A Cry For Justice

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

Abusers Attribute Evil Motives to Us in Front of Others in Order to Discredit Us

And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.” (Luke 15:2)

For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they [the Pharisees, scribes, cynical unbelievers and haughty arm-chair critics] say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.” (Matthew 11:18-19)

This post has pretty long title, but I didn’t know how to say it in fewer words. Some of you probably can. Let me tell you some (just a little bit) of what happened to me at the hands of abusers over many years and I am sure it will resonate with you. Rather than trying to describe it, I will just give you some scenarios that actually happened in respect to this particular abuser tactic:

1. About 10 years ago, after many years of using the same keys for our church building, I had the locks changed when a particularly wicked person resigned and left. I didn’t go into detail with everyone except to simply tell them it was a good practice to occasionally re-key the building. The next Sunday when we provided the new keys, a group of about 8 people were standing near me when Mr. Accuser approaches. “You know, pastor,” he proceeded to say in the hearing of everyone, “we all know the REAL reason you changed the locks. It is wrong of you to not be completely honest with us.” What did I do? I APOLOGIZED! Stupid me, I still wasn’t awake to the tactics of the wicked. I had done nothing at all wrong. This guy presumed to tell me what my inner motives were, announce that they were evil motives, and did so in a setting designed to discredit me in the eyes of my flock. Abusers CREATE guilt that is non-existent. They twist perfectly normal and righteous actions into the product of some kind of supposed inner sinfulness. They CREATE grounds for accusation, just as the enemies of Jesus did against Him.

2. Another time my wife and I had purchased the home we still live in. It is about 16 miles from the church building. Everyone knew we had been looking at it and the only input we had from anyone was very positive. They were glad we were going to be able to own our own home. But at the very next church board meeting after we had moved, the very same culprit told me, in front of all the rest of the board members, “Well, pastor, now that you have distanced yourself far away from your congregation….and now that you are down there all by yourself with the internet and without any accountability from us…you will need to be very careful in guarding yourself against sin.” Isn’t it amazing how long it takes for us to wake up to this filth? I mean, I immediately FELT it in my gut, that this was all very, very wicked and wrong. But I am the pastor.  I am a Christian. I am supposed to be kind and forbearing and….you know the routine.  And no one else there said a word to this guy either. Once again his goal was to exercise power and control over me. He hated it that I had shown “independence” by not begging for his counsel and permission before doing something (buying my own home) that was absolutely NONE of his business. So, he used this tactic to work to further discredit me.

3. Still another time — same culprit again. I was taking some courses in accounting from a community college. I like math and I took the courses as a kind of hobby, but also because I wanted a tent-making skill backup. Duh, gee, I wonder why I felt the need? Because the wicked are always working to get a genuine, sincere pastor thrown out of his church. The setting this time — another church board meeting. In front of all the other board members, this same guy works in his statement, “well, pastor we all know why you are taking those courses. We know you might just resign from this church.” No one rebuked him. No one called him on it. And he was permitted to continue his evil for years and years and years.

I could go on giving many more of these very same kinds of illustrations. Notice how in each case, the wicked person is making the claim that he knows the thoughts and intentions of my heart. And he always announces that those intentions are BAD. Could it be that there are so MANY of these wicked ones among us in our churches that we have come to think that their evil devices are NORMAL? (Sorry for using all caps so much, but just imagine me smashing my desk with my fist for emphasis). His goal? To weaken my leadership with others, to strengthen his own control and power, and to exalt himself. He was, after all, entitled to it all you know.

Pastors who are ignorant of the nature and mentality of abuse, and who are clueless about the tactics of the abuser, are setting themselves up as targets for the very kinds of attacks I experienced. When a pastor chooses to remain ignorant of the abuser, he is choosing to remain ignorant of Satan’s devices by which the enemy is working to destroy the pastor’s ministry and church. I know about abuse because as a pastor I personally was targeted by abusers for years. What would I say to this culprit and his kind now? Well, if someone pulled this kind of thing on me again, I would stop everything immediately. Board meeting. Church potluck. Bible study. Doesn’t matter. I would stop it and call for everyone’s attention. I would then ask them,

“Did you all just hear what Mr. A here said to and about me?” (I would also do this if I heard Mr. A pull this with another victim). “I want all of us to think very hard now about what he is saying. He is saying that he has the ability to read my mind and my heart, and he is attributing evil motives to me in front of all of you. He is doing so in respect to a situation that is AMORAL (changing locks, buying a house, taking some classes) and which are within my right to decide for myself. What Mr. A has just done is evil and it is wicked. Do you see it? Now, let’s talk about what Mr. A is really trying to do to this church and ministry, and as we discuss this, Mr. A, YOU are going to be silent.”

Now, that’s my experience of this kind of filth and wickedness as a pastor.

The abuser types in Jesus’ day attacked John the Baptist for fasting and attacked Jesus for eating and drinking — and for doing it with sinners! The abusers claimed John and Jesus had wicked intent behind their choices.  **After all, they KNEW what was in the hearts of those men, didn’t they?** [not!]

It is not wrong to fast, and it is not wrong to eat and drink. It is not wrong to eat with sinners per se. (While mixing with sinners we seek, under the Holy Spirit’s prompting, to declare to them the Word of God while guarding ourselves against the flesh.) It was not wrong for me to change the locks in the church, or to buy the house, or to take those classes in accountancy. And I had no nefarious agenda when I made those decisions. But the abuser sought to discredit me, so he asserted that I had wicked intent and my choices proved I was evil.

I know that all of you have lived through the exact kind of thing at the hands of your abuser many, many times too. And I bet that you have even apologized to Mr. Abuser like I used to when he launched these attacks. Well, no more. Mr. Culprit, if you ever read these words, let it be known, we take ALL such apologies back!

A final note. Perhaps some readers, like so many professing Christians and church members, are thinking “Jeff, you are just talking about personal clashes you had with some people. I am sure you are over-stating it. You and this Mr. Culprit should have been able to work it all out if you had tried harder.” And then off you go back to your relatively trouble-free life. On behalf of not only myself but on behalf of all abuse victims, I am announcing as LOUDLY as I can type, that these situations are most definitely not mere incompatibility or interpersonal clash issues!! I would never, ever be able to make peace with Mr. Culprit. Why? Because he doesn’t want peace. He wants power. He wants control. All I can say to anyone reading this who still thinks that “it was all just a clash between two guys who should have tried harder to get along with each other,” is that perhaps one day YOU will become the target of an abuser/sociopath/emotional terrorist, and then maybe (if you survive) you will finally have empathy for victims of this evil.

