Why do People Go Deaf When Abuse Victims Call for Help?
“Hear this, O foolish and senseless people, who have eyes, but see not, who have ears, but hear not. (Jer 5:21)
“Son of man, you dwell in the midst of a rebellious house, who have eyes to see, but see not, who have ears to hear, but hear not, for they are a rebellious house. (Eze 12:2)
On more than one occasion I have had the opportunity, or more accurately, I have taken the opportunity, to tell professing Christians about the abuse that I have suffered during my years as a pastor. I have gone into some detail (talking rapidly of course before the inevitable body language messages start that say “…ok, enough”) about things that I have suffered at the hands of power and control-entitled wicked people. A few genuine believers listened. A few listened more than once. Most did not hear. Most chose not to hear.
Have you noticed that when an abuse victim begins to tell their story, people seem to have an invisible hearing aid switch that they can just turn to off and tune you out? One sign that they are doing this is when they start laying all kinds of “you need to’s” on you that don’t make any sense or have any real correlation to the gravity of the things you have just been describing! They didn’t hear. They chose not to hear.
Like many of you, I have shared with numbers of people what I have suffered over the past three decades. For 30 minutes or even an hour, I have described the mentality and the tactics of abuse launched against me. I described the effects of that evil upon me. I gave many illustrations of exactly what I was talking about. The response? Some time later a person who had “heard” me might typically say, “Oh, so you mean he was being ____________” (insert one single visible abuse tactic in the blank). ONE! They only remembered and heard ONE thing! And because it was just one thing, they minimized the abuse. They minimized what the abusers had done and they minimized the effects of the abuse on me. They hadn’t heard. They chose not to hear. They didn’t care.
This business of willful deafness to the cries of the oppressed is wicked. It is sinful. Sinners do it to the Lord. The Bible is filled with the Lord’s instruction, yet many of those who claim to belong to Him do not hear it. “Did I not say…..?” “Uhhh, gee, we don’t remember anything like that, Lord.” Sin produces willful deafness and willful blindness to truth.
Why do people go deaf when abuse victims call for help? Because they are sinning. They are willfully choosing their own self-interests and self-protection rather than coming to the aid of the needy. That sin deafens and it blinds. We need not be troubled by things that we don’t hear or see. Consider the following interchange:
[PRETEND LISTENER] “I just think that you are over-reacting.”
[ABUSE VICTIM] “Excuse me. Did you not hear what I just told you has been happening to me for the last three decades?”
PL “Well, was it really that serious? Can’t you just let it go?”
AV “Ok, let’s try this. I want you to tell me, let’s say, six of the evil things I just told you that this abuser has done to me over and over and over all these years.”
PL “Uh, let’s see. Hmmm…he said something mean to you once. There’s one…..thinking…..boy this is tough! I think that’s all you said he did. He was being ‘difficult.’
AV “So you didn’t listen to me. You chose not to listen to me. Perhaps you can tell me why it is that when I spent nearly an hour telling you all the things I have suffered for years, pouring out my heart and grief to you, and telling you what I have learned about these kinds of evil that have been used against me — perhaps you can tell me why it is that you willfully chose to turn a deaf ear to me? Why did you do that?”
Processing. Processing. Waiting, waiting.
If a truthful answer ever comes (an outcome that has about the same chance of happening as a snowball not melting in El Infierno) it would be something like this: “You know, Jeff. I have to say. I didn’t listen to you because, really, I don’t give a rip about you. I don’t care what happened to you. I only care about myself.” And if it is really that rare snowball’s chance event, the person might even say — “And that is terribly wrong. That is not the love of Christ. Please forgive me, and…could you tell me your story one more time? This time I will listen.”
In the meantime, we can remember this and rest in it –
The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry. The face of the LORD is against those who do evil, to cut off the memory of them from the earth. When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all.