A Common Accusation by Abusers to Victims: “You Cannot Keep Friends”
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.
For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. (Isaiah 53:2-3)
Abusers are the children of their father the devil. So it is not surprising that they share one of his favorite tactics — accusation. And one of the very common charges that abusers level at their victims is something like this: “You never keep friends. Your friendships never last. You always reject them eventually. Or they reject you when they see how weird you really are.” Ever heard that line? I have. Plenty of times.
Of course the goal behind this lie is to make the accused feel worthless. If you believe this wickedness is true then you are going to see yourself as a person no one wants at best and at worst, someone who just uses people for a time and then dumps them. This is the kind of lying fog that helps abusers keep their victim under control. If they are in fact incapable of maintaining a friendship long term, no one is going to come to their aid if they ask, right?
If you are a true follower of Jesus Christ, then the words quoted above from Isaiah 53 are going to be applied to you at some point. You will be despised and rejected by men, acquainted with grief. Others will see you as having no form or majesty, rather, you are a person who repels others and from whom they hide their faces. Sounds a lot like the very stuff the abuser tells us about ourselves.
Also, if you are a genuine, real-deal Christian, then some, if not many, of your relationships ARE going to fall apart. As you grow in Christ, superficial friends, some of whom claim to be Christians, are going to withdraw from you. Or you may well have to withdraw from them. We are, after all, not to be bound together in intimate relationships with unbelievers or with so-called “brothers” who live like the devil (see 1 Cor 5). It happened to Jesus frequently:
After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” (John 6:66-67)
The real question becomes, you see, not why you experience broken relationships, but why is it that the abuser seems to be so popular with others?
One of the worst abusers I have ever known in my years as a pastor frequently launched this accusation at me — “you never keep relationships.” Of course I have many relationships with real believers who I have been close friends with for decades, but over the years I have indeed had to confront hypocrites and they almost always turn on anyone who tells them the truth. Yet this fellow who loved to revile us and make these accusations always managed to remain popular. How? He was like seaweed waving in the tides. He would take whatever position on issues that brought him the most favor and cost him the least. So he was the “go-to” man of the wicked and enjoyed popularity. Then he would level his accusations — “you never keep relationship. You dump people. You are too harsh. You hurt them.” That is how it goes.
It is all lies of course. It is the poison from those fangs that Paul says lie behind the lips of the evil man. Don’t believe any of it.