Unmasking the Domestic Abuser in the Church

Please Pray for J – Upcoming Custody Hearing – Urgent Situation

I recently spoke with the father of an abuse victim. I won’t go into details in order to maintain her anonymity, but she is still married to a very wicked abuser who is trying to take her children from her. A custody hearing is coming up soon.
J has had her oppression added to at the hands of a very well known pastor’s “counseling” and at the hands of that pastor’s church elders. You know the same old scenario – she is put out of the church while the abuser remains in good standing.
Abuse victims with children are in such a hard place, aren’t they? Dragged through the courts. Falsely accused. In constant fear that her children will be taken from her. Spurned by people who once claimed to be her friends. Her health starts to suffer from constant stress. It is remarkable to me that these women hold up at all under such hard circumstances.
This case also underscored something for me that I have seen (and no doubt most of you as well) repeatedly. Namely, that when a person experiences abuse first hand, when this evil touches THEM and things get “real,” suddenly their once comfortable view of many things comes unraveled and must be re-examined. The father of this victim told me “I used to believe like many pastors and Christians that no one should ever divorce. But this terrible experience, seeing the once joyful countenance of my little girl disappear, has forced me to change my thinking.”  Yes, our thinking changes and our eyes are forced to take another look at Scripture. We are impelled to re-consider our understanding of:

  • The gospel itself
  • Who a Christian actually is, what he or she looks like, what Christ really does in us when He saves us
  • What it means that the Lord desires mercy and not sacrifice
  • Marriage, divorce, and remarriage
  • What the real church looks like and what it does not look like
  • Forgiveness, repentance
  • The nature and tactics of evil

As I have often said to people – study the nature and tactics of the domestic abuser who is hiding behind a “christian” disguise, and you will be forced to put the truth of your theology to the test.
So let’s all please pray for J. I will give updates as I hear them. Her suffering and the suffering of her mom and dad and brothers and sisters is very great. This is going to truly require a miraculous work of the Lord for her to get free.


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  1. phoenixrising2018

    I completely understand she is going through.. It took me a long time to understand that God does not want anyone to live in bondage..Let’s all pray for her strength to get through and may God put people in her path to help lift her… even if it’s through this blog.. it’s tragic how the victim is always turned away by those that are supposed to help.. I have lost many whom I thought were friends because his side of things just sounded better.. I have God as my army.. thank you for posting..

  2. GypsyAngel

    I’m adding my prayers. I’ve been there. I lost…more to the point my children lost and were very badly harmed by the whole process. But then we know that satan is a destroyer.
    I am definitely praying.

  3. MapleRose

    Praying as well. I am also in the middle of a battle where my ex is taking me to court to get sole custody and full rights to do what he wants without my consent. It is a terrifying time. My heart is with J and may God sustain her and her precious children through this storm.

    • Jeff Crippen

      MapleRose – the sadly typical scenario as you well know is, the abuser has the economic resources, the victim does not. The abuser doesn’t really love the children, he just wants to further punish the victim and as always, win control and power. Sometimes justice is done in the courts but far too often it is not. Children, it seems to me, are treated under the law like property which both parents jointly own. Abuse victms find themselves sitting on the witness stand in court being questioned by their abuser – I have seen it.

    • Jeff Crippen

      We can also pray for MapleRose too then. Court rooms make even the innocent feel like they are on trial, though they have done nothing wrong. Just think about what kind of evil it requires in a person to actually take their spouse who they have abused for years to court and make them the accused one. What kind of person does that? A sociopath. A child of the devil.

      • Praying Lady

        Pastor Crippen, I will be praying for J and MapleRose.
        Yes, court rooms make even the innocent feel like they are on trial. I know. I was in court several times thanks to my ex trying to kill me by strangulation, through the order of protection hearing where my ex responded to my petition by accusing me of abusing him, and then the divorce hearing and subsequent hearing regarding a financial issue. It was horrific and extremely traumatic and really took a toll on me, physically and emotionally. Interestingly, my ex did not attend a couple of the hearings because he had fled the state. He did not serve any time for the felony he committed in front of a policeman. It never even went to trial for numerous reasons – all loop holes in the law. No justice there…
        You said, “Just think about what kind of evil it requires in a person to actually take their spouse who they have abused for years to court and make them the accused one. What kind of person does that? A sociopath. A child of the devil.” Absolutely true. My ex is evil. He is a narcissist and sociopath. I am VERY blessed that he is no longer in my life. God delivered me from evil. PRAISE THE LORD!

