A Cry For Justice

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

Domestic Abusers and Demonization

[February 12, 2023: There have been some changes made to this post. For more information, read the Editors’ notes at the bottom of the post. Editors.]

This query from Sunflower was submitted in a comments thread (link) on the post Why an abuser cannot be a Christian — a digest of articles at A Cry For Justice. We are making it a stand-alone post as from my observation, the question or possibility of the abuser being demonized — influenced and to some degree under the power or control of a demon or demons — is an important issue for some survivors of domestic abuse. I have heard accounts from a number of survivors who report that their abuser displayed very bizarre behaviour on occasion, which might have been related to demonization.

Please bear in mind that while opening up this topic in a post, we are not implying that all domestic abusers are demonized, or that all domestic abuse has demonic cause. We do not subscribe to such black and white thinking. Abusers choose to abuse. That is our position. But perhaps some have also chosen to give such place to the devil that they have to some extent given themselves over to demonic control. 

Here is Sunflower’s story.


I’m married to my second covert abuser….25 years the first time, 8 years single, now another 9 years to another.

So about 5 years ago we went to a “Caring For The Heart” ministry for counseling. On about the third day the couple who was counseling us was praying for my husband and suddenly he curled up in a fetal position and started talking and mumbling….two very different voices talking to each other. One I couldn’t understand and the other was saying, “NO! Go away!” with hand gestures as if shooing away something / someone. The husband counselor knelt by him and wrote down what he was saying and then they prayed for him for about 15 minutes and then all was “normal” again. Now this was just a normal counseling, nothing of this sort was expected.

Then months later there were a few times when we would try to pray together (he avoids doing that but sometimes will) and he (hubby) said he “just wasn’t getting anywhere”, that “all he was hearing was evil laughter and voices saying, “I won’t let you go.” “You’re mine.””

I’m wondering if anyone else has seen this sort of thing or has thoughts about what to do. My son recently recommended the book “Healing the Family Tree” by Dr. Kenneth McAll, written in 1956 by a doctor / psychologist / missionary, which talks about this so I wonder if God is directing [me] here.

[February 12, 2023: Editors’ notes:

—For some comments made prior to February 12, 2023 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 February 12, 2023 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 February 12, 2023 that quoted from the post to the post as it is now (February 12, 2023), click here [Internet Archive link] for the most recent Internet Archive copy of the post.]


Further reading

Demonology, Demon Possession and Exorcism — We have not vetted this link in detail, but I (Barb Roberts) am appending it here in case it is useful for some readers. The Apologetics Index site it comes from has a reasonably sound reputation as far as I am aware, in discernment type ministry.


  1. joepote01


    This is not at all the direction I expected this post to go, based on the title. Apparently, the terms “demonize” and “demonization” have a different connotation in Australian English than in American English.

    To me, “demonize” means to speak of something as being evil when it is not….or to make something out to be much more evil than it really is.

    What you are describing, I would have called “demon possession”.

    • Wendell G

      Actually, Joe, it isn’t really a language difference, but a bit of a theological one. There are some who, to avoid the argument over whether a Christian can be demon possessed, use the term “demonize” to avoid that issue. By use of the term, they are making a more generic statement that includes demonic influence as well as demon possession. I’ve encountered the term in discussions with some people and I remember having the discussion in a systematic theology class back in the day. The prof didn’t want to get into it about demon possession as he felt it was not constructive to focus on that. He used “demonize” instead.

      • joepote01

        Ah….okay. Just unfamiliar terminology….

        Thanks, Wendell!

      • Not Too Late

        Yes, that’s my understanding too. But I must admit that like Joe, I thought the post was about how domestic abusers like to demonize their victims! Perhaps that could be a topic for another post!

      • Thanks for explaining that, Wendell. You have accurately described why I chose to use the expression “demonized” rather than “demon possessed”. The other problem with the term “demon possessed” is that it tends to imply total control: that the demon possessed person is totally under the control of the demon.

        As I understand it, the term “demonized” when used by Christians in spiritual warfare / deliverance ministry, usually covers a broad range of situations: where the person is afflicted and under the influence of a demon / demons, but not necessarily fully and wholly under the demonic control. The most helpful metaphor I have heard for this is that of a house infested by termites (we call them “white ants” in Australia). The house may have termites eating out the timber parts of the house that termites like to eat, but not all the timber is eaten by termites, it depends on how soft the timber is and whether the termites like to eat that kind of wood. So there may be some timbers in the house that are termite infested, but not all the timber is infested.

        And then you add in the element of time. Going by what I’ve heard from survivors of abuse, there can be crisis moments, peaks of the abuse, when it seems that demonic powers may be totally in control of the abuser, have “temporarily taken over the abuser”, so to speak. The survivors I’ve heard these stories from talk about how the abuser’s eyes went “vacant”, blank, like there was no human spirit there but only a horrible evil blazing with hatred and malice and rage. This was episodic, out of the norm. But very very frightening. And the survivors often say they had a strong sense of the presence of evil and they felt that it wasn’t the husband / abuser they ordinarily knew, it was something different.

  2. soldiergirl

    I personally believe there is more going on than just “face value” with much of the covert abuse that victims suffer.

    First of all you are in a marriage that is supposed to protect the partner’s vulnerabilities — emotionally, financially, physically and mentally, and yet these are the very areas that mercilessly come under attack again and again. This behavior from an abuser does not surprise me as it would be consistent with the covert aggressor’s persona.

    There were many times that I tried to pray with my abuser (before I exposed him) and he would casually tell me that “I should pray to my God while he prays to his.” If I was to recall his response today —I already know — he would just use the excuse that he was “just being stupid or ignorant”. (But truth is he IS serving another God.)

    Other times in the past when I was trying to give my children “biblical reasons” for obeying God, and doing what was right in the eyes of God, my abuser would just override my comments with “Just leave God out of it! Do what’s right because it’s the right thing to do!”. (Santa Clause mentality — “So be good for goodness sake.”)

    Today most of my children’s hearts are far from serving God, nor do they want to go to church anymore.

    Coincidence? No, I believe this was a plan of the evil one working through my abuser to undermine my intentions to raise my family with a heart that wants to serve God.

    [Paragraph breaks added to enhance readability. Editors.]

  3. Sarah

    PTSD? Flashbacks? Dissociative [Identity] Disorder or some other diagnosed mental disorder? Please remember prayer works in conjunction with modern medicine and therapy — for both your husband and yourself.

    • Sarah

      Sorry — UNdiagnosed….please don’t endure another minute, or 5 years, of abuse waiting for a miracle cure. G-d helps those who help themselves.

  4. Ann

    Sitting across the dinner table, during our honeymoon, I saw a look in my husband’s eyes that frightened me so much I began to have a panic attack!

  5. Song of Joy

    Perhaps what he did (curling up, mumbling in two voices) was done involuntarily under evil influence, which I believe is possible.

    However, another possibility is that it’s an ingenious, academy-award-winning act to derail counseling and get sympathy for himself (i.e. take the pressure off, take the focus off of the marriage abuse etc.).

    Abusers are phonies….actors who really know how to ham it up for their own benefit.

    I would begin by being suspicious of that behavior because it came at a very opportune time for him….but praying to the LORD alone about the situation, that is, don’t pray with him present….the Holy Spirit can help you discern what is really going on, if it is demonic oppression or just another abuser tactic (or both).

