A Cry For Justice looks to be a very interesting blog about how to deal with people who are being abused by church members. It’s a brand-new blog which intends to be “Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst.” Just in January I find:
You probably already know that Christians and pastors and churches (people like me, Jeff) readily start dumping what we are convinced is God’s Word to her. Divorce is never permitted. You need to submit to him. You should forgive him if he is sorry. And on and on.
In fact, what we need to do is (assuming we really know what we are talking about, which few of us really do) provide her with information, help, safety, and so on. –Jeff Crippen, We Need to Stop Telling Abuse Victims What to Do
And that is how we need to handle abuse situations, because it is very, very common for the abuser to claim to be the victim – and his disguise can be pretty ingenious. Many hostages are thrown in “jail” while the bad guys go free when it comes to how our churches are dealing with abuse in their midst.
It really is not that difficult to recognize an abuser. Their mentality of power, control, entitlement and justification always betrays itself in their speech and you can hear it if you know what to listen for. —How to Spot an Abuser Who Claims to be the Victim
I don’t know what Richard and Tracy told my priest when they spoke to him before I did three months ago. But there are a few things I can tell you, regarding the points made in the above article about how to tell who the real abuser is, based on what they say:
I have been reticent to tell anyone the full details of what happened with them, except for my husband, who knows everything I’ve written about in my blogs. My husband has been the only one I felt I could trust with everything. Even when ranting on Facebook, I kept names out of it, and always felt like, Will anyone believe me or will they think I’m crazy?
I was afraid of being judged, having experienced this already, when opening up a little bit to a forum back in 2008 about things that had happened back then, and getting blasted instead of finding understanding. I left that forum.
I was full of self-blame for the first year (2010-2011), simultaneously with feeling rage at the abuse. I felt that I desperately needed to tell the full story, but trusted no one with it: not even my priest or a potential therapist.
I’d only open up a little at a time on Facebook, testing the waters among my old and new friends. (My wall is set to private.) Far more details were poured into letters to close friends, but even then I feared saying just how badly I had been deceived and manipulated by Richard.
So I began pouring it into my blogs and website, with fake names and a place to deposit all the anger and grief without worrying about what people will say. Since I had no resources for therapy, my blog became my therapy. I turned off comments, you see, made it impossible for anyone to contact me unless they knew who I was.
Of course I still worried about what people would think, and still do, but put the things up anyway, thinking that if they read the entire story, they won’t judge me for missteps along the way.
I think the article ignores the fact that many people, by the time they’re ready to truly open up about abuse, are very angry about the abuse. Anger and rage is common in abuse victims. We don’t all just sit back and take it, thinking we deserve it. And sometimes our stories do seem unbelievable. That doesn’t make us “fake” abuse victims.
I am concerned that the above article will make legitimate abuse victims seem like liars because they don’t have the right “victim mentality” of deserving what they get. Anger and rage help legitimate victims realize they need to get help, get out. And the last thing a victim needs, is to not be believed.
[Update 9/8/14: My concerns were addressed in this blog post, which was actually written in response to my comment on the original article! 🙂 The author seeks to differentiate between legitimate, healthy anger of an abuse victim, and the narcissistic rage of an abuser pretending to be the victim.]
The charge that the abuse victim is guilty of gossip and slander against her abuser if she ever tells anyone what he is doing is very common, especially in a Christian environment.
I personally have had THIS wicked tactic played on me more than once by guilty, controlling, abusive men and women who desire to operate in secret. I don’t play their secrecy games anymore. I’m on to them!
In contrast however, announcing from the rooftops what the abuser is doing to his victims is not gossip or slander.
It is motivated by a desire for justice – a hungering and thirsting for righteousness. It is the exposure of things done in darkness by the application of the light of Jesus Christ. It is telling the truth where lies and deception have existed.
THIS IS NOT SIN! It is right in every way!…
Therefore, to victims of abuse, I say TELL! Tell someone. BUT be wise and be careful in doing so in order that your safety is not compromised.
You are NOT guilty of gossip or slander or disrespect toward your abuser. TELL about the awful things he has done to you. As you do so, and as you read and learn more about the nature and tactics of abuse, you will be set free from his deceptive spell. –Jeff Crippen, The Abuser’s Evil Demands for Secrecy
Christ truly changes us when He saves us. I mean, He really changes us so that though we are not perfect by any means, the fundamental nature of our being becomes one that loves God and loves others.
Have you been taught otherwise? I was taught “otherwise” at a conservative Bible college for Pete’s sake!
When I faced up to this, I realized that a person who is an abuser simply cannot be a Christian. It can’t be. He may look like it in many ways and at many times, but he is a fraud.
I learned that good people never pretend to be evil, but evil people love to pretend to be good. Sheep don’t wear wolves’ clothing.
What is perhaps even more sobering is that this also means that many people in our churches who may not be classic abusers, nevertheless are not genuine Christians. Abuse victims in a church can really suffer at their hands too. —More Thoughts on Why an Abuser Cannot be a Christian
In several cases, the abuser, on his own initiative and usually at the start of a relationship with someone (say, they are new to a church for example), will “own up” to the fact that he once was an abusive man.
He will tell about how terrible he was to his wife, how he frequently raged at her, and so on. He will do so right in front of his wife, and even to a group of people he is just getting to know.
And then comes the story of his “conversion.” Suddenly he woke up to what he was doing. He realized that it was wrong and that he needed to stop treating her that way. His wife says nothing.
But the rest of the folks, well, they think it is just marvelous that a man can be such a fine Christian that he can humbly and opening admit his past sin. What a great thing it is going to be to have these people in the church. —The Abuser’s Ploy of “Confessing” His Past Abuse
Richard did this. He confessed to having abused his kids in the past, but I discovered–when he was charged with choking one of his children in 2010–that it was still going on.
How can a reformed person choke a child? How can anyone just up and choke a child? There must have been more going on than he admitted to. He also told me other things about reformation which I now doubt.
This is why I have often told our church here that the pews of the Christian church are the most dangerous place in the world if anyone who sits in them, listening to Christ’s truth week after week, rejects it.
Yet this is precisely what the “Christian” abuser does! Right? Many of you could give first hand accounts, and I have heard many of them, of how your abuser played the game in church. How he deceived and even continues to deceive the church.
He is an apostate – having rejected what he knows to be the truth, but he remains in the church anyway.
What kind of mind does it take to do that and still be able to sleep at night? It is the mind of the sociopath – the mind with no conscience.
In some way, this kind of person is especially wicked in God’s sight because he holds up Christ to open shame, just as the mockers did when Christ was crucified. They mock him by their evil facade.
My point is this – the abuser who is pretending to be a Christian is the hardest and most treacherous of all abusers. —The “Christian” Abuser