A Cry For Justice

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

God’s view of women who get targeted by abusive men (2 Timothy 3:6-7)

Men who abuse women tend to target women who are:

  • weighed down with sins
  • led astray by their desires / passions / feelings
  • always learning and never able to come to a knowledge of the truth
  • ‘little women’ (the Greek is a single word which is the diminutive of women).

That’s what the Bible says in 2 Timothy 3:6-7. This post focuses on the first three points above. I will address the fourth point (‘little women’) in two subsequent posts (see them here and here).

Ps Liam Goligher says1 that the Greek word translated ‘desires’ mean feelings – whether positive and negative. It doesn’t necessarily have an immoral connotation. For example, Jesus used it positively when He said “I have inwardly desired to eat this Passover lamb with you before I suffer” (Luke 22:15). So in 2 Timothy 3:6, that word just indicates that these women are led by their emotions.

A woman can be led by her emotions in desiring to put other people’s needs before her own. And skilled male offenders prefer to target women who put other people’s needs before their own. It seems that what Don Hennessy teaches about domestic abusers is in line with the Bible yet again!

The Bible says these men take women captive (aichmalotizontes). The Greek word means to subdue, ensnare, subjugate, gain control over, get power over, make prisoners of. What a perfect word for how skilled male offenders operate! Don Hennessy has explained in great detail how the skilled offenders do this.

Hennessy says that when selecting a woman to target, these skilled male offenders prefer a woman who is kind, loyal, dedicated and truthful.

A woman can be kind, loyal, dedicated and truthful, while at the same time being weighed down with sins, led by her feelings, ever learning but never coming to a knowledge of the truth.

So does the Bible disparage these women? Does God blame these women for being taken captive by evil men? Are these women unstable before the evil men target them? Can these women ever learn? Or are they doomed to be perpetually vulnerable to evil men?

These are tough questions because they have the potential to be dismissive and shaming of women who are victimized by abusive men. But we need to grapple with these questions. What does the Bible mean when it describes women this way?

Many professing Christians assume that Paul was disparaging the kinds of women who are taken captive by covertly evil men. It’s easy to disparage abused women. It requires less courage than standing up to the evil men who abuse them. (See Jeff Crippen’s excellent post When We Believe the Wicked and Dismiss the Oppressed, We are Guilty of Cowardice [Internet Archive link].)

Paul cannot be telling Timothy that these women are unworthy of pastoral attention and care. Writing under the inspiration of the Spirit, the Apostle Paul — who described himself as the chief of sinners — would not have shown such contempt for victims of abuse! He must be alluding to other things: things that (generally speaking) result in complex trauma to females more than males. Things such as:

  • adverse childhood experiences
  • the trans-generational transmission of trauma
  • sexual harassment and abuse
  • male-privilege assumptions in society
  • the readiness to blame victims rather than have compassion for them.

Liam Goligher says:

It’s not all women by any manner or means. Paul, in his first letter to Timothy, talks about women who are mature and godly women, who are able to instruct other women, so it’s not all women. And at the beginning of this letter [2 Timothy], Paul has talked to Timothy, and he’s reminded Timothy of what he learned from his mother and his grandmother. They were his chief instructors in the things of God.  [Emphasis original.]

But ever since the Fall blighted this world, the majority of girls and women have been trained to accept that their gender is second-class so they must become accustomed to being treated as sex objects, not to mention being distrusted, suspected and blamed for what is not their fault. (See my thoughts on Genesis 3:16 here.) Often every choice or option available to a woman has been fraught with danger. Woman has historically been trapped and stigmatized no matter which way she turns. If she belongs to a ‘higher caste’ (e.g. white, rich, born in a wealthy country, born into a privileged family) it might mean her choices are somewhat less bound, less restricted. But sexual abuse and domestic abuse occur in all societies and all demographics.

False guilt and real guilt

Women are often burdened with a lot of false guilt. They are blamed for the sins of others, especially the abuse which evil men have done to them.

And many women — especially women who are kind, truthful, loyal and conscientious — have real guilt for their sometimes sinful responses to the oppression they have endured. I’m talking about the sins women may have themselves committed in responding to the constrictions which abuse and male privilege have confined them to.

Let me relate my own experience as an example; many of our readers have heard my story before, but we never know when new readers look at our website. In my teens and early adulthood, I was carrying a heavy burden of sins I had committed against myself and others: bulimia, drug abuse, promiscuity, working as a prostitute when I was 19 / 20, then going into the occult and the New Age because I thought it was giving me answers. I now know I did all those things in attempting to avoid the pain of having been sexually abused in childhood….and I thank God for rescuing me from that morass by revealing Jesus to me and showing me that He loves me and has paid the price for all my sin!

Real guilt needs to be confessed. We must cease that sin, casting our burden on Christ who cleanses us from all sin.

But a negative feedback loop happens when a person has a sense of their own real guilt yet the real guilt isn’t disentangled from the false guilt which that person is also carrying.

