A Typical Letter from a Pastor to an Abuse Victim When She Leaves the Abuser

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 28, 2022: There have been some changes made to this post. For more information, read the Editors’ notes at the bottom of the post. Editors.]

Most of our readers have either received letters or emails or phone calls or personal “counsel” from a pastor or other church leader when they resolved to leave their abuser. The abuser of course ends up being enabled by those he has won over as his allies, many of whom are in the church if he is a professing Christian. Here is one such letter. The names have been changed but the letter is very real. (Trigger Warning) Ready?

Dear Linda —

I would very much like to be able to sit down with you and John. You owe it to yourself. It is not even about what I have to say to you, but it is about you and John learning to understand one another.

The thing I have to say first is that if you will make church and prayer a priority, it will make all the difference.

We here at First Church love you and John and want to help you both to learn to identify the problems that are damaging your marriage so that you can then grow together.

Let’s all meet together and talk.

In Jesus’ Name,

Pastor James

Now, keep in mind what has led up to this letter being sent. Linda has confronted her abuser husband. And the things she has called him out on are not trivial annoyances. They are full-fledged power-and-control-seeking abuse tactics. Regular humiliation in front of others. Cruelty to her animals. Vulgar sexual demands. Slapping her “in fun” and laughing about it. Demeaning and shaming her. Refusing to admit the wickedness of his own heart and rather regularly blaming other people and his circumstances, including blaming her.

Also keep in mind that at the time of writing this letter, the Pastor had not heard a single part of the victim’s story of the abuse. Yet, as you can see from the letter, he has already made his diagnosis. It is a 50 – 50 blame sharing communication breakdown. Let me translate that: “It is the victim’s fault mostly. Why, after all, her husband is completely willing to talk and to meet with the pastor and here, why, she won’t even answer his calls.”

And of course, all the while, this fellow is a fine member of the church and his relatives are key members as well.

We invite our readers to tell Pastor James exactly what you think of his letter and his skills as a pastor and counselor.

I have withheld quite a few punches here to let you all have a shot at him. “But that’s being unkind and ungracious” do I hear someone say? Nope. It isn’t. People who set themselves up as God’s spokesman and claim to oversee Christ’s flock fully deserve some plain shots fired away at them for abusing the lambs.

How do we know? Because (for one example) God told Ezekiel to denounce the wicked tactics of false shepherds.

(Ezekiel 34:2-27  NIV)  ….”Woe to you shepherds of Israel who only take care of yourselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock? You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock. You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally. So they were scattered because there was no shepherd, and when they were scattered they became food for all the wild animals. My sheep wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. They were scattered over the whole earth, and no one searched or looked for them.

“‘Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, because my flock lacks a shepherd and so has been plundered and has become food for all the wild animals, and because my shepherds did not search for my flock but cared for themselves rather than for my flock, therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am against the shepherds and will hold them accountable for my flock. I will remove them from tending the flock so that the shepherds can no longer feed themselves. I will rescue my flock from their mouths, and it will no longer be food for them.

“‘For this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness. I will bring them out from the nations and gather them from the countries, and I will bring them into their own land. I will pasture them on the mountains of Israel, in the ravines and in all the settlements in the land. I will tend them in a good pasture, and the mountain heights of Israel will be their grazing land. There they will lie down in good grazing land, and there they will feed in a rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign LORD. I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice.

“‘As for you, my flock, this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I will judge between one sheep and another, and between rams and goats. Is it not enough for you to feed on the good pasture? Must you also trample the rest of your pasture with your feet? Is it not enough for you to drink clear water? Must you also muddy the rest with your feet? Must my flock feed on what you have trampled and drink what you have muddied with your feet?

….I myself will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep. Because you shove with flank and shoulder, butting all the weak sheep with your horns until you have driven them away, I will save my flock, and they will no longer be plundered. I will judge between one sheep and another. I will place over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he will tend them; he will tend them and be their shepherd. I the LORD will be their God, and my servant David will be prince among them. I the LORD have spoken.

“‘I will make a covenant of peace with them and rid the land of savage beasts so that they may live in the wilderness and sleep in the forests in safety. I will make them and the places surrounding my hill a blessing. I will send down showers in season; there will be showers of blessing. The trees will yield their fruit and the ground will yield its crops; the people will be secure in their land. They will know that I am the LORD, when I break the bars of their yoke and rescue them from the hands of those who enslaved them.

No, I won’t be sending Pastor James copies of our books. I can assure you, he will never read them. Increasingly I am concluding that naivete and ignorance and lack of training on the part of pastors is not the fundamental problem.

[August 28, 2022: Editors’ notes:

—For some comments made prior to August 28, 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 28, 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 28, 2022 that quoted from the post to the post as it is now (August 28, 2022), click here [Internet Archive link] for the most recent Internet Archive copy of the post.]


115 thoughts on “A Typical Letter from a Pastor to an Abuse Victim When She Leaves the Abuser”

  1. Oh my! Same old false paradigm founded on the classic Divorce Mythology found all too often in churches.

    Where do we start?

    First there’s the false assumption that divorce is not the best course of action. He doesn’t even know the situation, yet he has already decided divorce is the wrong path to take. Why? Most likely because he has completely bought into the false Divorce Mythology paradigm that falsely claims divorce is always wrong, always sinful, always rebellious, always ungodly, and the very worst thing that could ever happen to a Christian…in fact it falsely claims ‘divorce’ should not even be in a Christian’s vocabulary (as though ignorance were sufficient to protect against evil).

    Then there’s the second false assumption (firmly founded on the first) that all divorces are simply a matter of poor communication. In fact, that all marital issues really boil down to simple miscommunications and misunderstandings. This false premise concludes that since all divorce is ungodly (false!) then there must never be a valid reason for divorce…therefore, there is no such thing as true evil…no spouse could possibly harm their sworn covenant partner on purpose…therefore it must all be a simple misunderstanding. Never mind that this completely negates the multitude of Bible passages warning us against evil! ,,,the unbiblical Divorce Mythology takes precedent over all those, apparently… 😦

    Then, there’s the downright insulting assumption, “…if you will make church and prayer a priority, it will make all the difference.” More than likely, this dear saint has spent countless hours on her knees begging God to heal her marriage. Yet this sanctimonious pastor has the nerve to assume she doesn’t make prayer a priority!!! Why? Because it doesn’t fit his perspective viewed thru the Divorce Mythology lens. He has bought into the lie that any human relational issues can be solved thru prayer…and that anyone experiencing marital issues can solve those issues simply by praying more fervently and communicating more clearly. Therefore, he turns the whole situation on it’s head from reality…and blames the victim!!! This is all your fault…if you would only come to church more regularly, pray more fervently, believe more deeply, and communicate more clearly, you wouldn’t be having these issues.

    I tried seventeen years to live up to the expectations of the Divorce Mythology…it doesn’t work. You know why? Because it isn’t true. It is not founded in fact, nor in the Bible. It’s a lie…a myth!

    For more on what I mean by Divorce Mythology, here’s a blog post: Divorce Mythology [Internet Archive link]

    Thank you, Jeff, for continuing to expose these lies!

    1. therefore, there is no such thing as true evil…no spouse could possibly harm their sworn covenant partner on purpose…therefore it must all be a simple misunderstanding.

      Nailed it. Exactly what these people believe. Christians who are supposedly armored for battle with the devil, evil in person, willfully choosing blindness to its existence. And that is sin.

    2. I could not agree more. Sadly, the church is so clueless on marriage and divorce. I have yet to hear someone have an understanding when it comes to Deut. 24. God is NOT against divorce. He put it in place in the above reference. God will always have on His heart the needy, the oppressed and the abused.

      I will not hold my breath hoping the church will wake up and correct their ignorance. I for the life of me, cannot understand how Christian’s will quote the famous “God hates divorce” Scripture and fail to see how that only heaps guilt upon the already deeply wounded spouse. For one, that is NOT what the original Hebrew says. The original was, “he who hates divorce, works corruption.” Who was the “he who hates divorce?” It was the Jewish men who kicked their wives to the curb, without a divorce certificate so they would not have to be financially responsible for them. The same issue was still alive and well when Jesus came to earth.

      Why do people not really study the Bible? Why are people so quick to assume what the church has taught them is truth? Nope. Many prefer the old wineskins, the black and white theology. You know the ones, the ones who swear Jesus said a person can ONLY get a divorce if the other has cheated. Poppycock. Jesus was addressing these same kind of men who did not want to divorce their wives, thus if either remarried, they would be guilty of adultery. No wonder why the world doesn’t want much to do with the church. We really are the only ones who kill our wounded.

      1. Lynn, you wrote,

        Why do people not really study the Bible? Why are people so quick to assume what the church has taught them is truth?