76 Comments

  1. thepersistentwidow

    Good observations here. God’s people are charitable because they are walking in the Spirit. We wouldn’t think or do the evil that our abusers have done to us and we give them the benefit of the doubt and find some excuse for what they did, like stress, bad parenting, it was our fault, etc.

    But the wicked find ways to assign bad motives to us even when we are doing good, and that is a reflection of his own unregenerate heart. It is all that he knows because he is walking in the flesh and it defines him.

    To the pure all things are pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; but even their mind and conscience are defiled. Titus 1:15

    • Jeff Crippen

      That verse really nails it, doesn’t it?

    • Anewanon

      The first paragraph in this comment applies to me in the first 2/3 of my marriage. Then once I discovered how unregenerate HIS heart was for all of that time, then i became very untrusting and questioned his every move. The onus was upon him to gain my trust but he never really did so without me pushing for it, So now, it looks like I am the unregenerate one always attributing bad motives to him simply because I’ve grown so bitter waiting for him to keep his word or to prove out repentance, What a turn of events. And now I just feel ugly, used, tossed aside because I “couldn’t forgive”. And yet if he stumbled upon this article he would be right in assigning it to me in these last few years.

  2. Joy

    This is good. It is amazing how aniseed can be covert or overt in the cases you describe. Normal people seem to let these go by without standing up for truth. I’m learning I have responsibility to speak up for myself if I had to do a lot over again. He is giving me much strength and I am so grateful for opportunities to speak truth and challenge others and to tell how I’ve been hurt. I think God also gives insight and wisdom to some and not others– many do not “see” or recognize abuse or are too weak to challenge abusers. Many love to worship the narcissist and ignore the crazy. I’ve been hurt in a huge way – smear campaign within the body of believers and no one stood up against abuser except me. I took the fall but there is freedom to be away from her as hurtful as it has been to see supposed friends still choose her. Thank you for fighting against evil and speaking truth!

  3. cindyrapstad

    You had yourself a stalker, that guy was so concerned on what you were doing he didn’t have a life of his own. I am actually surprised he was so open about his attacks but I am sure there were many more made behind your back.

    I still find it hard to respond because I tend to respond with full knowledge of everything the abuser is doing and has done and of course others see only what they see on the surface not the behinds the scene stuff.

    My h now claims I have menopausal mood swings. Really, I think it is more I am tired of putting up with the games and garbage that comes with being married to someone that plays head games all the time.

    • Valerie

      Cindy, my husband did the same- said the medication I was on was making me emotionally unstable. Didn’t matter that it was something I had been on for years and suddenly now it seemed to be an issue in his eyes. Ok, honey, I’m on medication…what’s YOUR excuse??? Smh.

  4. Thank you for sharing this. Those “wise men” on the board were either straight up cowards or didn’t know God’s Word well enough to even recognize what was happening or know what to do about it, both completely unacceptable for a body whose very existence is for the purpose of protecting, leading, teaching and guiding “the flock.” Most people don’t realize that when they give targets the advice of “try harder to get along” they are assuming we are dealing with a reasonable person who truly has our best interests at heart, which, if true, would garner the desired result of maintaining peace in the relationship, but because it is NOT true, they only have THEIR best interests at heart, (as was the case with Mr. Accuser) “trying harder to get along” only gives the abuser more power. Not even 4 weeks ago would i have understood this concept or been able to articulate it. My mind is being renewed thanks to your truths.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Thanks debby – Ultimately two faithful, genuine men who have stood with us through all these battles, had their eyes opened, as did many of the others in our church. Like me, they began to realize what was really going on and then THEY became the targets of the wickedness too. You are right. “Trying harder and harder” to “just get along” only give the abuser more power.

    • Valerie

      Exactly Debby! Where would we be if we applied that logic to countries wanting to be at war with us? Instead a country recognizes the threat and interprets the behavior directed toward them under that filter. They don’t just wait to see if they will strike, instead the hostile country is monitored and we take preemptive measures or apply consequences in kind. Maybe our problem is we just haven’t tried hard enough to get along with the Middle East???

      As I write this it occurs to me that we take these measures because the government values our freedom and protects the country (against physical threat anyway, the rest is a whole other issue!) because its members value their own life. It seems to me that part of the problem is bystanders just don’t value the life or existence of targets enough to take the threat seriously.

  5. jaime

    This is another example of the fact that abusers know what conscience is and how it functions. An abuser has chosen to ignore his own conscience, intentionally hardening his heart to the God given voice. But he knows it is functional in his victim and takes advantage of that. He knows that a victim who is truly endeavoring to live pleasing to God will want to take the splinter out of their own eye (even when there are evident logs in the “eyes” of the abuser). It is deeply frustrating to people (victims) who choose to live by the rules when others, knowing the rules, do not subject themselves to that authority.
    It is evidence that abusers are not ignorant but intentional and UNSCRUPULOUS (dictionary UNSCRUPULOUS: having or showing no moral principles; not honest or fair. Synonyms: unprincipled · unethical · immoral · conscienceless · shamelessl) .
    “He that KNOWS to do good (what is good) but doesn’t to it, to him it is sin.”

    • Jeff Crippen

      Right on, Jaime. This is what George Simon emphasizes. We “neurotics” (ie, people with a conscience) are targeted by these wicked ones who have no conscience and use our own minds to work condemnation in us.

      • TB

        Wow! Jaime and Jeff…so true!!! I am glad for this information. It is at the heart of what is going on in my life. I am now divorced for several months, but even in the almost year I have lived away from my ex, he continues to try to discredit my salvation because I left him. He sent me a long rant recently full of scripture supporting why I could not be a Christian. It was ALL focused on me and my “sin” of leaving/divorcing. He is, as Jeff said, attempting to “use ‘my’ own mind to work condemnation in ‘me.’

        I do a Christmas production each year and he has made it his goal to show me I am not worthy of doing this because I bring dishonor and shame to myself and God by participating since I have “disobeyed” God’s Word by divorcing him.

        He will NOT leave me alone to be who I am separate from him. I just want to live my life peacefully away from him, but his intent is to cause me much mental/emotional/spiritual distress…to keep me bound up even though I am trying to walk freely. He is now free of all the things that he used to hate about me: my voice, my being a clutterbug, my “not putting him first”, my “not meeting his sexual needs”, etc. You would think he’d be relieved I have gone away from him. Yet he continues to write me that I am wrong for having left him. WHAT THE HECK!!!!!!!!???????? And he is trying hard to make me feel much unease at living my “new” life in freedom.

        If he dislikes me sooooooooooo stinking much, why is he working so hard to prove that I am wrong and that I HAVE to come back to him? He shows NO LOVE in anything, only RULES RULES RULES. I can’t imagine going back and don’t even want to. A year ago I was so hoping for an opening toward reconciliation, but under this mindset of his, I cannot see how a relationship with him could possibly be good. He says I have to die to self and take up my cross. I don’t think God intended for a Godly marriage to be looked upon as “a cross to bear.”

