Unmasking the Domestic Abuser in the Church

The Burden for Repentance Rests on the Wicked, Not on their Victims

1Pe 3:10-12 For “Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; (11) let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. (12) For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

Who is responsible for repentance? The person who sins. The guilty. Innocent people do not need to “turn from their evil deeds.”
And yet this “repentance of the innocents” is precisely what we see taught so often in our churches today. Let me illustrate.

Let’s say Tom wickedly abuses his wife and children. Oh, he wears the standard “saintly” disguise at his church. You know the drill all too well I suspect. His wife eventually shares what is really happening at home with a friend and eventually with her pastor. Saintly Tom:

  • Rages in the evenings
  • Refuses her access to finances
  • Demands she obey him
  • Tears down her self-esteem in many ways
  • Isolates her from her parents
  • Demands sex even after all this abuse

What is the typical response she is going to get from these “fellow Christians?” It’s going to go something like this:

  • Marriage is hard. We must be patient and forgiving (ie, SHE needs to be more patient and forgiving)
  • A wife is to submit to her husband in all things, even when she doesn’t feel like it. She does not own her body – Tom does
  • Tom has heavy responsibilities that often a woman simply cannot understand. She just needs to _________ (fill in the blank)
  • Tom was probably abused when he was a boy. His father isn’t the nicest guy, you know. She can “help him” through these angry feelings by being more understanding
  • What “buttons” is she pushing to cause Tom to sin?

Now, let me ask you to think carefully about this. Where in the Bible do we ever see the Lord putting the responsibility for a wicked man’s sin on that man’s wife? You know the answer. Never! [Even Sapphira was held responsible ONLY for her sin, not those of Ananias]. And yet this is precisely what is happening all around us in the churches. The innocent is ordered to effect the abuser’s repentance and even to repent herself!
Is that how the Lord deals with evil doers? Does He fall for it when the wicked even try to blame Him?

Mal 2:13-14 And this second thing you do. You cover the LORD’s altar with tears, with weeping and groaning because he no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand. (14) But you say, “Why does he not?” Because the LORD was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant.

I want to emphasize once again a basic, foundational, biblical fact that the wicked hate. Domestic abuse victims are not guilty of causing the abuser to abuse. And there is nothing they can do to make their abuser repent. Abusers abuse. And they do so because they have a profound mentality of entitlement to power and control. Being without conscience, they feel fully justified in using whatever missiles of abusive tactics upon their target in order to obtain and maintain that power and control. This is who they are in their being and essence.

Jer 13:23 Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots? Then also you can do good who are accustomed to do evil.

No criticism of Ethiopians intended. The fact is however that it is an impossibility for a black person to change their skin into a white person or a white person to black. A leopard cannot one day say “I don’t like these spots. I’m going to go with a plain skin. Give me another set of DNA.” Nope. Can’t happen. Won’t happen.
Domestic abuse victim – listen carefully. Your leopard is never going to change his spots. No matter what you do or don’t do. Leopards are spotted and they kill for their meals. Abusers are domestic leopards (no put down of leopards intended) who feed on power and control. What you see is what you have. Want to know what tomorrow is going to be like? Or next week? Or next year? Just look at your experience with him today and yesterday and last month and last year. Disregard his “that will never happen again.” It most certainly WILL happen again.
So many abuse victims wear HUGE loads of guilt (much of it put upon them by their abuser and by their “church”). Year after year they keep thinking that God expects them to do “something” to fix the evil doer. If only. If only. And before they know it, 20, 30, even 40 years have gone by. Their health is gone. They don’t think clearly anymore. They habitually say “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.” But the whole thing is a lie foisted upon them by the abuser and his allies, robbing them of their life.
Repentance is entirely the responsibility of your abuser. None of it is upon you. That is why you never go to “marriage counseling” with an abuser. You don’t need marriage counseling. He needs to be confronted with HIS sin.
I know that leaving an abuser is no easy task, especially with children involved – no finances available, fear and his threats, and more. I am fully sympathetic to those things. But in it all, if you keep waiting for your abuser to repent, if you keep thinking that in some way it is your duty to fix him, then one day you are going to realize that your whole life has gone by and in the end, he is the same as he always was. You however, will not be the person you once were. Don’t waste your life by carrying a burden that the Lord never put upon you.


