A Cry For Justice

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

A Typical, Enslaving, Abuser-Enabling Statement by a Professing Christian

Recently on our Facebook page we posted a news article about the murder of a young mother in Portland, Oregon. She was killed on Christmas day by her wicked abuser. He later shot and seriously injured a police officer before police were able to kill him. Among the comments on facebook in response to this post, one woman said this: [I admonished her for it and then deleted it. I can just about guarantee you that she will not listen and learn. People who spout these kinds of things rarely do] —

Christ can and has changed the heart of many an abuser….not sure ending it is the best right off,,,but separation, if it is physical, yes….

Every single word in this statement is so, so wrong and so, so damaging to victims. It is chuck full of the typical false notions and teachings that abound in most local churches. People have been taught these lies both formally and informally by their pastors, by books written by the big-wheel Christian celebrities, and by one another. The traditions of men are repeated like a mantra over and over in the church and paraded as being the Word of God. They are not.

Let’s take a look –

“Christ can and has changed the heart of many an abuser”

Oh really? Data to prove that statement? Because WE can give you piles of data in case after case after case that demonstrates just the opposite. Christ does not “change the heart” of wicked people who refuse to repent. And that is precisely what abusers are — wicked people who do not repent. Has an abuser ever in the history of humanity ever been converted? Maybe, but NOT unless he genuinely repents and is broken like the Prodigal son. But abusers don’t approach anyone in a humble, contrite, broken manner. If they seem to, it is only because they are skilled in deception. This statement serves to guilt and further enslave victims — “If you only had faith like ME, sweetie, you would stay and pray for your husband and you would look to your own sins that contribute to your marriage problems and then maybe God would save your husband who you need to show respect for.” Yada, yada, yada. So, so twisted.

“Not sure ending is the best right off…but separation…”

Let’s translate this pious saint’s words here to get to what she really means: “God does not really approve of divorce, and even if He does maybe permit it, it is still sin for you and second best. You can maybe, perhaps, possibly separate…for a time…but then you must go back.” Doesn’t it just kill you how these people spew this stuff without blinking an eye? They don’t know anything at all about evil, about abusers, but they jump up on their soapbox and wax eloquent on the topic.

“but separation…if it is physical…yes”

Oh gee, thank you so much for granting that permission (yes, I’m dripping sarcasm here). If it is physical. If he punches your lights out, rapes you, molests the children, well, yeah go ahead and separate. But don’t divorce you know. God hates the big “D” you know. “You say he terrorizes you in non-physical ways? Oh come on, you need to grow up. Every marriage has its struggles. God wants you to become more holy by experiencing these things.”

ALL of those things and more are jam-packed into this woman’s short but incredibly and wickedly damaging statement. I hope she reads this post and sees herself.

42 Comments

  1. Abby

    ……and the evil grows!

  2. Neveralone

    …”But don’t divorce you know. God hates the big “D” you know. “You say he terrorizes you in non-physical ways? Oh come on, you need to grow up. Every marriage has its struggles. God wants you to become more holy by experiencing these things.””

    I live with that everyday and I tell you, Jeff, although I have been taught otherwise thru this ministry, which has been THE ONLY COUNTER CULTURE VOICE ABOUT THE SUBJECT I have found in 24 years of Abuse, it is still very overwhelming and hurtful to constantly hear that! It brings confusion if I am right and doubt that someday I will really be able to get out of this nightmare. I feel that even if I am empowered by the truth about abuse and eventually am able to put an end to it… (see that I am avoiding the D word here because I am not strong enough); it would still be a nightmare, because I would constantly be on trial, accused, judged and convicted of not fighting enough and braking the sacred covenant of marriage. Even my children would not be on my side… this makes me so sad, like little pieces of me are dying every day.

    I am still very weak to stand on my own. Please, keep writing to empower me with thw truth that sets us free. It has been refreshing to my soul. God bless you, this ministry and protect all those who have been abused.

    • Never Alone,

      Thank you for your comment and welcome to the blog!

      We like to encourage new commenters to read our New User’s Info Page as it gives tips for staying safe when comment on the blog.

      Praying that God will continue to strengthen you!

    • Anonymous

      “…it would still be a nightmare, because I would constantly be on trial, accused, judged and convicted of not fighting enough and braking the sacred covenant of marriage. Even my children would not be on my side… this makes me so sad, like little pieces of me are dying every day.”

      This is EXACTLY what happened to Jesus, and yet he was without sin! Forget about your accusers – keep your eyes on the Cross of Christ and cry out, and he WILL rescue you.

      • Anonymous

        Ariel – You are NOT breaking the sacred covenant of marriage – your abuser has done that!

    • Jeff Crippen

      Counter culture. I like it.

    • Keeningforthedawn

      Ariel — I hear your cry and can sense your pain, my sister. I am sending you a cyber hug. May you be encouraged and strengthened today as you keep seeking the Truth. (This is definitely a great place to find it!)

    • kim

      Amen and God bless you, Ariel. I pray God shows you a way out.

    • Suzanne

      You didn’t break the covenant. Your abuser did.

  3. Lea

    It would be bad enough for this lady to make this statement under normal circumstances, but in the context of a woman who was murdered it’s monstrous.

    Context matters. This proves that even in the face of proof that some men cannot be changed and some women absolutely need to get away, she is still spouting the same platitudes.

  4. A

    These people don’t realize the pure evil of the non-physical forms of terror an abuser can inflict. If you don’t file divorce (or in some states a minimum of legal separation) papers, the abuser can destroy you financially as revenge for separating and without those papers you may be held liable for what he did. You can wait and see if he truly changes (which is unlikely) just as easily divorced as you can separated. If he has truly repented he will realize that the divorce was justified.

    I have never regretted my divorce. ( but, I have regretted my marriage many, many times) God has allowed my ex to experience the consequences of his evil behavior, but my ex is hard hearted in his ways and refuses to see it. I don’t have to sacrifice myself on the alter of “marriage” that so many Christians construct.

    • Jeff Crippen

      “I have never regretted my divorce. ( but, I have regretted my marriage many, many times)”.

      A memorable truth! Thank you for stating that so well.

      • LauraGrace

        I’ve never ever regretted my divorce either. But I live in almost continual regret about my marriage which is so difficult because God did give me beautiful children out of that marriage. It’s so hard to regret the worst mistake of your life while at the same time treasuring the precious gifts that your children are to you.

    • Lea

      “You can wait and see if he truly changes (which is unlikely) just as easily divorced as you can separated.”

      And, one thing people never mention is that if he truly has changed and you’ve divorced and you WANT to get remarried you can just do that. Nothing about separating verses divorcing makes that impossible.

      • A

        So true! I actually have some friends that did just that. They were divorced for about five years and have an inspiring testimony of how God slowly worked on their relationship. The divorce period was a necessary part of that process. (Disclaimer: not that I’m saying this will happen in everyone’s marriage, this is just what happened with this one couple)

      • Lea

        “I actually have some friends that did just that. ”

        I do as well, although as far as I know their divorce had nothing to do with violence. I’m sort of fascinated by those kinds of stories!

        But in a DV situation, it makes so much more sense to divorce than separate and hope forever. It is a fallacy to pretend that that is the only ‘biblical’ option. Divorce is so much safer financially, emotionally, etc.

        Now if the abuser runs out and immediately gets remarried then that option is gone but whose fault is that?

  5. Anonymous

    A famous quote from Abe Lincoln: “”Whenever I hear any one arguing for slavery I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally.””

    These people that take abused victims and tell them to pray more or that God will change the heart of Satan’s children (who are inherently like their father the devil) is ANTI BIBLICAL and a lie. Yet it is still as Pastor Crippen writes, par for the course.

