Why Emotional And Psychological Abuse Can Be Difficult To Spot
My Abusive Ex Keeps Texting Me – What Should I Do?

Do you get a pit in your stomach when your phone dings? Learn more about strategic communication as Anne interviews two fathers of victims.

This episode is Part Two of Anne’s interview with Jim and Bob.
Part One: 3 Ways to Help Your Abused Daughter
Part Two: My Abusive Ex Keeps Texting Me – What Should I Do? (this episode)

Do you feel a pit in your stomach when your phone dings a text message alert?

When you see his name in your email inbox, do your hands shake?

Many victims experience trauma when the abuser initiates contact – whether in person or over text, phone, and/or email.

Anne is on the podcast with Jim and Bob. Learn the basics of strategic communication in The BTR.ORG Living Free Workshop that helps victims learn strategies to think about the situation and set boundaries and communicate in strategic ways. 

The Abuser Uses Communication to Harm You

“I was texting with him, but it just got so out of control and every time he would text, my heart rate would go up. I would just go into like full trauma mode.”

Anne Blythe, Founder of BTR.ORG

Abusers use communication – whether in person or through technology – to cause you distress.

Victims, including Anne, report experiencing physical trauma responses from messages that they’ve received from their abusers, including:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Shaking/tremors
  • Clenched jaws
  • Headaches
  • Panic attacks
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Generalized nerve pain
  • Pelvic pain

The psychological and emotional affect of abusive communication (even when it looks “nice”) is serious – but it’s important to note that the abuser may also be affecting your physical well-being.

What Are The “Types” of Abusive Messages?

In the BTR.ORG Living Free Workshop, we give examples of the types of abusive messages that abusers send to victims – in Anne’s interview with Jim and Bob, Bob explains that his ex-son-in-law sent messages that contained:

“…legal language and intimidating language… religious language…”

Bob, Anne’s Father

Some abusers attempt to silence victims by using complicated, nonsense verbiage that may appear intimidating – and this can launch victims into trauma.

Our Strategy Workshop can help you debunk the fear surrounding the abuser’s messages and help you see reality. 

No One Else Sees The Abuse? We Still Believe You. 

“He sounded so nice and he uses legalese and he never swore or wrote in all caps or anything. So on the face of it, it looked okay. It didn’t seem abusive.”

Anne Blythe, Founder of BTR.ORG

Many women in our community have expressed trauma due to the abuser appearing to be “such a nice guy” to others, including family, friends, clergy, and others.

This can continue through communication – the victim may receive a message absolutely dripping with abuse, but if another person reads it, they may interpret it to be completely healthy. Perhaps they accuse the victim of being dramatic or paranoid.

At BTR.ORG, we know that YOU know. We trust you. You don’t have to prove anything to us. We are already on your side. Join our BTR.ORG Group Sessions today and enroll in our Strategy Workshop. We love you. 

Full Transcript:

Anne (00:00):
Welcome to BTR.ORG. This is Anne. If you’re new to the BTR podcast, you may wanna consider starting with the oldest episode first and then making your way forward chronologically. If you do that, you’ll take the journey with me as I learn more and more. You’ll hear a change in my voice as I grow in confidence and skills. It’ll be like a friend holding your hand as you make your own way to peace. 

Jim is back today with my dad, so if you didn’t listen to last week’s episode, listen to that first and then join us here today. We’re just continuing the conversation. As I listened to this afterwards, I was thinking about the necessity of getting help and how so many women don’t reach out for help because they don’t want people to be mad or upset. And in this episode, my dad kind of talks about how he had a bad attitude at one point, and my mom, thank goodness, was just like, well, just let him have a bad attitude. You need help. And then I was talking to my sister about it and she was saying that their attitude is their choice. But if they will help you, even with a bad attitude and you need help, it’s okay. It’s okay to get help. You’ll hear about that in today’s episode.

