Unmasking the Domestic Abuser in the Church

A Chief Reason that "friends" Betray Us

John 3:20 ESV  For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.

Many if not most of you have had this experience. You saw it when you asked for help and rescue from an evil abuser. Friends, fellow church members, family members, turned on you and abandoned you.  Why?
Over the years I have observed a very common dynamic, and I have experienced it myself many times. Friends. Seemingly good friends. People whose friendship you enjoyed for even years. People you might have even called your best friend. But then suddenly – and I mean with all caps and boldface, SUDDENLY, virtually overnight, they rejected you and betrayed you. It was like some switch got thrown in their brain so that they didn’t even seem to be the person they were before.
But they were that person. It now simply becomes evident.

Here is what I conclude happens in so many of these cases. These people were not growing in Christ. They may well have not even been born again. And if you were pressing on, growing in your knowledge of and love for the Lord, you were growing day by day as light in the Lord. Your light, you might say (ie, Christ) grew brighter and brighter.
Now think about it. As this was happening in you, it was not happening in them. And at some point – it no doubt began in them imperceptibly – at some point the darkness in them started getting pretty uncomfortable. As John says in the verse above. darkness cannot tolerate the light. Light exposes the thing for what it really is.
So at that moment of departure, these people just couldn’t stand you anymore. They were done with you as if they had never known you at all.
Moral of the story? Anyone who is not truly growing in Christ, anyone whose profession of Christ is fake (like the seed that sprouts up right away but has no root), is not going to be a safe person to have a relationship with. If you cannot see a “friend” actually growing in the Lord (the counterfeit admittedly can be hard to detect), then beware. Because the moment will surely come when that one who you loved and who you thought loved you, will be done with you.
When this happens, though it is painful, be encouraged. It is a mark that you really are in Christ.


"I will never leave you" – A Certain Promise from the Lord


The Trap of Assuming Everyone is "Good"


  1. Joan

    What about people who still want to be friends but act like nothing happened?

    • Jeff Crippen

      That happens all the time. If they are abusers it is just another evil tactic. If not then inevitably they keep hanging around with your abuser. Either way Im done with them.

      • Free

        Thank you. Again, you called it the way it happens. The more awful the abuse you lived through, the worse the “friends” are in the betrayal after. It can’t be any more blatant, the betrayals come in many forms but it’s still the same foundation- and it is not Christ. As with every evil scheme, they will inevitably smear you to cover up their betrayal and try turn it around on you. I never thought I would say it, but after the betrayals I quickly came to realize how much I don’t miss them. Sure, grieve what you thought you had, but not what is – be done, move on and don’t ever let someone diminish the very life you have been given. The betrayal can only go as far as you let it – if their alliance is with an abuser, whatever form that is, enough said.

        • Stormy

          Smear you cover up their betrayal and treachery—so true!
          It’s happened to me. Very well said. Thanks for your post.

  2. Excellent question by Joan and a painfully, truthful reply by Pastor Crippen.
    Thank you for this post.

  3. Innoscent

    Excellent post. Sadly so true.. I have a trail of “family” and “friends” who betrayed me, one of them a childhood friend. She came to Christ shortly after my own conversion and witnessing and we grew together in the Lord.
    At one point she was in danger with some temptation and I warned her in love, which she didn’t take it too well at the time. I think that the darkness came in then as she pushed the Holy Spirit away. I agree with you Jeff. From thereon she started compromising her faith and lowering down the standards. She wasn’t growing in Christ, decreasing rather.
    Forward a few years after being both married, etc., Satan worked through her husband, mine, and other close people to confuse her. She ended up betraying me and sacrifying our 40-year friendship. So much for a BFF… On the great day of reckoning it will be made clear who of us is really in Christ.

  4. Anon

    Thank you, that was a very helpful post.
    I was wondering if you have any posts on why the abuser wants to stay friends? I am struggling financially due to health and am not currently able to work, have lack of housing etc. The abuser has come back into my life offering financial help (which I desperately need, especially since there was no marital settlement). Contact with him is the only way I get much needed financial help. But he is also being very kind, has for last couple months, rings me to see if I’m ok etc.
    I don’t know what to make of it.
    He doesn’t want to reconcile at all, he’s never mentioned that and I’m certain he doesn’t want to. He also lives a very far distance away.
    Any posts that talk about this sort of thing? I can’t see any motives he may have. Maybe he really does care and wants to help me?

    • Jeff Crippen

      Nothing an abuser does has a good motive. It is always always about gaining power and control over you. I would say he is just playing the abuse cycle once again until the hammer drops. I am very sorry you are suffering. May the Lord bless you and give you courage and wisdom.

