A Cry For Justice

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

I Have Really Bad Dreams – Is This Normal for Abuse Victims?

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.


We were recently asked this very important question and thought it would be an excellent subject for a blog post and discussion. After all, I suspect that this is a pretty common experience after the trauma of abuse. Dreams. Nightmares. Am I going crazy? That sort of thing.

Sometimes I have really bad dreams. Last night I had one that I was raped. Is this normal for abuse victims? What I noticed about the dream was that it was multiple men.

I am no psychologist and certainly then no expert on this subject. But we all have experienced this enough to realize that bad dreams generally concern the things we fear the most. Right? In the conservative churches I was raised in, dreams are often dismissed. Now, I certainly don’t listen to someone who says they had a dream and God spoke to them (like the false prophets of Jeremiah’s day), but dreams happen in our minds. In our mental center. And surely traumatized people are going to have their fears crop up in the night. Even more minor fears:

  • You realize you forgot your pants as you stand up in front of the class to give a speech
  • You are late for class and you can’t remember the combination for your locker lock
  • …..you can add to the list here

One time when my wife and I were still in our early 20’s, we went hunting with her parents and slept in their camper. They were in the bed above the truck cab (you know, the bed with the ceiling only about two feet above you) and we were sleeping in the bed formed from the dining table. All of a sudden in the middle of the night Verla sat straight up and let out this horrendous blood curdling scream. Loud!  And you hear this “whump, whump” which was her parent’s heads bouncing off the ceiling as they shot straight up in bed.  I don’t remember what Verla’s nightmare was, but she had one that’s for sure.

So it is our fears, and our shame that seems to fuel these dreams. Abuse is a fear and shame factory, so it isn’t at all surprising that victims experience bad dreams. The solution? Getting out of the abuse, coming to understand abuse and its lies, and doing all the other things that go along with healing from trauma.

In your comments here, I suspect that you can all help one another out by sharing your experiences with fear-filled dreams. You don’t have to give all the details if you don’t want, but it is very validating for everyone to hear that no, they aren’t crazy. They aren’t the only ones to have these dreams.



  1. GypsyAngel

    Good Article.
    I have nightmares still, and I’ve been away from the abuser for some years now. I notice a pattern, they come especially when I’ve been triggered by something, some place, or some one. While I had hoped that I would have gotten past this by now, I acknowledge that my healing is like peeling back layers of an onion, one layer at a time. I also still have one specific nightmare that has been recurrent since childhood, that is closely linked to the abuses that I suffered then. When a nightmare happens I take specific steps to combat / counter the effects. First and foremost I pray, as I see these nightmares as a spiritual attack. Then I pull out my smartphone and put in my earbuds, I have an app on my phone that has soothing sounds such as rain storms, running water, and such like. I’ve had to learn how to battle against spirits and principalities in a mindful and direct manner. And I can gratefully say that it works.

  2. Raped By Evil

    My daughter has had vivid nightmares for years–but they were especially heinous during the period of time when her dad was trying to get us to commit suicide.

    They felt so real to her that she would ask me throughout the day if such and such had actually happened because the dream had been so intense and so real feeling that she wasn’t sure what the truth was.

    None of her dreams have ever come true which makes it somewhat easier to remind her that it was only a dream…..but she deeply feels the horror and the fear and the panic.

    From Judith Herman:

    Long after the danger is past, traumatized people relive the event as though it
    were continually recurring in the present. They cannot resume the normal course of their
    lives, for the trauma repeatedly interrupts. It is as if time stops at the moment of trauma.
    The traumatic moment becomes encoded in an abnormal form of memory, which breaks
    spontaneously into consciousness, both as flashbacks during waking states and as
    traumatic nightmares during sleep. Small, seemingly insignificant reminders can also
    evoke these memories, which often return with all the vividness and emotional force of
    the original event. Thus, even normally safe environments may come to feel dangerous,
    for the survivor can never be assured that she will not encounter some reminder of the

    I was very angry at God when this went on for years because to me it was already so cruel that my daughter had to endure so much abuse and then have to relive it when she slept too!

    But as I grow, I can see that this is for a purpose…..we can’t deny the evil that’s taken place in our lives…as much as my husband and all abusers want to deny that it happened to us and that it was as horrible as it was….and because of these nightmares my daughter will never forget and has zero tolerance for any abusive behavior from others. She limits interactions with abusers that she has to work with and is also very strong about telling others who are testing her out to see if she’s easy prey–to get lost! She has none of the fears that I used to have about hurting other peoples feelings.

