I’m Out-Now What? – Week 3

Finally, choosing the right organizations to seek help from is paramount. Healthy domestic violence organizations seek to
empower the victim instead of controlling them. You can easily become a victim of organizational abuse. The same principle applies to your place of worship. Choose a place of worship that places the sanctity of life above the sanctity of marriage.

Remember till death do us part
doesn’t mean until my spouse kills me.

Pastor Neely sits on the Advisory Committe for Reach Out Speak Out, FPEDV ( Florida Program Ending Domestic Violence, Hillsborough County Domestic Violence Task Force, Faith counselor for the Spring of Tampa Bay , is the lead pastor atNew Millennium Community Church and is the author of Black Eyes and Sweet Talk


WEEK ONE…Jan Porter

Many of us people of faith feel we need to fix or change someone and that it is our responsibility to
do it. And…if the individual we are trying to “help/fix” doesn’t change we take on that responsibility
and usually feel hurt.

WOW, that’s a lot to put on our shoulders. We have enough on our plates to “fix” ourselves and be
accountable to God and His principles. That is where we need to start.

I am not saying that if someone is asking for help that we walk away. NO! We help by example,
training, counseling, prayer and the most important thing we can help people with is by examples in
the Bible and listening We are all a constant work in progress and thank God for His loving and kind
gentle nudges we get as we begin our journey of leaving our codependent habits. It is truly looking
inside ourselves. Once we learn to discontinue our codependent behaviors, we will see there are a lot
of relationships that are “making us responsible” for them and that we have lost who God intended us
to be.

This blog will help take those difficult and painful steps we need to take to not be codependent and
begin setting up healthy Godly boundaries.

Are you ready for a bumpy road in the next three weeks? A lot of truth will be said that may take
you a while to digest and to look in the mirror to see if what is being said is about the person in
that mirror. YOU


WEEK TWO…Jan Porter

Proverbs 3:5-7

5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. 7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil. As I write this, I want to make it clear that I am speaking about adult to adult. We are responsible for our children. We are responsible to teach and correct our children (till they become adults).

Codependency can become a problem in a relationship of a couple, relatives, co-workers, friends or even your neighbor.


1. Codependent people confuse love with the caretaking of, pity for and the needs of others.

They may have a tendency to be completely devoted to the needs of their partner. They tend to be excessively preoccupied and
consumed with their partners’ emotional and personal needs. There is often a strong compulsion to fix or to save their partner.

2. Codependent people are generally very loving, kind, and caring people.

They gravitate towards working in the helping professions or caretaker professions and they are exceptional at their jobs. But unfortunately, they can feel not quite good enough, despite all their giving, and feel an unwarranted sense of shame and worthlessness.

3. Codependent people can confuse intensity with intimacy.

Codependent relationships will be based on a lot of drama, chaos, breaking up and make up. Often a codependent person can feel
incomplete or worthless and afraid to be alone if they perceive abandonment or if their partner threatens to leave. They can have a sort of craving for a person or a relationship. In a very real sense, it can be an addiction to someone

4. Surprisingly, codependent people are actually biochemically codependent.

They could be named “love addicts” or “relationship addicts.” They often have unrealistic expectations for unconditional love, and
they can view their potential partners through a distorted sense of reality. They can also fantasize about their relationships and
can feel angry and disappointed when the fantasy fades or doesn’t materialize.

5. Codependent people tend to attract partners who have a lot of personal issues.

They often attract partners with personality disorders, such as narcissists or sociopaths. They seek the type of person who can take care of someone who clearly needs their help. They can feel bored or helpless if they are not attending to someone’s crisis or needs in some way.

6. Codependent people will use their relationship as a cover for loneliness.

They often have an intense need to be loved. They attract partners who are manipulative, abandoning, controlling, self-centered
and who have very little consideration for them.

7. Codependent people prefer giving to receiving.

Research shows they express confusion and frustration as to why some people don’t seem to care as much as they do. They can be
very good at pretending that they are feeling good but are in fact not. They have learn to suppress their emotions because their emotions are not considered the priority. This could result in repressing feelings with medication, food, drugs, or alcohol.

8. A codependent person may feel very responsible for another person’s thoughts, feelings, or lack of well-being.

They assume the responsibility to carry the world’s problems on their shoulders. They can often feel anxiety or guilt when someone else has a problem. They feel upset when other people don’t take their advice.

9. Codependent people will tend to try to stay with a partner even when facing serious problems like addiction, abuse, or infidelity.

A codependent enables this type of behavior to continue and will often deny reality so that their fantasy can continue. In a very real way, the codependent agrees to work harder on their partners’ issues than their partners themselves.

10. Codependent people pride themselves on being loyal, obedient, caring, dedicated, and accommodating.

They try to anticipate everybody’s needs but secretly they can foster feelings of bitterness, resentment, sadness, and pain.

