A Cry For Justice

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

A True Story of Redemption from the Pit of Abuse

This is the story of one of our newer readers at ACFJ. She graciously gave us permission to publish it as a means of encouraging and helping others dealing with abuse, including the abuse at the hands of their church. Many blessings in Christ upon her and her family! This is her story.

As you read, just imagine her being given the recent “Catechism for Christian Wives” we so roundly reject. What would it have done to her? You know the answer.


Hello!  I recently found this blog, and I am so thankful for the work that has been done and is being done. The Lord has used you all so much in my life over the past two weeks! I feel like I have been led to a group that understands where I have been and what I have been through. I feel like there is a place for me with you all. Thank you for helping me to belong, and to be understood.

I was brought up as a very conservative Christian. I was raised in a totally complementarian home and church, where my father took advantage of that and was what I know now as a very overbearing, over controlling, self righteous, self justifying, and narcissistic man. He was a doctor and only worked three days a week. He was home Monday through Wednesday, and after work he would leave to go his farm and farm house about an hour away. He was always home for church on Sunday. My mother was a doormat and very abused. I saw them go to church leaders over and over for counseling and more counseling and more counseling. My father was always justified, and my mother was always admonished to forgive, be submissive, and start over with him. They always said there are “two sides to every story” and that there is always something both parties can do better with to make the relationship work. I saw that it was unfair to my mother. I see now the total injustice of it all.

I thought I knew better. I was never going to be in a relationship like that.

I was living in Tennessee with my first job. I was a member at church that I loved. I met a young man that believed he was called to be a preacher… a “Christian”… he was handsome, athletic, funny, charming, and in our church denomination. I was hooked!!!  He was so admired among all of the people. His dad was a pastor, as well! His mother and father would periodically host a few marriage seminars together for our churches. What a fabulous family! I wanted to be a part of that. There were a few flags during our courtship that I should have recognized. Of course everything would be okay…

We were married. I was so happy, so excited. I wanted to be the best Christian wife there ever was! The best preacher’s wife. I moved 8 hours away from my family to be with him in south Georgia. Things quickly went downhill. He was gone early in the morning before I left for work and didn’t come home until late at night, even though he only had one class at the local college. He said he was doing class work and was studying his Bible the rest of the time. I supported him in his endeavors to gain more knowledge of the Bible. I wanted him to be full of scripture, and a wonderful preacher, of course!  He didn’t want me sexually very often at all — even though we were newlyweds. I became seriously self-conscious.

We had our first argument about three weeks into the marriage, and I thought it crossed several borders — mainly he wouldn’t let me move — he “trapped” me, so to say, in the room, grabbed me hard on each arm. Other arguments ensued. He was never apologetic — it was always justified. He was calculated. He took my car keys. He became very spiritually abusive, as well. I had very hard work days at the hospital where I was the only tech in my department, and when I didn’t want to attend church on a Wednesday night due to fatigue and back and leg pain, I was immediately labeled a rebellious woman. He said I was making him look bad. So I went to church, but left in the middle of the service to lay down in the mother’s nursery room with my feet up (where I could still hear the sermon). He was so enraged that when we were driving home he began flying down the interstate at 100mph. I remember his face as he looked over at me, then slammed on the brakes so that I would hit the console….  then grabbed my arm (bruised it) and injured my arm (bruised it) as a punishment for pointing my finger at him as I was arguing back – trying to stand up for myself…  I tried to get out of the car and he tried to run me over. I got back in the car, became silent and subservient, and we made it home, finally. I thought it would just be better in the morning… forget about it all.

I came home one afternoon that week and was looking for a book to read. I picked up one random book out of the book shelf.  It had an index card in it that fell to the floor — it looked like a timeline.  It said, 2 years counseling.  2 years separation.  final: divorce…  “let the unbelieving spouse leave” …. Calculated. I asked him about it when he got home. He said he was just “venting.” So that was it. I was going to be the “unbelieving spouse” that left him after he, in reality, drove me away. I still didn’t really get it though… not until much later.

I called our pastor for help about a week later. He came over. First, our pastor asked me if I was a saved believer, and what did Christ meant to me. I answered as best as I could. He responded that my previous pastor had “taught me well.”  He did not turn and ask my husband the same question, though.  I thought that was odd. My husband had apparently gotten to him first regarding me and my “unbelief”; he had also got to his family and some of our friends. I didn’t know that until a long time later, though. It was him gaining allies. I didn’t know that an abuser did that until I read your blog.  I remembered taking as much responsibility as I could during that first counseling session. I didn’t give a soft answer…. I shouldn’t have pointed my finger at him. I should have been more submissive in going to church with him. I could do better. We BOTH had a part in this. Let’s repent and “do better.” I remember my prayer as we all prayed aloud… “WE are acting worse than the unregenerate…please forgive US.” I trusted our pastor. He would know best. Surely our pastor would help us! He understood our beliefs, and he understood marriages, and he understood abuse. He was a police officer. He said if anything like this situation in the car ever happened again, I was to let him know immediately and that he would “take care of it.” I was reassured that we could make it in our marriage.