Real guilt for one’s own real sin is difficult to disentangle from the false guilt that one has been conditioned to accept.

When legalistic religion and society has given you the impression that all resistance to oppression and abuse is ‘wrong’, it is a long and arduous process to do this disentangling.

And here’s the trap: If we are carrying false guilt mixed with real guilt, our burdened consciences make us only too ready to grasp at any offer of easement — including the offers from evil men who are skilled at covertly manipulating our emotions to take us captive, while persuading us they are giving us the easement and peace and love we desire.

To expunge false guilt from our minds, it helps to have lots of rest, time with God and with compassionate human companions, and decent teaching from wise Christians who can expose and explain in plain language all the false teachings that brought us into bondage.

False guilt needs to be identified, shed and and thrown off like a plague-infected garment. And when one has carried false guilt for years, one usually needs to fight and cast it off repeatedly (Romans 12:2). It is a spiritual battle to get rid of false guilt. The journey is often two steps forward, one step back (see my post on the backstitch analogy).

But God helps us!

For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal things, but things mighty in God to cast down strongholds, with which we overthrow imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bring into captivity all understanding to the obedience of Christ, and are ready to take vengeance on all disobedience, when your obedience might come to an end.
(2 Cor 10:4-6 New Matthew Bible2)

They were always learning but never coming to a knowledge of the truth

Liam Goligher:

They wanted an answer. They were looking everywhere for an answer. They were reading all the books. Going to all the seminars. Visiting all the conferences. Watching all the programs. Downloading all the stuff. Looking for….  Looking for….  An answer….  A way out….  Something. Always learning, but never coming to a knowledge of the truth.

Probably because they were looking in all the wrong places. Probably because these teachers were coming, telling them stuff. Playing on their guilt.

The devil always plays on your guilt. God never does. He never plays on your guilt. Never. He never uses your guilt as a motive or incentive or a driver to anything better or brighter or greater. Never. But the devil will play on your guilt. And many Bible teachers will play on your guilt. It sells their books. And their videos. And gets you to their conferences. It makes you dependent on them. On what they’ll say next. They’ll play on your guilt. Play on your fears. Play on your sense of neediness. Manipulate your feelings….  By offering you a better feeling for a while perhaps.  [Emphasis original.]

A diet of memes will not make you into a mature Christian

Here’s something I (Barb) have observed with female victims of abuse. Some (note I say some, not most or all) of them seem to live on a diet of memes. Facebook is pretty much the only place they engage on the web. They read headlines on FB posts and those few words which Facebook gives under the headline, but they may not read the whole item which has been posted. When they comment, they do so on FB rather than commenting at the blog post or article which was linked to that FB post. And they are drawn to graphics which show things like butterflies, wings, princess crowns, and flowery “feminine” fonts. They are enticed by soothing, encouraging promises and fairy-dust statements like “God treasures you!” and “You are valuable to God!”

But they don’t often read the more deep Christian teaching which might challenge them mentally or spiritually.

And sadly these women tend to un-discerningly imbibe lots of counsel from people who teach about marriage and relationship problems, who give bad advice how to respond to domestic abuse. I hold Christian leaders accountable for that plethora of bad advice.

And when abused women do read Christian blogs about domestic abuse, many of the bloggers they follow use a very ‘friendly’ tone when writing for their readers. Personally, I find that kind of overly-friendly tone presumptuous and cloying. How does Blogger X know that I, her reader, consider myself to be her ‘friend’? Of course, some people might think we do the same kind of thing at ACFJ. But while we can be friendly to each other here at ACFJ, we do try to discourage presumptive expressions of friendship that are based more on sentiment than on sound understanding of each other.

Back to Liam Goligher:

….the emphasis of Paul is not on the victims, but on those who are the victimizers, the deceivers, the false teachers. And they are masculine, by the way.

And he [Paul] likens them to these two men from the Old Testament, Jannes and Jambres. Those names come to us out of Jewish tradition, but the people that they name are there in the Bible. They are the sorcerers, the magicians. Who opposed Moses….in Egypt….

….These magicians, these two men, these magicians, sorcerers in Egypt, they tried to replicate everything Moses does. They oppose Moses. The one man through whom God speaks. The man who knew God face to face. The man who in Revelation — that is in our Bible because God gave it to the world. They oppose him And they come to stand for this historic movement. This movement of people from the beginning of history right up to these last days — of people who set themselves up and oppose God. They oppose God. Deliberately. To his [Moses] face.

So they were sneaking in, these men, were sneaking in to the church, undermining, undermining these people, undermining these women. We don’t know what they were doing. I don’t know whether they were taking secondary things and making them first things. Taking unimportant things and making them important. Taking unnecessary things and giving them priority. Very often that’s what Paul’s teachers do in order to keep you, to hook you. Focusing on behaviours and practices and little rules….promulgating all kinds of things, about things, frankly, the Bible does not speak….

….These false teachers [these evil men] come in, what they do is they undermine people’s confidence in God, their joy in God, their love for God….

You’re in danger of these kinds of people if your mind has not been formed and is not guarded by the truth.

….If you’re not being shaped by the truth you’re an easy target. You’re in danger if you’re being led by your feelings or by curiosity, or by wanting new ideas, rather than the truth.

You’re in danger if you can’t get over your past and haven’t really grasped that the Gospel is free. And it’s full. And it’s for you. No matter what your past is. No matter what you have on your record. No matter what you have done or what has been done to you. God loves you! He loves you. Embrace it. Believe it….

The Bible says God is the only ultimate Father you can trust who loves you more even than a mother does. He won’t abuse you. He won’t misuse you.

And you’re in danger if you accept everything you hear without bringing it to the court of Scripture which is God’s Word, written. If the Bible doesn’t say it, don’t believe it. Don’t believe it. There’s areas of conscience where individual believers have the right to exercise their conscience within those areas using the principles of God’s Word. Bring it back to the court of God’s Word.

….Look at verses 8 and 9, very quickly. Though the days are dark, though false prophets proliferate, though they disturb the peace of God’s church, God’s church will not fail.

In the end of the day, all such deceivers will be exposed…..And the church will remain. The church will remain. They will not bring down God’s people….  [Emphasis original.]

Summary….and encouragement for bruised reeds

God condemns the practice of sin. God holds the conduct of abusers in contempt and He tells us to avoid abusers. But God isn’t contemptuous towards bruised reeds – birds with broken wings. He is compassionate and protective, whilst calling us to discernment, greater maturity and righteousness in the future. God calls us to govern and temper our emotions with the soundness of mind, prudence and self-discipline that grows from a right and balanced understanding of Scripture.

With the merciful You will show Yourself merciful;
With a blameless man You will show Yourself blameless;
With the pure You will show Yourself pure;
And with the devious You will show Yourself shrewd.
For You will save the humble people,
But will bring down haughty looks.  (Psalm 18:25-27  NKJV)

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me. To preach the gospel to the poor he has sent me, and to heal the broken-hearted; to preach deliverance to the captive, and sight to the blind, and freely to set at liberty those who are bruised  (Luke 4:18)

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.  (Matt 11:28-30)

Therefore let us also (seeing that we are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses) lay away all that presses down, and the sin that hangs on, and let us run with patience to the battle that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him suffered the cross, disregarding the shame, and is seated on the right hand of the throne of God.  (Heb 12:1-2)


1 All references to Liam Goligher’s teaching have been taken from his sermon Discerning the Spirits.

2 Unless otherwise stated all Scripture references in this post are taken from the New Matthew Bible (NMB).
Here is a potted history of the NMB. By 1535 William Tyndale had courageously translated the New Testament from Greek into English when it was deemed a capital offence to have a Bible in any language other than Latin. Tyndale’s translation was printed in Europe and smuggled into England. Tyndale wanted every literate ploughboy in England to be able to comprehend the Bible by reading it in his mother tongue. But English has changed a lot since the early 1500s, so Tyndale’s translation is pretty hard for most of us to comprehend. Thankfully, Ruth Magnusson Davis has gently updated the early modern English of Tyndale’s New Testament so we can now read it easily — she has called it The October Testament. She is working on the New Matthew Bible which will be the entire Bible gently updated from Tyndale’s translations and the portions of the Old Testament that Tyndale didn’t translate before he was executed which were translated by his friend Miles Coverdale.

[June 18, 2022: Editors’ notes:

—For some comments made prior to June 18, 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 June 18, 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 June 18, 2022 that quoted from the post to the post as it is now (June 18, 2022), click here [Internet Archive link] for the most recent Internet Archive copy of the post.]


Further reading

Sins of the victim? Tetchy topic indeed!

Co-Dependency as Bondage to (and participation in) Evil [Internet Archive link]Light for Dark Times blog post by Ps Jeff Crippen.

“Little Women” have been called “silly women” which now contributes to misogyny in the church

Why did Paul call abuse women ‘little-women’?


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.


  1. Renewedspirit


  2. Free at Last

    Wow. This is an incredibly powerful post. I have long grappled with this Scripture (believing myself condemned by it and being unable to let go of the resulting crushing guilt due to my incomplete understanding of it). After all the wrestling with Scripture I’ve done, I would always come back to this one (the 2 Tim 3 passage) and believe that there was no way out of the millstone around my neck due to my own sin (choices).

    This was very freeing to read. I will add it to my compendium of clarifying messages on real guilt versus false guilt. Kind of a light bulb moment reading this — lifting a weight that I can only liken to an epic-sized boulder. Thank you, Barbara.

  3. Seeing Clearly

    We who have lived our lives through a knotted mess of complex trauma, have lived and continue to live an exhausting life. It is refreshing to read the truth of the type of (men) who were / are drawn to us and re-harm us. Until ACFJ, I could not make sense of what has been going on.

    One of the biggest sins I lived in for decades was living my life through a covering of shame, refusing to accept and believe that God loved me. Even in my [sixth decade], I continue to confess renewed anger at God, refusing to believe His love and care for me. While I choose to live freely in God’s love, it is a struggle to continue living in truth. Shame is an absolute contradiction to God.

    About the time I would accept God’s love, another trauma, usually male and / or church related would occur again. Now I realize that each new trauma can seem so much more severe to me as it can retraumatize historical ones. Yes, I have worked and worked to understand and release this process. Unfortunately, the truth is that severe abuse before age [very young child] and continual shaming by that first abuser each week at church, with shaming, threatening glances made me easy prey for evil men throughout my life.

    (At long last, I have laid down the weapons that subconsciously, I held on to to protect myself from God.) Tears begin to roll down my cheeks as I type that last sentence. God is my only true hope.

    [Some details were airbrushed for the safety and protection of the commenter. Editors.]

  4. Spiritually abused

    Yes, I agree.
    1) Weighed down by sin: We are weighed down by the sin of “covering” for our husband’s sin, as we are taught so well in legalism.

    2) Led astray by lusts: We are taught by the “church”, marriage is more important that the people in it. We are taught to lust after our marriage and our husbands. If you are married (even to an abuser) you must “make” it work.

    3) Always learning but never coming to the truth: Again, I was learning all the time (two times on Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night, extra women’s Bible studies) and serving in the church and homeschooling children, but what we don’t realize at the time is that we are being marinated in wrong teaching and that then we are reading our Bibles through that lens.

  5. Sam Powell

    Excellent, and courageous, Barbara. I’ve noticed the same thing. It isn’t sentiment that sets us free; it is sound doctrine. I appreciate this post so much.
    We can listen, and we can empathize, and we can weep with those that weep. But healing will only comes through sound doctrine.
    Peter said to Jesus:

    ….where would we go? You have the words of eternal life. [John 6:68 CEB – Common English Bible]

    I pray that we will all listen. Hearing godly rebuke is unpleasant, but it is so necessary for us to heal and grow!
    Thank you for saying it.

  6. Sam Powell

    Reblogged this on My Only Comfort [Internet Archive link] and commented:
    God condemns the practice of sin. God holds the conduct of abusers in contempt and He tells us to avoid abusers. But God isn’t contemptuous towards bruised reeds – birds with broken wings. He is compassionate and protective, whilst calling us to discernment, greater maturity and righteousness in the future. God calls us to govern and temper our emotions with the soundness of mind, prudence and self-discipline that grows from a right and balanced understanding of Scripture.

  7. Jamie

    Thank you so much for this.

    I just want to comment following up further with Pastor Goligher’s sermon. Today I am taking very seriously his instruction and reminder that “We are in a WAR!” and that what we need and have available to us to equip us are these specific means of grace.

    Means of Grace:

    —Preaching of His Word
    —Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper
    —Sacrament of Baptism
    —Prayers of the Saints
    —Reading of Scripture
    —Fellowship with Believers

    I’ll paste the content from the very end of the sermon below. (I may have missed it if this part was included elsewhere.) He says better [than] anything [what] I would say about re-adjusting our focus away from ourselves….to Christ.

    ….That’s where we are going in these last days….we’re in a war at the moment. And what we need as God’s people is to be lapping up the Grace of God that’s on offer, through the preaching of His Word, through the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, through observing and being encouraged in the sacrament of Baptism….the prayers of the saints, the reading of Scripture, fellowship with one another….

    Lap up all these means of grace God gives to you. That will keep you strong; that will make you strong. That will encourage you! And if you’re struggling with your past….or struggling with your feelings, look away from yourself….to Jesus. Hold onto Him. See yourself as God sees you in Christ….perfect, beautiful, all that you should be. And rejoice in that; rejoice in that!….the Hope of Glory.

    (Content at 36:24 of Liam Goligher’s sermon, Discerning the Spirits)

  8. Becoming

    I needed this so much this morning. Thank you. My secret sins all came to light this week, stuff which I am very ashamed of. I sought attention and comfort from men online off and on for three years. It was wrong and I knew it. I have felt so helpless and stuck in my situation, so weak, easily manipulated, full of emotion but unsure of what actions would actually help my daily life (and I have tried many). I had already repented but kept the sin a secret. Now it is known and I will have to deal with consequences.

    Please pray for me. I don’t want to be weighed down with sins, led astray, or always learning but not coming to a knowledge of truth.

    • oryxx


  9. Helovesme

    This is simply excellent. Thoughtfully written and very well communicated. Thank you so much for posting it.

    My prayer for the abused to come to know Jesus as Savior is exactly what some of this post describes: being able to distinguish false guilt from real guilt. There is no One better than Christ to help you separate the need to be forgiven for your own personal sins — but be absolved from guilt from being abused. He would never ask you to be forgiven for being a victim. He frees you from that unjust shame and unnecessary guilt that has burdened so many, sometimes from “religious” people, too!

