A Cry For Justice

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

Thursday Thought — How Abusers Deceive Us: A True Story

The following is taken from the third chapter (pp63-4) of our book, A Cry for Justice (2012)*. We are posting this account here as a blog post at the request of some of our readers. This event happened to me, Jeff Crippen, way back in 1982 when I was a police officer in the Portland, Oregon area. Myself and a second officer responded to a domestic disturbance call, and this is what happened –

The church has been failing victims.  Pastors and church members, so susceptible to deception because of their ignorance of the abuser’s motives, tactics and mentality, become the evil man’s ally.  Christ’s church becomes a place of suffering for the victim.  Those who are commissioned by Christ to seek justice end up on the villain’s side. 

Jared married Judy twelve years ago.  They are both members of Christ Evangelical Church and are well thought of.  Jared is particularly active, serving on two committees, one of which he chairs. But today, Jared is in jail.

Last night, Judy called the police after Jared twisted her arm.  He has done this before, but this time he went too far and broke it.  When the police arrived, Jared was standing in the yard to greet them, cool and calm.  One officer stayed with him while the other went inside.  Judy was sitting on the couch dressed only in her underwear, holding her arm.  The officer gave her a blanket to cover up and asked her what had happened.  Jared, she said, often gets violent and this time had actually broken her arm.  She felt it break and heard it snap.  Judy was sobbing.

While waiting for the ambulance, the officer with her looked out the front window.  Jared was still speaking calmly with his partner, even laughing about some joke.  The officer turned back to Judy and asked her again what had happened.  “I told you.  He broke my arm.”

Still battling with feelings of disbelief – “this guy is so calm and even jovial” – the officer went back outside and confronted Jared.  “She’s crazy!  I have no idea how her arm was injured.  I came home from work, ate dinner, and later she came running out of the hallway yelling that her arm was broken.”  But the fresh scratch marks on Jared’s forearms told a different story.  The officers arrested Jared and transported him to jail.  If it hadn’t been for those scratches….?

Jared was trying, almost successfully, to win the police as his allies.  He was telling jokes about the fickleness of women, plying on men’s common struggles with the female sex, and so on.  Before this all sorts itself out, Jared will win numbers of his fellow church members over to his side.  Judy will be chastised for causing him so much trouble.  Why couldn’t she just let bygones be bygones.  What of the children?  Now their daddy is in jail!  And if Judy leaves Jared (which she should!), Jared will become a victim to be pitied by the rest of the church as Christians quote “God hates divorce,” – a phrase, incidentally, that is not really in the Bible.  Check Malachi 2:16 in the ESV for confirmation.

*Amazon affiliate link — ACFJ gets a small percentage if you purchase via this link.

Feeling Conviction for Not Helping Victims More

Recently MarkQ, one of our commenters, expressed his difficulty and his feeling of conviction for not reaching out to those who have been abused.  Barbara responded to his comment with some very good insights.  We want to highlight MarkQ’s comment and Barbara’s response for those who may not have seen them in the original post.

MarkQ said:

… I’ve been struggling with the guilt/conviction of not reaching out to those who have been abused. I have connections to a few people who have been spiritually abused, but I’m aware of two problems.  One is that I don’t know how best to approach those people, some of whom have joined new churches that aren’t as abusive, but still have authoritarian views of leadership. The other problem is that, being a victim of spiritual abuse, I don’t necessarily have the energy to stand up against it in any material way.

My last church was not as abusive as the church before. I was on somewhat of a path to healing. About a year after we joined, I learned about a horribly abusive situation at the previous church. I spent a lot of time and energy encouraging my friend and giving him the tools to confront the abuse, but ultimately he lost his appeals. So, I tried to get my church involved, and they refused. I realized, at that point, that I was nowhere near healed, and that I really didn’t have the energy to deal with it. I also lost my respect for my church leaders, who trumpeted the Presbyterian church’s ability to correct these very kinds of abusive situations, and yet, when one came up, they washed their hands of it.

My new church seems to have the same problem, but for opposite reasons, more like mine. I think members recognize that there are a lot of hurting people coming through the doors, and while they are not trying to get those people to put on a holy facade, they aren’t taking the time/energy to reach out, or even put themselves out there (e.g. joining/creating small groups) to encourage each other. I’m still trying to get the feel for how I can encourage change in a way that is gracious and not legalistic.

Barbara replied

MarkQ, I hope I can offer you something in response to your comment.

You are not alone in feeling conviction for not doing enough to help abuse victims. I have a similar sense of conviction. I know that I do reach out to abuse victims via this blog, but I feel I often am falling short of what I could do. So I relate to your prickings of conscience.

You said:

“I have connections to a few people who have been spiritually abused, but partly, I don’t know how best to approach those people, some of whom have joined new churches that aren’t AS abusive, but still have authoritarian views of leadership. The other problem is that being a victim of spiritual abuse, I don’t necessarily have the energy to stand up against it in any material way.”

I believe that having awareness of one’s own limits — one’s energy, time, triggers, etc. — is a really important capacity for all supporters of abuse victims to have. We are better helpers when we know our limits: when we can recognize our own early warning signs of too much stress, triggering, etc.

Those whom we may be attempting to help will respect us more if we can speak up when we are finding stuff too hard, too personally triggering, etc. By speaking up about our felt limitations, we are in fact modelling things that most survivors can benefit from: self-awareness, self-care, humility, the capacity to live with uncertainty, respect for the individuality and uniqueness of every other person.

I believe that words spoken from this place of experiential humility, this place where we are acutely aware of our own limitations, are indeed often the best balm we can offer to victims of abuse. Victim of abuse are so accustomed to hearing the patronizing know-it-all advice from people who haven’t been there, that the fragrance of truth comes through to them in our offered words —— even if they may not be able to process it for some time.

So I encourage you to let yourself off the hook of having to meet the need of each spiritually-abused believer that you personally know. I encourage you to just let God lead and point you to what you can (and what you can’t) do at this point in time.

If you want help in thinking through how best to open up a potentially helpful conversation with someone who has been abused, these posts may give you some ideas:

Converting statements into questions – a skill for bystanders who want to help victims of abuse

Respecting & Listening to Victims of Violence — a handbook from Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter

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Further Reading

Temptations and pitfalls of helping victims (victim-advocacy)

Thursday Thought — How to Support an Abuse Victim

“Love and Respect” by Emerson Eggerichs is a dangerous book. One-star review by Avid Reader.

