Why Do Abusers Relentlessly Badger Their Victims?

Recently I was reminded of a very common tactic of the abuser. What to call it? Hounding? Badgering? Let me give you a first-hand description of one recent example I know about and it also illustrates another instance that I personally witnessed.

The victim was trying to get her work done — work that benefited the whole family, including her husband. But he would not leave her alone so she could do it. He kept at her and kept at her. Why? He kept telling her over and over again that he had changed. That he was now a good husband and doing better. Every so often, he would drop in something like “Now, honey, you really have to admit that you have been wrong too, right?” She would refuse to make that acknowledgment, tell him to go away so she could get her tasks done, but he would not. Then he would go badger the children, asking them if he is really that bad of a father. Then back to his wife again. On and on and on.

What is up with that? What motivates the abuser to badger like this? I think I came across the explanation today as I was reading the same book I mentioned in another earlier post —Trauma and Recovery [Affiliate link], by Judith Herman . Here it is —

….he appears to have a psychological need to justify his crimes, and for this he needs the victim’s affirmation. Thus he relentlessly demands from his victim professions of respect, gratitude, or even love. His ultimate goal appears to be the creation of a willing victim….  (p 75) [Emphasis added.]

Abusers are about power and control. And what really winds their clock is to obtain total control, which means obtaining the victim’s very will. That means the perpetrator must wear down the victim until she willingly admits that he is justified in what he does, that she has been wrong, and so on.

So it is psychological warfare. It is abuse. It is wickedly deceptive because to the uninformed it looks like he is truly trying, is truly repentant, and she is soooo stubborn and hard and cruelly cold.

Don’t fall for that one.

(Jeremiah 2:22-24  ESV)  (22) Though you wash yourself with lye and use much soap, the stain of your guilt is still before me, declares the Lord GOD.  (23) How can you say, ‘I am not unclean, I have not gone after the Baals’? Look at your way in the valley; know what you have done — a restless young camel running here and there,  (24) a wild donkey used to the wilderness, in her heat sniffing the wind! Who can restrain her lust? None who seek her need weary themselves; in her month they will find her.

[February 28, 2023: Editors’ notes:

—For some comments made prior to February 28, 2023 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be an exact match.
—For some comments made prior to February 28, 2023 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be found in the post.
If you would like to compare the text in the comments made prior to February 28, 2023 that quoted from the post to the post as it is now (February 28, 2023), click here [Internet Archive link] for the most recent Internet Archive copy of the post.]


UPDATE Sept 2021: I have come to believe that Jeff Crippen does not practise what he preaches. He vilely persecuted an abuse victim and spiritually abused many other people in the Tillamook congregation. Go here to read the evidence. Jeff has not gone to the people that he spiritually and emotionally abused. He has not apologised to them, let alone asked for their forgiveness.

12 thoughts on “Why Do Abusers Relentlessly Badger Their Victims?”

  1. Jeff, did you write that for me?? That’s EXACTLY what he’s like. Can you please come to my church community and tell them that? I am weary and exhausted from trying to educate them and not being a pastor, I have no pull.

    1. No, I’m not a prophet. 🙂 But I guess it is for you after all. The fact is that as you study abuse, you realize that it has just so many tactics, and then you start recognizing them. In this case, when I wrote this post, I had just had a victim tell me about this very tactic of badgering and then, as I was reading, I came across the quotes I put in the post because they explain the motive behind that badgering so well. I am VERY glad that it helped you.

      Hmmm, come to your church? You know, I would LOVE to tell pastors, Elders, and entire churches (and so would Anna) what we have learned about abuse, abusers, harm to victims, and so on. But so far, we are finding that walls are up. We will know more, perhaps, when the book is published and people start to read it. We really are praying that some churches will invite us to come and give a seminar to cover the basics at least and show them the injustice and blindness that exists in our churches. But we will see. I am a pastor, but how much success will I have talking to them? I don’t know. But at least we can help some victims get free. And maybe we can reach enough people in the churches who have had the evil of abuse touch their own family in some way, and help them be an influence for change in their churches.

    2. Dear Not A Pastor, I want to give you a big hug. Please come back here often to share and put your ideas forward. The exhaustion the victim-survivor feels is almost indescribable. I used to sit on the couch for hours, feeling like I’d been run over by a steam roller –– and that was after I’d left him. While I was still with him, I dared not show how exhausted I felt, as that would lead to more criticism from him. I had to keep on keeping on, the cardboard cut-out of a real person, ever showing how well I was coping, and never showing how I was dying inside.

