because I felt God expected me to stay, since we were both Christians.. Through two trauma incidents within a day of each other, I knew I had to go. I left my home with a suitcase of clothes, and terribly upset and afraid. A lady friend took me in. For two years of waiting for a divorce, I lived with family and friends.. After the first few months, we had a meeting and he gave me a small amount of money. Twice more he gave me money again, then no more when he realized I wasn’t coming back. He lived in our house that had no mortgage and after three months was trying to date. We had been together almost 30 years. I had no desire to date. My mind was in such a state I could hardly think straight. Online I found a free course about time management given by a Christian doctor. By the end of a month, after focusing and taking notes with this course, my mind began to clear. I had no doubt that God put this course in my path. He knew just what I needed. Through family and friends, I have done a lot of healing. God provided finances and loving family to help me along the way.

It wasn’t easy, but it was the right choice. I am hoping some day that  God will send me the right mate. His timing is always right.
Ten Christian Women Who Got Out of Their Emotionally Abusive Marriages

 Now I live with a lightness in my spirit…

I was tottering on the edge of a cliff for a long long time before I finally got the courage to walk away and re-establish my life on firm ground. From the outset my marriage was fraught with tension, drama and trauma. Never having been married before, I did not know that this was NOT “normal.” I thought it was growing pains/ teething trouble which would eventually get better. After about ten years I began to realize that I was not to blame for everything, and that our marriage, which by that time included two children was, in serious trouble and that our family was seriously dysfunctional. Although I was starting to realize this, I was still very much in a “FOG” (read Fear, Obligation, Guilt). We were in Christian ministry, in fact in leadership, my husband would preach amazing sermons every Sunday and then treat me and the children like dirt at home, dominating, controlling and manipulating us through fear and guilt.Things came to a head when our beautiful, feisty daughter was sixteen. One day she refused to back down to his intimidation and unreasonable demands and he ended up beating her severely on her arms and hands. The next day the school reported him and a charge was laid and he was arrested. Two days later I got him out on bail. Our daughter was removed from our home by the social workers and she spent 8 month in a children’s home. Throughout all this time, and to this day, he maintains complete innocence, interpreting everything religiously, saying that he was only exercising godly discipline, and blaming me for teaching the children to be rebellious. Eventually I left him after twenty years of marriage. What kept me so long was basically Fear – fear that I would not make it alone; fear that somehow he was right and I was wrong (I had been so brainwashed to always take the blame); fear of the stigma of divorce and what people would say – not one of our friends or acquaintances knew what was really going on because on the outside we were this “Amazing Christian Family.” One of the huge reasons it took me so long to leave was because deep down I knew that if I was the one who decided to leave I would look like the bad one – and especially that my husband would totally put ALL the blame on me for leaving (as he has always blamed me for everything) and that MOST people, especially the Church would believe him and take his side…. and that is exactly what did happen. But I can still say with all my heart “IT WAS WORTH IT” and not for one split second have I ever regretted leaving him. It is three years now since I left with my two teenage children. It has not been easy in many ways but God has helped us every step of the way, bringing Godly people into our lives who can truly help us to live God’s way, and we are all healing slowly but surely. Whereas previously I was living in a permanent state of dread/ tension/uneasiness and basically depression and despair, with the odd, rare lighter moment here and there – now I live with a lightness in my spirit, clear skies and a bubbling hopefulness, with the odd stressful day or moment when I cry out for help and it is there. I’m so so grateful to God that He gave me the courage to leave and that He is helping me to identify and reject all the lies which had kept me in despair for so long.

Rosemary Anne
 Ten Christian Women Who Got Out of Their Emotionally Abusive Marriages

Breaking Free

He took a kind hearted, carefree girl
Took her and broke her

It didn’t happen over night

It happened over such a long period

of time that she didn’t even notice

She fell apart one word at a time

One action at a time

One lie at a time

One betrayal at a time

One broken promise at a time

Her heart, once so full of love,

now a hollow shell

Drained from years of neglect and abuse

Replaced with bitterness and anger

He took her gentle soul

and twisted it

Smashed it until no one knew her anymore

She didn’t even know herself

She felt lost and didn’t know why

But she was lost

Lost in a world he had created for her

She couldn’t remember who she was

She longed for the days before

Wrapped so tightly in a cocoon

Spun over the years with deceit

Empty flattery




She thought she was doing it right




Giving, giving, giving

Never enough, never enough….

