A Cry For Justice

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

I Wish I Knew This About Peacemakers Before I Went: Part 5 of Persistent Widow’s story

As I shared in Part 1 of this series, I had lived with an abusive and adulterous husband for years, and the ambiguous direction of the church “process” coupled with the safety risk due to my husband’s increasing anger, left me in a disoriented state.

In Part 2 of this series I relayed my personal experience of what an abuse victim can expect in the Peacemaker sessions. I was given no solid information of what to expect prior to Peacemaker mediation and I felt that the pastor, elders, and Peacemaker counselor were all deceptively, perhaps deliberately vague, so I really didn’t comprehend what I was getting into.

Thankfully, I received spiritual counsel from a Christian therapist/life coach who helped me to see through the confusion. She wisely told me that the Holy Spirit is a spirit of love and peace and asked me if I felt love or peace coming from the church’s intervention. I had to honestly reply that I did not, rather I felt a contrary spirit of hatred and discord. Her profound observation set me on the right path away from the church’s burden of false guilt introspection to scrutinizing the church’s accusations against me.

Searching for answers

Three months later, although I still did not comprehend how the mediation was biblical and what its purpose was, I wrote a letter of complaint to Judy Dabler author of the book Peacemaking Women: Biblical Hope for Resolving Conflict, and the founder/supervisor of the Peacemaker center that I attended. In the letter I told her that my husband was abusive and adulterous and that I had documented events that were easily verifiable, yet he was not held accountable for anything. I explained that I thought he should have been psychologically evaluated before mediation, that I never received validation but blame, my concerns were trivialized, there was no concern for my children’s well being at all, and that after the mediation, the abuse escalated. Following are some excerpts from my letter:

In actuality, the services at Peacemaker Ministries have only made matters worse. My husband is angry at me for the cost, that embarrassing situations were brought out, and he mocks me about the events from the history I read — it was all my fault. Recently, he has said on two occasions that he wants to see me dead. I have now sought help from the local abuse center and they are taking all of this very seriously — something Peacemaker Ministry would not do. I am embarrassed that the church lags far behind the secular world in dealing with the reality of abuse and helping people. This should not be.

. . .no mention of the welfare of the children ever came up. At least four times the discussion of payment  (check, promissory note or credit card) to Peacemakers were focused on. . .

All of this seems to be a very opportunistic and irresponsible way to exploit a lot of money from distressed people for absolutely nothing in return. I believe that this is a ministry in name only, some Scripture was read, but I have found no genuine love or compassion, no spiritual or psychological knowledge imparted, no validation, only a trivialization of sins against someone seeking help and guidance. . . I will be paying for this debt for a long time on a credit card, but actually, I am in a better position than someone who makes a great deal of money at the expense of Christ’s suffering people. It will be frightening to be found conducting a ministry in his name that he never approved of.

I explained that the nearly $3000 was excessive and financially burdened my family at an already difficult time. Since I perceived that Peacemakers needed to be educated about abuse, I closed the letter by telling her that I finally found validation through Jeff Crippen’s sermons and Barbara Robert’s book, Not Under Bondage [*Affiliate link]. In the following weeks I left messages with her staff to follow up and discuss these issues.

Five weeks later Judy Dabler called. Briefly she simply stated that what I experienced was the way that they handled abuse cases. I asked her what the prognosis was for abusers who continue in the biblical counseling and she said that she was unaware of any who had truly changed. She mentioned that she knew of one who with extensive counseling had less verbal outbursts, but was still angry nonetheless. At least that validated my decision to refuse financial responsibility for my husband’s proposed ongoing counseling as the pastor pressured me to do.

Concerned about the procedures at Judy Dabler’s facility, I called the main Peacemaker Ministries office in Montana [This link is broken and there is no replacement. Editors.] to file a complaint. I was referred to Steve Long, Director of the Institute for Christian Conciliation, Peacemaker Ministries. [This link is broken and there is no replacement. Editors.] He was cordial and sent me a complaint form, but I noticed that in order to file a complaint, the complaint needed to be prelisted on their form. The form consisted of standardized complaints to choose from, but all of the options were inapplicable. There was no area to write in “services inappropriate for domestic abuse.” The choices were such as did the Peacemaker try to persuade you to come to her church?, or was she discourteous?, etc. Realizing that filing the complaint would be fruitless, I sent Steve Long an email suggesting he look at the ACFJ website and asked him what the Peacemaker Ministry policy on domestic abuse is. He wrote:

Blessings, Thank you for your reference to the blog. I clicked on it and it looks enlightening. It certainly is a worthwhile cause and I am sure the Lord will bless you for helping victims. We do not have any current policies regarding domestic violence generally at present, so I can’t help you there.

Peacemaker policy: No divorce for abuse

Peacemaker Ministries [Internet Archive link] was founded by Christian attorney, Ken Sande and follows the guidelines in his book, The Peacemaker.  The tagline that runs across every page of the Peacemaker website is “Equipping and assisting Christians and their churches to respond to conflict biblically.” Basically Peacemakers is a Christianized legal mediation service. I have found only two references to domestic abuse in Peacemaker Ministry literature. One is cited below where Ken Sande writes of the church taking serious measures, primarily discipline, in reaction to abuse. However, note that divorce for abuse is unacceptable to him personally and consequently, not a biblical option in the Peacemaker organization:

Abuse within a marriage presents special challenges. Referring to God’s love for justice and His concern for the oppressed, some people argue that abuse also constitutes grounds for divorce. I have not yet been persuaded of this argument, but I certainly recognize the need for the church to take serious measures to deal with abuse. This may involve formal church discipline and even calling in civil authorities to protect the family and force the abuser to face the seriousness of his sin. (pg.5)
Ken Sande  “Church Discipline: God’s Tool to Preserve and Heal Marriages” in Pastoral Leadership for Manhood and Womanhood, (edited by Wayne Grudem & Dennis Rainey, Crossway Publishing, 2003).

According to Sande’s position, reconciliation is the only biblical option in abusive marriages. The following is the only other mention of domestic abuse that I have found at Peacemakers. Again, divorce is not an option in abusive marriages. From the PM Ministries’ Marriage and Family Conflicts Q & A page:

Abuse, Question 5 [Internet Archive link]: My husband is both verbally and physically abusive. Some friends say I should just forgive and submit. Others say I should get out. What does the Bible say I should do?

Answer: The Bible calls us to love our enemies and do all we can to resolve conflicts in a way that will lead to complete forgiveness and reconciliation. It also teaches that we should submit to those whom God has placed in authority over us. But neither of these commands cancels other biblical principles that apply to domestic abuse.

Matthew 18:15-20, Luke 17:3, and Galatians 6:1-2 clearly command us to lovingly yet firmly confront someone who is caught in a sinful habit pattern. There is nothing in the Bible that says a wife should not follow these passages. If your husband is sinning against you through verbal or physical violence, God says you should do everything in your power to help him repent. If you cannot confront him safely on your own, you should go to your pastor and ask him to talk with your husband (Matt. 18:16). Or you could appeal to your husband to go to counseling with you. If he refuses to respond to counseling, then you should ask your church to exercise discipline in an effort to bring him to repentance (Matt. 18:17-20). (If your pastor is inexperienced in dealing with domestic violence, encourage him to read the CCEF booklet on Domestic Abuse [This link is broken and there is no replacement. Editors.]).

If your husband refuses to respond to church counsel or discipline, and if you or your children are in danger of serious harm, it is appropriate to separate temporarily and seek help from the police and civil courts (Rom. 13:1-5). Sometimes a violent man has to face civil consequences before he sees the seriousness of his behavior.

Even while you pursue these avenues, you also need to follow other biblical commands with regard to your own heart and conduct. While nothing would justify abuse on the part of your husband, Jesus still calls you to take responsibility for your contribution to the situation, even if it seems small (Matt. 7:3-5). As God enables you to change things you may be doing that aggravate conflict in your marriage, it may be easier for your husband to submit to counseling and make lasting progress in controlling his anger.

As God brings repentance and confession to your husband, you can grant forgiveness and experience a genuine reconciliation in your marriage, thereby demonstrating the redeeming power of God’s love and forgiveness.

Will the booklet Domestic Abuse, How to Help, actually help?

The CCEF booklet, Domestic Abuse, How to Help by Powlison, Tripp and Welch, recommended in the above Peacemaker question and their only recommended resource on domestic abuse, is inadequate to equip a pastor to help with abuse. It is inexcusable that there is not even a working definition of abuse or instruction on how to recognize abuse in a booklet with this title. The bizarre introduction reads (TRIGGER WARNING),

Couples who publicly sit at peace in church pews can nevertheless be at war. They attack each other, defend ground, attempt manipulative guerrilla tactics, and declare occasional truces. When war has been declared, there is sin on both sides; but when violence is involved, typically a strong male oppresses a female. With God’s grace, these afflicted women will begin to look to the church for help. When they do, what are some basic biblical guidelines for your ministry to such women — and their husbands? (page 1)

Over two pages are devoted to teaching the oppressed how to disarm the abuser by confessing her sin to him so that she “will see clearly to remove the speck from her brother’s eye.” (pg. 7) This tells us that CCEF maligns victims by inverting the speck/beam saying of Jesus, just like Bob Jones University does to its victims.

The other half of this tiny 18-page booklet is directed to ministering to the abuser. On page 10, “Similarly, you should typically expect to find two sinners embroiled with each other, not one irredeemable monster oppressing one innocent victim who needs no redemption.

Translation: Marriage problems are always caused by both parties.

The Slippery Slope Wheel

This Slippery Slope [Internet Archive link] diagram was handed to me on the first day of Peacemaker mediation. It immediately made me question my resolve and redirected my focus to trying to comprehend what it meant. The top four gold bar positions represent Peacemaker services and it appears that actions in the lower bars are progressively unspiritual with the bottom positions representing death. I recall that while looking at this I noticed that my considered intent to leave the relationship (flight) and divorce (litigation) were only slightly better than suicide and murder. It threw my already frazzled mind into confusion at the onset because this wheel makes no sense. Dealing with abusers is much too serious for the options to be confined to the gold bar categories on this wheel and it is manipulative of Peacemakers to teach that the truly sensible choices of divorce and withdrawal from abuse are unspiritual.


Strong Words for Peacemakers

So the evidence provided in this post confirms that although churches send traumatized domestic abuse victims to Peacemakers Ministries who are needing to be rescued, Peacemakers Ministries is not trained to deal with abuse, seemingly not interested in becoming educated about abuse, and cannot provide genuine help. And why would they? They are making a tremendous amount of money from abuse victims’ misery. The longer they string them along, the more money they make. Peacemakers deals with all dispute cases in the same fashion, mechanically pursuing reconciliation. No screening process to detect abuse, no risk assessment, no safety plan, no validation, no justice. Their services are a means to their goal of reconciliation at all costs, and that cost falls on the abuse victim financially, emotionally, and risk of personal harm through the abuser’s potential retaliation.