    I wish I had more time this morning to comment on the demonic aspect, because I do believe that abusers, with their wicked unrepentance, do open themselves up to this kind of influence and power.

    Power over people and events….abusers know exactly how to wield it using an uncanny, unnatural intuition about things and their amazing ability to juggle complex scheming and lying (their natural language). Their heartless sadistic enjoyment of other people’s suffering, all the while making fools of everyone around them. Abusers have a lot of strange abilities, and usually a deep attraction to other evil people, evil movements, evil books and violence.

    • Marah

      Yes, this is my reaction as well. The first thing that comes to mind when reading this is, “How convenient, ‘The Devil made him do it.'” I absolutely agree that we fight not against flesh and blood, but the spiritual forces of wickedness. But I have great concern that we not get derailed from holding abusers responsible, pursuing our own healing, and shining a light on the various personality disorders that are both ill-understood and highly prevalent among abusers.

      I guess I’m not comfortable opening the door to demonization here, because while there may be some very small number of abusers who fall into this category, the vast majority are simply sociopaths. I feel it’s more helpful to explore personality disorders, since the church is generally highly ignorant of them, and they’re so common among abusers.

      • Happy2bHere

        Marah, I was thinking the same thing (“the devil made me do it”). It sounds like he was called out on his behavior then that’s when the dramatics started. I don’t know, it just seemed like a convenient time to play victim. I think this way because when my husband can’t “win” an argument or someone else questions his thinking, he either gets angrier or shifts to playing “victim”. Usually the “victim” mode gets him what he wants from others. But who knows, the abusive behavior is part of the devil’s way so maybe it was some dark force actually appearing. Can never tell because they’re all liars

    • Joyisnowfree

      That’s an excellent observation, Song of Joy.

  6. Lyn

    I personally would be wary of any teaching that promotes demonic reasons for peoples behaviour — much of the teachings in these beliefs exceed what the Bible teaches & get more elaborate as they go along. Often different beliefs get mixed up together & it becomes hard to tell who or what the problem is. It’s a breeding ground for spiritual abuse.

  7. Joyce

    I am convinced that my abuser was demon possessed, not just because of his evil, bizarre behavior, but we also had objects that would move around in our house. My young son said he could see yellow eyes looking at him out of “daddy’s” face. This by no means indicates that my abuser did not have free will, at least until some point in time. I think it was progressive, and earlier in his life, and in our marriage, he had many opportunities to choose the right path, but in the end, whether it overtook him or he just fully embraced it, I don’t know. Right now I doubt that there is anything human in control of him anymore.

    If Sunflower could find a minister who does deliverance, they may be able to help her, but only if her husband is willing, which I think would mean he would have to acknowledge that he is abusive, he would have to be in relationship with God, and he would have to be strong enough to stand once he had deliverance, because the demons always come back (Luke 11:24-26). In the meantime, the demons can be bound by her prayers, but I found in my situation that it was a never-ending cycle, because my abuser kept opening the door back up. So, no matter how diligent I was, or how much I prayed, my children and I were not safe.

    Sunflower mentioned a book that sounds like it may be about generational oppression, which can be dealt with and is indeed useful, since the demonic follows family lines, but again, he would have to be willing and in a position to stand. However, from what I understand, once such deliverance takes place, though, it is much easier to withstand the demonic onslaught, since it is no longer coming from within.

    • Joyisnowfree

      You know, same thing has happened to us as far as objects moving or getting kicked across the room. I warned my husband that Jesus needs to be his Lord. Deliverance is only effective if the individual is willing to walk in the power of the Holy Spirit. Or else, like you mentioned, the ending will be worse than the previous spiritual state.

    • Ann

      Another confirmation for me that it’s not all in my head. I have seen yellow eyes in my husband; even the shape changes giving them a “reptilian” appearance.

      • loves6

        I’ve seen the appearance of a reptile and a snake too. I’ve seen a vision of a reptile face when praying. These men I believe, are like what is spoken of in Psalm 140:3 — they have viper’s tongues. They are venomous and cause death to their victims…. There is life and death in the power of the tongue [Proverbs 18:21].
        I guess some people are wary of saying anything is of the devil sometimes. I think the Bible has many answers…. All my personal opinion.

    • Still Reforming


      Could you please explain or elaborate on what you mean by:

      the demonic follows family lines

      I am interested in this thread because I have oft-times wondered if something demonic was at play in our household with my abuser. Mostly because of these odd looks in his eyes at weird, inappropriate times — kind of a “gotcha” look when it wasn’t a “gotcha” moment or he hadn’t “gotten” me at all. Also just the bizarre reactions or behaviors that were difficult to explain and so, in large part, I didn’t explain to anyone or tell anyone. Who would believe it?

      Anyway, I’m interested in what you mean because I’ve seen similar bizarre behavior in my husband’s birth family and I wondered if you see a connection there.

      I tend at this point to think that there is demonic influence although not total possession, but a willingness on the part of my abuser to follow the inclinations of his heart and head which are increasingly given over to the enemy of God — as God allows him to be given over to the stone of his own heart.

      • Joyce

        Still Reforming, Exodus 20:5 and other Scriptures talk about the iniquities of the fathers and the generations. It is well-known in inner healing and deliverance ministries that the demonic follows bloodlines. So I found 1 Corinthians 7:14 very comforting, because it says the children are clean (which I take to mean free from demonic contamination) in an unequal marriage because the wife is a believer.

        And yes I have seen false use of deliverance ministry and total lack of understanding concerning the demonic. But haven’t we all seen that with many things in the church? The devil himself uses Scripture. Just because we’ve seen it twisted, doesn’t mean it doesn’t have truth when applied correctly. Jesus did take all our curses, but like our abusers, the devil doesn’t follow directions, or willingly acquiesce. But we have to stand up and take our rightful authority and enforce what Jesus gave us through His name and His blood.

  8. Lighting a Candle

    While I received and have participated in this type of ministry, I have also seen it misused to harm and deceive. That’s my warning and disclaimer.

    I see in the Word that you, me and every believer in Christ does have the authority to cast out demons — it’s not “you” doing it but Jesus Christ in and through you. It’s simple and not usually spectacular. Usually nothing is seen or manifested. I think many of the dramatic “manifestations” seek to deceive or cause the believer to feel they must “wrestle” against these things — for hours, days, who knows.

    The biblical example simple shows a simple command, much like swatting away a fly or annoying bug. “Get out of here”….you swat away with your hand. Done.

    “Get thee behind me” Jesus said. “Stop it.” “Be quiet” “Loose him.”

    Don’t believe what you hear from a demon. They lie and deceive. For example “I’ll never let him go.” (LIE — “Satan, you’ll do what God tells you to do.” Whether or not he comes to repentance is something God desires and we don’t know if / when that will happen.)

    Simply, because of who you are in Christ and who He is in you, command it / them to: “be quiet”, “come out”, “go”….and be about your day.

    I am wary of the belief in “generational curses.” JESUS bore the curse of sin. ALL of it. For years I was always investigating the past — never free. The Word does says that “the soul that sins will die” [Ezekiel 18:4]. And to no longer use the proverb “the grapes are sour….the children’s teeth are on edge.” While I believe certain sins and iniquities do get passed down, if there is no repentance, it’s easy to get bogged down in root causes and spend much time bemoaning the “huge” weight of sin in our past and in that of our family. Whereas the Word seems to focus more on the PRESENT (I just read this somewhere):

    “Today is the day of salvation.” “FORGETTING what is behind — pressing forward to the high calling in Jesus Christ. [Paraphrase of Philippians 3:13-14]”

    Whatever the source and magnitude of his sin. Don’t be not afraid or overly fascinated (2 dangers). Jesus is MUCH MUCH MUCH greater and stronger.

