A Cry For Justice

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

Why do People Go Deaf When Abuse Victims Call for Help?

“Hear this, O foolish and senseless people, who have eyes, but see not, who have ears, but hear not. (Jer 5:21)

“Son of man, you dwell in the midst of a rebellious house, who have eyes to see, but see not, who have ears to hear, but hear not, for they are a rebellious house. (Eze 12:2)

On more than one occasion I have had the opportunity, or more accurately, I have taken the opportunity, to tell professing Christians about the abuse that I have suffered during my years as a pastor. I have gone into some detail (talking rapidly of course before the inevitable body language messages start that say “…ok, enough”) about things that I have suffered at the hands of power and control-entitled wicked people. A few genuine believers listened. A few listened more than once. Most did not hear. Most chose not to hear.

Have you noticed that when an abuse victim begins to tell their story, people seem to have an invisible hearing aid switch that they can just turn to off and tune you out? One sign that they are doing this is when they start laying all kinds of “you need to’s” on you that don’t make any sense or have any real correlation to the gravity of the things you have just been describing! They didn’t hear. They chose not to hear.

Like many of you, I have shared with numbers of people what I have suffered over the past three decades. For 30 minutes or even an hour, I have described the mentality and the tactics of abuse launched against me. I described the effects of that evil upon me. I gave many illustrations of exactly what I was talking about. The response? Some time later a person who had “heard” me might typically say, “Oh, so you mean he was being ____________” (insert one single visible abuse tactic in the blank).  ONE! They only remembered and heard ONE thing! And because it was just one thing, they minimized the abuse. They minimized what the abusers had done and they minimized the effects of the abuse on me. They hadn’t heard. They chose not to hear. They didn’t care.

This business of willful deafness to the cries of the oppressed is wicked. It is sinful. Sinners do it to the Lord. The Bible is filled with the Lord’s instruction, yet many of those who claim to belong to Him do not hear it. “Did I not say…..?” “Uhhh, gee, we don’t remember anything like that, Lord.” Sin produces willful deafness and willful blindness to truth.

Why do people go deaf when abuse victims call for help? Because they are sinning. They are willfully choosing their own self-interests and self-protection rather than coming to the aid of the needy. That sin deafens and it blinds. We need not be troubled by things that we don’t hear or see. Consider the following interchange:

[PRETEND LISTENER] “I just think that you are over-reacting.”

[ABUSE VICTIM] “Excuse me. Did you not hear what I just told you has been happening to me for the last three decades?”

PL  “Well, was it really that serious? Can’t you just let it go?”

AV  “Ok, let’s try this. I want you to tell me, let’s say, six of the evil things I just told you that this abuser has done to me over and over and over all these years.”

PL  “Uh, let’s see. Hmmm…he said something mean to you once. There’s one…..thinking…..boy this is tough! I think that’s all you said he did. He was being ‘difficult.’

AV  “So you didn’t listen to me. You chose not to listen to me. Perhaps you can tell me why it is that when I spent nearly an hour telling you all the things I have suffered for years, pouring out my heart and grief to you, and telling you what I have learned about these kinds of evil that have been used against me — perhaps you can tell me why it is that you willfully chose to turn a deaf ear to me? Why did you do that?”

Processing. Processing. Waiting, waiting.

If a truthful answer ever comes (an outcome that has about the same chance of happening as a snowball not melting in El Infierno) it would be something like this: “You know, Jeff. I have to say. I didn’t listen to you because, really, I don’t give a rip about you. I don’t care what happened to you. I only care about myself.” And if it is really that rare snowball’s chance event, the person might even say — “And that is terribly wrong. That is not the love of Christ. Please forgive me, and…could you tell me your story one more time? This time I will listen.”

