FEBRUARY 2006 Newsletter

LUKE 17:3 Ministries

for adult daughters

of controlling or abusive birth-families

A sisterhood for those who seek support in developing self-esteem, setting boundaries and limits, forgiveness, Godly confrontation, recognizing and cutting ties with reprobates, healing, and rejoicing in the peace and love of

 the Lord, our Father

take heed to yourselves.  If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him……..Luke 17:3


VOLUME 4,  ISSUE 1                                                                                                                           FEBRUARY 2006


Luke 17: 3 is the scripture often misquoted, usually by an abuser or his enabler, when he tells you that the Bible says “Forgive and Forget”, or that you must forgive him because you  are a Christian.  However, Jesus is very specific when he tells us to rebuke the sinner, and if he repents, to forgive him.  Have you rebuked your abuser, and has he or she repented?


If you have ever experienced Adult Child Abuse by a parent, sibling, or other relative, We Welcome You!

Our newsletter is sent to you free-of-charge, as the Lord continually provides. Do you know someone who would like to be on our mailing list? 

If so, please contact:

Rev. Renee Pittelli

Luke 17:3 Ministries, Inc.

P.O. Box 684

ChestertownNY  12817

or E-mail us at:

Luke 173@hotmail.com



Please ask about our Luke 17:3 Ministry in Tennessee, founded by Rev. Denise Rossignol.

Thank you Jesus!



The Exploitation Habit- If You Start It, They Will Come!

Part 1

By Rev. Renee Pittelli


Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you….Matthew 7:6


Testimonies of the Used And Abused



                Laurie and Patty are sisters who were born and raised on Long Island.  Laurie is older than Patty by two years.  Both sisters married and had children within a few miles of their childhood home.  When Patty was 26, she moved to Maryland with her husband and children.  Immediately she began taking less and less responsibility for family get-togethers, holidays, birthday celebrations and regular visits, while Laurie and their mother shared these obligations.  Patty lived in Maryland for almost ten years and only hosted two family celebrations in all that

time, although she did continue to drive back to Long Island with her family for most of the holidays at her mother or sister’s houses.

(continued on page 2….)       





I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well……..Psalm 139: 14


“But as for you who forsake the Lord and forget my holy mountain, who spread a table for Fortune and fill bowls of mixed wine for Destiny, I will destine you for the sword, and you will all bend down for the slaughter; for I called but you did not answer, I spoke, but you did not listen.  You did evil in my sight and chose what displeases me”  Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: “My servants will eat, but you will go hungry; my servants will drink, but you will go thirsty; my servants will rejoice, but you will be put to shame.  My servants will sing out of the joy of their hearts, but you will cry out from anguish of heart and wail in brokenness of spirit.  You will leave your name to my chosen ones as a curse; the Sovereign Lord will put you to death, but to his servants he will give another name”……Isaiah 65: 11-15



As the years passed, their mother became less and less interested in doing the work involved in a get-together, and more and more of the responsibility for getting the family together began to fall on Laurie’s shoulders.  Then Patty and her family moved to North Carolina, and a few years later, to Florida.  By this time, Patty had not hosted her birth-family at her house in many years.  Now she went from visiting rarely to almost never.  Once every two or three years, she would make it back to New York for a holiday at Laurie’s house.  She did not bother coming back for any family events, including Laurie’s 40th birthday, their father’s 60th, their parents’ 40th anniversary, or any of Laurie’s kids’ graduations, although she did send cards and gifts.  All of the planning, work and expense for all of these events fell on Laurie.  Patty did not even offer to contribute financially to the parties for their parents.

                As Laurie’s kids went off to college and her husband neared retirement, Laurie and her husband began talking about living out their lifelong dream of moving to Vermont. At first, Laurie’s parents and Patty didn’t seem to take them too seriously.  But as the time for retirement drew closer and they began shopping for property in Vermont, Laurie sensed her family’s resentment brewing.

                Occasionally there was a snide comment or some type of discouragement, but at first Laurie thought it must be her imagination.  After all, her sister had moved away to live her life the way she wanted to and where she wanted to, decades ago.  Surely, after all the years Laurie had spent on Long Island including their parents in all her happy family events, sacrificing and working so hard to make everything so nice for them,  Patty and their parents could not possibly begrudge Laurie her turn at fulfilling her dreams.