Then one day

One glorious day

The realization came

Hidden deep inside

Buried within

A spark

The spark ignited a flame

The flame burned a desire

A desire to break free

And she started to remember

She remembered a time of joy

A time of happiness





And she wanted it back

The flame continued to burn

The cocoon cracked and light crept in

With each memory

Each struggle

Each breath

The light came shining through

The warmth

The music

The colors

The beauty

He tried everything in his power

to put her back inside

Squash her down again

But she struggled free

She danced

She laughed

She sang

She spread her wings and found freedom

Her family saw the difference

Her friends saw it too

Some didn’t like to see her flying

They hadn’t known the free spirited girl

Others remembered her and cheered

They had loved her through the darkness

And now they loved her through her rebirth

She had discovered her true friends

She rose higher in their presence

And they carried her higher with their love

The darkness loomed below, but she soared

Her brokenness, her bitterness

Once anchors to her soul

Lost their grip and set her free

The carefree girl who danced in the sun,

returned stronger than before

And she found love





But more importantly…….

She found herself again


Ten Christian Women Who Got Out of Their Emotionally Abusive Marriages

P.S. If you feel overwhelmed at the idea of doing something about your emotionally abusive marriage, consider joining the Flying Free Sisterhood where you will meet and rub shoulders with women just like the ones in the testimonies above.

Flying Free Sisterhood

An online coaching, education, and support community for women of faith in destructive relationships.

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The Comments

  • Divorce is Like Death -
    December 4, 2020

    […] I wrote this for every woman whose only way out of hell was divorce. I wrote this so you’d know you aren’t alone, and you are deeply loved, and your […]

  • Avatar
    Jennifer Brown
    July 25, 2018

    I have been reading your site all day after finding it this morning. I have been married for 20 years and i believe that my husband has been emotionally abusing me for the majority of that time. I am not sure how to know for sure, he says that I am just “sensitive” and that he doesn’t speak English well (it is his only language) . If you could provide any insight or input that would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you

  • Avatar
    Kathy Holcombe
    July 24, 2017

    Thank you for this site!! It is helping me! I am in an emotionally abusive marriage. I’ve been married for 8 yrs. For 6 of those I didn’t know what the problem was but then God started showing me. My plan is to leave him. Divorce wasn’t on my mind but after seeing a lawyer I realize that divorce might be an answer. I can’t trust him and I don’t know what he might do if all I do is leave him. I’m afraid of what my church might say. I doubt that they will get it. I’ve been reading the various articles on this site and what a great help this has been.

    • Natalie
      → Kathy Holcombe
      July 25, 2017

      I’m so sorry! You are in good company though. So many strong women have gone before you, and God will give you the wisdom and strength you need to make it out. ((hugs))

  • Avatar
    July 3, 2017

    Greetings! So blessed to have found this site. “Anonymous” authored one of the stories and referred to an online “free course about time management given by a Christian doctor.” I would so appreciate knowing what course she is referring to, as I believe it may benefit me greatly at this time. Thanks to all who willingly share their stories in this forum: it is such a relief and blessing to know one is not alone in these struggles. <3

  • Avatar
    March 2, 2017

    Oh my goodness, Leslie’s story about the cliff is so eerily similar to mine…

    You see, in the days and weeks leading up to me filing, I kept having recurring nightmares that my ex was backing me onto a cliff ledge. My back is to the cliff as I face him, his face snarling in anger. I always woke up crying and in so much pain from these nightmares. I remember filing and having a church event that day or the next day. Several people who knew my situation came up and commented how peaceful I looked, how happy even! I dreamed repeatedly over the next couple of weeks that I had jumped off that cliff and was falling – still scared as so much about my situation was uncertain – but I hadn’t hit bottom and I hadn’t died. One day, while crying and praying, the Holy Spirit showed me that I hadn’t fallen because Jesus had caught me and held me. I was far from that ledge where my abuser stood railing against me and shaking his fists because he no longer controlled me. I have found so much freedom in flying! I can definitely say my “happiness level” went down quite a bit (and I thought I was already pretty low), but is now rising steadily. I love my Jesus and I am thankful for how He rescued me!

