A Cry For Justice

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

Abuse Without a Word — Nonverbal Abusive Communications

Let not those rejoice over me who are wrongfully my foes, and let not those wink the eye who hate me without cause. (Psa 35:19)

A worthless person, a wicked man, goes about with crooked speech, winks with his eyes, signals with his feet, points with his finger, with perverted heart devises evil, continually sowing discord; therefore calamity will come upon him suddenly; in a moment he will be broken beyond healing. (Pro 6:12-15)

“I just won’t say too much.” “No, no. I think it best if I just remain quiet.” “What YOU said is gossip.” How often have you heard an abuser make these kinds of statements? All of them are designed, of course to accuse you and yet, because the wicked person doesn’t actually verbalize, he maintains he is righteous and you have no right to rebuke him.

The Bible has really a fair amount to say about non-verbal, devious methods of accusing, reviling, and sowing discord. The two quoted above are classic examples. This is what a worthless, wicked man does. He “goes about.” This is his mission, and it is intentional. In addition to “crooked speech” (which you can bet is disguised as pious and holy talk), he uses non-verbal body communiques with his eyes and feet and fingers as weapons of his perverted heart. With them he sows discord among people, alienating them from the victim and from one another. All of this only takes a wink of his eye applied at just the right moment, a shuffle of his feet, a raised eyebrow, or even (and perhaps the most devious of all), an expressionless flat facial affect accompanied by verbal silence.

We have seen these very things operative in years past in our church, and I can tell you that this wickedness was very effective at sowing discord among us. The culprits were very often verbally silent – “I don’t think it is right that I say anything” – after they had already communicated and accused by, let’s say, abstaining from a vote or refusing to positively stand together with others against some injustice.  Quite often these evil ones project dissonance that plants seeds of trouble by accompanying pious-sounding words with non-verbal actions or nuances that contradict those words, sending a message that trumps the one that is verbalized.

Non-verbal communications — the winks, the nods, the silences, even the choice of where to sit in a social setting — are also incredibly devious because the real message they express is clearly recognized by the victim, but not by others. This has probably happened to you. The abuser, at some gathering, jumps right in to help clear the table after a meal. What a noble guy he is. Yeah, right. The victim knows full well what his real intention is — to accuse and shame her in some way; or to parade as such a helpful husband that every other women at the gathering wishes her husband was a good as he is. Just what level of evil do these kinds of tactics require? What kind of a person naturally and habitually practices such things? I can tell you — a thoroughly evil person consumed with power and control on a quest for self-glory.

Sulking of course is still another non-verbal abusive communication. The silent treatment. Pouting. Sitting off to the side, distanced from the others. Not smiling. Having a ‘worried’ and serious expression on his face. “Did you see Hal tonight? Something must be troubling him. Poor man.”

Well, God’s Word to such people is this: calamity is going to come crashing down on your head and squish you like a bug. God hates and detests what you are doing. People may not ‘hear’ your winks and shuffles, but God gets it, and He is going to get you. In fact, Proverbs goes on in the very next verses to tell the winking wicked just what God thinks of them:

There are six things that the LORD hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers. (Pro 6:16-19)

He hates you, Mr. abuser. God Almighty hates you. And He is coming. He is coming, for you.

50 Comments

  1. IamMyBeloved's

    You point out nicely, the subtle abuses that go on with the silent looks and messages or the helpful aid in front of others, that you would never see, if you were at home with the abuser, unless he was keeping track of his good helpful deeds to report to an abusive pastor.

    Also, I can just hear these words flying from the mouths of others who perhaps don’t get abuse, or don’t understand evil, following your last paragraph and sentence. They would say, “Well, doesn’t your abuser deserve the same kind of mercy and grace God gave to you? You are a sinner too! What on earth is wrong with you, as a Christian, to even have those kind of thoughts?” These are the statements that throw me and my children.

    We are true Christians, but have had an upfront, close and personal life with abuse of all kinds, the final and fatal blow being an abusive pastor, his wife and a couple elders. What response is to be given for this kind of blindness and naivety to evil? Perhaps the truth is, that those who have a deep sense of Christ’s righteousness, are truly sickened by sin, especially abuse of another human being, while those who don’t understand our (and God’s) anger toward the sin of abuse, nor have that deep sense of His righteousness, have never experienced abuse. Maybe they use this “pat ’em on the back” response to wickedness, to cover their own wickedness. Don’t know. Any suggestions?

    • Jeff Crippen

      IAM – No suggestions needed. You said it perfectly. Jesus said that His people “hunger and thirst for righteousness.” Those who do not, are not His people! Over and over again it comes down to this – the “church” consists of far, far more unsaved people who don’t know Christ at all than we could imagine. Oh, and wolves. Packs of wolves.

