Stand, but Don’t Stand Alone

 

You Shouldn't Have to Stand Alone

By: Susan Deborah Schiller

No one heard my silent cries but him. He told me it would always be that way. And then he grinned, that mocking, smirk – more like a half-smile, except that it held no warmth and made me shiver. He was not only my husband but a popular church leader, surrounded by good people.

This is the most common strategy among abusers… to charismatically rally the troops around themselves, to portray themselves as the victim, while the true victim is silenced and shunned.

Are there really so few Christians willing to confront the epidemic of spiritual abuse in our churches and homes? Yes, this is a worldwide epidemic, and The Presbyterian Outlook sums up the situation here. I would love it if you would stop right now and read the article at this link titled, "The Alchemist in the Pulpit" … or if you want, read on and I'll share a small portion of my own story, in the hopes it will inspire and challenge more heroes to arise.

I begin with a journal entry in which I record a dream, for this is the reason I write:

"I woke up this morning dreaming I was being ruthlessly tortured, both physically and psychologically, just footsteps away from good people. All the good people had gone to their rooms and were sleeping. Their leader was my attacker and after everyone was asleep he took me and was going to abuse me over again and again, just as he always did.
 
I started to scream for help in that dark place but he covered my mouth and commanded silence. He threatened me that it would be worse for me if I made noise.
 
Pinning me to the ground he began to torture me, both mind and body, and I was overpowered by his extreme strength. But my spirit was so strong that from somewhere deep inside I found the strength to stab him in the thigh with a weapon I didn't even know I had, and from my prone position I threw him over my head. As his body crashed to the ground I screamed – two blasts – as loudly as I could.
 
You know how sometimes in dreams your screams come out in mere squeaks? Or you try to run and it's like you're stuck neck-deep in quicksand? Not in this dream. It was not a silent scream, but it took two cries to arouse the good people sleeping all around me.
 
When they heard my screams they instantly came running… and the evil man was easily overpowered." 

The following is a scene from my own life story… when my husband and I, both graduates of a Christian college, were active church leaders. I share this because it exposes the darkness, not just in my own life, but on behalf of Christian wives who silently suffer behind closed doors.

Lying next to my husband in bed after a long day of homeschooling our three little ones, plus running my own business from home (i.e. being the one-woman assembly line of creating Victorian lace bears!), my husband began reciting all of my faults. From top to bottom, I was doing nothing right, in his eyes.

I had tried defending myself, speaking up for myself, and pleaded with him to just stop. He chuckled and the verbal assault escalated in intensity. Nothing I said made a difference so I went inward, to the quiet place in my spirit and I worshiped God. Nothing changed, at first, but a certain "brightness" appeared in our bedroom.

Someone was standing at a one o'clock position in our bedroom! Heaven invaded our room, but only I was aware of this shining being.

I sensed He had arrived at the sound of my silent worship and that we could communicate while my husband's verbal tirade continued, unabated.

I cried, "You see what is happening. Why do You not stop it!!!" I didn't realize I was so angry. Anger is an emotion I rarely let come to the surface. My family depended on me to be the shock absorber, the peacekeeper.

In response, I sensed this Being point, and as I followed His direction, I sensed the Divine Presence saying, "Don't look at your husband, look beyond him." So I looked, and what I sensed was an invisible enemy who wanted to kill me. He was using my husband as a puppet, shooting flaming arrows directly into my heart.

Suddenly, in that instant, I recognized the real source of danger in our home. Suddenly I understood why my husband and I could not communicate, despite the array of Christian marriage self-help books.

All of the normal marriage books on my shelf were of no use in this situation, I realized, so I said to my husband, "I cannot talk to you right now. You are irrational. When you come back to your senses, we can talk."

A pathological relationship is irrational and if you attempt to treat it as "normal" you will find your problems escalating.

I was still wide awake and my heart was galloping as if it would leap out of chest. He appeared to have fallen asleep. I wanted to pray. Slipping out of our bedroom I sat down on the living room sofa, pushing the play button on my cassette player.

David Meece's song, from his album "There I Go Again" was playing. In the quiet, my soul basked in the peace of "Help Me Stand" and my soul grew still.

In the night
When the only thing my spirit can see
Is the shattered and decaying debris
Of dreams-that I've lost
And the light
Reveals enemies I thought were my friends
Criticizing all I live to defend
How can I go on?

