A Cry For Justice

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

Murderous Words From a Smiling Mouth: A Common Abuser Tactic

For there is no truth in their mouth; their inmost self is destruction; their throat is an open grave; they flatter with their tongue. (Psa 5:9)

I was reminded recently of one common characteristic of abusers (revilers is a pretty good scriptural synonym). A character in a movie was incredibly wicked and in his position of authority he issued oppressive commands constantly, using cruel sanctions to enforce them. And yet, all the while he was carrying on this evil, he had a smile on his face. More than a smile. He had a sing-songy happy-go-lucky “aren’t we all having fun” tone to his voice while simultaneously inflicting great pain and suffering on his victims.

This kind of thing certainly qualifies as a “crazy-making” tactic because it sends a dual messages that are in conflict with one another. “It looks like I am being cruel to you, but my voice says I we are all very happy here.” Which is it? After repeatedly being subjected to this, the victim doesn’t really know.

We have run into these kind here at ACFJ more than once and we expect more of them will come along again. We are on to them. Their evil doesn’t work here. But they try and try and try, making accusations against us all the while having a “smiley face” tone to their words. They flatter. Then they accuse. Then they flatter some more. You can almost feel the ooze of their “niceness” while they are simultaneously sinking their fangs in. Most of you know of these things. You have lived with this. It is all intensely evil, and those who practice it are under the intense wrath of Christ.

Here is an example of fangs behind smiling lips. This one is rather typical of the kind of accusations we receive from men who have it in for women and who often are in “fathers’ rights” groups. He wrote this after we rejected his insistence that we embrace his teachings:

Dear brother, all I am asking here is that you listen to me as a brother in Christ, with the love that Jesus calls all of his people to exercise toward one another. I am humbly coming to you in obedience to our Lord’s leading of me, to point out to you that women are abusers as much as men. [Imagine smile on face, soft, smooth tone of words].

But you have judged me instead. I certainly hope that you do not treat all the poor souls who come to you for help in such a cruel manner. [Throw in several Scriptural quotes here, still emanating from that “smile”].

I have been honest with you and in return, you have treated me terribly……” [yada, yada, yada.]

These kind hate it when they are called out on their wickedness, because they have been accustomed to practicing these evil tactics unopposed. They also particularly detest being corrected by a woman, like Barbara who exposes them for what they are. They always try to get in “the last word” as they try to maintain “high ground.”

These things are all too common to most of our readers. The more clearly we learn about “fangs behind a smile” the sooner we will be able to see it for what it is and reject the evil spewings that are meant to guilt, shame, and accuse. Truth is light and the agents of darkness scurry when it shines.

Oh, and that smile? That “happy” tone? They disappear rather quickly and morph into what they really are when that light comes. Gnashing teeth, fangs dripping with poison, a scowl that would murder if looks could kill.

 

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36 Comments

  1. Karen

    Jeff,
    My husband’s “christian fangs” pierce my soul daily. And when I look into his eyes and see the smirk on his face as he does so, it is apparent to me that he actually enjoys his self righteous tactics. He loves beating up on me with his words and smooth mocking ways to intimidate me into his submission. He demands to be the ‘lord’ over my life and to be worshiped as the worshipful master of our home, my needs, wants and desires are nothing to him. I have to ‘be on guard’ every minute that I am in his presence for I can feel his hatred for me oozing out of his pores. I am so deeply broken.

    And Pastor Jeff, I am at the point where if I divorced this abusive husband of twenty some years, I really don’t think there would be an ounce of guilt left over the failure of our marriage, for I have lived my whole married life in a lie, working hard on our farm as a used up old rag. The hired man (who worked less than forty hours for us during fall harvest) was always treated with kindness and respect by my husband while I stood by and longed for him to build me up like that.

    I share those in my presence, “I feel like I am a man, because I have had to do a man’s work all of these years.” I tried to share my hurt and pain with women ‘churched peers,’ but they shut me down and voice their troubles and pain in shutting me down. I guess they are most important in the body of Christ (?) than myself, and so I share my hurts/concerns/troubles and ask for prayers from believers outside of institutional religion because they care about me and the suffering of my soul.

