The Face–and Soul–of Abuse

Cindy Burrell at has linked the video that I have re-posted below. Her blog post is titled: “The Face of Abuse.” Her site and her ministry provide much help to people “on the other side” of videos such as this, as well as to those new to dealing with this nightmare.

The video clip is a powerful testimony to the reality of overt abuse.

But what the viewer doesn’t see is the damage caused by the covert abuse, the young woman’s undoubted loss of safety, confidence, hope, self-esteem, perhaps faith in God, in others (certainly the “other” who did these things to her); her dreams of love, and even, as she implies, her dreams of a tomorrow as her core erodes in the onslaught against her, and terror reaches critical mass.

Her countenance, even as it becomes increasingly marred over time by the abuse, tells much, much more of the story…

But, odd as this may sound, the physical damage may actually help her get help in a world that is wont to respond with “Well, then, why does she stay?,” its voice edged in irritation–and its own fears, if honest.

At least the external bruises and scars that indicate  a “regular assault,” so to speak, are more apt to prompt sympathy and assistance.

But it’s the “irregular assault,” if you will, prompted by whatever evil lurks in the criminal who deems him/herself entitled in some twisted way to attack, that does the longest lasting and most insidious damage.

Perhaps most dangerous of all are those who threaten with, “I’ll never leave a mark.”

The physical evidence might indicate blunt-object force to skin or bone, but the evidence manifest in the hidden places often indicates the weaponry of destructive words and threats–or a pattern of same–to vulnerable heart, mind, soul, and spirit, bleeding out, at length, as the young woman in the video manifests, even the hope of survival. Or, it might indicate neglect, abandonment, and contempt–equally as damaging.

Perhaps the most tragic cases involve religious “leaders” who deny, misinterpret, blame the victim, and/or counsel the crime victim to pray more or behave better or consider her own role in the crimes, or (fill in the blank, there are a lot of mechanisms used to avoid and deny).

I once heard a “lay counselor,” talking about the victims of domestic violence, quip, “Well, the big problem with women like that is that they keep going back.”

I would counter, “No, the biggest problem with women (and some men) like that is that within the context of the unique warp and woof of each one’s mind, heart, emotions, psyche, spirit, upbringing, and even religious indoctrination (as opposed to the deliverance Gospel of true Christianity), we may never know why ‘she (or he) stays,’ but that’s not the issue.

The issue remains: saving the victims of weapons wielded against flesh and bone–and against heart, mind, and spirit.”

And, of course, confronting the criminal.

Which is, at the core, how Christ would have us address it.

Warning: some pictures are hard to view.

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The J-Team (On Spiritual Special Ops)

Phyllis Nissila


I listened to a fascinating presentation by a special operations trainer. He’s one of the developers of neuroscience based methods employed to build the body, brain, and psyche of qualifying applicants to high levels of resistance to outside and inside stressors to achieve a state called “ferocious resolve” [1]. Continue reading

Posted in Commentaries, Devotionals, encouragement in hard times, most recent posts, spiritual survival, spiritual transformation, survival tools | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

On the Church and Domestic Abuse: “Who Will Help Me Now?” (Lisa’s Story)

Phyllis Nissila

A responder to my previous post has prompted today’s story and comment.

What is so very disheartening,” she wrote, “is: it is ‘the church’ (her church), the leadership and long-time members that don’t care about abusive relationships as long as the marriage ‘looks decent’ in the public eye. Sadly, it is the secular crowd that have actually given me the protections that I have needed…”


I remember a case from years ago involving a young woman named Lisa, my sister’s room-mate at the time. Lisa was seven months pregnant when the incident, detailed below, occurred. Continue reading

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Update on “Is it The Silent Treatment or Emotional Survival?”: Another Good Resource


Many months ago I posted a guest commentary written by a woman who had left a long-term relationship because of verbal abuse:

There had been some physical abuse as well early on in the relationship, she reported, but in the end, it was the long-term, often unpredictable, spates of verbal abuse that left her numb.

She wanted to explain the difference, in her piece, between what’s called the “silent treatment,” itself abusive, and the opposite phenomenon, what she calls, “emotional survival”. They may appear to be similar, but are in fact, opposites. Continue reading

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On “The Gospel You Win Them With” (Be Careful)

Phyllis Nissila

I’ve been pondering an expression spoken by a pastor who was emphasizing the critical need to “preach Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2) to the unsaved.

“What you win them with,” he said, is what you win them to.” In short, be careful what you preach. They will follow.

And it might not be the right path. Continue reading

Posted in Commentaries, Ex-Roman Catholic/Catholicism, most recent posts, Out of the Fire: On Leaving Roman Catholicism, Purgatory | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Nickels and Noses”? (On Measuring Success in the Church—More Encouragement for the Remnant)

Phyllis Nissila

I recently heard the idiom, “nickels and noses,” translation, “money and people,” referencing how success is counted in some churches.

Cute, but really?

How about one crown of thorns, two bloody beams, three nails, and success “counted” by our faith in same, that is, by Jesus’ atoning sacrifice no matter the size of the building or denomination. Continue reading

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“Hey, You: Talk to the Man on the Cross!” (On the Righteousness of Believers)

Phyllis Nissila

Wondering who the You I am addressing in the title is? Who (hint, hint) prowls around seeking whom he may devour? Who likes to snake upside a believer’s brain with Blame and Shame thus keeping the spiritual klieg light on us and our efforts to save ourselves (not good) and away from the righteousness imputed to us through Jesus Christ (good)? [1]



And the prize? More of that “peace that passes all understanding” promised by Jesus to those who put their faith in Him—the One Who died in our stead, His blood covering our sin, guilt and shame.

Sounds pretty simple, huh? Put the Devil in his place with some power-packed Scripture by claiming our righteousness in Jesus Christ and walk away easy. Continue reading

Posted in Commentaries, Devotionals, devotionals and commentaries featuring technology, most recent posts, salvation by grace | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment