Our book is entitled A Cry for Justice [Affiliate link]. One of the Scriptures that inspired us to that title is posted on this blogsite —
(Job 19:7 ESV) Behold, I cry out, ‘Violence!’ but I am not answered; I call for help, but there is no justice.
There is no justice. You won’t have to talk to many abuse victims / survivors before you realize that they do not receive justice. Not even in their churches. Perhaps it isn’t much of an exaggeration at all to say “especially in our churches”? If we can be used by the Lord to expose just this one thing — this lack of justice in our churches — then we will believe we have accomplished something.
Why this lack of justice? Why is it that violence can be done to the oppressed, right under our noses, and we don’t see it? The statue of Lady Justice [Internet Archive link]1 (the one holding the scales) has a blindfold on. Justice is supposed to be blind. Not blind to justice itself, but blind to the status of the two parties in a conflict. Rich or poor, white or colored, man or woman — these things are not to be taken into consideration if we would do justice.
(Galatians 3:28 ESV) There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
Why the injustice then? Here are some more Scriptures taken from Proverbs that point out some more reasons behind injustice —
(Proverbs 17:8 ESV) A bribe is like a magic stone in the eyes of the one who gives it; wherever he turns he prospers.
(Proverbs 18:5 ESV) It is not good to be partial to the wicked or to deprive the righteous of justice.
(Proverbs 18:17 ESV) The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.
We are partial to the wicked — to the abuser — so very often. Why? Here is what Solomon says —
- The abuser often has assets and position. He (yes, sometimes she) has the resources to bribe us. To cast a spell on us. Then, the abuser prospers. Isn’t this sadly accurate? It is like the church has been enchanted by the abuser. He is so convincing. He has so much to offer us. We know him — or we think we do. So everyone believes him. We render injustice because we set ourselves up as competent to judge when an abuse victim comes to us, but in fact, we have been bribed. Who was it, the King of Rohan in The Lord of the Rings who had been blinded and enchanted [Internet Archive link]2 by Wormtongue? That’s us.
- So we show partiality to the wicked. We deprive the victim of the justice due her. How often do we stop to consider that we are very likely not very good judges, and that for a number of reasons. Christians are usually ignorant of the nature and tactics of abuse. That doesn’t make for a very good judge. Christians in a local church often have personal knowledge of — and relationships with — the abuser and his victim. That doesn’t make for a very just judge either. In the world, a judge who realizes he knows the parties in a case must excuse (recuse) himself from that case. But we don’t.
- Who is it, in abuse cases, that states his case first? You might be tempted to say “why, the victim of course. She / he is the one who comes to the church and reports the abuse.” But if you know much about the dynamics of these scenarios, you will realize that it is actually quite the opposite. Christians who are abuse victims are very hesitant to bring their case to the church. For one thing, abuse is quite confusing and so victims don’t understand for some time what is happening to them. And all this while — often for years perhaps — the abuser is stating his case. Daily. In comments he makes about his victim. In the deceiving way he presents himself to us. In his so-called “godly” works and demeanor in the church. And we believe him. We accept him for who he says he is. “The one who states his case first seems right….” (Proverbs 18:17). And we buy it.
If we would be just, we need to heed these words of Scripture. We need to examine our verdicts in light of these truths and in many of our past cases pronounce — “mistrial”. Have we permitted the victim to have her day in court? To do what Proverbs says she has a right to do — “….until the other comes and examines him.” (Proverbs 18:17). Many of the church’s verdicts desperately need to come up for appeal. Either we do this now, or most assuredly, the day is coming when the Highest Court in the universe will hear the victim’s call for appeal — and He shall grant that request and render perfect justice and righteousness. We would do well to find ourselves on the side of that perfect justice when it comes.
1[February 26, 2023: We added the link to Wikipedia’s page on Lady Justice. The Internet Archive link is a copy of that page. Editors.]
2[February 26, 2023: We added the link to a page containing information on both the King of Rohan (Théoden) and Wormtongue (Gríma Wormtongue). The Internet Archive link is a copy of that page. Editors.]
[February 26, 2023: Editors’ notes:
—For some comments made prior to February 26, 2023 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 February 26, 2023 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 February 26, 2023 that quoted from the post to the post as it is now (February 26, 2023), click here [Internet Archive link] for the most recent Internet Archive copy of the post.]
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.
12 thoughts on “Dealing Justly With Abusers and Their Victims”
What is interesting to me is that the abuser starts building his “case” long before any issue comes to light. This means that he (she?) already knows that there is going to be a problem in which there will be a need to have an “inside track” with the church authority structure. If you think about this a little, you will realize that it is diabolical, deceptive and mean from the beginning. It is an effort to deprive his victim of any help, knowing that she probably will ultimately seek it. It is an effort to undermine the whole process of justice. The pastor must be as careful as any judge not to allow anyone to build a relationship with him that will ultimately compromise his ability to deal without prejudice in any situation.
Wow, Larry, this is really, really right on! You know of what you speak, and that is rare in the church today. Did we learn these things in seminary? I didn’t. We thought we learned God’s Word, but we skimmed over it. All of these warnings are there. God has given them to us, but in our sin and with the log in our eye, we don’t see it. When Christ warns us that the enemy is subtle and the father of lies and deception, that we must be constantly on guard against his tactics, our Lord means just exactly what He says — but we don’t believe Him, I guess. Or we just lack the wisdom and experience to do what Proverbs tells us — “Listen, my son….” We are like know-it-all teens who think their parents are pretty dumb. And then we have to learn the hard, hard lessons that only by the Lord’s grace we survive.
