Unmasking the Domestic Abuser in the Church

Two Demonic Skills RASN’s Possess

3Jn 1:9-10 I have written something to the church, but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge our authority. (10) So if I come, I will bring up what he is doing, talking wicked nonsense against us. And not content with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers, and also stops those who want to and puts them out of the church.

These words by which the Apostle John exposed Diotrephes, reveal two “skill sets” that most every Diotrephes (we will call them RASNs) possess. They are:

  • The ability to achieve power and control
  • The ability to accuse and thereby make everyone but themselves bear the blame

RASNs not only lust for power and control, they are quite accomplished at obtaining it. Think about this. Why is an abuser able to exercise power and control over, for instance, his/her spouse? How did they get a hold on this power? How was it that your abuser slowly but surely (or perhaps even very quickly) establish this power and control over you? I bet you don’t even remember. Because you didn’t even see it happening at the time.

Creeps, like Diotrephes, creep in with stealth. And before you know it, they have the keys to everything. How does it happen?

I think that part of the answer is related to the second diabolic skill set they possess – blaming, guilting, accusing, threatening. They are confident that they are never to blame and before you know it, you believe they are never to blame – YOU are!

RASNs are very skilled at offering tantalizing “bait” to their target – bait with a hook in it. That bait might be their reputation in the community, their skill at their career, their apparent “care” for others, etc. And once people take the bait, you guessed it, Diotrephes is running the show.

This wickedness has happened to me as well. More than once. You find yourself years down the road realizing that something sinister has happened. That you aren’t even yourself anymore. That Diotrephes has become your “go to” person. There is another name for this dynamic – it’s called “enslavement.”


Pride and Prejudice


Many Church Leaders are Guilty of Lording it Over the Flock


  1. Susan

    RASNs cannot accomplish their evil without the support of the cowards and hypocrites located within our churches and homes!

  2. Sarah

    Enslavement is a precise choice of wording.

  3. Be free

    They do blame shifting and deception with such ease that it’s often easy to miss – until one day you catch on to it. Once you see it – you recognize it more frequently and much faster as each RASN passes in proximity…. John called out the RASN, the deceiver Diotrephres, exactly as he was…. no dramas, and so matter of factly…. it’s a great model to follow.

  4. Lynn

    With many RASNs it starts with flattery and lovebombing in order to forge the emotional connection with their victims. That’s how they dig their hooks in. Once the connection is made, then it is a bait and switch to assume a place of dominance.

    It’s much harder to dominate, manipulate and control people who you don’t have an emotional connection with. That’s why RASNs invest in hooking their prey first because it’s much harder to get away after the emotional connection is made. We literally are told that we shouldn’t sever abusive emotional connections if it’s with certain types of people – aka family members, spouses, and church leaders who have “fallen”. It’s why leaving RASNs can feel so painful. It feels like you’re going against the natural order of things. In some ways you are. And that’s okay. God calls us out of darkness and into his glorious light. As a result we will need to leave those who are not willing to walk in the light of Christ, especially if they are abusive.

    I’m not saying asserting power and control can’t be done without personal emotional connection. If it is, it’s more likely going to be some sort of propaganda campaign designed to otherize those who don’t submit to the rule and groupthink being pushed out by the one’s doing the propaganda. We’ve seen this throughout history and in our own time.

    It’s why clinging to Christ, knowing who he is and what he expects is so critical. There are many false Jesus’s running around on both sides of the aisle. It takes the wisdom of God to discern good from evil, while remaining innocent of it in such a dark and evil age. Whom the son sets free is free indeed. Walk in that freedom.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Thank you Lynn! We must therefore take care in regard to who we trust and as it might be said, give our hearts to.

  5. Z

    Although I consume all these blog posts and Pastor’s teachings and insights and they help me immensely, it’s so much harder when the RASNs/abusers have always been your own family. Starts with the demonic traits of the parents and spreads to most of the siblings and not others. Usually there is only one truth teller. Soon, the one who resists the evil of the “family system” and is a truth teller, becomes the mortal enemy. The mass-targeted one. The Black Sheep/Scapegoat with venomous rage always aimed at her. And the horrors never end.
    Once that target becomes an adult, there are ways to cut out the evil ones to various degrees. I chose 100% permanently as there is no hope of redemption for my ex-family members who are ravenous wolves who’ve pretended all my lifetime to be “born again sheep”, who have committed not just sins of abuse (and MANY other things so arrogantly!) but violent crimes against me and my family for setting boundaries and consequences.
    My first question to the Lord will be “WHY? Why did I have to be born into such evil?”
    Helpless to escape it. Dependent on those who were harming me. As an infant I was abused. Than as a child. Then a teen….Up to recent years when I could finally end it.
    Discernment and education about RASNs couldn’t help me at that tender age. The damage went on with the complicity of all my relatives and church people who all knew.
    As far as I’ve come in my recovery from the ongoing traumas and terrors, I still deeply feel and resent the helpless feelings I had of being handcuffed into slavery that felt like it would never end. There was no choice I could make to leave them for all the formative years of my life. Despite so badly wanting to! They got to do real biological damage to my brain and nervous system. Unfettered. As they waved their Bibles in public all those years. They DID have demonic power and control over me!
    It’s a different kind of demonic oppression when one is born helpless into this evil.
    I learned to protect myself much later in life. Therapists didn’t even know about “No Contact” or even limited/low contact with abusive families! It was never mentioned as an option. Even therapists said “They’re family.” And they tried to teach me to tolerate/coexist with their evil and hypocrisy!
    As an adult, I had to rely on my own inner strength and intellect before I submitted my life to Jesus, which took SO long BECAUSE of the hypocrisy of the evil “born again abusers and enablers” always around me. They were the only representation of Jesus I was exposed to for most of my life. So I kept Jesus at a distance as a young adult.
    I stood alone and resisted my ex-family’s evil, exposed it, put limits and consequences on it, told the truth about it, tried my best to get help from many people I thought were “godly people” (who turned out not to be).
    It took decades for the Lord to gently woo me and save me and make my way of total escape. Thank God I now know Jesus was with me all along even before I let Him into my sad, despairing, terrorized heart.
    Being born into this demonic atmosphere is one of the worst hell on earth tortures I can imagine. And I still grieve for the little girl (me) who had to carry that burden for so long.

    • Kate

      I’m so sorry……I have been where you are. It took me years of anger at God. Yelling at Him. Turning to Him through his word. Refusing to let the lies of others or about the past be believed by myself. I wanted the truth of it all from HIM. I learned that He can handle anything. That my hating Him, railing at Him, was still seeking Him. He knows our hearts and minds. He knows the evil that was done in our lives. All of it. He hates it more than we could ever imagine. And he has horrific plans for the guilty.

      I too sought help over and over and ran into evil abusers or ignorant people who tried to get me to forgive the abuse. (At the time I didn’t even know I’d been abused or traumatized. I had to figure that out through my own research.)

      I’m not sure if you’ve read Trauma and Recovery by Judith Herman. Pastor Crippen recommended it years ago. There are free copies online if you type in the title with PDF at the end. Here is one quote from it:

      “In order to escape accountability for his crimes, the perpetrator does everything
      in his power to promote forgetting. Secrecy and silence are the perpetrator’s first line of defense. If secrecy fails, the perpetrator attacks the credibility of his victim. If he cannot silence her absolutely, he tries to make sure that no one listens. To this end, he marshals an impressive array of arguments, from the most blatant denial to the most sophisticated and elegant rationalization. After every atrocity one can expect to hear the same predictable apologies: it never happened; the victim lies; the victim exaggerates; the victim brought it upon herself; and in any case it is time to forget the
      past and move on. The more powerful the perpetrator, the greater is his prerogative to name and define reality, and the more completely his arguments prevail. ”

      You can still cherish and love that little girl that you are. That’s how God sees you. The sweet girl who did the best she could with what she knew. Who still loved others when she was unloved. Who tried to do right and good things when she was only shown contempt.

      You can talk to yourself like that. Like you would to a cherished child who is deeply, and completely loved. Because that’s how God loves you. It takes practice but when evil thoughts or feelings slip in, thank God that he loves you and then tell yourself how sweet you are and how much you love yourself. It may sound cheesy but it helps so much. Tell yourself in the mirror at least once a day “I love you sweet girl.”

      • Z

        Thank you, Kate! Your words and advice are soothing to my wounded places. I’m just learning to show love to myself as that little girl who prayed “If there is a God, can you please let me die?”. In beteeen the nightly nightmares when I had to go to my abusers’ bedroom and knock for their “help”. When THEY were the reason for my nightmares!! Childhood CPTSD. Now adult CPTSD.
        But I’m leaning into the kindness and provision I now realize my Father God-who saw and heard every single beating and hateful words spoken to me regularly. As I added to my comment, HE is the one Who gifted me the survival skills to stay alive. And I thank Him now for knowing me and loving me before I ever knew Him. He WAS with me when I felt so alone.
        I will get a copy of Judith Herman’s book as just the excerpt you included resonated so much with my experiences. I’ve been trying to cut down on my consumption of reading and video watching about abuse and narcissism, etc, as I am finding it triggers my anxiety. As does therapy. Reliving those memories is torture for me. I feel comfortable reading Pastor’s posts as they do not trigger me. They validate what I sensed was false teaching and hypocrisy in my ex-family even as a young child. So obvious! Yet so many still pretend to fall for their act as “born again believers”. I KNOW my Avenging God will treat them all with the appropriate level of His wrath that they each deserve. Not one person of my “clan/cult” has clean hands in my abuse. So I look forward to that!
        I am no longer mad at God. I just have the question of “Why?” As anyone who has been dealt a tragic life of pain, tears and sorrow at birth would ask. But now I trust the absence of an answer on earth. I will get my answers in heaven. So I’m very thankful God called me to Himself at the right time and I accepted His Son as my personal Savior. Despite the enemy’s best attempts to make me hate God and anything to do with Him. And I will get His Perfect Justice on that glorious Day. My eternal life is secure and that now means everything to me. God bless your beautiful heart, Kate! ♥️

    • Z

      I should add this important fact to clarify that the survival skills I used to cope and stay alive after being born helpless into the evil of abusive parents (I was abused in utero via physical domestic violence) were gifts given to me by my Father in heaven. Before I ever knew Him or accepted Jesus, He knew me! He gave me a high intellect, a strong will and backbone, the desire for truth telling, the thirst for justice, the discernment of evil and hypocrisy even as a small child. God gave me a brave voice that I used to call out the abuses to my detriment most times. But I still did it.
      I could NEVER have survived without the God-given gifts He gave me to help me survive WITHOUT becoming like the abusers-as my siblings did.
      AND He later called me by name as an adult-chose me-to save me and I said “Yes Lord”. And now I have the Living Hope that is Jesus! Eternal life free of all traumas, CPTSD, anxiety, chronic pain, awful memories…No more tears or pain or sorrow! And I am forever grateful to my Father God for giving me those gifts as a helpless hopeless terrorized child.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *