A Cry For Justice

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

Financial abuse from intimate partners — a lament, stories and tips to protect oneself

Proverbs 13:23  The fallow ground of the poor would yield much food,
but it is swept away through injustice. 

28:3  A poor man who oppresses the poor
is a beating rain that leaves no food.

28:24  Whoever robs his father or his mother [and by extension any family member whom he has a duty of care to support and protect]
and says, “That is no transgression,” is a companion to a man who destroys.

In church services we often hear about money and finances in regards to the offering plate or tithing or support for missionaries. What is less commonly heard in conservative churches is the discussion of how money and finances relate to justice. The liberal churches are good at that talk; they have made the ‘social gospel’ their primary message while neglecting or perverting the Bible’s warnings about the perilous state of the unregenerate sinner before God and the call to confess, repent and trust in Christ for salvation. But the conservative evangelical churches generally only touch on how money and finances relate to justice when they are preaching through the book of James.

If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?  James 2:15

However, conservative churches rarely make application of this passage from James to domestic abuse that is hiding in the pews; they are much more likely to apply it to the poor in foreign countries, or those ‘unwashed’ people from the wrong side of the tracks where welfare dependency and crime are higher than where **we** are.

Domestic abuse exercised through financial abuse is a scourge. It’s like a withering hot wind. Or a driving hailstorm that destroys the crops. Or locusts that eat the new shoots before they can bear edible grain. Or creeping mildew that corrodes the fabric of a building. Or white ants (termites) that eat through the timber frame of the house but can never be seen because they only eat from the inside so their little channels and passages are invisible when you walk through the house, they only become visible when the walls of the  house are torn down.

It has so many forms. It may be the abuser overtly demanding full control of the money, or making the target account for every cent spent with receipts, or putting the target on a tight budget for household expenses while flagrantly spending money on his own pleasures (these are only a few examples). But it may not be so overt. It may be the abuser hiding some of his income so the target never realizes he is withholding joint funds from the family.

Domestic violence practitioners have coined the term ‘sexually transmitted debt’. That is when the abuser craftily makes sure that all the debt is in the target’s name so if they split up, she (assuming the target is female) is stuck with the debt while the abuser walks free with no blight on his financial reputation.

And then there’s financial abuse post-separation, and that can take many forms too! Some abusers are so clever and devoted to this that they seem to pull endless rabbits out of the hat, new tactics and strategies to keep their X in poverty and behind the eight ball financially, for years. It is very powerful way of maintaining continuing control after separation, and gratifying the abuser’s craving to punish his target for leaving him. And then add in the effects this can have on the children . . . and the way the abuser can manipulate the kids to make them blame mum for being penny-pinching and mean financially. . . the possibilities are endless, for the creative and determined abuser! And often the courts are unwilling to get very involved let alone hold the abuser accountable for all this financial skullduggery, especially once the divorce has been finalized.

I must be naive. It was only a few years ago when I was shopping for a wallet as a Christmas gift for my then husband. I noticed a feature that is quite common in men’s wallets, though not in women’s wallets. I asked the shop assistant about it. She explained that the man’s wallet is often designed with two compartments for the notes (bills). One compartment is relatively shallow in depth so that the top edges of the notes are visible when you open the wallet. The other compartment is deeper and may have a zip as well, so that when the man opens his wallet the notes in that compartment are not visible to anyone watching. Not visible to his wife. That is the point of this design. It’s purposely designed for men who want to conceal how much money they have in their wallet when their wife or partner asks them to buy something. “Look, sweetheart!” the man can confidently say as he flips open his wallet to show her he is short on cash, “I’ve only got a five dollar bill!” But he may have  hundreds hidden in that other compartment.

Okay. Over to you. Do you have stories you want to share? Tips you want to pass on for how to protect yourself against financial abuse from an intimate partner? Other scriptures that relate to this topic?

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Here is a useful resource —
Relationship Problems and Money: Women Talk About Financial Abuse.
It’s a fairly long report and is mostly written for DV professional practitioners and policy developers. Sections 3 and 4 of the report would be of most use to survivors of abuse as those sections have lots of anecdotes from women who have experience financial abuse from their husbands/partners.

The report comes from Victoria, Australia, so some of the details may not be pertinent to all areas and jurisdictions. But overall, experiences of financial abuse are probably similar no matter where you may come from. The only things that may not be similar are the different laws that apply in different areas, laws which may help hold abusers accountable and protect victims.

We will be adding this link to our Resources pages. :)

Thursday Thought: Does repentance ever come too late?