This leaves me wondering… would any abuse victim choose to go to Peacemakers if their church didn’t force them to and they weren’t emotionally vulnerable? And wouldn’t the money making machine of Peacemakers (tuition received for training mediators, books, mediation services, counseling) run to a grinding halt if victims weren’t pressured to attend? My conscience was never convicted by the no-divorce-for-abuse doctrine, so why should any abuse victim pay to be strong-armed into accepting their doctrine through these mind games? It is difficult enough to make sound decisions while engulfed in the stress and trauma of abuse, church intervention, and financial duress. I was financially handicapped by Peacemakers and still had a long stretch of financial abuse to endure as the divorce played out. Peacemakers is truly a reproach to the church and needs to be scrutinized as a money making racket.


I have posted some one-star reviews of the CCEF booklet, Domestic Violence: How to Help and Ken Sander’s The Peacemaker at both Amazon and Christianbook.  If you would rate my reviews at both vendors as helpful, it may draw attention to how harmful these resources and Peacemakers are.  Links to reviews follow:

Domestic Violence: How to Help:  Amazon review and Christianbook.com review.

The Peacemaker:  Amazon review and Christianbook.com*

*This link to Christianbook.com will take you directly to a commenter who apparently knows and agrees with Peacemaker no-divorce-for-abuse-teaching.  Just scroll down a couple reviews to find mine.

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


Posts in this series

Part 1: Abuse in a PCA church: Part 1 of Persistent Widow’s story

Part 2: The Nightmare of Peacemakers Mediation for Domestic Abuse: Part 2 of Persistent Widow’s story

Part 3: PCA Interrogation, Hard Lessons, and Emerging from the Fog: Part 3 of Persistent Widow’s story

Part 4: Death Threat from Abuser, but Church Refuses to be Educated About Abuse: Part 4 of Persistent Widow’s story

Part 5: Is this post.

Part 6: PCA Church’s Final Reply: This is Church Discipline? — Part 6 of Persistent Widow’s story

Part 7: PCA Church Receives Rebuke from Therapist/Life Coach: Get Educated! Part 7 of Persistent Widow’s story


  1. marriedtohyde

    Wow. After reading about your ordeal, I can’t help but to picture the scene Jesus encountered with the money changers in the temple. I feel like Peacemakers is defiling God’s house. Their hearts are hardened toward the abused and hurting, and they promise a false peace.

    I am so glad you had a Christian guide who showed you the truth about the heart of Peacemakers, PW.

  2. debby

    I have been reading your story. Wish I could look in to your eyes and tell you how sorry I am, how much I admire your courage, how helpful you have been to so many of us. This is much like Neville Chamberlain during Hitler’s power grab: Peace at any cost, which allowed the evil to continue unfettered. Except this war is in your own home! I went to all the review sites and clicked helpful and added my own comments. You never know when someone headed to “peacemakers” (ugh! I cant hardly even say their name its so ironic and twisted!) may do a search and see the comments and head elsewhere for REAL help. God bless you in your healing journey, PW ❤

  3. Anon

    High-fiving your Christian Life Coach! Coaches get results, for those of you who can’t figure out where to turn for help with a problem. Consider hiring one. Also, Persistent Widow, if you are still paying for this on your credit card, because you paid with a credit card you may want to call your credit card company see if you can refuse payment for this charge due to a dispute, unsatisfactory service or services not rendered.

    I have not been to church in almost a year. The further I get away from this stuff, the clearer I see it. I feel a little lost, but it’s not nearly as bad as being brainwashed. Cult-like, really. Thank you for this brilliant series.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Anon – One point I disagree with you on. While PW was fortunate enough to find a wise coach, the odds of finding one with real wisdom are not good. Also, if there is another clear lesson from PW’s story, it is that we should tread very cautiously when a professed Christian who offers to disciple / guide – charges $$ for the service. A certified, licensed, trained therapist who provides counseling is one thing, but a “life coach”? No, I would not encourage anyone to go out and hire one.

      • thepersistentwidow

        My life coach really is awesome and is a mental health therapist as well. I appreciate your warning though, Jeff. When you are in a bad situation, you want to trust someone, but I learned the hard way that not everyone who you trust can be trusted even if they are from the church. Some definite red flags are when pastors and counselors claim they are there to help, but push against your personal boundaries or what your instincts are telling you. And if they are quoting Scripture wrongly to get you to comply or if the process is just irrational and hurting you and your family, disengage from them. Even if they threaten you with church discipline or look frustrated, you are not crazy. It is professional crazy making and they are after your money and soul.

      • Ron


        As the husband of a life coach, I have seen the levels and intensity of training these individuals go through to get and maintain their levels of certification. From your post, it seems as if you believe this is a “fly by night” profession. It is not. These people are serious in helping others overcome their adversity, especially in situations where traditional therapy is slow or ineffective. Maybe you should do some research on the requirements for obtaining and maintaining “life coach” credentials before you speak against them.

      • Jeff Crippen

        Ron – I have checked out life coaching. While PW had a good experience (hers was a licensed therapist as well), it doesn’t take long to peruse the many life coaching websites to see that the field is rampant with New Age philosophy, power of positive thinkingism, and numbers of other plainly unbiblical teachings. Your wife may be a very good counselor, but the fact is that we need to protect our readers from harm. Much of what I have found embraced by these life coaches and the various training organizations that teach them is absolutely contrary to God’s Word.

  4. April Kelsey

    CCEF and Powlison. They seem to pop up everywhere, don’t they? Ugh, it just turns my stomach.

  5. Jeff Crippen

    So here we are – Peacemakers. $3000. The thing is unconscionable. In the vernacular I think the word is at best, “rip-off” and on the other end, “malpractice.” Peacemakers! You guys owe PW $3,000 plus interest! In fact, you owe her a lot more than that. And that complaint process and form? Oh yeah. Take a number (like from one of those model grenades that says “pull this” if you have a complaint). Peacemakers, we are not at peace with you. We have a huge grievance over what you did to our friend. What ya gonna do about it?

    • thepersistentwidow

      Jeff, It is unbelievable, but I was given the special discounted rate for church referrals.

      • If Peacemakers Ministry gives a discounted rate for church referrals, I wonder whether the referring church gets a kickback? I think that’s a legitimate question. Even if the kickback is just something as simple as discounts on bulk copies of books that are bought through the Peacemakers website, it would be wrong, IMO. I know that it’s ‘good’ business practise to increase your sales and reach by offering discounts to the kinds of customers who may patronise your business often. But it’s unethical and unfair to the ordinary sheep. This discount for church referrals shows even more clearly that Peacemakers is a business more than a ministry.

        Would Paul have given the churches in the book of Acts special discounts if they arranged for large audiences to come and hear him?

  6. Jeff Crippen

    Peacemakers responded with this Christianese gibberish – “Blessings, Thank you for your reference to the blog. I clicked on it and it looks enlightening. It certainly is a worthwhile cause and I am sure the Lord will bless you for helping victims. We do not have any current policies regarding domestic violence generally at present, so I can’t help you there.”

    Bless you, bless you. Right. So, these guys see a person sorely oppressed and suffering, and they just say “bless you” and move on down the road. Let’s see where did I read….oh yeah! In God’s Word! –

    James 2:14-16 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?

    Dead faith, Peacemakers. Dead faith.

    • IamMyBeloved's

      And it also sounds like the “Good Samaritan” story, where Peacemakers steps right over the top of PW and leaves her bleeding and wounded on the road, clinging to life. But along comes ACFJ and Jeff and picks her up, binds up her wounds and helps her heal. Now you all decide. Which is from God and which is of the wicked one? Who is the Good Samaritan and who is not?

  7. Alec

    Peacemakers should be sued into oblivion for malpractice and fraud. Since fraud is a crime, criminal charges should be sought. The leaders of Peacemakers should not be seen as Christians (or even human, for that matter), so there is no issue of brother suing brother.

    • thepersistentwidow

      After sending the letter to Judy Dabler I filed a complaint with the state board of professional licensing. The investigator came to my home and was disgusted when he heard what happened at Peacemakers. I was told that the investigation would be confidentially conducted and I would not be privy to results, however, I did notice shortly thereafter that the Peacemaker facility’s website was offline for about a month and their phone was disconnected when I called. When the website went back up it had a page of new disclaimers stating that they are not offering counseling or legal services, but reconciliation services only through the conciliation (Peacemaker’s) program.

      They do offer Nouthetic Counseling at that facility, and that was why the pastor wanted me to sign promissory notes for my husband’s counseling. I didn’t ask how much that would be but given that promissory notes were written, I would expect that cost to be in the thousands of dollars with no idea of when the counseling would considered to be completed or what results to expect. One thing is for sure, they sure have an appetite for cash at Peacemakers’ / Nouthetic Counseling.

      • Just Me

        Persistent Widow — Bravo for filing that complaint with the state.

      • Jill

        I had a similar experience with Judy Dabler and The Peacemaker’s Organization just this March 2017. The situation was not one of domestic violence (I’m so sorry that you have had to endure such pain) however, a relational experience. After being “interviewed” by Judy Dabler for an hour and 45 minutes, I left feeling raped. Interestingly, she didn’t pray before the interview took place. I thought that was odd for a Christian counselor. Her line of questioning was inappropriate and during the process she crossed many ethical and professional boundaries for which a state licensed life coach / counselor would have lost a license.

        A conciliation weekend ensued without my participation (a complicated story) and one of the participants was so traumatized that he could not eat, sleep, think. He suffered from panic attacks and was forced to take a leave of absence from work for 2 months and was put on anti-anxiety meds. Judy left a family in turmoil and never looked back. She never called to check in on the family after the conciliation weekend. I caution anyone to use JD and the Pacemaker’s Organization. It’s a dangerous organization with an intent to play God and profit from others’ trust and vulnerability.

      • And Jill — welcome to the blog. 🙂

        If you haven’t already done so I suggest you check out our New Users’ Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

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

      • Thanks so much for sharing this, Jill. 🙂

        I’m going to use some passages from the vindicatory psalms, in my prayers this morning about Peacemakers. I will ask God to destroy the organization. Peacemakers — like the domestic abuser and like spiritually abusive churches — has been TOLD that what they are doing is wrong, and they have not repented and reformed. Therefore, I see no reason to expect that they will repent and reform in the future. The best thing that could happen to them is that they are brought to an end.

  8. Barnabasintraining

    If I recall correctly, Peacemakers was the mediating group used by SGM (how’d that work out for them? How many churches have left that group now? I’ve lost count. But Mahaney still gets speaking gigs, so, maybe they did do the, ahem, job they were hired to do after all.). I recall the trail of broken lives and people they left in their wake as the SGM machine trundled on.

    Peacemakers seems to be excellent at destroying the peace of God’s people. They are like the army tank with the smiley face on the gun barrel that says “have a nice day.”

    • They are like the army tank with the smiley face on the gun barrel that says “have a nice day.”

      BIT you’ve nailed it once again. You have a way with metaphors, that’s for sure. 🙂

  9. bright sunshinin' day

    A definition of malpractice: “Malpractice occurs when a person is injured due to professional misconduct through negligence, carelessness, or lack of skill.” I agree with Jeff that malpractice is a good word to describe Peacemaker ministry.

