A Cry For Justice

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

The Vapory “Ether” of Deception that Accompanies Abuse

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.


2 Corinthians 4:2-4, “But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. (3) And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing. (4) In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”

Writing the story of the incredibly difficult trial she and her husband went through in their church, Jonna Petry makes this very insightful observation that we would do well to heed:

“We were in the ether, under a kind of “delusion.” I have come to believe that when idolatry is at play, it often creates and allows for an unreality to take hold of those who participate, as if under a spell, unable to see or hear the truth because it is all filtered through a projected “reality.” But it is a false reality – a delusion. I believe this dynamic is often true in cults where there is one dominant, charismatic, controlling leader. As I look back, this “delusion” aspect makes sense to me and helps to explain why the abuse is allowed and continues, while so many people are unaware and/or unwilling to confront.”  (My Story By Jonna Petry)

We were in the “ether.”  I suspect that most of our readers know exactly what she is talking about.  The fear of man is a snare, and when a man seizes power and control because he craves to be first, be it in a local church, in a marriage, or in a government, a vaporous “unreality” does indeed take shape.  It seizes our minds and deludes us.  Hitler cast his spell over millions.  Jim Jones’ saga ended in people so spellbound that they drank the infamous Kool-Aid.  Those who begin to cast off the spell and see what is really happening are quickly singled out for special “treatment.”

We know from Scripture that Satan majors in darkness.  He is the prince of darkness.  He blinds the minds of those in bondage to him.  And I think that the stories of the abuse of power and control that all of you and many others are telling is evidence that Satan can affect the Christian’s mind as well with his ethery darkness.  It is a spell cast by lies and threats.  By re-writing the facts of history.  Without the Spirit of Truth sent by the Light of the world, we would remain in that darkness.

The thing is frightening, and we should be frightened.  Scripture tells us to be on guard because Satan is on the prowl.  One single charismatic, “gifted” emissary of the devil can rise up from among ourselves (Acts 20) and delude us all far more quickly than we would like to think.  And the same deceptive vapor is spread by the domestic abuser as well.  If you want to see real spiritual warfare in action, study abusers.  Learn about them.  Talk to their victims.  Talk to people who have been swept up in the abuse of power and control in a church as Jonna Petry and her husband were. Talk to survivors of sexual abuse, especially if their abuser was a professing Christian.  They will all tell you — they were in this “ether” as if they were drugged.  They look back now and wonder how they didn’t see it sooner.  And yet, in many ways, this should not surprise us.

John 8:44, “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

So let’s take our Lord’s many warnings to heart.  Seriously.  Let’s immerse ourselves in His Word and pray without ceasing.  Let’s put on the Lord Jesus Christ as our armor.  Because those flaming missiles are incoming, and for the most part, they are cunning lies aimed right at our minds.


  1. Larry W Dean

    Have seen it, experienced it, and know that it is real, even if difficult to define.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Thank you Larry. I struggled to put it into words as I wrote this article. I think that is another evidence of its Satanic nature. I am not given to “power encounter” unbiblical demon exorcising, nor do I readily attribute things to Satan. But this blinding and deceiving power that almost always accompanies the abusive use of power and control over Christ’s people, operating so commonly in our churches and hurting so many of our people, is something I highly suspect that the old serpent is behind. Blessings on you and your church tomorrow. I am beginning a new sermon series through Malachi and am really looking forward to it.

  2. Jim

    Years ago I was on an email list about a band hippies like. Of course other topics came up as well. Hippies are generally kind-hearted people but seem to be quite blind to evil, manipulative behavior. In addition, they are very devoted to not rocking the boat. What often happens is someone will behave badly. Then others will object, but it’s not the person originally causing the trouble that is the bad guy, but those that object, because somehow they are causing the trouble by not submitting to the bad behavior. People like this think bad people look like monsters with horns. Quite the opposite, they are usually very charming. Then, when they don’t get what they want, they behave very aggressively, under the pretext that they have been wronged somehow. I think the same dynamic exists very much among a certain type of Christian.

  3. Yes. The dynamics of cults and the dynamics of domestic abuse are very similar. Domestic abuse is a cult confined to the nuclear family.

    The ether. A good word. Spiritual and psychological webs of subtle deceit warping the minds, hearts and emotions of those who come under its spell. And “spell” is another good word. Witchcraft, divination, sorcery – all those black arts so roundly condemned in the Bible, which the converts in Acts renounced when they burnt their occult libraries: this stuff is real and dangerous and has close kinship with the sins of power hungry abusers in the church and the home.
    May God guide, prepare and equip us! Make us deft with the sword, and keep us praying the power of His might.

