A Cry For Justice

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

Male Privilege is the underlying driver of domestic abuse. — Ken Lay, former Police Commissioner

This address by Ken Lay is inspiring, compassionate and compelling.

Please watch and share.

The address was given this year on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women at Monash University, Melbourne. The text of Ken’s address can be found here.

One stand-out for me was when Ken said:

Here’s something I’ve noticed. Claims of sexual assault inspire a level of suspicion that isn’t generated by claims of theft, fraud or street assaults. Somehow — despite the awesome and verifiable prevalence — claims of sexual abuse are considered more dubious than reports of other crimes. Our threshold for doubt is much lower for women. It’s as if we assume women have less credibility.

So I can tell you that false claims of sexual assault occur — but just as it occurs for theft, fraud and street assaults. And I can tell you that the vast majority of sexual assault claims are legitimate. So to those men who fixate on the bogus claims, I say that you are being intellectually dishonest. You are emotionally cherry-picking data to make a case that women fundamentally lack credibility.

And another was

In public life, I’ve noticed a sort of blokey pomposity – a desire to be seen as a community elder, but little desire to properly function as one. The result is a thousand empty gestures, each removed from self-reflection and real influence. Leaders must acknowledge their own role in these attitudes before they offer themselves as role models.

What are the things that stand out for you in the address? 


PS. We don’t normally publish posts on Saturday but have made an exception because we really want to give Ken Lay’s talk wide publicity asap — and our regular slots are already booked up for the next few weeks.



  1. healinginhim

    I’m going to have to press the “replay” button several times. This was sooo good. I am humbled to hear a ‘real man’ speak out so eloquently.
    So much of what Ken Lay shares hits the mark that it is difficult to pinpoint what really spoke out to me. Maybe this is because he addresses so many issues in my life? My mother was a victim of physical violence and the unworthiness of women is so prevalent even in today’s so called highly intelligent society? I then married into a family which appeared very morally balanced only to discover the wolves in sheep’s clothing as the years progressed. Was I naïve or just too young and vulnerable to think that people, including family could be so evil in a polite way to the public eye?
    Oh yeah, “Boys will be boys” certainly stood out … I’m surprised at the number of women who support this; especially mother’s and of abusive sons.

  2. Song of Joy

    Boys are taught to blame circumstance for their aggression – girls to contemplate how they might have provoked it.

    With that short sentence, Ken Lay has summed up the entire abuse cycle trap. The abuser always blames something external for provoking his evil behavior, that he can’t help it because of….job pressures, his enemies, his terrible childhood, her “stupidity”, etc., etc…

    The woman is trapped into thinking that there is something she can do to prevent the abuse. So she tries everything, and walks on eggshells and hopes that nothing (including herself) will trigger him. He has her convinced he can be triggered, when he is just plain EVIL.

    Ken Lay’s message is filled with compassion and gravity, and it’s definitely worth a listen. So glad there are people out there who are moved to speak out against domestic violence and child abuse too.

    • Anonymous

      Yes, indeed we do tip-toe over the egg shells and walk the land mines on a regular basis while living with an abuser / terrorist. I was fully aware that my world, my dignity and personhood was diminished to having every moment of my existence, every thought racing through my mind, filled with a never ending need to keep the volcano filled with HOT lava from erupting and melting down upon me. His evil behavior was always, always my fault. “Look what you made me do,” he would say. Once he even said during one of his outrages, “If you expose me, I will make your life a living hell.” He shocked himself! It is like the words just fell out of his mouth…”if you expose me.” This tells me he knows exactly what he’s doing is evil.

      Thank you, Mr. Lay, for being courageous and shedding light on not only evil itself but the subtle and cunning and crafty ways it draws us in. Thank you for calling a spade a spade.

  3. a prodigal daughter returns

    “Policies need to be guided by the evidence” and “cultural complacency” in the opening statement alone is worth listening to this encouraging and deeply moving presentation. Hearing a man stating that he is “embarrassed and ashamed” about the cultural complacency that permits domestic violence is priceless to a victim. Policies imbued with male privilege leave few repercussions to violent men abusing their partners and many repercussions to their victims.

    “We develop male privilege early in life” encouraging that the doctrine that boys will be boys and girls bear the weight of that outcome is the attitude that maims, injures and destroys the lives of countless females. This attitude then permeates the abuse enabling church that many survivors encounter. Those churches where patriarchal structures are entrenched with suspicion and fear of women and exaltation of male as the preferred and privileged gender are dangerous for women.