We moved a few months later for my husband to further his career in the medical field. Everything only got worse. The emotional, mental, and spiritual abuse. We began counseling with a NANC (nouthetic) counselor. One night I was tired of covering up the abuse, and I wrote a letter to our counselor. He talked with his superiors. He came over to our home and told my husband it was his responsibility to change for the marriage to work. I felt like I could sing!!!!!! Someone finally was backing me up!!! I felt hope, though. I wanted to forgive and forget! Tomorrow is a new day, and we can still make it.  Our marriage could be saved.

I was tortured by him that entire week with emotional, spiritual, mental, and finally, physical abuse. I finally called a friend to come to pick me up after the physical incident. I hadn’t told a single soul about what was going on, besides my former pastor. She took pictures. She helped me. She let me stay with her for 9 more months. What an angel. She called the police that night but we were in a different county and they couldn’t do anything at that point.

I actually talked with my previous pastor from Tennessee. My membership was still at this church. It had only been 6 months since we had been married. My pastor there told me to take the pictures to the police station and document what happened. Get a report, and he would make sure my membership was “safe.”  That membership was so important to me! He said I would be okay.

So I went to the police. I took my pictures like I was told to, and wrote a report. They told me I needed to speak with another person about this, and took me to her. I talked with her about everything. I spoke in a recorder. I was so naive! I didn’t realize this was going to get him arrested! Ha! I thought I had to press charges or something. All I wanted was documentation that this happened, and that the police from the other county were called the night of the incident, so I could present it to my church in Tennessee.  All I wanted was my membership safe — that I was acceptable with the church and in good standing with the Lord. Well the state of Georgia wanted him to be arrested! Oh boy. Well, I found out later the story that was told was that I went crazy, lost it in an argument, turned malicious, and had my husband arrested.

[Note from Barb: So far as I understand, some states (particularly in the USA) have mandatory arrest for domestic violence. But some do not. The police who this victim  went to ought to have told her that her husband would be arrested and changed, since they knew this was going to happen. They were negligent in not informing her. Hopefully police in mandatory-arrest states are not being so negligent on matters like this any more, but we cannot be sure. Any victim who wants to ascertain whether mandatory arrest applies in her state can ring a hotline, or contact her local Women’s Resource Centre, or do a  google search for the domestic violence laws in her state.]

I emailed my former pastor in south Georgia (the police officer) and told him what had happened. Attached were the pictures from the physical incident. He emailed me back and told me to “call him.” He had my phone number. He could have called me. I never heard from him again.

I opened up to another friend, and immediately (the very next morning) they went to my childhood pastor in my hometown of Alabama for help on my behalf. No help. Nothing. I received a letter telling me to not get a divorce.

My dad wouldn’t even allow a conversation with him or my mother about my situation. I was to submit and go back. Make it better. Or just live apart and never get divorced — not until he committed adultery first. So legalistic.

I called my NANC counselor and told him what happened. SURELY he wouldn’t fail me! He was so upset about what happened. He said he would have been “high alert” or “red watch” or something that I don’t remember… My NANC counselor was a parole officer. However, he wanted me to come in and have a counseling session with my husband and him. I couldn’t bear to see my husband, though. So I refused. — And there you have it — I am the one refusing counseling. The blame was then put on me.

There it was. I was abandoned by every person I trusted — every person that should have helped me and protected me. All they cared about was me not getting a divorce (besides my pastor from Tennessee). I went to the attorney just to see what my options were. I was too chicken to get a divorce at the time.

A few days after my husband posted bail, every cent was gone from our bank account. Well, of course it was. So, like I said, my sweet friend let me stay with her for a while (it ended up being 9 months). — And there you have it —  I am the one who left the apartment and moved out. It is now, again, my fault for leaving. That evening, he was caught stalking at my workplace.

I went to the attorney again. I was going ahead and getting the divorce. I didn’t care about what anyone else said. I already felt abandoned by everyone.

Out of the blue, my pastor from Tennessee wrote me an email, even though we had talked every other conversation over the phone. He told me to NOT go to the attorney again. To wait. That this divorce was NOT acceptable. He used so many phrases that were the same as my dad’s and my pastor from my childhood hometown… It felt obvious that they were in communication with each other, and all making a stance so that I wouldn’t get the divorce. The NANC counselor told me to NOT get a divorce. My dad wrote me an email to NOT get a divorce. My sister, brother-in-law, previous pastor’s wife — all wrote a letter telling me to NOT get a divorce. No one called me, however. No one called to see how I was doing — if I needed anything — if I was okay…

So, three pastors had been informed, one NANC counselor, and two of my friends. These two friends were not in the same church denomination as I was. I never let my story out to anyone else. Not my parents, or my sister or brother, even. Not my dear friends that I loved so much within the church. I had been trying to save our marriage and his reputation this entire time. When I started to try to talk to some of my life long friends, my husband had already spoiled the water. He already had told everyone his version of me being unregenerate, malicious in his arrest, leaving him, and refusing counsel. I never even told them my side. Ever. I didn’t want to try to defend myself to them. I knew it was a hopeless endeavor. God knew, though. He knew what had really happened. So there it was. I was abandoned by the leadership of our church — even a police officer — every person that should have helped me and protected me — even my NANC parole officer counselor — abandoned by my “friends,” and abandoned by my family.

