Everyone has them, they just don’t realize it.
Some boundaries are healthy.
Some boundaries keep us safe.
Some are easier to set and hold.
Some are more difficult.
When an emotional abuse victim first learns about boundaries, she may have a difficult time setting and holding them.
She may feel like she’s punishing her abuser, but she desperately wants to feel safe.
At first, she doesn’t understand that healthy boundaries can protect her from the emotional and psychological abuse she’s been experiencing.
If she’s a Christian, she gradually finds the strength to set and hold boundaries, even the hardest ones.
She begins to realize that she’s worthy of boundaries and God wants her to have them so she can be safe.
The more she learns about boundaries, the more she sees them as she studies her scriptures.
Anne Blythe, founder of Betrayal Trauma Recovery, shares more of her insightful discoveries from studying the New Testament in 2019. Previously, she shared how the scriptures have given her hope even in the darkest times.
Healthy Boundaries Can Help You Identify The Emotional Abuse
For most women, admitting that they’re in an abusive relationship is the last thing they want to do.
They believe that if they don’t call it abuse, it isn’t really there.
But, as Anne says, the abuse is happening and seeing it can actually help women get safe.
“A lot of women are worried about [identifying the abuse], because they think, ‘If I start focusing on it or I start to define the abuse then it will exist,’ but it exists anyways. The abuse is there whether you recognize it or not. Identifying it won’t make it worse, it will enable you to get to safety, which is awesome.”-Anne Blythe, founder of Betrayal Trauma Recovery
As women begin to recognize the abuse they are experiencing, Anne recommends learning about abuse, as God advises in Luke 10:3, we’re “lambs among wolves.”
“Be on your guard. You need to be prepared. You need to be educated about this. He doesn’t want us to stick our heads in the sand.”-Anne Blythe, founder of Betrayal Trauma Recovery
Learning about abuse, verbal, emotional and psychological, can help victims learn how boundaries can protect them.
The Bible Teaches That Healthy Boundaries Are Christlike
As Anne studied her New Testament last year, she made many amazing discoveries about boundaries in the Bible.
She found multiple examples of Jesus Christ setting and holding boundaries, supporting others in holding their boundaries and sharing parables where boundaries were set and held.
For example, in the Parable of the Ten Virgins in Matthew 25:9, the wise virgins tell the foolish virgins, “…go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves,” instead of giving them some of their own oil.
In verse 10, the bridegroom shuts the door on the foolish virgins, supporting the boundary set by the wise virgins.
In Matthew 25:30, the Parable of the Unprofitable Servant, Christ says, “And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Anne compares abusers to the unprofitable servant, since abusers are takers, not givers.
“You don’t have the power, obviously, to throw somebody into outer darkness, but you do have the power to create boundaries that will work for you. I want to give you that hope.”-Anne Blythe, founder of Betrayal Trauma Recovery
Throughout the scriptures, Christ set boundaries.
In one verse, He says, “Neither do I tell you by what authority I do these things.” (Mark 11:33)
In another, He says, “If I tell you, ye will not believe…” (Luke 22:67)
And in another, He says, “Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.” (John 8:59)
In each of these instances, Christ recognized that the people weren’t exhibiting healthy behaviors, so He chose not to waste his time and energy on them.
Rather than try to argue with his abusers, Christ chose to remove himself from the situation.
He chose to keep himself safe.
He chose to leave because He knew God wanted Him to be safe.
Healthy Boundaries Can Protect You From Emotional Abuse
Just like in the Gospels, Anne’s further study of the New Testament revealed more scriptures concerning boundaries.
The epistles of Paul, for example, contain several examples of boundaries that everyone should be holding.
For example, in Paul’s epistle to the Romans 16:17, he says, “…mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.”
Abusers don’t hold the same values as healthy people and they will often try to isolate their victims.
Paul recommends setting a boundary that will protect a victim from being separated from their family and friends.
Other scriptures talk about boundaries as well, for instance, Anne mentions Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians.
“2 Corinthians 6:17 says, ‘Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord…’ There is a clear call for a boundary to be set with someone who is not exhibiting healthy behaviors, ‘Be ye separate.’”-Anne Blythe, founder of Betrayal Trauma Recovery
Separating from an abuser can help a victim see more clearly and determine what next steps to take.
Throughout his letters, Paul repeatedly provides the members of the church with boundaries that they should set and hold.
Some examples are:
“And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.” (Ephesians 5:11)
“…withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly…” (2 Thessalonians 3:6)
“..from such turn away.” (2 Timothy 3:5)
Abusers don’t like it when their victim sets boundaries.
“An abuser wants to control everything, and he doesn’t want you to try anything new and he wants to make sure that you don’t do anything that would make him uncomfortable. If he is abusive when you set a boundary, he’s going to become more abusive.”-Anne Blythe, founder of Betrayal Trauma Recovery
For an abuser, a boundary is punishment because it means they no longer have control over their victim.
