Unmasking the Domestic Abuser in the Church

Until YOU Have Been the Target….

2Ti 4:14-15  Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds.  (15)  Beware of him yourself, for he strongly opposed our message.

I wonder if Timothy believed Paul’s warning? I hope that he did. I suspect that he did. But if so, Timothy would be an exception to such warnings.
I have seen it over and over and over again. Victims, people who have been targeted by domestic abusers, sociopaths, psychopaths, wolves in wool, tell someone what the evil person is doing. Just like Paul told Timothy about Alexander. But what is the most typical reaction to the warning?

  • You are exaggerating
  • He can’t be as bad as that
  • We are all sinners, you know
  • You need to show him love. He probably had a messed up childhood

And then, throw into the mix the denials and charming wiles of the abuser and the victim’s report just blows away in the wind. Why?

There is more than one reason, but the fact is that until YOU have been the target of such an evil person, until YOU have experienced his wicked tactics (and even then for some time YOU don’t even realize what is going on), then you are going to resist the truth about him. Denial. That is the first response. Denial is more comfy than the truth. For you at least.
And this helps us see the total insanity of pastors, church leaders, church members and so on insisting that THEY must be the ones to grant permission to the victim to get free. The people who deny the evil, the people who have for the most part only experienced the charms and spells of the abuser, claim that they are the wise ones in the matter and that the victim lacks the ability to understand God’s will.
Consider the community here at this blog. What is our commonality? Why is it that everyone here readily believes the reports of other abuse victims submitted in the comments? Why do the articles here resonate as truth? Because everyone here has been the target. We have tasted this wickedness over and over. We know what it is. We know who it is.
In a very real sense then, it is correct to say that no one is competent to give counsel to a victim of an abuser unless THEY themselves have been its target. Every single day, disastrous, foolish, and even evil advice dressed up as “biblical teaching” is being dished out in churches, pastors’ offices, “christian” books, and seminars by people who do not know and who refuse to know what is really going on.
Want a very powerful picture of this madness? Just go back and read Job in the Old Testament. Job was targeted by the ultimate abuser, Satan. What happened? Well, along come Job’s “friends,” insisting that they know. They are going to tell him. “It’s as simple as this,” they say. “Job, you sinned and God is punishing you for it. You need to admit it. This is how it works. Do good and God rewards you. Sin and He nails you. That is why your kids are dead.” Job knew otherwise, but they wouldn’t have it. In the end, God’s hot anger is against them for claiming to speak for Him.
I suppose we should coin a new term for all the people who insist they know, when they do not know. All the ones who badger victims of abuse and demand that they submit to the decrees of the church. Yep. A new name for this mob: Job’s Friends. 


Local Churches are Arrogantly Co-Dependent on the Wicked


How Academia in Religion Can Enable and Protect Abusers


  1. Suzzie

    Yes, this is exactly the case. I received this poor kind of counseling, but thankfully I also received support through a number of Christian friends who truly observed and understood the abuse first hand. It definitely seems victims of abuse do understand best of all while those who have never suffered abuse just don’t recognize it.

  2. Z

    For decades, not listening to what I now know was the prompting of the Holy Spirit NOT to lend my gifts, talents, time, energy…to evil people-my always abusive family-resulted in the wreckage I now face of my mental and physical health. They all were and still are professing Christians. “Christian abusers/liars/unrepentant, habitual sinners”. I now know that’s not a possibility. They have always been wolves in sheep’s clothing. But at the time, I wanted to be a “real Christian” by NOT being anything like them. I wanted to be obedient to God. Forgiving of their abuses even though they were never repentant. Showing undeserved mercy and kindnesses to my “enemies”. And I thought my Christlike heart would somehow “rub off” on them. Well, the OPPOSITE is what happened. They decided to target and exploit my good, Christ-following heart and abuse me more.
    When I set boundaries as a result of the abuses worsening, they reacted with anger and escalation of their abuses. A SURE sign of Unsafe, Dangerous people to have NO contact with. But I didn’t know that then. I found out the very hard way. I experienced violence by them in a most brutal weapon attack. Of course, NOW there is No Contact with them in place forever. But at a great cost.
    I learned that my normal hopes and wishes for a “normal” family and a harmonious relationship with them was NEVER a real possibility. Not with abnormal, disordered people and wolves in sheep’s clothing. They weren’t my “brothers and sisters in Christ”. So the things I thought the Lord would have me overlook and forgive and the continued kindness and generosity of my heart was not Scripturally meant for these imposters, these ravenous wolves. Children of satan. And Scripture says to EXPOSE AND FLEE FROM THEM for good reason! I didn’t know the twisted Scriptural teachings I had been taught were going to eventually be such a brutal danger to me over time. Soul-crushing, mental well-being shattered, physical health chronically poor from the longterm stress.
    So I’d say to anyone who has a “dream”, who wishes and hopes their abuser will eventually appreciate your continued efforts to be kind, open hearted, forgiving and generous of spirit to them-those are ONLY wishes and hopes and dreams. NOT based on reality!! Look at their BEHAVIORS!! That will tell you whether they are wolves in sheep’s clothing and hypocrites. Whether they are unsafe and dangerous to be around at all. Especially look at their responses to your setting of boundaries. How do they react to your saying “No” to them? If anger, guilting, manipulating, entitlement, efforts to control you…are their response? RUN! Protect yourself from them! Stop fantasizing, like I did, about WANTING a normal family, when I was IN REALITY dealing with evil, character-disordered people with no consciences, intent on continuing and loving their evil. Intent on destroying me. Hating God and hating me because Jesus lives in me.
    I knew they were abusers. I knew they were hypocrites and counterfeit “christians”. I just didn’t realize the damage continuing any association with them would be.
    If I’d known what I know now, I’d have saved myself decades of trying to create a “fantasy family” that could NEVER be. Decades of their abuses. And the PTSD and other mental injuries I now suffer as a result of merely being around them wouldn’t be so severe. Being in any contact with them equaled ABUSE. The consequences for me are devastating.
    If I can help or save one person from the fate I’m facing now from underestimating the impact of evil over a long time, it will be a blessing for me.

