Abuse and Anger: Is it a Sin to Be Angry Toward Our Abuser?

(Ephesians 4:26-27  ESV)  (26) Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger,  (27) and give no opportunity to the devil.

We had a discussion yesterday in our women’s study group about whether it is right or not for a Christian to ever be angry when they are sinned against. That is to say, some people wondered if anger is ever appropriate when we ourselves are the victim. Being angry when another person was victimized didn’t seem to be troublesome to anyone, but the idea of being angry when we personally are victimized seemed to be sinful in the thinking of some. Someone said, “well, Jesus was angry when He drove the money changers out of the temple, so anger must not always be sinful.” Someone else responded, “but we are not Jesus.”

Now, this much I do know. If we tell abuse victims that it is sinful for them to be angry about what was done or is being done to them, we are going to do them much harm. In fact many abusers will use this very tactic against their victim: “You call yourself a Christian! You are just an angry, bitter person! You are unforgiving.” You know the line I am sure.

So what about it? It is pretty easy to find Scriptures that show that it is right to be angry when we see evil and injustice. But what about when we are the victim of that evil and injustice ourselves?

It seems to me that perhaps some of our difficulty here is due to failure to define terms. Just what do we mean by “anger”? Here is a woman, for example, who has been horridly abused for years and she is coming to an awakening of what has been happening to her. She starts to understand the nature and mentality and tactics of abuse. She sees that her abuser has in fact really never loved her — ever.  And she sees her church embracing the guy as a fine, eminent Christian. And she is angry. What do we mean by that?

We know that one aspect of anger that we are not to visit is vengeance. Vengeance belongs to the Lord. It is something that we really aren’t equipped to handle because sometimes we would punish the wrong person, or we would falsely condemn, or we might just fail to apply enough punishment! God will do all of this perfectly on that great Day. But then there is another aspect to anger. It is the desire for justice to be done. It can look pretty emotional too. It is that hungering and thirsting for righteousness. It is the desire that God would indeed take vengeance upon our persecutors. And that is not only permissible, it is right and holy and good! Listen to these words from Revelation:

(Revelation 6:9-10  ESV)  (9) When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne.  (10) They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”

See that? And you have to conclude that this is a rather impassioned cry! Is this anger? Yes, I think it is. “Avenge our blood” pretty well nails it down. First person personal pronoun – “our” blood.   And you have it repeatedly in the imprecatory Psalms:

(Psalm 3:7  ESV)  Arise, O LORD! Save me, O my God! For you strike all my enemies on the cheek; you break the teeth of the wicked.

(Psalm 79:4-6  ESV)  (4) We have become a taunt to our neighbors, mocked and derided by those around us.  (5) How long, O LORD? Will you be angry forever? Will your jealousy burn like fire?  (6) Pour out your anger on the nations that do not know you, and on the kingdoms that do not call upon your name!

So we must take care in claiming that it is always sinful for us to be angry when we are sinned against. If we are talking about taking personal vengeance, seeking to carry out revenge ourselves, then that is wrong. But if we are talking about a desire to see justice exacted upon our enemies and abusers, then not only is there nothing wrong with this, there is everything RIGHT about it.

We received the following comment recently from a fellow in response to the post we posted quite some time ago regarding John MacArthur’s whole approach to abuse and his denial of abuse as a grounds for divorce. Here is what this fellow had to say to us:

I am really sorry all of you feel this way. It seems a lot is being missed (as often is) when looking from the outside. I have had the opportunity to attend some men’s gatherings with GTY [Grace to You, the ministry of John MacArthur.] and listened to many of Dr. Mac’s sermons. With this said I believe you are looking at his comments out of context. Many of you talk of having an abusive husband who claims to be a Christian….GTY would stand behind the view of church discipline and addressing this if brought to leadership’s attention. Just addressing your first point, read that reference you posted and go back 1 paragraph, the entire section is about the inexcusable sin of abuse. Finally you speak of the emotional abuse (considering unbeliever). Christians in Bible times and today (in other countries) have suffered physical and emotional abuse. God has time and again commanded us to display the same Christ-likeness when He was whipped to near death, spit on, and finally our God hung on the cross to die.

And there in those last couple of sentences this guy condemns abuse victims to an ongoing hell, in the name of Christ! “Don’t be angry. Hey, you know you really haven’t suffered that much. But even if you get whipped to near death or spit  upon, don’t get excited. Be like Jesus and take it!” Blah, blah, blah. That makes me angry!! Righteously angry! My question for Mr. Commenter is, “why aren’t you angry about it?”

I have news for this guy. First, he would not take that treatment for a second if it happened to him. Second, the Lord Jesus Christ’s sufferings on the Cross are not to be equated with our sufferings. WE do not effect redemption from sin when we suffer. Christ did. Jesus avoided abuse numbers of times in His earthly life. When it came to the Cross, He submitted. For our redemption. For atonement of sin. But we are not redeemers. That is why I wrote the original post on MacArthur’s views about suffering and abuse. I asked the question: “Does John MacArthur teach a view of meritorious suffering?”

There is nothing wrong with crying out for justice and in that sense, being angry when we are abused. There is everything healthy and right about doing so and even about desiring to see our abuser punished for his or her evil. So don’t ever lay the idea upon persecuted people that they are sinning if they are angry. Chances are that their anger is one of the first signs that they are awakening to the truth of what has been happening to them. And that is very good.

[September 7, 2022: Editors’ notes:

—For some comments made prior to September 7, 2022 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 September 7, 2022 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 September 7, 2022 that quoted from the post to the post as it is now (September 7, 2022), click here [Internet Archive link] for the most recent Internet Archive copy of the post.]


Further Reading

If you Are a Christian, then You Practice Hatred. Really!


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.

100 thoughts on “Abuse and Anger: Is it a Sin to Be Angry Toward Our Abuser?”

  1. I have a letter from a woman we saw maybe once a year. After I left, the estranged ran over to her house to talk to her husband. She heard only one side of the story (not mine!) and then felt compelled to chastise me for my anger. She was even helpful enough to send a lovely book on the subject which I now keep on my bookshelf just for fun with her letter tucked inside- pages and pages long.

    The thing is, if she knew me at all, she’d know I almost did’t have a temper all those years and that was a serious problem. Even with everything that happened, I wasn’t angry– I was way too busy being terrified. I gave that beast of a husband a pass on every infraction, no matter how hurtful, no matter how much damage he did to myself or to our children. In all that time, I never got angry enough to make changes.

    Seeing as how I didn’t talk to this woman at all, what made her so sure I had anger issues? My husband told her I did. And her proof was that I had instituted a no-contact policy. I refused to have contact with someone who, only a short time before, vowed to destroy me and swore he would do anything and everything it took, for as long as it took, to make that happen.

    And of course, by this time, my eyes were open, I knew the truth and I was angry– spitting mad and not just at the beast. I was mad at myself for being so stupid. Mad at those in church leadership who kept me in bondage with their horrible, abusive teaching. And i was angry at God because somewhere in my twisted thinking, I thought He not only required me to stay in that hell but that this was all His plan in the first place.

    It was anger that finally gave me the strength to take a stand and say, no more. Anger that gathered up my chicks and finally admitted the truth so they could heal. Anger that led me to wrestle with my Maker until He revealed His heart of compassion and love to this hurting child.

    I believe righteous anger is a blessing. The problem comes (as you mention) when a root of bitterness takes hold and we become full of wrathful vengeance and hatred. We must examine ourselves and continually guard against that as well. But thank God for anger!

    1. OH IDA MAE…TOTALLY AGREE!!!!! Even to the “angry at God” part, which I tried to deny in HIS face, which He reminded me that He was big enough to take it and that I better be HONEST…which is a big reason why I don’t veil any more. It was a representation of being “owned” by my husband AND his church “brothers” and a denial of complete access to the ready love of God at any and all times. God is so good!

      Love you, Ida Mae…God’s grace be your strength and guide.

      1. Laurie– I spent lots of time denying I was angry at God. It was just so naughty!

        But how do we ever grow in relationship with our true Father if we aren’t honest with Him? And how does He ever get the opportunity to confront the lies we hold so close if we refuse to admit how we really feel?

        The Holy Spirit had to do some pretty impressive stripping away to get to that one, let me tell you, lol.

    2. I’m curious. Was the book she gave you Martha Peace’s book?

      I wonder what Christians tell themselves when they successfully force an abused woman to go back to her abusive spouse. Do you think they feel pride and think of how pleased God must be with them for “saving a marriage?” What they don’t realize is that they haven’t saved the marriage. Satan already has it in his grips. When the woman goes back, it only gives an appearance. How can they be so blind to not see how twisted this is?

      1. I think that pride is exactly what they feel. And it trumps any serious consideration for what is happening to the victim.