Many codependent people who were raised in dysfunctional families had to grow up fast to survive. They learned how to take care of their parents or siblings and to take responsibility for much within the family.

Therapy helps us to gain self-awareness about all these issues and to become willing to work on and change behavioral patterns.

It helps to create better communication, to nurture ourselves and to break the bonds of codependency and dysfunctional behaviors.

Are you codependent? Do you feel you are one-handedly trying to fix something that is impossible for you to fix?

We can pray for that person. We can express our feelings. But we cannot change the other person by our actions. If we continue to come to their rescue, cover-up things or even feel like we are the guilty party for those actions you are fighting a losing battle.

May I suggest a book by Melody Beattie “Codependent No More”. Read it and see if you are codependent. It will help you through the process of healing.

Our approval is from God and not others. I Thessalonians 2:4 NKJV

But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts.

We are being approved by God for ourselves, not the other adult. We are not responsible for that other person. As I said in the beginning, if we are taking care of being responsible for ourselves, we really don’t have time to “feel and act” responsible for others.

Who are you trying to please?

Are you codependent? Do you feel you are one-handedly trying to fix something that is impossible for you to fix?

We can pray for that person. We can express our feelings. But we cannot change the other person by our actions. If we continue
to come to their rescue, cover-up things or even feel like we are the guilty party for those actions you are fighting a losing battle.

May I suggest a book by Melody Beattie “Codependent No More”. Read it and see if you are codependent. It will help you
through the process of healing.

Our approval is from God and not others. I Thessalonians 2:4 NKJV

But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who
tests our hearts.

We are being approved by God for ourselves, not the other adult. We are not responsible for that other person. As I said in
the beginning, if we are taking care of being responsible for ourselves, we really don’t have time to “feel and act” responsible
for others.

Who are you trying to please?

Let’s begin looking in the mirror at ourselves. We are responsible for who we are. Start a list of how God is showing you
the things you need to change in your life.

We can pray for other people but we cannot change them.



I like to refer back to the book of James. If I feel myself slipping back into codependency or my thoughts are how to “correct/help/fix” someone else, I go back and look at myself to make sure I am in God’s will. Then you will not have time or energy to try and “fix” someone else that may not even want to be “fixed”.

Matthew 7:5 New International Version

5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

Isn’t codependency and fixing a side bar to not wanting to look at ourselves but rather see the sins of others and then making those sins our responsibilities?

Let’s stop trying to control others…because we really aren’t anyway, and we need to start caring for ourselves and be responsible for ourselves.

“Love doesn’t hurt us. People-pleasing hurts us. Pretending everything is okay hurts us. Silencing ourselves hurt us. Having no
boundaries hurts us. Not having our own back hurts us. Self-abandonment hurts us. Another person’s unhealed s- – – – hurts us. Love liberates, and relational challenges shine a light on where we are not yet liberated.” Mark Groves

Isaiah 26: 3-4

3 You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.
4 Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the rock eternal.

Let’s take a moment to examine ourselves. Am I codependent? Have I lost myself trying to “fix” someone else?

Is the “fixing/help” you are trying to do with someone actually your “fix” that you need in your life?


WEEK FOUR…Jan Porter

Now that you realize that you are codependent and you are working not to be codependent, there is another ugly matter that
pops through called Boundaries.

You don’t have any! The people you have been trying to “fix” have crossed many of your boundaries. The longer you stay
codependent the more your boundaries will be crossed.

But because you were trying to “fix” their issues you allowed things to happen that should not have been accepted.

What are your boundaries. Have you been dishonored? How does that make you feel? Think or write your feelings down. Has it
been so long that you have not even though or realized that you were being dishonored? It is time to begin learning to set healthy

Write down five boundaries to begin. Pray over them. Write them where you go often around your home or car or office. Start your day reading what your boundaries are. Make note of when someone is crossing that boundary. When you finally get comfortable with your new lifestyle or not being codependent and you have set boundaries; it is time to implement your boundaries in your daily life.

May I suggest a wonderful book called “Boundaries” by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend.

The book gives examples of how people have crossed boundaries and helpful ways to not accept people to cross your boundaries in a Godly manner.

If you are in a domestic violence relationship, I can assure you that you have become codependent and your boundaries have been

~Do you try and fix things your abuser has done
~Do you cover up for them
~Do you miss events and opportunities because the abuser may get upset
~Do you make excuses
~Do you forget to take care of yourself as your body is God’s temple because your time and energy go to helping your abuser

What have you given away by being codependent without boundaries. Begin living the life that God has planned for you as His child.

Calling ALL Volunteers!

According to the dictionary, volunteering is considered an activity where an individual or group provides services for no financial or social gain. The services are to benefit other people or organizations.  Volunteering is also a great way to develop skills and is often intended to promote goodness or to improve quality of life. When volunteering, you may find that it has positive benefits for the volunteer as well as for the person or organization served. It is also intended to make contacts for possible employment. Many volunteers are specifically trained in the areas they work, such as medicine, education, or emergency rescue. Others serve on an as-needed basis, such as in response to a natural disaster or in an advisory capacity.

Reach Out Speak Out is an all-volunteer non-profit. We are always looking for volunteers. There are several levels of service that we need volunteers for. If you think you may be interested in volunteering with Reach Out Speak Out or finding out more of what we are about, don’t hesitate to contact us at [email protected].

Service levels for Reach Out Speak Out:

Board of Directors – Take care of the business and oversee all areas of the non-profit events and family needs.

Advisory Committee – Trained counselors volunteer to counsel our families as needed at no cost to the family.

Auxiliary Committee – The backbone of the events and fundraisers we do to raise money for the families.

Friends of Reach Out Speak Out – Assist with various projects and helps with events as their availability allows.

Domestic Violence Resources

Do you know someone who is living in a domestic violence situation? Have you ever wondered how you can help them? Reach Out Speak Out can be a resource. For nearly 10 years, we have been helping Tampa Bay families escape dv situations. The first question we ask a potential client is “are you safe”. If they are not safe we advise them to call 911 and the police will help get them to a safe place. Once we ascertain that they are safe, we advise them to get a restraining order for protection. We have resources for the different stages.

Shelters are a valuable resource short term. Our goal is to help the families
become survivors and thrivers.

  • Sunshine (Pasco) Hotline-352-521-3120
  • CASA (Pinellas) Hotline-727-895-4912
  • Spring (Hillsborough) Hotline-813-247-7233 (SAFE)

For legal help, the Florida Domestic Violence and National Domestic Violence
Hotlines are crucial resources:

  • Florida Domestic Violence Hotline-1-800-500-1119
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline-1-800-799-7233

If the potential client does not have an attorney, we refer them to Are You Safe. They are a non-profit that helps the victims get a restraining order for their family’s protection. The Crisis Center of Tampa Bay is another resource that we recommend to our potential clients

  • Are You Safe-813-997-7432
  • Crisis Center of Tampa Bay-Emergency-211

If you have someone who may need assistance, don’t hesitate to contact us for more information at ReachOutSpeakOut [email protected].

Should I Stay or Should I Go: Part Two

should i stay or should i go

Hi, it’s Sunshine again. It has been quite a while since my first post on Should I Stay or Should I Go? went up. I ended that post with this word: Codependence.

It’s Embarrassing.

And frightening and a lot of other hard, negative “ing” words. I was out. Reach Out Speak Out helped me get out. And I went back. And I feel like anything I do is going to hurt somebody or make somebody else mad and it’s my responsibility to keep everybody happy.


I did some work with a wonderful counselor while I was away. I learned about codependence. Melody Beattie is the most recognized popular author on codependency with her work on Codependent No More. Stephanie Ellis Ecke has written on codependence here. Pia Mellody also did groundbreaking work and this infographic from here is pretty handy: Pia Mellody on Codependency (click to download)

I’m including all of these links because when I first realized (and accepted!) that I’m a codependent personality, it was like a lightning strike. I could accept all of the “A” programs that I might need, but CoDA (Codependents Anonymous)? REALLY?

I am strong and tough. I’ve withstood much. I haven’t stopped loving people. Wanting the best for them. Trying to make the best happen for them… and that’s where the train begins to go off the rails. There’s nothing wrong with wanting the people in your life to be happy and healthy, but that “trying to make the best happen for them…” Yowser.

Especially when that means staying with someone who isn’t safe — whether that is unsafe to your body, your heart, your mind.

Signs of Codependency

Here are 10 signs of codependency.

1. Feeling responsible for solving others’ problems.
2. Offering advice to others whether it is asked for or not.
3. Expecting others to do what the codependent says.
4. The codependent feels used and underappreciated.
5. Trying to please people so others will like or love the codependent.
6. Taking everything personally.
7. Feeling like a victim.
8. Using manipulation, shame, or guilt to control others’ behavior.
9. Lying to themselves and making excuses for others’ bad behavior.
10. Fearing rejection and being unlovable. 

The article in the link goes more in-depth about these things and also covers 10 questions to ask about codependent behavior.

I’m raising this issue of codependency because a) it is a part of my overall story and, b) while I am not a therapist or counselor, and there is some dissension about whether those who suffer domestic abuse are codependent, I have lived with domestic abuse and I am codependent. And I’m not alone. I have met many codependent women, many abused women, and there is blurring of the lines.

It becomes nearly impossible to make a decision.

And I desperately want the readers here to not give up hope on the women who go back again and again and again as they strengthen themselves for that final break.  I was rescued. And I went back. And I have regretted it a million times. Sometimes, we just have to have time to strengthen ourselves a little more. And, sadly, life with the abuser is familiar. And most of us crave the familiar.