    PW, your fortitude to write your experience and lay out the facts in such a clear way for us to understand is amazing and truly a ministry. The truth can set people free from further abuse.

    • Barnabasintraining

      PW, your fortitude to write your experience and lay out the facts in such a clear way for us to understand is amazing and truly a ministry.

      I agree!

  10. Freed by God

    The term “slippery slope” is used in Bill Gothard material. Are they affiliated or were they trained by BG? They were also involved in the Douglas Phillips fiasco. Yuck.

    May God give us strong, down-to-earth believers who call a spade a spade. After many years, I finally found such men in my small church. They paid my legal fees!!

    [Editors note: Readers, please note that this comment is not by Barbara Roberts but by ‘Freed by God’. We are not sure why Barb’s photo is showing up with this reader’s screen name.]

  11. debby

    I venture to guess they never gave PWs h the “Slippery Slope” to look at HIS behaviors. He was in the “attack” pie piece all the time it seems, but did they ever question him about that? The slippery slope looks like it could be useful only in the most mundane, day-to-day slights that imperfect humans do to each other. If the guy in the grocery line is rude or short with me, sure, I’m gonna stick with the gold slice, right? (Probably won’t spend much time at all on “Gee, should I commit suicide because he is soooo rude? Or gee, maybe I should consider murdering the guy? No?) Well, what if he follows me to my car? Am I going to gold slice him then? Or would flight or attack mode be more apropo?! Hello?! Responses can only be viewed in light of what you are responding TO. Abuse is an attack. You don’t “arbitrate” “negotiate” or “mediate” when attacked. You either retreat or attack. It is a ridiculous (but damn pretty and I’m sure they’re proud of it) “tool” to use to make themselves look like they know what they are talking about. Before ACFJ, I would have fallen for it all, hook, line and slippery slope chart. Thank you. So much.

    In looking at it again (I just cant seem to get the thing out of my mind) it occurred to me that abusers DO spend a lot of time in the red zone (the attacks being verbal, emotional, spiritual, and sometimes physical, but always designed to hurt or control). To survive, targets spend a lot of time in the blue zone (denying its “that bad” wanting to flight only to be told “That’s not Godly” by those she trusts, and sometimes contemplating suicide as her options dwindle to nothing but more of the same). Only HEALTHY people in HEALTHY relationships can function in the gold zone, where God designed us to be if we are walking in the spirit and wanting to live a life pleasing to Him. I can see the blue and red are Satan’s territory. Wow. Teaching people that they can function in the gold while the one person who has promised to love, honor and cherish you functions in the red, is ludicrous. I just keep staring at that chart…

    • Debby, I suggest you submit a version of this comment you made here, to Amazon, as a one star review of the Peacemaker book. You said it so very well. 🙂

    • Innoscent

      Debby, spot on analysis of the “Sloppy Slop” by PM! Their coloured coded half-pie is grotesque and yes, that’s what it is only ‘half’ of the truth, a pie in the sky. I’d like to know what part of the slice they’d follow if they witnessed…. say, the assault and rape of their own daughter!

      They are missing the other half of the pie (the whole Biblical Truth) stating how to deal with abusers and their victims, showing 2 quarters:
      1) White for the abused target: Listen, Believe, Vindicate, Protect, Help, Support
      2) Black for the abuser: Confront, Decode (Ellie!!!), Expose, Judge, Discipline, Expell

      It’s obvious that with TPW they are in the blue and red as they ‘fled their responsibilities, denied her claims, victimised her (assault), and confused and trapped her in their inappropriate rules (litigation)! 😦

      • debby

        And did their best to drive her to suicide or murder her spirit…don’t they realize she is God’s precious daughter? And that He has a LOT to say about those who oppress her?! Seems they know only half their Bible as well; the half that “says” what they want it to “say.”

      • Okay, who will create a whole-circle diagram along the lines of what Innoscent has pictured here? A diagram like that would be a great educational tool, a great meme, and a great way of further exposing the foolishness of Peacemakers’ Slippery sloppy Slope slop.

        I anyone wants to volunteer for that, maybe they would like to have a go and send their efforts to Persistent Widow by email, and collectively they can refine the diagram till it’s ready to be published on this blog. I think it would merit a stand-alone post. . . . presenting the whole-circle diagram and explaining how it applies to domestic abuse, then comparing and contrasting it with the Peacemaker’s half circle diagram. For those who want to work on this, I suggest you go to the Peacemaker’s website and have a look at their page where they explain their diagram, to see how best to counter it with the truth in your/our diagram and explanation.

        Hope you don’t mind me dobbing you in on this, PW. If you don’t want to be involved, we’ll find someone else I’m sure. 🙂

      • Innoscent

        Barb, o some homework! I like the idea of a collective effort to design a biblical diagram illustrating proper responses to victims and their abuser, followed by a stand-alone post that would give an opportunity to discuss, and improve it. Indeed it would be a valuable tool to counteract the sloppy slope. I will have a go at it.

      • Terrific, Innoscent. 🙂

    • freeatlast8

      Debby, you moved me to chuckle and snort. LOL Thanks! I needed that!

      • Still Reforming (previously newlyanonymous)

        Replying to Barb’s tongue-twister here: ” Slippery sloppy Slope slop.”

        I just tried saying that three times fast. I can barely do it, but it’s fun to try. 🙂

      • Barnabasintraining

        I just tried saying that three times fast.

        I couldn’t even do it once in my head. 🙂

        Well, I did get it eventually, but it took a while. 🙂

  12. Couples who publicly sit at peace in church pews can nevertheless be at war. They attack each other, defend ground, attempt manipulative guerrilla tactics, and declare occasional truces. When war has been declared, there is sin on both sides; but when violence is involved, typically a strong male oppresses a female. With God’s grace, these afflicted women will begin to look to the church for help. When they do, what are some basic biblical guidelines for your ministry to such women — and their husbands? (from p 1 of CCEF’s booklet, Domestic Abuse, How to Help by Powlison, Tripp and Welch)

    How many wrong things can you pack into five sentences, CCEF? I mean, did you do a PhD at at Satan’s Synogogue on how to hurt victims, how to trigger them, how to insinuate victim-blame and how to enable abusers?

    There is utter inconsistency in saying:
    1) couples (both spouses) are at war with each other and there is sin on both sides
    2) But when violence is involved typically a strong male oppresses a female, and you describe such women as afflicted.

    The first point is contradicted by the second.

    But in the second point, CCEF got one thing right: the woman they are describing is afflicted. Afflicted by the abusive husband . . . .but not only by him, by you, CCEF, for you afflict her with your victim-blaming language and you enable countless pastors and elders to afflict her too, by teaching this garbage to them in your booklet.

    • Barnabasintraining

      There is utter inconsistency in saying:
      1) couples (both spouses) are at war with each other and there is sin on both sides
      2) But when violence is involved typically a strong male oppresses a female, and you describe such women as afflicted.

      They want to eat their cake and have it too? It helps to control the narrative.

      “Have a nice day” 🙂

    • debby

      This reminds me so much of the time I had finally gotten desperate enough to go to a couple I respected at church. I had taped my h screaming at us for a spot he found on the ceiling (that had been there for 4 yrs and he was just noticing it, HUGE crisis…). They listened to the 5 minutes long rant, while I am sitting on their couch crying, and when I turned it off, they said, “He is an unhappy man.” followed by “You (as in me? both of us?!) are destroying your children.” followed by “When I see you raising your hands in church, you are being hypocrites.” This came after 23 years of verbal and emotional abuse with me trying EVERYTHING (the books and preachers and “counselors” said to do) to get him to stop. I felt like my heart had been literally stomped under a jackboot and I could not breathe. Then they prayed for me, that God would give me the strength to stay and pray and “see it through.” Then sent me back home worse off than when I came to them. But I will say, God used that to finally make me realize “These people don’t get it. I don’t NEED their approval.” But it was a very painful and long-time-coming lesson for me to stop relying on man. Why do tears from abuse seem to repulse people? My theory is that their pride has been hurt. They really don’t have an answer so they make one up that sounds spiritual and when it doesn’t solve the problem, it MUST be my fault.

      • Round*Two

        This brings to mind that my husband recently told me he had been recording my phone conversations. He often managed to get a rise out of me (of course in my emotional frame of mind) and because he had that effect on me. When I was speaking to him with an escalated voice he claims I have been verbally abusing him! I have to admit that in one conversation with him I went off on him, BUT, he had been stalking me and harrassing me that I felt I needed to let him know I was Not enjoying it!
        I have no doubt that he has taken those recordings and played them to his family who now can see who is the abuser in this relationship! He had been working overtime trying to get me to admit the abuse NEVER happened! Well it did happen and I will never say it didn”t.
        I found out more about my husband recently. It seems his abusive patterns go way back 20 + years (that I know of) and I have only been married to him 3 years.
        “Once an abuser, always an abuser” someone said in a post. I truly believe it!

      • debby

        I understand exactly when you recall how you “went off on him.” I, too, have “gone off” but I have to say it was not my NORMAL way of responding to his abusive tirades and certainly NOT the way I respond in normal, everyday life to ANYONE. One of the manipulative tricks abusers use is to bring up your “going off” episodes and heap false guilt on you. It took me a long time to stop being thrown by this one. First, because of my own response to my unacceptable behavior (sincere apology, no excuses, actual remorse, actually feeling guilt in my spirit etc) I knew that I was forgiven by God (if not my h) and second, I read a great article on Lundy Bancroft’s site that talks about “Who is the controller here?” and it essentially showed me that responding to abuse is bound to get ugly at times when we are pushed beyond reason. It is the continuous, unacceptable, unrepentant behaviors without remorse or desire to change them that is the difference.

      • Round*Two

        This isn’t my normal behavior either. I find myself constantly ‘defending’ myself to him. It is just crazy how he has / had that effect on me. After I have been served with divorce papers and a restraining order (I also have one against him), I am getting a breather! All this continues to stress me, but I know the Lord is with me through it all.
        Thank you all for sharing your story, they are very helpful!

      • Still Reforming (previously newlyanonymous)


        I’ve wondered about that too – why don’t people respond appropriately to the victim (usually the wife) when told these accounts of abuse? Perhaps pride, as you wrote. I think too that abuse is ugly and messy, and most of the “Christians” I know from my previous church just don’t want to know. One of them even said to me (walking up and patting me on the back, then leaving just as quickly), “I don’t know what’s going on, and I don’t need to know. Just know that I’m praying for you.”

        Abuse is ugly. It’s hard to hear (and harder to live). They’d just rather not know. But that’s not love. There was a lot of talk about love in my former church, but I learned the hard way that when it comes right down to it, they don’t really love. They like the idea of love and Valentine’s Day banquets celebrating love. (But have I gotten a call now that I’m no longer in the congregation? Nope. And they all know why I’m gone even without knowing all the details) Being nice and smiling and welcoming and then going their own way is how they want to “love” to be.

