A Common Tactic of Abusers is to Try to Alienate the Victim’s Allies
“I understand that you are giving _______ counsel and I want to talk to you.”
I have received that kind of message many times over the past few years. A message on our church answering machine. An email. A note. I never answer these messages because I know what they are about. They are attempts by the abuser to place doubt in my mind about the victim. Just think of it. A person actually contacts me, thinking that I am counseling their target.* The abuser actually expects that I am going to talk to him about his spouse!! Hello? I would not even be free to acknowledge that I have spoken with them or not, let alone provide any details!
Sometimes these calls are really a not-so-veiled-threat — “I know and I want you to know that I know.”
And sometimes the abuser’s attorney will even call and want me to talk to him. Can you believe it? I mean, I know that all they are after is more information that they can use against the victim. Never return those calls either. I think that some attorneys will call simply to imply that “you better stop talking to her or else.” Or others may even be trying to find out where the victim is.
And then you have the abuser’s “pastor” who will phone me, sometimes repeatedly, asking me to please, please telephone him and talk to him. Really? At best such a pastor is duped by the abuser and even quite likely a full-blown ally ready to eventually ex-communicate the victim. I have, I admit, wished at times that I could put a string of special messages on our answering machine. “If you are _____, please press “1” for a special message just for you.”
Very rarely, but once in a great while, I will be contacted by a pastor who really does want to help an abuse victim. How do I tell the difference? Because this kind of pastor has heard about our ACFJ ministry and has expended some effort to hear what we are saying and seriously consider it. The most telling way I can identify such a pastor is that they have taken the time to read our books (at least one of them anyway). Then they will ask for advice or they will ask a question or two and really listen to my answer. But once again, these kind are rare.
But most typically, by threat or by deception or some other manipulative means, the wicked types typically contact the friends and allies of their victim in order to intimidate them, or to place doubt in their minds about the character and truthfulness of the victim, or effect some other harmful goal.
We know. And we won’t be returning their calls. I don’t care to have a conversation with the devil.
*Note: I do not actually give professional counseling in this blog or in other settings. I will state my opinion, answer questions, direct people to resources. I will give my opinion about whether a pattern of behavior is abusive or not, but I will not give technical legal advice (other than “call the police”). And whatever my opinion may be, I know that decisions must ultimately be made by the victim.