Unmasking the Domestic Abuser in the Church

Let Me Say this Once Again – Evil Claims it can Read Our Motives and Thoughts

1 Corinthians 2:11  For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.

I have written on this subject before but it has happened to me so often that I believe it is an extremely common tactic of wicked people – domestic abusers, spiritual abusers, and others. In an effort to accuse and disempower his target/victim, an evil man will use these kinds of statements as a weapon:

  • I know why you did that
  • I know why you enrolled in that class
  • I know why you moved to that location
  • I know why you said that to me

And guess what? He will go on to complete the sentence even if you don’t want him to. He will attribute an evil or a stupid or some other kind of bad motive to you. It is all about accusing, guilting, and shaming.

Now, sometimes we can know the motives and thoughts of someone – in part at least. But not because we are able to get right inside their minds. Rather, we observe their visible actions and words. Bad fruit tells us there is a bad root. We can know for instance that a domestic abuser has a certain motive – entitlement to power and control – because we see his wicked tactics which prove to us what his evil purpose is.
The wicked however assign evil motives and thoughts to us totally apart from any visible, outward evidence to support such motives. They simply announce that they know. And you can be sure that what they claim to know about us is never good.
It is vital that we do not fall for this tactic. Think about it carefully. If someone really does know the motives and thoughts of another person, that knowledge gives them remarkable control. Sometimes I look at my dog and I see the look in her eye and I tell her, “I know what you are thinking.” And sometimes I am right! But again, when it comes to the wicked using this “I know why you did that,” tactic, they are making a baseless accusation in order to make you think that they really do know these things. You will wear the guilt and bear the shame if you fall for it.
“I know why you said that to me” – No, no you don’t know. You are simply making that claim in order to accuse me and it isn’t going to work. The Lord knows my thoughts and motives and it is to Him alone that I give account.


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  1. no one down here

    Very important to use Scripture to clear confusion. When you are told over and over why you do things… You will believe them, especially if you are a sensitive person who really wants to do right by the Lord. You understand the sinfulness of your heart, and the sinfulness of even good actions that come from ill motives … Even your purest thoughts are not holy, because you are not holy.
    But Christ. But God. But truth. But forgiveness. But grace. But mercy. But truth in love … Truth is, that only you and God know your heart. Someone else cannot. They can perhaps infer things from your actions. But if you are to weigh even what “The preacher” says according to Scripture, you are also to weigh what your spouse says according to Scripture. Is it true?
    The only way to combat this evil is to dive deep into Scripture. Let the water of the Word wash over you all the time. This is hard when you are in constant defensive battle mode, but so very important. Nothing else will protect you. Make God your refuge, your shield, your fortress, your high tower.
    Paul prayed that for the saints that their love may abound yet more and more in all knowledge and discernment.
    Not that knowledge may abound in love … but your love first. Love of God … working itself out in love of others. Love thinks no evil. Is this measuring stick being applied only one way in your relationship? Yes, we are to take care of our own sins before accusing others… but, let our love grow in knowledge and discernment in order that we may approve the things that are excellent and be blameless and pure, filled with the fruit of the spirit.

  2. Leslie

    Thank you!
    I was told for 25 years what I thought, who I was, what to do.
    I’m free now and it’s so nice only having Holy Spirit telling me what’s what! 😊🤗

  3. Mel

    Control by false accusation. A lot of times batterers will falsely accuse the women of cheating when they are doing nothing of the sort. They’ll be falsely accused of flirting, or looking to seduce other men with their style of dress and/or style of demeanor. Again, the women will be faithful wives. But with the false accusations, the men will isolate the women further, without having to make and enforce explicit rules such as, “you’re not allowed to talk to Bob or Joe” but they accomplish such all the same because the woman will attempt to show the batterer she is indeed a faithful wife who is not interested in other men by no longer talking to others. It’s painful to be berated and falsely accused and character assassinated so it doesn’t even matter whether or not such are reasonable accusations, because the batterer won’t back down and so the victim will endlessly modify her behavior and curtail herself in vain hopes of getting the accusations to cease.
    False accusations also brainwash the target. The victim hears the same thing over and over again until they come to believe the falsely negative assessment of them. They’ll wonder if there isn’t truth to the oft-repeated accusations. They’ve been led to trust their husband. People naturally assume their spouse is telling them the truth. Victims don’t realize they are with a child of the devil, so they take the batterer’s words to heart. I remember thinking about the Bible verse, “the heart is deceitful” and I thought maybe I was indeed, all the various things the batterer accused me of doing and being. I didn’t know I’d married a murderous, evil abuser who was sadistically intent on slowly, methodically destroying me.
    I encourage all women to do reality testing. We are told to keep matters private and to not talk to others about things going on in our marriages, but we can and should reality test. Call someone else up and ask them, out of the blue, about the accusations. Just ask, “do you find me to be a “mean, nasty person who can’t be nice for 24 hours”?” Or, “does this shirt scream ‘whore’ to you?” Or, whatever it is the batterer is accusing you of most recently. Perhaps it will help the victims to establish earlier on, that their husbands are not really husbands, but deviant abusers.