        For me, it was that I had been trained up to think that I was too stupid and unwise to understand such things and then as I got older I would listen to ministers who basically preached the same theology (seemed to use the same website and sermons that stated the same things) that reinforced the same message…which went something like, “Women shut-up and submit, sacrifice you mind heart and soul for your family, and do it with a smile on your face and a rockin’ bod for your hubby…and don’t forget to SUBMIT!”

        Like you and Jeff and Barb and many of us here, when we finally searched the scriptures on our own—asking God to show us the truth—we found out how BADLY we’d been lied to by the church as well as how so many were still so blind. It is all so SAD and heartbreaking to see people who truly belong to Jesus walking in darkness and serving the evil one. It’s why this website is so valuable…to be here when God starts opening His little ones eyes.

      2. Yes, false assumptions piled on top of false assumptions. And some of those false assumptions go all the way back to the translators…who had their own paradigm through which they viewed the original text.

    3. I am the woman behind this post, Joe, and yes, I spent many hours praying, asking God to change my ex husband’s heart. You are right. He never changed though. I’m still working through the thought process that it’s somehow my fault. I have a long way to go.

      1. Dying Star – My heart breaks for you! Yet I am so thankful you had the strength and clarity to get out.

        I went thru something similar myself, a few years back. Here is a post telling a little of my story: Why I Speak Out [Internet Archive link]

        May I give you a gift? I’ve written a book titled, “So You are a Believer…Who has been through Divorce.” It is written in a myth-buster style addressing various aspects of the Divorce Mythology compared to scripture. I wrote it to encourage believers who have experienced divorce to move past some of the false guilt. I know what I went thru…and hope to help others from what The Lord taught me.

        You can find a free pdf copy of the book here: So You are a Believer…Who has been through Divorce… [Internet Archive link]

        If you don’t like reading pdf format a paperback copy can be purchased here: So You are a Believer… Who has been through Divorce… [Internet Archive link] Or you can purchase a paperback or Kindle version from Amazon here: So You are a Believer…Who has been through Divorce… [Affiliate link]

        You are more than welcome to the free pdf version and welcome to share it with others. I pray God can use my experience to be a blessing to you.

        I’m praying for you. God bless!

  2. I sincerely wonder if this “pastor” is born again and has the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Of course I cannot say with certainty that anyone is unredeemed. But the Word tells me: “Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.”

    What fruits is this man producing? Is he strengthening the weak (who is weaker than an abused woman)? Is he binding up the injured (does he even acknowledge the injuries this woman has suffered)? Has he searched for the lost (how can he when he doesn’t even acknowledge that the abuser is lost, that he shows no sign of being redeemed)? Has he even read Ezekiel 34:2-27 or Matthew 7: 13-20? The churches I have known over the years place great emphasis on going out to evangelize the lost and bring them into the church. But in too many congregations the lost are sitting right in the pews and the pastor doesn’t even see them. And if a pastor can’t tell the difference between the lost and a true follower of Jesus how can he serve the church?

    1. “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! (Matthew 6:22-23)

  3. it is about you and John learning to understand one another.

    Here is my response: “Pastor James, you are quite wrong. I understand John perfectly.”

    The end.

  4. Grace mixed with a bit of law is a deadly cocktail. I was told that I am covered in grace for divorcing my abuser. But teaches differently from the pulpit. He also stated that if you’re on your second or third marriage you need to make it work. No way out. No mention of DV or what it does to the abused. The church is growing. So am I. In the knowledge that the bigger the crowd the truth may be twisted to appease the enemy.

  5. One thing has troubled me for such a long time. Why is it that if a stranger treated me this way, it would be considered a criminal offence. Everyone would recognise it as such. The victim would be protected by society and the court. There would be moral outage and indignation in the community. Why is there a special class called domestic violence? Why do the courts gloss over the horror? Why is it acceptable to be terrorised, stalked, threatened, beaten and abused by a member of your own family?

    1. It is so true. I have the right to protect myself from any harmful relationship or get away from any toxic person but cannot protect myself from the very person that was supposed to protect me and provide for me. This is insane. If a stranger is neglectful towards a person it is seen as something really bad as we see portraited in the good Samaritan parable. So much worst is when the person that you became one with mistreats, neglects and destroys you. This is even more serious than the neglect towards your neighbor. It is such an evil as we find in 1 Tim 5:8. But those who won’t care for their relatives, especially those in their own household, have denied … for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.

  6. Pastor James, how fair is it judging the situation between a couple when you have only talked to one of them? Wouldn’t it be wiser to form the best picture you can before you start trying to intervene?

    If this woman does not want to talk to you, surely it would be better to accept that you do not know enough to take action.

    From what Pastor Jeff says, you have done her a grave injustice. One of God’s precious daughters has been abused in a demonic way, and you have not looked at the situation as God does. You are accountable to Him for that. Instead of protecting and defending a hurt sheep, you have empowered a wolf.

    I hope you will now be willing to learn about abuse so that you will not repeat this very serious error.

  7. Linda already understands, which is why she is leaving. She understands that her husband is abusive and is not a Christian. She understands that she must stand for herself because the church has failed to stand up for her. She owes it to herself to leave the abuser. Her husband is the one who needs to understand. Understand that what he has done is wrong and has consequences. Furthermore, her husband is not a Christian man. He is a grossly abusive man and no amount of talking is going to change that. Abusers don’t hear; they don’t respond to words that seek to change them. They need to see that their behavior and treatment of their victim is UNACCEPTABLE and will not be tolerated by people who profess to know God and represent Him. Churches and pastors need to step up and defend the ones who have no voice.

    Your letter is directed at the wrong person. Linda isn’t the one who needs correction. Her abusive husband is.

  8. In January, my pastor announced that 2017 will be a divorce-free year in our church. They will do whatever they can to keep marriages together–even pay for marriage counseling. There are just so many things wrong with that statement.

      1. Ignorance and arrogance

        Seems like there is a lot of that going around these days.
        It is akin to a pastor saying “We are going to have 50% more faith commitments / baptisms this year.” You might get the numbers but that doesn’t mean the reality of life change is true. In fact, you just cheapen the commitment and paper over the fault lines.

    1. So wouldn’t we all faint away if we heard a pastor say, “We have declared 2017 to be an abuse-free year and we will do whatever we can with mentoring, boundaries, sheltering, even excommunication of perpetrators, etc. – even pay for extended counseling and lawyer fees for victims, to make sure we all here are treating each other with nothing but kindness and compassion.”

      Many years ago I drew a cartoon (and still keep it in my Bible) of a church building. Inside was a pile of bones with a ‘Christian’ sitting on it with a bow and arrow, pointing at others in the church. Out on the steps was a pastor calling people to come in. The people outside were whispering to each other, “I think I’ll stay out here where they treat us far better than they do each other.”

    2. Exactly Abby! The god of nice! Women in my prior church reported abuse in their marriages but were told to be their husbands’ “cheerleaders” and support him in whatever he was doing. No confrontations…no one willing to speak up on their behalf. It became a chore to be a part of such nonsense. Men doing whatever they wanted…and never being held accountable for it. Women being told to pray for their husbands more, sacrifice yourself because it is your lot in life to suffer for Christ.

      1. Women in my prior church reported abuse in their marriages but were told to be their husbands’ “cheerleaders” and support him in whatever he was doing.

        What a maddening and thoughtless response!

        This ‘no confrontations’ thing, to me, is sort of like managing the symptoms of the disease, not the disease. It’s very surface, like making things look better when they aren’t really any better at all.

    3. Wow! What a blatant display of ignorance and arrogance!

      As though his proclamation will make it so…

      As though all any marriage needs for health is a little counseling…

      As though there is no possibility of a marriage within his congregation NEEDING to end…

      AND…(drumroll)…as though it were possible to be saved without a divorce taking place…because it’s not! Jesus REDEEMED us from Satan’s legal claim over our lives. Jesus brought about our DIVORCE from the kingdom of darkness and delivered us into the Kingdom of Heaven.

      No Divorce = No Salvation. For one full year…per this pastor’s proclamation…

      I don’t think that’s God’s will.

  9. If I remember correctly, Jesus took cords and fashioned a whip out of them and drove the self-serving money-changers out of the temple. Why? Because the temple was intended to be a holy place. Is not marriage also designed to be sacred? When the sanctity of a marriage has been so desecrated, the church has a responsibility to identify the one who has defiled His bride and the relationship and run him out.

    In I Cor 5, the Apostle Paul chastises the Corinthian church leaders for failing to identify and remove a so-called believer who was violating God’s design for marriage, saying, “Do you not judge those who are within the church? …Remove the wicked man from among yourselves.” Yet, today, the contemporary church seems far more inclined to coddle and even defend abusers while pressuring their victims to remain in their toxic marriages or risk being condemned and even shunned.

    So bizarre, so backward. But this seems to be the norm.