    And lastly, another snippet from Judith Herman that points out that there are different kinds of nightmares and the way people experience them…in case there’s anyone who needs to know that there is not just ONE type of nightmare.

    Judith Herman:

    Just as traumatic memories are unlike ordinary memories, traumatic dreams are
    unlike ordinary dreams. In form, these dreams share many of the unusual features of the
    traumatic memories that occur in waking states. They often include fragments of the
    traumatic event in exact form, with little or no imaginative elaboration. Identical dreams
    often occur repeatedly. They are often experienced with terrifying immediacy, as if
    occurring in the present. Small, seemingly insignificant environmental stimuli occurring
    during these dreams can be perceived as signals of a hostile attack, arousing violent
    reactions. And traumatic nightmares can occur in stages of sleep in which people do not
    ordinarily dream. Thus, in sleep as well as in waking life, traumatic memories appear to
    be based in an altered neurophysiological organization.

    • Anony

      Someone else’s abuser tried to get his victim to suicide as well…. Thanks for sharing that, Raped by Evil, because that was the whole focal point of my abuser for how long. 24 / 7 trying to get me to suicide.

      My nightmares revolve around my abuser shooting at me and I run and hide and more shots are fired and I run some more and try to hide all over again…..and the dread of the monster finding me in my hiding spot and then I take off running again.

      Screaming in my sleep. Crying in my sleep.

      It’s helpful in that the dreams are terrifying because it brings back the reality as to who the monster is and just how bad it was…..otherwise a person goes into a lull where they start to downplay everything because they forget just how bad it was and then I get triggered and I’m in it again and I can’t believe I didn’t turn into a corpse along the way as it was THAT BAD.

    • A

      Thank you for mentioning flashbacks. I get those too, but with less and less frequency and severity as I continue the healing process. I have also learned what places and situations might stimulate a flashback so I either avoid that place or situation or mentally prepare myself in advance if I’m facing a situation that might trigger one.

      So thankful for ACFJ. Sometimes I get so frustrated that my mind is somehow “messed up” and that the person who messed it up feigned to love me and shows no remorse for what he did to me. Not glad that this has happened to others, but glad that we can lean on each other for support.

  3. Renewed Spirit

    I appreciate you acknowledge the workings of our heart, mind and soul when it comes to dreams.
    In the day we have to ‘keep going’ despite what’s coming at us. I think dreams are a God-created wake up call.
    Used to clench so hard I dreamt my teeth crumbled and would wake up trying to spit the pieces out.

  4. M&M

    This reminds me of Psalm 10:10

    His victims are crushed, they collapse; they fall under his strength.

  5. A

    This happened to me the first couple years after my divorce. The dreams would have some combination of me or the kids returning to abusive ex. I would wake up in a sweat with my heart pounding. Once I was awake, I would mentally go through where I was, tell myself I was safe, the kids are safe, etc.

    The good news is that while I still have scary dreams about my ex on occasion, they are not of the frequency or intensity that they were in those first couple years.

  6. LH

    The more minor form of bad dreams was there was some problem I had to solve, and the harder I tried the more difficulties arose, and I could never fix whatever I needed to fix. The worse ones were I was fleeing for my life from an enemy / enemies, usually with at least one of my kids, and trying to find a safe place for us, and failing. I’ve been out of my abusive marriage for 12 years now – the dreams pretty much stopped after 10 years – which also coincided with the time I could move 1/2 way across the country away from x.

  7. frugallife4me

    Oh my, I knew that my bad dreams were from abuse, I just doesn’t realize other people suffered too. I never wake up screaming, but they are so real that sometimes I am upset for days afterwards, I have even had panic attacks later from bad dreams.
    My step-mom and Dad were my abusers, I grew up in Bill Gothard & Doug Phillips cult (yes, both), so my dad believed himself to be prophet, priest and king. I was physically, emotionally, psychologically, & spiritually abused.
    I was never allowed to date, my dad always broke up any relationships with guys that I had (and I accepted it because I thought he was my god), he pretty much thought that I would go out and have sex with the first guy that came along, even though I grew up in the purity culture and was so scared of getting pregnant that I never would have. Sex education and biology was considered porn…my home-school biology books had pages ripped out and other blacked out with a Sharpie. My Dad has anger issues, and when he got super angry he hit me, once he slapped me so hard across the face he gave me a full-on black eye. He continued to give his adult children spankings, my last spanking was at 23. You’d think I’d leave, but I was so psychologically and spiritually abused that I thought God would strike me dead if I left.
    When my husband-to-be asked my Dad if he could date me he had no idea, while we were dating I told him about my early childhood abuse from my step-mom. But, I didn’t know my Dad was abusing me, in fact my husband brought some of the things to my attention. My Dad even tried to break us up, but I wouldn’t have it, I was in love with my future husband.