                 Laurie had always made sure her parents were a part of her children’s lives, so they would have the pleasure of a relationship with their grandchildren, while Patty had removed her children from their grandparents at a young age.  Now Laurie’s kids were out of the house and away at college.  She reasoned that they would be seeing much less of their grandparents anyway, and she fantasized about having big, happy family holidays in beautiful Vermont, when her kids would be off from school and her parents would drive up to join them.

                Laurie and Patty’s parents were in their early sixties.  They were healthy, active, athletic, and vital.  They traveled and kept busy.  They did not need any type of care.  Laurie knew she would be only a few hours away if there was an emergency- much closer than Patty was.  Laurie and her husband offered to buy a house in Vermont that would accommodate all of them if her parents wanted to join them and move as well, but her parents declined.  She assured her parents that they would always be welcomed to visit, and they replied that they were getting too old to travel a lot.  Still clinging to her dream of picture-perfect New England family holidays, and willing to do whatever she could to make it happen, Laurie offered to drive to New York and pick her parents up, and then drive them home again if that would make it easier for them to visit.  She felt hurt and bewildered when her parents turned her offer down flat and repeated that they really weren’t up to much traveling anymore.  It was as if they were punishing her for moving by making it known that if she moved, she wasn’t going to be seeing much of them anymore.

                Laurie and her husband were determined not to be “blackmailed” into giving up their dream.   There was no rational reason for her parents to prevent them from enjoying their retirement on their own terms.   Although up until now, Laurie’s parents had never directly confronted her about their feelings concerning her move, Laurie did all she could to reassure them and hoped that their apparent upset would eventually blow over. 

                Laurie’s husband retired and they bought property in Vermont and began building their dream home.  They put their Long Island house up for sale.  When Laurie’s family saw that their tactics weren’t working and that Laurie and her husband were really going through with their retirement plans, the pressure was really turned up.  Patty began picking fights with Laurie over many things and accused Laurie point-blank of “deserting” their parents.  She complained about Laurie and gossiped about her maliciously to other family members, who, for some incredible reason, (most likely because they didn’t want to have to start inviting Laurie’s parents for the holidays if she moved!) agreed with her and began ostracizing Laurie and her husband and children.

                Laurie’s parents and Patty were on the phone to each other and to other relatives several times a week, badmouthing Laurie and her husband.  They fed off each other, validated each other’s completely unjustified anger, and encouraged each other to say and do things to hurt Laurie and to register their disapproval.  Those who had never lifted a finger to ease Laurie’s family obligations in all those years now felt they had the right to criticize her, but no one suggested anything constructive, such as offering to look in on her parents more frequently in her absence, or to invite them for some of the holidays.   No one stopped to think of how unfair they were all being.  No one cared in the least about Laurie’s feelings or Laurie’s needs.

                Laurie’s parents became very resentful.  For the last year that Laurie lived on Long Island, they turned down every invitation to her house.  They spent the holidays with neighbors and avoided many opportunities to spend quality time together as a family before the move.   Laurie and her husband moved at the end of May, and her mother refused to spend Laurie’s last Mother’s Day in New York with her and her family, choosing instead to go to a distant relative’s house.  Laurie’s parents withdrew their love and support and created a rift where there didn’t have to be one.  It was almost as if they were saying,” Ha!  We’ll show her!  We don’t need her- we’ve got plenty of other people in our lives!”

                Eventually Patty stopped speaking to Laurie altogether.  On the day Laurie moved, her parents did not even come over to say goodbye.  No family member ever wished her well.  No one ever showed a shred of gratitude for all the family functions she had hosted, or all she had done to hold the family together and to keep her parents in their grandchildren’s lives all of that time.

                The unbelievable ending to this whole story is that the year after Laurie moved, her parents bought a condo in Florida near Patty and now spend the winters there.  For people who were getting “too old” to travel 300 miles to see Laurie in Vermont, they don’t seem to have any problem driving almost 3000 miles round trip back and forth to Florida.  The one speck of justice is that Patty finally has to take some responsibility for hosting the holidays, now that her parents are a just few miles away from her for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s.

