One of the most difficult truths to grasp is the realization that the domestic abuser does not think like us. Your abuser’s thoughts are not your thoughts. Let me explain by illustration. Victor Davis Hanson, in his book The Second World Wars [Basic Books, 2017] a statement by the British statesman Anthody Eden is quoted. Eden said that very few Brits had, as Davis says, “ever encountered anyone quite like Hitler or Mussolini.” Eden said:
You know, the hardest thing for me during that time [leading up to the war] was to convince my friends that Hitler and Mussolini were quite different from British business men or country gentlemen as regards their psychology, motivations and modes of action. My friends simply refused to believe me. They thought I was biased against the dictators and refused to understand them. I kept saying, ‘When you converse with the Fuhrer or the Duce, you feel at once that you are dealing with an animal of an entirely different breed from yourself.’
Eden had it pegged, but as it is today in most cases, very few would listen. Most people felt that, like themselves, Hitler really didn’t want war. Why? Because they didn’t. And they assumed that ultimately everyone wanted peace.
But there are people in this world who do not want peace. They want power. They want control. And the attainment of those stations usually requires war, oppression, the making of victims, and the infliction of suffering.
Psa 55:21 His speech was smooth as butter, yet war was in his heart; his words were softer than oil, yet they were drawn swords.
Psa 62:4 They only plan to thrust him down from his high position. They take pleasure in falsehood. They bless with their mouths, but inwardly they curse. Selah
Of course this is where the vast majority of counselors, pastors, church members, book-writers and so on go wrong. They believe that everyone can be reasoned with. Counseled into good behavior. Just like anyone else.
But the abuser does not think like we do.
This deception is one of the most common tools used by the wicked against their victims. Abusers, sociopaths, psychopaths and their conscienceless kind seem by nature to know that we believe their thoughts are like our thoughts. That like us, they have a conscience. That like us, they feel remorse when they abuse us. That like us, they want to do better. But they aren’t like us. And we begin to get free of them when we finally understand them.
Your abuser wants war. He does not want peace. He benefits from war and oppression and sleeps quite well at night after carrying it out. That is to say, your abuser does not love you or anyone else. He never did, and he never will.
It took a world war with the deaths of some 60 million people to show Eden’s countrymen that he was right. The longer we delay grasping the truth about the abuser, the more suffering he will be able to dish out.
In psychological projection, the abuser shifts his faults/unconscious impulses onto his targets via attribution. Conversely, us “normies” do a “positive projection” when we dangerously assume the abuser thinks like we do. Which is why we are such easy targets!
I don’t know how it could get any truer than that.
I am amazed at how it still is so hard for me to completely digest. There apparently is still a part of me way down deep that wants to believe that everyone wants peace because when I read this it’s like I just got the wind knocked out of me and there is some sense of “oh my goodness, that’s him”. Even though I feel like I already know that.
I’m probably not making any sense but I so need these regular reality checks otherwise my mind starts slipping back to the thinking that all people are good.
Thank you Jeff
You’re welcome Mhiggins! We all need those reality checks regularly.
Projection. That has been one of the hardest things to understand and really, to accept. X (I have adopted another woman’s practice of just using “X”- not “my X”- as my own way of not taking responsibility for his actions) projects all of his deceit and sin onto the ones who finally stood up to him and went no contact. In court it was stunning to hear how he laid the responsibility of his actions at the feet of others. At times it was almost childish, but so mind numbing for me.
And yes, for years I had assumed he thought like me! Surely, if he understood that his entitlement was destructive he would finally change. Surely he didn’t really believe talking about killing people was acceptable in God’s eyes. Surely, two months in jail would soften his heart! Everyone told me he had to “hit bottom” and THEN, finally THEN he would yield to God. But no, two months in jail is worn as a badge to prove just how “tough” and “manly” he is. Well, everyone except my attorney who has seen the real criminal world, he labeled him right away as a narcissist who would not change. My attorney told me, “You have a war on your hands.” My attorney was right, while my Christian friends, like me, kept thinking X would see the light. X still just projects his sin onto everyone else (mostly me) and as far as I can tell has no remorse.