    When we first married my husband (who is an amazing guy, and has dealt with my past crap very lovingly), I would have dreams of my Dad coming and forcefully taking me from the man I loved because he didn’t “approve”, and I honestly thought he had that right (my poor husband), that’s how much of a hold he had over me. I’d wake up from those dreams and shake, or cry, or have a full on panic attack later. People who know us have no idea, they think my Dad is a little weird, but I don’t think most of them would believe the stuff he’s done, I know I have a hard time believing it myself. I sometimes think I’m crazy and that I’ve made it all up, but the memories, the hurts, and the scars are all too real to be made up.
    I very rarely have bad dreams, when I do it’s because I’ve been around my Dad.

    • Jeff Crippen

      frugallife4me – This is wonderful that you have spoken out and can now see all of it for what it was – cruel, evil, legalist abuse perpetrated by a man who fancies himself the center of the entire universe. Very, very glad you were able to marry and get out of your father’s control. This is pure evil and classic in its tactic of parading as a Christian “angel of light.” While other Christians remain ignorant of such evil among them, it is long past time for them to wake up and see it. I have no doubt there are many other victims still in bondage and sitting in church pews every Sunday.

  8. Scared momma

    My child has nightmare / day terrors constantly. They always involves ex making her hurt herself or her siblings. Extreme things that have never actually happened. As far as I know there has been very limited physical abuse.

    Don’t really understand why its always about him always forcing her to hurt herself, but these thoughts torment her to the point she has acting on them.

    It’s so hard for them to heal and move forward when they are court ordered to send so much time with him.

  9. Herjourney

    My nightmares were actually from oppression and depression.
    I was afraid to go to sleep because the dreams were so vivid and real.
    Little did I understand at the time, I was sleeping and living with an enemy… and he was my husband.
    I believe God was showing me that my relationship with my abuser would come to an end.
    I also believe the enemy was attacking me and wanted me to die.
    There are demons who work for Satan and want the life of a committed believer to perish.
    I am free from my abuser. The dreams are gone. So is he.
    I have chosen to have no contact with my ex.
    Even tho he still has an agenda to see me fail in what God has entrusted me with.
    I am trusting God with my future and walking by faith now.
    God has been so faithful!

  10. sheisovercoming

    My daughter had nightmares from the way her grandparents treated her after we left. My son had nightmares – terrifying nightmares almost every night – about his dad trying to get him and kill him. I am having nightmares now as I am dealing with the decades of abuse through EMDR therapy. During those years, for me the events were never attached to each other. This was a coping mechanism I believe, and also I somehow believed that if a forgave the incident, it was put behind me and not brought up again. Today, after a session dealing with trauma, I can expect several nights of being awake from nightmares. I believe this is part of the healing process, the bringing the events to together and processing them. It does not make it easy to go through, but it seems the events are being integrated from their hidden places where they can be healed in their time. My story is beginning to come together. By this I mean, I could never talk about it before except in little pieces. Now, I am able to share larger pieces. It has taken years to get here, though.

  11. Verna

    Once within the first 18 months of leaving my X husband who is a master manipulator that abused me emotionally, physically, mentally, verbally, spiritually, sexually, basically every single spoke of the abuse wheel other than culturally, (because we are both of the same race), I had a very vivid dream where he was pointing a gun at my face and I could see his demonic smirk and eery facial expression on the other end of the barrel and his fingers on the trigger.

    And just this week, for the first time I had an auditory dream without visual. My daughter (who married an abuser) was crying loudly to me and saying something like “I fell on the ice” and it made little sense, but after having witnessed my son-in-law being very violent to her [details airbrushed by Eds] then taking one of the children hostage while he goes driving around to “cool off,” it weighs heavily that my daughter is in this marriage.

