Unmasking the Domestic Abuser in the Church

What Not to Do or Say When Helping a Domestic Abuse Victim in Economic Need

1Ti 5:5  She who is truly a widow, left all alone, has set her hope on God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day,
Lev 23:22  “And when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, nor shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the LORD your God.”
1Ti 6:17-18  As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.  (18)  They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share,

Most all of us know that domestic abusers use economics as a weapon. They like to keep their victim in poverty so that they are easier to control, enslaved to the abuser. This is why very often abusers will sabotage their victim’s efforts to obtain employment or to keep a good job once they have it. It is quite alright, according the abuser’s double-standard handbook, for him to buy most anything he wants, but there is hell to pay if his victim spends a dollar.  Economic abuse, you see.
Now, this means that most victims of domestic abuse are poor. Legally they own half of what their spouse has, but getting hold of it is another thing. Abusers withhold payment for healthcare, for decent groceries to feed the children, for clothing and most any other necessity. So when we set out to help domestic abuse victims, we are going to be faced with the need to provide money and the necessities for her and the children.

[Always keep in mind that I know full well there are female abusers out there. I use male pronouns for the abuser to keep things simple].
When it comes to providing cash and materials to the poor, in this case an abuse victim, we need to use some common sense. Put yourself in her place for instance. I have had more than one victim tell me how they were treated in this regard by their local church. Right off, judgment comes flooding down upon them:

  • Are you using a credit card?
  • Aren’t there areas in your budget that you can cut back on?
  • Before the church can help you, we are going to need you to bring in your checkbook and your monthly expense records so we can go over them with you and help you set up a budget.

Would you want that? Sure, there are people who abuse credit cards. Lots of them. And there are people who are foolish in the use of their money. But abuse victims are not in need because of their own carelessness! And for you budgeting experts, I have news for you: You cannot make a budget based on nothing! You can’t budget “zero.” Abuse victims are not in poverty because they are idiots and fools. So don’t treat them like they are! Most in fact are extremely ingenious and it amazes me how in the world they do as well as they do on almost nothing.
I have told victims who have been treated this way by their churches to simply tell that pastor or deacon, “if you are going to help me, then help me. But if you think that I am in this situation because I have foolishly wasted money, then I don’t want your help.” How would any of us feel if we were told that we had to bring our checkbook and financial records into the pastor so he could pour over them with his red pen?
Also, the fact is that the abuser is the real culprit here, not the victim. He is the one withholding money that belongs to her as much as to him. He is the one who is incurring God’s wrath because even though he claims to be a Christian, the Lord says that he is worse that the worst pagan sinner for not providing for his own household. So, if churches and Christians really want to help victims even more, how about nailing this evil man who is sitting in your pews Sunday after Sunday, perhaps dropping his holy money into the offering plate and telling his victim – “too bad. It is given to the Lord. You can’t touch it now.” Jesus had some words for such a hypocrite, you will recall.
Don’t look down on a victim of abuse. Remember, such were some of you before the Lord delivered you from the greatest abuser of all.

Eph 2:1-3  And you were dead in the trespasses and sins  (2)  in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—  (3)  among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.



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  1. walkinginlight

    Think of how humiliating it would be to be told “sure, we can help you but first we have to see your checkbook and financial statements”. Giving in the love of Christ real giving that is, does not have any strings attached. To help out someone in need the thought of “what did they do or contribute to this situation” should not even be a concern. If the person has a known drug or drinking problem then the situation is different. It is sad in this day and age that people have grown so suspicious of one another that giving freely from the heart is a rare thing. In fact, the love of many has sure waxed cold.

  2. Praying Lady

    Oh, Pastor Crippen, you are such a BLESSING! This post nailed it regarding the economic issues associated with being the victim of abuse from a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
    I am in my 60’s and as a result of my divorce after 35 years of marriage, I now receive a little over $400/month from my ex’s pension. That is it. There was no large lump sum payment to me, but I was forced to refinance the house to pay him his half of the equity. So he received tens of thousands of dollars and I now have an enormous mortgage to pay.
    Also, my ex told me after the divorce was final, “off the record,” that he would help me out financially when he could. Of course, I have not seen one penny from him in the year+ since the divorce was final. In our last communication, he told me that he just has not had any money to send to me. He continues to lie. So, I finally cut off all contact with him.
    I have been selling whatever I can to just pay my bills from month to month. My ex left me in a horrible financial situation. That is just one more aspect of his many forms of abuse.

  3. sue

    Dear Pastor Jeff and Friends, years ago at work, a lady, Marie, said to one of those nosey-pharisees, “do you want to help… or not.” In this case, the person in need was a man, and yeah, he smoked cigarettes – when you’re broke, cigs help to kill hunger pangs.

  4. IamMyBeloved’s

    You explain economic abuse and how some victims are treated by their church, perfectly!
    Abuse victims need to know that there are laws governing support to ex spouses and they need to know what those laws are, to make certain their attorney is doing his/her job. Some laws have changed since 2015, which made figuring support easier, gave women lifetime maintenance if they were married for 20 years or more and the percentages of support are higher. So be certain to check your state laws concerning support payments before your divorce is finalized. If it seems the abuser is hiding his money, have a tax lawyer review his taxes because they should know on a dime if there is any hint that money is being hidden, stowed away or paid to the abuser in say, gift cards. It will pay well for it to be uncovered before the divorce is final, because most abuse victims won’t have the financial resources to go back to court once the divorce is final.
    Also be aware that upon the abuser’s retirement, death, or upon the victim reaching age 65, she can draw one half of his social security benefits as long as she is not remarried. But if the abuser has been hiding or not reporting his income, then that amount may not be much. But on the “reap what you sow” end of things, it won’t be much for him either.

  5. Amy

    Years ago my ex and I were friends with a couple from a former church and the husband was an accountant.
    My ex was always mad at me for us not having more money in the bank and blamed me entirely. Half the time I was frustrated at trying to grocery shop or buy the boys clothes, etc on an unreasonable budget, and then I was blamed if I used the credit card at all. So one day, my ex tells me that I’m going to take our checkbook and bank statements and go sit down with this guy who is an accountant and have him explain to me how to budget correctly and to see where I was going wrong with the finances.
    A side note — the wife read Debi Pearl’s books — enough said on that.
    So, I drove over to this couple’s house feeling completely humiliated, and the wife opens the doors and shows me to her husband’s office where he is waiting. And I will say, this man was very nice and caring, and I felt he was embarrassed for me being there. He looked things over and told me I was doing a good job, and that most couples had a savings about the size of ours, pretty small.
    I left there feeling better and somewhat validated that our financial struggles were not my fault. I was sick to my stomach on the drive home and actually afraid to share with my then-husband what this man had said because I knew he wouldn’t believe it.
    And that’s exactly what happened!
    He cornered me, literally, as soon as I walked in the door and wanted to know what the man had said, acting all righteous like he was thrilled at the idea that this man had showed me how terrible I was with the finances. And when I told him all the man had said, he was so angry and just kept telling me I was lying and the man would never have agreed that I was actually competent in handling a budget.
    Fast forward to today — I take care of all the finances in our home and my husband constantly says to me, and compliments me in front others, on how hard I work to save money and how well I budget.
    BTW, after I divorced my first husband the woman above never spoke with me again. And that’s okay. 🙂

  6. Sunnyside

    Thank you.

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