    Thank you for posting this, it is enormously encouraging when a male with privilege uses the privilege of having a voice in society to speak the truth to power.

  4. marriedwithouthusband

    In public life, I’ve noticed a sort of blokey pomposity – a desire to be seen as a community elder, but little desire to properly function as one. The result is a thousand empty gestures, each removed from self-reflection and real influence.

    This reminds me of my father-in-law. He thinks that because he is the patriarch, he should be honored and coddled. But he treats other people, including my husband, badly. And he is totally lacking in self-reflection skills.

  5. His Child


    Our threshold for doubt is much lower for women. It’s as if we assume women have less credibility.

    Does that remind anyone of the disciples’ reaction when the women told them that Jesus was not in the tomb? Their words were regarded as “nonsense”, “idle tale” and “sheer imagination”. God must have been chuckling on His throne!

  6. imsetfree

    I went to a counselling service specialising in child abuse survivors years ago. The first intro meeting I had with them I was treated with suspicion because I didn’t seem like a typical victim. They basically told me maybe I should get my mind off myself and do voluntary work. I already had been doing that and it hadn’t made a difference. They seemed more concerned about the girl who had an appointment after me not getting enough time. It made me realise that some things:

    1) Don’t wear jewellery or nice clothes to counselling. People will say you’re not depressed. I was harming myself and not eating and had psych diagnoses but according to these volunteer counsellors I “wasn’t depressed”.

    2) Don’t cry about the abuse. Apparently real survivors have their pain buried too deep to cry. If you can cry the hurt isn’t that deep. So they said. Never mind that I’d only been able to cry a year before seeing them. I couldn’t cry for many years. Not even when loved ones died.

    3) Abuse counsellors are interested in downtrodden type people. Being middle class they didn’t think I was worth helping. They treated me a poor little rich girl. Even though I gave up all that wealth just so my abuser couldn’t hurt me again. Since I left my family I am on welfare. But I’m happier now than I ever was with them in their nice house with holidays abroad and two cars.

    4) If your abuse wasn’t incest or sexual then forget it. They not interested. There is nothing gory or dramatic about most verbal/emotional abuse. So they lose interest and go on and help someone with bigger issues. They want major tragedy because it is more exciting.

    5) If the abuse continued in your teens or even later then by that time you are partly responsible for causing it. NOTE: Christian counsellors are really into this. Above age 7, it isn’t that damaging they say. Above age 13, well you have some responsibility for allowing it to go on. The Biblical age of adulthood and all that.

    6) If you question God or express anger at God or confusion towards Christianity and God then you are not saved and never were to begin with.

    7) If you use YOUR counselling session to talk about YOUR abuse then you talking about yourself too much and Christians don’t do that. One counsellor I saw got upset with how many times I used the word “I” saying it indicated a prideful spirit. I do struggle with pride but this was not relevant in a session where I did actually need to talk about my own experiences. Also healing damaged self-esteem can help with repenting of pride because it often comes in to an insecure person. But many Christians believe thinking of yourself in a positive way is sinful. I think if you are not being affirmed by others you need to affirm yourself but some Christians say a need to have a self-esteem is sinful.

    8) Saying you feel suicidal or self harming is just sign of Jezebel spirit manipulation and is to be ignored. One counsellor told me God had said she could speak harshly to me and threaten me with Hell because He told her I wasn’t actually going to go through with the suicide plans just cut myself a little.

    • Those counselors you’ve described sound dangerously clueless.

      Thankfully, not all counselors and not all Christian counselors are like that. You encountered some of the worst there, by the sounds of it!

      • imsetfree

        The last one was also a prophetess and church minister. I still am very suspicious of prophecy and angry that her God told her that. It has caused a rift in my relationship with God that has never healed fully. I still don’t know why he gave the prophetess that word of knowledge for me. I thought prophecy in church was meant to be encouraging? It shocked me that God was essentially telling her to be harsh with me because if people raise their voice at me it triggers me? She also told me my being triggered was a spirit of self pity. I still am hurt that God would tell her that about me?

      • She sounds like a false prophet. Just because a person says she or he is a prophet, and other people follow that person thinking they are a prophet, does not mean they ARE a prophet.

        The Bible warns us a lot about false prophets. E.g. Deut 18:20-22; Deut 13; Jer 28; Acts 13:6; Rev 16:3.

