Review of Jeff Crippen and Anna Wood's book
A Cry for Justice: How the Evil of Domestic Abuse Hides in Your Church
Good people never pretend to be evil, but evil people love to pretend to be good. Sheep don't wear wolves' clothing. (Quote on the title page of A Cry for Justice)
Jeff Crippen and Anna Wood's book, A Cry for Justice: How the Evil of Domestic Abuse Hides in Your Church is so important, that I am devoting the whole newsletter to it--both my letter to you and the Tip for Alligator Wrestling. I was privileged to read a review copy of A Cry for Justice, which is now available on Amazon.
Jeff brings 12 years of experience as a police officer and 10 years of service as a pastor to his study of domestic violence. Anna Wood contributes the emotions of an overcomer of suffering to help shape this work. Thus, this book offers multiple insights into a serious problem in churches of all persuasions.
The purpose of the book
Unlike many books that deal solely with spouse abuse in the home, this book reveals how abusers often consistently abuse both their families and fellow Christians. Jeff explains in the introduction:
The local church is one of the favorite hiding places of the abusive person. Conservative, Bible-believing religion is his frequent choice of facade. Within the evangelical church, women (and sometimes men) are being terribly abused in their homes and marriages. The children of such abusers are suffering as well. And when these victims come to their churches, to their pastors, to their fellow Christians, pleading for help, well....
Job 19:7 Behold, I cry out, 'Violence!' but I am not answered; I call for help, but there is no justice.
Victims of abuse are often discounted by their churches. When they gain courage to see help, they are routinely given superficial advice, accused of not being good enough wives or children, told that they are surely exaggerating the case, and then sent back home to "do better" and suffer even more at the hands of their tormentor. And when they finally leave their abuser, either by separation or divorce, most often the victim is the one who must leave their church while the abuser remains.
The church, in other words, is enabling the wicked person.... Because of their ignorance of the nature of abuse, they end up actually being an unwitting ally of the wicked person, adding to the suffering of the victim. We have a serious problem....
I hope therefore, in making this cry for justice, to be a voice who answers the one calling out, "Violence!" and one who provides some justice to those who are crying "Help!" I pray that many who read this book will join me. I know of one kind of person who surely will--the Christian victim of the abuser. Because as they read this book, they will say, "You are telling my story! Finally, someone in the church understands and believes me!" (A Cry for Justice, Preface)
A Cry for Justice doesn't stop with just opening our eyes to the mask abusers wear so they can fool other Christians. It also teaches us how to deal with congregational members determined to hurt others in their fight for power and control. Jeff exposes the skillful manipulations of supposed spiritual workers who have mastered the art of underhanded dealings.
His words caused me to reflect anew over 22 years of working with congregations as a preacher's wife. I realized that many instances of being surprised and disappointed in a member's actions were very clever power plays. Abuse in our homes and churches is not always obvious until it is too late.
Exposes effect on children
The chapter "The Devastating Effects of Abuse on Children" will break your heart, especially if you know personal incidents of the teaching. Jeff begins with a mother's true story:
He would attack me by being very hard on the children. At other times he would give preference to one child over the others to turn them against one another.... I do not know how many times during these years the children witnessed him raging: ripping out phones, smashing holes in the wall, screaming obscenities at us all. We all lived in constant turmoil. He used the children to spy on me, interrogating them for information about what I had been doing through the day. They were made to feel like they betrayed me and at other times they seemed alienated from me, wondering why I did not rescue them from this terror. (Jillion, Abuse victim)
The time to wake up to the harm to the children living in a home where manipulation rules is RIGHT NOW! The way to start is by reading A Cry for Justice--not justice for only the spouse, but also for the innocent children. The authors state:
Abusers damage their children directly by using many of the same tactics against them that they use against the mother.... Children suffer neglect because the effects of abuse on their mother diminish her parenting skills and energy.