CHORUS:

Help me stand
When it's more than I can do
Not to fall
Jesus hear my call
Help me stand
When adversity's on every hand
And I've done all I can
Help me stand…Help me stand.

The song had not finished when the bedroom door crashed open and my husband angrily punched the off button and demanded I return to bed. In defeat, I returned to bed, bathing my pillow in tears.

This man, this 10-year-standing deacon in our church, and later a house pastor… with such a charismatic personality, the man everyone loved to be with… was so different at home, behind closed doors.

No one heard my silent cries but him. He told me it would always be that way. And then he grinned, that mocking, smirk – like a half-smile, except that it held no warmth and made me shiver.

I'm often asked, "Why didn't you just leave?"

That's a complicated answer; not an easy one. There were at least three times when I was prepared to leave, with my children. I didn't know anything about abuse. I didn't even realize I was abused, at that time, since he never laid a hand on me.

All of the family finances were locked at his mother's house and I had no access to files, records, etc. I was economically dependent on him, and because he was self-employed I knew he could easily cover up sources of income, as much was done under the table. Even when I was generating income, I still had no input about finances. The church frequently taught wives it's a husband's responsibility to have the final decision, so I felt disempowered, as it was useless to initiate my own opinion on anything regarding finances.

He used to threaten me that if I ever left him, he would get a job as a bagger at the local grocery store and I would receive virtually nothing in child support. I believed him, as I so often did. I am autistic, on the Asperger's spectrum… which means I take what people say literally. I trust readily and believe people are speaking the truth much too often.

Most of all, whenever I was prepared to leave, there would be a miraculous change. Heartfelt repentance, tears, and my husband begging me to give him another chance. A honeymoon period ranging from 6-8 months would follow, but it never lasted. I had no knowledge of abuse cycles, at that time – I didn't know it was a standard abuse tactic.

He was just playing with me, like a cat with a mouse, but toward the end he was becoming bold enough to terrorize me with explicit X-rated threats of mutilating my body and killing me.

As the abuse escalated, always behind closed doors, I began seeking help. It would be years before I got the answers. As I talk to women of my age, from all around the country and in different parts of the world, this type of abuse among Christian couples is becoming quite common, but it's the least understood.

Most of these woman stay in their marriages, suffering silently, for decades…. averaging 20-30 years, from what I'm seeing. It's called "standing" and pastors often encourage us to "have more grace for your husband" and to "forgive".

It's twisted teaching, but it makes you feel like you are long-suffering, patient, and not selfish or rebellious. It has a form of godliness, but it empowers evil.

"Standing" further traumatizes the victim and her children. There are thousands of wives right now who are suffering in silence. They don't come to church with black eyes or broken bones. Their wounds are much deeper, invisble to the eye. Their husbands are elders, deacons, and pastors… beloved by their family and friends.

When these women dare to break their silence, it's rare that their story is believed. And that's when the real danger begins… when they dare to speak. Some quietly disappear. Others commit suicide. They have "accidents". 

The church system as it stands right now is stacked AGAINST the victims of abuse.

You shouldn't have to stand alone! I read in Ezekiel 34 God's response to leaders who abuse and leaders who refuse to deal with the abuse, who neglect the needs of the abused:

 I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign Lord. 16 I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice.

God told me, "I want to be your Hero!" 

So many people tell abuse victims, "Forgive and move on," but that's not our Father's heart. I believe God wants justice. He wants to be my Hero, your Hero – a Hero for every suffering widow and orphan. He wants us to be restored, rejuvenated, reinvented, and much more. It takes the Body of Christ working together, because "forgive and move on" sends the message, "It's up to you to get your life back."

True religion, says the ancient apostle James, is to look after the widows and orphans, while keeping yourself free form the world's pollution.

No victim should be left standing alone.

Thank you for helping me to spread this message so that one day, I believe, "abused no more" will describe our friends and family, and indeed, our world! Together, we can stand on the side of victims whose only voice is our stories and whose only hope is for the true Bride of Christ to rise up, to stand for truth and justice by exposing the darkness and not just extending "false grace" to the abusers.