    • Stormy

      Z—your words have helped me. Thank you for articulating my feelings. I too tolerated more than I should have because I was trying to be a good Christian. It did absolutely no good.
      My kindness and tolerance did not lead any of them to repentance. It just embolden them in their evil —the abuse ramped up the kinder I was.
      Add into the mix the position my abuser had in the church group and the pats on the back and affirmations the abuser was getting openly from the head pastor. My head was spinning.
      Then add in the trickery and false persona the abuser presented to the public, the gathering of allies against me getting (my fake) Christian friends to turn on me.
      It was a situation that could never be fixed because of the evil and dysfunction in their personalities. The only way to go is no contact. Hard lessons learned that’s for sure.

    • sweethonesty7

      Z, I appreciate your post so much. I had to cut ties with most of my extended family and previous friends. The ex systemically performed character assassination on me, behind my back while I labored to care for my aged mother and father and was struggling greatly with my own very serious health issues. I was always the peacemaker in my family and it cost me dearly. I thought I would miss them all terribly, but truth is I feel lighter. I didn’t realize just how burdensome their constant critical remarks and demands were, until I finally went “no contact.”

  3. walkinginlight

    The self centered behavior of people right now has this mentality. . . . . “It didn’t happen to me, it didn’t effect me any”!
    You are correct Pastor Crippen. They have not been a target so they are ignorant to the devices these wolves in sheeps clothing employ. Why would we listen to these ignorant people and follow their unbiblical (although they think they are giving righteous advice) counsel?
    I praise God for sending me to your website many years ago. You know, understand, and preach truth. How about the “we all have faults” statement? It is maddening to even try and paint the picture of reality to these “friends of Job’s” as you say. I love that one!!
    Z, your post is a bright light shining in dark place. Every description hits the nail on the head. I am just so very sorry you had endure what you did and battle physical impairments for it now. But I do know Jesus is the great physician and will heal as you continue to walk in faith with Him. I do completely understand also the evil of a person hating a safe boundary. I am in that fix right now and the firmer I am about it the more he comes after me. Yes, like you said the more you show them of Jesus in you, the more they hate you!!
    I am asking everyone here to pray on my behalf for the Lord to send him back overseas working which he was doing for the past fifteen years! I do not need or want this darkness with him trying to control me again. And yes, I can tell it is effecing my health.

    • Stormy

      Walking in the light
      Prayers for him to go overseas – going up
      Dear Lord please deliver Walking in the Light from all evil.
      Please deliver all of us from every trace of residual pain and evil left by the wicked abusers in our lives.
      We need your deliverance. We are powerless please send us help now.
      Thank you for healing our minds, bodies, emotions and memories.
      Deliver us from every trace of the pain we have experienced. Restore everything we lost —our peace, our reputations, our health.
      Let’s us know that you hear us. Let’s us all feel your comfort.
      Thank you for giving us wisdom and affirmation from each other and especially from Pastor Crippen. Please bless him and his family and congregation real good.

  4. Suzzie

    The very MOST helpful thing I’ve read here (or in many other posts in this site) is the description of the mindset of the one being abused…that strong desire for relationship! Yes, this nails it for me. I see where we don’t quit trying because we keep hoping (a false hope) that the abuser(s) will eventually come to ‘love’ us. Usually it’s the ones where we have every right or reason to expect love…from a parent, a spouse, a sibling, a child, etc. It is just heartbreaking when we have to let go of those expectations, seeing that not only do they not have any love for us but that they actually do hate us! That is a very hard thing to admit to ourselves, but if we calmly observe and access their behaviors and words to us, we will finally see the truth. It doesn’t ‘seem’ like the truth will ‘set us free,’ but it most certainly does. We’re then free to totally accept Jesus’ love for us and to love Him in return as He deserves!