      2. Just Me: Just went to the shelf to check. The book was, “Getting a Grip” The Heart of Anger, Handbook for Teens. There was another book she sent that I’d forgotten about by the same author– Divorce (Before You Say “I Don’t”).

      3. Yes Just Me, it is often pride these do-gooder bystanders feel. Here’s a verbatim example I read. It was uttered by a Christian woman who was married to the fellow who was ‘counseling’ the separated wife and husband – they were separated because of abuse. Wife of counselor, to her friend the survivor of abuse: “It will be such a feather in my husband’s cap if he can get you two back together again!”
        Some friend. Not.

      4. They pat themselves on the back and congratulations all around for another marriage saved.

        Meanwhile the wife goes home with a ticking time bomb who will play nice for a while until the pressure and attention is off. And then BOOM!

    3. Yes, Ida Mae, I love it when people who have only known you for a few months, think you are sinning, because you are finally angry after 20 years of marriage, all of the marriage being abusive, and you having taken it without a word for those 20 years! All of a sudden, the light comes on, God reveals it is not His will for His child to be living in abuse, and as the wife begins to deal with all those 20 long years, she becomes angry. The pastor takes sides with the abuser, because after all, she is the one who is angry and probably drove him to abuse her. I mean, just look at her. I am starting to think that these pastors favor the abuser, because maybe, just maybe, they do the same thing to their own wives and cannot bring judgment for the victim, because they know they deserve the same thing, but won’t admit it. This attitude from pastors and churches, just shows their ignorance and lack of knowing God and His Word. Like the woman in your story, pastors make foolish choices, when they only see the past year or two and not the whole long abusive relationship. So sad.

      Like Ps. Crippen says, Jesus’ suffering and death on the Cross was to benefit the whole world. How can we even compare living and suffering at the hands of one sick individual, to the suffering our Savior bore for all of us? It doesn’t even make sense! We are not paying for our abuser’s sin and thereby remaining silent while suffering. Our suffering at the hands of an abuser, “benefits” no one and therefore should never be used in comparison to Christ’s suffering, which benefited the whole world.

      1. “This attitude from pastors and churches, just shows their ignorance…”

        I agree, Anon!

        I think we often have pastors and counselors giving advice, when they have flat out simply not experienced enough of life to be qualified to counsel.

        People (all of us) tend to view situations through the lense of our own experiences.

        A pastor or counselor who has neither experience with, nor training for, for dealing with abuse situations is likely to view the situation (out of ignorance) thru the lense of their own experiences…experiences of living in a marriage that does not include abuse, but does include plenty of difficult situations, stresses, hurt feelings, emotional outbursts, and miscommunications.

        Frankly, nothing in their experience or training has prepared them for what is being dealt with, so they completely misinterpret the situation and give extremely poor advice. Not only do they not understand the situation…they CANNOT understand the situation. They cannot fathom it, because nothing in their experience or training has prepared them for it.

      2. Joe – this is definitely a huge part of the problem. For numbers of reasons, pastors are essentially NEVER trained to deal with abuse. Which is incredible because they of all people are supposed to be wise in regard to evil. But they aren’t. Even in the field of counseling they receive very, very little training. Thus they don’t connect real life with the theology they are taught. And if you have a pastor who grew up as a Christian, went to Bible College, then off to seminary, then into the pastorate — you have an incredibly naive person with no clue. Their operating system contains no program to compute abuse. They process the data, then make totally erroneous and harmful conclusions. It really is malpractice. I could easily teach a one-year long, 2 semester course on this subject but it took 30 years as a pastor, 12 years as a police officer, and I have only come to understand the thing in the last couple of years. Can you believe that?

      3. Yes, that’s very believable, Jeff.

        And I suspect I’m not far off-base in presuming most of the presidents, deans, and professors at the Bible colleges and seminaries are even further removed from the “real-world” situations of abuse than the typical pastor…

      4. Anon, your suspicions are similar to mine. I think we have to face reality: we have had on this blog numbers of survivors tell about their abusive husband who is a PASTOR. We cannot discount these reports. And we are probably only hearing from a small number of such survivors, at this stage.

        Then we have to recognize realities like how some churches have avoided dealing with pedophiles in their midst. We don’t make a big practice of pointing the finger at particular denominations on this blog, but in this case, I will, though I’m not meaning to exonerate other denominations. The Southern Baptist denomination is documented for its failure to set up even the most basic system for notifying its churches of credible allegations about clergy predators who have and still are taking pulpits in Southern Baptist Churches. See Christa Brown’s excellent book This Little Light [Affiliate link] and many news articles by Bob Allen.

        Since there are pastors and men in senior Christian leadership who are sweeping child sexual abuse under the rug, it’s reasonable to think that in quite a few cases these men are abusers themselves, whether by abusing children or abusing their own wives or both. A lot of research shows that spouse abuse and child abuse are often committed by the same perpetrator. Anyone can find that research literature if they bother to look for it.

      5. Barbara – This issue of pastors as abusers has been floating around in our comments and blogs for sometime and it is probably time we just flat out state it like you have here. “We cannot discount these reports.” No, they can’t be dismissed. There are too many of them. I mean right now I personally am in contact with about 6 and if I went back through my emails and blog comments this past year how many other victims have told us their abuse is a pastor or missionary! We really shouldn’t be surprised. Power and control. What better place and position to get it? And why in the world would any pastor cover up for a pedophile in his church? There cannot be any good reason for doing so. I only had a sexual molestation happen one time that I knew of in my congregation a few years ago and though it did take me a couple of days, it wasn’t long before I knew I had to call the police. So if I could figure it out, having no pastoral training on how to handle such a thing — only my police background that said someone needed to go to jail for this — then surely others ought to be able to conclude the same thing IF THEY WANT TO.

      6. 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.


        Yes – IF THEY WANT TO.
        So what is lacking is the moral will.
        And a guilty conscience will sap a person’s moral will.

        Of course, there are other things can sap a person’s moral will; but a guilty conscience is right up there near the top of the list, I would think.

      7. Yes pastors can be abusive, just like anyone else. I think the pedophile cases are defended this way. The offender repented. He said he was sorry and wanted to change his life. The Pastor involved, believed him, but instead of telling him, “well sir, you have committed a crime in this country and Christian or not, you will have to pay the piper”, he defends him and wants the offender’s slate wiped clean. This, I believe, is a false teaching concerning repentance in this case. This may sound mean, but we all have a past and most of us are not too upset about having to share where God brought us from, although we all would like to forget how we offended our God before we were saved by Him. Pedophiles are no different. Why should they get to deny and ignore their past sin. If I had robbed a bank before I was saved, then repented and God saved me, do I really think the Judge is going to tell me I can keep the money and not do any time for my crime? A truly repentant pedophile, will acknowledge that he is a sinner, wrongfully abused children (or whoever) and that in the best interests of and for the protection of all children everywhere, he needs to be ratted out and everyone needs to know about him, so he doesn’t hurt anyone else, ever again. I don’t believe that short of this, true repentance is demonstrated. The Old Testament gives direct commands for how to deal with sin and it never suggests “hiding” it.

      8. I am currently fighting a smear campaign being done against me by a 9 time felon in my county alone who is getting all the backing of the church after serving his prison term. He got the senior pastor of a church who he had known for years but didn’t attend church as he was in prison and was in and out of half way houses prior to write a letter on his behalf stating he was ready to be the father he was not ready to be previously and was no risk whatsoever physically, emotionally or in any way (and he underlines ANY). He signs it with his psychology license credentials. His letter placed a 10-13 year old girl who never knew her father in harms seriously. The father stated from his prison cell he’d become the prison chaplin clerk. I filed a complaint with the regulatory board where he holds his license. The father has history of a documented threat of cutting the unborn baby from my stomach and killing us both, (psychiatrists diagnosed him with BPD and anti-social traits with chronic audio hallucinations of the devil who’s been trying to take him down since childhood) and has drug history along with me having 3 orders of protection. I used to go whenever this pastor asked me to and saw how time and again, he would act on the fathers words and not know the facts. This time, I had recovered from the abuse for 10 years and managed to raise her on my own and she was the happiest innocent little girl. The father filed his rights from prison and I was forced to spend everything I had and lost my business I have owned for 22 years to obtain an attorney to protect my daughter. It’s been heading to 4 years now and the child was forced into reunification with him never knowing her father was a criminal. She was terrified, heart broken and much more.
        It would take a lot for me to believe a person who says they’ve repented with long history of bad behavior mental illness and such around children. PERIOD! I am no longer going to any church after this final abuse and the pastor/psychologist lost his license. People are very reckless at the top when truley innocent people are looking to them for leadership and they are put in the line of fire. No more for me. The father got all the help and support and we got forced to accept it. The father now has an order of protection from a man who he harrassed and is being sued by a real estate company and we need support when there is none. Ugh….
        Yes some pastors are very ignorant and maybe aren’t even pastors. He claims to have gone to Fuller Seminary school and Kings University but couldn’t remember who ordained him after the regulatory board found out he was lying when they checked with Assembly of God who he first claimed ordained him. This is the pastor/psychologist……maybe. It all feels criminal to me.