    Judas Iscariot is just one BLATENTLY OBVIOUS person we can use to explain this. He lived WITH JESUS WHO IS GOD yet not one morsel of his mind or spirit were “positively” affected by this. GOD HIMSELF talked to Judas, shared His wisdom, love and knowledge not to mention the many miracles and mercies that come with the heart of God. Jesus probably touched Judas and hugged him (and we know from scripture that even touching Jesus’s robe could completely heal the most devastating problems) and I’m guessing that Judas was even endowed with the ability to cast out demons etc. that the apostles were given yet he gleefully (because he had opened himself up and invited Satan into his heart) sold Him out. Judas Iscariot’s story is NOT an accident nor is it there to scare true Christian people into submission. It is there for many reasons but certainly so that those who do belong to Jesus can rightly observe the nature and heart of others who claim to belong to him. If we are tipped off to someone being an abuser, we can start paying more attention and pray for God’s truth to be revealed. It may take a little while but God is always faithful to those who truly desire His truth.

    The Abe Lincoln quote above….to place these people who spout this stuff into the position that many of us find ourselves in…..but which one of us who live it would willingly do this? Would I want to destroy a person so thoroughly that they would be completely alone–with no one to believe them–yet still responsible for their children’s mental, spiritual and physical safety while being physically forced to submit to a spouses sexual urges and perversions all under the guise of being a good spouse? Would I want to be responsible for this in another persons life knowing the hopelessness of my own life and knowing that it was me who did this? Taking away all support from fellow humans and replacing it instead with more evil abusers that heap on the guilt and shame yet do nothing to offer practical help or even kindness and compassion? Would I want to stand before God as one who did this willingly?

    No I wouldn’t but this is exactly what is being done and it would be nice if we had a “school” or a boot camp of some sort that could put these ignorant / biblically errant people through the paces, just to give them a taste.

    • Lea

      A famous quote from Abe Lincoln: “”Whenever I hear any one arguing for slavery I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally.””

      What a quote! Someone quoted Doug Wilson the other day as having said something slavery being ‘benevolent patriarchy’ and I might have the same thoughts about him trying being on the other side of slavery and patriarchy.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Maybe a boot camp of abuse! Marines go through that kind of thing in basic, or at least they did during the VietNam war era. For a week they were POW’s and the drill team had permission to abuse them even if a finger got broken in the process. Oh, and it was the prisoner’s duty to try to escape. Think on that one. In a “Christian” POW marriage training camp, escape would be forbidden.

      • E

        YES! In the military we were taught about physical and psychological methods of torture that do not leave visible scars, but somehow those techniques are all ineffective on wives, or else don’t count.

      • A

        I wish more was said about PTSD and domestic violence/child abuse. Society thinks PTSD is a military thing, but I have seen statistics that indicate that domestic violence victims and child abuse victims have higher rates of PTSD than military veterans. It’s so military related, that sometimes I feel ashamed to admit that I have PTSD because the only combat zone I’ve ever been in is my own home.

      • Anonymous

        A, I agree with you about more info being needed on PTSD. It’s well known in the mental health community that deals with trauma, that many people in the civilian population suffer from PTSD, we just usually hear of it in relation to the military. (I think it’s because the initial research was conducted on those who had served in the military.)

        I’ve recently read the book by Martha Stout titled, The Myth of Sanity: Divided Consciousness and the Promise of Awareness. [Note from ACFJ Eds: We have not read that book but we recommend Martha Stout’s book The Sociopath Next Door so we think it’s likely her other work is good too.] I read it in conjunction with the book mentioned on this website titled, Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence–From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror by Judith Herman. On the surface these books appear to be dealing with the “extreme” cases of abuse but as I started to read them, I realized that many of us here qualify as victims of these extreme forms of abuse. PTSD is something that many of us who’ve survived (physically anyway) alive from traumatic childhoods or relationships, deal with in addition to the years we’ll spend in therapy or self-help programs in order to be the whole people we were born to be.

