Unmasking the Domestic Abuser in the Church

Abused in Your Sleep – Another Control Tactic of the Wicked

I was told that my body was not my own, but the touching went on despite me saying I was so tired and wanted to go back to sleep. I would wake up from the touching and pretend that I was still asleep.  I can only remember once or twice that it went the whole way while I was sleeping. But I’ve since discovered now that my ex was sexually abusing me but using scripture to justify it.

This power and control tactic is not at all uncommon. Over the years I have had numbers of abuse victims tell me exactly what this quote from a survivor describes. Abuse during sleep. And very commonly, sexual abuse during sleep.
Abusers, as you know, lust for power and control. They demand it. It is like the rush of some drug to them. They even want their target to know that she is not even beyond that control during sleep! And so they demand sex at 2am or they startle her awake by shouting and raging about something she supposedly did wrong – and then eventually go back to a sound sleep themselves!

I knew one of these kind once. A supposed “fine Christian, husband, and father” you know. He would wake his wife up at ridiculous hours and demand sex. The Bible says she has to, you know – that is what he would tell her. And after all, he has needs.
Other victims have told me that their ability to get a good night’s rest was hindered because they were made to worry about what their abuser might do to them during sleep. Maybe he would sneak some poison into their glass of water on the night stand, or he could start raging at any moment.  Here is another account:

I work full time in a very physical type of job so when I go to bed I’m really tired.
My ex only worked 1 day during the week and 1 day at the weekend. He was a terribly sleeper so would waken up during the night. He used to touch me while I was sleeping to waken me up so that he could have sex with me. I detested it, in the back of my head I wondered – is this because he has been watching porn while I’ve been sleeping, or watching it earlier in the day when I was at work?  So I would turn on my side and pretend that I was still asleep – but sometimes he wouldn’t stop touching and I would be sore in the morning.
On occasions he would stop touching me when he realised he was going to get no where, other times he didn’t stop and the touching progressed.
I have to say that the odd time I ‘sleepily obliged’ just so I could get back to sleep again but I resented it as I was shattered and had to get up for work the next morning. I knew that if I didn’t I’d be in trouble the next day and get the silent treatment so I just had to let him. I’d always been told that my body belonged to my husband and as a submissive wife, I had to obey him.
Finally I saw my marriage for what it really was and put boundaries in place, but even when we finally separated, he accused me of being a rebellious wife, used by Satan and influenced by heretical feminist teaching online by not giving him his biblical rights and he quoted  1 Corinthians 7:4.

Abusers wear their target down in many ways, and one common method to effect this evil is to keep them exhausted from lack of sleep. Worn out people are easier to control. They don’t have the energy to resist and they don’t have the mental sharpness to recognize their abuser’s lies as easily. Abusers know all this. They know it well.
We have seen cases (more common than you might realize) in which really the abuser rapes their spouse during sleep. I mean, think about it. What is rape or sexual abuse of any kind? It is non-consensual sexual contact, right? In a way, this form of abuse is akin to what we call “date rape” by drugging the victim. Here is his wife. She is asleep. But he can do whatever he wants to her whenever he wants, however he wants. It’s his right, you know. And after all, the Bible says so, right?

1Co 7:4 For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.

Of course the abuser leaves out the rest of what the Apostle Paul wrote. Husbands love your wives as your self. Let everything be done in love. Don’t consider yourself more important that others, and so on. For him, this business of him having authority over his wife’s body simply means he owns her in the same way that he owns anything else. Yet how many pastors tell abused wives – “well, you have to submit to him at all times. Men have needs you know.”
You are not required by the Lord to submit to abuse. And this business of being sexually or otherwise abused during sleep against your will is abuse. If you cannot lay your head down at night and sleep because you fear what your husband might do while you are sleeping, then be assured that something is very, very wrong. And you are not the problem.
Over the course of time – so often over many years – abuse that deprives a victim of sleep is going to take a terrible toll on her mental and physical health. I often wonder how in the world wives (and on occasion a husband who is married to an abuser wife) keep going on as they do. I don’t think I could. May the Lord lead all who are experiencing this night evil into His rest and peace.

Psa 4:8 In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.



The Beauty of Vindication – A Table in the Presence of my Enemies


I am With You in Spirit – Biblical Justification for a Virtual Church in These Times


  1. Eagerlabs

    Ah…yes.. .love His truth:) thank you:)

  2. Anonymous

    And they sleep just fine knowing that you are a good person and won’t do anything to them (especially while they are sleeping).
    Sleep deprivation is a torture tactic. It softens up targets before they are interrogated again. It makes a person desperate or otherwise frazzled, depending on how long it goes on and to what degree it’s inflicted.
    Glad you talked about sexual abuse. Wives are not sex dolls/robots. They are human beings. And rape happens.
    1Co 7:4 is so regularly weaponized by men to make the victim feel forever obligated, forever owned property without any say in the matter and owing it to her husband 24/7 (how, when, what, is no matter for discussion either) as God supposedly decrees it — but God’s Word speaks of lots of things, yet this verse is abuser 101 weapon.

  3. walkinginlight

    My heart goes out to those women who had to live with this. My abuser did the opposite. When I would question him on why he was being so mean to me, he would “punish” me by what Lundy Bancroft calls “shelving”. He would withhold all love and affection making sure he did not come within two feet of me. I would get the “silent treatment” for weeks on end. And when I would try to talk to him about this behaviour he would stonewall me. I felt like banging my head against a brick wall out of frustration. Back then I knew nothing of the dynamics of abuse or what he was really doing with me. He made me believe that he had a horrible “communication” issue. When I learned the truth of all of this it become crystal clear that he would go to any lengths, including gaslighting me just to not be accountable for his sinful behaviour. It must have made him feel great to see that he could control my emotions back then. I think if he tried to force himself on me while I was asleep I probably would have gotten a mouse trap to surprise him with (forgive me Lord). I pray the Lord’s incredible healing to all who have been victims of these men of the devil.

  4. Jennie

    This didn’t happen often, but yes, my (now ex) husband used to wake me up from a deep sleep in the middle of the night by touching me, even getting on top of me. And he also would do other things to cause sleep deprivation, such as twitching so that the bed would shake and I’d wake up (he told me it was involuntary, but I suspect it was done on purpose). He also would come into the room after I was asleep and turn on the bathroom light so it would shine in my face, not trying to close the bathroom door like most people would do. He would also do this in the morning if he got up first. He would leave the bedroom door open so the dog could run in and jump on me. He did all these things even though I had repeatedly told him to stop. I also caught him filming us in bed, having a camera set up nearby. When I questioned him, he would gaslight me, telling me the camera wasn’t on when I could see it was. His behavior was insidious and oppressive.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Abusers lust for attention and begrudge their victim any “down time.” Thx for sharing that Jennie.

    • Anonymous

      the hidden, perverted, violating filming of women — bedrooms, bathrooms, or wherever else (such as public places, on the street, where cell phones will be positioned in such a way as to ‘upskirt’ women).
      how many women find out they are on porn sites due to their perverted, criminal, sadistic, abusers. other women have husbands who film them and don’t post online, but rather send it around to friends.
      I’m glad you saw the camera, Jeanie. Technology is making it easier and cheaper to do that kind of thing and not get caught with some hidden camera lenses being only 1mm (0.03 inches) and some women suicide because of their violation. Having a rape filmed and distributed and others watch it compounds everything. Or perhaps it’s not rape, but rather you in the bathroom. S. Korea has a huge problem with women’s bathrooms being routinely rigged with hidden cameras.

  5. Momto7

    My abuser (aside from the “sexual” advances during sleep) would run his thumbnail – pressing firmly – up my foot from the heel to toes while I slept. He did it randomly whether he was going to bed after I was asleep or getting up before I awoke. It made me sleep curled up in a ball, knowing that if I stretched my legs out my feet would be vulnerable. I never understood how someone could do this. When confronted about it he denied it was anything or made it out to be “affectionate”.
    I put sexual in quotes above because non-consensual sexual contact of any kind is more of a violent act, than a sexual one. The violence we endure as our “wifely duty” is in no way even remotely close to God’s design. And yet the abusers blame their wives for not following His instructions. Disgusting.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Momto7 – and then throw in the pastor who says “you must submit to him. Your body is not your own.” [Insert angry face here]


    H comes home after hearing this “sermon”
    AND tells me I am to do what he wants.
    I told him that I am responsible for myself!!!!!!
    He disagrees because the pastor says God called out Adam in the garden, not EVE!!!!!!
    I try and tell him my opinion..
    his reply.
    I’m not going to do what you tell me to do…………
    20 year pattern.

  7. Debra

    My husband has awakened me from a dead sleep in the middle of the night by his touching and pressuring me for sex for years. it has been relentless, but I have rarely said no until recently when I realized that it is an abuse tactic. I just had major surgery (…), and we just got home from a long trip, I was exhausted and experiencing a lot of pain and I got up to take some medication. When I went back to bed, he started touching me and pressuring me for sex. When I said no, he became angry and got out of bed. I went back to sleep because I was so tired. The next morning I was awakened by him, yelling at me to take care of some minor issue. Later, he told me he wanted a divorce because I wasn’t “performing” for him like a wife should. He also said he could have any woman he wanted and I would never know. His anger continued to escalate.
    After he fell asleep that night, I left. I have learned to trust my gut instincts. I just wanted to go to sleep, but I didn’t feel safe. Two days later, (my child) called me and asked me if we were having our usual (…) party. I said no, but he said, “Dad is planning one.” “This is a huge tradition that involves many family members. So my husband planned a big party and invited numerous people. I had to go back home.
    I spent the morning crying, which gave him a lot of satisfaction I am sure, and the afternoon preparing. He was Mr. Congenial during the party. After the party, he was Mr. Normal like nothing ever happened. I realized that if I let family members know what’s going on, I will lose big time. I also know that I will be expected to go to bed with him, and if I don’t, it will be seen as an infraction.
    (Editor notes: Some details edited to protect victim’s identity)

    • Jeff Crippen

      Debra- you are correct. This is a wicked tactic of abuse to show you HE has power and control. It is no more real sex than rape is. I hope that you will be able one day to be free.

      • Debra Hargrave

        Thank you for your blog. it helps me to keep my thinking clear. I have taken steps over the past ten years to set boundaries. It takes tremendous fortitude! My church is aware and supportive, but I have had to fight for that support as my survival depends on it. They have called the police twice when he showed up at the church. He thinks that he can get the men to sympathize with him. In the past that has worked. He has gotten sympathy from both men and women. I was dismissed as a Sunday school teacher because of his testimony against me, and he didn’t even attend church regularly, and when he did, he would be so angry, I would many times spend the afternoon on the front porch where I was safe from his terrorism. Those people are gone now because the board members had the courage to get the pastor dismissed and those people left with him. We are a small group now, but it is a wonderful group.

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