A Cry For Justice

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

Abusive People Tell us What We “Should” Do

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.


[March 9, 2023: There have been some changes made to this post. For more information, read the Editors’ notes at the bottom of the post. Editors.]

Years ago when my son and daughter were in college, about 22 hours away by car, I decided to drive up in the middle of the semester to see them. I was a pastor then, and one fellow in the church decided that he needed to “counsel me” in regard to the trip. He came into my office, sat down, and proceeded to tell me that I had a problem in the area of faith. He said that if I were truly a mature Christian, I would realize that the Lord would have me totally entrust my children to His care, and not take this trip. Visiting them would be — sin.

These are the kinds of incidents that have happened to me over the years through which I have come to know the abuser. I know what it likes to be on the receiving end of a “Christian” who really is totally about his entitlement to possess power and control over others. It is particularly ugly when it parades in a religious façade. Ugly, indeed. And you can feel the ugliness — though usually you really don’t understand exactly what is actually going on, nor why you are feeling what you are feeling.

What would possess a person to do these kinds of things? What was it to this man if I, his pastor, paid a visit to his son and daughter? Concern for me? Hardly. He craved power and control. People like him view pastors, teachers, employers — anyone with some kind of leadership position — as people with power and control. They don’t like it at all for anyone else but themselves to have power. So, they quickly zero in on them. Initially, they try to become your confidant. Your buddy. They crave to be on the inside track, so then they can become your advisor. The issue is insignificant. It can be how you dress, what kind of food you eat, whether or not coffee is served in Sunday School – it doesn’t matter. The issue isn’t the issue. It is merely a pretense to advise and counsel. If he is successful and you take his advice, he has exerted and established his power. If you don’t, then the punishment and accusing and blaming goes into action.

And so it was. I rejected his “counsel”. I was going to visit my kids, and I did. And that was the day this fellow began to really step up his accusations and abuse on me. Ultimately he left the church, and took a few folks with him.

Readers who know abuse, know these tactics well. Most of you have seen it played out in your marriage, and then in the relationships with your fellow church members and family members and friends. Most of the time, the abuser meets with quite a lot of success.

Paul said that we are not ignorant of the schemes of the devil. But it sure seems that many people who profess to be Christians, are. One thing Christian victims of abuse can be thankful for is, they have met the enemy, and they know his ways.

[March 9, 2023: Editors’ notes:

—For some comments made prior to March 9, 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 March 9, 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 March 9, 2023 that quoted from the post to the post as it is now (March 9, 2023), click here [Internet Archive link] for the most recent Internet Archive copy of the post.]


  1. Now Free After 42 Years

    Well, I know the subtle and not-no-subtle tactics of the abuser, Jeff. I feel that your accuser / abuser envied your obvious love for your children. I feel he was abusing someone in his life, and had a fear that somebody might visit his home someday and find out his true nature. He transferred his fear onto you by trying to bully you into not visiting your children! Sick manipulation.

  2. The estranged was constantly doing that to anyone and everyone. He seemed so concerned, so reasonable, so….controlling. And if you took his advice or his help, you now owed him. In a way, he also felt he owned you.

    He could say anything and everything he wanted and felt free to belittle and criticize, behind your back and to your face. And if you didn’t take his advice or realized that his “help” had strings attached and refused, it made him furious.

    That’s the word I’m looking for — strings. Everything has strings attached. There was always a hidden agenda you just couldn’t quite put your finger on until later when it was too late.

    • joepote01


      An interesting choice of words, Ida Mae!

      I used to think of it as a web….both a web of lies and a web of manipulative attachments. The woman to whom I was formerly married seemed to never let go of any relationships….always keeping some sort of attachment and control over people….and, yes, always a hidden agenda….

    • Joey

      Sounds exactly like my ex! If he ever did anything for you, he owned you. He never gave anything, only loaned it and then demanded interest, whether it was money, help, “love” or advice!

  3. Survivor

    I can’t believe that we were not all married to the same person. Honestly, if none of us used our actual names, the ex-abusive spouses would not be able to tell who was exposing him / her because we could all be describing the same person.

    • Jeff Crippen

      The psychology of sin is very consistent. That is why I think that every Christian and every pastor for sure needs to study abuse. If you want to learn about sin, it’s mentality and tactics, study the abuser. Abusers are sinners unimpeded by conscience, so sin is “freer” to do its evil deeds uninhibited. Once you learn it, you can recognize it’s language and thoughts and tactics. In a real way, abuse victims really have been married to the same person.

  4. Years ago I learned that the word “should” was a red flag. If someone (my former husband, the bystanders he enlisted onto his side, or well-meaning but ignorant Christians, told me I should do something, I would inwardly flinch and often outwardly state my objection to being told what to do or given advice without me having asked for it.

    I explained my thinking about the “s” word very clearly to someone close to me. So he avoided using the “s” word. But he would command or instruct me using other verbal or behavioural techniques. It was very subtle and I didn’t realise what was going on for a long time.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Barbara – for years I thought it was an interpersonal relationship deficiency in me. I mean, when people in the church told me that, as a pastor or person, I should do this or I should do that, I felt the uneasiness — no, it’s stronger than that. It is a sick, fearful feeling. But I thought I was the problem. There is something within us as human beings — and it is not rebelliousness — that alerts us that something is wrong when the “should-er” comes our way.

      The “shoulds” often come very deceptively — “Jeff, you now, the last pastor used to come over to my house every week and we would talk about the direction of the church.” Ah, so kind. Wrong! It is evil and wicked. “Jeff, I just need to talk to you about a concern.” But there comes that old sick, fearful feeling again. Not with everyone. Not with people I trust because I know they love me and love Christ. It is only with some. They are the unsafe ones. I need a sign in my office, and probably some T-shirts too that say “Don’t Should on Me”.

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