  • Avatar
    February 25, 2017

    Since my husband totally alienated our church family to the point where they disfellowshipped him and shunned us in the process, at least I don’t have to worry about what the church thinks of me for leaving. That church was basically our world. My daughter’s life and family from the age of 2. We have all suffered horribly. He still refuses to see any wrongdoing on his part. Such is life with an NPD person. She’s 18 now and we are getting a place together, away from him. Freedom is closer every day.

    Please google Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Know the signs and symptoms and be obedient when God tells you to have nothing to do with such a person.

  • Avatar
    Cindy Zwaduk
    February 13, 2017

    I generally wake up every day thinking about and praying for these women who are going through situations like this with their children. It’s very difficult to read, but necessary, mostly because it’s so close to. home. I’m watching my sister go through it with her two, and I’ve gone through degrees of alienation with mine, but no where near what others have.

    Just an encouragement that you are not alone; it is worth it to confront abuse, even necessary; and there are answers… but perhaps not usually quick or easy ones. Wanting you all to know that there are those of us who read about abuse, don’t have a hard time believing you, and take it to prayer on your behalf. So wanting you to know the love of the Father in deep and meaningful ways. He’s there… always… and He heals and brings hope. There is a way out, and you will never regret choosing life. Just take it one small step at a time.

    • Natalie Anne
      Natalie Anne
      → Cindy Zwaduk
      February 14, 2017

      Thank you for that encouragement, Cindy!!

  • Avatar
    February 11, 2017

    Thank you for this, Natalie : )
    Someday soon I’ll be ready to share my story.

  • Avatar
    February 11, 2017

    When I left my marriage of 32 years to a emotionally abusive man he then turned my son and daughter against me . My daughter lives with him and my son is married and works for his dad. I feel like I’ve lost my entire family how do I find joy like God’s word says when when my heart is breaking from the rejection of my children

    • Natalie Anne
      Natalie Anne
      → evelyn
      February 12, 2017

      I’m so sorry, Evelyn. It is one of life’s worst heartbreaks to pour your life into your children and have them grow up and reject you. Psalm 27:10 says “For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the Lord will take me in.” Even when our family members forsake us, God will never forsake us. He is the only One who can fill those empty places in our hearts. I’m praying for you, that you will discover His peace in the midst of your deep pain.

  • Avatar
    February 11, 2017

    I can relate in some measure to each story. I’ve been divorced in reality for 8 years. Legally 2. He left October 12th and for the first time in years I woke up in complete peace the very next morning. Weeks lAter I finally realized I had livrf under oppression and condemnation. No more. It has been a journey
    My two teenage children chose to live with him. That was traumatic and painful. I left everything I knew to marry him and yet I continued to hear “what are you going to give up to make this work.” Crazy. Each of my children have told me they are glad it’s over. He bought cell phones for my two youngest children but has my number blocked. They are not permitted to bring them on visits with me. He has manipulated them with money and cars that they are not to use to contact me.
    With all that being said, it was absolutely the right decision. I’ve never been happier or more hopeful in my life.

    • Natalie Anne
      Natalie Anne
      → Anji
      February 11, 2017

      Thank you for sharing this. It’s a mixed bag, that’s for sure.