  4. The corruption of family courts and church courts is heartbreaking. We will certainly keep her in prayer.

  5. Amy

    Praying for J to find her strength and courage in the Lord, and protection over her children as they too are dragged through this terrible situation. I found after over 20 years with an abuser that God was my only constant in this life, everyone else at one time or another let me down, but He was always there.
    And my mother, like this woman’s father, saw me become a shell of a person with no joy left in me. She became my biggest advocate at the time and still is in regards to abuse and divorce.
    Thankfully this woman has her father standing beside her.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Thank you Amy. J’s mother is with her as well, it’s just that I spoke with her father. So yes, she is fortunate in that regard. If I could tell you how she was abused by that famous pastor’s church elders, you would be soooo angered. For myself, I am pretty much totally done with any of these well-knowns, the famous pastors, the big name “christian” leaders. I look at Jesus and the Apostle Paul. Celebrities? I think not.

  6. Jessica

    Praying for J, and all who are suffering through the twisted world of trying to get free from their abusers. May the have Godly courage and strength to see them through, and may they find their beautiful spirits once again and be healed in their hearts, minds, and souls from the evil that had been done, and is being done to them. May God bless their children’s hearts as well and protect their sweet spirits as well.

  7. IamMyBeloved’s

    Praying for both these women and their children and families, that God will work through the Judges to give justice and a safe place for the victims.
    I know this heartbreak well. Years in the legal system defending myself against false accusations, psychological exams and the abuser trying to level the playing field. Those psychological exams were all in my favor and showed the Judge what he needed to know, that he would not have known without them. I was awarded sole custody based on those exams. But I know the terror of being put through all of that.
    God is on His people’s side and will fight for you. He is not on the side of those threatening you or spiritually abusing you by telling you divorce is wrong and He is certainly not on the side of the abuser. Just to note, it can be helpful for these women to have an abuse advocate from a CFPA at their side during the courtroom scenarios.

    • Another J

      Dear Jeff, the saddest thing is, the only difference between this woman and myself is that my abuser snatched my three year old as soon as soon as we separated. It has been two years and with no money and very little income (currently only government benefits as my husband took away my job too through too much time off work because of his added abuse of me through family court), I cannot afford a lawyer and where I live, there is only one option for pro bono legal help and they won’t represent me (as my husband’s very highly paid lawyer has a reputation for very dirty tricks which she uses every dirty tactic she can think of to “win” so the only source of pro bono lawyers here won’t take my case).
      I’ve tried to represent myself but I’m not a lawyer. I suffer severe PTSD and I live in constant pain from the serious injuries my husband left me with (that require surgery I can’t get because of the ongoing abuse). I also have chronic health conditions like lupus that are deteriorating rapidly from the ongoing abuse and stress.
      So my violent husband has my little girl and hardly lets me and my older daughter (who escaped him and the court decided she was too old to bother making interim orders over) see my little girl. She constantly begs to come home to me (ironic as my husband kept our home and left me homeless and in huge debt) because to her, home is where mummy and big sister are.
      All I care about is protecting my little girl from abuse but with no money and no lawyer and no way to get a lawyer, in a family court system where people without lawyers have no voice, how do I rescue my little girl?
      My family have tried to help but they are 800 miles away and have spent their entire retirement funds loaning me money just to get my older daughter and I very cheap accommodation (as no landlords would let me even rent a one bedroom unit on my income) and a loan to have a lawyer for a few months before my parents’ money ran out. They are old and frail and carers for my two disabled siblings and all of their health has suffered yearly too. Not to mention they have from us visiting nearly every school holidays to them barely seeing my daughter for two years (and some of my family haven’t seen my daughter since my husband took her tgeday after we separated to punish me for doing what our pastor said to do and go report the assaults to the police).
      All I want is my little girl to be happy and safe and she is neither. She’s terribly traumatized and just wants mummy and big sister back. But just how do I get this for her in an ungodly world where all that matters is money and lies are what win in court and I can’t bring myself to lie – up against a compulsive liar with money, who is very good at pretending to be a nice guy.
      The saddest thing is I don’t even hate him. He despises me for not staying silent about the abuse. But I still love him and just want the abuse to stop.

      • Jeff Crippen

        Another J – well, we certainly all need to add you to our prayer list as well. Many, many times I have wished I were mega-wealthy, in a real sense we all are – we are actually rich in Christ and He owns it all. Let’s not be afraid to ask Him for big things because it seems to me that the Lord delights in giving to His children lavishly beyond all we ask or think. Your situation seems unfixable. And in many ways it is if we are relying on any of us to be able to fix it. But we aren’t. We are instructed to lay our cares on Him and not be anxious. In a sense, your little girl’s situation is more the Lord’s responsibility than yours. He loves her more than any human can. Look to His promises and pray them back to Him and never, never give up.