"Speak the Truth in Love" has come to mean "Just Keep Quiet About it"


Scriptures — A New Tab on the Top Menu Bar of Unholy Charade


  1. cindy burrell

    I agree with everything you have written here. The question is “Why?” Why are Christian counselors, pastors and leaders almost universally unwilling to identify the wicked man, and why do they place so much emphasis on the victim’s responsibility for “fixing it?” From my experience, it just seems easier to put the onus on the tender-hearted, pliable one rather than daring to take on the stubborn, potentially hostile one. Or do they actually believe that it is a victim’s responsibility to “save” her abuser?

    • Jeff Crippen

      I think “all of the above” Cindy

    • anonymous

      I think it’s the same as you said, Cindy. Nobody wants to take on an abuser. They are terrorists, con men, abusers, thieves, slanderers, criminals, manipulators, intimidators, and all sorts of things. What counselor has security in their counseling office? What counselor really cares, to the point of shedding sweat and blood, about improving the client’s life? In the end, it’s whatever is easiest, safest, and heaping it on the victim is easiest and safest.
      I don’t know that so many are as ignorant as they seem. Some truly are and they shouldn’t be counseling until they get some experience and education and have it down pat about the wiles of evildoers.
      But who wants to take on an abuser? Next thing the counselor knows they are being slandered about town, as being some crock of poop, wacko ‘counselor’, or the abuser merely seduces and manipulates them into rethinking things, into believing themselves mistaken when calling the abuser an abuser…..
      It’s like pimps. I was watching this thing on cops talking about sex trafficking and the problem of pimps and how these girls are underage but still, the real fear, the true dread and terror of their pimp, keeps them from reaching out to police, revealing their underage status, reporting their pimp, or anything else. The cop even said when she stood out there pretending to be a prostitute in sting operations and she knows there are armed cops paying attention to her movements, etc. ready to roll in at any moment, she feels fear. And for the prostituted woman or girl, there is real fear there. The pimp will do whatever it takes to come out on top. The horrific brutality and savage torture, beatings, and maiming were enough to ensure nobody went against them. The cop even said she understands why the girls won’t try to escape or speak against their pimp as the cops couldn’t ensure the girl wouldn’t be savagely harmed in retaliation.
      There’s a real tie between what pimps do to ‘season’ their prostituted women/girls and what batterers do to their abused wives. It’s basically the same and the outcome is the same, too.
      Abusers are truly evil, wicked, persons. Children of the devil. Dangerous. And who knows that better than the battered woman?

  2. Amy

    Amen, amen, amen!
    I was told over and over and over again, by those in the church that hurting people hurt others, that if only I respected him more he would change, to remember that we are all sinners and to forgive and move on.
    Craziness how all the responsibility is placed on the shoulders of the abuse victim and none put where it truly needs to be — the abuser.

    • anon5

      I loathe that oft-touted “hurt people hurt people”. Nonsense. This is the bullies’ and abusers’ pity-play calling card. Abuser-apologists spout that “hurt people hurt people” so regularly.
      Test the theory: does the ‘hurt’ abuser go and abuse the pastor of the church? Does he abuse the neighbors? Does he beat his boss? Does he terrorize the cop who pulls him over for speeding?
      Nope. I’ve heard the “hurt people hurt people” line said about child bullies, which is nonsense. Don’t believe the lie. It takes tremendous entitlement, ego, and confidence to terrorize another child, threaten, intimidate, and brutalize a peer. And we’re not talking about the rare case of an abused, bullied child finally snapping and lashing out and striking back at the tormenting abuser bully, as such is a rare, one-time thing. But the immense wickedness, egotism, entitlement, superiority complex, malice needed to actively bully a target over an extended period of time, isn’t some confused, poor, little child with a bruised inner butterfly. Nope.
      Same thing with adults. It’s either ignorance that repeats that falsity of “hurt people hurt people” or it’s an abuser promoting the lie, or an abuser-apologist.