    For me, I had blinders on for more than three decades, believing my all powerful God would change my husband, that somehow my ex-husband’s free will would not be strong enough to outweigh God’s power. This audible dream left me with my heart racing and awakened me in a panic for my daughter’s safety. The painful reality is in seeing history repeat itself when as her mother, I desired far better for her, a caring spouse who shows her authentic love, certainly not the narcissist / abusiveness she currently lives.

    The guilt and forgiving myself has been the toughest. When I thought I stayed for my children’s protection. [I was not willing to risk] an unjust court 1) allowing unsupervised visitation with their dad, or 2) worse yet, giving him full custody…. Did my best from the lesser of two evils.

    • Hi Verna, thanks for your comment and welcome to the blog. 🙂

      If you are unsure about how to fill in the comment form, I encourage you to email our assistant TWBTC who will explain the technical jargon to you in a way that is easy to understand. Her email address is twbtc.acfj@gmail.com

      Many of us have battled with guilt. In fact, probably all survivors of abuse battle with guilt. We never judge a victim for leaving. We never judge a victim for staying. We know there are risks in leaving and risks in staying. And the victim is best placed to weigh up those various risks and make her own decision. The only thing we encourage victims to do is to consult with domestic abuse support services (the secular services) as those workers can help the victim assess the level of risk she may be facing either way.

      You might like to read this article of mine: Why Didn’t You Leave? — it lists many reasons why victims stay.

      And we often recommend this PDF — Honouring Resistance: How Women Resist Abuse in Intimate Relationships [Internet Archive link]

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

      And after reading the New Users’ Info page, I suggest you look at our FAQs.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Verna – it sounds to me like you have done remarkably well and acted with great courage in the face of incredibly wicked and deceptive evil. Your comment that you believed “my all powerful God would change my husband” is an example of how clearly you are now seeing. I believe that one of the most neglected doctrines of Scripture, almost never preached in our churches, is that there are many people who God is not willing to change. We have numbers of examples in Scripture such as Pharaoh.

      It seems to me that a false notion of God’s grace that is so widely taught nowadays is a cruel perversion of God’s truth and it holds many people in bondage to evil taskmasters. God (Romans 9) is going to be glorified not only by the glories of His grace toward those who believe in Christ, but He will also be just as glorified for the beauty of His holy justice that Christ will effect on that Day when He comes and judges the world.

      • M&M

        I explain it as “even if He can doesn’t mean He will.” When an individual says, “God taught me not to give up on praying for so and so” I can’t say they’re wrong because maybe so and so isn’t Pharoah, but that doesn’t change the fact that God hates oppression. It would help if people remembered the concept of free will-that people can choose to reject God. When I read these stories I wish God would end abuse and PTSD immediately and since He doesn’t I assume that’s His patience giving more chances for repentance BUT those chances don’t require a victim to be present.

  12. Pollyanna

    Thank you so much for bringing this subject up! I’ve awakened either whimpering, crying or screaming every night for seven years. These dreams aren’t about the more traumatic events, just random replays of days during the marriage exactly as they happened. Originally I thought it was just a temporary purging of trauma, but after 25 years of abuse, they’ll probably be with me for life. I’d like my dreams to return to the way they were before the abuse. Whatever was going on in a relationship manifested itself immediately in a dream.

  13. Eagerlabs

    I’ve only remembered a few at night but could write a horror action anxiety script from them they were so vivid ugh. Always involve mazes, like office cubicles although not always that, could be a maze of rooms, buildings, countries etc. I’m always being followed while effecting a rescue, finding the way out and have to utilize all skills…007 like lol Anywho, the teeth comment certainly hits me in the mouth. Oftentimes I’d wake up looking like I literally got punched in the face because my jaw is so swollen from clenching my teeth at night. Made me so mad (had to cancel my dentist appointment over it once because I couldn’t open my mouth!), and calling things what they are, I named the “lump” of leaven after him. heh Oh man…and the grinding…almost smooth teeth like a cow now and a guard doesn’t help! It took two nights to bite through that.

    The day time ones are puzzling…thankfully not too often now and stems from a much further trauma years back (so hopefully it’ll get better for others with time? 🙂 but like another said, involves triggers but ones I can’t avoid, being a specific set of environmental ones. It just reminds me…as the others do to remember that I have fear of the Lord, it is His spirit who lives in me because He loved me and gave Him for me so I live by faith, not fear of what He has already conquered. So there. 🙂

    I am sorry to read others’ terrible night terrors…will add you all to my prayers at night.

    • M&M

      Would a muscle relaxant help with the teeth grinding? ☹️❤️

  14. puritangirl

    I’m the daughter of a repeatedly abused and mistreated pastor, and as his daughter I’ve suffered both from seeing what his former parishioners and fellow pastors did and are doing to him, and from being emotionally abused and thrown under the metaphorical bus by people I thought were my friends myself. The abuse (both mine and my father’s) is obviously of a different kind from what most of the regulars on this site seem to have gone through, but I would still say it was traumatizing, and I have had at least two nightmares that seem to have been inspired by it.

    Here’s the first one, which I had near the end of this past March, as I described it in an e-mail to my sister:

    There’s not much of a plot, I’m afraid. All I remember is that I was in this building that had a lot of small rooms, some of them long and narrow. The main colors of the place seem to have been kind of bleak brown and yellowish. And there were wooden tables around; these were stained with blood in places. The building was used as a prison or place to carry out executions or something grisly like that. I think I may have been with someone or some people, but I can’t recall exactly. At any rate, I was / we were on the run in this place because whatever nefarious group that ran it was looking for me / us.

    Perhaps I should also mention that the atmosphere of the place gave off a sort of ‘horror movie’ vibe, like there was something spiritual/supernatural present.

    I won’t go into too much detail on why I think that dream is relevant to what my dad and I have been going through. Suffice it to say that apparently in dreams tables often represent spiritual authority / legislation, and blood (obviously) suggests violence, so it makes sense that the serial brutality we’ve experienced at the hands of professing “Christians”, laymen and clergy alike, could conjure up such imagery. There seems to be no hope for the miscarriage of justice to be righted or my dad’s name cleared, which might explain why I was trapped in a prison and running for my life. It was really very scary.

    The second one was in May or June; I’m unsure about sharing it here because, while some parts of it were no doubt inspired by what happened to us, other elements likely came from some media I’d consumed that day and it’s a bit more complicated. Suffice it to say that this one, too, had a very creepy, horror-movie vibe. The place my family was trapped in was building of our last church, the one where this latest episode of injustice and suffering started.

    These dreams do seem a bit different from those discussed here so far, but then the kind of abuse I / we have suffered is also a bit different. The atmosphere of each was a bit chilling, like there was this impending doom. Even the hope of the possibility of escaping from the church in the second dream was dampened; my sister remarked in the dream that we’d have to kill our family cat because we couldn’t take him with us and if we left him alive something worse would happen to him. In real life my dad and I had to have him put down at about the time we were scrambling to move out of the parsonage. The poor thing was around 20 years old and quite unwell. Interestingly, when I told my sister about this dream and what she said in it, one of her comments was that in the end my family did get away from that church, but we did have to leave the cat behind.

    I don’t often remember my dreams, and I haven’t had such creepy, horror-esque nightmares since my mother abandoned us several years ago. Maybe these had nothing to do with what’s been happening the last two years, but the imagery and location of each is too fitting for me to dismiss.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Puritangirl – That is the arena I suffered from abusers in and in which I learned about them and their tactics. It took a long time to sort it all out. By “that arena” I mean, the local church. The abusers were professing Christians but of course now I know they were counterfeits. Our children no doubt suffered to a degree from them as well. Hardly a day went by for many, many years that I did not want to quit the pastorate – but I had nowhere to go. These wicked ones still lurk in most every church, often in the pulpit or in other positions of authority and power. They mask themselves as the most pious, eminent saints when in fact they are putrid and evil, without shame creeping in among Christ’s flock to defy Him. But God is not mocked. What they are sowing, be assured they will also reap.

    • puritangirl

      I want to say one more thing in regards to the second dream: that one I woke up from in the middle of the night. I lay frozen in bed–didn’t even roll over and change positions, though I wanted to–for what seemed like forever following it. I was so scared. My boyfriend is temporarily renting from my dad and sleeps in the room next to mine. More than anything I wanted to get him so I wouldn’t be alone, but I was afraid to move. I have never experienced that before. It was horrible.

  15. Lily

    When I was with my xh, I dreamed that we were in a cabin and a bear knocked on the door. H went and opened the door, let him in, and watched as he started to maul the children and me. He made no effort to protect us, he basically showed no emotions at all, just watched. It was one of those awful dreams where you’re sure you’re awake because we actually were in that cabin at the time.