  5. Suzzie

    Z’s comments are spot on! The abuser(s) we have the most right and reason to expect love from are the ones we keep trying to ‘win over.’ We can’t do this, it’s futile. Once we observe their cruelty, we have to admit it to ourselves…the truth WILL set us free …to accept Jesus’ love for us and love Him in return and to love other’s who will accept and appreciate our love.

  6. Change Agent

    I appreciate the posts and the comments. Victims overwhelmed with “the heavy and sharp blade of systemic injustice that cuts you from the world you thought [they] knew” can find it hard in the wake of constant abuse and betrayal to find ways of renewing their strength. When victims encourage one another just by listening neutrally and make the courageous effort to join voices in defiance against this evil everyone benefits. There is no lack of opinions on the victim experience but there is a severe lack of advocacy. God reminds us that we never stand alone when we are devoted to him:
    Isaiah 46:
    3“Listen to me, descendants of Jacob,
    all you who remain in Israel.
    I have cared for you since you were born.
    Yes, I carried you before you were born.
    4I will be your God throughout your lifetime—
    until your hair is white with age.
    I made you, and I will care for you.

  7. Change Agent

    I will carry you along and save you.

  8. C

    Dear commentors,
    there are so many who have suffered so horribly,may the Lord comfort each one of you.
    When someone looses a loved one, they are allowed to grieve.
    When they loose a relationship to a horrible crime or deep betrayal, they can expect at least some compassion or kindness.
    When you loose a family (or important parts) to abuse so toxic that you have to go no contact. you are often the target of blaming and shaming, especially in church.
    Why can’t poeple understand that no one looses their whole family lightly, whether they turn against you or whether you realize you had no real family in the first place. Why can’t they see that it is even worse to be attacked and betrayed by your own than by a known enemy?
    My heart goes out to everyone of you,
    my prayers and thoughts are with you,

    • Z

      You are so right. When people are grieving the loss of a loved one to death, they rightfully get condolence calls and visits, casseroles, sympathy cards, fruit baskets…
      When one loses their entire family due to abuse and complicity in that abuse> crickets. No calls, visits, kindnesses, compassion, cards, no texts even. The silence is deafening. And heart wrenching for the victims. More betrayal upon betrayal. Abandonment upon abandonment. By “family”!!
      So we weren’t only abused by our actual abusers who were supposed to love and care for us-in my case parents-we suffered mental abuse by the allies of the abusers. The enablers, cover up artists, liars, smear campaign leaders. Also “family”! We can learn all we want about the tactics that were used on us by the abusers. That’s very helpful.
      But, where do we go to get understanding about the tactics of pretty much everyone else? Where do we go to put our shattered hearts and minds and bodies back together after such damage?
      The Lord, the Lord, the Lord is the only One Who can piece back together a shattered life. But I’m finding it takes a long, long time. And it’s a hard, lonely road of suffering as we wait upon the Lord.

  9. J. D. Gallé

    The ‘friends’ of Job: persons who piously theologise, freely and falsely, at the expense of the victim/survivor/target of assorted traumatic events.

  10. sweethonesty7

    I just had someone “advise” me, since my divorce is past to just “get on with my life.” Very hard to do, when you suffer with PTSD, insomnia from all the nights he kept me sleep deprived and/or woke me in the middle of night to scream at me for things I didn’t do, and being constantly reminded by sights, smells, places around town that bring vividly to mind what I endured. This person is a Christian, who probably thought she was helping me to move forward. Didn’t work. It left me bleeding again.
    I would very much appreciate prayer (having endured abuse of all kinds for almost 3 decades) am now helping someone escape their abuser. It’s in the beginning stages of preparing an exit plan–to include the divorce and physically leaving. It’s the all familiar scenario of an innocent meeting the wolf (on the mission field) and soon after the abuse starts. Now even *basic* needs are being denied and no access to funds. Thank you.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Sweethonesty7- these are the all too familiar stories that we all here know so well. I particularly identify with your triggers of places around town. Our church building hardly has any spot in it where I have not had to deal with abusers and fake “saints” in years past. May the Lord guide and strengthen you as you help your friend.

  11. NK

    I understand that abusers are wolves, but what about these “Job’s friends” ? What do we do with ignorant christians who don’t necessarily mean to do wrong, they are just ignorant of Scripture and misapply truth just because they don’t know any better. In the book of Job, God was angry with Job’s 3 friends and Job interceded for them. So what should be our response, in light of this Scripture and also in light of how their ignorant comments can add to the trauma of an abuse victim… Should we avoid them altogether? What if it’s a friend from church? Just keep a distance? Bear patiently with them? Try to explain our situation better so they can understand? But then… the issue is theological ignorance, (misunderstandings of grace, repentance, forgiveness, etc) and if they are not interested in the subject (because they never experienced abuse, we can’t really show them the truth. What to do when they simply don’t get it and it makes it awkward to keep in touch!??

    • Jeff Crippen

      Such people,like Job’s friends, are held responsible by the Lord. We all need to be humble and often that means keeping our mouths shut while admitting we do not know everything about everything. A true friend will accept correction and instruction. Those who refuse it are really not friends. For my part I cease contact with this kind.

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