1Sa 13:8-12 He waited seven days, the time appointed by Samuel. But Samuel did not come to Gilgal, and the people were scattering from him. (9) So Saul said, “Bring the burnt offering here to me, and the peace offerings.” And he offered the burnt offering. (10) As soon as he had finished offering the burnt offering, behold, Samuel came. And Saul went out to meet him and greet him. (11) Samuel said, “What have you done?” And Saul said, “When I saw that the people were scattering from me, and that you did not come within the days appointed, and that the Philistines had mustered at Michmash, (12) I said, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the favor of the LORD.’ So I forced myself, and offered the burnt offering.”
“I had to do it.” “I did it for your own good.” “You made me do it.” These are some examples of the mentality of justification which characterize the abuser’s thinking. Entitlement to power and control and justification in doing whatever is necessary to obtain and maintain unwarranted, unauthorized, power and control. This statement really defines the abuser.
You see it here in Saul. When confronted by Samuel for offering sacrifices he had no right to offer, Saul blamed first circumstances (not his fault) and then he blamed Samuel (again, not his fault). Saul was, in his thinking, justified in doing what he did.
And so it goes with the domestic abuser (and other types of abusers too). He rages at his target all evening long until she is beaten down and the children are hiding out of sight. And though later he may bring her flowers, he still believes he was entirely justified in doing this to her. And he will do it again in spite of any promises not to. After all, in the end he was just in what he did. She needed his raging punishment. Maybe he didn’t want to do it, but it had to be done, you know.
This mentality of justification is why the abuser will sleep quite well that night and often act, the next morning, as if the whole thing never happened. Really, he is boosted by what he did. He did what is right. He did what he has a right to do.
I am no expert on sociopaths and psychopaths, but I suspect that those who are experts would tell us that these conscienceless people are also characterized by this same mindset of justification for what they did. The serial killer – somehow what he did was something he was entitled to do. The lady who was city treasurer for a small town some years ago and who embezzled over $50 million dollars over a 20 year period to finance her elaborate lifestyle – was able to sleep at night and face her victims every day. These people, including domestic abusers, are not sorry. They are not repentant. Because like Saul, what they did had to be done.
Why is all of this important for us to know? Because unless we understand the mentality of the abuser, we will fail to prescribe the right remedy! Victims will keep waiting for him to be sorry, and change. Churches will pressure and demand that victims stay with the abuser, forbidding separation or divorce. After all, their mantra goes, “no one is beyond God’s mercy.”
But that is not true. The Lord does not show His mercy to the hypocrite who refuses to repent. By his own choice, such a person IS beyond God’s mercy. You see this in Christ’s words to the Pharisees:
Joh 8:43-45 Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. (44) You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. (45) But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me.
We must come to understand that the domestic abuser does not think like we do. Until we get hold of this truth we will continue to be duped by him. We will speak the wrong message to him. We will feel pity and empathy for him and thereby be drawn into his deceiving web.
Let me conclude with an illustration. Many years ago I knew a fellow who appeared to be down on his luck. He didn’t have much income, didn’t have a job, and he had a family. He drove an old beat up car that belonged in the junkyard and eventually it gave out on him. One day I went to visit him and found him laying in the snow under that car pulling the transmission out of it for repairs. Pity.
So I said to Mike, as we shall call him, “Mike, what do you say I drive you to town and we buy you a car that runs?” And that is what we did. I bought him a $400 car and it did run! Believe it or not it was a much better set of wheels than what he had been driving.
Now, I didn’t have very much money back then myself. And what I did was not wrong. It wasn’t stupid. It was an act of kindness. But what I didn’t have a clear grasp on was something that a friend told me a few days later. He said, “Jeff, the fact is that you care more about Mike’s situation than Mike does.” And that was true truth. I thought I knew how Mike must have felt and what he was thinking when I saw him under that car in the snow. I didn’t–Mike didn’t think like me. I assumed he did.
Your abuser does not think like you do. His mindset is one of justification. He is not sorry. He is not repentant. For all the crocodile tears that he might let flow sometimes, he is entitled to power and control over you and he is fully justified in using his arsenal of abuse tactics on you.
It’s for your own good, you know.