    HTH [Hope This Helps]

    • zooey111

      I agree. We need to be very careful not to be fooled by an act, nor do we want to get involved with anything that may indulge in blaming the victim; I have seen this with this type of teaching.
      Jesus Christ has overcome. That’s OVERCOME; we are set free.
      Sociopaths can put on some amazing acts. And some teachers are drawn to this kind of thing, not realizing that the real work of the devil is anything that keeps victims with their abusers.

      • pn

        Zooey111, I think your comment —

        the real work of the devil is anything that keeps victims with their abuser.

        —is very important to remember.

        I do believe that there may be some of the demonic in play in some forms of abuse, particularly if the abuser is not saved. Additionally, like some stories here, other manifestations of evil may be present that need a closer look. In one townhouse my ex-husband and I lived in for a short time many years ago, there were several very real manifestation of something. An object flying across the room was one I saw. Our neighbors on the other side of the building saw many much more frightenining things.

        But the most frightening one for me was the day my ex told me there were times out of the blue he would get suddenly bone cold and have intrusive, disturbing thoughts about knives. Fortunately, he wasn’t home very much (school, work, and the bars, unfortunately), and he did tell me that if I ever saw him running out the back door and into the field, to let him go. He’d be dealing with those thoughts about knives. That prompted my thoughts toward getting out of that place! As a brand new Christian, I didn’t know much at all about demons and how to deal with their real or suspected presence.

        But I think if somebody is unsaved, the chances of demonic influence or whatever one might call it are much greater. I think of the story in Scripture about the one who “swept himself clean” of a demon but, having nothing with which to replace it (an obvious metaphor for the Holy Spirit), was “re-entered” by seven worse.

        Another reality came to mind, too. Family cultures. In my ex’s family culture (we met and married 2400 miles away from them, none of them came to our wedding, and I didn’t meet any of them until one year later) certain family members are permitted to dominate, order others around, and so on. There is a lot of what we now know as verbal abuse (public put-downs, criticizing, interupting, and so on) accepted as simply “the way they are”. Although it might seem demonic (and it is certainly damaging), it’s just bad behavior unchecked and tolerated because controllers and bullies tend to get their way; few tend to counter them for fear of more of the same bullying and public humiliation in response.

        Anyway, I liked your comment very much. Because in the end, whether an abuser is presenting demonic influence or possession or simply an acceptable form of behavior within his / her family’s culture for some members, the effects on his / her victims are not good. Victims do not have to put up with abuse no matter where it comes from or how it manifests.

  9. Jesus' Beloved

    My husband and I had emailed back and forth all day about something he had done that was very rude and disrespectful to me. I had tried and gotten nowhere to convince him that what he did hurt my feelings and was wrong. I even did research on the internet for pete’s sake to show him articles about what he had done that had put mine and our children’s lives in jeopardy, yet he still dismissed me and told me I was just not seeing he was right. I’m sure all of you have had many interactions just like this with your abusers.

    Anyway, when he came home from work, he came up the stairs laughing like a madman and he had a very strange look in his eyes. He wasn’t drunk or high. He was perfectly sober. He would not look away from me as he laughed and I realized he was laughing at me and intentionally trying to upset me by doing so. I asked him what was so funny and he said, “Oh, nothing” and just kept laughing, while looking at me. Something in his eyes was very strange. His eyes, his face did not look like him in that moment. I wondered if he was possessed. He later said he was laughing at me for being so full of nonsense. Anyone that goes against what he thinks and says is labelled as such. That laughter though….it was really eerie. He had never done that to me before.

    [Paragraph break added to enhance readability. Editors.]

  10. Marah

    The notion of generational curses and the like are highly controversial among the evangelical church. For example, I, for one, do not see in the Bible where personal demons attach themselves to families, or are passed down through generations. Many understand “generational curse” to refer to those sin patterns that tend to be repeated through generations, and which require repentance rather than deliverance to break down.

    I really wish we could keep focus on the very common issues causing abuse, which the church is fairly ignorant of. It’s not that I think we should never talk or think about the demon-related stuff among ourselves, our supporters, or whatever, but I do fear that posts like this make it easier for us to be dismissed by the very large section of Christianity that doesn’t ascribe to demonization. It’s easier to dismiss us as fringe-dwellers, hysterical, deceived…all the things we’ve been accused of by our abusers.

    • Wendell G

      Marah, you raise some good points. I try to stay away from the subject of demon possession/oppression because it is too easy to get caught up in it. Further, as someone else said, people either get too afraid or too fascinated by the whole subject.

      I also agree about the generational curse issue. I remember listening to a sermon about divorce for abuse where the pastor was saying that making a victim stay with the abuser because it would be sin to divorce him is tantamount to making the victim punishable for the sins of the abuser. To me, it is the same with this whole generational curse thing. For that to be a valid concept, it would make my children responsible for my sins, which is completely unscriptural. We are all responsible only for our own sins, not the sins of others, even our parents, and especially not our abusers.

      Back to the demonization issue. When I was coming out of the world of pornography, I was told by some well meaning person (who blamed demons for everything) that my problem was demon possession or oppression and he wanted to cast them out of my life. He would not listen when I told him, that this was not true. I and I alone was responsible for the decisions I made to get into it. I was not the hapless victim of some demonic control.

      Do I believe that demons exist and can affect or even control a person? Yes. But in some segments of the church, they are so fascinated with the subject, they miss many root causes of sin issues. They look for any excuse to blame bad behavior on demons, which I believe simply gives the enemy too much attention. It also gives the person in sin another excuse to say they are not responsible for their own actions.

  11. Joyisnowfree

    I agree with Wendell. People can have a demonic stronghold and not necessarily be demon possessed. I know this topic can open up a can of worms, but it’s crucial to address it. My husband and I both have the gift of discerning the spirits. He has chosen to stop serving God and he is reaping the consequences. Last week he told me that his problem was a spiritual one, so he is aware of his actions but chooses not to follow the light, Jesus Christ. Many years ago I read a Christian book about the psychology of marriage. It suggested that one should leave or divorce a spouse for having a personality disorder, but to pray and be understanding and seek counseling. I hung on to that advice, but my husband chooses to be a perpetrator. I have seen a pervert demon manifests itself many times during our intimate time together. But we are not under bondage!!!! He has to be the one to repent and turn to God. For me 5 years of expecting a genuine change is is too long. Besides, I believe that 7 more demons have attached themselves to my husband. And they are more wicked than the previous ones.

  12. KayE

    I feel very strongly about this. I used to belong to a church that was into looking for demons everywhere. It really is a trap, and takes your focus off Christ, who has already overcome those things. There’s no question that abusers can behave in very evil ways. It’s also true that abusers will fake demon possession to avoid accountability for their own actions. Or just to get more attention — it’s notable that the performance is usually tailored to the audience.

    Even if you do believe in demon possession, the abuser is still responsible for their actions in every way. If they are influenced by the demonic, it is because of the choices they are making. The focus always needs to be on holding the abuser to account for their actions.

    From long experience, I wouldn’t put any trust at all in so-called deliverance ministries. It is Christ alone who is able to deliver us.

