Unmasking the Domestic Abuser in the Church

Want to Know What Your Abuser is Thinking?

Micah 2:1-2  Woe to those who devise wickedness and work evil on their beds! When the morning dawns, they perform it, because it is in the power of their hand.  (2)  They covet fields and seize them, and houses, and take them away; they oppress a man and his house, a man and his inheritance.

One of the most difficult obstacles standing in the way of a “normal” person (that’s you) coming to understand just who an abuser is in essence is coming to the realization of the thoroughness of these wicked ones. In part this is because we do not think like the abuser does, but our default setting in this regard is to believe that abusers DO think like we do. Wrong. The scripture quoted above from Micah goes a long way in helping us cross this hurdle.

Think about this. When the kind of person that we call an abuser (often also correctly labeled a sociopath, psychopath, narcissist)…when this kind of person is apparently “in neutral,” – sitting on the couch, laying in bed, relaxing – they aren’t. The evil machinations of their mind are turning.  Check it out in Proverbs:

Proverbs 4:16-17  For they cannot sleep unless they have done wrong; they are robbed of sleep unless they have made someone stumble.  (17)  For they eat the bread of wickedness and drink the wine of violence.

The food and drink of the wicked is wickedness! Your abuser actually feeds on and is energized by the abuse he/she lays on you. You have difficulty sleeping if you are hungry. So does the abuser, but his “food” is the cruelty he practices upon others. Do you want to understand just how different he is from you? Get hold of these truths and you will go a long way toward that understanding.
Coming to realize all of this, you will begin to know your abuser as he really is. You will stop making excuses for him (which we all tend to do at first). You will stop falling for falsehoods other people lay on you – “really he is a good person. None of us are perfect.”  And you will stop blaming yourself.


New Book by Jeff Crippen is Now Published: Wise as Serpents: Growing Wise to the Evil Among Us


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


  1. Stomping Marigold

    [Greetings TWBTC! Stomping Marigold here.}
    I used to have a boss just after college graduation who found fault with everything I did. He hired me in part because I was so pleasing and naive. He especially liked to lay extra criticisms on me on Fridays, so I’d have something to take home with me on the weekend. He also like to lay out little quizzes that I’d always fail. That really wears one down over time.
    This is the fruit of someone who plots on their bed, as you have laid out for us, Pastor Jeff.
    I did manage to triumph in that job in spite of evil boss. I had an idea for an innovation that boss scoffed at. I felt the Lord’s leading to finish the proof. Then higher ups demanded a solution, which I had. It got implemented, and our product improved.
    One day, boss shouted at me in public about my “poor performance.” I was shocked and stunned. I found a job at a competitor, and my old boss was fired.

    • Hi Stomping Marigold,
      Nice to hear from you! Thanks for your comment. So much of abuser’s actions are premeditated and purposeful!!
      I did change your screen name to “Stomping Marigold” as the name you had used appeared to be your real name. Just thinking safety, if necessary. (We recently had safety issues in another situation.) Let me know if you want to use Stomping Marigold moving forward or if your other name is fine for you.

    • Gay

      Both of my daughters became abusers like their dad. One claims to be saved and uses scripture to beat me and the men she harms over the head. The other hates God and me yet I was the “ good parent” who raised them and supported 5 of us. My son is good to me. Their dad was diagnosed as a narcissist and I got full custody. Parents in droves are being abused and abandoned by their adult children. So many grow up to hate “ the good parent.” The best help I ever received has been from a book entitled ,” abandoned parents the devils dilemma.” I have a wonderful Godly man for my husband now. I’m grateful every day for him and we just bought your new book.

  2. D.

    So what do narcissist do when you leave them and they have no one to control and manipulate?

    • Jeff Crippen

      They keep trying to control and manipulate and some can be dangerous.

    • Innoscent

      D., good question. By default narcissists have to subjugate someone, deflect responsibility and project their evil and inner ugliness elsewhere. If they don’t have someone, you can be sure they will find someone or something like a pet, a neighbour, some situation, or go to a new church or through distance. They’ll go online and prowl on social media or forums, etc.
      As Jeff said, they’ll just keep trying. They are deadly parasites in need of a host plant.