In the meantime, we can remember this and rest in it –

The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry. The face of the LORD is against those who do evil, to cut off the memory of them from the earth. When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all.
(Psa 34:15-19)

60 Comments

  1. Heather2

    All too true, Jeff. I’m sure we each have lists of examples of those who respond in that manner, from family members, “trusted” friends, church members, even our children. They don’t really care in the end, or they would come to us in genuine repentance and seek to make their words right. When we have these experiences we see that the heart of man really is selfish. There are various reasons, but we get hurt all over again. We are minimised. Our pain is brushed aside.

    How few people in our sphere are to be trusted with our hearts.

    • Jeff Crippen

      “How few people in our sphere are to be trusted with our hearts.”

      Heather2 – that really is true. And it isn’t paranoia or bitterness, it is wisdom. Isn’t there a verse in the gospels somewhere that says Jesus was not entrusting himself to people because he knew what was in the heart of man?

      • Heather2

        Yes, that passage is in John 2, Jeff.
        I supposed I lacked wisdom in that department because of my conditioning to keep forgiving and turning the other
        cheek. Funny thing is, the abusers and back stabbers are never held to account? I’ve chosen not to be their sacrificial lamb any longer. It’s so much healthier.

  2. Forrest

    When this happens I am reminded of the story of the Samaritan. Those who one would expect to help avoided the victim. Thankfully, there was somebody who cared enough to stop and ensure the victim was provided with all that was necessary for his healing … and he was a Samaritan.

  3. Anonymous

    “So tell me what’s going on in your marriage?”
    “I’ve been very abused in my marriage.”
    “Oh! Like how? Tell me more so I can pray for you.”
    several minutes sharing
    “Oh, really? Say, could you pass me the bread?”
    “Yes.” end of conversation

    The ones I really enjoy though are the ones where the godly advice comes to just “forgive and forget”. Where they tell you that the poor abuser needs you to be a strong Christian for them, so they can pull themselves out of the pit of abusing you.

    I am going to share a book here, that I purchased yesterday. I need to purchase more copies. It is very good and very readable and would be a nice little something to purchase and keep with us, to pass on quickly to someone who may share their story of abuse with us, just to give them some insight and to give them some hope. It is a Christian book. The name of it is “Abuse to Favor” by Aleman and Ball. It is small and there are other books in this series, even one that deals with being spiritually abused. .

  4. Ang

    The mother of an abusive pastor told me this:
    My advice to you would be to begin to think on something else and try not to dwell on the past. It’s kind of like picking a scab off a sore that won’t heal until you leave it alone.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Ang- Yeah, that lady made her advice sound so good. But what about the PRESENT I would ask her? Ok, forget the past (not a right thing to do either). But new sores are being inflicted every single day!

      • Ang

        The people who know what actually happened to me in that church keep asking me “Did the church/pastors ever make things right with what they did to you.” It has been three years and I have not heard from the pastors/elders/elders family/’apostles’, etc. involved in what happened. They cost me tens of thousands of dollars because I trusted their lies and deception.

        Now I am trying to help others who have suffered soul damage like I did, and I will continue. I don’t tell my story because of what is behind me. I tell my story because I was trusted untrustworthy people and I don’t want others to have to go thru the agony and therapy and ptsd that I did; all because I went to church and believed what a pastor (and others) told me.

      • Jeff Crippen

        Ang- the fact is that pastors are not trained to handle abuse. The subject is never covered in seminary programs. Some might claim it is, but it isn’t. Certainly not in any significant depth. Pat, man-made traditional answers are given. Now the problem is that pastors are told that with the Bible in hand they can handle
        any case. But they cannot. They really do not have the wisdom to deal with true evil. They should, if they were trained by people who understood true evil. But such a person is rare. What happened to you is the typical example of ignorance coupled with arrogance and the end result of that combo is always very bad. The only kind of pastor who I have come across who is competent to deal with an abuser and the victim is a pastor who has been persecuted and abused by those same kinds of people and who has come to that “aha” moment abuse victims have when the lights come on and they begin to understand just what is happening to them. Apart from such an experience, a pastor or counselor or fellow Christian simply is not going to have the wisdom necessary to help.

