A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

Victims resist abuse in prudent, determined and creative ways

Alongside each history of abuse, there runs a parallel history of prudent, determined and often creative resistance.

This is one of the things I’ve learned from Dr Allan Wade & his colleague Linda Coates. They are Canadian counselors have worked with many survivors of oppression and abuse; they also train other counselors and victim-advocates.

Note: in their article Language and Violence: Analysis of Four Discursive Operations, Coates & Wade use the word ‘violence’ to refer to all kinds of interpersonal abuse and oppression. Here is a short excerpt from their article:

Alongside each history of violence there runs a parallel history of prudent, determined, and often creative resistance.

The manner in which victims resist depends on the unique combination of dangers and opportunities present in their particular circumstances. Victims typically take into account that perpetrators will become even more violent for any act of defiance. Consequently, open defiance by victims is the least common form of resistance. In extreme circumstances the only possibility for resistance may be in the privacy afforded by the mind.

Too frequently, victims’ resistance is recognized or treated as significant only when it is successful in stopping or preventing the perpetrators’ violence. We maintain that this is an entirely inappropriate criterion. Victims resist in a myriad of ways that are not successful in stopping the violence but nevertheless are profoundly important as expressions of dignity and self-respect.

Key concepts for working in the field of abuse

The following key concepts are used by Allan Wade and his colleagues when they are training helping professionals.

Dignity is Central to Social Life
Social interaction is organized largely around the preserving of dignity.  Even inadvertent slights can be met with intense responses.  All forms of violence are affronts to dignity, but not all affronts to dignity involve physical violence.

Fitting Words to Deeds
There are no impartial accounts.  Professionals and personal accounts of violence influence the perception and treatment of victims and offenders.  Where there is violence, the question of “which words are fitted to which deeds” is crucial.

Social Conduct is Responsive
Individuals respond to social context, the immediate situation, and micro-interactional events and orient to one another as social agents with the capacity to choose.

Violent Acts are Social and Unilateral
Violent acts are social in that they occur in specific interactions and involve at least two people, and unilateral in that they entail actions by one person against the will and well-being of another.

Violence is Deliberate 
Perpetrators of violence anticipate resistance from victims and take deliberate steps to conceal and suppress it. Even so-called “explosive” or “out of control” acts of violence involve choice and controlled, deliberate action.

Resistance is Ever-Present 
Individuals respond to and resist violence and other forms of oppression. However, open defiance is the least common form of resistance. In extreme circumstances, resistance may be realized solely in the privacy of the mind/spirit.

***

Further reading and viewing

On Violence, Resistance, and Power in Language — Allan Wade talks about how people who have been abused may be further traumatized by the negative social responses they receive from ‘helping’ professionals, authority figures, family, friends and neighbours.

Honouring Resistance – a video presentation by Allan Wade

Respecting & Listening to Victims of Violence — a handbook from Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter. The people who wrote this handbook have worked closely with Allan Wade.

The Myth of “Stockholm Syndrome” and other labels which are used to discredit and pathologize victims of abuse – a synopsis of a video presentation by Allan Wade. The video is embedded in the post.

The Myth of “Stockholm Syndrome” and how it was invented to silence an indignant young woman – Allan Wade interviewed the first woman who was labelled as having “Stockholm Syndrome”.

The website of Allan Wade and his colleagues is Response Based Practice.

49 Comments

  1. Finding Answers

    Excerpt from the original post
    Violence is Deliberate
    Perpetrators of violence anticipate resistance from victims and take deliberate steps to conceal and suppress it. Even so-called “explosive” or “out of control” acts of violence involve choice and controlled, deliberate action.

    The hardest thing to accept is that ALL my actions were anticipated, whether or not my actions were attempts at resistance. Sometimes I acted with generosity, with patience, with gratitude.

    Perhaps my genuine acts of non-violent response were used against me, ways to manipulate me into suppressing ALL my responses. Perhaps I could not discern the difference between cause and effect. Perhaps the sexual violation starting from the day I was born destroyed my ability to understand intent.

    I need to think about this…

    • Finding Answers

      Adding on to my own comment, having thought about forms of resistance.

      I was a young adult when I first questioned – internally – someone else’s intent. A “friend” telling me bad news with obvious relish.

      I started questioning EVERYONE’S intent, including my own.

      My intent was to stay alive, their intent was to “murder” me.

      Maybe I am learning discernment.

      • As you have said before on this blog, Finding Answers, your abusers wanted you to die and you resisted by staying alive.

        Your abusers also wanted you as their sexual target to abuse whenever they liked with impunity.

        Your abusers also wanted to treat you as their verbal and emotional punching bag, to mock, deceive, oppress, confuse, bamboozle… just for their delectation.

        I am sure you resisted those things too in multiple, determined and very creative ways.

        As Allan Wade says, even the victim’s discontentment at being oppressed is a type of resistance: she is not content with being abused. So if she is worrying, anxious, fearful, has nightmares, can’t sleep, etc etc, all those things show that she is resisting being abused because she is not content with being abused. She is worrying because there is a very high likelihood that they will abuse her again. And she is worried because she is trying to figure out how they manipulate her, brainwash her, intimidate her, coerce her, etc.

        So she has plenty of legitimate things to worry about. Worry and discontent and anxiety in victims are all forms of resisting the abuse.

      • Helovesme

        Wanted to thank Barb for those responses to Finding Answers. Especially for bringing out Don Hennessy’s words again. There was so much to take away from that series that I think my brain could only handle so much info! Fully appreciate his work and for this site for sharing it with us.

        “Numbing oneself can be a type of resistance, because it’s slightly easier to survive the ongoing violations. It is a way of being discontent with being abused, while trying to not die or shatter in one’s psyche from the pain of being continually violated.”

        I don’t believe I ever, ever thought of resistance that way. But that really does make sense.

        I recall working very hard to do just that—-to initiate a “frost” over my emotions in order to handle the abuse. To survive. I would try to go into the bathroom or bedroom to cry where he couldn’t see me. I didn’t want to give him that satisfaction.

        In order to survive, you had to learn how to somehow communicate to the abuser that he or she is not destroying you. You still have “fight” in you to face another day.

        Since the abuse I encountered was usually anticipated, but sometimes not—you had to find a way to endure with all that instability and unknown. You never knew what might or might not flip his switch. But it was guaranteed that something would eventually set him off. You just had to wait for it.

        I again appreciate the “freeze” comment. I once read about two women who were sexually assaulted, and both of them claimed they “froze up” when it happened.

        Both of them were the victims of a sudden attack. They did not see it coming, I think our minds simply do not work as fast, or react as quickly—-as we might imagine (or expect). By the time their minds processed what was going on, it was too late to fight back.

        Most acts of abuse don’t take very long, time wise. My dad would hit me, for example, and it is over in a split second. I learned over time to protect my face so he couldn’t hit me there (it’s more painful when your face is hit)—-turning around when I saw him coming— so he could only hit my back. That is not quite like freezing, but that is fighting back in a way. Work it out so that you don’t get hurt as badly as possible.

        It was a good reminder about what abusers are after: ownership and control. I wasn’t sexually abused, but the principle applies to my abuse. I don’t know if I can put into words the kind of price I paid whenever my abuser felt like he didn’t have full (or at least a large amount) of control over me, and ownership of me.

        And one of the best ways for an abuser to feel powerful over another human being is to hurt them as much as possible. Weaken and wound your victim as often as you can. Find anything, any way to put them down. Even the smallest “jabs” will poke holes and damage them.

        My abuser lived to criticize and debilitate. He was very good at that sort of “brainwashing.” He would even use positive comments against me. A good example is when he came to a recital at my school. Instead of complimenting me, he went on about how great another aspect of the recital was, where I wasn’t even involved. And believe me, I got the message.

