Stephanie’s Story: Part 1

Stephanie, like most of our readers, married an abuser and, to make her plight worse, her church and pastor added to the abuse. Stephanie wants to tell her story, so we are publishing it here in a series. AND we are going to include the emails and letters her ex pastor and church sent her. This first part will be a bit longer than the next few because it is a summary of her story, and as you know, our stories are very hard to summarize. Many thanks to Stephanie!

[In your comments to this story, see how many typical abuser tactics you can identify here. Naming them will certainly help others who are following the blog]

Continue reading “Stephanie’s Story: Part 1”

The Essential Nature of an Abuser – Devoid of Love

You never loved me. You only wanted to possess me. Your curse is that you cannot love.

I came across this quote in, of all places, a dark comedy movie. It jumped out at me as true truth in regard to the people we class as sociopaths and it is certainly an excellent description of a domestic abuser as we define them here. Power. Control. Possession. Devoid of love.

Understanding this is key to getting free of the confusing fog abusers cast and to getting actually free of them.

The abusers I have had personal experience with have for the most part been church members in churches I have pastored. Professing Christians, yet still children of the devil. The most pious saints, they would have you believe. And it took a long, long time for me to realize that ALL the show of religion they put on was absolutely false. That they never loved me, they only wanted to own and control me for their own evil designs. That they were people who knew nothing of love and were in their very being incapable of knowing or giving love.

Oh they can mimic these things, and often do so very, very convincingly as we all have seen. But when a person who is incapable of love seems to be exercising love, it only seems that they are. In fact they are mimics. They see other people loving one another and then they outwardly mimic that love. But it isn’t love at all. Your abuser has never loved you. In fact, he or she has never loved anyone.

Their curse, justly deserved, is that they cannot and they will not, love.

I don’t talk to Abusers

Gen 3:1  Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”

Over the years in this ministry to abuse victims, I have been contacted numbers of times by people (mostly men) who are domestic abusers and Christian pretenders. Their line is always pretty much the same: “I don’t want a divorce. I haven’t been a great husband, but that has all changed. I am willing to go to counseling with my wife but she refuses.” Done. Finished. Call ended. Communication over. Why?

Continue reading “I don’t talk to Abusers”

The Abuser is Acting With Intentionality — It Takes us Normals a Long Time to Realize This

For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. (Romans 1:21)

I cannot tell you how many, many years I was blind to the fact that (1) I was dealing with abusers, and (2) They knew exactly what they were doing when they carried out their abusive tactics.  When they told me what I was thinking, they were intentionally abusing me, craving that power and control that is their diet. When they accused me, they were intentionally abusing me. When they lied and re-wrote history, they were intentionally abusing me. They knew exactly what they were doing and they knew precisely why they were doing it.

And yet, here comes Jeff the very next day after one of their attacks, running into them again and greeting them, being long-suffering, letting bygones be bygones — you all know the drill. Why? Why did I do this? I did it because I did not yet understand what they were and how they worked their evil. I thought I was dealing with a brother or sister in Christ who was simply “difficult.” How do you deal with a “difficult” person? Well, you are patient. You are forgiving. You respond to them as if they knew Christ but were still pretty rough around the edges. And there are people like that. The problem is, many of these “difficults” have been “difficult” for decades!! Where is Christ in them? Where is their growth into His likeness? One “Christian” lady I once knew even boasted of her “German General” stubbornness and then laughed about it, claiming to have been a Christian for decades.  I think not.

But, you see, when we wake up to the truth and realize that who we are dealing with is an abuser and that abusers KNOW full well what they are doing when they launch their schemes and attacks, that changes the whole playing field. Right? Now when I run into such a person there is no more smiling and forgetting and handshaking. Oh no. Now I hold them accountable because I know their wickedness is intentional and planned. I identify by the appropriate label what tactic they used on me — or tried to use.  It still isn’t a cake walk for me, don’t misunderstand. But you know what? I find that there are fewer and fewer of these evil ones in my circle of relationships now. In fact, I don’t know of a single one. You see, abusers tend to clear out when they know they are exposed.

Your abuser didn’t slip. He didn’t unknowingly do what he did because of some unconscious childhood event leftover in his psyche. He did what he did with intent. And that means he is culpable. Guilty. Someone to be held responsible.

He wasn’t just having a bad day.

Keep Your Accusation Radar Up — It Detects Abusers

I have written on this subject before,  but it comes around in my mind once again. Here is a fact that will serve you well in helping identify and defend against an abuser:

Abusers are accusers. A normal, healthy, safe relationship is not characterized by accusations. If someone is regularly accusing you (often in subtle ways that are disguised as ‘suggestions’ or ‘questions’) then you are dealing with a person who is at minimum not safe nor healthy for you.

A Christian wants to do right. We pray that the Lord will show us even our hidden sins so that we can repent of them and be healed from ungodly ways of thinking. So if someone comes along and tells a Christian he or she has done wrong, or had a wrong motive, or evidences some pattern of misbehavior that is not pleasing to the Lord, we listen. It isn’t fun and it is even painful, but we strive toward humility. Yet….

We must beware. There are times we must NOT listen. How do you “feel” around a person? Safe? Generally encouraged? Accepted? Loved? If so, you probably want to hear what they have to say. Besides, from this kind of person the nature of their statement to us is not going to smack of accusation. It comes in a spirit of kindness. And it doesn’t come except rather rarely from these type of people. On the other hand, if you will pay attention to your feelings and senses and the spirit (or Spirit) in you, you will find that your feelings around a wicked person are quite different. You feel unsafe. Discouraged. Rejected. Unloved. You may have tried to suppress those “negative” feelings and even denied them to yourself because after all, Christians aren’t supposed to feel that way, right? And hey, there are tons of Christians, including ourselves, who just assume WE are the problem.

