A Cry For Justice

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

Resist the tide: don’t assume that facebook is the best way to follow issues that interest you

If you think that following A Cry For Justice on facebook is the best way to keep in touch with what we do, please read on…

Cryingoutforjustice.com is where we post articles which we think are most helpful in addressing domestic abuse in the church.

The articles we post at cryingoutforjustice.com are also posted at our facebook page. BUT….if you are follow us just on facebook, you are probably not getting a full and balanced picture of what we do.

We publish our main, core, priority items at our blog cryingoutforjustice.com.

From time to time we post items on our facebook page that we do not feature on our blog. We post those items on facebook as extras… but we never consider those items to be the main fare of ACFJ. 

So if you are following ACFJ only via facebook, please don’t think that by following us at facebook you are getting a full  and balanced picture of our work! 

Please…please….if you have been browned off by what we share on our facebook page, or if you are only following us on facebook, please consider taking this step:

Follow our blog by email — that will mean you get an email notification each time ACFJ publishes a new blog post.

And yes — you will need to check your emails. That takes a bit more effort… a few more clicks…but really and truly, do you want to rely on the facebook platform as your only or primary source of ideas and information????

And I will make an even more radical suggestion: you might even want to STOP following the A Cry For Justice facebook page and just follow A Cry For Justice by email.  (Yes; you can live without facebook as your primary source of information!) 

If you don’t know what a blog is —  it is like an online magazine or online journal

The owner of a blog publishes articles (called “posts”) at their blog.

Magazines and journals usually publish articles and columns written by many different authors and journalists. In the same way, the ACFJ blog has published articles written by different authors: Barbara Roberts (me) and other authors who have at one time or other been on the ACFJ team (e.g. Jeff Crippen, Persistent Widow, Megan C), and guests (e.g. Sam Powell, Rebecca Davis).

Some blogs allow and invite comments from readers indefinitely.

Some blogs allow comments, but only for a limited period of time. For example, a blog owner might allow comments on a post for the first two weeks after the post is published and then comments are closed on that post.

Some blogs do not allow any comments from readers.

Each blog owner makes their own decision regarding comments.

A blog owner who allows comments might or might not read all the comments that are submitted, and might choose to not allow certain comments, depending on the blog owner’s time availability and their goals for the blog.

So the terminology is this: 

  • A blog is a bit like an online magazine, owned by the magazine publisher.
  • A blog post is like one article in the magazine. Sometimes it’s simply called a post.
  • A comment is written by a reader who is responding to the blog post, or is responding to one of the other commenters.

All posts at the ACFJ blog are open to comments indefinitely.

Our comment submission form can be found by simply scrolling down a bit when you have read one of our posts. (PS. if it looks a bit different on a phone screen, please let me and other readers know. I almost never use my phone to submit comments on blog posts, so I’m not familiar with the way to do that from a cell phone/mobile phone. )

If you have never commented on the A Cry For Justice blog, I suggest you read our New Users Info page. It will give you confidence about how to write your comment in a way that protects your identity and guards your safety.

There are advantages and benefits in commenting on our blog versus commenting on our facebook page.

:1. ACFJ can better guard your safety on our blog than on our FB page.
If you want to learn more about why that is so, read this: Be safe! — blog safety vv Facebook safety, and other tips for keeping safe in cyberspace.

:2. If you comment at the ACFJ blog, your comment will bring long-lasting benefit to all readers, even years later.

Comments on facebook are ephemeral… who has the time and energy to dig down into facebook posts and comments to see what was said months or years ago?

But on the A Cry For Justice blog you can easily read and reply to comments and posts that were published months or years ago. When you comment on the ACFJ blog, your comment can help other readers years later, other people who have suffered similar things to what you have suffered.

And if you ticked the box to be notified of follow-up comments, you will be sent an email whenever someone replies to your comment or responds to the post. So you will be encouraged and warmed by the responses of other readers, even years later. And that will help us all…

My request, my encouragement, my plea to all people who are interested in our work is PLEASE follow ACFJ by email and PLEASE comment on our blog rather than our facebook page.

We don’t mind comments at our facebook page, but we prefer people to comment at our blog.

(We are happy if you comment at our facebook page, and then repeat your comment at our blog!) 

One last thing: you can also follow us on Twitter @_CryforJusticeBut twitter is just as ephemeral as facebook — so if you want to help other victims of domestic abuse in the longterm, the best way to comment is at our blog cryingoutforjustice.com.  


What it means to be dead to the law – by Sam Powell

This sermon by Ps Sam Powell is a good explanation of what it means to be saved.

Sam begins by talking about the errors of both “easy believism” and “lordship salvation”. Then he explains that the wife/husband analogy in Romans 7:1-2 is not addressing the biblical grounds for divorce and remarriage.  (So, dear reader, please don’t be triggered by him quoting those two verses. Sam knows that the Bible allows divorce for abuse.)

Sam then expounds on the truth that every human being is either in Adam, or in Christ. If we are in Adam we are under the curse of the Law and the penalty is death – this is a tough message, but we do need to grasp it if we are to truly understand God’s truth. He then goes on to expound on what it means to be in Christ, and the assurance that gives.

The sermon is called Until Death Do Us Part. It’s a very good presentation of what is known as ‘reformed theology’. I urge you to listen to it carefully.

Sam is preaching on Romans 7:1-6 so I’ll put that passage here in two versions that I know Sam appreciates.

Romans 7:1-6 (KJV)

Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth?

For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband.

So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.

Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.

For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death.

But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter. 

Romans 7:1-6 New Matthew Bible (NMB)

Christ has delivered us from the law and death. Paul shows what the flesh and natural man is, and calls it the law of the members. [this is Myles Coverdale’s prefatory summary of chapter 7.] 

Do you not consider, brethren (I speak to people who know the law), that the law has dominion over a person as long as it endures? For the woman who is under a husband is bound by the law to the man as long as he lives. But if the husband is dead, she is released from the law of the husband. So then, if while the husband is alive she couples herself with another man, she will be counted a wedlock breaker. But if the husband is dead, she is free from the law, so that she is no wedlock breaker if she couples herself with another man.

In a similar way, my brethren, you are dead concerning the law by the body of Christ, in order to be coupled to another (I mean, to him who is risen again from death), so that we will bring forth fruit unto God. For when we were in the flesh, the lusts of sin, which were stirred up by the law, reigned in our members to bring forth fruit unto death. But now we are delivered from the law, and dead to that to which we were in bondage, in order to serve in a new life of the Spirit, and not in the old life of the letter.

Listen to Till Death Do Us Part

On conspiracies & conspiracy theorists – by Rebecca Davis

I’ve been reading about the Thomas Chantry trial at Thou Art the Man, and the shameful cover-ups of his abuse of young boys. Such a similar story to so many others, so many broken lives, so many years, so much harm, so much evil behavior from those who claim to represent Christ.

Judge Astrowsky (L) & Thomas Chantry (R)

That, and an unrelated conversation I had yesterday, got me thinking again about conspiracies. And since I’m a stickler for defining words, it seemed like it was time to say something about it here.

So here goes . . .

A conspiracy is NOT a loony notion that a mysterious “they” is out to get us.

A conspiracy IS a secret agreement (either with or without words) agreed upon by two or more people, to carry out acts illegal and/or immoral, for the purpose of retaining or amassing money, power, pleasure, and/or influence. Anyone who knowingly participates in the conspiracy, even if they don’t amass money or power (for example, participating out of fear or taking advantage of a prostituted child) is also complicit in the conspiracy.

…read the whole article:  Thoughts on conspiracies and conspiracy theorists, inspired by the Thomas Chantry trial – by Rebecca Davis.

 ~     ~     ~

In the article, Rebecca Davis gives several Bible narratives of conspiracies.

She then goes on to say that many victims of abuse have confided to her about their experiences of abuse…and when they confide, they are often expecting to be disbelieved and derided as ”conspiracy theorists”.

Rebecca lays out what she typically says to those victims: 

I want to make sure you understand that there really are conspiracies.

There have been conspiracies throughout history and around the world. Probably influential individuals in every government on earth engage in conspiracies. And what’s more (and what’s been hard for me to wrap my head around in the past ten years or so), is that many, many church and parachurch leaders and their supporters engage in conspiracies, as money, power, reputation, and pleasure have become more important to them than the Lord Jesus Christ.

Read Rebecca’s entire article here: Thoughts on conspiracies and conspiracy theorists, inspired by the Thomas Chantry trial.

And – a note from Barb Roberts – please encourage Rebecca by writing a comment at her post, liking her post, and signing up to follow her blog Here’s The Joy.

***   ***    ***   ***   ***

ACFJ is partially reblogging Rebecca Davis’s post with her permission — thank you Rebecca!

Rebecca Davis is the author of Untwisting Scriptures: that were used to tie you up, gag you, and tangle your mind. She has assisted two other authors on books about abuse:

Unholy Charade: Unmasking the Domestic Abuser in the Church – Jeff Crippen & Rebecca Davis

Tear Down This Wall of Silence: Dealing with Sexual Abuse in Our Churches – Dale Ingraham & Rebecca Davis 

Rebecca Davis has also written books for children and teenagers, including a series of six books of true missionary stories, a series of Christian biographies, and two devotional books, all of which can all be seen at hiddenheroesmissionarystories.com.

She nags me! – what the abuser means when he says that

“She nags me” means she presses me to accept my responsibilities.

If you ask an abuser to fulfil his responsibilities, you are not being controlling.

You are not abusing the perpetrator when you ask him to accept his responsibilities. You are being a reasonable adult human being. You are simply calling on him to be a reasonable adult human being in return.

As in all that we write at ACFJ, if you are a male victim of a female perp, you will need to reverse the pronouns to fit your situation. 

The chances of getting him to fulfil his responsibilities is almost zero.

With the work of household, parenting responsibilities or any kind of work, when an abuser does 10% of what you do, he thinks you should be grateful to him.

The man who abuses his intimate partner wants to live with all the the same freedoms he would have as a single man, but he wants his partner to be always available.

He wants you to be like a compass needle that always points north to him.

He has a very exaggerated notion, from early in life, about what women are supposed to do for him.

Your needs are never a significant factor.  It should be all ease and comfort for him.

He may let some decisions go your way, but as soon as it’s anything that’s important to him, he thinks it has to go 100% his way.

He is irritated and often insulting when you are the centre of attention. He wants to take away whatever in your life you are most enthusiastic and excited about.

He has a zero-sum attitude to love and affection in relationships. In his mind, more for you means less for him.

He is stuck in a mentality of ownership.

If he thinks you are disobeying his rules, he will punish you.

He believes that when he feels angry, he gets to mess up your life.


These are things I copied down from the webinar which Lundy Bancroft gave a while back.

Please note that while we think Lundy has a reasonably good understanding of men who abuse their female intimate partners, we do not recommend you attend his healing retreats or any of the co-counseling groups set up under the umbrella of his ‘Peak Living Network’. For more info, see this post:
ACFJ Does Not Recommend Lundy Bancroft’s Retreats or His New Peak Living Network

Most victims of strangulation will not have visible external injuries

Non-fatal strangulations point to future homicides.

Victims of non-fatal strangulation often relate to being “choked” and though this terminology is commonly used among victims and police officers alike, the word is often used incorrectly.

Choking is an internal blocking of the airway by an object. In contrast, strangulation is a form of asphyxiation characterized by closure or restriction of the airway or vessels in the neck by external pressure. The key words to focus on are “external” and “neck.” The closure of a single structure of the neck that supplies oxygen to the brain is all that is required to kill a person.

An idea was promulgated for decades that there must be external signs of injury such as marks on the neck and/or petechial hemorrhage in the eyes when strangulation occurred. It was believed that without those injuries the assault could not be proven and likely did not occur. This idea is far from the truth. Gael Strack, former prosecutor and chief executive of the Institute on Strangulation Prevention states, “Our study proves it—most victims of strangulation will not have visible external injuries. Lack of injuries and lack of training caused the criminal justice system to minimize strangulation.”

This image represents a raw photograph showing little to no signs of harm.

This image was taken with a i3 Thermal Expert, showing clear signs of hand print heat signatures on the victim’s neck.

This image was taken with a i3 Thermal Expert and shows heat signatures on the victim’s neck. Infrared cameras enable uses to capture high resolution thermal images.

Injuries from strangulation can be delayed so that victims may not exhibit any signs immediately after the assault, however, they may exhibit signs hours or days later. Take for example an athlete that sprains their ankle, but can finish the game only to wake up the next day with an ankle so swollen and injured that it cannot be walked on. This can be observed in some strangulation victims who can talk and breathe normally one minute and be near death in the hospital the next. Research on strangulation in the medical field and in case studies now clearly shows that injuries can also be immediate, they will likely be permanent and they are absolutely life threatening.

It can take as little as five pounds of pressure for six to ten seconds to render a person unconscious. This is less pressure than opening a can of soda or pulling the trigger on most law enforcement pistols. One can understand why there may be no external signs or injuries on the victim when considering how little pressure is needed to render them unconscious. Signs and symptoms known to be associated with strangulation now include a raspy or hoarse voice, difficulty breathing, vision changes, fluid in the lungs, vomiting and involuntary loss of bladder/bowel control.

Look to the signs

Although many organs in the body may be affected, it is the brain that is most affected by lack of oxygen. If a person loses consciousness because the brain has been starved of oxygen then there is permanent brain damage. Loss of consciousness also means lack of memory since the hippocampus—the part of the brain that stores memory—is most affected by lack of oxygen. All too often the lack of detail from victims is associated with lack of credibility. With regard to strangulation, however, lack of detail and memory points directly to an indicator there was loss of consciousness. Proper trauma-informed interviewing of a victim is key when there is loss of consciousness.

In instances where there is no loss of consciousness, it is possible that arteries/veins in the neck can tear internally, causing blood clots. These clots left alone and without immediate medical treatment can lead to stroke and death even weeks later. Brain death can occur within two minutes or less when the brain is deprived of oxygen. Delayed death can occur hours, weeks or months later due to internal injuries as mentioned previously. Unfortunately, victims only seek medical attention about three percent of the time. Therefore, it is important for law enforcement to take the lead on getting victims medical help as soon as possible.

In reality, the act of strangulation itself is a lethal act regardless of an offender’s intent. It tells us that the offender has a propensity to use lethal violence and I would argue also demonstrates a mindset that lethal violence is justifiable against anyone. If an offender is willing to harm their intimate partner, child, vulnerable adult or anyone using strangulation, then they can kill anyone. Many studies have shown this to be true. A study of 300 “choking” cases by the Family Justice Center Alliance in San Diego and Institute on Strangulation Prevention showed that a woman who is strangled even once is 750 percent more likely to be strangled again and 800 percent more likely to be killed later. Domestic violence victims often suffer repeated strangulations because law enforcement has not been informed of the subtle signs or the victim has delayed reporting to law enforcement.

A study by the same group on risks to law enforcement showed that 80 percent of critical incidents where officers were shot or had to shoot an attacker involved offenders with a history of domestic violence. Many of these offenders also had a background of strangulation assaults. As if the dangers to officers were not enough, the general public is now at increased risk. Research is showing that many of the domestic mass shooters in the U.S. also had a history of domestic violence and strangulation prior to their mass killings.

Church shooter Devin Kelley killed 26 people in Sutherland Springs, Texas. He had a known history of strangling his wife and fracturing his stepson’s skull, but the authorities in that case filed charges as misdemeanors.

Esteban Santiago killed five in a Fort Lauderdale, Florida airport and his past history was that of strangling his girlfriend in Alaska. He, however, was allowed to sign a sentencing agreement to have his charges reduced, which ultimately allowed him to own and transport a gun into the airport.

Omar Mateen killed 49 at the Orlando Pulse night club. It is reported he had strangled two of his past wives but was never charged or prosecuted.

As Casey Gwinn, cofounder of the Institute for Strangulation Prevention states, “Men who strangle women might as well be raising their hand and saying I am a killer.” Gwinn also refers to strangulation as a “warning shot” that gives every indication that lethal violence is sure to follow.

Tools to aid investigation

Though domestic violence and/or intimate partner violence are the crimes most often associated with strangulation, it goes far beyond intimate partner violence and must be extended to other crimes and victim types. Strangulation assaults are seen in abuse of vulnerable adults, child abuse, sexual assault, kidnappings and even robberies.

There are tools available to help raise the level of awareness and to increase the frequency of charges and successful prosecution for non-fatal strangulation assaults:

First: The Training Institute for Strangulation Prevention provides many online training courses and webinars free of charge. A good entry level course is a 25 minute fully interactive video on strangulation. It can be taken by going to the Institute’s website at www.strangulationtraininginstitute.com and looking under the training tab. Officers may also look under the resources tab to print investigative checklists, signs/symptoms information sheets, pamphlets for victims and investigation manuals. I’d like to emphasize the use of the investigative checklists as these can help prove a non-fatal strangulation case when there is little physical evidence of external injury.

Second: We all know that photo documentation of any assault is extremely important because it can speak for the unwilling or unavailable victim. It can be very difficult to document injuries with pictures when little to no external signs of strangulation are present on a victim. Research has shown that of observable strangulation injuries less than 15 percent are actually able to be photographed.

SDFI Camera with ring flash

When taking photographs, make sure you use an approved camera or imaging device. It is generally not a good practice to use a cellphone to take pictures since a discovery motion by a defense attorney may require it to be turned over for full examination of its contents.  Also, have adequate lighting to show the injuries you are trying to document.  Using a flash is not always appropriate and in other instances a flash has to be used.  Camera flashes are often offset from the lens and at times can create shadows that distort what we need to see.  Perhaps a better option is to use what is called a “ring flash” that surrounds the camera lens to provide even light.  This can enhance pictures of injuries taken at very close distances.  Companies such as Secure Digital Forensic Imaging (SDFI) have special cameras that include a ring flash and proprietary software that can enhance hard to see injuries.  These images can often be admitted as evidence in court because of SDFI’s chain of custody and secure storage software.  There is an interest in using thermal imaging for assault investigations, too.  A new camera to note is made by Thermal Expert and can be attached to mobile devices and tables.  Initial examination shows it tends to offer better resolution and more diversity in image capture than similar products.  Research to validate thermal imaging is still being conducted; therefore, officers should consult with their legal staff prior to utilizing such devices for evidence collection.

We must raise awareness of non-fatal strangulations and recognize that this knowledge benefits not just the crime victim but the public and law enforcement as well. The victims we respond to, the citizens we protect and even the fellow officers we serve with are all at risk if we fail to recognize that non-fatal strangulation is a sign of future lethal violence.


A Cry For Justice thanks Brian Bennett, the author of this article, for pointing us to and giving us permission to repost his article. His original article is Subtle Signs Of A Killer.  ACFJ removed the first two paragraphs in this reblog and we retitled the article because most of our readers are victims of abuse, not law-enforcement officers.

Brian Bennett

Brian Bennett has 20 years of law enforcement experience and serves as an instructor at the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy. His is skilled in various law enforcement disciplines and is court qualified as an expert in police training. Areas of expertise include domestic violence, vulnerable adult victimization and strangulation. He can be reached at Bkbennett@sccja.sc.gov.

For further reading:  Have you been strangled? Or smothered so you couldn’t breath?

Biblical counseling, tribal loyalties and grooming. Windup of the Chris Moles series.

Biblical counselors who are carrying the DV banner are starting to say some good stuff about domestic abuse and how it affects victims — things that weren’t being said when ACFJ began in 2012. But there are some changes we are still not seeing.

