Unmasking the Domestic Abuser in the Church

If the Victim had Just Kept Quiet, All Would be Well….?

Scott Allen Johnson wrote the first book that I ever read about abusers (domestic and/or sexual). It opened my eyes to what had been happening to me as a pastor for over 20 years at the hands of power and control seekers, spiritual abusers, all of whom used their wicked devices to discourage me and destroy my ministry. All of course were wearing pious, holy disguises and had everyone duped. I am convinced that the Lord put this book in my hands at just the right time, and the lights went on. Johnson was writing about the wicked people who I had been attacked by for years and now I understood the nature of this evil.
Look at this paragraph from Johnson’s book. He is writing here about the victim of sexual abuse by the victim’s father, but I am sure that you will all see that this scenario is exactly the same when a victim of domestic abuse of any kind blows the whistle:

The perpetrator has psychologically abused his entire family, as listed above. But it is the victim who often inadvertently becomes the target of blame by the perpetrator, mother, and siblings. Often the father is not allowed to have any contact with his victim, and this prevents him from visiting the home and other siblings. Resentment begins to build. I have been involved with several cases where the victim leaves the home to live elsewhere. It appears on the surface that the victim’s intentions have nothing to do with the sexual abuse that occurred, but rather other issues. If the victim lives elsewhere, the perpetrator is then often allowed to return home. This constitutes an enormous power play. The victim returning home would once again result in the father leaving, an overt punishment and negative consequence for the mother and other siblings. Do not for a minute believe that the victim’s decision to live outside of the home was in anyway unaffected by the sexual assault. Scott Allen Johnson. Physical Abusers and Sexual Offenders: Forensic and Clinical Strategies (Kindle Locations 290-295). Kindle Edition.

See it? The victim is the one who catches the heat. If she had “just kept quiet” about what either never happened or what was not a big deal, then all would be well. Family finances would not be suffering due to the father going to jail. The family image would be intact, be it a false one. Poor dad. He isn’t allowed to come home and visit the family. And you can bet that an abuser will play that pity card all he can. Everyone seems to forget where the real blame lays – with the abuser who perpetrated his evil in the first place.


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  1. Cara

    Scott Allen Johnson’s book is excellent! It’s pricey, so I’ve only been able to preview several pages via the preview of Google books or Amazon, but from what I’ve read it’s really good.
    And abusers are abusers. Doesn’t matter which type, it all invariably bottles down to predation. Most have several modes. The domestic abuser invariably is a financial abuser (…). The domestic abuser (may) to be a child abuser, too, when kids come into the picture. Predators are predators.
    But, as for the positioning of the victim as the victimizer, that’s so classic. People really hate change. Even if the status quo isn’t great, the change is hated and resisted. And abusers capitalize on that. Dr. Judith Hermon explains this when she says all an abuser/perp is looking for is for others to do nothing. To take action in support of the victim requires sharing in the victim’s pain. Thus, people maintain the status quo, resist change, and thus collide with abusers in their perverted DARVO and other machinations.
    Poor victims. They have everything stacked against them. It’s not for nothing they stay silent.

    • Innoscent

      From Wikipedia -DARVO is an acronym used to describe a common strategy of abusers. The abuser will:
      Deny the abuse ever took place, then
      Attack the victim for attempting to hold the abuser accountable; then they will lie and claim that they, the abuser, are the real victim in the situation, thus
      Reversing the
      Victim and
      Thanks Cara, I’d never heard this acronym. It puts it in a nutshell!

      • Cara

        You’re very welcome, Innoscent. It’s born of research on wife-beaters/wife-abusers.
        Deny they are an abuser. Deny any abuse took place.
        Attack the victim’s credibility, be it calling her crazy, saying she is a liar, a drunk, a drug addict, etc. whatever is estimated to degrade her standing in others’ eyes so that they disbelieve what she says and dismiss her complaints of abuse, being afraid, etc.
        Reverse the Victim and Offender roles so they have others believing they are the victims and the wife is the abuser.
        You’ll see DARVO play out in practically every wife-beater interaction. Whether the wife-beater pulls DARVO on her, or uses it in a divorce, or plays DARVO with the police, or performs DARVO with outsiders he wants to recruit into being his allies against her (neighbors, CPS, his friends and family, their mutual acquaintances, etc.).
        Wifebeaters usually are pretty consistent with DARVO. Watch for the false claims of the wife being crazy, a liar, an addict, vindictive/scorned, etc. and work your way out from there. You’ll see the denials. Then the twisting and reversing of victim and offender. It’s a great shortcut.

  2. anna495

    Ugh, I shuddered reading this; all too familiar. This kind of thing was how my family operated, then I went on to marry someone like that. So glad I got out and saw the light.

  3. Sue

    i haven’t experienced alot of abuse, but enough to remain guarded. What really tees me off about – even Bible – churches is they ignore the big stinking t-rex of abuse within their own congregations.
    i belong to a Bible church of less than two dozen people. In the last 8 years attending (about every Sunday) two members have left – and it doesn’t look like either will be returning anytime soon. From what i gather, both had been abu$ed – one by a good-for-nothing child, who prefers mooching over gainful employment. i have listened to alot of sermons over the past decade, and almost never have heard sermons about guarding ones heart. Any sermon about “separation” always deals with the same-old avoiding barrooms and country music mantra – never about maintaining low or no contact with vicious/lazy people. You’d think preachers would explain why Jesus, had numerous times, politely, but firmly, walked away from the pharisees.

