The Dynamics of Spiritual Abuse Within Domestic Abuse

Lori Alexander, Domestic Abuse, Spiritual Abuse



Information from Beaverton Police Department Resource Guide


-by Kathi

I have the privilege of volunteering with a local police department as a victim advocate. I consider it an honor to work with the officers at this department because I find them to be kind and compassionate toward victims of domestic abuse. During my training, I was excited to see the above information that goes in our area resource guide given to victims on scene. This was the first time I had ever seen spiritual abuse acknowledged as a component in domestic abuse.

Why is it that a police department understands that spiritual abuse happens within domestic abuse, yet the church has a difficult time identifying this?

The above is an outside-the-church perspective of indicators of spiritual abuse within domestic violence. Those of us who have been on the inside of the church for years can likely identify other signs of spiritual abuse. How many stories have we heard where the abuser is believed over the victim? How many accounts have we heard where victims were compelled to stay with their abusers due to the influence of a church leader or another Christian? How many wives have been told that they need to submit more to their husbands? How many victims have been told they need to pray more and trust God to heal their relationship? Who has heard Bible verses referencing why one should stay married and that there is no room for divorce from an abuser?

On the last book review of Lori Alexander’s The Power of a Transformed Wife, I highlighted this comment on Lori’s blog from a reader, Trey, and Lori’s response:



Comment and response on The Transformed Wife, 2/13/18


Lori followed up with a second blog post, “Christian Women are Floundering,”  which is Trey’s full comment from the original post she wrote. (Extra notation added for reference.) The following is quoted material from Lori’s post:

This post was written by Trey from a comment on this post. Yes, there were women who were terribly angry and offended with Trey for writing this and wrote that it wasn’t biblical. I added scripture to everything he wrote to prove that what he wrote was scriptural.

Here is part of what I highlighted in the earlier screenshot, with additional notes and Biblical references:

She is to submit to, serve and obey her husband in everything, as long as he does not ask her to sin. She is to do this even if her husband is mean, unreasonable and cruel and it causes her unjust suffering. (Ephesians 5:22-24; 1 Peter 2:19-23; 1 Peter 3:1; 1 Peter 3:5, 6; Titus 2:5; Colossians 3:18) “For what glory is it, if, when  ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable to God. For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps…Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously” (1 Peter 2:20, 21, 23)

Yes, Lori actually provides scripture to back up Trey’s response that a woman should stay with her husband who is mean, unreasonable, cruel, and causes unjust suffering. I cannot even begin to express how this has sat with me since I read her post. To think that Lori would “mentor” a woman who is experiencing domestic abuse by telling her that her suffering is acceptable to God leaves me heart-broken and angry.

The use of scripture to keep someone in an abusive relationship is spiritual abuse.

Not to mention the fact that she applies scripture out of context. The 1 Peter 2 verses are about slaves, not wives. 1 Peter 3 discusses suffering due to expressing belief in Christ. And, she doesn’t even bother to follow up Colossians 3:18 with Colossians 3:19 which says, “Husbands love your wives and do not be harsh with them.” Her sole use of scripture that tells women to submit to their husbands leaves out the prior verse, Ephesians 5:21, “Submit yourselves to one another because of your reverence for Christ.”

When I read this post, which is filled with scripture validating Trey’s view of women, I immediately knew that this is why I have such a hard time with the Bible – it’s the use of God’s word to keep some in power and others in submission, no matter the cost. This sits heavy on my heart as I think about victims who believe that they must stay in abusive relationships because the Bible says they have no way out.

Once again, Lori proves that she does not care about women. She only cares about her beliefs. Thank goodness there are others who understand the dynamics of spiritual abuse within domestic abuse.

Survivor Emily Jaeger Responds to Bill Gothard’s Reactions to Her Revealing She is “Jane Doe III”

Bill Gothard, sex abuse, cults, lawsuit, Emily Jaeger, freedom, IBLP


A note of introduction from Julie Anne:

Emily Jaeger is one of the sexual abuse survivors and plaintiffs in the Bill Gothard/IBLP sex abuse lawsuit. Her official statement about the lawsuit was posted on Spiritual Sounding Board a few days ago.

Then someone close to Bill Gothard contacted me. He runs the Discovering Grace website, which is devoted to supporting and defending Bill Gothard and his teachings. We communicated at length, during which he asked me if I wanted to post Bill Gothard’s response to Emily Jaeger’s statement (per Bill’s suggestion). After I declined, it was then published at Discovering Grace website.

I initially said no, because I do not want my blog to be used as a platform for an abuser. However, then I saw Emily Jaeger’s new reply to Bill Gothard’s response statement, and it made sense to me to post both.