  10. Increasingly I am concluding that naivete and ignorance and lack of training on the part of pastors is not the fundamental problem

    No, the problem is that they worship the god of nice, not the God of Truth. All evil must be shoved under the rug. They cannot look at it and they certainly can’t confront it. It’s a much safer place to avoid evil and pray that God will take care of it. It’s all self-love. In my eyes, they are more evil than the abusers. The abusers had a chance to correct their behavior if only someone, anyone would have confronted it and corrected it. Their motto is… I am the way, the nice, and the life. I wonder how that will work out for them??

  11. What if it were a letter something like this:

    Dear Linda,
    I have recently returned from a seminar titled, “Evil is Real and Comes in Human Form–Bible Education Classes for Pastor’s Who Were Wrongly Taught (or never taught) the Truth About Identifying Evil Humans Within the Church,” that is now required for all pastors as of this year. (We need to take it in order to maintain our certification.) I just want to start out by saying that I’m sorry to hear of the behaviors that your husband has been displaying and also that I BELIEVE YOU!

    Prior to attending this seminar I may have foolishly told you that it was just a matter of meeting together and trying to sort things out by (dangerously, I now know) trying to attribute some fault to both of you. This course that I took has given me biblical knowledge and insight about such matters, as well as opened my spiritual eyes and added to my wisdom.

    With this in mind, I’d like to first ask you if you feel safe–do you feel like you or your children are in physical danger? If not, please let me know the best time we could meet without your husband present–I know you have the children to care for and my wife has agreed that if you need her to watch them while we are meeting together she’d be glad to do so. Anywhere you feel safe and comfortable either at your home or at the church or another location, I’d be glad to accommodate you. Pastors wives were encouraged to attend this seminar as well, and afterwards they also received a certificate of attendance, so she is on board in understanding the nature of the beast.

    Again, I’m so sorry to learn of this but I’m also grateful that God has blessed me with this invaluable information, and I pray that He will allow me to use it to help you and your family. You are deeply loved by God and again, I’m just grateful that He stepped in just in time to be able to help me help one of His little ones. My cell # is ___-___-____ and my email is ________ or if there’s some other way you’d like to reach me or me to reach you, please let me know.

    Thank you for trusting me enough to share your heart and your trials with me. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to do this.

    Your fellow servant and brother in Christ,

    Pastor James

  12. Pastor Crippen writes,

    Then there’s the second false assumption (firmly founded on the first) that all divorces are simply a matter of poor communication.

    I recall the times I spent with two Christian counselors. I shared with them the account of bystanders calling the police as my husband physically battered me in a parking lot…not once did either describe the event as “abusive:, it was almost as if they were embarrassed with the revelation, but, they then insisted on working on “communication skills”. Pitiful helpers.

    1. It was almost as if they were embarrassed with the revelation.

      Yes! You have just helped me have a definition for that look on their faces! That looking away. That changing of the subject really fast. That blushing. That stumbling for words. Thank you!

  13. Dear Pastor James (and any other pastor who would listen),

    You said to me in your letter:

    it is about you and John learning to understand one another.

    LISTEN. Please, for once, stop talking. Stop spouting parts of Scripture passages and trite “Christian” expressions. Stop trying to fix this. Stop trying to fight for “marriage” above people, above all else, and listen. Stop thinking and talking about how you are the expert on what I have seen, what I have heard, what I have experienced. Just LISTEN.

    I want you to understand that I have TRIED to help John understand what he was doing to me. I have done NOTHING BUT try to help him understand what he’s doing to us. I have explained. I have detailed. I have told. I have used analogies. I have used other people’s stories as examples to explain what he’s doing to us. I have cajoled. I have tried to bribe him to be in a good mood with food or sexual favors. I have begged. I have screamed. I have whispered. I have cried. I have sobbed until I couldn’t breathe. I have walked away rather than saying something I might regret later. I have engaged and stayed in the trenches. I have fought to try to save our marriage. I have remained silent while he berated me. I have ignored “his bad and hurtful behavior and made myself winsome so that I may ‘win him without words'”.

    You weren’t there.

    You seem to think that you are the first one to introduce the idea of “the need for communication” in marriage to me. I want to tell you in the strongest possible language, that “communicate” is all I have done for the past __ years. I have read books. I have done workbooks. I have done journals. I have done Bible studies. I have done classes. I have sought godly counsel. I have gone on retreats. I have gone to conferences.

    You weren’t there.

    I HAVE told John he’s hurting me (us). And he laughed. He blamed me. He snickered. He punished. He hurt or killed our pets. He went after our kids. He told me I’m crazy. He told the kids I’m crazy. He told me he didn’t say that (whatever it was he just said). He destroyed or got rid of my things that meant something to me. He lied and told me I lost those things. He told me that it was because I was so unorganized that my things went missing (only my things). Over and over, he told me I was lying. He told me I was making things up. He told me “he would never do anything like that”, even though I just watched him do something cruel. He made jokes about me to other people — friends and my own family — so that they would join him in laughing at me. He told very private, personal things about me to our men friends in order to either have them laugh at me, or to make me seem cheap.

    You weren’t there.

    I have approached John in calm moments, after a good meal that he enjoyed, when he seemed to be in a pleasant mood, like a lot of the Christian women’s books admonish us women to do. I approached him with fear and trembling (because of all the past fights, humiliation, snickering, silent treatment, making jokes about me days later in front of other people so they too will laugh at me as payback). I approached, hands shaking, hoping this time….this time….maybe it might work. Maybe he would finally understand he’s crushing me. I shook with dread as I did it, because I knew I was giving up / losing what might have been the one pleasant, calm night with him I had seen in a while. I started to speak what was on my heart. He turned those eyes on me. His jaw tightened. His eyes narrowed.

    You weren’t there.

    I have tried talking to him in the calm of the night, only to listen to him roll over, face away, and humph at me. As I stared at the back of his head, I have tried being silent (like only half of the human population is told — “have a gentle, quiet spirit” “winning him without words” “submitting to suffering” — hoping that somehow this was going to perfect me) as tears pooled on my pillow. I have tried to stifle the shaking sobs as he again falls asleep right away with a clear conscience.

    You weren’t there.

    I have endured months and months of silent treatment at a time, only broken by Sunday mornings or Wednesday nights at church where he’s a leader in your flock. I seem happy at your church because this is the only time he will speak pleasantly, or at all, to me all week. Of course his pleasant, kind words are performed in front of others, but at this point, I am licking up any crumbs of kindness I can get. You don’t see my heart sinking or watch me as I’m dragging my feet going out the door.

    You weren’t there.

    You see, I know that the ride home either begins more deafening, painful, shaming silence. Or the ride home is the beginning of his rage for something I might have said or done that he didn’t like — the way I moved my hand, where I sat, who I talked to, the way I carried a book, who I smiled at, my buttons done up too high, my buttons undone too low. The rest of the days, I’m isolated in a silent home while he has friends and admirers at work boosting and encouraging him about what a great guy he is.

    You weren’t there.

    I watched as he smiled at me and went to my money-hiding place and took it all. I listened in stunned silence as he told me that he was behind on money to the church, so he was taking the money I had been saving and offering it to the Lord. I couldn’t believe it as he took the money out of bank account after bank account. I would see “Final Notice” stamped in red on letters before he whisked them away, telling me he’d take care of that, getting angry at me for looking at the envelopes. I did see envelopes for multiple credit card bills for cards I know I didn’t have in MY wallet. All the while, he rages about how the kids and I eat too much. He says he will not give me money for groceries for the next six weeks. Then he comes home with bags [of] snacks for his buddies. He would watch shampoo levels, toilet paper usage, how fast soap disappears. You think I didn’t communicate with him? Believe me, I talked and talked to him. I communicated that we as parents have the responsibility to feed our growing children. He turned on us, and blamed us for the financial mess he was in.

    You weren’t there.

    When the threats that one or all of us might not live to see tomorrow made us sick to our stomachs, I held it together while holding my children. When the kids couldn’t sleep because of the fear, I sang to them of Jesus’ love. When my children were racked with sobs on the floor because he had taken another pet of theirs away, (and killed it, but I couldn’t bring myself to tell them that), I rocked them, sobbed with them, loved them the best I knew how. When he yells at them to “Just shut up!” or tells them to “get out of here, I don’t want you,” I calmed their hearts and tell them over and over that they are loved, and wipe their eyes and their noses. Yes, I told him. I told him he was destroying his family. I told him to stop threatening the children – even in a roundabout way. I told him to stop making jokes about killing me. I told him he was tearing down his own home. He blamed me for not getting his sense of humor, being over-sensitive, and for turning his children against him.

    You weren’t there.

