A Cry For Justice

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

The Abuser’s Background of Being Abused is no Excuse — Don’t Accept it as Such

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.


[August 17, 2022: There have been some changes made to this post. For more information, read the Editors’ notes at the bottom of the post. Editors.]

He will render to each one according to his works:  (Romans 2:6  ESV)

It is quite common for abusers to claim that they were abused when they were children and, when cornered, offer this as an excuse for their abuse of others. We must not permit them to do so. Let me explain why.

Firstly, there are many, many, many people in this world who were abused as children but who are not abusers themselves. And there are abusers who were not abused as children. The one simply does not automatically lead to the other (i.e, childhood abuse produces abusers).

Secondly, the Lord does not accept this as an excuse for wickedness. Each of us will give account of our own deeds (fortunately for the Christian, Christ’s perfect obedience and atonement have provided us with a perfect righteousness). On that Day, the Lord is not going to accept an abuser’s excuse, “but I was abused as a child.”

Thirdly, the fact is that it really is immaterial from a victim’s perspective as to WHY the abuser abuses. Abusers LOVE to get us all caught up in some sympathy dynamic so that we feel sorry for them and excuse them. “Well, if you knew his background, you would understand.” No. When someone is treating you wickedly, when they are enslaving you, emotionally torturing you, destroying your sense of self, punching you in body or soul, alienating you from family and friends, it eventually dawns on you that WHY they are doing these things doesn’t matter. As a pastor, I really do not care why a man regards women as inferior to men or why he keeps her economically impoverished so she cannot escape him….  I only care that he is DOING these things. And they are evil.

“Fred, you are an abuser. You have been playing the phony Christian card for a long time and now your number is up. I am not going to meet with you in a bajillion counseling sessions to try and find out why you are doing these things. Frankly, I don’t care why. I only care that you are wickedly abusing your wife, you are blaspheming the name of Jesus Christ, and Fred, we are going to protect your wife. Go ahead and go off to counseling. Go ahead and get analyzed. Go ahead and work on changing. But those efforts are really no concern of mine. You are an abuser, your wife needs protection from you….and….we are done here.”

[August 17, 2022: Editors’ notes:

—For some comments made prior to August 17, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be an exact match.
—For some comments made prior to August 17, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be found in the post.
If you would like to compare the text in the comments made prior to August 17, 2022 that quoted from the post to the post as it is now (August 17, 2022), click here [Internet Archive link] for the most recent Internet Archive copy of the post.]



  1. healinginhim

    Thank you, Pastor Crippen.

  2. Dale Ingraham @ Speaking Truth In Love Ministries
  3. angelsforhorses

    Excellent article!
    You have no idea how I had longed to hear those words from church elders…but they never came until right before the abuser discarded me, after 34 years of abuse, in ill health and unable to work. Praise God He had a plan, and I wasn’t left totally alone and destitute. And though I’ve lived on the street homeless and almost died from preventable health issues…I’m still here doing the work of the Kingdom. Praise God!

    Church elders need to get the training to spot and handle abuse situation just like any other authority that may come in contact with abusers and their victims. And the misogynistic outlook needs to change, as well as the atmosphere of victim blaming…In fact, I believe every church should require training as part of Eldership training…but then that’s just me.

  4. Suzanne

    I wish that every pastor took this stand against abusers in their churches and protected the victims. This is the Biblically correct way to handle abuse and it should be the only resource for churches. But unfortunately too many churches and their pastors rely instead on psychology and it’s psychology that teaches that abuse in childhood is an excuse to abuse.

    • KayE

      I agree that this is the right stand for pastors to take. But I strongly disagree that psychology teaches that abuse in childhood gives an excuse for abusers. In general, all recent psychological research and thinking shows that the best way to deal with abusers is to hold them fully accountable.

      • Anonymous

        KayE, it does seem like it’s trending this way (..the best way to deal with abusers is to hold them fully accountable), but let’s face it, many of us here seem to run into the counselors who are old school and who will include us in the blame.

        And sadly, I’ve read many articles on other websites about bullying in the school system where the victim is placed with the bully in the punishment. This is even at schools where there are strict anti-bullying regulations. If you read some articles about this, you may see that most of the “holding abusers accountable” are just words. There are simply too many of them and oftentimes in the school environment, the parents are bullies themselves and will jump into the fray and demand that their abusive child be treated “fairly!”

        I think we have a long way to go in the psychology world to get everybody on the same page about the nature of abusers and how their victims are destroyed, but yes, they do seem to be trying to implement this philosophy and God willing they will start enforcing it (holding abusers accountable) at younger and younger ages.

  5. joepote01

    This was a major component in why I stayed so long in my first (abusive) marriage. I knew she had issues from childhood. I knew she had abandonment issues with her father. I was able to recognize that her abusive behavior toward me probably had more to do with lack of relationship with her father and trying to get back at him than with me, personally.

    In the end, though, it really didn’t matter. In the end, I had to face the reality that she continually went out of her way to hurt me as deeply as possible as often as feasible…and no amount of counseling and no amount of loving behavior on my part had changed that….or ever would change that. In fact, across the 17 year marriage, the abusive behavior escalated rather than improving.

