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.
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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.
I (JeffC) have been receiving questions from some of you who have tried to order our book, A Cry for Justice: How the Evil of Domestic Abuse Hides in Your Church, but have been informed by Amazon that it is on backorder. Some of you have been waiting for several weeks. I went to the Calvary Press Publisher website and found it backordered there as well, so I have emailed the publisher to see if they have a projected date of availability. In the meantime, you still can get the book from Amazon on Kindle for $9.99. I realize that the Kindle edition has some glitches in the formatting of footnotes which I wish whoever Kindle-ized it would correct, but nevertheless you can at least get the book in that format. We would appreciate your prayers that the book printing would be expedited so we can continue to get our message out.
If a pastor expects you to accept his words based solely on his position, he is operating under false authority. The following GEM is an excerpt from Johnson and Van Vonderen’s book, The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse, [affiliate link*] p115
Is it possible for one person, or one group of leaders, to comprehend all that’s in God’s Word? Not likely. God’s living Word is demonstrated through all who are seeking Him, regardless of ‘rank’. In some areas of life, many areas perhaps, those in the pews will have more real authority from having tested and lived out God’s Word in situations God will never choose to lead the pastor through. (i.e. abuse) If He is the Shepherd of the flock, then I as a pastor must listen to what He is saying through the flock, remembering that I too am a follower of Him.
*Amazon affiliate link — ACFJ gets a small percentage if you purchase via this link.
One of our readers put this story in a comment she left on our post, Why aren’t you and Daddy married anymore? She wrote this story for her grandkids when their mom left her abuser. We felt that it’s a wonderful way to help children understand the complex circumstances surrounding domestic abuse, so we put it in its own post to make sure everyone sees it. Thank you, dear reader, for sharing this with us!
Once upon a time there was a home that had a dog and some other pets: a rabbit, some cats, and some hamsters. It seemed like the dog got along fairly well with most of the animals and with the people, although he did get into bad moods and growled at them for no good reason. On his good days, he’d wag his tail and play with the cats and hamsters and they ran around and had fun together. However, the dog had a thing about the rabbit. He thought rabbits were wimps and he thought it was funny to growl at the rabbit and chase him and see him scared.
The rabbit quickly figured out that it had better keep its distance from the dog and most of the time it would hide under the bed or behind the furniture when the dog was around. If the other animals or his owners were around, the dog would wag his tail and pretend to be friendly to the rabbit. But as soon as no one was looking, he’d get fierce and growl and chase the rabbit again, sometimes nipping it in the leg. If someone else came into the room, he would quickly stop chasing the rabbit, and instead start wagging his tail and give his innocent doggy look: “Who me? Chase rabbits? Do I look like a dog that would chase a rabbit?” Because the dog was so sneaky about chasing the rabbit when no one was looking, the other pets, and even the pet owners, didn’t realize that it was a big problem. They only wondered why the rabbit was always shaking and scared and spent so much time hiding.
The rabbit was so traumatized that it gradually became a quivering mass of nerves and had no appetite and couldn’t even really sleep for fear the dog would come sneaking up on it. So do you think that rabbit might have started thinking about getting away? Would it have been hoping someone would accidently leave the door open so it could escape? You’re right. One day the rabbit saw its chance and shot out the door like a streak of lightning. The cats and the hamsters and the pet owners were all confused… where did that rabbit go and why on earth did it leave their happy family of pets? They did look at the dog, and wondered if maybe he had something to do with it, but he was giving his innocent doggy face and wagging his tail and shaking his head about the silly rabbit who ran away.
So what do you think? Should the rabbit go back or should it find a new safe place to live?
When I was working at a local hospital I was often given additional duties outside of my job description and frequently felt overwhelmed. A co-worker watched me running from station to station and said, “You need to learn to play stupid. It gets you out of a lot.”
On Heaven Connect, writer SJ Heald addresses overstepping authority in spiritual warfare. One of her points is that we should never think we are smarter than a demon. She notes that Law 21 in The 48 Laws Of Power, a book by Robert Greene, states, “Play a sucker to catch a sucker, seem dumber than your mark.” She assesses, “Con artists take people in by pretending to be less intelligent than the person they are conning…….Demons will act like imbeciles if it causes us to get puffed up in the head thinking we’re intelligent and powerful.”
While I certainly didn’t feel powerful AT ALL in my marriage, at first I did feel intelligent and needed.
My ex husband does have a poor vocabulary, misuses grammar, and possesses about a third grade reading level. But, I was mistaken to think he is a dummy.
I was a devout church-goer when I met R, and he knew that. He claimed to be a new believer, unable to read well and without a solid Christian within his circle of association. He needed me to help him understand these scriptures that were so foreign to him. He claimed his desire was great; he wanted to know Jesus, but his lack of education felt like an insurmountable barrier. (He didn’t use that word.)