                And so Laurie became an outcast from a large part of her family, just because she finally followed her dream.   After all the years she spent doing for everybody else, when was it supposed to be Laurie’s turn?  Never, if it was up to her birth-family. 

                But, praise God, the Lord sets the lonely in families (Psalm 68:6).  Laurie has grown much closer to several cousins and their families, whom she didn’t see much of when they were all kids because their parents weren’t speaking.  She has a wonderful church family and has made many friends in her new town, and she still cherishes several very old and close friendships.  Best of all, her two children have now married and she has been blessed with three grandchildren.  She has a great relationship with her own children and babysits her grandchildren frequently.  Although she was very hurt by her birth-family’s cruelty, the Lord has healed her and blessed her life.  And it is Laurie’s selfish parents who are now missing out on their great-grandchildren, and Patty, who was never one to make friends easily or form close relationships, who now feels the loss of not having a sister.

                Although I have changed the names and some small details to protect the privacy of the individuals involved, the above is a true story.  And there are many other testimonies that are basically the same, or even worse.  Consider the following true family situations- again, names and identifying details have been changed.



                Janice is 56 years old and has an older brother, Roy, who is 59.  Janice is divorced and works full time, Roy is retired and spends his days playing golf and fishing.  They both live within ten minutes of their widowed 78-year old mother, but all these years the sole responsibility for taking Mom to the doctor, dentist, hairdresser, food shopping, clothing shopping, gift shopping, etc., has been Janice’s.

                Janice has recently been diagnosed with a serious, life-threatening illness.  She will require numerous doctor’s visits, various and debilitating treatments, and at least one surgery.

Roy’s reaction to finding out about his sister’s frightening health problems? “You should still be able to take Mom on her errands, right?” was the first thing he said.  And it hasn’t gotten much better since.

                Not only has Roy not offered to take Janice to the doctor, or even to the hospital for her surgery, but he never even offered to do some grocery shopping for their mother.  Only after an upsetting confrontation did Janice get him to grudgingly agree to help their mother out a little while Janice was going through her own health problems.  And Janice has had to rely on the kindness of friends and neighbors to get her to the hospital and the doctor and to take care of her during her recuperation.

                After a lifetime of devoting herself to taking care of their mother’s every need, now that Janice’s life is threatened by her own serious health problems, it would seem reasonable that now it was Janice’s turn to be taken care of.  At the very least, she should be allowed to concentrate on her own health without having to worry about anything or anyone else.  But selfish Roy’s only concern is how his sister’s possibly terminal illness is going to affect him and his leisure time.



                Camille and Ben married young and were always devoted to their families.  For twenty years, they hosted Thanksgiving dinner for over 40 relatives at their house.  After 17 years of marriage, Camille and Ben were finally blessed with a child.  Their baby Emily was born in October and even though they were exhausted from having a newborn infant, they still hosted Thanksgiving a few weeks later.  No one in either of their families offered to have the holiday at their house or was considerate enough to help out more because of the new baby.  This should have been a gigantic clue for Camille and Ben, but they were just so happy, they didn’t allow any negative thoughts to rain on their parade.

                Within the next year, tragedy struck.  Ben was diagnosed with cancer.  They struggled to maintain a normal life through his treatments.  Camille wanted to make him as happy as possible and let him spend as much time as he could with their daughter and their families.  For the next three years, they continued to host Thanksgiving dinner for all the relatives, and everyone just took it for granted that they would.

                Ben passed away in early November.  A devastated Camille, left alone with her little girl to raise, buried her beloved husband two weeks before Thanksgiving.  Then she and her daughter sat home alone on Thanksgiving, crying their eyes out all day- not because they chose to, but because not a single one of the 40-plus relatives who had spent the holiday at Camille’s house and ate the dinners she had prepared for the last 20 years invited Camille and Emily to join them for Thanksgiving, two weeks after Ben died.

                When Camille first told me her testimony, I could hardly believe it.  I thought for sure there had to have been some misunderstanding- like maybe her family didn’t want to “bother” her while she was “in mourning” or thought it would upset her to have Thanksgiving at someone else’s house right after Ben’s death.  However, Emily is now 15 years old.  And never once have any of these more than 40 family members asked her and Camille to join them for Thanksgiving dinner, or most other holidays, for that matter, to this day.  Maybe they’re not up to cooking a big dinner, but consider that every one of these relatives has continued to celebrate the holiday in one way or the other, either in small groups, by going out to a restaurant, by ordering in pizza, whatever, and still not one has invited Camille and Emily to join them.