    After I left, I had a series of dreams about a year or so apart, that started out the same…….we were at a party and he told me to give him the glass of water in my hand. In the first dream, I hopped right to it, in fear of what would happen if I didn’t. In the next one, I suggested he get his own, but then I gave it to him anyway. In the third dream (he always came up behind me), I didn’t even turn around, just threw the water over my shoulder in his face, shrugged and walked away. I took that to mean that I was getting over it all and learning to stand up for myself.

  16. KayE

    I’ve had nightmares almost every night for years. They are not about fear or shame, they are about being utterly alone. Getting away from the abuser and dealing with trauma has not diminished the nightmares at all, nor has counselling or medication. This is the kind of aftermath that happens with prolonged intentional victimisation by an abuser. It is not just relationship conflict and a victim does not walk away unharmed.

  17. Raped By Evil

    Thank you all so much for commenting…there’s always so much to learn.
    Would like to add a few more things, some of which I’ve commented on before.

    When my parents finally separated and got divorced I had terrible nightmares…but they weren’t really nightmares in that they didn’t always happen after I’d gone to sleep. It would happen when I went to bed and was ABOUT to fall asleep and there would be like a spiraling down feeling. I could feel the textures of what I was seeing in my mind and I could see them going down in like a vortex, I could FEEL this vortex. I was maybe six years old at the time. I lived with my dad and he would always reassure me that I was okay and he never got mad at me for this and eventually I learned that when that feeling was starting to come on, I’d wake myself back up and come up with something to distract myself so that I could then fall back to sleep. After reading the book by Judith Herman, I think I was in the early stages of dissociation.

    This post is about dreams / nightmares but there’s another aspect to this that I think goes along with this. Insomnia.

    My dad was an alcoholic and nearly died. After he had a heart attack, several of us kids had to live with my mom. I don’t remember how long this actually lasted–maybe 6 months–but all of us developed insomnia. I was maybe 11 years old at the time and we have all had insomnia ever since. We all ended up moving back with our dad which was BY FAR the lesser of two evils. My dad here again was GREAT about not criticizing me for this and would actually go out of his way to try to help. We couldn’t have ANY sounds that were irritating–it’s hard to explain–but sounds like a fan or in our case we lived by the railroad tracks–these were comforting and soothing to us, but other inconsistent sounds kept us up. Again, until I read Judith Herman’s book I didn’t associate this with abuse–but it’s another sign of it.

    When my psychopathic son was taking several meds that really helped him, including sleep meds, I asked his doctor if perhaps sleep meds would help me. (My husband has always criticized me for ANY meds that I took including vitamins. I’ve noticed this on a lot of other websites too–that abusers don’t want us to take meds under the guise of becoming drug addicts or some other lie–I now see this as just another way to keep us from being as healthy as we can be and getting help that we NEED.) He prescribed me some initially that weren’t compatible for me but then the next ones were like heaven. It was at this point in my life that I realized THAT I HADN’T HAD A GOOD NIGHTS SLEEP IN DECADES! I WAS FINALLY ABLE TO SLEEP THROUGH THE ENTIRE NIGHT FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE I WAS TEN YEARS OLD!

    This was another major turning point in my life because now that I could COUNT on sleeping well–along with God showing me the truth about psychopaths–I could move forward with a mind that saw truth, and a body that could rest when it needed to. (A few years earlier I had also started working out consistently, at the criticism of my husband who always seemed to want to do something else just when I was about to workout.) I still take these same sleep meds but I have been able to reduce the strength. Initially I was so afraid that I wouldn’t be able to get them and I was scared that this healing aspect of my life would end, but God has taught me here as well that He will help me get what is best for me. I now only take a small piece of one pill unless I’m having a particularly hard time falling asleep and then I’ll take just a little bit more. The right meds for the right problems make our lives better and since God gave us humans the ability to create them, I will just say THANK YOU!

  18. Kaycee

    I had two repetitive dreams for years while with my abuser. Of course, at the time I thought I was in a difficult marriage and these dreams were about something that I was doing wrong.

    The first one was me in a minivan with my children. We were going up a mountain road and my brakes were out. In this dream, I was gaining speed going in reverse on a mountain road with many curves. I would awake puzzled and afraid. I knew that I felt out of control but why I did not know.

    The second repetitive dream was that of me chewing gum. It grew in my mouth and got stickier and stickier. I could not get it out of my mouth and it was making me gag. Again, I thought maybe it was because I said things that I shouldn’t, that I was complaining too much, etc. Sharing this dream with my teenager many years later, she blurted out, you felt gagged like you had no voice. Yep, hindsight is 20 / 20 and she doesn’t even know about the abuse.

