• Codependency Is Real And It Can Leave Women Vulnerable to Being Abused or Taken Advantage Of

Extreme Caution Urged Concerning Domestic Violence Sites that Discount the Role of Codependency in Abuse of Women – Some Abuse Victims are Indeed Codependent

Codependency is Not Victim Blaming and Can and Does Play a Role in Female Marriage (or Dating Violence) or Female Exploitation

(I began composing this post in the summer of 2016 but will publish it in the fall of 2016.)


The topic of Codependency, (which encompasses, but is not limited to, concepts such as assertiveness and boundaries), is NOT a “victim-blaming” one and has a place in helping girls and women make healthier choices for themselves and what they will and will not tolerate in relationships.

A brief critique of the page “Abuse Victims Are Not Codependent, They’re Trauma-Bonded” by S. Arabi – hosted on the Huffington Post – is now located on this other page of my blog.

I touched on this very issue in a previous post here, about half way down the page, under the section entitled “Codependency and Relationship Abuse.”

I am truly alarmed to see the number of sites, some Christian – some not, that wish to deny or discount that codependency can and does play a role in violence towards women, or the exploitation of girls and women, in romantic relationships or other areas of life.

Denying that codependent women can attract abusers or be in abusive relationships, or that being codependent can protract an abusive or exploitative relationship, is doing a very dangerous and huge dis-service to girls and women.

Before I return to that topic in depth, I’d like to fill readers in on some of my  personal background, because I believe it will help you understand where I am coming from.

Using myself as an example will also help you to realize that saying that codependency can play a role in why some women are abused, or why so many remain in exploitative relationships (including toxic friendships or toxic work-place environments), is not (NOT NOT NOT!) a form of “victim-blaming”.

You can also trust me on that because I detest victim-blaming. I have been on the receiving end of victim-blaming by various people over my life, and I know it’s not pleasant, compassionate, or fair.

I myself am a codependent who is in recovery.

I used to be codependent and am trying to move past it, though on occasion, I may slightly revert back to one or two codependent habits. However, I am on the road to recovery.


My parents were devout Christians who believed in traditional gender roles, which are quite similar to the ones which are often taught under the “gender complementarian” label in many Christian churches.

My mother was an extremely codependent person.

(If you’re not familiar with the word “codependency” and what it entails, and would like to learn more about it, please see previous posts on this blog for explanations of what codependency is, such as this one – and you can find many other blog posts and articles by other people who explain what it is by doing a simple internet search).

My mother came from a family where her father (my maternal grandfather) was an alcoholic and a physical abuser of his wife (my maternal grandmother).

My grandfather sometimes physically abused my mother (especially when he was inebriated) and silently sat back and did nothing to protect her from one of her older siblings who he knew used to regularly abuse her.

My mother told me that her father became even more violent during his drinking bouts.

My mother told me that my grandfather would emotionally abuse my grandmother, and do things such as complain about her cooking and throw the dinner and the plates up against the wall, smashing the plates, and make her start dinner all over again.

My grandfather would physically beat my grandmother.

Years later, when I suppose my mother was in her 20s or 30s, married and living away from her parents (as she was married to my father by this time), my grandfather became so violent on one occasion that my grandmother ran away from him, called my mother from a phone booth several streets away, and asked to come live with my Mom for a span of time (which she did for several weeks).

My mother died a few years ago, but one of her older sisters (my Aunt, who also died a couple of years back) confirmed all this for me in a few phone calls in the year or two before her passing – that her father, my grandfather, was physically abusing their mother (my grandmother).

Based upon what my mother, Aunt, and another Aunt told me, my maternal Grandmother had a “do nothing” mentality in the face of her abusive marriage.

My maternal Grandmother refused to divorce her abusive husband because, she would often tell these other family members, she “made her bed now must lie in it.”

One of my Aunts later confirmed that my maternal Grandmother was a “push over” and a doormat (i.e., she was codependent) – not just in regards to her marriage but with other people and situations.

I do believe all these factors and paradigms played a large part in why my grandmother held this attitude that she could not divorce her husband, why she didn’t take any steps to stop him, to leave him (other than the one occasion where she spent weeks at my mother’s house), or why she felt married women didn’t deserve any better in life and just had to put up with it, or what have you.

My grandmother was a very devout Christian, but I’m not sure to what degree she was against divorce or being assertive based on religious grounds, but I would not be surprised if her Christian beliefs did play a role in all that as well.

I believe there are several reasons why my own mother was codependent, and I am not going to outline all those reasons here.

I will say I strongly suspect one prominent reason my mother was so thoroughly codependent is that she did come from a home where her father was an abusive alcoholic.