      • nowfree

        That’s the problem. People who don’t want to hear us really are not PRESENT. They prefer to tell us to forget the past, nullify it, and ‘think on something else”. This is exactly their attitude, as they “listen” to us.
        In other words…pretend that it never happened. It sounds so much better that way. It’s quite evident that the pastor’s mother does not want to be reminded about her own abusive son.

      • Brenda R

        They would prefer that we pretend in front of them and not speak of it so they don’t have to deal with it. If it is not there, it does not exist. I have to wonder if the pastor’s mother was abusive.

      • Jeff Crippen

        Brenda R – Pretending. Now there is a subject to think about. As you read through the Bible, you don’t find any pretending by God nor by his prophets and apostles. You find hypocrites pretending. But the New Testament church we see in Scripture, when operating in obedience to Christ’s commands, didn’t play act. If a man was fornicating and pretending to be a Christian, he was named and was to be put out of the church. Remember, the NT epistles were read aloud to the churches! Names were named. Sins were brought out into the open to be repented of. In our own church here, we are striving to do this. To commend one another openly. To encourage one another. And if necessary, to rebuke an unrepentant member in the presence of all. If this is not done, then when we gather together on the Lord’s day, everyone knows there is an elephant in the room and that we are all just pretending not to see it. That is not unity.

      • Brenda R

        No, no pretending whatsoever. They were real and they didn’t stand for any messing around. They called sin, sin and dealt with it before moving on any further. My minds eye sees it as taking care of business before going on to worship. How much sweeter the party is when all are of one mind and one accord.

      • Ang

        When the pastors ARE the abusers, the deafness allows the pastor worshipers to live in denial.

  5. Harm2Good

    When describing the abuse I endured recently to someone, they said, “I understand it is hard to deal with someone who is unreasonable….” All of the mental, physical and spiritual abuse was reduced to “he was unreasonable”…

    I also turned to a pastor for help saying that things were bad enough that I thought I needed to get a restraining order. I was needing help, asking for counseling. I asked for help. He said, “I am sorry. I can’t help you. I am not skilled in these things”. I had to turn to another church outside of my husband’s church which created credibility problems in his eyes.

    Another elder told me to return to my husband and submit. The abuse was not abuse. It was just poor coping skills.

    • Jeff Crippen

      H2Good – And murder is not really murder. It is just a failure to cope! That pastor who said he didn’t have the skills – that can sound all humble, but the fact is it was just a wash-his-hands of you response. If he were not capable of handling evil and how it was attacking you, then he was unqualified to be a pastor. At minimum he should have been able to see the evil as evil, even if he did not fully comprehend its tactics.

      • Brenda R

        I was told by pastor, through his sermon, that abuse is physical, verbal is merely scoffing not abuse. I still don’t see the difference.

      • Jeff Crippen

        Brenda – Quote these verses to him and ask him if getting bit by a deadly snake, stabbed by a spear and arrows, or run through with a sharp sword would qualify as mere “scoffing”!! He blew it big time. And he would be completely unable to defend his thesis.

        Romans 3:13 “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.”

        Psalms 57:4 My soul is in the midst of lions; I lie down amid fiery beasts– the children of man, whose teeth are spears and arrows, whose tongues are sharp swords.

      • Brenda R

        Thank you Jeff C. I am going to mark those in my Bible for quick reference. I’m sure it will come up again. I never did understand that way of thinking. Assault is assault. They may hurt in different ways, but they both go straight to the heart.

      • Heather2

        Brenda, abuse kills a persons soul! Just because it can’t be seen in the form of bruises and cuts doesn’t mean it hasn’t hurt. Like Jeff said, ignorance and arrogance!

      • Brenda R

        Agreed, Heather2. Those who have not been through abuse do not understand the intenseness of what is being done to another. I still don’t see a difference. Any form of abuse has bruises and cuts. The scars may be hidden, but they are there.

      • Those are good, Jeff. I have to remember them.

  6. fiftyandfree

    Like Jeff points out in his book, Christians (even Pastors and Counselors) are unwilling to name anything abuse. I think that’s one of the main reasons we get the reactions we get when we tell our stories. If it’s not seen as abuse (and it rarely is) and people are resistant to calling evil, evil; then they have to fill in the blanks somehow, and they do that by minimizing our experiences and our perpetrators. And of course, their constant minimizing only adds to the confusion and fog the poor victim is experiencing especially if her abuser is one of the many abusers who uses crazy making tactics to control and intimidate her.

    It’s really a crying shame that the church refuses to acknowledge abuse and confront evil, causing more pain and sorrow for the victims. I look back at all the years I suffered at the hands of an abuser and all of the Christians who told me I had no choice but to stay with the “poor sinner” and pray for him and forgive him, and I wonder what my life would have been like if I had gotten more biblical advice early on. I certainly would have been spared much suffering.

    I find myself so angry about this lately. Not for myself; I am healing, thank God, but for the people I run into, or hear of, or know personally that are suffering in abusive relationships and CANNOT FIND HELP IN THE CHURCH. It shouldn’t be this way.

  7. Just Me

    When I was the perfect legalist student at the perfect legalist Christian high school (I seriously was the only student I know of to have graduated without ever receiving a single demerit), I thought it would be so great to marry a pastor. I cringe to think of the horrible advice I would have given to abuse victims as a pastor’s wife. If I had married a non-abuser, I don’t know how I would’ve come to understand abuse, even after growing up with an abusive mother. I think for me, my advice to stay married at all costs would have been motivated by fear. Fear of inciting God’s wrath against me for “putting asunder.”

    It truly goes to show me that God does work all things together for good, for those that love Him. I don’t know how I would have ever been released from the chains of legalism without having been an abuse victim. I still have a long way to go in learning who God truly is, but at this time, I actually feel thankful that I married an abuser. I would have been a lost Pharisee otherwise who had eyes to see but didn’t see and ears to hear but didn’t hear.

    Ps Jeff had posted a prayer on this site several months ago thanking God for what he has taught us through our suffering. I need to find it. I meant to write it down at the time and save it but I didn’t. Does anyone know what post it’s under?

    • Just Me

      Found it with a little help from Google. It’s under “How to Find a Good Church” from May 1, 2013. I’m writing it down this time, I promise!

      “Thank you, Jesus, for making me poor and thirsty and hungry and needy. For letting me experience captivity and mourning. Now please, come, and bind up my broken heart. Give me Your manna and Your water, because I hunger and thirst for them.”

      Link to that comment in the old post, added by Barb:
      https://cryingoutforjustice.blog/2013/05/01/how-to-find-a-good-church/#comment-17404

    • Jeff Crippen

      Just Me – You said “I don’t know how I would have ever been released from the chains of legalism without having been an abuse victim.” That is a very touching statement and it is tremendous that you have come to see it. Legalists/Pharisees have no empathy. Do you think this is partly at least what Paul is talking about here:

      2Co 1:3-9 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, (4) who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. (5) For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. (6) If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. (7) Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort. (8) For we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. (9) Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.

      • Just Me

        Thank you Ps Jeff for those perfect verses. It makes me wonder if I didn’t have much empathy because I couldn’t afford to show myself any empathy either. I grew up in a tumultuous household and I got through by being a stone with my emotions. And I continued to be a stone. I would cry occasionally if something really terrible happened, but for the most part, I held it all in. I could watch an extremely sad, true story on TV and not shed a tear. But I broke about 5 years ago. Seriously broke. I remember that night so clearly. And I’ve been an emotional mush ever since. I’ve honored my feelings in situations where I would have previously stuffed them. And I’ve been able to feel a lot more compassion for others. It’s been a difficult process, but I’m in a much better place. Praise God!

      • Brenda R

        Ah, the process may be painful, but it is a good pain. It is like having a child. The labor isn’t something you want to do every day, but what comes from it is a miracle.