  4. Jodi

    I have commented on here a couple of times, but lacking good blog etiquette, I failed to introduce myself first.
    I have been married to the abuser for almost 24 years-separated for 5 months. I have 3 children-22,19,and 15. It took me embarrassingly long to finally see what was behind all the puzzling ,disturbing and hurtful things that were happening in my marriage. I finally just cried out to God to show me the truth- was it really me-or was there something else going on here?
    THrough a long and very painful series of events and discoveries- I finally realized I was married to one of the servants of satan who dresses as an angel of light. And no one was better at it than my husband. He never cursed, yelled or hit me-or even overtly insulted me-everything was so veiled and insidious that eventually the lies and denial and crazymaking put me into a horrifying emotional tailspin. I have been sharing my story with Jeff, but haven’t gotten to that part yet. It’s just too painful.
    So, in short- there is a good reason God hates lying – He knows full well what kind of damage it can do to a person. The lies my husband told to my last pastor still has that very same pastor spreading lies about me behind my back to this day. Every day is another reason to assure myself that the Lord and I know the truth and it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks or says.
    I bless the Lord for Jeff and this blog, and for all of you who are brave and willing to share your stories and private pain.
    Thanks to you all,

    • Jeff Crippen

      Yay Jodi! Thanks for the encouragement. I notice this about your story — how could it not be true? What I mean is, if you simply “dumped” your husband because you wanted to take off and “find yourself” with some new guy, your husband would not have to tell any lies, right? If you were the abuser, then the crowd would be on your side because your husband would have been the one to “abandon the marriage.” And if you were the abuser, you would not be able to speak about the lying and crazymaking that was done to you, as you speak of it here. YOU would be the one doing the lying and crazymaking! Not telling about how long it took you to see through it. This is why I have decided to believe abuse victims when they tell me their story. Could I someday be duped by one? Possibly. I’m not all-knowing. But I can tell you this, if I take the common approach to these situations that maintains both husband and wife share in the blame 50-50, then I am going to be duped by the abuser almost all the time. Once-in-a-while seems far more preferable to me than all-the-time!

      I have been hammered more than once now by unhappy pastors who have sided with the abuser and see my advice to the victim as “meddling.” So be it. If someone does not start advocating for these victims in the church then this same pathetic pattern of victims being further abused by their churches is going to keep right on happening.

    • Dear Jodi, thanks so much for telling us a bit of your story. I hope you will share more of it someday. Your abuser never cursing, yelling or hitting you would make your story extremely interesting to me. I imagine it could teach all of us more about the tactics of psychological abuse. It chills me to think about what you’ve been through. And don’t blame yourself about how long it took you to wake up. Emotional / psychological abuse is MUCH harder to identify than overt physical or sexual abuse. I was under emotional abuse for a long time and didn’t see it; I only woke up when he became physically violent. In fact, in one one way, I’m glad he became violent, because that made me wake up. If the violence hadn’t erupted, I would have stayed for much longer.

  5. Maree

    Thank you Jeff for believing the victims. It means a lot to someone who has been through years of rubbish just to be believed.

  6. Jodi

    Jeff- you are right about the 50-50 mindset that most pastors and others take when they find out there are problems in a marriage. They just can’t imagine that one person can destroy what the other one is trying desperately to maintain. That is what my current pastor tried- he maintained that he needed to see us together to watch us interract and to get “his side” of the story- I had already told the pastor about the cheating and lying and other more personal things. How could he possibly have a side? These are not negotiable things that can be seen from different perspectives.
    Barbara:- the fact that there basically was no “real” verbal abuse in my marriage-does make it even harder to convince myself that it was abuse-he still maintains his nice guy mask to this day-of course-that does not negate his veiled threats- of violence towards me-or implied suicide-everything is implied so he can deny it later. There was sexual abuse-which was also subtle- unless you take everything and put it together- financial abuse as well- I have not told him outright that I want a divorce because I’m afraid that might be what finally sends him into overt abuse. He is very diabolical and has convinced everyone-and I do mean everyone -from the beginning of our relationship until now , that he has suffered at my hands. I don’t know exactly the things he has said, but he has admitted to slandering me behind my back-there is only a very small handful of people who believe me-and understand.
    I haven’t even told anyone in my family about my separation because they all think he is wonderful and I am mean to him.
    I thank God there are places like this for support and encouragement for people like me.

    • Dear Jodi ” …. no ‘real’ verbal abuse in my marriage…” ???
      I wonder, have you read Patricia Evan’s book “The Verbally Abusive Relationship”?
      If you haven’t I suggest you do. You might find that there was much more ‘real’ verbal abuse than you’ve realised. Verbal abuse is not just yelling, rage, sarcasm, cursing, name-calling. It can be other thinks like blocking, rewriting history, denying, the silent treatment, using jokes to inflict abuse, minimising, discounting,….
      From memory, I think Evans lists about 13 types of verbal abuse.

      One think you wrote really struck me: “everything is implied so he can deny it later”.
      I think you’ve described a core trait of psychological abuse.
      How well I know that land. The land of miasma.