Furthermore, my mother saw her mother cope with this situation not by standing up for herself, not by escaping, but acquiescing and adopting a passive stance. My mother probably felt if she tried to be agreeable and meek around her father when he was in one of his drunken stupors, she could escape any angry outbursts of his.

My mother carried this fear of conflict, and these mal-adaptive (codependent) coping methods, into adulthood. My mother passed these things on to me.

My mother taught me, role modeled for me, and indoctrinated me, to be codependent as well. So, I grew up being very codependent myself.

My mother taught me, or it was implied by her, that so long as I was codependent (i.e., very nice, kind, passive, unassertive – among other qualities) that I would attract giving, nice people in return.


However, over the course of my life, from my childhood into my adulthood, I ended up, in fact, attracting mean, selfish, bullying or abusive people to me, the way a moth is attracted to a flame.

The man I dated and was engaged to for a period of years financially exploited me and towards the last year or two we were engaged, he became somewhat emotionally and verbally abusive as well.

I could not figure this phenomenon out for the longest time.

I could not comprehend how it was that although I was very passive and nice, as my mother taught me to be, that I kept befriending or dating people who were self-absorbed or bullying, rather than nice and loving.

I didn’t figure out why this was happening until years after my mother died, and I stumbled across books that discussed, you guessed it: codependency.

Learning about codependency has been the greatest liberating thing to ever happen to me; it has turned my life around for the better.


I am having trouble accepting there are secular and Christian sites and domestic violence blogs that refuse to educate girls and women about codependency’s dangers and to point them to resources on how to escape it or to un-learn it, if they are involved in it.

Further, some of these sites (such as a Christian- based, anti- domestic violence blog, “A Cry for Justice“) will go so far as to censor your posts if you mention codependency in them – which happened to me earlier today (June 26, 2016).

That is a blog to which I have posted to before in the past, and to which I have shared my story months ago – so they know me, and they know my background – and they should also be aware of the fact I am there to help, not hurt people, and to simply share my experiences.

One of my recent posts there (at “A Cry For Justice” blog), the portion of which mentioned the term (codependency) in passing, as it applied to me and how learning about it helped me, was removed (as were, for some reason I cannot ascertain, other portions that did not mention codependency)!

I did leave a follow up post at “A Cry For Justice” blog (which was sitting in moderation last I saw) asking the moderators why my post was edited by them, but last I checked this evening, that post did not get an answer.

I appreciate that my post was allowed to be published at all on their blog, but I am disheartened and amazed they censored my post and continue to take an “anti-codependency” stance on their blog – because really, such a view and practice is not helping women in abusive relationships.

Normally, “A Cry for Justice” is a fine blog, and I think they sincerely care about abused women, but they are ultimately harming women by denying the negative role codependency can play in women’s lives and by refusing to allow people to talk about it on their site.

Here is another site whose author, Clare Murphy, phD, disputes that codependency affects women in abusive situations:

Are women who live with abusive partners codependent? –I may at a later time return to the topic of Murphy’s post later in this post or another and critique it.

Lundy Bancroft, author of a book about domestic violence entitled, “Why Does He Do That?” is regarded as an authority on the topic of domestic abuse. I own a copy of his book and have read the whole thing.

Regardless of Bancroft’s expertise, he is quite wrong to state in his book (on page 135) that abused women are not codependent (and there are other experts who disagree with him, which I shall return to later in this post).

Here is what Bancroft writes on that page:

Abused women aren’t “codependent.” It is abusers, not their partners, who create abusive relationships.”

While Bancroft is obviously quite knowledgeable about domestic abuse (and I recommend his materials), he does not seem to understand what codependency is, or the role it can and does play in abusive relationships.

If that quote is Bancroft’s take on codependency, he is very much mistaken and does not seem to understand what codependency is: credible people who write and teach about codependency do not teach that it is the woman’s codependency which “creates” abuse.

What authors about codependency do teach is that codependent tendencies and behaviors can attract abusive men to such women, and codependency is one thing that can and does often keep many women trapped in abusive (or other types of unhealthy) relationships much longer than they should stay.

Authors of articles and books on codependency and related issues often go to great pains to explain that discussions or descriptions of codependency in women are not intended to be “victim blaming,” and the authors further explain that a woman being codependent does not mean she “causes” abuse, enjoys it, or intentionally seeks it out.

These reputable authors of codependency always make it clear that abuse is the sole blame and responsibility of the abuser – not the victim, even if the victim is codependent.

Before I return to that topic, I want to address another.


