A Cry For Justice

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

2. Chris Moles is teaching some things about domestic abuse well

Here are the helpful things Chris Moles is saying to the visible church:

  1. He has a pretty good definition of domestic abuse.
  2. He dispels some of the myths about domestic abuse.
  3. He describes the tactics used by abusive men.
  4. He understands the impact on children.
  5. He gives some good advice to pastors and counselors.
  6. He explains the language tricks which are used to make perpetrators invisible.
  7. He encourages the church to improve its theology of oppression.
  8. He gets the gender thing right. (I will cover that in my next post in this series.)

My citations of Chris’s work are almost always given in bullet points. The source of the citation is shown in grey with each source designated by a different capital letter. The Chris Moles Digest has a legend which links to each item by Chris Moles signified by a capital letter.

1.  He has a pretty good definition of domestic abuse

He defines it as an abuse of power manifested through selfishly motivated patterns of behavior to exercise or maintain control. (C 24:40, 37:38, 55:09)

2. He dispels some of the myths

  • It is wrong to think that domestic violence is primarily a criminal justice problem (C 4:50, M 12)
  • It is wrong to think that the wife is responsible for domestic violence because she’s not submitting enough or whatever (which is victim blaming and very dangerous) (C 15:25, M 15)
  • Domestic abuse is not an anger problem. (M 10, C 10:25,)
  • Domestic abuse is not a marriage problem. (M 13, C 12:20)
  • Domestic abuse is a problem in the heart of abuser. (M 17)
  • Abusive men desire to gain or maintain power and control. They use a variety of  tactics to achieve this: physical force, intimidation, ridicule, isolation, denial and blame, using the children, male privilege, economics [financial abuse], and  coercion and threats. (M 22-27)
  • The abuser’s hurtful behavior escalates as time goes on (E 21:00).

3. He describes the tactics used by abusive men

  • He gives many illustrations of coercive control, verbal and emotional abuse, physical abuse, economic abuse, threats, isolation, sexual abuse, intimidation. (C, E, M chapter 2)
  • He mentions some of the big red flags for lethality: abuse of pets, threats of suicide, strangulation (E).

But note: he doesn’t mention rape as a red flag for lethality. If the abuser rapes the target woman, she is at higher risk of being killed than a woman whose abuser does not use rape as part of his arsenal.

One flaw in his work is that he doesn’t discuss sexual abuse much at all. I wish Chris would read our Don Hennessy Digest. But at least he recently shared on his blog the 3-part series by Darby Strickland on sexual abuse in marriage.

4. He understands the impact on children

His presentation The Impact of Abuse on Children (G) is excellent apart from one very weird ‘joke’ he makes at 49:17.

5. He gives some good advice to pastors and counselors

  • It’s simplistic to think, “We just have to break the Cycle of Abuse.” Each victim’s experience is different, and not all victims experience the Cycle of Abuse. (P)
  • He tells church leaders, “Don’t  steam roll the victim; don’t  pretend you are the victim’s messiah.” (C 1:06:45).
  • The “witnesses” in a Matthew 18 process can be a victim’s diary entries or electronic/digital evidence of the abuser’s conduct. (L 41:10- 42:14)
  • If you are a pastor and receive a disclosure, believe her. Listen and affirm what you’re hearing. … Assure her. Assist her. And document: you never know when it may be necessary to disclose that info for her protection and safety. (F 48:20)
  • He describes coercive control using the metaphor that ‘we [pastors / counselors] never see the whole train’ (E 01:00).
  • He mentions the case of Stacey Peterson who disclosed the abuse to her pastor Neil Schori, and was later killed by her husband.(F) That case shows how important it is for pastors to document everything the victim has disclosed about her fear of her husband and his conduct. And he mentions the Document The Abuse app.
  • He understands that it is appropriate to set boundaries on abusers and give them consequences if they break the boundaries, and that forgiveness does not remove consequences (even jail) (F 54:20, M 91)
  • He reminds pastors that God hates the wicked and those who love violence. (M 88)

6. He explains the language tricks which are used to make perpetrators invisible

“John beats Mary,” becomes “Mary was beaten by John,” becomes “Mary was beaten,” becomes “Mary is a battered woman.” The perpetrator has been rendered invisible and Mary’s identity is flattened so that she is seen as simply and only a “battered woman”. And Mary’s abuser has become invisible. (F 23:38) 