    It really hasn’t been until I divorced that I realized that I was in an abusive marriage. I was that naive. I am so thankful for truth-speaking websites like this one that have given light to dark places so that freedom may be obtained. My own mind, spirit, soul were crying out through dreams but I could not see them because of the lies I believed.

    • Dream2

      Oh my gosh, I’ve had that second dream as a reacuring one too! I only had it during my marriage. Now that I’m thinking about it, the dream seems so real once again.

      • Jeff Crippen

        Dream2 – we changed your identifier name to protect your anonymity. It appears that this is your first time commenting. Welcome. It is a good idea to look over our New Users’ page and our FAQs page which you can access from the tabs on the ACFJ home page.

  19. Anne

    Hmm. Interesting. For years, but only after I was married, I had horrible nightmares. I’d wake up my husband with my crying or whimpering. The situations or locations were different. I’d be somewhere perfectly ordinary or pleasant and suddenly be oppressed with this feeling of terrible evil approaching. I didn’t know what the “monster” looked like. Only that it was coming for me and I had to escape. I’d be running, hiding, terrified, but no matter what I did, where I ran, it was always just one step behind me, just out of sight. But I could feel its evil presence and just when I was about to see it, be caught when it broke through a door or found my hiding place was when I’d wake myself up with the sounds I was making. I never thought about it then, but looking back, maybe the evil, the monster I was running from, was the man sleeping beside me. I didn’t know in my waking mind that I was being abused, but maybe somewhere in my unconscious, I knew how bad things really were. I didn’t connect the timing, but I haven’t had a nightmare since before I realized I was being abused.

  20. minagelina

    I periodically have dreams where I am still married to my ex, and he wants to have sex. In one recently, he was even married to me and his wife now, and I was trying to find some way to escape. Blech!!!!!

  21. minagelina

    Oh and another theme is me trying to get somewhere like a particular store in the mall, but I go around and around not finding it. Or I try to get out of a restaurant or mall (why malls? I dont go to them very often at all, lol!) and when I go out the door, there is another door, ad infinitum. I see the outside as it is all glass windows, and it looks like I am leaving, but then I step out the door and it is inside again.

  22. Starlight

    I have escaped from 2 abusive husbands in the past 17 years.
    Both of my ex’s seemed to be tormented by nightmares and were very restless at night shouting out, laughing, acting out … kicking or running in their sleep; my 2nd husband seemed to have some sort of sleep paralysis and often woke in a panic saying dogs were chasing him or someone was choking him and he couldn’t wake up. My 2nd husband sat up and was about to punch me in his sleep while I was beside him nursing our baby! That scared me badly!

    I still see it as something oppressive and spiritual that comes somehow as a result of giving oneself over to evil and destructive behaviours.

    I have never had bad dreams but my children have, usually when there was chaos in their lives during separation. One of my kids often comes home from the dad’s place saying she has scary dreams when she is there! My other kids also said they had nightmares after my first husband and I separated years ago.

  23. TruthSeeker

    I had nightmares that I was at school and couldn’t find my class or schedule or books or something. Sometimes trying to get away from something bad, but mostly I [was] just trying to achieve what was right. After he left, I had the nightmare. I found the classroom only to discover the professor was giving a pop quiz on the first day of class. A few months later, I had the dream again. I thought, I’m organized. I reached into my bag again, found what I needed, and the nightmare melted away. I guess I finally figured out where to be and what to do.

  24. JAS

    I used to have a reoccurring nightmare over the 14+ years I was married to my ex-husband. Most of the time in the dream, I was in a bathroom alone. The lights would go out, and I would either hear a sinister voice / laugh or just sense an evil presence. Hands would circle my throat, but I could never, ever see my attacker. Other times, it was me trying to run away from a shadowy figure at night, but it would feel like I was trying to run through quicksand, while my unseen attacker had no problem whatsoever and would catch up to me in no time and then start strangling me.

    Most importantly, in either version of the nightmare, I was unable to scream or make even the slightest sound, no matter how hard I desperately tried. Also, in my mind in the dreams, I knew that all I had to do was cry out, and I would be safe. But I was never able to utter even a sound. Sometimes, I would manage to choke out a barely audible, “Jesus,” and that’s when I would immediately wake up.

