So far, we’ve covered physical violence and the cycle of abuse, plus emotional/mental abuse. Another method an abuser uses to get and maintain control of his wife is…

Financial abuse

He may make her account for every dollar she spends, limit her access to money, and keep her in the dark about income and outgo and investments. Often he will withhold basic necessities or keep her from pursuing her career. If she has a job, he may sabotage it.

Spiritual abuse

The “Christian” abuser appeals to a higher power to guarantee control, claiming God made him the appointed and anointed leader. And who dares fight against God?!

Matthew 19:5 “They shall become one flesh” is used to demand “You are not to send even one email without me approving it and signing both our names.”

Ephesians 5:22 “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord” is used to insist his every whim is to be catered to and every command obeyed instantly because it’s the same as if God gave the command. If she gets out from under this “umbrella of authority,” her rebellion will bring Satan’s attacks and destruction upon her and is equal to witchcraft in God’s eyes.1

Ephesians 5:24 “Submit in everything,” means even sinful things, if he desires. Claiming God will hold him responsible. There is no ceiling on what he can require.

Ephesians 5:26 “Cleansed her by the washing of water with the word” has been used to claim the abuser’s responsibility before God to punish any perceived infraction, even, for some, to the point of physically spanking his wife.

Ephesians 5:33 “See that the wife respect her husband” can be used as a merciless weapon. “I’M the head of this house and it’s your job to respect and support me, not criticise me.” Generally, minor disagreements, pointing out faults, or having a different opinion is considered definitely “disrespectful.”

I Corinthians 6:4 is used for selfish, harsh, and harmful sexual demands because he’ll remind her that her body belongs to him.

I Corinthians 7:2-5 “Let not the wife depart” is used to eternally keep the wife trapped, no matter what he does.

All of the above verses will be “untwisted” in a later post.

Keeping up a good public image is part of the delusion that traps her into staying. He can effectively, while getting out his phone, threaten to report her to their pastor or threaten divorce. A way he uses to keep the abuse secret is by convincing her it will defame the name of Christ in the community or tear apart their family. The woman whose sincere goal is to please the Lord will agonise over exposing the abuse if she even recognises his actions as such.

Much child abuse occurs because an abusive dad insists he stands alone before God in the area of discipline. His wife is not willing to risk the dire consequences (to herself and her child) of her giving unwanted input.

Many a “Christian” abuser has cited 1 Kings 21:25 to prove that what his wife did or did not do caused him to be abusive, because, like Jezebel, she “incited him to do wickedness.”

God hates the oppressor (Psalm 11:5, Proverbs 8:13, 13:2, 28:5, etc.). And, I think, especially when that man is perversely using God’s word as support.

My next post will give specific guideposts to spotting an abuser before you marry him.

You can access domestic violence resources here.


1 Bill Gothard’s teaching which has influenced thousands of Christians since the 1970s. Read A Matter of Basic Principles by Vernoit, Vernoit and Henzel, published by Midwest Christian Outreach, Lombard, IL (available on and also check out

this is part 5 of 6 in the series
How to Spot an Abuser

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About Joy Harris

Joy studied elementary education before going on to teach at the primary school level as well as homeschooling for twenty-six years. Joy has touched the lives of thousands through her ministry in state Religious Education, Sunday Schools, and Holiday Bible Clubs as well as through her speaking at various seminars and retreats. Joy is also a gifted musician and has collaborated on multiple recording projects as well as maintaining a private teaching studio for over thirty years. Joy is retired and lives in Cairns, Australia. Joy has seven children, twenty-one grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. You can contact Joy at


  1. Liz 10 February, 2014 at 1:51 pm - Reply

    Hi Joy,

    Thanks for writing these. I’m enjoying it.

    i’m wondering about this though…

    You wrote, ” keep her from pursuing her career. If she has a job, he will sabotage it.”

    Please can you clarify…

    Are you suggesting that women with kids should forsake their responsibilities in order to pursue careers outside the home?

    If so, awesome.

    I’m kinda sick of wiping bums all day.


    Thanks Joy.


    • Joy 10 February, 2014 at 5:53 pm

      Thanks for your question! It’s actually on a different subject, but I will try to clarify for you in relation to abusers.

      These posts, so far, have presented information and definitions that apply both to saved and unsaved homes.

      Many couples meet in high school or uni/university (I’m not sure whether you speak American English or UK English – ha!) and a controlling boyfriend may selfishly insist they get married next summer, for example, instead of waiting until she graduates as she wants. “If you love me …” “You won’t need a teaching degree anyway cause you’ll be a stay-at-home mum.” (A teaching degree will greatly aid in being a mum/mom, incidentally!) Barefoot and pregnant, as the saying goes, and so dependant on him, that if he dies OR leaves her OR she needs to leave him, she knows she has no skills and won’t make it financially on her own. So she’s trapped and that’s right where he wants her.

      Or she has no outside job, but she is often asked to play for weddings and it’s time to leave. She’s dressed and heading out the door and he calls to her and starts talking about a random subject without allowing interruption. Inside, she’s screaming, “I have to go! I can’t be late for THIS!” To him, she meekly ventures forth, “I’m so sorry to interrupt, but would you mind if we continue this conversation when I get back? The wedding can’t start without me and there will be 200 people there waiting?” To which he replies, “You go when I say you can go,” and continues on and on for another half hour, literally! That’s sabotaging her ‘job’. Or it may be making her late for teaching her Sunday School class or for choir, orchestra practice, ladies meeting, etc.

      If she is employed outside the home, he’ll make her late, call her all the time, making the boss think she’s always on the phone instead of doing her job, leave the gas/petrol tank empty, veto an occasional need to work overtime or rant and lecture her about what a horrible wife she is if she does work overtime. There are countless ways.

      They could have no kids and she could want to take classes during the time that he’s off at work, but the husband says no because it lessens his control. If he decides to allow it, he will check up on her, accuse her of having an affair with another student and all kinds of bizarre claims, making her miserable until she abandons the idea.

      Women with children often find the husband’s income needs to be supplemented and they find employment while the children are in school.

      Never would I suggest a mother “forsake her responsibilities in order to pursue careers outside the home.” There are ways to earn money without forsaking her responsibilities at all AND there are ways of saving money big-time without having to find outside employment. The latter was my specialty with raising 7 precious children plus home-schooling them on a VERY low budget!

      Please let me know if this missed the mark in answering your question!

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