    I am tired of being beat up on by my husband’s words and actions, just plain tired, Pastor Jeff. Tired.

    • Jeff Crippen

      I have seen that smirk and those fangs. May the Lord Jesus bless you and guide you and lead you to freedom and peace.

    • standsfortruth

      Karen, I could have written your reply.
      It sounds like the place I was in for over a decade and felt there was no way out.

      I too felt like a man with all the endless work I had submerged myself into, also trying to keep away from my abuser.
      I did not even care to keep up my appearance because it only worked against me to do so.
      I am no spring chicken, but I want you to know that once I made a plan to help myself, ( by securing certain conditions/boundaries – that would keep my abuser from sabotaging me or my plan) I was able to work my way to freedom with God’s help.
      Don’t give up.
      With God all things are possible.
      You just need a plan, and I will pray that God gives you one.

    • Karen, you have spoken profound truth: and the tiredness — yes I rememeber that, though I didn’t have it for as long as you’ve had it. I describe it as feeling like I’d been run over by a giant steam roller.

      Good for you for having not an ounce of guilt over the idea of you divorcing him.

      (hugs)

    • Anotheranon

      Ditto about working on the farm, Karen. I was there over 30 years. The hired men were always treated so much better than me.

    • healinginhim

      Praying for you, Karen. You’ve shared your heart with the right people at ACFJ. The tiredness is overwhelming. We care about the “suffering” of your soul. Offering ((hugs)) and wish I could whisk you away from the torment.

  2. Moving Forward

    Amen and amen (especially the last paragraph). My mind just cannot wrap itself around how a man can be so (sickeningly) sweet and smiley on the outside and so vicious on the inside, and the fangs sure came out when my fog lifted. Only Satan. A bit of a trigger for me in this article, but still, a good reminder I of I have left behind (at least in part – emails and visitation – it hurts too much to say more).

  3. Intothelight1

    Oh my gosh
    If looks could murder ?
    I recently had to deal with an abuser in the church. God used a car to show me the true intent of this man’s heart. With God as my strength I approached this abuser with truth. All I got was twisted words and blame. No resolution with the car, however I made it clear that I would not do business with him in the future. I watched him go outside because he apparently was very upset. He came back in… Calm and collected.
    Sad to say. Abusers are in high positions in a sick church. Again, I thank God for this site!

  4. You are right pastor Crippen – I used to see this with my first husband – he smiled when he did something to me that I didn’t like or didn’t agree with. I remember not wanting to interstate (and thousands of miles from my parents) when we returned from an overseas work stint, and I remember that smirk he had on his face because he knew he was hurting me.

    I saw that same smirk on my 2nd husband’s face several times when I found evidence that he was using prostitutes and massage parlours and he knew he was getting away with it. The smile of evil. At that time I was still believing the lies he gave for excuses and thinking I was mixed up and evil for suspecting it and questioning him (as he would twist it). I am sad that I wasn’t wiser sooner and let these men practice their cruelty on me with our kids looking on.

    They are smooth and clever, are successful at twisting reality and are able to get people to believe them. I have seen that they take pleasure in their cruelty and in their ability to dupe others and still be considered normal by people who do not live in their homes or experience their abuse.

    This is why it is so scary for the abused partner when professionals get involved in child custody issues or child safety issues. Those who smile while speaking evil are masters of deceit, and the professionals whose voices matter get it wrong. (They get duped too). I got it wrong too at one point, that’s why I was in a relationship with them. Had they presented the truth about who they were I would have run screaming the other way! I made the mistake of assuming they were like me, people who could be in a mutual relationship, looking for someone to do life with, someone to enjoy God’s great outdoors and raise kids with and essentially go through life with another well meaning sane and safe person.

    • Hi Starlight, I airbrushed some details of your comment, to protect your identity. 🙂
      you might like to review our New Users page as it gives safety guidelines for the sorts of details it’s best to avoid mentioning in comments, if your safety is in any degree at risk.