        When it comes to not realizing what was going on (back to Don’s comment about the women not even realizing they were being groomed/preyed on), my mom tends to fit that bill better than myself. In order for HER to survive, she would enable and excuse him constantly. Or blame me (far easier to blame the “problem child” than admit that her own husband was the real problem). The one time she seemed to admit some level of truth—-it burst out of her that she had no idea what to do; how to make it stop.

        So it’s interesting to see how other members of the family cope, resist or choose to be in denial. My older sister was sadly his main target before he mainly focused on me, so I had to watch someone else go through it before it was my turn. My younger brother, being a male, did not have to endure any physical abuse as far as I recall.

        But it’s hard to make any allies when you are constantly labeled as the problem. If you resist, and it rubs those around you the wrong way, you will likely be marked that way.

    • I am not sure that Wade and Coates are saying that ALL the victim’s actions are anticipated by the abuser. What they are saying is that the abuser anticipates resistance from his victim, so he takes deliberate steps to conceal and suppress it.

      One of the deliberate steps that abusers commonly takes to conceal and suppress their victim’s resistance, is to accuse the victim of responding badly, “unfairly,” “unjustly”. They can make a whole range of false accusations to suppress the victim’s resistance. For example:
      “You are over reacting.”
      “You asked for it; you went along with it.”
      “You are over-sensitive.”
      “You are the abuser!”
      “You are crazy!”
      “You are deluded. You’re not thinking straight.”
      “You are not being fair to me. I am a broken sinner doing my best, and you need to be more forgiving.”
      “You are defective as a human being.”
      You are a hopeless child / son / daughter.”
      “You are a hopeless wife/ daughter/ mother. You are defective as a woman.”

      All those false accusations are ways the abusers strategically suppress the resistance of victims.
      And I’ve only listed a few of them. The list could go on and on.

      • Finding Answers

        Hhmmmm. More food for thought in your two replies to me, Barb.

        I keep thinking of those times when an abuser did / did not do something because they knew how I would respond.

        Maybe I need to factor in predictability in the sense that I respond certain ways, not in response to abuse or manipulation, but because my response is part of who I am. And since the process of learning who I am underneath all the lies is relatively new, sometimes it’s hard to differentiate between the responses, so it seems like all my responses were anticipated.

        I don’t know if I am making sense.

        […..Insert net-speak for more to untangle….]

      • I keep thinking of those times when an abuser did / did not do something because they knew how I would respond.

        As Don Hennessy says, domestic abusers are psychephiles. Now, I know Finding Answers that you were abused from the very first day of your life onwards, and your primary abusers were your father and your brothers. Even though you were an infant when it began, there seems to be to be a lot in common with what they did to you and what the male intimate abuser does when he targets an adult woman. Let me again give you some quotes from Don Hennessy’s book How He Gets Into Her Head.

        You might want to mentally replace the phrase ‘target woman’ with ‘target child’ or ‘target baby’.

        The psychephile is a man who gains control of the mind of the target woman so that he can dictate the level of intimacy and sexual activity in the relationship.

        While we are familiar with physical, emotional and financial control, the real God-like feeling is his ability to sexually control the woman. The act of sexual intimacy is used by these men to confirm ownership. The act of sexual intimacy without consequence is of the most God-like experiences these men have. He targets a woman who will become his long-term acolyte in his project. His ability to hide this intention is the cornerstone of this project. If a woman is targeted by one of these men she is never aware of what he is doing to her.

        By using the tactics of benign and sinister grooming the skilled offender invades the target woman’s mind so that she numbs herself to her own instincts. He brainwashes her so that she will thinks what he wants her to think.

        At my post The male domestic abuser is a ‘psychephile’ – a sexual offender I give the page numbers for where Hennessy said those things.

        And I would contend that when the victim numbs herself to her own instincts, that too is a form of resistance. It is mentally and emotionally nearly impossible to live with full consciousness of the pain and terror of being repeatedly abused.

        We have all heard of “freeze, fight and flight” as being natural instinctual responses to being violated. As Allan Wade says, “open defiance is the least common form of resistance. In extreme circumstances, resistance may be realized solely in the privacy of the mind/spirit.”

        The fight option is open defiance, and it is often the most dangerous option to take. Flight is often impossible: for an infant flight is totally impossible; for a child, flight is very difficult if not impossible. So the freeze option is the one that is most common. Numbing oneself can be likened to a long-term form of freezing. Numbing oneself can be a type of resistance, because it slightly easier to survive the ongoing violations. It is a way of being discontent with being abused, while trying to not die or shatter in one’s psyche from the pain of being continually violated.

        This may or may not be relevant. But it is what has come to mind as I’ve pondered your comment.

      • Finding Answers

        Hoping I get this nested correctly under Barb’s comment of 19TH MARCH 2019 – 5:46 PM.

        Thank you for taking the time to write such thorough replies to me, Barb.

        I am struggling to synthesize all the pieces of my puzzle I have strewn Hansel-and-Gretel-like throughout the ACFJ blog.

        I remember seeing a mental picture of my brain teeming with maggots, an image of all the abusers in my life and how their voices had colonized (a word used by Don Hennessey, if I remember correctly) my brain.

        I was never able to consciously anticipate what any of my abusers would do to me.

        You wrote “…..So the freeze option is the one that is most common. Numbing oneself can be likened to a long-term form of freezing. Numbing oneself can be a type of resistance, because it slightly easier to survive the ongoing violations. It is a way of being discontent with being abused, while trying to not die or shatter in one’s psyche from the pain of being continually violated.”

        Perhaps this is why I experience so much non-physical pain when the responses I suppressed in the past are released from where they were stored in my body. Perhaps an analogy could be made to an anaesthetic wearing off.

        The actual freeze response was also a large part of my response to being abused.

        Maybe my experience was like a boxer in the umpteenth round of a fight, reeling and continually off-balance from all the unseen punches, instinctively responding in an attempt to stay upright and not lose the fight.

        Maybe I’m trying too hard to understand my individual acts of resistance, rather than simply accepting I am still alive.

  2. Seeing Clearly

    Extremely insightful article.

    This article possibly includes violence of/to the mind. Rereading this over and over is necessary to be able to embrace the confusion of non-physical violence. Yet, non-physical violence/destruction is very real. I must factor in auto immune diseases and numerous surgeries that victims must struggle with and fight for healing from.

    Healing can’t begin until separation from the violence. Then the long journey slowly begins and continues for the the rest of the victim’s life.

  3. Seeing Clearly

    “prudent, determined and creative resistance”

    These 5 words connect my previous comment to today’s blog. So much mental energy required in these forms of interrelationship. It was insightful to learn that wrestling is a sport of the mind, not of brute force. At least in school athletics.

    It requires so much internal, non verbal, warfare to stay in the game of life with an abuser.
    The abuser is awaiting opportunity to “grab his victim” when she moves into a relaxed state for even a moment.

    The words, ‘grabbed’ and ‘tromped on’ are words that describe how I felt when my resistance was waning.

    • Helovesme

      Seeing Clearly—-well said and bravo. You put it very well indeed!

      I recall only feeling safe enough to relax, and lower my guard when I was all alone. That is sad, but to feel any sort of contentment (aka free of potential combat) felt so good to my weary mind and soul.

      The non-abused do not realize the enormous amount of joy and peace we might feel in something as simple as reading a book or watching a show without being on edge. Fearful that someone will walk in, make a nasty remark and then simply pick up the remote when you run out of the room.

      I’m more of a loner now in my walk with Him than I thought I would be. I used to be far more of a people person for about half my journey with Him. A lot of things changed that, none of which I am as ashamed of as I used to be. It seems to bother those around me, who seem to take it as a personal affront, or even a personal attack—-which is not even close to my intention.

      But I have to remember, and conclude—-that they know nothing about me. They may know bits and pieces, which they do not treat with much respect—so in my mind they are not worthy of hearing the whole story.