I was going to commit suicide. It wasn’t a question. I was going to. I was consumed with it.

But I didn’t… God kept giving me a feeling that there was a small chance of hope out there —

God rescued me. Oh how he helped me!!! He never left me. He never forsook me. He slowly brought supportive people into my life. I got the divorce. I kept a successful job. I left the church. I moved home. I am now remarried to the most amazing husband and we have two beautiful, precious children. There are still wounds that run deep. My sister and I hardly have a relationship. Her best friend is her sister in law… who is married to my ex-brother in law. My father and I do not have a relationship. He is toxic, but thankfully not around very much. I am not in contact with any of my childhood friends “in the church.”  Sadly, this same abuse situation happened to another friend within the same denomination a few years later, and she was excommunicated from my hometown church in Alabama. She has major wounds also. But, my life has been redeemed.

My life has been Redeemed! Yes, my life has been Redeemed. There is always hope for a future with the Lord as your guide. I never thought I would be as happy and healed as I am now…  but to feel that the Lord, that HE would never leave me nor forsake me, no matter what, is all that I needed to know and all that I needed to hold on to. I had so much fear in my heart. I could only read Jesus’ words in red that were in the Bible for so long. I now can read more of the Word and trust it. My sweet Savior, my loving Jesus, my helper and keeper, my friend — what would we do without Him?! He has stuck by my side — He has been my advocate.

I have slowly healed — there are still issues out there and the Lord has helped me deal with them slowly but surely. I have not and do not trust many people, but I DO know that I AM in good standing with the Lord, and I AM acceptable to Him! Regardless what a group of people — a group of “Christians” say!

I didn’t realize how healing this blog would be though. I didn’t realize how terribly common it is for a woman to be abused by her spouse and the church to not only deny her protection, but even promote her destruction. Thank you for being a blog for not just the abused women, but for the conservative, Christ focused and God fearing women out there who are abused and need help – the ones who are not receiving the help they need from their “church.” Thank you for validation. For believing me. For helping my wounds. For letting me finally tell my story. Thank you for having my previous church denomination on your list of people and places to avoid. I didn’t feel well today as I wrote this.  I thought I was going to faint a couple of times, my heart was racing, my heart palpitating, my adrenaline was pumping…. it was hard to write this. I left out a lot of other things that happened, other encounters with my ex, other abandonments, other oppressors, other evils. I also left out some amazing stories of God’s providence, though — of his reassurances of His love for me — of help from total strangers, of His provision. The good definitely overcame the evil in my life. I was silent, too. I never defended myself to anyone. God knew. He knows. And now you know too.  :). Thank you again for letting me tell my story.

In His love


  1. speakingtruthinlove
  2. Roland

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. I can’t imagine what you have been through. I am so happy that your story has a redemptive ending, but that doesn’t take away from the immense suffering that you have endured.

    I don’t know if this is the right place or time to say this, but it’s emotionally difficult to keep this in. I am consumed with anger reading about your former husband. He is the poison of poisons that works for the enemy to undermine the Body of Christ. How many people have been led astray and had their spiritual eyes darkened by such snakes? If he doesn’t have a change of heart, God will consume him on the coming Day of Judgment.

    • Hurting but Healing

      I am humbled that my story DOES have a redemptive ending. I pray so much for those that feel like their story does not. There is ALWAYS hope with the Lord, though. My heart hurts so much for others in similar situations. This blog and this supportive atmosphere will help so many other women!

      • Hurting but Healing

        I do worry about the leadership position he still obtains in a prominent church of our denomination. May the Lord direct those that are being led in the REAL way He would have them to think and believe.

