Unmasking the Domestic Abuser in the Church

Division as an Abuse Tactic

Rom 16:17-18 I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. (18) For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.

The wicked commonly are at work among us to divide us. Specifically, to alienate us from fellow believers. Paul does not primarily mean (in the verses above) division caused over a doctrinal difference such as who are to be the proper subjects of baptism (believers or infants, etc). He means fundamentally people who alienate us from one another rather than increasing our love for and fellowship with one another, as the doctrine of Christ teaches us.

Abusers, as most of you know, are always busily working to isolate their target from anyone who might be a help to them. They do this because they want, as you know, power and control and it is much easier to control someone who has no allies. You hear stories frequently of abusers moving the family clear across the country, away from family and other friends. Abusers are divisive people. They cause division. Here is another example in scripture:

2Co 10:10 For they say, “His letters are weighty and strong, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech of no account.”

See it? These enemies of the gospel were working to alienate the Corinthians from Paul. Why? Because they wanted to control them and lead them away from Christ:

Gal 4:13-17 You know it was because of a bodily ailment that I preached the gospel to you at first, (14) and though my condition was a trial to you, you did not scorn or despise me, but received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus. (15) What then has become of your blessedness? For I testify to you that, if possible, you would have gouged out your eyes and given them to me. (16) Have I then become your enemy by telling you the truth? (17) They make much of you, but for no good purpose. They want to shut you out, that you may make much of them.

The Galatians had loved Paul. They received the gospel gladly. But now…things have cooled between them and the apostle. Why? Because of these enemies who were at work among them to alienate them from him.

Have you had this happen to you? I bet you have. It has happened to me more than once. It is a common tactic of the enemy. Alienate. Divide. Then own and control – and abuse.

So let me speak to anyone who might be reading this who has been alienated from those they once loved – and who loved them. The very fact that this alienation has occurred through the workings of another person who you are smitten by, is evidence that they are servants of the enemy. Your “godly” husband has picked you and the kids up and moved you clear across the country and convinced you not have contact with your longtime friends or family members – is not godly. It is one thing to break off contact with the wicked, as Christ calls us to follow him even if it means leaving family. But that typically happens because they hate you for following Christ. The division caused by the divisive abuser, on the other hand, is quite different. It alienates you from those who love you.

So, let’s be wise as serpents here. Anyone who you have come to think is just the cat’s meow and who is convincing you to break off with those who have loved you and who love Christ, is wicked. He or she is the divisive person Paul tells us to have nothing to do with. Such a person is using their victim – serving their own wicked appetite, as Paul puts it. And when they are done one day chewing on you they will spit you out and discard you like they never knew you.


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  1. Sarah

    I have worked with victims and survivors of DA for over 20th are. !
    I have searched for truth around Domestic Abuse and the churches response . I’m so delighted to have found Jeff Crippen and his research into this matter , I believe it will be transforming for those who read it ! Thank you !

  2. Innoscent

    The division that abusers cause is far-reaching. It begins within the victim’s psyche (fog stage) slowly sinking into confusion and self-doubt. Then with her relationship network who also become confused. The ultimate aim of abusers is to alienate their victims from God and His Word, have them give up on their faith in Him. Even contemplate death as a final respite for their suffering.

    That’s the kind of devastation the enemy within the gates causes which many do not understand and which makes them unfit to help, even adding more suffering. Victims have to deal with multi-faceted and multi-level operations of demolition that have long-lasting effects.

    At the same the abusers’ divisiveness sifts true helpers and Christians from the false. And God brings new genuine friends that stick closer than family.

  3. Choose freedom

    The fundamental piece that survivors can easily overlook is perfectly captured in the above sentence….”The very fact this alienation occurred….”

    If the abuser was able to interject their evil agenda with your “friends” “family” “church” etc. you’ll find the abuser(s) couldn’t have successfully enticed others to actively or passively align in their evil schemes, as saturated with enticement as the schemes may have been, if those people were deep rooted in the Lord….. If they pushed you aside to align with the abuser’s schemes, in whatever form it was, it’s likely they weren’t all that to you in the first place, if ever.

    They have a free will to choose their alliances…..so do we.

  4. Z

    Choose freedom,
    I wish I could “like” ♥️ your comment 100 times!! You explained it PERFECTLY!
    It’s a hard reality to live through. But the FREEDOM that comes from being released from bondages to people who were never true friends or family or church friends is a blessing.
    Thank God for revealing them for what they are so we can choose to break alliances not only with the abusers but with false christians and allies of evil.

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