  4. Becoming

    Resistance can be imperceptible to the observer. I wore a scent that felt very “me” and made me feel strong. It was not a preferred scent to him, but I wore it anyway. I would smell my wrists and hold on to my self-ness.

    Keeping thoughts private is resistance.

    I’m coming to find certain parts of my personality were formed in resistance, and I’m trying to sort that out: the almost OCD perfectionism in some areas, the lethargy in other areas.

  5. Artina

    Reading with care and interest here…..appreciative of the language insights to help sort out truth.

  6. Helovesme

    Wow, there was so much to take away from the post itself, and then from the comments I have just read.

    I’m constantly amazed at how articulate the commentators are in describing their experiences and thoughts in general.

    There is intense depth and thoughtfulness that I pick up on. IMO, that observation in and of itself is a form of resistance, and a sign of victory over the ones that tried to destroy them.

    Abusers live to “get in our heads” and control our thinking, which tends to lead to control over our very lives. If they can control how we think, they can eventually, but inevitably take over our lives.

    The fact that I see such independent thinking, separate from and in complete opposition to their abusers and/or enablers—-is an huge, hopeful sign that Colossians 1:27 is truly alive and kicking: Christ in you, the hope of glory.

    One of the biggest things I have a hard time trying to explain to others (not to mention trying to accept it myself) is that it does not often go well for a victim when they try to stand up for themselves. It depends on how the victim tries to resist, of course, but there is good chance things will only get worse if they do.

    Often we are told that if you stand up for yourself, you will gain respect—-not only from the one you have stood up against, but you will also respect yourself more. In asserting yourself, you build yourself up, and improve your communication skills as well.

    It is truly hard to explain how this mindset can actually put victims in more danger than ever. Without a doubt, this post is right on: open resistance almost never works. If the goal of resistance is survival, open and obvious defiance is generally not an option.

    What is interesting for me, in trying to find ways to resist—-is that I have felt compelled to get into the heads of the ones I am trying to resist. I have to learn and discern which forms of resistance might work, and which ones might not.

    Without a doubt, this post is right on: open resistance almost never works.

    IMO, every abuser has the same goal, but they don’t work in the exact same ways. Abusers work hard to get into our heads in order to abuse us. Victims, in turn, might try to get into the heads of the abusers in order to know how to resist them!

    My abuser was my father. In my own experiences, this has been a rough road to travel. I wanted to keep as much separation as possible from my abuser, but in order to stay alive—-I had to get into his head, while still trying to prevent him from getting into mine.

    When he was able to get into my head, he was able to find out all sorts of things about me that would only fuel his abuse. I wanted to get into his head to fuel my attempts to resist him.

    I was not a believer at the time, but even then I was determined not to become like him in any way, shape or form. When I had the feeling that I was picking up on some of his vulnerabilities (and therefore could form strategies to resist him), I often wondered if I was defeating my own purpose. In attempting to survive, was I becoming exactly what I hated the most?

    One of my best strategies to survive was pouring out my thoughts on paper. Computers hadn’t taken off as they have now, so I relied on good old fashioned pen and paper. My other method was to read books and try to lose myself in them.

    Any way of escape, even temporary distractions—were better than nothing. And as I mentioned before, trying to think for myself and applying that to writing—gave me hope that I had not become a numb, mindless robot—devoid of separate but individual feelings (apart from the horrible feelings my abuser was causing) and creative thinking (again, separate from the horrible words my abuser threw at me)

    Where I had the problem then, and still do—-is trying to figure out who I was as a person, separate from him—-but also a person whose main identity was not rooted in being abused, in surviving abuse, and in living with the scars of abuse. Wasn’t there much more to me than that? Or was there? In writing about the pain I am in, I am trying to preserve my identity. But in doing so, am I also admitting that abuse is so consuming, that there is not much else to write about?

    I relied mostly on instinct when I look back. I instinctively realized that my abuser’s goal was to destroy me from the inside out. To reduce me to a shell, because once a person is empty on the inside, you can abuse at length with little to no resistance.

    But a flip side started to emerge. My abuser would also push my buttons to provoke me, because he seemed to enjoy a good shouting match with me. And he knew which ones to push, and how far to push them to get a rise out of me. Things would inevitably escalate, giving him permission to hurt me even more—-physically or verbally.

    I am clumsily trying to explain how he seemed to WANT me to openly resist, so that he could pile it on me even more. I tried very hard to remain stoic and silent in order to passively resist, but bear with me—often that did not work, either. My silence came across as ignoring him, being disrespectful by not answering him, and it would therefore escalate.

    Sometimes I found myself trying to appease or please—-but that never worked. There is no way to pacify an abuser, not for very long at least. So different methods were tried, but nothing was a permanent fix.

    Abuse was pretty much the only way I connected with my father. We didn’t really have any real “conversations” with each other that involved one human being communicating with another—-normally and naturally. Abuse was the only way we seemed to interact with each other. The worst take away from that is I could never lower my guard around him. It had to always keep it up, as high and as thick as possible. Living like that—in constant stress and anxiety and fear—is indescribable.

    I wasn’t quite sure why this felt so comforting to read: “There are no impartial accounts.”

    But now I know. Abuse is offensive. Too many times and in too many ways, victims are either directly or indirectly told to not take offense. To not take it personally. To not let it get to you. Sometimes professing, well meaning Christians will do this in order to encourage forgiveness towards the abuser. If you try to tell yourself that it wasn’t all that bad, or didn’t really hurt that much, or even try to find ways to feel sorry for your abuser—how much easier (and faster) is it to forgive them?

    Since these same Christians may or may be bent on you reconciling with your abuser, this is another reason why we might be admonished to dumb down what was done to us.

    The goal is to not focus on yourself, and focus on God’s commandment to forgive. Ironically, this form of “resistance” (resisting the very real damage an abuser has done) is not the way to go. That is more of a way to give in, and give up—-and gives the abuser more ways to hurt you. More ammunition against you: “you’ve forgiven me, so you have to keep forgiving me no matter what I do.”

    I’ll speak from my own experiences—and as a young woman and a young believer, the last thing you want to do is be labeled as a “troublemaker” or “rebellious.” Those were two things that I had pinned on me from my abusive childhood—labels I very much wanted to get away from. So I didn’t resist. So I tried my best to make peace with my abuser, with disastrous results.

    Ironically, in becoming a believer, I thought that I could be “done” with resisting as a general way of life. Now I wanted to live free, able to survive AND thrive. But, in trying to avoid certain labels, I didn’t realize that ANOTHER disastrous label was being pinned on me instead: people pleaser. I tried to please, instead of resist. One form of survival was replaced by another. At first, in order to feel alive inside, I had to resist. In order to feel loved, I felt that I had to please, and NOT resist.

    I was never sexually abused. I’m careful to not associate myself with those that have been, because it is not at all the exact same experience as other forms of abuse. I personally think sexual abuse has a horrific layer of pain added to it, because of the twisted, evil way that physical intimacy is treated.

    But I hope it’s okay to relate in one very small way here: I felt “tied” to my abuser in a terribly unhealthy way—where I felt “one” with him not sexually—-but verbally. He had such a powerful hold on me that even as a believer, I simply did not know how to KEEP resisting him. The methods of my past weren’t all sinful per say, but that didn’t mean that I could still engage with them. And some of them WERE sinful.

    Biblical resistance is far different than one might think, but I believe it is a real thing. I’ve written a LONG comment here, so I’ll try to leave it there. But learning and discerning HOW to resist professing Christians (I have had to deal with a fair amount of abusive persons who claimed to be Christians) is vital, as well as applying that resistance to abusers who do not profess Christ.