        Another way of thinking about people like that woman who claimed the title ‘Prophetess’ is that she was a wolf in sheep’s clothing. You experienced her fruit: it HURT you, it stung, she falsely accused and blamed you. . . that is bad fruit. And Jesus tells us we will know the wolves in sheep’s clothing by their fruit.

        A Tree and Its Fruit

        Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits. (Matthew 7:15-20 ESV)

    • M&M

      Wow……ignorant is the best they could be……they sound like the opposite of counselors doing the opposite of healing……I understand the attraction to the prophecy / miracles brand of Christianity because it looks more spiritual, but after giving that crowd a try I’m more apt to trust Christians who actually mix thinking with their experiencing and counselors who actually study professionally.

      Now I don’t believe that prophecy and miracles are limited to the past, but for every true prophet / miracle that God sends today there will be some false prophets / miracles that the devil sends to make us doubt the true ones. There are a few people who actually can discern spirits as a gift from God, but there are many more people who just repeat what they heard from others about “Jezebel”. The attraction of such churches is the promise of healing and deliverance, but the harm is that when healing doesn’t happen the sick person then suffers false accusations of “you don’t have faith”. Very similar and sometimes identical to what abuse victims suffer. “If you had more faith you would be healed of cancer / depression/whatever and if you had more faith your husband would be delivered from the abuser spirit” (false accusations).

      What I actually believe is that both “flesh” and “spirit” are part of reality and some doctrines need to reconsider their expectations of time. The abuser can choose to disobey whatever God is doing in his spirit and the statement “God promised to heal all his children” is true in eternity, but not always on earth. Also, Bible verses that address the spiritual component of depression and anxiety aren’t necessarily intended to address the physical component. Some people need medication even in the best of home environments because of biology – not because faith. Likewise, I’m guessing that what you need first is not to figure out what to believe about prophets, but to believe that God accepts you in the midst of the confusion and that He didn’t cause it. “…God is not a God of confusion…” 1 Cor 14:33 and will “…not break a bruised reed”… Matt 12:20. And learning to trust when God is directing you so that you will feel confident in choosing which teachers to listen to and which ones to reject without feeling guilty.

      Most of what I’m saying is from personal experience — I went through the confusion stage for a long time before getting towards confidence. One day at a time.

      Regarding the original blog I think it’s harder to recognize negative messages from society when they are mixed with positive ones such as when society (part of it) says “women are equal” or “women are strong” etc.

    • M&M

      PS. Not only is it damaging and not your fault at any age, but the brain doesn’t reach it’s full capacity for analysis until age 25 so 13 year olds shouldn’t be held to the same standard as adults. Yes they are old enough to be accountable to basic rules like don’t lie, don’t steal, don’t cheat, don’t attack, but they can’t fairly be expected to analyze complex psychological manipulation or indirect hints. I understand holding a 13 year old to the 10 commandments, but for anything requiring indirect analysis I don’t know why that would be the age of adulthood. When I was 13 I saw indirect clues that a classmate was being abused, but I didn’t know they were clues until years later. If I were an adult I would have “failed to report” but I honestly didn’t know what was happening. That’s why I feel bothered that 13 used to be adulthood. At the same time Jesus came because we couldn’t fulfill the law on our own-at age 13 or 31 or any age.

      • Cultures that have deemed early teens as the age of adulthood, usually have the extended family living under the same roof or in the same housing complex. So there would be older generations guiding and mentoring the teenagers. That puts it in a whole different perspective. The unit was not a nuclear family set-up like we have today in the Western world.

    • Becoming

      Thank you. Helpful to me.

      healing damaged self-esteem can help with repenting of pride because it often comes in to an insecure person. But many Christians believe thinking of yourself in a positive way is sinful. I think if you are not being affirmed by others you need to affirm yourself but some Christians say a need to have a self-esteem is sinful

      That part especially. It’s a way of fighting back against abuse, to affirm yourself that you are not the things said, to be on defense in word and action, striving for outward perfection and competence. It’s a way to try to hold on to dignity in a relationship designed to strip it.

      But it’s true it can morph into a sinful pride. We just have to cling to Jesus and know He gets it, forgives, and if we stay close he will help us grow in the fruit of the spirit and in godly repentance. Not crazy guilt and shame, but the repentance that produces fruit.

  7. Bitter But Getting Better

    Barbara thanks for sharing this. What a sweet and gentle man. I have to admit that I have been a person that thinks: “what is the woman doing in the park @ 4 AM” He really turned me around and made me understand that my thinking was wrong. His words opened up the truth of just how abuse comes about. Years of training from the adults in our lives took sweet little children and trained them to be monsters and then society condones their monstrosity in a thousand different ways. Thanks again. It is a keeper!