        The pastor of the church I just left is the most culpable though, followed by a few other church leaders. They accept the abuser in their church and accept my leaving. After all, I was the whistleblower. It’s as if I caused the problem by no longer protecting my husband, although they would probably say “no longer respecting” my husband.

        I see their behavior as an affront to the Lord. Because if the Lord is not for truth and justice, he’s not the Lord of lords.

  13. vlee

    I haven’t had the privilege of coming under the ministry of such an organisation but they’re either ignorantly naive or evil in perpetuating the abuse.

    Somehow ‘Christians’ don’t seem to respond well to abuse – don’t want to recognise or acknowledge it. Most shy away as if that word is too strong for what you’re experiencing.

    One minister’s response after years of deliberation was to go read up on the theology of abuse.

    My Father has provided help but sadly, apart from a handful of my closest friends, it hasn’t come from Christian circles; mainly those who do not know Him have empathised and helped practically. The rest have shied away for one reason or another.

    • Hi vlee, welcome to the blog and thanks for commenting. 🙂

  14. SeeClearerNow (prev NotHeard)

    Persistent Widow, regarding the service you did not receive yet are being charged for, do you have something in America like Consumer Services that we have in Australia? They protect Australian consumers against dodgy goods or services, and are very helpful. The couple of times that I’ve had sticky situations to resolve, and have needed consumer services’ backing, it has been enough to write that I’m corresponding under recommendation from consumer services, and the offending party has come around to a fair resolution that I am happy with. For a situation like yours of a service paid / paying for but not received as described / promised, we would have support from Consumer Services and are entitled to ask for a refund. Do you have something in America like that? Also have you tried talking to your bank from the credit card fraud perspective..’peacefakers’ is abusing your financial details to take by deceit, more money than what you agreed to pay. The bank might be able to stop further payments being drawn by peacefakers, even if they can’t recover funds already taken. Are either of these avenues an option to you?

    • thepersistentwidow

      SeeClearerNow, Thanks so much to you and everyone here who was concerned about the financial situation. All of the events described in these posts were from a few years ago during which we had a bad recession in the US. This expensive Peacemaker counseling was the last thing that I needed at that time.

      Things got so hectic with the following court action, safety issues, church letter writing, etc. that it did not come to my mind to file a complaint with the credit card company. That would have been a great idea.

      At that time, I thought that I was going to go off a financial cliff which was what my husband had threatened-he would ruin me. I really believed that if I suffered financial ruin God would still be with me, so whatever I lost (home, etc.) would be in his plan if he willed it. Thankfully, after the divorce, it pleased God to prosper my business. Previously I had been working day and night, but with God’s blessing I got new customers and I began to hire help. I now have ten employees working for me which has afforded me time to write these posts and do other research for ACFJ. God has been faithful to me and I have learned what it means to not worry about tomorrow because each day has enough trouble of its own. God has a plan.

      As far as the cost of Peacemakers, I will give that to God to judge as he chooses. Thanks again for your concern and good suggestion. I hope that someone else who is defrauded by this counseling will utilize your good idea.

      • SeeClearerNow (prev NotHeard)

        Oh that’s awesome that your business is doing so well. What a relief that a God is providing for you! The burden of financial instability imposed by abusers is suffocatingly heavy to many..

      • thepersistentwidow

        One other point concerning the finances, between the time I confronted my husband about the affair and the Peacemakers mediation months later and with the pastor only periodically checking in, my husband had accepted that I was not taking him back and we worked out our own agreement. He suggested a distribution of property and I had the papers drawn up. That was why the Peacemaker said that we would use the time for legal matters and I brought the papers with me. I already had an attorney and I only went to the mediation to appease the church, Peacemakers was not necessary to finish off the legal paperwork. After I was sidetracked with their Slippery Slope and other gimmicks, there was no opportunity afforded for the legal paperwork at the mediation.

        My husband was so angry after the mediation that he refused to sign the documents, (that cost me $1000 to draft) and then the pastor dragged this ordeal on for months, and then that became another year. What could have ended easily led to serious financial misery with non-support from the husband and my trying to pay for his expenses. No one at Peacemakers or the church seemed to care about that although I sent desperate letters to both of them.

        I write this here so that anyone starting on the Peacemakers path will consider that it is a long ordeal and you might go bankrupt or get murdered dealing with this silly program. Ken Sande himself has a whole section titled “Slowing the Divorce Down” in his chapter of Pastoral Leadership for Manhood and Womanhood so the delay was another or their tactics.

        Church Discipline

      • Still Reforming


        In your experience and estimation, is Peacemakers akin to secular groups for resolution in that both parties (husband and wife) enter into the process on equal footing? That is, I’m finding in the legal system in the US, when one goes before a judge (at least in our state or our particular judge), both parties walk in the room with equal status, regardless of what has occurred in the past. If a law hasn’t been outright broken, then both parties are equal. So someone can transgress and transgress (not unlike your experience with the husband’s relationship with the other woman – or like Barb succinctly put it from another source – unless part A has been inserted into part B, no transgression), and it won”t matter because the letter of the Law hasn’t been broken.

        Because of the nature of the abuser and the tactics employed, it’s likely inevitable that the target of the abuse (as long as abuse isn’t recognized by state or church for what it is) will be asked to pay – financially and all other ways. It’s happening to me now – with very expensive lawyers who are trying to take all routes necessary to NOT make it cost, but we’re all being dragged around by the nose ring by abuser and his attorney. Settlement, then into court, where we’re ordered into “High Conflict Resolution classes” and mediation, and we’ll be back into court again I suspect. And no one seems to be acknowledging why, no matter how many times I say it. They see it (and I wonder if Peacemakers didn’t see it and hear it too, but turned a blind eye and cold heart), but I suppose there’s nothing the attorneys can do. But Peacemakers could have.

        The reason I asked my first question about whether Peacemakers saw you both on equal footing is that was the approach of my pastor on more than one occasion. The words I most frequently heard were: “Well, I don’t know because I wasn’t there.” At the time, I didn’t realize just how demeaning those words are. Effectively those words say, “I can’t validate your testimony, so it may be untrue. (But I’ll let you keep serving in the church anyway because no one else wants to teach those kids, including my own grandchildren, even though you may be lying.)” Today, I think highly enough of my own testimony knowing it is truth to speak it anyway and stand by it, no matter what the party on the other side thinks or says.

      • thepersistentwidow

        Still Reforming, The purpose of Peacemakers is reconciliation at any cost, not truth seeking. Peacemakers is based upon the doctrines of and cater to confessionally Reformed churches such as the PCA and OPC. Those churches adhere to the Westminster Confession of Faith as their standard and it forbids divorce for abuse. In order to deal with abusive and troubled marriages, Peacemakers utilizes manipulative and deceptive practices to “fix” marriages even if the situations within the marriages do not change.

        The Peacemaker counselor’s goal is to get the abuser to the point of “repentance” and then the abuse victim will be pressured to forgive and forget. Nouthetic Counseling (CCEF) is readily brought into the mix and as you can see from their Domestic Abuse, How to Help booklet by Paul David Tripp, it is based on sin leveling. Bottom line is that as far as Peacemaker’s is concerned, the victim will be taking the abuser back. I would like to mention that Peacemakers, through aggressive marketing, has spread out of the solely confessional Reformed arena into other legalistic church bodies as well.

        I don’t know why the courts utilize mediation. I know that you are in the midst of a storm now, Still Reforming. Praying for you.

      • Jeff Crippen

        Reconciliation at any cost. There it is. Too bad Peacemakers didn’t have the chance to be here 2,000 years back. They could have sat the Lord Jesus and Satan down and worked things out.

      • Still Reforming

        Pastor Jeff,

        I get very few real laughs these days, so from the bottom of my heart I thank you for that one!

      • Still Reforming (previously newlyanonymous)


        Thank you for both your testimony and your prayers.

        Yes, still in the storm, but I believe Jesus Himself is bringing calm in the midst of it – calm in my heart. But it does come in waves, as does the wisdom, but as He brings it to me, I recognize His voice in it, so there is peace in that.

        What I don’t understand about Peacemakers is twofold (probably more than two, but these two thoughts rise above the rest):

        (1) Their very name betrays that they do not understand that there can be no peace with an abuser, unless and until Jesus Himself converts that soul, if ever He does. And because He may not, the targets of the abuser need protection and deliverance with the AID of (not hindrance of) Christ’s true church.

        (2) The sin-leveling is onerous. It burdens the target of abuse.

        I heard someone in Sunday School say last week, “Well, all sin is sin. We’re all sinners before God. All sin is the same.” Because it’s a big class and I’m relatively new there, I didn’t want to start a discussion on what was a tangent to the main lesson, but I think this is a misconception widespread in churches today. It would also require the right environment and willing hearts to discuss and study, and that wasn’t the time. I wish I could explain it better in a few sentences, but I suspect it takes more than that. Perhaps at some point I’ll study Scripture on that subject (because it relates too to how we as Christians all will be in heaven with Christ but our rewards will vary based on our lives lived for Him here on earth, if I’m not mistaken – which I well could be, but I think there’s Scriptural basis for this). So not unlike our rewards varying, I think sin isn’t a level playing field, even though we are all sinners and those not redeemed will all go to Hell.

      • The Westminster Shorter Catechism repudiates sin-levelling. See this post
        Are all sins equally bad? Are all transgressions of the law equally heinous?

      • Still Reforming (previously newlyanonymous)

        One last thought (sorry for my being so verbose, but if it adds to the iron sharpening iron, then YAY!):

        Last week in Sunday School when a woman spoke up about we’re all sinners and all sin is sin to God (to which I didn’t reply for reasons cited in another comment), the man next to me said, “Those in the Old Testament who altered the type of God received harsh punishments more than others – such as when Moses struck the rock instead of speaking to it and he wasn’t permitted to enter the promised land.”

        I asked for clarification, stating, “Do you mean by ‘type’ something akin to a ‘shadow’ or ‘picture’ of that which was to come – or Who was to come? And by this do you mean that initially Moses struck the rock which was foreshadowing Christ’s being stricken and likewise the second time Moses should have just spoken to the rock, as we can speak to Christ as our advocate, and that He must not be stricken a second time?”

        He replied yes. His point was worth noting. This man said that it’s a very serious and grave matter to mess with God’s portrayal and plan of redemption. Most people wouldn’t think striking a rock is such a big deal, but to God it was.

        Which then also begs the question: Why are there different punishments for different sins in the Old Testament if “sin is all the same to God”?

      • Still Reforming (previously newlyanonymous)


        I’m five minutes into your video on that link and I’ll be sharing this for others to see. It’s excellent. Thank you for your tireless efforts to speak truth, shed light on this issue of domestic abuse, and educate us – the targets of such abuse. I had never before thought about that passage in Judges in this way before, but you draw some really excellent parallels and lessons out of that passage. Thank you. (And also it’s nice to see and hear you “in person,” as it were.)

      • Thanks SR. If you have time, please share my Levite’s Concubine video as widely as you can. I long for it to be viewed by more pastors and leaders.