                I am so personally appalled and disgusted by the incredible lack of caring that Camille’s family has shown for the person who made so many of their holidays so nice, that I can’t even think of words to express my thoughts.  Their cruelty and selfishness is just disgraceful.

                 Camille’s neighbors were horrified to learn afterward that she and Emily were alone that first Thanksgiving- everyone had assumed that they would be spending the holiday with family and that their family would step up and comfort them and make sure they weren’t alone.  The neighbors are determined to make sure nothing like that ever happens again, and ever since, Camille and Emily have been blessed to be included in their generous neighbors’ celebrations.  But the family of ungrateful freeloaders has never even had a pang of guilt so far as we know.


                Sarah has three children and is going through a very acrimonious divorce.  She lives in the same town as her sister Beth, whose children are older.  When Beth’s children were in grade school, she asked Sarah if she could put her down as an emergency contact on their school records.  Sarah did not hesitate to say yes.  Numerous times Sarah had to pack her young children up in bad weather and drive to the school to pick up one of Beth’s children, who had gotten sick or injured.  Sarah’s kids would then catch whatever illness Beth’s child introduced into their home, and Sarah would have three sick kids to deal with for the next week or so.  When Sarah’s youngest child began kindergarten, Sarah took a part-time job to help make ends meet.  Several times she was called to leave work for one of Beth’s children, sacrificing her wages for the rest of the day and jeopardizing her job.  Yet she never complained and prided herself on being there for her sister and her family when they needed her.

                Because of the financial fallout of her divorce, Sarah now must work full-time.  Beth’s children are older and more independent, and Sarah’s are now in grade school and junior high.  Sarah is now in the position where she needs Beth to return the favor she did for her all those years.  The job she was able to get is almost an hour away and she needs to list Beth, who is now the one with the part-time local job, as the emergency contact for her kids.  One would think that, under the circumstances, of course it is now Sarah’s turn to depend on her sister. Anticipating her sister’s appreciation for all the years she had helped her, Sarah naturally assumed that Beth would be understanding and more than glad to help her out in return. Sarah was in for a shock when Beth refused, claiming that she could not afford to lose any time from work.




                Theresa and Danielle are first cousins who have been close since birth. Their family is dysfunctional and abusive in many ways, and the cousins have always been able to confide in and comfort each other.  Over the years, their relationship evolved from being fairly two-sided to being pretty much one-sided.  Danielle has become a drama-queen who seems to have problems in every aspect of her life, and Theresa has become the patient and long-suffering “shoulder to cry on”.  Theresa spends hours listening to Danielle complain and vent about her job, her children, her parents, her hairdresser, her car, her financial problems, her marriage and her seemingly endless variety of minor health problems.  Theresa, who has serious health problems of her own and other issues in her life, almost never gets a chance to talk about what is going on with her. 

                Danielle is not interested in taking any advice, and even ignores advice she asks for.  Every real and acute issue in her life, rather than being solved and coming to an end, becomes a chronic issue, ongoing for months or years.  She never does anything constructive to change whatever is upsetting her.  Problems that other people would change without a second thought, Danielle does nothing to fix or improve.  She does not like her manicurist, for instance, and complained about her for almost three years before finally making up her mind to definitely change to another one.  She got several good recommendations from people she knew and was all fired up to find someone she would be happy with.  She was going to make her very next appointment with someone new!  Theresa was relieved that she could finally stop hearing all the complaints about Danielle’s manicurist.  That was two years ago, and Danielle is still having her nails done by the same woman.  Similar scenarios have played themselves out with Danielle’s dentist, veterinarian, job, church, and volunteer work.  Dissatisfactions in her life drag on endlessly while she refuses to do anything about them but complain. 

