Unmasking the Domestic Abuser in the Church

The Abuser as the Invisible Man

Ephesians 6:12 ESV  For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

Recently I watched the newest movie version of The Invisible Man. NOTE: I do not recommend that just anyone watch it, particularly abuse victims. I can assure you that it will be very triggering because the plot concerns a very evil, narcissist/sociopath abuser whose wife is trying to escape from him. So I say again, this movie is not for everyone.
However, I was impressed with how accurately the script represented the domestic abuser, and how the victim’s family and friends refused to believe her. Elizabeth Moss did a very good job portraying this role.
But what I wanted to especially focus upon in this article is how it struck me that the invisible man is a very accurate image of the domestic abuser – especially the kind that pretends to be a holy, saintly, Christian. Let me explain.

Abusers are so often “invisible.” They are what they are and do what they do out of sight, unseen by anyone except the victim. And even she is confused by the fog of his invisibility and most of you well know. His disguise and mask are his invisibility.
So, for everyone who remains naive or willfully blind to domestic abusers and their tactics – many right in our own churches – I say – watch this movie. And as you do, remind yourself that YOU are the friends and family of the victim. YOU are the one who refuses to believe the victim when she tells you about this evil character you never see.


Daughters, be Wise and Beware


Update on our Friend Mack – Surgery Wednesday


  1. walkinginlight

    And I have found it to be true that the people who do know what is going on and have seen incidents, do not want to hear about any more episodes of the abuse. Why? because it is inconvenient to them. They are so busy wrapped up in their own little worlds that they do not
    want to take the time to listen, validate and console the victim once again. It is like the Purpose
    Driven circus or the teachings of Joel Osteen. If what your speaking of isn’t positive and fluffy,
    I don’t want to hear it. So much for Jesus’ teaching of having empathy and help carrying one
    another’s burdens.

    • IrisJane

      This is so true Walkinginthelight! All but two people in my world, who are sadly not Christians (yet!), who have known the matriarchal abuser for a very long time and have been on the other end of her never ending covert abuse, still choose to associate with her despite the strife and division she has caused in every area of her family’s life. Because they aren’t with her on a daily basis, as I am, they choose to ignore her abuse and go about their happy little lives, living in their insulated bubble of ‘fluffy positivity’ and their glorified version of saintly forgiveness, falling over and over again for her poor me, martyred victim act, which is filled with so many blatant lies and half truths, on such a grand scale that it’s mind blowing, or they continue to associate with her because they want something from her, and choose to turn a willful blind eye to the abuse and play along with her manipulative games at the expense of her true victims. And some, as I’ve mentioned in the past, have turned out to be incredibly adept covert psychological abusers themselves, who are just as devious and manipulative…and who also claim to be Christians. All are so skilled at playing the game and it’s so draining to be in their circle of toxicity.
      And yes, it does go against Jesus’ teachings of carrying each other’s burdens, I hadn’t thought of that before, yet they think, or just act like, they are the epitome of Christian love, it’s all so very twisted.
      I’ve been praying more and more for Jesus to return soon, very soon, and for His truth and justice to finally be revealed and given, as I don’t see another way for all the pain and suffering to end and for real goodness and righteousness to prevail and be the norm.
      Blessings to all on this journey of truth, it’s a very difficult and lonely road but I’m so grateful for all who are on the same path and who are helping to carry the burdens shared here, thank you.

    • Em

      You are spot on, especially with “So much for Jesus’ teaching of having empathy and help carrying one another’s burdens.”
      The covering up of the inconvenient truth of abuse enables it to thrive, especially in those churches that protect the abuser. They are nothing more than a cloaking device for evil.
      I have had friends like these, only 2 are left because I don’t do much with either of them. One appeases the abuser in order to stay safe (what a farce that is!) and the other simply doesn’t believe that evil even exists in the world. Neither are Christians, obviously, but even my Christian friends don’t understand. They are sympathetic, but I think they believe I’ve blown everything out of proportion – something I believed for a long time myself, but no longer.
      Here’s something I’ve learned, an inconvenient truth is still truth!