I’m not sure if I was so desperate for love or if he was feeding my pride, but I disregarded evident facts and ran, just as I did at work, to be the one who would stand in the declared gap. I noticed the Bible on his end table but ignored the paintings of demons on his walls. I brushed off the fact that one of his co-workers was a youth pastor and more qualified than I to expound scripture and teach the mysteries of the gospels. I reasoned that he simply didn’t realize yet those paintings were offensive to God. It was all new to him. Perhaps he was too embarrassed by his poor language skills to ask another man, someone working under him, to explain things he thought should be obvious.
After we married he asked me to take care of the bills and balancing the checkbook. It was a struggle for him. It was confusing and stressful. However, the situation that created was one of complete irresponsibility on his part. He would play the ATM like a slot machine. Eyes glazed, he would return to pull the lever, waiting for the money to drop out. All the while I couldn’t keep the bills paid. He routinely took out large sums and would feign ignorance. He had called the 1-800 number first or had checked the balance at the ATM before withdrawing, and he pretended to not comprehend those balances didn’t reflect pending actions or checks that had not yet cleared. The fact that he kept cutting his hours back, thereby cutting his paychecks, and he was horribly in debt, the amount of which he had lied about during our short engagement, did not deter his visits to the money machine. I increased my workload. I cut back on everything, including groceries. Nothing helped. When I finally tried to seriously talk to him about his spending, he blew up, screaming in my face, “I was making it before you came along! If we’re not making it, it’s your fault! You’re the one handling the money!”
Since marrying me, he’d cut back to working part-time; he’d bought a new truck; he was wearing new clothes; and I was paying down the debt he and his last wife had incurred. Since marrying him, I was working so many hours my performance decreased and my professional reputation suffered; my car was falling apart (I eventually lost it); my children and I were dressing poorly and lacked adequate clothes for winter; I was deeply in debt though I’d been debt free when I met him; and I was borrowing against my life insurance policy.
He knew exactly what he was doing. He was no dummy! I’d been conned by the 21st law of power!
He didn’t perform household or vehicular maintenance. He didn’t know how, and he didn’t read well enough to figure out a manual. All burdens of all responsibility were placed on me because, in his words, he, “just isn’t a very smart man.” That also meant I was to blame for everything that went wrong because he thought I was taking care of it and he depended on me.
Interestingly, when he abruptly left our home in a rage, abandoning me sick and now a stay at home mom with four minor children, he took all of the account numbers and passwords, our social security numbers, and a nice little private bank account I didn’t know about until after he left. Suddenly this “stupid man” who couldn’t even use a phone book was hacking into my accounts! He filed taxes on his own, claiming head of household with the children as his dependents for the final year we were married. He stole mail, including a check, depositing it via the ATM without signing it, which created a legal loophole and made it difficult to retrieve the stolen funds. He was always one step ahead of me. He, the man with a third grade reading level, walked out of our marriage with nearly every tangible item we owned and zero debt. I’d lost everything except the debt.
I’d been conned.
During the divorce proceeding, I testified dates, times, and places of abuse. My children testified separately, corroborating my story of patriarchal terrorism. But, R played stupid. He stuttered. He didn’t know what we were talking about. He was confused by all of it. No one could have believed that this stunned, ignorant man could be so willfully vindictive and violent. And, the judge didn’t. The poor dumb man received compassion and mercy from the bench, and his victims received demands to negotiate and “get over it.”
My co-worker’s words haunt me, “You need to learn to play stupid. It gets you out of a lot.” My ex had played stupid; he played me; and it got him out of everything.
Here are some gems from Psalm 119
53 Hot indignation seizes me because of the wicked, who forsake your law.
69-70 The insolent smear me with lies,
but with my whole heart I keep your precepts;
their heart is unfeeling like fat,
but I delight in your law.
78 Let the insolent be put to shame,
because they have wronged me with falsehood;
as for me, I will meditate on your precepts.
84-88 How long must your servant endure?
When will you judge those who persecute me?
The insolent have dug pitfalls for me;
they do not live according to your law.
All your commandments are sure;
they persecute me with falsehood; help me!
They have almost made an end of me on earth,
but I have not forsaken your precepts.
In your steadfast love give me life,
that I may keep the testimonies of your mouth.
94-95 I am yours; save me,
for I have sought your precepts.
The wicked lie in wait to destroy me,
but I consider your testimonies.
104 Through your precepts I get understanding;
therefore I hate every false way.
113 I hate the double-minded,
but I love your law.
118-119 You spurn all who go astray from your statutes,
for their cunning is in vain.
All the wicked of the earth you discard like dross,
therefore I love your testimonies.
129-130 Your testimonies are wonderful;
therefore my soul keeps them.
The unfolding of your words gives light;
it imparts understanding to the simple.
133 Keep steady my steps according to your promise,
and let no iniquity get dominion over me.
150-151 They draw near who persecute me with evil purpose;
they are far from your law.
But you are near, O LORD,
and all your commandments are true.
155 Salvation is far from the wicked,
for they do not seek your statutes.
158 I look at the faithless with disgust,
because they do not keep your commands.