Healthy Boundaries Are For Safety, Not Vengeance
Even though abusers claim a victim’s boundaries are a way to punish the abuser, healthy boundaries are strictly about safety.
“A boundary is different than vengeance. What I’m talking about, and what Paul was talking about, is setting a boundary for safety. Vengeance belongs to God, but setting a boundary is for safety.”-Anne Blythe, founder of Betrayal Trauma Recovery
When a woman sets a boundary to protect herself from her abuser, she might be unsure about it being a good boundary.
Anne says there’s a sure-fire way to know when she’s set a good boundary.
The good thing about boundaries is they can change.
If a woman finds that one boundary isn’t working, she can adjust it so it does work, or drop it completely and create a new one.
As women set boundaries for safety, they may find that they are better able to make more informed decisions.
They may find that they can see their situation more clearly.
They may also find that they can see everything more clearly.
Anne says it’s as simple as taking one step toward safety.
“Just take one step at a time out of the fog and, eventually, you’ll turn around, look back and realize you’re out of the fog and it’s so much better.”-Anne Blythe, founder of Betrayal Trauma Recovery
Women who have been emotionally abused often find it difficult to take that first step and Betrayal Trauma Recovery can help.
One way we can help is by providing a safe place to share. Many women who attend Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group are able to find the strength and courage it takes to set boundaries and get themselves to safety.
With more than 15 sessions a week, it’s easier than ever to find a BTR Group session that fits your schedule without having to leave your home. Each session is led by a Certified Betrayal Trauma Specialist.
Welcome to Betrayal Trauma Recovery, this is Anne.
Last week, I was sharing my thoughts about the New Testament with you. I thought maybe it would be several episodes, but then I realized that I was probably boring everyone, so this will be the last one, you don’t have to stress.
What I am going to focus on is boundaries, so that you can see that there are lots of instances where God has told us to set boundaries. I think that will be helpful to you and maybe give you some confidence and also give you the support that you need to set the boundaries that you need to set for safety.
Before we get to that, many of you have joined the Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group, which is awesome. When you join, the day that you join, that means even if it’s today, you can talk to our coaches and other women who are going through similar situations to gain support and hope and a language to describe what’s happening to you. It’s not a bad thing to start defining the abuse.
A lot of women are worried about that because they think if I start focusing or I start to define the abuse then it will exist, but it exists anyways. The abuse is there whether you recognize it or not. Identifying it won’t make it worse, it will enable you to get to safety, which is awesome.
Please get educated about abuse and talk to our wonderful coaches. They care about you and they care about your safety and they want you to feel peace. Go to btr.org to see the daily session schedule.
Okay, so I’m only going to do the purple parts. Purple is the pen that I use for boundaries. We have an example of boundaries in Matthew 25, talking about the ten virgins and the wise set a boundary.
In verse 9 it says, “But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.” Then, in verse 10, it says, “…and the door was shut.” There we have an example of God supporting a boundary.
Here we have another one, in verse 30. He’s talking about the unprofitable servant who was not righteous and wouldn’t do what he was supposed to do. It says, “And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
That guy did not like that boundary, and he screamed and yelled and threw a big fit, but God did it anyway. You don’t have the power, obviously, to throw somebody into outer darkness, but you do have the power to create boundaries that will work for you. I want to give you that hope. Many times, it seems so hopeless, but it’s not.
No contact is one of those boundaries that I think is really helpful for victims. In Matthew 26 Jesus shows his version of no contact in verse 63. It says, “But Jesus held his peace…” meaning he doesn’t say anything. He just decides to go no contact in that scenario.
Another example of Jesus going no contact or just shutting down communication is in Mark 11:33 he says, “….Neither do I tell you by what authority I do these things.” Jesus is saying, “You know what, you’re just going to use my words against me so I’m not going to talk to you about this.”
Some of us are frustrated that we’re in this situation in the first place. “Why do we have to live in a world where this is happening?” But throughout the scriptures, both the Bible and the Book of Mormon, which I also study from, and in general, we know that that’s what this world is all about.
Moving into Luke 10:3, God tells us, “Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves.” Meaning be on your guard. You need to be prepared. You need to be educated about this. He doesn’t want us to stick our heads in the sand.
In Luke, there is an awesome parable called The Parable of the Unjust Judge, it is Luke 18. If you haven’t heard my podcast episode about this, please go listen to it. Just search the website for Luke 18 and you will find it. The insight that came to me as I studied it was really good.
I won’t go into that now, but I do want you to listen to that episode because there is a whole episode just about that one parable.