I may have more to say later — in fact, I am thinking of doing an SSB “learn to discern” post to analyze these statements in depth. But for now, I’ll say I think his statement is a perfect opportunity to see a spiritual abuser in action, violating boundaries, and hers shows what it looks like when someone leaves the influence of a high-control environment, thinks independently, and makes their own decisions. See what you think … Continue reading

BREAKING: Lawsuit against Bill Gothard and The Institute in Basic Life Principles Dismissed

Bill Gothard, IBLP, Sex Abuse, Lawsuit


I have received the following statement from the plaintiffs in the lawsuit against Bill Gothard and The Institute in Basic Life Principles.




The statement reads:

Our Statement

Due to the unique complexities of this case, including the statutes
of limitation, we have made the difficult decision to voluntarily
dismiss our lawsuit against Bill Gothard and The Institute in Basic
Life Principles. We want to make it abundantly clear that by
dismissing our lawsuit at this time, we are not recanting our
experiences or dismissing the incalculable damage that we believe
Gothard has done by his actions and certain teachings. Nor are we
disregarding that his organization chose to protect themselves
instead of those under their care.

Signed by Former Plaintiffs:
Rachel Glader Frost
Rachel Lees
Charis Wood Barker
Megan Lind
Joy Simmons
Jane Doe VI
Melody Ruth
Emily Jaeger (Jane Doe III)
Jane Doe IV
Jane Doe V
Helen Lucius (Jane Doe)
Carmen Okhmatovski
Daniel S. Dorsett Sr.
Jamie Becker Deering
Gretchen Wilkinson
Ruth Copley Burger




Will Those in the Real Gospel-Centered Churches Please Stand?

Gospel-Centered Movement, TGC, YRR, Calvinists, Jared Wilson

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BREAKING: Leaders at Doug Wilson’s Christ Church Put Woman in Abusive Marriage Under Church Discipline

Mike Lawyer, Counseling, Abuse in Marriage, Abuse of Authority

I have been in contact with a woman named Gen, who has agreed to let me post this letter she received from Mike Lawyer, “on behalf of Christ Church Session.” Christ Church is Doug Wilson’s church in Moscow, Idaho. If you would like to learn more about Doug Wilson and his extra-biblical and spiritually abusive ways, see his name in “Categories” in the side bar.

Gen told me she was in an abusive marriage. She was not physically abused, but was emotionally, verbally, spiritually, and financially abused. She and her husband sought counseling, and were in counseling both together and separately.

Gen also told me that she didn’t respond appropriately to the abuse – that she reacted by yelling and crying. I don’t think that’s an inappropriate response to abuse, do you? That seems very normal. I’m not sure where she learned that she was responsible for her response, but that concerns me because it takes the focus off the perpetrator and places it on the survivor – as if they are both equal sinners.

This following letter was sent to Gen on January 18, 2018. Mike Lawyer has decided he knows her spiritual condition and has determined that she is not living up to being a proper wife, etc. Because of her “unwillingness” to deal with her sins, she is being put in church discipline.

It’s important to understand that Doug Wilson believes that husbands are the heads of the home. He believes in Patriarchy. If husbands are the priests of the home, who do you think they would believe first, the husband or the wife? Continue reading

Guest Post: My Dinner With Ravi: An Atheist meets the “Great Apologist of our Time.”

Ravi Zacharias, RZIM, Steve Baughman, Apologist, lawsuit, sex scandal

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First #MeToo, Now #ChurchToo: Sexual Abuse, Harassment, and Mishandling in the Church

#MeToo, #ChurchToo, Sexual Abuse, Harassment, Church


The hashtag #MeToo has been trending for quite some time on Twitter. Women who have been sexually harassed or abused have been identifying themselves as survivors of sexual harm, indicating it with the hashtag, #MeToo. But now, there is a new trending hashtag, #ChurchToo. The stories that you can read in one little tweet are heartbreaking.

I wanted to share some here, and also invite those who have been on Twitter to feel free to share more here if they like.

If you are new to Spiritual Sounding Board, this is a blog that deals with abuse in church or church groups. We have dealt with all kinds of sexual abuse: sex abuse of children, sexual abuse in marriage, sexual abuse by clergy, wives of pedophiles, church leaders who have failed to report sexual crimes, church leaders who have blamed victims for sexual crimes, and also spiritual abuse which often occurs when a church leaders are involved in any capacity (perpetrator, counselor, spiritual advisor).

If you have been harmed sexually, this is a safe place. If you would like to share your story in more detail, you can in the comments, or to me privately: Please feel free to comment using a pseudonym. This is your place to use your voice where it will be heard.

~Julie Anne Continue reading

Domestic Violence: A Call to the Church – Reevaluate Your Beliefs

Domestic Violence, Church Response, Beliefs

purple ribbons

-by Kathi

I am pausing our Sunday Gatherings for the rest of October. October is Domestic Violence Awareness month, and I would like to take this time to talk about how the church can effectively respond to domestic violence.


