For those interested in a new resource on dealing with abusive relationships, check out this post about Leslie Vernick’s new book on emotionally destructive marriages. I highly recommend it. Leslie gets the insanity of emotional abuse and is able to point out a good and godly response.
Tag Archives: Leslie Vernick
Shameless promotion for a class at Biblical. You can come for Friday night or both Friday and Saturday. Check it out and get a free book with your registration!
Summer Counseling Seminar at Biblical Seminary
Who should attend:
Popular author and speaker, Leslie Vernick, is offering a weekend seminar on her new book
Abusive and Destructive Relationships
Seeing Them! Stopping Them! Surviving Them!
Friday August 8th 6-9pm &
Saturday August 9th 9am-5pm
Audit rate only $142
Friday night only for the Topic Overview for $30
Overview includes: general definitions, how to say “no” and mean it, having the courage to make choices, how to invite someone into healthy change to break destructive patterns, how to speak thoughts and feelings in a constructive way.
Call Bonnie at 1-800-235-4021 x 117
The final part of Leslie Vernick’s, The Emotionally Destructive Relationship is entitled “Surviving It.” In this section she explores how we heal and take care of ourselves. Chapter 10 describes the necessity of spiritual healing that must happen before relational healing will take place. She makes the point that we will must explore whether we believe that God loves us and learn to abide in Him. She ends the chapter by saying,
Healing doesn’t simply involve feeling better about who we are or who God is. True healing happens as we learn to live holy lives by growing into the identities God has already given us, which is what will make us whole.
Chapter 11 describes the necessity of letting go as a key element of gain and growth. Letting go of fears, distorted expectations, entitlements, negative mood, lies about self, etc. This is a tall order but she does give some guidance on how to let go of negative moods by asking of your feeling, “why are you here?” Leslie is right here. Many things that trap us have to do with what we hang on to. This chapter gives a broad overview. The challenge is to put it into practice. I suspect you need a good friend or therapist to put it into practice.
If chapter 11 is about putting off, chapter 12 covers what we are to put on as positive nourishment. Gather a support system, develop a sense of your strengths, and learn how to deal with conflict and a destructive person. The broad brushstrokes are here. Again, I wish she had the space for a bit more details and examples.
Finally, Leslie includes a listing of helpful books, websites and other resources. She has a chapter defining the various types of abuse. And she concludes the book with a chapter for those walking with someone who is in a destructive relationship.
All in all, a great book exploring the struggles and healthy responses to one’s destructive relationship. As is usual with her writing, Leslie urges the reader to examine the heart, deceptions, to meditate on God’s goodness, and to live out of the power of the cross.
Part 2 of Leslie Vernick’s, The Emotionally Destructive Relationshipis entitled, “Stopping It.” This section looks at first steps to stopping the destruction. Probably the biggest step is believing that there are choices and options. Most people in this situation feel that they have no options other than accept or die. Since none of the options will likely immediately place us in a fabulous situation, we feel that we have no choice but to accept what is happening to us. So, what can a trapped person do? Chapter 6 explores the ways to reclaim the truth and to name it for self and other. Usually destructive relationships contain all sorts of garbage half-truths, denials, etc. By bringing what has been hidden into the light, one can begin to weed truth from falsehood. In this chapter Leslie does a nice job with an excursis on headship and submission. She discusses how to respect authority but not the behavior as well as underlines the problem of those in authority who refuse to place themselves under any authority when faced with their own sin.
Chapter 7 covers the issue of choice and reminds the reader that they still exist. She addresses matters where people feel they must agree with others even when they feel it not right to do so. Choices a person has? To not assume responsibility for others; to work on and be willing to define one’s own problem and take responsibility for one’s own unhealthy patterns (e.g., allowing others to walk over you); to offer another view (in love) to counter a distorted view of the situation.