        My ex calls me wicked, but as others have said here, I did not move away from him out of wicked intent. I was heartbroken and crushed it had to come to all this due to his lack of acknowledging the HUGE problem in our marriage and his REFUSAL to do anything about it.

        I am trying to find a way to have a line of communication open with him in order to communicate about things related to the children while not being subjected to the crap he sends me. Of the almost daily emails or texts he sends me, it’s rare any of them are asking about the kids. The messages are mostly about me and his perceived views of my sin(s) against him and God. Mind you, I was just your average housewife/mother…not a carouser, barfly, gambler, flirt, moneywaster, etc. I am not trying to puff myself up, but just trying to show that I was content in my role in life and would have happily continued on in it if things hadn’t gotten so bad.

        My heart was sick at the thought (and eventual reality) of having to leave. But my ex sees my heart as rebellious, hard, selfish, dishonoring, disobedient to God, and wicked (all his words that play like a broken record). I don’t see myself as wicked at all. I have a heart and desire to be closer to Jesus and have taken huge steps that direction. But for now my ex seems relentless in his effort to discredit me and show me I am not worthy of even calling myself a Christ follower.

        I remember ex’s taking the Lord’s name in vain in all variety of ways as part of his normal talking without conviction. Yet he says is saved and I am not. When do the rules apply to him? Why am I the only one being put on trial here?

        I was reading about Stephen in Acts lately and how he was righteous and good and the Pharisees and religious types killed him for it. I can relate.

      • Jeff Crippen

        TB – “he will not leave me alone.” That is so typical in these cases. Abusers of course are all about power and control. It freaks them out when their victim no longer allows it. I had a couple of cases in which I ended relationships with abusers – people who had tried to work their evil in our church. It was interesting that they couldn’t leave it alone for over a year. They would continue their abuse in deceiving ways – such as sending me bday or anniversary gifts, which I promptly discarded. Darkness hates the light and when an abuser’s victim sees the light and begins to shine it forth, these children of darkness go into a panic.

      • Still Reforming

        TB,

        One thing I learned over years of dealing with my soon-to-be ex-anti-husband is that if he knew what it was that I valued (God, the Bible, our children, time with husband, a budget, etc), those were the things he withheld or used to attack me with.

        So if he knows you want to be away and free from him and independent, he will attack those very things.

        I think as has been identified here elsewhere, it is darkness attacking the light.

        “”If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first.” – John 15:18

      • Still Scared but you can call me Cindy

        TB, I have only email communication and copy two other people on every email, one is a solid pastor, but if he wasn’t available I would need another man. And in the beginning I tirelessly would reply “This has nothing to do with the children or paying child support, please do not continue as it is legally harassment”. Yes, I even did this when he wished me “Happy Mother’s day”. The rants and emails got less over the years but years…text and phone is just too jarring. Email I can keep a record of and control when I look at it. My dad suggested I only look at it once a week. ( Never worked because he had too many “emergencies”)

    • Valerie

      What a great point Jaime! They do know about conscience enough to use it against us. Wow. Had never thought about that aspect before.

      • Valerie

        And TB…the word that comes to mind when I read your account is projection. Of course you would be horrified to be accused of what is true of him. He’s not telling on you, he’s telling on himself.

  6. Still Reforming

    Oh boy – by the time I reached that last paragraph, I was saying “no no no” to your thought that we might think you’re just talking about personal clashes. Boy, that personality type just sounds like a siren to me now. And the strange thing is – it’s a siren in its subtlety. It’s the *subtlety* that makes it all the more insidious – because it allows many onlookers (and even the target, as you were and many of us still are) to just presume or give excuses for the abuser’s statements. “Well, he’s just hurt, sensitive, trying to help, not sure about…. on and on and on….” The “Maybe he’s just….” I can’t tell you how many times i’ve heard “Maybe he’s just….” and a reason given for the abuser’s tactics. I’ve started to reply, “Or maybe he’s got a personality type that employs a pattern of deception, manipulation, blaming, assuming the worst, and controlling people.” I’m just SO SICK and TIRED (caps intended) of DEFENDING the bad guy!!! No matter who defends him. It used to be me! No mas!

    And to have the church support the evil is more than salt in the wound. It’s winking at sin.

    Pastor Jeff, you are much appreciated here! It’s good to know your personal experiences with this type of abuse. I’m only sorry you had to go through it, but thankful that you did because your ministry is much needed. It’s a balm in Gilead.

    • Jeff Crippen

      StillRef- Thank you. Your words are a real encouragement to me as well. And very, very, true! That wicked, subtlety.

      Genesis 3:1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say…?”

      • NotHeard

        The serpent was the first wordsmith

      • Jeff Crippen

        NotHeard – Yep! Exactly.

  7. Isaiah40:31

    Thank you for this. I love this blog because even tho I have been away from the abuse for a few months, I still have foggy thinking. I love that this blog helps clear that fog so that I can function more clearly!

    • Jeff Crippen

      Is40- Oh yeah, the fog. Glad to hear it is clearing for you!

  8. cindyrapstad

    TB there is a program called Family Wizard and it has worked pretty well for the women that have to co parent with an abuser. Get it set up and don’t communicate any other way. And only communicate about the kids.

    • Cindy,
      Thanks for letting us know about Our Family Wizard. So our readers know — there is a cost to this service. For further information I have embedded a link to their website.

    • Hi Cindy, can you pls email me? I’d like to talk a bit more about the Family Wizard.

      • Colleen

        When we were at the “final decree” stage, my atty brought up the idea of using MFW, but decided against it as he figured my ex wouldn’t use it anyway and I don’t know if there is a way to enforce that as the only method of communication. especially if abuse is not proven, and we all know how high that bar can be, especially if there is no physical evidence. (pls forgive run-on sentences and other errors.)

      • Still Reforming

        Colleen,

        I’m in the middle of this stage now… climbing the steepest hill I’ve ever climbed. There never seems to be “enough evidence” unless one has physically abused. Yelling, spinning the car around even with witnesses, lying, manipulating, projection, blame-shifting. It’s all okay in the eyes of the law. I can present all the dates and times and details and witnesses and facts, but all he need say is “She’s crazy” and the field is leveled.

        I fear we’re in days now of “father’s rights” where any father – no matter how abusive (unless, and sometimes even if, he hits) – is automatically seen as better than none. I think 20 years ago the courts looked more favorably on mothers, whereas today we are seen more hormonal and emotional to excess. Even a head nod by counselors to the abuse isn’t enough to protect mother and child anymore. It’s just not enough.

