A Cry For Justice

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

Domestic Violence is not a “Dispute”

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.]

BROOKLYN, Ohio — A northeast Ohio man shot and killed his young daughter on her birthday and his wife, who had just told him she was leaving him, inside a crowded Cracker Barrel restaurant before being killed by police.

Kevin Allen fatally shot 42-year-old Katherina Allen and 10-year-old Kerri Allen and also wounded the couple’s other 10-year-old daughter, Kayla, in the Thursday night shootings, the Brooklyn Police Department said. According to police records, Thursday was Kerri Allen’s birthday….

The restaurant will remain closed until the investigation is completed, Cracker Barrel spokeswoman Julie K. Davis said in an email from corporate offices in Lebanon, Tenn. “This appears to be the result of a domestic dispute between two guests and no Cracker Barrel employees were involved,” she said.  [Emphasis added.]  [Source [Internet Archive link]1.]

I learned to spot this common, yet far from harmless, error in news reporting at a seminar I attended where Lundy Bancroft was the speaker. Think about it. Is the last line summation an accurate assessment of what happened? Is domestic violence a “dispute between two people”? Of course not. But this statement from the Cracker Barrel official (I like Cracker Barrel restaurants, but they need to be corrected on this one) is totally wrong and it is demeaning to this woman and her children. Dispute? It takes two people to argue in a dispute. That isn’t what happens in domestic abuse. What this was was nothing less than one single wicked man’s culmination of his ongoing murderous terrorism against his wife and children. The only happy thing about it is that he is dead.2  Unfortunately that doesn’t mean anything for the wife and daughter that he killed, though we can certainly pray that with time and therapy, if she survives, the daughter who remains will be able to heal.

Let’s think about this some more. A murder takes place, say, on a street. Some addict comes up to a person and demands their money and then guns them down. How is that one going to play out in the papers? “Yesterday at 8 P.M. on Main Street, Joe Smith was shot to death by Tank in a dispute over money.” Will that be it? Stupid, right? But this is exactly what we keep hearing. Why?

I think I can tell you why. We like this kind of analysis because it makes the victim out to not be so much of a victim. “This wasn’t such a horrible evil after all — these two people just had to keep at it and keep at it, arguing and fighting with one another, until it finally came to this. Why can’t people be like us and just get along?” And then we go about our merry way.

But what if we had to read it this way — had to have our nose shoved right into the thing — “After years and years of being terrorized by her abusive husband, trying repeatedly to get help and getting very little, Mrs. Allen picked a public place, the Cracker Barrel restaurant, to tell him that she and the girls were leaving him. In a rage, he stormed out, got into his car and began circling the restaurant. Mrs. Allen called 911 because she feared he would do them harm. She was right. Before police could arrive, he came back inside with a rifle and shot her and both of her daughters. If he couldn’t own them, no one else would, and they would never be free.”

Now, that is accurate reporting of the facts. We never hear it. “Oh the poor, tormented man.”

Katherina and Kerri died. Kayla survived — maybe. We should pray for that little girl. Once more, I propose to you that this thing smells of the devil himself. I wonder if this family attended a church? I wonder if Katherina had asked for help there? I wonder….

Note: Here are some more facts that are worth reading, taken from an Ohio newspaper. What common patterns do you see? And notice again the deceptiveness of the abuser —

The dispute that caused a Strongsville man to shoot his wife and two daughters at a Brooklyn Cracker Barrel April 12 was ongoing, according to a Strongsville police report. Katherina “Katie” Allen called police from the Cracker Barrel restaurant in fear he would do something violent.

Two days earlier, Katie had also called Strongsville police requesting an escort to her home. According to the police report, a verbal altercation April 8 convinced Katie to take her daughters and stay with a friend. She told police her husband would have kept the kids if she went back to her home to get her belongings.

Katie also told police she had not been getting along with her husband and that they had been getting into verbal altercations.

Neighbors said the Allens, who lived in their Strongsville home for about five years, were “the all-American” family. No one said they noticed evidence of violence or verbal abuse.

Irene Bendzuck said she would sometimes watch the 10-year-old girls.

“The girls would play outside and jump on the trampoline. They were happy-go-lucky girls,” she said. “They were nice, happy girls.”

“They were a nice family. They kept to themselves,” said Martin Porter. “If they needed help we would have helped them. I never expected anything like this.”

Neighbors described Kevin Allen as quiet, but not dangerous.

“I talked to him two or three times,” one neighbor said. “He was just quiet. You had to push it out of him to get a conversation. He got up, went to work just like everyone else. Nothing out of the ordinary.”

“He would drop of the kids and would just leave,” Bendzuck said. “He was weird, I always thought so.”

Kevin Allen was previously arrested and later acquitted for stealing Oxycodone from a client in North Royalton in 2008. Allen worked as a representative for Coit Carpet Cleaning when the client reported her medicine was stolen following Allen’s visit to her home.

According to Kirtland police, Allen was also arrested and charged with domestic violence in 1995. A woman who may have been Allen’s ex-wife, Janice Allen, had filed a temporary order of protection against Allen before the arrest in 1995.  [Source [Internet Archive link]3.]

1[March 9, 2023: We added the link to the page on The Columbus Dispatch’s news story Man kills daughter, wife at Cracker Barrel restaurant, a possible source of Jeff Crippen’s quote. The Internet Archive link is a copy of that page. Editors.]

