Thursday Thought — It’s not your Fault

After understanding the mentality and tactics of abusers, would you say that there is anything a victim could do to. . . relieve the abusive situation?  Could she submit more, keep the children quieter and more obedient, mother him, keep the house more perfect, lose twenty pounds, be more seductive, cater to his every whim, console him in his tirades, and never mention her needs or desires or thoughts at all?  Would that make him stop abusing and become kind and loving?

No. The root of abuse is not in the behavior of the victim but in the mentality of the abuser.

(from Jeff Crippen’s Unholy Charade: Unmasking the Domestic Abuser in the Church [Affiliate link] p179)


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.


46 thoughts on “Thursday Thought — It’s not your Fault”

  1. No. The root of abuse is not in the behavior of the victim but in the mentality of the abuser.

    This is why Christian counseling does so much harm to so many victims. We are told to stay, pray, forgive, submit, etc. when in fact nothing we do will ever change the abuser and this advice only heaps piles of guilt, shame and helplessness upon already suffering victims as she tries in vain to obey God whom she believes is speaking to her through the “biblical” counselor who in fact is acting as an agent of the devil (unwittingly or not).

    1. …and this advice only heaps piles of guilt, shame and helplessness upon already suffering victims as she tries in vain to obey God whom she believes is speaking to her through the “biblical” counselor who in fact is acting as an agent of the devil (unwittingly or not).

      So true, LauraGrace. Been there, done that. Destroyed my health receiving all of that guilt, shame, and helplessness counselor after counselor. Agents of the devil – exactly!!!

      1. so glad to know that I am not the only one that believes that so called Christian counselors are agents of the devil..the x still loves to say how he has addressed his issues with those counselors that I disagreed with….damn straight I disagreed with those stupid idiots that colluded with him….after I sat there crying, next to narc, who, by the way, admitted to horribly abusing me, I told them what was happening, narc did not deny his abuse…yet these minions sided with him to the point of labeling me borderline personality and the abuser!! YES!!! They are used by the enemy to further abuse the victim and they will answer for it one day very soon…

      2. G’day, Watch Woman on the Wall. What a great screen name! Welcome to the blog 🙂

        You may wish to read our New Users Info page if you haven’t already.

        Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is in my view a much misused label in mental health. I am not alone in my opinion: it is also the opinion of some psychiatrists and psychologists who are conscious of gender inequality and how it effects the mental health system).

        The diagnosis BPD is given much more often to females than males. And women who have suffered trauma (such as sexual abuse, domestic abuse, child abuse) are often labelled as borderline by mental health clinicians, when in fact they are suffering from the effects of the trauma (PTSD etc).

        I believe there were moves afoot to try to get the BPD diagnosis re-thought in the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual) and those moves may have had some traction, but there is still a LONG way to go.

        Many Family Courts buy the idea that women victims of domestic abuse have BPD and are therefore unfit parents, so the custody is granted to the abusive husband and the protective mother is cast to the gutter. This is a diabolical injustice.

        There is MUCH change needed in the Family Courts System, particularly (in my observation) in the USA Family Court system. Abusive men have allies in the mental health professions and legal professions who are willing and eager to diagnose women victims of domestic abuse with BPD, or some other kind of ‘personality disorder’ — when in fact the mother just has post-traumatic stress disorder (better: she has CONTINUING traumatic stress disorder, CTSD, because the abuse usually continues post-separation) and thus the custody of the kids is given to the father. AARRRGH.

    2. LauraGrace you are so very right. it has seemed like Christians want to pretend the problem away instead of confronting and healing it, whatever that takes.

    3. Yes, these are the same experiences I had with ‘c’hristian counselors. Told to love more, pray more, forgive more, give more, submit in quiet perseverance, etc. And since I couldn’t I was deemed the sinner, while his “shortcomings” and “struggles” were minimized and excused by the counselors.

      And then there’s the secular counselors, there I was told to set better boundaries, deal with my issues as to why I allowed it to happen, confront the abusive behaviors, walk away, keep emotional distance, tell people, or because I wasn’t in a position to immediately leave or was holding onto a shred of hope that the counseling he was receiving would help than it was basically my problem due to “codependency.”
      So … none of the ‘c’hristian solutions worked … none of the secular suggestions worked. Actually both just seemed to enhance his level of abuse. And the secular suggestions (better boundaries and healthy confrontations) only gave him more ammunition to set me up in order for him to play the victim with his ‘c’hristian supporters.