        I’m going off on a little tangent here, bear with me as I pray God will use it to bless His children—-

        The more that I let myself actually see the truth (rather than forcing myself to believe the rhetoric and statistical guess-tamets we’re told that constitute the population of true abusers [those with little or no conscience]), the more I see that there are so many MORE than we’re told.

        Dr. Robert Hare who worked in the prison system (decades ago now) ended up focusing on psychopaths. His guess was that there were more psychopaths in the prison population than in the real world. I think this was either wishful thinking or maybe the number of them has increased significantly since then, but I see just the opposite. I think that the “failed” psychopaths (which I believe is the term Dr. Hare uses for those who end up in prison) are actually a smaller population than those who are “successful” (those who are able to follow societal norms well enough that they stay out of prison).

        I’ve noticed that there are certain types of psychopaths who function well in certain cultures and societies and because they are trained up to act a certain way and within that culture are able to be accepted, we pretend that they aren’t psychopaths. The Catholic Church and culture is the environment I grew up in and most every one of my relatives is a psychopath. They are not law-breakers per say, and if you don’t need to rely on them to support, care for or love you, you may think they are the salt of the earth. They will help each other out (sometimes) band together to march against abortion (which I used to think meant that they really LOVED children but came to realize is simply a “right” to pounce on others {the BIBLE says thou shalt not KiLL! see how much I LOVE God?! }– but ask them to help you babysit or raise these children and they are no where to be found or they tell you it’s your obligation to raise them.) This is just one example….if we start to look at others we can see this same phenomenon.

        I pray that I am proven wrong. Dr. Hare actually used Dr. Hervey Cleakley’s work to build on and Dr. Cleakley was already alarmed by the number of “successful” psychopaths of his day, and was trying to forewarn his fellow psychiatrists.

        Thanks for letting me get this out–I’m always hoping whatever I write will be the last thing God wants me to do–it’s why I just pour it all out — so that God can be glorified and (hopefully) I can rest. (Wishful thinking most likely 🙂

  6. LauraGrace

    It continually amazes and angers me how complacent and downright ignorant the church is about evil. The church will never properly and lovingly minister to the abused until they accept that evil exists.

  7. Anonymous

    Ah, yes, another unwilling to admit EVIL roams about, self-righteous, pious, stuffy, follow-my-example voice steps up to the podium to scold us and tell us what we should and should not do, according to her interpretation of Scripture.

    I know ‘her kind’… they are all around us. And they are certainly sitting in our pews spewing their modern day Pharisee religion! And we know what Jesus said about them.

    Just a hunch: IF this woman is married, she may want to look into her own marriage to see if her husband is perhaps seeking succor elsewhere; doubtful she is able to provide it.

  8. A

    I’m just throwing this out here, why is physical violence the threshold for separation/divorce in the minds of these people? They are essentially condoning non-physical forms of violence. Are these forms of violence ok in their minds? I’m certainly not ok with the physical violence inflicted on me, but the emotional, spiritual, and mental abuse was much, much, much worse than the physical violence. I lived in constant fear. I’m wondering if the health problems I now have are rooted in living in a constant state of fear for so long.

    When people say things like this, I want to lay on the ground and ask them to kick me in the head. The kick in the head would hurt less than the nonsense they are spewing.

    • Anonymous

      You nailed it!

      And NO doubt your physical health today is a direct result of abuse.

      The plotting, planning, scheming and conniving tactics at play in non-physical abuse is like that of premeditated murder. I believe our court system today rules more severely on premeditated murder.

    • I’m certainly not ok with the physical violence inflicted on me, but the emotional, spiritual, and mental abuse was much, much, much worse than the physical violence.

      We hear this time and time again from survivors.

      • Rachael

        It seems like a kind of gnosticism in which bodies are considered more valuable than souls.