      • IamMyBeloved's

        Yes, because wolves run in packs. Isn’t that interesting that it happens that way? What I mean is Christians saying that we should be loving toward the abuser, because they are lost and we were once lost too. I just don’t know quite how to think about that. I guess I can compare Jezebel and Saul (before he was Paul) and see that Paul states that God forgave him and saved him, because the sin he committed was out of ignorance – he thought he was doing God a favor and saving God’s “true religion” sort of thing, while Jezebel on the other hand, hated anything having to do with God. Would that be a good comparison or way to look at this situation?

  2. Mia

    Dear Jeff
    I have been abused in church to such an extent that I nearly died. I am ill with Fm/ME and had to hear the whole Pentecostal story of not having enough faith to be healed. I was also accused of having the spirit of Jezebel when I was unable to look after my husband. When I was so ill that I couldn’t even eat, I had no one to look after me. I was accused of being ill because I didn’t serve enough at church. But one thing I know is that God loves the abusers just as much as He loves me. He detests what they do, but love them nevertheless. God acts Ek Theos ( out of Himself ) and there is nothing we can do or not do that will make Him love us more or less. I take he apostle Paul for instance! Even though he mudered the first Christians, Jesus loved him. I think you are walking on dangerous ground when you say that God hates the abuser. God knows very well who the real abuser, the spirit that works in the sons of disobedience (Ephesians 2:2 I think) is. I therefore take great exception at your last sentence.
    Blessings XX
    Mia

    • Jeff Crippen

      Mia – I assume that your intent in writing here is that you think you are doing good and correcting error. But I must counter what you are trying to tell us, because God’s own word does. You are equating and leveling. That is to say, you are claiming what is normally posited in these words – “Hey, we are all sinners.” That kind of thinking does great harm to victims of abuse, and it is wrong. God does not love all human beings in the same way. He loves His own sheep, His own people, with a love that is radically beyond anything that might be called love toward the wicked. Your suggestion that “there is nothing we can do or not do that will make Him love us more or less” is certainly correct when it comes to God’s own people. He loves us in Christ. But if you apply this theorem to the wicked, then you really are saying that all sin is equal – that no sinner is worse than another – and that is simply not true. Christ said that Sodom and Gomorrah would do better in the day of judgment than the people Bethsaida. Now, as to your suggestion that God hates the abuser’s sin, but does not hate the abuser, I counter you with Scripture itself:

      The boastful shall not stand before your eyes; you hate all evildoers. (Psa 5:5)

      The LORD tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence. (Psa 11:5)

      I hate the assembly of evildoers, and I will not sit with the wicked. (Psa 26:5) [David is commended for this]

      I hate those who pay regard to worthless idols, but I trust in the LORD. (Psa 31:6) [Once again, David is commended for this]

      Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD? And do I not loathe those who rise up against you? (Psa 139:21) [Are you saying the Psalmist is sinful here?

      Mia, your theology here is very wrong. And it is not harmless. It enables abusers, letting them say to their victims, “hey, you are a sinner too!” I am very sorry that you underwent the abuse that you experienced, but now you need to get your thinking straight in this area. Your portrayal of God’s “love” is misguided. God hates not only evil, but He hates evildoers, and that with a hot anger. He hates abusers.

      • Mia

        Dear Jeff
        Thank you for replying on my comment. I really appreciate that. I think we should agree to disagree on this matter. I am not sorry I went through all this abuse. Actually, I am thankful. It drove me straight from the bondage of religion straight into His Loving Embrace! I can say with Joseph that even though the abusers meant evil, God worked it out for my good and all to His glory.

      • IamMyBeloved's

        Oh this is very good. I hate it when my computer is down and I get behind, because I need the constant reminders in this area. It is so easy to slip back into the old pattern of abuse and thinking and then start to minimize the abuse – as it seems Mia has done and you are right in your correction to her here. I am still not completely out of my situation yet, so it is harder to keep the patterns broken.

        Mia, please listen to Ps. Crippen’s counsel here and know that God hated the abuse you went through. It is true,

      • Mia,
        God does take our evil circumstances and turn them around for His glory.
        But God does not love the wicked, the wolves in sheep clothing, and the evil in their hearts. You make Him sound like Santa. He is great – He is Mighty – He is Love – but he is not safe for the wicked.

      • Crossroads

        I’m still confused about this. I distinctly remember my church saying that God hates what my abusive husband has done but still loves him as a person so I should do the same. They say “love your neighbour as yourself.”

        Are there any New Testament references showing God hates evil doers and abusers?

      • Jeff Crippen

        Crossroads: Your church was woefully wrong in telling you this. First, the Scriptures I quoted in the article are from Psalms that are quite Messianic. In other words, they point to Christ, David’s lesser Son, of whom David was a type. It is Christ the King hating the wicked, you see. In addition:

        This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering– since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed. (2Th 1:5-10)

        God has not changed. The Old Testament God is the God of the New Testament. He hates the wicked. He invites His enemies to repent and turn to faith in Christ, but that does not change the fact that even in this New covenant era, He hates those who hate Him.