Well, it’s not necessarily right that Christians aren’t supposed to feel that way. Wicked people WILL make us feel unsafe. The Holy Spirit in us WILL stir us to caution — level yellow and up to level red if necessary. And you will also find that, if you begin to make note over time, that this kind of person in your life rather regularly, not rarely, accuses you.

Think it through. How many other people in your life accuse you regularly? I mean the people who love you. They just don’t do it. So what can we say? We say what we said again:

Abusers are accusers. A normal, healthy, safe relationship is not characterized by accusations. If someone is regularly accusing you (often in subtle ways that are disguised as ‘suggestions’ or ‘questions’) then you are dealing with a person who is at minimum not safe nor healthy for you.

Understand! BOY! This is hugely helpful and freeing! Accusations are not normal. A relationship characterized by accusations against you is not normal. People who are regularly questioning our motives, telling us what we have done wrong, telling us what we need to do better, are doing exactly what Jesus said the wicked do to the righteous:

“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. (Matthew 5:11)

See? That’s what the wicked do. Accuser! Begone! We see you for what you are! Your master has been thrown out of heaven. He can’t accuse the brethren anymore, and I’m not going to let you do it either!

The Error of Seeing the Abuser as Victim

Proverbs 30:20 This is the way of an adulteress: she eats and wipes her mouth and says, “I have done no wrong.”

When there is a crime, there is a victim and a criminal.  It is just that simple.  If your house was burglarized, would  you believe for a second that the burglar is a victim too?  Well, many people actually buy into that kind of thinking. It happens all the time when dealing with abusers.  This is a serious error that adds much additional suffering to the real victims: the victims of the abusers.

What we are considering in this article is not the subject of how abusers play the role of victim. They do, and they do it very often.  They claim that it is their victim is who really abusing them.  Many people fall for that tactic.  But that is not our subject here.

What we are concerned with now is the very wrong notion that abusers are abusers because they themselves were abused.  That they are victims too.  The theory goes this way:  abusers came to be what they are because they were victims of some trauma earlier in their lives. Therefore, if we are to deal with them properly and help them, we must feel their pain and help them see the origin of their anger and abusive mentality.  Abusers are quite happy when we embrace this theory.  They love to play the victim. They know that victims are not confronted and held accountable, but rather are shown sympathy and provided with excuses for their behavior.

There are experts in the field of abuse who reject seeing the abuser as a victim.  One example is Robert Hare (Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us.)  These experts understand that many people who have had very abusive and traumatic childhoods nevertheless grow up to become kind, empathetic, responsible people.

In the end, it really doesn’t matter.  An abuser is an abuser.  What he does is evil and wicked and he needs to be held accountable for it, not given excuses so he can keep on abusing.  Many abusers are sociopaths.  They have no conscience. Therefore, efforts to “reach” such people by engaging them in some kind of “group hug” approach which is supposed to result in them coming to feel and see how wounded they were in earlier life – is doomed to failure. Grief over such things requires a conscience and empathy.  And those are things that classic abusers do not possess.

We close with this point from Scripture.  Can you think of anyplace in the entire Bible where God confronts sinners who are in rebellion against Him, and gives them any hint of opportunity to blame the circumstances of their past?  Let’s consider a typical example:

Isaiah 1:2-5 Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth; for the LORD has spoken: “Children have I reared and brought up, but they have rebelled against me. (3) The ox knows its owner, and the donkey its master’s crib, but Israel does not know, my people do not understand.” (4) Ah, sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, offspring of evildoers, children who deal corruptly! They have forsaken the LORD, they have despised the Holy One of Israel, they are utterly estranged. (5) Why will you still be struck down? Why will you continue to rebel? The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint.

Of course we could quote such Scriptures endlessly.  God does not confront us with our sin and “cut us slack” because of our past history.  What He does do is offer to heal us and set us right with Him through His Son Jesus Christ if we will acknowledge our sin, repent of it, and put our trust for righteousness with God in Jesus Christ alone. That is the message the abuser needs to hear. Most will not. That is why I choose to focus my energies on helping the victims.

 

The Worst Abusers are the Kind Who Parade as Christian Leaders

But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. (1 Timothy 5:8)

  1. “He premeditates his actions. He uses people and every thing he can get as an alibi to cover or justify his actions. He is the master of excuses, a liar, a deceiver and frequently contradicts himself. He is very aware of his power of charisma and persuasive talk.”
  2. “He is not verbally or physically abusive. He sounds loving and caring.”
  3. “He admits he has failed in his role as a provider, protector and leader of the family and then asks for forgiveness and says he is not happy about it either and he needs help to understand why that happens in his life, but he never changes despite all the help is offered to him.”
  4. “I find this abuser the worst because it is not very evident. He disguises himself as a good father and loving husband thru words and showing himself very active in the family matters, but in the reality does not take responsibility for providing, protecting and leading the family.“

These descriptions of a wicked man were sent to us by a Christian wife and mother whose abuser claims to be a godly servant of the Lord. And he has been successful for many years in convincing the people in his church and in other Christian organizations that he is the real deal.

Continue reading “The Worst Abusers are the Kind Who Parade as Christian Leaders”