  8. Annie

    Oh, yes, my husband is a believer in male privilege. He once told me he deserves respect because he’s the man. He said he didn’t have to earn respect. And believe me he does nothing to earn it!
    I think he adopted that view because he’s lazy. If he didn’t believe in it he’d actually have to get up and do something.
    I also think he doesn’t like women. If he said the things he’s said to me about women in his workplace he’d probably be fired.
    He claims to believe that there’s a “war” on men in the United States. I had to listen to that hogwash one night. He just wasn’t too clear on who is warring on him. But “they” are–I think it was his way of saying I’m part of the people warring with men. You know all those liberal, “uppity” women who think they’re equal to men. All because I don’t like being bullied by him.

  9. Karen

    Amen Annie. I hear the same droning voice over and over again in my patriarchal home, “There is a war against the average white man. Just look at all of the women taking over everything.” Then my husband labels these working women “Amazon Women.” Even his family of origin, sisters included, have been indoctrinated by the hogwash that ‘men are the priests of the home, the spiritual leaders and should be waited on hand and foot.”

    And when I bring up the fact that we, men and women, are co-heirs in Jesus Christ, these individuals who believe they know our Scriptures better (they love to lord over me as they consider themselves more spiritual), tell me verbally, “You are a feminist then if you believe that way.”

    If I had a dollar for each time I have been called a “feminist” or a “liberal”, I would be a very wealthy woman. And yet I work at what is considered a “man’s job” in a field that is dominated by males and am even talked down to by the ‘spiritual women’ within our church for they all hold ‘women’s jobs.’ I have lived my whole life taking my ‘marching orders’ from my husband and his family, and when I exhibit my freedom to say “no” to life issues, then I am the one who is labeled controlling and manipulative, and it hurts to my core.

    Within what is regarded as western Christianity, living your life for our LORD and Savior is a ‘no win’ situation for women, for we are beaten down on a constant basis and blamed as the main reason for our country’s failings. And most churches that I have attended teach this subliminally as well as right out there in the open, encouraging and building up even more hatred against women. My husband revels in this using it to his advantage, one consequence that I personally experience on a daily basis is when we watch television shows together, he loves to make cutting remarks about the women in the shows, but rarely makes condemning comment about the men. At times, his filthy speech patterns get so bad, I get up and leave and never come back, for many times, his comments are subliminally directed at me through the character in the show.

    But, he goes to church every Sunday, and is regarded as one the most ‘spiritual men within the church, for he is asked to preach from the podium from time to time by one of the ‘highly spiritual deaconesses’ who adores his ‘style’ of religion. I NEVER sit in the pew when he preaches or sings in the praise band, for my pain would be unbearable.

    • M&M

      Sadly, I don’t think the “west” is the only place with these issues and I feel like some countries are worse. 😦 😦 And I somewhat know what you mean about the “war on men”. If a man permanently leaves his kids to be a lazy bum, “the feminists told him that it’s ok because no one needs him”. But if a woman temporarily leaves her kids for a career training, “the feminists told her not to love them”. Is anything the man’s fault? Of course this is just a new spin on an old theme “but the woman you gave me made me do it” said the first man ever. I hate that “feminist” often means “baby killer” but we don’t have a short word for “prolife person who respects women”. Of course if a prolife woman has “too many” babies that’s also criticized……and if a married woman has no babies that’s criticized……to be fair I have it a lot easier than women in the Middle East, but when I read others on the blog it’s sad how much injustice still occurs in a “free country” an thus occurs everywhere in the world. 😦 😦 😦

      • Good points, M&M.

        In Australia, because the controversy and militancy over abortion is less vociferous than it is in the USA, when we hear the word ‘feminist’ we do not automatically think ‘baby killer’ like it seems some people do in the US. I’m not saying one country is better than the other, over this, I’m simply giving my observations about the connotations of the word ‘feminist’.

        Here in Oz there are many conservative Christians who decry feminism as being dangerous and unbiblical, and while they do associate it with liberal abortion laws, they probably associate it more with women going into the workforce and women ‘forsaking their duty’ to be home-keepers and mothers and submissive to their husbands — and reaping unhappiness and stress and guilt as a result. That is the argument I hear more often from conservatives in the church here.

