Tag Archives: emotional abuse

What is True Love? Not This…


Every form of abuse is about power and control. True love is about mutual respect and honor.

PLAYGROUND BULLY: I’ll punch you if you don’t give me your iPhone.

PHYSICAL ABUSER: I’ll punch you where no one will see the bruises, act the hero, and tell everyone you’re crazy if you try to talk about it. No need to give me the iPhone.

SEXUAL ABUSER: I’ll hurt you and have fun doing it, then you’ll know your worth is bound in how you satisfy me. I own you and your iPhone.

VERBAL ABUSER: You &%#$! Give me the iPhone you little piece of $%&! Oh, you can’t give me the phone because you’re a nobody. You’re worthless.

EMOTIONAL ABUSER: Give me your iPhone because if you do not I will not love you. If you want it back you have to give me what I want or I won’t love you.

FINANCIAL ABUSER:  Your money is mine. My money is mine. I will decide how much you can keep or spend.  iPhone? You don’t need an iPhone because I want a new set of golf clubs.

SPIRITUAL ABUSER: If you do not follow the religious guidelines I made for you, you will go to hell. Guideline one: give me your iPhone.

Today’s Helpful Word  

1 Corinthians 13: 4, 5

 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered…”




NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental and behavioral health challenges.  In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

“Help, Church Leaders Don’t Want Me to Divorce Husband with Porn Addiction”

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who fight mental illness, addiction, and abuse  (c)2018  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministries

In April, the following message came using the contact form on this website. (printed by permission)

“Thanks. Your articles were helpful. My Google search that led to your page was – ‘help church leaders don’t want me to divorce husband with porn addiction’.  We separated, with the elders wanting that time to be for us to work towards reconciliation. I still see abusive attitudes that are so tied up in the porn use. They see [his] tears and ‘repentance’. They haven’t spent time with me or the kids – only him. The emotional abuse is so HEAVY. That is what I feel most compelled to run from – someone who plays the victim while he is abusing himself, his wife, kids, and those used to make the content he has indulged in. I think this is the part where wives and kids need help – after YEARS/DECADES of this cycle (sin comes to light/tears and repentance and new accountability partners/ etc.) – when is it finally enough? Their argument is that he seems genuine this time – so who am I to not give him another year? These guys haven’t even chatted with me. That happens too often. And if we say, “but that seems unsafe to me” – we are told we’re being unsubmissive. I wonder how many people have been completely finished off by that sort of spiritual abuse. I hope you are able to help others still love God and trust Him, but navigate through these murky waters. Thanks again.”

The writer’s articulate description of the cycle of cheap grace hopefully draws you in, dear reader. Perhaps you’ve lived it, or are seeing her point of view for the first time. 

Cheap grace 

1) Sin comes to light. 

2) Tears and repentance

3)New accountability partners

4) Sin continues

This wife’s story draws tears to my eyes because she, her children, other watching families, and the testimony of Christ are twice hurt.  Both the husband’s sins and the church’s short-sighted response to pornography in Christian families have emptied grace of its beauty and power.  Along with her, I ask, when is it finally enough? How many observers have been completely finished off by that sort of spiritual abuse?

Here’s the thing, dear reader.  In my experience, most believers and followers of Christ want to do what is right. There will always be power-hungry leaders among us, however they are relatively few. The rest of us make these mistakes based on lack of knowledge. 

Christ’s grace

1) We all sin and fall short of God’s holy nature (Romans 3:23)

2) People return to sin like a dog returns to its vomit  (2 Peter 2:21-22)

3) Our “righteousness” is as pure as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6)

4) Enter Jesus. He lives the life we cannot – one without sin (Hebrews 4:15)

5) He pays the blood-price for our forgiveness (1 John 1:7)

6) We confess our sins and turn away from them with his strength (Romans 8:5-9)

7) We become more and more like him, loving others as he did (Philippians 2:5)

8) In marriages, we lay down our selfish ambitions and pursue loving each other as Christ loved his church, and gave himself for her, submitting to each other as unto the Lord. (Ephesians 5:1-21)

Where does adultery, lust, and addiction fit in this picture? Where is the false repentance (that is actually only remorse) in God’s story? Did not Esau sell his soul for a pot of porridge? And though he begged for forgiveness with tears, he could not receive it. That is because his tears were remorseful, not repentant. (Hebrews 12:15-17)

True repentance is observable

Repentance accompanies  deep, honest and humble confession,  true understanding of the pain one has caused others and God,  long-lasting change (with the family as the star witness, not tears),  continuous humility,  and a blame-the-victim, blame-society, and blame-God ceasefire. By the way,  “I can’t help it” is blaming God. 

Cheap grace sounds as the wife in this story describes it (Romans 6:1-3).  When is enough?  In my opinion, it is easier to accept someone’s tears than to do the hard work of exploring their heart. At the very least,  I wish her church leaders would chat with her and the children!

There are common misunderstandings

  • Forgiveness and trust are confused
  • Submission as unto the Lord is diminished into enabling and endorsing sin
  • Separation and divorce are equaled with remarriage
  • We are unwilling to do as God did – allow divorce due to the hardness of mens’ hearts
  • There is little concept of the connection between porn and adultery, or porn and abuse
  • There is little respect for the death sentence emotional abuse hands down to victims 
  • Legalism trumps holiness. 

Thank you for reading today’s blog, and I pray you are encouraged by the truth written here. Let’s do our best to understand wisdom, and to love these families harmed so deeply by pornography.

Related Posts:  Is Watching Porn Emotional Abuse pt 1, pt 2;   Series on Emotional Abuse in Christian Marriages pt 1, pt 2, pt 3, pt 4, pt 5and An Open Letter About Porn to Christian Husbands, Pastors, and Husbands-to-be

Today’s Helpful Word

2 Timothy 2:15

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.


NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental and behavioral health challenges.  In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

*help sign and typing pic from kozzi.com

Closer Look At Domestic Abuse

Compassionate Love: Displaying Compassion for Those Who Struggle with Mental Illness   (c)2017 Donna Rogers, Guest Blogger

(Today’s infographic and article is from guest blogger Donna Rogers from CNAClassesFreeInfo.com)

Stop Domestic Abuse

When a partner in an intimate relationship physically or emotionally abuses the other person, the activity is classified as domestic violence. Contrary to the commonplace belief, this abuse is not merely physical, but can also take the form of emotional and/or sexual torture. In either case, you need to look out for the signs of an abusive relationship and end it immediately before the aggression takes a greater shape.

What are the signs of physical and/or sexual abuse?

Physical or sexual abuse includes a series of highly aggressive activities like beating, pushing, slapping, biting, kicking and choking. In this abuse, your abuser is likely throw or break objects, punch the wall or kick the door during heated arguments, ruin your personal property, recklessly drive to make you feel uncomfortable, compel you to have sex against your wishes, keep you trapped in your home, deny to provide you the basic resources, prevent you from leaving the home, threaten to hurt you, hurt your pets, withhold your essential medication and even prevent you from getting in touch with the police. If your partner exhibits such behavioral traits do not ignore them and seek help immediately.

What are the signs of emotional abuse?

Very often we tend to overlook emotional abuse and do not take it seriously enough. But emotional abuse too is an equally relevant abuse, which can take an ugly shape if ignored for long. If your partner controls your daily activities, humiliates you, makes you feel intimidated, worthless, or wrong, constantly criticizes you, gets jealous without any valid reason, stops you to spend quality time with someone else, checks your phone calls, tracks your whereabouts, harasses you in arguments, controls your money, compels you to ask for money, uses your personal history to humiliate you, threatens to commit suicide if you leave him- it is high time you seek proper help, as these are some of the most common signs of emotional abuse.

What is the domestic violence cycle?

Yes. Domestic violence has a complete cycle which comprises of three phases. Here’s everything that you need to know about it.

The tension building phase- This is the very first phase where tension will build over some really common domestic issues like your daily chores, your lifestyle, money or your children. This is followed by verbal abuse. The victim might initially get intimidated and then try to bring the situation under control by trying to please their partner. However, this will not put an end to the violence; rather, the tension will reach its highest point eventually taking the shape of physical abuse.

Physical abuse- Physical abuse takes place when the domestic tension is at its highest peak. This abuse is triggered either by an external event or the emotional state of the abuser. The victim’s behavior has no role to play in this abuse. The physical abuse is usually unpredictable and is entirely beyond the control of the concerned victim.

Honeymoon phase- This is the phase where the abuser will apparently be ashamed of his behavior. He will try to apologize, express his remorse, reduce the violence and might even blame the entire episode on the victim. He will take genuine attempts to convince the victim by stating that the abuse will never take place again. This behavior will seemingly strengthen the relationship with your partner and assure you that leaving your partner is not necessary. But owing to this cycle, an abuser is going to behave the same way when they are suffering from a tumultuous emotional phase or are triggered by an external event.

Why do men abuse women?

Although there are instances where men too have been abused by women, usually the situation is other way round. Women have been mercilessly abused and tortured by men since time immemorial. Although no cause can justify domestic abuse, some of the probable reasons of this social malady might be self-esteem issues, extreme levels of jealousy, psychological disorders, problems in controlling anger and inferiority complex. Other men tend to abuse and violate women as they are driven by the opinion that women are inferior to men, and can thus be controlled. In most cases, however, men tend to abuse women because the idea of abuse had been normalized by the families where they have been raised.

Where can you find help?

If your partner exhibits abusive behavioral traits, do not overlook it. Consult a domestic violence hotline immediately. The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 can provide you with resources, information and advice 24/7. The hotline is available in 200 languages and for the hearing impaired.

Another option, if it is not safe for you to call you can use their online live chat service: http://www.thehotline.org/help/

Furthermore, you read more about abusive relationships and how you can end them here.

The most important aspect here is to not suffer at the hands of a domestic abuser. There is help for you and your family, but you must take the first brave step!  —D.R.

Today’s Helpful Word

Proverbs 4:14-17

Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men.  Avoid it, do not go on it; turn from it and pass on.  For they cannot sleep unless they have caused trouble or vexation; their sleep is taken away unless they have caused someone to  fall.  For they eat the bread of wickedness and drink the wine of violence.



Comments are always welcome (see tab below).  NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help can be yours.


But He Doesn’t Raise His Voice: How to Know Verbal Abuse When You Hear It

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c)2017  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministry

It can be confusing trying to understand the definitive characteristics of verbal abuse. When does yelling in anger become abusive? Is emotional abuse the same thing? This excerpt from Berit “Brit” Brogaard, author of On Romantic Love, reveals some of it.

“A verbal abuser will define your reality, decide what you can or cannot do, and treat you as an (in-their-eyes) ugly part of themselves, a part that they have to undermine in order to keep up their own sense of self.”

Abuse is always about power and control. An abuser will follow a pattern whether that pattern covers an hour, day, months, or even years. I used to think of screaming, cussing, and insulting as verbal abuse. But what if the abuser does not raise his or her voice? Insults can be more subtle and without swear words.

Picture a woman smiling and clapping at her child’s school play. She greets other parents and thanks the teacher.  Once home, her words to her son or daughter are soft-spoken. “You should have practiced more. You never try hard,” or with a disappointed sigh, “I guess you did your best.”

This type of  insulting is not what I think most people mean when using the terms verbal assault or verbal beat-down.  In a way, what the mother is doing is scarier because of its subtlety. If this child should try to tell a trusted adult how mommy makes him or her feel, will the story be believed? More often than not, people tend to dismiss children unless evidence of abuse is obvious.