    It can take a fair amount of time, depending on what you’ve been through — to distinguish false guilt from real guilt. A bit of friendly advice: seek His wisdom in that area, NOT the wisdom of man. Even the most well-intentioned, supposedly mature Christians are not spiritually discerning in this area.

    For those of us that are already believers, this post also gave great wisdom: spend time with Him. Ask Him for counsel, compassion and companionship. Find rest for your weary soul in Him.

    It was so spot on — WHY victims might make choices in response to abuse that lead them into a downward spiral. It’s like they punish themselves for something that is not their fault. Or they don’t know what to do or how to deal with the pain they are feeling, except to numb it by any means possible. This is where choices like drugs, drinking or sexual activity might come into the picture. Praise God, He can rescue the downtrodden and burdened!

    We tend to believe in absolutes: “you reap what you sow.” “You were drunk or dressed that way, so you asked for it.” “You were born a woman, so you are 2nd class.” “You were abused, so you will probably marry an abuser, or become an abuser yourself.” This is NOT Biblical!

    We’re so good at scapegoating, that no one blinks at it anymore:

    It’s easy to disparage abused women. It requires less courage than standing up to the evil men who abuse them.

  10. Thanks to everyone who has commented. This post took me ages to write. Much trouble before it finally took shape. Wanting to get the balance right and be faithful to all I have learned from Scripture and experience. And the eternal task of getting my posts to be short enough! I write many more words than finally get published. I’ve always written that way….it just seems to be the way I do it.

    • Seeing Clearly

      We look forward to the second part about “little women”.

    • Helovesme

      You always do such a great job, Barbara. I feel bad that I often forget to recognize how much work goes into writing these posts. Thank you so much for all the time and effort it takes! The way it ministers to people is simply amazing and is true evidence of the Lord’s hand moving through you. Keeping you in prayer as you continue to write.

      Words are so powerful. They can tear down or build up. These posts absolutely do the latter.

  11. Finding Answers

    Barb wrote:

    To expunge false guilt from our minds, it helps to have lots of rest, time with God and with compassionate human companions, and decent teaching from wise Christians who can expose and explain in plain language all the false teachings that brought us into bondage.

    False guilt needs to be identified, shed and and thrown off like a plague-infected garment. And when one has carried false guilt for years, one usually needs to fight and cast it off repeatedly (Romans 12:2). It is a spiritual battle to get rid of false guilt. The journey is often two steps forward, one step back (see my post on the backstitch analogy).


  12. Kind of Anonymous

    Just wondering if being targeted by abusive men means just a scenario where one is courted and pursued by an abuser posing as a good guy or if targeted can also mean situations where for whatever reason, we choose abusive men and they figure out pretty quick we can be controlled and manipulated one way or another, as if “AHA, this woman who is interested in me is too dumb to know what a loser I am, I can play that against her because she truly cares about being the right kind of woman; here is a relationship where I can have control.”

    I don’t think that it means that we are at fault for the abuse; that comes out of THEM. But both my abusive relationships were, at least initially, ones where I initiated the relationship. Later on when there were red flags, the flags seemed to trigger a kind of “mental splitting” that had come from earlier abuse which shut down my ability to think or even see what I was doing reaction-wise. It was also due to a desire to believe that this man and this relationship was all I hoped for in terms of really being loved. The fact that my own issues played a part, possible reenactment of trauma, further confused me as to whether or not I was really the problem. In the first case I wound up staying IN the relationship when I had taken steps to get out of it, because a fit of anger triggered a freeze and shut-down reaction. Is this common?

    • Hi, Kind of Anonymous, what a great comment / question!

      What you described about your own experience, I don’t know exactly how common that is, but my guess is that is could be fairly common. I like the way you ascribe the blame for the abuse to the abuser, while also describing the way your desires / aspirations / and previous life experience played a part in how the relationships worked.

  13. Kind of Anonymous

    Hi, Barb, having an arrrgggh moment, trying to respond but my laptop keeps demonstrating a mind of it’s own, lol. You summarized it nicely. What you said about the long process of expunging false guilt and beliefs is bang on. That’s my battle right there. It’s harder to take down the enemy in this area because for me at least, I am not exactly sure what it is that I really believe; the false beliefs and teachings seem to be submerged just out of sight, like a line of malicious code embedded in computer software. Looks innocent enough unless you know what it is you are looking for and looking at.

    As for decent teachings from wise Christians, I wish I knew some locally. It seems that so many churches are like little Christian clubs where everyone is friends with one another and they have the ideas about what grace and mercy are that Jeff so well describes. They are so good at assuming they already know all they need to know, that the very notion that they could be in error or actually out of sync with God is just NOT possible. Figuring out whose version of Christianity and truth lines up with God’s version is also a trying task. The churches I have been to seem so enamored with the idea that they are “cutting edge” churches and really great, “godly” fellowships that even the hint that perhaps God is not as pleased with them as they are is anathema to them. How shockingly lovely to actually find a fellowship that actually IS in sync with God and doesn’t just smugly think it is! It makes me wonder if there is anyone out there who truly does hear from God and are there are fellowships in my geographic location that are alive and conscious and have the resources to teach truth and disciple people. If there are they must be scarce as hen’s teeth.

    • Now Free (formerly struggling to be free)

      Yip, my experience is [the] same as your latter regarding churches.

      To stop someone even for singing in a choir simply due to their husband’s adultery and their divorce is way wrong. That’s coming from one of the biggest churches in the world and has lots of off-shoots across the world. Yet they stood solidly for that couple through infant death and abuse, but divorce – nope, amazingly, and I still find it hard to believe such a church as this has archaic views on such.

      I wrote a song re false guilt, it’s somewhere here if you can find it.

      One day in work the phrase “no guilt no shame for I am not to blame” came into my head as I chatted to a team leader. It says exactly where God led me that day and was a break through. It will happen!!!

      • anonymous

        That’s good, Now Free:

        no guilt, no shame, for I am not to blame

        It’s something to write down on a little piece of paper and stick it in one’s pocket and remember to remind oneself that indeed, “no guilt, no shame, for I am not to blame”.

        How many victims waver in speaking the truth about their awful realities and victimization because of the shame / embarrassment / false guilt attacks??

    • the false beliefs and teachings seem to be submerged just out of sight, like a line of malicious code embedded in computer software.

      Oh yeah! What a brilliant way of putting that!

      And yes, I too find it pretty much impossible to find a church that is not dyed in the collective-churchianity wool. The ones I check out are mostly Reformed, but in the past I’ve been in Charismatic / Pentecostal churches and they are similar. They have different views on some doctrines and practices from Reformed churches, but they still have the deep stamp of ‘churchianity’ that that goes with Pentecostal / Charismatic churches.

      Whatever stream I’ve been in there has been a profound reluctance to exercise individual thought and discernment. An attitude of ‘the big shot leaders say this, so it’s what I believe.’ An aversion and resistance to anyone who might use Scripture to challenge them about a presupposition or belief they hold. A reluctance to engage in head-to-head, iron-sharpening-iron, Scriptural debate. A preference to typecast as a ‘troublemaker’ anyone who wants to have that kind of conversation or debate. And a subtext of undervaluing women, even if they rhetorically say they think a woman’s view is equally as important as a man’s view. And, above all, a resistance to learning about trauma and how much the Bible has to say about the effects and responses to trauma.

      • Now Free (formerly struggling to be free)

        Well said, Barb. 🙂 I don’t have to go out searching. I have been in most churches here and know it’s the same over many denominations. My pastor acted on his own and made out I left freely (not as easy as that). None of [the] church leadership was consulted [details redacted], and would not have been so silent if he’d gone there first.

        Of course, neither would have any of them, knowing or perceiving what I’d gone through. Also being of help to many, I know others in church too would have been hurt if they knew the truth. Any wonder he put me away silently, and only for the sake of the church I caused no chaos. I could have [caused chaos] as many would have and been right to say something, but I felt it better to keep church unity than throw a bomb inside.

        Very cunning like a snake mmmm I rest my case!

        [Details airbrushed for protection. Editors.]

  14. Kind of Anonymous

    Hi, Now Free, what’s the title of your song? And yes, considering that there was both abuse and adultery, to shun someone or ban them from singing in the choir when the marriage needed to be ended because of it is crazy. Not for the first time have I wondered why so many Christians seem so clueless and allergic to reality.

    • Now free (formerly struggling to be free)

      No guilt – no shame

      No guilt, no shame cos I’m not the one one to blame
      You took advantage of my good will
      Abused your position
      Made me swallow your bitter pill

      Over and over you covered up with deceit and lies
      Stalking my days and haunting my nights

      Your deceit and lies and your wicked schemes
      Destroying my hopes, my beautiful dreams

      But now I know I have no need to fear
      Between me and my God my conscience is clear

      No guilt no shame
      For I am not the one to blame!

    • allergic to reality

      —I love that expression! Thanks, KoA. 🙂

    • Now Free (formerly struggling to be free)

      Hi, Anonymous and Kind of Anonymous – fantastic, and if it’s safe to do so, I say yes post stuff round the house – Post-It notes of Scripture etc.

      I know the Jews did it and, well, I think it’s biblical to help us remember God’s word and memorise it, meditate on it, so it really gets written on our hearts and we begin to act on it.

      Romans chapter 8 comes to mind.

      By the way, hearing, reading, memorising, meditating etc have been scientifically proven, each time doubling so we don’t forget in our memory banks.

      Therefore I love that idea (again if it’s safe to do so) of actually writing it down and keep looking at it.

      I had a former pastor who gave us a list of fantastic scriptures and encouraged us each day to read them and post them around the house and just let God speak into us. It was lovely to see in many homes and the people really did become stronger for it. Doesn’t have to be just a Jewish thing. 🙂

  15. Broken and defeated

    I am at my wits end and feel completely alone at this point in my struggle as no one seems to grasp what it is that I’ve actually gone through.

    My first abuser was my father who was perpetually angry and quick to remind me of my “place” as a woman and that I would never amount to my brothers. I then had an overt abuser a few years ago but I was quick to run away from that relationship after 4 months because it was so scary. Then I was targeted by a very covert abuser who quickly became my fiancé (should have paid attention to warning sirens). Being in that relationship has broken my confidence, zest for life, and outlook on people. I am finally free from that relationship for the past month because I got strong enough to end it and get away but the damage and coming to the realization that I have essentially been abused all my life is too much to take at times. The good thing is I do not miss him nor do I yearn to be back in a relationship at all.

    At this point I still can’t see light at the end of the tunnel. Last year GOD literally struck me with lightening when He finally told me this man would not change — and at that point, my eyes were wide open to the evil in this man and the world in general. I feel I will be in this state of mind for the rest of my life. Do things ever get better from this? GOD has also opened my eyes to people whom I thought were friends but were not and they abandoned me when I opened up for the first time. Same with my family. I found this blog last year and it has been a GOD-send. What I am struggling with now is the repercussions of abuse and I don’t know if it will ever get better. I really am alone….and feel abandoned by everyone.

    [Paragraph breaks added to enhance readability. Editors.]

    • Dear Broken and Defeated, I hear you. I believe you.

      In my experience, thoughts and feelings like (paraphrase) —

      I feel I will be in this state of mind for the rest of my life; I don’t know if it will ever get better

      —are lies injected in our minds by Satan. When we feel deep grief, when we feel shame, when we feel very down, the enemy uses that as an opportunity to twist it into lies.

      In my experience, the only way I have got through times like that is to just be in it, not try to fight it in my own strength but to trust that God is with me even in the valley and He is and will be carrying me out of the valley even though I feel like I can’t lift a finger or move my feet to help myself. My trust in God at such times has often felt filament-thin.

      This verse may encourage you; but if it doesn’t, please just put it aside:

      If we do not believe, yet he abides faithful; he cannot deny himself. (2 Tim 2:13 NMB [Internet Archive link])

      Here are two posts about loneliness which you might relate to:

      Abuse produces loneliness

      The loneliness of the abuse victim

      Here is a post about hope which may speak to you:

      Hope for isolated Christians. God will bring in the New Heavens and New Earth

      And here are three hymns which you may find helpful.

      Thank you so much for pouring out your pain and anguish here. Welcome to the blog! 🙂

      • Broken and *not* defeated

        Is there a testimony page to read of others experiences, escape, and recovery? It helps me to read others experiences because it makes me feel like I am not alone (even though I currently am).

        I don’t know where to post [comment] so I can feel “heard”, so I will post [comment] here as I read this post again today. Recap: I escaped my abuser and have been living in my new apt [apartment] for [time redacted] and I am reflecting. GOD got me through this on the other side and I am safe now, but why do I feel the aftermath is almost just as bad (if not worse at some times) than being in the midst of abuse?

        I feel like such a spoiled brat saying this because I have my own place and means to support myself (health is not as good but working on this now). The waves come and go but overall I feel like a zombie going through life and not living life at this point. It’s like my body finally caught up with the abuse and it’s now absorbed the aftershock of it all? For example, I frequently have floods of feelings / memories that come at random times, I’m highly reactive / sensitive to situations / people, and my emotions are all over the place. My predominant emotion is anger and more anger. Anger at everything and anyone as I reflect and process through my entire life.

        I do not want to be like this – this is not who I am!!! I do not even recognize this person that I am and I wonder if I will ever be the sweet, trusting girl I once was. And if I can get back to that sweet girl, will someone else stomp on her again and rip her soul out? I am also angry with GOD and then I feel guilty because I know it was HIM who rescued me from my situation and provided the way out.

        But…. I am just feeling so angry about the injustices, my experiences with abusive father and abusive ex-fiancé, the fact that horrible things happen to good people who don’t hurt others on purpose, etc.. I would never purposely hurt another human being the way that evil people in my life have done to me! And then for life to hand you these abusive people to deal with? I am so done with the ways of this world.

        Just recognizing the depth of evil in this world makes my stomach churn. I don’t know what GOD’s purpose is for me and wish people would stop telling me that GOD will use my testimony for good. I am at the point of IDGAF [I Don’t Give A *****]- I’m not concerned at this point how my testimony will help others. For once in my life, I just want to stop being the scapegoat and have someone reach their hand out to me. Just to have the same kindness reciprocated that I put out in this world and not be taken advantage of.