Here is Avid Reader’s one-star review of Emerson Eggerichs’ book “Love and Respect.”  You can click here to vote it as ‘helpful’ on Amazon.

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On page 282, Dr. Eggerichs admits that his advice isn’t working for many people; that he receives tons of letters from frustrated people who have tried his advice in their marriage only to watch it backfire on them. Then he quotes from a letter where a wife actually “regrets” telling her husband “what I learned from you because he uses it against me each time. I can take the criticism. I feel I deserve it — but his rage . . . makes me want to get away and hide.

That says it all right there. So what exactly is backfiring on these people?

The Main Focus

First let’s look at the main focus of this book. Dr. Eggerichs writes,

My theory says that the wife has a tendency to react in ways that feel disrespectful to the husband — thus the command to respect — and the husband has a tendency to react in ways that feel unloving to the wife — thus the command to love. (p.319)

A man needs to feel honored for who he is — the image and glory of God — because God made him that way. (p.322)

Of course, husbands need respect, but aren’t wives also made in God’s image and thus deserving of respect, too?

[Dr. Eggerichs insists], I still believe that women want love far more than respect and men want respect far more than love. I’ll illustrate that from the greeting card industry” which is one of the best “examples of women’s deepest values. (p.48)

When women buy greeting cards for their husbands, they want to express love for them; they don’t even think about respect. Sadly, the deepest yearning of husbands goes unmet because wives — and the card publishers — are locked into relaying sentiments of love.

Later Dr. Eggerichs adds,

Women are the ones who have babies and that’s one reason that birthdays are a big deal to them. (p.177)

Wives don’t need a lot of coaching on being loving. It’s something God built into them and they do it naturally. However they do need help with respect” because “this a foreign term to many women. (p.183)

This is not about the husband deserving respect; it’s about the wife being willing to treat her husband respectfully without conditions. (p.18)

A simple application is that a wife is to display a respectful facial expression and tone when he fails to be the man she wants. (p.43)

As I encourage some wives to use unconditional respect, I can tell they suspect that I am a chauvinist in sheep’s clothing trying to set them up for a life of subservience. I remind such a wife to be patient. (p.75)

Joe’s wife was so focused on the needs of others that she took over the family and in the process her husband was once again put down, belittled, overlooked. She is an example of how a woman can be so loving toward her family she doesn’t see her disrespect for her husband. This is why I keep calling on wives to awaken to God’s revelation. (p.213)

Dr. Eggerichs continues,

What I’m about to say may sound hard and judgmental but I’m trying to help you.  (p.284)

In recent decades, women have discovered they are quite capable of going out into the workaday world and holding significant positions and making tremendous achievements. (p.198)

Generally speaking our sons will feel they have to work in some field, but our daughters will want the freedom to choose between pregnancies and promotions. (p.199)

Adam doesn’t expect Eve to have a baby and hand the baby back to him so she can go back to work. Those who advocate domestic equality promote this idea. (p.200)

Women don’t see themselves as sinning even though they readily admit bad habits and wrong attitudes. (p.233)

Ask yourself if you may possibly have an attitude of self-righteousness. You love your husband but you see his faults and mistakes. You believe — as many women do — that you are a better person than he is and he needs to change.  (p.233)

Next Dr. Eggerichs describes a husband trying to ask his wife to lose weight. He writes,

If the husband is on the trim side — as many men with overweight wives often are — she will bring up some other log that he needs to get out of his own eye — that time she caught him viewing internet porn or overindulging in alcohol.  (p.233)

Yes, your spouse may be harsh, unloving or disrespectful a lot of the time but just remembering that your spouse is really a person of goodwill can put you on the road to the reward cycle. (p.290)

How should a wife act if she strongly disagrees with her husband about some issue? 1Timothy 2:12 has some advice. Paul writes, “I do not allow a woman to exercise authority over a man but to remain quiet.” (p.220)

If your quietness is the right kind of quietness — respectful and dignified, not pouty and sour — he will move toward you.

On page 278, he shares a letter he received from a “wife who had suffered physical and verbal abuse from her husband — which I absolutely condemn as wicked and urge a wife to seek protection and help for — she had gone back to him after he repented, realized she hadn’t completely forgiven him and certainly wasn’t showing him respect. After coming across our materials, she began showing him respect — mostly by remaining quiet and dignified instead of arguing. Their relationship improved considerably.”

She writes to Dr. Eggerichs, “I have to mull over some of your teaching but…..the Holy Spirit keeps revealing my rebellion, contempt, disobedience, etc. I keep asking the Lord for strength to implement your suggestions.”

Reading between the lines, you can hear the exhaustion as that lady tries to carry this heavy burden. The heavy burden that Jesus came to deliver her from.

Hard on Women

Why is this book so hard on women, when Jesus is the perfect example of how to preach against sin without blaming women? In fact, Jesus Himself refused to accuse women even when everyone was pressuring Him to. (Luke 7:39-50, John 8:11)

This is the kind of teaching that turns people away from the Lord. Why would anyone want to become a Christian if it requires this kind of craziness?

My heart bleeds for all of the people out there that have given up on Christianity because they couldn’t carry that heavy of a load. This is not the Gospel of Christ that comes to set the captives free (Luke 4:18). This is “teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.” (Matthew 15:9).

Misogyny will never draw women to Christ. How many more souls will be lost for eternity before the church finally wakes to how far this teaching is from the heart of God?