Meanwhile, the life lesson is clear and taken to heart. I am not good enough. I am incapable.  I am unlovable.  Schoolwork and relationships are negatively affected. Trust, love, and self-worth remain evasive. Behaviors such as seeking perfection in everything, or underachievment may result. The list goes on because humans are complicated.

Eric* has a favorite joke. His verbal abuse is rarely public.  With a smile he says to his wife, “You’re my californ I A.”  It sounds unusual and harmless unless you know what he means. “California is a big beach [bee-itch],” he first explained.  This is not the only way he repeatedly reminds his wife she is less-than and undeserving. 

She buys the rhetoric early in their marriage. Her full attention turns to pleasing Eric and trying to gain his approval. She ceases to know joy and a vibrant spirit of life outside of this longing. 

Both the mother and Eric are prone to ignore their family members’ achievements. Eric especially will respond with jealousy if his wife shares good news. In families, emotional abuse is the absence or irregularity of acceptance, love, appreciation, time, investment, and positive feelings for another person. It is neglectful or disinterested, manipulative, untruthful, and gives the abuser a temporary sense of power.

Emotional abuse does not have to come with words, whereas verbal abuse by definition does. Both reach the same ends that Brogaard wrote about.  The abuse will define your reality (who  I am, my perception of the world), and decide what you can or cannot do (I am afraid, I have to stay home, I cannot try anything without asking, etc.).

Brogaard added a piece of advice.

“There [are only two ways] to end verbal abuse. Call it to the abuser’s attention. If that doesn’t work, the only way out is to leave, as fast as you can.”

While true, this is not easy or possible in some cases. Where is a child to go? How are believers of lies supposed to understand they are abused? Some women are taught in certain forms of religion that they have to stay in their marriage, submissive, and supportive of their husbands no matter what. To defy this is to defy their understanding of God. 

Personally, I hurt for those who cannot escape. It took me decades.  If you know someone who is abused, or you suspect it, ask a professional how to proceed. On the Truth About Abuse  page of this website are many helpful call numbers and references applicable to various circumstances. 

Today’s Helpful Word

Ephesians 4:29 (from the “An Understandable Version”)

“Do not allow unwholesome [Note: The Greek word for “unwholesome” is “rotten, diseased”] language to come from your mouth, but only what is helpful for building up those who need it, so that you can impart favor [i.e., benefit] to those who listen [to you].”

NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help is yours.

*not his real name

*picture from qualitystockphotos.com

Your Mental Illness, Your Responsibility (Part Two): Did Something Bring It On?

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c)2016  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministry

Little girl in car is going to miss her friends.

I read an article written in 1960 supposing that mental illness is not illness at all. A simplified version of the author’s reasoning was, in part, that the mind is not the brain. Personality and emotions (mind) cannot have a biological source because they are not tangible.

What is fascinating is just how tangible in a way, these invisible aspects of who we are have become. While we cannot literally touch emotions, brain scans allow us to “see” them as our brain works. The biology of mental illness is now evident.

Part one of this series takes a brief look at some of the science surrounding the topic of mental illness. Beyond what we know of the biology of mental illness and physical environments that may increase our risk, social experiences are tougher to define. Scientists call environmental factors the “second hit.”

We like to make comparisons because the more something is measured and  understood, the safer we feel.  If Johnny experiences the blues and is over it in a week, and if he never left his stressful job or withdrew from his friends and family, then all Susie has to do is quit feeling sorry for herself and grow up, right? Susie says she cannot handle work now, and stays in bed all day. We are tempted to say, “C’mon, Susie, be like Johnny already!”

Embracing the idea that Susie’s inner experience is different from Johnny’s might lead us to uncertainty. It helps to both look beyond the surface and to admit our limitations. Johnny may not have mental illness, or he might. Mental illnesses take various forms, and symptoms differ from one person to the next. There are criteria for diagnoses, and a professional’s assessment is superior to our guessing.

Some parents do well in teaching their children to cope after a death in the family or some other difficulty. As love and acceptance are freely offered in one home, the house next door may be unsafe. One family member may disrupt peace in a house. Many of us attended safe schools, while some students had to look over their shoulder every day. Religious training, friendships, television, video games, apps, books, and current events in the world all affect our beliefs, and how we think and cope.

While it is not precisely fair to say our families or one person brought on our mental illness, there are some connections from childhood maltreatment and trauma to adult mental illness that I believe even the most doubtful have to consider.

Trauma changes the brain. Whether lived or observed, people are traumatized by hard life experiences. Consider a boy who grows up in a violent atmosphere. He lives in survival mode during childhood while his brain is developing. He is flooded with stress hormones in a fairly constant state of threat. In a crisis, some regions of this child’s brain shut down while others fire up. There are “teams” (multiple parts of the brain working together) formed temporarily to handle fearful situations. All of these normal responses are overactive. It does not take a medical degree to see how this can affect the boy into adulthood.

Maia Szalovitz, neuroscience editor for Time .com, reported,  “Even among the most resilient survivors, the aftereffects of abuse may linger. Not only are such children at later risk for mental illness, but because of the way trauma affects the stress system, they are also more vulnerable to developing chronic diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke.” Scans uncover changes in particular parts of the brain in young adults who were victimized in childhood.

80% of adult patients in psychiatric hospitals were physically or sexually abused.** The lifetime number of suicide attempts significantly increases in cases of sexual abuse. Stress hormones early in life can damage us permanently. Our brain’s ability to bounce back, or flex with future stress may be injured. We may struggle to cope. Mental illness as an adult is itself a traumatic event, and with each episode the brain can be further damaged, raising the risk of more episodes.