My Full Story     What I Believe    Contact Me

With all my love,

Sue

Susan Schiller knows how it feels to lose everything: marriage and family, church and reputation, finances and businesses, and more. Susan's upcoming, interactive memoir, "On the Way Home," tells the story of how she came to be known as "the most abused woman" her counselors had yet met and how she learned to navigate to freedom and fullness.  

Today Susan helps people write their life stories, unearthing the treasures of their past and sowing them into their future, creating new family legacies.

Copyright © 2010 to 2016 Team Family Online, All rights reserved.   For reprint permission or for any private or commercial use, in any form of media, please contact Susan Schiller

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Michele July 11, 2015 at 3:10 pm

Thank you so much for your take on forgiveness.  I am so often counseled this and my gut instinct says–it is not safe for me to forgive while I am in the same house with my sociopath roommate.  I do not know how to get out, everything I have tried has failed.  Your story is giving me some hope, as well as your spirit.

Reply

Susan Schiller July 12, 2015 at 7:50 am

Only a minority of us understand the dynamics of living with evil. If I hadn’t lived it, I would approach the topic of forgiveness in the traditional way… which has the OPPOSITE effect. It causes the victim to become an accomplice to evil, while not helping the sociopath, who is also a victim to evil but has chosen to allow the evil to live and rule in his/her life.

What better way to HELP a sociopath get their life back than to NOT FORGIVE him/her but to SEPARATE yourself entirely from the evil that rules in their life. 

Thanks for sharing, Michele, and I pray for your healing, for getting your life back, for your heart to feel whole again.

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Susan Schiller April 11, 2015 at 6:40 am

Topic: You Are Carrying A Three Generational Mantle, Keep Going, For I Will Give You The Strength To Reach The Finish Line~


Posted By: Karen Samford

Subject: You Are Carrying A Three Generational Mantle, Keep Going, For I Will Give You The Strength To Reach The Finish Line~

Date Posted: 03/30/2015 at 7:19am 

 

Jo Ellen Stevens~You Are Carrying A Three Generational 
Mantle, Keep Going, For I Will Give You The Strength To 
Reach The Finish Line~ 

   I just heard the Lord say that “many of you are 
carrying a three generational mantle that your ancestors 
were disobedient in carrying to the finish line. You have 
wondered why you were having such a hard time. It has 
seemed like the enemy has been relentless against you, 
but the Lord wants you to know that, it is because you 
chose to pick it up and are determined to carry it to the 
finish line.” 

~You Will Carry The TRi Generational Mantle~ 

The enemy had succeeded in keeping your ancestors from 
walking in callings, so that which they forfeited is now 
being manifest in your life. This is a triple 
generational anointing and is now being challenged by the 
hordes of Hell because they see what damage you are about 
to do to the Kingdom of darkness! In fact they are seeing 
that this is the end of their hold on your generations…. 
You have discovered that their words are but empty and 
void of power because My Son has already defeated them!” 

This has been a hard time for you but you have kept on 
going forward and faced it with the faith that you have 
been given because you know that you are about to come 
into your promise land, you and your family with you. 

He reminded me of this scripture and said to tell you to 
remember it because you are about to come into the last 
stretch of this thing… Numbers 14:9 (AMP) “Only do not 
rebel against the Lord, neither fear the people of the 
land, for they are bread for us. Their defense and the 
shadow [of protection] is removed from over them, but the 
Lord is with us. Fear them not.” He says “remember that I 
made a show of them openly, triumphing in it! 

~Just Stand~ 

The Lord says today that as you stand and having done all 
to stand a new strength will come upon those with the 
triple generational mantles and it will be the strength 
to push past the enemy, that caused your grandfathers to 
quit before the finish line, but I did not forget their 
effort and I did not forget the effort of your fathers 
and in fact as they ran so far in the race and stopped 
short, that there was a momentum obtained in the Spirit. 

Yes they may have forfeited the fullness of the Mantle 
but you have picked it up with determination in your 
heart and said .”I will run this race!” So I am giving 
your generation the strength to take it to the finish 
line.. Only be not afraid of their faces as your Fathers 
were for I am restoring to you the years that the Locust 
has eaten and I will give you health and healing to do 
all that I have called you to, for such a time as this! 

