Abuse is FORCE Used to Control Others
In his great book Physical Abusers and Sexual Offenders [*Affiliate link], Scott Johnson makes a wonderfully insightful statement. Read it and think about it carefully.
Psychological force and psychological abuse truly are similar phenomenon and I will use the terms interchangeably throughout the book. Force technically is abuse, and it seems needless to make a distinction between these terms.
Abuse is force. The abuser, in his entitled mentality, demands to control others and have power over them. To effect this, he uses all kinds of tactics, all of which involve some kind of force. Forcing someone to do or not do something is not always a bad thing. Pushing someone out of the path of an oncoming car to save their life, taking little Johnny by the arm when he is about to punch his little sister. Those are good uses of force. Self-defense is another. But the abuser uses force for evil, self-serving motives and therefore his force is never good.
Now, here is more from Scott Johnson on this subject. Read and chew on what he says:
I strongly believe that the perpetrator and victim will not heal from their traumas if they fail to understand the type of force involved in the assault. What you will find is that the types of force used in the physical abuse and/or sexual assault are occurring in the perpetrators’ everyday lives. If they utilized physical force, they likely have a history of fighting or using threats and intimidation in their relationships and at work. If they utilized manipulation or game playing, they likely continue to engage in manipulation in their relationships and at work. Look and you will find the types of force the perpetrator used and continues to use. They may have different examples of how they use each type of force in their daily lives, but regardless of how the force is used, using force is still using force.
The process of identifying the types of force used in the sexual or physical assault will be assessed ongoing as the perpetrator becomes less defensive and more invested in therapy. Therapists working in this field should be aware that if physical abuse, threats, or intimidation are occurring, then rape is occurring as well (marital, date, and/or acquaintance). Consent involves the ability to safely give or refuse permission to be sexual. How could anyone who is the victim of intimidation, threats, and/or physical abuse safely give consent? If victims refuse the demands or requests of the abusers, the expected outcome would be further abuse. It is easier and safer for them to agree to do whatever their perpetrators demand than to risk being physically abused. I cringe when therapists from domestic abuse programs fail to identify sexual assaults and rapes as occurring in their clients’ relationships. How naive it would be to believe that if you were afraid of refusing the sexual requests of your partner because you might be physically abused for doing so, that you actually had a choice. You did not have a choice, at least not one that was worth considering. If you refused, it was likely that your abuser would coerce or physically force sexual contact anyway. To refuse the perpetrator’s requests would be to ask to be physically and psychologically abused.
The second step is to correctly label the psychological force as abuse and place the force in the perpetrator’s cycle, as different strategies of force would be used at different stages within the cycle. Again, perpetrators should be giving specific examples of each type of force they engage in. Observe perpetrators in group and individual sessions to assess first-hand how they use force, and to document noticeable progress for dealing with problems without force. Confront them when they use force. I find using sarcasm and humor is extremely helpful to point out to the perpetrators when they are using psychological force. The sarcasm helps the perpetrators experience the sense of being put down, as well as the loss of power, which for them has become paired with their process of using psychological force. Using empathy to confront psychological force only serves to reinforce the perpetrators’ persona by offering a gentle form of nurturance in the form of empathy. This is not the goal. Use sarcasm and confront the perpetrators immediately when they engage in the use of force. Remember that you are either part of the problem or part of the solution; you either support the perpetrators’ healing or the perpetrators’ persona. You can undo months of therapy with one moment’s support of force. [Scott Allen Johnson. Physical Abusers and Sexual Offenders: Forensic and Clinical Strategies (Kindle Locations 264-283). Kindle Edition].
Now there is a treasury of profound insights! If I observe a person acting abusively in our church, for example (and it is a pattern), then I can safely assume that he or she is using those same abusive tactics in their other relationships, whether at work or at home. And if the abuser is using force in his relationships at home, such as in his marriage, he is necessarily raping his wife. Think through what Johnson says about this. It simply cannot be consensual sex when the victim is a victim of force!
And did you appreciate what Johnson says about how we are to deal with the abuser when we see him using force? That is to say, when we spot him using abusive tactics – perhaps against us? We are NOT to show him any empathy! What? WHAT DID YOU SAY? But, but we are Christians. We have to show mercy and love and be kind and….. No! We are to, dare we say, mock them with sarcasm! Show them the irrationality of their tactic. Make them feel the put down, just as they make their victim feel it.
Good stuff. Really, really good stuff.