  5. Anon – Just wanted to commend Pastor Crippen’s reply to you. “Nothing an abuser does has a good motive.”
    I am living this very thing. In my case and as I read your story, the abuser appears charming as financial and in some ways physical assistance is provided. I’ve been made to feel that the man I married can’t be that bad.
    As I have patiently waited out this situation more is coming to light as to how he has twisted ‘the past’ to make it look like just a ‘bad marriage’ and that any disagreement was seen as ‘me starting an argument on my part.’ In the past he told both Biblical and secular counselors that ‘I was not the problem.’
    Like Pastor Crippen tenderly warned. Be very careful. I pray you can secure a couple of trustworthy, wise friends who can deliver you from your abuser’s bondage.

  6. Oh my! My finger slipped. Didn’t mean to “like” my own comment.

    • Kesha

      Sadly, I’m finding this to be true…the more you grow in Christ, those in darkness are expose by the light in you.
      I have come to a painful realization when dealing with professing Christian friends who have “sound doctrine” and are proud theologians who can debate and argue Scripture, etc….they are threatened by a genuine believer who is living a godly lifestyle.
      I can relate to being deserted by friends. Friends who I got along with for years and felt we had a genuine friendship. We hung out, had good conversation about family, church and God’s Word…but when their sin issues were addressed by Scripture for correction and edification… ultimately they separated themselves.
      Sanctification seems to repel the self-righteous person.
      As you stated “Anyone who is not truly growing in Christ, anyone whose profession of Christ is fake (like the seed that sprouts up right away but has no root), is not going to be a safe person to have a relationship with. If you cannot see a “friend” actually growing in the Lord (the counterfeit admittedly can be hard to detect), then beware.
      I’m thankful that you mentioned that at times it’s hard to detect. I must admit, that although I detect and suspect something is off spiritually and that my friend may not be a Christian and is evil… I am too slow in comforting and letting that friend go.
      I usually give them the benefit of the doubt too much, when I know what’s really going on. I see all the red flags and dismiss them at times..in a bit of denial because I don’t want to believe that a “friend” is evil disguised as a Christian sister.
      I for one know better than that considering I live with an evil, manipulative, deceptive, abusive man.
      It’s hurtful to see someone plotting and scheming against you. Someone you love who has made you their enemy for telling the truth. Someone you love seemingly energized by Satan to do you harm, use you, and destroy you.
      I need to learn to confront more quickly and let the friendship go. Knowing “that is not going to be a safe person to have a relationship with”.
      Praying for the Lord to give me wisdom and help to deal with such “friends”, and help me to be wise as a serpent and innocent as a dove.

      • Jeff Crippen

        We do not enjoy coming to the realization that an apparent Christian friend – isn’t either one. But as you say, wisdom that the Lord gives makes us wiser and wiser to what is hiding under the layers. And eventually it will evidence itself and they will abandon us and the Lord (though often they will just continue the “christian” facade somewhere else.

        • Kesha

          One of the most eye-opening lessons I’m learning about these “Christian friends” who are not growing in Christilikeness and are living in darkness, is that their >every< intention is evil.
          Their flattery, “encouraging” words, their offers to help you, etc. are all tactics used to build your trust as they use you for their personal gain, while simultaneously they are secretly seeking to destroy you and tear you down.
          In your personal experience, have you ever confronted this type of a “friend” about their sin, they repented and you were able to maintain the friendship?

  7. frankiesmith2064

    I experienced this in my single adults bible study. I got a double whammy—As a new Christian I was betrayed by my Christian best friend who sided against me and teamed up with my abuser the top volunteer youth minister.
    It worked for the abuser because it fit perfectly into the isolation phase of domestic violence. He isolated me from any support which allowed him to abuse me in private.
    He could keep the mask of a godly man while being a demon in private. Who could I tell about the abuse? No one would believe me. The abuser undermined my credibility. He poisoned others against me.
    The friend supported the abuser. She presented a fake Christian facade and mirrored me to gain my trust. When it came down to it she was not who she claimed to be.
    Abusers love to rally others against their victims. When your in a singles ministries group with wolves in sheep’s clothing you get burned. That’s why I don’t go to church. COVID has been a blessing.

  8. frankiesmith2064 – Feeling so badly for you. You’ll probably keep getting invitations to come to the ‘singles group’ when they decide to meet. I had to abandon traditional church gatherings several years ago. I don’t blame you at all for feeling more at peace away from the wolves. ((hugs)) and prayers.


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