A Cry For Justice

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

Abusers Often Do Their Evil “Behind the Scenes” and Out of Sight of Witnesses

If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. (1 John 1:6)

Abusers are darkness. Sin is darkness. Abusers live and think and exist and operate in the kingdom of darkness under the rule of their god, the Prince of Darkness. They have tactics that are a devilish version of Frodo’s elvish cloak that could conceal him. While an abuser may, at times, accuse and mind-game his victim publicly (though even then in a way that provides him with plausible deniability), he quite often operates behind this cloak, in the darkness, out of the sight of others. He isolates, then he strikes.

It took me years of hard knocks to get this through my head. “Pastor, can we just talk? Just you and me?” Warning! Warning! Look out. Don’t do it. But of course Jeff often went right ahead and took the bait. We neurotics have that conscience you know that is so easily bothered. The abuser knows that full well.

My experience with the wicked in the course of my years as a pastor has been very, very similar and usually even identical, to the trials you all have been through at the hands of your abuser. So I know that what happened to me has happened to most all of you. Abusers will frequently isolate through deception, then strike.

People have come to me over the years and asked to talk to me about a “concern.” Now, I have been burned so many times following that kind of request that I have to admit my defenses quickly go up, unless of course it is someone that I know loves me and whom I can trust. But, you know, as a pastor we are supposed to be open and transparent and vulnerable and…. right? Wrong! We are supposed to be wise as serpents and innocent (of evil ourselves) as doves. There is a big difference. You all have found that out yourselves after being set up for an attack so many, many times.

So, here comes a wicked person. His tactic is to accuse, and this time to accuse in a way that really plays with your mind and plants false guilt and self doubt. He wants to speak to you alone. “Can we just, talk?” “We don’t need to involve anyone else in this.” “Just you and me. Like Matthew 18 you know.” So you sit down and let him begin. After all, maybe he has a valid point? Of course by now Jeff should know full well that it’s a set up. But aren’t we supposed to be patient and longsuffering with a Christian brother? So you listen. No one else there. Just you and him. Then, here come the accusations. “Jeff, YOU are (select one), unkind/hard to talk to/bitter/unforgiving/not called to be a pastor….and on and on it can go.

Now I have seen something very interesting in these cases. Of course it took me decades to get to the point of recognizing what was going on and calling such a person on their evil. If you stop the conversation when the accusations start spewing and say something like, ‘we need to have witnesses here so that they too can hear your “concerns,” the evil one begins to squirm. Now, he may get angry and bullying in some cases. But he will almost always insist, “No! This is between you and me! We don’t need anyone else involved.” This is all completely contrary to the instruction of Scripture:

Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses. As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear. (1 Timothy 5:19-20)

In some cases in which this has happened to me, when I have insisted on witnesses, hell itself breaks forth in fury. I have seen such evil ones literally thrash around in their chair, going into almost a delirium and behaving and talking as if the very end of the world had come. “You have totally destroyed any good that would come of this meeting! You just HAD to involve others!” Thrash some more. Throw arms around more. Jump up and pace around the room. Throw self back down in the chair again and thrash around some more. Really. Honest. It happened.

Or I have had the reaction to my insistence upon witnesses be one of mocking. “Now, Pastor, you know full well that what I am saying is truth. You know you are guilty.”  All of this said with an evil smirk on the face.

You understand, right? These kind that I am describing are not mere “difficult” members of the flock who we must be extra patient with. Mere people who are hard to communicate with. Or people with troubled histories, victims of their own past. No! This is evil and darkness in action. These are children of the evil one. That is how the Lord Jesus called it. “You are of your father the devil. He was a murderer from the beginning. He is the father of lies.” And so are his children.