      So really, the only thing I could do to stop being his target (leaving doesn’t seem to do it, there is peace due to the abuse not being present in the home, but he still seems to be able to find ways to play his games) is to travel back in time 25 years and say “NO!” to the proposal. And since that doesn’t seem to be an option … oh well … one can dream!

      1. 16 years after the wedding I still fantasize about saying “no” at the altar. But then I feel guilty because I wouldn’t have my three beautiful children had I done that. But in all seriousness, that’s what I should have done and I’ve paid a hefty price for not doing so.

  2. Yes and no. The abuser is at fault, but trying to reason with him, to explain, to engage him in a sensible conversation, only makes things worse. This is what I have learned from dealing with abusive family members.. What works with a reasonable person, does not work with an abusive mindset. It is best really to dis-engage and try not to provoke, then get away from the situation.

    1. Now think it over and see what you can do, because disaster is hanging over our master and his whole household. He is such a wicked man that no one can talk to him. 1 Samuel 25, v 17.

      Nabal was also a wicked man (also applies to female abusers) and no one could reason with him. Just like modern day abusers, who are proud, unteachable and unrepentant. The studies all seem to point to the fact that no known psychological treatment is proven effective for “curing” such people and that the number of abusers who do change (repent) is miniscule. So, yes, get away and stay away!

    1. Absolutely.. women can be every bit as abusive and and cruel as men… there is no gender exlusive club in this. Sadly, many ‘nice’ men end up marrying an abusive, narcissistic woman… and many sincere, loving women are still single. Trying to avoid the ‘blame game’, but there also is a responsibility on our part deciding whom we agree to marry.
      Once the mistake is made, there is not going back, only forward.. and divorce may be the healthiest option available.

      1. Ng -I agree with most of this, except your suggestion that people have a responsibility for deciding to marry an abuser. It might be true in some cases, but in others the abuser is just extremely good at hiding their real selves from everyone.

      2. Yes, abusers can be women. I’ve known a few. But I agree that it’s not always a personal choice to marry an abuser. Sometimes we become victims of relationship fraud. Sociopaths are masters of deceit and can very easily deceive a person into marrying them by very effectively portraying themselves as “Christians” and / or as upstanding, moral, persons of character. I would never have believed that relationship fraud was possible until it happened to me.

      3. Yes, abusers absolutely are masterful deceivers.. That is why it is so important to seek God in regards to our relationships and whom we allow into our close circle.
        Again, not blaming the victim, but, there is something that these abusers know how to radiate / project that attracts good and sincere people.
        What I often wonder is, why is it so hard for some sincere, loving, loyal and God-fearing Christians to attract a spouse, and impostors have it easy to create that bond?
        There are many reasons, I am sure, and this is not the place to find extensive solutions for that – but my prayer is that if good people can overlook the red flags in abusers and deceivers, they would be willing to give the same grace to those of us, who sincerely do want to live in a mutually loving and respectful marriage relationship.

  3. I think the abusers like to keep us hooked into this mentality that if only we would be perfect, then they “wouldn’t have to get so mad” and would treat us well. This takes the focus off the evil behavior of the abuser, and puts all the focus and responsibility on the victim. We could have a PhD is psychology, read 100 books on good communication, work constantly on personal growth, pray more, submit more…. and none of it would make any difference. We do not need to be “perfect” in order to deserve to be treated well, and, anyway “perfection” is not possible in people.

    1. Kim you said: “We do not need to be “perfect” in order to deserve to be treated well”.

      YES YES YES.
      And AMEN

  4. I will take it a small step further – the more you accommodate the abuser, the more he (or she) will claim. Give him an inch and he will take ten miles.

    1. Yes, Cindy, so true. And accommodating the abuser only feeds the “beast” as they get such a sick sense of satisfaction when they are in control, and the victim is still in the “fog.”

  5. Never mention her needs or desires or thoughts at all…

    Wow. So accurate. Every time I would mention my needs, my husband would respond angrily, “You were created for ME, not the other way around.”