        Having said that, in Oz we are exposed to a LOT of what christians teach and think in the USA, because we get so many books and blogs and podcasts and touring speakers from the USA. And many of our church leaders model themselves to some degree on the Big Name Christian Leaders from the USA. So Christians in the pews here tend to be exposed to and absorb a lot of the US Christian Zeitgeist.

      • M&M

        Thanks for sharing about Australia. I always find it interesting to know about other countries. Most of the Christians that I grew up with weren’t critical of working women so I didn’t assume that Australia was more critical until you told me. I’ve read about unjust churches on this site, but some of those are from the USA. It’s hard to know which country is “worse on average”, but it makes me amazed that my church is as good as it is. At the same time, I wouldn’t use this site for statistics because people in supportive churches are less likely to need this website. Nonetheless, even one unjust church is too many and that’s why this website exists. 🙂

        Is “Oz” a common Australian term? Or is it your personal feeling that you live in the Wizard of Oz? I am not yet aware of this aspect of your culture. 🙂

      • My observation is that conservative / complementarian Christianity in the USA is more extreme and more legalistic than conservative / complementarian Christianity in Australia. But that’s a generalisation. And when complementarian Christians in Oz write about gender stuff, they focus on the negative aspects of feminism that are not abortion-related.

        Oz means Australia, and is a shortening of the slang word Aussie (pronounced Ozzie) which means Australian. Nothing to do with the Wizard of Oz. 🙂
        Koala Net – Australian slang dictionary [Internet Archive link]

      • But complementarianism is less common here in Oz than it seems to be in the USA. I could be wrong, of course, as my observations are partial because a fair bit of what I glean about Christianity in the USA comes from reports we hear at this blog.

    • Karen I admire how you are resisting all the abuse that these people are dealing out to you. I see these things as ways you are resisting the abuse and oppression, and striving to maintain your dignity and personhood:

      You do not sit in the pew when your husband preaches or sings in the praise band.

      You know you are free in Christ to say ‘no’ to life issues, and you sometimes exhibit that freedom, and when you do that and the abusers and their allies label you as ‘controlling’, you know that what they say is wrong and hurtful and unjust. You validate yourself in your own mind, and you do not let their definition of you overcome you. You hold onto the truth. You think of Scriptures that back up this truth, like the one that says we, men and women, are co-heirs in Jesus Christ. You quote those scriptures at the oppressors. You know in your private heart and mind that their ideology is wrong. And that the males are wickedly lording it over the females and the females are being trained to submit and give in.

      You feel disgusted by your husband’s filthy speech. You cling to purity and righteousness and you know that filthiness defiles people. You hate evil.

      And you take care of your emotions; you can foresee that certain situations would be too painful for you to bear, so you prudently do what you can to avoid them. 🙂

    • Annie

      Likewise, Karen, if I had a dollar for every time my husband called me a liberal I would be a wealthy woman. He seems to take particular delight in starting conversations where he accuses me of being liberal. He thinks he can get me to react.

      He’ll say annoying things like “that (elected official) you voted for and like so much is doing so and so (something I wouldn’t like)”. When he first started that I would try to tell him no, I don’t like that person or I didn’t vote for him / her. Then I began to see it was a game and his way of putting me down by claiming I’m like them. So I don’t say anything any more. I just tune him out.

      He knows that politically I am not a liberal as defined in the USA. Faith-wise I probably am because I follow Jesus and not his definitions of what religion should be. He’s told me numerous times one of the things he wanted was to marry a Christian woman. I’ve come to realize that he expected that to mean someone who catered to him and did as he wanted.
      He thought I would be a good worker bee. He does treat me like an employee–although I have to say he treats his employees way better than he does me.

      It’s all a game to him. What he hasn’t figured out yet is I’m not playing. I don’t share opinions — I don’t share much of anything.

  10. Karen

    Thank-you Barbara for your encouragement for you know just the right words to say to those of us who are in need of good and godly wisdom. God Bless you.

  11. Free

    So many things. Thank you.

    When he said Boys will be boys and girls internalize the abuse. People question the girls “what did you do?” And that the statistics are only the tip of the iceberg.


    • Thanks for sharing Ken Lay’s talk, Free. I believe it needs to be shared widely. 🙂 He is one of the most admirable male advocates for changing society’s mindset about abuse that I know.

  12. The Wary Witness

    So well said. This is absolutely chilling, and so thought-provoking.

    I feel a huge responsibility to society, as the mother of sons, to raise them to be men who will (1) respect women and children, (2) take responsibility for their own actions, and (3) use their voices to speak out for the voiceless.

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