Why doesn’t Dr. Eggerichs understand how much God cares for women? For example, the chapter on sexual intimacy has absolutely nothing about satisfying the wife’s physical needs. The entire emphasis is on how “he needs sexual release as you need emotional release.” (p.253)

Even the Apostle Paul was nice enough to mention that both husbands and wives have physical needs (1Cor 7:2-5). But Dr. Eggerichs doesn’t mention that while emphasizing that “a man who strays is usually given total blame for his affair but in many cases he is the victim of temptation that his wife helped bring upon him.” (p.253)

That’s just one of the many excuses this book makes for men. There are so many other excuses that I just started writing a list of them. Listen to this list of excuses:

  1. “I am still only a man and the flesh can be weak.” (p.107)
  2. “Through the years I have had more pressure than some men.”
  3.  “Stuff from the past.” (p.108)
  4. “Sins of the fathers.”
  5. “Men are very sensitive.” (p.209)
  6. “Men are more vulnerable to criticism.” (p.211)
  7. “Husbands particularly can come under satanic attack when deprived of sexual release.” (p.252)
  8. “Being trapped by an adulteress.” (p.254)
  9. “His need for this was so strong.”
  10. “He had an extremely intense spiritual battle.”
  11. “He has a need you don’t have.” (p.257-258)

How Dr. Eggerichs treats his own wife

But none of those excuses are allowed for his own wife. The way that Dr. Eggerichs treats his own wife is difficult to watch. His wife, Sarah, is trying to raise their two sons to be responsible adults by teaching them to clean up after themselves. Pretty basic stuff that roommates will expect of them when they enter the real world. But he describes her attempt to set boundaries as “badgering and criticizing.” Not only does he run roughshod over her boundaries, he teaches his sons to feel entitled to not having to pick up after themselves.

Listen closely to his words,

My wife Sarah has accepted that her disrespect is equal to my lack of love. (p.103)

She had grown very negative trying to change everyone to her standards of neatness. She complained about every crumb on the counter, every shoe on the floor, every wet towel left on a bed, every candy wrapper that missed the wastebasket.” But eventually she gave up and accepted their “sloppiness. (p.242-243)

Maybe that’s why he literally describes seeing “defeat” in Sarah’s eyes as “countless times” she reaches the point of exhaustion and screams at him, “I’m always to blame. You’re always right. You never do wrong.” (p.93)

Then he describes how happy he is that “she says she’s sorry for her disrespect. Best of all she no longer follows me around the house wanting to know how I would advise a husband who was acting like an unloving schmuck!” (p.109)

My heart goes out to Sarah. Would Jesus have ever treated her like that? There’s something to the fact that even while Jesus was in the middle of the most important event of His life (rising from the dead) He still took the time to neatly fold His grave clothes.

Boundaries are Not Allowed

By now you’ve probably figured out that the main problem with this book is not understanding God’s law of sowing and reaping.

Be not deceived. God is not mocked. Whatever a man sows that shall he also reap. (Galatians 6:8)

That’s where we get the concept of boundaries. Because people have the ability to make good or bad choices, when an enabler keeps rescuing someone from the consequences of their bad choices, they have no motivation to change because they’re not reaping what they’ve sown. Thus, tough love sets boundaries to help people reap the consequences of their decisions to motivate them to change.

But Dr. Eggerichs insists that unconditional respect is required by God. Nope, even God Himself sets boundaries with us. We are following that example when we love others enough to set boundaries with them.

Keep that in mind while you listen to what Eggerichs’ book teaches,

Will a man take advantage of being the head of the family by putting down and even abusing his wife and children? Yes this is possible but because it is possible doesn’t mean a woman should refuse to allow her husband to be the head. If a husband is evil-willed, the abuse will happen anyway no matter what the family structure is. Any hierarchical role given to him has nothing to do with the abuse. (p.207-208)

Does this mean that a wife must submit to something illegal, wrong or evil? Should she go along with being beaten by her husband or watching him beat the children? The clear Scriptural answer is of course not. When a man acts this way he is not a good willed husband and forfeits his right to be head and to be followed. (p.219)

While he makes mention on page 99 that “love must be tough” he spends the rest of the book pressuring wives to show “unconditional respect.”

Even worse, he discourages women from listening to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. While the Bible commands women to be lead by that still small voice inside of them, Dr. Eggerichs writes on page 231 that women’s intuition can interfere with their “unconditional respect for their husbands.”

Could you be thinking too highly of your natural discernment and intuition? (p.231)

The Bible says in Hebrews 5:14 (ERV) that part of our maturity in the Lord involves having our “powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.”

Discernment is a gift from God!!! Plus, the Bible makes it clear that “the true children of God are those who let God’s Spirit lead them.” (Romans 8:14) Listening to that still, small voice inside of you is part of our walk with God. Even Jesus Himself was led by the Holy Spirit — our goal as believers is to follow His example.

The bottom line is that unconditional respect doesn’t understand that Jesus gave women the power of “yes” and “no.” (Matthew 5:37) Saying yes and no is how we set boundaries to protect ourselves by developing the fruit of the Spirit which includes self-control.

Against such there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-24)

Because there is no law of God against self-control, how could any genuine Scriptural teaching interfere with self-control — your ability to say yes and no? What Jesus described as “No man takes My life from Me. I have the power to lay it down and I have the power to take it again. This command have I received of My Father.” (John 10:18)

God is glorified when we “bear much fruit” meaning the more self-control we develop the more we glorify God. (John 15:8) Abuse is a sin, we cannot submit to sin when the Bible tells us, “Stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ has made you free and do not be entangled again in the yoke of bondage.” (Galatians 5:1)

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We also highly recommend Nate Sparks’ four-part review of “Love and Respect”  

Part 1   Love, Respect, and Proof Texts

Part 2   Love, Respect, and Consent

Part 3   Love, Respect, and Science

Part 4  Love, Respect and Abuse  — Part 4 deserves a standing ovation! It exposes Emmerson Eggerich as a die-hard spiritual abuser.

And Mark Baker’s review “A Thorough Review & Examination of the Book Love & Respect: The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs.”

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We DO NOT recommend this post of Emmerson Eggerichs at Love and Respect Inc:

Respectful Confrontation for the “Three A’s”…

Christ is for the Righteous and Against the Wicked — Ps Jeff Crippen’s message at York, PA 2016

The following message was given by Jeff Crippen at the Overcoming Powerlessness luncheon in York, Pennsylvania, on Saturday, May 14, 2016.  We are able to provide both a live recording of Pastor Crippen’s message and a written version.  Many thanks to Fred and Bonnie Wilt and all of the OCP volunteers and board members who made it possible.

[Note: we know that sometimes men are victims of domestic abuse. If you are a male victim of abuse we encourage you to reverse the gendered pronouns in this message.] 

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.

The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; for the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish. (Psalms 1:1-6)

The Lord pronounces His blessing and favor upon His people, and announces His curse upon His enemies, especially those who persecute His sheep. He promised the Thessalonian church that He is coming to set it all right –

…since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. (2 Thessalonians 1:6-8)

Christ is for the victim of evil, and He is against the wicked. Christ’s wrath rests upon the domestic abuser and in particular the abuser who wears a “Christian” façade.

We define an abuser as –

A person who has a profound sense of entitlement to power and control over another person which he is not authorized to possess, and who feels entirely justified in using a whole arsenal of evil tactics to obtain and maintain that power and control.

This is not some merely “difficult” person who can tend to be, for example, abrasive or who can slide into selfishness fueled by their pride getting out of hand. No. The abuser is by his/her very nature the center of their own world, the owner of their spouse who is their property and whose sole purpose in life is to serve and exalt them, and the victim’s judge, jury and executioner when necessary.

And in our ministry and in yours if you are a Christian, these abusers are very often hypocrites who hide behind a façade of religion, duping many gullible church members around them, and convincing most people that they are the pillar of the church, the holiest of the holy. They select this façade because in the church they find some of the most naïve people in regard to evil and a platform to obtain worship for themselves.

As a result, the church, those people who claim to belong to Christ, who are pastors and ministry leaders and missionaries…the church quite often if not typically becomes the ally of this evil. Christians are to be wise as serpents about evil and yet remain innocent in regard to actually doing evil. But this command of our Lord is largely and regularly being ignored and even denied:

Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of men….  (Matthew 10:16-17)

What is the dilemma of the abuse victim, particularly the victim who is a Christian? She is in bondage to evil that has crept into her life in disguise, appearing as an angel of light while in reality being a liar and a murderer.

Listen carefully now to this very important characteristic of evil –

Evil always desires to obtain worship for itself, to be God, to be like the Most High. To accomplish this, evil ones utilize the favorite tactics of their father the devil – lying and murdering/destroying anything or anyone who would interfere with this self-idolatry. Fundamentally, the abuse victim is the target of servants of the devil who desire to be God. Like Pharaoh, abusers enslave, use, and kill. And two of their favorite arenas for accomplishing this are the church and marriage.

What is the dilemma of the abuse victim? Answer: She is oppressed by her abuser AND by her church.

If you scan both the Old and New Testaments, you will find that evil always creeps in among God’s people with the goal of drawing them away from the living and true God, enslaving them, and demanding their worship. You see it right off in the Garden of Eden. Jeremiah had to fight against the false prophets and elders of his day. The Lord Jesus did battle with the “eminent and pious saints” who had set themselves up in His Father’s house and were oppressing and using the Lord’s people. Paul and the Apostles warn us repeatedly to watch out for these wolves.

And so it is today. If you have been or are the victim of an abuser, then you have been targeted by that evil one to be enslaved by him, oppressed by him, assaulted by him psychologically, spiritually and/or physically. AND if you are a Christian and you have been in a local church, you have very, very likely had that bondage and enslavement made even stronger and more bitter by the very people who claim to be Christ’s shepherds.

Abuse is enslavement. Abuse is like a psychological prison camp. Abuse victims suffer from the typical traumatic ailments that are caused by trauma. There are typically no cell bars or barbed wire fences, but there are all kinds of walls that imprison the victim in the abuse. Fear. Lies. The twisting of Scripture, and other bonds that are stronger than literal concertina wire. Abuse is a prison. Abusers are prison-keepers who have no right to enslave people, yet they do.

Now, what is the one thing that a prisoner or slave needs more than anything else? FREEDOM! And if the prison walls that hold the victim are typically constructed by lies, then what is the one thing that will bring down those walls and set the captives free? TRUTH! Christ’s truth!

and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. (John 8:32)

I want to share some truth with you today that is powerful to lead you to freedom.

The Lord is for the oppressed! 

You have been told it is your fault. Always your fault. You have been told that you are worthless, ugly, that you are a pathetic Christian and mother. You have been pounded with the insistence that what you saw or heard never happened. And you have so often thought to yourself, “the Lord must be punishing me.”

Listen — anyone and everyone who turns to the Lord Jesus Christ in faith and repentance and who is thereby made a new creation in Him, is the object of His love and mercy and kindness. Furthermore, though the world and even many who claim to be Christians, like Job’ s so-called ‘friends,’ would tell you otherwise, the Lord has made it abundantly clear in His Word that you are the apple of His eye. I will prove it to you. You are included in the company of the widows and orphans Scripture speaks of so many times –

You shall not mistreat any widow or fatherless child. If you do mistreat them, and they cry out to me, I will surely hear their cry, and my wrath will burn, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives shall become widows and your children fatherless. (Exodus 22:22-24)

He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. (Deut 10:18)

You shall not pervert the justice due to the sojourner or to the fatherless, or take a widow’s garment in pledge, (Deut 24:17)

Cursed be anyone who perverts the justice due to the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’ (Deut 27:19)

They crush your people, O LORD, and afflict your heritage. They kill the widow and the sojourner, and murder the fatherless; and they say, ‘The LORD does not see; the God of Jacob does not perceive.’ (Psalm 94:5-7)

Thus says the LORD: Do justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed. And do no wrong or violence to the resident alien, the fatherless, and the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place. (Jer 22:3)

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. (James 1:27)

Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation. (Psalm 68:5)

And finally, listen to this:

Then the King will say to those on his right, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.” Then the righteous will answer him, saying, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?” And the King will answer them, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”

Then he will say to those on his left, “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.” Then they also will answer, saying, “Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?'”Then he will answer them, saying, “Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.” And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life. (Matthew 25:34-46)

Do you grasp that? If you are one of Christ’s flock, and if you are the target of an abuser or if you have been, then YOU are so important to the Lord of the universe that He announces here that how people helped you or oppressed YOU reveals whether they really belong to Christ or not.

And I want to tell you today that many, many, many people who claim to be Christians, many pastors, many church leaders, many celebrity “Christian” figures are going to be sent off into eternal punishment. How do I know? Because they did not come to the aid of these little ones who are His and are oppressed by evil. Am I exaggerating? Hardly. The majority of professing Christian churches not only fail to aid an abuse victim in their midst, they add to her oppression and they enable her abuser. They cast her out and they embrace the demon. They are the priest and Levite who passed the beaten man by, unlike the Good Samaritan who stopped and rescued him.