      9. S.H. – Can you sue that pastor and his church? There is nothing in Scripture that would forbid you from doing so. Not even the admonition that one Christian not take another to court. That Scripture does not preclude suing someone, even if they claim to be a Christian, if they are unrepentant and guilty of gross misconduct.

        I cannot believe that the pastor in your case is simply ignorant. I have to conclude that he is abusive in his mindset himself, at least to the point of desiring to support your ex over you. I suspect that as we learn more and more about cases like yours we are going to be increasingly coming to the conclusion that often the primary reason for injustice and further abuse being done to victims at the hands of their churches and pastors is that the pastor himself has a mentality that supports abuse.

      10. I have thought about this. I met the pastor at the Assembly of God Trinity Church in our area. There were wonderful people there. I think this whole thing is a con. I question his credentials at all. The wonderful people left the church and Assembly of God sued him to get him out of their church I think…..This was where I used to meet with him and the father for counseling?….. Next thing I knew he claimed he wanted to have wine at night with his wife so he was moving his church away from AOG. It wasn’t until I ended up in this custody nightmare that I started investigating him. He ended up with his church in his house. Changed the name on his non-profit to his new home church and that is the name he used on the letterhead to the courts on behalf of the father.
        I don’t have anymore money and I am not sure how to sue but I have all the evidence. The revocation of his license is posted on Psychechrime website. Our Assistant State Attorney who wrote the 9 page revocation letter told me to start there as he knew I had my life changed by this and my child became suicidal. But I don’t know what to do. He didn’t have to carry insurance to have the psychology license but I know he personally has assets from all the poor souls who have paid him tithings………….
        Any advice would be appreciated. Even just a direction. I really feel he is a dangerous man. He has a new title now and calls himself an expert for court cases but hopefully he’s not hurting children anymore.

      11. I, too, have been accused of being the one who is “sinning.” My mother-in-law, during the first half of my “marriage,” used to say to me, “I see what she’s doing–hang in there.” After 13 years of nonstop abuse, I finally broke down emotionally and did something I later regretted (which I normally wouldn’t have done had I not been so psychologically broken and crushed). I wrote an angry letter to my in-laws, basically telling them what I thought of them and whatever it was they did to their daughter while she was growing up to make her turn out to be such an abusive witch. (Her father was VERY abusive and her mother can be controlling.) I told them that not everyone who claims to be a Christian goes to heaven but that they would have to give an account to God. I told them they had a part in destroying my life and were in danger of going to hell. You can imagine how that went over! Even though much of what I wrote was true, I regretted sending the letter because it was written from a place of utter emotional despondency and despair. Later, I profusely apologized to my mother-in-law, asking her to forgive me because I was in deep emotional despair from the years of abuse when I wrote the letter. She refused to accept my apology and has since sided with her daughter, saying that she hadn’t realized that I was “capable of acting this way.” So now in her eyes I’m the “abuser.” So you see, those of us who are abused get it from both directions: we get accused by the abuser, and then we get accused by others who don’t realize how it’s possible for someone who seems to be so inordinately angry not to be the actual abuser.

        So it’s now been 26 years of misery with my abuser, but my kids are now grown up so I’m making plans to live in another state to get away from her, as soon as I can get my ducks in a row financially. I do struggle, though, with whether I have permission to get a divorce and be remarried. Unquestionably, I have very solid grounds based on emotional abuse, which has caused a situation where there’s never been any marriage from day one (i.e., no sexual relations, no hugs, no kisses, no affection — no NOTHING but being with a hostile “roommate”).

        I guess the reason I waver is because in my case things are a little complicated. Before I married my abuser, I heard a voice in church saying “There’s your wife” (indicating my later abusive wife). At the time I thought the voice was from God, and I’ve talked with other men who have had similar experiences of hearing a voice indicating a future spouse, believe it or not. Now, years later, I think the voice could have been from a demon, but I’m not sure. If it was from God, it would seem that it could have been God’s will for me to marry her (!), and if that’s the case, what would give me “permission” now to leave my abuser, if God had brought me to be with the abuser in the first place? And when I resisted marrying her (because she was so “mean” and “hostile” — I didn’t know about the term “abuse” at the time), I kept getting “pressure” to marry her (from God or a demon) every time I prayed about the situation (I know, it’s hard to explain how you can feel pressured in a spiritual way — all I know is that it happened). I would love to be in a nice, affectionate, Christian marriage with a spouse who wants to give and receive mutual love. I’ve prayed to God but haven’t received any definite indication of whether I have permission to divorce and remarry. And what if I’m wrong? What if later God convicts me of adultery? On top of this, the abuse has softened in intensity in the last year or so (but still occurs enough that there is still no marriage). This is the bind I feel.

      12. Abused Husband – You will be helped immensely by reading our books, particularly Barbara’s book Not Under Bondage. Abuse is indeed biblical grounds for divorce and you are permitted to remarry. If you click on the book icons on our blog home page you will see how to order them. And I suspect Barbara will have some good words for you as well.

      13. Hi Abused Husband, I’ll probably reply more later, but here are some links that I think may help you.

        How God Works vs How Satan Works — that’s a very short post.

        Our FAQ page What About Divorce?

        Our FAQ page What About Remarriage?

        And I myself have experienced (many years ago) quite a few instances of demonic attack, some of which were in the form of a thought coming into my head that was very specific guidance. That’s rather like hearing words of guidance in one’s head. I know for sure now (and faintly sensed at the time it happened) that in each of those instances the guidance came from an entity of the kingdom of darkness. So I don’t brush off your account or dismiss it as some kind of delusion.

      14. Abused Husband, I relate to your account of how you got inordinately angry with your in-laws and then regretted it afterwards. This is how I relate: I was sexually abused as a child. In my early adulthood I abruptly and angrily confronted that person who abused me. I later realised that the manner in which I’d made that confrontation was wrong; but I was not wrong about the fact of what that person had done to me as a nine year old. So after much wrestling in prayer (I think the devil wanted to keep me bound in guilt for the rude way I’d done the confrontation) I went and apologised and sought forgiveness from that person. But I made it VERY clear that I was only apologising for the way I’d done the confrontation, not for fact of the abuse which I alleged they had done to me.

        That person instantly forgave me for my rudeness. From then ’til now, that person and I simply agree to differ over the facts of what we think happened when I was nine.

        But other than that disagreement over facts, I’m on good cooperative, mutually caring terms with that person, which is possible only because that person is NOT an abuser per se…. they do not have the mentality of an abuser. What that person did to me when I was a child was a peculiar aberration from that person’s normal character. And in that sense, my story is quite different from yours because your in-laws and your wife have the traits and mentality of abuser — it’s the warp and weft of their character.

  2. Ps. Jeff C.,

    I appreciate your heart that you have shared here. Anger is definitely a sign of waking up to what has been happening. Anyone who has been betrayed that deeply by someone they trusted as intimately as a spouse, would be angry. Song of Solomon is God’s example to us of how intimate our relationship with our Redeemer is, and even this “type and shadow” in the O.T. falls short of how intimate our relationship with Jesus REALLY is or should be, but was the closest example God could give us that we could relate to (which makes abuse in this area even more damaging). Jesus was betrayed by one who broke bread with Him, but He knew from the beginning what Judas’ purpose was. Betrayal by your intimate partner usually is not known from the beginning. David put it this way:

    Destroy, O Lord, divide their tongues; for I see violence and strife in the city. Day and night they go around it on its walls, and iniquity and trouble are within it; ruin is in its midst; oppression and fraud do not depart from its marketplace. For it is not an enemy who taunts me– then I could bear it; it is not an adversary who deals insolently with me– then I could hide from him. But it is you, a man, my equal, my companion, my familiar friend. We used to take sweet counsel together; within God’s house we walked in the throng. Let death steal over them; let them go down to Sheol alive; for evil is in their dwelling place and in their heart. But I call to God, and the LORD will save me.
    (Psa 55:9-16)

    You said: “We know that one aspect of anger that we are not to visit is vengeance. Vengeance belongs to the Lord. It is something that we really aren’t equipped to handle because sometimes we would punish the wrong person, or we would falsely condemn, or we might just fail to apply enough punishment! God will do all of this perfectly on that great Day.”