      • Jodi

        Wow! Well, in that case…….he did every one of those things. I don’t think he said two real words to me for the last year of our marriage. The silent treatment was his favorite thing. He couldn’t talk to me because ” I was busy-he can’t talk and do something else at the same time, I put too much pressure on him,etc. All the silence made me frantic and desperate on the inside most of the time-not to mention all the other things. I just “minimize” because my situation wasn’t nearly as dramatic as most of the other stories I hear. Just a constant drip of torture over 23+ years with some big events mingled in. The constant messing with my mind almost drove me literally mad, and still I didn’t see clearly what was going on for another year or so. Of course it was “implied” by my pastor and his wife that my emotional problems were because of my own sin (whatever it was).My counseling session ,after 8 months of going through this already-consisted of the pastor asking me if it was “that time of the month” when I was having more episodes of panic and fear and anxiety. I should have thrown my chair at him.

  7. anonymous

    Jodi H “…just minimize because my situation wasn’t nearly as dramatic as most of the other stories I hear…” – Wow, I understand that statement! Likewise, my almost ex is very covert in his emotional/verbal tactics. As Barbara mentioned, the silent treatment, blocking, joking/teasing, minimizing, etc… describes him. I battle with calling him an abuser. On a scale of 1-10 it’s easy for me to place physical/sexual abuse at the 9-10 side of abuse, but covert/passive/psychological abuse I tended to put at a 2-3. It’s not right, that I realized, but is it wrong enough to call abuse? My heart believes it is, but my mind still battles with me. There are days that I clearly understand my ex’s actions as abuse, but there are also moments when the fog tries to seep back in. Reading and re-reading about it helps. Barbara’s recommendation of Evan’s book, “The Verbally Abuse Relationship” is good, along with Simon’s book, “In Sheep’s Clothing”. Barbara also has some articles linked on her website that address emotional abusive. I have found them insightful. So, Jodi, don’t compare your situation with others. We all have a different story to tell. Abusers have numerous tactics that they use and those tactics are wrapped in different packages and come with different names. But God has only name for them – sin.

    • Jodi

      I have a friend who suffered physical abuse and death threats from her ex husband and she even says that mental abuse is worse, but I’m with you-I still feel strange considering my husband an abuser-but his intent and the effects his behavior has on me is still terrible.
      If I question it too much, I remind myself of the emotional breakdown I had a few years ago and how it almost destroyed me. When I finally found out the cause of that-I think I knew I couldnt’ afford to be with him much longer. It makes it almost impossible tho, to convince anyone else what kind of person he really is.

      • Yeah. That thought used to run through my head often: “It wasn’t really THAT bad! Maybe I’m making too much of it? Maybe I’m exaggerating? ” [the abuse]
        I now recognise that tape-loop as just one more artefact of the abuse. The abuser’s tactics and deceit are all calculated to make us think that what he did “wasn’t really THAT bad!” .

        And then the abuser gets his allies to parrot the same line, so I hear it from others as well as from that nasty critter sitting on my shoulder whispering in my ear.

        You walk into a pig shed, you come out smelling like pig. It’s just part of the atmosphere: it gets into your clothes, your hair, your very pores. You live with an abuser and you come out with distorted thoughts that overlook or minimise the nastiness of his conduct.

        Convincing others? Pretty much a waste of time, I find, unless they are victims of abusers themselves AND have come out of their own denial and minimisation. But I still try to convince others at times, depending on how close I am to the person, how much effort I think it’s worth putting in, and how teachable they show themselves to be.

        I suppose this blog is part of the effort of trying to convince others. But the people who read it are mostly survivors. It’s parallel to Lundy Bancroft, who ended up writing his book for victims because no-one else was interested …. certainly not the perpetrators, and only rarely the bystanders (unless they also identified as victims). Jeff Crippen is an example of a bystander who realised he was also a victim (though not a victim of marital abuse). Jeff woke up because he realised he had been abused by surreptitiously controlling individuals in many churches that he’d pastored.

      • Jeff Crippen

        Thanks Barbara, but lest I get too much credit (or any), it took the Lord whacking me “upside the head” through abusive people for about 25 years, and then He culminated the whole process in a sexual abuse situation in our church before He really got my attention and the light switch went on. So any of our readers who feel badly because it took them years and years to see what was going on, can realize that we are all pretty much in the same boat. The thing is incredibly deceptive.

  8. Finding Answers

    (Heavy airbrushing….)

    Barb commented:

    Yes. The dynamics of cults and the dynamics of domestic abuse are very similar. Domestic abuse is a cult confined to the nuclear family.


    Speaking of “the vapoury ether of deception….”.

    One of my favourite paper-friend (suspense) fiction books involved exposing cults and their dynamics. (Omitting details for my protection.)

    I missed the boat.

    Progressing out of the fog, I can understand my fascination with my paper-friend. I think I was trying to rescue myself.

    • Finding Answers

      Adding on to my own comment….

      The Holy Spirit has been leading me away from all my old paper-friends, the true friends in my life that saved me from certain physical death. I am no longer in need of my paper-friends….I have God, I have Jesus Christ, I have the Holy Spirit.

      I am now being led by the Holy Spirit from paper-friends to people friends. Not many, perhaps, but they are precious beyond words.

      Now, if I choose to read a book, I won’t be looking for a paper-friend.

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