    • Thanks again Helovesme. You’ve given us more examples of resisting abuse. You’ve described many things that our readers will relate to. How your abuser goaded you into fighting so he could pile more abuse on you. How if you kept silence he saw that as an affront to him too and he would abuse you. There was no way you could respond to him that stopped him abusing you.

      You said: “I felt “one” with him not sexually—-but verbally.”

      I relate to that. I can remember a moment when I felt “one” with my first husband. It was a micro moment in which I knew that he was manipulating me, and he knew that I knew that he was manipulating me… and I knew that if I verbally called him out on it he would escalate his verbal abuse of me, so I didn’t say anything… and he knew that I knew that, and he knew I was choosing to keep silent to try to prevent him from browbeating me, so I was in effect ‘allowing’ him to stay in superiority over me, I was allowing him to be the powerful controller… and I knew that in choosing to respond that way I was in a sense AGREEING to him being the power wielding baton holder. And I knew that he knew all that.

      It was uncanny. It only lasted a moment, with no words exchanged. But the sense of being ‘at one’ with him was indelible. And scary.

  7. Finding Answers

    Untangling what is – and is not – resistance is complex.

    I read through the comments on this post that are not mine and gain additional insights.

    There is no black or white, no absolute, no definitive answer. The only gauge I have is non-physical pain, and then discerning if the pain I am experiencing comes from healing a past hurt or comes from releasing the hurt from where it was physically stored in my body.

    I am SO tired of being waylaid by pain, sometimes bedridden.

    Perhaps, one day, the pain will end.

    • Finding Answers

      From the original post “………In extreme circumstances, resistance may be realized solely in the privacy of the mind/spirit.”

      ^That.

      Early this morning, a previously unremembered memory – voiceless, unheard, piercing screaming, in the recesses of my mind.

      Maybe this piece of information will help someone else, maybe not.

      Maybe there are others like me who did not remember some of the ways they resisted, they only live with residual pain.

      If my information helps even one person, I will be profoundly grateful.

      And to God be the glory.

  8. Artina

    I was not my dad’s main target for physical abuse, being younger of several siblings, but he did have targets. I cannot remember as many abusive events as my older siblings can. I remember one crazy physically abusive act towards me, by my dad, when I was crying after being hurt by a sibling, but mostly I remember the oppressive climate and feel of a less resourceful home. I remember wanting to be good and help (and hide), and the dream of maybe helping to change it all for better someday. There were several more disturbing things that happened to my siblings that I didn’t know about until I was a young adult. There was not a lot of healthy emotional presence and nurturing from our parents, but we were clothed, fed and I did well in school. We survived but we had a lot we had to put up with.

    I prayed to God that I could see the next “blow” coming from my husband (not a physical blow, but a manipulative move that would automatically enlist my time, emotional strength and commitment, without even talking to me about his plan). There were other events that caused me to lose trust in my husband, events that put our children at risk (IMO, not his) and some events that, IMO (not his), violated our marriage vows. As I was praying it came to me, something WAS up that I knew of and I did not want what my husband wanted and it would have tremendous time and emotional affects on me more than him, but, of course, leave him looking good in the eyes of beholders. I took the direct approach and told him “no”. I said that if we had a healthy functioning marriage then maybe something like what he had planned would work, but it was not a good idea in the context that I found “us” in. Of course, there were many, many nonphysical “blows” that I didn’t see coming…. And I did get somewhat “lost” in the marriage (or my fantasy of it), even though I remember telling him “no” early in the marriage, too, to a financial idea that he planned for me to finance even though he had the money to cover his plan. He didn’t ever like when I said no but he would just be silent and withdraw. Now…..I know that the reason I didn’t see the manipulative events coming is because he got away with many times of disrespecting me and did not talk to me in a genuine way about things he was planning.

    It seems fitting to have a paragraph of another patriarchal authoritarian (abusive) experience, my relationship with an authoritarian church. I took the direct approach there, too, but also after extended time investing. I didn’t see the “blow” of dominance coming before the event happened that opened my eyes. I am learning what dominance feels like on the receiving end. I can never view people who’ve done these abusive acts (and continue to uphold their acts as necessary by divine order) as protectors or providers….because they haven’t protected or provided and when I respectfully check out, theologically, their ideas…they are …another story. It certainly doesn’t make sense for me to “obey” them.

    At some points in my journey I’ve thought more deeply about the meaning of respect in difficult situations. What came to mind, at some points, was that to respect a snake meant to keep clear of a snake, distance. By God’s grace, I have had helpers, though, and that’s refreshing!

    In terms of resistance to pervasive disregard, disrespect, exploitation of time, money, emotional resources via the direct approach…..it is something that makes sense to me for certain situations or relationships. I don’t regret saying “no” at fitting times and or writing a few letters at fitting times. But I am also coming to understand that that does not work for many people. Even though there are people who may be intimidated by a respectful direct approach to conflict management. I don’t think that entitles them to keep another person trapped in their worldview in order to live out life, where their worldview is not empathetically centered on the common good. And I don’t appreciate counselors (which one did, others did not, thank God!) who suggest that, in the ebb and flow of life, later on in life the marriage relationship may be better.

    The thing that I find the most difficult to process about my family of origin is that people kept secrets and did not talk meaningfully about where we were as a family and discuss everyone’s responsibilities or even tell meaningful stories later of healing, forgiveness and reconciliation or divorce (there may have been indirect “stories” of softening of feelings, vaguely heard). The thing I find most difficult about my abusive church experience is that their credibility is lost to me and so I lack trust of any meaningful/genuine listening and responsiveness. I think of an old movie line, husband, who has a heart for his troubled son, says to his wife who doesn’t like “mess”: “I don’t know what we’ve been doing (playing) here, but I can’t do it anymore” and then he and the son leave to pursue the beautiful reality, one another, genuine connection.

    I believe authoritarian churches do not understand, do not want to understand, have no desire to, or are unwilling to learn how to define abuse and respond to abusive relationships and isn’t that pretty important to Jesus? It’s certainly currently relevant, has been relevant, and always will be relevant and important.

    • Thank you Artina for sharing all this. I’m confident that other victims of abuse will benefit from hearing your experiences.

      Bless you! 🙂 …And I’m sorry that this is such a brief acknowledgment, but it’s after 9pm here in Melbourne Australia and I’m heading to bed now.

  9. Finding Jesus

    One of the ways I resist is by sticking my tongue out at him when he leaves the room. When I first started during this I felt like it was very mean of me and not of Christ. But it makes me able to handle the anger and the hate I feel for him. I have a very “nice” abuser. By that I mean he puts on a good show of being nice and loving-but he really is not. He uses all the right words but the meaning behind them is so hard to detect. He comes down in the morning full of sunshine and happiness, me I have not slept a good night in ages.

    I think for myself it would be easier (?) to have a mean mouth abuser as opposed to the one who erupted out of the blue and attacked me. I may be wrong, I really do not know. I have noticed that in the past five years when I started learning and setting up boundaries he has been meaner mouthed but it is wrapped up in flower talk unless I hold my own and he knows he can not change my mind in a conflict, then he gets meaner.

    I have really learned a lot by the books I purchased and read-each one has given me more information and insight. I really did not realize I was abused until that day, I was deep in the fog. Now I really can not believe it except I go back to that day and say to myself “Self- one that is hit, no matter what the reason has been abused”. I really think I am dealing with a more cunning, evil abuser than the average bear, maybe we all feel that way.

    Now I am praying for insight on what brand of evil happens to be. In the past year God really showed me how I got conned by the “wonderful, nice man”. In the Don Hennessy book he says all abusers are about sexual control and having their needs met. I really resisted this concept at first because my husband really was not demanding in this area so therefore not abusing. Wrong again self- “the successful avoiding thereof means that he learns what he needs to do which is to get his own way” and that has been exactly what my marriage has been about him getting his own way in whatever area.