But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.” (Luke 10:29-37)

Christ sees it. Christ knows it.

The Lord wants you to be set free!

Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? (Isaiah 58:6-7)

Christ’s truth, God’s Word, is about freedom. Right from the beginning on through to Revelation, the Bible announces freedom, redemption, and exodus. Jesus came to set captives free. Every use of God’s Word that ends up keeping the abuse victim in bondage is necessarily a perversion of God’ s truth and is to be rejected.

Listen to this wonderful lady’s experience and how she has finally come to see that she was held captive by cruel and evil twisting of Scripture:

Ahh… Ephesians Chapter 5 – the chapter of the Bible I tried to live by since my conversion at age 10, and the chapter that has made life SO hard to understand.

It was what I heard as a child – between the beatings and horrible names our parents called my sister and me. It was what I heard as a teenager when I saved my money and sought Bible teaching and ended up at Bill Gothard’s Basic Youth. I didn’t have an opinion at all – wasn’t even allowed to choose my hairstyle as a high school student, but I thought that I needed to live that way because my parents wanted 100 percent allegiance. In youth group I learned that we needed to give thanks for our parents no matter what type of parents they were. So although they wouldn’t give me appropriate medical care and I had been a slave from about age 6 (and suffered horrible fevers that could only be traced to stress), I tried…and tried. In keeping with the Gothard information, my parents decided that I would marry a man I had known for three months. From the first night, it has been terrible.

Ephesians 5 was what I heard from the time I married my self-centered husband. He has been unwilling to form a relationship with me and treats me more like a favorite appliance. I could cite so many instances of abuse and total neglect toward me and our two daughters (grown now because we are in our 30th year of marriage), but it all comes down to what [he] says. I have a job and I have been taught that I will be the one at fault if I leave.

And then the church…I try to forget that the picture of body life isn’t there and ignore the wrong teaching (love– respect conferences, etc.), but I struggle. I struggle to love those who judged me for keeping the family going when my husband considers his only job “ministry.” I struggle to love those who indoctrinated my daughter with the same information. I struggle to love like I want to.

Ephesians 5. If we pair it with the verses in Peter that credit Sarah for calling her husband Master and the one in Corinthians that says our body is not our own we can have a life that is seriously hell on earth.

I really believe that instead we should pair it with the verses that teach how Jesus handled leadership — he got out the towel to wash the feet — and the verses in John 17 where he prayed that we would be one. If we treated each other that way, we wouldn’t dream of asking who was the most important. And if we did, we would get Jesus’ answer — the one who is the least of these!

Ephesians 5, like all of Scripture, is truth. But we have been immersed for decades now in the Christian church to rank distortions of it that turn marriage and family into cruel oppressive bondage for decades — for a lifetime.

And then there are the myriads of other lies that evil uses to enslave.

  • Lie: God hates divorce
  • TRUTH: This phrase is not even in the Bible, as most modern translations recognize. God hates the violent covenant-breaker who abuses his wife. God blesses filing the necessary civil paperwork to get free of the wicked.
  • Lie: We are all sinners.

Here is a real example: Everyone sins against other people, and sinful behavior towards others is always abusive. The remedy provided by the Scriptures for abusive behavior is the cross of Christ, and forgiveness and repentance. Abusers are not in some different category than the rest of us.” [Matt Powell, a pastor in Colorado who hates our ministry at ACFJ]

  • TRUTH: A Christian is a redeemed, new-creation child of God. The abuser is a particularly evil person often with no conscience at all. Even among the unregenerate there are people who are far more wicked than others.
  • Lie: You can and must win your abuser to Christ by loving to him and submitting to him no matter what.
  • TRUTH: Salvation is the Lord’s work. In fact, the long-time, Christian- pretending abuser may very well be an Esau for whom repentance is no longer possible (Hebrews 12. Also see Hebrews 6:4-6)
  • Lie: Divorce is always the worst thing for the children. Christians must stay married no matter what.
  • TRUTH: Most often young children begin to heal when they are finally free of the abuser.
  • Lie: It takes two to tango. You are both at fault in your marriage troubles.
  • TRUTH: It takes two to make a marriage. The abuser is single-handedly destroying the marriage and no matter how hard the victim might try, the abuser will see to it that nothing is going to change for the better.

My husband did the same thing with the kids. Got them all riled up then sat back to watch the show–seemingly innocent of any wrongdoing and acting like HE was the peacekeeper. It took me decades to see the truth of this because I’d been so trained to fix everything and to never think bad about others. Wow! What a load of LIES I’d been forced to live with! Anyway, I now know that this is a favorite tactic of MANY abusers because they are so bored that they like to have strife and controversy to fill in for the emptiness inside of themselves. They care nothing about the damage it does to others and in fact to them that is just an added bonus!

Putting all these tactics of the evil one out there for others to read helps us to gain strength and trust in the Lord (knowing that He already knows about it and that He hates it) and helps us chip away at the lies the evil one has built up against us. [Commenter at the ACFJ blog site]

  • Lie: You are sinning by being angry at your husband. You need to stop this and be content and quiet.
  • TRUTH: The Christian hungers and thirsts for righteousness and the Spirit of God in us leads us to hate the wicked just as the Lord Himself does and to hunger for justice to be done.

I need comfort and help. I need love and help. I have no money. I need God’s justice and help! I hate the injustice. I hate the PAIN. I hate the lies that the abuser pushed. The lies that I couldn’t see clearly and believed and the lies that I could see and did fight. I hate the deception.

I want God to rescue me and I want NEVER to forget Him, His law and His justice. I want to fight for other survivors! I want to comfort them and pay for their things the way I need that help now! I want to never let a comment or action go by that degrades and abuses women (or men) without standing up for the truth and doing what is right. I want to live with integrity and fight for the oppressed! I want to live and to tell the truth! [ACFJ commenter]

Many pastors and churches and professing Christians would tell her she is sinning, is showing a lack of faith, and should never be speaking so disrespectfully of her husband. Those are lies. All completely and totally, lies. THIS is what the Spirit of God in an oppressed Christian looks like!

For he did not remember to show kindness, but pursued the poor and needy and the brokenhearted, to put them to death. He loved to curse; let curses come upon him! He did not delight in blessing; may it be far from God’s justice and help! I hate the as his coat; may it soak into his body like water, like oil into his bones! May it be like a garment that he wraps around him, like a belt that he puts on every day! May this be the reward of my accusers from the LORD, of those who speak evil against my life! 

But you, O GOD my Lord, deal on my behalf for your name’s sake; because your steadfast love is good, deliver me! For I am poor and needy, and my heart is stricken within me. I am gone like a shadow at evening; I am shaken off like a locust. My knees are weak through fasting; my body has become gaunt, with no fat. I am an object of  scorn to my accusers; when they see me, they wag their heads. Help me, O LORD my God! Save me according to your steadfast love! Let them know that this is your hand; you, O LORD, have done it! (Psalm 109:16-27)

THAT is the Lord! THAT is Jesus Christ. THAT is the Spirit of God!

At sites dealing with abuse, I hear survivors speak with a clearer understanding of what Biblical truths such as good and evil, repentance, forgiveness, love, reconciliation really mean than the church does. The Bible is filled with descriptions of evil people, their behaviors, and how to deal with it (which many times includes, “avoid, don’t walk with, stay away from…”). Yet, the church is so unwilling to see or offend or judge evil that it has become blind, gullible, and naive. It makes me angry because the church ought to have the deeper understanding.

Sometimes it seems to me that the church has blinders on, seeing only what they want to see. A little wisdom and common sense would go a long way. Their teaching is so contrary to what the Bible actually says, that I wonder if they actually read it. It’s like they put the Bible’s book cover on their own opinions. No, it’s like they are grooming victims to accept abuse. Abusers groom their victims to accept abuse.

The Bible warns about false teachers who pretend to be righteous infiltrating the church. I believe that many wicked people have gained leadership in the church where they teach a message to teach the congregation to accept their abuse. If we can’t ever call evil by its name, if we can’t ever judge between the righteous and the wicked–or the abusers and his victim–if we must always unconditionally forgive and unreservedly accept, if no true repentance is necessary, if we must submit no matter what the other person does, then we have been groomed to accept abuse. [ACFJ Commenter]

Anyone who remains ignorant of abuse remains ignorant of evil itself. The person who is ignorant about evil cannot properly understand God’s Word. Such a person’s theology is skewed, deficient, and dangerous.

Handling the Wicked – How do I Deal With an Abuser?

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. (John 10:10)

You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. (John 8:44)

The first most vital and freeing thing to get hold of when it comes to dealing with and relating to an abuser is this:

Realize what the abuser is in the very essence of his being. He is a person whose very defining mentality is one of profound entitlement to power and control and who feels fully justified in using an entire arsenal of wicked and deceitful tactics in order to obtain and maintain that power and control. These tactics are all designed to render victims powerless, increasing the level of bondage to the abuser.

The abuser is not:

  1. A poor adult child who can’t help himself because he was abused when he was little.
  2. Just a “difficult” person.
  3. A Christian who is still spiritually immature

No. The abuser is what he is, as we have defined him here. This quest for the power and control that he sees himself entitled to is what drives everything he does and says. Everything –

  • The car he chooses to drive
  • The job he pursues (or doesn’t pursue)
  • The things he reads and the TV and movies he watches
  • The sermons he listens to
  • The clothes he wears
  • Every word he speaks or doesn’t speak, every glance, everynuance of body language
  • And therefore every thought he thinks

This is why I teach that an abuser, as we define an abuser, cannot be a Christian. The thing is impossible. The very nature of the new birth in Christ and the radical transformation it effects in the very essence of who a person is, transforming them from a child of the devil into a child of God, precludes any possibility that a person whose very god is himself could be in Christ.

This realization of what and who the abuser is will serve you well in making decisions and responding to such a person. It will lead us into these wise courses:

  1. Deal with him as an unbeliever. Do not consider him to be a Christian. Churches very often go wrong here and in doing so enable the wicked and add to the oppression of the victims.
    When I first came out of my abusive marriage and began reading here, I found some of the articles harsh and discouraging about the fate of the abuser, my husband whom I was still extremely confused about and still love. At that time it was not comforting at all to think that he was not a Christian and probably will not become one. I’m not sure why exactly, but it was very distressing to me. But over time, it has become… Not comforting at all, but it just sounds right. I am hearing the truth in these statements. I read them in my Bible and the truth is plain as day. And the truth may not be all happy sunshine and flowers, but it’s a lot better than delusions and lies. [ACFJ Commenter]
  2. Do not pity him. Abusers LOVE to play the victim and lay down the pity card in front of you. Don’t be duped by this. Abusers are not victims. They are evil doers who oppress victims.
  3. Do not believe an abuser. As a child of the devil who is a liar from the beginning, abusers do the works of their father – they lie. Do not be duped by their claims of repentance. Don’t be sucked in by the apologies and flowers and “fun” things. There are no good times in life with an abuser. EVERYTHING they do is abuse, including the flowers and gifts they give during the “setup period” of the abuse cycle.
  4. Do not keep basing decisions for yourself and children on the “hope” that your abuser is going to change. That somehow the therapy program he is in will fix him. Or that God is somehow going to work that miracle you have been waiting for these 20 or 30 or 40 years. Base your decisions on the assumption that he is not going to change. [See Note at End]
  5. Do not hold on to the false hope that your marriage can be “fixed.” I tell people, “A marriage to an abuser does not need to be fixed, it needs to be ended.” I realize that is not just some simple, “I am going to leave the jerk tomorrow.” No. Leaving can be very difficult and take some time especially when there are children. And leaving can be a dangerous time. Develop an escape plan with the help of friends or family or your local women’s shelter.
  6. Do not expect to counsel about your abuser from your pastor or church or some “Christian” counselor. Don’t count on it. There are exceptions. But most of these are simply in the dark about abuse and worse yet, there are more abusers out there who have crept in as pastors and church leaders themselves.
  7. CHURCHES need to get educated right now about the abuser and repent of not obeying God’ s Word in this regard. Abusers need to be exposed in the local church for the hypocrites they are. Abuse victims need to be provided for and protected and validated. The abuser must be put out of the church according to 1 Corinthians 5 and the police contacted if crimes have been committed or threatened. Churches need to do a full re-boot of their theology of marriage and divorce and particularly their theology of evil, and stop living in denial that it is among them.
    … All this TALK about how much people know Christ and see Christ and have churches blessed by Christ and how they adore Christ… but I don’t see anything that FOLLOWS Christ in those people! Why?!?! I was crying out for justice! They LEFT ME ON THE SIDE ON THE ROAD and went on praising themselves for “being so close to God.” [ACFJ Commenter]
  8. Pray for justice. Pray for deliverance. Pray the imprecatory prayers of the Psalms against these evil ones.