      • Here are a few more NT scriptures, Crossroads.

        But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith. But they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all, as was that of those two men. (2 Timothy 3:1-9)

        Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. (Rev. 22:15)

        Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds. (2 Tim 4:14)

    • Brenda R

      Mia, Many Christians have on rose colored glasses. We need to open our eyes and call sin what it is, sin. Yes we all sin, but not in the same way. God is not going to judge those who turned their backs on him the same way that he judges His children. They are choosing to follow evil. God hates those who do evil. Following evil is making a choice to reject God. He will forgive them and take them in as His children if they ask for forgiveness and repent, but until then they are followers of the evil one. We are not equal.

    • Hi Mia,
      I was in Word Faith for a long time. It did a lot of damage to me and many people I care about. The Lord led me to research the history of word faith and it’s connection to Christian Science and occultism. Not long after that, I was able to take actions against the abuse in my marriage, protecting my kids and myself.
      Prior to that, I could not admit or “agree with” the evil in my home. I was always believing for his change…his salvation. I also was doing a lot of spiritual warfare and deliverance type of activities but not seeing any fruit in the marriage.

      It took a lot for the Lord to lead me out. I’m still full Gospel and in a wonderful church in which the gifts do operate, but without the control, spiritual abuse, and occultism of my old assembly. Praise be to God.

      I also wrestled with labeling my husband- or anyone for that matter- wicked. But in so doing, parts of the Word seemed to contradict and just did not make much sense. Now I know that a person can be “wicked”, a “fool” or a “scoffer,” Not my words- they’re in the Word. And if we are permitted to discern these people- which we are-…the Word also gives wisdom on how to deal with them and YES how to protect ourselves.

      Jesus and Paul WARN about wolves…Matthew 23 gives us many specifics examples.

      I’m not saying a wolf can’t be saved…but I’m dealing with the present and the past. I also see a lot of wisdom in Proverbs about recognizing evil and hiding from it.

      Coicidentally in my WOF group- there was an abuse problem. One in leader but also many of us had grown up in abusive, controlling, or loveless homes, and were unable to discern abusiveness from normal behavior, and very naive in how to avoid and protect ourselves from it.

      God bless,

      April

    • Dear Mia, I am glad you had the courage to express your views as it has led to some valuable comments. Likewise Crossroads — thank you for expressing your perplexity; I think your perplexity is one that quite a few readers have.

      “God acts Ek Theos ( out of Himself )” — yes that is true. However God’s character is both Love and Righteousness; and righteousness must judge evil, else it is not righteous. Those who emphasize the love of God without also affirming his righteousness, justice and hatred of evildoing have a sub-biblical view of God. That is what Katy was hinting at, I think, when she likened that kind of God to Santa Claus.

      “Hate the sin but love the sinner” is a Christian slogan which reduces this paradoxical character of God to the level of a fairy-floss aphorism. And all too often, this slogan allows heinous sinners to skate free in churches. We often can love the abusers best by setting very firm boundaries against them: refusing to condone, comply with or enable their sin, and by handing them over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh. That is what God often does too. He hands them over to the consequences of their own wickedness.

  3. Nowfree

    Mia, I agree with Jeff. Paul did eventually repent, and was forgiven. Whether or not your abuser or mine repents is not our concern. It is our concern to warn and help others to recognize the abuser, and to help the abused.

    My to be ex husband also put on a great fake display of being kind and godly, in church especially. He even went to my mother’s funeral a couple of weeks ago and made a big show of talking and and laughing to my family.

    Here is another scripture verse from Psalms:

    The Lord tests the righteous and the wicked,
    And the one who loves violence His soul hates.
    Psalm 11:5

  4. Anonymous

    After reading this article I’m wondering where are you hiding at in my daughter’s house. I have thought that so many times after reading one of your articles. The articles describe her husband so completely accurate, it’s like you are here witnessing all of the abuse. Especially this article.

    My daughter went to their church to try and get help, she has asked them for help for over three years. Her husband recently started claiming that she was the abuser. I’m sure you can figure out where that has led. One counselor even told her that she had no right to call 911 because when she did that she was preventing her husband from making amends for his behavior. I find such counseling absolutely absurd.

    She has filed for divorce. The church then sent a letter informing her that discipline was being taken but if she wanted to repent and confess her sins she could call and talk to “so and so” or “so and so”. They also informed her that she “has no rights/grounds to a divorce”. The letter was infuriating for me to read.

    The divorce papers have been served, but he is still living here. She can’t tell him to leave. The lawyer says that has to be done by the judge during the first court appearance. The court date has not been assigned yet. So it’s pretty miserable here for everyone.