Abusive Text Messages 

Jim (03:50):
You know, one thing that that happened after the separation, there had been a group text between his parents and my wife and I and the two of them, and it was mostly, you know, sending pictures of grandkids. Well, when she left, you know, he blew up through the text. So we said, okay, let’s put it in here in the family group, thinking that, you know, in front of his parents, he wouldn’t be such a jerk. But that didn’t work at all. He was just as bad of a jerk there. But through all of that, you know, we got to see what the real, the real thing underneath was like, you know, it made, its kind of wonder how we’d been <laugh>. What I tried to tell some of my friends was like, how did I let the wolf in? How did this happen? You know, one, one of my good friends that I talked to like a week in that first week and explained it to him, he’s pretty direct and he’s, he quoted it this way. He said, one of us loves my daughter and it ain’t you. It was his summary of what was going on. 

Anne (05:11):
Yeah, thank goodness I like right when he left, I was texting with him, but it just got so out of control and every time he would text, my heart rate would go up. I would just go into like full trauma mode. So my dad, and I’ll let him tell the story, wrote him and said, Hey, you are not gonna like talk to her anymore. I’ve instructed her to block you on her phone from now on. You have to go through me. 

Bob (05:41):
Was that after the divorce or before?

When Family Begins to See The Abuser For Who He Really Is

Anne (05:44):
It was after. So the divorce was final. And so my dad sent that message to him and then after that for years, the messages went through him. And can you talk about that dad, and also like what your thoughts were of his messages and the way that he was, like, you seeing it with your own eyes?

Bob (06:06):
Oh yeah. He was very trifling and he’s a lawyer, so he, he was using legal language and intimidating language in, in, and it was in, in that time that I was in that pivot mode that we talked about of, you know, how do I help, you know, is there and I was still not where I should have been in terms of totally as supportive of, of Anne. But it snapped in me. One of one of those emails that snapped and I drafted a email back to him that was, it was stronger than what you’re saying cause it was he, he had been using some church language in there in terms of his responsibilities to the church and whatever. And, and I, and I just debunked that.

Anne (06:58):
You said your religiosity, I remember that word. You were like, I’m not gonna put up with this ridiculous religiosity

“I Was Really Grateful When I Saw That Message That He Wrote” 

Bob (07:04):
Yeah, that’s exactly what I said. And, and then I will not allow you to continue to, to abuse and through your communications interactions and from from now on, you’ll communicate with me directly. And, and that again, went on for a couple of years. I, I think I made the right decision and, but it was the most important part of that email and me doing that was supporting Anne and how it, it made her feel and what it did for her psychic and her ability to cope and to get up in the morning and go about what she needed to do. And it wasn’t ideal in terms of the communication, but it it did some amazing things.

Anne (07:56):
Yeah. I was really grateful when I saw that message that he wrote. He’s like, I’m gonna send this. I was like, yay. Because it was just so like, direct and I don’t know how to describe it. It wasn’t this like trying to be nice or trying to like, you know, negotiate or anything like that. It’s like she is blocking you on her phone. I have told her to do this and this is what is happening and I’m not putting up with this anymore. And it just felt really good. And I did, I blocked him on my phone and I blocked him on emails. And that’s what happened. Like, he didn’t really have a choice cause he couldn’t get ahold of me. And so he would call sometimes or text my dad, but most of the time it was through email. 

Enroll in Our BTR.ORG Strategy Workshop!

Bob (08:39):
Well the, any texting he did to me were immediate kind of things. Like somebody was late or whatever, and it was just, where are you? I mean, if there was no communication other than just that.

Anne (08:49):
And after that he started attacking my dad and saying that my dad was a bully. 

Bob (08:53):
I don’t remember he did. And, and what I did we didn’t, I thought about it at the time, but not very much. And that is whether it was legal under the divorce decree for this to happen for me to inter insert myself into the communication link as I did. And now many years later, I think it probably was illegal, but the consequences legally were so minimal. I mean, no, judge was gonna –

Choosing Strategic Communication 

Anne (09:25):
Yeah, I don’t think it was illegal per se. It was just like the, it did come back to bite me in a custody situation later. And that was two years ago maybe. And during that they were like, this isn’t good. And at that point I started using Our Family Wizard and since it had been five years of communicating with him through my dad, I was a lot stronger then. And now I communicate strategically with him through Our Family Wizard. And it works fantastic, but I also have had enough space, the divorce was final and I had enough strength to be able to do it now. And now I deal with him just fine. In fact, now I kind of enjoy it because I, I can see what he is doing and I know how to, to combat it. But when you’re, when you’re in, when you’re in trauma and probably where Sarah is right now, like thinking, how do I explain this?

