Isa 58:3 ‘Why have we fasted, and you see it not? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you take no knowledge of it?’ Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure, and oppress all your workers.
I have written numbers of times before on this subject but we really cannot be reminded of this favorite tactic of the abuser too often – playing the victim. The wicked among the Israelites even tried to pull this scheme with God. Didn’t work of course, but it does work quite often with people.
Those who live to have power and control over others – the people we call abusers – act cruelly toward their targeted victims and then if they are ever confronted, they turn on the tears. They become the poor, oppressed people we are to be sorry for. They are the ones who surely deserve our empathy – or so they make it appear. In truth it is the abuser who abusesed! But then, when they are called out on their evil, in one way or another they work to make it appear that they are ones who have been wronged. Pity them. That is what they want from us.
This dynamic can happen very rapidly and we must be wise to it. It generally happens, as I have already mentioned, after an abuser is starting to catch some heat for his evil mistreatment of his victim. He must turn the tables. And so, in any one of a number of ways, he plays the role of the victim. I have seen many examples of this business as I suspect many of you have.
One time I knew of a particularly evil individual. Classic self-exalter, craver of power and control, all disguised as a fine, wonderful Christian saint. This abuser made it a habit (behind the scenes of course) to treat with remarkable meanness all co-workers, lording unlawful authority over them. When, ultimately, this abuser was confronted, here came the classic portrayal of the victim. Oh the tears. The hurt. How grievous the wrongs suffered. The spewings of accusations of all sorts toward all who dared say “enough.” And, as always it seems, there was no lack of people who offered mounds of empathy.
I believe I read once in a book on sociopaths that one expert in the field said something like “if I had to name one classic identifying characteristic of a sociopath, I would have to say it is this: the seeking of empathy.” This is a very true statement. How often we have heard of domestic abusers who are members or even pastors of their churches being surrounded by the flock with tears pouring out, arms placed around him, and the sorrowful calls of, “oh, you poor man. We know how hard you fought to save your marriage, but now she has left you.”
I have grown suspicious of tears. Crocodiles shed them all the while they are eating their victim.