I have read many blog posts, online magazine articles, and books by psychiatrists and other professionals in the mental health profession who have been in their respective fields for twenty or more years.

One odd habit I have seen time and again is that many authors, for some reason, refuse to use the term “codependent,” yet they will spend the rest of their post, article, or book describing behaviors that can and do fall under the umbrella of codependency.

For example, I have a book about exploitative and abusive relationships by a woman author who is described on the book jacket as being an expert on “emotional and sexual abuse.”

This author says in one of the opening chapters in her book that her book is “not about codependency.”

However, this author spends the remainder of the book describing all the typical habits, views, and tendencies practiced and believed by codependents and how these behaviors and views can harm women.

This author chooses to use synonyms for the word “codependent” in her book, such as “nice girls.”

I have a book by another author, one with a phD, who is a psychiatrist (who had something like 30 or more years of experience treating patients), who does not, as far as I can recall, ever use the word “codependent” in her book but who opts to use phrases such as “people pleasing,” “people pleaser,””mushy boundaries,” or “doormat,” rather than “codependent.”

But guess what? All the mindsets and behaviors this phD author spends this thick book describing as being “people pleasing” are identical to what you’ll find in books and blog posts about…. yes, codependency!

Even author Lundy Bancroft engages in this behavior in his book on domestic violence, “Why Does He Do That?

In preparation for this post, I dug out my copy of Bancroft’s book, in which, months ago, I made notations in the margins and inside book flap.

I noticed that on page 120 of my copy of the book, next to the heading “He appears to be attracted to vulnerability,” I wrote the word “Codependency” next to it, with an arrow pointing to the heading.

Why did I do that?

Because on that page, and the one or two that follows, Bancroft describes codependent women -or codependent behavior- but merely chooses to use the word “vulnerable” to describe them, their behaviors, or their reactions to controlling men.

Bancroft uses that section of the book to describe the traits some abusive men look for in women they wish to target, and most of those traits are the same thing as codependency, merely under another title (“vulnerability”).

Here is an example from Bancroft’s book where he is describing codependency –  but using other terms to describe it:

“I have had quite a number of clients [abusive men] over the years who are attracted to women who are vulnerable because of recent traumatic experiences in their lives… Some abusive men seek out a woman who comes from a troubled or abusive childhood, who has health problems, or who has suffered a recent severe loss, and present themselves as rescuers. Be alert for the man who seems to be attracted to power imbalances.” (page 121)

What happens when a women meets some of that criteria that Bancroft describes there? When a woman is vulnerable, or feels vulnerable, she will tend to exhibit behaviors or coping skills that fall under the heading of codependency: she will lack boundaries, be passive, and be easy to take advantage of.

All Bancroft indicates here is that some women may veer into codependency due to recent tragic life circumstances – with women such as myself, however, I was trained from childhood by my mother to internalize and exhibit codependent behavior.

Lesson learned: just because a doctor, psychiatrist, counselor, therapist, phD, or domestic abuse violence expert, is reluctant to use the word “codependent” in his or her writing – or even refuses to admit it plays a part in abuse – does not mean he or she is not actually discussing codependency.

These authors (such as Lundy Bancroft and others) are describing codependency and warning about its dangerous, harmful, or lethal consequences for women – but sometimes they do so without actually using the word “codependency,” but then amazingly, they turn around and discount codependency as being one factor of several in abusive relationships.

This is rather duplicitous of them, it’s dangerous for women and girls that they do this, and I cannot figure out why people who claim to be so deeply concerned about abused women, or for the safety of women, would behave in this manner.


Once I started reading about codependency, and recognized this was what my mother and I suffered from, my eyes were opened. The puzzle pieces fell into place.

I understood for the first time how and why I kept crossing paths with abusers, jerks, and users. I learned that to attract healthy, normal people into my life, that I had to un-learn the codependent behaviors and adopt new ones.

Please take note that none of this meant I was to blame for having been abused or taken advantage of.

Learning that you may be giving off signals that are appealing to abusers, liars, cheats, or jerks does not mean you are consciously asking to be treated poorly, that you want to be treated poorly, or that you are to blame.

I had to learn to leave the naive worldview of codependency behind to be able to see people for what they really are, so I could spot warning signs in people and steer clear of them, or else have the courage to stand up to them if it came to confrontation.

Once I learned about codependency and other topics that fall under that heading (such as being assertive and having boundaries), I became more adept at spotting or handling jerks or dangerous people.

I pause here to say: I realize that some sociopaths, abusers, and bullies wear masks and so you won’t always be able to figure out or recognize they are evil, mean, or dangerous until you have been sucked into their web years and years into the relationship.