      • I agree Jeff C.
        And let’s also note that while we were in the fog of abuse and thinking we just had to stay and suffer, we were much less able to help other victims. But when we come out of the fog and realise we don’t have to just tolerate the abuse indefinitely, we become a lot more able to show practical and effective compassion for other survivors.
        So any Pharisee who tries to tell us the suffering is good for our character and making us more Christlike so we ought to just tolerate it, is wrong wrong wrong.
        It’s a little like saying to God: Hey you did good for the world by hanging on that Cross, so you ought to have stayed on that Cross forever!

      • To add to what I said above:
        “. . . you ought to have stayed on that Cross forever! And you should climb right back up onto that cross and hang there some more.” — which is just what the Roman Catholic church does every Sunday in its Masses where they supposedly re-present Christ’s sacrifice.

        Like Moses beating the rock over and over again. Something God was not happy with, as I can recall . . .

      • Brenda R

        I’m going to have to think about that one. I have always rejoiced in the fact that Jesus was no longer up on that cross. He came down and rose again. That is the miracle. Many were hung on a cross. It was a horrible death, as it has been explained to me, but my Lord over came that torture and lives. I don’t quite understand worshiping death and torture. Thankfulness that he was willing to give himself freely that way, but……

      • Brenda R

        Amen. The suffering may have been good for our character, once we came out from it. Or, I believe it did good for mine. There is no way I could help anyone if I had stayed. I couldn’t help myself. I had to prove that I could do it on my own first; with the help of the Lord. It hasn’t been that long but He has already shown me just how big He is. I pray that he uses me in some way to show it to others, too.

      • Brenda R

        Yes!! While I was living directly in the abuse He was my comfort. Picking up my Bible was my escape into reality. The abuse I had been going through since childhood was not going to last and my real home awaits. God gives us thorns. It is what we learn from the thorns that matters. I don’t always know the right thing to say, but I always want to be there for anyone who needs an ear, a hug or a place to stay. It doesn’t matter if they are an abuse victim or not although I do seem to be on high alert for them. I just want to help. I might still be in a place of wanting gold jewelry; a sorry replacement for true love. I’d rather have a need to give comfort to others than wanting things that don’t last and having no compassion for those who are hurting.

      • IamMyBeloved's

        I love that you wrote this. Why can’t people see that we are not to have empathy for evil? Why are victims called to have empathy for the ones that have inflicted evil upon them?

    • Heather2

      Just Me, I spent the last 35 years being a very conservative Christian. I knew I had been saved, I knew The Lord strengthened me through my husband’s infidelity and loss of a son. But I, too, being taught the forgiveness route, put my own marriage on a pedestal. When everything blew up because I flipped out I traveled a very dark road. When I look back now I see what a softer, more compassionate person I am. I don’t know that it would have happened any other way and despite it all, I am thankful. Hugs to you for your honesty and clarity.

  8. “…I have to say. I didn’t listen to you because, really, I don’t give a rip about you. I don’t care what happened to you. I only care about myself.” And if it is really that rare snowball’s chance event, the person might even say — “And that is terribly wrong. That is not the love of Christ. Please forgive me, and…could you tell me your story one more time? This time I will listen.”

    You’ve just lit up a lightbulb moment for me, Jeff.
    When I was married to my first husband, I often had a running patter in my head — it was my imaginary version of the words he would say to me if he were kind and respectful and considerate towards me. I literally made up an alternate reality which was what I would have liked him to be like.

    So when I said or did ‘x’ and he responded with ‘y’ (something verbally abusive) I would replay it afterwards in my head, while doing some mundane chore like washing the dishes, and in the replay I would give him kind words to say. This became one of my survival techniques. I knew it was just my imagination: I wasn’t losing touch with reality. But it somehow gave me comfort to create these scenarios in my head, as it made it clear that it would have been relatively easy for him to treat me rightly. I was only wanting respect and considerate recognition of my feelings and preferences, after all. I wasn’t asking for the impossible.

