Unmasking the Domestic Abuser in the Church

Category: Abusers Page 1 of 35

Reviler is the biblical word for an abuser. Other words are used in Scripture to describe the evil that abusers do, but this title “reviler” gets to the heart of it. You see that little root in the word – “vil” – which reminds us of related terms like “villain,” or “villify” or, hmmm…. “vile.” A reviler is vile. Anyway, what a reviler does is to make the innocent be the villain. And they do this by accusing. Revilers are accusers and that evil is part of the very nature of the devil himself:

Rev 12:10 And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God.

Right Back at Ya! The Abuser’s Tactic of Reflective Blaming

Recently I had a refresher course in abuser tactics. Not in a classroom, but in real life. I need these reminders to help me continue to learn how to put into practice what I have learned about abuse. Necessary, because we all so easily revert to our old errors we used to be bound by when we were still “in the fog.” In this case my reminder was that I must not yield to accusations or to suggestions by the cowardly. We all have to learn to dig in our heels, stand firm, and say “no, I am right and you are wrong.”

Many times distortions of our Christian faith that we have been confused by tell us that such an attitude evidences a lack of humility, that surely we are all sinners, that we need to look at ourselves carefully, that we need to acknowledge our own sin…blah, blah, blah. Yes, these things can be true, but they can also be perversions of Scripture that the wicked use against us.  In dealing with the wicked, as someone has recently said, we must be shrewd. We must be wise as serpents. “No, I am right and you are wrong and I am not going to listen to you.”

It’s the same old story you all would recognize. Power and control seekers bullying and lording it over others. They will not listen to anyone. They will not admit any wrong doing. They are never wrong. YOU are the problem. And furthermore, the very idea that YOU would dare act in such an un-Christian manner by saying such things to them…well, you should be ashamed of yourself!  Sound familiar?  I bet it does.

Now, what do we mean by “reflective blaming.” It goes like this, “Here is the irony”, the wicked tell us,  “The very same ungodly spirit that you are saying we are guilty of is what you yourselves are guilty of.” See what he is saying?  “Well, you say that we are abusers, but you are abusing us by saying so.” It’s like addressing a mirror that has the capability of reflecting everything you say back at and upon you. We even see this in children. “Well you do it too!”  And of course the goal of the abuser in using this tactic is to remove at least 50% of the blame from himself and put it back on you.

When this reflective blaming hits you, how do you respond? If we aren’t careful, we will let it do its intended damage by accepting this blame. Hey, that’s the humble Christian thing to do, right? No! As soon as we catch ourselves starting to think and feel that, “whoa. I’m guilty. I have sinned by confronting my abuser. I should have been more kind and humble and….” – STOP!! No, I am not guilty of the same thing that the abuser is doing. I reject that charge. We must look the abuser in the eye (when it is safe) and say “I reject everything you are saying. Don’t try to remove guilt from yourself by deflecting it to me. I am not guilty of abuse. You are.”

Then listen to the wicked howl some more. “No one has EVER spoken to me this way!” No, they probably haven’t and that is a huge part of the problem.

We Have a Choice: Follow Christ or Become Cruella Deville

I don’t know how many of you have watched the new Disney movie, Cruella. We have seen it twice now and it really provoked my thinking.

Cruella was treated very wickedly as a child. Her name was Estella. There is a pivotal scene in the movie where Estella decides to embrace who she concludes she really is – Cruella. Thus the origin of one of the most evil characters in the Disney collection who sets out to exact her revenge.

When we have been on the receiving end of abuse, when we come to underestand this evil – its mentality and tactics and goals – we have a choice to make. We can follow Christ and walk with Him wherever He goes, experiencing all that He receives at the hands of a world that hates Him – and thereby walk into freedom. Or, we can choose to become Cruella and spend the rest of our life seeking vengeance and retribution, lashing out at anyone who misunderstands us, triggers us, or in some way causes the videos in our minds to replay. This latter path is the path to continued bondage and misery. It is the path to becoming a practitioner of the very evils our abuser utilized against us.

The Bible is what I like to describe as “condensed soup.” Its words are packed with wisdom and insight that we must, by the Spirit in us, “unpack” like a zip file so that the truths in even one verse can open up before us. Such a verse is this:

Rom 12:19-21 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” (20) To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” (21) Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Estella was overcome by evil when she determined to be Cruella. Don’t go down that path yourself. Hunger and thirst for justice, yes. Appeal to Caesar as far as the law of this world allows. Take steps to get free of an abuser. But never permit yourself to be overcome by evil, so that you become an evildoer yourself.

Forsaken by a Traitor’s Kiss

I have written about the evil of betrayal as seen in the traitorous kiss of Judas. But the thing came to mind again today as we were singing at the beginning of the Sunday School class – God the Uncreated One (by Aaron Keyes and Pete James). One of the lines is Mighty God in mortal flesh, forsaken by a traitor’s kiss.

And so it is. It is one thing to be attacked by an overt enemy, but it is even more devastating when the attack comes from someone you really thought was a friend. Someone who claimed to love you. This is the case in domestic abuse scenarios, right? The truth comes out from behind the curtain eventually and the shock hits. They were never your friend. Never. And they never loved you. Never. The friend you thought existed turns out to be a fiction. This is why the change can look like it takes place in an instant – from friend to enemy. But really, the friend was never there at all.

The tools of deception are like Judas’ kiss. They are instruments of apparent affection. Words of loyalty. Kindnesses. And yet, like that infamous kiss, they are daggers meant for evil. Designed to earn your trust so that the attack can strike more effectively.

If we are going to be wise about evil, then it is vital that we understand these things.

Psa 41:7-9 All who hate me whisper together about me; they imagine the worst for me. (8) They say, “A deadly thing is poured out on him; he will not rise again from where he lies.” (9) Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me.

As painful as it is to come to this realization, it is one of the first steps to freedom to realize that the person I thought was my friend never really existed. It was a fiction portrayed by deception. When we finally understand this, we return to reality and truth, and that is where real freedom is to be found.

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