        • Another J

          Thank you Jeff.
          I hope this is not inappropriate to say:
          Your words are kind and reassuring about it being God’s responsibility as He has perfect godly parental love not imperfect human parental love. But how then in the difficult times do people (including me) not get angry at God when the abuse does not stop?
          I do not hate my husband and I very rarely feel anger towards him because I understand he’s a messed up human being. Yes he chooses to abuse others, his own childhood is no excuse, but as an imperfect sinful human, he doesn’t have the same responsibility as God for controlling the universe (even if sadly my husband thinks it’s his right to). I can forgive him, I don’t hate him at all, and I only have the occasional very fleeting moments of anger when some new abuse happens.
          But how do I not feel angry at God for not intervening? Not just to protect my daughter, but every child out there going through this. Is God’s lack of intervention to protect my daughter my punishment for being angry at Him for allowing this to happen in the first place?
          I’m not solely blaming God. Plenty of humans have failed to act when they could have. Even myself – I should have seen the warning signs when I still had a chance to get us all out. But God has ultimate control. So how do I not be angry at Him? And could this be my punishment for being angry at Him? Is God angry at me for my imperfect human anger towards Him?

          • Jeff Crippen

            Another J – I will just suggest this to you and let you consider it. Just my take on what you have said here. I understand what you are saying. But it seems to me that you, like most all of us at one time or another, might have been duped by false teaching about loving others and about anger. I mean this stuff is rampant in the churches today. I would recommend for your thinking that perhaps your anger is misplaced.
            What I am saying is that it is absolutely right to be angry at the wicked. God is. His wrath is upon them. His wrath is upon your husband for his evil. God is not going to cut him any slack because he is messed up. He is going to hold him accountable for his wickedness.
            On the other hand, from what you have said here, it seems that you are placing your anger upon the Lord and not where it belongs – on the wicked man. And could it be that the Lord is waiting for you to learn this? Teaching you?
            There is no evil in the Lord. Everything he does is right and good. All the sin and wickedness around us is due to man’s sin. Why does the Lord not just wipe out all evil right now and deliver us all from it right now? He taught us to pray even, “Deliver us from evil.” Well, He is doing something about it, or more correctly, He has done something about it. Christ has conquered evil and in His time He is coming again to do exactly what you and all of us are praying for in finality – wipe out the wicked once and for all and usher in the new creation.
            You said that you love your husband and very rarely feel anger toward him. You said that you can forgive him. That you don’t hate him at all. But this thinking does not square with Scripture and I would recommend that these are the points that you might want to ask the Lord to adjust your thinking on. Because God Himself hates your husband. He hates those who oppress the innocent. And God does not forgive such a man. Godly thinking in other words is to hate the wicked and refuse to forgive where there is no repentance.
            It is possible that your abuser sees your thinking on these things as weakness – and abusers love to spot weakness in their target and exploit it.

          • IamMyBeloved’s

            God is intervening on your behalf, but perhaps you cannot see it. His most important purpose in his beloved one’s suffering is to learn that we do not rely on ourselves, but on God. Paul speaks of this in 2 Cor. 1:8-10.
            “8 For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. 9 Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. 10 He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again.”
            God is our deliverer and even though He may not appear to intervene through the Courts, (there are wicked judges too) He is guarding our souls. God may allow the evil to flourish, but the end result will always be justice for His people.
            I agree with Jeff’s advice, not that anyone needs me to, but blaming God is blaming the righteous One and the abuser is solely to blame. Perhaps you could talk to God about your feelings and ask Him to help you to put the blame where it really belongs. We are not puppets and your ex husband’s choices to abuse are his alone. He has chosen to deny righteousness and choose evil instead. My prayers are with you!