    • Hi Roland, I think you are new here! Welcome to our little blog and thanks for sharing your perspective and your emotions. We appreciate emotions on this blog! We don’t crush them or pooh pooh them, whatever they are. 🙂

  3. Seeing Clearly

    Thank you for documenting for us that which the church is working so hard to keep hidden from us. So many of us women, naively, sought help within the church. I, for one, have logged in more hours of counsel from Christian professionals, and spent more money for appointments, heavy medications, treatment for severe depression, finally went on disability. I was the pastor’s wife, working to make ends meet because the ‘church was not financially able to support us’. My ex husband, the pastor, remarried one of the women in the church [several years] after divorce. It seems now, that the most unforgiving people in my life are the staunchest Christians; that is, my sister and her family. My life is slowly making sense to me. You have expressed exactly what is going on. Thank you for your courage.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Seeing Clearly – Documenting. Yes. That is another very important aspect of this ministry. We need to shine Christ’s light on evil that is hiding in darkness. Hiding in local churches parading as light. And you are right, it is being KEPT hidden by those who should be exposing it and casting it out. The serpent addressed Eve – there was that evil lurking in Eden. Did Adam expose Satan for what he was? No. He enabled evil and the serpent had his way. Well, the serpent is present in churches today – lots of churches. And the Adams are still enabling him. By the way, you are most certainly not the only pastor’s wife who has contacted us these last two years. Pastor and missionary wives are regularly among the abuse victims who write to us. What you say about your experience in seeking help from the church is not only common, but I have to say it is typical. There are, thankfully, exceptions but where are the voices of the “good” shepherds crying out for justice for these victims? Where are they? We hear a few, but not many yet. I am soooo glad that as you say, your life is slowly starting to make sense to you after the fog and craziness of abuse of the worst kind – the kind that parades as godliness. Thank YOU for your courage and if you ever want to tell us your story, you can email us directly. Blessings in Christ.

  4. Cindy Rapstad

    Unfortunately there are many of us that have been abused by our spouse and further abused by those that are around us and the “c”hurch. I was given the same type of advice and it didn’t help the marriage it made it worse, it made him worse. Giving a bully your lunch money everyday does not make him nicer it makes his tactics work.

    Thank you for your courage in speaking out. We are isolated by the abuse and we think we are alone and as the #yesallwomen and the response on the horrible “Catechism for Christian Wives” shows we can speak up we can have a voice.

  5. Sasanka

    What a life story…I was crying by the end of it both out of sorrow, how can something so horrible happen…and out of joy, because what a glorious Redemption and Victory!!:)
    The Lord is so sweet and faithful. Thank you for sharing your story. It is so humbling to see what other people went through and with Jesus made it through. You are amazing. May Jesus make His face shine on you and your beautiful new family every single day 🙂

    • Hurting but Healing

      Thank you so much for your encouraging response. It IS a glorious Redemptive story – and Jesus definitely won the victory here. 🙂

  6. Searcher

    I became aware of the high level of domestic abuse in the church some years ago when a family friend opened up about her abuse. I was amazed how reticent the church was in addressing the issue. Some members prayed and the woman continued to be preyed upon. My wife and I did some research and came across the book by Lundy Bancroft. We gave our friend the book to read. She eventually divorced her husband and is doing much better.
    Church officials make a dangerous mistake when the attempt couples counseling. The issue is the abusive man and not the woman. She is the victim in all of this. If someone were to commit battery against me on my job we would not be both sent to therapy. The perpetrator needs to be dealt with.
    A pastor that suggests couples therapy should be avoided. He/she lacks the empathy and insight with which to effect a positive change in this situation. Abuse of any kind erodes the pillars of a marriage . Once these pillars have been eroded there is no longer a marriage. A divorce is merely a public announcement that the marriage has been rendered nonviable for whatever reasons. Those who promote staying married at any cost despite what has and is happening are often in collusion with the male or are motivated by appearances and not a genuine concern for,”both,” parties.
    The issue with abusive men is how they think. They believe that they have a right to do what they do. Unfortunately, many men fail to see how their actions not only ruin the life of their spouse but their’s also.
    Women should never accept abuse. God never intended for women to suffer in marriage. Unfortunately, abusive men usually do not take full responsibility for what they have done . They blame everyone but themselves. There is a text that says, “love seeks not it’s own.” Abuse is the opposite of Christ love for His church.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Searcher – You state the facts very clearly here. Thank you. I particularly appreciate this statement, “Those who promote staying married at any cost despite what has and is happening are often in collusion with the male or are motivated by appearances and not a genuine concern for both parties.” That is absolutely true and we should all remember it. There is a motive, a bad motive, behind teaching that God does not permit divorce for abuse. Such teaching parades as “godly” and “biblical” but it is anything but that. We would like to the think such teaching flows out of mere naivete (though dangerous naivete), but the fact is that quite often it comes from a mindset that is self-seeking and which sees the victim’s complaint of abuse as a threat to the saintly appearances of a local church, the financial income of such a church, the reputation of the pastor, and a myriad of other selfish attitudes.

    • Cindy Rapstad

      Amen. Well said. So few get it that when we see men that do, it is like finding a spring in the desert. How refreshing.

  7. Otter

    Wow! I’m so thankful for this amazing letter. As I said in my Facebook post, this needs to be required reading for churches.