A GEM from the gems page:

Though true repentance is never too late, yet late repentance is seldom true.
[Thomas Brooks]

False Vows do not a Covenant Make – by Pastor Dietrich Wichmann

Pastor Dietrich Wichmann contacted us after discovering ACFJ and we invited him to write a guest post on this subject of vows and covenant. Many thanks, Pastor Wichmann. He provided us with these biographical details:

I am an ordained minister of the Church of England in South Africa, currently serving two congregations in the province of Kwa-Zulu/Natal. I have a passion for expository preaching and biblical counselling. I received my theological education at an evangelical seminary in Basel (Switzerland) and the George Whitfield College in Cape Town (South Africa). 

I was born in 1977 and grew up on a farm among the Zulu people in South Africa. My German name betrays my Lutheran heritage, to which I am deeply indebted. In addition to my vocation as a pastor, I am a musician at heart with a great love for sacred music of the early baroque period. My favourite Christian author is Martin Luther. My favourite Christian artist is Johann Sebastian Bach. I love going surfing with my brother-in-law. I also love the fly-fishing experience. I am equally hopeless at both.Here then is the post he wrote for us:

____________________

And the Lord said: “Because this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me… (Isaiah 29:13a)

His marriage vows amounted to nothing but a blatant lie. Behind those sweet and solemn words, he had every intention to the contrary – every intention to harm, to cheat and to beat her. The abuse began within the first week of their marriage, and began a devastating story that has prompted me to ask a searching question about the nature of a true marriage covenant: in the case where marriage vows were made with false or malicious intent, would that constitute a covenant of marriage in the eyes of God?

The Bible provides us with clear principles by which this matter can be judged.

To begin with, we need to recognize that a false vow has been made. In God’s eyes, this is a serious offense. Not only has the offender acted deceitfully, in the case of a Christian marriage vow, he has taken the Lord’s name in vain. Notice how serious the offense is in God’s eyes:

“… you shall not swear by My name falsely, nor shall you profane the name of your God” (cf. Lev. 19:12, NKJV).

It is clear from this prohibition that a false oath in the LORD’s name amounts to a profaning of His name. It is worth noting that the following verse – vs. 13 – forbids abusive behavior: “You shall not oppress your neighbor or rob him” (ESV). God therefore sees a connection between false oaths and abusive behavior. (After all, why else would a man swear falsely if not for selfish gain?) With regard to the marriage covenant, the point is this: if a false vow has been made, the name of the LORD has been profaned. Biblically speaking, I would think that a true marriage covenant is always honoring to the LORD. It follows therefore that a marriage covenant, whereby the name of the Lord has been profaned, is not a true marriage covenant. If the name of the LORD has been profaned by the marriage ceremony, the ensuing ‘marriage’ would surely be an evil thing in the eyes of the LORD.

A true marriage covenant requires both parties to agree to the terms of the covenant. This agreement must come from the heart, as was the case with Rebecca (Genesis 24). In the case where young women are forced into marriage, giving outward consent to the terms of the covenant, it cannot possibly be said that a true marriage has been constituted. Surely, our God-given consciences would deem such marriages as a great injustice and an evil thing. The point that follows is this: the constitution of a true marriage covenant requires a true and cordial consent from both parties to the terms of the covenant.

It is worth reminding ourselves that, in any marriage covenant, the bridegroom agrees to be a husband to the bride, i.e. to care for, to protect, to nourish, to remain faithful to her. If the bridegroom is not agreeing to this from the heart, he is not agreeing to this at all. If he is not in agreement to being a husband to the bride, he is simply not in agreement with the terms of the covenant. While he might appear to agree to the terms – verbal consent with every intention to the contrary (as was the case above) – such a ceremony may constitute a marriage covenant in the eyes of man, but it cannot possibly be a true marriage covenant in the eyes of Him who searches heart and mind.

The victim described in the opening story has every right to question whether the abusive man in question is actually a husband. In God’s eyes, he did not agree to the terms of the marriage covenant. From God’s point of view, he is therefore not her husband. If she divorces this man, she may be consoled by the fact that there was no covenant of marriage to begin with. Abuse victims are often burdened with the pronouncement (and mis-translation of Scripture) that “God hates divorce” (Malachi 2:16).  But victims deserve to be consoled with the truth  that God hates a certain kind of marriage – the kind of marriage that profanes his name due to false vows. She would also deserve to be consoled that she has every right to a second chance for a true covenant of marriage.

I conclude as follows: In the case where marriage vows have been made with false or malicious intent, in God’s eyes the marriage is nill and void; what is more, such a marriage would amount to blasphemy on the part of the abuser who made the false vows (Leviticus 19:12).  The wronged spouse is free to take all necessary steps to leave such a relationship and to call upon the civil courts to recognize the invalidity of such a non-marriage.