More on ‘Is Watching Porn Emotional Abuse?’

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness, addiction, and abuse  (c)2016  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministries

photo-24779815-couple-having-quarrelGoogle searches landing on my first post about this topic, Is Watching Porn Emotional Abuse? include: should a wife be compassionate towards a porn addicted husband; emotional suffering from bf watching porn; and husband abuses me, watches porn.

Today’s response takes a deeper look into how this form of emotional abuse is perpetuated in a romantic relationship between a woman and a man. The reason for this specificity is simple: it is what I know.  Naming men as the porn watchers is neither a complete picture of the issues, nor meant to exclude the potential of men to be hurt in this way. I am a woman, former wife, and am coming from that perspective.

Power and control is the force behind abuse of any type. An abuser has to break the spirit or coerce the will of the victim, otherwise she will leave or cease to play her part. Some of the most horrific forms of power and control take place in pornography.

When a wife (or girlfriend) is hurt by her husband’s (or boyfriend’s) porn use and confronts him about it, several common ideas tend to guide his response. Interestingly, his line of thought is hauntingly similar to that of abusers in general. He places blame elsewhere, dismisses the woman’s feelings, and uses demeaning words and actions toward her.

Pornography use is blamed on wives

Over the years I have heard all kinds of statements about porn from single men and women, spouses, partners, and teenagers. The most common of these tend to lay a man’s “need” for pornography on his wife.

Wives are accused of prudishness if they do not appreciate porn. They are too tired, too bossy, too fat, too skinny, too old, too busy, less interested, less interesting, and just don’t understand their husbands. This type of thinking affects how the issue of porn is treated in churches, families, and marriage counseling scenarios. Here are two examples:

“Porn-watching is wrong only if the wife doesn’t like it.” By automatically assuming the innocence of watching porn, a foundation is laid for excuse-making and even lies. A husband can use supposed sensitivity toward his wife’s feelings as a springboard for secretly indulging in anything. Her voice will not be heard.

“Watching porn together is one of the most intimate experiences spouses can have.”  A wife is apparently a party-pooper if she will not relax and join in the fun. Of course we are sexual beings, but that is not all we are. True intimacy develops within a framework of trust.

A wife coerced or guilted into sex involving pornography is not acting on trust but fear. She may be afraid her refusal will be misread, or that she is not enough for her husband. Perhaps she questions her judgment, worries he may leave, or she suffers any number of safety concerns.

Pornography use is blamed on society and powerlessness

“I can’t help it because of how women dress these days, and what’s on TV.”  In circles where admitting to porn use is frowned upon, this hypocricy is obvious. The idea of the helpless man, unable to stand against all the forces of suggestion and whim is a false picture of reality. 

I’m not stupid or blind, and understand that a culture can make living counter to it very difficult. You see, I am a recovering food addict.

What that means is that for most of my life I dreamed about, obsessed over, felt the cravings for, and indulged my fantasy of overeating. Like porn for some people, food was release and escape. It was also ego-centric. “Harmless fun”, I told myself, even as my health deteriorated.

My behaviors were as any addict’s, including denying, lying, hiding, and keeping secrets. I felt the shame, guilt, and disapproval.

Like ads built on the premise that sex sells, food is also everywhere. Television commercials and shows, radio and internet ads, social and print media, billboards, and more, all glorify food in full color and at the best angles.

Places considered safe for addicts of any other substance or behavior are those without many triggers, like church, 12-step meetings, and hanging out with healthy friends. As you know, each of these often involve food.  In healthy support systems, People invite me to “just have one,” and push my resolve with, “are you sure?” 

Even if I could cut off all social interaction and ignore public media, food is in my refrigerator and on my schedule.

Recovery takes all the strength I have and an avid determination to cling to my Higher Power. I have to say no to family, friends, strangers, and to my thoughts daily. Sometimes the physical or emotional urge is too much and the only power I have is to run, not walk, to God and ask for help. Human support from others in recovery is important too.

So you see, the “helpless man” concept doesn’t fly with me. We are all surrounded by triggers of our weaknesses whatever they are.

No one is helpless. That is a passive excuse or one based in lack of knowledge.

Pornography use is blamed on lack of meaning

“Porn sex doesn’t mean anything.” photo-24819926-couple-having-argument Wives troubled by their husbands’ use of porn are commonly written off as ignorant or silly.

Dave has produced, directed, and performed in over one hundred pornographic films. He claims credit as an expert in relationships. His premise is that men cheat, and so what? Women shouldn’t care because infidelity isn’t about them. Men love their partners, and sex outside the relationship is void of meaning.

“Join in the fun. Those [models] aren’t real,” I heard a prominent TV mental health specialist say to a woman wondering how to react to her husband’s porn usage. 

While Dave and the doctor are busy trying to convince women they have no reasonable cause for alarm, alarm bells are going off. That’s because the theory that porn is just for fun doesn’t translate so well into real relationships.

Pornography glorifies fantasy, whatever that may mean to a viewer. In a fake world where women do everything a man desires at his whim and demand, and where ultimate power and control provides sexual release, a man’s neuropathways are transforming to react more to fantasy than to his wife.

It is progressive, meaning that regardless of the fetish or titillation, the formula has to expand to include more variation to remain sexually satisfying. The pursuit of power has to move from win to win over increasingly difficult challenges. Like all addictions, pornography has to evolve for the fix to stay effective.

While a man’s wife is looking less and less satisfying to him compared to the high of pornography, he begins to resent her intrusion on his fantasy mindset. She has needs he is less inclined to want to meet. His thoughts are on the next fix instead of their conversation.

He may grow impatient with her desire for his time, attention, and affirmations. Real life doesn’t give him the instant gratification of pornography. Simply put, his drug-of-choice is masturbation and sexual fantasy. Relationships are hard work and sacrifice. 