    • Nancy

      I agree with you, KayE, about placing trust in “deliverance ministries”. My ex-husband had been through one of the well-known deliverance ministries and claimed that it “cleansed” him of certain issues in his life (which wasn’t true) and he also CONSTANTLY focused in an unscriptural, hocus-pocus way on this type of solution to any issue in our life together, as opposed to focusing on obedience to God and His Word and being clear about a difference between good and evil.

      This opened my eyes to dangerous doctrinal errors that many of these “ministries” are promoting. Doctrine IS important. I SO appreciate you, Pastor Jeff, and agree almost completely with every doctrinal issue that you’ve emphasized regarding what is real Christianity and what isn’t, and who is a true Christian and who isn’t. It, along with God’s Holy Spirit, is what keeps us following GOD, and not veering off into left-field somewhere, following doctrines of demons and traditions of men.

      Marah, I disagree with you about giving more regard to “psychological” explanations than to the explanations that we find in the Bible. In fact, I think that giving support to modern psychological explanations of all these things rather than believing what the Bible has to say about them (i.e., that what we do DOES matter, that if we don’t have the spirit of Christ we are none of His, that we cannot love and commit sin unrepentantly and claim to be a follower of Christ, that Satan and his demons are REAL and can fill you up if you refuse to be filled by God) is what’s gotten the modern church into this position in the first place. I believe that my ex-husband was definitely possessed, and saw the ungodly “look” in his eye that many of you ladies have talked about. That, in particular, I guess, a person cannot fully “get” until they’ve experienced it. My own dad was abusive, but I never saw the weird “demonic” behaviors and “look” in the eye that I saw in my husband. I find it very telling that the attacks against true daughters (and sons!) of God are so severe and show so many demonic manifestations — just what you would expect from Satan against the church of God! And that they come near to us and wheedle their way into our lives by claiming to be Godly men and women!

      My husband did so many odd things that I later found out are common among people during exorcisms and demonic manifestations that it blew me away when I learned about it. He would spit on me, literally run out of the house when I would quote Scripture, start violent, physically abusive fights when we’d try to read the Bible together, kick me, hit me, look at me slyly out of the corner of his eye and tell me that he was a “mimic”, start physically violent fights if I wouldn’t watch horror movies with him, get especially enraged before and after church and on Sundays, and on and on and on. And he was the long-time worship leader at church! We were introduced through mutual elderly friends, and BEFORE he ever stepped foot in my condo, he told me EXACTLY what the interior of my condo looked like, down to white sectional sofa, glass table, etc., and the elderly friends had never been in my house before either. At the time, I chalked it up to the wonderful power of the Spirit of God because I thought that he was a Christian! Yikes! How undiscerning could I be?

      I don’t understand the point of some of the comments here when they say that we should focus on personality disorders and “psychological” explanations, and that recognizing the spiritual demonic element of this “excuses” their behavior. How does it “excuse” it? We all either choose God’s way or Satan’s way, whether we face up to it or not. Either the Bible is true, or it isn’t. And the Bible says that if we won’t submit to God’s way, “….the Devil goeth about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” [1 Peter 5:8]. One more thing I’d like to mention is that my husband would often start “speaking in tongues” immediately before some of his most violent behavior. I didn’t know at the time, and have since learned, that “speaking in tongues” is a common phenomenon amongst many pagan / demonic communities.

      Barbara, thank you SO MUCH for your wonderful book — yours and Lundy Bancroft’s were the two that heads and above (and the Bible, of course!) helped me the most to navigate the utter confusion and chaos that I was living in at the time. NO church friends, pastors, or counsellors would, to their shame. Pastor Jeff, I hadn’t heard of you at the time, but I just got your book and look forward to reading it. Thanks to the both of you for your sound doctrine and for helping us, the weak ones of your brothers and sisters in Christ, who much of the “church” forgot about. I actually hate to write or participate in blogs, but this one struck a nerve in me and I think it’s SO important in today’s church. Blessings to you, and keep up the good work!

      • Still Reforming

        Nancy, I find your comment to be particularly fascinating, because although my husband hasn’t spit on me or hit me, he has had that “look” in his eye where I thought there was something evil present. And he has hissed at me on occasion when I’ve actually been speaking kindly and respectfully to him. Likewise, when he finally started reading the Bible I had given him (he had previously told me that Moses didn’t read the Bible and that Moses was a Godly man. I didn’t tell him that Moses is thought to have written the first five books and so Moses didn’t have a Bible to read because I didn’t want to anger him).

        Anyway, when he finally started reading the Bible, he refused to discuss it with me in spite of my asking [him] to do so and asking him to pray with me, but he would take one of our child’s many children’s Bibles to read with her and then make the most sing-songy weird voices when reading it to her. It always niggled at me but I never said anything again out of fear of angering him. Then I’d hear him answer her questions and some would be outright wrong, so I’d correct those things in private with her later. I’m sure there’s much I didn’t hear because if I ever stepped into the discussion, he’d chide me with words like how I’m a “nagging wife,” “dripping faucet”, “judgmental,” “condemning”, “unmerciful”, and the list goes on.

        This whole thread and comments section are making me more assured in my recent decision to end this “marriage” and thankful to God for how it’s all playing out now, as nerve-wracking as it is. I am living on a razor’s edge at the moment — both daughter and I are — but it’s better than having that razor at my throat in the hands of our abuser.

        [Paragraph breaks added to enhance readability. Editors.]

  13. beckylovesthelight

    This is something I’ve experienced but I almost never talk about. Partly because I don’t want people to think I’m a “fringe lunatic”, partly because I don’t like to give attention to something dark instead of focusing my attention on God.

    When I was trying to decide what to do about my abusive first husband, whether I should leave him, I started experiencing some strange frightening things while lying in bed at night. He had been a pastor but started visiting Buddhist temples and would meditate using the name of a Hindu god as his mantra. There was something dark happening in our home as a result.

    I called my brother who was an Elder in my church and asked him to come over to pray. He prayed a prayer of protection over me, over the kids, all over the house. He prayed at the windows that no evil would come in, he even went into the bedroom and prayed a division down the middle of the bed that no evil would cross over to my side and that I would be protected. It made a huge difference, but soon after that I took the kids and left.

    He had made his choices, and now I was making mine.

    • Valerie

      Becky, your post came up after writing mine below. I believe you and you are not “lunatics”. 🙂 What you describe is very real. Just as Christ within us allows us to operate with a greater, higher power; so those who choose darkness are also being fueled by a greater, darker power than themselves. But yes, we all still make our choices and when we stand before Christ we will solely be held accountable for our actions and thoughts.

  14. Valerie

    When you look at an abuser’s actions they can all be classified as what Scripture defines as “the devil’s tactics”. The devil is written all over it. There have been several posts here outlining this.

    I also believe that as other have pointed out, we are ultimately responsible for our actions. I also believe someone who has quenched the Spirit enough loses discernment and the devil has more free reign in their lives, in part because satan goes unrecognized. In those instances they are still responsible for allowing the Spirit to be quenched.

    I have had personal experience with spiritual warfare. Many years ago, before I was saved, the devil also made the exact claim “you are mine”. It is a long story and part of my testimony but I wanted to throw out my personal experience with it. Years later, when I was saved and a follower of Christ, I had another encounter in which the devil again tried to make that claim, however this time God spoke on my behalf and told him that I was in fact His and the devil left immediately.