Here’s another example of detaching and not engaging in conversation, in Luke 22:67-68. They ask him, “Art thou the Christ? tell us. And he said unto them, If I tell you, ye will not believe: And if I also ask you, ye will not answer me, nor let me go.” He’s saying, “I’m not even talking about this,” and He does not engage in their discussion.
Now, this one is not regarding boundaries, but I really like it. It’s from John 7:17. It says, “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.” I think that’s true of boundaries.
When you’re testing something and you want to know if this is true or not, you’re not going to know if it works or if it’s good for you unless you try it. An abuser wants to control everything, and he doesn’t want you to try anything new and he wants to make sure that you don’t do anything that would make him uncomfortable.
When you’re experimenting with boundaries, it’s going to be hard and it might make things a little bit worse for a while because, if he is abusive when you set a boundary, he’s going to become more abusive.
At the same time, if you set a boundary and you feel more peace and you can breathe because you feel safe, then you can know that that boundary is good, but you can’t know things if you don’t do them.
Someone who is never honest is never going to know why honesty is important. Someone who does not obey the law of chastity is not going to know why the law of chastity is so awesome. You can’t understand a principle if you don’t live it.
Another verse where Christ disengages, it’s John 8:59, “Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.” He doesn’t say, “Don’t throw stones at me,” He’s just out. Then. in John 9:27, He is again disengaging from a conversation, “…I have told you already, and ye did not hear: wherefore would ye hear it again? will ye also be my disciples?”
Basically, He’s saying, “We’re not going to get in an argument about this because I’ve already told you and you disagreed with me, so we’re done.”
For some reason, I didn’t mark it in my scriptures, but my favorite example of Christ setting a boundary is during the three temptations. The one where Satan tempts Him with throwing himself off a building, and instead of being tempted into an argument, which is what Satan was really tempting him with, he was not tempting Him with throwing himself off a building.
Instead of engaging in the argument, Christ says, “…get thee hence” (Matthew 4:10). He sets a boundary of “I am not going to engage in this conversation with you.” As we know, you cannot argue with Satan. It is a disaster that leads to chaos and pain that never gets resolved.
Chronologically, in the Bible, after the testaments of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, Christ is crucified. Then, we have the apostles, mainly Paul, talking about how to live the Christian life. In the episode before I mentioned that there are a few misogynistic scriptures that Paul wrote that I do not like or find comfort in.
Instead of going into that I would recommend that you read Jesus Feminist, which is on our website btr.org. I’m not going to cover those, but I am going to cover the scriptures from Paul that I do find comforting, and I hope that you’ll find them comforting as well.
Where Paul admonishes the righteous to set boundaries for their safety. In Romans 16:17, “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.” Meaning, “Notice who is not obeying the commandments, being honest or being faithful or keeping the law of chastity, and avoid those people.”
He does not say, “Understand them and make sure that you don’t shame them. Make sure that you listen to them and that you’re safe enough for them to tell the truth.” That is not what Paul says. He just says, “Avoid them.”
In 2 Corinthians 6:14, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?” Verse 16-17 “And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk-in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord…”
There is a clear call for a boundary to be set with someone who is not exhibiting healthy behaviors, “Be ye separate.”
In Ephesians 5:11, Paul says the same thing, “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.” We know the only way to truly reprove that is to set a boundary because if we start telling them, “Hey, you can’t do this or you can’t do that,” it just gets into an argument and makes things worse, so boundary-setting is the way to do that in an appropriate and effective way.
In 2 Thessalonians 3:6, he says, “Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly…” Again, a clear call for boundaries, from Paul.
This one many people are really familiar with, it’s going to list a bunch of the unhealthy behaviors and then it’s going to issue the call for the boundary. It’s 2 Timothy 3:1-5 and it’s talking about the perilous times that will come in the last days.
1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,
4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;
5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.2 Timothy 3:1-5
The boundary is in verse 5 and he says very directly, “From such turn away.”
He doesn’t say, “Try to understand why they’re doing it.” He doesn’t say, “Go to couple therapy with them.” He doesn’t say, “Make them dinner and do their laundry.” He says, “From such turn away.”
Then he says in verse 8-9 “…so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men.”
This is Hebrews 10:30, “Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people.”
We know that punishment or vengeance belongs to God, but setting a boundary is for safety, and that is different and that’s not what we’re talking about. That’s not what Paul is talking about.
Peter also teaches boundaries, in 2 Peter 2:17-18. He says, “These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved forever. For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error.” That boundary is “Those that were clean escaped from those who lived in error.”
Here is the Apostle of John. In 2 John 1:10, he says, “If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed:”
Another boundary, and I am going to end there. There are so many examples of boundaries in the scriptures. If you are Christian and you study the scriptures, I really encourage you to choose a color for boundaries and start looking for them. Also, the word “deliverance,” it comes up over and over again, and how God enables the righteous to have the power of deliverance.