    I think I might even get that mean mouth abuser in the future as he has not been “happy” with me lately since I have gone Grey Rock on him. Before I did this I made the mistake of stating in a conflict that I was not going to cook for him for three weeks and would increase it by a week every week until he stopped verbally abusing me (not with name calling, that would not be Christian). After the 4th week was over with and we got into yet in another conflict he said “you said it was only going to be 3 weeks but now it is 4 that not fair.” I had a lightbulb moment where I realized he was not going to change his behavior, had no intentions of changing his behavior and he wanted what he wanted. Which was my broken body (which he caused indirectly) to stand there and hurt and cook him a hot meal all with limited funds he provides. Ha ha. (I also resist by taking out some extra cash in that limited grocery account for my run away fund.) He was just paying his time and waiting for good old wife to do what she always does which is to make him happy and full of song and mirth. He does not have a problem; I do.

    [Paragraph spacing added for readability. Editors.]

    • I love the examples you’ve given of how you resist, Finding Jesus. 🙂

    • Helovesme

      Really liked those examples as well, Finding Jesus.

      I think you do a great job articulating what it’s been like for you. The only reason I have a hard time grasping it in full—is because of something you touched upon. Not all abusers are openly mean; yours was a “nice” abuser. I truly disliked putting it that way (abusers are anything but nice), but I am only using to to relate to your post.

      I married into a family full of professing Christians. It has taken me a LONG time to see what I am now horrified at. Perhaps a decade or so, and I’m still trying to sort it all out.

      They also are very “nice,” but the whole story is far more complicated. And no matter what, it is the whole story that matters. One glimpse of a person does not define who they are.

      Being “nice” may be misconstrued as fruit of the Spirit. So we might have a hard time challenging such “nice” people. How dare we attack or disparage such “nice” persons?

      I’m trying to step carefully here, Bottom line (IMO) is this: you can be as nice as you want. It can manifest itself in all sorts of ways—-too many to list of course.

      But if in any way, shape or form—-you are manipulative (this is what comes across the most when you described your abuser)—-all the niceness in the world does not compensate.

      I am not speaking of victims of abuse, who may not tell the truth or be entirely truthful about what is going on. I am not trying to make excuses—but the intent of manipulation is incredibly valid.

      Abusers live to cause pain through manipulation. Victims are trying to survive, or remain safe. Blowing the lid off of their real life pain might endanger them, or their kids. I remember lying to teachers about my abuse. I wasn’t trying to deceive them to hurt them. I was too scared and ashamed.

      The Bible makes it clear that the devil is the father of lies. Those that engage in that “lifestyle” have chosen him as their father, versus the Father in Heaven. And since the devil lives to steal, kill and destroy, and is a murderer—-I think we can conclude that manipulation is about as serious as it gets.

      I now cringe at the various ways I’ve seen “nice” people engage in manipulation. And if you resist (as you spoke of), you will pay a price. The viciousness that emerges, so contrary to their perceived niceness—-is so difficult to grasp.

      I recall viewing that for the first time in some persons around me—-and I was so baffled that for a good five years, I told myself that their viciousness had emerged out of misunderstanding. If they had understood the situation better, they would not have reacted so harshly. I couldn’t believe they were really that cruel for any other reason.

      I came up with a terrible rhyme to remind myself, and to watch myself: when these people do not get their way, you will pay.

      When I started putting my foot down, setting boundaries and saying “no,” the niceness turned to iciness. I now try to tell believers that you CAN find out who your real friends are. When you dare to set a limit or dare to stand up to them—-look for the ones who so easily turn on you. They are more than likely not your true friends. They were just there for the ride, and now they want to get off.

      I can’t describe how cheap and used I have felt when I have discovered such truths. I was nothing but a sponge to be squeezed, and when I was squeezed out—-I was thrown away like trash.

      Even if they do or say nice things to you or about you—-I would hesitate to take their words to heart. A compliment is only worth the person who is giving it. If it’s not the real deal, it will not truly encourage you. I’ve had people tell me nice things, but oh my gosh they turned on me in an instant—-and I was beyond glad that I had chosen to not swallow their perceived niceness. It would have given me quite the bellyache!

      And same as an insult. If the person insulting you is a proven manipulator, I now work hard to dismiss them as well. Nothing they say or do towards you should be taken so seriously, because they are not true to themselves. I refuse to buy into their lies, if it is coming from a warped and twisted mind. Nothing from such persons should be trusted, because they are not trustworthy.

      When I think of all the “mud” that manipulation has buried me in—I do my best to look to the Lord (I often fail, but I’m still working on it!) Not one shred of manipulation can be found in Him. He is above and beyond us—superior in every way imaginable—but He has never laid an abusive hand or spoken an abusive word to me—-in the over 20 years since He got a hold of me. He is nothing like an abuser—-who harbors a false sense of superiority. He IS superior, and yet has always treated me like a real person with real needs. He has always listened to and guarded my secrets as if they were the greatest of treasures.

      This is something an abuser will never have the joy of receiving, let alone relishing. It is also something they will never engage in themselves since they have no interest in humanity or serving them. They may treat us like “losers,” but frankly they are the ones who are missing out. Victims are often the most joyous receivers of His grace, because not only are they in such need of it—-they treat it and honor it as the treasure it truly is.

  10. James

    Barbara writes very well and perceptively as do the commenters here. It is refreshing and also an education. Thank you all.

    I have spent decades pursuing these deep questions regarding ‘power’ and ‘abuse’ and I have come to some conclusions that have helped me. I hope they are relevant and helpful for someone here. Forgive me if my writing sounds a little didactic (and long) but, for better or worse, it is my way!

    It is evident that we are each born with free will. This means we have been given (as adults) the ability to make decisions regarding ourselves. We are each sovereign individuals. This means we do not have the authority to make decisions for another sovereign person. It also means that others do not have the authority to make decisions for us.

    If this personal sovereignty is overruled by another, such as in the extreme case of slavery, the individual, now victim, suffers a ‘failure to thrive’ and this is evident from their demeanour and their shortened life. It has been said, “The light goes out in their eyes”. We see this ‘failure to thrive’ often in the cases of depression and depression is almost always a result of oppression of one sort or another. Clearly, the oppression is going against the natural design for that person.

    Given that God has designed us, going against that design is going against God’s wish for that person. It follows that oppressor is now in opposition to God.

    The oppressor, in going against God’s design for someone else, is also going against God’s design for the now oppressor, too. Can we expect things to go well for the person rebelling against God? Indeed not. They become deluded in their thinking. The oppressor is now seeking to rule over the victim and in doing so is seeking to replace God in the victim’s mind and life and thereby crush this life, make ‘the lights go out’. While it may sound extreme, this is the essence of the anti-christ or satan, if you like. Christ gives life (I am the Life) and the anti-christ, in their rebellion to Christ, seeks to take it away.

    The oppressor is suffering the ultimate delusion; of being God. They lose touch with reality and their priorities become inverted and narcissistic. It can be subtle but all must feed the drug of power. The oppressor is sinking into the madness of their own delusion of power. They may be apparently functioning well but that is usually because they are not being brought to account by others and others are bearing the consequences that should be falling on the instigator, the abuser. Because God’s design is not being followed, harm results, destruction ensues all round.

    I was tortured as a child by men who were trained in the ‘art’ of torture. It was extreme but it had one benefit – the masks were off and there was no mistaking the evil as it was in plain view. These men were literally trying to replace God in my mind. So long as I did not accept that, I was resisting and successfully so. So long as you hold in your mind that what the abuser is doing is wrong, you are successfully resisting and you will survive. You will not ‘go over to the other side’ and you will survive with God’s help because you are holding to His Way.

