A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

How Miles Davis misrepresented his assault of his wife Frances: a case study in the language of abusers

Here is the account which jazz musician Miles Davis gives of the first time he assaulted his wife, Frances.

I loved Frances so much that for the first time in my life I found myself jealous. I remember I hit her once when she came home and told me some shit about Quincy Jones being handsome. Before I realized what had happened, I had knocked her down… I told her not to ever mention Quincy Jones’ name to me again, and she never did… Every time I hit her, I felt bad because a lot of it really wasn’t her fault but had to do with me being temperamental and jealous. I mean, I never thought I was jealous until I was with Frances. Before, I didn’t care what a woman did; it didn’t matter to me because I was so into my music. Now it did and it was something that was new for me, hard for me to understand.
Miles: The autobiography, by Miles Davis in collaboration with Quincy Troupe, 1990, p. 228)

Allan Wade and his colleague Linda Coates say there are four major ways in which language can be used to construct an account of violence which misrepresents the nature of the act, the actions of the perpetrator, the responsiblity of the perpetrator, and the actions of the victim. And the flip side — there are four major ways in which language can be used to construct an account of violence which accurately represents the nature of the act, the actions of perpetrator, the responsibility of the perpetrator, and the actions of the victim.

In the heading of the following table the word ‘discursive’ simply means ‘relating to discourse or modes of discourse.’ In other words, the ways people speak and write.

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Readers, let us analyse this account from Miles Davis. How does he construct his account to misrepresent the act, his actions, and the actions of Frances? Let us try to apply the idea of the four discursive operations of language to Miles Davis’s account.

  1. How does Davis conceal and misrepresent his violence against Frances?
  2. How does he mitigate and obfuscate his responsiblity?
  3. How does he conceal Frances’s resistance?
  4. How does he blame and implicity pathologize Frances?

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With grateful acknowledgements to Allan Wade and Linda Coates, especially their article Langauge and Violence: Analysis of Four Discursive Operations. This link takes you to an online pdf of that article which was originally published in the Journal of Family Violence (2oo7) 22:511-522.

Readers: once you’ve had a go at analyzing Davis’s account, you might like to go to the article in that link and see how Coates and Wade analyzed it. Look for their analysis of Davis’s account on page four of the pdf.  

My soul clings to the dust (Psalm 119: 25-32)

My soul clings to the dust;
    give me life according to your word!
When I told of my ways, you answered me;
    teach me your statutes!
Make me understand the way of your precepts,
    and I will meditate on your wondrous works.
My soul melts away for sorrow;
    strengthen me according to your word!
Put false ways far from me
    and graciously teach me your law!
I have chosen the way of faithfulness;
    I set your rules before me.
I cling to your testimonies, O Lord;
    let me not be put to shame!
I will run in the way of your commandments
    when you enlarge my heart!

Dear Readers, feel free to say how this relates to your situation.

* * *

Related post: Psalm 119 has a lot in it for survivors of abuse

“To every man an answer,” but if it’s an abused woman, let’s lance her!

“My husband is cruel and says mean things quite often and still thinks I should be sexually available. What do I do about this?”  This was the question that a woman called Erin asked on a Christian radio call-in show, To Every Man an Answer, where callers can phone with any kind of spiritual question.

On the day when Erin phoned in, there were three hosts: Mike Kestler, Mike Fabarez and Leo Giovinetti. A link to the full broadcast is here. Erin’s call begins at 3:56 and ends at 16:24.  She talked for 3:23 of the those 12 ½ minutes; the rest of the time the male panel were talking.

Many thanks to our reader Valerie for this post.



I came across this program after listening to countless sermons by Mike Fabarez of Focal Point Ministries. I have found his exegetical teaching to be biblically accurate, so when I heard his response to this caller I was dumbfounded and disappointed on many levels. In all the messages from Mike Fabarez that I’d heard previously, he was quick to make the distinction between those truly saved and those who aren’t saved, and would support that distinction from scripture without shying away from those truths.

When I looked into Mike Kestler and Leo Giovinetti, whom I had not heard of prior to this program, I found some disturbing information. I found additional troubling information regarding Mike Kestler’s recent return to the public airways since the 2007 scandal.

As I listened to the call from Erin I was horrified at the responses by the trio of pastors. The abuse Erin described sounds similar to what I would imagine pastors are hearing on a regular basis from those who are seeking help for abuse. I thought transcribing this and discussing it as a group would be beneficial for us as well as for those who are currently in Erin’s position. I wanted Erin and others like her to have a voice — for us to stand up and say how deplorable this “counsel” was. The transcription is in black and my comments (with a few additions from Barb) are in blue.