However, I do think in many cases, abusers and jerks do give off warning signs – ones that you can spot if you know what to look for, and learn to give up codependent relational strategies (which can keep you blind to red flags, or leave you incompetent to handle them).

I want to explain in my specific case, my mother’s method of parenting created in me excellent people-reading skills, so I was very good at spotting abusers, mean people, and bullies in seconds after meeting them or observing them from a distance (say, while standing across from them at a room while at a party).

I had excellent “radar.” I could read people instantly. Why?

My mother taught me that I was prohibited from dealing with conflict head on; I was told it was wrong, selfish, unChristian, or mean to have boundaries.

I was taught that if someone hurt my feelings or offended me, I could not confront that person over the phone or face to face and simply tell them how they hurt me or angered me, and that I wanted that treatment to stop.

My mother would not allow me to even POLITELY address people about these things.

My mother did permit me one self defense mechanism: avoidance. My mother believed strongly in conflict avoidance.

She thought it was mean, un-Christian, selfish, or un-lady-like for a girl or woman to express anger, to defend herself verbally (even if done politely), or to be assertive.

Yes, my mother was accepting of me avoiding mean people, bullies, or people who I simply found annoying. She would allow me to physically hide from them in hallways at school when I was a kid, or, as a teen and an adult, do things such as screen their phone calls via an answering machine rather than talk to them.

My mother was fine with me simply staying away and hiding from people I was afraid of, or whom I disliked.

Consequently, I became an excellent, excellent people-reader.

When your only method of self defense is avoiding jerks, con artists, and abusers, you learn very quickly to size up people’s character and demeanor by observing them – by watching their body language, facial expression, tone of voice, how they treat others, and so on.

Living life as a conflict-avoider is an exhausting one, and I could never enjoy being around people, because I was always “on guard” when around them.

I find my life now as being more comfortable confronting people ten times more easy to live, and much of my clinical depression has lifted (because I’m no longer holding anger in-wards, for one thing).

I want to say that contrary to what some sites about domestic violence victims state:

  • It is simply not true that all domestic violence victims are not codependent (because some are).
  • It is further not true that women only became codependent, or take on codependent traits, after their marriages became abusive –
    The fact is, some women walk into abusive marriages or dating relationships precisely because they are ALREADY codependent (such as the case with my mother and myself).

It is very dangerous to teach girls and women to ignore the topic of codependency completely, or to portray the entire topic as though “diagnosing” some women as being codependent is “victim blaming” or that doing so is “pathologizing” targets of abuse.

I am myself a recovering codependent, and when I read books or blog posts on the topic, or related ones, and the authors tell me that my actions or behaviors can be categorized under the term “codependency” (or “people pleasing,” “vulnerability,” or other euphemisms), they explain that these habits are at the very root of many of my relational problems, and they offered steps on how to overcome this, and it helped me tremendously.

One of the reasons I ended up continually attracting mean, rude, selfish, or abusive people to myself for decades is precisely because of having been codependent.

One of the very reasons I ended up tolerating abusive behavior from an older sister of mine, as well as tolerating bad treatment from manipulative friends and former co-workers for many decades, was due to having been codependent.

Therefore, it really blows my mind and leaves me incredulous that there are scholars, psychologists, authors, doctors, or Christian abuse blogs who want to censor, demonize, or vilify the subject of codependency on their sites or in their books!

Reminder: I was in a financially abusive relationship with a man I was engaged to for several years because I was codependent: I lacked the assertiveness and so forth to issue boundaries and to tell him “no” every time he asked me for more money.

(My ex also grew a bit emotionally and verbally abusive towards the last several months or so of our relationship, and I was unable to stand up to him in those areas as well – because I was, once more, codependent.)


Ordinarily, I would recommend the blog A Cry for Justice for any girl or woman undergoing abuse, but please be aware that some of the moderators of that site will not share information about codependency with its readers (unless that information is to condemn or criticize the concept).

Here is a link to the page with a couple of my posts under it, which I made using my screen name “Daisy”, where I gave possible solutions to a woman facing abuse that referred to codependency:

The Silence of Our Friends – My Comment Link (A Cry for Justice Blog)

Note: the link directly above is to a specific post of mine I made on that blog which was apparently never approved by the moderators to appear – it was the one where I mentioned codependency.

(The thread’s main link is here: The Silence of Our Friends)

The post by me I direct your attention to on that page has a time stamp of 10:44 AM. It is my second post on that page (I am unable to directly link to it).

I wrote much of the above post on this blog in June 2016. It is now October 2016.