    1. Ugh.. I remember that nastiness. My ex used to tell me I was unstable or dysfunctional because I’d ask him to help with the children or with the dishes or the laundry. I was out of control according to him if I cried, had a foul mood, or was disappointed in him. I was supposed to roll off the delivery room table and resume all household duties immediately. If I was sick, I better just deal with it because I “chose to be a mother.” In other words, I wasn’t going to get any help from him so don’t dare ask. I actually wrote a “survival plan” once when the children were young and I knew I was years away from becoming free (if ever). Part of my plan was; 1. Ask nothing of him, ever. 2. Complain about nothing, ever. 3. Expect nothing of him, ever. I wrote that to remind myself that every single time I asked him for anything we ended up fighting and I was labeled as pathological simply because I needed help or support. I was supposed to have no needs and only serve him. And I damn well better do it all with a smile on my face too. How I ever lived like that I simply can’t remember, or I’ve chosen to forget.

      1. LauraGrace, Your survival plan reads just like my journals spanning 23 years. In my trying (and trying and TRYING) to be a “godly wife,” I would decide, “This year I feel I need to focus on having no expectations of my husband.” A few months later I might write down, “I think God wants me to watch the complaining – especially towards my husband. He wants me to find my satisfaction in Him and give my life to serving _____.” Rather than seeing something terribly wrong with this, I deceived myself into thinking I was being super-spiritual and God was pleased with all this. … I can’t believe how ridiculous this all sounds now!

      2. If it sounds ridiculous now it means you are healing!! I used to think my survival plan made perfect sense too. Now I wonder how anyone could have lived like that.

      1. Of course – because it’s all about him! You’re not actually a person, just an extension of him.

    2. Agreed For Too Long. You described the mentality of my husband and his family of origin, the entitlement, we are more important than you philosophy. My husband actually told me to my face, “I made you,” during a disagreement as if his social position within the church community gave him the right to speak these lies.

      False Christianity gives those power hungry and manipulative personalities the “right” so to speak, to seek, kill, and destroy those who do not follow their agendas nor measure up according to their standards, and all in the name of a false Jesus.

  6. Despite my harsh words, I do believe that many biblical counselors are trying to do God’s work, but they cannot because they are deceived. My counselor actually came to understand much about abuse in so-called Christian marriages when I introduced him to Barbara Roberts’ book. He told me that I challenged him to see things differently and that he regrets that he may have caused some abused women harm by counseling them to stay married. May God bless Him richly! He truly means well and I have no doubt that my experience with him changed him in a way that will help future victims of abuse.

    I was blessed in so many ways in my journey to escape abuse.

    Firstly, the Lord gave me incredible courage to finally challenge what my Bible counselor was telling me even though I had been told the same thing for the last 13 years by numerous pastors and elders. It was time for me to make my escape and the Lord made sure it happened despite the same old oppressive words and tactics that had kept me bound for so many years.

    Secondly, the Lord lead me to amazing, life giving resources like Barbara’s book, Jeff’s book and David Instone-Brewster’s book. Thank you again and again and again for writing those books!!

    Thirdly, the Lord allowed me to have a counselor, who though steeped in the traditional Christian “stay married at all costs” dogma, truly had a heart for people and was open enough to be challenged and changed.

    And fourth, He provided people to help support me through the long divorce and custody battle.

    And finally, He intervened in ways I’ll never really know to make sure the children were placed in my care and we had enough money to survive. It hasn’t been easy, but He has provided what we’ve needed. We are safe and for the most part we are free. Praise the Lord for His tender loving care.

    I encourage anyone here who is in the process of escaping abuse, or hoping to one day be free, to truly lay it all at the Lord’s feet, pray diligently, surrender your will fully to Him, and trust wholeheartedly that He knows what is best, and He will lead and guide you to safety.

    1. I do believe that many biblical counselors are trying to do God’s work, but they cannot because they are deceived.

      I think you are probably right. What proportion of biblical counselors falls into that description, only God knows. But if a biblical counselor is presented with the ideas we propound on this blog, and repeatedly refuses to consider them them, that indicates that person is not trying to do God’s work. To me, it indicates that the counselor is a stiff necked, legalistic abusive type of person. They may not actually be abusing their own spouse, but they are surely abusing their clients with legalistic guilt trips and false teaching (false doctrine, doctrine which is sub- or even anti-biblical).

      Ignorance, or the state of being deceived, is not an everlasting excuse. When a true Christian is exposed to the truth, when the lies they have been deceived by are pointed out to them, the true Christian will recognise it as truth by the Holy Spirit’s prompting (for the Spirit was sent to lead believers into all truth). If a person is exposed repeatedly to the truth but continues to quench and deride it and to put thumbscrews on the liberty which Christ’s sheep have in Him, that person is not a true believer. They may believe the intellectual propositions of theology, but they are not born again and the Spirit does not dwell in them.