Fetishes are also of physical and emotional concern for a wife when fantasy moves into a need for the real thing. One example, emotional abuse porn, is when the victim suffers and breaks down, and somehow the viewer has “won.”  In order to get those real tears, real abuse has to be going on. The viewer is most aroused when his conquest is begging for forgiveness, for mercy, goes from happy to sad, or is fearful. Yikes!

A wife should not care about this when it happens to her?

Physical abuse porn involves rape, beatings, torture, maiming, and murder. These fuel his desire for control. I know women who have been raped by their husbands, and whose reports have been ignored.

So, wives need not be wary?

Child pornography is the use of children for sexual pleasure. Incestual, emotional, and physical torture are about taking advantage of the powerless. Children are to be used,  not heard.

A mother should chill out and leave her husband to his meaningless habit?

Maybe she is NOT stupid or silly. Perhaps she senses his growing dismissal of her as a person, his increasing demands for her to do things she doesn’t want to do, and the loss of intimacy she thought was supposed to be marriage. A sense of alarm is ringing as her maternal instincts caution her to be watchful.

Her wisdom surpasses that of “porn sex is meaningless.”

Why porn is demeaning to women and marriage

We are sexual beings of course, and sexual fulfillment is important. However, that is not all we are! We have other needs in the physical, spiritual, and mental realms deserving  as much attention.

Whether in our sex lives we try to deny this or not, we are emotional beings. Dividing ourselves into separate parts as if they do not interconnect is folly, and dismisses some of the most meaningful aspects of being alive.

photo-24769763-mad-coupleWomen are crying out, “Cherish me. Value me. Love me above all others and things.” Interpreted by entitled and abusive men, his thoughts will likely be, I cherish you – you are the body I get to use. I don’t know what I would do without you, you make me feel good. I can use you and say I love you at the same time. I love you; don’t talk to me.  I love you, but I’m not going to change my behavior or focus.

In the context of relationship advice from people immersed for profit in the superficial, emotional needs are ignored. Women are told to sacrifice their personal identity, values, desires, marital hopes and dreams, and ability to function within a trusting partnership. All this is sacrificed on the altar of another person’s more pressing and urgent lust for instant gratification.

Women’s longings for relationship and security are worthy and deserving of respect. Women are not to blame when men take advantage of these desires to gain power and control. It is emotional abuse.

Objectification of women has been a problem for millenia. What about women who objectify men, some may ask? Well, two wrongs have never created a right.


Comments are always welcome (see tab below) NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental and behavioral health challenges. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help is yours.

*pictures from Kozzi.com

1)Signs to Look For In an Abusive Personality. From Safe Place: freedom from violence.  http://www.safeplaceolympia.org/signs-to-look-for-in-an-abusive-personality/

2)Dave, pornographer, in his advertisement as a featured expert

3)National Review: Getting Serious On Pornography. NPR  March 31, 2010.   http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=125382361

4)How porn is re-wiring our brains. The Telegraph March 13, 2016. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/men/thinking-man/10441027/How-porn-is-rewiring-our-brains.html

5)Porn Changes the Brain.  Fight the New Drug  August 8, 2014.   http://fightthenewdrug.org/porn-changes-the-brain/

6)Listen Up, Guys! Here’s What Women REALLY Want From You.  Your Tango  January 2016    http://www.yourtango.com/200925879/10-simple-things-women-want

Emotional Abuse in the Christian Marriage. Part 5

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness    (c)2015  Nancy Virden

Physical (including sexual) abuse involves emotional abuse. Emotional abuse can also occur without physical assault.

In this series, emotional abuse is described and put in context. A special focus on what it can look like in a Christian marriage, leads naturally to this last discussion, can the church sanction divorce on grounds of emotional abuse alone?


Clearly, a woman needs to leave a situation where she is beaten, threatened, or assaulted. Divorce ia appropriate in cases of sexual activity outside the marriage. I think those are popular opinions.

What I’ve noticed however,  is that when women from widely considered “christian” marriages, try to describe their husbands’ non-physical maltreatment,  a limited and judgmental viewpoint from the church may not recognize emotional abuse.

A friend of mine was reprimanded by her pastor for making her husband “look bad.”  Another pastor told a wife, “Everyone says nasty things once in a while.” Emotional abuse is often confused with disappointment in a marriage. 

Recently, I met a young pastor who proactively sent a woman to counseling for the emotional abuse she endured. Domestic abuse is less and less taboo, yet in the United States we are a long way from knowledgable with regard to emotional abuse.

Results of emotional abuse

The best write-up I have seen about domestic abuse both physical and emotional, is found on HelpGuide.org.  One line reads, “There are many signs of an abusive relationship. The most telling sign is fear of your partner.”*

PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)** is not limited to extreme trauma or war. An emotionally abused wife feared entering her home, and spent much of a frozen night in her car. Eventually, her husband moved out. She felt trapped in bed, tense, and scared that the noises she heard were him coming back.

Some women are jumpy, suddenly angry, or suffer bad dreams. 

Wives say their husbands treat them like prostitutes, ignore them and choose porn, express unspoken yet very real threats, practice gross neglect, or use back-handed put-downs disguised as jokes. Love is withdrawn as punishment, and promised as reward for cooperation. Gaslighting is frequent; this happens when a person purposely tries to make another question their own judgement.

Survivors of emotional abuse have to overcome the brainwashing that systematic blame, belittling, disrespect, dishonesty, lovelessness, and gross neglect cause. Negative beliefs about herself  can become a pervasive issue and undermine her ability to function.

God’s calling on her life often is replaced with a mutated rationalization, that by keeping the peace she is doing God’s will. 