I have no idea if in the time I was last on that page at “A Cry For Justice” blog if they published my posts or suppressed them or published them yet modified them. (I don’t want to visit that page at this point in time and see for myself.)

As far as I can recall, the last time I was at that page, I do know that they modified at least one of my posts that I left in that thread (without asking my permission first or notifying me first) to remove references about codependency from my reply. I find that very troubling.


Any person, site, book, or organization that claims to care about the safety and well-being of women but that refuses to give the topic of codependency a fair hearing and will not share information about codependency to victims is ultimately harming women, not helping.

I realize that some women may start out a relationship NOT being codependent but only develop codependent behaviors as a coping mechanism until they escape, but such a rationale is not a legitimate reason to discount educating girls and women about codependency.

Viewing codependency as being pathologizing or as being “victim-blaming” is a very skewed understanding and distorted take on the matter. 

Learning about codependency from reading books and blogs about it by mental health professionals has been so helpful to me. I think many girls and women would also find information about it to be just as helpful.

Please disregard the well-meaning secular experts on domestic abuse, or well-meaning Christians out there who write regularly about abuse, who want  you to avoid learning about codependency.

Besides, I find that a really odd view and practice – why not point women to these resources about codependency, and allow them to read up on it, and make up their own minds about it? – and I don’t just mean links that are hyper-critical of the issue and that make codependency look bad, but link to pages that present a fair, neutral, educational stance.

As I explained in another previous post or two on this blog, unfortunately, many Christians, especially the ones who teach a belief called “gender complementarianism” confuse complementarianism for women with codependency.

Many Christians, the complementarians above all,  are teaching girls and women that qualities such as being passive and lacking boundaries are some of the traits of “biblical womanhood” that God wants females to have – which is false; God does not want women or girls to adhere to these behaviors. (See my previous posts for more on that topic.)

Codependent thought patterns and behaviors – and gender complementarianism – leaves girls and women wide open to being taken advantage of more easily by dishonest people, than teaching women and girls that it’s acceptable for them to be assertive and to have boundaries. Again, I cover that more in previous posts, so I shall not go on more about that here.


If you would like to read more about the topic of codependency, and how to avoid jerks, users, and abusers very early on in relationships, and how to react when someone is unfair or rude to you, please see the following books (chapters of which can be read for free on Google books) or other resources:

Note 1: some of authors of the books or pages linked to below deny that their book or page is about codependency; or they do not use the word “codependency” in their writing – but that is exactly what these books are discussing.

Note 2: not all advice on how to deal with rude, hateful, or mean people will be applicable in violent marriages, where, for example, an abusive husband might severely beat or even murder his wife if she stands up to him or tries to leave him (for that, you may want to contact a local domestic abuse shelter in your area. They would be able to help you safely leave your abuser, if you choose to leave).

However, reading up on codependency can help you spot abusive behavior early in relationships, and, at the very least, makes you realize that YOU are NOT to blame for the abuse, but your ABUSER IS RESPONSIBLE.


The Nice Girl Syndrome: Stop Being Manipulated and Abused – and Start Standing Up for Yourself

The Verbally Abusive Relationship  by Patricia Evans

The Disease to Please: Curing the People-Pleasing Syndrome by Harriet Braiker

Boundaries: When To Say Yes, When To Say No by Henry Cloud and John Townsend

No More Christian Nice Girl by Paul Coughlin and Jennifer Degler

The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals That Protect Us from Violence by Gavin de Becker


Symptoms of Codependency

The Problem of Codependency

Three Causes of Christian Codependency

27 Codependency Characteristics (Person Addiction)

Christians: Stop Being So Nice

When Religion Goes Bad: Part 3 — Religious Codependency

Why It Pays To Be A Jerk

(This is a list which I may amend in the future when I come across other pertinent links)

Some of My previous (or other) posts on this topic:

Abuse, Codependency, and Males

ACFJ Blog’s Hennessy Domestic Violence Series: Yes, Codependency Makes An Appearance

If You Act Like A Victim, You Will Likely Be Victimized – And: Complementarians Ask Women and Girls to Be Small To Make Men Feel Big

‘Submit to Your Husbands’: Women Told To Endure Domestic Violence In The Name of God (via ABC Aussie news)

A Critique of Shahida Arabi’s “Abuse Victims Are Not Codependent, They’re Trauma Bonded”

Basic Overview of Codependency – And How Some Christians Misunderstand or Misrepresent Codependency

Expressing Anger is Healthy. Here’s How Parents Can Encourage Their Girls to Get Angry and Show It by K. Rope

Christian Gender Complementarianism is Christian-Endorsed Codependency for Women (And That’s Not A Good Thing)

Gender Complementarianism: Marriage, Singleness, Purpose, Identity, Domestic Abuse

The topic of Codependency, (which encompasses, but is not limited to, concepts such as assertiveness and boundaries), is NOT a “victim-blaming” one and has a place in helping girls and women make healthier choices for themselves and what they will and will not tolerate in relationships.