    • Avatar
      → Anji
      February 11, 2017

      My ex has manipulated mine too. Bought my daughter a car fancy trips etc. My middle son works for him he won’t talk to me blames divorce on me my daughter keeps in contact but her loyalty is with her dad my pain is so bad at times its been two years I feel I’ve lost out on so much of my children’s life because of his manipulation. How do I find joy

    • Avatar
      → Anji
      July 7, 2018

      After almost 22 years I would encourage not to waste one more day– I know me staying did harm to my boys — seek God’s strength and move on His leading– I am still in the midst of getting outa d it is a journey I wish upon no one– move forward friend

  • Avatar
    Rebecca Davis
    February 11, 2017

    I’m thinking, though . . . about the abuse that can hit again after a person gets out, especially the abuse that hits through the children and the court system. It may feel like one’s situation is getting to a 4 or a 5 or even a 6, but these things can wallop a person back down to a 1 or a 2. Often after she has taken the little ones and run to a shelter or somewhere else, she’s accused of parental alienation , so that now she has to bend over backward to assure the court system she isn’t “alienating,” with the very real threat hanging over her head of losing her children altogether. When the children tell the truth about the way things were at home, “parental alienation” convinces the courts that the mother has brainwashed them. The email accusations can seem never-ending, the court battles can seem interminable, and the psych evaluations can end up going the abuser’s way (because of the victim’s PTSD that the psych evaluator doesn’t acknowledge). Joint custody often ends up being inevitable so that the abuser will continue to hurt the children, when the mother can’t be there to help the children deal with the crazies.

    I have three very close friends who have dealt with these problems to one degree or another, some very intense. One friend’s struggles ended only recently, after ten years, when the youngest finally turned 18. Two others are (most likely) heading toward court battles. One of them is facing the likelihood that the abuser will act as his own attorney and thus will be able to exercise his emotional abuse over her while she sits in the witness stand.

    I know all three of them would say getting out was without a doubt the right thing to do–it was essential (and all the adult children of the one friend would agree with her). But sometimes the “2” lasts a long time. And then the “3” lasts a long time. And then the “4” lasts a long time. Sometimes it takes a long time to break through to the 7 or 8.

    I don’t mean to be a downer on this beautiful blog post. But I’ve been walking with friends in the long middle of the stark reality of the “2.”

    • Natalie Anne
      Natalie Anne
      → Rebecca Davis
      February 11, 2017

      This is very true. It can be years before experiencing life at an 8 or a 9. That is sharing in the sufferings of Christ for doing what is right. There is little chance of ultimately experiencing freedom unless we take those steps. Walking in truth is preferable to living a lie and enabling abuse. But yes, the process is unbelievably painful. If the Church of Jesus Christ would get in gear and show the love of Christ, the process would be easier. It would change the world, I believe. This is a satanic stronghold.

      • Avatar
        Rebecca Davis
        → Natalie Anne
        February 11, 2017

        That’s what it is. I feel like I’m seeing demonic darkness up close and personal with some of these things. I pray that more Christians will become truly informed and will be willing to walk with refugees through the long 2.

        • Avatar
          → Rebecca Davis
          May 11, 2021

          Amen, Rebecca. I am going through some of the same things with a friend of mine. It is amazing to me with how closed the church is with the subject of abuse. My families pastor (my former pastor as well) is an abuser and I have lost my family by standing in support with her. In trying to talk to them about the situation I know what you mean about that demonic darkness as I felt it in my last communications with them. The way they have closed their ears and shut their eyes to the truth is so disheartening from people claiming to be followers of Christ, when in all actuality it is the pastor and his living example that they follow.

        • Avatar
          → Rebecca Davis
          May 11, 2021

          Hmm. I tried to reply to your comment only to be told I already said what I wrote?

          • Avatar
            → Molly
            May 11, 2021

            Anyway, I was just saying that I know what you mean by that demonic darkness as I too am in a situation with a friend of mine. Her dad is a pastor and an abuser. I lost my family in standing with her and my communication with my family has indeed felt demonic. They are members of that church and it saddens me with how closed off and blinded the church is to the subject of abuse and helping those who are being hurt.