    My husband is retired so we are able to stay here with our daughter and grandchildren 24/7, so she never has to be alone with him.

    I’m not good at writing and I’m sorry if I have said things that could be triggers for any one so please edit it as much as you need to. It just feels good to talk to someone about it.

    Thank you for being there and for all that you do.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Anonymous – Well, after studying and experiencing abuse and hearing victim stories, you begin to realize that abusers all graduated from the same school of evil. In addition, I have personally been the target of abusers who opposed the gospel ministry in our church and wanted power and control, parading as the most saintly parents you could ever find. So that’s how we know.

      I would recommend, if possible, you consider reporting to the police the fact that these church leaders are pressuring your daughter not to call 911. I don’t know if that is a crime or not, but if it isn’t, it should be. How are they any different than the abuser who rips the phone out of the victim’s hand when she is calling 911? I also recommend that you consider suing this “church” (which is no true church at all). Keep records, journals, and you might even have an attorney consultation and a letter from him to the church that a lawsuit is under consideration and they should carefully rethink putting any more pressure on her.

      • Anonymous

        I forgot to state that when the church sent their threatening letter to our daughter that she printed off a paper about resigning church membership. The paper also stated that they could no longer talk about her to anyone or legal recourse would be taken. So far they have said nothing else to her.

    • Brenda R

      Anon,
      A counselor saying you have no right to call 911? That is everyone’s legal right if they feel threatened. He can make amends after he’s gotten out of jail, if he is really repentant, which I doubt.

      Unless you daughter has a boyfriend sitting around the corner waiting for the divorce to be final, church leadership has really overstepped. Writing her a disciplinary letter is going out of order, if I read my Bible correctly. They skipped the part where they are suppose to talk the situation out. Demanding that she repent and confess HER sins? What about the ones that caused her to file for divorce? I don’t expect answers to these questions, but I am infuriated at her church on her behalf.

      I am so glad that you and your husband are able to stay with her. I know it is a difficult time, but you being there much be a huge comfort to her. No one will stop you from dialing 911, I’m sure. Praying that the court date will be set soon and will go smoothly for your daughter and grandchildren.

  5. ESR

    “Sitting off to the side, distanced from the others. Not smiling. Having a ‘worried’ and serious expression on his face.”

    Is this always abusive? I chose to sit off to the side reading rather than participate in a card game. First I don’t enjoy card games that much, and secondly I really don’t enjoy playing them with someone who has a history of being aggressive towards me. Anotherwards, this is one of the tactics that I use to avoid interacting with the person who abuses me (not my husband). Interaction can and has lead to that person twisting what I say and do into slander.

    • No, ESR, sitting off to the side is not always abusive. Neither is failing to smile, or having a ‘worried’ expression on your face. While Jeff C was accurately describing how some abusers he has known have behaved, the context and the back-story of the person’s behaviour is what makes it abusive.

      If one is being abused, one might well choose to sit off to the side, distanced from others, and have a worried look on one’s face ——— as a way of protecting or shielding oneself from the abuse.

      Your question is reasonable, and sorry we took a little while to answer it.

      Many many behaviours can be used by both abusers and victims. But the context is what makes it abusive in one case, and a valid response to abuse in the other case. Of course, a closed fist punch in the face is not likely to be a behavior that victims use! But many of the non-violent behaviors can be used by both victims and abusers. What makes them abusive is the pattern of control that is being unfairly, intentionally and wrongfully used by the abuser against the target victim.

      I bet when you have distanced yourself and sat off to one side, you have not been trying to control the other person wrongfully or or with intent to unfairly hurt them. You were doing it to try to maintain your personal dignity and to protect yourself from the barbs of the evil one. And furthermore, you did not have an attitude or belief that you were superior to them and were entitled to hurt or misuse them for your own selfish purposes. Whereas the abusers have that attitude and belief system underlying their behaviour. They will deny it till they are blue in the face, but deep down they have that attitude. And that is why it is so hard for abusers to change. They have to change the bedrock presuppositions that they are superior and are therefore entitled to mistreat those who they deem inferior to them.

      • Still Scared( but getting angry)

        Loved your answer Barb!

  6. Isaiah40:31

    I’ve seen/heard of abusers that use these non-verbal communications to alienate the children from the victim-parent.

  7. Anonymous

    ABUSE WITHOUT A WORD — that’s my story …

  8. Nutshell

    I read your responses to Mia and the scripture verses, but how does one reconcile those with “God so loved the world….” and a multitude of other verses?