7. He encourages the church to improve its theology of oppression

  • In some circumstance suffering can and should be avoided. (F 34:05)
  • If we don’t balance our theology of suffering with our theology of oppression, we run the risk of putting the victim in harm’s way. (C 18:32)

He articulates how he applies a theology of oppression to abusers:

  • Psalm 34 says, The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are open to their cry, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.
  • He says he loves the language of God towards oppressors in the Bible. It’s imperative that we love men enough to tell them and show them how opposed they are to God. (C 43:45)
  • If the sheep are suffering from wolves, what shepherd blames the sheep? Can you imagine the shepherd offering excuses for the wolves? … No, the shepherd gathers the sheep for protection and when possible addresses the behavior of the wolves. (M 15)


Our Chris Moles Digest has links to all the posts in this series, and a legend for the cited items.


  1. GypsyAngel

    I would appear that Mr. Moles does get a lot right. For that I am thankful. What he is getting right is much that is missing in Christian-centric abuse counseling. But in my personal experience, and that of many that I mentor, the problem lays in the very fact that the ministers and those who are doing the counseling are so certain that they have it right, that they just aren’t looking elsewhere to continuing their education on DV and IPV. SIGH. Add to that mix a hierarchy that can’t stand to be questioned and we have the continuing recipe for disaster and ongoing violence within the Body of Christ. I wish we could get this blog into the hands, hearts, and brains of all those within the church. Then we would see radical change. Not just in how IPV is handled behind closed doors, but I honestly believe that it would change the whole of the body and heal much that is wrong in the church today. I strongly believe we would see the rebuilding of families, the healing of hearts and minds, the renewal of the family as God intended it to be.

    I personally will keep doing as I have been doing and suggesting this blog and the books on the book list to those I meet. I know a few have taken up the challenge and I’ve seen changes in how they have been dealing with those who they counsel. So I KNOW it can be done. It just seems excruciatingly slow. Good blog entry. Thank you Barbara, and my very grateful thanks to those who came before you. Keep up the amazingly good work, it is sorely needed.

    • healinginhim

      Gypsy Angel, I agree. Like you, I suggest to others to connect with the ACFJ blog and a very few select others like them. It is disheartening to see those within the churches that I once fellowshipped with looking at “poor little old me” and yet do nothing to address the abuse but instead feel I should just come and “join them again.” Recently, one of the men from these churches whom even my now adult children felt uncomfortable with made a point of coming up to me at my place of employment and saying that they still loved me and if I needed to talk, to come to them, specifically him and his wife. This man, an Elder in the church is a wolf! ugh.

  2. Helovesme

    Thank you for sharing!

    I’m interested to try to understand how he can have a firm grasp on the evil in an abuser’s heart, and that the tactics used are 100% intentional, selfish and motivated to cause pain. It can even go from bad to worse—and they are so manipulative (intentionally so) that they are NOT ignorant of their own doings.

    That is it not an anger problem, not the victim’s fault, not defined as a marital woe.

    He points out the manipulative tactics abusers use, so he’s aware of their layers of evil. It’s not just a surface thing. Abusers know what they are doing when they lie, deceive, cheat and distort reality to anyone who will be taken in.

    But on the flip side, he seems to believe (or insinuate) that abusers can change, can be taught to not abuse, or can be led to salvation. Based on the last posting outlining where he is giving false counsel.

    I’ve often perceived that the attitude towards abusers is that they are so self-deceived that if that is cured or healed or undone, the abuser can and hopefully will change. Meaning, they are responsible for what they do, but are so ignorant of how evil they are being.

    Abusers believe they are 100% entitled to do what they do. How does one undo that, or believe that is possible to undo?

    If he claims these abusers are wolves, is there any Biblical reference to trying to change them into sheep?

    I’m sure we’ll deal with this as the series unfolds!

    • anonymous

      I’ve often perceived that the attitude towards abusers is that they are so self-deceived that if that is cured or healed or undone, the abuser can and hopefully will change. Meaning, they are responsible for what they do, but are so ignorant of how evil they are being…

      …If he claims these abusers are wolves, is there any Biblical reference to trying to change them into sheep?


      But when you say this, Helovesme:

      Abusers believe they are 100% entitled to do what they do. How does one undo that, or believe that is possible to undo?