      • Z

        Rick Warren is someone who CONSTANTLY uses the phrase “Hurt people hurt people”, among many other “abuser-friendly” teachings. It drives me nuts! He’s also one who preaches absolute forgiveness to dangerous evil unrepentant people. And he says the onus is on the victim/non-abuser to pray for blessings on and to be the one to “reach out” for reconciliation with the person who abused her! For our own “right standing” with the Lord and for our abuser’s ultimate repentance. Our abuser’s soul status is our responsibility.? He says if we don’t do these things we are not going to be blessed by God and He won’t answer our prayers! That we are being disobedient to God. He says these things are what God requires us to do.
        THANK GOD for the “woke” Pastors (Pastors Jeff Crippen, Sam Powell, Dave Ramsey, and Jimmy Hinton and also Rebecca Davis) who write these “lifeline” blogs focusing on the
        >VICTIMS<!! NOT pandering to or coddling the abusers!!
        These blogs and sermons call out and UNTANGLE for us victims the many bad, false, wrongly burdensome and even downright dangerous teachings about Scriptures being fed to victims of abuse. And they take the burdens of “blanket forgiveness”, reconciliation with those who want to completely destroy us (more than they already have) OFF the shoulders of the victims. And they take away any feelings of condemnation put upon us as a result of false teachings.
        What a blessing it is to have this community of pastors, authors and teachers whose compassion and efforts are VICTIM-FOCUSED!!
        I am also so blessed by the community of other victims, as I read their comments and identify with them and grieve with them. None of us has to feel so utterly alone anymore, as I know I once did. An awful, awful way to feel on top of all the adverse effects we are left with because of our abuse.
        Bless all your hearts, my sisters and brothers who have been harmed by evil people. Bless your hearts, all you men and women of God who minister to us! Prayers and deep gratitude for you all.

  3. Praying Lady

    Pastor Crippen, I would give this post TEN stars if there was a star rating!!
    After 25 years of marriage and about 10 years before my ex tried to kill me by strangling me, I contacted a Christian attorney and made an appointment for a consultation regarding divorce. However, I made the mistake of telling my then husband that I did so and the abuse escalated. I thought it might snap him into reality and he would stop being so mean, but the opposite happened. He raged at me over and over, even using Scripture to make sure I knew that divorce was not God’s will for us, until I cancelled the appointment a few days later. The abuse, which was mostly mental, verbal, spiritual, sexual and emotional abuse, continued for the following ten years until by the grace of God, I was rescued by law enforcement while my ex was strangling me.
    Thank you again for posting such helpful articles. They have confirmed over and over that the abuse I suffered for so many decades was not my fault. I just made a terrible mistake by marrying a very evil man and believing the lie that his lying and abuse would stop.
    And yes, I am not the person I once was… I am recovering from PTSD , and much wiser than I was thanks to the Lord Jesus.
    May God abundantly bless you and your family!

  4. Liane

    Thank you so much for this article. Pastors, elders, etc. should read this. I can relate entirely with it. I was in an abusive marriage with a man who recently has been baptised and struts around thinking he is a Christian, but the actions speak otherwise. Ultimately, I have to leave it to God, who is the judge. With the “niceness” he portrays, after a while the mask falls off. I have been in a lengthy (over 4 year) and costly legal battle with him. I know God does not want this, but what other choice do I have with an abuser who stonewalls and resists attempts to come to a resolution? It is always difficult for me to set boundaries and not be taken by his games.
    I fear for our daughter and the narrative that he continues to feed her that I am the cause of mommy and daddy not being together. He attends a church (that I once attended with our daughter, although he was not practicing in his faith at the time) that now works for his benefit. The pastor I know sees him as doing everything else. In fact, the pastor told me earlier on in our separation (when I was still attending that church) that I was the one doing wrong, that one day I would face God for this judgment (he is correct on the latter, we will all face God).
    Since leaving that church, I am now attending another church with a Pastor who supports my decision, and believes that abuse is grounds for divorce.

  5. Z

    Abusers ABUSE. So when we put an end to the physical abuse or other abuses by removing their access to us (divorce, “No Contact”, restraining orders, police and court charges,..) they CONTINUE to abuse us by whatever means they have left.
    Mine (abusive parents and codependent enabling siblings) have been using the smear campaign since I called the police for their violent attack. In fact, I learned the smear campaign against me was going on LONG before that final act of violence happened and was ramped up by them and all their minions after I involved the police and courts and I would not be dissuaded. I was and am still committed to holding them accountable.
    There’s a HUGE emotional, financial and even a physical cost (health problems, PTSD, anxiety, depression..), beyond the toll the abuses took on us victims, when we finally leave and then stand our ground.
    Now, my abusers, with the “alliance of evil” they’ve formed with their disgusting unethical defense attorney, are using the court system to abuse us further! Their lawyer is abusing us by-proxy FOR them. In every way possible-even brazenly lying to the judge in court documents. He is also causing us financial hardships, playing constant emotional “head games”, filing copious frivolous court motions, repetitive “document dumps” on us, demanding constant costly court appearances, even illegal threats to us..Hardships to our attorney too, to try to wear him down and attempt to possibly eventually turn him against us. (Make his cost/burden of prosecuting them eventually not worth the financial cost and constant hassle to him. He is a businessman, after all.) And the courts ALLOW all this. Where do we go for protection?
    God is sometimes our ONLY ally. And that’s no small thing! He is far better than an army of thousands of false people/“christians”!!!
    The Bible says “Bad company corrupts good morals.” Whether the abusers’ evil attorney was a “match made in hell” and he was always a wicked person or if his consorting with these evil predatory abusers has corrupted him, I don’t know. But he’s “all in” on the intentional wickedness now. At least he’s not professing to be a “christian”! The abusers always have professed to be “christians” since they began their lifelong abuse when I was an only an infant (I was told of instances of their abuse that I was too young to remember by many enabling “christian” relatives-who knew all about the abuses in detail, who discussed it with me all my life, but always covered it up and still do. I have no contact with these complicit evil people anymore). These are all preening churchgoers who have everyone duped.
    So, don’t be surprised that your abuser is finding new ways to abuse you even after divorce and No Contact. It’s what they do.
    And they WILL face Judgment and God’s Righteous Wrath! Finally, the punishment their actions and wicked black reprobate hearts deserve.
    I know it’s really hard to endure the possible lifetime ahead we face of their endless abuses before that happens. But WE always have JESUS walking before, beside and behind us every step of this fallen life on earth.
    God is righteous and just. God does not hear the prayers of the wicked – he turns his face away from them in this life. Jesus will come back as our conquering king!! Crushing and banishing the wicked to hell!

    • anonymous

      I hear you, Z. Lawyers are but abusers themselves. Bloodthirsty predators. The thrill of the kill, the spectacle they can cause, the domination, the deviance. It’s all there. Plus, if your abuser didn’t find themselves an evil attorney, they’d have kept looking for another attorney. It’s no coincidence the abuser hired an abuser attorney, not to mention the defense attorneys likely don’t have any ethics or morals in the first place. Think about it,,,spend one’s life helping rapists, burglars, murderers, abusers, etc. escape any accountability for their evildoing. But abusers pay lots of legal fees, which makes them ideal clients for greedy attorneys.

      • Z

        You are extremely astute! I hadn’t thought that my abusive family would most certainly not have kept a lawyer who was ethical and honest. They’d have sorted through a bunch before landing on this evil one they have. You are spot on about that.
        Talk about the wicked lawyer’s (proxy for abusers) “domination” and “thrill of the kill”, at my first deposition, he started by trying to “play me” with phony “flattering lips” and trying to try to con me and cajole me into dropping the charges. “It’s family, after all” he said.
        I answered him that “family doesn’t hide in the dark to ambush another family member by a surprise violent attack with a deadly weapon, screaming that they’d “#%$@ kill you!!” I said “That’s attempted murder. (Even though the lazy police didn’t charge it that way.) I don’t consider them my “family” anymore.”
        The lawyer immediately pounced-did a 180 degree change.! His face actually contorted into a demonic look and his voice to a different, demonic voice!! He nearly came across the table between us in a threatening manner, yelling at me, “What you’re doing is the lowest, sleaziest thing I’ve ever heard of.” I immediately retorted, “No, sir. The lowest of the low, sleaziest thing is what your clients did and what they are. Period.”
        He’s been out to destroy me, openly, ever since that exchange where I stood up to him with the truth. He thought he would intimidate me. Not a chance. I’ve had way too much practice with abuse and intimidation. I’ve walked through fire in my “family” all my life! He mistakenly thought I’d be battle weary and weak and a pushover. Wrong.
        Oh well. He would have been out to destroy me anyway on their behalf so it was inevitable he showed his cards sooner rather than later.
        But, he was SO visibly taken aback and furious he couldn’t con me!! I have to actually laugh at his pathetic unprofessional behavior for these demons! Predictable though.

        • anon

          I’m proud of you, Z. Good for you for not falling into the attorney’s traps. Good for you for being so strong. The second part of Proverbs 28:1 (NIV) “but the righteous are as bold as a lion.”
          And that’s how it should be. Too bad shame, embarrassment, humiliation, false guilt, and trauma responses get in the way of so many victims’ abilities to stand in their truth, see the criminal victimization for what it is, not be ashamed, embarrassed, too traumatized to report it, and once reported, to not be intimidated, threatened, manipulated, or worn down into backing down…..
          I’m glad you reported it, have been fighting this battle, and modeling how to be “bold as a lion” and sharing of this all here on this blog. By sharing your experience, it helps pave the way for more Christians to see that such conduct is godly, can be done, etc.
          And the whole intro of “it’s family after all” is so loaded, sleazy, and guilt-tripping. Kind of like the abusers who beat their wives and then when sitting in jail, or being hauled off in handcuffs, they blame and shame their victimized wives by pity playing them of ‘see what you do to me? I’m going to jail now because of you! Hope you’re happy!’ or otherwise calling them from jail, expressing how the wife had ruined their life and had better get down there and bail them out immediately.

          • Z

            One more example of the abusers’ blaming and shaming their victims when they stand up to them. It is similar to your examples.
            When we were adult children still suffering abuses by both parents, and I’d distanced myself from their presence almost completely (unlike my other enmeshed siblings who kept striving for their abusers’ love and acceptance) I got a call from my mother. My father had beaten her to a pulp. She asked me to come pick her up. She said she wanted to press charges and divorce him. She’d never said that before and I believed her. If not for that I’d not have gotten involved to help her-she abused me all my life too.
            I took her to my apartment. I called the police. They talked to my father and codependent sister. Somehow charges weren’t pressed. DV Laws were different in the [back then]. My mother I believe declined to press arrest charges with the police behind my back when I was at work. She wanted “attention” but not change.
            She stayed at my apartment for a week. She had me contact divorce lawyers. I got a call from my father saying-delusionally!! ->That I was breaking g up my family. <
            He then said he’d kill me. He had illegal guns. I was not as aware of the subject of abuse yet, hadn’t yet gotten counseling for it. I don’t report his threat to police.
            Then I came home to find my mother gone the next day. She’s used me-her own child-to “get his attention” and never really wanted my help. She put me in grave danger of a psychopath who’d badger her head into cabinets, blackened her eyes and strangled her that time and many others.
            I never fell for that act again. I distance myself from their junk. I got professional help.
            The LIES & MANIPULATIONS never stopped. Then my boundaries led to their retaliation of a plotted violent ambush attack with a weapon and my call to police and the lawsuit and No Contact.

  6. anonymous

    A post on your other blog should be linked here:
    Because it has been widely taught that the supposed height of Christianity is to be all-forgiving, no matter what, and the greater the sins, the greater the evil, the greater the harm, the more grace there is supposed to be given by the Christian, no matter if any repentance is there.
    It’s wrong. God doesn’t forgive us until we ask for such. And He knows our hearts. We cannot know others’ hearts but we can watch their actions and if the abuser demands ‘forgiveness’ (absolution) for having quickly said a ‘sorry’ I don’t see how we are even obligated to grant such then, either, without some actual indication of real contrition…..which, with abusers, is never coming.

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