    • Jeff Crippen

      Nuttshell – The primary issue we want to address here is the manner in which Crossroad’s church enabled evil by telling her she had to “love” the abuser. Does God “love” the world in a way in which He does not require repentance? Or does His “love” for the world mean that He does not exercise His wrath upon the wicked? Of course not. In other words, they grossly distorted the love of God and twisted it into some rationale that required the abuse victim to submit to abuse, enable the abuser, and remain in bondage. God “so loved” the world – does not give a blank check to evildoers. It does not remove His wrath from the wicked (see Romans 1). Always read the full context of John 3:16-

      And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.

      (Joh 3:14-20)

      • Brenda R

        Amen, Ps Jeff. Scripture taken out of context can cause confusion. God is not the author of that confusion. The evil one lurks in every corner trying to twist the Word and the minds of men.

      • IamMyBeloved's

        Also, “world” there means His creation, not in a personal sense, such as each individual being. It means mankind in general. It rains on the just and the unjust. The sun shines on everyone. People get jobs. That is just common grace for all mankind.

        But God’s love for His own, is unique and very different than His care for the “world” in general. When we belong to Him, His love is very focused and centered on our own individual and personal care, in personalized ways. It is way more than just the sun shining and the rain falling, like it does on everyone else. When we twist this concept of His love, it robs us of knowing God’s care for us as individuals in His intimate way and just runs the wicked and righteous together in one lump, and we know God does not do that. There are many Scriptures that talk about how life is for the righteous, that will never happen for the unrighteous. There is a difference and a separation between the guilty and the guiltless – the wicked and the righteous. We need to stop blurring the lines and distinctions God made for us.

  9. Jeff, thank you for writing this. I still get some jumbled thoughts when I read this kind of a message, similar to Mia. But it’s echos of similar church teaching that I believe does reward the abusers. I found a whole chapter from Matthew (23) where Jesus says similar things. Keep up the good fight! We need your challenges to our old programming.

    Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, 2 “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; 3 therefore, do whatever they teach you and follow it; but do not do as they do, for they do not practice what they teach. 4 They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear,[a] and lay them on the shoulders of others; but they themselves are unwilling to lift a finger to move them. 5 They do all their deeds to be seen by others; for they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long. 6 They love to have the place of honor at banquets and the best seats in the synagogues, 7 and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have people call them rabbi. 8 But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all students.[b] 9 And call no one your father on earth, for you have one Father—the one in heaven. 10 Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Messiah.[c] 11 The greatest among you will be your servant. 12 All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted.

    13 “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you lock people out of the kingdom of heaven. For you do not go in yourselves, and when others are going in, you stop them.[d] 15 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cross sea and land to make a single convert, and you make the new convert twice as much a child of hell[e] as yourselves.

    16 “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘Whoever swears by the sanctuary is bound by nothing, but whoever swears by the gold of the sanctuary is bound by the oath.’ 17 You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the sanctuary that has made the gold sacred? 18 And you say, ‘Whoever swears by the altar is bound by nothing, but whoever swears by the gift that is on the altar is bound by the oath.’ 19 How blind you are! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred? 20 So whoever swears by the altar, swears by it and by everything on it; 21 and whoever swears by the sanctuary, swears by it and by the one who dwells in it; 22 and whoever swears by heaven, swears by the throne of God and by the one who is seated upon it.

    23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint, dill, and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. It is these you ought to have practiced without neglecting the others. 24 You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel!

    25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup,[f] so that the outside also may become clean.

    27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which on the outside look beautiful, but inside they are full of the bones of the dead and of all kinds of filth. 28 So you also on the outside look righteous to others, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

    29 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous, 30 and you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ 31 Thus you testify against yourselves that you are descendants of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Fill up, then, the measure of your ancestors. 33 You snakes, you brood of vipers! How can you escape being sentenced to hell?[g] 34 Therefore I send you prophets, sages, and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town, 35 so that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. 36 Truly I tell you, all this will come upon this generation.

  10. April

    Jeff,
    I love this article….I actually laughed when I read the phrase “squish you like a bug!” Not because it’s a light subject, but a laugh of relief and hope- knowing that God saw what I lived through and is a God who delivered, fights for us and repays. I pray, hope and desire that my abuser(s) will repent from the heart. The end result is horrifying and it’ s really humbling to see that God takes people wounding us very very seriously.

    I really believe it is our loving Father who is shining a light on these evil practices, so that more and more of us can be set free.

    For a long time, in patriarchy, legalism, and a bible based cult, I didn’t know that God was ANGRY at the treatment against me. It makes me feel loved and protected to know that He is.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Thank you April. You have come a long, long way:)

  11. I am late in on this thread, due to family issues that have been preoccupying me.

    The well-placed wink and the raised eyebrow — I remember my first husband doing that in our lounge-room. A couple from our church were visiting us, during the final year of the marriage. We were chatting away nicely as two married couples do when they are socialising together. Somehow the conversation got on to my writing (I did not write much then, but was doing a little bit informally). My husband made some remark to the other husband; I can’t remember the exact words he used but it was a direct put down of me. He implied that the other husband had it easy because his wife was a normal good housewife who did not do anything outside the usual female roles, but he (my husband) had it hard because he was married to a woman who was a writer: the inference being that a woman writer was way too opinionated and formidable, and therefore it was hard being married to such an aberrant woman.