    I’m really another testament to “respected” people turning against you in an abuse situation. My ex-fiance always demanded the best care, and he had 3 counselors involved in our relationship. The first two were for his PTSD rages (although they gave me lots of advice on how to “help” him control his scary episodes), and the third was for “couples counseling” (which quickly became a manipulation party).

    In all surprises, his main counselor was none other than a famous celebrity expert in borderline personality disorder and abusive relationships (she’s written some of the most popular books in the industry…and been on many of the famous talk shows). I remember when my ex-fiance finally became so abusive and frightening, I emailed her out of desperation for help (I was brainwashed into believing he was a good man who was losing his mind because of childhood trauma… and he just needed strong support from everyone). I was shocked when she emailed back a horrible note that I was never to contact her again, and that I was trying to drive a wedge between her and her client! I was stunned because everything I had done for two years was to support and try to love this troubled man… I had endured the worst treatment and scenes from this man. When I simply tried to describe to her what was happening from my perspective, I was treated like an evil, abusive woman who was trying to bring him down. It was my first realization that he was not telling the same story to everyone else.

    A year later, I’m still utterly amazed that a woman who has spent her life helping abuse victims could not see that she was aiding a very violent and abusive man (she’s even written an entire book on the “Jekyll and Hyde” syndrome (his behavior completely).

    I know I’ve said this many times on the blog, but I still drop to my knees and thank God for putting an amazing Christian counselor in my path to stop me a week before marrying my abuser. This counselor had laser-beam focus, and in just 30 minutes, he told me, “Get out. This man will destroy you.”

    My prayer is that pastors, counselors, and the people of the church will see the flags of abuse and have this same response: “GET OUT.” I mourn for those women who have not received this appropriate and godly response to abuse.

    • Otter, I for one don’t mind how many times you tell us about that amazing counselor of yours! It not only gives us hope. It shows us how the run of the mill counselors COULD be getting it right, if they took the time and had the heart to acquire that laser beam focus.

      And I was stunned to hear that other part of your story about the celebrity counselor and author who got it totally wrong! Wow.

  8. Marah

    Over the last six months since I found this site, I’ve gained the strength not to dwell on whether I feel I have “permission” to divorce my husband. Divorce was anathema to me when I found this site; the last thing I would ever think of (although I used to sort of wish, sick with guilt, that my husband’s plane would go down).

    Now it is still terrifying, the unknown (having NO means of support, a disability yet not on disability, junky home and car falling apart around me, fear of the family courts and what will happen to my kids), but I don’t have the spiritual baggage. I don’t fully trust God’s goodness to me yet, but I’m hoping for it.

    • Marah, methinks you have a mustard seed of faith, and as our sweet Lord told us, that is enough to move mountains — because he fills the rest up, especially where are threadbare and falling apart.

  9. Andrew Reavis

    Thank you for sharing. Although, I am not a pastor, you have described our marriage and the church’s response. I thank God daily, though, that when my wife contacted the police 4 years ago, like you, not knowing I would be arrested, I finally allowed the Holy Spirit to work in my life and we are still married. The church has treated us the same way you describe afterwards, also. We are thankful for this blog and the voice they give the victims.

    • Andrew, thanks for your comment. I think I read a similar, more extensive comment from you on one of the threads over at Reformed Baptist on Ps Meadow’s Catechisms (or as one of our team dubbed them the CateSchisms).

    • Readers may like to see Andrew Reavis’s account of his marriage so I have imported it here as a screen shot. You can see the original here: A Christian Wife’s Marriage Catechism [Internet Archive link] [This Internet Archive link contains comments on the post up until July 11,2014 at 10:00pm. Later captures in the Internet Archive did not contain any comments. Editors.] and if you click on that link you can scroll down and see Jeff Crippen’s response to Andrew.

      • healingInHim

        Andrew – I hope you contact ACFJ and somehow prepare a post that would further prove that only ‘true repentance’ produces fruit. Praying for you and your wife as you heal through the rejection and abuse. Thank you for sharing.

      • Andrew Reavis

        Thank you Barbara. I commented originally on the other blog as proof that what you teach is real, and that the teaching there breeds abusers.
        I did not want to hijack this thread with my story, but we do want it told. I have been in contact with Jeff and we plan on getting our story written as soon as we can.

      • 🙂

  10. Katy

    Oh this is a precious story – thank you so much for writing it all out. So many women need to speak out this way, to show the Christian world that these are not isolated or rare incidents. This is an epidemic in the ‘c’hurch. Blessings on this woman in her new, redeemed life. Yes – GOD KNEW EVERYTHING. Hallelujah!!

  11. Grace

    I am so pleased you escaped and have a new life. How terribly you were treated by your churches, counsellor and family. The church of God should be the body of Christ in this world, seeking justice, defending the oppressed (Isaiah 1:17). Till I read this blog I wouldn’t have believed this could happen.