    So now…. I came to you. In my weariness, I finally asked for a lifeline. I invited you into my pain. I invited you into my blackness, my weariness, my endless hole. You who say that you love me as Christ does. You who say that you care for my soul. You who say that you want what’s best for me and my family and the church. You who say you want to “help [us] both to learn to identify the problems that are damaging [our] marriage,” but then don’t ask me what’s been happening. You hold yourself as the expert who is going to tell me what our problems are without ever asking me what’s been going on behind the doors of our own home? How can this be possible? But, I told, never the less. I told what’s been our lives for years and years. I told.

    You weren’t there.

    I came to you for help. I finally had to start bringing light into my darkness, exposing the evil that’s been done to us to the light of day, the light of truth. I have brought all my pain, all the damage, all the devastation to Jesus. HE is rescuing us from our Egypt, from our oppression. However, I am at my most vulnerable right now. You see, I told. I communicated. That is what it’s all about, right? Communication? But now he knows that I told. I told “his secrets”. Now his mask is being cracked.

    You weren’t there.

    You tell me you are going to help us learn:

    to understand one another.

    Please LISTEN. Please hear me! I DO understand him. I have stared into those eyes during the good times, the moments of kindness and laughter that kept us staying. I have also stared into those eyes as he has threatened us, ruined us, shredded us, humiliated us. I have spent __ years studying this man — studying his moods, his looks, his face, the set of his jaw, the squint of his eye, the shift of his weight, the movement of his hands, the movement of his arms (just in case), his words, the meaning behind his words, the movement of the corner of his mouth, his need for admiration, his derisive laughter, his sniggering when he “got” me — I have studied him meticulously all these years to avoid the next rage or joke at my expense or humiliation or cruel trick. YOU need to understand, from someone who DOES know him inside and out – he will not go down without a fight. I am scared, hurting, confused, shaken, broken, financially ruined, sexually damaged, and nearly destroyed by all that he’s done to us. And you want to put me into a room with this person? I KNOW him. He will lie, shift blame, label me as crazy, act humble, draw you aside into his “confidence”. If that doesn’t work, he will lash out in anger, cry, tell you he’s a victim, blame his parents and environment, yell, intimidate, storm out and then “apologize” so that you will be obliged to reciprocate an apology for “words that were said,” or use any other variety of tactics in order to get you to back down and admire him again.

    I cried out to you for help. You sent me this letter. You completely discounted my pain, my family’s pain. You made yourself to be an expert in a situation you have never looked into, have never visited, have never seen. You have used words like “one another,” trying to shovel more blame onto my shoulders, implying that this….torture….was somehow mutual, again without ever asking me what has happened to us. Jesus said to the hurting:

    A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out…. [Isaiah 42:3 NIV]

    I wanted you to be the arms of Jesus here on earth. I cried out to you for help. And yet again….

    You weren’t there.

    1. There it is. Truth all laid out plainly and powerfully. We’ve been there. Most pastors haven’t and they don’t intend to be good shepherds and protect Christ’s flock. They just aren’t there.

    2. You are in my deepest prayers my sister. I am so sorry you endured all that you have at the hands of man who was “suppose” to love you. I wept as I read your words. The Bible says, “for out of the abundance of the heart, his mouth speaks.” Your words rang true to the hurt women endure.. Many women need to hear this because they need to know they are not alone. May the Lord use to help others out of their Egypt.

      1. Welcome to the blog and thanks for your comment. 🙂

        You had given what looked like you real name, so as a precaution I changed it to Another Sister. If you want us to change it to something else, just email The woman behind the curtain: twbtc.acfj@gmail.com — she will be more than happy to assist. 🙂

        And I encourage you to check out our New Users’ Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

    3. How do we survive it? How do we live with it for so long? Sixteen years in my case. But now that I’m out I understand that part of why I stayed is because the truth is so unendingly horrifying that denying it feels necessary for survival. I denied my reality until I no longer could, there was no longer a way to do so.

      And now I am out of the lie I am left with a reality so horrifying I just want to lay down and die. I really can’t handle it. I can’t handle it. My children have to go with him. God doesn’t rescue us. He allows evil to devour and destroy us, on the earth. Like Cain and Abel. We are all either a Cain or an Abel, are we not? I guess there are lucky Abels who don’t get killed. I am a murder victim who has to stay alive and conscious of my own murder at the hands of one who was supposed to love and protect me, while my “Christian” friends encouraged him to murder me. And my wicked “Christian” father shrugged his shoulders and told me he can’t help me and my mother and sister countenance this. I have learned things very deeply and in the end all I see on this earth is horror.

      Did any of you see the movie “Noah?” If so don’t you all understand Noah not wanting his children to procreate? Either they’ll be a Cain and go to hell or they’ll be an Abel and be murdered by evil. And aren’t we all just born one or the other? I understand we have to accept God’s will but I am so overwhelmed by evil I just feel like opting out. I have known evil so intimately and I see God letting (forcing) my children to go with the devil and I just feel like life is a living hell. Let us face the fact that God allows / tolerates / ordains a quantity and quality of evil that is incomprehensible.

      I thank Him with fear and trembling for saving my soul, I believe what He says. But I am scared to death living in this kingdom of Satan, this play yard of demons, where I am nothing but demon food. I have been devoured and the demons have smirked and gloated in my face. Now I have to watch them devour my children. Lord will you please return and put an end to the evil?

      1. Believer— You say it so well. This might sound terrible, but it takes away some of my aloneness to know that someone else has also felt this way. The reality that is too horrifying to face. A past and a present that are impossible to bear. The abandonment by those who should have been protectors. The feeling of being a murder victim forced to stay alive. I know you are not exaggerating. It is such an evil that you are not allowed to protect your children.
        That’s why the attitudes of people like Pastor James are so repulsive. He says he is speaking “In Jesus name”, but he is speaking for Satan.

      2. Believer, you are not alone. I have felt this way many times, and am fighting not to feel so discouraged even today, in an empty house. There are days when I know God is walking with me, and I am OK. But there are many days when I melt on my bed with tears of agony, wondering how in the world a heart that physically aches like mine doesn’t just burst. I read the Psalms and Proverbs and pray that for the devil in my life and the lives of my children calamity falls suddenly and without remedy, but will it ever happen? Or because he just laughs at me and works on his next plans of mischief with the new woman, stress-free, will he outlive me and though I may be freed through death my children will suffer horribly under his emotional abuse?

        One of my children prays with me that the Lord will return and carry us all out of this evil. I still question whether the life we live now where they are gone unsupervised so often into his home of no rules, junk food, and alcohol is better than if I had let him come back (he left us) so I could be there for the children all the time and prevent some of the insanity (he hid his drinking until he left). He was killing me inside by degrees, and would have finished the job in short order, but at least I would have been there all the time. Is the joy of being out myself worth it when the heart is aching so painfully for the children? And we won’t even go into his allies at church and at court.

        How do I survive? Only God, who is my portion, can get me through a day. But why, oh why do the younger children have to go through the agony of heart, and even worse, than the older children did? And what if he succeeds in his very determined plots and manipulations, convincing one or more that wonder-dad is better than awful-mom. I’ve already had one leave and come back, and that was incredibly painful; how can I ever survive going through that again? Letting him leave was supposed to make things better, not worse. All I can do, Believer, is send you a big, heartfelt cyberhug and cry for you and me and our children, and pray. May God hear our heart’s cry and answer, bring us back to life again, and save our children.

      3. Psalm 10. I wept over this Psalm when I could do nothing else but weep. And know this: they are not getting away with anything; they are heaping up judgment upon themselves. God will NOT be mocked.

    4. Moody Mom –

      Wow. That was beautifully and brilliantly written. You tell my story so eloquently.

      I also wish every pastor could read it. If it were possible, I would personally send it to every one of the pastors who weren’t there for me.

      Thank you. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

  14. In response to the original post: “We invite our readers to tell Pastor James exactly what you think of his letter and his skills as a pastor and counselor.”

    As a naive, new Christian, I sought “counsel” from my church.

    After God saved me, I realized my life was a mess. I turned to my church. I thought my church could help. I earnestly tried their “counseling” for more than 5 years. After a hand full of so-called “counsellors” later, I found myself in a dark, downward spiral of confusion, depression, & despair. I was encouraged to stay on a treadmill of striving & doing, constantly questioning, & doubting myself. I wanted so badly to believe my “counsellors” had the answers. I trusted them & thought they wanted to help, so I kept on. I shouldn’t have. That was foolish.