  5. sheisovercoming

    Tonight, as I clean out old files, I am reading 3 years of emails from my abuser who I was separated from at the time. (now divorced) They.are.just.like.this. I can still see his face, feel the hatred in his eyes, behind the words, gestures, smiles, lies, and threats. I didn’t know at the time these were 3rd degree domestic violence offenses and my attorney, who had them all, never told me. The guardian ad litem never told me, but instead reported he was harmless. The spiritual leaders who saw them never told me, but kept pushing me for joint counseling without any sign of repentance. I refused joint counseling but not individual counseling for which they labeled me the unsubmissive wife he was claiming me to be.

    Yes, as one person who saw them and understood what was going on said, “Sugar coated knives in the back.”

    • Jeff Crippen

      In some ways, those church leaders who pressured you to stay with the wicked man were like him. Those kind are usually “nice” people who everyone just “loves.” In fact they have much in common with the wicked one.

  6. Anne

    Oh, this hits home so much for me! The whole time I was telling him his much hurt he had caused me, he sat there with a little smile/smirk on his face! I was so confused. How could he smile while I told him how much he hurt me? How could he smile and have such an upbeat tone of voice while he turned it all around on me?
    Now I know why.

  7. Karen

    Thank-you for your love, support and words of wisdom ACFJ community for I feel so needy at this time, and your long distance hugs are a blessing.

    The article you referenced, Barbara, reflects the nature of why many do not come forward with their stories of abuse. We are already blamed, criticized and condemned for every problem that exists in our marriages and every day life problems by those who claim headship within our homes, that it becomes difficult to share with others due to the blame game all over again. Many of us are on the receiving end of evil and wickedness on a daily basis within our homes just want some resemblance of peace, mercy and grace when we dare venture out without our spouses. I, personally, experience love, happiness, and peace when my husband is not with me in the public’s eye, for there are no abusive comments or criticisms when he is absent. It is in this little bit of freedom in Christ within my home and occasionally outside of home. I do not know how life is in other male dominated homes, but in my home, I have to fight hard to maintain enough confidence to be able to fix myself up and gather my things and leave the home, all the while listening to my husband’s condemning comments. The man can come and go as he pleases, but there is hell to pay if the wife does so for she must receive his “permission” to do so. The battle is never ending. I would love to have the same freedom my husband has, that he so generously allows himself.

    And yesterday, I learned from him that our country would be better off if women were not allowed to vote in the election process. According to my husband’s worldview, America began to go downhill when women began voting for they are ‘more liberal.’ I guess if I am too dumb and stupid to vote, perhaps I am too dumb and stupid to sign off on farm loans too…..or maybe I was too blind when I signed the marriage certificate way back then for I did not know how much he resented women in general. That was skillfully hidden.

    I find it amazing how a man, who attends church every Sunday, frequents the men’s Bible studies at the local Baptist church, who constantly quotes Scriptures at me to ‘correct’ my ways, who attended marriage conferences with me only to obtain more christianese abusive fodder to tell me ‘what I need to work on to better serve him’, can actually justify his abusive behavior on a daily basis and feel good about himself at the same time. It is just mind boggling to me to see no conscience what so ever at the hurt he inflicts upon me, his wife.

    Jesus treated women so differently in His Word, and yet, it seems as though many within ‘the church’ still don’t get it. And the last time I checked that ‘man of perdition’ phrase that references that one anti-Christ leader coming to power before Jesus’ Second Coming, I believe it makes reference to “a man” instead of a “woman” ruling and reigning over the world. Perhaps I should revisit that one.

    • DancingRain

      “And yesterday, I learned from him that our country would be better off if women were not allowed to vote in the election process. According to my husband’s worldview, America began to go downhill when women began voting for they are ‘more liberal.’”

      I know this is more than a year old, but this floored me. I literally “learned” the exact same thing from my husband recently. And this comment came off the heels of him telling me how men are better than women at everything, except birthing children. Pretty denigrating!

  8. Lost

    Tired of the abuse. The unpredictable attitudes. The silent treatment and shutting me out. Ignoring me in front of the kids. He lies and also lies by ommision. I’m becoming very depressed. I want to sleep because of the depression. My kids favor him. He buys gifts and candy often and rarely says no. If you asked me what it was specific that he does I couldn’t say right now because I’m so confused as to by he’s ignoring me and I’m hurt. My brain is numb. I hate my life. This marriage is all about him and what he wants to do. I’m sick of feeling shamed and humiliated. I’m embarrassed to even go food shopping. There have been plenty of times he’s been very mean and cruel and smiling at the same time. Seemed insane to me. He’s so affectionate and caring to everyone else. Literally. I try to draw boundaries – he doesn’t care. He has no respect for me. He lies about me to others and I don’t trust him. There much more to the situation. I need help. Tried everything for years and no help.

    • healinginhim

      Lost – Do you have any friends at all who believe you? I know the feeling of being abandoned as I’m still in a similar situation except there is “No verbal” contact and ‘he’ does as he pleases. He has his friends but spends most of his time here because he is semi-retired.
      You’ve done the right thing to express your sorrow here. We care and I can personally attest that although I’m not totally out of the fog; I’ve gained much strength with ACFJ resources and affirmation of God’s true love for the oppressed.
      Praying for you.

      • Lost

        I don’t think i do. Maybe one but she can be more diplomatic at times. I’m very isolated and shamed inside
        I have stomach pains headaches and can’t think straight or eat right

      • Lost

        I don’t think anyone believes me in the that way you all talk on here. I feel out of my mind and evil myself.

      • Even if others don’t believe you, we do.

        We know what it’s like. The people who don’t believe you are either ignorant and naive, or wicked themselves.

        I encourage you not to burn up your energy trying to get the non-believers to believe you. That is a never-ending and hopeless enterprise. I encourage you to focus on what you want to do to get safe and to build up your own wellbeing. We have found that usually that entails cutting contact with the abusers and their allies (both the witting allies and the unwitting, naive, ignorant allies).

      • We have found that usually that entails cutting contact with the abusers and their allies

        Qualifier: Some victims are not able to cut ALL contact with their abusers. Often this is because they have kids to the abuser and the Family Court orders require that the abuser still be involved in the kids’ lives. . . (AARGGGGGH) 😦 😦 😦

        So, if NC (No Contact) is impossible, we encourage victim/survivors to aim for MC (minimal contact). What that looks like will be slightly different for each victim/survivor.

      • surviving freedom

        Lost, I do not think you’re evil. I know the way an abuser can turn the tables. It really helps me to remember that the anger towards the abuse is not wrong, I continually remind myself that the shame I’m carrying, the not being believed, the feeling of evil are his, the feelings of worthlessness or doubt are all his…these are the things he’s given me, they are the bi-products of his evil.

        And I agree with Barbara, i have pretty much kept very little contact with most everyone in my life, and I’ve absolutely stopped attempting to get others to see the truth, typically it did more harm…even from well-meaning friends who think they’re being supportive but end up down-playing the abuse, making generalized excuses for him or making comments that somehow put any responsibility for it on me. There are also many abuse sites that I absolutely stay away from.

        Something that I mentioned in a comment on another post that has really helped me when I find myself in a situation that I’m being questioned by others as to why the abuser and I aren’t together is: 1) I don’t bother even saying the word “abuse,” most people react with such disbelief, doubt or outright discrediting me that it has done me more harm and doubt; 2) I plainly state that I am not comfortable going into details; and 3) I’ve printed out the web addresses of a few articles that do a much better job explaining the true nature of the abuser than I can, then if a person wants details and won’t back off I just hand them a card and say, “If you want to know the truth these sites/articles will help you understand.”

        It’s a long, lonely road. We are here for you, and no matter how much you may not feel it right now … God has seen it all, He knows exactly who the abuser is. I also often think that, even though we are definitely each responsible for our own sins, that “Forgive them, for they know not what they do,” is Jesus understanding of our reactions to the psychological torture and coercion that those of us have experienced.

  9. Lost

    I can’t tell you how many times I was in such hurt while I pleaded with my STBXH to stop treating me with contempt, shame and abuse. He’d stand there and smile. I’d say what are you smiling about?! Why are you smiling?!