Real wisdom here. Thank you for sharing it. Truth!!
Oh my goodness — this rings so true with me. Thank you.
The verse from Psalm 55:21 is right on target for my situation.
This is also a key flaw in our child protection services as well. Instead of recognizing what type of person he is they give both an equal voice and equal benefit of the doubt to the abuser. The abuse of our child continues because they place equal ‘blame’ on both parents when in actuality one parent and the child are terrorized and controlled by the other larger and more powerful parent. Repeated reports of physical abuse end in the child protection agency covering their own backs while blaming the abused parent and the child for the abuse and giving the abuser the benefit of the doubt and veto power because of his ‘smooth and convincing’ words; even though both the child and the protective parent articulated the crimes against the child.
She is not protected because he is assumed to be just like you and me , not like the dictator and controller and abuser he has shown himself to be behind closed doors.
So the blind keep on being blind and recommending the wrong course of action. No harm reduction or help and safety for the abused child is achieved in having these professionals involved!!
no one down here
Whoever hates, disguises himself with his lips and harbors deceit in his heart; when he speaks graciously, believe him not, for there are seven abominations in his heart.
Great verses NODH! It makes me think of the false lamb in Revelation 13:
11 And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like **a lamb, and he spake as a dragon.**
12 And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.
Yep abusers are dragons disguised in lambs… It takes spiritual sight to discern the truth, but the church is blind Laodicea.
Oh how true! Abusers do not think like most people and it’s funny now to think back on it, but so many times in our 20 year marriage I was told if only I did things like ‘normal’ people I wouldn’t make so many mistakes. Come to find out, I was the normal one but of course he had me convinced I was the abnormal one.
And this is why the men’s group at our former church, kept trying to ‘help’ my abusive ex. They believed he was a misguided individual who just needed guidance in getting his marriage straightened out (and of course, his wife (me) needed to come to her senses too).
But sadly, all the while my ex sat in those meetings acting the poor victim, it was those men who were the real chumps by thinking that my ex wanted peace because all he ever wanted was to fight and win.
I remember one morning nearly 14 years ago when we were getting ready to leave for couple’s counseling, which was a huge mistake!
I was sitting on our front porch waiting for time to leave, worried about what waited for me in that counselor’s office. Suddenly my then-husband burst out the front door and sneers at me saying, “Are you ready for the fights?! Are you??” And he left.
He never wanted peace or true reconciliation, he wanted to win. Period.
I could write a book of all the things my abusive ex did, said, and communicated through his hateful sneers that paint a clear picture of who this man truly was. And the first place I would deliver it would be to the pastor of my former church.
Children of darkness. We are children of the Light.
I have struggled so much with this truth. For so long I desperately tried to reason with my father. I thought if I could explain myself so clearly, so reasonably, that he would at least understand…even if he refused to agree.
To this day I have constant dreams. In every dream, I am with my family, and my father all of a sudden appears and tries to immerse himself in our family gatherings. Like nothing at all happened or is wrong. I then have a “wait, what is he doing here?” moment, and I confront him and tell him “no, you cannot pretend all is well, you need to face the truth of what you’ve done etc”. I spend the next moments desperately trying to plead with him to hear me, to see truth, to repent.
And his response is always to either smirk, ignore me completely and try and resume interactions with other family members or walk away.
At a time point in my dream, I lose it. I lash out at him physically, trying to slap him or punch him, while screaming and weeping. I always cry out “why won’t you listen? Why won’t you hear me?”. I am always deeply distressed at this point.
Then I wake up.
I grapple every day with the reality that my father refuses to hear my heart. He is not interested in the real me. In my pain (that he alone caused.)
He only wants his own way. His own interests and his own pain is the only pain.
According to him, I am a horrible, selfish, stubborn, spoilt brat.
And then I wonder why on earth he is trying to force a relationship with me (I’ve gone no contact with him) if I’m as terrible as he says? Seems a little contradictory 🙁
J. D. Gallé
‘Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life’ (Prov. 4.23, Christian Standard Bible).