    • I think I can partly answer that question of yours A.

      Back in the early days of second wave feminism, when women were establishing the first women’s shelters and women’s refuges, before the whole DV sector became government funded and official, the feminists were rightly trying to arouse interest in the public for the cause. One of the ways they did this was by seeking publicity in the press to try to get decent funding for the shelters, and to try to awaken the public to how horrible and widespread domestic violence actually is. This led to newspaper stories which focused on the most extreme physical violence examples. People thought that if the public knew about the extreme violence some women were being put through by their partners, the public would become more concerned and start getting something done to help the victims.

      So the stories focused on the physical violence. And that, as time wore on, became in the public mind THE thing which defined domestic abuse — physical violence.

      And of course, the abusers and their witting or unwitting allies liked it that way. Why? Because EVERY abusive man thinks that he isn’t an abuser. The guys that do worse things than he does —- they are the abusers. What he does isn’t abuse, it’s all quite reasonable and justified … that’s how the abusive man thinks.

      So the myth that domestic abuse is just physical violence —and marked by major injuries, broken bones, bruises, black eyes, etc, is very convenient myth for abusers to promote. It gets them off the hook. It especially gets them off the hook if they are the typical kind of domestic abuser who might use physical violence only a few times a year. And you can easily see how very convenient that myth is for the abusers who never use physical violence.

      Enter Stage Left all the pastors and elders and deacons who are abusing their wives but never lay a finger on their wives in anger… how they love to promote that myth! How they love to slap down the women who are victims of emotional, spiritual and mental abuse by telling them “Your husband is not an abuser! He’s never hit you!”

      The professionals in the domestic abuse sector are now working hard to try to break down the myth that domestic abuse is only physical violence. See Evan Stark’s ground-breaking book Coercive Control: How Men Entrap Women in Everyday Life, and the explainer What Is Coercive Control? But it’s a long hard road. It takes a long time to change the public’s mind when there are so many abusers quietly feeding the myth back into the press and around cyberspace, so that it keeps being believed by naive bystanders…

      When people say things like this, I want to lay on the ground and ask them to kick me in the head. The kick in the head would hurt less than the nonsense they are spewing.

      ^ brilliant

      • Lea

        I think it made some sense for the government to focus on physical violence, because that is something they can (in theory) regulate and control. They can put someone in jail for beating or killing their partner. Not so much for the emotional side of things.

      • Yes… but if a government passes legislation that criminalizes coercive control — a pattern of conduct which involves any or al of these things: emotional abuse, financial abuse, spiritual abuse, intimidation, making someone live in fear and isolating them from social supports, then the government CAN put people who commit that crime in jail.

        I have heard that in at least one scandinavian country, and in Britain, and in my state of Victoria Australia, that kind of legislation has been passed. Of course, prosecuting and proving the crime is not all that easy… and I don’t know how successful the prosecutions are so far. But it’s a start.

  9. Jessica

    It’s so sad that these people actually think they are giving helpful, biblical advice.

    If anyone reading these comments is actually considering separation instead of divorce, I want to let you know what happened to me. While we were “physically separated” my abuser drained my personal checking account and our joint account. He was able to drain an account that he wasn’t on because we were still married, and since my social security number was on on our joint account, his overdrafts from both our joint account and his personal account were taken from my personal account. He opened new credit cards on both of our names, ran up the balance, and never made a payment. He has me removed from our health insurance. As long as you are still legally married, even if he is in jail (my ex was) they can still heap on other forms of abuse.

    Thankfully, I was able to work with the bank and credit card companies. I never got my money bank from the bank, but was able to stop any more of his overdrafts from affecting me. The credit card companies removed me from the accounts so I wasn’t responsible for that debt once I was able to prove that he had done this fraudulently and from jail.

    But please, if you are in this position now, please realize that a separation will not keep him from finding ways to abuse you. As long as you are still married, they will find ways to exploit that. Remember, they are convinced they are entitled to do so, and feel perfectly justified in their actions.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Wisdom!!!