  4. Leonie

    This is so true! Over and over, I came the the conclusion that my ex attributed his motives to me.

    • Cara

      And it happens both ways. Many people assume others are like them. For example, good, trustworthy, conscientious people assume that others are like them. Deviants assume others are like them.
      So the cheater, liar, scheming, conniving husband actively assumes his wife is doing such things too. He checks up on her, monitors her movements, has her report to him where she is at all times and who she is with and what she is doing. He surprises her with suddenly showing up here or there. All of such being because he himself is doing shady, dishonorable things and is lying, cheating, etc. So he assumes she is doing the same and plots to catch her in it.
      Trustworthy people largely trust others too much. Untrustworthy, dishonorable people don’t trust others whatsoever. General speaking, that is. The trick is for trustworthy, upright people to become wise to how abnormal they are (compared to general society) and somehow still function in a world filled with bad, immoral, deceitful, horrible people.

  5. kylenfreeman

    That hit the nail on the head; I went to a “biblical counselor” once and in just the first couple of sessions it was established to me that he knew me better than I knew myself, he could see that I wasn’t “forgiving” my female narcissistic abuser, etc. I had expressed no attitudes that would indicate I had an ounce of resentment toward her (on the contrary even though she had stabbed me in the back and continued to twist the knife through passive aggression and disrespect, I still was convinced deep down she was a wonderful person).
    But how did he know what my real attitudes were? He could see into my heart and discern my spiritual problems because of how I felt. I’m not sure if he got that theology from Jim Wilson’s “How to be Free from Bitterness” pamphlet alone or if Elyse Fitzpatrick’s “Idols of the Heart” could have influenced him to that as well, or if he already had a belief that he could read minds and he liked those materials because they reinforced and justified his presuppositions.
    But in any case, I eventually began to lose my assurance of salvation and thought that I may be unregenerate and a slave to sin, because I felt angry and hurt at my abuser who (despite how this pastor/counselor kept trying to frame it as a past-tense issue) was still continuing to actively beat me down. According to what I was being taught, I’m a Christian and I’m not supposed to feel that way toward those who wrong me, ever; and if I feel that way for a long period of time, I was unforgiving and needed to “let it go”, no other factors considered. My abuser also helped to sew this doubt in my mind, because she also was holding me to the expectation that if I really forgave her, I wouldn’t feel those negative emotions towards her, never mind how she was treating me. So it was not only baseless accusations, but it was baseless accusations with fabricated evidence to support it, built on false teaching.
    It wasn’t until I realized that I was being told to evaluate my spiritual condition by my feelings and how dangerous that is to use as a point of reference, along with some reading on the epistles of John that I found freedom from a relentlessly accusatory conscience and got my assurance of salvation back.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Biblical counseling almost inevitably accuses the victim of sin. I never recommend it.

    • Cara

      Thank you for commenting. Your third paragraph was especially good. I lost faith in my salvation and I thought of myself as evil and all sorts of things. I have a relentlessly accusatory conscience too. It seems to be very common in victims. They care too much about being good, honorable, and Christian, whereas the abusers care too little and actually celebrate their wickedness.
      Being abused is inherently shaming. It engenders feelings of guilt and shame in targets.

  6. IamMyBeloved’s

    Yes! Assuming we know what is in another’s mind is always dangerous, because we can even assert that someone who was intentionally propagating evil against us, wasn’t thinking or doing that at all. So it can work both ways, but I have found that when someone thinks they know your mind or motives, they cannot but are simply assuming based on their own thoughts. It can leave the one being assumed about, doubting and questioning themselves endlessly. “Am I really like that?” “Are those my thoughts and I’m simply blind to my own sin?” It’s all the work of the evil one.
    If someone’s actions toward you are always against you and harmful, then you may discern that their thoughts are negative toward you, but you still may not know what they are thinking that is causing their thoughts to be that way. Satan is always after our minds because our thinking and beliefs determine our actions and responses. If you want to know what someone is thinking , ask them, don’t assume you know, and if someone’s behavior toward you is nasty due to their assuming they know your thoughts, don’t allow it to bend you over. I did that.
    I have allowed others’ assuming they know my thoughts or feelings, to bend me in half as I walk with the weight of their oppression on me. But it’s not me, as God showed me, it is them. Their assumptions are their problem. Luke 13:10-13 talks about how a woman was bent over from a spirit of weakness for 18 years and how Jesus healed her of it. Having others assert wrong motives or thinking to us when they do not know, can cause this kind of weakness and oppression, always doubting or questioning yourself. God knows his own and he is the determiner of what the truth about our thinking and motives is.

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