                Theresa spent many years patiently giving Danielle all the attention she demanded, and rarely, if ever, getting to talk about herself or her own problems.  Then one day, Theresa found herself in the middle of a huge life-crisis of her own.  This situation was all-consuming, and despite doing all she could do to end it, Theresa found that the problem continued for several months.  During this time, she was unable to devote the same amount of attention to Danielle. It was Theresa’s turn to need her cousin’s support and encouragement.  Even if Theresa had not spent years as Danielle’s Agony Aunt, showing love and caring for a family member who needed her was the least Danielle could do. Of course, we could expect Danielle to step up and be there for Theresa, right?  Wrong.

                Danielle made a weak and perfunctory show of empathizing with Theresa’s plight during the first few weeks of her crisis.  She would utter a few quick words of sympathy, and then  turn every conversation back to herself.  After the first few weeks, Danielle became resentful that Theresa could not give her all the time and attention she had in the past.  All pretense of sympathy for her cousin vanished as Danielle became more and more demanding and selfishly burdened her cousin with accusations of neglect at a time when there was nothing Theresa could have done about it.  When Theresa most needed Danielle’s love, comfort, and support, what she got was guilt-mongering, hostility, and an ugly confrontation instead. 

                Now Theresa’s crisis is over and her life has settled down, but her relationship with Danielle has not recovered, and may never.  During her crisis, Theresa had no choice but to set limits on her contact with the attention-demanding Danielle, and Danielle resented this.  When they do speak, Theresa is painfully aware that nothing has changed- their conversations are still 99% about Danielle.  Theresa finds herself wondering when it is ever going to be her turn to get Danielle’s undivided attention and support.  If it wasn’t forthcoming during her huge life-crisis, chances are it will never be.



                When Maryann’s father died, her widowed mother came to live with her.  She and her husband Mike built an apartment mom onto their house.  Mom was in her early sixties, in good health, and still drove her car.  She just didn’t want to live alone.  Although mom had her own kitchen, she ate almost all her meals with Maryann and her family.  Although mom had her own living room, she sat in Maryann’s living room to watch TV every night, and then became irritated if the family was not watching a show she liked.  She meddled in Maryann’s life and criticized her housekeeping. 

                If Maryann needed to have a personal conversation with her husband, one of her children, or a friend, she would leave the room, but her mother would find excuses to interrupt her constantly so she could listen in.  If Maryann was on the phone, mom would sit right next to her, pretending to read the paper and making sure she overheard every word.  Maryann and her family willingly gave up a great deal of their family life and all of their privacy to keep mom with them.  They basically supported mom, never charging her for rent, utilities, or food.  Mom was responsible only for her own car, medical (she had health insurance), and personal expenses.

                For Maryann and Mike’s 30th wedding anniversary, their adult children, who were now scattered around the country, chipped in and booked them on a 10-day cruise.  Maryann and Mike were overjoyed- they had not had a vacation in many years, and certainly never anything so nice.  They were such giving and loving people who certainly deserved a nice break. You’d think their family would be happy for them, right?  Wrong, again!

                Mom was adamant that she would not stay in the house alone, and although it was really her place to call her other children and ask them to take over for the ten days, she refused.  Since she had put a roof over her mother’s head for more than seven years, with no contribution in either time or money from either of her siblings, Maryann felt justified in calling her brother and sister, who both lived nearby.  How could anyone begrudge her a few days of pleasure and relaxation for herself?  After all the years Maryann and Mike had sacrificed their own lives to take care of Mom, never asking for any help from mom’s other kids, surely Maryann’s siblings would be glad to pitch in with mom so that Maryann and her husband could go on this once-in-a-lifetime,  beautiful cruise and enjoy some privacy and quality time together, right?  Guess again!                 When Maryann asked if they would take care of mom, both her brother and sister refused.  Not quite absorbing that they didn’t intend to contribute in even the smallest way to making her dream vacation possible, Maryann suggested several compromises.  She asked them to take turns having mom at each of their houses for a few days while she was away, and both still refused.  Then she asked if they would come and stay at her house with mom- again, they both refused.  The excuses were many- no time, prior commitments, spouse won’t allow it, we like our privacy, etc.  And both siblings were critical of Maryann for even considering leaving mom and doing something nice for herself and her husband.

                After much aggravation and heartache, Mike and their kids convinced Maryann to just go- and leave it up to mom and sis and brother to decide what they were going to do.  It would  not have been fair to the kids not to go on the beautiful cruise they had paid for, and it certainly would not be fair to Mike, who had always been so good-natured and generous about his mother-in-law living with him.  Reluctantly, Maryann agreed and announced they were going no matter what.