    I have told people how I have literally seen my husband’s face change and I could see something coming over him. It was something I could identify because of my own experience. There was a very brief period in which it seemed my husband was trying to change and during that time his face changed to reveal a light I had never seen before. Shortly thereafter he spoke of being scared….that something was happening. He only told this to me in private. Literally within 2 days the evil look returned to his face and with it, all his abusive behavior with some new ones in for good measure.

    It has been said that we would do well to neither focus on the devil nor dismiss his very real presence. While I wholeheartedly agree that it is too simplistic to chalk [all?] their behavior up to satan, I also believe that the devil being involved actually makes the church (in some aspects) more open to hearing about the reality of what goes on behind closed doors. It gives them a “scapegoat” (not the best word) to pin the behavior on to at least make them open to it. There are groups who only want to consider Christianity a “love fest” and will quickly stomp out hearing anything negative (“it’s just not Christ-like to talk about such matters”). To those people realizing the very real activity of the devil on earth can raise awareness to the possibility that “all is not well in Kansas”.

  15. Remedy

    I don’t know if my question was submitted….so I’m re-submitting.
    Does anyone out there have experiences with someone who got deep into martial arts with mind-over-body practices / beliefs?
    I read a long time ago that Martin Luther (I think this is the person) would speak out loud “Devil….get out [of] here!!” when he felt the oppression of evil presence while he was writing. He certainly understood the reality of Satan’s host trying to undo the children of God.

    • Joyisnowfree

      No, I haven’t heard of any instances of people rebuking the devil while engaging in martial arts. That’s something to look into. I wouldn’t doubt that any door a person opens in the spiritual realm is an opportunity for demons to place their foot at the door and enter.

    • Still Reforming

      Remedy, while I respect Luther and enjoy his writings, what you wrote about his speaking out loud to the devil brought to mind what a pastor I knew had to say if the devil came a-knockin’. Pastor Rodney would say, “Don’t get the door. Just ask, ‘Jesus, would you get that please?'”

  16. Remedy

    Clarification: not rebuking the devil while engaging in martial arts. But deep in it as a young adult, and the mind-over-body practices and beliefs. Example: if there was an illness, tell yourself there is no illness and that makes it true, like altering reality because you tell your mind it’s different than what it is. A power outside yourself to make reality what you want.

    • Remedy, I have known two men (one of them was my first husband, the other was his friend) who were into martial arts and a big part of the attraction for them in martial arts was the power of mind control it promised them. One of those men reported having an out-of-body experience (during meditation, I think). After having been into martial arts for a a while, both of those men became involved in an occult group that purported to practise exorcism / deliverance (but which I think was actually working the works of the devil). Neither of those men stayed in that group very long; they rejected the self-proclaimed leader of the group for the charlatan he was. But I believe their involvement in the martial arts caused a lingering taint, if you like, from occult / demonic sources.

      However, as I see it, the primary sin of those men was their desire for power. Martial arts was not the primary problem, as I see it, but I think what they learned and practiced in martial arts did open up extra doorways for the demonic so to speak — did intensify the influence of the kingdom of darkness in their lives. However, all those evil influences and powers could have been repented of and expelled and cleansed from their lives, had they later become Christians — which they have not.

      Mind control is a feature of most — if not all — false religions. Christian Science, Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Zoroastrianism, Freemasonry, Shamanism, Martial Arts (especially when it’s taught with a strong ‘spiritual’ emphasis) the Word of Faith Movement which goes in the guise of Christianity, and many of the Human Potential ‘mind-development’ courses all teach various forms of mind control. This drive for acquiring mind control all boils down to the will of fallen people to live their lives without regard for the Creator, the God of the Bible.

      The example you gave:

      if there was an illness, tell yourself there is no illness and that makes it true, like altering reality because you tell your mind it’s different than what it is

      —may be found in some versions of martial arts, and it is also a strong feature of Christian Science, and the Word of Faith Movement.

      Of course, all false religions teach some kind of counterfeit of the true religion. Another way of putting this is to say that true religion (Christianity) has truths which all false religious try to counterfeit but while counterfeiting it they distort it for wickedness.

      The Christian version of mind control — the true, benign, righteous, godly-form of mind control, done not by coercion or force, but in freedom by the Christian who is drawn and enabled by the Spirit to willingly obey God, is found in verses like this:

      Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, (Philippians 2:5-6 ESV)

      “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:16 ESV)

      For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7 KJ21 – 21st Century King James Version)

      • A Bruised Reed

        How about this verse, Barb:

        and do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, acceptable, perfect will of the Lord. [Paraphrase of Romans 12:2.]

      • Yes! That’s a very good one. I should have included it, so thanks for adding it. 🙂

    • Sorry, Remedy, I waxed into “teachiness”.

      • Anonymous

        Barbara, I don’t mind good “teachiness”. I don’t like presumptuous “preachiness”.

  17. rncsd

    Sitting in appreciation of finding this post on the blog. I believe I have witnessed demonic influence in my h. during his most abusive phases.
    A very long phase was about 6 years when he played guitar on two different worship teams. Then a startup church in a downtown bar (the pastor liked keeping the interior stage, bar and seating and did not change even the dark black walls or mirrors) asked my h. to lead worship. He did. During these three years he was very very dark, depressed, angry. I was in counseling trying to know how to handle his rants and rages. Some things that spewed out his mouth were vile and evil. No one from church would believe me that their worship leader would ever act or say such things. I took the olive oil from the pantry on several occasions to the doorposts of our house. Was it a worship demon or an evil spirit of some darkness? You have to know how long I prayed for an end to husband leading worship. Years. When it happened it was a major blowout, angry, rage, rant, temper tantrum after an evening special worship event did not go well in my husband’s estimation and his ego took a hit. Why oh why was I ever the only one on the planet to see this side of h.? In a car ride or in our home. I stopped trying to tell people. Had read a book about spiritual warfare and held on. My h. resigned his position and put away the piles of sheet music, his guitar and the amplifier was put in the closet (sold at a yard sale so it is totally gone now).

    Thanks for listening and letting me write this out here. Because I do believe that some evil spirits lurk around for a home. It is terrifying to live with someone who becomes a dwelling spot for an evil spirit. When h. resigned from the worship position, he could not sit and watch anyone else lead and do what he was doing. He wanted to go back to the larger congregation / church. So we left that dark downtown church that met in a bar. I was glad. This posted topic makes sense to me. In my experience, abusers can be possessed or influenced by demonic, evil spirits.

    • Wow. Thanks, Rncsd. This is a compelling account!

  18. I agree that the subject of abusers and demonization has to be handled very carefully, as we should not let abusers fall back on the excuse “the devil made me do it” as a way of minimizing or evading responsibility for their evildoing. And there are definitely some / many people in spiritual warfare / deliverance ministry who do not understand character disorder and who all too easily over-spiritualize a sin problem. (Wendell’s anecdote about the person who tried to give him advice is a good example.)

    I am also in agreement with those in this thread who expressed disquiet about the idea of generational curses. Whenever I’ve seen that “generational curse” teaching happening, it produces very little if no good fruit, and it just sends believers into a kind of “family tree scrutiny” and a labyrinth of “praying off curses” which seems to be virtually never-ending. And it is a giant distraction from the real stuff that needs to happen if the believer is to mature: boundary setting against wicked people; personal self-discipline and renunciation of bad habits and addictions; and taking personal responsibility for sinful choices.

    It seems especially a waste of time and energy to try to “bind demons” in an abuser when one is the target of that abuser. That is just another variant on the wrong-headed notion that the victim is able to do something to stop the abuse. Only the abuser can choose to stop being abusive! The victim cannot make that choice on behalf of the abuser. In the normal course of things, I would think that a victim cannot bind the demons in his or her abuser (should demons be involved). But the victim or her believing supporters can, I think, as BeckyLovesTheLight’s account testifies, pray to God that He will protect the victim from direct attack from evil beings (whether that evil being is her abuser, or demonic entities….).

    I realise this was a touchy subject to bring up, and that the risks of this subject are:
    1) We could be seen as “fringe lunatics”.
    2) It could give abusers excuses on a plate (“the devil made me do it”).
    3) Some people get sucked in to over-fascination with spiritual warfare and deliverance ministry.

    But I think that the fact that some of our readers (e.g. Joy, Anne, Joyce) have found some identification with other’s stories, and have been emboldened to talk about what they have previously kept silent, or thought they were crazy for thinking, has made the post worthwhile. I am very glad that overall, our consensus seems to be against that fascination-with-spiritual-warfare bandwagon, and that we are aware of how some abusers take that bandwagon and run with it, as a way of avoiding responsibility.

    One more thing —
    I agree that some abusers may fake demonic manifestations in order to distract people from the real issues; but I doubt that that was what Sunflower’s husband was doing. She said that it occurred during a normal counseling session, it was not a special deliverance session or spiritual warfare-type of ministry. If it had been a spiritual warfare ministry they were attending, I would be more inclined to suspect that her husband was “putting it on”. But in an ordinary counseling context as described by Sunflower, I don’t think it was so likely to be faked behavior.

    I do think, however, that the couple who counseled Sunflower and her husband did not fully grasp what was needed to deal with Sunflower’s husband. It is not enough just to pray for someone who is manifesting demonic stuff and pray until the manifestations subside — and think it’s all dealt with. Sunflower’s husband needed a lot more than just that prayer: he needed to be held accountable for his treatment of Sunflower, and he needed (needs) to be born again and to obey Christ.

    However, for those of you who have had abusers who faked demonic manifestations as a distraction or to get sympathy from others, I don’t want to deny your experiences either. And I feel for you. 😦

  19. KayE

    I will share some painful testimony here, in the hope that it might be helpful. I was involved in the Charismatic / Pentecostal movement for something like 30 years, something which I now greatly regret. I am also a medical doctor by profession. While I was in these churches I looked into inner healing and deliverance very, very thoroughly. I read the books, I went to the meetings, I listened to the speakers. I used to believe in it. I thought that it could be possible to tell the real from the fake. It isn’t. Abusers are often practiced deceivers in themselves, and demons have been deceiving for thousands of years. Even as a Christian, I don’t believe it is ever possible to say with certainty whether or not someone is influenced by a demon. We do need to be extremely careful about making a “diagnosis” we are not qualified to make.

    When I woke up to the deceptions and false teaching in the church I attended, I realized that the only thing you can really trust in these things is the written word of God. As Nancy says, doctrine is important.

    That brings me to the book “Healing the Family Tree” by Dr. Kenneth McAll. I haven’t read that particular book, but here is the description [Internet Archive link]1 from Amazon:

    Dr Kenneth McAll tells how through his medical and religious experiences he has discovered a remarkable new method of healing. Believing that many supposedly ‘incurable’ patients are the victims of ancestral control, he seeks to liberate them from domination. By drawing up a family tree he is able to identify the ancestor who is causing his patient harm. He then cuts the bond between the ancestor and the patient by celebrating, with a clergyman, a service of Holy Communion in which he delivers the tormented ancestor to God.

    There are a lot of problems with that doctrine, and just based on that summary alone I am very sure that will not be a helpful book.

    1[February 13, 2023: We added the link to Amazon’s description of Dr Kenneth McAll’s book Healing the Family Tree. The Internet Archive link is a copy of that description. Editors.]

  20. Remedy

    Barbara….no offense for “teachiness”. 🙂 I am still, unfortunately, in the stage of trying desperately to understand the insanity of my last 25 years of life with husband. What is the root issue, truly….and could I have done something to have effected a different outcome (besides becoming a “lifeless nothing”). I obsess over this I suppose for the shred of hope that a genuine relationship could be built here, if I could only understand why we never could build one….the foundational reason, not issue-driven misery.
    I used to joke in the early rocky years before marriage that if I was chained, naked & gagged to the bed and independently wealthy….then he could be happy. Sadly, as the painful years unfolded, there seems to be more truth than humor to my early conclusions.

  21. Sunflower

    It’s been interesting reading all these comments. I don’t think it was faked, he doesn’t like to embarrass himself like that. I also don’t think it should be ignored and brushed off. That shows an element of fear that we shouldn’t have, I think. The church has far too often been good at ignoring what they don’t want to deal with, sweeping things under the rug, like sex and porn, spousal abuse, etc., and then it comes back to bite us, right?

    I just recently read a quote [Internet Archive link]1

    It is very tempting to take the side of the perpetrator. All the perpetrator asks is that the bystander do nothing. He appeals to the universal desire to see, hear, and speak no evil. The victim, on the contrary, asks the bystander to share the burden of pain. The victim demands action, engagement, and remembering.

    My family comes out of WWII East Germany so I know first-hand how easy it is to ignore the evil that we don’t want to get our hands dirty with. We brush it off with, “just pray about it” or, “God is in control and so it’s His will”.

    Jesus in Luke says [Luke 19:13], “Occupy till I come.” To “occupy” means to take charge. The Bible says that all creation groans waiting for the sons of God to get it together. That our fight is not flesh and blood, but principalities and powers (see Daniel). The way I see it is that in faith, it’s like God gives you a parcel of land but you have to still get the squatters off before it’s productive. My question now is how best to do that. Has anyone seen real deliverance in these situations? If there is evil control, we are the only ones equipped to deal with it, no?

    Some comments were made that the person is fully responsible for their own actions and change, yet in the Bible there were many times when friends or family would bring the sick or demonized to Jesus. So I think that a prayer community would be in order here. I agree with Barbara that the couple who counseled us didn’t know how to handle it.

    If anyone has read the book, “Bishop of Rwanda”, when the church was reconciling the two groups of people to each other, both sides had to talk about it until they wept big time, then they could be brought together. The perpetrators said that they had thought they would never do such things but once they started, it was like something took over and they couldn’t stop killing. Is there a point when we make the decision to keep sinning that the door is opened to allow control to evil spirits?

    I do appreciate the ones who shared similar experiences. I feel that the church has a lot of untapped power and neglected responsibility in some areas.

    [Eds. note: The above quote is by author, Judith Herman, from her book, Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence — from Domestic Abuse to Political Terror.]

    1[February 13, 2023: We added the link to a page containing the quote Sunflower quoted. The Internet Archive link is a copy of that page. Editors.]

    • KayE

      I’ve seen a lot of fake “deliverances” put on for show in a church service. But I did once personally know someone who was dramatically and permanently changed after prayer for deliverance. It also involved their conversion from being a professing Christian into a genuine Christian. I do think this happened after prayer from people who really cared about their friend. This was a genuinely frightening person who overnight became kind, gentle, and bold about their new faith, and who has continued on in this way. Yes, prayer is an excellent idea.