I cannot imagine (well, to some degree I can) what it would be like to be MARRIED to one of these kind, having to dwell under the same roof and share the same bed. My suffering at the hands of the wicked has been nothing compared to what most of you have suffered. The abuser has you alone most anytime he wants to. And that aloneness is a kind of darkness which allows him to work his evil enchantments. This is one of the most powerful reasons we here at ACFJ realize that a marriage to an abuser does not need to be fixed. It needs to be ended. And the true Church of the Lord Jesus Christ will help the victim end it, not insist that she remain a prisoner in that psychological torture chamber set of fire by hell itself.

Now when Sanballat and Tobiah and Geshem the Arab and the rest of our enemies heard that I had built the wall and that there was no breach left in it (although up to that time I had not set up the doors in the gates), Sanballat and Geshem sent to me, saying, “Come and let us meet together at Hakkephirim in the plain of Ono.” But they intended to do me harm. And I sent messengers to them, saying, “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?” (Nehemiah 6:1-3)

20 Comments

  1. healingInHim

    I cannot imagine …. what it would be like to be MARRIED to one of these kind, having to dwell under the same roof and share the same bed. … The abuser has you alone most anytime he wants to. And that aloneness is a kind of darkness which allows him to work his evil enchantments.

    This article is so much of my life. The deeds of evil were indeed done darkness and much isolation except for other evil family members. The heat is being turned up as I have attempted to defend myself and expose the truth. My heart is breaking and my mind is in a whirl as I deal with twisting of the past and more lies. (Scripture twisting is thrown in there as well)

    But, you know, as a pastor we are supposed to be open and transparent and vulnerable and…. right? Wrong! We are supposed to be wise as serpents and innocent (of evil ourselves) as doves. There is a big difference. You all have found that out yourselves after being set up for an attack so many, many times.

    – Oh, this is sooo right on:-( I have been set up so many times and feel another one coming on. Really don’t know how I can get out of it? … really would like someone with me as a witness to some upcoming dialogue.
    Pastor Crippen – Thank you for dealing with this. Coveting prayers as the battle continues for me and sadly, many others.

  2. vlee

    Hi
    Proving these dark deeds in court is nearly impossible. In fact he us turning the table around to accuse me if abuse etc etc etc. I’m at wits end, and the funds are drying up fast in fighting this evil who wants my children so he can receive child support and spousal maintenance. Where is justice?
    V

    • Jeff Crippen

      vlee- what you are experiencing is the standard operating method of the wicked. They use the children to gain power and control. We encourage you to continue reading as much as you can in the resources listed on our resource page here, educating yourself about the abuser and his tactics. If you cannot afford to buy books, please email us at swordtrowel@gmail.com and we will send you some. Take care with your safety. Keep your computer secure.

    • a prodigal daughter returns

      Vlee, praying for you, that the peace of God will comfort and sustain you. God sees you, and He sees through the darkness and lies and means to do you good. It can be very painful to feel betrayed by the courts it happens far too often. It is the story of many of those that come here, incredulous that their abuser was supported. In hindsight I’ve learned documentation with police reports when abuse occurs and telling so that there are witnesses is very important.

    • Hi Vlee
      the world, including the secular justice system, gives us no guarantee of justice, as you are finding out. 😦

      The only justice we can be sure sure sure of, is that if we are in Christ, we will see our abusers and their allies punished by the wrath of God on the Day of the Lord, that Day which the Bible tells us is coming.

      If more Christians understood how unjustly family courts are sometimes/often dealing with domestic abuse, they would be marching in the streets in protest, and lobbying their governments to change the system! That is what Christians ought to be doing, as part of the salt-and-light mandate. But unfortunately, we are very far from that yet. Most of the church is in the thrall of abusers, power and control mongers, and ignorant naive people who believe the lies the abusers spread. Hence, the need for this blog.

      Welcome to the blog, and we hope you keep sharing here. May I encourage you to read our New Users Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on this blog. You may, after reading that page, wish to change your screen name. If you do, email TWBTC who is our faithful assistant in these matters. twbtc.acfj@gmail.com She can change your screen name on comments that have already been published.