    Mind you, my husband had been happy, nearly a year before this, to reconcile with me, his wife, even though knew I was keen on writing and had been outspoken in my opinions in church settings.

    The thing I remember most about this micro-exchange was the wink and the raised eyebrow that my husband gave to the other man when making that remark. The body language hurt me more than the words. It humiliated me. I only caught it because I happened to be glancing at his face at the time. I think he didn’t mean me to see it, but I saw it. It took less than a second, but it stung. The boys-club superiority was palpable, even thought it was so short lived. And like good docile wives, neither I nor the other woman remarked on the exchange between the two men. And the other husband did not rebuke my husband; rather, by accepting the wink and the raised eyebrow, he implied that he agreed with my husband.

    • Brenda R

      Barb, He may have said that he wanted to reconcile, but he didn’t. He only wanted to gain control back over you. I am glad you left. He would have put you right back in the fog and perhaps even further into the thickness. Friends do us a disservice when they don’t speak up. Another man giving an approval to your goals could have made your X think about what he was doing to you, by putting you down like that. Or, he’d have just found another couple with a H that was only too willing to go along with him. Thank you for sharing.

  12. This is just what I needed to hear today. I havnt been on here for a week or so.

    In this past week I have had my eyes opened to more of my husbands tactics. After seeing my doctor this week she opened my eyes up to stuff too. She is very aware of my husbands behaviour and the effect it is now having on my children.

    I have become aware this week of his silent abuse… what amazes me with this blog is every time I come on here God has something for me.

    He sulks, he has silences where I say something and he disagrees in silence. He also does this thing where he goes along with something I have said and I think he agrees with me then he ends up turning in the other direction throwing me totally out, he does this to our kids too. He always helps out when we have people over to visit. He is Mr Nice Guy and women think I am the luckiest woman in the world. I am now seeing that his help to me, his support to me is totally about him. It is about how good he looks and the glory he gets for doing it from others.

    I have also realised this week how he loves the fact that I am isolated. I have lost all my friends after leaving the church we attended for nearly 30 years. Now I am too scared to make new friends. Some new friends that we have made, couples, think he is awesome… I wish I could tell them otherwise. I really dont like my husband anymore. I have disconnected myself from him. I feel sorry for him. I am putting on a mask, an act at the moment to keep the peace. I am preparing myself for the leaving. I cannot see that we will ever recover from this terrible state our marriage is in.

    In our old church he loved it that everyone thought he was the strong, supportive man while I was falling apart.. because I was being abused verbally and emotionally. When I look around and look back at how he has formed allies and has loved me being the bad one it is devastating. In this church also, there was silences…. unspoken frown, looks, it happened to me with the Pastor and his wife. This was how they tried to manipulate me or control me if I wasnt wearing the right clothes… my kids were misbehaving… I was talking too loudly etc etc.. I was treated like a child for many many years…. and my husband treats me like a child too. In this church we were taught to turn the other cheek, submit to your husband, he was the head of the home, forgive seventy times seven, always smile (dont wear your heart on your sleeve), forgive those that use you, hurt you, dont be bitter etc etc. So I thought I had to deal with my sin and put my head down and allow my husband to lecture me, control me and isolate me… the damage this church and my husband has done has compounded the damage done to me as a child…. sometimes I am challenged with suicidal thoughts. Its not something I would entertain but I get totally beyond myself with pain and the trauma gets the better of me sometimes

    Im becoming aware of his silent abuse… it is actually the abuse that scares me. This is what I find very difficult to deal with. He does it to me alot. I walk on eggshells acting almost like I have Bi Polar.. I heightened, stressed and I know it. I in a really good mood because I am terrified he is going to lose it at me. He has been like this the last few days… the tension is building and I am in for a blastiing in the next few days.

    Sorry for the long comment here but it is very relevant for me at the moment.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Loves6 – I want to validate everything you have said here and what you are feeling and seeing. How can I do that without knowing your abuser? It really isn’t that difficult — your account of what is happening in your home cannot be made up. People don’t make these things up and present their stories as you do here. If a person were lying, trying to wrongly frame their spouse as an abuser, there we be no hint of the fog and confusion the abuse effects. All this to say, we believe you and want to encourage you that you are indeed seeing things accurately. Your description of your old church and what people are taught there is sooooo accurate. You describe the very system that we are trying to expose. The damage your church did certainly did compound the abuser exponentially.

      So take heart. You are on the right track and you are now seeing accurately the tactics and false teachings that you have been oppressed with.

      • Pastor Jeff, thank you for this blog, the people that write on it, the people that comment and the books that have been recommended to me these all have been the tools that God is and has used to help open my eyes.

        I have been accused of not telling the truth.

        I could well imagine that people could visit this blog and read the stories of victims and think they are making it up. Unbelivable that people do…. If we were lying we would have to remember a lot of lies that we had told…. Liars trip themselves up.

        This type of church teaching is extremely damaging. My family are a very good example of the aftermath of it. My husband was an abuser before we attended there but over the years the teaching and the way the church operated gave him the right to rule me with an iron fist. I believe he is sensing that he is losing his grip on me…hence the resason for the tension building up that I am sensing.

        Thank you so much for your encouragement it is much needed just now.

      • NotHeard

        I’m feeling so lost at sea this week..I really appreciate being able to come here and not feel so alone. Thankyou to everyone who has the courage to speak up and tell their story, eg loves6, can really relate.

    • thepersistentwidow

      loves6, Your husband sounds exactly like my ex! Other women would comment to me how great he was and how I was so lucky to have such a wonderful man, but in reality living with him was like living in an insane asslyum. He turned the inside of our house upside down with his fits of rage, unpredictability, pitting people against each other, drama, etc. His silent treatment would last for days, then weeks, and finally at the end-for months! While he was silent, he still slammed doors and made menancing looks. His goal was to get me to react, and when I refused to do so, he became all the more angry. It wasn’t all just for my misery, his intention was to ruin homelife for everyone-all the children (even pets), as well. He was a dangerous man.

      As you know from reading this blog, the church is often ineffective to help and frequently makes matters worse. I went to a local abuse center and received validation that the church refused to give. Despite what they say, you are not the problem. Don’t believe the lies. You are living in terrible abuse and I suggest that you seek help beyond the church that you are in.

      It is hard to get out of abuse and takes a lot of effort to fight through those who would keep you in it. If you trust in the Lord to deliver, believe your instinct that this situation is not right, and work to get out of it, you will. There is a better life outside of abuse and you should have it. Praying for you.

  13. Gillie

    Oh my Dear God, the egg shells, then the outbursts, fists, belts, bellowing, raging, sadistic comments, babies thrown at walls, long guilt making lectures, and all before lunch someways. My father and my husband are guilty of a mixture of this. My sons are not, and they are teaching my husband by word and deed, as they are big strong kind men still at home, that this is not on, and he is starting to thaw. Needless to say his and my fathers childhoods were nightmares too, but the buck stops here. My sons understand the source of the problem, but are learning how to deal differently with things and behave rightly in love, but tough love. I do believe my husband is beginning to respect himself, and therefore us. I’m going nowhere until my sons finish saving to move to their own places, then I will see what I think. And as to the church interfering in my life, not likely! I don’t submit to sinful authority when God is my refuge and strength. I’m strong in the Lord, a child of the King, and I’ll fight the good fight to stop this generational tragedy in this house hold in this generations.

  14. Still Scared( but getting angry)

    Non-verbal, How about this example? Two of my kids were so terrified by their dad that they were in court ordered therapy for 6 months. Near the end of it, they were still really scared but therapist was trying to get them to actually be in the same room as their dad. So for the first meeting of this. We arrive at the building for therapy, therapist not there yet. ( church building can’t go in until she unlocks it) We are sitting in the car, huge empty parking lot. Where does the ex-idiot park? Right behind my car!! So for 20 minutes ( therapist late!! ) we sat trapped. Imagine the terror building in my kids that were then supposed to be in the same room as him. I think this was when I really understood that the ex-idiot was not just not understanding but CHOOSING to not understand.

    • and not only CHOOSING not to understand, but CHOOSING to menace you and the kids.

  15. Kandyce Brothers

    my ex always the most helpful man at church,,the mr nice guy..it was incredible watching him in action, because i knew behind closed doors what a monster he truly was

  16. 3blossommom

    I am so thankful that there are men who see and know this. This perfectly describes my husband. The jumping up to clear the table is him exactly…not at home just in public. The ability he had to make himself look marvelous and me look miserable drove me to begin to believe it myself. Now it looks like I’ll have to face him and that incredible ability to remain calm, cool, helpful, kind, well spoken as he lies, in court. Only God can be my help.

  17. SeekingFreedom

    Thank you so much for this. It helps to read this. My husband does a lot of this. He alternated between raging at me, and ignoring me. But outside the house, to his family, etc, he’s Mr. Wonderful. He’s a charming chameleon, acting like the concerned husband at church, while at home raging at me about God, cussing and cursing about God, attempting to destroy my faith.

