As most of our readers probably know, I always tell abuse victims these two things:
- Abusers never change, and
- A marriage to an abuser does not need to be fixed, it needs to be ended.
I advise people to base their decisions about whether to leave, whether to stay, and so on upon these two fundamental assumptions. If they do, they will make wise decisions and avoid being further deceived by the abuser and his array of allies.
Now, I have caught flack for making these absolute statements. You see, people (especially professing Christians) want to believe that everyone is redeemable. That God is the God of the impossible. That we must never give up hope on anyone. This is the stuff that makes the tear-jerker feel good movies a hit, you know. The serial killer is forgiven by his victims’ families, they tell him about Christ, and he gets saved and marvelously transformed. This is the thing, you see. This is the stuff that sells.
But it is not reality. And it is not in agreement with the Word of God.
One of the claims I have seen over the years is that abuser intervention therapy programs can be devised that are capable of “curing” the abuser. People eat this stuff up. This is one of my biggest complaints about Chris Moles, a fellow who seems to be enjoying great success in the “happening” Christian scene selling his abuser fix-it programs. His name is cropping up everywhere. “Just call Chris. He can fix it.” No. No he can’t.
Here is a quote that we came across on facebook recently from a person who worked in batterer intervention programs. Here is true insight into the mind and motives of the abuser. He cannot be “fixed,” because he does not want to be “fixed.” He does what he does because he loves it. He is not some Darth Vader in whom we must find some island of goodness and thereby redeem him. Listen to this:
Especially wanted to opine when someone mentioned that abusers can go up to 18 months without showing their true colors.
I used to supervise all the DV programs at one of my former agencies, and one of those programs was a batterers’ intervention program. One night after the group the facilitator (who was my boss, temporarily filling in) called me and said he thought I might be interested in the night’s topic.
He started off by asking the group if, when they got together with a new partner, they started abusing her right away or if they waited a while. The vote was unanimous:
‘Oh no, if you start being abusive right away, she’ll leave you! You have to get a hook in first, cut off her avenues of escape, get her locked down tight enough that she can’t get away first, before you can start.’
So then he (the facilitator) asked them what was the optimum amount of time to wait. That is when the discussion ensured…everyone had a different opinion. So he gave them a task – to come to a unanimous consensus: What is the optimum amount of time to wait after starting to date a new partner before you can start abusing them?
And, coldly, calculatingly, they spent the rest of the session debating the issue, weighing the pros and cons, to come up with their final answer: “If you really want to do it right,” “If you really want to lock her down so she can’t get away,” – One to Two years.
Took my breath away. People say abusers “can’t control themselves,” they are “out of control.” They are drunk and “don’t know what they’re doing.” Bullshit. They know EXACTLY what they are doing, to the point where those guys could methodically weigh the pros and cons and come up with a calculated strategy that carefully closed off all avenues of escape to their partners BEFORE they started their behavior…because they KNOW that their partners would leave them unless the stakes were too high first.
Changed forever how I think of abusers…
These intervention programs very often include “accountability.” That is, they claim that by introducing a high degree of accountability into the abuser’s life and surroundings, his abuse can be curtailed. “Joe, did you abuse your wife today? Tell me the truth now.” And so if Joe knows, the claim goes, that he is going to have to give regular account of his behavior, he will stop abusing. Yeah. Right.
Let me put this question to everyone. Why in the world would anyone want to remain married to a person who does not abuse them only because they know they are going to get into trouble if they do? Not because they love you. Not because they hate evil and love God’s truth. No. The only reason their abuse is lessened is because they are going to look bad or pay consequences if they continue abusing. And yet THIS is the very picture of “marriage” that these intervention program boasters are selling people. “There you go! Told you! Success! Another week without him doing what he really would like to do to you.”
Many men’s ministries in local churches operate in exactly the same way. Accountability groups are set up. “Did you lust this week? Did you look at porn? Did you lead your family in devotions? Did you read your Bible everyday?” And on and on. The Bible has a name for this. It is called the Law.
1Co 15:56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.
Gal 3:11-12 Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” (12) But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.”
Let me end then with this statement that I absolutely believe is true.
Domestic abuser intervention programs (and most all “counseling” programs in churches) not only fail to genuinely “fix” abusers, they in fact fuel the abuser’s evil by pouring the gasoline of the Law on his sinful, wicked heart. They enable the wicked man to sweep his house clean, only making his heart and soul a more comfortable place for the devil and his minions to live. So that, his last condition is worse than his first.