      • Still Reforming (previously newlyanonymous)


        I wish the Westminster Catechism cited Scriptural references in its listing of which sins were more grievous than others to God. Certain Scriptures leap to mind that may support this list and the general Biblical principal (I think) that stands in opposition to sin-leveling.

        For example, when Christ said that it would be worse for the hearers of His words in Luke 10:14: “But it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the judgment than for you.…” because of the audience’s lack of repentance. Or His words elsewhere that better a millstone be around your neck and cast into the sea than to lead little ones astray (which would seem to support item 1 of the catechism).

        But also I think of the verses that speak of the unforgivable sin (blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, which I’m thinking also speaks of unrepentance?). That would seem to place that sin above others, thereby discounting the notion of “we’re all sinners and therefore sin is all equal in the eyes of God.” I’m starting to seriously think that sin-leveling is a ploy of the devil’s as he accuses the brethren and dulls their minds to the truth of the Word.

      • SR, I believe all those passages you have as support for the idea that some sins are more grievous in the sight of God than other sins, are good support for that idea. There are other passages as well. But I don’t have time to list them here. As I recall, Fisher’s Larger Catechism, which is a elaboration of the Westminster Catechism, gives many more such passages. I believe I cited the Larger Catechism in the link I gave in another comment of mine, above.

      • … we’re ordered into “High Conflict Resolution classes” …

        that is part of the racket of the family court in many parts of the USA, it would seem. The idea is to bleed the victim of all her funds, so she gives up.
        And from what I’ve heard, the parties (husband and wife) are ordered by the courts to pay for the ‘High Conflict Resolution’ classes. And some cases are even ordered to have continuing individual management by a ‘high conflict management professional.’ Which costs megabucks, of course. . .

        It’s a racket and a scam.

        So far as I am aware, it is only in the USA that the H and W are sometimes compelled by the divorce courts to pay these high fees for classes and mediation, which in fact are just sin-levelling that enables the abuser while bullying the victim. And after the expensive classes and mediation, they can then be ordered to pay for ongoing High Conflict Management from an “expert professional” to help them deal with co-parenting in the inevitable High Conflict after the divorce. But I could be wrong, the racket may have spread to other countries as well.

      • Still Reforming (previously newlyanonymous)

        Yes, Barbara. It may well be some kind of racket. Although I suspect it’s just lack of interest (and to some degree time) in examining the details. Unless my abusive husband crossed any true legal line (because lying, manipulating, spinning cars around with family inside, screaming at the family, etc aren’t illegal), then the judge didn’t want to hear any of it. Abuser and target are equal in the eyes of the law.

        Which means, we were given an opportunity then to work things out on our own (for 10 minutes as judge absented himself) and because the abuser is who he is, nothing could be worked out. No matter how much I gave him in the way of “time-sharing” with child. So the judge came in, drew up a plan, then lectured us on how we need to “work together for the best interests of the child, only ‘we’ know the child best, etc” so to do so we’re ordered to pay (yes, we both pay) for this “High Conflict Resolution Class” and mediation (must pay a mediator now because meeting together in a one-hour settlement (stopped early by the attorneys because abuser wouldn’t work with me – nor would his attorney – they’re cut of the same cloth) proved fruitless. Judge didn’t care to hear that I had already tried a communications class (my initiative) with abuser and three marriage counselors (again, my initiative) to no avail. Now we add a High Conflict class to that.

        I daresay, there wasn’t much I said before the judge, having been prepared by my attorney about same, but when I heard that class name, I fixed my eyes on him and just stared, with a really dull ‘you-gotta-be-kidding-me-this-won’t-help’ glaze. I kept a poker face, but boy was I disappointed, which is a gross understatement.

        It may well be a racket, because you’d think by now that people would realize anger management classes haven’t changed angry abusive souls – and neither will “high conflict resolution classes.” As is written somewhere on this site (I don’t remember where), you can’t educate an abuser out of his tactics to control – something the courts and all “educators,” counselors, and “professionals” who interact with the court system have yet to learn. Perhaps it’s wisdom only given of God….

      • It may well be some kind of racket. Although I suspect it’s just lack of interest (and to some degree time) in examining the details.
        . . . you can’t educate an abuser out of his tactics to control.

        Certainly there is a lack of interest in the legislative and justice systems to improve how domestic abuse is dealt with. [addit: I think this is more true in the USA than some other countries.] And one would have to be very naive to think that there is no interest in keeping it the way it is. The professionals make a LOT of money out of all these classes and trainings and high conflict mediation programs that divorcing parties are forced to pay for. Why would they be interested in changing the system which is so lucrative for them? There are only two reasons they’d be interested in changing it:
        1) because they might have a conscience about the harm it is doing to victims of abuse and the penury it forces them into — in which case they would be interested in getting rid of the racket and providing true justice and safety for victims and kids;
        2) because they might think they could make even more money and set up even more ‘Institutes of High Conflict Management’ that offer ‘training programs’ and ‘specialist support’ etc, so they could expand the racket even further.

        It’s easy to guess which interest group would have the biggest muscle and the most skilled spin doctors. . .

  15. IamMyBeloved's


    So, do they believe that Jesus played some part in the abuse He received from His enemies???? What DID He DO, to make them slap His face and beat Him to a pulp? Now there’s a million dollar question. Or what about Joseph, David, Daniel, Paul, or Stephen, or John or the other multitude of believers, abused by the unbelieving. Did any of those people confess their sin to their unbelieving abusers? Oh. What’s that? A loud resounding NO? Hmm, I thought the Bible was to be our answer for all of life, Mr. Sande. I would guess from this attitude and belief he has about abuse in marriage, that he does not know his Bible very well.

    Any “ministry” that locks a woman and her children into an abusive situation, is a tool of satan, not God. We are called to be responsible with not only our own lives, but the lives of the children God entrusted to us.

    I believe our response to any of these kinds of things, needs to be using our “spiritual weapons of warfare”, to bring these strongholds down. Perhaps God’s greatest desire is for us to stand up and confront the wicked, (not meaning our abusers, but these types that support the abusers and call themselves “Christian”) by tearing down the strongholds they are making for God’s people. This is a good place to start. I do not believe that Sande’s so-called “ministry” is real. As I have said before, who charges that kind of money to make peace between two people. Don’t forget – the lawyer in him is driving the fees. I will be praying that God tears down this “ministry” – to the ground – and exposes the greed and lies behind it, as well as the dark, oppressive, sinful position they hold about abuse in marriage and divorce for the same.

    I love how people compare marriage as Christ and the Church to a husband and his wife, and then throw in that abuse in marriage is not necessarily okay, but should be tolerated and the abuser understood and empathized with. Christ never abuses the Bride. Never. Christ never sympathizes with sin. Never. To compare a godless abusing man who abuses his wife and children, to Christ is, well it is just quite frankly – sickening.

    It disturbs my soul greatly to see people professing Christ, who cannot get something this simplistic, right about Him. He is not an abuser and never desires His children to be abused, even by wicked sinners or the people who support them.

    God is using all of our lives and stories here, to make us into a strong people, a people fit for His Kingdom. A people who know how to run into and find refuge in Him and Him alone. A people He knows will put to an end, the blasphemy of His name concerning abuse.

    • thepersistentwidow

      IAmMyBeloved’s, I agree with you totally that this is a Satanic stronghold that needs to come down. Rating those book reviews (see links at the bottom of this post) is very effective for drawing attention to this evil. I noticed that since this post published our negative review inched up to a prominent spot on the Peacemaker book Amazon page. It is visible to anyone who is looking at the product description.

      Every vote helps, including rating their top glowing reviews as ‘unhelpful’. Eventually we may be at the top and then maybe they will realize that they need to take our complaint seriously instead of conveniently brushing us off. How about a warning in the book and some training for the Peacemakers on domestic abuse? Is that really too much for us to ask?

      • Still Reforming (previously newlyanonymous)

        Ditto re: Satanic influence. We need to speak against all who are in opposition to the Lord. He has placed us here to do just that.

        I appreciate your thoughts re: how to vote on Amazon. I am following that discussion at amazon, but will also do as you suggest here.

        The following is somewhat off-topic, but in trying to locate an oldies song (Sunshine, Lollipops) for my daughter, I found this gem on the same album of Lesley Gore’s (from the ’60s). The title alone makes me smile: “You Don’t Own Me.” It’s one I plan to listen to with my daughter as part of preparing her to not end up in the same kind of marriage: Lesley Gore – You Don’t Own Me (HD)

      • IamMyBeloved's

        No, it is not too much to ask, as long as these people continue to represent themselves as “God’s” appointed and anointed peacemakers. God hates false peace. I believe the entire counseling aspect of NANC and the rest should be exposed in the area of their inability to deal with abuse and unwillingness to learn about it. Everyone who has been victimized and is looking for help and healing needs to be warned to steer clear of these agencies and “c”hurches. These people are only cut out for marriages where people are ignorant and will spend $3,000.00 to be able to agree on the color to paint the house, etc.

        I think that here, as real live victims of evil and abuse and oppression – we cannot even imagine what it would be like to have an argument like that. Simple. Paint the house whatever color you want to, would be most of our answers here. We are not speaking of those issues.

        I have the cover already drawn up for the book I intend to write. I think speaking out is the only way to preserve the sanity of those coming behind us. My story is much like yours, PW and without even yet knowing the ending of your story, I can pretty much predict and tell you exactly what happened with your “c”hurch.

    • emmellkaycee

      Your input is SO right on, IAMB! Thank you for being one who is voicing truth!!

    • AMEN!

  16. Still Reforming (previously newlyanonymous)

    Persistent Widow,

    As someone who is paying solely for our daughter’s care and upbringing, while the roaring anti-husband continues his tantrums and tirades about how cruel I am to him (all the while focusing only on his desires with respect to his house and his child, yada yada), I greatly, greatly appreciate these words of yours:

    “I will be paying for this debt for a long time on a credit card, but actually, I am in a better position than someone who makes a great deal of money at the expense of Christ’s suffering people.”

    You made so many good points in your letter to Judy Dabler. We who are trodden underfoot yet know Christ are in a better position than those wearing the boots and braying nonsense in His Holy Name. Thank you for that reminder.

  17. foundinhim

    I totally agree that much harm can be done by counselors and ministries that aren’t informed about the nature and dynamics of abuse. I am experiencing that myself. But I think we need to be careful to remember that many of these people are ignorant, and not plotting how they can maliciously force us to experience further abuse. Of course that needs to change – and that’s part of the reason for this site and book. It is very hard but I have to consistently remind myself not to be bitter but to entrust leaders and their ignorance to God, while looking for opportunities to educate those around me.

    • 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.


      foundinhim, I agree with your cautionary reminder.
      . . . and I’ll add this as a nuance to it, if I may. There are many pastors and leaders who are ignorant about the dynamics of abuse and when they hurt or harm victims, they are not doing so maliciously. But there are some pastors and leaders who are aware that what they are doing is harming vicims, and they are quite content to keep on doing it. Some of that second group are doing it maliciously; some of them are doing more from the motive of fear of man and fear of losing their congregation or their money, than from direct malice to the victims. However, the result, from the victim’s point of view is harm, whatever the motives of the leader.