    To claim then that God wants a person to remain in a relationship with an abuser who is, by their actions, in rebellion with God’s design, God’s wishes, and therefore in rebellion with God Himself, is nonsensical. It is a plain contradiction and there are no contradictions in reality or truth. Also, that subtle advocate for the oppressor (so common in our institutions) is now in rebellion with God, too, and likely for the same reason – power over others and the perks that go with it. Power corrupts the ability to perceive reality, the plain truth.

    Power over others is the way of the world and the way of institutions including too many churches who are supposed to be against ‘the way of the world’.

    The oppressive family mimics the oppressive society that we all live in. It is run on hierarchical power that grants status and privileges to the various rankings. Professional advocates, pastors, priests and treating professionals enjoy the status, ranking and privileges of ‘the system’, our ‘world’. Unless they are exceedingly vigilant, they too become deluded.

    One of the first indications of this delusion brought on by having power and status is the inability to respond or respond well to criticism. Other indications are ‘blaming the victim’ and minimisation of the harm done – all very familiar to the readers and commenters here, I’m sure. What you are hearing is evil masquerading as ‘authority’ or ‘care’ or both. It is neither.

    • Finding Answers

      James commented “I have spent decades pursuing these deep questions regarding ‘power’ and ‘abuse’ and I have come to some conclusions that have helped me. I hope they are relevant and helpful for someone here. Forgive me if my writing sounds a little didactic (and long) but, for better or worse, it is my way!

      I truly appreciated your comment, James. I do not find it either didactic or long, and you made some salient points.

      Each writer contributes a different perspective to the discussion, a different take on life. I learn from each writer, no matter the style of writing.

      Your words connected with me, shedding a little more light onto something I have a difficult time putting into words of my own.

      I like learning, and you have given me more food for thought. 🙂

    • Thank you James. Thank you for articulating this so clearly.

      Your insights into this, coming from your having been tortured as a child by men who were trained in the ‘art’ of torture, and yet holding in your mind that what the abusers were doing to you was wrong, so you didn’t go over to the other side and become an abuser like the men who abused you… your insights are of immense value.

      I didn’t think your writing was didactic.

      To write truth about abuse, mind control and torture requires skill, nuance and careful wording if we are not going to write words that will turn victims from the way – the Way, Truth and Life which God offers us freely without price.

      Thank you for helping me and others who come to this blog. 🙂

      • James

        Finding Answers, if some of my words have connected with you then that is very gratifying. Thank you for saying so.
        Thank you Barbara for your encouragement.

        It struck me reading the insights on this blog and particularly the comments about resistance, that though the contexts and methods vary, it is all of a muchness. The aim of the perpetrator is always to dominate the will of the victim to turn them into clones of themselves (the perps) i.e. stupid and nasty and lifetime members of the “Kingdom of Lies”. If, in your mind, you never submit then you remain in the Kingdom of God and that is our ticket into Heaven, if you like.

        The perps and their enablers with their status and delusions will have to remain outside. You cannot take delusions and lies into Heaven. Either that or they have to face the horrible truth of themselves. Either way, not pretty!

        I haven’t achieved much in this life in ‘worldly’ terms but some years ago I realised that I hadn’t succumbed to evil and that was quite an achievement. The older I get, the more I see that many many people achieve the same thing and I wonder if this is, after all, the purpose of life or, at least, one of the purposes of life.

        Thank you again, Barbara for this blog and your writing and thank you everyone for such thoughtful comments (Helovesme absolutely nails it!)

    • Helovesme

      James you did a wonderful job. Don’t apologize for the length—–for me, it was an easy read and a good one, too.

      By the way, I am so sorry for what you endured—torture is a very real thing, and the trauma and scars it leaves behind run deep.

      You brought up so many good points that it’s hard to pinpoint the best or most impacting one.

      Your analysis on “power” was brilliant. How an abuser is addicted to it like a drug, always wanting more and more. And how the need and greed for power is not limited to abusers alone. And best of all—this is NOT God’s design for the oppressed and the oppressor. Recognizing that is a huge deal: this isn’t what God wants. It doesn’t reflect who He is. He came to bring abundant life—-and abuse aims to take it away.

      “The oppressor is suffering the ultimate delusion; of being God.”

      You mentioned slavery in conjunction with that statement. Slavery is one of the most deplorable evils, because it is based on the lie that one human being has the right to own another human being. No one, ever—should buy into or support such a heinous concept.

      And yet in America it persisted for years, and while it “officially” ended in the 1860’s, without a doubt we are still grappling with the fallout. I don’t think we have completely removed ourselves from that time in history.

      By the way, I am speaking of slavery from American history. It was cruel and abusive. Slavery as described in the Word is NOT at all the same thing.

      Marriage and slavery are still slightly or seriously connected in the minds of many. I remember having real fears, and listening to real concerns when marriage was talked about: would we lose our independence? Is absolute and unquestioning submission (to a future husband) required of us? Will we lose part or all of our identity? Will we have to put aside all our own hopes and dreams—-is that really God’s plan for our lives?

      Single female “empowerment” was starting to become more prevalent around me. The general idea was that such women could protect themselves, provide for themselves, and prided themselves on both. They were in charge of their own lives, and relished the freedoms that came with it. Marriage wasn’t a bad thing per say, it just wasn’t for them.

      But there was no “married woman” empowerment slogan going around! So it inferred that such women lost their sense of empowerment, or power in general. That negative slant may or may not persist to this day.

      Depending on how you grew up, you might have been told (indirectly or otherwise) that first your parents love and protect you, until you get married. Then he takes over, so to speak. The parents can rest assured that their daughter is in good hands. She’s safe and sound now, because he will look after her and take care of her.

      Describing marriage like that may seem somewhat “rosy” on the outside—-but watch out for hidden thorns. It is a great dishonor to treat a wife as though she is your child in an adult body. This is where concepts like non-Biblical submission and obedience are allowed to flourish. The wife is treated as a subordinate, as if her mind is too child-like to think for herself. This is no different than treating slaves as though they have inferior minds, so they must be under the rule of a higher, more intelligent life form—-the white man.

      Slavery was not described as bondage when it existed. It was more described and thought of as a “system” that benefited both parties. The master gained free labor in order to make a lot of money, and to be served (as it should be. Also, many professing Christians back then used the Bible to justify slavery) The slaves were given a place to live, protection, food and general care taking. As long as the slaves obeyed, nothing would go wrong. As long as they knew their place, they would not get beaten or whipped. As long as they complied, things would go well with them. Recognize who is in power over you, and don’t challenge it. Nothing makes a master more angry that challenging his authority.

      Replace those words with “husband” and “wife” and there is the essence of an abusive marriage. Treat your husband as if he is God (he has all the power over you). But we “dress it up” so that it looks pretty on the outside, but it is poison on the inside. So wives might try to tell themselves and others that their husbands are there to protect and serve, so their authority over them is justified. This is how the husbands love them, so it’s not oppression, it’s Biblical.

      And they might even try to tell you that they don’t feel oppressed, they feel blessed. But if you are living or dealing with someone who believes they have any sort of ownership over you—-in any way, shape or form—you are being oppressed.

      Andrew Jackson is one of our earliest presidents, and he was a slave owner. He was famously protective of his slaves—fairly loyal to them as well. If one was a slave back then, and there was no escape or hope for you—-that is certainly a preferable owner to have.

      But I believe Jackson was defensive of his slaves as one would defend his home. They were property to him. While there were masters who treated their slaves as a worthless pieces of property, it is not at all flattering to be treated as expensive pieces of property—-because the fact remains that you are objects. Objectification is still oppression.

      I’ve read professing Christians admonish husbands to treat their spouses like well kept lawns, or expensive, therefore valuable objects like a yacht. This is not Biblical love. As long as you are not treated with the full fact in mind that you are made in His image, and are not objects to be owned, and are worthy because He loves you as His full fledged child—-it is still all about power and oppression.

