A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

The Error of Seeing the Abuser as Victim

UPDATE Sept 2021: I have come to believe that Jeff Crippen does not practise what he preaches. He vilely persecuted an abuse victim and spiritually abused many other people in the Tillamook congregation. Go here to read the evidence. Jeff has not gone to the people that he spiritually and emotionally abused. He has not apologised to them, let alone asked for their forgiveness.


[October 26, 2022: There have been some changes made to this post. For more information, read the Editors’ notes at the bottom of the post. Editors.]

(Proverbs 30:20  ESV)  This is the way of an adulteress: she eats and wipes her mouth and says, “I have done no wrong.”

When there is a crime, there is a victim and a criminal. It is just that simple. If your house was burglarized, would you believe for a second that the burglar is a victim too? Well, many people actually buy into that kind of thinking. It happens all the time when dealing with abusers. This is a serious error that adds much additional suffering to the real victims: the victims of the abusers.

What we are considering in this post is not the subject of how abusers play the role of victim. They do, and they do it very often. They claim that it is their victim is who really abusing them. Many people fall for that tactic. But that is not our subject here.

What we are concerned with now is the very wrong notion that abusers are abusers because they themselves were abused. That they are victims too. The theory goes this way: abusers came to be what they are because they were victims of some trauma earlier in their lives. Therefore, if we are to deal with them properly and help them, we must feel their pain and help them see the origin of their anger and abusive mentality. Abusers are quite happy when we embrace this theory. They love to play the victim. They know that victims are not confronted and held accountable, but rather are shown sympathy and provided with excuses for their behavior.

There are experts in the field of abuse who reject seeing the abuser as a victim. Lundy Bancroft and George Simon, Jr. are examples. Also, Robert Hare (Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us [*Affiliate link]). These experts understand that many people who have had very abusive and traumatic childhoods nevertheless grow up to become kind, empathetic, responsible people.

In the end, it really doesn’t matter. An abuser is an abuser. What he does is evil and wicked and he needs to be held accountable for it, not given excuses so he can keep on abusing. Many abusers are sociopaths. They have no conscience. Therefore, efforts to “reach” such people by engaging them in some kind of “group hug” approach which is supposed to result in them coming to feel and see how wounded they were in earlier life is doomed to failure. Grief over such things requires a conscience and empathy. And those are things that classic abusers do not possess.

We close with this point from Scripture. Can you think of anywhere in the entire Bible where God confronts sinners who are in rebellion against Him, and gives them any hint of opportunity to blame the circumstances of their past? Let’s consider a typical example:

(Isaiah 1:2-5  ESV)  (2) Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth; for the LORD has spoken: “Children have I reared and brought up, but they have rebelled against me.  (3) The ox knows its owner, and the donkey its master’s crib, but Israel does not know, my people do not understand.”  (4) Ah, sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, offspring of evildoers, children who deal corruptly! They have forsaken the LORD, they have despised the Holy One of Israel, they are utterly estranged.  (5) Why will you still be struck down? Why will you continue to rebel? The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint.

Of course we could quote such Scriptures endlessly. God does not confront us with our sin and “cut us slack” because of our past history. What He does do is offer to heal us and set us right with Him through His Son Jesus Christ if we will acknowledge our sin, repent of it, and put our trust for righteousness with God in Jesus Christ alone. That is the message the abuser needs to hear.

[October 26, 2022: Editors’ notes:

—For some comments made prior to October 26, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be an exact match.
—For some comments made prior to October 26, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be found in the post.
If you would like to compare the text in the comments made prior to October 26, 2022 that quoted from the post to the post as it is now (October 26, 2022), click here [Internet Archive link] for the most recent Internet Archive copy of the post.]

* Amazon affiliate link — ACFJ  gets a small percentage if you purchase via this link


  1. annawood

    Re-blogged this on At the end of myself…at the feet of Jesus [This link is broken. Click here [Internet Archive link] for a copy….you’ll need to scroll down the linked page to find the re-blog of The Error of Seeing the Abuser as Victim – by Jeff Crippen and Anna Wood, January, 31, 2012. Editors.]

  2. Amanda

    My ex-spouse used to explode and attack me if I confronted him about watching dirty movies. Then, he’d get drunk, sleep all day, and wake up, as if he was “hurting” and needed comfort. Another thing he’d do is tell me I was crazy all the time. Or he’d shift from saying “I have to get away from you” “we’re getting a divorce” to “you’re never divorcing me” “you’re stuck with me, get used to it.”

    It was absolutely crazy-making being around him. I was terrified to confront him, though months would go by and things would seem okay, suddenly I’d find some dirty movie he’d watched secretly, or a raunchy video with perverted fetish stuff, and if I dared confront, he’d deny, deny deny and when I pushed it, then it was go get drunk as fast as he could, the “pitiful poor me child” would emerge, and the next week, he’d be acting like a wounded child in need of a mommy. Just total insanity.

    [Paragraph break added to enhance readability. Editors.]

    • Jeff Crippen

      Classic stuff, Amanda. Thank you very much for giving us an insight into the abuser’s tactics. Playing the victim. So glad you have seen through it all.

  3. Les

    All very true.
    Sadly when a man is a victim of abuse, and the woman uses the role of victim it’s rather like being in a gun fight with a pen knife.
    You haven’t got a chance, even if someone believes you.
    It is a very lonely place.

  4. Kandyce Brothers

    My ex was the classic VICTIM….once he charged full steam at me and I put my foot out to stop him and he ran off to the clinic, told them I had kicked him for no reason. One of the many examples of his victimhood….he is a sociopath.

  5. Kandyce Brothers

    Thank you for posting these informative blogs, I have learned so much from reading the posts & it has helped me immensely in my healing. I could never put into words the emotional aspect of the abuse, I just knew it was wrong and I hated the way I felt. 2 years out and I understand how he thinks, doesn’t feel and just how evil he is. God’s love has seen me through and I know I will never ever be the same person I was before the abuse; but that is ok….God isn’t finished with me yet!!!

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