    Did anyone else do this? Replay verbally abusive scenes in one’s head, but giving them alternate outcomes?

    • Jeff Crippen

      Barbara – I think we invent the parallel universe in which the person shows us empathy because as George Simon says, we are neurotics and abusers are sociopaths to one degree or another. And we just don’t compute with their mental system. We show others empathy, so we suppose that all people will react in the same way. We can’t imagine that anyone would think about their world as abusers do, anymore than we can imagine what a bumble bee is thinking when we are watching it. But part of waking up to reality is to come to an understanding that there ARE evil people and they do not think in the same manner as us. Once we understand that, we stop telling our stories to these kinds. As long as we are explaining how WE feel to them, we still have not come to understand what we are really up against.

      • How true, Jeff.

        I think I’ll go out and have a conversation with a bumble bee now. It might be less distressing than trying to talk to an abuser!

      • Brenda R

        Hi Barbara and Jeff, It’s another early morning for me again. I’ve known for quite some time how warped the X mind’s way of processing was, but I think it finally hit me today or yesterday I guess it would be, that there is no point in trying. Having the conversation I had with him today felt like literally hitting a wall. Actually, the “conversation” was him threatening to do many x’s if I don’t do y in his time frame. My brain finally said STOP; nothing you say to this man will ever be received and understood by him. It is actually a relief to not think that I should try. I don’t speak to a lot of bumble bee’s except to say “get away from me”, but I don’t at all mind having conversations with humming birds and squirrels.

      • I don’t speak to a lot of bumble bee’s except to say “get away from me”, but I don’t at all mind having conversations with humming birds and squirrels.

        LOL!

      • Forrest

        “We can’t imagine that anyone would think about their world as abusers do…”

        That is the truth, Jeff. It can cause victims a lot of confusion as they assume that the abuser operates in the same way as they do themselves. For example, if we are honest and open then we expect others to be the same. So we accept them at their word. But their words and actions are not consistent. The expression, “actions speak louder than words,” is so important here. Their actions are a better reflection of the reality than their words. When you understand this it can be a real eye-opener.

    • Heather2

      Hi Barb,

      My way of handling things was similar. I created the husband I wanted him to be. Never mind the affairs. I had to forgive because that’s what Christian women are supposed to do. Besides, weren’t his sins because I wasn’t a good enough wife? Wasn’t it all my fault in the end?
      So, living a fantasy, which I didn’t realize I was doing at the time, was over looking my needs and pain and putting him and the marriage on the pedestal.

      What a fool I was. As I look back one thing is very clear, he was consistently inconsistent in the way a husband should love his wife.

    • IamMyBeloved's

      Yes, but the voice I heard was not “his” voice. It was the voice of someone who was kind. This is a coping mechanism and also a form of escapism. Once the traumatic bond has been formed, most victims do these types of things.

      • Yeah, me too. The voice I heard was not ‘his’ voice; it had kind tones, and kind eyes that went with it.

  9. FinallyFree

    I finally found the courage to leave my husband last spring, after almost two decades of abuse, and more than a year of planning my escape. I thought I would have the support of family and friends. And if not them, then at least my church would offer help. Nope! Not a single person. Every last one did “not take sides”…which is really the same as supporting the perpetrator.

    I’ve been shunned, told that it’s all in my head. And yet, I’ve never been more sane and emotionally healthy! I worked on repairing the marriage for over a decade…and in the end found healing for myself by leaving.

    My team of supporters was reduced zero. Why? Because “God hates divorce” and “God is a God of reconciliation”. I have been told that I am sinning by refusing to reconcile and should return to my husband. I would rather die…

    I’ve prayed for wisdom and revelation of what the Bible really says about divorce. I’ve been told many “truths” through the years. That I should stay with an incredibly abusive man because we are call to suffer for Christ. That God will give me a miracle, I just need to wait it out. That I should stay for the children. And worse… it’s not that bad. It becomes an easy task to doubt yourself when everyone around you minimizes your experience and wraps it up in religiosity.