  9. soldiergirl

    So true how the abuser operates to try to discredit the innocent.
    And it does seeem that only those who have suffered the relentless abusers tactics are attuned to the spiritual and virtual reality of it.
    Once I got out of the FOG of denial, I learned to question why an abuser says something before I reply.. to avoid the trap
    Three helpful questions come to mind when an abuser tries to subtlety “Slime” me in a public setting that has taught them not to mess with me in public.
    Abusers dont like to reveal the motive behind their sliming comments, questions, or insinuations, because it exposes their ulterior motive to discredit the innocent.
    These questions are calmly stated as

    “Thats interesting,…Why would you say that?”
    Or “Thats interesting,…Why would you ask that?”
    Or “Thats interesting,.. Why would you do that?”
    This puts the heat back on the commenter to explain his motive behind his comment with out you looking defensive, and now just sit back and watch them squirm and try to explain themselves..
    Once they know you have that weapon in your arsenal they typically leave you alone.
    It is similar to what Jesus did in making the conspirators answer his question before he spoke to reply to them.
    It really works good and gives the innocent time to recalibrate.

    Ok i confess, i got this stuff from utube from online communication skills dealing with toxic people by oconnor.

    • Still Reforming

      soldiergirl,

      Over time, I learned that engaging the abuser was worse than just not paying him any mind. In fact, toward the end of our marriage I took to wearing earphones plugged into an mp3 player because i never knew when he’d be simply venomous. If I engaged him when he attacked, he’d end up lying and twisting things, so it never helped. This was during private attacks, however. I think if it were in public, your suggestions seem like good responses to put the burden of proof back on “the accuser.”

      There’s a good reason the devil is called the accuser of the brethren; His servants here on earth are (quite literally) “spitting” images of their father.

      • soldiergirl

        Yes, Stull Reforming i agree. The technique i mentioned only works with other people around because it puts the spotlight on their evil intent, and they dont want to look bad in front of other people.

        You are also spot on regarding “not revealing your values to an abuser, as they will work against them”- once they know what they are, either overtly or covertly I have found.
        I believe this is because they themselves do not know what to value, so they envy to take away what we value.
        I keep all that to myself now.

      • Still Reforming

        soldiergirl (love that screen name, btw) –

        You wrote: “I believe this is because they themselves do not know what to value, so they envy to take away what we value. I keep all that to myself now.”

        I’m glad you shared this here. I never before considered why he attacked what I love. I figured it was just to tear me down. To deny me what I care about because he hates me so. I also figured it’s darkness attacking light. But I never considered that he doesn’t know what to value. Considering the fact that he only values himself, it makes sense. There’s nothing outside of him that he loves, except for how it gratifies him. Must be a lonely, terrible place indeed in which to live. I’ve noticed the most unhappy people are those who never give.

    • TB

      Colleen said:

      When we were at the “final decree” stage, my atty brought up the idea of using MFW, but decided against it as he figured my ex wouldn’t use it anyway and I don’t know if there is a way to enforce that as the only method of communication. especially if abuse is not proven, and we all know how high that bar can be, especially if there is no physical evidence. (pls forgive run-on sentences and other errors.)

      When I told my ex several months back to stop sending me all the crap, he said okay. That lasted all of about a week. I then told him to put certain words in the subject line of his emails or else I would not read them. He replied that he did not have to follow my orders, and now when he writes he leaves the subject line blank. Sly, huh? So, yeah, I don’t think my ex would abide by even a court order to use My Family Wizard, though it sounds like a good program for those who will submit to using it.

      In regard to Still Reforming’s comments about proving abusive behavior: It’s hard to get assistance if you have never filed a police report or have no proof of the abuse other than your word. I was a coward and fearful of reporting anything due to the fallout that would surely come from taking action like that. Therefore, I could not get a PO when I left home even with all the stories I had to tell. My understanding is/was that if your life is not being threatened and there has not been any recent physical abuse or a police report, you have a hard time getting protection outside of a restraining order, which I did get through my attorney with the divorce filing. Stupid thing is, my ex put a restraining order on me in return. My attorney said that is common, though. I just though it was dumb.

      Leaving is a scary thing and having some protection in place is good. I did have support from the victim’s assistance program through the police department. A kind intern would call me weekly to check up on me to see if I needed any help while I was in the thick of it and then even afterward out of kind concern. Even after I told him I was okay and didn’t need him to call me anymore, he continued to call out of his own desire to hear how the kids and I were doing. So God put this in place for me even though the other avenues were closed. It was nice to know someone from the police department was there if I needed help.

  10. StandsWithAFist

    TB: “to be who I am separate from him”. Everything you described is consistent with a malignant narcissist—they don’t see you as separate from them. They see you as a possession. They treat you like an object to control & they get upset when those objects “malfunction”. (Kinda like you’re a TV & they have the remote: they keep pushing buttons to control you. They rage when you no longer respond to the control, when pushing your buttons no longer works. Then they blame you, the object, b/c the problem is never them, it’s the “malfunctioning” object.) It is so familiar to me, even tho my abuser is not my spouse, I can relate to all you have said. I have also thot “if I am so terrible, why is having a relationship wih me so dang important?” Because they are drunk on power and control. I am so sorry, but good for you for seeing the truth and having courage to leave and follow the Light!

    • TB

      StandsWithAFist: Thanks for your response. It helps me to feel validated. My ex tells me that we are one according to God’s Word (even though we are now divorced). He says that it is wrong for me to separate what God has joined together (Jesus’ own words). So he sees me as violating God’s Word. I agree that divorce is not what God desires, but neither was the way we were living what God desires. So the manipulation of my ex (although I don’t think he sees it as manipulation because he says it’s straight from the Scriptures) to get me to stay yoked to him because the Word says I MUST has been agonizing. I have felt trapped by the Word itself. My ex even said that I BELONG to Him.

      It’s hard to see clearly what’s going on when it’s cloaked in Scripture. And when you believe your mate is a believer and understands the Word like you do or maybe even better than you do, it becomes so confusing and awful. UGH!!!

      • TB, have you read my book yet? If not, I think it would help you.

        Also, the movie Chocolat has a scene where the abusive husband yells at his estranged wife (she escaped from him and is living in back of the Chocolate Shop) “We are still married in the sight of God!” If you can face the possible triggers it’s a good movie to watch as it shows how ludicrous these bullies are.

  11. jaime

    @TB The rantings you describe bring to mind the image of a 2-3 yr old toddler at Walmart screaming, crying and throwing a fit demanding his mother buy him this or that. Your abuser is missing his supply line and you don’t have to meet his demand.