  3. Trying To Understand

    Thanks, Jeff, for this post, and for all you do for the abused. It is truly an encouragement to read A Cry For Justice each day and to see how helping those without a voice is such a passion of yours. I want to help too, after being freed from this type of marriage a year ago, and am praying for God to show me the way. Blessings always.

    • Jeff Crippen

      You’re welcome, Trying To Understand. I am sure the Lord will direct you where He would have you serve. So glad you are free!

    • Hi Trying To Understand, I changed your screen name as a precaution. If you want it changed again, email TWBTC twbtc.acfj@gmail.com

      You might like to review our New Users Info page first, to think your situation through. 🙂

  4. Sunflower

    Boy did this one hit home! It was not enough to rail on me for hours at night after bedtime, but I was called into the bedroom many times during the day for these lectures and crazy-making sessions. Or h would take me out for ‘tea’, while the family was so happy that I was being taken on a romantic date, but I knew that I was in for it.

    One day I cried out to God and He told me to shut up and stop taking the bait, that it never solved anything and I was to refuse to go in. Talk about pitching a fit! This was over 20 years ago. We separated a few years later but he still makes a big deal out of, “She won’t talk to me! How can we solve anything if we don’t communicate?” And the family sympathizes with him and accuses me of pride, etc. I have no trouble communicating by email, but then there is a record, right? I do have an hour-long recording of one of those sessions but nobody knows about it because I know there would be denial and somehow it would again be turned on me. I took many notes, but of course the counselors believed him that I’d made it all up.

    Still praying for God to vindicate me. It hurts so badly to know and hear what people believe and not be able to say anything. Especially the children. Why is it that it’s OK for liars to spread lies but it is not OK for me to tell the truth? Then I’m accused of gossiping and being disrespectful………and I have told very little of even the truth. I have, however, been accused of saying many things that I did not say.

    I know, this is a broken record, but sometimes it feels good to say it anyway.

  5. Friend of Target

    Pastor Jeff,
    Thanks for this post. I have a question Although I am attending a church, I consider myself church homeless. I would like to connect with a church, but I feel like the Holy Spirit is opening my eyes to a lot of error in the evangelical church. How they handle domestic abuse is a big part of it, but there is more (headship, “easy believe ism” (ie I prayed the sinners prayer so I can do what I want & still be saved and/or I was predestined to be saved, so I can do whatever I want, etc.) I also have different beliefs now on the end times than what I had been indoctrinated with. Anyway, I want to have a church home, but my expectation is that 99, maybe 99.5% are going to be wrong. I can accept that if the pastor & elders would be open/receptive to the possibility they might be wrong. People that would pray/get educated, appreciate being challenged, longing to get it right rather resting on the arrogant assumption that they already are right (because of what they learned in seminary, and have learned from famous preachers) so I do have a concern(s) that I would like to talk to a Pastor alone about (perhaps the wife could be present, but the task is daunting already without being outnumbered by people steeped in error-so I would not want to talk to all the elders with the Pastor). I am not necessarily talking about the Pastor of the church I’m attending now. It’s whatever church I would like to interview to decide if I would like to worship/fellowship there. So here’s my tough question, imagine you were female, knowing what you know now, wanting to belong to a church, but needing to be able to confront these errors to a Pastor. It would not be anything personal (not a personal attack) because virtually all the pastors are wrong. I guess I’m asking how would you the new educated Jeff (only female), approach the old Pastor Jeff (who you were before you knew/got educated) in such a way that the old Pastor Jeff would be receptive to consider the points? Sorry, I know I’m putting you on the spot, but it is a real dilemma for me in my mind. I totally get what you are saying, and it is likely correct for most situations, but what is a person to do when they do have a concern(s), but are not comfortable talking to the whole elder board yet? I want to find a church where the Pastor will have “ears to hear” and “eyes to see”. I want the elders to be that way too, but it will be hard enough to convince one person, let alone a whole group all at once. Your thoughts?