    Reading your blog has given me more peace about my decision to move on, in spite of the overwhelming “advice” to stay. Thank you for your boldness and willingness to share God’s word in a society where this topic is taboo and the truth is often twisted. You are indeed helping to bind up the wounds of the oppressed.

    • Heather2

      Finally Free,

      I’m so sorry that you experienced such pain and rejection. Finding this blog has helped so many of us. There are many sites on the internet, but none that help Christian victims. Most just heap
      on more guilt.

    • It becomes an easy task to doubt yourself when everyone around you minimizes your experience and wraps it up in religiosity.

      This is so true!

    • Summer

      Dear FinallyFree, Mr. Crippen, Barbara and the whole blog,
      Thank you for your blog and what everyone wrote here today and many other days. I am relating to everything so far which has been awfully difficult to realize, but did not realize it was reality until it all blew up with now x. I still can’t seem to unhook from thinking it might have been different if I would have just stayed quiet and put up with it, then I wouldn’t be all alone, always alone. (Like FF above, no support anywhere but I am finally speaking up as I learn.) Compound that with what Mr. Crippen said above about not being able to understand why he wouldn’t want to change, wouldn’t want to treat me with dignity, how he could actually want to act as he acted and chose to do so, why it took me years of believing him when he said he was sorry and sometimes was nice and he said he was a christian and knew all the right answers but never changed. It is taking me forever to accept I think also because I realized that I have been in ongoing abuse by the lawyers and judges and am powerless to leave as that has dragged out, that there is no safety from that tho’ I was told I had to leave my x and get to safety I couldn’t get away from his reach via the legal system. Also trying to figure out how to deal with all the different locations of abusers, e.g. just got a little job but boss no. 3 is contemptuous and verbally abusive and all I could think is this is just like Crippen’s book and Tracy’s book and that in the schools they teach confronting bullies. So I had a few polite words the other day, but it fell on deaf ears and probably made things worse, but it was so upsetting to take the abuse from this guy after being told to start standing up to my x. Guess I need to go back and reread JC’s 21 sermons (they help a lot).
      Thank You All of you for writing this blog.

      • Heather2

        Summer, my heart aches for you. I know what it is like to finally begin to see the reality. I still have moments of doubts. Sometimes it is easier to recognize in others’ lives what we cannot see in our own. But I do know this, we have a loving and faithful Father, who gently opens ours eyes when we can handle the truth. He cushions our pain with His Word and with the comfort of a select few. He very often leads us away from toxic churches who will label us. But that leading out is for our benefit.

        May you be safe and protected from all sorts of harm in your journey.

      • Brenda R

        Summer, We all have doubts. The lies I told myself for many years are numerous. If only I am quiet he won’t…, If only I am a good girl my stepfather won’t…, If only I was prettier he wouldn’t cheat. These things are all lies. It took me 50 years to figure it out. I know think I am a magnet for abusive men. It is bad enough that you had a husband abusing you, a boss……don’t even let me get started!!!! I will be praying for a new job for you girl!!!!

        I’ve come to the conclusion that abusers have to have something missing in their brains, perhaps some nerves that don’t connect right or they just don’t think with the same part of their brain than people who are not abusive. Most certainly they have a great deal missing in their hearts. There is no perception of what they are doing to another person. How can a person say they love you one minute and throw stones at you the next? They have choices, but they don’t even see that there are choices. They will tell you anything that will lure you into their web of deceit. They listen closely for anything they can use to entrap you. You are prey, a conquest, a possession.

        It takes time, Summer. Listen to Ps Crippen’s sermons. Pray in a quiet place and let Him consume and comfort you. Ask Him to fill the broken places in your heart with his Spirit and point out anything that you need to change about yourself. I am not accusing you of sinning in anyway, but the more time I spend with God it makes the rest more tolerable. Don’t get me wrong, I am not in any way immune to abuse and I tend to forget that I am not alone when confronted, but it is getting better.