      “Power corrupts the ability to perceive reality, the plain truth….Unless they are exceedingly vigilant, they too become deluded.”

      One of my real fears in confronting the reality of male oppression over females over time and over history, is that the roles will simply be switched. Now women are given all the power to oppress the men. Now it’s their turn to be in the driver’s seat, so to speak—and start calling the shots and expecting to be obeyed without question. Now history has handed them their ultimate revenge—-instead of being oppressed, they will be the oppressors.

      I know that sounds a bit off the wall. But I believe James’s comment about vigilance applies to all of humanity. The system of one having power over another needs to end, period. I’m a woman, and I have no interest in having power over others. And if I did, I would be in the wrong. This is simply not how a born again believer should live.

      John 13:3 nails it: “Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him”

      He knew He had all the power—-so He washed their feet. That is what it means to have any sort of power or authority. Next to Him dying for us for our sins, this is was the most wonderful thing He did for us.

      There is no hierarchy in Heaven, so there is no reason for all these power struggles during our earthly time. There are needs for structure in certain arenas—-authority is a real and Biblical thing. But not when it comes to your place before Him. No child of His is above or below any other. Anyone who tries to push anything different, is not being Biblical, and I would steer clear of them.

      “What you are hearing is evil masquerading as ‘authority’ or ‘care’ or both. It is neither.”

      Again—-James, bravo!

      • James

        Thank you Helovesme. As always, you make a lot of sense and there is much to think about. I am going away for the weekend which will give me time to do exactly that!

        BTW, I think, officially, in terms of numbers, there is more slavery in the world now than in any previous time in history, which is sobering.

      • Helovesme

        Oh goodness James I have to say I agree with you—-which is horrifying indeed. Have a wonderful weekend.

      • James

        Helovesme, you bring up many situations that cause trouble, as does Artina, and they are justified. In all of them, you will find someone with a sense of entitlement over the mind, the time or the resources of someone else and all ‘just because they think it is their right ‘. And that is a ‘no-no’.

        God gave us authority over ourselves and that excludes others from any ‘god-given rights’ over us; period! However, He also made us so that we needed each other to survive. We have differing talents and abilities for our mutual benefit. No one can do everything.

        The only way we can fulfill both conditions of God’s design for us i.e. to be free as individuals but mutually dependent on each other, is that ALL associations and relationships are voluntary – totally voluntary and agreeable. This is especially so for marriage which is the very foundation for our society.

        Men and women are different, to state the obvious (which, sadly, is becoming increasingly necessary to point out in our society today). Therefore, women and men are complementary; therefore they need to function co-operatively which means interacting equally. This maximises personal creativity as is also God’s wish for us, if we are to judge by the fruits. And that’s it! This is the model for our society.

        This is how we survived as a species over hundreds of thousands of years of ‘prehistory’ in tribal groups; co-operatively. In the event of an insoluble dispute, an individual was free to go and/or the group was free to expel the individual! Ongoing abuse is impossible in this type of environment.
        Psychopaths cannot survive in this environment.

        Modern civilised society, with its institutions, relies on force and coercion to function. Given that we, as a species, are psychologically ill-equipped to handle having power over others (or to be on the receiving end), ongoing abuse is inevitable in this environment.
        Psychopaths thrive and dominate in this environment. This domination goes against God’s Law which is written into our very natures and so, inevitably, causes harm. The laws written into our natures, and witnessed to by their fruits, are Free Will and Free Association.

      • Helovesme

        James again brought up a great point:

        “However, He also made us so that we needed each other to survive.”

        This is a real passion of mine. I’ll speak only about myself—-my experience in being abused was a two sided coin. One on side, I knew what it was like to be hurt and felt for others who had been hurt. I also longed for compassion and comfort from others. It would mean so much to me to know that someone understood what I’d been through, and I constantly looked for those that might meet that aching need.

        On the other side, I was hard in heart and focused on personal survival, which doesn’t leave much room to be sympathetic to others! My abuser seemed very desensitized to the pain in others, and oddly enough I followed him in those footsteps. People were treated as nothing more than resources who had something I either wanted or needed, and I wasn’t above using manipulation or hypocrisy—-all for that dire goal of self-preservation.

        So that real need for one another can have a dark flip side—I need people but they don’t really mean much to me. I was used, abused and now everyone owes me—-I’m “entitled” to have my needs met, no matter what it takes or who I may hurt.

        Fear was a big part of that attitude. Anyone who has been hurt by people does not want to keep getting hurt! Keeping others at arm’s length might you feel safe, but then you will never know what it’s like to love and be loved by others.

        Again, for me—it was only by putting my sufferings into the Lord’s hands that made all the difference. He teaches us how to love and serve others. Your personal pain means a great deal to Him, but He will teach you to not turn it inward so that it becomes your enemy.

        I read a wonderful blog about Eve being created as a helper, and how that has been terribly misinterpreted and misunderstood. It is not from this site so I’ll leave it there.

        But It also begs to question WHY the Lord saw the need to create women. He very well could have stepped into that gap Himself to meet the need for a companion—-in seeing that it was not good that man be alone. And for many of us here, we know how good God is to the lonely. He also could have covered that need to be Adam’s “help” since this a clear and strong part of who the Lord is. And again, we on this site know how capable He is in this area

        I don’t know the answer, of course—God’s mind is way above mine! But it’s fair to ask why women are so demeaned and dehumanized—-when it’s obvious that the Lord thinks very highly of women—to entrust them in ways that He is well known for, and well engaged in. It is obvious that we have much to offer, yet in attempting to offer whatever the Lord equips us with—-we are treated as nothing more than disposable.

        Think about someone who gives a speech in accepting an award of some kind. In the two minutes that you are usually allowed, the person tries to thank as many people as possible that helped them. That supported them. That came alongside him or her and encouraged and strengthened them. That made it possible for them to earn that award.

        It’s almost unthinkable that someone would get up there and say “it was all me. As for those that supposedly helped me—they don’t mean as much because I still would have gotten here somehow. They’re not my equals, or else they would be up here with me, which they are not. Anyway, I’m the one that did all the work so I deserve all the spotlight.”

        I do slightly disagree with James that marriage is the foundation of society. Not at all trying to start a back and forth—-I think I see where he is coming from. I just don’t see it in the exact same way. No disrespect at all intended.

  11. Artina

    Last night I searched for a good light hearted Hercule mystery, or something like it to watch. I don’t like the graphic crime dramas. I couldn’t find any I haven’t already seen so I came across a documentary about Harriet Tubman, what an amazing woman!

    I think about slavery and power versus healthy empowerment that God gives a lot. I used to avoid the word feminist but I like the label Jesus feminist. I’ve read that the Israelite men used to pray, “Thank you, God, that you didn’t make me a woman.” Hating women has been around a long time. According to statistical research (could name a book and authors but it’s not from this site), women typically do consider others as they live their lives, using economic resources to care for their children, etc. I have not checked this out but I watched a historical video where the narrator said the Greeks or Romans, I think Greeks, were afraid of Amazon-like warrior women taking over, but the Romans were a better influence, respecting women’s insight some. Some Ancient Greek structure has the Warrior women on it.

    I think too of King Xerxes’ [Ahseurerus’s] wise men advising him to deal harshly with Vashti for not obeying a selfish damaging request. These wise men were afraid of a female uprising. In consideration of this and my own experience, I’m not afraid of women taking over, although I know that some smaller percentage of women can be power usurpers, just like men can be to a larger extent. And woman with power can be tempted to misuse power just like men can, but….

    I’m concerned about elimination of healthy female contribution, leaving male-centered sin priorities shaping church and world culture, with women compartmentalized to function just in areas some men (not all!) want them to function in, keeping parts of themselves shut down, not bothering the men with those parts, where women’s main roles would be to be an audience for men as well as meeting sexual needs, caring for children and domestic service.