    Amen!! Word!! This is confirmation of what God has revealed to me, also. But I ask this question, in sincere honesty: Is filing for divorce, filing for custody, filing for alimony and child support being vengeful? This is what my abuser thinks of me for filing for custody…but I heard the Holy Spirit tell me to stand in the gap and refuse the evil another go at my children, or He would replace me with someone who would stand up for my children. And my heart is very bruised sore on this one, because I REALLY love God and want to be pleasing in His sight. My abuser knows this and has used this against me. Right now, even, I think of this promise from God, “no weapon that is fashioned against you shall succeed, and you shall confute every tongue that rises against you in judgment. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD and their vindication from me, declares the LORD.” Isa. 54:17

    Side note: I am reminded of a revelation from God concerning seeing the image of His Son, Jesus, in me. I once was praying that my husband would be able to see Jesus in me. God, through the Holy Spirit, revealed that THAT is not the goal, that “others” may see Jesus in me. If it was, then I can be blown about by every wind of doctrine that “others” come up with, telling me THIS is how they would see Jesus in me. God showed me that the one I should concern myself with in this is HIM…Does GOD see Jesus in me? THIS is the goal, His goal.

    Good word this morning. God bless you for your heart of love and obedience to Him in bringing this to us today. Thank you, Ps. Jeff.

    1. You’re welcome Laurie. No, no, no, those things are not vengeance. They are just and right. They are instruments of protection for you and the children. Oh yes, I can just hear the guilty one moaning and complaining about how hard it is and how he can’t afford it and….on and on and on. But this is all simply the working out of justice, and justice is a good thing. No guilt here. None!

      1. I so needed to hear that, Joe! My STBX is FOREVER telling me that I am trying to be vengeful and that I am “forcing consequences” on him! Thank you!

    2. Laurie, if your abuser accuses you of something, is his word trustworthy? No. He can not be relied upon to make a right judgement. He is an abuser. His mindset and entitlement thinking will twist things round to make you out to be the evil one, and him to be the hard done by one.

      What he says is a complete inversion of the truth. You can ignore him; ignore his claims. You can say in your own head, “He’s wrong; he’s just trying to abuse me again by blaming ME for the natural and just consequences of HIS behavior.

      Why do you need to file for divorce and seek custody of the kids? Because he is an abuser. He is reaping what he has sown; but like Cain, he’s whining and moaning, “This punishment is more than I can bear…” Silly goose. He brought it on himself. But he will always try squirm out of that fact. Let him rant and rave, he will never admit the truth. Just know that you are in the right, not only in your own conscience, but before God and his true church.

  3. Sometimes it seems as if you are a fly on the wall in my life and my daughters life who has been severely abused as have I through the “family court” system using the above twisted version of christianity to collect federal funds by way of grants using our tax dollars to teach this sickness and shut down victims of abuse to further push their “fathers and families” mantra. This is now a multi-billion dollar industry with faith based teachings through and through. They are accepting of all sorts of abuses to protective mothers and children while shutting them up and twisting the meaning of the word in the name of keeping marriage and family alive while killing these childrens and mothers spirits and hearts. I am tired of watching this and following the almighty dollar to the same places in these organizations. We must wake up and stop this. My heart believes all is not hopeless when I see your articles state exactly what my heart knows to be true.
    I am seeing too many family court horrors with children at the bottom of the pile and abusers running the show in these courtrooms and court facilitated programs. Practically every, if not every single, case gets ordered to a “court rostered facilitator, custody evaluator, reunification therapist, or whatever the buzz name is for the year” and these nuts make millions of dollars on these abuse victims heads. I was even told while reading a magazine waiting for my daughters hour of abuse to end in the facilitators office, the facilitator came out and said “I am right with my God”. I looked at her wondering what on earth made her say this to me? I knew there is no way this is true. The abuser showed up a half hour early to the meetings to pray but it was just his act. The sickest most destructive process I have ever heard of or experienced in my life. My child was told she would get sick and die if she didn’t forgive her father!!! The exact words in your article were used against me and the child. He never came from a place of love and she never did anything to him. But he is the father and the bible says honor thy father. It tore the childs self worth, peace on earth and joy right away from her life after 3 and a half years of this. The financial loss destroyed my ability to care for the child after successfully doing so for over a decade alone. I found out this was their intent. Fathers in the lives of their children AT ALL COST. There is no help for the victims of these crimes and much carniage will be reported as “high conflict” or “angry litigant cases” instead of calling their practices and total and utter failure while abuse is accepted and killed every one of the children and parents forced to continue relations with abusers.. All the research goes right down the same rabbit holes.

    People need to wake up and be angry for what is happening in the name of the Lord. It is very sick. Thank you for writing your blog. It was a “senior pastor/(formerly) licensed psychologist” who wrote a fraudulent letter on behalf of the father so he could gain custody of a child who never knew cruelty like this………..It my lengthy investigation, I found the “senior pastor” had never been ordained and his regulatory board pulled his psychology license thanking me for bringing this man to their attention…… Was vengence mine? No.

    1. Stillhere – well, you have truly been through the valley. I agree and particularly noted your “Fathers in the lives of their children AT ALL COST” observation. I suppose we could tweak that just a bit to say “two parents in the lives of their children at all cost.” But most often the abuser is the man. It is incredible to me that courts and highly paid psychologists and “case managers” or “facilitators” embrace this ridiculous thinking. How in the world are the children not better off with the abuser totally out of their lives? And yet these people regularly insist that even if the father is a sexual pervert, the children are still better off with having him in their lives. So the thing is forced upon the abuse victim and she ends up often being accused of “parental alienation” for trying to protect her children.

      I was talking to a judge recently and I told him it is obvious that wicked, abusive people use the family court system for their own evil agenda. His response? “Oh yes, they do it all the time.” He said it calmly and what he meant was, “but, that is the way it is. The law is the law and the most important thing is that the legal process be allowed to work.”

    2. “Fathers in the lives of their children at all costs”…or God will smite the earth with a curse. That’s the excuse I heard and now it looks like fear, not love. Do they give this kind of advice because they are afraid and still under God’s condemnation, or perhaps we are back in the Garden where, if woman isn’t subdued quickly, we will be kicked out of the best digs we ever had?

      Hmmm…sounds rather “fleshy” to me.

      1. Well, what sounds very curious to me is that these very same people will argue that it is just fine for a child to have two women as parents, or two men as parents, or just one parent via artificial insemination. That is totally contradictory from my perspective anyway. No, I think it has to be energized by a court system that is still largely influenced by the powerful and still believing the notions of the wicked, conniving woman who is out to wreak havoc upon the children’s father. Sure, there are women like that. But is that the norm? No way. Our judicial systems and culture and churches still believe the old adage “Hell has no fury like a woman spurned.” The fury of hell aside, the truth is that there is no fury on this earth like that of a power/control driven human being who is being denied what he is most certain he is fully entitled to.

  4. Mat 5:22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother WITHOUT A CAUSE shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.

    Apparently there is CAUSE for anger that is JUST. ACTING upon it is possibly another aspect to be aware of …..because …GOD is perfect …and God is JUST….

    Luk 18:7 And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?

    Luk 18:8 I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?

    God gave his WORD …to set the ‘captives free’ , believer’s freedom is in the knowledge and right application of HIS WORD.

    Many of the times I walked right into abuses I recall the Word coming to my mind prior ….scriptures plain as day …I did not realize that THIS was the spirit of GOD ‘speaking’ to me regarding what I was about to step into!

    I kept thinking that if God was going to ‘speak’ to me it would be like the movie “The Ten Commandments’ …..this misconception led to me thinking I was just trying to make a way for me to escape being disciplined! How twisted is this!

    I had thought that since I read about the flesh deceiving ourselves and I thought others were more ‘advanced’ or ‘expert’ in their knowledge and understanding that I had to submit to them ! I thought that if I was going to ‘grow’ in the word I had to submit to other people’s discipline and authority.

    This is a twisted understanding of authority ….it worked in my mind for years .. I trace some of this back to the way government schools usurped FATHERS authority given by GOD to TRAIN UP their CHILDREN ….When godly authority is usurped and godly ORDER is intruded upon it sets one on a path that places men in the place of God in terms of authority figures that are not ordained of God

    In truth …since the devil cannot do anything without the permission of a person ….he will lure him into decisions that OPEN his mind to the influences that will encourage sin …and further ‘instruct’ him to turn away from the Lord’s authority and surrender into the authority of human beings

    God commanded men ….there is JURISDICTION given to a husband in responsibility to LOVE his WIFE and to learn to do so …in All of the ways GOD commands in the first commandment toward Himself….heart, soul ,mind and strength ,….spiritually this must be FIRST

    The second commandment is dependent upon ones knowledge and obedience to the first in order to DO it rightly

    In the godly priorities set for married men …this second command demands he take responsibility in carrying it out in his relationship with his WIFE …She is FIRST after his relationship to GOD. The husband has to tap into the God given RESPONSE…ABILITY which is empowered because of God’s demand that the man fulfill his responsibilities in his JURISDICTION.

    The husband does not have the jurisdiction of loving other women …or his job…just is COMMANDED to learn to love HIS OWN WIFE …which in turn will cause him to become mature and also will fulfill him. IF the husband learns to obey this command toward his wife he will also be TOO BUSY to be lured into some other jurisdiction not his own …aka other women !