  2. IrisJane

    Pastor Crippen, it’s astonishing how skilled they are at staying invisible. The two main covert abusers in our family, both women, are incredible at mimicking and absorbing the traits of others. They both copy the personas of characters on TV, especially Hallmark movies, which they watch continually (no offense to those who enjoy these shows, they’re just another innocent tool being used for evil), or if they meet someone who is remodeling their house, or is into cooking, or traveling, or gardening, then all of a sudden they will marathon watch shows relating to those topics so they can ingratiate themselves to their newest victim…it’s all part of creating the false self and that hides their invisibility. I’ve also seen them morf into and try to take on the personalities and hobbies of acquaintances and visitors, taking on their characteristics for a short time. It’s always unsustainable for long though because the supply leaves and they are left with their empty selves again. What a horrible way to live, and yet they thrive on it.
    May God open more and more eyes to see their true selves, and not the false skin they’ve covered themselves with, as the wolves do with the sheep.

    • Sue

      Thanks to the wolves – so many of them – i hesitate to even bring up the Gospel to people i don’t know very well. Have no idea what the lady on the bus or the man who works downstairs have been through. But i’ll bet they’ve run into atleast one or two cold pharisees. Yeah i know what the Bible says about the Gospel is a message of salvation for some, and a message of condemnation for (many) others…i’m no Jeremiah.

  3. no one down here

    A lot of hurt, to be sure. The hidden nature of all this compounds the hurt exponentially. The pain of a dying heart is a superior living pain.
    Family, friends, pastors, elders, pastor’s wives… many have participated in wounding an already cast-down soul. Then follows the age-old question — are they doing this on purpose because they delight in hurting someone? Or are they self-deceived? God has been known to blind eyes and stop up ears. Who can tell this thing?! Who can know the mind of God? Who can do the things He has done? But what God has done — is good. What Satan and his friends mean for evil, God designed for good. Those who are His children are in His particular care. He is never not there with them in their sorrows. The deeper the pain, the greater the joy when we see the face of our Savior and all tears are wiped, all wounds are stitched up, all lesser desires are obliterated. When we know Him as we are known … THIS is our hope. It may not be the hope of many around us.

  4. suzzieq07

    SPOILER ALERT! Wow! I rented “The Invisible Man!” …very scary. Pretty graphic for me, but then, I’m no chicken! What stood out was the “Houdini” nature of Adrian. Having experienced the abuser’s covert schemes myself, I KNEW he was alive. I wonder if people that haven’t been abused in this way would wonder if Cecelia WAS crazy. The sci-fi aspect aside, it highlighted the sadistic games of a narcissistic psychopath. In real life, I remember being aware of a “presence” one night outside of my home after we had separated. I just prayed and stayed calm. Nothing came of it, but I was clearly spooked. There were several indications my estranged, abusive husband had been in my home when I wasn’t there. A curtain tieback hanging loose, the TV turned to a station I had not set, numerous periodic phone answering machine message recordings of the “phone off the hook” tone, etc. My brother came to visit me from another state and I told him I thought my ex was getting into the house. Initially he didn’t think I was right. Then one morning he found a new cellophane bag of cereal on my kitchen counter which we had bought the day before. It had a long cigarette burn on it (no cigarette nearby though). He said, “We would have noticed that, right?” I said, “Yep, seems so!” He said, “Okay, I’m changing all your locks.” I didn’t know it at the time, but those Houdini-type abusers are among the most dangerous, or at least that’s what I’ve heard. Thank God He was protecting me. There were other similar instances, all apparently designed to let me know he was nearby and he had access to me. Even now, 32 years later, I see cigarette butts at the end of my driveway, a driver sitting in a stationary vehicle for long periods of time across the street from my house, and I just wonder… “He” is 1,200 miles away, …at least as far as I know.

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