Trigger Warning: spiritual abuse and awful counseling in what the radio panel say to Erin.

The Call

Mike Kestler:  How may we help?

Erin:  My husband and I are both Christian and we are having a problem sexually that I’d like some guidance in. Basically to put it in a nutshell my husband is very mean to me sometimes. He says very cruel things at times (quivering voice) — often actually.  A lot of the silent treatment, a lot of ignoring and the things that comes out of his mouth sometimes just amaze me. Yet he feels I should be always available to him sexually, without an apology, without any kind of conversation about what he has said or done to hurt me. And if I am hurt and I don’t feel like being sexual at the time, it just is fuel for the fire.

We have gone to counseling but he’s left after about three sessions and wouldn’t do any of the assignments and he just refuses to go to counseling. So, counseling I have to assume at this point is not an option.   I understand what the scriptures say about each partner being available to one another sexually and that we only get to take a time to not have sex and then come back together.  I understand all that, but I need to know how to think about this because it is very difficult to have sex with someone who hurts you so much.

Erin is showing that abiding by God is important to her. She calls to a Christian radio station for help and shows that she wants to abide by scripture. The behavior she recounts is quite pernicious. Her husband shows obvious malevolence toward her. What she is describing is a pattern and not isolated incidents. She also indicates that if she says she would prefer not to have sex because she feels upset, he punishes her for not giving him the response he desires. His hard-heartedness seems to be even more straightforward when she states that he refuses to go to counseling AND wouldn’t even do the homework!

She shows what I believe to be a sign of emotional abuse from the marriage when she says she needs to know “how to think” about the issue. She doesn’t ask for their opinion or doesn’t say she’s confused about that verse. She literally asks them “how” to think. She does, however, show awareness that it is abuse in calling his words “cruel” and by indicating this happens often (not just sometimes). She doesn’t make excuses for him either. 

She doesn’t say she won’t or can’t have sex with him because of his cruelty but rather that it is difficult. Her words do not indicate any hard-heartedness. She doesn’t even ask how she can get him to treat her more kindly! She’s in essence just saying “help” and that she’s open to feedback.

Mike Kestler: Well, dear, we are sorry to hear that you’re going through this.  It’s always a heartbreak. Mike, your thoughts?

Always a heartbreak? So this situation is just garden variety and these guys hear stories like it all the time?

We don’t know if he is referring to Erin or her husband also when he says “you’re going through this.” The second person pronoun could be singular or plural. And Kestler obscures the husband’s wicked conduct (the cause of Erin’s distress), airbrushing the husband out of the picture by referrring vaguely to it’s— “It’s always a heartbreak.”

Mike Fabarez: Well, it’s hard and it’s difficult for us because we always, when we’re hurt, we want to hurt back — that’s our tendency. But the Bible tries to constantly get us to remember that we cannot repay evil for evil or insult for insult. And it’s interesting, I’m quoting 1st Peter chapter 3 verse 9, just preceding that it speaks of wives who have husbands that are disobedient, and I’m sure that would include all kinds of things that are hurtful or insulting. And the way to win them, that text says — and I’m sure you’re familiar with it; you sound like you know your Bible — is to make sure that we don’t fall into retaliation with our behavior or action, but really try to win them over by our kindness, our respectful behavior, our purity.  All the things that I know are very difficult as Jesus did trying to overcome evil with good, as it says in Romans chapter 12.

Now that doesn’t mean that we don’t have the feelings and we don’t struggle with a difficulty, but what we do need to recognize is that the kind of help that your husband needs is going to be found as you pray and intercede for him and get him in contact with the right kind of the disciplers and leaders and pastors in your church to get involved in his life.

But we need to remember as you’re honest in relaying your concern and your hurt that we don’t get into the behavior of insult and retaliation and saying “I’m going to withhold intimacy because I’m mad at him.”  You can be honest, you can have those conversations, but just remember how easy that gets to escalate the problem. We can’t escalate the problem by continuing to say “Well I’m just going to keep him from what he may want here in this situation because he’s not giving me what I want.” Overcome evil with good.  Extra time, extra generous, extra loving, extra — all of those things. And recognize that while you may feel like a doormat that whole 2nd book of Peter, not just 1st Peter but 1st and 2nd Peter, constantly remind us that God has a way of overcoming evil and disrespect and anger with good.

Now I’m not talking about anything criminal. I’m not talking being abused or beaten by your husband. I’m just talking about those arguments that I think every couple has and remembering that there’s so much you can do with your kindness and your generosity — as hard as that is.