    Aren’t you glad that the Holy Spirit can speak to us in a still quiet voice? Hear Jesús voice
    He said, “Come unto me all ye that are weary and heavy laden and I WILL GIVE YOU REST.” Keep listening to the Spirit of God and to His Word, because your abuser tried to completely take the place of God and the Holy Spirit in your life.

    I Pray that the peace of God that passes understanding will keep and overflow your heart and soul and give you rest and strengthen you in Himself.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Jaime – I don’t recall if we have ever done a blog post on the subject, but I do remember writing in my book about how abusers are actually very, very immature – like a 2 to 4 year old, only with an adult body and more polished wickedness. I have watched an abuser writhe in a tantrum when he did not get his way, and I remember thinking to myself at the time, “this guy is like a selfish brat of a child,” and here he passes himself off as a most eminent and holy Christian.

      • Still Reforming

        Pastor Jeff –

        Indeed. They are unruly selfish children in the bodies of adults. Yet children are corrected and disciplined, while these grown-bodied toddlers are allowed to run rampant over others – both in and out of church.

      • StandsWithAFist

        Yes indeed! My abuser is my MIL, and one Christmas she threw her purse on the floor & stomped her feet (in my parents home) screaming “I want one! I want one!!”, all b/c of a “K-Mart Special” photo of my infant son given to my Mom at Christmas. It was truly a 2-year old toddler tantrum. She had other photos, but when she saw that one, she went green with envy, her claws came out & she was the fire-breathing dragon. Like a toddler, she was not to be consoled. It wasn’t the last time, either. Even now, she will only admit to saying “unkind words”, but it was really my fault b/c I didn’t give her the exact same foto. Unbelievable.

      • TB

        Yes, Jeff. It’s frustrating because over the years I thought of my ex as very wise because he has amazing insight and has a fantastic mind in many other areas. He could make me believe stuff I didn’t believe at the get go. His ability to reason is very good, and at times he made some great decisions. So it was more of me feeling less smart, less wise, less educated (even though I have a BA), less worldly wise because I had chosen to stay home for many years to be a mother to our children. I sort of let him do all the thinking, which he liked, and when I did at times give my two cents input it usually wasn’t considered or welcomed. So how can someone like that also have this alter ego immature side that only surfaces at home in front of the family?

      • a person can be very wise (or clever) at some things in life, and at the same time be emotionally immature and have serious character defects. And they can chose to use their cleverness and wisdom when it suits them, and choose to display their character defects when it suits them.

  12. Happy Brave Girl

    Whoa. I left my abuser a while back and am painfully divorcing finally. Today was another bout of ‘what-if-ness’ and ‘just-maybe-he-will-change-ism.’ This post was extremely powerful and I instrumental in reminding me what reality is. God hears, He knows, He sets free. Thanks again, Jeff.

    • G’day, Happy Brave Girl! Love your screen name! Welcome to the blog 🙂

      And what terrrific expressions:

      ‘what-if-ness’ and ‘just-maybe-he-will-change-ism.’

    • TB

      I have so many replies today as so many comments are hitting home. Thank you all for sharing. Every post helps me. I read them all. Happy Brave Girl, I saw my ex yesterday briefly. No communication. Just saw him through the window. I had those “what-if” thoughts all the rest of the day and even had a romantic dream with him in it last night. I do toy with the thought that “well, a long time has passed now, maybe things would be different due to us not being together and he’d respond to me differently now.” Even though I have seen NO indication of that as a reality, the thoughts do flow through my mind. How do I/we get passed that? I am not at all wanting a new relationship with anyone at this point, but I do miss just knowing someone is there, even the man who has hurt me deeply.

      I read in Acts the other day as Stephen was witnessing to the Jews, “But our ancestors refused to listen to Moses. They rejected him and wanted to return to Egypt. They told Aaron, “make us some gods who can lead us, for we don’t know what has become of this Moses, who brought us out of Egypt.’ So they made an idol shaped like a calf and they sacrificed to it and celebrated over this thing they had made. (Acts 7:45)

      The Lord showed me that I am wanting to put “someone” back on the throne of my life, even someone I know is not good for me. I am not a good leader, I am more of a follower. I feel I “need” someone to lead, make the big decisions, etc. I am afraid of the responsibility of it all now that it’s all on my shoulders. I am like the Israelites who wanted a God who could lead them (even though they had one RIGHT IN FRONT OF THEM!!!). I feel I need a person, a man–my ex (my former slave master, if you will)–because I am not trusting God ALONE in that role. He gently rebuked me for wanting to go back to Egypt and lovingly reminded me that HE ALONE is GOD in my life and I must surrender those longings to Him while He works all this out for my good.

      On my Bible phone app yesterday was this Scripture (Phil 3:13-14):

      Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

      After reading that Scripture for the day, the Lord lead me to read about the “victim mentality.” I looked it up on WIKI for a quick definition and then looked at a couple of articles about it. The neediness and weaknesses I am experiencing/feeling fits perfectly into the victim mentality definition I found. Today I just happened to look up a Joyce Meyer video on YOUTUBE on victim mentality, and the first words out of her mouth were to “get rid of the victim mentality, BELIEVE THE WORD, and to let go of what lies behind and press on to the good things that are ahead.” Phil 3:13-14. I was delightfully surprised and a bit stunned at this quick confirmation of what the Lord spoke to me yesterday.

      I think many of us here can get locked in to that mentality and need to break free from it. I/we need to move on and press toward the goal ahead instead of staying stuck in the muck of the abuse.

      I serve a GOOD GOD who is faithful to help us heal and move forward by giving us His Word if we will tune our ears, hearts, and minds to it and His still small voice which leads us to help through understanding our conditions and providing guidance to move ahead.

      • TB

        Correction to Scripture reference in my previous post–should be Acts 7:39-41.

      • I do toy with the thought that “well, a long time has passed now, maybe things would be different due to us not being together and he’d respond to me differently now.” Even though I have seen NO indication of that as a reality, the thoughts do flow through my mind. How do I/we get passed that?

        I think your comment went on to illustrate one way we get past such thoughts. We press on, and we may not ever get beyond those thougts altogether, becasue we still struggle with the flesh, but we keep going to God and the Bible and wise Christian friends for reality checks. And the more we learn about abuse and abusers, the less likely we are to be sucked back into the fog.

        I also think it’s important not to be too harsh on ourselves when those thoughts come into our minds. As victims of abuse, and as people with sensitive consciences, we have had LOTs of practice at beating ourselves up in our own minds, and we need to recognise that that is another habit which takes time to undo. When the yearning (yearning for an idol) comes around, we put ourselves at more risk of succumbing if we come down hard on ourselves.

        And I also think that if we need to develop skills and strenghts to live single lives, independent from a husband, we can work at developing such skills. And that takes time. But it can be done.