                Although she made every effort to enjoy herself on the cruise, Maryann could not help but worry about what was going on at home and how mom was doing.  Thoughts of her birth-family’s resentment and disapproval and the cold shoulder they gave her when she left intruded frequently.  Instead of having the carefree, wonderful time she deserved, her vacation was all but ruined by unjustified guilt feelings and worry about whether she had caused permanent damage to her relationship with her birth-family.  When was it ever going to be Maryann’s turn to enjoy having something nice done for her?  Never, if it was up to her birth-relatives.



                At times like these, a normal person would have to say, “What on earth is going on here???!!!”  Yes, these are all true stories, and every one of us knows of one or two, if not more, such stories, perhaps in our own families.  How can family members have absolutely no consideration whatsoever for one of their own who has given to them unselfishly for years?  How can they use and exploit someone who loves them?  How can they hurt someone who takes care of them?  Why do they expect a giving person to keep on giving and giving forever, without ever getting anything in return?  Why would they expect someone who has sacrificed so much for them already to endanger their own health or well-being in order to continue sacrificing? Why would anyone begrudge a loved one a little pleasure? 

                Where is the appreciation for all the giver has done and is continuing to do?  You can look forever, but you will not find it. Where is the family loyalty?  Where is the love and caring? The using, abusing, selfishness, and exploiting ranges from disheartening to downright outrageous.

                When can the one who always did for everyone else expect someone to do for her?  When the family giver needs HELP, who is there to help her? The answer is No One!  Does no one feel that they owe her even a small debt of gratitude? When does the caretaker get taken care of? The answer is Never!  Not only is no one interested in taking care of the caretaker- they don’t even want her to take care of herself!- not if it means taking time away from their needs!  The caretaker is expected to be like the Energizer Bunny, always running to help everyone else, always sacrificing, neglecting her own needs and her own health, never taking a rest or a vacation, never fulfilling any of her own dreams.  Exploitative relatives are surprised to think that she even HAS a dream because they never actually see her as a person.  She is there only to be used by them for their purposes, not to have any desires or needs of her own.  This warped Cinderella story is played out in family after family.   Again, we have to ask ourselves, “What on earth is going on, here?”

            In Part 2, we will try to figure out what IS going on here, and in Part 3, we will attempt to solve these problems before they start.


The Wisdom of Proverbs

When the storm has swept by, the wicked are gone, but the righteous stand firm forever….Proverbs 10:25


claiming the victory


By Rev. Renee

                Have you ever had a person who is being victimized say to you, “But I don’t understand- Why does she act that way?, or “Why does he do these things?”  It’s almost as if, by understanding “why”, they could make the abuse somehow more bearable, even if they can’t get it to stop.  I realize there are reasons people behave the way they do, I just take issue with the notion that the victim should have the burden of trying to figure out or “understand” these reasons.  Therapy is available to everyone.  If an abuser refuses to avail himself of it, there is no reason that his issues have to be inflicted on other people.  His issues, are just that- his issues, not yours1  It is not the victim’s job to “analyze” the abuser.

                I don’t have the expertise or inclination to figure out the motives of an abuser.  The burden for explaining abusive behavior should not be on the shoulders of the victim.  Why abusers, control-freaks, and unloving people act the way they do should be left to professionals, if the abuser chooses to get therapy.  Unfortunately, most abusers insist nothing is wrong with them-they’ll claim you are the one with the problem!  But remember, the choice to get help is theirs- it is not your job to fix them!

                One day I watched a Dr. Phil show about bullies.  Dr. Phil mentioned that it is a fallacy that bullies have low self-esteem.  He said studies have shown that “bullies are arrogant people who choose victims they think they can dominate.  They bully because they can get away with it.”  You are probably not doing anything to antagonize your abuser- it is the submissive nature of victims that attracts abuse from sociopathic bullies.