Another Badger, and a translation of his manipulative language

A man submitted a comment to our post Let’s Put This “But he hasn’t physically abused you” Nonsense to Rest Once and for All.  He seemed to be asking for help. We didn’t respond or publish his comment, and, I suppose in desperation, he emailed a sort of confessional (where he continues to blame his wife) and now told us he’s been using fake names to try to comment on the blog.

This post features the comment. As with my post Badgering Badgers, this post is intended to expose manipulative speech. If you are a pastor or professional seeking insight for dealing with an abuser who claims to be repentant, our Resources links, especially the Checklist for Repentance and the book A Cry For Justice [affiliate link*], might be very helpful to you. In an upcoming post, I will tell of repentance I have seen and how it helps me to spot the impostors.

The comment as submitted to this blog under the pseudonym “David Burello”

This story is so much like my own story that it is uncanny. There are a couple of things that are different though in my case.  I was abusive to my wife for most of our marriage. There were many things that we didn’t agree on, about our children, and dealing with our business that we ran together, and we argued quite a bit. We never really calmly discussed the issues and tried to come to a mutual agreement and it was very frustrating to me. She always wanted things her way and was very rarely wiling to compromise. During those arguments I was mean, and in trying to win the argument, I would say things that made her feel stupid and got very angry. It was all verbal, and never physical. And it was very rarely anything personally degrading, like talking about her being fat, or ugly, or not cleaning the house, or not making dinner. Still, it was wrong, and I know that now. I also never told her about all of the good things that she did, and the things that I loved about her. My counselors told me that I was a Big A** and had anger issues. At the only counseling session where the whole family attended, the counselor asked everyone who the Boss of the household was, and all the children pointed to my wife. Here is where there are differences with my story. My wife lived with my abuse for a long time, and I never knew how bad I made her feel, or did I even know that the way I was talking and behaving was wrong. She only told me how horrible she felt about two years ago. I suppose I had a hard time accepting how badly I treated her, but I did accept it, and apologized about a thousand times, and begged for forgiveness repeatedly. I started to go to counselors, and started reading books on anger management and on how to save our marriage. I asked her to go to counseling with me but she never would agree to go. We had our own Super Pastor, and I confessed my sins to him, and to God, and asked for help, and for forgiveness. I told her, and him that I would go to any counselor of her choice, either alone, or with her, to try to save my marriage, but she just wanted out. She was not interested in going to any counselors to try to save our marriage. I didn’t expect any instant results, but I did expect her to lighten up on me just a little and try to be a little nicer to me. She just wanted to leave, with my youngest son, and split up our family. No, your abuse split up the family. During this time, she has read dozens of books about abuse, and how to leave an abusive husband. Every book she read, she then started labeling me with this illness, and that illness. And, she started following some very mean, and non Christian approaches, like ignoring me, shunning me, not contacting me, leaving the room when I entered, and things like that. My Super Pastor never told her that this was her fault, and he never told her that she had not been abused, but he did tell her that since I was willing to go to ANY Counselor of HER Choice, Not Him, and admitted that I was abusive, and felt bad and repented for what I had done, that counseling would be recommended, rather than separation or divorce at least for now. Anyway, I could go on, and I haven’t told all of the gory details, but this is my story in a nutshell, and how uncanny it is similar to this story. I have changed, and am continuing to work on myself with the help of God, friends, and counseling. I am not ready to give up the fight of my life, or my marriage of about 35 years, or my family just yet. Thank you for this story, and for listening to mine. I would appreciate any feedback or suggestions, or support.

My translation. Some paragraph breaks have been added for ease of reading.

“David’s” comment in black. My translation is in red. My thoughts are in purple. Links, as usual, are in orange.

This story is so much like my own story that it is uncanny. There are a couple of things that are different though in my case. Our case is special and the rules don’t apply to me. I was See how he makes this past tense? abusive to my wife for most of our marriage.

There were many things that we didn’t agree on, about our children, and dealing with our business that we ran together, Tapping. I [Ellie] am tapping to relieve my triggered PTSD at just the thought of running a business with X. That would be my own personalized Hell having to be with him all day every day with no reprieve. How did this woman survive? [Why tapping? see our post on EMDR]  and we argued I badgered quite a bit.

We never really calmly discussed She gave up trying to express herself because I can gas-light, project, and make her dizzy with my unceasing words with the best of them (but we’re special and I’m not like all those other bad abusers) the issues and tried to come to a mutual agreement and it was very frustrating to me. I wanted my way. I wanted a mind meld and darnit, she’s no Vulcan! Can you fix that?