      I disagree. If abusers truly believed in their entitlement, they’d beat their wife right in front of the police station and brag about it to the judge before being sentenced. They are predators and know they are criminals, which is why they don’t beat the wife in public but rather wait until they are home or otherwise have no other witnesses present (assuming the witnesses aren’t fellow wife-beaters who would cheer or applaud the crime).

      I wonder if it isn’t just to placate those who know the truth — that abuse is unacceptable and evil — and verbally satisfy the audience, meanwhile, allow abusers a lot of latitude to ‘change’….but never really require such.

      More importantly and more likely, I believe the whole ‘abusers can change’ is but a moneymaking thing. Then, if abusers are simply needing to be shown how self-deceptive their heart is, they can run abuser change programs, speak at conferences, and collect those consulting fees. If anyone would acknowledge the truth, that abusers are evil and know it and there is nothing to be done about the children of satan aside from doing away with them, then there’d be no easy money to be made.

      Men’s change programs have popped up all over in the USA. Batterers’ intervention programs. Whatever they want to call themselves. It’s super lucrative. Lots of money to be made and easy money, too, as there is no requirement that they really do much of anything. Efficacy is minimal to non-existent. But when Wife-Beater A wants to avoid jail, he’ll be sentenced to attend one of these bogus groups, which means, he’ll pay whatever the group charges. Hundreds and hundreds of dollars to be made, per person. 20 weeks at an hour each time. 20 hours of work. Let’s say $500 program fee is charged. 25 guys who are court-ordered to attend and pay the program fee or otherwise rot in a jail cell, makes for $12,500 paid to do 20 hours of ‘men’s change program sessions’. Rent a room for $50 at the community center. Buy some fold out chairs and let the money come rolling in. Take attendance at the door, report at [the] end who attended and who didn’t, probably a 15-minute phone call to someone who works with the local court system. Perhaps email such and that would drop the time spent down to 5 minutes.

      See where I am going????

      Chris Moles is about to speak at some conference, I believe, if I read another person’s comment correctly in the comments section to the 1st posting about Chris Moles. Probably paid some $2,000 for his appearance, plus compensated for the travel expenses, and he gets a captive audience, all potential future consumers of his writings, consulting, counseling sessions, etc.

      One last item, the Men’s Change Programs also get funding grants from the VAWA [Violence Against Women Act] funds in the USA, which means that those ‘programs’ are sucking out dollars that are otherwise used to pay for battered women’s shelters. It’s a really negative reality. Those funding grants are on top of the already mandatory fees their wife-beating attendees are paying to stay out of jail.

      Money talks.

      I realize statistics are not very welcome here, but the raw truth is those Men’s Change Programs have a very low percent ‘success rate’, and even that low figure is iffy. It’s a sham operation because the nitty gritty reality is that abusers are evil and but children of the devil.

      • Hi anonymous, from what I’ve gleaned about the men’s behavior change programs in the USA, what you say about the money is correct. And I have heard from a couple who run such a program, that the fees the abusers themselves are required to pay are often paid by the abusive mens’ parents…the parents don’t want their sons to have to go to jail, and the sons cry poor to their parents so the parents fork out the fees for the guy to attend the program. And quite often, those parents are themselves not well off…and they really struggle to pay the fees for their son.

        Around the world, there has been various research done about the ‘effectiveness’ of such programs. I’m not across it all, and so I hesitate to say much, but my general sense is that when a research study concludes that programs in that country are somewhat effective, they mean “effective” as “the guy does not get another DV report or conviction in the year or two after he completed the program.” Or “his female partner / ex partner reports feeling more safe.” Now if the female partner or ex reports feeling more safe, that might be because the program gave her the opportunity to have regular one-to-one chats with a professional who was employed by the program — so she was talking to an advocate who was validating her and listening to her. As all of us victims know, if we are listened to non-judgementally and we feel validated, we usually feel better and we can start getting clearer in our minds to make our own decisions re our own safety.

        And so far as I am aware, no research has yet been done about the LONG TERM effectiveness of men’s behavior change programs.

        There are a few, a very few, individual men who seem to have reformed / be reforming. But they are the exception.

      • Helovesme

        Hi there Anonymous! Let me clarify a bit on what I meant with the entitlement aspect in my comment. My apologies that I didn’t express it more clearly.

        They are predators and know they are criminals, which is why they don’t beat the wife in public.

        Right on. If they did that, there would be many witnesses that literally saw with their own eyes, or heard with their own ears (if the abuse was verbal). The abuser would have no defense—except to possibly plead insanity or some other mental illness.

        This is just IMO. I’m not a professional, and I’m still learning as I go: I don’t think that the sense of entitlement that an abuser has, necessarily takes away their ability to reason and use rational thinking.

        They may know, intellectually, that what they are doing is frowned upon in society, but internally, they don’t really care. They still fully believe that they are fully in their right to abuse at will. No consequences, no sense of guilt, no sense of accountability and NO real interest in repentance.

        They might “fake” a desire to change, but it is only an act. I wonder if this occurs when those around the victim start to pick up on real problems going on—-or they may have witnessed the actual abuse at some point. Now the abuser feels somewhat “caught” and changes tactics and tries to “be good and act repentant” but again—it’s just an act.

        The best parallel I can come up with is the issue of racism. I’m not sure if you are an American, so forgive me if you are up to date on this.

        During the 60s, there was so much violence and murder done to innocent black people by the Klu Klux Klan—who put on white robes and masks and did their evil deeds at night. During the day, they were seen as respectable townspeople. They had jobs, families, probably went to church, seen as upstanding members of the community.

        I always wondered, if they were SO convinced that their hatred of black people was justified and that they were completely in the right to be doing what they were doing—why do it in the dark, with masks on? Why not come out with it during the daytime, with no masks?

        Added to this—it was more acceptable to be openly racist in those days, or at least silently enabling it or agreeing with it. That added to the mystery, in my mind.

        My conclusion is similar as to why abusers abuse in private, and wear “masks” during the day that conceal who they really are.

        They truly and honestly believe they have the right to abuse. Trying to list the many, many justifications they use to justify their abuse, would take too long.

        (The Klan too had their “reasons” as to why they thought they were allowed to hate and kill and oppress other human beings, and felt no guilt or shame in their deeds.)

        But they know that not everyone around them thinks that way, but that doesn’t change how they think. All that means is that they better darn well be good at abusing in private, good at silencing the victim and good at lying—if they want to keep doing what the absolutely think they are allowed to do.

        This is why they work so hard to craft such a clever disguise. Imagine taking months to design and create the perfect Halloween costume. Something that looks so good, is so well made and so convincing—that when they put on that costume, everyone believes that you really ARE whoever you are trying to be. Your true self is so well hidden underneath all that work.

        You really are perceived as a sheep, a pastor, a Bible teacher, a trusted Elder or deacon!

        Only your victim knows who you really are, but your disguise ensures that no one will take her seriously if she tries to take your mask away. In fact, she will probably be branded as the bad guy, should she try to reveal the truth.

        That is what how I believe that sense of entitlement works.

        Only the Lord can break something that is so rock solid in a person’s heart. I think we as Christians LOVE a good testimony of someone so evil crossing over from death to life. Who doesn’t love to hear about souls saved, the Lord moving on the hearts of those that seemed lost for good?

        The example of Paul is usually brought up, right? Paul was a hateful man, breathing violence and threats against Christians before he became one. Paul even said his life was a testimony of God’s patience, love and grace. He seemed unreachable.

        BUT, Paul responded when the Lord confronted him. He was actually interested in what He had to say, and asked the Lord: what should I do?

        We don’t consider that he could have shrugged the whole thing off and kept being horrible and hateful. But Paul chose otherwise.

        It is only God’s kindness that leads us to repentance, but the Bible also makes it clear that there is a time when God gives them over to a depraved mind (Romans 1:28). I do not know where I would be if God [had] not been so kind to me, leading me to repentance.

        Abusers don’t fear the Lord, which will be terrifying for them when they DO face Him at the end of their lives.

      • Anonymous

        You’re right, Helovesme. Abusers do fully believe in their entitlement to abuse (which is how and why they do it with such ease) but are cognizant of it being against the law. The scoffed at “PC” laws, the “women’s libbers” (and much worse names for those who believe women shouldn’t be beaten at will), etc., is what I have heard.

        Kind of along the lines of those who are enamored with beating children as being cure-all ‘parenting’. Since they know the laws have changed and such ‘whuppings’ are now jail-able criminal offenses (child abuse), they don’t openly do it, but rather reminisce about the so-called ‘good ol’ days’ or take steps to hide it / get away with doing it.