    My then-counselors lack compassion, love, & concern. I believe they lack the Holy Spirit as well. Their “counsel” was shaming, burdening, cold-hearted, soul-numbing, & delusional. They used a strictly selected list of commentators & writers. An extremely narrow list of “like-minded Christian authors” were strongly suggested to “help”. I should have seen I was being talked down to, told what to think, & told how to feel. My sins were magnified, broadly named, & harshly confronted. I was condemned; not encouraged, not given time, nor support. The sins others were actively committing against me were greatly minimized as though they were nothing. I was discouraged from addressing them & instead instructed to focus on my own sins, that this was God’s will for my life. Being told to smile, pray more, submit more, find joy in this (IN THIS! – meaning, while it was going on), is absolutely maddening. Wrongly, I was told I was sinning by not being joyful while abuse was happening. I was told to “just forgive…, get rid of my bitterness…, be content…, you’re depressed…, oh you’re angry….., and you need to repent….” While in “counseling”, I was told I was being selfish, focusing on myself & not on God. I was told moving forward should be simple, just take my thoughts captive & apply Philippians 4:8. This type of counsel is disturbing & wrong.

    When I questioned my “counsellors,” they didn’t hear me. Instead of listening, they quickly defended themselves, spinned it back onto me, & dismissed me. I’m sure if you’ve never experienced this type of treatment, it might be hard to understand what I’m talking about. It’s confusing, for sure. They are word-twisting masters.

    Others have strikingly similar stories about their “counseling” experiences with their so-called “Biblical counselors”. I’ve concluded the most help we can safely expect from these types of counsellors is equivalent to fishing tips or recipe exchanges. They are not adequately trained to handle real-life problems. Much less, are they adequately equipped to handle reports of abuse.

    I HATE that people seeking help from the “church” & God’s Word are being further hurt instead. They beat people over the head with their Bibles & use Scriptures ripped out of context. They believe their “training” trumps real-life experience. Minimizing, ignoring, & quietly looking the other way should never be an option when abuse is reported. They position themselves high above others & lay heavy burdens on already weary shoulders. Their delicate egos, their cut & dried rules, & their cold-hearted procedures were more important than helping a worn & battered soul.

    Woe to them. I think they all should be under church discipline because people have earnestly gone to them to settle matters & they won’t listen. They think they’re above all & the only right ones. They’re not. They’re unapproachable.

    Why wouldn’t my church refer hurting people out to real, certified, trained counsellors for help? What is their real motive? Could their pride be in the way of admitting something is out of their league? If their so-called “counseling” ministry is intended to glorify God, why not trust the Holy Spirit to get a person to health and safety? Are they so arrogant to think the Holy Spirit will only speak through them about solutions to people’s problems? I’ve found more comfort & encouragement in my independent & personal study of God’s Word & use of non-Christian resources. God uses it all in the believer’s life.

    I pray God will put a stop to the lies being told through this type of “counseling” & the “churches” that promote it. I’m absolutely convinced without a doubt the so-called “Biblical counsel” I received from my former “church” was not in fact Biblical, but kept me in a cycle of abuse, confusion, chaos, & despair.

    Please refer people to seek help from trained, certified, competent professionals. It takes a lot of courage to speak up about personal matters. How others respond powerfully impacts their progress (or lack of it).

    Today I praise God for opening my eyes to His truth & getting me outta that place. His Word is true. He protects His people. He rescues us from the domain of darkness!

    1. Rosie. – you are our true sister in Christ. What you said is all truth and we could not have said it better.

    2. Sounds to me like “d___d if you do, d___d if you don’t.”
      It’s an impossible situation when you’re in the midst of it–so frustrating!
      Thankfully our Lord is merciful, loving and compassionate. The Good Shepherd.

    3. I know exactly how it feels to be treated the way you were. Different circumstances, same application. Sorry that you were treated that way.

    4. Rosie, you have basically written my experience to the letter. It was a mistake to go into pastoral counseling, and I knew it going in. I had already pressed for it, and my husband finally agreed, and made the arrangements. Very shortly after that I was reading in Lundy Bancroft’s book, he was strongly discouraging couple’s counseling. I felt pressured or obliged to follow through, since I was the one that wanted it. I thought it might “look bad” for me to back out, putting the spotlight on my “unwillingness to try”.

      The experience you describe is exactly what happened. I was even told, with my pastor’s finger in my face, to stop and be careful what I said. In a nutshell, my past and “baggage” was raked over the coals. Interestingly, my husband wouldn’t do the “homework”, so we quit counseling after about 4-5 weeks. It was also a prescribed outline format, we were talked “at”, not listened to. My pastor’s final comments to me were that, if I didn’t come to a sense of completeness in Christ with my past and my hurts, I wouldn’t move past the loneliness and frustrations. My husband was never confronted.

      That experience has done further damage and prolonged abuses. Still in it….

      1. Leaningonhope, I’m just now seeing your post. I’m glad the counseling sessions ended when they did for you. I wonder why the treatment from the pastor / counselor seems worse than what my husband did? It does. I’d love to hear other perspectives. I’m clueless. I’m able to speak to my ex-husband without a problem (most of the time). But recently, I needed to speak w/ my (former) pastor about something. Every time I picked up the phone I began shaking & crying uncontrollably. I ended up writing out what I had to say & emailing him instead. I know I need to work through it & quit letting him have power over me like that. I’d love some input. I don’t know where to start.

      2. I wonder why the treatment from the pastor / counselor seems worse than what my husband did?

        From my own experience, and from what I’ve heard from other survivors, many of us have felt at some point that the treatment we got from the pastor or counselor was worse than the treatment we got from our primary abuser.

        That feeling seems counterintuitive. Our abusers usually did far many and far more violations of us than our pastors or counselors did. But the thing is, pastors and counselors are in a position of authority, spiritual and professional authority. We expect them to treat us with respect and to give us wise counsel. That is what they are supposed to do! And we turn to them for help when we are already feeling very crushed by our primary abuser. So with those high expectations that our deep pain will be assuaged, we go to the pastor or counselor. And then … if they re-traumatize us…the blow cuts really really deeply.

  15. The abuser is a master at deception. Sometimes I think he / she is convinced that it’s not choices or behavior but situations that anyone would react in the same manner. Or maybe they just want to convince others that they are a victim. Either way they are very good at making themselves look good. But then again is this not evil’s deception?

  16. I often wonder if many Christians actually read or believe the Bible they say they follow. The Bible clearly says that there are evil people (abusers), it describes their characteristics, and it tells us how to respond to them, and yet the moment a victim mentions that they are struggling with an evil person, the Christians appear shocked and horrified and begin to accuse the victims of being judgmental and unloving and unforgiving. God says He sets us free from the yoke of the evil person, and yet Christians keep trying to more tightly tie us to them. I actually find abuse victims more knowledgeable about Biblical concepts such as wicked people, love, forgiveness, repentance, etc., than most Christians — because victims live with and struggle with these things every day.

    Predators go where their prey is, and often they find easy prey in organizations like the church where people are so reluctant to judge and are quick to give unconditional love and forgiveness without requiring repentance. I often wonder if the predators in the church “victim groom” their victims by teaching them that they mustn’t judge, mustn’t speak up, and must always unconditionally forgive and stay in contact with abusive people. If a victim can’t escape or speak up, the abusers can devour them at their leisure.

    I think I actually feel more damaged by the “bystanders” than by the abusers. I can recognize evil people and avoid them, but the ignorant(?) bystanders who so graciously support them are numerous and sometimes make me doubt and second-guess myself and feel overwhelmed and discouraged. And when the supporters are Christians who say they speak for God, they cause even more damage with their twisting of Scripture. They would turn God into a hideous monster who delights in tormenting people caught in abuse (which God is NOT).

    But this is not a modern problem. I’ve been reading the book of Job, and even though written thousands of years ago, I’ve heard the very same accusations that Job’s “friends” hammered him with. I think it’s very revealing that the friends who accused Job were religious people who said they loved God.

    1. I also wonder how many people leading and joining most churches are even saved at all. Most are not I suspect. After all, Jesus said His sheep hear His voice.

    2. Twice, this has happened to me. I prayed and asked God to teach me something. And I grabbed my Bible and it opened to Job.

  17. Pastor James,
    I have received counsel from a pastor who was a bit like you — though my story differs from Linda’s because my abuser left me rather than me leaving him. But before he left, he went to our pastor and several men in our circle of Christian friends and told them some crumbs of truth coated in terrible lies. He said that I was completely at fault for the break up of our home. He had worn himself out trying to be a good husband. Our pastor believed him. Completely.

    From that conversation our pastor determined that I was indeed at fault, my husband was just having a mid-life crisis, and that I likely hadn’t had a real relationship with Christ (because we all know that real Christians’ marriages are always good, right?). My husband neglected to mention the two decades of emotional abuse and serial infidelity he had put me through. I took the blame as I had always done. Like a dutiful Christian woman, I gave my husband a second chance (but this time it was really more like the tenth chance). Until, by providence, I unloaded years of pent-up heartbreak onto the shoulders of a former social worker. She directed me to a counselor who introduced me to narcissistic abuse.