Social interaction

A posting on a survivors-related facebook page reads, “Many [women]blame themselves for the abuse and continue to feel responsible and guilty for anything bad that happens to them or to other people they know. Survivors often feel bad about themselves and different from other people. They therefore isolate themselves from other people and avoid making close friendships.” ***

We need interaction.  Kind, nurturing photo-24779100-frowning-womanrelationships are God-given needs for fulfillment, productivity, and health.

I would argue that emotional abuse is life-threatening because in many cases it leads chronic loneliness which is diectly related to poor physical health, substance use, and suicidal thinking.  One woman I met, who remained in her emotionally abusive marriage,  eventually existed in a constant state of defeat and despair. 

Religiously unaware

It is convenient for abusers of any type, to use and count on a Christian victim’s 70 x 7 forgiveness obligation, and honest desire for relationship.  Misuse of scripture while cherry-picking verses to support power and control, is a common thread in abusive “Christian” marriages. Wives taught to submit to their husbands as unto the Lord, are not reminded that the Lord does not abuse his bride. 

In The Silent Killer of Christian Marriages, author Amy White writes:

Unless pastors and counselors can recognize the often subtle and always complex dynamics of emotional abuse, women will continue to be victimized first by their husbands and then by the church or the community. An abusive man who is not held accountable is indirectly supported and given license to continue his destructive patterns, and those around him become enablers. Women are not treated with dignity and respect, as God intended, and so God is not honored.****

If you still do not understand the dangers of emotional abuse, consider this: it is used as a torure device to extract information from prisoners of war. When a woman is emotionally abused, her life as intended by God is dead or dying.

Of course separation or divorce are appropriate!  Escaping the control of an abuser is a holy action. We are not showing the love of Jesus to victims, or abusers for that matter, by continuing to enable grave sin. 

Love is to be the most telling sign of our faith in Jesus. We believers are to treat others as we want to be treated. Leaders are to be servants. Justice and freeing the oppressed are tenets of our faith. 


See  Is Watching Porn Emotional Abuse  and More on Is Watching Porn Emotional Abuse


Today’s Helpful Word : 

Proverbs 10:10 

 Winking at sin leads to sorrow; bold reproof leads to peace.



****”The Silent Killer of Christian Marriages” by Amy Wildman White  http://christiancounsellingcentre.ca/sitecontent/ur3P9wM1inxspbnup9fYhQ–/mfiles/the-silent-killer-of-christian-marriages.pdf


NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness, abuse, and addiction. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

-pictures from qualitystockphotos.com



Emotional Abuse in the Christian Marriage. Part 4

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness    (c)2015  Nancy Virden

photo-24769212-man-and-woman-fightingAbuse of any kind generally follows a recognizable cyclical pattern: the abuse, a honeymoon or reconciliation period, calm, tension building, abuse, etc.*  This cycle can happen within a few moments or even over a year. Many abuse tactics are found repeatedly in a variety of abusive situations. Abuse is about power and control.

Emotional abuse in a “Christian” home can look the same as anywhere else, only a dimension I’ve observed is different, and that is spiritual abuse. Spiritual abuse can come from within a marriage or from a religious organization. My experience with Christian churches has been more with the evangelical stream; I cannot speak to Catholic or fundamentalist environments except by what I have heard from people in those realms. Evangelical churches tend to have some commonalities in social atmosphere, expectations of congregants, and leadership qualities.

Let me be clear, please. This is a series on emotional abuse and not a report card on churches. The Christian faith and most marriages within that faith are not to be defined by the examples I use. I have met many wives over the years in Bible studies, Sunday School classes, and supporting prayer groups. Women tend to talk about marriage, although as anywhere else, abused women do not open up about the truth very often. Most christian wives share positive experiences mixed with normal disappointments.

Some of the following stories are about people I know well or have heard about in church settings. A few of the husbands and wives I describe here have died, others I haven’t seen in decades. Some situations I have observed from afar and others closer-up.

Separating the woman from support systems. From a pastor, “No one needs to know our business,” and “I am called to go to another church.”  These spiritualized comments were not made in discussion, they were imperatives supported by attitude, tone, or behavior. “Your role is to follow me” was another implied or stated idea used to make sure the church leader’s wife would keep family secrets. One wife I met felt guilty if she did not include her husband in each of her activities and social circles. Yet when he was reluctant to join her, she stayed home with him.

Preventing her from achieving her educational or occupational goals.  “Just stay home and be a godly wife” is one comment I have overheard  in a church setting. What is “godly” apparently was to be decided by the husband.

Possessive.  In one family,  a husband falsely accused his wife of unfaithful behavior by expressing doubt their baby was his. His unfounded rationale? She wasn’t acting “like a christian” toward him.

Direct and indirect criticism. Snide remarks, sarcasm, and “oops” excuses for insulting a wife can be abusive. One husband used to complain about his wife in church, publicly humiliating her and writing it off as jokes. No leader at church ever called him on it, making church seem an unsafe place for his wife. One preacher spoke against the “sin” of getting fat, while his overweight wife sat in the front row. Another husband told his wife who was trying to start a ministry that what she had to offer wasn’t good enough. He mocked her privately by making negative comments about women who shared her ambitions. Achievements she did make were met with jealousy or put-downs. Publicly he praised the Lord for his “wonderful” wife. In a situation where the victim can never please her mate, she forgets her own value and worth.

Using a woman’s physical, emotional, spiritual, or mental challenges against her. “You need to settle down,” one husband said in front of his wife and her friends. She had been adamant about something that upset her. She was humiliated and embarrassed and remained quiet for the rest of the night. She told me later in her heart she felt guilty for not having a “quiet and gentle spirit.”  False guilt is a manipulative tool that may come rather easily to the abusive man in a “christian” marriage due to misrepresented scriptures or false teachings in the church. A wife may learn to doubt her thoughts and feelings.