        It just seems at this point that Satan is trying to keep me pushed down and doing everything in his power to break my spirit even more. I feel like I am losing my ability to see the goodness in this world. Where is GOD? I continually pray that He reveals Himself to me so that I know it is HIM and that I am truly not alone but I don’t see or hear Him. Maybe as a new Christian I do not yet recognize what that looks like.

        I also had the strength to cut ties for good with my father (abuser) whose last words to me were that I will be [last words redacted]. Who says things like this to their own flesh and blood? Just makes me so disgusted that we have the same DNA and for the first time in my life I can finally say with 100% certainty that he is a morally repugnant, disgusting human being. I absolutely cannot understand how I came from a parent like this. How can I be so different from my own parent?

        One thing I laughed out loud about today — my ex-fiancé frequently told me that I wouldn’t be able to do anything by myself without having to call him or my male family members. ALL LIES and jokes on him because I have been living independently JUST FINE without him or male family members for the past month. The arrogance from abusers is astounding.

        [For safety and protection, some details were redacted. Editors.]

      • Reaching Out

        Hi Broken And Not Defeated,

        I am so glad to see that your name is no longer Broken And Defeated. 🙂

        While Barb might be delayed in replying to you, I am certain she will be able to provide a more complete answer than I can, including some resources that would be applicable to your current circumstances.

      • Hi, Broken And Not Defeated
        We do have a testimonies page but it’s about the ‘light bulb moments’ where victims woke up to the fact that they were being abused.

        For survivors’ testimonies about recovery after leaving the abuser, I suggest you dig into the posts that are tagged “recovery”. There are 203 posts with that tag! Some of the posts may not be helpful to you, but some probably will be helpful. I’m sorry I am not pointing you to anything more specific.


      • James

        Hello, Broken And Not Defeated,
        You wrote —

        ….but why do I feel the aftermath is almost just as bad (if not worse at some times) than being in the midst of abuse?

        Your thinking has been poisoned since the time you could think. That is a lot of poison. Now that you have stopped ingesting that poison because you are no longer sharing the same atmosphere as your perpetrators, you can begin purging that poison from your system. It is literally ‘gut-wrenching’. That is why it feels worse. But, though it is extremely painful, it is healing.

        Letting yourself experience the anger, the outrage, the confusion, anxiety, nausea, betrayal and feeling completely overwhelmed. It is part of the necessary purging process. It will pass in time.

        I have read others say (and I agree) that betrayal is the worst emotion a person can experience. It can’t be put into words so it cannot be conveyed to those who have not been badly betrayed. I believe in Dante’s Inferno [Internet Archive link]1 there are a number of levels (7?) [9 circles] in Hell with the lowest / worst reserved for those guilty of betrayal.

        Jesus experienced betrayal from the Apostles; those closest to him. The population of Jerusalem turned against Him and called for His death. And all He ever wanted was to show them the Way. He wanted what was best for them.

        He knows well how you are feeling and you will come to know how He felt. These betrayals, though evil, will draw you and Jesus closer together over time.

        If after reading at the link that Barb provided and you are up for more reading, you could research “Cluster B Personality Disorders” to better understand the nature of your abusers and the abuse itself. You could also read up on “Flying Monkeys” and be wary of talking to all the ‘go-betweens’ that have contact with your abusers.

        I wonder if I will ever be the sweet, trusting girl I once was. And if I can get back to that sweet girl, will someone else stomp on her again and rip her soul out?

        No. None of that is going to happen. You will be more caring, though, because you will be better able to care for yourself and those close to you. You will be able to do that because you will be wiser and stronger.

        Behold, I send you forth as sheep among wolves. Be therefore wise as serpents and innocent as doves. (Matt 10:16 NMB)

        You WILL survive and recover well because you have stamina and courage: stamina to persevere all those years in spite of all the poison; and courage because you got out and launched yourself into the ‘Unknown’.

        My experience, when looking back, is that “launching into the Unknown” is actually launching yourself into Jesus’ arms. There is no safer place.

        It does not mean the end of all harm, of course, but it does mean that He will never allow you to experience more than you can handle. It also means that He will use everything you can handle to increase the understanding and love between you both.

        But for now, from my experience, it is best to just endure, feel, reflect, pray, feel, and endure. Let the purging, time and Jesus do their healing.

        Take care, Broken But Not Defeated.

        1[September 11, 2022: We added the link to Wikipedia’s page on Dante’s Inferno. The Internet Archive link is a copy of that page. Editors.]

  16. Auriel

    He is compassionate and protective, whilst calling us to discernment, greater maturity and righteousness in the future. God calls us to govern and temper our emotions with the soundness of mind, prudence and self-discipline that grows from a right and balanced understanding of Scripture.

    I am so grateful for these words. They describe my journey with Christ. He is working these things into me and my love of, and daily dependence on, His Word, confirm it.

    I find I still react to stories of abuse, and my own painful memories, very much in Old Testament-style anger. I hope I can become useful to others who are enduring abuse and false guilt. I’m trying.

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