          • Amy

            Dear Another J,
            My heart hurts for you as a mother of two boys. I stayed 20 years with my abuser because he threatened often to take those two precious boys away from me if ever I left him. Could he have gotten custody? My parents tried to assure me, no. But as a mother, it was a not a gamble I was willing to take.
            I cannot even imagine your anguish at having your daughter taken from you, how you must hurt and be angry. And yes, you can be angry at God, but I have to agree with Pastor Crippen — I believe your anger is misplaced. The evil one at work here is NOT God, it is your husband and that is who your anger should be directed towards.
            As a Christian and abuse victim, I was often told that anger was sin and I should not be angry at my then-husband. I was to forgive him and just move on like nothing was happening, because I was told that he was a broken man and a sinner just like me, so I basically didn’t have a right to hold anger against him.
            But now I see that is such false teaching! There is nothing wrong with righteous anger, being angry about someone mistreating us, it’s the holding onto the anger which can cause us to sin.
            And regarding us both being sinners, at the time I didn’t understand about this, being a new believer, so I bought into the lie that we, believers and non-believers, are all sinners. False! And as the years went on that is the one statement which really bothered me, how we were both sinners and therefore, I didn’t have the right to judge or condemn my abuser. Having chosen to follow Jesus Christ, I was no longer a sinner but my then-husband may have outwardly appeared to be a Christian, but his actions and behaviors did not prove that to be true. And the same with your husband. He is a sinner and should be treated as such.
            You have a right to be angry with him and what he has done, and continues to do. God allows suffering in this world because we live in a fallen world, but He often provides us with a way through it. It’s just that you may not seen flashing signs pointing the way, because he often speaks to us in little ways, in those little things.
            Just you being here on Pastor Crippen’s blog is one way He is speaking to you. You are learning and growing from what you are reading here and those you interact with. God isn’t punishing you for your anger towards him, it is your husband who is doing evil against you.
            Yell at God if you must, letting him how you feel and crying out for Him to help you and show you the way. He will not leave you nor forsake you, He will only continue to love you.
            I’m praying for you and your daughter. May you find the strength and courage through our Lord and Savior to be able to stand against your husband and get your daughter back.

  8. Mary27

    I can empathize with the parents of this girl as we have walked the path they are now walking. My husband and I also watched our daughter become a shell of who she used to be… her personality and her health were completely destroyed. We also came to understand that God loves the individual more than the institution of marriage. And we watched the church add to the pain and heartache by excommunicating her when she refused to obey them and return to her abuser (we were glad she didn’t buckle under the extreme pressure they put her under). She and her children have been living with us for a number of years now. She has joint custody which means the children continue to be influenced by the abuser and hear their mother degraded all the time. There has been a huge emotional toll on everyone and I doubt there’ll ever be a “happy ending”. However… no matter how hard things have been post-divorce, we are no end thankful she left. I doubt she’d be alive now if she hadn’t done so. We’ll pray for J.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Mary27 – THANK you! You have indeed been through the same scenario. The church excommunicated her. I have had that same story told to me over and over and over again by victims. I can tell you that even though I am a pastor and I love the people in our church, I cannot drive down the road past a “church” building and have any warm feelings toward it. In fact, I find myself talking to myself – “I know exactly what is going on in that place.” Now, I realize that the visible church is not the true church, which is invisible. But anymore I seek out people who are part of that true church. That is one reason we started the online church outreach at Light for Dark Times.
      The churches are full of Pharisees. Increasingly we go “outside the camp” to find Christ.

  9. Susan

    God may make a miraculous way out. If He does He will convince your mind that He truly did make the way. There maybe unseen things happening behind the scenes that must happen first. The victim’s part is to keep trusting Christ, walking a straight line, staying in prayer and fellowship with God. I so agree with Pastor Crippen, we wanted our marriage to work so much that it’s nearly impossible to give up on the ideal of marriage. This causes us to sometimes vent our anger against God..For God, after all, is the one saying to ‘stay married,’ right? Actually in an abuse situation, ‘wrong.’ We must realize we spent our genuine love on a counterfeit love relationship. Now we must withdraw that genuine love from the abuser and keep it on deposit, and allow it to grow interest for God and His kingdom (and for another spouse should He grant that).

  10. walkinginlight

    I will keep J and Maplerose in my prayers until I hear a praise report. It has been the last five years of reading and listening to Pastor Crippen’s sermons that I have learned it is not sinful to hate the behaviour of the wicked. And I have learned what real biblical forgiveness is and is not. The Lord is so faithful working for our good even when we can not see it at the moment.
    Blessings to these two dear sisters.

  11. Norma

    Prayers for J. It’s hard to find positives while going to court, for the best interest of the child is obscured. J needs strength and courage to get through this. I’ll pray that she receives what she needs. What I learned from my custody battle was to “let go and let God.” I also learned how to prepare and present. Still, I lost. Later, the victory came in a way I didn’t expect it. My pastor and people in my church prayed over me the Sunday before I went to court for the first time. People were in tears. I can’t tell you how much that meant to me. The agony of the experience is embedded in a book I wrote in 2012. These things mark us for life,.God ministers to us in ways we don’t expect. Thank you for being here for this fine community of wonderful people.

  12. Jennie

    I’m praying for J. I’m currently in a custody battle with my ex husband as well. He has twice filed for full custody with false accusations against me. J and family, stand strong in the promises of God. He desires your good, and He will be with you through the battle. I pray for your freedom and healing, and peace and a new life for all of you. Pray the imprecatory Psalms, such as Psalm 55. Just pray them straight out, believing that His promises are true.

  13. healinginhim

    Heartbreaking … Praying.

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