    My husband is emotionally abusive. Not in the same league as this man. He has recently completed an abuser programme. Our pastor did tell me, ‘I’m extremely angry with you’ during our first counselling session with him (before the programme) because I had talked over my husband two or three times. (He was lying about his reason for a set of particularly cruel acts at the time. I knew what he said couldn’t be true. Plus I have been in a bad habit of interrupting, because my husband often aggressively does it to me.) At the next session the pastor was dismissive of what I said to the point of scorn. Later he said that my texts and emails to my husband ‘lacked grace.’ (They weren’t rude – just sceptical.) But I had been extending grace and forgiveness for 19 years. I’d come to realise that all my husband’s ‘repentance’ in that time had been false.

    He didn’t say anything about my husband’s treatment of me (which he knew quite a lot about) or show care or concern for me.

    He has since apologised to me, but I don’t think he really understands the situation. I think Pastor Jeff is right that pastors won’t have an understanding of domestic abuse unless they have made a concerted effort to study it. I pray that training colleges for ministers will come to teach on it. All pastors need to know this.

    My husband seems to have some genuine desire to change, and I think God is telling me to persevere with the marriage at this point. Not that I feel like it. Whoever reads this, please pray that I will be guided by God and that my husband will pray and fight to change. I believe he is a covert-aggressive narcissist. Our marriage is dead and has been for nearly a year. But I know God can raise the dead.

    • Heather


      My ex was a covert aggressive abuser who had been unfaithful. I remained married to him for decades because I believed that God could heal my marriage. I wanted to please my Lord and prayed for Him to make me the wife I wanted to be. I learned forgiveness and became a woman of deep faith. But I also swallowed lies that I was learning in “Christianity.”

      The Lord finally began to allow me to see and I reached the point where I had to leave. It was not because I didn’t love my husband but because I finally realized the truth…he never loved me.
      My decision shocked everyone. The church was quick to rally around him because he set them up in advance. No one bothered to call me and ask me how I was. Instead, one woman wrote me a letter with more abuse hurled at me.
      My fear for you is that you want to do what is right. But may I suggest one thing…God gives each of us choices. He puts bounds around Himself which allows us the right to choose. He will not force your husband in any way.
      It took me decades. The marriage was gone long before then. Please be careful and take care of yourself. Your husband probably won’t.

      • I’m just letting readers know that Heather (above) used to call herself “Heather2” but is now calling herself Heather.

    • 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.


      Grace, I suggest you ask, beg (or whatever) your pastor to read Jeff Crippen’s book A Cry For Justice [*Affiliate link]. I don’t think you should buy it for him; let him get it himself as that way shows he would be motivated to read it. If you buy it for him it is likely just to sit in his un-read pile — if he is anything like me he has quite a few books in that pile. 😦

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

    To Pastor Jeff, Barb and the rest of the team: Thank you so much for your work. I love this blog. It means so much to me. I know God will reward you.

  13. A.G.

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. As much as I hate that there are others out there going through the same things, it also really helps to know I’m not alone – although the physical aspect of abuse has never been an issue. I’m so glad to read that things are better for you now.

    • Searcher

      It troubles me that the clergy will not make the effort of understanding the roots of domestic abuse. Abusive men are dangerous men. Do not deceive yourself. These men do not view their wives or children as human beings. They can easily neglect them or simply hurt them. They have mental defense systems that keep them from being overcome by guilt. Most men do not want an unhappy I filled spouse.

      Abusers blame their wives. They may say, “I don’t have a good wife. You have a good wife. My life would be better with another wife.” They are devaluing their wife. Something is wrong with her. Initially they idealized their wife. The final stage is abandoning their wife. They may get up and leave the family. The scary part of this is that they fell no closeness towards their children. I have seen these individuals tuck tail and run. This after they claimed that the wife is an unfit mother. They just move on and find someone new.

      Men need to understand how abusers think. We cannot allow ourselves to become allies of these men. Do not think that an abusive man is your friend. These people do not really have friends. They have allies. They will burn you if they had to. Again, understand that these men can be dangerous. You are not helping but being neutral.

      Things must make sense. There is a reason why a Christian woman who loves her family is sad and crying all the time. There may be a reason why the wife ask you to talk to her husband. Read between the lines.

      Am I saying that men must confront abusive men? No, we may make things worse. Just show some empathy. Imagine that this is your daughter or sister. Understand that abusive men often come off as being very pious and holy. I use to feel unworthy when I was around some of these individuals because they seemed so extremely spiritual. That was a smokescreen. I grew up in the church and witnessed the effects of domestic abuse. My mom’s friend would come to our house after her husband physically assaulted her. This was over 40 years ago but I still remember the black eyes swollen face and busted lip. I was a child and felt so helpless . If one person reads what I have written and understands that this is wrong than I have succeeded.

      I can spot difficult men. All of them may not be abusers. Some men seem to always be irritated. The church is not adhering to the scriptures enough for them. They tend to stick together. They gain power from each other. They affirm each other.