You are obviously a man who has had real experience in this, and you are “onto” the schemes of the enemy. That is tremendously encouraging to me.
That is a great thought.
In an interesting twist on this, in our situation, the one who first stated the case to me that the abuser is an abuser was the abuser himself. And he is absolutely right. I am completely convinced. He showed me that with irrefutable proof straight from his own mouth.
The first inkling I had that there was an abuse situation in the home was when I experienced the abuser’s verbal abuse of our victim. I use the word “experienced” on purpose. I didn’t just witness it. I felt it too. Even though he wasn’t “aiming” at me, he might as well have been laying into me as into her. (I am sure, though, that it was worse for her.)
Therefore, because of his own previous testimony, later on when our victim came to me and told me there had been a physical incident, I had no trouble whatsoever believing her since he had already testified so convincingly concerning himself. What to do about it was another question at that point. But that it happened and she was telling the truth was not in question for me.
So really, she only confirmed what he already made crystal clear himself. The matter is settled on the basis of 3 witnesses: me, our victim, and the abuser himself. Of the 3, he is the most credible witness of all.
Your insight into God’s rules of evidence is very good. Many Christians don’t understand it. A matter is confirmed by adequate evidence, and you have it. We aren’t to play personalities here. We must look at the evidence. As you so properly note, the evil man can act as a witness against himself. That is why defense attorneys normally advise their clients against getting on the witness stand.
Larry W Dean’s comment is incredibly perceptive. I am just not sure that a human, even a very smart and strategic-minded one with a lot of foresight is capable of the planning the kind of step-by-step isolation done by the sociopathic narcissist / abuser. The church really needs to wake up if indeed it is the church.
Thank you, Pippa — exactly! Abuse is, as I am seeing more and more, satanic. It is a huge deception and there is no way it will be revealed apart from the Spirit of Christ in the real people of Christ. And you are right — IF it is the church!
This is the exact verse I cited to my ex’s pastor after my ex had moved to another town subsequent to me having him put out of my house by a protection order from the court. This pastor had very much sided with my ex. and believed his story without checking with me. I wrote the pastor a short note, citing that verse. He never replied.
Silence can be very abusive, and this pastor abused me by ignoring me.
Barbara, the Scriptures demand two or three witnesses to establish an issue as true. I have found that careful questioning of an abuser, including confronting him / her with the accusations of the abused will result in enough confession (inside their defense of themselves) to establish the abuse through the witness of both abuser and abused. But, as I mentioned above, pastors allow abusers to establish a relationship with them and then take their “word” as “the gospel” in the matter. There really needs to be a class in seminary….
Thank you, Larry. It’s really so simple, when you put it that way. Of course.
At the time (years ago now) it was just one relatively small issue in a log-jam of issues I had to deal with, so I didn’t pursue the matter. I don’t even think I told anyone. It was just one more straw on my already sagging back. I had to sweep it aside and just get on with the more pressing stuff, like the daily tasks of mothering, pushing the police to try to enforce the protection order, figuring out whether it was safe to disclose my situation to my new pastor after I’d had to leave my former church because the elders took my husband’s side….
I think this is typical for victims post-separation. They are snowed under with complex problems so they have to let a lot of injustices just fall by the wayside, unchallenged and unresolved. And there’s always the risk that the victim has to weigh up: is it worth trying to push a matter, or will it just end in so much more injury for me that I’m stuck with another pile of anger in my “have to forgive” basket?
Thank you so much for responding. It’s wonderful to feel heard.
Hi, Barb —
I’m sorry this happened to you. It’s cruel.
Same exact situation going on here. The silence here causes pain and shame and confusion that is incredibly unbearable.
I have very little support. I have no money. Certainly no one in my corner. The abuser has a lot of support, money and many in his corner.
I’m back in a fog it seems. I don’t understand. Why am I back in it? Is this common? I’m scared because I can’t think, act, see or speak clearly like I once did recently.
I can’t function this way and I can’t find a counselor who is trained and experienced in the area of abuse. I have young children and I can’t function in a fog. I’m shaky in every way again. I feel like I’m losing this battle. I’ve even had dreams and thoughts that left me missing the abuser. But not for good reasons. Out of fear I believe. As if to say — “If you can’t beat them join them?” What is wrong with me?
Very possibly, you are suffering such high anxiety (for good reasons!) that your cognitive capacity has temporarily been somewhat impaired. When I was going through treatment for Hep C which involved a year long regime of drugs that caused me MANY side effect (depression, anxiety, physical pain, lack of oxygen in my bloodstream, etc.) I was told by a psychiatrist that “High anxiety impairs cognition.” Ah! Now I understood. It wasn’t me. I wasn’t losing my intelligence permanently. It was simply a side effect of what I was undergoing at the time.
What it felt like at the time was “brain fog”. I wasn’t remembering the names of people I knew well! I was starting a sentence and then forgetting halfway through what I had intended to say, so I couldn’t finish the sentence.
At one stage, the only thing I could “read” to distract myself were glossy magazines (I looked at the pictures) and very simple children’s books that were aimed at about five year olds. Believe me, I hardly knew myself. It became a “new normal” for a while. But when the treatment was over, my cognitive capacity returned.
Now, you are not undergoing drug treatment, but you ARE undergoing high anxiety. So that’s the similarity.