Please don’t give up on the women you know who need to get out and just haven’t been able to find the strength yet. They are likely fighting battles you can’t imagine. Please be there for them. Listen without judging. Don’t “should” on them (you should do this, you should do that); they get enough of that from their partner.

Please help fund the efforts of groups like Reach Out Speak Out. One day, your friend or relative will be ready. You’ll want them to have support and help.

I will try to write soon to circle this around to a close. I’m sorry I rambled. This is the life we live, thoughts circling around. This is why Reach Out Speak Out is so valuable! They’ve been there. They get it.

Should I Stay or Should I Go: Part One

should i stay or should i go

Hi, I’m Sunshine. I have struggled for a couple of decades with “Should I stay or should I go?” I was a client of Reach Out Speak Out and then I wasn’t. This is my story, which I tell in hopes that potential donors and the public at large might understand how difficult it is to make the decision to leave. My story rambles because that is how my life has been.  I am planning it to run for the month of May so please say tuned. 

Is This Abuse?

I’ve been married twice. My first husband died. I never thought of myself as being abused. After my husband’s death, my children (who were more grown-ups than children at that point) told me that I had been an abused wife. Never physically. Well, maybe one time. No. Twice. Anyway. I pushed him past the point of him holding his temper. Of course.

He was verbally and emotionally abusive in many ways. There were a lot of reasons to stay. The kids. He was disabled and needed me to help take care of him. I was financially dependent. God hates divorce. The only reason to leave was that I was just unhappy. And using some really unhealthy behaviors to manage. You don’t break up a marriage, leave a good man when his health is failing, because you’re unhappy.


Here I Go Again

My husband died. I struggled with being both alone and lonely. Suddenly a single parent. After almost 3 years, I met someone. I just wanted someone to hang out with. I thought. This man made me laugh more than I ever had. He had been through some similar life situations as me and we were about the same age so we had a lot of cultural stuff in common, which was nice. My first husband had been 16 years older and, in terms of music/movies/TV, we were quite different. But we laughed and I wasn’t so lonely anymore.

There were red flags. Big ones.


I believe that you can tell a lot about someone by how they treat people like waitstaff, customer service clerks, other drivers. Does the person try to be kind? Put themselves in the other person’s shoes? That kind of thing.

NewGuy didn’t. Not empathetic or compassionate. Unkind.  Judgmental.  He didn’t like my kids or most of my friends and they didn’t like him.

I overheard conversations he had with other people that indicated that he enjoyed me spending my money on him.

He told me he didn’t find me particularly attractive.  

He corrected the way I talk. He tried to change my beliefs.

He tried to tell me how I should raise my kids. To be fair to him, a lot of people were doing that. But he wasn’t kind about it.

I still was so in dread — not just afraid but in DREAD –of being alone that I turned a blind eye to all of it. Lost a friend (at least for a while.) Damaged my relationship with my kids.

Heard over and over that I couldn’t, I wasn’t able, I should do it this way, etc. I started to believe it.

But I needed the companionship. Alone was worse than all of that. Besides, he didn’t hit me, so it wasn’t abuse. Right?



More to come next week…


A Different Point of View:
I became involved in Reach Out Speak Out because I know firsthand the long-lasting effects of domestic violence.  I am the male spouse of a domestic violence survivor.  I say male spouse as a matter of context only as I am certainly aware that males can and be victims as well.  My wife of 30+ years was in a domestic violence relationship during high school and several years after high school.  Yes, it can and does start that early.  Her abuser did terrible things to her.  He was not only verbally and physically abusive but was also psychologically abusive.  She shared a story with me, a re-occurring one at that where her abuser, while raging over something petty would drive his vehicle at a high rate of speed toward fixed objects like telephone poles and mailboxes.  He would always swerve out of the way at the last minute, but at the time she didn’t know if that’s what he would do.  He would also drive at extremely high rates of speed on the highway and slam on his brakes or would get into road rage situations with other motorists and tailgate them.  Can you imagine the effects this has on a teenaged girl?  She has told me that as a result of this abuse she dreams, or should I say nightmares that she will die in a traffic crash. 

To this day, 30+ years later my wonderful wife is still deathly afraid to drive on the highway.  She is as nervous as a cat even when I drive on the highway.  So much so that if we are going somewhere close by and have an option to take the highway or talk surface roads, she prefers to take the surface roads.  Of course, I tell her I’ll take whichever route she wants me to take.

I could go on and on and provide many other examples of how her domestic violence has had a lasting effect on her.  It breaks my heart.  The bottom line is that if you find yourself in a relationship where your partner was the victim of domestic violence, please, please listen to their story and have compassion.  Your love and understanding may heal those wounds but keep in mind it may last a lifetime.