Unmasking the Domestic Abuser in the Church

"She Just Wants to Take Him for all She Can" — Really?

As we know, abuse victims are regularly and roundly criticized (that’s putting it mildly) for leaving and/or filing for divorce from their abuser. One of the charges made against them is that “she just wants to take him for all she can in divorce court.” And, of course, abusers love to repeat this mantra, claiming that the courts are dominated by the feminists and men received gross injustice there.
That is a fantasy that originates with and is promoted by abusers. Let’s do a reality check.

What is the situation of the typical abuse victim who leavers her abuser? What happens when she files for divorce and the courts return a judgment? I can tell you, as can our readers. We can tell you because we talk to lots and lots of abuse survivors who left their abuser. Here is what happens to her and the children with her:

  • She has no job, no means of making an income. Her abuser saw to that.
  • She has nowhere to go, or if she stays in the present home and the abuser moves out, she just barely ekes by.
  • Court action and processes drag on and on and on because her abuser uses the court as an instrument to continue the abuse.
  • She is shunned by her church “friends.”
  • She has to yield to court-ordered visitation of the children with the abuser

And I am sure I have left out other “fun” aspects of her life after she leaves.
Now, think! Think! Do you really believe that abuse victims file for divorce because they just know they can “take him for all they can”? Think again. Why in the world would ANY person subject themselves to such a life if their claims of abuse were false?  Think again. Just how terrible and insufferable must the abuse be if she is willing to endure an impoverished life with all the other painful trappings that go along with it, to escape the abuse?  “Hmmmm, you say. Must be pretty bad.” Yep. It is. And most likely worse than you imagine.
So for all the crying and wailing on the part of abusers, and by these “fathers’ rights groups,” their claims just do not add up.


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  1. GypsyAngel

    Thank you for this article. So many people do not understand how an abuser can use the courts and finances to further abuse.
    Six years after my divorce, and I have just this past Feb, gotten a home (Totally God!). I’m in college (again at 57 so I can at least TRY to go back to work as a paralegal/advocate, eventhough I can barely walk or sit for any length of time) and used $2000 that I was able to save from my loans and scholarships over a three year period to buy an old trailer and refurbish it. The abuser sold our 3 bedroom/ two bathroom home on an acre, out from under me, eventhough it was MY paycheque that paid lease/purchase for 14 years. There was only two payments left, and it would have been “his” free and clear, because I wasn’t allowed to have my name on anything. I was left homeless and destitute. If it were not for one of my pastors and his wife (My AMAZING Brother and Sister in Christ) I would have most likely died on the streets homeless. I have a number of health issues that I cannot get any medical care for, because I cannot afford the $25 per visit (I get under $90.00 a week WHEN he pays That is just enough to squeak by with occasional help from my church), so I cannot even show medical need, which is what’s required for SSI and Medicaid/Medicare in my state and county. I have 5 medical conditions that are eligible, and one mental health issue (C-PTSD) most of which have origin cause in the physical and sexual abuse I suffered at his hand, and all have been exacerbated by lack of care for over 30 years. But because the abuser would regularly refuse me medical care, and I now cant afford it, I’m sunk. The abuser tried so many times to kill me, but he didn’t succeeded. Looks like my state is going to finish killing me…won’t the abuser be happy?
    Take HIM for all Hes got????…NO!!!!
    He has taken EVERYTHING from me including my life via a long painful death.

  2. jessicanotadoormat

    Due to the prior economic abuse, like making it difficult for me to work, doing things to cause trouble for me at work, forcing me to use my paycheck to pay bills, and keeping any money he makes in a separate account that I cannot access, I realized when I tried to get out that I had little or no money for a decent lawyer.
    In addition to having to submit to court ordered visitation, my abusive husband often engages in parental alienation, and uses our child to manipulate me, both of which are very difficult to prove in court, and have done irreparable damage to our mother/child relationship. The courts assumed that my husband’s facade of goodwill was genuine and that I was the one being difficult (and my husband claimed this) when I attempted to bring it to light. I eventually just caved and went back, humiliated, because my husband had told everyone to most outrageous lies about me such as I was sexting other men because I would not show him my phone, and every time I left the house, I came home to terrible accusations of infidelity that he told other people as well. The accusations of infidelity are his go-to when he wants to put me under his thumb, because a person can not prove how faithful they are, and he says his complete lack of evidence only proves that I hide things well. Most of all, he likes to catch me off guard, with his attacks, because I am easier to manipulate when I am not expecting his newest tactic for verbal and emotional abuse. The one thing I have learned to expect though is that whenever we experience a power shift in our relationship, like when I graduated from college, or started my dream job, or opened my own bank account or made friends with people who are socially connected in our small town, he really piles on the abuse in an attempt to “put me in my place”(under his thumb).

    • GypsyAngel

      I understand exactly what you are saying. It really does appear as if they all use the same script or playbook. My ex used to much the same. If only we could open the hearts and minds of others and pour in the truth of what we have all experienced and continue to experience. You are in my prayers Dear One.

    • Jeff Crippen

      I have seen this many times. Abusers cannot stand to see their target prosper so they do all they can to sabotage. You have grown wise to this evil tactic.

  3. walkinginlight

    God has a very special place for these spawn of Satan!!!

    • GypsyAngel

      It is my most sincere hope that they all come to Christ. However, barring that, you are most likely correct. And it Breaks my heart, for they too need the Awesome Healing power of God.