      And leaders who have been told that they are doing harm to victims, but ignore the feedback and refuse to change, they are a LOT more culpable than the ones who are simply ignorant.

      I think Jeff C and quite a few of the other ACFJ team members, and many of our readers, have testified that we were in the past ignorant about the dynamics of abuse and we said or did things that would have harmed victims and enabled abusers. But when in God’s providence our ignorance was dispelled by knowledge and experience, we changed our tune.

      • Still Reforming (previously newlyanonymous)


        And for many years I gave church leaders and members the benefit of the doubt, figuring if it took me years to figure out what was going on in my own home, how could they discern between who’s telling the truth in a he-said-she-said situation?

        Then… as things started to surface about details of what happened in our home and the church leadership became aware, the onus was on them to make that determination, but what they did was essentially say, “We don’t know; We weren’t there.” (Shades of Pilate washing his hands of Jesus’ crucifixion.)

        And in not wanting to stand on one side or another, they essentially stood on the side of the abuser, who remains in the church today while we, the abused, fled. As the church, they are not called to remain neutral, but to take a side, and they have effectively taken it. I am hearing this far too often, I fear, on this website, which is SO appropriately named and subtitled.

      • Valerie

        Yes Barbara! Ignorance can quickly turn to arrogance. I have told people its okay to be ignorant about abuse, so long as you know you are ignorant about abuse. (I was at one time ignorant myself). It turns to arrogance, however, when you no longer look to the abused to understand abuse; but instead with twisted irony hold your own ignorance of it as a higher truth than the abused own story. In essence the arrogant one says, “I don’t understand what you all went through, but I know you’re wrong.”

      • Still Reforming (previously newlyanonymous)

        Valerie, That is very insightful!

      • Innoscent

        Valerie, brilliant comment! I agree with SR.
        I could give many examples, but there is one elder in my church who has given me advice playing the knowledgeable counselor when I can tell without a doubt that he isn’t educated about abuse at all. He isn’t hearing me. He put across that he’s sincerely supported me and also dedicated time. But that doesn’t make up for his ignorance and arrogance, which has been counterproducive and hurtful in actual fact!

    • debby

      This is the second time in as many days that I have been reminded that not too long ago, I was ignorant as well, and have been taking time to personally contact 3 specific friends that I know I did not maliciously intend to hurt them but hurt them deeply through my ignorance. Having said that, I am a layman. I am not a trained counselor, church or otherwise. I think they are held to a standard of knowledge that surpasses the common man because they are, by virtue of their position, having many people come to them for the express purpose of finding answers (as opposed to my friend position where they are mostly trying to vent). The knowledge is out there and it seems that if they have had any more than a few folks come to them from abusive situations, they would start to see a pattern. I think that a lot of times it is the pride of “not knowing” and not wanting to admit it so they give some simplistic answers that SOUND spiritual but do more harm than good. Thank you, though, for the reminder that but for God’s grace, I may have continued through life hurting those living with abuse or trying to start anew and needing encouragement.

    • thepersistentwidow

      Foundinhim, We have tried earnestly to educate higher-ups within the PCA, Nouthetic Counseling circles, Reformed theologians, and Peacemakers about the danger of domestic abuse in person, through writing letters, phone calls and e-mails. Very few of these people have taken the time to seriously address the issue presented. We have received some cordial responses that do not address the issues such as the one from Steve Long mentioned in my post. Most times we get no response. Peacemakers was notified of these posts and they have had every opportunity to post a comment concerning their position or explain where I was in error about them, but we have received no response.

      Wouldn’t you think that if they are charging top dollar to get involved in marriage issues they should have ample knowledge of domestic abuse? And really, a 18 page booklet is their reference? Since they are highly paid professionals, why would it take the likes of us to educate them on something that they should know? The Peacemaker I dealt with had a business BA and a Covenant Seminary (PCA) Nouthetic counseling degree.

      If you examine the quotes from the Domestic Abuse, How to Help, booklet mentioned it is obvious that the mindset of that book is not one of being misinformed but of misinforming. And why would that be so? We’ll will be examining this carefully in a later post, but the truth of the matter is that this is not a misinformation problem but a doctrinal issue. These teachers are pushing the confessional doctrine of the churches they serve which is no divorce for abuse and they know exactly what they are doing. They have carefully crafted doctrines to support the end result being an abuse victim not allowed to divorce unless the abuser walks away from the process. If he walks away, he will be excommunicated. If she walks away, she will be excommunicated.

      One such doctrine is the forgiveness doctrine that we will also explore in-depth later. The teaching is from Jay Adams and says that if someone says they are sorry, or if the pastor decides he is repentant, an abuse victim will have to take them back or be excommunicated. Peacemakers recommends a booklet on that topic, too. It is a doctrine crucial to what they are trying to accomplish which is to stop the divorce and force reconciliation at all costs. That is why at my Peacemaking session the Peacemaker giddily exclaimed that my husband was sorry even though it was obvious to me he wasn’t. That is what she was trained to do.

      This isn’t about being bitter, but we must call these people out. With domestic abuse being discussed all over it is impossible to excuse these people for not knowing anything about it. It would be like surgeons who still refuse to wash their hands before operating on people even though it is common knowledge that is how infections spread. If the Nouthetics and Peacemakers refuse to listen to sound reasoning, then it is our Christian obligation to warn people not to go to them just like one would warn people if they knew of a surgeon who endangered people’s health. There is no excuse for playing reckless with people’s lives in this manner and calling it a ministry.

      Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. Eph 5:11

      • foundinhim

        You’re right. And your responses are so helpful – thank you!

      • voicewilderness1

        A thought occurred to me. This PCA organization is a great haven for abusers. They get enabled and protected here. I had a good friend who worked for covenant seminary. She divorced her husband who was an alcoholic, has continuous multiple affairs, and beat her up so bad she could have died. She said that several of the professors there treated her with disrespect and contempt after that. Some people are just total legalistic Pharisees.

    • Barnabasintraining

      Foundinhim, you are very gracious.

      I too was ignorant in a kind of stick-my-head-in-the-sand way before God drafted me into service as a helper to an abuse victim. It’s kind of a longish story, but at the end of the day I was faced with a choice: to continue in my ignorance because “it’s not my problem” and “God hates divorce so He must have some solution for this,” or pick up the charge He had clearly laid in front of me to get His wisdom regarding this matter to do what I can to help bring righteousness to bear in this situation, whatever righteousness turned out to be.

      The point being, there comes a time when continuing in ignorance becomes flagrant disobedience.

      Because of the charge regarding teachers and stricter judgment, I believe that time happens sooner in the equation for them. For the people involved with organizations like Peacemakers I think they are way way way past their expiration date. The culpability they have regarding this is astonishing to me, and the fact that so many leaders look to them to solve the conflict that walked in their door in the person of the victim and this is the treatment the oppressed receive is too egregious for words. As a formerly ignorant person myself, I realize you don’t know what you don’t know. But at some point in these proceedings some alarm bells should have been blaring in these people that something is not right here and this is NOT Jesus. Instead, like a doctor taking the side of the illness over the well being of the patient, we see them bearing down against the victim to defend their ideology and all who are not a threat to it, however awful they may be otherwise.

      They may be ignorant about the evil dynamics of abuse, as I was. But why are they ignorant about the voice of The Good Shepherd? They may not know exactly what it is, but they should know that something is not right here.

      God says He is pleased when we ask for wisdom. What then, is their excuse for ignorance?

      • They may be ignorant about the evil dynamics of abuse, as I was. But why are they ignorant about the voice of The Good Shepherd? They may not know exactly what it is, but they should know that something is not right here. . . . at some point in these proceedings some alarm bells should have been blaring in these people that something is not right here and this is NOT Jesus.

        What comes to mind is 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12 and how the Lord allows deception to test people; if they flunk the test — if they believe the deception, rather than see through it — then His condemnation of them on the Day of Judgement will be accompanied by abundant proof and evidence that they had pleasure in unrighteousness.

        The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

      • voicewilderness1

        To put it in a nutshell, they are idolizing their doctrine and their religious institution, not serving the Lord by helping the downtrodden. Sound familiar? This happened in Jesus’ day, and His harshest words were to these religious leaders.

  18. bright sunshinin' day

    Yes, PW:
    “There is no excuse for playing reckless with people’s lives in this manner and calling it a ministry.

    Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. Eph 5:11”

  19. thepersistentwidow

    The silence from those we contacted speaks volumes. I think it is one or all of the following reasons. Either:

    The no divorce for abuse doctrine is so entrenched in their theology and confessions that to question it would be considered extremely controversial and possibly a sacrilege, creating divisions within the church body


    They really believe that the Scripture teaches that victims must submit to abuse as proof of their regeneration along with John Piper, but don’t want to openly admit that because that would prove their theology is based on works


    They just don’t care.

    • IamMyBeloved's

      OR they are Pharisees who still believe that if the “law” as they interpret it is not upheld, then they should reprove the law breakers with their own authority. Anyone who cannot evaluate and listen to others tell them their interpretation might be off and / or wooden and / or just plain wrong, should not be in a position of leadership.

      I also believe that a huge part of knowing they are in willful error, is the shocking straight faced, non-emotional responses given by these people. That speaks volumes, in addition to the fact that they appear unteachable. It demonstrates, to me, a hardness in them. The lack of love and care for the abuse of another is out of my realm of understanding. Sort of like the Good Samaritan comparison I made above. We need to know who our enemies are, even when they wear imitation wool.

      Anyone who chooses to wink at, close their eyes to or overlook evil – needs a spiritual readjustment. Anyone who chooses to put another human being at risk to keep their business running – needs to re-evaluate their Christianity, and anyone who puts one of God’s own in a position of being less than an unbelieving abuser, needs to have the Gospel explained to them, because they obviously do not understand it. We are not called to lay down our lives for wolves.

      • Anyone who cannot evaluate and listen to others tell them their interpretation might be off and/or wooden and/or just plain wrong, should not be in a position of leadership.

        I went to a church service this morning; and as per usual, there were a few things in the sermon that greatly concerned me. (I can’t find a church I”m happy in, in my town. . . ). But the pastor who gave the sermon came up to me afterwards, as he almost always does, and asked for my feedback. He knows I often give fairly incisive critical feedback, and when something has rung true with me and rejoiced my soul, I give him that feedback too. I gave him my critical feedback on today’s sermon and service, and he was grateful.

        This man, this church, may never become fully theologically sound in my estimation, but the fact that he seeks out my criticism and feedback speaks volumes. I can respect a person who does that, and sincerely appreciates criticism (as he does with me). Even if I never fully agree with him, I can respect and value him.

        How rare this experience has been for me. In most churches I’ve been in, the preachers rarely or never appreciated my critical feedback on the sermons.

      • Still Reforming (previously newlyanonymous)

        Wow – that’s pretty cool. I’ll be even more delighted to someday read how you and he are able to have discussions wherein he might admit to a change of view after having discussed it with you.