(10:18):
Or, you know, how do I respond to this message is so overwhelming. And so to have the support of my dad and my parents and to get help with those messages was great. Also, just having them read them and validate me and be like, this is insane. He’s insane. You know? And he sounded so nice and he uses legalese and he, he never swore or like wrote in all caps or anything. So it, like, on the face of it, it, it looked okay. Like it didn’t seem abusive per se, but if you really read it and understood what he was saying, it was awful. And most of the time included lies and manipulation and gaslighting and stuff.

No Kids? Go No Contact! 

Bob (10:55):
And entitlement. I mean, everything was, he was entitled to this and to that and to the other. I mean, it was just, but anyway, I think there’s some upsides and some downsides to what I did. I would do it over again. Had I had the, the opportunity, even knowing what I know now.

Jim (11:11):
I think if there was, if there’s no kids involved, I’d think you just try to make it so you could never, never have to communicate with him again.

Anne (11:18):

Absolutely.

Jim (11:21):
Yeah, it’s just with kids, you’re –

Anne (11:23):
Forced to communicate with an emotional and psychological abuser if you have children. What communication is she using with him right now?

Jim (11:32):
She’s using that The Wizard. Cuz I, I think I heard that on one of your things. 

The BTR.ORG Strategy Workshop Can Help You Learn How to Protect Your Communication 

Anne (11:35):
Yeah, I used to recommend that and now I recommend Our Family Wizard. Has she taken our Strategy Workshop? In that workshop we talk about how to message them, the types of tactics that we use because they’re trying to gain power over you. It neutralizes that and enables you to level the playing field, these types of strategic tactics. And I actually developed that with the BTR team after working inside of Our Family Wizard and being like, he’s still doing it. Like this is still an impossible situation. And just feeling the hopelessness of thinking, are you kidding me? I’m divorced and I’m still gonna have to deal with this abuse the rest of my life. This is not fair. You know, I was so angry about it. And after getting over the anger and like really praying about it and asking my team like, there’s got to be a better way. We came up with a strategic way of communicating and it has set me free and I’m so grateful for it. So I, I rarely now never do I ever now call you and I’m like, Hey, sent this awful message. Like, does that ever happen anymore? 

Bob (12:43):
No. 

Anne (12:46):
I’m not as like traumatically upset, right? I’m not like desperate and like traumatized and just feeling awful. So that might help her, Jim, to know how to strategically message him.

Jim (13:11):
Yeah. I think being married to him for those years, she developed some of that  already. But this, this might be a good suggestion for however refined that a little bit more. It’s good to have particular rules.

“I Was the World’s Worst Victim” 

Anne (13:24):
Well, and that’s good because a lot of women did develop those strategies. I was like the world’s worst victim <laugh> because I, I know like he, he even told me once, he said, you never do what you’re supposed to do. Like apparently you’re, the abuser does something, it has a goal in mind and then the victim is supposed to be like, oh, that made him mad, so I’m not gonna do that again. Cause I don’t wanna make him mad. I was like, if I give into this then he’s just gonna get madder, so heck no. Like, I don’t care if it makes you mad, I’m gonna do it anyway. And he really hated it. I was really the world’s worst victim.

Bob (14:00):
<Laugh>. He does have some strong resentments towards me, <laugh>, which are just fine. <Laugh> and, and playing that role in taking some of that flack I think was helpful. 

Jim (14:15):
Yeah. Yeah. I, I I received plenty of that. I mean, right soon after she left his message was something along the lines of, yeah, you’re the last person in the world I’ll take marriage advice from or something. 