    When children learn to regard any others as ‘authority’ where GOD has commanded the father to be responsible….they are turned away from the godly authority GOD has given the husband and father and are adrift amid the world’s various usurpers.

    Sin has consequences …even if someone does not ‘know’ what sin is ….it has it’s own conditional consequences within each one …they WILL come about in order to turn people to the Lord …to seek after Him

    God as a righteous Father sets the pattern for teaching ones children …God always gave PRIOR instructions….doctrine…WARNING to man …then if man did not obey …hear….follow….there are consequences which GOD also warns of …from Adam onward …God always gives man whatever he needs to know to keep from experiencing consequences of sin .

    When damages occur in various lives that are collateral we are also given instructions that are for our healing and protection ….as GOD has told us ‘My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge’ ….’ My people have committed TWO evils …they have FORSAKEN ME …the fountain of living water …AND ….Hewed for themselves cistern’s BROKEN cisterns that can hold no water’

    Our need for GOD’S word is not to be taught by hearsay or man’s traditions but I think we succumb to those things because we have not been brought up in a godly order as GOD has commanded Fathers …who are representative of the Lord …in marriage to His bride…and in family as the godly Father…..and so people do “wander aimlessly’ even as they do seek to know God.

    As God promises if we seek Him and CONTINUE to seek in His word…then we become ‘his disciples INDEED” and we become equipped to learn wisdom and not be deceived by every wind of doctrine.

    For me it has been a long slow process of ignoring the rise of scriptures in my mind which WERE wisdom to take some person’s word for it …GOD even warns us with this exhortation..

    Jhn 7:24 Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.

    Where do we find ‘righteous judgement”?

    2 Ti 3:16 ALL SCRIPTURE [is] given by inspiration of God,[theo pneustos-God breathed] and [is] profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction,FOR INSTRUCTION IN RIGHTEOUSNESS

    This has taken me a ‘while’ since beginning my journey to learn how to tell when God is ‘speaking’ to me …His spirit living in us brings His word to mind …then as we obey it we see His provision and care coming into fruition..

    Jam 1:20 For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.

    Psa 76:10 Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee: the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain.

    God has allowed man to set up ‘kingdoms’ even as He told us that Kings would be unjust yet the laws set up in society are FOR the work of justice among those who deny and ignore having the Lord as their God.

    Eph 5:6 Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.

    We learn to identify and thus avoid submitting to UNJUST authority of men who are being influenced by devils….They are those who willfully rebel and sin willfully without receiving rebuke and do not repent.

    Pro 9:8 Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee.

    Pro 27:5 Open rebuke [is] better than secret love.

    Luk 17:3 Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.

    A true believer should RECIEVE with meekness the engrafted word which is able to SAVE his soul….

    1 Ti 5:20 Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.

    But there are those who do NOT receive rebuke ….

    Psa 36:1 [[To the chief Musician, [A Psalm] of David the servant of the LORD.]] The transgression of the wicked saith within my heart, [that there is] no fear of God before his eyes.

    Psa 55:18 He hath delivered my soul in peace from the battle [that was] against me: for there were many with me.

    Psa 55:19 God shall hear, and afflict them, even he that abideth of old. Selah. Because they have no changes, therefore they fear not God.

    Psa 55:20 He hath put forth his hands against such as be at peace with him: he hath broken his covenant.

    Psa 55:21 [The words] of his mouth were smoother than butter, but war [was] in his heart: his words were softer than oil, yet [were] they drawn swords.

    Psa 55:22 Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.

    Psa 55:23 But thou, O God, shalt bring them down into the pit of destruction: bloody and deceitful men shall not live out half their days; but I will trust in thee.

    Jud 1:4 For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.

    I am sure all of you are familiar with this section…..

    2 Ti 3:1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.

    2 Ti 3:2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,

    2 Ti 3:3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,

    2 Ti 3:4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;

    2 Ti 3:5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

    2 Ti 3:6 For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts,

    2 Ti 3:7 Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

    2 Ti 3:8 Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith.

    2 Ti 3:9 But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all [men], as theirs also was.

    We have had our ‘education’ through enduring and learning from the Lord about such things….

    1. Pepe, thank you for those scriptures.

      You wrote “Many of the times I walked right into abuses I recall the Word coming to my mind prior ….scriptures plain as day …I did not realize that THIS was the spirit of GOD ‘speaking’ to me regarding what I was about to step into! …..this misconception led to me thinking I was just trying to make a way for me to escape being disciplined! How twisted is this!”
      I know that pain of twisted thinking. It hurts incredibly. The twisted thinking was not just coming from what other people were telling me, it had its hooks deep in my own mind, and I believe that Satan was deliberately and personally responsible for keeping it locked down. Whenever I contemplated the (what I know now to be) correct way of thinking, Satan would immediately bite back with sharp pain, and pull on all those knotted strands ten times harder, so the knots would be even harder to untangle. The intimacy of this pain is hard to describe. Thank God I am free of it now. And yes, it took a long time to unravel all the falsehoods. But bit by bit, it happens.

      Did we in our own strength confide
      Our striving would be losing
      Were not the right Man on our side
      The Man of God’s of choosing.
      Dost ask who that may be?
      Christ Jesus it is He
      Lord Sabbaoth His name
      From age to age the same
      And He must win the battle.

  5. Thank you for your validation and input. I am very familiar with PAS accusations. That is such a catch 22 to a protective parent as you attempt to do the dance of the court orders while being told to promote a relationship which betrays the trust of your child if you believe your child has been abused, physically, sexually or otherwise……..Especially if the child disclosing this is what started the wheels in motion.

  6. I don’t know if anyone has pointed this out, yet, or not (I didn’t read ALL the comments) but . . . . . Jesus WAS brutally abused and then, finally, put to death. But . . . . He didn’t STAY in that state. He wasn’t living a LIFE of death. I’m not sure how we can compare His death to a living hell in an abusive marriage because His death was a one-time deal. With a purpose. . . . . . Megan

    1. Yes Megan, I agree. Jesus’ suffering in the crucifixion was for a limited period of time. Totally different from the ‘go back and pray and submit without ceasing’ recipe that the foolish teachers tell victims of abuse.
      So Jesus’ crucifixion suffering was different from our suffering in two major ways:
      (1) It was a one-off act of substitution whereby he became sin for us and paid the price for our sin. This sacrificial act never needs to be repeated and cannot be added to by any of us.
      (2) From the point of view of Jesus’ human nature, which is the way we identify with Him, it was a time-limited suffering. It came to an end, and after that Jesus was gloriously resurrected from the grave, in abundant life and health.

  7. Thanks so much, Jeff, for your insight in this serious subject and for addressing how the church is so badly handling the victims of abuse. I was also in an abusive marriage for 20 years and was confused and distraught until I made the choice to divorce him. And what was his response? “You CAN’T divorce for me.” Oh really? I can only take so much abuse, and yes, I can divorce you. I listened to your 21-part series on Sermonaudio and was so blessed by it and feel so convicted in my own church to do something in this area. I also used to listen to John MacArthur a lot, and as a victim of abuse, I always felt like he was giving justification to the abusive person. The church is a haven for abusers, but I pray with more pastors seeing the truth of God’s word and professing it the way you have on Sermonaudio that we will see less and less abuse in the church.

    1. Excellent Theresa! Thank you for encouraging us and for setting out to change things in your church. So glad you are free.

  8. As to the issue of “counseling”, it seems more and more we have the nouthetic type of counseling. My experience with this type of counseling for abuse, is just plain horrendous. If you have read and know your Bible, they say, that makes you competent to counsel. BUT, what if your interpretation is faulty, wrong or just plain heresy? What if my interpretation led someone else astray? Do I really think that God will not hold me to account for how I counsel others and what I counsel them to have their children do as well?

    1. I was at a seminary in NC where nouthetic counseling was encouraged. In fact, I ended up with my Masters in counseling . . . . but I never use it. The nouthetic counseling that was rampant is actually what kept me IN my abusive marriage. I’m not even sure what to do with my degree now . . . . I disagree with so much that is going on. The seminary is a breeding ground for abuse. And they really believe they have a corner on God. 😦

      1. “And they really believe they have a corner on God.”

        That’s the saddest part. An unteachable spirit is unlikely to grow or improve, other than by God’s direct intervention (like Saul’s Damascus Road experience).