    • Avatar
      → Rebecca Davis
      April 1, 2017

      So true. The family court system is heavily slanted in favor of the abuser, whose goal, beyond controlling the “disobedient” spouse who had the temerity to finally escape, is often to bankrupt her, exhaust her, turn the children (and public opinion) against her, and demoralize her. And if you are dealing with someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (and after decades in the ministry before I left my abusive NPD husband, I am convinced there is a silent epidemic in the Christian community), the sooner you realize that you are dealing with someone without empathy or a sense of fairness, and who cannot be reasoned with, the better off you will be. In fact, if there is a way to circumvent family court altogether, I would do it. Lundy Bancroft makes the very true assertion that as long as there is benefit to the abuser for his behavior, he will never stop it; unfortunately, when the church and court system aids and abets the abuser, life gets all that much harder for the woman trying to cut ties with her abuser. I realized early on that the highest value for my ex-husband was winning in the court of public opinion. That meant my home church, ministry friends, and family (and he conducted a campaign with all of them). My family stuck by me, friends were half and half, and my church, which had known me for thirty years, to a person took my ex-husband’s side. Not wanting to get into “teams,” I let that go. I was judged without even a conversation, and they gave every indication of not even having read the written communication I had sent them. But I also knew that if I engaged, the battle would never be over because winning is everything to the abuser with NPD. I took stock of what was most important to me, and it was having the resources to start over, not engaging in a protracted, probably never-ending, battle for friends. So, I let him have that one. My kids see him for what he is, and I have them as well.

      I have two friends who dealt with this while their children were little. One was advised by a really savvy lawyer with experience with this kind of man. His suggestion? Give him as much time with their son as he asked for (the boy was just a baby at the time). Somehow he knew that the boy was just a bargaining chip to hurt my friend. When he realized he couldn’t hurt her that way, and that she was willing to forgo any financial support, he surrendered his parental rights. She eventually married a wonderful man who adopted her son, who is now married and starting his own family. His birth father missed out on a wonderful son. My other friend’s situation is more complicated–her children are young and contact with their father traumatizes them. He doesn’t attend to their physical and medical needs and he has physically threatened his new wife. Of course, when the children tell their mother and she reports it, she is branded a liar and loses more rights with her kids. I know this man, and I know that winning and money are everything to him. I’ve often felt that, for our own sakes, if we can find a way to create the illusion of “winning” and “losing”–such as forgoing child support (assuming you can get by without it) or a 60/40 split (again, assuming that you can forgo the extra 10%)–it might be worth it for the peace of mind (assuming he is willing to cut ties). The issue is not about holding the abuser responsible (and he will never take responsibility for his actions), but about what most helps you and your children. What really empowers you, as you define it, not as he does. Whatever frees you from his control is what empowers you; long, expensive court battles rarely do that. Whatever my friend has gotten in child support (and there is no alimony in our state) is a fraction of what she has had to spend in court costs. In fact, her lawyer’s fees ate up all of her divorce settlement.

      Of course, that is just my opinion as a survivor, and I hasten to add that my youngest was sixteen when I finally left. The truth is that I would give anything to be able to go back in time and have left him years earlier. There would be far less trauma and evil consequences if I had.

      • Natalie Anne
        Natalie Anne
        → Kathleen
        April 3, 2017

        This is really good advice. I’m in the middle of this right now, myself, and I appreciate the perspective.

