A Cry For Justice

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

Avoid being deceived by the abuser, put him out of the flock (advice for pastors Part 3, by Ps Jeff Crippen)

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.


Luke 15:21  And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

Having educated himself about the nature, mentality, and tactics of abuse (entitlement, power-control, justification), the pastor will be enabled to recognize abuse when it is described to him by an abuse victim, normally one of his own flock.  We will refer to the victim as a female since abuse is most often a gender specific malady, i.e., most abusers are men.  Power is at the root of abuse and men generally possess more power than women, though there are exceptions.  At this point the pastor has believed the woman who has come to him.  She will quite often be very confused herself about what is happening to her and may not even use the word “abuse.”  This confusion is a product of the abuser’s tactics and a typical sign that abuse is indeed occurring.  The pastor will also have taken steps to protect the victim, such steps ranging from keeping her report confidential from the abuser, reporting it to the police when required, and providing safe haven for her as necessary.  Referring her to the local women’s resource center is also very advisable.  Either they, or the pastor, should provide her with materials (books, online resources, etc.) so that she can begin to educate herself about what is happening to her.

What should the pastor do now?  First, he must come to terms with his own fears and confusion.  Typically, the abuser will be a member of the pastor’s own congregation.  He may be an elder or a deacon or a longtime, respected member of the church with a saintly reputation.  The pastor thought he knew this man but now realizes there must be another side to him — and an evil one at that.  These points underscore the reason it is so vital that the pastor educate himself thoroughly regarding the nature of abuse before he is confronted with an abuse case.  Without that foundation, he will certainly be deceived and will not find it possible to believe the victim.  The pastor must have confidence in the truth of Scripture that wolves really do appear in very convincing sheep’s clothing and that the servants of Satan can show up in a church as angels of light and sons of righteousness.  Sin, in its very essence is a lie and marvelously deceptive.  The pastor must cling to a resolve that justice must be effected in this case without partiality:

1 Tim 5:20  As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear.  21 In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of the elect angels I charge you to keep these rules without prejudging, doing nothing from partiality.

Standing with the victim means standing with the weak and oppressed, and such a stand is always costly to all who resolve to make it.  Effecting justice for the victim may divide the pastor’s congregation as the abuser uses his facade of eminent saintliness to deceive and lead members astray as allies for him.  A pastor could conceivably lose his job.  The abuser will hate all who expose him and often will level threats against leaders who stand for the victim.  Doing justice is costly.  And yet we must do it if we are going to obey our Lord.

This brings us to a central question:  What shall the pastor do now with the abuser?  Many churches and pastors do, essentially, nothing.  They take some superficial, ineffective measures and then hope that the whole mess will just go away.  And that always translates into siding with the abuser, hoping that the victim will go away.  Remember, passivity in these cases is not passive.  Rather, it is an active siding with the abuser against the victim.  It is, in the end, cowardice.  So, what to do?

Once the pastor is knowledgeable regarding abuse, he will normally realize that ongoing counseling and therapy with an abuser is best left to others who specialize in it.  Granted, there are not many such resources to refer abusers to, but the primary ministry of the local church must be to the victim, not the perpetrator.  Abusers are notoriously unrepentant and few of them ever change, which is still another reason the pastor will most probably not be working with them for an extended time.  What, then, is a pastor to do with an exposed abuser who is a member of his church?

Firstly, the pastor’s duty is to not be taken in by the deceptions, lies, and false repentance of the abuser; secondly, he must exclude the abuser from the church in order to provide a safe environment for the victim. Pastors, please think this through very, very carefully.  Consider just what kind of a person this abuser is.  He is an individual who has no problem wickedly abusing his wife and children “behind the scenes” and then boldly putting on his mask of an eminent saint when he is at church or visible to others.  Think carefully about what kind of mentality such hypocrisy requires.  As you think about it, you should come to realize that here is a man who has a virtually inoperable conscience and who is polished in his ability to deceive.  Such a person (who is often a sociopath) cannot be dealt with as we would deal with others.  Any notions that you will be able to “reach his heart” and lead him to repentance by showing him the grief, pain, and turmoil he is causing, are an exercise in naivete.  The wolf will merely curl his lips and lick his chops when you point him to the suffering sheep.  [In regard to coming to a better understanding of the sociopathic mentality, I highly recommend In Sheep’s Clothing [*Affiliate link] by George Simon, Jr., as well as his book Character Disturbance [Affiliate link]. Fool-Proofing Your Life [Affiliate link] by Jan Silvious is excellent, as well as Without Conscience [Affiliate link] by Robert Hare].