We close with this survivor’s example. Here is a lady who has been through the fire and she has emerged as one who knows the Lord, who is wise as a serpent about evil, yet innocent as a dove in regard to its guilt. What she has learned is hard, and yet the truth has set her free:

I’m very outraged as you can hear from my voice on here. I resist abuse to survive. I’m beaten down at times and have become very poor and at times I’m very scared since I left the abuser.

I don’t love anybody more than doing what is right by God. And those who do evil I hate and I run from. I’m very cautious and realistic and decisive now. I love doing what is right and good and I fight anything that tries to prevent or pervert that.

I find comfort in the truth and I love knowing that I don’t ever have to excuse sin and abuse again because of “grace” like the church teaches. They even commanded me to show grace and just pray and wait on the The Lord. Those people heard my desperate cry and they literally laughed. I was crushed and in tears as they chastised me for my anger and hurt. They ignored my begging for help to call evil, evil. I fought hard to tell them the truth and they turned away in disgust and loved themselves and the abuser more than the truth.

~ ~ ~

End Note:

It is my conclusion that abusers never change. Let me explain. There are some men (and perhaps a few women) who used to act abusively toward their spouses. But they repented of it and now love their wives. It is my contention that such men never were the kind of abuser that we define here. Rather, I maintain that they were the kind of person the Apostle Paul was when he was Saul of Tarsus, the Pharisee. Notice what Paul says about Himself –

I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. (1Titus 1:12-16)

Saul, you see, was acting in ignorance. He really desired to serve God and was zealous for the Lord’s glory, even though he was dead wrong! But notice — Saul was not a hypocrite! As to the righteousness of the Law, Paul writes that he was blameless. And when Christ appeared to him that day, he repented and believed. Some who appear to be abusers can be of this genre, simply acting out what they have been taught. When these kind are confronted with the truth of their sin, they can indeed repent.

But the abuser as we define him, especially the “Christian” abuser, is a rank hypocrite in his very being. The vast majority of victims who contact us are Christians and their abuser claims to be a Christian, often serving as an “eminent saint” in their local church. And also in the majority of these cases, this façade and abuse has been going on for decades. Twenty, thirty, and forty years is most common. In my opinion, the likelihood that such abusers are the Esaus (reprobates) of Hebrews 12 (see also Heb 6:4-6) is extremely high. At minimum, they must be regarded as unsaved hypocrites who are to be put out of the church and handed over to Satan (see 1 Cor 5).

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The website of Overcoming Powerlessness

Jeff Crippen’s message at the 2015 Overcoming Powerlessness conference

Why Didn’t You Leave?

How many of you have had this hurtful question posed to you by a well-meaning but ignorant-to-domestic-abuse person:  “Why didn’t you leave?”   Barbara has an excellent article that addresses this question and we want to share it with you today. (The article was first published at Barbara’s solo blog notunderbondage.com)

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Why Didn’t You Leave?

“Why didn’t you leave?” (or “Why did you go back?”) is usually a hurtful question to ask victims of domestic abuse. It seems to blame the victim, rather than the perpetrator.

It presumes that the victim was more wrong for staying than the perpetrator was for entrapping and hurting her.

Often the question is asked out of bewilderment; the questioner is not familiar with the dynamics of abuse and simply cannot understand why any person would remain in an abusive relationship. At times this bewilderment comes across to the victim as exasperation (and therefore as judgement) — in which case the victim feels that the questioner has no genuine desire to understand.

If you have ever felt like asking this question, or if you have even been asked it, here are some answers to “Why didn’t you leave?” Of course, not all these reasons will apply to every victim, but many victims will identify with a large number of them.

Lack of identification of the problem

  • I was unsure about what “abuse” was.
  • I sought help from my doctor but he didn’t identify the problem as domestic violence; he just gave me antidepressants or tranquilizers for my “nerves”.
  • My spouse had convinced me that it was all my fault. I felt like I was going crazy. I didn’t know what was right or wrong any more, and had lost my sense of self.
  • I don’t think my situation is “domestic violence”. I don’t like that term.
  • I thought: “He doesn’t beat me up, so I’m not a victim of domestic violence.”
  • I didn’t want to admit that I had been entrapped into the relationship.
  • For a long time I was too frightened to admit that it was domestic violence. To admit it would mean I had to do something about leaving.
  • I was diagnosed with post-natal depression. Nobody saw that the major problem (the real cause) was abuse.

Illness and lack of energy

  • I was too hurt by everything to be able to work out what to do. I didn’t have the energy.
  • I was too sick from all the stress of the abuse.
  • My kids were sick and I had to put them first.
  • I am too old and weak to leave now.

The children

  • I was trying to protect my children from all the stresses of a separation and divorce.
  • My children were having learning difficulties and I didn’t want to disrupt their schooling.
  • I thought the children needed their father. They loved him.
  • It always seemed like a bad time to leave – someone’s birthday, Christmas, etc.
  • I thought a violent father was better than no father at all.
  • He had threatened to have sex with our daughter if I refused him sex. I thought that by staying under the same roof with him I could protect her. (I found out much later he had been violating her anyway.)
  • I was frightened because he said he would take the children from me.
  • My (adult) children do not want me to break up their inheritance.

I believed in being committed to marriage

  • I was committed to my marriage. I took “till death do us part” very seriously.
  • I had made an inner vow never to break my marriage vows.
  • I am hardworking; I thought, “I can work at this.”

The relationship had some good parts

  • I still loved my husband. Sometimes he was really nice to me.
  • I didn’t want the marriage to end; I just wanted the abuse to stop.
  • I thought, “I’ll never find anyone better.”
  • I thought, “A little love is better than no love at all.”