  3. Leonie

    It really is hard to comprehend unless you have lived with it or experienced it close up!
    Those verses are very enlightening!

  4. Leslie

    Thank you for the verses!

  5. Rowan on the high mountain

    I’m once again grateful for the way you provide scriptural support for what you write, given that so many Christians who idolize unconditional forgiveness and reconciliation within even severely abusive marriages repeat the same few verses out of context and ignore everything else in the Bible.
    It’s probably normal for all of us with standard humility and empathy to assume an abuser must be in some kind of serious distress or pushed to the limit as we try to imagine what might drive us to behave in similar ways. Even after realizing he wasn’t in any more pain than anyone else and simply felt he should be exempt from the ordinary discomforts and frustrations of adult life, I’ve had great difficulty getting others to understand how extreme my abuser’s expectations are, which those verses illuminate astonishingly well. My situation is made harder by the fact that he only became overtly abusive (emotionally and financially) in middle age, so people want to attribute it to some sort of mid-life crisis rather than the rage of thwarted entitlement to what he always felt he deserved–effortless material success, uninterrupted comfort, unconditional adoration from me and others. He’s even admitted he became constantly angry only when he realized he’d never get those things, and, as in the lines from Proverbs, these days he’s only content–temporarily–when he can feel he has interfered with my or someone else’s well-being. He resents everyone’s happiness.
    What I also had to realize is that my abuser, and others I’ve known who are like him, chose this path. Maybe they thought it would avoid pain, but it only leads to more pain–and then emptiness–which they end up even more desperate to avoid. Perhaps that’s how people spiral into abuse or addiction. I’ve learned the hard way that, in spite of whatever sympathy we may feel, we can do nothing for them until they choose to start the long, difficult trek back and accept the inescapable pain of being alive, which is the only path to joy, while all attempts at escape lead to more pain, and no amount of love or forgiveness can change that. That sentence strikes me as just another way of saying we can’t have Easter without enduring the cross, and maybe a wish for the joy of Resurrection without the pain of death is the core problem of abusers, addicts, and others who choose evil, in that they refuse to endure the pain of letting who they were die so they can live a new life with a changed heart.

    • Cara

      Abusers choose evil because they enjoy it. They delight in being evil, despite all the showy, manipulative denials (lies) otherwise. They are children of the devil. Abusers delight in deceiving, destroying, and murdering. They are not in pain. Abusers who go to prison might be in pain, but abusers do what they do because it works for them, they are okay with it, and because it brings them joy to harm others. My abuser really loved to make “suckers” out of people. Yes, that predatory, evil mindset is present in abusers, It’s fun and entertaining for them to victimize.
      Wax poetic all you want, (and i usually love reading your comments) but the core reality is they are evil because it suits them, they like it, and it is enjoyable and fun for them. If your abuser can function in other areas of life, if he isn’t abusing his boss or being unable to hold a job or perform daily living activities, then he is your regular garden variety abuser abusing because he likes it and it works for him. You may have the impression that he only became an abuser part of the way through because the initial stage was the wooing, duping, baiting, and hook setting stage. Entrapment first, isolation, and then when enmeshed the abuse starts and the abuser reveals his true self because he has entrapped his victim and no longer needs to pretend and lure as the hook has been set, the fish is caught, snagged and unable to free itself.