        I know you’re receptive to growing and learning and changing your views – as is the experience with many of us here, but it does seem rare among those in positions of authority and power over others, like a pastor. Or if change does occur in their thinking, it’s often shaped like “God revealed this to me” or “I figured out that…” It’s rare that I hear it in the context of iron sharpening iron.

        Some of the most exciting times in my own theological growth are when I learn error in my understanding and learn something new about the Lord. It’s such a life changer – and always for the better.

        Hearing that this pastor might have changed his thinking on any given matter after a discussion with you would also be refreshing to hear in light of recent discussions here regarding patriarchy. It would be encouraging to hear that a man with such authority altered his views after having discussed them with a female member of the congregation.

        Until then, I rejoice with you that he’s open to the discussions. That’s pretty neat.

      • Still Scared but you can call me Cindy

        Amen for that Pastor and church, Barbara! Recently, in obedience to God’s prompting, I left the small but very safe church who had walked with me through the divorce to go to a larger one with solid teaching but a lot of new people and having to tell my story for the first time to people who had not seen my ex in action. I wondered if I would be judged. Just this week I had a meeting with the pastor about membership and asked some pointed questions about divorce for abuse and was concerned as I got a red flag answer at first “Well, we think the word abuse is used too much”. But then later clarified…”maybe we need to change this part about marriage” (in the membership commitment) ” and clarify that the individual is more important than the marriage”. So very hopeful. He also liked what I said about not making marriage an idol and promised to show my ex the door if he ever comes to this church.

    • voicewilderness1

      At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick some heads of grain and eat them. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, “Look! Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath.”

      He answered, “Haven’t you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He entered the house of God, and he and his companions ate the consecrated bread—which was not lawful for them to do, but only for the priests. Or haven’t you read in the Law that the priests on Sabbath duty in the temple desecrate the Sabbath and yet are innocent? I tell you that something greater than the temple is here. If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent. For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” Matthew 12:1-8

      • Anne#2

        I KNOW firsthand, the PCA is a haven for abusers and supplies them with protection like The Peacemakers as well as helping secure legacies and protect interests through programming of children with indoctrination and providing virgins to make babies with who will never divorce or expose abuse / wrongdoings and worse because they are brainwashed into submission and silence otherwise known as Stockholm syndrome. Please speak out.

      • Hi Anne#2, welcome to the blog. 🙂

        We like to encourage new readers to check out our New Users’ Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

        Regarding Stockholm Syndrome, many people don’t know the real origin of that term. You can read about it here:
        The Myth of “Stockholm Syndrome” and other labels which are used to discredit and pathologize victims of abuse

        You may also like to look at our FAQ page.

        Again, welcome!

  20. bright sunshinin' day

    YES, IAMB. WILLFUL error has a certain “look,” doesn’t it??? You said:

    I also believe that a huge part of knowing they are in willful error, is the shocking straight faced, non-emotional responses given by these people. That speaks volumes, in addition to the fact that they appear unteachable. It demonstrates, to me, a hardness in them.

    This “look” of hardness is cold and calculating because, hold on to your seats, it IS cold and calculating.

    In Ps 17:8-10 (NIV), David’s prayer to God is to hear his cause, to keep him as the apple of God’s eye and to hide him in the shadow of God’s wing from the wicked “…who do me [David] violence…” and who “…CLOSE THEIR HEARTS TO PITY…”

    If you prefer NKJV translation for vs 10, “…they [wicked] have closed up their FAT hearts.”

    Cold and calculating indeed to ignore the oppressed all the while being warm and well fed.

  21. Mary

    Hi. I’m currently a freshman biblical counselling major at Bob Jones University, and I’ve been thinking and reading up on the issue of abuse for some time, and I wanted to bounce an idea off you (“you” being anyone who moderates this site, I guess). When people talk about places like BJU and abuse, they talk about bad counselling. But the way I understand BJU counselling, and the way I understand abuse, abuse isn’t a counselling issue at all. Biblical counselling–as I’ve been taught it–is about helping people with spiritual problems; abuse is clearly a crime. If someone has a spiritual problem, then they need to change. If someone is being abused, then they need legal help and protection. Those two things are very different from each other. I guess what I’m trying to understand is why everyone puts the two together.

    I know it’s more than likely that I could be totally wrong here, but might it be more helpful to tell abuse victims that pastors and church organizations are trained to deal with people who have spiritual problems, rather than people who are victims of a crime, and that pastors are the wrong people to go to in that situation? It just seems kind of unfair for everyone to go to pastors and church leaders with a problem they weren’t trained or qualified to deal with, and then criticize them for not doing the right thing. Maybe I’m way off base and maybe it’s just the pastor’s daughter in me speaking, but–does that make sense?

    • Still Reforming (previously newlyanonymous)


      Barbara’s answer is right on. Speaking as one coming out of an abusive relationship now, the secular justice system does not recognize intimidation of spouse and children. The effect that it can have on the individuals (spinning a car around in anger with wife and children in it, screaming at the top of one’s lungs at one’s spouse, slamming doors in anger, lying, manipulating, trickery, shunning, twisting truth, etc.) effectively “terrorizes” the family – and for years (behind closed doors, of course), yet does not cross any legal line for which an abuser is held accountable. So where should an abuser’s targets (wife and children) go?

      To the church – where as sheep they are to be protected from such men, yet these abusive men disguise themselves as sheep all the while being wolves. The church needs to wise up and protect the saints. Why shouldn’t these abused sheep go to the church? Christ told His disciples to be wise as serpents yet innocent as doves. There is much in the book of Proverbs related to wisdom with respect to dealing with evil people. From Genesis to Revelation there is Godly counsel about evil men and how to deal with them – and so I think it entirely appropriate for pastors to not only protect their flock, but to rid the flock of the wolves as part of that protection.

      If I may recommend an excellent book in that regard, Pastor Jeff Crippen’s book “A Cry for Justice: How the Evil of Domestic Abuse Hides in Your Church” covers much ground that will shed light on why the church absolutely must deal with this issue. I read the following excerpt from it just this morning:

      The problem with Christianity-as-superstition is that people pay no heed to the ‘destroy arguments and every lofty opinion’ [citing 2 Cor. 10:3-5] part of that text, and instead mystically imagine that they can cast down the wrong thoughts in the Spirit World. This is so close to Theosophy and Paganism. Many self-styled ‘prayer warriors’ truly believe they are engaging in spiritual warfare every time they use their active imagination in prayer. Other folk do ‘prayer walks’ in the streets of cities, thinking they are tearing down strongholds! Satan must be chortling with laughter! Few Christians actually take the text in its plain literal sense: we must verbally challenge the false beliefs of false believers, refuting the false beliefs with the Word of God! This takes guts, grit and a sharp mind.

      That really ministered to me this morning. I lived for so long praying for my husband, even starting a “Power of a Praying Wife” group just for our husbands. Nothing changed. I remained living in fear of my husband’s possible explosions of rage and wondering what lies he would tell about me next (and still is – attending the very church I had to leave when he disappeared for a while from it then reappeared just as suddenly). So he stays in that church — effectively fooling the flock, who likely think he’s a Christian just having problems with his spouse. The pastor(s) know a bit better, having heard my testimony of what the marriage was like for decades, but they want to “love him to Christ.” So the pastors and church leaders need to stop protecting the angry man and start understanding that our God is on the side of justice. They need to heed the admonitions of Scripture to protect the weak and downtrodden — and they must stop twisting the Word of God to make the abused feel guilty for not “forgiving” enough and encouraging her to stay in an environment of fear, intimidation and manipulation.

      I do hope you stay and read more here. The world needs more Biblical counselors who read God’s Word with sound exegesis and can minister effectively to the targets of abuse.

    • thepersistentwidow

      Hi Mary, I am glad that you asked this question. Peacemakers and other evangelical organizations make the recommendation that physical abuse be reported to the civil authorities but do not acknowledge the other forms of abuse that Barb listed in her response. This is the problem that we have with the evangelical church at large. Because the church ignores the reality of other forms of abuse does not make it go away for the victim. The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod understands this very well and I recommend that you read their materials at this link for more information on this subject:

      Domestic Violence [Internet Archive link]

    • Hi Mary Smith, thank you for your question and comment. I’m happy to do my best to answer it.

      If you read our definition of abuse in the sidebar to the right, you will see that the way we define abuse includes a much broader range of behavior than is usually defined as criminal behaviour. It sounds from your comment like you think abuse is limited just to physical violence (and you might also allow it to include sexual assault and rape). But our definition includes so much more than that. Many many victims of abuse have not been hit or assualted by their partners, and while many have been coerced or into tolerating sexual behavior that they do not want (and therefore by law have not given consent to, so the sexual behavior is a crime by law) they do not realise that what they have suffered sexually is in fact a crime. This is very common when the abuser is one’s spouse. Many people do not think that rape can occur in marriage, but marital rape does occur, and frequently it occurs by coercion and intimidation, not by the abuser’s overt use of violence to overpower the victim.

      Since so much of domestic abuse is emotional, psychological, social, financial and spiritual, rather than physical, many victims of abuse have little or no recourse in the secular justice system. Most jurisdictions do not have legislation that criminalises the pattern of coercive control which is at the core of domestic abuse. (there are some jurisdictions which so, but they are rare. I believe there is legislation criminalizing the pattern of coercive controlling behaviour which domestic abusers typically use in some parts of Scandindavia, but don’t quote me as I’m not an expert on that. In my own state (Victoria Australia), there is a crime called Family Violence which covers the whole pattern (emotional, psychological, financial, social, intimidation, etc, where the victim is made to live in fear), but that crime only pertains once the victim has obtained a Family Violence Protection Order (a civil matter, not a criminal matter) and the abuser has then breached that order and there is sufficient evidence to prove that breach so that the abuser can be charged and convicted of Family Violence by his breach of the order. So it’s a complicated process. And even though that legislation exists, there is as yet not a lot of cases where an abuser has been convicted of the crime when the breaches of the order have not included physical or sexual violence or serious threats thereof. And even when conviction occurs, the abuser very often may only be fined, not jailed, in Australia. A few are jailed but they tend to be ones who have committed a lot of physcial violence.

      Sorry for that long excursus, but I think it shows to you how it is naive to think that victims of abuse have much recourse in the criminal justice system. And so you are mistaken to think that a victim should be told ‘just go to the police’ when she is disclosing domestic abuse.

      And regarding pastors being trained to give spiritual counsel, not to deal with criminal matters, I totally agree. The trouble is, many pastors and biblical counselors do not make this distinction, do not have a clue how to screen for and identify whether domestic abuse (esp the pattern of coercive control which underpins it) is going on. And most of them do not have a clue how to recognise and resist the invitiations the abuser typically puts out to the pastor/counselor to recruit the pastor/counselor as his ally. Furthermore, if a pastor DOES identify an abuser, the pastor then typically makes the mistake of assuming that he can give spiritual counsel to the abuser and it will help fix the abuser. This is a big big mistake. We have many posts about this on the blog but i”m in a rush so can’t give you the links now.

      thanks once again for asking your question. I hope you keep coming to the blog and reading, and I hope you continue to learn more about domestic abuse.