    They flatter then they accuse. Pattern. STBX and STBX-MIL for sure do this all of the time. It’s cruel. They also expect you to flatter them and NEVER confront. Because if you do or even if you don’t, they’ll use everything you said during their laughing, flattering, and “getting close to you time” to crush you and keep you underneath them for good

    Or so they thought 🙂 !

    • standsfortruth

      Yes, once you discover the “game” against you, by your abuser, its time to reassess your own strategy.

      I discovered that because Acting and Pretending WAS my abusers MAIN Strategy to control me, than he could NOT tell when I was acting or pretending…
      One of my abusers favorite things to do was to stage a family setting to execute a acting performance that he had been planning.
      I became keenly aware of these set ups being staged, and began up stepping out before the show began.
      With out his target audience, his anticipated plan was thwarted.
      I also quit going anywhere in a car with him where I could not get away.
      The abuser can be outsmarted but you have to be fully aware of his game.

      • healinginhim

        “One of my abusers favorite things to do was to stage a family setting …”
        This is the favourite tactic of my abuser(s) and then I am maligned for not wanting to participate. It’s exhausting.

  10. M

    I have dealt with the confusion and agony of this. Such a timely truth you share

    My spouse would sexually degrade me, reenacting demeaning aspects of my childhood sexually abuse, while pulling his pants down and forcing me to look at his naked behind. All the while having the most gleeful, smug, and defiant look on his face, watching my offense and pain. The more it upset me, the more he laughed, and when I wouldn’t comply, he would turn on me, lower his voice and say, “You laugh.” The smiley, bouncy self gone in a flash

    He’d laugh when he hit me suddenly on the behind hard enough to bring tears in my eyes, and would sometimes, leave marks behind. I’d tell him how badly it hurt and he’d keep grinning, and again, if I didn’t get happy real quick, he’d say, coldly ” That did NOT hurt.”

    After long term treatment Like this, amongst other things, I felt truly confused, ashamed, scared and alone

    I’d find myself despondent on the couch, my spirit worn away, and he’d see me completely broken and exhausted, and this normally sullen, angry man would spring to life; humming, dancing, grinning. I wondered how he could be so happy seeing me in so much pain

    He’d berate me and tell me he was so sick of all my depression and trauma, and I never laughed. I took more of the blame and it intensified the Cycle, even more. The more broken I became, the more he was inappropriately happy, and when I wouldn’t comply, berated and blamed. I wanted to die

    Thank you for listening

    • Hi M, Please review our New Users Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

      We want you to keep safe. The name you put in the ‘name’ field on the comment form is what will show on the front of the blog.
      I have changed the name in your comment above, for your safety. But it’s best if you do that yourself, before you hit the ‘submit’ button. 🙂

    • And we believe you, M.
      What he did to you was diabolical.

    • Free

      Yes I lived this way too. Disgusting M. I am so sorry this happened to you. I HATE this evil. It’s torture. I know that full well.

      The abuser XH was also ridiculously happy and energetic when I was at my worst (due to his verbal onslaughts, sexual degradation, and chaotic changes in our life.) At one point I hid from him and the kids because no one even noticed I was there and the children had no basic respect for me whatsoever.

      Anything I enjoyed he destroyed “by mistake” or had a lecture full of reasons that it was bad somehow. When I calmly asked questions as to why – id get complete silence. When I expressed that I found my choices were not bad like he said and that I had proof of it- he’d be silent. Silent. Oh but then came punishment. Never knew to what extent and for how long. But I knew it was always coming. It always came.

      Most things in my life were taken away “out of necessity” for to “better” our lives or given up by me in hopes to avoid more abuse. I just wanted peace and no abuse. No abuse. No abuse. Just no abuse! He was the “biblical leader” so I followed in my wifely duty. Sounds like Islam right there to me.

      Pastors and people would say “no one said it would be easy.” When id tell them what was going on. I HATE that stupid phrase. I never asked for easy! I asked to not be ABUSED. I cried out for help and no one told me I was being abused. I begged the abuser XH daily and weekly to stop. I have my pleadings in writing. SO MANY PLEAS. I pleaded with church leaders. They literally laughed in front of me. Police even refused to help. I also wanted to die.