        • Avatar
          → Natalie Anne
          May 26, 2017

          Agreed, good perspective. It’s a hard thing to do when he’s already drained you financially though, and he has an equally sociopathic mother driving him to get your child since she grooms children to love her and hate the rest of the world to fill her own need for supply. I feel like he would’ve dropped his interest in our son if she wasn’t in the picture; he has no interest in the responsibility of parenting, just in the optics of how it makes him appear in the church community. That was also the only reason he married me: for optics, and for my money (even though I never had much, I’m educated with a career; something he never had. As a parasite, he saw this as a golden opportunity). My lawyer on the other hand, doesn’t understand these types of men, and she often is impatient, pushy, and contradicting. She’s already my second lawyer however, and I don’t want to come across as hard to get along with, confrontational, etc by switching again, as we all know mothers get labelled in the system when trying to advocate for their rights and the rights of their children. How do I let go and trust God to fight this war? I feel like that’s what He’s asking me to do since almost nothing has been going my way, and every step has been a massive struggle. Should I do that, or should I continue to try to use logic and strategy to overcome? I’m at a loss as to how to approach this now, and already having gone through a custody evaluation, I’m fearing the worst. My ex was also physically abusive, and will likely (according to the prosecutor) be acquitted, even after having to relive it all through my testimony, and the testimony of two witnesses…
          The system is not set up to protect women, and the church fails in that regard as well (all denominations do this sadly). Any other practical tips and advice would be appreciated, and of course, prayers please!
          Natalie, you’re still in the divorce stages? How did you manage such a great blog in the midst of it all? I’d like to also become an advocate.

          • Natalie Anne
            Natalie Anne
            → HopeRefuge
            May 28, 2017

            First of all, I’m so sorry you are in the thick of the battle. It’s a long, painful, often completely unjust process. I’m in the same boat right now. I think we need to continue doing what we CAN do – and let go of what we CAN’T control. Sometimes figuring that out is as simple as making a list on paper so it’s clear in your head. When we let the thoughts float around inside, we can get overly stressed and fearful. Getting it out on paper helps us put things in categories so we can see more clearly what our next steps might be.

            Part of getting healthy is accepting reality as it is. Your husband is unhealthy and destructive. You can’t reason with him, so there is no point in trying anymore. But there may be things you CAN do in the divorce process to increase your chances of a good long-term outcome for your and your child. If your second lawyer is not supportive 100%, and you have to be careful around her, you may want to interview some other lawyers until you find one who is familiar with narcissistic abuse and divorcing a narcissist.

            Some helpful resources are Splitting: Protecting Yourself While Divorcing Someone with Borderline or Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Tips for Divorcing a Narcissist.

            Divorcing a personality disordered individual is no picnic, and so many insane things surround the process. I wish you God’s grace and peace while you walk the journey.

      • Avatar
        For Too Long
        → Kathleen
        May 6, 2017

        Winning and money are everything to my ex, too. He doesn’t see his children and he only pays child support because here in WI his wages are garnished. However, our daughter is special needs and her medical expenses are significant. Again, in this state, we are supposed to split those bills. I have found, though, that any time I’ve tried to mention this to him and remind him that he is in contempt of court, he threatens to tell the court I’m guilty of “parental alienation.” This is a joke, of course, since he makes zero effort to have a relationship with the kids. It’s purely posturing. After some time of praying about this, I’ve decided our lives are more peaceful if I just “suck it up” and pay them myself. Yes, it’s expensive and difficult. I have to make monthly payments to her various doctors with no end in sight, but the peace…! The peace is worth it to me.

      • Avatar
        → Kathleen
        May 11, 2021

        Knowing the mind of your abuser and how NPD works and wants and wisely strategizing is the key. It is hard work, but it is the only way I’ve made it. Weekly studying, strategizing, and getting in his mind so to speak, as to what I don’t do or do will work. I liken it to a chess game. The goal is to keep them thinking they are winning. No matter how it appears to others, the goal is freedom. Always freedom — the most the kids and I can achieve. So for years now I have studied battle and war minds, even. I anticipate ahead how he thinks or will react, I balance what is goal with what I can achieve. It is exhausting! But it has been worth it. Staying sober minded, smart, studied, and in communication with my kids, etc — all of it plays into being a freedom fighter and gaining ours, and peace. I would want to encourage other women to stay strong, map out a plan as you stay concentrated also on how that sick Brain functions — God will give wisdom and intelligence – which is hugely needed to combat the demonic they live and act in. These stories are wonderful to read. I am a little over three years out. I strategized for several years before I left, knowing, having observed what I was up against. It is hard, painful work. But as these women said — SO worth it. I am so very happy to be free!!