    I had this dream at least a dozen times over those years. It was always the same as far as being choked by an unseen attacker and me having the knowledge that all I had to do was say Jesus’ name or even just cry out and yell, “Help,” and I would be rescued. One time, the dream felt so real that I actually rushed to the bathroom to look in the mirror when I woke up because I was absolutely certain I would see a hand print bruise around my throat. Of course, there wasn’t one, but I actually had one of the worst sore throats ever that day…not like a “sick” sore throat, but I think I must have somehow strained my throat muscles in my sleep.

    I remember even telling my then-husband about the dreams. It wasn’t until after I had left him that I realized he was the reason for the nightmares. He was the attacker. He was the reason I had no voice. And all I had to do all of those years was tell somebody, cry out for help, ask Jesus to rescue me, and I would have been safe.

    It’s been almost 8 years since I left, and I’ve never had that nightmare again. Thank God. I finally did ask Jesus for help. I did tell someone. And I was able to finally get away and be free.

    I do have dreams with him in them every now and then, though, but I would never classify them as nightmares. They’re usually some form of me back with him and him simply being completely exasperating and annoying (not threatening), but I think those have more to do with me being frustrated over the odd decisions he continues to make, usually regarding our teenagers.

  25. DyingStar

    I am the one who had the dream about the rapes. I wake up most nights in a very hot sweat. Sometimes I remember the nightmares and sometimes I don’t. I have escaped three abusers over the course of 10 years. In addition to that trauma, I have also been rejected by the biological family who gave me up for adoption, and not only rejected, but by some of them, shunned and belittled, and told flat out that I was a mistake. I still walk around feeling like I’m not wanted and not good enough. And I’m afraid of most men. I still struggle to view God as a loving God. I think right now I still view Him as a man in the sky pointing His finger at me and ready to strike me down and punish me at any moment. My most recent abuser had a grandmother who was a very devout Christian, and she shunned me completely because of my past, being married before, and refused to acknowledge me at past family events. And my ex never stood up for me either. I guess I just feel left out in the cold, and I have come to expect it. I don’t expect love or acceptance, I expect rejection and being judged. Especially by Christians. Or, they say they are Christians. Most recently, I had a dream that my biological father’s wife, who hates me with a passion, was showing me their basement. I looked it up and it appears that a basement in a dream means being in the last place or something put away in the back of someone’s memory to be forgotten. So I know that that means in my mind, I know they don’t care about me and then I’m in last place and insignificant. I hope someday these dreams will stop, especially ones like the one with the rapes. They mess me up for days.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Key phrase – “Or they say they are Christians.” I have absolutely no doubt, none, nada, that many (and I probably should be saying most, yes, I will say “most”) people who claim to be Christians today do not belong to Christ at all. That is largely the source of our wrong concepts of God – the Pharisees around us, in the pews with us, preaching to us. We must increasingly look to Jesus as He is revealed in His Word, and take our view of God from Him. Not from how so many in the church today tell us those Scriptures mean – but from what they really say.

      • 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.


        I will be saying what Jeff said in the interview I’m going to be doing for the 7:30 Report (that’s a national TV program in Australia which airs just after the evening news). We will let you all know when it is to be broadcast and it will be online afterwards so you’ll be able to view it at any time after it is broadcast.

  26. Moving Forward

    My nightmare, which I have had more than once, starting when I was still married, helped me in the midst of the fog to see that I was being emotionally abused. In the nightmare, I was cowering in a ball in the corner, my hands shielding my face, and he was standing over me with a baseball bat. I felt very beaten up, though the bat never physically touched me. The feeling of cowering and fear stayed with me during the day as well. It showed me that the words he used, verbally or from all the books and articles laid out for my “benefit” were the baseball bat, beating me up emotionally. The dream was a part of the process for me to begin researching emotional abuse, and God quickly led me here. Praise God! I still get that cowering, fearful feeling, as he still has a lot of influence in my life, even though we are now separated.

  27. anonymous

    Endless nightmares. And that fear, the too scared to move, panicked breathing, full of dread, fear.

    Abusers ruin your life, your mind, and taint your very soul. God feels so far away when reliving this junk all the time, dreaming it, and never escaping it. It deadens a person in some ways and severely sensitizes them in others.

    Knowing that God will throw the abusers into hell is about the only comfort. But still, one’s life has been taken, destroyed, and marred by the abuser.

    But God does say He can (or is it “will”) work all things for the good of those who love Him.

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