      • Amy

        My ex moved to Thailand, seems pretty tough to do that on no income like he claimed. People were shocked when they found out, I think primarily shocked that they were duped by him and his act of ‘poor me’.

  4. Amy

    My ex’s mantra after HE walked out on us (although he worked hard to convince everyone it was ME who had kicked him out) was: she’s trying to ruin me financially! He said I was trying to take the house from him and he actually had people convinced he was so down and out, that somehow I was living high on the hog. Hmmm, I don’t think so! LOL
    And the sad thing is, he really worked hard to convince our sons who were 16 and 19 at that time, that I was doing great financially but he (my ex) had nothing and to this day, my boys still believe that when their dad and I sold the house after the divorce that somehow I got all this extra money from it and their dad got very little. When actually, I found out last year that their dad had $60,000 hidden away somewhere at the time. I always knew he was faking it, but I had no idea about that money.
    I can guarantee that as an abuse survivor, I just wanted out. I didn’t care at all about how much I could get from him, I wanted nothing but my freedom.

  5. Anonymous Pastor’s wife

    Jeff, thank you for your continued faithfulness is addressing issues such as this that abuse victims experience. The abuse doesn’t end when the victim can finally walk out the door but continues and continues, especially if minor children are involved. But I would say it continues in some form for all victims: the harassing phone calls and texts, the attempts at alienation of friends and as one commenter above mentioned- the children themselves. As you know, as well, it doesn’t get easier for the victim after they leave the abuser and try to start a whole new life. In different ways it is harder than ever.
    Your blog continues to be a beacon of HOPE for the many abuse victims out there that have few places to seek help, advice and comfort. Our continued prayer support for the 2 blogs and your own congregation. May Our Lord continue to bless your ministries and to give you the daily strength to do His WILL and to continue this fight on behalf of abuse victims.
    Anoymous Pastors’ Wife

    • Z

      Dear Anonymous Pastor’s Wife,
      In addition to all that you and other commenters mentioned as the very real LOSSES that victims of abusers suffer, there is the reality of PTSD that lingers long after some leave their abusers and even after we go to total No Contact with them. They “live on in our minds” in the form of intrusive, unwanted thoughts and flashbacks, unwanted, disturbing memories, nightmares, etc…
      Our mental health suffers long after we leave and sometimes it can be permanent. We are never the same after the long term, horrific abuses happened. And there’s no cure for PTSD and especially hard to treat is the C-PTSD many of us have to live with. Many psychiatrists and counselors simply aren’t qualified to treat such a difficult condition either.
      And of course, our spiteful, hateful abusers retaliate after we finally leave by assassinating our character and smearing us to everyone we know. And many people we thought were our friends and even our own relatives turn their backs on us-making our recovery so much harder in isolation after their abandonment and betrayals. We often have no support, as the people in our lives, even so-called “christians”, side with the abusers because the “cost” of standing up for victims is too high for their liking. Too inconvenient. They maybe don’t want to “take on” and stand up to a known abuser and become a target themselves. Or they’ve been being systematically bribed and “polished” by the manipulative abuser-groomed for the day the abuser needs them to repay those debts and be on his side. They don’t want to lose those “perks”. I’m actually sickened to learn of the cheap “sellout price” some of the people I was closest to sold their souls and sided with evil for. For some it was simply continuing to be invited to parties and cookouts at the abuser’s home! They call themselves “followers of Jesus”? No. They aren’t.
      Isolation isn’t fun but I prefer it to the company of wolves in sheep’s clothing.
      We must rely on our Rescuer Jesus. He is often our ONLY source of help, hope and healing. We need Him to walk beside us (in the place where actual Christians’ human support should be) every moment of every day.
      Thank You Jesus for always being a lifeline. Always being there whenever we call on You.
      And thank you to Pastor Crippen and all the victim/survivors who participate on his two blogs. Your support and your camaraderie is comforting, educational, healing. We don’t have to feel so alone. There is true, loving support here. I thank God for all of you and I pray for healing for each one of you.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Thank you Anon. We have seen obvious evidence that the Lord is indeed blessing this ministry and helping many. It’s incredible because our church is so tiny.

  6. Maya

    I echo the comments and appreciation of Anonymous Pastor’s Wife. After divorce the constant character assault and abuse, sabotage and harassment we face makes the journey difficult. The third party abusers who join in to exacerbate the problem is astounding. I am grateful that their are voices calling out for justice and truth.

  7. debby

    Church folk love to threaten a victim and tell us how “bad” life will be after divorce, without a CLUE as to how “bad” life is BEFORE divorce (because they only care about the MARRIAGE, which is a caricature of the intended thing). Then when you DO divorce, they want to subtly let you know that God is not blessing you because you divorced and it is evidenced by how difficult life can be after divorce. They never stop to think or question, “Why would someone CHOOSE these difficulties?”
    It’s really quite crazy. I lived in a beautiful home on several acres, where I raised my kids, paid off after 30 years of marriage. Now in my late 50s I could have a comfortable retirement, travel, rest, but I will work for several more years (fortunately I love my job!) and will not be near in the position I would have been, financially speaking. Do they never just wonder, “WHY would anyone DO that?!” They just think “She must be crazy/bitter/unforgiving/crazy/did I mention crazy?”
    Sometimes I just laugh at the lunacy of it all. But God has only my GOOD on His mind and I know I am cared for.
    (Twbtc: Some details edited to protect identity.)

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