  2. His ultimate goal appears to be the creation of a willing victim. [Emphasis original.]

    Jeff, when I read this quote, I was struck by how Satanic this tactic is. This is precisely Satan’s goal….to create willing victims. This is how he uses sin to ensnare and enslave us. This is, I believe, the very charge that Satan, the accuser of the brethren, brings before the throne of God, “God, look, they WANT to be in covenant with me. Look at how they keep disobeying your commands and following my direction. They don’t want your covenant; they want mine.” Now that Jesus has redeemed us, this is the only tactic Satan has left….his only basis for a legal claim over us.

    1. Yes, I have noticed quite a few times as I read victim’s stories and learn about the tactics of the enemy, that abuse is probably one of the purest forms of Satan in action. Think of the lies, the incredible deception, the confusion, all things that are characteristic of the Accuser and Father of lies who is a murderer from the beginning. It is Satan. No need to look for demon-possessed cases to do spiritual warfare. Just find the power / control man whose motto is “I will be like the Most High.”

  3. Jeff – every time I come here and read a post I just cry. This time, reading it at home the tears flow freely. I was just dealing with a very lengthy period of badgering last night. It is exhausting. I get to the point where I just don’t have anything else I can say. I have added “Trauma and Recovery” to my growing list of books to read. I have dealt with this so frequently through the years. Many times in the past I would just eventually give up and agree or give in. Lately I have become quite “stubborn” and while his hounding does still exhaust me and cause a mental block I have stopped giving in and agreeing quite so much. Of course, this just gives him more fuel for his fire and I get told that I am being stubborn and difficult and am moody. Sigh….that then starts the internal struggle of convincing myself that these things are better than continuing to be controlled and manipulated.

    1. Reflections2change – it sounds like you are making excellent progress. Stubborn is good. And the crying? It’s because you are seeing the reality of what is going on AND, I hope, coming to know that you have some people here who believe you and understand. The badgering / hounding is different than raging, isn’t it? Badgering can, in some cases, look so pious and noble. “Oh, how he loves you and just wants you to admit”….whatever. As Joe said above, it is quite Satanic because not only is it deceptive, it is working to wear down your will so that you will come to “believe in your heart and confess with your mouth” that he, the abuser, is lord. Praying for your ultimate exodus to freedom.

    2. Reflections2change,

      Just a quick note of encouragement, to stand firm in the truth (Ephesians 6:10-18). No need to attack, no need to even respond, just stand firm in the truth. Lies have a way of making themselves evident when continuously confronted with truth.

      Agreeing in prayer with Jeff, for your ultimate exodus to freedom….

  4. I can relate to this, badgering leaves the victim exhausted. I used to just say “do whatever you want”. I can also see the abuse as satanic but my husband is a baptized member of our church (which I am considering giving up, the corporate church not my faith in God). How does an abuser repent, which is the first requirement for baptism? My husband’s family are all church members, but all are hypocrites, liars and gossips. All these years I have tried to keep away from them because they are worst than non-church members. By the way after almost 4 decades of marriage, I cannot cry anymore. I am just tired from giving my marriage everything I have and for what, for nothing.

    1. Dear Ina, welcome to the blog! 🙂

      The fact that your husband is a baptized member of that church does not mean he is actually a real Christian at all. Many churches baptize people or accept them into membership without really looking to see if the person’s life and fruit bear the marks of regeneration and faith in Christ. And there are some people who may appear to show the marks of conversion at first, but when the sun becomes hot and beats down, they wilt and fail under the pressure since they have not root in Christ (the Parable of the Sower).

      Since your husband and his family are showing the deeds of the flesh so persistently, the chances are they have never been born again so their profession of faith is just hypocritical. Formalism, tradition and the culture of a church or family can mask the fact that people who say they are Christians are not really believers at all.

      From the little you wrote about your husband I would guess that he is a typical abuser, and you are like many victims, having stayed and tried hard to make the marriage work….but you can’t make a marriage work when the other person wants to mistreat and attack you and shred you to pieces. So I would like to suggest to you that you don’t have to remain in that marriage. That you have liberty and freedom, Biblically, to say “This marriage is O.V.E.R., and I’m not the one who killed it. I’m just the one stating the factual truth: that the marriage has been destroyed.”

      I understand your tiredness. I hope you keep reading our blog; you will find many people here who have walked similar paths to you.

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