    • M&M

      Wow! I didn’t know he could get into an account with only your name on it 😦 😦 😦 I’m guessing that ability may vary by state. For example, Michigan forbids collection agencys from punishing or even calling the spouse of the debt holder, but Illinois doesn’t so the sharing or separating of debts and property and money varies by location.

      It’s good that you warned people about what some banks do!!

    • Well said, Jessica!

      Let me urge readers to look at the posts on this blog which are tagged Financial Abuse. There are posts there which have more guidance and tips for survivors who are facing, or who may in future be facing financial abuse.

  10. Joy

    Thank you for addressing this. This kind of thinking is prevalent in the church. It profoundly traumatizes the partner of an abuser while we are still fragile. It is another layer of the “you have no value” message that the abuser has already heaped on us for years. It isolates us further from the organized church because we are trying to keep ourselves safe, and these prevalent messages do not promote safety for the abused. But the charismatic abuser continues to deceive church leaders with their charming antisocial personality disorders.

    I hear my Father’s voice, and it is in complete contrast to the counsel most churches give on this matter as they “counsel” victims to stay with or reconcile with fake repentant abusers as if the situation was equivocal to a marital problem. I continue to pray for revelation in the church so eyes and hearts will discern truth.

  11. kim

    I think it is sad that so many professing Christians are of the opinion that marriage is an endurance contest. Just because someone can “endure” a situation, does not mean that they should. Nor does it mean that God hates divorce more than he hates the abuser’s sin, or that the wife just needs to “suck it up buttercup”/”try harder”/”pray more” as exemplified by the abuse enabler’s mindset.

    • LauraGrace

      …. marriage as an endurance contest…. yes, or as I used to put it, an exercise in survival. That’s what my marriage was…. a full out torturous exercise in survival. And it wasn’t the church who helped me survive. The church actually added to my torment. I survived by sheer will and the hope that God is good despite the lies my church was telling me about divorce. Eventually God gave me the courage to escape.

      Now it is my children who are living in the emotional wasteland of having a sociopath for a father. Now they deal with the endurance contest and try to navigate shark infested waters in their own exercise in survival. The courts won’t help them because he doesn’t beat them and he knows how to spin things to his advantage so that we all look like the guilty party. The church has very little sympathy for my children either… suck it up buttercups…. at least he hasn’t abandoned you and he doesn’t beat you. The church and the courts….. modern day torturers of the innocent.

      • Moving Forward

        LauraGrace – Your comments have stood out to me as they echo my experiences and put into words what is on my heart. I, too, know the loneliness in church, at home, etc. It is sad when I hear more from my ex (usually short rants on what I am doing wrong or demands for more visitation time or information) than from anyone at church. But then, though he doesn’t attend, it is full of his allies, so I probably don’t want to hear from them. I am thankful to have a mother who got it (before I did) and is there for me however I need her. I have a couple of friends who listen, too, but no one lives in the same town as myself.

        I understand the heart-twisting struggle of enduring a subtly abusive marriage yet having wonderful children in spite of him. My heart aches with yours as they have to learn how to cope with visitation, and the lies and ability he has to charm and manipulate, drawing them in while he beats me up by email and in court. How is it that courts and the church are so willing to listen to him but turn a deaf ear so me? And as is typical, he got their ears first, so they think they know all they need to know.

        I am so thankful for God’s Word – it is my sanity in an insane world. And Lundy Bancoft keeps me from making more mistakes than I already do dealing with him and trying to help the children. Abusers have existed throughout history; I have no idea how women and children of the past managed. We all look forward to the day when our abuser and his equally abusive new woman and all his allies stand before the judgment throne, where justice will finally be done.

  12. OneM

    Great post. All true. And, just for the record, many Christians say all of these things about sexual abusers of children as well.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: