Sleeping with the enemy… and being ‘one flesh’ with an abuser who sexually assaults children

[May 23, 2022: There have been some changes made to this post. For more information, read the Editors’ notes at the bottom of the post. Editors.]

Trigger warning. “It’s like the abuser’s evil was shared with me and in a sense I became one with it.”

The sexual intimacy a woman has with her husband means that they are ‘one flesh’ — whatever that phrase means.

For me, the pollution of an abuser having sexual intercourse with me affected me to the very cellular level — flesh, sinew, nerves, cells, brain, body.

I don’t want to be super-spiritual about this. And I know that in Christ we are CLEANSED completely. But I think that victims of spousal abuse, sexual assault and rape need to dwell on – take in and absorb – Christ’s cleansing in a way that victims of other kinds of abuse don’t necessarily have to.

The body remembers.

But our Lord Jesus Christ can cleanse the soul / body / mind….even unto the cellular level and neural pathways and viscera.

Being ‘one flesh’ with an abuser who sexually assaults children

If a Christian woman has been abused by her husband and at some point finds out that he has sexually abused one or more of their children….or other children….the woman feels a deep need to call upon Christ’s cleansing.

For years she has shared the marital bed with a man who at some point became a child molester. The impact of that fact resonates deeply in her. Even if the child molestation occurs after she is no longer sharing his bed, she still feels polluted knowing that the man she shared a bed with has sexually assaulted a child. And that child might be the fruit of her own womb.

Contact highs. And contact lows.

As a former heroin addict I can tell you that when a drug addict is not stoned but watches another druggie shooting up, the spectator feels a ‘contact high’. For me, I knew so well that rush of good feeling when the heroin hit my system….and watching another person have that rush gave me a vicarious sense of it myself.

I’ve been clean from illicit drugs for more than 40 years. And I’ve birthed and raised a child who is now an adult. And much to my surprise, a clucky feeling hit me in my mid 50s — I want to cuddle babies! Not my own babies. I’m past that. But I’ve concluded that my longing to love on babies and young children is a natural instinct that women of my age often have. Maybe part of God’s creation is that He has predisposed older women to want to serve the role of grandmother for the children of the community.

I now feel a ‘contact high’ when I watch young mothers cuddling their babies or loving on their toddlers. My heart melts when I see a baby. When I pass someone in the street with a baby in a sling on their chest, or a little one in a pusher (Aussie word for stroller, baby buggy, pram), I often ask them if I can look at their baby.  If they say yes, I gaze and smile and say sweet nothings to the baby….and my heart melts with upwelling affection.

So now I’ve explained ‘contact highs’, let me explain ‘contact lows’.

When a woman discovers that her (ex-)husband has sexually assaulted children she feels a ‘contact low’.

Mirror neurons

Generally speaking, the human brain has an innate capacity to mirror / resonate with other people’s emotions and feelings. Scientists talk about mirror neurons. I believe God created humanity with this capacity. Psychopaths are the exception – they have little to no empathy for other people. 

Don Hennessy says that psychephiles (men who abuse their female intimate partners) select and target women who are kind, women who put other people’s needs before their own.

Common sense tells us that a woman who puts other people’s needs before her own is likely to have a sensitive conscience and a higher capacity for empathy – more mirror neurons.

The spiritual pollution of sleeping with the enemy is felt very deeply by these women.

Sleeping with the enemy short circuits our ability to sense the love of God for us as His children.

The constant deceiving blinds us to the truth and glory of Christ.

The yoke of spiritual slavery (bondage) keeps us from the true freedom Christ has given us to enjoy.

But God has given us guidance to help de-shackle us from the blindness and bondage. He also gives us comfort and reassurance —

Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said:

“I will dwell in them
And walk among them.
I will be their God,
And they shall be My people.”


“Come out from among them
And be separate, says the Lord.
Do not touch what is unclean,
And I will receive you.”
“I will be a Father to you,
And you shall be My sons and daughters,
Says the Lord Almighty.”

(2 Cor 6:14-18  NKJV)

[May 23, 2022: Editors’ notes:

—For some comments made prior to May 23, 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 May 23, 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 May 23, 2022 that quoted from the post to the post as it is now (May 23, 2022), click here [Internet Archive link] for the most recent Internet Archive copy of the post.]


Further reading

The Unique Nature of Sexual Intimacy Makes its Abuse Uniquely Destructive

14 thoughts on “Sleeping with the enemy… and being ‘one flesh’ with an abuser who sexually assaults children”

  1. What a brave post, Barb. I happened to read a book called “In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts” by Gabor Mate which gave me an eye-opening look at addiction. There are so many in the conservative Christian circles who have no understanding of addiction and this book really opened my eyes.

    I also happened to marry an abuser and found out just how excruciatingly painful it is to live as an abuser’s choice target. ‘But for the grace of God, there go I.’ Had I had such available to me I might have gone that same route in desperation to ease the pain. There is no moral high ground when living a hell-on-earth existence. There is only survival — and pitiful survival at that. Reading the research on substance abuse problems it looks like many abused women’s addictions were born out of the abuse. I feel for them.

    Runaways who are preyed on and groomed by pimps are also introduced to drugs and alcohol as a way to not only further their dependency but also their discrediting. If a minor finds herself in a situation where she might escape her pimp’s immediate control, the substance abuse is very likely to work against her. People judge so very harshly but I can only imagine what trauma that little girl has gone through. Most runaways are contacted by a pimp within 48 hours of being on the streets. Once that pimp swoops in, she is pretty much done for because she is an income stream to him and that pimp will do everything to keep her working, especially as minors fetch the top prices.

    The sexual element. The abuse of a woman’s body. The violation of being with a predator. That doesn’t go away. The body remembers. It changes a person on a cellular level. Everything is hijacked by the evil. Some sexually abused victims go the hypersexual route. Some do the opposite. Some go back and forth. At any rate it dramatically affects a woman’s sense of worth, whether she feels like a human being, and so forth.

    I feel very badly for Clara Hinton who birthed how many babies and was married to a prolific pedophile for decades.

  2. This post brings to light an important aspect of ‘sleeping with the enemy’. I just wonder if a ‘trigger warning’ could be added. While reading it, a sense of overwhelming helplessness came over me. My ex was not a pedophile. However, while sleeping with the enemy in marriage, it was impossible to bring final healing and closure to severe abuses I experienced from other evil men when I was a child.

    Probably, very few of us who married abusive men were not abused earlier in life.

    Now [about one decade] past divorce, in church, sitting behind a known registered sex offender, his offhanded gestures triggered terror in me. I am out of that church and back in therapy to hopefully bring closure to childhood debilitating abuse. Right now, it feels like the world is a very unsafe place. I wonder if there will ever be peace for us on this earth.

    I know our peace comes from God, but sometimes the storm rages violently, making it very difficult to keep the boat upright. I deeply appreciate and desperately need ACFJ to help make sense of life.

      1. Thanks, Barbara. You are a kind, thoughtful and sensitive lady. You also have a great deal to keep track of and with the team, keep the website well-managed.

  3. Thank you for this! The same can happen even if there is not abuse of children involved. “Only” abuse of the wife including chronic porn. This was a powerful article. Thank you so much for this ministry. I come here looking for truth, encouragement, accurate information and a perspective representing the heart of the Lord.

    1. I come here looking for truth, encouragement, accurate information and a perspective representing the heart of the Lord.

      Yes my thoughts exactly, Deborah. This is my place of grounding, of centering, when dealing with abusers as well as the “fluffy bunnies” that wander around shaming you (telling you to let it go, forgive without repentance, go home and be abused some more, win him without words by your quiet and gentle spirit) because they can’t believe someone this close to them – geographically as well as socially – could be that incredibly wicked and enjoying it.

      This is [the] place I come to when the “fluffy bunnies” cluck their tongues and say that “you should be over it by now.” (Over it? You mean… be over… my whole life? Over it? Moved on from…my whole life?)

      I thank God for this place, the wisdom I find here, the compassion, the understanding, the validation, and just…the space to say what’s bubbling up from our broken hearts today, without the eye rolling, without the tight-lipped “mmmm” as they look for any other subject to steer the conversation towards, without the uncomfortable silence because “obviously” we are “exaggerating” (lying for attention) (because no one really ever has it that bad, do they? Not here, surely. Not in this town, this social class, this family, this church).

      I’m just so thankful for a place to moor to common sense after drifting in the Sea of Let’s-Be-Nice. I’m so thankful for a place to clear the fog, and for a place to find out that it is not just me and that these hurts, offenses, and cruel lies and tricks really are a thing and they really are doing them…on purpose.

      As has been said many times, this place is a life-saver.

      1. Yes, ACFJ is a refuge as well as a life saver. Truths are taught and addressed along with [a] few other resources. I remember when reading a post here, that the realization of ‘sleeping with the enemy’ hit me. Of course, the emotional and cognitive upheaval followed. But in truth, I had intuitively known I could not stay in a bedroom with my now-ex any longer. Of course, he would have explained my actions to our adolescent children as crazy and sinful.

        In humor, my Restless Leg Syndrome was severe while sleeping with him. He described it as if I were peddling a bike through the night. Well-said, probably intuitively trying to get away from him.

        Sadly, my sister who has been a great ally, has suggested that I should stop reading “this” stuff because it keeps me stirred up and I am beginning to speak up without restraint. (As opposed to my past passiveness and silence.)

      2. Yes, Moody Mom, yes! Everything you said and more. I have not found anything else remotely like this website and it is such a ministry. Thanks to, we can all listen to Pastor Crippen and Pastor Powell, with Ps. Crippen’s sermons made available as PDFs, too.

        But the posts, the others’ comments. It’s an oasis of sorts and a life-raft, all in one, if that makes sense.

  4. Seeing Clearly.. I too began to speak up after decades of playing family games by not speaking truth….unfortunately, my sister and I are now estranged as she doesn’t like the new FREE me…

  5. Can someone help me? I’ve been married for about three decades.

    I was raised by an abusive parent (my other parent died when I was young). In my (small) extended family of origin there is no one safe who I have been able to keep in touch with.

    My husband is selfish & abusive. He had an emotional affair with another woman two years ago and wanted a divorce at that time. Now he blames me for unforgiveness.

    Having invested very little time in our children’s lives up to a few months ago, he is now making an effort. [Details of the pressure he puts on the children redacted by Eds, the husband has caused at least one of the children to be desperate and depressed.]

    I am divorcing him and he has been financially abusing me in the process. My adult child[ren] criticise and scorn me for divorcing him, [they] show no sympathy for the financial stress I’m under.

    The Pastor of the church we both used to attend but which my husband attends alone now does not want to know.

    A lot of my Christian ‘friends’ want me to stay in the marriage because of my children but I do not want a bogus marriage where I have been unhappy so long.

    I was saved in my late teens / early adulthood and would not have survived until today without Jesus.

    1. Dear sister, welcome to the blog! 🙂 I edited your comment to protect your identity.

      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 FAQ page.

      You may have used a pseudonym when you submitted your comment, but I wasn’t sure and I wanted to err on the safe side – so I changed your screen name to Ettie as a precaution. If you want us to change the screen name to something else, just email TWBTC (The Woman Behind The Curtain). Her address is

    2. Ettie, you have found a great place for support and help. So many people here have been through what you have been through, myself included.

      Everything hurts so much, and there is a lot to learn, but you will make it. It is so sad and frustrating when pastors don’t want to know the truth. There are very few that do, and they are never in the town we live in.

      You are more than your marriage. You are a child of the King, and He doesn’t want you treated this way. I am glad to hear that you have leaned on Jesus and He has helped you get this far. Keep going, one step at a time, and you will make it. So many of us lose family, friends, children, incredibly painful, but God is faithful and will carry you through.

      I hope you keep coming back, discover new friends, and get peace from God that you are doing the right thing for yourself as well as for your children, even if they don’t see it now.

    3. So many of us on this website have been in your shoes. Married a lot of years, abused in one or many ways, very unhappy, being like a single parent in many respects. The abuse NEVER got better, it only changed forms as I was able to endure it after time.

      This site has many excellent posts over the years that you can read. They are a tremendous help. Reading this site has really been life-changing and life-saving for me!

      Be sure your attorney will fight for your legal rights. And see if your local government agency has an office for helping women in need without charge.

      Your children may not support you now, but they will probably come to see your viewpoint as time goes by. I encourage you to stay strong in the Lord. Seek Him with all your heart. Heed the words of Jesus in Matt. 10:16, “….therefore be shrewd as serpents, and innocent as doves.” Jesus came to set free those who are downtrodden (Luke 4:18).

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