Punishing “bad” behavior. A husband who uses religion to control his wife suggested she deserves his maltreatment due to something she said or did or failed to say or do. His favorite scriptures were misquotes or conveniently out of context. One husband refused to talk to his wife until she would eventually give in to whatever he wanted due to the weight of emotional torture. I asked a therapist once if one person could break another’s spirit. The answer was, “Not unless the second person allows it and stays around for more.”  Theoretically he is right. In a christian marriage context a wife is often taught not to leave, and that to love as Jesus did means to take whatever comes. I’ve seen broken wives- and the church often has nothing to say on the matter.

Intimidating. Banging around cupboard doors and dishes, punching walls, yelling at the children in a nonsensical manner – all these behaviors exposed a husband’s anger and ability to break things which was intimidating to his wife. Threats of spiritual failure may also be intimidating. Another church attending husband would talk non-stop about religious rules of conduct until he had apologies from his family just to shut him up.

Blaming. Pornography is one real problem that breaks up a lot of marriages. I have heard both men and women ignorantly blame wives in these circumstances with accusations of being prudish, not understanding men’s issues, or being unattractive. “Christian” husbands who engage in such lust find easy excuses for their behavior, after all, aren’t christian women supposed to meet their husbands’ needs with compassion and forgiveness? A wife in this or any circumstance in which she dares to confront her abusive husband, will hear the story shift to everything being her fault.

Undermining or ignoring a wife’s input. In some churches, men are often raised to superhuman heights by sheer implication due to the lack of females in leadership. When women are told to not be in positions of power in church settings, children grow up seeing that as normal. Wives learn “their place” and abusive husbands can feel cocky. An atmosphere of female inferiority is a breeding ground for abuse. While many christians I know would argue with me, many others would agree. It shows up in how husbands confront their wives in front of children, in who makes all the decisions for the family via verbal command or attitudinal demand, who withholds information and refuses to communicate, who decides where they attend church, who will be her friends, and how she lives her life.

Gaslighting.  If the christian wife should take the matter to him or to the church, the abuser will lie or deny attempting to make the victim doubt her experience – the abuse never happened, she perceived it wrong, she is making assumptions that are not true, etc. She questions her memory and begins to lose the fight against helplessness.

Controlling the money. I have heard in christian circles (among women!) that men are supposed to be the leaders in their homes and that means doing the bills and taxes. Really? Sorry, I’ve seen no scripture that even implies men are mandated to be in charge of family money matters. Yet somehow in abusive christian homes the men find ways to make all the money “belong” to them, and to expect their wives to be and act constantly grateful for the men’s willingness to provide housing. Christian women sometimes choose to stay home to raise the children. In one such family, the husband asked her to do this, and she creates no income. The abusive husband demands her submission if she wants a little cash.

Demanding she stroke his ego. This is an umbrella statement over all abusive behavior as abuse is always about control and power. In one church a husband asked me if his wife wasn’t supposed to be more grateful for his gift of a tennis bracelet. I answered if he gave it to her to make her happy then her response would indicate what he needed to do next. If she didn’t like it, perhaps he ought to exchange it. This made the husband angry (he was well-known as a control-freak) and he mumbled she ought be more appreciative. I told him it sounded like he bought the bracelet for himself, and he walked away. His wife laughed; she’d loved the whole scene. Another husband said his wife was sinning by leaving him even though he admitted being abusive to her. In his mind, she owed him for being her husband.

Compassionate love may keep a woman in an abusive marriage, but there is nothing unloving about leaving. In the next of this series I will take a look at how the church can best help an emotionally battered wife.

More about the above tactics can be read at:




NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help is yours.

-pictures from qualitystockphotos.com



Emotional Abuse in the Christian Marriage. Part 3

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness    (c)2015  Nancy Virden

She stood staring at the door moments after her husband left, slamming it behind him. Beside her stood her 12 year-old daughter, watching with wide eyes.

The woman turned and silently walked back to the table where she had done paperwork. She resumed her duty as if nothing had occurred. The girl understood photo-24803258-residential-houseshe was on her own again to process what she had just witnessed.

Emotional abuse can make victims retreat into shamed silence. Not only did the husband in the above scenario hurt his wife’s feelings, but he humiliated her in front of her daughter. The mother did not know what to do.

She was overwhelmed with emotion and had no more room for empathy for her girl. She had rationalized long ago that silence was the safe way to protect her children. In silence, repercussions from her husband would be deferred, she could tell herself she was sheltering her children, and could focus on urgent chores. Discussion meant more pain caused by the emotions of others, so she shut herself off and out of the family dynamic.

We know that other victims were present. The daughter for instance, learned and relearned to keep her mouth shut. She had observed her father kissing her mother on the cheek- the only “affection” she had ever seen between her parents. The kiss was followed by hatred, and a slammed door.

This was a mean man treating a woman like dirt. Since no one discussed it, the girl did know any other relationship between a husband and wife was possible. Emotional abuse kept her family segregated to an extent; her mother’s lack of friendships was reaction to fear of her situation being discovered. Both mother and daughter believed themselves to be nothings.

Sometimes we want to ask, “why didn’t the mother just leave?” Think about it financially. She had a roof over her head, food to eat, and clothes to wear. So did her children. While she may have been willing to risk her financial circumstances, she did not want her children to pay such a price.

Her work history was meager because she and her husband had agreed she would stay home with their son and daughter. He discouraged her from working because in his opinion her job was to tend to him. She earned her college degree later in life and was emotionally unfit to use it.

As she fought to promote the image of “all is well” in public, he shamed her and undermined her efforts with the children. He told them their mother was crazy and would be leaving them soon. He said he was going to die young. He told his children why he hated their mother. Eventually he divorced her declaring her an unfit parent.