2[March 9, 2023: Caveat. This sentence reflects Jeff Crippen’s opinion and isn’t Christ-like. We are, however, leaving the sentence in the post, as it’s his post. Editors.]

3[March 9, 2023: We added the link to the page on cleveland.com’s news story Shooter’s wife called Strongsville police days before family tragedy, a possible source of Jeff Crippen’s quote. The Internet Archive link is a copy of that page. Editors.]

[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. Joey Mortrude Daniel

    I am so glad someone else sees the horror of describing domestic violence as a “dispute” between two people. The abuser is not rational, is not making a sane argument….they are attacking helpless victims who are often paralyzed by fear and years of brainwashing. They are evil, possessed by demons and more often than not, WILL explode in violence when they don’t get their way! As a victim, I know first-hand, NEVER UNDERESTIMATE WHAT YOUR ABUSER IS CAPABLE OF!!!!

  2. Yep. A dispute is between two people who each have power and are arguing about an issue they disagree on. But abuse is a situation where one person exerts overweening power and the other person is rendered powerless — which is why that woman had to call police for protection, and why she told her husband the marriage was ended in a public place, because she figured he might not dare retaliate in public. But she was wrong. Being in public view often restrains an abuser from showing his true colours, but not always.

    And they were not arguing over an issue they disagreed on. It wasn’t “issues of disagreement” that caused that marriage to fail; it was the abuser’s abusiveness, and that alone, that caused the marriage to fail. It’s so obvious.

    For years I’ve groaned when the media call domestic abuse a “domestic dispute”. Even the police reports do it. I think many police now understand that the term “dispute” is a bit of a misnomer, but they continue to use it just out of custom, and they may feel also obliged to use it because they think they can’t be seen to be taking sides. The old myth that one should remain “neutral” in these cases.

    But since when were police not supposed to oppose criminals? Aren’t police supposed to defend and side with the citizens who abide by the law? If police did NOT take sides with the innocent and oppose the wicked, they could never uphold community safety.

  3. Yup, in my back yard. I’ve re-blogged this great post, Jeff. Thanks.

  4. ssofdv

    Reblogged this on Spiritual Side of Domestic Violence [Internet Archive link] and commented:
    Thank you, Pastor Crippen, for setting the record straight. At the end of a legitimate “dispute,” no one dies. I pray for more Pastors to stand up like you are doing. Thank you! Thank you!

  5. ssofdv

    Super great post! I have re-blogged for others to get this vital message as well. God bless your ministry always.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Thank you for the encouragement, and for re-posting it so others can find it. Getting the word out, that’s what we all want to do!

  6. ssofdv

    For sure. And you are welcome.

  7. Finding Answers

    Pastor Jeff wrote:

    ….It takes two people to argue in a dispute…. (Emphasis original.)

    To the general public, I think they view domestic violence / abuse through the same “two people” lens. Yes, word choices make a difference and influence people’s understanding. I don’t disagree with Pastor Jeff’s original post. At a basic level, the misunderstanding is in responsibility.

  8. Now Free (formerly struggling to be free)

    Before, and more-so since I’ve been trying to recover, I’ve heard the phrase “it takes two to tango”.

    I know I am no angel but in the case of abuse this phrase has come from people whom I trusted would have taken my side. They do [take your side] when you reveal at first but for some reason it all gets too much. They do not understand and start to believe you are making it up. Then comes this damaging phrase and it cuts like a knife. Some have even said “there’s always two sides to the story” again cutting like a knife….[giving the idea that] the victim is in some measure to blame for the abuser’s conduct.

    It’s not just church: I’ve heard it in secular counselling and from Christian and non-Christian alike.

    I say how dare you judge me how dare you make it out in any shape or form there is even a hint if all this is my fault and I got what I deserved.

    It’s about time we started to listen to others and without any judgment support them.

    I am not to blame. How these phrases pass on false guilt everywhere we turn.

    There is no excuse full stop for abusive behaviour of any sort!

    Soon as someone says this to me now I say “Nope you’re not my friend or someone I can trust, you do not get it or me” — and I steer a wide berth. Sadly it’s a lot harder to do with family. Especially like mine who try to see the good in everyone. Of course there was good in my soon-to-be ex, but this does not mean I should be blamed for any abusive behaviour when they were perpetrating terrible things.

    This phrase sucks and should never be uttered by true loving supporters.

    Also I note my pastor hammered me for speaking of divorce and supposedly (as he only took my wife’s word for it) saying I no longer loved my wife. I was given so much spiritual abuse over this. How blind they were that the 20 years of abuse despite my wife saying and still does say even after two years separation heading for divorce that she loves me. My answer was “No you don’t, you don’t love me simply because your ways prove you don’t, you only say this but in reality your words and actions show it’s not truly love.”

    I can’t believe a pastor mistook my love and long-suffering and patience as suddenly not love, and yet a host of crazy abusive stuff almost as perfect love – it’s farcical and totally unreasonable to ask me to love an abusive person. It goes totally against everything; yes we can love our enemies but we don’t have to marry or suck up to them or even like them and certainly not stay shackled to them for life as they beat us up in word or deed. Crazy the double standards and the absurd logic of things.


  1. domestic violence is not a “domestic dispute” | Morven's Blog

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