Living With a Lie
John 8:44, You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
That last phrase pretty well characterizes the abuser. He is a liar. He lies. We do not exaggerate much at all when we say of him, “there is no truth in him.” This is why, I believe, abuse victims live in a fog of confusion. They live with a lie. As Carla van Dam notes in chapter 8 of her book The Socially Skilled Child Molester [*Affiliate link]
Child molesters lie. They lie to themselves, and they lie to others. They lie even when they know their audience has direct access to the truth. They lie with blatant ease, such good effect, and are so accustomed to having their lies accepted, that they lose track of the truth.
This is also a very apt description of the domestic violence abuser. He lies. All the time. Lying is his habit and falsehood is his medium of choice.
If we are going to get out of that cursed fog of deception that abusers cast, we have to come to grips with this: he is a liar. Though he speaks with such certainty and confidence when he accuses us, he is lying. When he describes to his victim how stupidly she acted last Thanksgiving, he is lying. When he goes to his pastor or fellow church members and tells them that his wife is unstable and difficult, he is lying.
To face up to this, we need to be tough. Really tough. Unbending and willing to be targeted and accused for being “unkind and unloving.” “But he said he is sorry!” He’s lying. “He told us he has tried and tried to love his wife but she just won’t accept him.” He’s lying. “But he says he is a Christian.” He’s lying. This is the only right approach when you are dealing with children of the devil whose father is the very origin of lies. Jesus did this when the Tempter came to Him in the wilderness. Satan would talk and quote Scripture. Jesus countered with truth. Essentially, He was saying “you are a liar” each time.
When the abuser speaks to his victim, she needs to confidently and firmly hold on to the truth — he is lying. “You are an unfit mother.” He’s lying. “You always shoot my ideas down.” He’s lying. These are all accusations launched with the intent to destroy and control, and they are lies.
Just imagine. You are living with a person whose whole life is a lie. Whose words are habitually and normally lies. Even their actions are lies, laden with false motives. He expends huge amounts of energy through threats and deceptions to maintain this facade. Darkness hates light. The lie hates truth. So it is in this very environment that abuse victims live. Day after day after day. Is it any wonder that they are confused, that they doubt their own perceptions, that they shoulder loads of false guilt and shame, that they feel like they are going crazy?
The path to recovery from this confusion begins with this realization: “He is lying. He is a liar. Everything he has been telling me all these years has been a lie. Everything.” When pastors and churches wake up to the same understanding, the victims in their midst will start receiving justice instead of the shameful treatment they typically receive now. We need to be Nehemiahs —
Nehemiah 6:8-9 Then I sent to him, saying, “No such things as you say have been done, for you are inventing them out of your own mind.” For they all wanted to frighten us, thinking, “Their hands will drop from the work, and it will not be done.” But now, O God, strengthen my hands.