Do Fathers Feel Afraid of the Financial Responsibility of Divorce? 

Anne (14:29):
So can we get to like a really sensitive or maybe not sensitive topic? I’m not sure it, you guys might be like, oh, I don’t wanna admit this. Or maybe not, but can we talk about the weight of maybe financial responsibility that you may feel as a father with your daughter in this situation? And how maybe wanting to avoid, like having to help her financially or something weighed into your decisions and that type of thing. Can we talk about that?

Jim (15:06):
Sure, sure. I think to be, to be really frank about that, I think that’s what a lot of women struggle with because culturally nobody wants to take that responsibility back on. And, you know, and knowing this has opened my eyes to previous divorces and different things over the years with relatives and friends to see things in a different light. And some of those poor women were left on their own. And, and I can see it now. And, and, and I wasn’t able to really support them because I didn’t understand. And but yeah, it’s a, it’s a major concern. I’ll just, let me tell you a brief story friend of mine that I was talking to telling about this, he talked about the in church, the the preacher basically getting up and I guess he’s a divorce attorney and he’s talking about how, you know, divorce equals poverty in his mind, that was his definition of it.

(16:08):
And I was telling my friend, I say, yeah, and some things are worse than poverty. And that’s, I think the point that you know, my daughter got to is like, you know, I can’t take this anymore. And so come what may move forward. Now, fortunately for, for us, she’s towards the older part of our family and the younger part of our family was staying in the home. And once she brought three kids here, they quickly found a place to live. But we had room, you know, so for that, from that aspect, you know, it works out. But at the same time, if we weren’t able to take her here and him holding onto the house and you know, her not wanting to be there with him there, I guess her options were to go to an abuse shelter. I don’t know, do you know what I mean? If what, what women’s options are. But it’s not pretty and it’s a very trapped kind of scenario. And, and I’ve even looked at, at some different situations with suicide and different things that have happened that I’ve been aware of. And I wonder if that wasn’t the cause of some of these different things.

“I Just Need Help” 

Anne (17:26):
Do you wanna talk about that? Because I remember you telling me, and I was mad about this, I don’t know if I hurt my feelings or like, I haven’t really processed it, but you said something like, well now like now I’m gonna have to be responsible for you. And you said something like that and I was ticked cause I was like 37. And I was like, what are you talking about? Like, I just need help. Like, I am responsible for myself. I don’t know like what you think you’re saying in that like, I will figure this out, but like, I need help. And you saying that like really ticked me off.

Bob (18:02):
Yeah. It’s the wrong thing for me to say and I repent <laugh>, I’m saying that but it was part of that transitional process of coming to accept what you were facing and and supporting you unequivocally. And you know, I’m financially okay and I had the resources to help. But it, it, there was a reluctance in me to to, to step in and, and do it. Helped a lot when I finally made that transition. My wife was there from the beginning, so she was a great help to me in getting me where I needed to be.

Jim (18:43):
That’s one thing for sure is my wife was much ahead of me in figuring things out as well.

Unequivocal Support – Emotionally And Financially 

Bob (18:48):

But she needed the immediate support and the, both emotionally and financially and, and not the the, the reluctance there. You could put it in the emotional side of what did you, you know, Anne, what did you do to cause this, this is partly your fault. You know, those kinds of comments which were terribly hurtful and and inappropriate and wrong on the other side is the financial of oh, now what have you done? Now I’ve gotta take care of you. Which I’d said to you, which was terribly damaging. So again, if there are those of us who are in this situation and can catch this lesson early and make that transition earlier, it would be much preferred and, and very helpful to the victim. I, I’m just crushed. And those women that don’t have the resources, either their parents are not in a position to help them or aren’t, are unwilling to help them and what do they do? And there’s lots and lots of those people in that situation that are suffering a great deal emotionally and financially because they don’t have that support system.