    Everyone thinks he’s great. You’re left with no one to turn to. The people I’ve tried to tell don’t believe it – they want to stay neutral or view it as both our fault (“it takes two to tango”). What do you do when no one believes you? And why is the modern church so ridiculously naive? The Church, and Christians are where you should be able to turn for help, but my experience is that they are the last place I can turn.

    My family is gone (the abuse really started after my father died and I had no one to defend me or turn to), I let friendships go to focus on my marriage, and now I have no one to turn to. He’s gone (we’re separated), but all the toxic spiritual garbage he spewed is still floating around in my head, and I can’t seem to get rid of it. I heard for years (from him) that God doesn’t care about individuals, that there is no personal relationship with Jesus, that God let’s bad things happen and doesn’t care…. he would scream it at me in the middle of the night. He can turn it on and off like a light switch. He’d yell at me about God for hours, I’d be crying, begging him to just stop, then he’d go to sleep with a smile on his face.

    I know in my head it’s not true, and my faith is what got me through it all, but I still feel like he filled me with toxic spiritual sludge. And there’s no where to turn. Your site helps, I’ve been reading a lot of books, and yet I don’t know how to get over this.

    • healinginhim

      Jessica – Would love to reach out a give you a ((hug)).
      So often the abuse worsens when the abuser realizes you have lost support of family and friends.
      Please be reassured that others visiting this site care… don’t stop sharing and receiving encouragement from ACFJ.

    • For each of us, the journey of recovery from trauma is an individual journey. But God knows best how to guide and lead each one of us as we make that journey. Tears, talking, identifing and honouring one’s emotions and one’s responses to the abuse… all those things are usually involved along the way. And patience with oneself for how long it sometimes takes.

      You might find it helpful to read the posts under out PTSD tag. Or the ones under our Recovery tag. You can find them via the TAGS tab in the top menu.

      (hugs)

    • NotAlone

      Everyone thinks he’s great. You’re left with no one to turn to. The people I’ve tried to tell don’t believe it – they want to stay neutral or view it as both our fault (“it takes two to tango”). What do you do when no one believes you? And why is the modern church so ridiculously naive? The Church, and Christians are where you should be able to turn for help, but my experience is that they are the last place I can turn.

      I can relate to the loneliness, the draining effect of how much energy it takes to fight to survive the insanity of the lies, the fakeness, the hypocrisy, the misplaced judgemental condemnation of people in church –as you said, the very ones who are supposed to help you!

      I absolutely detest the ideology “of it takes two to tango”. Or “We are all sinners saved by grace.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that especially in counseling with the pastor. It’s a sin-leveling tool that is so wicked that the enemy uses to keep us oppressed. My husband used this all the time because he refused to stand accountable for any of his actions. When we would have disagreements about it, he would finally rest in this ideology so that if he must stand accountable, I was just as accountable as him. He could never just stand accountable. It seems to me he thought it was the worst thing to be accountable for his actions or inactions or words or silence (most was in actions and silence), and that he “wasn’t going to go down alone”.

      Even my friends have chosen him and turned their back on me. I’m still numb from that. They chose the “happy, nice guy”. They even knew a bunch of stuff that went on comma but they chose to dismiss it because he just carries on like nothing’s happening. They want a good times guy that won’t ruffle any feathers. I don’t understand why people would ever willingly exchange truth for a lie. I just don’t understand it.

      I cannot exist in a masquerade or facade. My conscience simply won’t allow it and so I am the outcast because of it. So this site has been slowly cracking the crystal cathedral of the false illusions that our church has tried so hard to maintain about simply trudging on and giving more sacrificially to my husband and suffering for Christ sake and submitting in obedience to my husband which is obedience to the Lord, that man is to glorify God and woman is to glorify her husband and quietly going about living my life, not rocking the boat, living a pretend perfect life with no fuss and just carrying on. These things are so so wrong and really undermine a lot of the Gospel in a sense. I am still struggling with the truth that I have no obligation to humans who claim to be believers and of the Lord and yet willfully choose to live in sin and cling to a deceptively different doctrine than what is in the Word of God.

      So very grateful for this site being a beacon of hope to those of us trying to find our way through the fog!

  18. Marie Notcheva

    This is classic covert-aggressive abuser behavior, and it describes my ex-husband to a T. And it is very hard to confront, because then the person confronting this type of hostility appears to be “the bad one”. It is absolutely infuriating, and that, of course, is the abuser’s goal. It makes me so angry that they continue to get away with this and are coddled/embraced by the Church.

    • Hi Marie,

      I changed the term ‘passive aggressive’ to ‘covert aggressive’ in your comment. Hope you don’t mind. We believe covert aggressive is a better term for what abusers do than passive aggressive. Here is our post explaining why: Covert aggression is not the same as passive aggression

      • Marie Notcheva

        Thank you! I’m learning something new every day – I didn’t realize there was a difference. Going to read that link now!

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