One of the most important things we can do to help victims of abuse is believe them when they tell us what is going on behind the scenes. If you have been following this blog for a while, you have probably seen that we have been attacked by some pretty nasty types who accuse us of believing reports of abuse “no matter what,” and most of them are tee’d off because they are still stuck in the world of “those cursed anti-God feminists run things and no one ever believes the man.” We who are in the know about the mentality and nature of abuse understand that just the opposite is true — with some exceptions. Namely, that the typical scenario is that it is the abuser (who is most typically a man) is the one who is being believed, not the victim.
But we stand by this principle. The best thing, and the wisest thing that we can do to help abuse victims is to believe them when they tell us and ask us for help. Think about it. How many women, especially Christian women, are going to be people who “just want to dump the guy and take him for all they can” and choose to do so by going to their pastor or fellow church members and accusing their spouse of abuse? Is that a tried and proven way to get support? Is that the easy way to get out of a marriage? Hardly. Just ask the many abuse victims we know if they had a pleasant experience when they went this route!
No. Typically, genuine abuse victims are not believed by their Christian friends, pastors, or families. They are often not believed by the police (that has changed somewhat for the better). And in the end it is the victim who is portrayed and punished as the culprit. Abuse victims find that very few people believe them and are willing to stand with them.
How does that feel? Have you ever KNOWN something was true and yet no one would believe you? The wicked are often quite adept at lying and deception. Victims see them lying and manipulating others, and they see people believing these lies. They see people who perhaps were even friends turn against them and embrace the evil one. And they see this happen EVEN when the victim is able to offer substantial supporting proof! Believing the abuser, you see, is to believe the one who holds the cards of power. Believing the abuser is the easy way to keep your own hide out of trouble. Believing the victim on the other hand can prove to be quite costly.
When people who claim to be our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, or who are supposed to be shepherding our souls, or who are charged with protecting the innocent from the guilty, simply will not believe us, we experience great pain and sorrow. We feel accused and demeaned and shamed. We feel betrayed — because in fact we have been betrayed.
So take care, all you who claim to be shepherds of Christ’s church. Take care, all of you who claim to belong to Christ and insist that you are seekers and lovers of His truth. The truth is often ugly. The truth very typically entails facts about the deeds of darkness that have been hidden from sight all the while destroying victims. Take heed that you do not reject the oppressed and refuse to believe them simply because to do so would be too unpleasant for you.
Absolutely! BELIEVE abuse victims. They are telling the truth at a great cost. Abusers lie to protect themselves and gain the support of friends, family and professing Christians. Believing the victims/survivors is the first step in providing comfort and help to them.
Amen. Thank you Pastor Crippen. This post was again, spot on.
The things that I experienced while being legally bound to the abuser were unfathomable – yet they happened and only by the grace of God, I survived. That was a miracle, in fact a few times over.
Nothing prepared me for what came next through the court system and the majority of the “family” and “friends” that refused to support (they say one thing and do another!) because what happened was too awful – it couldn’t possibly have happened…. Or better yet…. because I had loved the abuser and covered for them while we were married – the abuser’s repeated choices to abuse must be my fault?!!?….. and somehow my trying to get help, then ultimately leaving to save my life were somehow in the wrong?!!
In the end, these people are gone, or almost completely gone from my life, and I am so much better for it. Thank God the police saw what the abusers patterns were and knew…. As for the rest of the system, the unsupportive family, friends, church, etc., it’s a rough road and my only advice for victims is….. you know the truth and if people don’t believe you, that’s on them…. it’s best not to be affiliated with people who choose to believe that satans work is ok, and that you are wrong for not aligning with satan.
In a unique way, I now see these abuser allies for who they truly are and they can pretend they are believers all day long, but that does not make them Christ followers. Nor are they anyone that a follower should be obligated to be in any type of true relationship with – if they’re going to buy into satans abuser games and tactics against someone that they said was a friend or family member, etc. it definitely will not stop there.
Best to move on….. keep your eyes focused on Christ and let the abuser(s) and their allies do what they choose with their lives…. that’s the beauty of it, they have a free will….. as do we. No need to live in their captivity when we have been given freedom.
I have found that one of the best things you can say to a victim is simply “I believe you”. That can opened the floodgates and be a great first step for a victim to begin the journey of freedom… it will be difficult for everyone involved yet not without hope. Our experience has been there are some in the Church who will turn on the victim because their father is the same father as the abuser…there will be others who will be deceived and simply don’t get it. Because of their ingnorance or because of being deceived themselves,they can cause great harm too. In time you will be able to discern who their father is if it is wise to stay around to find out.
It’s not that all of them really doubt the victim, it’s that if they admit they believe her, it would be inconvenient for them.
One good thing about living in 2022 is that there are so many ways to document and send what your abuser is doing. Camera phones, saved texts, tiny microphones and surveillance cameras, screenshots, scanned letters and ER bills. And you can send it all with a few keystrokes. If the victim has those, she no longer has to beg people to believe her. She doesn’t have to say a word.
If only today’s technology had always been around…
And yet normally the response is “don’t confuse us with facts.” As Jesus’ parable said via Abraham – “neither will they believe even if someone rises from the dead.”