Anne (20:04):
I do wanna acknowledge that, cause so many of our listeners, they do not have a supportive father. I mean, even to hear you dad <laugh> say like, like me would be like, that really made me mad when you said that, but you were helping me, right? I mean, you were helping me. And I’m like, have I have the privilege and the liberty to be like, it made me really mad to get mad at my dad when he was helping me when he said that. But women, like, they don’t have anything. They’re, they don’t have even maybe a mother who would understand. And so acknowledging that and letting them know that our hearts go out to anybody in that situation. And it’s really hard. It’s, it’s an uphill battle to free or deliver yourself from. It’s very, very hard. 

Bob (20:49):
I don’t know that there was anything that we weren’t providing for. I mean, you, you were being taken care of. It was the attitude.

Anne (20:57):
Yes, I agree.

Bob (20:58):
And it, there’s a terrible situation that is on my conscience.

Anne’s Costco Story

Anne (21:04):
Is it Costco? Yeah. I’m thinking about that too. I was gonna bring it up. Okay. So I’ll, I’ll lay the foundation here. My family loves Costco and I, it was my dad’s birthday and it was also near Valentine’s Day and I was living off of food orders. Like I had no money to buy any, anything extra. And so we went to Costco and I just started piling stuff in the cart. Cause I was like, this is my chance to like get some stuff and sorry I’m crying cause it was Valentine’s Day. And there was like nobody around to get me a Valentine’s present. So I was like, I’m getting this plant and I’m getting these pajamas. And I was nervous about it, but I was just like, I’m doing this anyway. And my dad was kind of mad, but he did it. He bought it for me. You weren’t like yelling at me or anything, but there was just this hesitancy like, like what? She just expects me to pay for all this stuff in this cart. And I was like, heck yes, I do <laugh>. Anyway. Do you wanna talk about that?

Bob (22:02):
Well I’m, yeah. There was that reluctance –

Anne (22:06):
And entitlement on my part that I was like, I can pile all this stuff in the cart and I’m gonna make my dad pay for it. So there’s entitlement on my part.

Bob (22:15):
But there was a history there as well

Anne (22:18):
Of, oh, is this where you’re gonna go blame me for my part in it?

Bob (22:22):
No <laugh> before you were married, <laugh>, if you could get me at Costco then –

Anne (22:28):
Then you would buy stuff –

Bob (22:29):
Then I’d buy the whole cart and yeah. 

“It Was Just a Little Thing That Was Important” 

Anne (22:32):
And never complain about it. Never, never complained about it. This was before I was married. It was sort of like, it was sort of like, okay, she’s single, so whatever she spits in the cart, I’ll buy it for her. Then I get married and now apparently that doesn’t happen anymore because I do my own grocery shopping or whatever. So I went, so I wasn’t, I wasn’t entitled, I was just expecting what I’d always gotten. I’m kidding. But like, but you were grumpy about it and that was, and you were like, and on my birthday you made me pay for a plant.

Bob (23:02):
It was just a little thing that was important.

Anne (23:06):
Well it was like

Bob (23:07):
A little, I mean it was very important but it was symbolic.

Anne (23:11):
To me it felt like, like I could just relax for a minute and buy a plant and buy some pajamas when I hadn’t been able to get anything extra. For what? A long time. A long time. So that, that like financial burden that a dad might feel that would either lead him to maybe help but perhaps have a bad attitude about it or not help at all or help with a great attitude, either way. One of the things I want dads to know is that the solution isn’t like, okay, well then we gotta get her married to someone else so someone else can take care of her. Like women today can take care of themselves and they just need the opportunity. Like does she wanna go to law school? You know, like, just like you put the, the time and effort into your son’s careers.

“What Career Would Be Good For Her?” 

(24:07):
Think about like think about her in that way. What career would be good for her? How can she support herself and her family and putting the time and effort and support into making sure that she can be financially independent and support her family. I chose BTR as my way of supporting my family and my kids and, and myself and my dad was financially helpful. I did BTR like with no money at all for what, three or four years. I didn’t get paid anything. My, my dad supported me through that and I was really grateful and my church did too. And so BTR is it here in, in part because of that. And my mom was really helpful cuz she was like, there’s no way that she can do BTR cuz you know, I was working eight hour, you know, 10 hour days, 14 hour days sometimes building the website, doing all the stuff that I did. And there was no way I could have done it had I had to work another job. Also, my kids were really young so they could watch Octonauts while I built BTR at home.