      • Jeff Crippen

        Truth here!! Thank you Tasha👍👍

      • Rowan on the high mountain

        Tasha–I’m sorry if my lack of clarity distressed you. I’m not implying that abusers are forced to abuse because they are in pain, and they’re certainly not in any more pain than anyone else; I’m saying that some choose evil in an attempt to escape the ordinary pain all of us experience–just everyday difficulties and discomforts–and that’s precisely why we shouldn’t feel we have to provide sympathy. We can’t help them because it’s their choice to abuse and theirs alone. Just to be clear, I don’t consider leaving an abusive situation an attempt to escape ordinary pain any more than I think someone being treated for a painful medical condition is avoiding the pain of life, and I fully intend to leave when I can dig my way out of the financial abuse. What I call necessary pain is just the usual need to work hard, endure everyday frustrations, and tolerate normal disappointments–all of which my abuser refuses to do, just like most other abusers I’ve known or heard about.
        Your abuser sounds sadistic and psychopathic, so he might not feel much pain. My abuser is a toxically self-centered man who–I’ve found out only in recent years–has run from even minor discomfort his whole life and would probably fall into the category of covert narcissist. He acts like a “nice guy” in public but has built no friendships, kept no ongoing relationship with his family, and never developed any sense of responsibility to meet the requirements of a household or job (not the work itself, but having to show up on time and do what’s needed whether he feels like it or not) so he has not merely failed to act as a husband should but has annoyed bosses and been fired. He expects me to make up for all of it and save him from experiencing the pain of his choices, so he now becomes emotionally abusive when I can’t or won’t rescue him from natural consequences.
        He might not have started out in exactly the same place as a more obviously sadistic abuser, but he ended up just as far down the same evil path. My poorly expressed point was that abuse is always a choice–whether its original motive is delight in hurting others or a wish to avoid ordinary discomfort and look for a shortcut to happiness. And even if it’s possible for people to change, once people travel far enough down the path of evil, the odds of their choosing the work and pain of turning back are vanishingly small. My claim that some are choosing to flee pain isn’t out of sympathy for them, and there’s nothing we can do but work to get away from those who’ve chosen evil.

  6. Holly

    This post is what my son is going through now. His ex-wife has been lying and manipulating their 3-year-old daughter to accuse him of “inappropriate behavior”. She tried it last fall and didn’t succeed so she’s doing it again. What scares me is people actually are believing her story. It’s heartbreaking to see an innocent man who is a good, honest, hard-working godly man being accused of something he would never even dream of doing. I’m especially appalled at the ex-wife’s scheming thought process. My son and I can’t think of evil the way she can. It’s like she’s calculating one step ahead all the time so my son is on the defensive and can’t catch up.
    My ex-husband was abusive so I’m understanding the actions she’s taking. She wants to make my son afraid and have control of every aspect of the situation. She is pure evil. I pray for God to protect my granddaughter from her (she and my son share custody).
    Even so, I know God will use this horrible situation for His glory and for my son’s good. (Rom.8:28) I will praise Him day by day.
    I would appreciate prayers for my family!

    • Cara

      I find this to be the case for so many, myself included. We cannot think of evil as they can. Most of what they do is inconceivable, which is why it is all the more important for us all to study evil. It’s a most repellant topic and it bothers me something great, but it must be done. Sadly, evil being evil, has multiple years, if not decades, on us and it’s fluent to them. We’ll never catch up, nor will it be instinctual, but we must be as educated as possible.
      I think churches fail people these days because they don’t focus enough on evil. Education matters. Unsuspecting prey are the choicest morsels for predators and most Christians are unsuspecting prey.
      I went to a Christian school and I remember being docked points on graded tests because my capitalized cursive letters weren’t the greatest as I prefer to print. Nonsense things like that. Who cares if one prefers to print? Who cares if one’s penmanship looks like calligraphy or not? I wish there was a class taught on a daily basis (or at least weekly) about predators, criminals, domestic violence, abusers, workplace predators, con artists, manipulators, etc. Same thing goes for Christian books. Most of the Christian living, marriage advice books completely miss the target. Almost the entire audience of Christian marriage help books are abused women desperately seeking to get the pain to stop, to manage to do the impossible and placate abusers, and so forth.
      Wow. I really went off on a tangent. Anyhow, I hope your son is truly the victim and not the victimizer. So often the abuser lies to his family and has them believing the mother of their children is the most awful, vile, scheming, horrendous person and the abused wife is none the wiser. Hopefully your son is legitimately the victim and if so, he at least has your support and isn’t entirely alone, as so many abused women are.