        When we build institutions of higher learning dedicated to the science of understanding God’s word… but separate it from the nitty-gritty realities of life… then hire people trained in those insitutions to then teach and oversee the insitutions…

        How can we NOT think Christ’s warnings to the religious leaders of His day would apply, “Woe unto you, scribes, Pharisees, hypocrites,…” 😦

      2. In addition to nouthetic counseling not being appropriate for abuse counseling, I wonder if the general teachings of the mainstream evangelical church tend to shape Christian women (and maybe men, too) into targets for psychopaths? After reading the general traits of women who are lured into psychopathic relationships, as collected from data involving thousands of victims, I can deduce that many of these traits are found in churched women, e.g. “high investment in relationship”, “high cooperativeness”, “low harm avoidance”, “empathy/compassion”, “high moral principles”, “high trust/loyalty”. The very attributes that we are taught to cultivate in our lives are the ones that puts at risk for being harmed in abusive relationships. It’s not that we should not be taught about vulnerability, trust, openness, commitment, putting others first, etc, it’s that we are too often not taught to be discerning and distinguish between wolves and sheep. It’s like what Ps Jeff often says about how being loving looks different toward different people.

      3. Anon – The abuser definitely is taking advantage of godly traits to turn them to his advantage and purposes.

        It is very Satanic. Satan does the same thing. He has no interest, whatsoever, in justice or mercy, yet he appeals to God’s justice and mercy in an attempt to further his own agenda.

        Revelation 12:10 describes Satan as “…the accuser of our brethren…who accuses them before our God day and night…”

        He has no interest in justice, yet he is before the throne of God day and night, appealing to God’s justice, for the purpose of distorting it to his own agenda.

        Same thing we see in abusers…and like their father, the devil, though they may appear to be succeeding, in the end they will fail…

        Justice and mercy will prevail!

      4. As an encouragement:
        I attend an evangelical seminary in the Chicago area and can say the issue of abuse is on the table and steps are being taken to increase awareness of what constitutes abuse. One example:disrespectful behavior by a male student toward a female professor was addressed and dealt with. Faculty ask to be made aware of situations between students, and several male profs are pro-active in talking to male students about their treatment of women on campus and in encouraging women in their classes.
        I am part of the leadership for a women’s group on campus, and we are planning a presentation next semester to increase awareness of all types of abuse. RA’s in the undergrad and grad programs attend training sessions on abuse and how to recognize it.
        Is there more work to be done? Definitely, but administration, faculty and students are invested in created healthy community where all are treated with respect and dignity. These are tomorrow’s pastors, professors and leaders, so it crucial they learn to recognize abuse, it’s prevalence and destructive power.

      5. Joe I just want to say that your contribution to these comments has been marvellous. I’ve appreciated your insights and how much you are pulling the oar to support others. Thanks.

      6. “they really believe they have a corner on God”
        Like the Pharisee who stood by himself in the temple and said “God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.” Luke 18:11-12

        “God, I thank you that I am not like other men. I am competent to counsel because I have my Bible and I know how to use it. I can detect each person’s sins and give them a prescription for what they need to repent of. I don’t take any of that nonsense about trauma or previous abuse being an excuse for a person’s current mental state. I can whip out the right chapter and verse and then go home to my happy family and my warm slippers and my comfy bed, and sleep the sleep of the just each night.”

    2. Yes, the same fundamental issue is still in play.

      The counselor is viewing the situation through the lense of their own experiences and training, which probably does not include dealing with abuse.

      Now, one may say that the Bible provides the answers. Without debating whether or not that position is correct, there is still the fundamental issue of interpretation of both the situation at hand and the correct application of scripture.

      Someone who has never dealt with abuse is not likely to correctly interpret an abusive situation, nor are they likely to correctly interpret scripture in regard to dealing with an abusive situation.

      They are INCAPABLE of understanding either the situation or the correct application of scripture, because it is COMPLETELY outside the paradigm of their experience and training.

      1. I had a counselor for two of my kids. Had to have them in counseling so that they did not have to do visitation and I had to be able to afford it when ex would be late paying, so limited choices. I liked her, and she was helpful in some ways and has continued to protect my son but I get the impression from her and the whole center, that they really don’t believe in evil, they don’t believe in emotional, psychological abuse. She even saw examples in emails to her of changing history and such and still thought it was a one-time thing, not a pattern. So now I have a teen daughter that is back to visiting with her father again and is UNABLE to stop sucking her thumb( which she had stopped when he moved out) and no one seems but me seems to think that signifies anything. Ugh!! Hopefully I just got hired full time and so will have benefits and can get a better counselor and help soon!

      2. NNP – It is very difficult to recognize a pattern when one has only partially-obscured, half-concealed glimpses by which to discern…and if nothing in one’s experience or training would lead them to believe such patterns even exist? Not a chance…

        I’m praying, this morning, for you and your children, that God will provide healing, protection, and restoration. That He will place people in your lives to aid in wise decisions and encouragement through the healing process.

        God bless you!

      3. My daughter started sucking her thumb, pulling out her hair and hitting herself when our court case came up. Nobody would listen to me as she became suicidal. We got past this on our own as the courts denied her any help as it could interfere with the fathers process of attempting to gain custody. This was not without serious problems and much stress to me watching my honor roll student who was a “pleasure to have in class and a well rounded child” at 10/11 yrs old. Thumb sucking is an issue. It’s a stress reliever comforter to a child. Regressive behavior is a sign of trouble. I must suggest you look into physical stress relievers for your daughter like maybe sports activities. This keeps them physically focused even for a time on something other than adult issues and worries. The most detrimental process to a child is family court and more times than not, abusers use the courts to keep control of the family. This leaves victims of abuse unable to protect themselves or their children.
        80-90% of custody cases are decided out of court in the best interests of the children. The fathers rights and faith based teachings in the money making court system are using statistics from those cases to exact change in law in the 10-20% of cases which are considered “high conflict” and require legal intervention. More times than not and possibly all of these cases have a criminal or documented abuser physical, sexual, etc driving these cases. Most people don’t hear all of this stuff. They maintain power and control over the lives of mothers who finally attempted against the above pastoral/ psychological teachings to leave a marriage with an abuser. Children should not be forced to go with any parent who is abusive. It’s common sense.
        Right now on the news there is a new movie being spoken of called “ticket out” and it’s regarding domestic violence and women who attempt to leave and have to go underground to protect their children because they are morally right but legally wrong. hhmmm….

  9. I’m so glad I found this blog with Barbara’s help! I have been dealing with the sexual abuse that I experienced during my 27 years of marriage…and my husband and I were missionaries overseas. When I finally found the strength to leave my husband (God actually said to me through a sermon “Go now!”), the mission agency sent a member care person to try to convince me to go back to my husband, even after I disclosed some of the abuse that had been occurring in my marriage. They did not try to help me heal from the abuse…they basically wanted me to just go back to my abuser.

    When I refused to go back, the agency asked us to resign, and I was left with no home, no transportation, no income and no health insurance. It felt as if I jumped off a cliff, leaving everything I knew behind. I did know however that God was at the bottom, hands open waiting to catch me, and catch me He did!

    The next hurdle was when the national Pastor of the church that my husband and I had planted 15 years earlier, told me that I could no longer counsel people in the counseling center that I helped to start and I still directed. He believed my husband and never asked to hear my side. To this day (5 years later) he has not asked to hear my story or minister to me.

    God is good though and when the church or humans let us down, He is there, faithful and loving, ready to heal us and restore us. God is the God of redemption and grace!

    Thank you friends for bringing this topic to light! Man will frequently let us down, but God will never let us down.

    1. D. Anne – Someone of us has to compile these stories of missionary abusers and pastor abusers and put them all together in a book. I haven’t kept a running tally over the last year but I can tell you that I get these very kinds of stories over and over again. And I MEAN over and over. I am dealing with several such active cases right now. I wish I could stand up in front of an assembly of pastors and missionaries at their annual meetings and say “you know how I know that abuse is hiding right in your churches and in fact right in this very meeting room? I know because your wives tell me so.” Man, I wish we could still draw lots as in the days of Achan’s sin at Jericho.

      I am so glad the Lord delivered you. And one more thing. Here is another issue that you referenced. I have abuse victims – sound Christians – tell me repeatedly exactly what you just said here — that the Lord told you “Go now!” I have had other conservative Christians tell me that such stories are simply the woman looking for God’s endorsement for what she wants to do because God does not speak to us like that today. I am not Charismatic or Pentecostal in my theology and I believe that the Lord speaks to us through His written Word as enlivened by the Holy Spirit. But I also know that the Holy Spirit does things that sound frighteningly mystical to theologically staid people like myself. He somehow pours out the love of God in our hearts and assures us that we are Christ’s. He leads us. He intercedes in our prayers. He assures us that the Scriptures are the Word of God (indeed, the Westminster Confession of Faith and other Reformed confessions state this very fact). I have absolutely no doubt that when His people are oppressed and it is time for them to go out in exodus, He tells them so.

      Thank you very much for your story and we are really, really glad you are here.

    2. D. Anne Pierce,
      I am sorry you were treated so badly. I am glad you were able to get out and had the strength to endure so many let downs while saving yourself. Bless you….