Wow. I hardly know where to begin. Mike Fabarez starts in with accusatory statements, presumptuously inferring that Erin’s chief temptation is to retaliate against her husband. He censoriously implies that if she were to resist complying with her husband’s selfish and callous demands, she would be ‘repaying evil with evil’. To launch on that offensive without even speaking to her pain is unconscionable!  It boggles the mind as to where he’s reading into her words to think that she is paying her husband back or retaliating in any way. I don’t hear anger in Erin’s words, only pain and confusion.

Fabarez minimizes the husband’s conduct by calling it “hurtful or insulting” when he ought to have used words like self-centred, wicked, domineering, cruel.  Erin herself used the word “cruel”; Fabarez ought to have picked up on that and reiterated that the husband was being cruel, in order to help Erin feel validated.

Further, he ought to have clearly stated that Erin’s husband’s conduct falls within the definition of Domestic Abuse/Family Violence/Intimate Partner Violence.

In his use of 1 Peter 3, he showed unfair bias by citing verse 9 and alluding to verses 1-6, but skipping verse 7 where it states that husbands who do not treat their wives honourably and with understanding will have their prayers hindered. 

He borders on accusing her of actually escalating the problem! When he tells Erin, “We can’t escalate the problem by continuing to say “Well I’m just going to keep him from what he may want here in this situation because he’s not giving me what I want,” he is wickedly putting words into Erin’s mouth. She didn’t say she ever withheld sex from her husband, she simply said how hard she found it to comply with his expectation of sex in the contex of his frequent cruelty towards her. He makes an unfounded claim that she is already spitefully and willfully withholding sex from her husband when he uses the word “continuing”. While it is true that Christians should not pay insult for insult, Fabarez is insulting Erin when he insinuates negative traits in Erin that are speculative and without basis. 

He then whams her again in saying her issue is that she’s not getting what she wants. Hang on! She’s not complaining because they aren’t vacationing enough, she’s asking how to deal with a situation where her husband is treating her cruelly!   

Fabarez also fails to consider the abuser’s ultimate good. He says that giving time, love and generosity is what is good for the abuser — but he makes no mention of what good it may actually do for the abuser to be held accountable. Holding him accountable would be respectful and kind; and if done with the right motive, pure. (I find this disconnect so ironic because I have heard many of Mike F’s teachings in which he talks about why it is loving to discipline children. What kind of a society would we have if we applied his reasoning to rearing children?) He also doesn’t acknowledge that what he wants Erin to give extra of, her husband is not willing to give her a little of. 

Erin had already told the panel that her husband has dug in his heels over professional counseling. But Fabarez discounts what she said. He advises Erin to “get him in contact with the right kind of the disciplers and leaders and pastors in your church to get involved in his life.” AARRH!  Why would this husband comply with discipleship from leaders and pastors in the church? Not only is Fabarez living in la la land, he is ignoring Erin’s testimony and patronizingly insulting her good common sense.

The only reason a responsibility-resistant husband would ‘comply’ with discipleship is if he gauged that the disciplers were so clueless about abusers that he could do a snow job on them. 

It is quite disturbing that Fabarez thinks of abuse as only restricted to acts that are criminal (“I’m not talking about anything criminal. I’m not talking being abused or beaten by your husband.”) He does sin-levelling and mutualizing when he refers to her abuse as “arguments every couple has”. Hey, do all married people give the silent treatment as punishment and regularly talk cruelly to each other? Pastors, is that taking place in YOUR marriages? There’s “so much” she can do with kindness and generosity? How far has that gotten her? How far did it get Jesus? 

Mike Kestler then carries on the la la land theme—

Mike Kestler: Erin, have you consulted your pastor at your church about this?

Erin:  I have.  My husband did not want me to.

Ding, ding, ding! Do they not hear the sirens screaming at that statement? Her husband doesn’t want the church involved. Keep in mind that he also has refused professional counseling. To recap: Erin was proactive with both professional and pastoral counseling and her husband’s response was refusal to both. 

Mike Kestler: Well, because I think that you know, there’s probably some type of accountability of the way he treats you I think probably needs to be addressed. Leo, any last thoughts?

Ya think? Kestler dances around the idea of accountability. He doesn’t give her guidance in what accountability might look like — no practical suggestions. It’s almost like Kestler knows that the word ‘accountablity’ is a catch word to throw out for its fairy-dust effect, so that listeners think he knows what he’s talking about. 