  22. For My Daughter's Sake


    Upon reading this post, I realized what I was reading was appealing to my medical / nurse side and thought I should share a thought on this topic, for the sake of those who may be in a relationship with someone, who is “hearing voices”.

    1) Anyone who says they “hear voices” “telling them to do or say something” and if that person speaks and / or writes in a different voice / name / handwriting, needs to be evaluated by a psychiatrist for personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, psychopathy, sociopathy or Schizophrenia.

    2) Alter personalities are often very opposite to the person’s apparent, charming, “nice side” and tend to be extremely different, and very self-serving. Anyone married to a person with one of these diagnoses, is most likely experiencing some form of abuse, in some way or another.

    3) The condition does tend to be genetic, and can be passed along to children, therefore, discovering one of these diagnoses in an abusive spouse, if children have already been born in the marriage, would suggest a need to “watch” the offspring for signs of the same disorder in their late teens, and early 20s and seek medical help with a psychiatrist, earlier, [rather] than later.

    With that medical “note” aside, I want to state that in our particular circumstance, my daughter’s abusive EX-husband was a VERY successful physician. (His success, and public appearances, of course, contributed to no one believing our daughter). I have MS, and during the court hearings with my EX-son-in-law, started having severe exacerbations of the disease and my neurologist told me I needed to do all I could to reduce my stress, because it would worsen my MS. I told him of my powerlessness to “reduce my stress” and told him our story.

    He told me that “among his profession, of course, there are very high IQs and because of that, his profession would be full of psychopaths and sociopaths and that he had witnessed it his entire career, even having one of his roommates killed by a fellow med student, who “was” a successful charming psychopath in their program.”

    Several of the Borderline Personality Disorders involve high IQs, and some of the more worrisome cases, “hear” voices. Of course, not “all” who hear voices, are abusive.

    (The movie A Beautiful Mind [Internet Archive link]1 tells a true story of a successful college professor who had Schizophrenia, and he was not known to be abusive.)

    But, if KNOWN ABUSE or DEVIANT BEHAVIOR (identified by a spouse or family member), not consistent with their “other side” has occurred, AND they are HEARING VOICES, that no one else is hearing, I would consider the abused in danger and in need of an exit strategy, involving protection from authorities. I believe in every state you can have a person committed to a psych hospital for 72 hours of evaluation and testing, on the word of 2 witnesses. I cannot remember what it is called? However, this is known to incite an abusive “alter” toward violence, and some say, a “civil rights violation” of the mentally ill.

    Here is a statement from Wikipedia:

    Mental health law [edit]
    All but four states in the U.S. allow for some form of involuntary treatment for mental illness for short periods of time under emergency conditions, although criteria vary.[7] Since the late 1990s, a growing number of states have adopted Assisted Outpatient Commitment (AOC) laws.[8]

    Under “assisted” outpatient commitment, people committed involuntarily can live outside the psychiatric hospital, sometimes under strict conditions including reporting to mandatory psychiatric appointments, taking psychiatric drugs in the presence of a nursing team, and proving medication blood levels. Forty-two states presently allow for outpatient commitment.[9]
    [The brackets in the quote are part of the Wikipedia quote.]

    With that said, I want to reiterate, whether the person doing the abuse is mentally ill with one of the above named conditions, or whether the abusive person is an unbelieving reprobate harming those he is charged to protect, the abused should seek safety and protection elsewhere for herself, and her children. Mental illness is NOT AN EXCUSE to justify abuse. “Some” mental illness diagnoses are worth staying far away from….a brief study of John Wayne Gacy, is a perfect example.

    1[February 13, 2023: We added the link to Wikipedia’s page on the movie A Beautiful Mind. The Internet Archive link is a copy of that page. Editors.]

    • Thank you for this comment, For My Daughter’s Sake. As a former nurse myself, with some experience working in the mental health system, I have no problems with what you said. Nor do I have any problems with it from my experience as a survivor of domestic abuse and an advocate for other survivors.

  23. Faith

    This is a timely post for me. I’ve been reading on here for a month or so. It’s still so confusing. I feel crazy trying to explain it to someone else. They only see the facade my husband puts on. And he looks like a “nice” guy and in general is nice, charming, etc.. I will try to briefly describe:

    I’ve been married 21 years and we have children. My husband joined the military after we married and I think that adds to the deception that he puts on. We have moved around a lot. Before moving I had found an email my husband sent to a high school girlfriend. I was completely blindsided. I have always noticed my husband is flirty, etc.. Had found out about his pornography use. He minimized and dismissed how I felt. During this time we had started attending a local church. I was also part of a women’s Bible study group. They encouraged me to get marriage counseling with the pastor. This seems so long ago now, but in counseling with the pastor I felt I could not speak freely. I was scared of my husband. He had a bad temper and was really good at raising his voice and being intimidating. We only had a few sessions before we moved but the pastor encouraged me to find a counselor after moving to help with family of origin issues too. He also encouraged my husband to find an accountability partner. That has never happened.

    We have found a church here and we were attending. As I’ve seen pointed out on this website he hasn’t shown true repentance. I believe his heart is hardened. I found a Christian counselor shortly after moving here. I saw her for a few months. Primarily I stopped seeing her because she didn’t accept insurance and it was getting expensive. I’m back to seeing this counselor again, and she is talking about prayer / deliverance ministry that she’s involved with. A few books she recommended are “The Bondage Breaker” and “A Guide to Spiritual Warfare” both by Neil T. Anderson. And “It’s Only A Demon: A Model of Christian Deliverance” by David W. Appleby. As I understand from these books a Christian cannot be possessed but can be oppressed. I know these books can be looked up on Amazon. I haven’t read all of them. My focus now is on “Why Does He Do That” by Lundy Bancroft and I’m reading “In Sheep’s Clothing”, by George Simon, Jr.

    My counselor wanted to see both of us together recently. She thought it would be helpful to explain the prayer ministry to my husband and the role he has as a father and spiritual leader of our household. Well, during our session he was nice, seemed to understand, etc.. After we left he was withdrawn and barely talked to me. He asked why we went to see her, and she explained why when we were there. I doubt he will ever do this. I don’t see that he will submit to Christ. I just feel like I have done what I can. I also don’t feel like my counselor really believes he’s emotionally and verbally abusive and possibly NOT a Christian. Or that she believes he’s accountable for his behavior because he might be under some oppression.

    My husband is good at manipulation, gaslighting, blame-shifting etc.. He also left the home twice. (He had never done this before.) Once for a few days and then again for a few months.

    He wanted to come back in when he claimed he had a “revelation from God”. Well, I wasn’t so convinced or sure I believed him. Yes, all the charm was back. I did let him come back. I believe he wanted back because he started renting and he didn’t want to pay for it any longer.

    Unfortunately, his mother came for a visit, she knew we were having problems. I thought “ok, we’ll see how it goes.” No, it didn’t go too well. I finally realize what a toxic person she is and has been. She still acts like I’m the problem. Now my MIL makes a point to call only my husband’s cell phone and she posts on our child’s FB. His mother seems very narcissistic and covert aggressive too.

    My husband blames me for our problems and has told me I should “just get over it”. That I guess would also include getting over his emotional affairs which I found out about years later. I’ll probably never get the entire truth. I’m convinced he’s had a physical affair even though he denies it. The lies of omission are there. He wants automatic trust instead of earning it. Yes, he has an entitlement attitude.