    Then I got strong. Strong enough that I determined to try and express to our pastor just what our marriage had really been like. Most women hide the abuse and betrayal they go through. Sir, you can’t begin to imagine how shameful and humiliating it is to share things that are likely to be brushed aside or disbelieved. Especially to share it with someone who has already passed judgment. I was determined though, because I knew I had no one if I did not have the church.

    Our pastor listened to me, studied for himself, discussed, and learned. He humbled himself and apologized to me. An elder told my husband he didn’t believe him and was able to see the mask come off and know who the real culprit was. Our pastor brought a counselor into an Elder meeting, to explain abuse and the effect on the victim. The men began to understand the chaos my husband was creating and how he was trying to use some of them to cover himself. My church (because my husband was removed under discipline) has been my refuge and a shelter for myself and my children.

    You, sir, have the choice to be a refuge for the broken or to remain a shelter for the wicked. Changing course is not at all difficult, but it does require something I haven’t see much of in “men of God”. Humility and grace.

  18. Dear MoodyMom,
    You have been in hell. I can’t imagine how you’ve survived. I can relate to many of these things but at least my stbx husband didn’t pretend to be religious.
    Praying for God’s comfort for you.

  19. Cheers to Moody Mom. Standing O. Encore.

    I am so sick of hearing platitudes and cliches from super-pastors who weren’t there.
    My guess is that they will NEVER be there….b/c they are too busy being “perfect”, pious, little saints.

    Just this week I heard the words, “it’s my F@#$ing body and my F@#$ing life and I can do what I F@#$ing want.”

    I think I understood the abuser just fine.
    I do not need Pastor James’ myopic insight.
    I do not need his pious pitiful platitudes.
    I do not need help to communicate, or to understand the “problems” of the abuser.

    God forgive me but I told the abuser “not in my F@#$ing house”.

    Then I changed the locks.

      1. I’m quite certain. That’s why I am so hated.
        So be it.
        “They will hate you on account of Me”.
        Pretty good company…..!

  20. The pastor of a church I used to attend (I’ve meanwhile moved) once mentioned that in his opinion some divorces were justified. He said he was willing to discuss this matter but that was what he believed. I must admit that at that time I didn’t quite understand him, but I kept it in the back of my mind because I respected this man as a good pastor. Meanwhile I think I understand quite well what he was talking about. Apparently there are some pastors that do “get” it.

  21. How does pastor James know she hasn’t made prayer a priority? He is god seeing in all her private moments?

    How does he know she hasn’t been attending church at the “second church” regularly?

    He has not encouraged them to seek counselling with him… Or some other counsellor… Why does it have to be him?

    When I left my husband, I went to the pastor’s house… The pastor got in my bed… So you can imagine.. I no longer thought he was a candidate for marriage counselling…

    So then I was called all sorts of names for being the trouble as I wouldn’t accept marriage counselling…

    Punching pastor James in the face is very tempting… Probably not godly though!

    1. Yeah I had the thought of punching him in the face, glad I’m not the only one. After all that’s what he’s effectively doing to Linda… I wouldn’t really do that.

  22. Pastor James, why don’t you go ahead and defrock. Leave the pastorate immediately and fall on your face before the Lord, cry out like a beggar before a holy God asking forgiveness. You are not a shepherd – you are not fit to lead God’s people. Based on your own words and your own miserable failure to recognize, protect and come alongside a hurting lamb, you are nothing more than an enabler to the evil abuser who sits in the pew, performs in the pulpit, and quite frankly, you demonstrate clearly to be one of whom Jesus warned us.

  23. Guess what happens when you are dumb enough to submit to the counseling? I did it for 3 years. The guy said my husband treated me like a prisoner of war– but i have no grounds for divorce so I should pray that God will change his heart.

    1. A sick but EXCELLENT example of their insane Bible interpretation and what a wife is supposed to endure under the title of “marriage.” (Being a POW.)

      What if Jesus were alive right now and walking on earth or when He was doing His ministry back in His time—if He’d been taken as a prisoner of war, wouldn’t the disciples and THE WOMEN (who were often His most staunch and brave supporters) and His many other followers have moved hell and high water in order to rescue Him and then lovingly minister to Him after such a horrendous experience? But this certainly shows us what we are currently dealing with. Men can do anything they want and the wives and children are to accept it as part of their deal and bow down to be abused….is all so much GARBAGE.

      (One of the biggest draws churches use to bring us in is the promise of LOVE. Where is this love? Sorely LACKING and it appears as though it’s the majority of churches promising this love then using those few of us who are capable of loving others to keep up the façade for them.)

      1. Yes, thats exactly what the abuser wants.
        Just keep up the act like everything is ok…. Keep up the cover…
        Buying more time for the abuser to continue his evil facade.
        These church allies are all about kicking the can further down the road and maintaining pretences for their church’s appearance sake and care nothing about the heart of the victim.
        This will be to their own shame at the coming of our Lord.

        Without the help from the church, I had to ask the Lord for true warrior strength and backbone to execute a plan to prepare for divorce and eventually remove myself, not knowing how I would do it.
        Although it was painful-it was well worth it.
        Even with the older children now staying with my abuser, I am far better off today with him not able to abuse me), and I have become instrumental in ministering to my children that now have “ears to hear and eyes to see”.

  24. The thing I have to say first is that if you will make church and prayer a priority, it will make all the difference.

    I have experienced this situation more times than I can count. And last year pastors and friends used a movie to make their point and inflicted even more pain, confusion and dispair to my life. I don’t think I have been the only one having this experience, I would like to know if other victims also were targeted by the movie WAR ROOM. So many people referred the movie to me meaning I could change my marriage thru prayer and warfare as shown in the movie. In other words, my tears and cry out to the Lord for over two decades were meaningless? I had to start over and begin posting my requests on walls in order to be heard? I am not saying the movie was not good but it does not apply to an abusive marriage and this thought is so foreign to the churches and Christians. The blame falls back on the victims… the message is: you have not prayed enough, properly, neither done the warfare. The evil is the devil in your spouse. If you do the right thing the devil will flee and you will have your loving spouse back. I was so confused and confess that I would start over and pray more and more just to see that at the end of the day… people have choices no matter how much we pray. It would be interesting to see a post on how this movie has been used as a weapon empowering the abusers hidden in the churches. I still receive portions of the movie from friends in my phone.

  25. Thank you for this Anonymous….it’s also something I’ve dealt with so I deeply appreciate your testimony as well as understand the process.

    When you are a person who is able to feel fear and also empathize, this fear can become TERROR that can overwhelm and consume you and get you to act or react QUICKLY…it is a GOOD thing when “turned on” for the right reasons (i.e. fear for your children, fear from a physical threat etc.) and a mechanism built into us so that we can learn lessons, protect ourselves and other people as well as gain understanding and wisdom simply by HEARING or READING others testimonies (and the Bible and other books). People without the ability to do this love to induce it in us (turn it on) as they are perpetually bored and when we are running around shaking, screaming, terrified into submission etc…it is HIGHLY entertaining for them. (That’s all we ever are to these types of people….something to occupy them to keep them from being bored. Never seen a hallmark card for it though.)

    My husband has this STARE he does that apparently worked to induce terror in people who worked for him. God had worked in my life for several years–waking me up to the truth of what my husband was–while simultaneously allowing my husband to ruin his career but still maintain his retirement (to take care of me and the children).

    I have written about it on this website before but during this time God also taught me about the demonic nature of all this while taking care that many of my fears were abated, diminished or like yours…I had simply been abused for too long and no longer CARED if I lived or died. God showed me that HE had it all in His hands and all under control….no need to fear what He had control of—-EVERYTHING.

    So when my husband was forced into retirement and thinking I was no longer worth trying to pretend he wasn’t what he was, he would try this STARE on me. He would open his eyes really wide and attempt to drill into me. It took me a while to realize that this was supposed to induce fear and terror in me as I’d seen this same look in his eyes and many others for years now and all it meant to me was that someone was a psychopath. No need to fear, God had it in his hands and, well, there were just so MANY of them….

    He occasionally still tries this technique and I simply stare straight back at him, slowly walk forward with my eyes locked, and I still try to see what is truly there….God has allowed me to see much truth and much demonic activity….and because it is simply so out of my control and He’s done it consistently enough for me to trust Him to handle it….I no longer fear it. What control do I have anyway? I NEVER seek evil and I consistently ask for protection, and God shows me what He wants me to see and He keeps me.

    1. There is always something about their eyes. There have been many narcissists in my life and it always shows in their eyes. I may not have seen it at the time, but looking back I could see it. It is easy to see when they are angry but when they are not angry it isn’t as easy to see. Watch when they smile, it doesn’t quite reach their eyes, or looking at a picture of them, there is a hardness. I can’t quite articulate it. Anyone else notice this?