  10. So awesome! It’s one of the many things I’ve learned from my (now adult) child. Because I hadn’t forced her to submit to abuse she could see it as abuse right away. Her right response to evil helped me to learn to identify it faster as well. We destroy our children when we teach them to submit blindly to all authority without first testing the spirits, but we help them to be strong in the Lord when we allow them to speak truth as they see it and even if we don’t see it right away, at least consider their testimony. I’m grateful to God that my husband wasn’t the type of abuser that insisted on the kids being submissive or she may not have been able to be this way so young and throughout her life. If we were all educated about abuse and its tactics, many of us would have seen it for what it was right away and high-tailed it!

  11. No one believed me last time. Husbands family has lots of money and I was torn apart in court. I had an order of protection and his lawyers did well in dismissing my petitions. No shelter helps, no domestic violence agency helps. Been there done all of it. This church is on his side. My old church isn’t but they warned me not to reconcile so fast. Here I am- stupid me again. He’ll take my kids again. He ready has won their hearts. I look like the abuser now bc I’m angry. He certainly loves to point out my behaviors now

    1. I am so so sorry that even the shelter and the DV agencies have not helped you.

      I wish they were better. I wish that countries like yours (and mine) funded DV services better. I wish that DV workers were all super-well trained and had the power and experience to truly help victims. I wish that the courts and all the professionals like GALs who make their living off family court case were not so easily swayed by manipulative and moneyed-up abusers. I wish all these things and more!

      Thank you for continuing to lament here. We believe you.

  12. I’m angry! I’m hurting! He has no empathy! I’m tired of all the subtle put downs and sabotaging and coercions! No one believes me! He’s faked it for so long- now he’s back full force. I was so angry I punched him in the face. Another one to use against me. He ignores me like I don’t exist and mocks me and repeats what I say. I feel like my only option is to leave. He tells me I never take responsibility for the things I do. He does things specifically that scare me or that I’m very uncomfortable with. He uses my kids to hurt me. They don’t respect me. I’ll never be free in courts, etc. The battle will go on all over again. He will win again. He lies about everything. He always wins! I HATE MY LIFE.

  13. I want to stand up in that church and tell everyone what he’s doing! About the pastor abusing his wife too! But you know what I feel like I can’t even explain anything to anyone. Like no one will believe me again. I try to think of what id say and it would sound pathetic people would believe I was crazy. He’s so charming and good at everything. He’s the guy everyone wants to be around. I’m the screwed up one!

    1. Lost, my abuser did to me and my children what your abuser is doing to you and your children.
      It is part of his calculated plan to upset you to get you to say or do something that will incriminate you to others so he can continue to accuse.
      Until you can figure out a plan to remove yourself safely from the situtation try not to fall for his staged set ups.
      You may not be able to help your children until you help yourself first.
      Mine would deliberately caculate and “cook up plans” to try to get me so upset, that he was sure I would do something that he could then hold against me later.

      (He knew that our marriage was over, so now he was looking for amunition to use against me, so he could try to slap the “shes crazy label” on me.)
      But I knew what he was doing, so until I could safely remove myself from living there, I had to see his provokings for exactly what they were.
      These were “set ups” for the sole reason to test my reactions, hoping I would lose control.
      It felt like walking through a mine field at times, but God was showing me the set ups once I started realizing what my abuser was doing.
      And of course the covert way the abuser works, the children dont see any of it.
      This is truly spiritual warfare.
      I will be praying for you.

      1. Yes, the set-ups are the most difficult to stand against. Mine would set me up to look crazy, unforgiving, bitter, abusive, etc… And often, to the untrained eye, it would seem like something so minor … but it’s like he knew the exact things to say, those seemingly little things that in consideration of the whole situation weren’t little things at all. Especially the subtle little blaming statements or criticisms that seemed innocent enough to those that are blind to the real him. He is also really good at setting traps behind closed doors that he can than turn around and give evidence of how abusive I am, like constantly diverting attention to past things he’s done when confronted with current things, then telling everyone I won’t let go of old things or even that I’m constantly accusing him falsely, etc. Or even the use of abuser speak in front of others. being aware of them does make it easier to not react, but there are still a few things, especially to do with the kids or when he talks to me in this really charming calm voice while he subtly blames me … those still trigger something in me. I still react.

  14. I third the “set-ups.” Just today I emailed my attorney about my husband’s newest set up. According to our Temporary Order I have to pay for all the groceries / toiletries for the household (he, of course, won’t leave and still lives with the kids and I). Anyway, he takes that as me having to buy him whatever he wants. He writes up lists with things that I’m supposed to buy – extravagant food items, brand names (when in the past I’ve bought generics of those items), etc. If I fail, he threatens me that I’m in contempt of court. Funny thing is – he’s the one who really is in contempt when he dropped our daughter off his health insurance. So, yes, I understand the set ups designed to make you lose it.

    1. They ALWAYS find a way to worm a loophole into any agreement (or any court order) that is made. It is like a challenge to them: a challenge to exercise their wits by twisting it into another way to abuse their victim…

      1. Yeah how can I ever be free? I’ll leave and he’ll do this court stuff all over again. I’ve been in this emotional prison for years now. I think he really is evil but I’m having a hard time seeing clearly b/c I can’t! But he can be so kind and loving if it means he has his way about something later on. That is NOT love at all! I hate him! I see he only compliments me or thanks me out of obligation now where as before they seemed genuine. He’s a wolf in sheep’s clothes. He claims to be a follower of Christ but can you be that AND be an abuser. He’s so good at it that no one sees. He just took my house keys and car keys and left with our only car. He locked me out and shut all the blinds so the kids wouldn’t help.

        Can someone please talk privately via email about godly places to stay for help?

  15. Barbara, That must have been very difficult to have been sexually abused as a nine-year-old. I’m not sure I could have a relationship with someone who did that to me, especially if they still claimed that they hadn’t committed the crime. And that’s what I find difficult being on the receiving end of abuse, that there is always this denial from others of what I know to be true and taking place. In the case with my mother-in-law, it is especially disappointing, since she had been validating me for 13 years, which shows that she saw the truth of what was going on. Now: no validation. It’s a very lonely existence. Only my parents believe me, basically, and a pastor I confided to 15 years ago (who had also experienced abuse by his “wife” for 12 years before getting a divorce). Thankfully, his church saw through the abuser’s tactics, and they kept him on as pastor, seeing he was the innocent party.

    I’ve determined, especially after the latest abusive incident, that the only way to defeat an abuser is by emotionally disengaging from the abuse cycle: No emotional reaction, no reward for the abuser, cycle over. I’ve decided to “gray rock” her. I’m sure that an observer looking in, not knowing the context of the last 26 years, and not having seen all the Jekyll-Hyde yo-yo-ing, would view my behavior as abusive, saying that I’m giving my “wife” the cold shoulder. And I admit it is hard for me to maintain this emotional detachment, since I’m naturally one to want to act normal and responsive. But whenever I’ve done that in the past, I’ve simply invited more abuse. I’m afraid, though, that my “disengaging” is viewed by her as still “an emotional reaction,” and so she’s still, in a sick way, getting her jollies. I wish I knew how to truly disengage without giving any hint to her of anger, sadness, or hurt (which is what she’s looking for). I’m truly trying to be a happy “gray rock,” but I’m not sure I’m pulling it off successfully.

    Her response now has been to massively “hoover” me, bombing me with “niceness” (which shows that her abuse has been deliberate and calculated, since she’s knows how to turn it on and off). Actually, I find this exaggerated niceness to also be a form of abuse (stalking), since she knows it’s unwanted behavior and does it anyway. It’s really a torment being with an abuser–they never want anything to be actually nice and normal, with mutual love and happiness. They only want there to always be some sort of imbalance. If you’re happy, they do everything they can to destroy your happiness; if you’re unhappy from all their abuse and withdraw from them, they do everything they can to suck you back in so that they can abuse you again and get their jollies. It’s all very sick.

    Anyway, thanks for this blog and for your (and Pastor Jeff’s) caring response to my comment. It’s nice to have a place to vent where you know others will get it.

    1. Hi, I think you’re being very wise. I have an abuser, thankfully not my spouse, and I realized that he was all about drama. Going no-contact would be pretty traumatic for the family, so I am getting better and better at “gray rock”.

    2. I’m truly trying to be a happy “gray rock,” but I’m not sure I’m pulling it off successfully.

      It may not be possible to be a happy gray rock, while one is still living with the abuser, or even for quite a while after leaving the abuser. Abuse causes trauma and a lot of grief and and anger. The gray rock method is a way of acting to try to reduce the likelihood of further abuse, but because abusers are intent on continuing to abuse, they usually escalate when they sense their targets are disengaging. But I encourage you to keep up the grey rock if it seems to help. Acting like a grey rock is a survival technique only, it’s a surface veneer for utilitarian purposes only. I encourage you to honour the fact that you are feeling grief and sadness and anger and pain inside, while at the same time wisely restraining yourself from letting those (healthy!) feelings show to your abuser.