1. Their approach to abusers

Either they are treating the abuser as if he is a ‘brother’ in christ, or they are behaving as if the abuser can be converted by teaching him how Christians are to live. They are ignoring all the precepts in the Bible which tell Christians to have nothing to do with abusers and to hand them over to Satan.

Biblical counselors like Chris Moles are now saying, “We need to do abuse counseling before we even think about marriage counseling.” But they still have errors in their approach and their understanding. Those errors will enable churches and biblical counselors to go on plugging marriage restoration as the most important goal.

If their view on the abuser is going to change, that would mean they would have to change their understanding of some basic theology. Changing those views will affect their influence, the crowd they run with, possibly affect book sales and speaking opportunities – ultimately it would affect their wallet.

:2. They are still dancing around the D word (divorce).

:3. They are still neglecting the needs of the victims and not responding to the critical and discerning feedback which victims are giving them.

4. They are still not firmly denouncing all the lord-it-over attitudes and false doctrines which church leaders have that contribute to this problem.

While this Chris Moles series was being published, I contacted Chris Moles, Jim Newheiser and Greg Wilson to alert them to what I was writing, in case they’re not watching this blog… in the hope that they might consider my thoughts and perhaps modify their approach. None of those men have acknowledged or responded to my personal contact.

The Tribe

In a short number of years Chris Moles has gone from an unknown pastor in the backwoods, to the poster boy for DV in the biblical counseling tribe. The tribe is parading him from one conference to another, and he is saying what they want him to say. He is responding just as they want him to respond. It seems that the tribe has been grooming Moles and they have succeeded. I don’t mean to imply that Chris Moles is innocent because he is a victim of the tribe’s agenda. Chris Moles has made his choice. He appears to enjoy the flattery, the attention, the hobnobbing with the big boys. Moles has accepted his role…but we must not forget about the tribe.

The power-brokers in the biblical counseling movement are not wise as serpents. They want their ears tickled. They don’t want to have to change too much; they prefer their comfort zone. Grassroots movements like #MeToo have made it all the more imperative that they be seen to be doing something about domestic abuse in the church. So they are pushing forward the spokespeople they like from their own tribe.

If the biblical counseling movement is led by a motley pack of wolves and blind guides, Chris Moles represents the next generation of this pack. Unfortunately, it won’t end with Moles. Moles is not the first target of the pack and he won’t be the last. In fact, as time passes, Moles may very likely be the one grooming the next one into the pack.

A survey by LifeWay Research (2017) found that:

Most pastors (87%) already believe that “a person experiencing domestic violence would find our church to be a safe haven.” Eleven percent somewhat agree. One percent are not sure.

It is very possible that 87% of pastors are naive and deceived and don’t really care about the victims, and some of that 87% are abusing their own wives.

I know that some male pastors are abusing their own wives because of all the accounts from survivors I have heard, not to mention the reports I’ve heard from Christian counselors who truly ‘get it’ about domestic abuse and are seeing the wives in their counseling offices.

Mega-church leaders who are publicly proclaiming that their church is a safe place are probably grandstanding. Examples of such grandstanding are Bethlehem Baptist Church Minnesota, and Highpoint Church Texas.

My advice to pastors 

Your primary duty is to put the abusers out of the church and care for the victims.

To protect victims, you need to teach the church how not to stigmatize the victims, and how to resist the impression-management tactics of the abusers. You need to do this because once you’ve put the abuser out of the church he is very likely to badmouth you and the victim to the congregation, so he can win allies to himself and destabilise your flock.

We have great ideas to help you do this at our FAQ page.

No responsible person would try to stop an abusive man from voluntarily attending a secular Mens Behavior Change Program. But abusive men almost never attend those programs voluntarily.

The people who run Men’s Behavior Change programs in Australia say that men who attend their programs are either “court mandated” or “partner mandated”. No abusive man starts attending those programs because, in his flesh, on his own initiative, he has decided and determined to stop being abusive. 


Our Chris Moles Digest lists all the posts in this series.