        Mind you I confess that I still resent it whenever I have to pick up a screwdriver or a spanner. I’m not a person who likes that kind of work, and I always wish there was a man to do it. (And the silly thing is, neither of my husbands were tool monkeys anyway!) But I have to pick up the tools and do the jobs when they are needed, regardless of my feelings. So plain old self discipline comes into this too. . .

  13. IamMyBeloved's

    Very familiar with all of that. Also delightful to experience when that kind of abuse comes at you from the abuser “pastor”. I remember when in joint counseling, I would say something that the abuser had actually done to me (a/k/a FACT) and the abusive pastor and his abusive wife, would accuse me of attributing false motives to abuser or speaking as if I knew his intentions. I would take a verbal berating for speaking of the FACTS. Well, that’s pretty lame! What I was speaking of was fact. However, if the tables were turned, lies were spewing from abuser’s mouth and no FACTS were being shared, in the minds of the two abusive counselors, the abuser was just being a good husband who “knew” his wife and her motives and intentions. Just so very interesting.

    But you know what they say — “Birds of a feather, flock together”.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Yep. Vultures in such a case.

  14. Karen

    Thanks for posting some of your experiences Pastor Jeff with the “power over” structure that is built in some people’s personalities. I believe these types live in every congregation, with some blatantly obvious and others under the radar…until the time arrives for their vote into leadership. Rare is the personality that can exemplify leadership in a true Biblical fashion, for what I have discovered throughout church systems, are selfish, jealous men and women who inwardly love to lord over people and essentially seek to murder the Power of God, the Holy Spirit, in those who choose to live a quiet life, working with their hands and minding their own business as commanded by our LORD.

    These “types” weasel their way into your lives, into your homes, and worm their way into your friendships and business relationships for three basic reasons 1) They desire worship and followers after themselves 2) They believe they are superior to others and the source of all knowledge pertaining to every issue of life 3) They are a miserable, unhappy, jealous and envious, unjoyful lot with a super glued veneer of pseudo “happy snappy religious speak.” And they seek to do their “good deeds” in the presence of man so as to be appraised and applauded as to how “great” they are. It eats at them like a poisonous cancer, that an average believer in their assembly is trusting in the LORD Jesus Christ for salvation, worshiping Him in spirit and truth, and desires to place all of their Hope in Him who is coming again. Such idolatry in churches!

    Leadership systems thus become abusive when the standards they apply to themselves, is far more lenient than the rules and laws they impose on the lower laity. These people, and I am speaking of both, men and women here, have no consciences as if they have been seared with a branding iron as their love has grown cold, and they feed off of the power and intimate knowledge and information they garner from the unsuspecting flock. For me, I know that I can trust more “unchurched” people who love and serve Jesus, far MORE than I can trust the “churched” in these times of apostasy. When leadership systems shout out “perceived or imagined sins” of other human beings, yet their own lives and homes are filled with sinful rot, then we have a huge problem within organized religion. The lesser laity are then used as “scapegoats” or as I choose to call them, “scape sheep”, because they are actually born again Christians by the Spirit of God, to divert attention off of themselves and their own “sins.” When the headlamps are shining on the lesser laity, the wicked in leadership can thus work quickly in the darkness behind the floodlights.

    When Jesus, the Christ, is the true Cornerstone of a church, and the true Shepherd of a believer’s life, there is absolutely no need, nor any desire to “lord it over another”. God’s two greatest commands, to love Him with all of our hearts, souls, and minds, and then, to love our neighbor as ourselves results in hearts and minds full to overflowing with love and obedience to Him, rather than following any man.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Thanks Karen! Perfectly stated!!

    • Everything you stated is exactly what I have also encountered too many times from too many so-called “churched Christians.” I left the organized church almost 20 years ago and I have never regretted my decision. My Lord did not need a building of evil being mindlessly and purposefully done in His name in order to minister to me or give me opportunity to minister to others. It would have been different if those within the building had actually been willing to listen and humble themselves. Alas, they were not, and that church is now no more. God is a just God and will not be mocked.

  15. Thank you Jeff for sharing this. I have a dear pastor friend who was recently outmaneuvered by a board take-down. I’m pretty sure the person who orchestrated all of it was exactly like the person you describe here. It makes me heartsick to see this kind of thing happen.

    Is it possible for a non-abuser to do this to a lesser extent? I am experiencing a lesser version of this with a loved one who does this even when we are alone but says he’s “joking.” It’s hard to know how to deal with it. It’s a pretty constant dynamic and I can’t figure out how to deal with it.

    Thank you for sharing your experience. I have learned so much!

    • Jeff Crippen

      becky – Do you mean someone attributing bad motives to you? If so, I would certainly explain to them that for them to do it really triggers you, so please stop. Sounds like a pretty bad joke to me (sometimes wicked people use that “I was only joking” bit to cover their evil). On the other hand, I think we can feel within ourselves when someone who genuinely loves us does something wrong to us, and it feels a whole lot different than when an abuser, who desires our destruction, pulls it with us. So I suppose my suggestion/answer would be – no, a non-abuser cannot do this. We can all sin and commit an abusive act to someone, but the full-bore abuser’s devilish and murderous motive makes what he does something of a whole different genre I think.

      • It’s tricky for me because sometimes I don’t know if I overreact because of abuse in my past, or whether this is a seriously unhealthy dynamic in the relationship. Maybe I do take things too seriously? It’s a subtle dynamic, so it’s hard to figure out. Like being teased that I’m trying to run away from a chore or family activity because I stepped out of the room to get something, that kind of thing. If it’s chronic, it begins to accumulate, even if each statement is very minor.

        Sometimes I feel like I’m not “normal,” not very tough, because of what I’ve been through in the past.

      • Jeff Crippen

        If someone makes you uncomfortable, there is a reason. If they really love you, they would not want to hurt you in any way. So if you can, tell them, asking them not to do that anymore and maybe even a brief explanation of why. As always, the little word “no” is the real test of a relationship.

      • Valerie

        Becky, Jeff has made some excellent points here. I would add that the abuse you have endured in the past makes a person WISER to abuse. It can, at times, make a person “trigger happy” so to speak but I think this happens moreso as we are still suffering symptoms of PTSD. (much like jumping at the sound of a car backfiring after a person has been in combat overseas where they had been shot at) That same veteran, however, will also be much more skilled and wise to noticing a gunman walking on the street whereas the average person would walk right past him…and might possibly even antagonize him as he is unaware of the danger. That realization does not make you defective or weak, instead you now actually have a learned skill! 🙂

  16. Barnabasintraining

    I think your way of dealing with it is better, Jeff, because it is direct. But if I had been there when he did that I would have laughed at him and said with exaggerated emphasis, “Dood! You gots issues!” Translation: “There’s no one on this end to catch what you’re throwing. Now shut up.”

    • soldiergirl

      Becky, i want to tell you that decades ago when i first met my abuser, and was innocent to all the tactics that they used to gaslight their victims, my abuser did that to me over and over. (Made a joke at the expence of my feelings.)
      Sometimes I was too embarrased to say something at the time because it was said in the company of other people.
      But afterwards I would say something to him to let him know that i felt hurt by it,
      Then he would just make light of it and laugh and tell me that” I couldnt or didnt know how to take a joke.” And that I need to lighten up.
      It was done intentionally to me to tear down my self worth, and self esteem.
      It was the most subtle of his abuse tactics in his arsonal and was used to condition me to accepting subtle forms of abuse.
      Today i see it as a big red flag covering up an entitlment attitude, entrenched in power over tendencies.

  17. Valerie

    Wow, a great post as usual. It sickens me as I look back on how I witnessed or was on the receiving end of this bullying and wickedness…but did nothing.

    In my old church there was a man who went into a tirade when we didn’t use his business for a project since we got a lower bid from someone else (outside the church). He threatened to no longer give offering and called up different members of our committee to spew about his perceived injustice. I was embarrassed for him. It was pitiful to watch this unfold. The ironic twist was my abusive husband standing up for him and telling me and others this man was just “misunderstood”. I felt it would be wrong for me to speak about such things so only a few members on the committee knew the whole truth of what this man was doing. I felt it was more of a sin to speak about his evil than to essentially cover it up. Agghh. A man of great anger will bear the penalty, For if you rescue him, you will only have to do it again. Proverbs 19:19

    When I confided in a woman in the church (who appeared to be a warm and compassionate person) about some of what was going on in my marriage she didn’t believe me (imagine that!) When I told her that he could be manipulative so others didn’t see what I was experiencing her “comforting” response was to tell me I was actually manipulative. I then had to listen to more of her accusations against me and what I was doing wrong in her wise mind. I was so taken aback by the venom flowing so freely from her mouth that it put me in a tailspin for quite some time. Now when I think of her all I can imagine is a snake hissing out venom. I later found out that others had the same experience with this woman who lifts her hands high in worship, is quick to share scripture verses and often talks about how God has blessed their family. Smh.

    God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you.” 1 Cor 5:13

  18. Marlene

    I am so glad I found this site. Thank you for exposing…educating the evil inside of churches and toxic religion. I have a story with psychopaths as partners as well as in churches. I am glad you are here supporting us!

    • Hi Marlene, welcome! 🙂 glad you’ve joined us.

  19. Anewanon

    Oh Goodness, this article makes ME feel like the evil one, for I could never “trust” my spouse after 9 years of lies and i had triggers to overcome and assurances that needed to be given. Surely, he could read this article and point at ME and say, “See? you can’t read my heart or my head.” He’s right, I never could, I was only ever triggered by the actions that were passive or words that were vague. Wounded people need assurances.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Anewanon – I hope you are finding those assurances here at ACFJ. Yep. Evil loves to turn it around, play the victim, and accuse others. The evil one is never, ever wrong.

      • And he would say THAT about me too. That I think i am never ever wrong and I am wrong for thinking that I am never ever wrong. And yet he was the KING of apologies, but not of change. It is so convoluted and mind bending. Thank you for being kind,

  20. StandsWithAFist

    When it comes to projecting evil motives onto the target, has anyone here ever encountered their abuser giving a “non-apology” that includes “please accept my forgiveness”??
    It’s implying that I am the evil one & have sinned against the abuser & so am in need of some sort of profane charity designed to restore power to the abuser. It’s so twisted and backwards (and so obviously “leveling”) but it always includes “I would ask forgiveness but I just can’t remember what I’ve done wrong [sic]”. Why the heck would someone say “accept my forgiveness”?? It never includes repentance, nor acknowledges any abuse, but simply paints with a broad brush & usually says “let’s forget the past & move forward”, which is abuser-eze for “let’s go back to the way things used to be”. “Accept my forgiveness” seems like a Queen patting the poor, pitiful peasant on head & bestowing a royal pardon for the sin of being common. It gives me the creeps but I can’t figure out what to call it. Anybody have any ideas?

    • soldiergirl

      Maybe some one will be able to relate to that.
      Sounds like another sleight of mind game to me anyway.

      I wanted to mention that abusers like to play our doubts and insecurities (once they know them) against us in hopes to break us down.
      They’ve had a lot of time to sit back and figure out what those insecurities are from back in our trusting days, so we need to know that is part of their game.

      They want to get us to doubt our perceptions of what they have done to us, and our ability to access the situtation accurately.
      Mine texts me all the time telling me I’m menopausal, (funny- back when i was younger it was always because it must be my time of the month.) Or he’ll text and say I need to go in for psychiatric evaulation for various reasons.

      But I know his greatest fear now is me knowing and realizing exactly what he has done to me, and seeing him for who he truly is.

    • Still Reforming

      StandsWithAFist,

      Oh YES, have I ever heard “I ask for your forgiveness” both verbally and in writing over and over, but NEVER with an admission of exactly specifically what the offense was or that it wouldn’t occur again. Also, it was usually couched with a reason for his behavior such as “I notice that you are…” or “Since you seem offended…” or something that excuses why he did whatever he did or said. In other words, it wasn’t a real sincere repentant request for forgiveness, but an occasional acknowledgment that gave him the appearance (in his own mind) of appeasing me or “doing the right thing” or whatever effect or reason he gave those words, but it certainly wasn’t for genuine forgiveness (and repentance).

      This also happened in my (now former) church. One of the leaders to whom I had given a prayer request (about the abuse in our home) had refused to read it, which suggests to me he did in fact read it to a point and decided, based on the nature of what was in it, decided to not read it. He did other things and when the pastor realized there was a problem in the church, he called us together. I respectfully pointed out the leader’s choices and behaviors and words and after a short citing of them, the leader just said, “I need to ask your forgiveness.” So I asked him for what specifically, and his reply was, “Whatever it is you think I’ve done.” I said I wanted to hear what his thoughts were on all that I carefully laid out before him, and he flat out refused. Not until I forgave him, he said. I was gobsmacked. I saw that as an open door for him – a blank check. He can just do whatever he wants continually because he’s not sorry about any of it, so my reply was, “Well, I don’t know…” And thereon after I was counseled to be more forgiving.

      So…. it’s in the home and the church – this emphasis on easy forgive-ism (akin to easy believe-ism). Just believe .Just forgive. Be nicer. You’re the one with the problem, not the person who’s done this to you. It’s all …. slimy and I think a problem as old as the world itself. I don’t think this is new – just new to us. And it’s something that takes courage to stand up against and draw a line in the sand. And it’s necessary for the people of God to do so.