Leo Giovanetti: Well, honey, he’s not going to change until God changes his heart. And like Mike Fabarez says that takes prayer. And I’d get girlfriends together, put him on prayer chains. You know, don’t give out discrete details but just [say] ‘a wife is being verbally abused, she’s being hurt, she’s being smothered and crushed by lack of biblical love and biblical behavior from her husband. Would you please pray that God changes both of our hearts.’ Because without God changing his heart you could put him through a thousand courses and if, you know, he learns what the right behavior is, but doesn’t have the heart to do it, then you’re going to be stuck. And so this kind only comes out with fasting and prayer. This kind is something that you get your closest girlfriends together. You don’t give out details. You don’t talk demeaning about him and get your little group together and [start a] ‘we all hate my husband’ kind of thing. But you do need to really start praying and fasting for this man.

And then what Mike Fabarez says is true — part of Christianity is loving people who are impossible to love. It just is. It comes with the deal we made with Jesus. That we would pray for those who despitefully use us and that we would be gracious.

Honey? Isn’t that a bit belittling or overly familiar?

A dim light of truth finally erupts:  the abuser will not change until God changes his heart. But does God forcibly change hearts? The Spirit convicts sinners of their sin; but if the sinner fights against that conviction, does God crush and overthrow that person’s willful resistance? We are transformed when we submit to Him, but does God violate our free will? Leo takes the responsibility off her husband by indicating it is God who needs to act, and then drives home his main claim: that it’s Erin’s responsibility to get God to act. (BTW — War Room was promoted on this station’s FB page.)

Thumbs down when he encourages her emotional isolation by restricting what she shares. Thumbs up for acknowledging she’s being ABUSED!! I would have preferred he not take a detached position from this by referring to her as “a wife” but instead making his speech first person to validate her. Leo also rightly notes that the husband lacks biblical love, and even seems to correct himself by rephrasing it to behavior rather than love

He negates all this validation, however, when he declares that BOTH of their hearts need to be changed. While no one is without sin or in need of growth, it would have been more accurate to say “Would you please pray that God changes the husband’s heart, and heals the wife’s trauma.”  All people are sinful, but there can still be an innocent spouse. Abuse is never mutual. There is the oppressor. And there is the oppressed. Period. 

Two thumbs up for recognizing that without a heart transplant, no head-knowledge of what he should be doing will change her husband. But again he puts the responsibility on God. In previous episodes I’ve heard Leo affirm his continuationist position and his fasting and prayer statement seems to allude to that. (Note, the words and fasting are only in some manuscripts of Mark 9:29.)

However, when Jesus said, “this kind comes out only by prayer [and fasting],” he was talking about kind of spirit which he cast out of the boy. Here is question: is there anything in scripture telling us how or where we should apply the “only comes out by prayer” precept to other situations? I don’t believe there is. 

And here is another point: While the boy was demonized by the mute and deaf spirit, his conduct wasn’t characterized by cruelty towards others. The boy’s behavior chiefly harmed himself, so there is little parallel between the boy’s behavoir and the abusive husband’s behavior:

whenever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. … And when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. (Mark 9:18-20)]

Leo simply drags in that scripture from Mark 9 to force the ‘pray harder’ dictum on Erin. Leo would probably shy away from saying on radio that Erin’s husband is demonized — that would be sticking his neck out too far and risking his reputation as a ‘wise counselor.’ Yet he’s happy to counsel a vulnerable abused wife to pray harder — that doesn’t put him at risk — and he throws in the ‘prayer and fasting’ reference to make it sound like he’s spiritually astute and has the authority of God’s Word backing up his advice. 

Leo continues: Mike Kestler, I know in your lifetime you have gone through all kinds of things that have been unfair, and yet, to me, you always seem to bounce to the top again because you just take your eyes off that and get back on Jesus.

This makes me uncomfortable, especially given Kestler’s history (troubling information). Leo seems to imply that Erin’s situation would be improved by taking her eyes off the unfairness and getting her focus back on Christ. Hey, what makes Leo think her eyes aren’t focused on Christ? After all, she rang a ‘C’hristian station: her focus is on how to live as a follower of Christ! But Leo just tosses off the christianese aphorisms. His “christ” sounds more like a genie in a bottle — and she and her friends have to prayer-rub that bottle real hard so their prayer comes to pass. 

Mike Kestler: Well, I believe that again is where we have to go. Now Erin, is there something in particular that he says he wants you to do that you may be — and I’m not talking about the sexual thing. I’m  talking about day-to-day living — is there something he says, “Well, the reason I act this way is because. . .”  Does he ever bring up anything like that?