Chapter 8 gives guidance on how to speak up. Many people get caught between saying nothing or blowing up and being abusive in their attempt to uncover abuse. Leslie talks about how and when to speak up (use planning–many do this impulsively, seek a mutually good time, watch body language and tone, listen to the other’s perspective). Leslie gives several examples which show how to confront on a topic and yet be open, kind, and respectful of the other. Again, too often, we wait and wait and then blow. Of course, it can also help when the confronting person admits their own failings first. This requires that we do our homework first. Finally, in chapter 9, Leslie discusses how to be a “champion of peace” even while standing up and speaking out about someone’s wrong. First she reminds the reader why we stand up against those things that hurt us. She reminds us that standing up is standing up, “for something bigger than just our own feelings. We are standing up for goodness, truth, righteousness, and peace.” (p. 162) Then she discusses the need to “step back”–to create space to heal, to invite healing and reintroduction to a new relationship to the abusive person, to provide “the gift of consequences”, and to wait in love. She then ends this section about testing and evaluating repentance in the other.
Leslie does a nice job teaching how to practically stop a destructive pattern, own up to one’s own part in that, live in the light of truth and test the fruit of repentance, all in love. Too often, folks who finally get up the nerve to set limits refuse to even allow the abusive person to repent. Now, I understand that some abuse and some abusers have done too much to allow the relationship to continue. However, passivity tends to breed reactivity. Sooner action may encourage the healing and restoration.
Previously, I introduced Leslie Vernick’s The Emotionally Destructive Relationship: Seeing it, Stopping it, Surviving it (2007 Harvest House). Here’s some more tidbits from the rest of Part one (Seeing it):
1. Chapter two covers the typical emotional, physical, mental, relational, generational, and spiritual effects of destructive relationships. Of note, Leslie says, “Perhaps one of the most serious long-term relational effects of interpersonal sin is how it shapes our view of ourselves and others.” (p. 55). This is a good point. Those who grow up in one of these kinds of relationships are like a starving person in the corner of a banquet hall where only one person is allowed to eat, where all the food is only for one person. That starving person may then grow up and either become a demanding person who starves those in their own banquet hall (under the guise of, “I will never be treated that way again”) or remain highly dependant on others and open to continually being used.
2. Chapter 3 helps the reader to avoid seeing self only as wounded or victim but as one who, due to the fall, responds sinfully to a sinful world. Leslie does not let the reader use excuses (e.g., I was abused so I can’t help that I’m harsh with others) when confronted with one’s own destructive tendencies. She paints a picture of what a Godly response looks like when we come face to face with our own sinfulness: face our brokenness and ask for forgiveness; Take responsibility for your part of the problem; Make an effort to change. In contrast, the immature response to our brokenness: refusal to listen, defensiveness; Blindness and denial; Unwillingness to change (saying I know, I’m sorry doesn’t equal change).
This is where many couples flounder. They feel that if they agree with their spouse’s criticisms and acknowledge their own destructive patterns, the other will get off without having to admit theirs. And so we hear, “yes, I know that I shouldn’t…but you…”.
3. Chapters 4-5 explore destructive themes of the heart: pride, anger, envy, selfishness, laziness, evil, and fear. A key point is that many of the things we want and desire in relationships are not bad. The problem is that these things turn into demands. Who doesn’t want to be understood? But it is possible to make that a demand and an excuse for our own destructive patterns. We like to suggest that other people’s sins cause us to respond in kind. In fact the environment is only the trigger that exposes our heart’s demands. Finally, Leslie points out that fear may not look at controlling and destructive to relationships, “Relationally, fearful people don’t want to be gods, like the proud person does, but they allow their lives to be ruled by others instead of God.” And fear leads to the temptation to try to protect oneself from relational pain by demanding of others, “I need!”
What I like about Leslie’s writing (this and in other books as well) is that she avoids the black/white view of victims and victimizers. It is hard to read her books and not be convicted, even if you are suffering much at the hands of others.