Arise Shine! Jo Ellen Stevens

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Susan Schiller August 4, 2014 at 10:51 am

Today, there is a woman who is virtually trapped inside an abuser's house. Due to physical infirmities, she is unable to drive. She cannot get her own housing, and although she has a car, she can't drive it due to the same infirmities.

Her problems appear insurmountable to her friends, and so people tend to avoid her, even outright shunning her, because they don't want anything to do with the abuser who she lives with. 

She needs a hero. She can't recuperate, rejuvenate, or rest without outside help. She is independent enough to care for her physical needs. She can walk, talk, and do most activities. What she needs most is an opportunity to rest, to live in a place where her every move is not questioned. She needs the freedom to think, to pray, and to sort out her life.

She doesn't need counselors right now, but she does need friends. She needs someone to drive her to doctor's appointments. She needs someone to believe with her for miracles. She needs Normal.

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Still loves God September 2, 2013 at 7:40 pm

Thank you for this story you had the courage to tell. My question however is, what if the abuse is not sexual, but verbal? What if the pastor thinks its his "calling" to humiliate members of the congregation publicly, even thouth he has NEVER met with them privately–the scriptural thing to do. This happened to me in a church I had started attending about two months prior. I never met with the pastor and I don't think he even really knew my name. He actually stopped his sermon and looked directly at me(so few were sitting in my section it was quite clear who he was talking about) and publicly falsely accused me.This was NOT my imagination. Even my friend noticed it. I kept wondering why every time I thought of joining the church, something would happen and I would either forget or decide to do it later. Now I see God was keeping me from making that mistake. I have heard rumors for years, but nothing concrete, so I decided to give the church and the pastor the "benefit of the doubt". Boy, was I wrong! I tend to trust people  too much, and I thought since there are no perfect churches, and no perfect pastors, maybe it's my imagination that he seems superfocused on physical appearance and always had a "word" for someone, every Wed. night service, and it always seemed to be for the same people over and over.When I tried to get an appointment with him to understand why he would do this, he was "too busy" so sent his wife instead. She defended him saying that he would have only said that if "God told him to". Of course, God does not lie, so that in itself was  the wrong answer. I feel God is telling me that He is not through with this issue yet. I believe God is raising up "eagles" that will have the courage to speak the truth when it is hard.Some of these pastors may listen, repent and be restored. Others will deny the abuse and even make us look like we are the troublemakers. I went into that church with the best intentions of serving the Lord any way he wants me to. I was not looking for a lofty position or a title. For him to attack me was discouraging but by Gods grace, it will only bring me closer to the Lord.

Reply

Susan Schiller September 3, 2013 at 6:33 am

Dear Still Loves God,

I really like what you’ve chosen to call yourself here – your name says that you are a survivor of spiritual abuse…. a survivor who is rising up like an eagle with sharp, clear discernment and determination. In sharing your story you are speaking up for hundreds of others whose voices are silent.

A few weeks ago I was watching a video on YouTube of a pastor condemning several members of his congregation in much the same manner as you described. I was horrified, of course… but even more so when I read through the lengthy comments. One of the church members had taken to defending the pastor and I could tell that he was sincere, trying to persuade people how important it is to have a pastor who will call you out for your sins.

In the four gospels I’ve never once seen Jesus call people on their sins except for the church leaders who were intent on putting heavy sin-loads on their members! What an upside down concept it is, for a pastor to point out sins and to condemn publicly from the pulpit! In private is the only place for such confrontations, if indeed at all, just as you said in your comment.

Sill Loves God, I believe you are hearing God’s voice and I love your heart to accept the church in its imperfection. I believe God is leading you and that you are one of those eagles He’s using to see clearly and to help steer others out of danger. You are in a “lofty position” as that eagle, and I believe what you spotted was a church acting in a cult-type manner.

It’s becoming more and more common these days, and as I read Ezekiel 34, I believe God would have His eagles to speak up, to give voice to the church on behalf of those who are suffering, just as you have suffered.

There is tremendous power in a testimony. We defeat the evil world’s system by the blood of Jesus and the word of our testimony. I hope my words have encouraged you, Still Loves God, and you are welcome to come and share more of your story, if you like. We need to encourage each other – all survivors – to be strong, to not so easily trust. Jesus didn’t trust people very easily at all – Scriptures says He knew what was in their hearts. He loved them, but He didn’t trust them.