Bob (25:06):
<Laugh>, my general theme through this Jim, is that again, transition point where you, you become unconditionally supportive financially and emotionally for the abused victim, whether it’s a daughter or whatever  and I was slow getting there and I, and I regret it.

“Some of Your Loved Ones Might Not Be Safe Enough to Interact With” 

Anne (25:32):
One thing I wanna talk about is that transition period for just a minute is that this person has always been inappropriate to be married to, right? They’ve been abusive since the very beginning. And so she has been in an abusive relationship since before she even married him, since the moment she met him. And so she’s also been trying to make it work. She’s also been trying to like manage it and make her family work. And so she also is going through that transition period. So for you listeners out there, thinking about the transition that you had and to recognizing that it was abuse to understanding what was going on, to realizing you needed to separate yourself from the harm and then all of us feel anger or I think righteous anger toward like, why don’t people get this? Or understand, just realize that you had to go through that period to realize what they were like and so do your loved ones. And some of them might come around later. Some of your loved ones might not be safe enough to interact with. Like you might have to distance yourself from them until they understand because interacting with them will harm you more and make it harder for you to get to safety. 

Bob (26:37):
Some of ’em may never come around at all. 

Anne (26:38):
Exactly. And that’s really hard when you not only have to divorce your spouse, abusive spouse, but you also recognize through that process that some of your loved ones or some of your own family are in that category and you also have to not divorce them per se, but separate yourself from them as well. Jim, did you have any other questions?

Why Do Abusers Want 50/50 Custody? 

Jim (26:59):
I mean, I probably have a million, you know, cause we’re still wrangling through the legal things and the, and whatnot to try to get something set. But you know, at this point he seems set on this 50/50, seems more symbolic than anything else cause I can’t imagine that he can keep working and keep, keep the kids, you know, they’re still young, half the time. 

Anne (27:21):
My guess is the reason why he wants 50 50, he is, there’s two reasons. Number one is to hurt her and the second one is so he doesn’t have to pay child support. So those are the only two reasons.

Bob (27:33):
Well, there’s a third reason.

Anne (27:34):
Oh, what’s the third reason? 

Bob (27:35):
It’s the law. I mean the law is, I is very specific in leading to 50 50. If you can’t have, if you can’t negotiate something else, right, that’s where it goes. And so there’s an entitlement factor that you experienced with your ex.

Anne (27:52):
Right – that I’m entitled to 50%.

Bob (27:55):
Right. Maybe he didn’t want them that much, but he wasn’t going to, to back down in the face of I’m entitled to 50% mm-hmm. <Affirmative> and therefore I’m gonna get it.

Anne (28:06):
Yeah.

Jim (28:07):
My fatherly rights. 

Bob (28:09):
Oh, you’ve heard that one? <Laugh>

“He Tries to Use Words to Manipulate” 

Jim (28:12):
<Laugh>. So this my, my son-in-law, not an attorney, but he’s like a wordsmith by nature and so he loves to pretend a lot of times he pulls some pretty funny ones. But yeah, he tries to use words to manipulate, tries to use bigger words than he knows what means lot.

Bob (28:30):
Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. No, that sounds familiar. That’s one of the motivations I had for intervening and taking over the communication was that kind of wordsmithing.

Anne (28:40):
My view is that the, because the, basically the divorce process is like a cage and the abusers love it. They like to be in the divorce process because then she’s still kind of stuck to him, right? She’s in this cage with him and she wants to get out, she can see what’s happening, but she can’t get out because she’s stuck in this cage through the divorce process. Once that is signed, then he isn’t, he doesn’t have as much control or power over the situation. And so he doesn’t want it to be finalized. Like he wants to drag it out. And when I, I don’t know about your particular abusive son-in-law, but in general this is like fun for them. And so things do settle down after that is signed because then they, they lose quite a bit of control, but they don’t wanna let it go and the divorce process is part of that.