Now picture this family in church. She wears a pasted smile, he acts like a peacock, the children do not behave normally. Against all the false advertising about her attitude and family life, the woman was seriously angry.

There could be no confronting her husband as he would find a way to make everything her fault. She had shut herself off from church fellowship and extended family by wearing her fake smile and never opening up. Her pent-up emotions overflowed until she was hitting her children, and there was little warmth between them.photo-24710349-church-entrance

Think about the dynamics here. The father emotionally abused his wife in her face and behind her back. He corrupted her relationship with her children and caused everyone in the household to feel unsafe. The mother retained a solitary lifestyle after he and then the grown children left because she felt worthless. The son and daughter married people like their parents and the legacy of the “Christian” home continued.

The wife had felt trapped in her situation. She lashed out at the kids. Image became her god because she couldn’t risk losing her standing in the church. Truth never made its way into the open. Imagine then if she had (and she did not but many women do) decided to leave him? The outside world would have been shocked at this poor, normal husband dumped by his senselessly angry wife.

These are some of the reasons women in emotionally abusive marriages do not leave.

Please read more at:




NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help is yours.

-pictures from qualitystockphotos.com







Emotional Abuse in the Christian Marriage. Part 1

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness    (c)2015  Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries


Have you ever been confused about the term “emotional abuse”? How about that much-maligned word, “submit”? Every now and then, something reminds me how sadly uninformed we can be with regard to marriage.

A primary reason we do not grow in wisdom is because we never did or stopped asking good questions. Fear can keep us in the dark simply because we think we may be overwhelmed if we venture into a difficult learning experience. Maybe we are afraid that what we know to be true will come unglued if we challenge it.

I will ask a good question. When is the line between “Submit to your husband” and “Endure abuse” crossed? (This series will assume women to be the abused, and men to be the abusers even though these principles apply to every emotionally abusive relationship.)

Some say (and I’ve heard these statements with my own ears),  a christian woman can rightfully leave a marriage “if he hits her,” “if he physically cheats.” “if he refuses to get saved.” Others insist marriages are to be reconciled under any circumstance. So what about emotional abuse?

In essence, emotional abuse is absence of love, yet pretends to love, and boasts that the lack of love the spouse feels is her fault. It is manipulative and leaves the victim wondering who she is, questioning her stance with God, and asking if she would be sinning to leave the marriage. She wants to hold the family together, keep up a good reputation for her husband, protect herself financially, and all the while is systematically losing who she is created to be.

She lies, “everything is fine,” “he is a good man,” and “I am submitting” while truth is “I am in excruciating pain,” “he is unkind toward me,” and “I am fiercely angry.”  I  love you and you must submit are both misused by abusers to activate and maintain control in christian marriages. Real love and its results look different.

Husbands are commanded to love their wives as Christ loves the Church. That imperative includes leaders in the church and pastors. From pew-warmers to CEOs of major ministries, what love looks like played out is described in what is better known as The Love Chapter in the Bible.*

The Love Chapter says simply that if self-proclaimed Spirit-filled believers do not have love they are just noisy and what they say is meaningless. Persons who can prophecy, and who have tons of education and understanding, have nothing to be admired unless they love. Even when a follower of Jesus sees great answers to his or her prayers and performs amazing miracles through faith but does not love, according to the Love Chapter’s description that person’s perceived life purpose adds up to a lot of nothing. If sacrificial-givers or martyrs do not have love, their actions have not pleased God.

photo-24769692-guy-in-loveWow. That’s a lot to take in. What is this all-important love supposed to act like in marriages? The Love Chapter lists what love is: patient, kind. always protects, always trusts, hopes, and perseveres.  The same chapter lists what love is not: envious, boastful, proud, rude, self-seeking, easily angered.  Love also does not hold grudges, is thrilled when truth is lived out, and never fails to achieve positive results.

Abusers do not run close to this in their actions. They may say the right things, and promise changes, and may even appear outwardly to be growing. There is always a cycle with abuse including a honeymoon period. Tears of remorse and regret are not the same as the sorrow of repentance. Ultimately, emotionally abusive behavior will continue with the silence, blaming, accusing, using, treating like dirt, neglecting, controlling, and excuse-making.

Submitting to that and maintaining secrets about it helps the abuser to ignore his grave sin. One spouse is dying inside because treatment by the other is wiping her out.Yet the elephant in the room gets bigger.

We are instructed to take up privately any relationship issues we have with other believers. Where there is sin (including abuse) and no repentance, then taking two or three witnesses and trying again is the preferred next step. However, in the case of abuse within a marriage, there are often no witnesses.

Sadly too, churches often dismiss claims of emotional abuse as a marriage counseling issue. Ultimately, the sin (abuse) is to be exposed to the church, the whole church. The abuser is supposed to be expelled. The wife needs to be safe and to find healing.

There is much to consider ont his topic. This series on Emotional Abuse in the Christian Marriage will delve into stories and much more. Expulsion of the abuser is one topic I will cover. In the meantime, if you are married, how about asking some good questions?

Do I dread him coming home?  Do I lie to cover-up my true feelings? Am I participating in image-setting? Do I feel anyone would even believe me if I told the truth?  Am I afraid of confronting him for fear his reaction will be more rejection and abuse? Do I know who I am created to be? Am I free to be that person in my marriage?

As always, I welcome your comments. Compassionate love learns, discusses in humility, and considers the other person by validating their emotions and experiences.

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” -The Love Chapter

Here are some resources:  Emotional Abuse In the Local Church, FAQs About Emotional AbuseHealing the Wounds of Emotional AbuseA Primer on Reformed Theology and How it Relates to the Subject of AbuseWhat Headship and Submission Do Not Mean


NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help is yours.

-pictures from qualitystockphotos.com

* The Love Chapter is 1 Corinthians 13