The pastor must be familiar with the tactics of the abuser because at this point, those tactics will be pressed into double-duty by the abuser as he works to shift blame from himself to the victim, to the pastor, and to anyone else he can accuse.  Abusers will never admit guilt; they will never own their evil; they are never wrong.  [With the exception of their tactic of “admitting” to just a partial wrongdoing in order to lure the pastor and victim into believing the rest of what they claim].   Their lies and explanations can be ingeniously crafted and the person who is uneducated about abuse will most certainly be drawn in by them.  Talking with them can be akin to chatting with the devil himself.

If ongoing counseling for the abuser is not a primary or frequent course for the pastor, how shall we deal with the abuser?  (Remember, couple’s counseling is not appropriate in these cases).  After reporting the abuser to the police if required, and only after consulting and planning with the victim, the abuser must eventually be confronted with his sin.  This may take one of several routes.  If the victim has obtained a restraining order, for example, then the church can simply affirm the order’s requirements that the abuser keep away from the church and thus from the victim.  In other cases, the pastor and church leaders will need to directly meet with the abuser and confront him with the charges against him.  Once again, a thorough knowledge of abuse is invaluable at this point and will enable the pastor to recognize typical tactics that the abuser will resort to when confronted.    Normally, church discipline must be exercised at this point and the offender put out of the church.  This kind of sin is of the genre of that described in 1 Corinthians 5 that is so serious it must be dealt with quickly and the offender excluded from the body of Christ.  Even if the abuser claims repentance, he must be required to “bring forth fruits” in keeping with real repentance and simply cannot remain in the church where his victim is.

In summary, the pastor’s duty to the abuser is secondary to his duty to the victim. Regarding the abuser, the pastor must:

  1. Be able to avoid being deceived by the abuser’s ploys, and
  2. exclude the abuser from the congregation in order to protect the victim and the flock.

All of these actions will be costly.

And this brings us around to this whole matter of repentance, forgiveness, and reconciliation.  How the church has gone wrong in these areas!  Countless abusers have been enabled in their evil and countless victims have been oppressed through their fellow Christians’ distortions of these crucial subjects.  Aren’t we required by Christ to forgive when someone says they are “sorry”? Doesn’t forgiveness necessarily require reconciliation?  And just what is real repentance, anyway?  What about “70 times 7”?  To these matters we will turn in subsequent articles in this series.

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


Posts in this series

Part 1: Dealing with domestic abuse (advice for pastors, Part 1, by Ps Jeff Crippen)

Part 2: Believing and Responding to Victims (advice for pastors, Part 2, by Ps Jeff Crippen)

Part 3: Is this post.

Part 4: What a Pastor Should Not Say to an Abuse Victim — an example from Lou Priolo (advice for pastors Part 4, by Ps Jeff Crippen)

Part 5: We have compromised the gospel and filled pews with unregenerate people (advice for pastors Part 5, by Ps Jeff Crippen)

Part 6: Not all sinners are the same (advice for pastors Part 6, by Ps Jeff Crippen)

Part 7: Expose the evil in truth and light, and remove it (advice for pastors Part 7, by Ps Jeff Crippen)

Part 8: Cognitive dissonance hinders pastors from giving justice (advice for pastors Part 8, by Ps Jeff Crippen)

Part 9: Call abusers to repentance (advice for pastors Part 9, by Ps Jeff Crippen)

Part 10: Resist showing partiality to the “men’s club” (advice for pastors Part 10, by Ps Jeff Crippen)


  1. Abusers will never admit guilt; they will never own their evil; they are never wrong. [With the exception of their tactic of “admitting” to just a partial wrongdoing in order to lure the pastor and victim into believing the rest of what they claim]. Their lies and explanations can be ingeniously crafted and the person who is uneducated about abuse will most certainly be drawn in by them.