  4. Innoscent

    Blameshifting, scapegoating… it all started with Lucifer becoming Satan and Adam & Eve becoming sinners. It’s one major weapons in the abuser’s psychological arsenal.
    One of his most wicked and cruel tactics is when, after persistent and insidious abusive games, their victim over time is weakened and ill, the abuser then points her as the one mentally unstable and causing strife and all the problems in the marriage and family, and poor him trying to keep it all together. Very effective to rally naive allies on all sides.
    It was a favorite of my ex-husband and fake Christian when my health was going down because of his continual emotional abuse and I felt myself drowning lower and faster than I could recover. He’d then accuse me of lacking emotional strength and faith, of not mastering circumstances… blah blah blah…. all this modern psy fantasy and self-help new-agey books.
    One day I told him: ‘Imagine you come across someone left bleeding out there on the road. She’s been assaulted by robbers who snatched her handbag or maybe she was run over by a drunk driver… Now you proceed to tell her that she shouldn’t be like this and you start sermonising her about her bleeding and suffering reactions. And that’s all you do and you walk away. Well this is what you’re doing to me, you won’t own up to your abusive ways toward me your wife!!’ He answered nothing and it went from one ear to the other. Truth is offensive to the wicked, it lifts up their wolf’s garment.
    The foolish church at large has adopted the devil’s interpretation of the parable of the good Samaritan while professing to understand and apply it. In actual fact, they pity the abuser and leave the victim bleeding on the path as pastor and elder philosophize about good and evil, which they’ve got all mixed up in their self-deception. They go on their way and will rescue the abuser fallen into a pit rather. Here’s their ‘good’ deed for the day…

    • Cara

      Wow, what a comment, Innoscent.
      One thing I might disagree on you with is your statement of “Truth is offensive to the wicked”. I don’t believe that is accurate. Truth is basic to the wicked. They know what they are doing. They know they are wicked. They know they are wrong. They know they are bad. They only FEIGN upset, confusion, or obliviousness.
      Truth is not helpful to them and so they don’t acknowledge or value it very much when it comes to conversations with their prey; unless, that is, to revel and hurt her more by bragging about how evil, depraved, sadistic, and demonic they have been to her from the get go. My abuser was/is a psychopath and sadist so yours might fall on the other end of the continuum. But wherever abusers fall on the abuser/predator continuum, it’s important to remember these are abusers, not merely abusive people. We all are abusive at some point or another, but abusers are predators and abusers are tactical and they never stop being abusers and seeking to prey on others. There is no conscience to appeal to. There is no need to show them the light, because they know what they are doing is wrong, they just don’t care, as it’s what they want, like, and enjoy doing.
      Talking to an abuser is like talking to Satan. Anyone can be abusive and everyone is abusive at some point or another. But we are talking about abusers. And abusers are destined for hell. They are children of Satan. Nobody is going to ‘win over’ Satan, nor successfully appeal to Satan’s nonexistent conscience; thus, the same applies for abusers.
      An excellent shortcut, once someone has established without a doubt, that someone is an abuser, not merely abusive, but an abuser/predator — swap out Satan for the abuser’s name/reference. This is hard won truth, wisdom and clarity I lacked when I was in it. But seriously, would you (general you) go and have a talk with Satan? Would you (general you) reconcile with Satan? Would you (general you) hope to respectfully parent with Satan? And so on it goes. It really helps a person to be wise and to shake off so much bad teaching in various Christian circles.
      Satan knows he is wicked. The truth is not offensive to Satan, it merely is not helpful to his securing further victims. Satan is not upset with his evil, wicked self. Satan is not going to change. Satan knows he is bad, wrong, and is not confused or oblivious to such reality. Abusers only feign such. They are at war with us, their victims/prey, just as Satan is at war with Christians, seeking to devour them.

      • frankiesmith2064

        Your quote is most likely the best thing I’ve ever heard. Bravo!!!!

        • Cara

          Thanks, frankiesmith2064. It just came to me. I hope Innoscent doesn’t feel picked at because her comment was so great, and had it not been for that one sentence, I’d have not gone on to post my comment.
          And I worried others might not appreciate my thoughts, thinking I was too overboard, but it’s seriously helpful and wise to swap out their abuser’s name for Satan and then go from there. Such as, “should I stay with Satan in order for my kids to grow up with their father in the house?” Or “can I trust Satan to honor his promises and not further lie to me?” Or, “is Satan really changing now that he is forced to attend batterers’ intervention classes?”
          I don’t what God thinks of my shortcut strategy, or my sharing of such, but I hope He is okay with it. It’s not to downplay Satan, but rather to highlight the absurdity of thinking an abuser, a child of the devil, is going to change, be honorable, a good father, etc. And it helps clear the fog that abusers (and others, due to allies with the abuser or ignorance or the prevalence of myths about abuse in society) create for victims.
          It’s a predator/prey dynamic. Abusers are hostage-takers. Their prey are captives.
          Also, of importance is not to confuse or conflate the abusiveness of non-abusers with the strategic, methodical, calculated abuse of abusers. I’ve been abusive. Everyone has. But there’s a difference between that and abusers.
          I’m sure you know all this.
          Happy Sunday to you.

          • J. D. GallĂ©

            I have read a number of your comments, Cara, and I appreciate your insights.

    • Innoscent

      Thank you Cara for sharing on this point. Totally agree with you!!
      Yes we are engaged in a war!! When I wrote ‘offensive’ I was thinking of an offensive weapon against Satan like the Pharisees who, in their hypocrisy and pride, took offence at the truth Jesus laid out to them. (Mt 15:12)
      I guess a better wording would be that ‘Truth is repulsive to Satan’ in the sense that he hates and rejects it because it unmasks his vicious traits and evil schemes, just like light uncovers darkness and his wolf disguise.
      Satan is the father of lies (Jn 8.44) and Christ the Father of truth and light (Jn 14:6).

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