She always wanted things her way and was very rarely wiling to compromise. No, wait, that’s me. There I go projecting again. Did you believe it? You should believe it because I’m special. During those arguments I was mean, and in trying to win the argument, I would say things that made her feel stupid and got very angry. And then she was terrified of me ALL THE TIME because she never knew what would set me off.

It was all verbal, and never physical. So I’m not like those REALLY bad abusers. And it was very rarely anything personally degrading, like talking about her being fat, or ugly, or not cleaning the house, or not making dinner. See? I just made her feel stupid, but not fat. I merely made her question her ability to think or make decisions without my input. So I’m better than the bad abusers. I’m special. Still, it was wrong, and I know that now. False humility.

I also never told her about all of the good things that she did, Because I couldn’t have her thinking she was as good as me and the things that I loved about her. Because you think you’re entitled to it. 

My counselors told me that I was a Big A** and had anger issues. They are perceptive. Can I get their number? At the only counseling session where the whole family attended, the counselor asked everyone who the Boss of the household was, and all the children pointed to my wife. See? She’s not powerless! She should share in the blame! Here is where there are differences with my story So the part where I’m REALLY special.

My wife lived with my abuse for a long time, and I never knew how bad I made her feel, or did I even know that the way I was talking and behaving was wrong. Because you were pretending to be a Christian. A true follower of Christ would’ve obeyed the Holy Spirit as He was urging him to forsake pride, anger, and selfishness. She only told me how horrible she felt about two years ago. I mean, I only paid attention to her attempts to get me to understand about two years ago. It’s not her job to police your behavior; it’s your job to submit to the Holy Spirit.

I suppose I had a hard time accepting how badly I treated her, Because I have been faking being a Christian for so long and my heart is stony. but I did accept it, and apologized about a thousand times, I SAID I WAS SORRY! Do I have to actually change too? and begged for forgiveness repeatedly.

I started to go to counselors, and started reading books on anger management and on how to save our marriage. I read every book I could get my hands on to try to learn how to keep my power. Wrong books. Read up on repentance, and how to protect the people you’ve spent decades terrorizing. Read about how to make them feel safe and how to respect their boundaries even if you don’t understand them.

I asked her to go to counseling with me but she never would agree to go. See how unforgiving she is? We had our own Super Pastor, and I confessed my sins to him, and to God, and asked for help, and for forgiveness. I told her, and him that I would go to any counselor of her choice, either alone, or with her, to try to save my marriage, but she just wanted out. Darn her boundaries! She is so bitter. She was not interested in going to any counselors to try to save our marriage. I mean, to give me my power back.

I didn’t expect any instant results, but I did expect her to lighten up on me just a little and try to be a little nicer to me. There it is. There’s the smoking gun. For me, it’s the complaining. When an abuser claims repentance but complains, even once, that he’s not getting a return on his “investment,” that’s the tip-off to me that this is all transactional, and there’s been no change of heart. Transactional people are operating from a works-based paradigm. Transformed people are operating from love of their Savior.

She just wanted to leave, with my youngest son, and split up our family. No, your abuse split up the family. During this time, she has read dozens of books about abuse, and how to leave an abusive husband. Every book she read, she then started labeling me with this illness, and that illness. Oh no! She’s figured out how I’ve been able to control and abuse all these years. Somebody put this genie back in the bottle or I’m gonna have to pay for what I’ve done!

And, she started following some very mean, and non Christian approaches, like ignoring me, shunning me, not contacting me, leaving the room when I entered, and things like that. You mean Gray Rock? Godly believers in the Bible used Gray Rock It’s not mean or non-Christian. It’s a boundary and a repentant person would honor it.

My Super Pastor never told her that this was her fault, and he never told her that she had not been abused, but he did tell her that since I was willing to go to ANY Counselor of HER Choice, Not Him, and admitted that I was abusive, and felt bad and repented for what I had done, that counseling would be recommended, rather than separation or divorce at least for now. I’ve made him an ally. Won’t you help me too? Also note that he is inconsistent here. First he’s fussing about his superpastor, but now he’s quoting him in an effort to get his way. 

Anyway, I could go on, and I haven’t told all of the gory details, but this is my story in a nutshell, and how uncanny it is similar to this story. I have changed, and am continuing to work on myself with the help of God, friends, and counseling. I am not ready to give up the fight of my life, or my marriage of about 35 years, or my family just yet. Another smoking gun. Fight of your life, you say? You want that power and you’re willing to fight for it. By exercising coercive control of your wife, you ended your marriage. Your life should be devoted to making restitution while honoring boundaries, not trying to convince your targets to tolerate you.

Thank you for this story, and for listening to mine. I would appreciate any feedback or suggestions, or support.

My suggestion is to surrender to Christ and seek to honor Him in all you do. Make restitution to the people you’ve abused. And honor their boundaries. If divorce makes her feel safe, give her an amazing divorce and make her feel safe the whole time. Change. Really change because you love and honor Christ; not because you want to win “the fight of [your] life.” 

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

The fear of the LORD

Here is a what the Book of Proverbs has to say about the fear of the Lord. Some of the passages are very familiar; others might surprise you. The over-emphasis given to some and the under-emphasis given to others tells us a lot about the state of the church.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight. (9:10)

The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil.
Pride and arrogance and the way of evil
and perverted speech I hate. (8:13)

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
fools despise wisdom and instruction. (1:7)

Because they hated knowledge
and did not choose the fear of the LORD,
would have none of my counsel
and despised all my reproof,
therefore they shall eat the fruit of their way,
and have their fill of their own devices. (1:29-31)

In the fear of the Lord one has strong confidence,
and his children will have a refuge. (14:26)

The reward for humility and fear of the Lord
is riches and honor and life. (22:4)

Better is a little with the fear of the Lord
than great treasure and trouble with it. (15:16)

The fear of the Lord is instruction in wisdom,
and humility comes before honor. (15:33)

By steadfast love and faithfulness iniquity is atoned for,
and by the fear of the Lord one turns away from evil. (16:6)

The fear of the Lord leads to life,
and whoever has it rests satisfied;
he will not be visited by harm. (19:23)

My son, if you receive my words
and treasure up my commandments with you,
making your ear attentive to wisdom
and inclining your heart to understanding;
yes, if you call out for insight
and raise your voice for understanding,
if you seek it like silver
and search for it as for hidden treasures,
then you will understand the fear of the LORD
and find the knowledge of God. (2:1-5)

Let not your heart envy sinners,
but continue in the fear of the Lord all the day. (23:17)

The fear of the Lord prolongs life,
but the years of the wicked will be short. (10:27)

The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life,
that one may turn away from the snares of death. (14:27)

The one I like best is the one that says the fear of the Lord is hatred of evil.
In most Sunday schools, they don’t talk much about how to hate evil when those closest to us are exercising and perpetrating evil, do they?

Domestic Abusers and Demonization

This query from Sunshine was submitted in a comments thread (link). We are making it a stand-alone post as from my observation, the question or possibility of the abuser being demonized — influenced and to some degree under the power or control of a demon or demons — is an important issue for some survivors of domestic abuse.  I have heard accounts from a number of survivors who report that their abuser displayed very bizarre behavior on occasion, which might have been related to demonization.  

Please bear in mind that while opening up this topic in a post, we are not implying that all domestic abusers are demonized, or that all domestic abuse has demonic cause. We do not subscribe to such black and white thinking.  Abusers choose to abuse. That is our position. But perhaps some have also chosen to give such place to the devil that they have to some extent given themselves over to demonic control. 

Here is Sunshine’s story

I’m married to my second covert abuser…….25 years the first time, eight years single, now another nine years to another.

So about 5 years ago we went to a Caring For The Heart ministry for counseling. On about the third day the couple who was counseling us was praying for my husband and suddenly he curled up in a fetal position and started talking and mumbling …. two very different voices talking to each other. One I couldn’t understand and the other was saying, “NO! Go away!” with hand gestures as if shooing away something/someone.

The husband counselor knelt by him and wrote down what he was saying and then they prayed for him for about 15 minutes and then all was ‘normal’ again. Now this was just a normal counseling, nothing of this sort was expected.

Then months later there were a few times when we would try to pray together (he avoids doing that but sometimes will) and he (hubby) said he just wasn’t getting anywhere, that all he was hearing was evil laughter and voices saying, “I won’t let you go.” “You’re mine.”

I’m wondering if anyone else has seen this sort of thing or has thoughts about what to do.
My son recently recommended the book “Healing the Family Tree” by Dr. Kenneth McAll, written in 1956 by a doctor/psychologist/missionary, which talks about this so I wonder if God is directing here.

* * * * * * * * * *

We have not vetted the following link in detail, but I (Barb Roberts) am appending it here in case it is useful for some readers. The Apologetics Index site it comes from has a reasonably sound reputation as far as I am aware, in discernment type ministry. 
http://www.apologeticsindex.org/2590-demonology-demon-possession-and-exorcism

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