    I’d like to provide an example of this–

    When I left, the estranged made the rounds of our friends. He cried and gave the same speech over and over:

    This is all my fault– I take full responsibility.

    I started getting phone calls, each repeating the same message, word for word. He started getting invitations to dinner with our friends surrounding him in prayer, offering their full support.

    Then he went and spoke to my mother and one of our grown children. This is what he added, word for word (more or less from what I now recall although at the time, the words from both parties were identical which is the real point.)

    This is all my fault– I allowed my wife to be the spiritual leader in our household. I let her usurp my authority and interfere with the discipline of our son. I wasn’t hard enough on them and for that, I take full responsibility.

    • Jeff Crippen

      “It’s all my fault that it is all her fault.” Abuser double-speak.

      • True– and quite devious in the way he edited that remark to those he was trying to sway to his side. If he hadn’t completed his statement to two witnesses, all I would have heard was that first line of worthless speech.

        The problem? My mom and daughter already knew what happened and weren’t buying his act. He got angry– furious even– when they said as much and he spouted off the rest. And it didn’t really matter because his purpose was to discredit me, not seek reconciliation. He couldn’t fool those who’d lived with him for years and didn’t bother trying.

        Might be good to remember though by those who are trying to counsel ‘repentant’ abusers. Even if they say all the right words, they may not mean a single syllable. Lying is second nature and deception comes as easy as breathing.

    • I think this is called “bait and switch”. Saying one thing knowing that your listeners will hear what you are saying as “XYZ”, but actually meaning another thing “PQR” which is virtually the opposite of “XYZ”.
      The abuser sucks his audience in by using terminology that will warm them to him, but then pulls the rug out from under by redefining what he means by that terminology. But he takes great care to only articulate the second definition to certain people, not to all. The majority are happily and naively trapped in sticky his web of deceit.

    • Anonymous

      Sounds eerily similar to my experience! Were they twins? I always think my ex had not just twins but many identical siblings right round the world

  2. Margery

    I’d also like to point out a sad, but all too true fact: Abusers are all too often FEMALE. They hide behind a “saintly” mask, exuding an air of put-upon martyrdom. No, they will never admilt their wrongdoing. And IF they do, it is always with a caveat: “Well, IF I did it, it was because . . .” or ” I may have done it, BUT.” Abusers of any form have an uncanny way of twisting things to make it seem like THEY are the victims.

    Again, it’s time, I belive, to address the fact that the abuser is not always a male-we need to stop being so short-sighted in our thinking in this regard.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Margery – I have personally met several abusers who were women. However, I do not believe that your suggestion that the assumption that the normal scenario of abusers being male is harmful. Lundy Bancroft definitely would disagree with you on this point. Yes, we acknowledge that a woman can be an abuser, but it is not being short-sighted to conclude that the large prevalence of abusers are male. Fundamentally, abuse is a male issue. Not always, but the great prevalence of cases shows this to be the fact. If anything, the single most damaging thinking about abuse, particularly in our churches, is that of not believing abuse is occurring when the victim asks for help. I would appreciate other readers jumping in here and commenting on Margery’s suggestion. What do you think? Are we being short-sighted in concluding that most abusers by far are male?

    • “Margery” (and I put your screen name in quotes because I suspect you might be male) let me direct you to the following statement by one of the world’s experts in domestic abuse.

      (This in an excerpt from a talk by Lundy Bancroft; you can read the full transcript here [Internet Archive link].)
      And in case you’re wondering, Lundy Bancroft is a man.

      Lundy Bancroft says:

      Is this a male on female crime?

      The answer is yes; it is overwhelmingly a male on female crime. Certainly there are lesbian batterers who are abusing their female partners; there are gay male batterers who are abusing their male partners. But the people who are dying are not men who are being abused by women. I certainly know couples where the man is the nice guy and the woman is the not-nice person. It has nothing to do with who is nice people or who’s not nice people. It’s not that image of the world where somehow men are bad and women are good. But it’s about tyranny and it’s about fear and intimidation and it’s about the belief that you have the right to create fear and intimidation, and that you can count on other people to back you up.