I had compassion for my spouse

  • I thought the problem was his drinking, or his mental illness; I felt sorry for him because he was “sick”. I didn’t realise the problem was he was an abuser.
  • He needed me to be there so he could manage the rest of his life.
  • He said he would kill himself if I left.
  • I thought if I stayed I could help him get better.
  • I am loyal; I was conscious of the damage it would do to his reputation.
  • My own best qualities (like empathy and caring) were used as weapons against me.
  • I was going to leave; then he became terminally ill and now I feel trapped. I can’t leave him; I would feel too guilty; so I am his full-time carer now.
  • The community I live in is so small that I am frightened of seeking help — the gossip, and my husband hearing about it, is too risky.

 Shame

  • I was ashamed to admit that the man I had married was terrorising me.
  • The realisation that it was domestic violence killed me inside; I was still walking but was only a shell.

Disbelief or bad advice from others

  • When I told people about the abuse, they didn’t believe me.
  • I had concealed my pain and injuries for so long that, when I told people about them, they did not believe me.
  • I was told by the church that I shouldn’t divorce.
  • My minister told me to go back, pray, and submit more.

Lack of support from others

  • I had no support from anyone.
  • When I tried to seek help about the abuse, people treated me like I was a leper or something.
  • The ladies in my Bible study ignored me when I tried to tell them about my problem, so I felt friendless.
  • My family were not helpful; they told me what to do, instead of helping me work it out for myself and supporting me in my decisions.
  • My family got so sick of me leaving and going back to him that in the end they wiped their hands of me.

  • My (immigrant) community told me I was picking up ideas from the “Western” way of life that were not appropriate.

  • As an older woman, I didn’t want to go to an agency that deals with women who are raising children.
  • I thought all the workers at the support agency would be young, so they wouldn’t understand me as an older woman. (I found out later that this was not true.)

Condemnation from others, and myself

  • I thought God would condemn me if I left my marriage.
  • I knew some Christians would condemn me if I left my marriage.
  • I saw how other women were treated when they spoke up about their abusive marriages.
  • I left him, but went back because Christians told me I was a “rebellious wife”.
  • Christians told me, “A good Christian does not have problems.”
  • I didn’t want to live as a single mother.
  • I didn’t want to end up in a huddle with other divorced women, where all we did was complain about our ex-husbands and resent life. (That was the image I had of divorcees.)
  • Being a widow you get support and sympathy; being divorced you get stigmatised.
  • My (adult) children think that I am to blame and that “poor old dad” only drinks because of me and my nerves.
  • My priest said, “All you people in the younger generation think about is me, me, me! You are always abandoning your commitments to other people in order to be yourself or find yourself.”
  • My minister said, “You must not be a Christian because you obviously don’t believe in the power of the Holy Spirit to change a person.”

Fear of how I would cope on my own

  • I was worried I might not cope on my own.
  • The emotional pain I felt when I left seemed worse than the pain I felt when I stayed in the abuse and buried my feelings.

  • I was fearful that the addictions I had prior to the relationship would come back if I left my spouse.
  • I had no money.
  • I didn’t think I could earn enough to support the children on my own.
  • I had no job skills.
  • My husband prevented me from upgrading my education to improve my job prospects.
  • I have no superannuation and would only have a pension, with no house and no other money.
  • I didn’t know there were refuges/ help with finances and housing.
  • I didn’t know that I could get a residence visa by the special provisions for domestic violence victims. I thought this country would deport me because I didn’t have a valid visa.

Terror

  • I could not bear to see him wreck everything in the house (and the house itself), which he had started to do last time I left.
  • I thought my spouse might kill me if I left.

The housing crisis

  • Why should I and the kids leave? It’s our house too, our garden too, the kids are settled at school. It’s him who should leave — he’s the criminal! He’s the one who won’t live like a civilised person.
  • Our property is jointly owned (or in his name) and I think I would loose it.
  • I had nowhere to go.
  • When I phoned the crisis line, all the shelters were full.
  • I didn’t dare go to a refuge because I thought they were all run by New Age radical lesbian feminists who would see my Christianity as part of the problem, rather than part of the solution. (I found out later this was not true.)
  • The refuge had room, but they wouldn’t allow teenage boys.
  • I did leave: I went to the shelter, then to a safe house for a short-term tenancy, then they sent me an eviction notice, and I had just had a miscarriage (from the last beating) and felt at the end of my rope, and it was Christmas time . . . so I went back.

Living in hope: the buy-back

  • I lived in hope that the next day would be better.
  • I did leave, several times, but I went back, because of all the above reasons, and because I was so lonely, poor, homeless, friendless, depressed, and I believed his promises because he was so convincing.
  • The pressure he put on me to reconcile was enormous.

In summary

  • The danger of leaving seemed greater than the danger of staying.
  • It was easier living with abuse than finding a way through the maze of safety.
  • The cost of resisting his demands appeared more damaging than the costs of capitulating to his demands.

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The victim of domestic violence appears to be a full participant, a consenting adult, a collaborator. So it seems, but in any relationship with a violent person, there can be no such thing as full and equal participation. What the battered woman participates in, as best she can, is an effort to regain the relationship she once had and hopes to have again — Didn’t he promise? — the relationship without the violence. Trying to save a marriage, or save her life, or save her children, a battered woman may submit to violence, just as a rape victim may submit to rape for fear of being killed. But submission is not consent.
Anne Jones, Next Time, She’ll be Dead: Battering and How to Stop it, Boston: Beacon Press, 1994, pp. 126-127.

Thursday Thought — Resource Highlight: Domestic Abuse Training for (busy) Pastors

We want to draw attention to a training resource for pastors and church leaders:  Domestic Abuse Training for (busy) Pastors: An outline for self-directed learners. This resource was created by Barbara Roberts and can be found on our Resources page under the subheading Training Materials. This PDF is an excellent introduction to a biblical response to domestic abuse — a topic that most seminaries fail to address.

The Table of Contents includes

  • A word about secular resources
  • Understanding abusers
  • Myths
  • Be prepared for the ‘yuck factor”
  • Understanding and responding to victim/survivors
  • Making abusers accountable and behaviour change programs
  • Understanding the situation of children
  • Understanding Risk and Making Safety Plans
  • Couple Counselling?
  • Understanding what the Bible says about Domestic Abuse:
    • Submission and Headship
    • Forgiveness
    • Suffering
    • Protection Orders — can you take a brother to court?
    • Separation and Divorce
    • The Mandate of the Church
  • Church Programs and Policies

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