Unmasking the Domestic Abuser in the Church

Abusers/Narcissists/Sociopaths are Trespassers

I should come up with an acronym of some kind to stand for the various labels of abusers. Hmmm. ANS. But then that’s not a word. Looks like “answer.” Oh well, I’ll try it out here.

We recently had some property surveyed at our church. We changed some boundaries and now the paperwork is at the courthouse to be finalized. Boundaries. Fence lines. Borders. These things all go along with private property – or even a nation’s boundaries. Unless you are the owner, then you need permission to cross the boundary. To fail to do so makes you a trespasser.

And that is what ANS are. They are trespassers. The country they trespass on is YOU. Your person. Your identity. Your right to be who you are, to think what you think (your own thoughts), to be your own person ultimately known and owned and directed by the Lord. But these ANS trespass. They don’t respect your property lines. They climb right over your fences and do all they can to rob you of your private personhood.

  • They tell you what to think and what you are not permitted to think
  • They tell you what you can buy and what you cannot buy
  • They tell you what you can read and what you cannot read
  • They tell you what you are thinking and what your motives are
  • They dictate to you about your body
  • They tell you and tell you and tell you, and whenever you start to exercise your own property rights, they launch their attacks.

If you live with this kind of thing long enough, guess what? Well, here is an illustration. As I understand it, if you own some property and if you let a neighbor use some part of your property (let’s say a driveway) for a certain number of years, that part of your property becomes his – at least for his use. There is some legal name for that, but you get the idea.

Now, if you let an ANS trespass upon your personhood long enough, what do you suppose is going to happen to you as a person? YOU are going to fade and fade and fade until you hardly recognize yourself anymore. And this is precisely what happens to us if we permit this trespassing to go on. Which is easy to do since it is so sneaky and deceptive – you often don’t really understand what is happening.

But these wicked people, including Revilers (have to work that R in somehow), have no hesitation in trespassing this way. They do not respect your boundaries, which is just another way of saying that they do not respect your rights. That is the same thing a tyrant ruler does.

So, what we have to do is learn about this trespassing so that we can recognize these trespassers more readily and then understand that it is right and good for us to have borders/boundaries/fences and to enforce those boundaries.

As a pastor I have had to deal with these creeps many times – only I didn’t really understand what they were for a long, long time (and they can still sneak up on me if I’m not on guard). I remember one time in a church board meeting one such guy started to accuse me of “abandoning the flock” because my wife and I were able to buy our own home and would not longer be living in the parsonage next door to the church building. He never missed a chance to do this kind of thing. ANS types want to control, to have power, to have ownership and to do so they have no hesitation about trespassing upon your personal boundaries.

No one except the Lord owns us. And when He sets boundaries for us (like the Law), He does so for our own good, so we won’t perish in hell. But the wicked trespassers only want to use us for their own glory – just like their father the devil. “Stop! You are trespassing. You have no right to be where you are now. Get off my land.”

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7 Comments

  1. Deb R.

    “Now, if you let an ANS trespass upon your personhood long enough, what do you suppose is going to happen to you as a person? YOU are going to fade and fade and fade until you hardly recognize yourself anymore. And this is precisely what happens to us if we permit this trespassing to go on. Which is easy to do since it is so sneaky and deceptive – you often don’t really understand what is happening.”

    Have you been snooping on my computer? I started a file, password protected, in 2013 titled, “Wondering Who I Am.” It was the beginning of my eyes being opened to what I had subjected myself to since the day I said, “I do.” Yes, I allowed someone else to be lord in my life, thinking that was what the bible taught (because that was what I had been taught.)

    My journey isn’t over yet, my eyes are still being opened, but it is so refreshing to know others are also on the journey. It is really wonderful when I meet someone in the flesh, not just online, who is on the same journey. As she said to me, “I realize now I was his slave, not his wife, and he doesn’t like the changes.” Yep, I get it, sister, I get it.

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    • Jeff Crippen

      Excellent!! Thank you – this encourages me as well. These ANS devils (they really are children of the devil as Jesus said in John 8) – they not only demand to tell you what you can SAY, they also demand (going further in trespass mode)…they also demand to dictate what you are allowed to think – especially about them. Think about that – just what kind of person punishes another for THINKING thoughts that don’t agree with the party platform!! And if you dare share those thoughts with anyone – wrath is forthcoming. Narcissists in fact operate just this way. YOU exist only for their glorification. You are to be their supply of worship and praise. There is no room for freedom, for borders, or for personhood in the narcissist’s kingdom.

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  2. As I ministered to many traumatized and wounded women over the years, I noticed that they had extremely poor boundaries in their relationships. The more freedom from trauma they received from Jesus, the better able they were to set boundaries. Abusers do not like it when their target/victim begins to have the strength to reestablish boundaries, because they lose control. Control is the ANS’ main goal.

    That was certainly true in my own life. The more freedom I received from pain and trauma, the more upset the ANS in my life became. He did not like it when I started standing up for myself, and our relationship became even more difficult as a result. He told me that I had changed. He was right. I was changing for good as the Lord was doing an amazing work of healing in me.

    When a victim/survivor is able to say “no”, the abuse can escalate, but setting boundaries is an indication that healing is occurring in the victim/survivor’s heart and spirit. The Lord God does not want any of His children to be abused and treated the way that ANS people treat their victims!

    Thank you for another great post, Pastor Crippen!

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  3. Em

    “So, what we have to do is learn about this trespassing so that we can recognize these trespassers more readily and then understand that it is right and good for us to have borders/boundaries/fences and to enforce those boundaries.”
    Thank you.

    1
  4. Notlongnow

    This is very helpful. Thanks.

    1
  5. SJH

    How about SANs (without/wanting) for the acronym? As in sans compassion, empathy, guilt, repentance, remorse….

    2

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