11 thoughts on “• Codependency Is Real And It Can Leave Women Vulnerable to Being Abused or Taken Advantage Of

  1. I volunteer with a group that helps victims of domestic violence and abuse. As a result I had the opportunity to attend a seminar by Dr. George Simon, considered by some a leading expert on manipulators and other problem characters. In his seminars and on his websites he discusses how pop-psychology culture and professionals, even professionals with PhDs, commonly misuse psychology terms – codependency being one of them.

    What you have described may indeed be a form of dependency, but Dr. Simon finds that the “vast majority of the time I hear someone use the term codependency what they’re really describing is just plain dependency, or more specifically, emotional dependency.” Additionally there are other types of dependency to be considered.

    It may be that, like Dr. Simon, other websites and professionals do not label domestic violence victims as codependent because by definition it is a misuse of the term, rather victims may be, for example, emotionally dependent, in a mutually dependent relationship, or just plain dependent.

    Two articles by Dr. Simon that explain the history of and misuse of the term codependency can be found here:



    For your consideration.

      • As an addictions counsellor and psychotherapist in the field of family violence for 20 years, I would say that Dr. Simon’s definition of “addiction” is quite narrow. He only identifies “chemical dependency” as “addiction.” Chemical, or biological, dependence on a mood altering substance does indeed lead to “tolerance” and “withdrawal.” Powerful psychological dynamics, however, can also create what is properly called an “addictive” cycle. Sex addiction, for instance, is a very real problem. People engage in compulsive behavior, and have difficulty stopping this behavior even when they are profoundly aware that is has become harmful even to themselves. Like chemical dependency, these other types of psychological compulsions also tend to be driven by shame.

        In terms of domestic abuse, male perpetrators are often driven by a compulsive need to project their shame onto their victims, and then exercise power and control over them. Methods include verbal, emotional, financial, spiritual, physical and sexual abuse. In addition to being harmful and compulsive, these behaviors also further reinforce the perpetrators sense of shame (basic worthlessness/badness); this dynamic generates a self-perpetuating cycle.

        In this context “codependency” is an extremely important topic. Why? Complementarian (aka patriarchal) theology encourages women to take responsibility for men’s behavior. It teaches women that it is their job to appease abusive men. Women are told that they must be “submissive” to men; they are also told to be “meek” and “modest.” If they are not, the theory goes, then they will “cause men to stumble.” This theology encourages women to focus their efforts on “fixing” men, or preventing men from experiencing difficulty. It makes women responsible for a man’s behavior, rather than encouraging men to be responsible for their own issues. It does not allow women to take responsibility for their own safety and well-being. In other words complementarian theology encourages a pattern of relating (codependence) that is harmful to women in abusive relationships.

        I can understand how the term “codependent” has been misused perhaps by some to blame women for men’s behavior. It should be recognized, however, that this misuse of the term convey’s the exact opposite of what many people mean when they use the word.

        Whatever language we choose to use, we should recognize that one word can have different meanings to different people. Rather than defining other people’s words for them–an intellectual boundary violation–we should ask/explore what people’s words mean to them. Whatever term we use to help women *not* take responsibility for men’s behavior, we need to be able to discuss this dynamic and any theology that wrongly reinforces it.

        • Thank you Bob for your comments.

          I have done several other posts on this blog, mentioning a lot of the same points you raised.

          If I remember correctly, the word or concept of codependency first was used in conjunction to describe how or why some people stay in a relationship with an alcoholic, but the term later came to be used to describe a person who stays in any rotten relationship and tolerates a lot of crummy behavior.

          My mother was very codependent and raised me to be the same. I was taught that having boundaries would be mean or un-lady-like, so I was supposed to float through life allowing other people to mistreat me.

          I was taught not to even politely correct someone if they were treating me poorly. All that conflict avoidance and lack of boundaries is absolutely enabling – it just sets up a dynamic where the abuser can keep abusing and never be held accountable.

          I mention in an older post or two that Christian gender complementarianism is nothing but codependency for women.

          I even made a table with a side by side comparison showing how similar complementarianism is to codependency.

          My understanding of the word or concept of codependency is much like how you’ve explained it in your post. I’ve never thought of the word as being one that “victim blames” women.