        Much like the southerners of the USA. Civil War was fought over slavery. The south / pro-slavery side lost. Slavery was officially ended and yet there was so-called sharecropping, and all sorts of other things put into place to further the now ‘free’ slaves’ continued enslavement and subjugation. Jim Crow laws. The KKK horrors.

        Unjust discrimination is alive and well. May not be out in the open, but it is still practiced in any number of ways. Anti-discrimination laws exist, but housing, employment, etc. discrimination continues unchecked — sure, they invent all sorts of ‘legal’ reasons as to their discrimination, but it’s really about racism.

        I think those who parade about the so-called ‘success stories’ of perhaps one or two people that changed — be it a white KKK member who now is out and is having his swastika tattoos removed from his body, OR a wife-beater who has stopped seeing women as chattel and ceased being an abuser — would be super responsible about it and say that this is the extremely rare example of change. The ‘success story’ parade should include the numbers of those who have not ‘seen the light’. It should be very, very clear that this is maybe a one in a hundred (or thousand) exception, because that is what those ‘poster child’ examples are.

        The lives and well-being of countless women and children are otherwise being further endangered and harmed when Men’s Change Programs or ‘counseling’ are offered without telling how exceptionally rare it is that such will do any good. There are so many abusers who use such tools to further string along their victims, learn to become more ‘PC’ in their abuse, and get away with more abuse.

    • Yes, we will deal with all those things as the series unfolds. 🙂

      • GypsyAngel

        Concerning Men’s Behavior Change programs, or as we call them here in the states Batter’s Intervention programs and Anger Management classes, the opposite is true of the intent (though I must agree it now seems to be about the money). In my personal case, the abuser was ordered to several “classes” repeatedly. All that ever happened was he learned how to hide it better and learned a whole new language to use to emotionally abuse me and attempt to convince me I was the abuser. And even though he was failed out of each one, the courts never once called him to task and just signed off. Also, each time without fail the abuse escalated.

        Many of the individuals that I have spoken with concerning this issue report similar effects as I did. So one could conclude that; except for providing a lucrative income for certain individuals, the only product of these programs it to cause [drive?] DV / IPV underground while giving the batterer the tools and language to do so. For truly, that appears to be the only serious lesson learned.

      • Thanks for this, GypsyAngel!

  3. Seeing Clearly

    In the last few years, I sensed I was making inroads with a family member who is in the pastorate. He was willing to dialogue about principles involved in my abusive marriage that I had radically left. The often misquoted statement, “God hates divorce”, was so commonly used in my family.

    Unfortunately, I observe that the conservative religious culture has him in their grasp. He is comfortably embracing the tenets and verbiage of that abusive culture. He enjoys his privileged position in the multi-staffed church and prominence in other circles.

    He would be devastated to read this description of his belief system, but it is a finely spun web that slowly and quietly ensnares.

    My ex was known as the family’s minister until our divorce, [over one decade] ago. I broke a lot of norms to get out. As yet, I don’t sense the extended family knows what to do with my divorce from an abusive minister. They mostly call it a one-of-a-kind situation. One dear family gives permission by realizing I would have literally died if I hadn’t got out. But then, perhaps a separation would have been a more comfortable situation for the family to accept and be “scripturally” comfortable with.

    For my young family member, standing for truth in abuse could cost him his career. The pressure to conform in denominations is very strong. Hopefully, Chris Moles’ correct teachings can break ground for other leaders to wake up and continue to relearn their belief systems. It would require that they study to learn where Mr Moles is incorrect in his teachings.

    Unfortunately, “power” is a favorite word to preach on and motivate with; “Power of God”, “powerful message”, “powerful healing”, “powerful movement”. It seems to enhance, the frosting on the cake.

    Power and the misuse of it is in direct conflict with condemnation of abuse. Therein lies a great divide in how a minister chooses to lead a flock.

  4. Finding Answers

    Seeing Clearly wrote:

    Unfortunately, “power” is a favorite word to preach on and motivate with; “Power of God”, “powerful message”, “powerful healing”, “powerful movement”. It seems to enhance, the frosting on the cake.

    Came back to re-read the post….

    Having heard a number of these “power” messages, I would add Amen and Amen.

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