The church can be incredibly helpful to victims of domestic violence, or, it can be incredibly damaging to victims. The way in which a church responds to a victim depends upon the beliefs that the church has about domestic violence. This is an open challenge to the church to re-evaluate a few beliefs which may keep victims within abusive relationships. Continue reading

Response to Pastor Eric Davis’ Article on “Do You See Me?” #DoYouSeeUs

Jane’s story, The Master’s University, rape, Eric Davis, John MacArthur, #DoYouSeeUs





Eric Davis, pastor of Cornerstone Church in Jackson Hole, WY, posted an article at, “Do You See Me?”: A Partial Response, in response to the account of “Jane,” an alleged rape victim whose sexual assault, kidnapping, and drugging was reportedly mishandled by The Master’s University leaders. You can read the horrific story Do You See Me?.

Before we break apart Pastor Davis’ article, I received this text from Jane, and she gave me permission to post it. I thought it was a good clarifying statement about why she posted her story.



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Dr. Dan Allender: Trauma, Our Personal Stories, and Recovery through Music

Dr. Dan Allender, Trauma, Music, Spiritual Abuse Recovery, Personal Stories



Those who have been reading here for a while know how important I believe it is for survivors to tell their abuse stories. It took a while for us to believe the lies our church leader(s) told us about who we are and who God is. Eventually, through manipulation and deceit, we then told ourselves those lies. These “recordings” played over and over in our minds until they were perceived as normal. This is all part of thought reform, patterns of coercion, manipulation, and control, that cult leaders use to keep us emotionally and spiritually bound to them and their teachings.

When we are finally in a place where we can identify truth from lies, we still have to wrestle with the recordings that play in our minds that attempt to shift us back to the dangerous teachings we heard. I strongly believe that hearing ourselves speak the truth when we tell our stories will eventually override the old and damaging recordings in our mind.

I believe this is why many survivors have a need to tell our stories over and over again. It doesn’t mean we are living in the past. No. I believe it means we are validating our experience and further pushing that false and destructive narrative out of our minds.

Telling stories is empowering. It gives us strength to stand on our own two feet and use our critical thinking skills. We own our stories, even though they are negative. But now, as we tell our stories safe from our abuser, we are in control, not our abusive spiritual leaders. We speak not as one who remains stuck as a victim, but as a survivor who can incorporate the negative experience into the fabric of our bigger life story in a positive way. It shapes us, it softens and humbles us. It still hurts at times, but we can become more resilient and intentional with this trauma behind us.

May we never tire of listening to the stories of survivors. When we do listen, we validate them and help them to become whole. Also, if we are survivors, may we never tire of telling our stories without apologies. It may be just what a listener needs to hear.

Lately, I’ve been reading about our body’s response to trauma, and this 2-minute video is fascinating. In it, Dr. Dan Allender helps us to understand the power of music used as a healing agent in relation to trauma. Continue reading

Opportunity to Participate in Research Study on Clergy Misconduct


I was just in contact with Julie Anne, and she asked me to post this notice on Spiritual Sounding Board. ~ Brad

I occasionally hear through the survivor community grapevine about academic-level research being done on issues related to survivors of spiritual abuse. When I do, I encourage people to participate. The resulting research data and descriptions have proven valuable to our communities. Here is an opportunity to respond to a doctoral research project on clergy misconduct.

This research focuses on clergy misconduct of a nonsexual nature. Case study participants are needed for a detailed online survey about what they experienced. It’s an anonymous survey using SurveyMonkey, and participants from any country worldwide are welcomed!

The requirements for participants:

  1. At least 20 years old.
  2. The person had something happen that reflects wrongdoing by a specific pastor (misuse of authority, breaking confidentiality, crossing boundaries, something financial, etc.).
  3. The wrongdoing was not sexual.
  4. It happened more than one year ago.
  5. The church where this happened was Protestant (Lutheran, Baptist, Alliance, United, Pentecostal, etc.).
  6. The person was a member of the church or a regular attender.
  7. The person was an adult when this happened.

The SurveyMonkey link for the study is:

The opening pages explain more about the survey, its purposes, and its length.

The study is being done by Marlis Krueger through California Southern University. Results will be accessible on the university website in approximately six months.

Thanks for considering participation in this important study!

~ brad/futuristguy

[UPDATE August 2, 2017: We’ve been in touch with Marlis and will be notified when the results are available, so we can link to them then. Thanks again for considering participating in the survey!]

Kari Benton Shares: Spiritual Recovery after a Lawsuit and Spiritual Abuse

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Lori Alexander Dishes Out Heartless Advice to Wife Who Was Sexually Abused

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Pastor Chuck O’Neal Continues to Pull the Wool over His Evangelist Friends’ Eyes

Chuck O’Neal, Beaverton Grace Bible Church, Jeff Rose, Dr. Edward Delcour, Mike Gendron, Mike Stockwell, and Robert Gray, Evangelism Reformation Conference, Reformation Fire Conference

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