          I actually found it a very liberating concept to learn about, to finally realize that no, I am not responsible for other people’s rude or abusive behavior, I don’t have to put up with it, and it’s okay for me to have boundaries.

          But there are some sites out there, including ones otherwise very good, such as a Christian blog that helps women in abusive marriages, who consider the term victim-blaming, so they censor its mention or discussion on their sites.

          • Thank you for sharing your story. Like you, many people have found this concept liberating. We are not responsible for others’ rude or abusive behavior, and we are indeed permitted to have boundaries and take responsibility for our own needs. As you mentioned, the trouble with complementarian theology is that it teaches that codependence is actually God’s will, especially for women. Simply put, that is a lie that leads to bondage. The truth will set us free. I’ve noticed that you share some helpful resources on this topic, and I’d like to share another that you might find encouraging:

  2. Daisy, I meant to comment on your article when you first published it and it slipped my mind. I wanted to convey to you that I thought you gave this topic your ‘all’ – it’s very well written and makes excellent points. I don’t understand, either, why those blog sites would not allow your comments. I did some research, however, and it seems that there are two schools of thought on the issue. Obviously, the women at A Cry for Justice take the stand that ANY kind of observance like yours suggests that a woman is being indirectly blamed for her abuse. I think you laid out your case well, in that you are suggesting that there are powerful emotional reasons why women would become involved with partners who then take advantage of their dependency. I see exactly what you are trying to say. It is unfortunate that others would spurn your valid points.

  3. Daisy,

    I agree with you about A Cry for Justice blog not permitting the topic of codependency to be discussed, as though it is victim-blaming. I appreciate many of the articles and comments over there. I disagree, like you, with their stance. Yes, people do learn to become doormats! And many times they learned it in a dysfunctional family, like one where alcoholism exists.

    Good for you for your journey of healing.

    Hugs from California,


    • Hello, Velour!
      Sorry I did not get around to approving your comment to appear until now (March) when you apparently first posted it in late Feb., but I’ve not been online as much lately, and sometimes I don’t log in as my Miss Daisy screen name for a good, long while.

      Yes, I was and am disappointed that the folks over at A Cry For Justice blog censored my posts – they edited out the parts where I mentioned codependency. I find it sad and alarming that they consider Codependency a “taboo” topic at their site.

      I can say that codependency played a role in my mother’s life – she was abused by an alcoholic father and one of her siblings or two. She passed codependency on to me as a way to live life and deal with people – I think she mixed it up with gender complementarian- type teachings. (My mother felt that God intended for Christians in general, but for girls / women especially, to be passive, sweet doormats.)

      I really wish that ACFJ blog would just allow that topic to be discussed or linked to at their site, and allow their women readers to arrive at their own conclusions.

      Once I found out that codependency was at the core of a lot of my issues (such as depression and anxiety, and my fear of people), most of my problems cleared up!

      I now realize I can be assertive and stand up for myself. I realize I don’t have to be codependent (a doormat). People find it much harder now to push me around than before, and I have more self-esteem.

      You would assume that the ACFJ bloggers would want other women to be exposed to the same information I was, so that they may benefit from it (assuming it’s one of their issues as well).

      Thanks again for dropping by. 🙂

      Edit. P.S. –
      I do think that ACFJ is an excellent resource for women (or men) who have been abused in marriage or by churches, and I do think the bloggers behind it are well-meaning, wonderful people who sincerely want to help others.

      I just disagree with them on this one topic. I don’t mean to impugn them or their entire blog.

      • Hi Daisy, Thanks for your blog post and your kind response. I knew you were tied up and I and others have been praying for you. Good insights you have and I agree completely. Hugs, Velour

  4. My goal for victims is to become strong and independent. That is what you are doing. You have finally identified your problem that was part of your raising and found a solution. What’s not to like? Why is sharing that a problem on abuse blogs?

    One thing I learned is that abusers rarely change. So if their (blogs)problem is victim shaming, I think they are missing the most important part of the process. It’s not shaming to recognize and change the part we played in allowing it to go on. That is gaining Independence.

    One of the things that wearies me about abuse blogs is they don’t really go into solutions. Some of the Christian ones think it is too mean. Some think we have to show compassion to abusers. (they love that).

    Abusers despise and even fear strong, wise, independent people. They tend to avoid them unless they think they can gain something. Sometimes showing them you won’t back down makes them avoid you in the future. But then you have to risk looking mean because they will do it publicly as ‘nice’ when you know better. Abusers are the masters. You just have to not care. The creepy part of all this is we don’t think like them so it’s a learning curve.