      1. I agree Barbara. If a counselor is truly Christ centered and Spirit filled, he or she will see the truth when it is presented to them.

  7. I agree with most of the comments here. Several pastors and elders that got involved in my situation made things worse and coddled my ex-husband, instead of confronting the behavior and abuse. They in fact inflicted religious abuse on me. However, I was blessed with a Christian (Biblical) counselor that actually facilitated my separation and continued to counsel me through and after my divorce. I thank God for him and his ability to discern the facts of the situation.

  8. I agree, the mentality of the abuser negates most of what a victim attempts. But for certain, never enter a room for couple’s counseling. Absolutely, dangerously, destructive!

  9. That is the point of the abusive mind, to keep you trying to please him. Even if you did everything perfectly that he ever asked, he would still have ten more things for you to fix. The abuser takes pleasure in keeping you off balance and confused. It was a revelation when I finally realized that it was not me, but he was the one who had the problem.

  10. Help! I haven’t posted in ages. I don’t even know where to begin but this is so timely. I am constantly asking my dear friends “is it me” “am I the crazy one?”. Of course they say an emphatic “NO”. Yet sometimes it is so hard to navigate the daily battle with the non-spouse. The non-spouse has been at his finest these last several months. Claiming I am the abuser, that it is me who needs therapy and counseling, & that since he has been “kicked to the curb” he hasn’t thrown anything or broken any doors, etc. etc. but that I am now the abusive one because I will not allow him to move back in or be intimate or let him rule my life.

    Let me say…..I live in a community of great people. I have church support, friend support and the support of my employees (we run a company together -ugh!) There is not a soul who supports the way he has been. He has lost all friendship. You would think this would be enough, why is it not? I battle his words every day. He throws around submission, obedience, feminist, humanist feminist, witch, ungodly, pharisee, all the buzz words he knows that I will be hurt by.

    He believes that I am now the issue and that I should be in counseling to deal with my issues of unsubmissiveness & defiance of God’s proper order in a marriage. We have lived apart for almost 2 years and I get this daily. He is determined to see that I reject this feministic behavior and turn back to God and be repentant, humble etc.

    He continues his horrible texting, accusing, lack of any parenting or any involvement with our children (there are many), abusive control tactics, financial abuse, etc. etc. He is deceived and I believe his heart is truly hardened.

    I am stuck feeling like I am in the wrong even thinking about divorce. While on one hand I feel I have made great strides towards being out of the fog I then look back and realize not one thing has changed in him since he left. He in fact is worse, verified by many in our circle & community, yet here I am….. stuck!!! I think my friends are wondering “what the heck?” yet no one walks the road I have walked or am walking. I just want to move forward. This is so toxic. His verbal spewing is daily. It doesn’t stop – literally.

    I have an extremely complicated, busy life of many children, schooling, large busy company, etc. and while I have grown lately I feel I am just afraid to take the next step. I know the things he says are to manipulate and control and sometimes it feels as if he will always win that battle. I know it isn’t me but it sure feels that way.

    I talk to many woman and help them navigate situations and yet I don’t seem to listen to my own advice. Its time to move but my feet are not hearing that message. I don’t really know what I am asking help for – but I needed to vent where people get it. Thanks.

    1. Dear OOTF: I haven’t been here much either, but I would like to reassure you that ALL of us have either felt stuck, or have been stuck. It seems to be part of the process. And it sucks.

      It’s no fun getting the ugly texts or emails, but on the other hand you now have a paper-trail of abuse that could work to your advantage.
      Most cell & ISP providers allow you to block texts, emails, phone numbers, etc. When I did that it was a huge relief–I had some power!!

      Then, perhaps you could start the process of communicating ONLY thru an attorney. That way you don’t have the nasty-grams coming directly at you like a daily dose of venom, and it also empowers you to divert his aggression to another venue. You also are not obligated to answer him. Silence is golden, and also powerful.
      In the book “The Wizard of Oz & Other Narcissists”, the author says that when the victim begins to assert their own needs, it is seen as a betrayal to the abuser, and to expect them to up the ante. Bingo!
      Thus the reason why when we “never mention her needs or desires or thoughts” it never works b/c abusers are insatiable, and to assert our own needs is a betrayal!
      Please take care of yourself and I will pray for you today.