    • TruthSerum

      Narcissists and their behavior always worsen with time.

  6. Hayley


  7. 3blossommom

    My stbx played this card years ago. He was being led through Bondage Breaker and he had memories “surface” that pointed to the “cause” of his issues. His parents forgot to celebrate his birthday once, because of a family emergency, and his uncle molested him on one occasion. This was what supposedly led to stealing from several churches, many mistresses and prostitutes, habitual sexual addictions, emotional manipulation and cruelty in our home, etc. I fell for it. I began to excuse everything he did based off of those two events. We were assured that after praying though the Bondage Breaker book and dealing with the memories of these events, he would be healed. Crazy mumbo jumbo and not of God at all. Hind sight is 20 / 20. He lies so much that I sometimes wonder if those memories were even genuine. Life went on after his Bondage Breaker healing and he returned to his behaviors. 😦

  8. TruthSerum

    This is the best article ever, and not just for abusing spouses….The first thought that came to mind actually, was the line I got from a pastor that my parents had rough childhoods, so I should be compassionate (for the emotional abuse and entitlement mentality). As if it was my fault they had sorry childhoods, giving them a license to abuse their own child. Whatever. Thank you for validating this, and solidifying my stance not to replicate their behavior. I got it on both ends….coming up, and how I treat my son differently (the way I wanted to be treated). I consider my life a successful one, because I refused to abuse.

  9. standsfortruth

    This IS Exellent!
    It puts to rest all the endless “rabbit holes of excuses” that the abuser and his “church allies” use to keep the target from getting the help and freedom that she so desperatly needs, and deserves.

  10. Stronger Now

    Thank you! What a breath of fresh air!

  11. bunkababy3

    I was abused [during?] my whole growing up. So much so that it did damage that is not repairable to my mind. That said, I CHOSE NOT to abuse. If anyone has an “excuse” it could be me, I would be at the top of the list. They choose to do it.

  12. Fool me once

    I am having this ongoing conversation with my teenage son lately. He is starting to see what a mess his dad is, and actually described him as toxic. I’m working hard to help him understand that while trying to help his dad on a practical level, in ways that make it easier to live with him, is a good thing, he should not accept abuse, regardless of his dad’s excuses. In some ways, it is easier for me, because I don’t have to have any contact with him. The kids still have to spend some time with him. He is not directly abusive to them like he was to me, but that just means it is sneakier and even harder for a kid to figure out.

  13. braveandstandingstrong

    Pastor Crippen, Thank you!

  14. Eve

    Wow! Praise God! Thank you! As a wife who has been tossed back and forth from counselor to counselor on this issue this is refreshing and poignant ! And true!…God bless you!

    • Hi Eve,
      You’d given what looked like your full name or real name in that comment, so I changed the name to Eve which is what you’ve used on this blog before. Please take care what you write in the ‘name’ field when submitting a comment. We can’t promise to always pick up risky errors before the comment gets published. We try to, but we are not perfect! So we rely on our readers to be vigilant on this.

  15. Elise

    Wow just wow just double wow. Love this response and so true! Right on, Pastor! Right on! Thank you.

  16. Finding Answers

    The difficulty I encounter is when someone I know is an abuser is currently experiencing grief.

    A rough example (not family of origin, for a change 🙂 ):

    The individual’s parent has a health issue causing progressive deterioration.
    The individual genuinely loves this parent (not false, outwards appearances).
    The individual, who I know has played the pity card in other circumstances, does not usually play it in this case. (There are some exceptions.)

    I am No Contact with this individual, so I merely pose it as a hypothetical scenario.

    If I were to run into this individual – very highly unlikely – I don’t know how to respond. Yes, I have the Holy Spirit to guide me, but I’m not certain I would understand His message….it’s like being tested on a lesson for which I have had no practice.

    My head spins (not the dissociative warning kind) in trying to understand. I am becoming aware of my vulnerabilities. Unless I consider this on a case-by-case basis, rather than black and white? Needing practice at discernment?

    In general, I fear getting sucked into a trap by an abuser, or – worse yet – missing someone in genuine need.

    • Hi Finding Answers, here is what I do in instances similar to the one you have described:

      If I run into a person who I am wary of (because I know how they have dealt with things in the past) but I am also aware that this person is dealing with real grief or recent personal trauma, I simply say to that person what I feel is true and authentic for me, my feelings, my capacities, at that moment in time.

      For example, I might say:
      “I’m sorry for your loss.”

      And if they launch into any more and I know that I don’t have the energy to respond, I might say:
      “My commiserations for your grief and loss. But I can’t interact any more right now because I’m dealing with my own grief.”

      • Finding Answers

        (Light airbrushing…)

        ….I simply say to that person what I feel is true and authentic for me, my feelings, my capacities, at that moment in time.

        Thank you, Barb. Your example gives me something to work with….

        I think I was afraid I would need to deny a very large part of who I am, knowing it has gotten me into unhealthy situations in the past.

        In the past, I comforted a different individual who responded in an accepting, yet hurtful manner. The words spoken were a combination of backhanded compliment and insidious reference to my “apparent coldness”. (Omitting details for my protection.)

        The memory still hurts. A lot.

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