    I am disappointed about the blogs and psychologists. Codependents have targets on their backs. I think it’s in their best interest to educate themselves how they can avoid the pattern.

    • @ Lydia,

      Hey, I friended you on Twitter on my @MsDaisyFlower twitter account (here is a link to my Daisy Twitter page – the link should open in a new browser window).
      At least I think it was you. I was wondering if you would or could follow me back on that account so I could send you a DM (private message)?

      As to your comments about my original blog post about codependency…

      Yeah, I don’t get it.

      I tried discussing this subject at Christian blog ‘A Cry for Justice’ months ago under one post they made, but they prohibit codependency from being mentioned there.

      They censored my posts to remove that content from my comments, because one of the admins on the site read a paper or two by a psychiatrist (or someone) who declared the topic “victim blaming.”

      So, the admins there take that psychiatrist’s (or author’s, or whomever’s it was) word over mine, and I’m a real live person who was speaking based on her personal experience (and that of my mother).

      I guess my lived experience (and my mom’s) counts for nothing.

      So, the admins there feel codependency is a victim-blaming concept.
      -Which is absolutely shocking to me, because reading about that subject and how to over-come it has liberated and empowered me.

      (I still have some other hang-ups and issues I’m dealing with in life, though, but learning about this particular subject has been very helpful to me.)

      I sure didn’t feel I was being victim-blamed by blog posts or books I read whose authors educated me as to what codependency was and how to stop doing it.

      It was in my own self-interest to learn about these issue and stop engaging in behaviors that made me irresistible to jerks, abusers, and con-artists.

      These books gave me permission to stand up to abusive treatment by others! The authors encouraged me to stand up for myself, say “no” when I wanted to say “no,” and to be assertive.

      I never got that permission from my (Christian) mother, or in churches I went to, or from other Christians. Rather, when I went to other Christians on how to deal with conflict and with bullies, I was always taught to stifle anger, be a doormat, etc, because that is what Jesus wants Christians to do, especially Christian girls and women.

      I think a lot of people confuse learning about how taking precautions to avoid “X” is the same thing as blaming someone if “X” happens to them. And I don’t see it as being the same thing.

      For instance, if I tell you that you can possibly reduce your chances of being robbed at home by locking your doors at night…

      That is NOT THE SAME THING as saying you are at fault and “to blame” if someone does indeed break into your home in the middle of the night and steal your TV set (whether your house was locked up or not).

      I would not say you are “to blame” if someone steals your TV from your house. (The blame still falls squarely on the jerk who breaks into your home and rips off your electronics.)

      The only thing I’m communicating is that hey, I don’t want to see you get robbed in the first place, and maybe it would reduce your chances of being a target if you lock up at night.

      But this sort of thinking is considered “victim blaming” at certain abuse survivor blogs and by many liberal feminists.

      If you scroll up the comments here on my blog page, some lady dropped by a few months ago to link me to more stuff by other people who also consider it “victim-blaming” to mention that codependency may or can play a role in a woman’s abuse. Sigh.

      I am just bewildered that a tool that can possibly be helpful to girls and women is being censored and bad-mouthed, and supposedly by people who say they care about girls and women!!

      Why not just put the topic out there on these other blogs, and allow the readers to make up their own minds about it?

      Another thing, too, which the admins at ACFJ blog are well aware, and I have seen them politely correct folks on:

      People should not “tell” domestic violence victims what to do. Rather, they have written, ‘just present them with information (books, links, etc) and allow them to make up their own minds.’

      I read Bancroft’s book about domestic violence, so I do understand this rationale: abused women often don’t think for themselves, because their abuser barks orders at them constantly, so they do not do their own thinking; they are “ordered around.”

      They are also constantly living in fear, on edge, and don’t have the “down time” or peace of mind to reflect on and to ponder on things.

      Also, in order for abuse victims to leave their jerk spouse once and for all, THEY have to see it’s okay to leave permanently, because a lot of them have been programmed by gender role teachings in churches, and so on, that it’s mean, wrong, or selfish to divorce a creep.

      Unless the victim knows that she knows that it’s okay to leave an abuser forever, she may keep engaging in this pattern of leaving the jerk for a few weeks, come back for months, leave again, come back, leave, come back, etc.

      I’ve seen the admins from that blog explain all this to visitors.

      If they truly believe victims should be able to reach their own conclusions on topics, then why not present them with facts about codependency as well, and allow the victims (their blog readers) to determine if it is helpful or useful to them or not??

      You said,

      It’s not shaming to recognize and change the part we played in allowing it to go on. That is gaining Independence.

      I agree completely!

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