      And when you really look at all those factors, how many women are going to be able to create that electrified, charged atmosphere of intimidation and degradation over a man, and get that electrified, charged atmosphere of intimidation and degradation that makes domestic violence what it is?

      I think it’s very important to say this always in the modern world because the abusers have been able to create all this [hand gesture suggesting “misinformation”] … people are apologetic now about referring to this as a male on female crime. And we need to stop apologizing for that. That’s overwhelmingly what it is: you’ve got to call things what they are. It’s very important as we look at some of this media where you get some specific messages suggesting that it’s a roughly equal crime, a roughly equal problem.

      You know, all we have to do is go through our own common sense and our own experience. Ask women that you know. “How many of you have ever been involved with a guy that you ended up really really scared of?” And you’re going to find actually that almost every woman has at least one experience of that somewhere in her life. And you’re going to find very few men that have any experience of having lived with someone that they were really really scared of. They may have lived with some people that none of us would like very much, but that’s really different from living with someone who you have to spend a lot of your time wondering what the hell they’re going to do, and go to sleep wondering whether he might kill you, and wondering whether your kids are going to be okay, and so forth.

      IMPORTANT NOTE: While we endorse Lundy’s writings about the dynamics of domestic abuse, we do not recommend anyone attend the ‘healing retreats’ Lundy Bancroft offers or become involved in his ‘Peak Living Network.’ See our post, ACFJ Does Not Recommend Lundy Bancroft’s Retreats or His New Peak Living Network for more about our concerns.

    • “Margery” I would also like to say this to you.
      If you have a bone to pick with us, because we are saying the majority of domestic abuse is perpetrated by men against women, you actually should take your complaint to God, not to us.
      In Genesis 3:16, God tells the woman that her husband shall rule over her. God is not the author of sin; God does not condone sinful power and control over others – look at all the passages where Jesus taught about leading by serving, and how a good leader gives up status and preeminence and privilege, and puts the needs of the weak and vulnerable before his own needs. Therefore, in Genesis 3:16, God cannot be saying “It’s fine for the husband to wield power and control over his wife.”

      God was informing Eve that now the Fall had occurred, there would be sad, grievous, terrible consequences, and one of them would be that men would rule over women with harshness. Why else would Paul think it necessary to tell husbands, “Do not be harsh with your wives!”? (Colossians 3:19) Paul knew what the default setting was in men. He knew that men have the tendency to be harsh with women, and that this tendency was deeply ingrained in men because of the bias in their sin natures that entered at the Fall.

  3. Joan

    Yes, of course, a woman can be abusive and/or manipulative. Statistically, it’s completely unbalanced, so while a female can be abusive, the numbers show she is at much greater risk of being victimized. It is much more accurate to say that abusers are all too often males. I personally knew a petite woman who was attacked by an estranged spouse, stripped, beaten, picked up, had her head bashed in a door, and finally grabbed a knife to defend herself. Her ‘attack’ required 3 stitches to repair, but she was charged with a felony, and he wasn’t charged at all. I’m not sure, Margery, where you’re coming from, but I don’t see that addressing the reality of so many more women being abused than men as short-sighted. Below are all excerpts from this site: Domestic Violence Statistics [Internet Archive link] Notice that even male victims of violence were most often the victim of another male.

    According to the U.S. Department of Justice, between 1998 and 2002:

    Of the almost 3.5 million violent crimes committed against family members, 49% of these were crimes against spouses.
    84% of spouse abuse victims were females, and 86% of victims of dating partner abuse at were female.
    Males were 83% of spouse murderers and 75% of dating partner murderers
    50% of offenders in state prison for spousal abuse had killed their victims. Wives were more likely than husbands to be killed by their spouses: wives were about half of all spouses in the population in 2002, but 81% of all persons killed by their spouse.

    1 in 12 women and 1 in 45 men will be stalked in their lifetime.

    Women are more likely to be victims of sexual violence than men: 78% of the victims of rape and sexual assault are women and 22% are men.
    Most perpetrators of sexual violence are men. Among acts of sexual violence committed against women since the age of 18, 100% of rapes, 92% of physical assaults, and 97% of stalking acts were perpetrated by men. Sexual violence against men is also mainly male violence: 70% of rapes, 86% of physical assaults, and 65% of stalking acts were perpetrated by men.