      • Anon.

        I’m glad you talked about marital rape in that it is rape even if he doesn’t hold a gun to your head or knife to your throat. My husband is a rapist and should rot in prison for the rapes, the attempted murder, the beating me unconscious, and so much more but that’s never going to happen as he is very, very good at what he does, but it is just a relief to see it in black and white that if it’s without voluntarily, freely given consent, it’s rape. ‘Consent’ gained by putting the victim in fear, by coercion, by threats, by scaring her to death isn’t true consent, it’s manufactured horse poo pseudo-‘consent’.

        I spoke the truth about my monster but then was forced to take it back for safety purposes, pressure, intimidation, mind-muckery (that’s the non-curse word version, I don’t know how to say that with a different word – enlighten me, please if there is another word to capture that same sentiment) and so much more but it was rape and he is a rapist. God knows. So do I. If God and I are the only ones who acknowledge truth, then I guess that’s that, but God will repay.

      • 🙂 Anon, I like the word ‘mind-muckery’ — thanks for that! That’s what they do: abusers muck with our minds.

    • Valerie

      Mary, I would like to add this to Barbara’s thoughtful comment. When a victim begins to realize they are being abused this is first of all an emotional and spiritual issue. Therefore the victim looks for emotional and spiritual support- which may or may not include counsel. At the very heart of abuse a victim is being abused spiritually and the abuser certainly has his own spiritual issue of another matter. The victim has been sinned against; therefore they look to the church to hold accountable the abuser, as rightly they should.

      The issue arises frequently when the pastor insists on counseling them or insists they use his referrals all the while acknowledging he does not understand abuse. Their view is often forced onto the victim, even though they are not in a position to give adequate counsel. In this sense “counsel” is referred to in a broad sense. In essence the pastor may say he doesn’t know how to deal with the issue at hand, has not seen what the victim alleges but then proceeds to “counsel” by telling the victim what they must do in order to have the church’s “approval” and possibly not face church discipline by simply making the church aware of the abuse!

      But to go back to my original assertion, abuse is by its very nature a spiritual issue. When one takes on the responsibility of being a pastor he is making a commitment to the well being of the flock (see post dated today, Feb 15). While a pastor can not be expected to delve into the childhood issues of each party and exact a course of treatment, it is reasonable to expect the pastor to hold the abuser accountable and protect the abused as far as spiritual issues are concerned. To do so would necessarily entail gathering information from the abused.

      Even unchurched people have been widely known to flee to the church for a place of refuge and support when they encounter trials too big for them to handle. It is not a leap to assume the church should lend support. For many the support would be far better if the pastor would simply listen and not counsel! The doctor’s creed is first do no harm…certainly this should apply in the case of pastoral care.

      As someone who was abused and found no support or protection from their church, I am also grateful that you are attempting to understand this better by asking questions.

      • The doctor’s creed is first do no harm — certainly this should apply in the case of pastoral care.

        Putting this on our FB page!

    • Hi again Mary, I hope you don’t feel we are overwhelming you with answers, but we rarely get questions like yours and we are so delighted when we do (because it shows the questioner is willing to learn) that we tend to reply in lots of detail. 🙂
      So . . . here’s another thing you might like to add to your bag of understanding:

      He [the male abuser] believes in his right to rule, not necessarily in all fronts of his life but when it comes to a partner, he believes in his right to rule. He’s going to control her in all kinds of ways that usually don’t involve violence and this is one of the points that I think is important to get, you don’t have to use direct physical intimidation a lot. If you use it once in a while, that’s enough to keep people really cautious around you and then you can control them in all kinds of other ways. So day to day life with an abuser is not usually about outright violence or outright rape, it’s usually about being demeaning, being degraded, being told what you can do, being told what you can’t do, having your self-confidence undermined, being made to feel stupid and so forth.

      That is a quote by Lundy Bancroft, a man who has facilitated many Domestic Violence Interventions Groups and so has worked with hundreds if not thousands of abusive men. Lundy knows a lot about the mindset of abuser and the way they typically operate.

      See here [Internet Archive link] for a transcription of Lundy’s presentation, and see here for the video of Lundy’s presentation.

      • Mary

        Hi Barbara. I appreciate all the answers. I was a little bit afraid that I had made it sound like I was blaming victims for going to pastors, which wasn’t my intention, so I’m glad I didn’t come across that way. It’s given me a lot to think on. I hadn’t realized that other forms of abuse weren’t against the law.

      • Thank you, Mary! Your reply here is very encouraging to me. 🙂

    • Ellie

      “…but might it be more helpful to tell abuse victims that pastors and church organizations are trained to deal with people who have spiritual problems, rather than people who are victims of a crime, and that pastors are the wrong people to go to in that situation?”

      Well, it would help if pastors knew that too. There are so many who don’t. It would be like going to a dermatologist for stomach ulcers and the dermatologist actually trying to treat the stomach ulcers – with lotion, and then the dermatologist getting aggravated with you for not getting better and still complaining about the stomach ulcers when his lotion didn’t work. So it seems to me that both targets of abuse (all abuse, not just criminal abuse) need to be informed that they need trauma therapy AND ministers need to be informed of this as well. There is a spiritual component to recovery from abuse, but the EIC (Evangelical Industrial Complex) doesn’t have many safe resources. But they think they do and they market aggressively. And the people who believe them respond aggressively to targets of abuse they and pile loads of shame on targets of abuse if they don’t see the “right kind” of counselors. Mending the Soul might be a resource you would find helpful. This addresses the spiritual aspect of recovery but without piling more shame and burdens on the oppressed.

  22. bright sunshinin' day

    Barb, the ability to treat a person with value and respect while exchanging and discussing differences, can be healthy (unless they are swine Matt 7:6)! You illustrate this well in your comment: “But the pastor who gave the sermon came up to me afterwards, as he almost always does, and asked for my feedback. He knows I often give fairly incisive critical feedback, and when something has rung true with me and rejoiced my soul, I give him that feedback too. I gave him my critical feedback on today’s sermon and service, and he was grateful.”

    Grateful. Asking for feedback. Wow. It is a great find to discover a pastor who VALUES each human being and understands the preciousness of life as demonstrated in how he welcomes your feedback, including criticism. Paul describes well this spirit of tenderness in ministry in 1 Thessalonians 2:8 “So affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us.”

  23. Lizzy

    Hello 🙂
    I so honor and want to affirm this DESTRUCTIVE experience with Peacemakers and Judy Dabler.
    About a decade ago, I used to work with her, and I began Peacemaker training. Thank you Lord, for showing me truth!!! I left Peacemaker training, and Judy Dabler left our counseling group without resolving her conflict with us.
    I tried to address with Peacemakers that their process caused harm in abusive relationships but to no avail. I wanted what training money I had spent refunded, but to no avail.
    I appreciate and I am grateful for this website and community.
    Thank you!

  24. inventionsmommy

    I too am in the PCA, and went through an entire abusive marriage and church trial with my first marriage. The wonderful, supportive and sympathetic man I married years later, became abusive within weeks of the marriage – making me believe there was a lot of deception while he was ‘listening’ to me so patiently about my previous marriage. I am now in the middle of another PCA intervention which is even worse than the first. More leveling, less empathy, more coddling of my husband and accepting of his explanations of behavior. I was told that my asking my women’s Bible study group to pray for his salvation (without detailing the abuse at all) was gossip and slander–and equally as bad in God’s eyes as the abuse. And we were therefore equally at fault for the ‘state’ of our marriage. I have no idea if there is any possibility of talking with Persistent Widow (a name I’ve used for myself–God does not shame the ‘annoying’ for a good cause), but I am in the depths and have but few people that do not share the proof-text ideas the PCA seems satisfied with on ONLY this one issue.

    • Hi inventionsmommy, welcome to the blog 🙂

      From our observations and anecdotes we’ve heard about how PCA churches deal with domestic abuse, I think it is most unlikely they will shift one inch. They are so steeped in their system and believe it is so right. It’s like they are blindfolded.

      You will find many others here who believe you and have been through similarly cruel church trials. Some of them have been in PCA churches, some have been in other Presbyterian denominations. Any denomination that has ‘church courts’ and Code Books for how to conduct church courts, is potentially going to put victims of domestic abuse through the wringer by attempting to put her on trial in a church court. Some of our readers have just walked away from the church which did that to them. They realised that all the cards were so stacked against them that it wasn’t worth fighting. Their health was more important. Don’t worry about the church’s claims that it can discipline or excommunicate you and you will therefore be in God’s black books. The church that treats a domestic abuse victim like that is so pompous, so self-conceited, so arrogant, so doctrinally upside-down and back-to-front that God laughs at it. And God will judge them on that Day. He will NOT be displeased with you if you defy such a church’s orders. Rather, He will honour and approve you and stand with you!

      Blessings to you. And do check out our New Users Info page if you haven’t already done so, as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog. 🙂

      If you want to read more posts by Persistent Widow, we have a tag which has all posts by her. Use the Tag tab in the top menu to search the tags.

  25. Dear readers, we encourage you to “Like” this review by Avid Reader of the book Pastoral Leadership for Manhood and Womanhood. Avid Reader points out many concerning things about the book, and has serious concerns about Ken Sande’s chapter in the book.

  26. Deborah

    Well, this is discouraging to read… One man in the church seemed to listen and care about my story and the inappropriate actions by leadership. He taught the adult Sunday school class and recently used the Peacemaker’s 6 week (?) lessons. I know it didn’t motivate anyone to come and either verify my story of abuse or apologize for their damaging responses to me and those who raised concerns.

    Thanks for the heads up about this stuff; we can’t know if people don’t tell us.

  27. JesusIsMyRock

    Yes, thank you for this website. Someone gave me a bunch of Peacemaker stuff to sell on eBay and I created a listing but the Lord led me to this website when I was looking for the Peacemaker website, so thank you for keeping it going. I am now about to destroy all the stuff – reading Persistent Widow’s story reminds me of a church abuse situation I went through 11 years ago and it brought it all up again. I found the book “The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse” to be very helpful at the time. Reading Persistent Widow’s story makes me sick and I hope she’s doing well now. Can she give us an update on her life?

    I felt awful going through my situation but it toughened me and made me so much more discerning. Jesus was there with me the whole time and I wouldn’t have made it without Him. This deacon was also a great follower of Doug Phillips and that whole homeschool movement. He made his daughters wear long skirts, etc but he went after others’ vulnerable daughters. Disgusting! Unfortunately, this unrepentant person is now in a position of authority over children in our state through the AWANA ministry. God help us!

    • Persistent Widow is no longer a member of the ACFJ team at the back of the blog. I am unable to tell you an update on her life other than that she no longer has anything to do with the PCA. Maybe she is still following this blog and will reply to you here.

    • And welcome to the blog, JesusisMyRock. 🙂
      We like to encourage new readers to check out our New Users’ Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

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

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