 My husband Frank gave me the perfect answer to why it seems you can’t be nice to some people without having them walk all over you.   He said, “Because some people mistake kindness and niceness for weaknessand they prey on weak people.”  Then they’re surprised and angry when you stand up for yourself. They don’t realize you could be kind and nice, and be a strong person at the same time.  In their minds, courage and strength are not associated with strength-of-character- they are synonymous with dominance and control..  It’s the kind of rigid thinking that goes into  cliché character development in a bad movie. 

                A while back, I had a get-together with friends, one of whom is a psychologist.  We were talking about controlling relatives, and one woman, regarding her manipulative father, asked in frustration, “Why does he do this?”  Our psychologist friend said, ”If you really want to know, I can give you the answer in three words.”  Of course she, and the rest of us, all really did want to know.  He then looked at us and said, very clearly, “BECAUSE IT WORKS !”  We were astounded.  All of us, at one time or another, had wasted needless hours trying to analyze why we had been treated the way we were by people we loved, and the answer was so obvious all along. It was so simple, so profound, and so true!

                Someone who is overly concerned with “understanding” an abuser, rather than just not tolerating offensive behavior, no matter what the cause, is an enabler.  The victim herself can be, and usually is, an enabler. Once an enabler has decided on the abuser’s motivation, she then uses the motivation she has decided on as an excuse to rationalize or justify the abuser’s behavior.  She is very accommodating in offering the abuser a convenient and “legitimate” reason to continue victimizing others.  He now has a perfect defense, whatever that may be.  It is not constructive to “understand” the reasons why, if those reasons are then going to be used as an excuse to accept evil behavior and to allow it to continue.

                While some are capable of going it alone, the benefits of competent professional counseling cannot be overstated.  

The first choice for counseling for a Christian is his or her pastor.  I usually don’t emphasize pastoral counseling for abusers simply because, in my own experience, I don’t find many abusers have a pastor, or are church-going folks to begin with.  Of course, there are exceptions, and Godly counseling, which will minister to the spirit of the person, is always the best choice.  However, there are plenty of alternatives for non-religious abusers who truly wish to change their ways and feel unable to do it on their own.

I believe that counseling is more important for victims and enablers than for the abuser.  Their main focus should be  understanding why they tolerate abuse, which is ultimately more important than understanding why the abuser abuses.  The victim’s mental and emotional welfare is the most important consideration, and her healing should be the top priority.  Each person must make a choice to take that first step in being healed.  Unfortunately, many abusers will never choose to change.  But with God’s help, a victim can make positive changes.

A man’s enemies are the men of his own house.  Therefore I will look unto the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation:  My God will hear me…….Micah 7: 6-7 KJV

And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.  He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.  And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me……Matthew  10: 36-38 KJV

Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of the wicked, for the evil man has no future hope, and the lamp of the wicked will be snuffed out…..Proverbs 24: 19-20NIV

The wicked man craves evil; his neighbor gets no mercy from him…..Proverbs  21: 10NIV

The way of the guilty is devious, but the conduct of the innocent is upright….Proverbs 21:8 NIV

He who loves a quarrel loves sin…. Proverbs 17: 19 NIV

The violence of the wicked will drag them away, for they refuse to do what is right….. Proverbs 21: 7NIV

As charcoal to embers  and as wood to fire, so is  a quarrelsome man for kindling strife…  Proverbs 26: 21 NIV

Stone is heavy and sand a burden, but provocation by a fool is heavier than both….. Proverbs  27:3 NIV

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths……Proverbs 3: 5-6 NKJV

Reading Spotlight



Loving Strategies For Protecting Your Marriage

By Susan Forward, Ph.D.


            I often recommend Susan Forward’s other books, “Toxic Parents” and “Emotional Blackmail” .  I read “Toxic In-Laws” in the hopes of adding yet another dimension to the damage overbearing or controlling parents can do to your life.

            I liked how the book started out, describing the types of toxic in-laws, which include Critics, Engulfers, Controllers. Rejectors, and Masters of Chaos.  The analysis of why they behave this way was right on.  Examples of the reasons why include concern over “what people will think”, a missing empathy gene, holding onto your partner (their child) at all costs, acting out old scripts, and exorcising their demons by attacking you. The author is so right when she warns young marrieds that if they think the in-laws are controlling now, just wait till the grandkids come along!  She teaches us that although many of us cling to the false hope that “once they get to know me, they’ll like me”, time doesn’t help and usually worsens the hostility. 