    The number one killer of African-American women ages 15 to 34 is homicide at the hands of a current or former intimate partner.

  4. cindy burrell

    Thank you for making the point that couples counseling does not work with an abuser! Abusers will almost always push for couples counseling, and many victims feel obligated to participate to prove they are willing to try to make things work. Couples counseling gives the abuser the perfect forum to prop up their noble facade with a counselor or pastor, and intimidate and confuse and convince their victims that all of the problems and failures are the victims’ fault. It’s all part of the game, and the victim usually loses. The abuser grins all the way home.

    • 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.


      Yeah. And not only does the abuser grin all the way home. He may also ramp up the abuse to an entirely new level.
      Lundy Bancroft in his book Why Does He DO That? [Affiliate link] (pp.353-4) recounts the true story of a survivor. She and her abuser were driving home from a couple’s counseling session. They had been seeing the counselor for six months and she had just disclosed her husband’s abuse. Holding the wheel with one hand, the husband is grabbing his wife’s hair by the other and bashing her head repeatedly into the dash board, yelling:
      “I told you never to *$% talk to anyone about that, you %#&# !
      You promised me! You’re a #%
      &# LIAR ! ”

      Jeff Crippen quotes this story from Lundy’s book in his sermon The abuser and Satan’s devices

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

      Cindy, this is all too true. I couldn’t understand then why the counseling always seemed confusing, and added more guilt.

  5. speakingtruthinlove
  6. Liz

    Jeff, I just read your article and it is so right on. It is so easy for an uninformed pastor to be passive and hope it goes away. It’s a real issue that churches will have to deal with. To be a pastor is going to require study on this issue, and having a real strength and determination to stand for the victim and against the abuser.

  7. Anonymous

    Margery, thanks for reminding us that they are not always male. However, I’m sure most people instinctively know that – we all know of intimidating, controlling types, men and women.

    The evidence is clear that the majority of the perpetrators are men. Not that the majority of men are perpetrators. Where mutual violence has been found, there is a huge difference in the context of violence committed by the men and by the women. There is a disparity in the severity of wounding, the level of fear in the victim, the frequency of sexual assaults and the history of battering. They are not equal batterers.

    No abuse should be tolerated. By addressing the issues of women on this blog, we raise the level of awareness and evoke outrage and action among church members. Simply drawing attention to the fact that females can also batter does nothing to tear down the evil stronghold of domestic violence.

  8. Renee

    I went to see my pastors to share and explain why I had asked my husband to leave our home, due to his abuse (my husband had already gone to them, crying, “repenting”, kneeling down in their office where he was prayed over and anointed with oil…) and my pastors “seemed” to understand me and my situation.
    But, days letter, I received a letter from the pastors saying. “32 years (of marriage) is a long time, but worth fighting for!….”
    I felt kicked in the gut, panicky and cried out ” Oh, my God… they don’t get it!!”
    It was horrible.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Renee – but did they stop to ask themselves just what that 32 years of “marriage” was like? Worth fighting for means that it was a very good 32 years in a healthy marriage that had suddenly taken a bad turn. I bet that wasn’t the case!

      • Renee

        You’re right! It was anything but healthy… it was me “fighting” to survive for 32 years!

        Why do pastors and other Christians think that they’re doing us a favor by encouraging (translation: GUILTING and JUDGING) us to remain in a marriage of abuse, oppression and bondage.

        There was nothing worth fighting for, but my and my children’s sanity, peace, health and freedom.

      • Renee

        I replied to your comment and it appeared under Ida Mae’s…which is just fine, as I wanted to reply to you both! I so appreciate all of the input you guys give!

      • Exactly.

        Someone made that comment to me and I told them, ‘I gave that jerk thirty years already, he doesn’t get one minute more.’ Like Renee said, they just don’t get it. Or don’t want to.

    • Anonymous

      Renee, maybe someone should have said to Moses, “400 years serving Pharaoh is a long time, and worth fighting for!”

      • brilliant!

      • Anonymous

        I beg your pardon, I was thinking of the 400 years between Malachi and the birth of Jesus. I don’t think it was quite as long for the slavery in Egypt, but still, it was several generations!

      • No matter. The number of years is not the point. The cruel enslavement is.

      • Renee

        Yes, and 32 years felt like 400…

  9. Renee

    Ha!! Yes… brilliant comment! How ludicrous would that have been!!

  10. Jeff Crippen

    Renee to your question about why pastors and Christians normally think they must tell you to stay in the marriage and not leave or divorce? That is a good question. I can suggest a couple of answers perhaps. 1) Pastors believe it is their God-given duty to preserve marriages and avoid divorce. Without thinking it through, they conclude that the marriage must last because divorce is always wrong, that divorce will always hurt the children, that it is a bad testimony to the world, etc. 2) Pastors for the most part are totally untrained regarding abuse. It is a alien concept to them and thus they do not really understand the very nature of the thing that a victim is in the middle of. 3) Pastors think that if a woman will just go do a better job of submitting to her husband, even if he is a sinful and evil man, God will bless her for it and she will even be able to lead her husband to Christ. 4) Pastors and Christians are remarkably naive about the nature and deception of evil. We talk about sin all the time, but most of us simply do not realize the ingenious, crafty, vile nature of the thing. Thus, we think that all people are sinners just like us, that they all think pretty much like we do, and all can be dealt with in the same manner. For all of these reasons and more, Pastors and Christians pressure abuse victims to remain in their “marriage.”

  11. warriorprincess

    a bigger challenge is when the abuser is the pastor! My friend was in that situation, being emotionally and physically abused by her husband – the pastor. Where do you go to then? the church heirachy didnt believe her. When she finally separated, the church kicked both of them out, and she was left without a job, without income and without a church family. Devastating!

    • Jeff Crippen

      Yes, and unfortunately just in this small blog community I have been contacted by far more abuse victims whose abuser is their pastor-husband than I would like to think possible. But it is reality. Abusers seek power and control, so the pastoral office is the avenue of choice for many of them. We shouldn’t be surprised. Read about Diotrephes in 3 John or the “face-strikers” Paul warns the Corinthians about in 2 Corinthians. In most cases, the last place the victim of a husband who is a pastor can go is her church. And sadly, this means that her church really isn’t much of a church anyway. She will be treated more fairly by the civil authorities and women’s resource centers most often than she will by her church. The fact is that if a pastor can be a pastor of a church and be an abuser at the same time, then there is a blindness that exists in that church or else people would see him for what he is. I know that abusers are great at facades and hiding, but in Christ and by His Spirit we have the Lord’s insight. We CAN see it if we WANT to see it. I know of one abuser who was a highly-acclaimed pastor who also treated his staff quite poorly. The church let him get away with it, saying nothing. Other churches let such men lord it over them. It is all inexcusable. We have the light of God’s Word and if we apply it without partiality, we can root out abusers.

    • “she was left without a job, without income and without a church family. Devastating!” Yes, I can barely imagine how devastating.
      So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith. Galatians 6:10.
      The true church should be especially supportive to such women, pulling out all stops to meet the financial needs as well as all the other needs for support and consolation. May God build an army of true believers who will help those who are escaping from the jaws of the lions.

  12. anonymous

    Once the pastor is knowledgeable regarding abuse, he will normally realize that ongoing counseling and therapy with an abuser is best left to others who specialize in it.

    Can you point me in the right direction-who do you recommend? IF my church opens their eyes and “gets it” I want to make sure we are headed in the right direction. What is the next step, who should the abuser see? (And I am currently in a situation where I can not leave, for fear of children being alone w/ him for visitation. Do you have any additional thoughts / suggestions for how the church can help in that situation?) Thank you and GOD BLESS

    • Anonymous, I would suggest the church refer the abuser to a Mens Behavior Change Program run by secular professionals who have that specialised training. Sometimes they may be called Batterer’s Programs, or some other name. The DV hotline will be able to advise your church about what programs are offered in your area.

      Individual counseling for abusers is often not that helpful, since abusers are so good at manipulating counselors. But the people who facilitate mens behav change programs are trained to recognise and resist that manipulation. Some individual counselors are skilled and wise in working with perpetrators, but I get the impression that they are fairly rare.