      Sometimes just by being consistent kind and true to our families and wives we point a spotlight on the abuse in someone’s life without ever saying a word.

      Do not judge someone by what they say. Judge them by what they do and how they make you feel. You are not being overly sensitive, he is cruel. No one can tell you that what you are feeling is wrong. You know how you feel.

      • Searcher I really appreciate your comment. And I hope you don’t mind, but I put paragraph breaks into it so it was easier to read. Thank you so much for sharing.

      • Marah

        This is such an excellent comment. It really encapsulates it in a nutshell. If I were at a point of being able to go public with my own struggles, I’d love to link to this comment on Facebook. This is what I wish I could have friends and acquaintances read when they hear about my divorce.

        The only thing I’d say is that I WISH my husband would abandon us. He’s already quit paying for anything (got shutoff notices for all utilities over the last week) because he hasn’t done whatever he needed to replace his flagging business’s income over the last two years. If he’s not going to support us, I wish he’d ditch us completely. Give us emotional freedom.

  14. IamMyBeloved's

    Uh-oh. I saw “church in Tennessee and I had to stop. This one is hard for me to just get through, but I will and then I am certain I will have a come back – just not right now–

    • Katy

      I know – Tennessee’s got a pretty horrible reputation at this point, doesn’t it? Kinda the last place I would go looking for a “Bible believing church that protects victims”. 😦

      • Tennesse. I was in Nashville last year briefly. I walked past a building in the city which gave me the heeby jeebies: Headquarters of the Southern Baptist Convention.

        Not that I”m saying every SBC church or pastor is bad stuff. Wade Burleson is a great advocate for victims of abuse. But there seems to be a stronghold there in Nashville.

        Mind you, I met some lovely women there too who are all survivors of abuse and who were very switched on to the stuff we do at this blog. 🙂

  15. Kara

    I was wondering, as I am first viewing this website today, why it was an issue that your husband was to be arrested after you went to the police. Please forgive me for not understanding – is it unbiblical for this to be done, or was it an issue because you didn’t want your husband to know that you were having your abuse formally documented?

    I much admire your candidness in this story. I don’t personally live in an abusive marriage, but I am married to a non-believing husband (I became a Christian about 5 years ago while married). I’m eager to learn what that’s supposed to look like, but also how to stand up for myself while obeying my Savior and living for Him before my husband. All information on how to do this is greatly coveted.

    In Him,


    • TLC

      Many times people will file a police report to document abuse, fraud, theft, etc. because they want it on the record. It can help police see a pattern in a serial criminal, or if something happens to the victim, they’ll find the police report and can see the previous incident.

      But they may not want to file charges for several reasons: it would put the family in danger, fear of retaliation, not enough evidence to prosecute, etc. So reporters should know before they speak if the decision to prosecute will be taken out of their hands.

      As a former rape crisis counselor, we used to encourage rape survivors to file a police report even if they didn’t want to press charges because it could provide enough evidence to help another victim. After hearing that, women actually changed their minds and filed the report. Locally, this kind of reporting helped the police detect and find a very dangerous serial rapist because of the unique things he did to each victim and how he entered their apartments.

      You also should know that when a woman leaves an abusive spouse, she increases her chances of dying by 95%!!!! So if she files a report and they press charges, and she’s not already in a safe place, she and her children could be in grave danger. And if she hasn’t been able to document much and doesn’t have help, the charges won’t stick, and he’ll be released — making the situation even more dangerous.

    • TLC, thanks for your reply to Kara.

      Kara, to add a little to what TLC said:–
      Some victims of domestic abuse have never even contemplated that making a report to the police would lead to their husband being arrested and charged. I know that may sound odd to you, but victims of abuse are living in crisis mode all the time and they simply don’t have the mental space to contemplate much except how to walk on eggshells and get through each day. And each outburst or escalation of abuse sends them into such trauma that they can barely survive. So they may sometimes follow the advice of friends (like the author of this post did) without realising all the possible implications of what that might lead to.

      I don’t want you to think of victims as somehow foolish or silly creatures; I’m trying to explain to you how being victimised so messes with your mind and preoccupies your thoughts with crisis-management stuff, that what might seem logical and common sense to a non-victimised person will not necessarily seem that way to a victim living in the abuse and all the trauma.

      Also, a victim may know in her head that ‘criminals get arrested and charged’ but she may never have thought, ‘My husband is a criminal. And I am a victim of crime.”

      And if an abuser is convicted, that may mean the victim and kids are sent into even worse poverty than they might have been already, because he may have to go to jail or pay a fine or pay for his attendance at a court-mandated batterers program, so the money he was providing for his wife and kids (if he WAS providing any before) dries up.

      Making a police report can be a very worthwhile thing to do. I don’t want to deter people from reporting to the police. But as with any decision, it’s nice to be able to make and informed choice about it, rather than pushed or led into it without much information.