Can You Settle Out of Court? 

(29:36):
So trying to settle out of court through a settlement, I, I am a fan of, of not taking any, like literally ask them for nothing. Like don’t ask them for child support, don’t ask them for anything and just get out and figure out how to support your own family by yourself. Cause my feeling is any, anything that they have that they can hold over your head, they’re going to the rest of your life being able to just fully let go and not, not look to them or not think that they owe you. And they do, they owe you a lot, right? So this isn’t like, do they owe you something? They absolutely do, but just for your own freedom, being able to say, I don’t want anything from this person, I am going to be able to support myself, has been the view that I have taken. And I think that it has helped me. I’m not saying everyone would be capable of doing that or women shouldn’t as like not get child support or anything, but it’s something to think about only because they’re always gonna use anything that, that you feel like they owe you as a way to entrap you to be able to control you. This type of abuser is really classic at that. So that’s something to consider.

Jim (30:52):
Not everybody will have that luxury.

Anne (30:54):
Yeah. Not, not everybody has that luxury. It’s true.

Jim (30:58):
But it is a, a good, a good long-term kind of direction. I mean they’ll, they’ll always have the kids to manipulate you with even as the kids get older. I’ve, for one example, when this happened, I called my mom to tell her and all I had to do was bring up the name of her best friend that she grew up with, ex-husband name. And I said, I think we have one of these in our family. She’s oh, oh my goodness. Who, who? And then I told her and she’s like, just started to click in her mind, I can see that. And it just all came, came to that she could see it. And those kind of people like this, this guy in particular that was her friend’s ex he passed away recently, but his whole life, you know, he, he manipulated with the adult kids pretty much to the end. 

How Have Others Reacted? 

Anne (31:49):
Yeah. And they’re gonna do that. Have you been surprised or pleased at how clergy or other people have reacted to your daughter’s situation?

Jim (32:00):
A little surprised.

Anne (32:01):
Yeah. in what way?

Jim (32:04):
Like they’re, I mean kind of the comment was something along the lines of well, maybe you can learn to be a little stronger and they can learn to listen.

Anne (32:14):
No help at all. Yeah. Also, at least in our faith, and Jim shares our faith, clergy’s supposed to be like a righteous judge, right? And like judge the situation and hold people accountable in some cases. And there seems to be a complete lack of accountability and belief. I, every time I bring it up, they’ll be like, well, I don’t know if I’d use the word abuse. I mean, yeah, he’s acting like a jerk, but, and I’m like, well the church and this doesn’t help them like me anymore, then I get liked less when I do this. But I said, well, I took the church training and it said I was supposed to report abuse and that you would not tolerate it. And so I am reporting it. What are you gonna do to not tolerate it? And they just kind of like stare at me and blink and they’re like, well, we don’t tolerate it. And I’m like, okay, well then what are you gonna do to not tolerate it? And they’re like and then I end up being disliked even more by the clergy. So that’s fun. <Laugh>

Has Clergy Been Helpful? 

Jim (33:09):
<Laugh>, my, my experience has been unless somebody, and maybe this is, you know, between a rock and a hard place, but unless somebody’s willing to admit their wrongs, they don’t seem to really ever do anything. 

Anne (33:22):
Okay. So if they don’t admit it, then it’s like, well, he says he wasn’t abusive and history is different and we don’t really know who to believe, right? So that’s that situation. If he does admit it, generally speaking, the reports that we get from the victims is that they’re like, oh, well he does admit he was abusive and he’s willing to repent. And so he’s repentant, so I don’t know why you’re not forgiving him. So they, it’s like lose-lose. Okay. So he admitted he’s abusive, so you’re not even gonna release him from his calling. You’re not even gonna like nothing. But then they won’t do it even if there’s multiple witnesses either. So there’s like no accountability, but well that’s probably not true. There might be some bishop out there who, who does hold abuse accountable. But from our, from my experience at BTR, the overarching theme is there’s no accountability for abusers in the church especially if it’s special and psychological abuse.

Jim (34:16):
Here’s one thing I’ll say is that this whole stepping on eggshells kind of thing is what my daughter was living with. And then, you know, we were living with it too because we wouldn’t really be reluctant to bring up anything. I think my wife one time mentioned something about that the son-in-law should get a better relationship with the three-year-old or something just in passing to my wife. Well he was in the next room, overheard it and he took it out on her later, you know what I mean? Just cause my wife had said that, you know. And so I think a lot of times the church does the same thing. Oh, we don’t want to offend any of these people. They might leave or something.

Identifying Misogyny 

Anne (34:54):
It feels that there’s that and then there’s this view that like, wait, like she must not understand because he is such a good guy because he shows up at church and he gives really good lessons and when he talks in our congregation, it’s like such a good talk and he shows up for service projects. So he’s a good guy. I don’t know why his wife doesn’t understand what a good guy is. Right. There’s also that.

Jim (35:16):
Yeah. Our, our society is very based on good speaking and if you’re good at speaking seems like you can get away with lots of things. 

Anne (35:23):
It’s also just flat out misogyny that they believe the man and his persona and his image over what just a woman’s account, right. 

Jim (35:33):
Right. And, and I’ve, and, and I don’t know how you feel about Bob, but this whole scenario has made me examine myself as a husband and sad to say I’ve made some improvements because that misogyny or whatever you want to call it, is, it goes through it. Our, our whole, our whole culture.

Bob (35:53):
I totally agree with you. I’m with you there all the way and I’ve had to do some real introspection.

Jim (36:02):
So there’s some good that comes out of it, I guess.

Your Daughter Is Her Own Person 

Anne (36:04):
And, and for your daughter’s sake, I will say like after the divorce is final and she has wings to figure out who she is and what kind of life that she wants and it’s working toward providing that for her and her children, she will gain that strength and this will be like a time of her life that was awful right? And just hellish. But the person that she will become will be incredible and you’re gonna be amazed and so proud of her. And so just supporting her as she makes her way is exactly what she needs.

Jim (36:43):
Thank you. I appreciate that. Here’s one thing I wrote down. My brother, younger brother was talking to him about in effect you know, taking my daughter back and he said, well, I never gave mine away, I just was willing to share her. And so I think that’s a, a healthy father perspective.

Anne (37:04):
Maybe, but also she’s not yours, is more the healthier thing.

Jim (37:10):
<Laugh> that and that, that, that for sure. Cause now that you mentioned that that was one of the things that my son-in-law said in the text, like the first or second day is my children my most precious possessions. Right.

Anne (37:23):
You know, so I’m like, you like that’s another sort of misogynistic way to think about it. Like, this is my daughter and I own her. Or like, and it’s great that you wanna protect her. She will be and can be completely responsible for herself. She does need support and she does need help, but that doesn’t make her somehow incapable.

Jim (37:45):
I mean the only reason that she needs financial or or other support at this point is cause of the three young children.

Anne (37:52):
Exactly. 

Jim (37:53):
She’s perfectly capable to take care of herself in all ways.

Anne (37:58):
Exactly.

BTR.ORG Is Here For You 

Jim (37:59):
Better than me. Cause when I have the three children all about myself, you know, it doesn’t take too long before I’ve about had it, so, you know.

Anne (38:05):
Right. Well, and knowing that the reason why she needs help is because her children need help. Like, it’s not because she’s feeling entitled or because she’s incapable, you know, any of that. It’s because she’s a mom of young children who need her and they need their mom. Especially if they’ve got a 50/50 situation with an abuser.

Jim (38:30):
Yeah. When they, when they come back, they wanna be with her and they don’t want us to get in the way. And yes, they, they want her. 

Anne (38:37):
Thank you so much, Jim, for reaching out and I wanna thank you dad for helping me so much. Even when you had a bad attitude about it, you actually did the thing when the rubber hit the road, you supported me and you helped me. So thank you Dad, and thanks for coming on today’s episode to share your thoughts. If this podcast is helpful to you, please support it. And until next week, stay safe out there.

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