      1. Yes I agree in not mentioning to the abuser any thing about your feelings thoughts or needs and plans to help your personal situtation.
        Mine only used any personal information about me as ammunition to further abuse and sabbatoge me.
        It becomes important to discern what information to not discussed,
        (for protection) from information that could be mentioned.
        (Bills, ect.)
        I began to assess questions asked of me, with the mindset of “what is their need to know?”

      2. So many good words here. But even they can be spun around. For example, I felt my needs were being ignored, but then he would insist that it was the other way around and his family backed him up. Gaming and beer are not legitimate needs, are they? Then he would accuse me of trying to “isolate” him from his family and friends. Once armed with counseling psychobabble, the abuse and entitlement mentality got worse because he now was armed with knowledge abuse.

    2. I completely understand the feeling stuck, especially once the decisions made to free yourself of the abuse … then only to discover it’s still there. It is frustrating, and some days seems absolutely hopeless. I, too, am unable to completely break contact with the abuser … and there are even times I fall for his traps and set-ups, where I attempt to take a stand against his false accusations and blame against me, attempt to defend my right to say no to the abuse, to defend his subtle comments about how I’m the one unwilling to “work things out,” how since I’m the one refusing to speak to or seek counsel with his Christian friends I’m the one rejecting God, etc.

      I do know the only way to break free from it is to completely move from the community, I don’t think that would stop him, but at least it wouldn’t be presented to me on such a consistent basis. But I am too fearful to take that step, I also need to consider the children and what it may do to them at their ages to take them from their friends and those that have been there for them during this separation. And I do feel stuck, and frustrated at the situation.

      The only thing that I can seem to do is focus on the baby steps, do whatever little things I can do in the moment to take even the smallest step away from the situation. And to realize that there will be a day that I can completely break free, I don’t know when … but I do need to hold onto the idea that it will happen.

      1. Surviving freedom, I applaud you in holding on to that dream!

        As you are probably aware, many many victims / survivors are fearful of taking steps that will disrupt their children’s lives.
        Just in case it may be helpful in your thinking this all though, here is a link to our Resources pages on Children.

        And our post Staying for the kids (which you might like to interpret in your case as ‘staying in the community’ rather than ‘staying in the same house as the abuser’).

    3. OOTF, I’m not surprised at how you are feeling, given that your abuser is abusing you in the workplace every day. Well done for separating your life from him to the extent you have already!

      It’s no surprise that ‘not a thing has changed in him since you left, in fact he’s got worse’. That is typical of abusers. Disturbed characters like malignant narcs, covert aggressives and wife abusers SELDOM IF EVER change, they just tend to get worse. Their abilities to exert the abuse may diminish as they become aged and frail, but the heart is still hard.

      I believe that is one reason why God shortened the human lifespan after the flood. If people had been allowed to live for centuries, the sociopaths in the population would have just had more years in their lifetimes to get worse and worse. Stalins controlling whole continents would have been the most usual state of affairs.

      I know you have probably thought deeply about this already, but is there any way you can break free of the business you and he share? I would imagine that if you could separate your business interests, then you might have (in time) substantialy more freedom from abuse.

      And cutting or limiting his ability to text and phone you is an excellent idea, if you can do it.
      You might also consider getting a different phone with a different number for all your other communications. He could still contact you on the number you currently have. But everyone else would contact you on your new phone number. I know that might be really hard, given your business entanglements — would people honour your request that they NOT pass your new number on to him? But it might be worth a try.

  11. The abuser will tell you if you only did this better, that better, etc, but in reality they are looking for a whipping post. I can look back to the beginning and see instances where when we were first dating he would get the “pre-abuse” tension / grumpiness / ominousness / silence directed at me and I couldn’t even figure out why but now I can see that even way back then when we were first dating it was over him having to do his laundry or, one time, having to replace a tire.

    It’s like they are enraged at you that you haven’t made life a garden of paradise for them, you haven’t erased every inconvenience, chore, etc. They will also constantly scrutinize you looking for any flaw, including physical, they can find, which I find to be diabolical, so that they can throw it in your face of how unworthy you are or how much you have “failed” them. when other situations not related to appearance arise..they scan you for imperfections. I have been told I am attractive, but he found the imperfections, never mind when I hit my mid-thirties / late-thirties and started getting any kind of wrinkles…whoah! He was all over that! Calling me a “wrinkled hag” meanwhile I would turn heads when out in public. But they get under your skin. They make sure they do. I will never be with a man who doesn’t have a heart of gold after being with this devil for almost 20 years.

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