            We are shown that we are part of a triangle- often viewed as  competition by our spouses’ parents.  Many times they don’t like that they now have to deal with you, and that their issues are no longer just between them and their child.  They know you influence their child and are angry that their child has “left them” for you.  They may have rigid opinions, think they know everything and you (and/or their child) know nothing , and will distort reality to make it conform to their truth.

            Unfortunately the child of such in-laws usually does not stand up for his or her spouse.  The spouse is left feeling like an outsider with everyone against her.  She often feels totally betrayed by a spouse who lets his parents criticize, insult, or abuse her.

            Much of the rest of the book is devoted to enlisting your spouse as an ally so that you can make a united front against his parents’ behavior. Unfortunately, in my ministry experience, most attempts at getting your partner to stand up to his parents and defend you will fail, but I agree that it’s worth a shot, before taking matters into your own hands.  I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a waste, but I did feel that the author devoted a great deal of time to strategies for getting your spouse to support you, when what he will really need before he can stand up to his parents, is years of therapy!

            There is an empowering chapter on rights and responsibilities.  Many of us ask ourselves if we have the right to upset everyone, to speak up to our in-laws when they hurt us even though they’re not our parents, to put our spouse in the middle, or to expect him to take our side. 

            The author lists our rights as a person and with our spouse, which include the right to be treated with respect, to protect your own emotional health, to get angry, to raise your children without interference, to change your mind, to express your own feelings and opinions, to set guidelines with your partner for your household and have them honored, to protest to your partner when his parents hurt you, to expect your partner to put you first, etc.        

            Our rights with our in-laws include the right to say no, to disagree, to not love them, to let them know when they’ve offended you, to have them stay out of problems between you and your husband, to set limits on how much time you spend with them, to take an active part in how holidays are celebrated, etc.

            We are warned that although these rights are a matter of freedom and common sense, everyone resists change.  Accepting the fact that in many cases, we will be standing up to our in-laws alone, the author prepares us for confrontation by teaching us the skill of non-defensive communication in setting limits on our in-laws and their behavior.  She teaches us how to stand fast against their reactions, and appropriate responses when they pull out the big guns such as denial, anger, playing the martyr, or accusing us of being the problem.

            Sometimes we will set limits on our in-laws (or parents) and they will not respond at all.  We may not hear from them again.  We may be confused and wonder what is going on.  But the author tells us that “No answer is the loudest answer of all.”  We are helped to accept that sometimes nothing will get resolved, but that will be their failure, not ours.  The important thing is that we hold to our truth and live in peace, with or without them.


We exalt thee, Mighty God!

Thank you, Holy Spirit!

We praise you, King Jesus!



For it is by grace you have been saved through faith- and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- not by works, so that no one can boast.  For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do…..Ephesians 2: 8-10 


Psalm 17  

Hear, O Lord, my righteous plea;  listen to my cry.  Give ear to my prayer- it does not rise from deceitful lips.  May my vindication come from you; may your eyes see what is right.  Though you probe my heart and examine me at night, though you test me, you will find nothing;  I have resolved that my mouth will not sin.  As for the deeds of men- by the word of your lips I have kept myself from the ways of the violent.  My steps have held to your paths;  my feet have not slipped.  I call on you, O God, for you will answer me;  give ear to me and hear my prayer.  Show the wonder of your great love, you who save by your right hand those who take refuge in you from their foes.  Keep me as the apple of your eye;  hide me in the shadow of your wings from the wicked who assail me, from my mortal enemies who surround me.  They close up their callous hearts, and their mouths speak with arrogance.  They have tracked me down, they now surround me, with eyes alert, to throw me to the ground.  They are like a lion hungry for prey, like a great lion crouching in cover.  Rise up, O Lord, confront them, bring them down; rescue me from the wicked by your sword.  O Lord, by your hand save me from such men, from men of this world whose reward is in this life.  You still the hunger of those you cherish;  their sons have plenty, and they store up wealth for their children.  And I- in righteousness I will see your face;  when I awake, I will  be satisfied with seeing your likeness.

Dear Sisters,

If you have a question  or topic you would like us to write about , please let us know, and we will be happy to do so as the Lord directs. (Your name and identifying details will not be published). God bless you always!