        I am praying for you. Big Hugs going out to you, Brenda

      • Dear Summer, welcome dear sister.
        I am so glad you are finding the blog helpful even though it’s painful to wake up and see the truth. I heard this saying somewhere and I think you might like it:

        The truth will set you free; but it may make you flinch first.

        Keep breathing, take your time absorbing the new ideas and mulling them over, and most important of all, try to catch yourself when you trip into self blame (like “Why did it take me so long to wake up?”) and remind yourself that those “Why didn’t I?” thoughts are just part and parcel of the waking up process.

        Satan wants to keep you in bondage; but God wants you free. Now you are starting to come out of the fog, Satan’s using a new approach to try to keep you between his nasty pincers: he’s trying to get you to beat yourself up for having been in the fog so long. Hmmm. Tell him to get lost, and remind yourself that you have plenty of reasons why it took you just as long as it did. Like the legal abuse situation you mentioned.

        I bet if you wrote a list of all the reasons why you stayed and why you didn’t wake up until now, it would be a mighty long list, and every one of those reasons would be understandable and sensible when seen in its full context. In other words, it’s not your fault; you are not to blame. 🙂

  10. SJR

    “…when an abuse victim begins to tell their story, people seem to have an invisible hearing aid switch that they can just turn to off and tune you out? One sign that they are doing this is when they start laying all kinds of “you need to’s” on you…”
    It doesn’t matter what type of abuse you begin with; they don’t listen for real. They’re just waiting for you to take a breath so they can jump in to ask if you are bitter and have forgiven.
    Name an abuse category and I’ve been there. So I’ve had ample opportunities over the years to start with the “small” stuff and work up to more “serious” abuse. It makes no difference where I start, every Christian(pastor, counselor, friend) comes back with lack of forgiveness and bitterness as my sins.
    You need to forgive. You might be bitter. (The nicest way I’ve heard it)

    The only time I ever got a different response was this year when I handed back the book my pastors had given me to read on bitterness by Jim Wilson, along with 9 pages of why it was baloney and how he was wrong and just added more pain to me. I also wrote, “There is no room in this man’s Bible for me.”
    The counseling I received in the Spring is remarkably different from what I receive now. I’ve never seen a pastor change approach so drastically in such a short time, or ever. He gets it, and what he doesn’t get, he hurries up and learns. I am blessed.

    • 🙂

    • Brenda R

      That is wonderful. It is wonderful to hear that a Pastor has seen the light. It will make such a difference in him as well as those he serves. I’m proud of you SJR.

      I read only a few paragraphs of Jim Wilson’s that I read online. It was more than enough to know I would not bother with his books.

  11. Anon

    Hmm, off the top of my head, how about these reasons?

    Because they don’t walk closely with Christ
    Because they don’t identify with His values
    Because they think they know all about relationship breakdowns and how to fix them
    Because they get hooked to his pleas of victimization
    Because they don’t believe her, that she is suffering mistreatment
    Because they believe him, that she is bitter and unforgiving
    AND, LUCKY LAST, drum rolls…
    Because they have never been educated about abuse and its dynamics

    • Jeff Crippen

      Anon – love those drum rolls! And how about, some of them may be abusers themselves!

      • Anon

        Why of course! That definitely is a hard one to swallow, and a hard one to mention if you want to escape the “bitter and unforgiving” tag. But hey, you’re allowed to say it, cuz you’re a pastor, so for the sake of the victims, keep proclaiming the truth!

    • Brenda R

      All valid, Anon. Great use of drums!

  12. forrest557

    Reblogged this on Tùr Làidir and commented:
    Jeff Crippen hits the nail on the head with this article. This is what Tùr Làidir wants to bring to light – the vast discrepancies between what should happen and what does.

    • We’re glad to know you are reblogging our posts, Forrest!

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