How Abusive People Turn Us Against One Another

(John 9:20-23  ESV)  His parents answered, “We know that this is our son and that he was born blind. But how he now sees we do not know, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself.” (His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone should confess Jesus to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue.) Therefore his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”

“Stupid kid — goin’ and gittin’ his eyes fixed and bringing us all this trouble! Now the Jews are really ticked at us! We could get thrown out of the synagogue and then what would we do?”

The response of these parents isn’t really that strange. Unwanted attention was being heaped upon them and they had done nothing, in their eyes, to “deserve it”. So, their response, “ask him”, was designed to remove the attention from themselves and put it back where it rightly belonged: on their son.

I just received my copy of a book called Escape From Camp 14One Man’s Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West, by Blaine Harden. I am only in the preface, and I need to tell you about it.

Shin and his whole family were imprisoned in one of the notorious camps of North Korea. After his mother and brother were discovered trying to escape, Shin and his father were forced to watch as his mother was strangled with a rope, her body quivering until she was dead. Then he watched his brother riddled with 9 bullets from 3 rifles.

What he says about how this made him feel is the point I want to share with you. As Harden tells it: “Shin was relieved that it was not him. He was angry with his mother and brother for planning an escape.” Angry? Does that sound strange?

I have been reading about trauma and PTSD of late. Shin’s reaction of anger was actually not strange at all. In fact, for people who have undergone chronic abuse, such as happens in prisoner of war camps or in years of domestic violence, anger at one’s own kin for standing up to the abuse is typical. And abusers count on this. They use us against one another. And this is one reason that children can often be alienated against their own mother when she tries to get them free from the abuse. “Don’t make him mad. Don’t rock the boat. We’re all going to suffer because of what you are doing!”

And while we lash out at one another, no one notices who the real culprit is, as he sits down in his easy chair and picks up his newspaper. “We gonna have some food out here or what!”

[March 19, 2023: Editors’ notes:

—For some comments made prior to March 19, 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 March 19, 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 March 19, 2023 that quoted from the post to the post as it is now (March 19, 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.

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