The Abuser’s Ploy of “Confessing” His Past Abuse
1 Samuel 15:13-14 And Samuel came to Saul, and Saul said to him, “Blessed be you to the LORD. I have performed the commandment of the LORD.” (14) And Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears and the lowing of the oxen that I hear?”
King Saul was a man who was characterized by partial, half-hearted obedience to the Lord. He would own up to a bit of what he had done wrong, or as in the above verses, he would claim that he had obeyed, even when he had not done so fully. The thinking seems to be, as long as I do part of what I am supposed to do, everything is ok. Saul found out otherwise.
I have seen a similar thing practiced by abusive people. 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 realize 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.
Over time, perhaps you will experience some of those “moments.” You know what I mean. You have this feeling. You see some look in this fellow or in his wife. You ask her a question, just trying to make conversation, and she strangely just clams up. You overhear the two of them talking when they think no one is listening and, well, the tone and the words seem odd. But, it is probably nothing. Everyone has their moments. And you forget about it.
Perhaps one day you will find out that all was not well. Or perhaps no one will know and the couple eventually just moves on.
I believe that abusers sometimes speak of “past” sins of abuse right in front of their wife/victim and openly to a group of people they are just getting to know. And I believe they do this out of a rather ingenious and heinous motive to make everyone think that they are a sinner saved by grace, a humble man willing to admit his flaws, a reformed man who no longer does those things. Think about it. What is his wife going to say now? He has already addressed the issue. First come, first believed – that’s how it usually seems to go, right? If she ever did tell someone he is still abusive (which isn’t common), they will find it hard to believe her. Sure, maybe once in a while his old patterns come back, but he is a man fighting his sin just like all of us are. Like the first man on the moon, this guy has already driven his flag of ownership into this new church and all of these new friends.
I wonder what would happen at the dinner party if the wife/victim drove her flag in first? “Hi, I’m Carol. This is Don, my husband. He is a wicked man who has abused me horribly for 25 years. Don’t believe a word he tells you. Just ask the children if you don’t believe me.” Unfortunately we know it just isn’t all that easy, is it?
So, here is the pattern. Watch out for that “new guy” who jumps on the confessional band wagon at the welcome-to-the-church/community get together. You should know by now that most abusers never change. So, if he did it in the past, he is probably still doing it now. Call me a pessimist. I am ready to be surprised by a truly, genuine, repentant abuser. That would be a really happy day.