    • For many years I got nothing at all, NO apology (even a fake one); then when I started speaking up for myself (although it was a wimpy attempt at best, but progress!) I started getting these kind that you are speaking of. It confused me for several years because it SOUNDED sort of like an apology, but left me feeling somehow “unsatisfied” (and then of course he would follow it up with guilt trips about how I wasn’t “forgiving” when he said he was sorry, ick!) and I could never put my finger on it until I began studying and understanding manipulation techniques.

      I also began seeing the difference between MY apologies (the rare instance when I couldn’t take the crazy-making and lashed out, four times, when he backed me up into a corner btw, I hit him, several times I cussed or name-called in 28 yrs (but of course I’m the “bad guy” because he has never hit me) which I DON’T do anymore because now I completely understand the game that is being played. Anyway, I remember when that would happen, I would be filled with remorse and my apologies included the actual ACT “I am angry right now, but that is no excuse to call you names, I am very sorry” or “That was so wrong of me. Hitting is NEVER acceptable. I am very sorry I resorted to hitting,” but I get things like “I let things escalate and I’m sorry” or “I let things get out of hand” or my favorite non-apology, “I am sorry you are hurt.”

      The “Please accept my forgiveness” doesn’t even make sense. Have you asked, “What are you forgiving me for?” Or when he says, “Please accept my forgiveness” maybe you need to tell HIM, “No, really, please forgive my ACCEPTANCE of your abuse. It was wrong of me to accept that kind of behavior. I promise it won’t happen again!” I’m speaking tongue in cheek here because I don’t know the danger level you are in. Suffice it to say those kind of non-apologies are nothing but manipulation and you are under NO obligation to accept them or see them as anything other than what they are

      • StandsWithAFist

        Thank you for the reality check. And yes, when you turn the statement around (“please accept my forgiveness”), it’s really “I forgive you”. Forgive ME? For WHAT??? You are so right–the truthful response is “it was wrong of me to allow your abuse, so be assured it will never happen again!”
        I like it.
        Ps: my abuser is not my spouse but is a highly skilled, narcissistic MIL. (The one with horns and claws) except when she’s at church. Then she is the Christian Lady.

  21. Anonymous

    Thank you. For those of us who are highly-conscienced and sensitive-hearted to the needs of others and who were raised by abusers such as these, the damage goes very deep.

    I was never allowed to defend myself against physical, emotional or verbal attacks as I was raised to believe that all adults were all-knowing and if they punished me it was in my best interest. As I now know, this was a set-up for me to be perpetually abused by abusers, and this certainly was true. When God started to open my eyes to the truth of this, I had to learn how to verbally defend myself. This may sound easy to those of you who were allowed a voice in making choices for yourselves or whose boundaries were respected, but for those who have been raised by people like Mr. A, this felt like going into battle unarmed. (Accusers ALWAYS accuse and this includes accusing young children. For a young child with a conscience to be accused of having ulterior motives and trying to manipulate others all the while believing that the adult knows more than they do, really messes up their mind.)

    So how did learn? I PRACTICED! The outrage of decades of abuse finally erupted into anger as I had been trained to internalize anger and aim it at myself, but I now allowed myself to admit that I hated evil and hated lies and hated being lied to. So when I would remember scenarios where I had been abused, I practiced (out loud, to myself) responding to these people with the truth I now knew. I did this in the privacy of my home or in the car while driving. It was a powerful tool being able to stand up for myself and yelling at my abuser about the abuse he had dumped on me. I did this as often as I could and never censored myself because God himself already knew (knows) my heart and my mind and he already knew how this abuse had damaged me because I had held it in. (Also, if he is a God who can’t handle my anger then he’s not a God who can handle me).

    Now, this took place over the course of a few years and then God did something wonderful (at the time I didn’t think it was wonderful at all). He allowed me to use the skills I’d learned by the truth-speaking I’d practiced at home to help me defend myself and others against evil ones in the real world. Sometimes it was a rude person at the store, or an abuser who was abusing an employee etc., but He allowed me to successfully defend myself and others against abuse. (Keep in mind that defending yourself comes in many forms such as ignoring other’s attacks, not engaging when accused or threatened, or calmly taking a deep breath and resuming the task that had been interrupted due to an abuser’s need to get attention.) This was so alien and extremely hard for me, this standing up for myself, that sometimes I would start shaking or my mouth would go dry and I sounded hoarse and insecure (to myself anyway) and would stutter and lose my voice.

    At home I would cry and then cry out to God that he shouldn’t put me in positions where I needed to defend myself because of all of the abuse I had already endured throughout my lifetime I should now be exempt from abuse and I should no longer be put in situations like this! But God continued to allow it, and as you can guess, I got better at defending myself and others because I now had a history of God showing me that HE was behind my voice and that he had shown me the truth through his word and in my life, for a reason. This is written about in God’s word:

    Isaiah 54:17 …and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and this is their vindication from me,” declares the LORD.

    This wisdom also allowed me to discern that a famous preacher who I had thought was of God was actually not, when in one of his sermons he stated that you should NEVER practice defending yourself. How odd that he would say this don’t you think? (Once I started paying attention there were many things like this that were not scriptural that revealed the truth.) God gives us wisdom so that we are able to discern the truth.

    Thank you Jeff for including how you would handle the situation now that you know what an abuser is as this gives us help in defending ourselves when (not IF) these situations arise.

    • Valerie

      Anonymous, that was an inspiring testimony to me! To see how God used that training so that you could help others…what a wonderful God we serve!

      I so get what you are saying about the famous or at least well known pastors too. I am continually spotting unbiblcial or twisted scripture being presented while many- me included up until recently- blindly take it in. Popularity or particular endorsements seem to be equated with believability. You will notice, however, that when these teachers are questioned and their fans show their loyalty by attacking the one questioning, they do not use scripture at all (or inappropriately claim passages) to support their cause. The ones questioning point out inconsistencies with scripture while the fans’ rebuttal often amounts to no more truth than “you’re mean.” or finger wagging to not cause “division in the church”.

    • Thank you, Anonymous. that was powerful!
      welcome to the blog 🙂

  22. wondering

    What do you do when most of this happens is done behind your back and it is difficult to confront the person who started the avalanche? There is no way to stand up for yourself.

  23. Nutmeg

    My parents always claimed that the reason I wanted to go to college was to hurt them. It never made any sense but they tried to convince my whole family I had become rebellious and was seeking higher education out of spite. I didn’t realize it was abuse at the time. Now I realize that they did this to try and keep me home so they wouldn’t lose their control over me.

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