"Diminishing the mother's parenting skills and energy" ought to make every abused mother and abused father determine to stop the abuse now and let love reign in their homes. Read Barbara Roberts' book Not Under Bondage: Biblical Divorce for Abuse, Adultery and Desertion and my review "Does God trap women in marriages to abusive men?"
God has plenty to say about manipulating control freaks whether in the church or in the home. A Cry For Justice is scripture rich and is designed for ministers and elders to help them move past gullibility. Evil men count on spiritual leaders falling for their smooth lines that admit just a little bit of wrong doing before heaping mega blame on their spouses. This naiveté transforms the listeners into participants in their sins in the home who often then discipline the abused spouse as being unreasonable or as exaggerating the situation. (Proverbs 26:23-28)
The scriptures alone make the book extremely valuable for abused wives. So many husbands use the scriptures against their wives. The crazy-making games decrease their ability to understand the scriptures for themselves. Religion is a powerful intimidation tool to keep both spiritual leaders and spouses submissive to sin.
Over and over A Cry for Justice shares the stories of what the churches are doing right...and wrong. Jeff also uses true life experiences of spouses to shine the spotlight on how spouse abuse often becomes a church problem. They help both spouses and religious leaders avoid being sucker punched into supporting sin first in the home only to be magnified in their congregations.
In the chapter "the Abuser's Use of Shame and Fear, Jeff and Anna reveal that one of the ways to produce fear is by raging. And what sets off the abuser's unreasonable rages? The authors state:
Raging can be kindled in a microsecond. It is actually more an act of an evil intent rather than a 'loss' of temper or control. The rager can start or stop his tirade when the phone rings or there is a knock at the door, and he can choose to rage about a certain thing one day and ignore it the next.
The book shares the example of how practicing raging at home gives a man tremendous control:
One victim described how her abuser husband could explode in a surprise attack, and what often set these rages off was for him to see her or the children happy. Once he walked in when two of them were laughing, really enjoying themselves in a rare moment of fun. He threw his drink across the room, smashing the glass on the wall, and launched into a hellish tirade against them.
And why is happiness such a heinous sin against the abusive husband and father? Jeff explains: "Happiness and joy in victims removes the abuser from the center of their universe, and he won't have it. A happy person is a free person, and the abuser thrives on keeping his victims enslaved."
Names the tactics
The scriptures and naming of the abuser's tactics will help free many victims and turn them into overcomers. Jeff parallels the Bible times abusers Diotrephes and Jezebel with today. Their offspring are alive and still causing havoc in the 21st century. Maybe in your home or your church.
I highly recommend this book. It will open your eyes to the subtleties of abuse as it did mine. It will change the way you deal with problems in the church and in the home.
Table of Contents
The following Table of Contents illustrates the wealth of information in A CRY FOR JUSTICE and how practical it is for recognizing and dealing with abusers.
Chapter 1: A Look Behind the Mask
Chapter 2: To See the Abuser, We Must Admit He Exists
Chapter 3: How Abusers Deceive Us
Chapter 4: The Abuser's Use of Shame and Fear
Chapter 5: A Look into the Mentality of Abuse
Chapter 6: What Else Is He Thinking?
Chapter 7: Effects on Victims: Abuse as Murder
Chapter 8: The Devastating Effects of Abuse on Children
Chapter 9: Why the Church Covers Up Abuse
Chapter 10: Common Distortions of Scripture that Promote Abuse
Chapter 11: Helping Instead of Hurting
Chapter 12: It's Not Over Yet: How Abuse Continues After Separation
Chapter 13: Dealing With Abusers
Chapter 14: The Abuser's Quest for Power in the Church
Chapter 15: What About Divorce?
Chapter 16: But Isn't the Bible Enough?
A Final Word--The Victim's Real Rescurer
You can buy A Cry for Justice now on my Amazon Store in Spouse Abuse. Buy Not Under Bondage at the same time in the Divorce section and get free shipping.
Permission to Reproduce A Cry for Justice
A Cry for Justice by Patsy Rae Dawson. Copyright © 2013 Patsy Rae Dawson LLC. All rights reserved.
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