    • Free

      XH always called me sick and mentally ill. Overtime he convinced me that I was. He even said things like “I’ll take you to the doctors and stay with you. It’s nothing to be ashamed of.”

      I have endured lots of trauma with him and others abusers. But I’m not sick, mentally ill or even depressed. I can know this and say this confidently now that he’s gone. When he was still here I couldn’t and wouldn’t dare say or believe that. I’d be punished. I knew that.

      He’d call me ugly and fat often and then say how I never can take a compliment. Then he’d say I was hot and he loved my body. It was cruel. I lived in constant judgment. I was his object.

      Now without him – I exercise regularly (nothing crazy) just healthy and everyday and we all eat very healthy here now too (nothing crazy just good choices). I almost look like I did at age 19. Better shape than that perhaps soon enough. Not a long time since he’s been gone and much has changed in my life or the better. The children too. The healing is extensive. The whole dynamic is a picture of health now. Gets better everyday. There is joy without abuse. Yes joy in the Lord but not the fake Focus on the Family radio show kind of joy. Nope- it’s real and we’re all INDIVIDUALS again. We’re not shadows (captives) of the abuser anymore! And yes he still actively abuses from a far distance. He slanders. He manipulates. He is a liar. But my life is saved from his evil and my children see it.

      This is all proof to me that abusers aim is to destroy their target in EVERY WAY POSSIBLE. They chip away at you until you disappear then they maul you at the end for being so weak bc that’s the last bite of power they can get out of hurting you.

      IMO If it’s good for you in some way- the target/survivor/victim can be certain the abuser will hate it and manipulate it so it stops. Oh the lectures. He thought he was so smart and cunning. But instead his talks were very annoying and circular and tiresome. I couldn’t handle the talks at all near the end. And I found when others spoke that way id have to interrupt and leave the conversation asap. That what part of my resisting abuse. I see it clearly now. However they pointed at me saying I was so rude for interrupting. Don’t dare fight what we say. Just don’t dare or we’ll think you’re rude. Shame shame shame on you.

      How ridiculous.

      To me – a person is on one side or the other- with and for abuse (even silently) OR against it and fighting it and standing up for the poor and needy. No middle for me. See bc IMO the middle of the spectrum is where exceptions are made even if only very slightly. And that’s where victims get stripped of their dignity bit by bit. And going down that path is a hellish nightmare. We must be protected from predators. We must tell others they too can say “NO!” and run.

      I remember I worked for a female boss in her home who would expect me to do everything for her yet never took the time to train me and she constantly put me down. She had special requests and I did not know how to do them without being shown briefly at first. she had lots of money. I remember long after I started she had a meeting with me while she was in the bath (she was too busy and important otherwise apparently) and I remember she complained about my work and then asked me if I slept with my boyfriend yet. She seemed to be always angry with me. Tension was always in the home.

      How different this was from when I first arrived and was smothered with praises. (Same with XH)

      I was angered by this treatment at the “meeting” and left very soon after that. But the thing is these people think something’s really wrong with you if you’re not “accepting” of them (but they really mean their behavior). Yet with healthy non-abusive I’ve experienced the EXACT opposite. Huh how about that, right?

    • DancingRain

      Yes, as Barbara said, diabolical!

      He’d laugh when he hit me suddenly on the behind hard enough to bring tears in my eyes, and would sometimes, leave marks behind. I’d tell him how badly it hurt and he’d keep grinning, and again, if I didn’t get happy real quick, he’d say, coldly ” That did NOT hurt.

      I experienced this too. He could be confronted with hand shaped bruises he left on me, or other evidence of injury and still deny that I was hurt, or that he was the cause of it. What is that? How can someone be in so much denial in the face of obvious reality?

  11. Jennifer

    What movie are you referencing?

    • Jeff Crippen

      Jennifer – I don’t recall right now which movie it was as it has been some time since writing that post. I do remember another such character who used murderous words with a smiling mouth though and that was the woman in the Harry Potter series who, you may recall, took over the school for a time and treated everyone cruelly. Same kind of tactic.

      • Jennifer

        Thanks for your reply! And yes, that horrible woman in HP was the perfect example of a different kind of evil and villain we don’t see as often.

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