      Remember, it’s not your job to spoon feed the abuser to find help for him or walk him by baby steps to show him how to seek help. (I didn’t hear you saying that in your comment, btw, but I just thought I’d mention it.) The abuser can refer himself to a men’s behavior change program if he wishes, or the church can direct him to the appropriate help.

      Research shows that abusive men are more likely to make progress in changing their beliefs and attitudes if their attendance at a behavior change program is strongly encouraged (and sometimes even enforced) by ALL the authority figures in that man’s life: the police, courts, clergy and other professionals the man may be seeing such as doctors, mental health workers and drug and alcohol workers.

  13. anonymous

    Barbara thank you. I appreciate the gentle reminder.

    We have been 2 two different marriage/couples counselors through the church. I now realize what a mistake that is. To say that he has been able to manipulate the counselors is an understatement. When I tried to explain to our first counselor I was afraid we would end up as one of those tragedies you see on the news, his response was those are serious accusations you are making and you need to go home and think long and hard about it. I’m sure there are far too many on here who know that crushing feeling that results when you muster the courage and dare to hope, to reach out for help, but are discounted b/c he is seen as such a great guy.

    I have given links to Pastor Crippen’s sermon series to our current counselor and will not be going back to any more joint counseling sessions. I just want to make sure if the church actually sees/understands what is going on and wants to help-what would that look like, what would be the right path, as well as hopefully avoid well-intentioned but disasterous attempts at “helping” like joint counseling.

    Thank you for being here. I’m so so sorry that others have had to make this journey..but thankful you take the time to reach out and lend your wisdom to others on this path. God bless!

    • Jeff Crippen

      anonymous – I think your progress is excellent. I also think that you are being quite gracious when you mention “well-intentioned but disastrous attempts at helping.” In some cases there may well be good intentions coupled with ignorance (which is still dangerous) but I have come to believe that very often the intentions of these kinds of counselors is not well-intentioned. What it is motivated by is pride, ignorance, and a desire to look good themselves by “saving the marriage.” The counselor who told you that you were making serious accusations and really was admonishing you for telling them that is more than dangerous. He is lording himself over you, a mere woman, and taking the side of evil. I have faced the very same kind of person before. They absolutely refuse to see the truth because it would be costly to them to do so. You are on a good course now. Well done.

      • anonymous

        Jeff, thank you. Your kind words are such an encouragement, b/c honestly I feel like I’m stumbling about so much. One day at a time. I just thank God I found your web site-it has been a lifeline, exactly what I needed right now.

      • Jeff Crippen

        Anon – You are very welcome. We are glad you found us too:)

  14. Feel Alone

    My husband was arrested for [details edited]. I currently have a restraining order and he is on house arrest [details edited]. When I finally told my Life Group at church what was happening, I thought I found a safe place. People to confide in and support me and my children. For a while I felt support but I soon realized that many from the congregation were also reaching out to my husband. The tables quickly turned and I now feel alone in a place I once felt was safe. I have lost many friends and most days I don’t want to go to church. I am active in many ministries and love what I do. But the loneliness. The gossip. If they knew what I lived day in and day out, they might feel differently.

    [Eds note: some details edit to protect commenter’s identity.]

    • twbtc

      Hi Feel Alone,

      Welcome to the blog!

      We like to encourage new commenters to read our New Users’ Info page as it gives tips for staying safe when commenting on the blog.

      You will notice I changed your screen name and edited some details of your comment to protect your identity. Safety is a priority and we have had abusers and / or their allies find the blog and the victim’s comments.

      Again, welcome!

  15. Wondering

    Our senior pastor and one of the Elders of our former church fit these abusive descriptions to a ‘T’. Someone told us if we left the church without explaining why, that was unbiblical. I just thought it wouldn’t do any good as I’d seen him / them dramatically lie to the congregation and twist what really happened with others (staff, Elders, deacons, etc). I just didn’t want to be the next victim. Was that cowardly? Unbiblical? I still have some friends at that church who are sincere, loving Christians. But the comment from Barbara about the Spirit showing what truth is makes me wonder why they don’t see it?

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