    He has said he doesn’t owe me anything (because I have brought up restitution). Anyway sorry this is long and I hope it makes sense. There is more that’s not listed. I can add we have been to 4 different counselors. Wish I had known that marriage counseling is not recommended for abusive marriages.

    I’m still trying to figure out how to proceed. He said he wouldn’t leave again, I realize that isn’t a guarantee. I know it has affected our kids. I don’t know how to undo the damage this seems to have caused.

    [Eds note: Some identifying details and information given by the commenter have been removed for her safety.]

    • Dear Faith, welcome to the blog. 🙂

      You sound like you’re seeing some of it pretty clearly (the fact that the counselors you’ve seen don’t get it, that marriage counseling doesn’t help and often makes it worse, that your husband has shown no real repentance, that your MIL is on his side and has major character disturbance herself, and that your husband is wrong to claim that he owes you no restitution….).

      You said:

      I don’t know how to undo the damage this seems to have caused.

      Since you have not been the one that caused the damage, you cannot be the one to undo it. All you can do is make choices that may enable you and the kids to have a safer life in future, which probably means a life where you are not under the same roof as your abuser(s).

      I also encourage you not to worry about being unable to prove or know for sure about whether or not your husband has committed actual adultery with another woman. He is clearly abusing you and resisting the call to change his behavior and make his character better. And he is not acting at all like a Christian, so you can treat him as an unbeliever, even if the church doesn’t see it that way because they are naive and blind to the ways of the oh-so-charming abusers who are masters at being both Jekyll and Hyde and switching when it suits them.

      Hope you keep reading on this blog and making comments. I think you’ll find a lot of our old posts helpful too, if you haven’t yet dug into them. You can search by Tags or by Categories or by key word.
      Bless you and ((hugs)).

      • Faith

        Thank you, Barbara, for your insight and encouragement. I actually told my husband last year that “he came in as Prince Charming and was going out like the Spawn of Satan”. It’s sickening to remember, while we were dating (in college) he would bring me a red rose while I was at work almost every week. And everyone thought he was “so nice”! Now I believe he did that for the attention he received, not me.

        I think I’ve accepted my husband for who he is. It’s still difficult to comprehend a spouse that has no empathy or remorse for pain he has caused. He still acts like we’re supposed to have a sex-life even though there is no spiritual or emotional connection between us. He acts like things are ok when they aren’t. I don’t even bother trying to discuss much of anything.

        I pray our kids see through their dad. Our daughter is critical of decisions I make concerning her younger sibling. (If she believes what her dad says, that he’s “mom’s favorite”.) I don’t want to be on the defensive with her or angry.

        I will keep reading this blog and from the list of books. The clarity that Lundy Bancroft and George Simon provide are invaluable.

        God bless. I appreciate all the work that goes into this website.

  24. A Bruised Reed

    Lighting A Candle, can you please elaborate?

    While I received and have participated in this type of ministry, I have also seen it misused to harm and deceive.

  25. just thinking

    Potential Trigger Warning

    Lots of interesting comments. My comment could be potentially triggering. Come to think of it it’s still triggering to me somewhat, even after about forty years.

    Regarding the demonization issue, I’ve had some personal experience with it. As a child of about three or four, a horrible incident of family violence took place in my home. As I contemplated the bad thing that had just happened I heard a sort of “spiritual thought voice” that informed me that I was the real reason my mother’s life was so miserable and that I had to pay for her life by agreeing to forfeit mine. The voice spoke in a manner that appeared to be representing God’s standards of right and wrong and of justice. I was a child and knew nothing about God or the devil. My family had been involved in some occult things.

    I believed that voice. It took advantage of a critical, traumatic incident. Perhaps its “in” was in the sin of judging my mother, perhaps it just took advantage of my being a child and not having developed enough reasoning skills to be able to understand what I was and wasn’t responsible for. I would hear that same voice again during an abuse incident. The wording was similar; an accusation of guilt and then the demand that because of some real or imagined wrongdoing, the penalty was that I had to yield to “them” and submit. It was always packaged in terms of God’s standards of what was right. I didn’t know what it was.

    I was involved in the “Charismatic Movement” and so also experienced much in the way of deliverance ministry. There is a lot of it that is seriously flakey and seems to attract people with control issues; they want to use the power of God shamanistically to control their universe. However, true power and authority with God comes through submitting to Him first. But despite Reformed claims that Christians can’t be demonized and that deliverance isn’t necessary, I do think that there are legitimate cases where there is something of a dark nature going on.

    As someone said in answer to the question “can a Christian have a demon?” Ans.: “A Christian can have anything he wants!” But — and here is where some deliverance ministries get it really wrong — satan is not sovereign, I don’t believe he has legal rights, just capitalizes on opportunities because Jesus said all power and authority was given to Him, and that satan was stripped of all power and authority. I don’t think one can have legal rights when one has been stripped of all power and authority. So the dirty work he does, isn’t because he has any real right to. He walks about seeking whom he MAY devour, not whom he has any legal right to do so. I may be wrong on this but so far haven’t seen anything New Testament that would suggest otherwise.

    I think the story of the Gadarene demoniac might illustrate that a person can have something evil controlling them which they cannot get free of without help. The guy was clearly out of control, and had to be bound with chains because he was destructive to himself and others, I think. Jesus delivered him and there isn’t one word of blame as to his condition which is interesting, and he was an adult. Same with the child whom the demon kept trying to murder by throwing him into the fire or water. So discernment is clearly very important. I don’t believe Jesus patronized people by going along with some primitive beliefs about medical conditions like epilepsy though some have suggested that idea. He who is the Way, the Truth and the Life cannot and does not lie and to foster wrong thinking would be doing just that.

    But I don’t think that this means that a woman with a husband who might have this problem should be forced to stay and tolerate evil regardless of how it got there. The Lord can show us if there is something to pray for that might result in successful deliverance but I doubt that this means one should stay and get beat up!

    I remember reading of a young, faithful husband who dearly loved his wife and yet kept feeling a pressure to commit adultery. It upset him so much, because it was against his desires that he sought help for it. It turned out his father had abandoned the family for another woman and had been unfaithful more than once. Clearly the evil one attempted to use the association with the father to pressure the son into feeling it was natural, normal and even inevitable that he must follow in his footsteps. Even though Jesus has dealt with the curse of sin, the enemy and his cohorts are lawless ones. They do not play by any kind of gentleman’s rules and they have no mercy; they are murderers. They will use whatever is available to them, whatever opening they can find or we give them.

    In another incident, I read of a child who found her father’s secret stash of pornography and an unclean spirit attached itself to her as the filthy pictures reached her vulnerable mind. It manifested when her Christian grandmother came to visit; they usually played and cuddled together but when the child attempted to approach her, she became extremely nauseated and repelled. This happened several times until grandma realized something spiritual was up and asked the child, who told her of what she found and how she felt like something icky had entered her. The grandmother took authority over it in Jesus’ name and it left and then later confronted the father about it. So I think that we always have to consider the spiritual side of what is going on. It’s probably true that in many cases a sin issue opened the door but not always. One good thing to remember too is that yes, Jesus said that the enemy can come back with seven more wicked spirits so the last state is worse than the first, but then He also cast out a legion of demons from the Gadarene guy too and a legion is much more than seven; this was no problem for Jesus. It’s only a problem for the man with the problem. I by no means have this figured out but I do think deliverance issues can definitely come into play.

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