      Kara, I also want to say how much I appreciate you asking your question. Thank you!

      • Ellie

        I agree with all that Barbara said here. This is one reason that I feel calling a victim’s hotline when making a plan is wise.

      • Friend of Victim

        Just want to caution folks to be careful. I live in a mandatory arrest state, & some abusers in my county have learned to call the police first & they know which abusive detective to tell their story to. In one of the Lundy Bancroft videos, he mentions that he’s seeing more & more where it’s the victim who is getting arrested. If the abuser calls the police, strongly consider getting a lawyer before talking to them.

      • A good book on that topic (female victims of domestic abuse getting arrested under mandatory arrest laws) is Hanging on by my Fingernails: Surviving the new divorce gamesmanship and how a scratch can land you in jail [*Affiliate link]
        by Janie McQueen.

        Janie was arrested under that kind of law. Her husband was the abuser and taunted her by holding her phone out of reach above her head. She used a bit of physical force to try to get her phone back and . . . .he got her arrested for domestic violence. Her book discusses this kind of situation and what victims can do about it.

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

    3 John 1:11 “Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. The one who does good is of God; the one who does evil has not seen God.”
    Just wondering if this verse has been ripped out of ‘c’hurch pew Bibles???

  17. Barnabasintraining

    Thank you, dear new reader, for pushing through the physical hardship to write this. I’m so glad you did! I know it will be a great help to others to know they are not alone.

  18. Brenda R

    Thank you for writing your story. I am glad that you found this blog. I know the more I shared the more healed I felt. You had a long journey in your short marriage. It would be so nice if more would stand up early and get out, but most of us stay for years or even decades before figuring it out. Even though many have forsaken you, it is good to hear that you have been given so much more in your new husband and children. God is truly good. It is wonderful that you didn’t listen to all of the voices telling you to stay. It wasn’t going to get any better. He proved that when he managed to get his version of reality out to anyone who would listen.

  19. thepersistentwidow

    What a powerful story! Finding the people you trusted not listening or caring about your safety but keeping you in the “marriage” is so typical of what we have come to expect from the church. They just keep following the same irrational, unempathetic pattern of making “holy” pronouncements while turning a blind eye to an abuser in their midst. It is so incredibly stupid and downright evil. How can these people sleep at night forcing those crying out for help back into dangerous abusive situations? Don’t they have a conscience?

    What we learn from this is that many of those “experts” that we trust to help aren’t competent to help at all. They should pack it up and stop trying to fix what they know nothing about or be sued.

    Praise God that he brought you through all of this. You are a courageous and faithful woman and I am glad that you shared your story.

    • Brenda R

      Widow, you write: Don’t they have a conscience?

      I don’t believe so. They will smile at you, say they are going to pray for you, tell you that you need to find the good in everything, all you have to do is your half and then walk away and give you no help. You won’t ever hear from them again unless you run into them in church and will act like everything is just peachy.

  20. Forrest

    Reblogged this on Tùr Làidir.

  21. IamMyBeloved's

    This was told in such an excellent manner. Thank you for sharing this, because so many women are held in bondage by being forced to stay in their abusive marriages. I am so happy that you shared – that you were not one of them and did in fact go against the grain and divorce in the face of great opposition. Most women here did leave their abusers in the face of great opposition. I know that I ended up staying longer than I should have because of the opposition and trusting leadership, more than trusting that God wanted me and my family freed from abuse. Your story will help a lot of other women, draw strength to stand against being forced to stay in an abusive “marriage?”. I know that your strength came from God, as all of ours has, and I am glad that God has given us all the knowledge that He loves us and wants us to “be at peace” in our lives (1 Cor. 7)

    I do wonder, if your cult, er – I mean “c”hurch denomination was the same as mine. That’s what stopped me from reading the first time. I am glad I came back and finished reading, because the ending is just beautiful – just like our God and more people need to know that. I have learned that it just may be wrong to stay and not leave an abuser.

    • Hurting but Healing

      IamMyBeloved’s – I do definitely think it is a cult. A cult mentality is “cult”ivated by not allowing you to leave the “church” or your “marriage” for any reason. My denomination was the Primitive Baptist. I am thankful God freed me from this group, because the world is a much bigger place now. I hope you feel that way too – free and hopeful. There are so many needs out there, and each of us has been given a gift to use in this big world! There are so many opportunities to serve and help and minister in the name of Jesus Christ – it’s no longer about keeping up pretenses or following the church’s rules that lead you to holiness – it’s about following the Spirit. Blessings and healing to you and all women out there in need…

  22. Here is a comment from another post. The comment is written by a woman whose pastor-husband abused her terribly for years. I’m putting the link here, so that other pastor’s wives can find it more easily.
    How complementarianism can magnify the entitlement mentality of men, making them worse

  23. Finding Answers

    (…..insert net-speak for silent appreciation….)

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