Part of my spiritual practice is to attend the temple, and at the temple, you can make covenants with God and you can also just pray and ask questions and ponder. It’s really a peaceful place to receive answers.
I went with some specific questions in mind, and one of them is, “What would you like to tell me about my ex?” Another question was, “I’m super scared and worried about custody.” Then, as I’ve been reading the scriptures, I’ve noticed that many people are commanded to do things that are outside The Ten Commandments.
They are outside of the regular commandments. Like in the Book of Mormon, Lehi is commanded to leave Jerusalem. Then later, once they get to the promised land, Nephi is commanded to separate from Laman & Lemuel.
I was wondering if God had any commandments specifically for me, so I asked, “Do you have a commandment specifically for me?” I’d like to share some of these answers with you. Maybe it would be helpful. I wrote these questions down on a piece of paper and I left enough space to write the answers.
I went into the Celestial Room, which if you’re a member you know what that is and if you’re not it’s just a really peaceful place, and I took this paper and a pen and then I prayed and wrote these things down.
Here are the answers that I received:
“What would you like to tell me about my ex?” God said, “Heed him not. He is deceived. Pay him no mind. He is blind. He is gone.”
“I’m super scared and worried about custody.” The answer I received was, “Fear not, all will be well. You have been and will continue to be protected. Be comforted. Be at peace.”
Then I asked about the commandment: “What thing are you commanding me to do?” This one was really interesting because I’m not good at this. I’m not good at the thing He commanded me. He said, “Be still. Be at peace. I am commanding you to be still and be at peace. You will be delivered in due time. He is to you what the Lamanites are to the Nephites.”
Then, He referred to the story in the Book of Mormon that I am telling you about. When Nephi, the righteous one, separated from his brothers Laman & Lemuel. They were named two different groups. The Nephites were the righteous people and the Lamanites were the wicked people. He referred to this in this next part of what He told me.
He said, “He is to you like the Lamanites are to the Nephites. To stir you up in the ways of remembrance. To make you mighty, even unto the power of deliverance.”
Then I started seeing this word “deliver,” “deliver,” “deliver” everywhere in the scriptures. As I was pondering this, the answer that I received and what I wrote down was, “You will be delivered. Keep the commandments and avoid all contact. You already have the power to hold no contact; continue. You are powerful. Your obedience brings power. The Spirit brings power. You have all the power you need. You don’t have any less power than anyone else.”
Whether you use some type of spiritual practice or refer to scriptures, study scriptures, meditate, or pray, I really believe that the situation that we’re in is so much bigger than ourselves and we really, genuinely need help. This has happened with people throughout time.
Throughout time people have been in proximity to other people who are harming them, and God can and does show us a pattern for safety throughout the scriptures and through His personal answers.
I want to encourage you, if you are religious to pray and ask God or Your Heavenly Father or whatever you call him, what you can do today to start making your way to safety. Those of you who aren’t religious, just meditate on that. Ponder it. Consider it. Open your heart to what steps you can take to a truly peaceful and happy life.
There is one other answer that I want to share with you. As I prayed, He also commanded me to teach about abuse and boundaries, drastically reduce my kid’s screen time, do the nighttime reading routine consistently, and maintain the no-contact with my ex, which I’ve already talked about.
I’ve been trying to follow those answers I received and trying to improve my life little by little. It does take time. It does take effort.
I think the main point of Betrayal Trauma Recovery is that we know it’s really bad. We get it. We have been there. We understand. Just take one step at a time out of the fog and, eventuallyyou’ll turn around and look back and you’ll realize you’re out of the fog and it’s so much better.
It’s not fun to be in this terrible situation and have someone say to you, “It’s going to be okay,” and “Everything’s going to be fine.” We know it’s not okay. We know that things are really bad.
What I would like to offer is hope in the “one step at a time out of the fog” method. I genuinely love you and I’m so thankful and honored that you listen to this podcast. It blows my mind, all the people who reach out and tell me their stories.
I would love to hear your insights and your stories, and things that you have learned along this path that could benefit other women who are in this situation. Please go to our website btr.org, find this episode in the podcast section, and comment. I’d love to hear your comments. Also, your ratings and reviews on iTunes and other podcasting apps, help isolated women find us.
I also appreciate all of you who share on Facebook or tag us on Instagram to share this message with other women who need to hear it and who need a message of peace or hope and to know that safety is possible and that they deserve it.
In editing, I noticed that I said that you have to try things in order to know that they’re good. I don’t think you have to try drugs to know that they are bad. There are certain things that we generally know are bad, like you don’t have to use pornography to know it’s bad. Just take all of that with a grain of salt.
Sometimes, in editing, I realize there are things I don’t quite say the right way. I appreciate your patience and I appreciate you knowing that every single word I say doesn’t always come out the exact right way. Thanks for your patience.
Until next week, stay safe out there.