    • Jeff Crippen

      Friend – I’m not certain what you mean when you say “virtually all pastors are wrong.” If you mean this in regard to dealing with abuse and abusers and abuse victims, I would agree. But you also mention here other doctrines such as eschatology (end times teachings) and soteriology (the doctrines of salvation). If you are including these doctrines in your desire to confront the pastor with his errors, then I would say you are going to fail and in fact would be doing something that should not be done. You see, if approach a pastor (or really any Christian) with the intended purpose of “straightening them out” so that they will admit they are wrong and you are right about, say, the millennium, then you are only going to alienate the person right off. If you had come to me (or even if you did so today) and told me that my view of the millennium is wrong and I need to reject it and embrace your take on it, I would have written you off immediately and not listened to another thing you said. Because, you see, the point is that Christians certainly have differing views of Scripture on such things and yet they are still orthodox. And they should be able to fellowship together. Now, as to abuse, what you would need to do is spend some time in that church getting to know the people and the pastor and if you see that he has a good heart then as the Lord provides you with opportunity, you would be able to point some things you have learned out to him or hand him a good sound book on the subject. So I hope you see my point here. If you go into a church with the attitude “I am right on all these things and they are wrong,” then if in fact that really is the case, I am not sure you would want to stay there. But it might also turn out that there are things you need to learn and see yourself.

      • Friend of Target

        Pastor Crippen. Thanks for your reply/advice. I realize my comment comes across as arrogant, but It comes from a place of sadness as I feel like a space alien now in churches where I once fit in doctrinally. I would love to go to a church where I could discuss these things with a Pastor whom I felt I could challenge and be challenged by. As many people have stated on this blog, they wish they could go to your church. I think I would feel like I fit in there as well as Pastor Powell’s church. You and Pastor Powell would be part of that .5% of churches, not part of the 99.5%. 🙂

        I sense from your posts that you and I agree on way more than what we disagree on. I am mostly talking about evil/abuse, but it goes beyond that. All seem to uphold the inerrancy of Scripture, but virtually all seem to either just preach a topic the same way they’ve been taught it and cherry pick verses and translations of those verses to make their point which often is not exactly truly Scriptural or if they do preach books of the Bibles they seem to rely heavily on Bible commentaries or other preachers. I’m glad you have stated that you try to minimize your use of commentaries now.

        I have a sense of both empathy and bitterness toward the shepherds out there. Empathy because I had been taught/believed the same things so I can put myself in their shoes. Bitterness because I feel like the Holy Spirit has awakened me that I had been “sold a bill of goods,” in many regards and they are still selling it today.

        I mentioned the salvation doctrines just to point out that I think Satan has slithered into multiple sides of the debate, going a hair off truth. I am sure I am oversimplifying free will vs. predestination, but I am pointing out that either way most leave an opening that allows people to believe they can accept Christ as their Savior for heaven without making Him Lord of their lives.

        I believe the headship teachings groom women to be targets of abuse. I know there are marriages where that is not the case, but lately I’ve read books that make a very Scriptural case to that being a false doctrine which makes a lot more sense to me than what I had been indoctrinated with in churches I’ve attended since childhood. I know I’m being a bit hypocritical here referencing books after criticizing preachers for relying on commentaries, but there is a Scriptural case to be made that our Bibles were translated with a bias that does not come from the original language. It appears to me that the fruit of the headship doctrine is abuse. (You and I may disagree on that, but I think you would be open to being challenged/to read those arguments. I know you agree that Scripture has been twisted by many in that regard to further abuse victims.)

        I would not challenge your views on the millennium. 🙂 I will show my age here. I hope my doctrine is wrong, but I don’t see in Scripture that Christians will be raptured/not have to live through the tribulation. I’m a bit annoyed that as kids we were showed a movie multiple times called a “Thief in the Night,” designed to scare us into saying a sinner’s prayer asking God to save us (fire insurance more than repentance) so we wouldn’t be left behind. During those years, I was a little scared a few times that maybe my family had been raptured and I was left behind.

