David Clarke is another self-styled ‘expert’ on domestic abuse and Focus On The Family are promoting him.
FOF are promoting David Clarke & his book “I Don’t Want a Divorce: a 90-Day Guide to Saving Your Marriage.” David Clarke does not understand enough about the dynamics of domestic abuse to offer counsel on this.
One of our long time followers emailed me about David Clarke. Here is the gist of what she said:
Focus on the Family have featured Dr. David Clarke discussing marriage and “shunning” an abuser in a marriage in order to show the abuser the error of his/her ways. I heard the broadcast and was triggered. While David Clarke mentioned that “shunning” an abusive spouse could possibly hasten a divorce (which is true), I was still struck by the poor advice and assumptions he made.
- He advised you as the victim to tell the truth to your church leadership about your marriage. He assumed that church leaders will believe the victim; but we know that many church leaders do not believe the victim.
- To use an abuser’s tactic — the silent treatment / shunning — as a means to wake the abuser up to his sin of abuse will not work with an abuser. It could make things worse for the victim. I know this from my own experiences and from reading other’s stories.
So much was not said in this broadcast, and most church leaders don’t know how to help or counsel abuse victims. I felt this broadcast gave bad advice and false hope to DV victims and did nothing to educate or equip DV victims, and in fact David Clarke will cause more harm and danger to victims that decide to use his advice.
David Clarke has a book that Focus on the Family are promoting: “I Don’t Want a Divorce: a 90-Day Guide to Saving Your Marriage”. It sounds to me like Dr. Clarke’s book should not be recommended to victims of abusers because it gives false hope that a wife’s actions can change her abuser and “save” her marriage. I have not read the book, but you can see excerpts here: https://www.amazon.com/Dont-Want-Divorce-Saving-Marriage/dp/0800728173
Clarke does mention emotional and physical abuse in this book, but does not separate out abuse from other marriage issues. And one of his essential solutions to saving the marriage is “couple talk” – couples therapy – again, we know that will never work with an abuser.
I have learned so much from ACFJ through the years, and I hope that ACFJ readers become aware that Focus On The Family still doesn’t get it where abuse is concerned and that they should not take advice from FOF or David Clarke’s book.
The broadcast our reader heard was Part 2 of David Clarke’s interview “Saving Your Marriage from Divorce”. I, Barb Roberts, have listened to both parts of David Clarke’s interview. Part 1 was useless for victims of abuse. Part 2 was almost as useless: David Clarke did not take into account how cunningly the abuser recruits allies so that the victim will not have a support network. And neither David nor the FOF interviewers gave a robust definition of abuse. They gave the impression that abuse is only physical violence.
Another of our long time readers, a father whose daughter has survived domestic abuse, also wrote to me recently. He gave me a heads up about David Clarke’s article Enough is ENOUGH: It’s Time for Plan B. [This link is broken and there is no replacement. Editors.]
That article is chapter one of David Clarke’s book Enough is Enough: How to Leave an Abusive Relationship. The article/chapter gives advice to women whose abusive husbands do not change. It says that leaving an abuser can be the right thing to do (that’s a plus!)…but there are too many minuses. Clarke tells the victim what to do:
You have to do some hard work in preparation to leave your abuser:
You have to: (1) get spiritually healthy, (2) get a solid support team in place, (3) get emotionally healthy, (4) get financially healthy, (5) get your kids ready to leave, and (6) get to a safe place where you will be living away from your abuser. All these steps will be taken in secret. Your abuser will have no idea what you are doing.
Hmm. Getting your kids ready to leave without the abuser having any idea what you are doing, is fraught with danger. The kids might easily spill the beans to Dad. And they might vociferously resist mum telling them that she will be leaving Dad and taking them with her. And, as many of our readers know, ‘getting healthy’ – whether it be financially or spiritually – can often only be begun after the victim has separated. Yet Clarke’s formula sounds rigid. He arrogantly says that he knows the order of what the victim should do.
Perhaps his biggest mistake is that he assumes the victim will be able to assemble a solid support team, including men within the church who will confront her abusive husband. But as we know, abusers are highly skilled at torpedoing any support team that the victim tries to put in place for herself. Clarke seems to be ignorant of this. He boasts “I know the way out.” But he does not know enough about the difficulties and risks of leaving an abuser.
I want to thank to the two long-time followers of ACFJ who alerted me to what David Clarke is doing. Neither of those readers have ever commented on the blog, but they are obviously paying attention and appreciative of our work, and are supporting it by judiciously sharing their concerns so that other readers will benefit.