      • Jeff Crippen

        Cassie- thankyou. I’m not giving a sales pitch but my new book Wise as Serpents is a textbook such as you describe.

      • Holly

        I assure you most emphatically that he is the victim! He has a small business on my property so he and my granddaughter are with me at least two or three days a week. I am also the primary babysitter. Also, I have seen the ex-wife physically abuse my son. And my granddaughter has told my son what her mother said.
        The ex-wife likes to party and has had live-in men since divorcing my son. She worships herself and lives for her own pleasure. She is evil.

    • Cara

      One last little caution is that even when coached, it’s extremely rare that a child as young as three is claiming what you term “inappropriate behavior” when nothing is actually happening.
      If there is actual concern and actual allegations, then have the child interviewed by a reputable psychologist who treats sexually abused children on the regular, as a clinical focus. Otherwise, possibly see if a pediatrician can be consulted. Are there injuries? Is she acting out? Does she have sexual knowledge that a non-molested 3 year old little girl would not have?
      But assuming your son’s innocence, and the child’s mother’s malevolence, that is horrible. I said a prayer for him and the child.

      • Holly

        My granddaughter had many doctor appointments and nothing was found. She does not act out at all. She is a happy, loving, very normal child.
        This is so difficult. Millions of children in this country don’t have a father, and they need one. My son is a really good Christian father, and his ex-wife would rather take that away from her daughter than let her have a good relationship.
        I did not mean to hit a nerve here for people. I was just looking for prayer. Thank you.

        • Jeff Crippen

          No problem Holly. Thank you.

        • Cara

          I hope you’re right. Sorry for my doubt. It wasn’t personal. Statistics and all informed my suspicions.
          Said another prayer for your son and his daughter. Glad he has you supporting. Glad his daughter has a good father. She at least got one out of two, which is more than other children get.
          I will say, though, about the comment that millions of children lack a father and they need one, that it’s better to have no father in a child’s life, than an abuser father. Too many women stay for their children, thinking it’s better for them to grow up with a father than to be in a single-parent home (their mother) but when the dad is an abuser, it’s so much more healthy to get those kids out.
          You didn’t hit a nerve. I was suspicious because it’s usually happening when allegations are made and the child molester grooms those in his life to consider him to be the victim. And the abuser dad invariably will smear the mom so as to discredit her and also prime others to dismiss the allegations. Statistics range in the 90s so the percentage and likelihood of it not happening is very small. Presumably, you know that.

  7. AJ

    Do you have any thoughts on when the abuser was a victim of emotional abandonment abuse himself growing up, and is operating out of extreme toxic shame and abandonment issues? This is my experience.
    His actions towards me are out of deep need to always know I love him (and I have to show it in specific ways – agree with him always, have sex anytime he wants, have the same emotional responses as he does to situations even when his are extreme, pay enough attention to him [he’s even jealous if I read a book for too long], pure control out of his fear, and I have fallen into the “mom” role to take care of and enable him far too long). It certainly appears that he hates how he treats me but he is unable to change his behavior and refused to get help (we are currently separated).
    It is hard for me to reconcile this blog post to my situation so I was wondering if you have more thoughts when the abuse might be happening for reasons like this? I’m enjoying your blog, lots of good info.

    • Jeff Crippen

      AJ – he knows exactly what he is doing. All of those things are his excuses. Don’t buy them. Don’t give him victim status. He chooses to do what he does.

    • Abigailismyhero

      This is very similar to the “husband” in my story if I believe the psychological definition of borderline personality disorder. I vacillate between seeing him as a straight up abuser and seeing him as mentally ill. To be honest, I don’t know how spirit soul and body interact and there may be some underlying physical disorder. However, when he was in jail the staff told me he was one way with inmates and another way in front of the judge. This confirmed my conviction that he is not “out of control,” he chooses to align with evil. The result is that I will keep myself safe regardless of the “,reasons” for his violence and huge sense of entitlement. Lundy’s book “Why Does He Do That?” helped me see that.

      • Jeff Crippen

        Yes. Bottom line is the cause doesn’t really matter. He is what he is and that means he is unsafe.

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