There are many survivors out there who are in varying stages of recovery. Some are able to return to church and others cannot. Until we are healed in our hearts we are often targeted for more abuse, and depending on the severity, it can create very great psychological and spiritual scars. If you need a safe haven, please let me know, and I can direct you to some good resources and people! Thanks for sharing, Still Loves God! 🙂

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Sharon O'Day August 21, 2013 at 9:00 am

As I hear more and more, I feel like a real "innocent."  And that pertains to church-based abuse, child molestation, slave trade and such.  Add that to the things we've talked about more openly, like rape, and you get an idea of how many people are walking around with wounds to heal.  Thank you for having the courage that enlightens me, Sue.

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Susan Schiller August 21, 2013 at 5:50 pm

We’re meant to be innocent, I believe, Sharon… the human psyche is not designed for evil. Hopefully, in small doses this story will act as a healthy immunization… it’s my hope, prayer, and dream. Thanks so much for your kindness!

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Marvia August 16, 2013 at 6:01 pm

Susan

My heart sank reading this, but then I think of how God sees and revels our dirty deeds from roof tops.  May we be men and women of faith who fear not, who shine the light on evil, and who do not back down when others are deceived.  God have mercy on us. Help us not to trade the Truth for lies!

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Susan Schiller August 16, 2013 at 7:12 pm

More and more stories are coming out, and like the rising of the sun, it exposes the darkness and forces the predators to back off. Just today a pastor was telling me how he was able to shut down a women’s conference from hosting a known predator. The predator was confronted, but instead of answering their questions, he took an offensive posture and got very angry. That exposed him for what he was, a fraud… a wolf caught in the sheep’s pen. Sharing our stories is painful, but it is helping to raise awareness, and I believe there will come a day when “abused no more” describes the next generation. That’s my goal, to be part of a love revolution. Thanks, Marvia, for your kind heart and sharing your thoughts here!

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Sue Glashower August 16, 2013 at 12:36 pm

Susan I am so proud of you for listening to God and sharing your life experiences! I am sure it is very hard and brings up a lot of feelings that you would rather not experience. Praying for the many women who are going through a similar situation and may God use you to give them hope! Keep sharing becasue God will bless your obedience!

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Susan Schiller August 16, 2013 at 1:23 pm

Your words, your life, your writing is refreshing and encouraging to me, Sue – thanks so much!

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Susan Schiller April 29, 2013 at 1:37 pm

Kris Valloton is another voice crying out for justice and speaking up for righteousness, going against the common Christian tide. He posted this on Facebook today:

The mother of the 2 sons who bombed the Boston marathon, and shot it out with the police, doesn't think her sons are guilty!!! Yeah…they are nice boys who were just influenced by the wrong crowd…and now the police are trying set them up to take the fall.

Is there anyone else sick of this kind of crap? "You sound so intense and upset!!" ! I am… several people died, 100s wounded, many will never be the same again. Police officers lost their lives trying to stop these maniacs, leaving many children fatherless and/or motherless. Spouses lost their lovers, parents lost their children and a piece of all of us died with them. Frankly I am tired of fluffy Christianity that has lost any sense of obligation to protect the innocent, stop the violent and bring justice back to society. There are more verses in the Bible then "love your enemies." Read Romans 13:1-8 for example…it's in the New Testament by the way.

If some crazy person breaks into my house and try's to harm my family, my first response is not going to be to read them the gospel of John…I guarantee you that! People, we have an obligation given to us by God Himself to protect our citizens from those who are bent on evil and who perpetuate their terrorist schemes on the masses. If Churchill had the same attitude as many people on my Facebook page, we would all be speaking German and the Jews would an extinct people group.

It is much easier to forgive these nuts when they are behind bars then it is when they are ravaging our cities. Does not love require us to protect those we love? I am opposed to judging nations for their sins but I am equally opposed to doormat, cotton candy, Christianity. Good night…

I heartily agree… do you?

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Susan Schiller April 26, 2013 at 4:04 pm

Today, even as I was penning this story, Jim Wright was defending a victim and her church against a predator. He is taking a lot of hits for his position of defense, and so I took a moment to thank him.

He is an eagle chasing off the predators, while protecting the victim who has chosen to not enter the public fray. God bless Jim and others who are using genuine biblical procedures for protecting victims.

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