        In those days we were taught the end times religion/government would likely be some sort of alliance of the Soviet Union, the Catholic Church, and the European Union. It was a hot topic in those days. Now prophecy is unfolding before our very eyes, and the church is virtually silent on it (which is also prophetic I believe). (Hint Russia may be involved, but it’s not the Catholicism religion nor the European Union that makes up the Anti-Christ Government/rule)

        So now I go to church, but feel like I come from a different planet than the Pastor, Elders, and Congregants where once I would have easily fit in From what I’ve described above, I think you can see that my views are neither mainstream evangelical views nor unorthodox. It’s not about me demanding “my way or the high way” insisting they are wrong and demanding that they accept that only I am right. All of us should hope that we have God’s views and not our own. I think these are things that God has awakened me to, but if I am wrong I want to know it. But if I am correct, than i would want the church to be awakened as I was. But I don’t sense that most Pastors are open to considering that maybe what they’ve been taught and are teaching is incorrect. I don’t sense that they are Bereans, willing to search the Scriptures to see if it’s so. And I imagine they may be less inclined to seriously consider my points because I’m female.

        Anyway, sorry for the long winded comment. Your post just hits me at a time where I’ve been thinking before joining a fellowship, I would want to be able to talk to the Pastor first and get a sense of whether or not he could entertain the possibility of being wrong. I am not an abuser. I have absolutely no desire for power/control. I feel more like the kid in the story of the Emperor’s new clothes, wanting to alert (actually would like to scream) to everyone that the Emperor is naked. I am wondering where I can go to church and the Pastor would strongly consider my thoughts/not dismiss them. You may be right that it would be unwise to have that conversation in the beginning. I’m just frustrated that I’m not seeing churches teaching the meat of the Bible.

        One last comment, my friend (Target) wanted me to add to your thoughts, that not only does the Pastor need to be wary of someone who wants to meet him alone (potential abuser), but victims/targets also be need to be wary of Pastors who want to meet with them alone. She is thankful that the local domestic abuse organization strongly advised her not to go alone to a meeting the Pastor was arranging with her abusive husband. She brought me which prevented the Pastor (and his wife) from ganging up on her to the enjoyment of her abusive husband.

      • Hi Friend of Target, when I read your first comment in this thread, it didn’t strike me as having a tone of arrogance. And muy sense of you and of Jeff C is that you would probably agree on most of your doctrines/ interpretations. It is likely that Jeff, like most pastors, has had more than his fill of people who have rocked into to his church(es) and acted like they had the Only Right View of End Times, and made it such a primary issue that it was a deal breaker. I’ve seen too many people like that in my years of church attendance: they seem determined to pick on the pastor for not teaching Escatology, or not teaching it the way THEY think it should be taught; and they are very divisive and aggressive in their views. Hot heads. Bee in bonnet types. Cantankerous. Narrow minded. and all the ones I ‘ve seen like this seem intent on ‘exposing’ the preacher for what they deem his ‘wrong doctrine’. I feel that these people have an abuser-like mentality: they like accusing others.

        And I do not and have never felt from you, that you are like those people. 🙂 🙂 🙂

        Maybe Jeff responded the way he did because he’s had a gutfull of those cantankerous types over the years of his ministry. He would not be alone. Most good pastors have encountered those cantankerous eschatologist types.

        I think that it’s extremely likely that you and Jeff agree on the necessity to expose and name evil, and deal better with domestic abuse, and a host of other things.