Inferentially blaming the victim. And making the foolish assumption that when an abuser explains why he acts the way he acts, he will tell the truth!  And making the foolish assumption that an abuser actually wants his marriage to have two-way transparent honest respectful mutual communication negotiation and problem solving, for the equal wellbeing of both parties. In fact, abusers want none of those things. They simply want power-over and services rendered.  

So, to sum up thus far: they are claiming or inferring that Erin is retaliating, that she’s not being loving enough, not praying enough — and now she is perhaps complicit in the abuse by failing to do things her husband wants her to do. What exactly could she be failing to do that would justify the silent treatment, refusal to communicate and speaking cruelly to her? Leo’s reading from the abuse 101 handbook: I abuse you because you…

Erin: He wants me to be more affectionate with him, which I do. I try to make physical contact. I just mean touching, holding, non-sexual contact —maybe playing with his cheeks or something being silly all the time.

Leo:  But it’s hard to hug a porcupine, huh?

Erin:  and he doesn’t receive it.  He walks away.  He doesn’t receive it.

Once again Erin tells them that she has consistently been making efforts toward her cruel husband. She has already stated how hard it is to want to be sexual with this cruel man; but despite that she has been attempting to be affectionate with him as a direct response to her husband’s request to be ‘more affectionate.’ So once again she shows a pattern of willingness to be kindhearted and to comply with her husband’s wishes, and once again the husband’s response shows a pattern of hardness of heart.

In this case she is specifically giving concrete evidence that he is sabotaging the marriage. He has expressly stated a need — then refuses to accept her positive response to that need. (I remember those days well). The trio does not give her any encouragement by recognizing that she is attempting to move toward her husband’s wishes in this regard. She indicates she does this “all the time” yet her persistent efforts aren’t acknowledged. 

Mike Kestler: So he complains you’re not being affectionate so when you try to be affectionate he rejects that.

If only Mike’s light bulb of seeming awareness would stay lit.

Erin: That’s right.

Mike Kestler:  Maybe ask him what he has in mind for affection then. See in other words, it sounds like he has some itches, but it’s not being scratched or you’re scratching it but you’re not scratching in the right spot. And the point is what I’m trying to make here is that he may have it in his mind what he feels he needs and what you’re trying to give to him is not meeting that need. So maybe I would suggest as well — going along with what Mike said and Leo — I think communication is always going to be an important part. And just ask him,  “What is your idea of the ideal?”  A find out what it is and then move in that direction a little bit because evidently, you know, there’s two languages here. There’s yours and his.

And it sounds like you’re not communicating. In that what he wants or expects is not what you’re giving, and probably you’re not unwilling to give that,  it’s just so often hard to understand or read somebody else’s thoughts or mind to come up with that.

So Erin, without knowing all the details it’s pretty hard for us to make a lot of comments on that but again I think prayer, as Leo said. I think, as Mike Fabarez says, the understanding part, and I believe also the communication part. It’s sitting down and talking. You know, sometimes a good date isn’t a fancy dinner in the finest restaurant in town. Sometimes a good date is just going and getting an ice cream cone and sitting down and talking. You know, get an ice cream cone, go to the park and eat it and talk! I think there’s a lot that can be communicated that way to work these things out.

Now if the person is unwilling to change or to do anything like that, then I think you’re going to have to take other means. But I really believe that again communication is always of real important part and to find out what is their ideal. What are they thinking. What is not coming across right to him and again understanding. How you work around it.  I think that’s an important thing.

Victim blaming again! I first thought Kestler was fleshing out her husband’s obvious sabotage but then Kestler begins a word salad monologue. A little of this, a little of that. Hopping from position to position, idea to idea, but leaving Erin with no practical solutions other than Ben and Jerry’s. 

There are so many issues with this section. He makes the claim that it is her duty to scratch his itches. While it’s good to try to scratch the itches of our partner in love, they are encouraging her to scratch his itches WHILE he is being abusive. Rewarding evil behavior. Beyond that, never mind if those itches are healthy or even biblical. Just find out what they are and start scratching. Don’t pull on the dog’s tail and don’t take his warm spot on the floor and maybe then he won’t bite you. Mike tells her that whatever her husband FEELS his needs are should be her goal to fulfill. Mike doesn’t ask if her husband ever inquires what HER needs are. He doesn’t suggest that she tell him either. Nice of him to offer her a bone in suggesting that she doesn’t seem to be unwilling to give him what he wants. 

They put it all on her to end the abuse. If she is kinder, move loving, scratching more itches and praying, communicating more with someone who refuses to communicate, then maybe she won’t be treated cruelly. Obviously they can’t give her a list of what he needs to do. He’s not there. But they could have helped affirm that the way he is acting IS unbiblical. Their overarching treatment method is to love the wickedness out of him. I don’t see a biblical model for that.  Overlooking an offense is not the same thing as overlooking persistent wickedness.

What kind of biblical or even secular reasoning says that it is a good idea to find out someone’s ideal and then work towards that? Definition of ideal: existing only in the imagination; desirable or perfect but not likely to become a reality. How about finding out what her husband considers to be a biblical marriage and then moving toward those points that align with scripture? How about asking him what he thinks a healthy marriage should be and weigh that against scripture to find out why he is so dissatisfied? Kestler is setting her up to fail. An ideal is just that — not attainable perfection. Yes, he says to move toward that but the husband’s ideal is not the biblical model for what the goal should be in marriage. Christ’s ideal — yes; fleshy husband’s ideal — no. 

Kestler talks about two languages and never even comes close to suggesting that her language be taken into consideration but rather that she should be speaking her husband’s language. And we all know where he got the ‘love languages’ jargon. More recycled aphorisms from the ‘c’hristian bookshop.

Fact: in domestic abuse, there may be two languages, but they are not both “love languages.” The abuser’s language is manipulative malignant covert-aggressive power and control and lies. The victim’s language seeks love, mutual respect, honesty and intimacy. 

What is the “understanding” part he’s referring to with Mike F? It is quite infuriating how he keeps referring to communication when she has expressly stated that her husband won’t talk either to her or to a counselor or their pastor. 

I can’t imagine how painful it was for Erin to hear this depiction taken from a romance movie of parks and ice cream and talking. He wants her to think about going on a date with this man who is by Leo’s own admission verbally abusing her? How it had to sting to hear this kind of fairy tale she will never have with her husband while he is abusive! It seems actually cruel of Kestler to paint this picture as though it were possible when Erin has already described a calloused, unwilling husband. The whole ice cream scene is nauseating to me. He’s going to stop abusing her as a result of a good conversation over a waffle cone. He’s refusing to go to counseling but ice cream will melt his heart (no pun intended)? Kestler hasn’t heard a thing she has said when he implies that her husband’s problem is lack of knowledge of the issue (which she could enlighten him over that magical ice cream) and disregards the fact that her husband has shown a pattern of refusal to listen. Kestler is denying her reality that she has laid out quite plainly. He talks about communication in such an abstract way and then paints this completely unreal portrait straight out of a movie scene. It eerily reminds me of the abstract way my husband talked because he had no foundation for human emotion and only referenced sources that were presented to him. 

Kestler says if this doesn’t work she will have to “take other means” but doesn’t give any idea on what that looks like. She is already at the “take other means” stage — good grief, she’s rung a talk-back radio station, her voice may be recognised by people who know her, she is desperate enough to unveil her suffering to the world!—but Mike goes back to elementary principles as though she hasn’t tried anything concrete yet.

Leo:  Mike, that might be a very good prayer for her to start praying. He might not even know what he wants.

Mike Kestler:  Oh, that’s true.

Oh how clever they are! They just found another prayer request mantra for her to repeat while she’s rubbin’ that genie bottle! She can ask God to help her husband know what he really wants! 

Leo: He might have issues going on that he’s just not being honest about. And I used to think, “Well, I’m not a mind reader. Talk to me.”  And yet, in reading the book of Daniel you can talk to God and God could reveal to you — the dream that Nebuchadnezzar had and what it means and maybe that’s a good place to start. “Lord, I don’t get what this guy is all about, I don’t get why he is like he is. Lord, would you show me things and show me things in your word as I read it…” And start praying there.

I want to believe that Leo is hinting at the fact that the deeper issues going on are the fact that Erin’s husband is controlling and has a hardened heart. I’d like to believe that Leo is asking her to pray to find out what we on this blog have come to find out and that this truth will set her free. But he may just be referring to what he thinks are male insecurity issues and not the truth about the husband’s character.

So here’s their prescription thus far. If she 

  • is kinder and more loving to her husband
  • steers him to pastoral care and discipleship — even though he’s been very angry when she tried that
  • prays harder
  • gets her friends to pray too — but without revealing details or getting into a man-hating club!
  • communicates more with someone who refuses to communicate
  • scratches more of his itches (regardless of how ungodly those itches may be)
  • tries to read her husband’s mind
  • asks God to give her supernatural revelation so she can read her husband’s mind — even though the husband himself may not know what he’s all about

… then her problem will clear up. And if God doesn’t give Erin the revelation about what her husband’s suffering from (poor little unaware kid that he is!) what a black mark from God will be stamped on Erin’s forehead! 

Mike Kestler: And you know, Erin, it can be something else deeper, too, in his life. My dad had a great saying. He says, “If it doesn’t make sense, it doesn’t make sense.” And I ask him, “What does that mean?”  He said if it doesn’t make sense there’s more going on than you understand and that’s why you can’t figure it out. And I think a lot of times that might be it too. There might be something else going on in his life. And the thing is, Erin, depending what that is, no matter what you do, you may never satisfy him. So I think communication is an important part to find out. You know — where is he going, what does he want, what is his thinking. And then, you know, you may or may not be able to adapt to that. But I think you need to find out what makes him tick. Erin, I hope that helps dear.

A flicker of awareness before Kestler goes back to his previous monologue. He gets it right in steering her toward the idea that if it doesn’t make sense then there’s something else going on. He gets it right in acknowledging that her husband may NEVER be satisfied. Then uggghhh…back to the communication that she has already stated she can’t have. Kestler is suggesting she do what she’s already done, but hasn’t worked. 

She may not be able to adapt to what he wants? Should she adapt to what he wants? Nowhere again do they give any indication that what he wants could be unbiblical and shouldn’t be adapted to! 

Erin: It does. I just really fast want to say something to what Mike [Mike Fabarez] said. I am not aware — for spite — withholding sex from him because he’s been cruel. I’m not aware of that.

I was so proud of Erin when she stood up for herself here. Notice that she did this with incredible respect as well, despite the prosecution counsel. She also indicates a sense of resolve by reaffirming that her husband’s words are cruel. 

Mike Kestler: Well, you know, the Bible says to know thyself and that’s interesting that there’s a compelling to know that. Unfortunately, most of us don’t know ourselves. And I believe only God can reveal who we are, and sometimes without God’s help showing us who we are when he reveals it to us it’s overwhelming. So, dear, I hope that helps and God bless ya. Again, communication, prayer. Those two things, you won’t lose.

Wow — kicking a woman when she’s down. It doesn’t sit well with me when Erin does stand up for herself and it seems Mike Kestler almost views her at this point as a threat who must be neutralized. Erin just said she wasn’t aware of any spitefulness in herself, and Kestler undermines her by urging her to doubt whether she knows herself well enough. Don’t go thinking well of yourself, Erin! Get back down where you belong! His comment and tone seem to drip with disdain. Erin’s comment was not even directed at him — it was directed at Mike Fabarez! But Kestler doesn’t give Fabarez the opportunity to respond to it. He accuses her then tells her that he hopes that helps. He also takes one last time to squeeze in that ‘communication’ that Erin has already said isn’t possible. 

Final Thoughts  

Beyond what’s been discussed, here is what wasn’t mentioned but should have been (assuming this was a difficult marriage and not the destructive one that it is). They don’t mention compromise. Every instruction given is for her to change and conform to what her husband wants. 

Never once do the trio really honor Erin’s responses to the abuse. At no time do they give her any positive reinforcement for what she is doing right. (“Right” in the pastors’ eyes, that is. We recognize her right efforts are not bringing about change.) There are numerous examples of her husband’s unwillingness and hard heartedness yet they persist in advising her what SHE needs to do differently. Just because she’s the one who called the radio station, doesn’t mean she’s the one who is the problem. 

This dialog reminds me of Job. Erin laments of her troubling circumstances and she is accused and given a list of things she has done wrong or needs to do in order to stop the affliction. 

* * * *

For further reading:  Conversation and the Sexes: Why Men Interrupt, and engage in ‘Mansplaining’.


Thursday Thought — Is Verbal Abuse Really Abuse?

“I wouldn’t really call what he does ‘abuse.’ I mean, it’s not like he hits me or anything.”

Have you ever found yourself saying something along these lines?  Many people believe that “abuse” only refers to physical beatings, the kind where the man leaves the woman with bruises on her body and swollen eyes.  And they are badly mistaken.

Verbal abuse takes a huge toll on a woman, especially when it is combined with other injurious behaviors, such as controlling her or cheating on her.  The put-downs, the humiliation, the ridicule — all of these can attack a woman’s soul deeply, sometimes more deeply than assaults do.

What are the key messages that verbal abuse sends you?  His vicious words tell you that you are beneath him.  He sends the message that you have no value. His insults and rejection work to convince you that you are not worthy of love.  His verbal attacks teach you that everything you do is wrong.  His arrogance and demanding treatment make you feel stupid and incompetent.

Tearing apart a woman’s identity in this fashion can be every bit as wounding as pounding her with fists.  

There is good reason why you feel emotionally injured.  The problem is not that you are “too sensitive.”  Verbal abuse is one of the most toxic forms of human mistreatment.  There is no excuse for the way he talks to you. 


[Entry from Lundy Bancroft’s Daily Wisdom for Why Does He Do That?* p110-111]

*Amazon affiliate link — ACFJ gets a small percentage if you purchase via this link

Suppressing the Truth in Unrighteousness

The Apostle Paul identifies very clearly the fundamental reason for idolatry:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. (Romans 1:18-25)

God has revealed Himself to His creation so clearly that all human beings are without excuse when it comes to their failure to honor Him as God/Creator and give Him thanks. Since the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, such people set themselves on a foolhardy course of foolishness characterized by the lie that the creature is God. Fallen man would sooner worship a snake than bow before God. Thus we see God justly handing these idolaters over to the depths of their evil and sin.

Now, what has all of this got to do with abuse? Certainly abuse is one result of life in a society that largely rejects God. But it is this matter of “by their unrighteousness suppressing the truth” that has jumped out at me this evening. In our ministry to the victims of abuse, we see — everyday — people who profess to be Christians suppressing the truth.  They hold it down. Like any truth, the truth about the nature and existence of abuse keeps trying to jump right out in front of our eyes, but for some reason most people suppress it. Shove it back down as if they were playing one of those carnival pop-up games.  There it is again! Whack, knock it back down out of sight.

Let me suggest a theory of mine. I suggest that there is far more culpability (guilt) among people who don’t “get it” about abuse than we might realize. Yes, a certain degree of naivete can explain things, but only for a time. At some point the Spirit of Truth in the Christian is going to put the truth about abusers, their thinking, their tactics, etc. square in front of that person’s eyes. And if the response is more suppression of that truth, well then, Romans 1 says there is a serious, serious problem. Because this kind of suppression is characteristic of people who are practicing unrighteousness. People who simply and knowingly refuse to submit themselves to truth that God has revealed. The thing really comes right up to at least the edge of idolatry because such people exchange the truth of God for a lie. That lie eventually is given some kind of form (marriage, for example) and becomes a false god.

Truth, you see, even as it is revealed by God Himself, is not welcome among idol worshipers. Which once again brings us back round to the question that so often nags at us — just how many people today who claim to be Christians, aren’t? Or how many have permitted idol worship to creep into their minds and hearts with its deceiving, blinding effects. I must confess myself – I believe I was more culpable in the days of my ignorance about abuse that I may want to have admitted to myself. We can probably all own up to that. But what, I ask again, what of people who have the truth about this evil put squarely before them time and time again, but they just keep on pushing it down out of sight?


Abusers Tell us What our Thoughts and Motives Are – But They Don’t Know

For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. (1 Corinthians 2:11)

The heart knows its own bitterness, and no stranger shares its joy. (Proverbs 14:10)

I can still hear it.  “Pastor, I know why you did that.”  “Jeff, you always do that because….”.  Every single one of the abusers who have targeted me over the years have used this kind of tactic. And for a long time I believed them at least to some degree. “Yes, maybe my motive was bad? Maybe that was what I was thinking? Or was it?”

Abusers come to this evil tactic naturally. As children of the devil, they are accusers. One very effective means of controlling people is to announce to them that you are able to read their minds, to see into the very recesses of their hearts. That you know better than they themselves do what they are thinking and what their intentions are. Of course the thing is preposterous as the Scriptures above say. No matter how well we know someone, we are not capable of fully discerning their inner being.

Now, when abuser claims to read your mind and your motives, he is making this claim in order to accuse you. Notice he never uses this “ability” to compliment, but to destroy. What he allegedly sees in your mind and heart, he insists, is not good. “You did this for selfish reasons.” “You were only thinking of yourself.” “You were lying.” “You were lusting.” “You weren’t even thinking.”  “You wanted the glory for yourself…” and on it goes.

This has become a very clear red flag sign of an abuser to me. Whenever I hear someone using this kind of tactic, I know I am at minimum dealing with an unsafe person.

When we are targeted with this kind of attack often enough, we begin to doubt our ability to even perceive and trust our own conclusions. This then is all designed to force us back under the power of the wicked because, they claim, they DO KNOW the truth. They say they can read us like a book. They say they want to “help us understand” what our thoughts and motives really are.

God’s Word says the thing is a big scam. NO ONE knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of the person. Furthermore, even my own inner self person doesn’t fully know myself! It takes the Spirit of the Lord in me to show me what is in me, whether good or bad. And it is to Him alone we look:

Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting! (Psalms 139:23-24)



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