      I’m not sure I could have a relationship with someone who did that to me, especially if they still claimed that they hadn’t committed the crime.

      Yeah, my situation — the sexual abuse I suffered as a child, the identity of the perpetrator) was a very very unusual one. And I don’t write about the details of it in public.

      1. It depends where you come from:

        Gray and grey are different spellings of the same word, and both are used throughout the English-speaking world. But gray is more common in American English, while grey is more common in all the other main varieties of English. In the U.K., for instance, grey appears about twenty times for every instance of gray. In the U.S. the ratio is reversed. (link [Internet Archive link])

        And I am happy to confess that as an Australian who learned UK spelling growing up but who now uses US spelling in my published writing, I am irretrievably confused about which is which!


      2. Yes, I know you are correct, Barbara; the preferred spelling of certain terms varies regionally (e.g. grey or gray). I, for one, do hope you will retain your ‘UK-ness’ in terms of orthography.

      3. I wish I could retain my UK spelling!

        But when writing “Not Under Bondage” I decided to use US spelling in the manuscript, because I sensed that most of my readers would be American. And in our work at the ACFJ blog we have decided to use US spelling as the default spelling… and my assistant TWBTC helps me keep that up consistently, bless her heart. 🙂

        Having said that, Some Anonymous Bloke, I empathise with you in your discomfort with American spelling. It’s like a fingernail down the blackboard, isn’t it?

      4. 🙂

        Frequenting assorted UK websites of interest and / or utilising British English orthography whilst in private communications or journal entries will perhaps keep the candle from being entirely extinguished.

  16. Thank you abused husband..
    So much of what you said here- below- describes what it feels like being with an abuser. Had I known what I know today I would have left sooner.

    It’s really a torment being with an abuser–they never want anything to be actually nice and normal, with mutual love and happiness. They only want there to always be some sort of imbalance. If you’re happy, they do everything they can to destroy your happiness; if you’re unhappy from all their abuse and withdraw from them, they do everything they can to suck you back in so that they can abuse you again and get their jollies. It’s all very sick.

  17. Yes, it’s all very sick. I wished I could have left sooner, too. I haven’t yet because of financial reasons, but I hope to soon. I stayed because I didn’t want my kids to grow up without a dad and I wanted to protect them as much as possible from her emotional tactics.

    The kids were, of course, emotionally abused. 😦 When my son was young, he asked me why Mommy was so mean and if I could I make her stop. You can’t imagine how much it tore me up inside that there wasn’t anything I could do to stop her behavior! And if I had tried to take the kids away, she almost certainly would have taken legal action to get custody. In fact, one time when I had to travel alone with them to attend a wedding in another country, she angrily accused me of secretly plotting to steal them away from her, because I was filling out the required paperwork to allow them to travel with one parent.

    Thanks, Barbara, for your advice. I’ll try to face reality that it may not be possible to be a “happy” gray-rocker. Unfortunately, I am beginning to detect a tiny hint of anger from her (in the midst of her nice act), because I’ve persisted in emotionally disengaging and trying not to become part of the cycle. I’m sure, though, at some point soon, the full-blown anger will manifest. Oh well.

    Oh, BTW, the correct spelling is “gray.” 🙂 The Aussies need to revise their dictionaries!

    1. Thank you again,
      Btw, Gray Rock (either using selective gray rock or complete) -helped me immensely in navigating through the time it took me to finally leave the mutual household. (which spanned “over a year” and required my own locked bedroom and secured vehicle)

      When an abuser doesent know what your thinking or planning, they dont know where to send their convoys to attack.
      Its like them playing battleship and they cant figure out where to attack.

      You actually start to gain some control..
      I also learned to tweek my body language to where he couldnt tell if I was happy or sad..

      One day my abuser realized that I was not giving him any information to use against me and quietly said – “Your being very careful about what you are saying and not saying, arent you?”
      I just looked at him and said, “I dont know what your talking about”…(two can play at this game)

      I applaud you for taking measures to try to help your situation. It takes courage to go against the forces of lies when you on your own..

      4 good reasons I knew I had to strategize a plan to get away…

      I needed to get away from my abuser “before” the teenagers left the household as adults- because by them being there, they were witness to everything that went on, and kept my abuser from crossing the line.

      Also I couldnt bare the thought of being with my abuser alone -once the kids were grown and gone.

      And I was concerned that if I waited until after the children moved out, my abuser could possibly murder me and make it look like an accident-once he knew I wanted out of the relationship.

      I also realized that my children were developing their own abusive and manipulative tendencies just like their father.

      Although it was too late to stop the train wreck of damage done to the children, at least by my leaving “after getting my ducks in a row”- I was showing my disapproval of it all.

      And now that I am out,- I am able to help some of the children that are still struggling in the situation…

      I pray that the Lord protect you and others going through this.

  18. I know I am resurrecting an older post. But I wanted to say that we found this particularly helpful today. (Having read the article but not been able to read comments yet.)

    We are not yet safe. My child is struggling with a few issues related possibly to “Fight or Flight” responses.

    I expected to read this to them briefly and say a few words of encouragement, but the content here led to a much bigger discussion and real, practical ideas for breaking the pattern in the future.

    No problem like this is created OR fixed overnight, but we appreciate so much, having an incredible database here at ACFJ to pull from, based in sound theology.

  19. This is so helpful. I often feel so guilty when feeling anger about it; and when I pray about it, I often apologize for the resentment that has been so difficult to get rid of. This man has completely altered people’s perceptions of me. He has managed to make everyone believe (or at least make it seem this way) that I am this horrible person, and he is this pitiful victim. I have people still now calling me, shaming me, and defending him. Angry at me for my ‘mistreatment of him’. I personally do not have the energy to share my side of the story, so I withdraw.

    Yes, I hated him. Yes, I thought he was Satan. Yes, I told him those things; but, him going out into the world and saying he’s being abused because I am shining a light on who he is, then sitting back and watching with glee as people attack me for being ‘mean’ to him. I don’t know…the whole thing is so confusing.

    Only on Judgement Day will I know the truth.

    I honestly do not know who is right anymore. If there is a prayer that you use that can be helpful for discernment, I would love to hear it!

    And, also for repentance and forgiveness.

    1. Hi Sophie,

      Welcome to the blog! And thank you for sharing!

      Here is another post regarding being angry that you may find helpful: Let Her Be Angry And often times the comments in the comment section give great insight! Also we have a tag labeled Anger, and ones for Forgiveness and Repentance which you might find helpful. Tags are found on the top menu bar.

      And the Psalms are a good place to find prayers. I encourage you to search our Tag called Psalms.

      And as you may have heard us say before – We like to encourage new commenters to check out our New Users’ Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog. If you feel it necessary to change your screen name feel free to contact me at twbtc.acfj@gmail.com

      And after reading the New Users’ Info page, you may like to look at our FAQ page.

      Again, Welcome!

    2. Hi Sophie. You are right. Your abuser and his allies are wrong.

      What your abuser is doing, portraying himself as ‘the abused one’ and milking pity from bystanders…and spreading lies and misinformation so that the bystanders come and pick at you like vultures picking at a carcass.. Those things are what MOST abusive men to their victims.

      They all seem to have the same playbook.

      It is not your fault. You are not to blame.

      I encourage you to keep reading what we have on this blog. And if you want to dig into the repentance question, here is a place to start. What if the abuser is repentant?

      And here is a place to start digging into the topic of forgiveness: What about forgiveness?

      1. Thank you. I’m learning that claiming victim-hood is a way for him to continue invalidating me and to gaslight me into feeling like my perceptions of reality are wrong.

        And, since he believes he is never at fault for anything and that he truly is the victim, he is able to garner pity and sympathy from others, and even (when he feels I will no longer tolerate his demeaning attitude towards me) to manipulate me into feeling sorry for him also.

        He usually says he cares and is ‘only trying to help’, and I learned today that this is just a tactic to bring on more abuse.

  20. Hhmmmm….

    Wanted to bunny-trail tonight, but after many false starts and broken links, headed down this trail. I hit the following sentence and hit a dead stop:

    Pastor Jeff commented:

    ……Their operating system contains no program to compute abuse……

    (….insert net-speak for off to wrestle with God…..)

    1. Adding on to my own comment….

      Vengeance belongs to the Lord.

      The times I was able to express anger was in defense of someone else, not me.

      No one spoke in anger to defend me, only angry words of attack.

      In forgiving all my abusers, I gave any desire for vengeance to God.

      I realize I have a false belief about God – that He will not feel anger towards my abusers, so will not see any need for His vengeance.

      Their My operating system contains no program to compute abuse anger.

      (Strikethrough / addition of the word “My” done by me.)

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