      1. I have noticed with some practised liars that when they are telling me stuff (which is lies) their eyes seem to be conveying very hard the bedrock message: “You MUST believe me!” And the hidden message behind that is “If you DON’T believe me there will be hell to pay!” It is a kind of bullying they do with their eyes.

        Not all abusers and chronic liars I have known do that, only some. When I witness it now, it’s a red flag for me if it comes in conjunction with me having a slight feeling that this person’s story doesn’t add up.

      2. His cold, lifeless, unapproving predatory stare was riveting, unsettling and emotionless with malign intensity. I was certain there was ice water running through his veins. When he would finally go in another room, I was left chilled, shaken to the core and unsettled as though I had just encountered Satan.

      3. There’s a fire in their eyes just before they are about to punch you. One that I can’t exactly describe… But I know what is coming when I see it.

        Or a judgement / criticism in their eyes when you have done something that you know they disapprove of.

      4. Absolutely. The eyes. I see new pictures of him now with his latest mistress. Smiling, but his eyes give a away the darkness of his heart. It is so creepy to me. It makes him look sinister even as he smiles.

      5. 3Blossommom, Yes! And I’ve written this before but sometimes when I’m watching a show or movie on TV I’ll pause it and cover the rest of the person’s face and then replay it to see if the emotion they are trying to project such as sadness, joy etc., reaches their eyes. It often does NOT.

        There’s this story about a psychopath (I think this story is one of Dr. Robert Hare’s) of a man who had been arrested and was being interviewed by the police. This psychopath tried to do “the stare” at one of the police officers and the officer stared straight back at him and said something like, “Don’t try that s***** on me. That only works on smart people!”

    2. Yes the eyes….

      It’s more obvious to many of us now and can be seen in many people on TV / movies etc…..just pause and rewind and mute it and cover up the rest of their face….the eyes will stare dead back Once you know what message they are SUPPOSED to be conveying by the story that’s being presented (ie sadness, shock, happiness etc.) but when you watch their eyes alone, you can see that it is all the same to them—nothing means any more than the other to them. They do not feel sadness or fear or love for others. Only how anything relates to THEM…they only care about themselves and what they can get / win / steal etc. from others.

      On another website a woman wrote about how she thought her husband loved her because when they were having sex or doing something that was supposed to be loving, his pupils would pinpoint and he’d stare drillingly into her eyes. Once she realized what he was and that he was a predator, she realized that the pupil thing was the OPPOSITE of having loving feelings and actually meant that it was “zeroing in for the kill” mentality. Again, something I missed in all my marriage counseling workshops and psychology classes…and let’s not forget Sunday School…this is all stuff God created and He wants His children to know what to look for as well as what it means so we shouldn’t be afraid of it–we should have been PREPARED for it.

      1. Thanks Anonymous. I just want to add a note of caution here, in case readers are coming away with the impression that you can always discern an abuser by the look in their eyes.

        Firstly, not all abusers are sociopaths. (And NB, in psychiatry, the term sociopath = psychopath; Dr George Simon has written about how the terms can be used interchangeably.)

        Secondly, the Bible tells us that the devil can appear as an angel of light. So we need to remember that some abusers (or some abusers some of the time) will appear really nice and you won’t be able to see any coldness or shade of evil in their eyes, no matter how much you have developed the discerment to see that ‘look in their eyes’ which Anonymous is talking about.

  26. Pastor James,

    Funny you mention that making the church and prayer a priority will make all the difference. They seem to almost be a dichotomy here. I’ve made prayer my top priority and clearly hear my Heavenly Father telling me it’s time to end this abusive marriage; yet, you, as leader of the church, are telling me that I need to stay and continue to be abused. Either you are wrong, or God is wrong…

  27. I am Linda. I am the one who this post is about. Of course, my name has been changed for safety and anonymity.

    I just want to say how much all of these comments HELP me. You all have no idea how helpless, lost, and alone I have felt. This is NOT my first abusive marriage, unfortunately. All my relationships have been abusive, and at times I still blame myself for it. I am naturally a peace seeker, naturally submissive, and naturally want to please people. Probably to a fault.

    My ex husband whom I left months ago told me that I was “disgusting” and that nobody would ever want me after this. I feel like a used up old shoe. All the while, he posts things on his Facebook page about Jesus (peppered with comments about how “nasty” I was, how I didn’t clean enough, and how I supposedly cheated on him). The trauma of it all has caused me to just delete Facebook, for a time.

    Being in more than one abusive marriage DOES make me feel like trash, I must admit. I always prided myself in the fact that I was raised in a Christian home and that I would NEVER get divorced. When I got married, it would be forever. And now, there are times I feel SO much shame. I hope and pray that someday I can shake it. I have repeated abusive relationships over and over again. There are those who blame me for it, and tell me something is wrong with me, and that I either deserved or caused the abuse.
    The bottom line is that I just wanted to be loved. That was it. I guess I’ve looked in all the wrong places.

    1. Dying Star,
      I want to say that you are brave. You are doubly brave because you’ve had to face this trial twice. You’re not stupid. You’re not used up. You didn’t cause this, bring it on yourself, or deserve it. They are that tricky, that mean, that wicked, and that predatory. They hunt. On purpose. They hunt for what looks like soft, submitting, yielding, tender targets.
      But you are strong. Stronger than they thought. Like Jesus – strong with softness. Not strong with cruelty like they see strong.
      You knew from your first time around how hard saving yourself from this situation would be. But you prayed. And you followed your real Husband’s leading, your Ishi,

      (Hosea 2:14-16)
      “(14) Therefore I am now going to allure her;
      I will lead her into the wilderness
      and speak tenderly to her.
      (15) There I will give her back her vineyards,
      and will make the Valley of Achor (trouble) a door of hope.
      There she will respond as in the days of her youth,
      as in the day she came up out of Egypt.
      (16) “In that day,” declares the Lord,
      “you will call me ‘my husband’ (Ishi);
      you will no longer call me ‘my master (Baali).’

      You followed the One that Loves Your Soul even though you already knew it would rip your world in two for a second time. You are coming up out of your Egypt.
      May the Lord make this “Valley of Trouble a door of hope” for you. You are brave.

    2. Linda, you are valued and you are loved. I am sorry your attempt to get help from your pastor resulted in you being spiritually abused in addition to the abuse you were already suffering. The shame should be on your abusers and not you. I believe the truth will come out about your ex husband, and people will discover his Facebook persona is not who he really is. Please know that the opinions of your ex husband, your pastor, and all his other “flying monkeys” don’t mean anything to God. They are participating in works of darkness. I pray you have a local support system, whether it be family, friends, or fellow believers. You definitely have a lot of support here!

      I am in a verbally and emotionally abusive marriage. I didn’t even realize it until I started going to counseling to try to figure out why I was so unhappy. I have an excellent counselor who has helped me become strong enough to realize I deserve a better life. I’m planning to leave this summer, and after my pastor declared 2017 to be a divorce-free year, I don’t know if my church will be supportive. If not, I’ll move on. Please know you are not alone, and this abuse is not your fault. ❤

      1. I wonder if that pastor would want to declare 2017 the drunkeness free year, or the porn free year, or the hypocrite free year? Shoot, all we have to do is declare it and there you go! For myself I would like to declare 2017 to be full of divorces that set victims free from abusers.

      2. 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.


        To continue that idea, I would like to declare 2017 to be full of divorces that set victims free from abusers AND not one church slurs or excommunicates the victim for divorcing the abuser, AND the abuser is removed from any leadership position in the church AND is told to not attend any events or services at that church, for the protection of the victim.

      3. And if that pastor excommunicates you, wear your excommunication badge with pride — as Jesus told us to shake the dust off our feet when leaving places that spurn His teaching.

      4. Yep. The blind man in John 9 used to be in the temple. Then Jesus healed him. They ex-communicated him from the temple for his confession of Christ, but it was outside the temple that he found the Temple -the Son of God. Jesus told us that we would be cast out. He didn’t mean cast out of secular places so much, but was focusing on us being cast out of “churches.” When we are given the ecclesiastical boot by these wolves, we are to rejoice because it is a sign that we really are Christ’s own. I know it is hard to be so treated and to have people we thought were our brothers in Christ turn on us, but it is theses kinds of tests which reveal who belongs to Christ and who doesn’t.

      5. Thank you so much, Peace Seeker. This blog is so helpful and so validating to my soul. It’s hard when you’re told nobody will want you and that you’re worthless, but I’m going to do my best to carry on. As Jeff has stated to me, I’ve been “duped” by men like this. Three times in my life, actually. I’m only in my 30s. My self esteem is and always has been, essentially, nonexistent. 12 years of abusive men, back to back. It’s all I’ve known. I must break this cycle once and for all. This blog, and the support I’m getting from it, is part of breaking it.

    3. Dying Star, I’m with you…ditto, ditto, ditto on many relationships that were abusive. I’ve written so many times about this BUT, just some things to think about to show you how INNOCENT you are in all of this.

      –Were you EVER taught that some people are 100% evil? And that oftentimes these very people present with the most mild-mannered, calm, soft-spoken appearance?
      –Were you EVER allowed to say that you HATED someone for a very good reason and NOT be reprimanded for being unforgiving or that you should instead try to look at the evil person in a different light? Perhaps you were encouraged to empathize with them?
      –Were you ever allowed to be angry when you were mistreated, or when you simply FELT mistreated even though you couldn’t put your finger on why?
      –Where you ever simply loved, even if you didn’t behave perfectly?

      These are just a few things to consider.

      Because of my daughter, God has allowed me to see how sweet I am in His eyes. This daughter is similar to me in many ways and because of this I can see how horribly I was mistreated and misunderstood and manipulated, simply because I had a nature that was affable and accommodating.

      She and I were on the same roller coaster ride out of hell….we’re still on it of course but comparatively speaking–we’ve leveled off. (There are no seatbelts or safety bars on this roller coaster either so as we’re doing loop-de-loops and careening at high speeds through dark tunnels and under waterfalls, all we can do is hang on for dear life. Not something I was forewarned about when I gave my life to Jesus but boy oh BOY is this a ride!)

      In the past few years there have been many changes and through it all we ended up with changes in ourselves and our relationship with each other. The entire time these changes were taking place, all I could think about was how everything that was happening was so NORMAL! She met a man, fell in love and got married. She got stronger in her likes and dislikes and made decisions based on these things. We disagreed, we talked about why, God opened our eyes and we realized in time that this is so important! To have DIFFERENCES that are simply things that make us as individuals happy and healthy! (Just to list a few things.)

      But where this is so astonishing is that I HAD NEVER HAD THIS OPPORTUNITY in my life. The opportunity to grow up, be accepted, have differences that were accepted and even appreciated from my family, to not have to “behave perfectly” (my families idea of perfect), to be angry without feeling guilty, or to even be JOYOUS without having to explain it so that I didn’t appear crazy. It made me realize just how messed up my relationships were and how imprisoning and dangerous, yet how nobody in all my life had EVER pointed this out to me. It took God taking it all away and leaving me with Him through His word and working in my life to allow me to see how HEALTHY I really was IN SPITE of all the unhealthy people I’d been raised with. Perfect? Depends on whose idea of perfect we’re looking at.

      I’m so proud of you and grateful for what you’ve shared. As you can see, this is so necessary….to be able to lay it all out there and to be loved and accepted BECAUSE of it and NOT in spite of it. Thank you again. 🙂

      1. Thank you so much. This means so much to me. I just feel like trash, as I have said, mainly too because I’m not very old and have already been through this more than once. I walk out in public in the area in which I live and see his family members and friends just stare at me – the one married and divorced more than once – as if I have some scarlet letter on my face. Thank goodness I’m moving away soon. I just know I have a long way to go as far as feeling worthy of ANYTHING. Because I feel like dirt under someone’s shoe. Or less than that even. I have had three abusive relationships, back to back, over a span of 12 years. I’ve been told it’s my fault numerous times. I’m still trying to get out of this mentality. I have never known what a normal, loving relationship is.

      2. Dying Star, I love your choice of screen name. Dying stars often shine very brightly.

        Now at that time Michael, the great prince who stands guard over the sons of your people, will arise. And there will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time; and at that time your people, everyone who is found written in the book, will be rescued. Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt. Those who have insight will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.
        Daniel 12:1-3


        But someone will say, “How are the dead raised? And with what kind of body do they come?” You fool! That which you sow does not come to life unless it dies;… All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one flesh of men, and another flesh of beasts, and another flesh of birds, and another of fish. There are also heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is one, and the glory of the earthly is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory.

        So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. So also it is written, “The first MAN, Adam, BECAME A LIVING SOUL.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural; then the spiritual. The first man is from the earth, earthy; the second man is from heaven. As is the earthy, so also are those who are earthy; and as is the heavenly, so also are those who are heavenly. Just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we will also bear the image of the heavenly.

        Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold, I tell you a mystery … when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP in victory. O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
        1 Cor 15:35-49

      3. We have still another letter from a pastor to an abuse victim who is a member of his church (so is her abuser husband). We will be publishing it on the blog here before too long. When you read it, prepare to be further vindicated, validated, AND for your blood to boil! It is really quite an evil letter, all couched in talk of how much they love her and just want her to come back into the fold and forgive and forget and….well, you know the drill by now. I really believe that the more of these letters we can put right out here for everyone to see the more heat we can put upon these pastors and elders and church members who keep right on enabling abusers and oppressing victims. Oh, and as in so many of these cases, the abuser is still not only in the church, he is functioning in a “ministry” in the church!!

    4. Dying Star, I have been married twice and both men turned out to be abusers.

      Yes, I wanted to be loved. Was I looking in the wrong places? Yes, the way I met my first husband that would be true. But my second husband I met while doing good things — we were both training to be volunteer speakers about the experience of having Hepatitis C. And I wasn’t interested in him romantically for ages. I did encourage him to come to my church, as he sounded like he had faith but was just not attending church. He eventually came to my church. We got to know each other more for hte next 15 months, still no romantic interest on my part. Then he had a car accident and needed somewhere to convalesce after being released from hospital. I seemed to be the only suitable place – his family were a mess and the pastor and his wife had a full house.

      That was my downfall. My compassion for an injured man.

      The first year the marriage was happy and I was truly blessed by the relationship. The second year he slowly went back to his first love: alcohol. And not that the alcohol caused him to be abusive to me, but his underlying abusive mindset showed more and more as his alcohol use developed. I now believe he had always had an abusive mindset, but I had just not seen in all that time I was getting to know him. He’d told me that his first wife had left him because she went into a lesbian relationship. That is not the kind of thing one can go to the ex-wife and ask about to see if it is true!

      1. Barbara, I didn’t think about that about dying stars. That’s really neat and eye opening. It definitely puts a positive spin on things. I am truly trying my best to work through the guilt and shame of more than once divorce, each time, from an abuser. It seems that a lot of people who are on the outside looking in don’t want to believe you once you’ve been divorced more than once. One abusive marriage is believable to them, but more than one? Something must be wrong with me, they assume. And then, I start to wonder too, if something is wrong with me and I did something to cause or deserve the abuse.

    1. Thank you so much, David Heddle.

      Readers, if you go over and read David’s blog I think you will be encouraged. Another good man speaking out against Victim Blaming! 🙂 YAY!

  28. Dying Star, you did nothing to deserve the abuse. There’s nothing any of us can do whereby we deserve abuse. That is wrong thinking. I too am twice divorced from abusers. Initially I did worry that people would think it’s all me but then, I got to a place where it no longer mattered what anybody thought. I am a victim / survivor of two evil abusive men and by God’s grace survived. I know the truth; the abusers know the truth; and God certainly knows! And I have no doubt God will use this in my life for good. I walk holding my head up with NO shame; to do otherwise, the abuser wins. May you continue to grow and heal in the knowledge you are precious in the sight of our Lord. What happened to us was allowed by God and we can walk confidently knowing He has a purpose and a plan, and what anyone else thinks just does not matter. Walk tall my dear sister in Christ – you know the truth!!

  29. Dph – I read your post and it is excellent, so I included the link here. Thank you for your wise words. Somehow the things you say in your post are not being taught in seminaries. Minute points of hermeneutics are examined, papers written, verbs parsed, syntax studied, but then really I suspect the Pharisees did all that in their handling of scripture and they still managed to come out dead wrong, wooden, stiff, and merciless. That is precisely what is happening in many, many churches and in many, many supposed biblical books being written today. The result? Merciless, cold handling and abuse of the oppressed.

  30. I’m glad my pastor didn’t say that kind of stuff but a different one did. My ex wanted me to get couples counseling from a pastor at a differing church so I decided to meet with him and his wife alone to tell them what was going on. He dismissed what I said like he didn’t want to focus on all the negative stuff I had just told him because it was simply that “negative stuff”. He cut me off when our hour was up and didn’t even ask me if I wanted to make a second appointment to finish telling him what I wanted to say. I left there with this awful feeling in the pit of my stomach and I NEVER went back.

    I prayed and prayed and I left my abuser and I know that God and I are ok with my decision.

  31. I’d love to leave a copy here of the 4 page “letter of concern and admonition” that my torturer’s “mentor”, who is well known and regarded as a spiritual leader in the very large church we went to, wrote to me after escaping 14 years of hell behind closed doors and trying to protect my children.

    1. Oh yeah, one of those letters from a “concerned” saint who feels it his godly duty to whip you back into bondage. No doubt signed off “in love” and written for your “benefit” and “concern for your soul.”

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