        I also hear you that you are in a quandry as you think of moving to a new church. I relate to that. I’ve been to so so many churches where where some things are okay (-ish) and some things are not okay. I’ve become over the years more astute about doctrine and doctrinal errors, and the gulphs that often exist between rhetoric and practise. . . And I’ve concluded that given the parlous state of the churches, I need to have a rough idea of what level of importance I attatch to each doctrine. For me, soteriology (how a person gets saved) comes pretty high on my list. Exposing and dealing rightly with evildoers is also high on my private list, but if I made this an essential criteria for choosing a church to attend in my area, I would not be able to attend ANY church! So I put that somewhat to one side when making a choice of churches. What a church thinks of hHeadship and submission is a secondary doctrine, for me, but if a church is implicitly promoting or allowing Hard-Patriachal type headship, I would be very very wary of it. For me, the least important doctrine from a church or pastor is their view of Eschatology — but if they heavily labour on the so-called Pre-Millenial Rapture, I would steer clear of them, because that in my observation is where the Cantankerous Eschatologists are. . .

        You might find it helpful to kind of rank what your deal-breaker doctrines are. Probably no church will match your desires perfectly. And very possibly, you may find that it comes down to waht is toleratable and what is not. The best of the bad bunch may be what you end up picking.

      • Jeff Crippen

        Friend of Target – Understood. Thank you for your additional response. For myself I would also be a poor church member in most churches today, so I do get your point. On the other hand, I know that I could very easily be a member of a church that was a true church led by true shepherds who loved truth and refused to compromise with the world and all the false Christianity that abounds today. I suppose in fact that being a trouble-maker in a false church is the mark of being a good member! I say we have to find churches and pastors who understand evil and are wise about it. They are rare indeed.

      • Friend of Target

        Thanks Barbara and Pastor Jeff! You both hit the nail on the head! 🙂

      • Estelle

        Friend of Target, I hope you find a church where you can flourish. I just want to add that you are not the only one to have wondered at times if the rapture had happened after seeing that film.

  6. G.F. Mom

    If a spouse who abuses tries to get away from accountability by quoting “Love keeps no record of wrongs” what are some contrasting verses?

    • a prodigal daughter returns

      I’ve found a scripture about that which worked for me although everyone is different. Proverbs 26:6 Don’t answer the foolish arguments of fools, or you will become as foolish as they are. Principles that applied here
      1. The antihusband had one agenda and that was to “win” not to have communication, growth or open dialogue. That equals fool…. Fool includes these atttitudes
      – crushing, controlling and dominating at all times and in all ways, this is the fool in action
      – the fool has no desire for a knowledge of God or a willingness to humble himself and repent
      – a fool will trample in the mud whatever pearl of transparency you put out and then gore you like a boar
      2. the day I realized the ah had absolutely no interest in a real marriage but solely in domination and control or a real conversation was the day I finally got it, that conversation was wasted. The notion that you have the right to remain silent as all will be used against you was my liberation from becoming a fool by trying to engage of fool.

      Lastly, when the anti husband last contacted me, he began a rant on the phone of epic verbal abuse proportions so I put the phone away from my ear, sang a silent happy praise tune, after sufficient time passed put it back to my ear long enough to say “hmmm’ and removed it while his screaming voice continued. After about 45 minutes when he got absolutely nothing out of me, he was shocked at my pleasant, happy ” I see nothing has changed with you, changing my phone number so you will never speak to me again, bye”

      That was how I answered him, with silence and it was one of the greatest moments of my life. It took many years to understand “resistance is futile” the best practice for me was un-attach, disengage. When I see this thing going on with people since I think to myself “warning, warning, fool alert, do not engage” Silence can be golden

      • G.F. Mom

        I’m so sorry you had such an abuser for a husband. My husband is not like that. For mine the following Proverb that was… “Answer a fool according to his folly or he will be wise in his own eyes.”… would probably be more for mine.

    • This post may answer your question, at least in part, God-fearing Mom. Blessings to you. 🙂
      https://cryingoutforjustice.com/2012/09/24/love-covers-a-multitude-of-sins-but-not-all/

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