The Disdaining Mentality of Abuse
Have you ever had an idea that you were really excited about? So you took it to your boss and laid it out for him. You know it is a good idea that will improve efficiency and save the company money. But then…. his response is, “Well, put that in a memo and I’ll look at it later.” Dismissed. Not a very good feeling is it? Disdain or dismissiveness can be defined as: “reacting to something in a way that shows you do not think it is worth paying attention to.”
This disdain or dismissiveness is one of the very common tactics of the abuser toward his victim. Most of our readers know exactly what we are talking about and could give all kinds of examples. Abusers regularly treat their victim as someone who is not worth even paying attention to. Someone who has no value. Whose ideas are worthless and stupid. Contemptuous.
This is much different than merely disagreeing with someone’s suggestion. Honest disagreement with an idea still operates with the assumption that the person making the suggestion is worth listening to. That their ideas have value, because they have value. But abusers want to instill a sense of worthlessness in their victim. So, even a very excellent idea or suggestion will be dismissed and even mocked. Often, this ends up being to the abuser’s own harm, but he is so driven by his desire to demean and thus disempower his victim that he become a fool. Many of you can tell stories of how your abusive husband undermined your successes, to his own detriment. You may have established a prospering business, but he saw to it that it failed. And he would have you believe that it was a stupid and worthless endeavor from the beginning. It wasn’t. In fact, it was just the opposite.
Dismissiveness is an evil, devilish sin. In fact, the Apostle Paul identifies it as the fundamental reason God’s wrath is set against man. This is what Paul says:
Romans 1:21-23 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. (22) Claiming to be wise, they became fools, (23) and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
See it? Man dismisses and disdains God. He knows God is God, but he refuses to honor Him as God or give thanks to Him. Man will sooner worship a tree than acknowledge the glory of God which the whole creation testifies to. And thus, God’s wrath.
I have met many abusers in the setting of the church. I have worked very hard, for example, in preparing a sermon or class lesson, only to have the entire thing “blown off” by an abusive person who makes it clear – sometimes in front of the whole class – that what I am saying is stupid. In the past, I have not always recognized their dismissiveness as a tactic. But I am getting wiser, and quicker to see it. It is one thing to have someone enter into an honest discussion of a particular point, or Scripture, or suggestion. It is quite another to have them dismiss your idea or opinion as unworthy of consideration. Which is really for them to dismiss YOU as unworthy of consideration. As always in the case of the abuser, the supposed issue is not the issue. The real issue is that the abuser is always seeking power and control. To obtain and maintain his power and control, he must necessarily demean his victim as a person.
Watch for this tactic. An honest discussion will always attribute at least some worth and credibility to the other person’s idea. It will regard them as a person worth listening to. An abusive discussion is no discussion. It is contemptuous of everything its object proposes. You can feel it. And it isn’t a good feeling. Perhaps we can now better understand why Jesus was so hard on anyone who dismisses the humanness of a human being –
Matthew 5:21-22 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ (22) But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.