    In the conservative church I left, right after a power move that emphasized female subordination, but before I left, one of the leaders and his wife did a little skit where (maybe an attempt at humor) Isa54:5 was reversed, “your husband is your maker”. I didn’t laugh. And I’m not sure anyone else noticed. I wouldn’t have noticed before the power move. I don’t like jokes that disparage either gender either. I’m grateful to God for more awareness than I had before and I know God’s not done with me yet.

    • Helovesme

      Artina, great reply! And thank you for bringing up other aspects of history as you did. One of our greatest resources is to learn from history, lest we be doomed to repeat it.

      That skit you brought up was anything BUT funny, and I’d like to think I have a great sense of humor 🙂 .

      Barb or anyone else from Australia can correct me if I am wrong, but one of the biggest things I love about that country is that they allow women to serve in combat (in their military). I need to check if America has finally opened that door up to women, but I know for sure that there was real resistance to it.

      America does allow women in their military, FYI—-but I believe there were restrictions as to what capacities they could or could not serve in.

      My personal opinion for that strong resistance is that it was not just about gender issues, but about money. If you allow women to serve alongside men you have to pay them accordingly, and they are allowed full access to certain benefits as full fledged veterans.

      If you keep women only in certain roles, you can better control them, too. As long as they stay in their place, they don’t make potential waves or cause any trouble.

      When it came to the fight to be given the right to vote, I have a strong hunch that the same argument applied. When you give something to a group of people who have commonly been excluded from them, the group that enjoyed those privileges for so long might feel threatened. That perceived “loss of control” is simply unacceptable, if you’ve been trained and brought up to believe that such things are entitled to you, but not to others.

      There were concerns about women’s intelligence (or lack thereof) to be able to vote soberly. Not only that, do women really NEED to vote? Haven’t the men done a good job on their own, for so long? Politics is a man’s business, a man’s world. It’s just the normal and natural way of the world. Why rock the boat?

      Frankly, it comes down to something that we see in children: they simply don’t want to share anything that they feel solely belongs to them. Ownership, even and especially as children, is a big deal: “Mine!” is the cry you might hear if you try to take what is theirs and share it with another. A child will might throw a fit if you dare try to usurp their “authority” over that toy!

      The “right to vote” has nothing to do with power structure, or power struggles or even empowering women (although it is an incredible joy to be able to use your voice at the ballot box). It has to do with the fact that as a member of the human race, you have every right to have a say in how your country is run.

      A person can join the military at the age of eighteen. That is when you are allowed to vote as well. It’s interesting, because when you reach twenty one, you are legally allowed to drink—but you don’t have to be that old in order to vote.

      There has been talk about raising the voting age, since eighteen is a young age. Should we wait until they mature a few more years, since voting is a big deal?

      But most people believed (as do I), that if you’re old enough to fight for your country, you have every right to have have a say in who is running it.

      I apologize for digressing from speaking about women, but I am of the belief that we tend to stigmatize people for their ages as well as their gender—-and I’m always glad when I see younger persons stand up to that kind of thing.

      • Artina

        Thank you, Helovesme, for reading my comment and replying. I hope it’s helpful for all of us to read different perspectives, noticing things in common and things slightly different. I believe it’s helpful for me as I have trouble, at times, navigating differences. I don’t want to be insensitive or disrespectful in regards to differences.

        Thank you for your kindness in mentioning that you did not find the church skit I commented about funny either. That felt refreshing.

        A friend told me that in current Israel women are a part of the military (I don’t know about combat) but this friend said in current Israel they make sure to include military womens’ perspectives in constructing battle strategy.

        I appreciate your thoughts and agree with you about the money factor in the mix of keeping women in certain roles.

        Please don’t apologize for not keeping your reply focused on women and moving to age considerations. My mind and heart goes there a lot, too. I have young adult children of both genders and I think that young adult age is underserved.

        There is a lot on this site that I haven’t read yet, as I haven’t been visiting regularly for long. I find this site refreshingly different and helpful. I appreciate this site’s view on sin-leveling. And there’s much more that I find really helpful, such as Don Hennessy’s work and Barb’s work to pull out primary concepts (thank you, Barb!), for abuse victims to have quicker access. The language table is something I keep going back to and it seems to really help identify different aspects of counseling experiences (and church experiences) that I’ve had, some more helpful than others and why. https://cryingoutforjustice.blog/2019/03/13/why-i-publish-my-concerns-about-various-abuse-advocates-part-4-of-series-on-churchcares/

  12. James

    “Again, for me—it was only by putting my sufferings into the Lord’s hands that made all the difference. He teaches us how to love and serve others. Your personal pain means a great deal to Him, but He will teach you to not turn it inward so that it becomes your enemy.”

    Beautifully put, Helovesme! This is the way out of the apparent double bind that you so well describe.

    “But it’s fair to ask why women are so demeaned and dehumanized—-when it’s obvious that the Lord thinks very highly of women—to entrust them in ways that He is well known for, and well engaged in. It is obvious that we have much to offer, yet in attempting to offer whatever the Lord equips us with—-we are treated as nothing more than disposable.”

    This is a pivotal question. Genesis 3:15 comes to mind.
    I’ll copy that quote again but with a couple of edits, by way of answer-

    “But it’s fair to ask why women are so demeaned and dehumanized by psychopaths— -when it’s obvious that the Lord thinks very highly of women—to entrust them in ways that He is well known for, and well engaged in. It is obvious that we have much to offer, yet in attempting to offer whatever the Lord equips us with—-we are treated as nothing more than disposable” – by psychopaths.

    Satan rules our world through psychopaths. Psychopaths (mostly men – but, of course, few men are psychopaths – about 5%) rule our society through our institutions. These institutions have shaped our culture over hundreds of years and set the agenda today. To understand any issue in our society, one has to understand the foundational role psychopathy plays in it, imho.

    Here is a book on psychopathy that is in the public domain courtesy of the estate of Dr Hervey Cleckley-
    The Mask of Sanity

    Go here (cut and paste this into your browser in case the my code doesn’t work)
    https://cassiopaea.org/cass/sanity_1.PdF

    It’s long and you won’t like what you learn!

    • I have not read The Mask of Sanity, but I’m publishing the link James gave as it looks worth perusing. Bear in mind that it was first published in the 1940s, so it reflects the way psychiatry was at that time.

      It has several case studies of psychopaths. And in her excellent book Predators, Pedophiles, Rapists and Other Sex Offenders, Anna Salter mentions one of the case examples that is given in The Mask of Sanity.

      James, since you are pretty new to this blog you are probably not yet aware of our publishing policy regarding links in comments. You can read it here. 🙂

      • James

        Cleckley was a Christian and wrote from that perspective. The edition that is linked is the fifth edition and was written in the 1970’s, from memory. There is a sixth edition available on Amazon and elsewhere but I have read that the fifth (and free) version is the better one.

        I have read the policy that you linked to, Barbara, and I understand and endorse your position. Please feel free to remove the link. I will not be offended 🙂

      • I won’t remove the link to Cleckley’s book. It looks like it is really worth reading. And thanks for the heads up about him being a Christian.

        If you want to recommend any materials James, you can always just email me first to check. My email address is barbara@notunderbondage.com

      • James

        Thanks. I’ll be in touch. There’s a lot of politics surrounding research on psychopaths.

    • Hi James, did you mean Genesis 3:16 rather than Gen 3:15?

      I have written at least four posts about Genesis 3:16. Here is the first one: What is the woman’s desire? How Susan Foh’s interpretation of Genesis 3:16 fed steroids to abusers. From there you can find the others.

      • James

        Gen 3:15 was the one. I initially wrote after it, “I can’t believe I’m quoting from the Old Testament!” (I have serious problems with much of the OT). I deleted the comment and should have deleted the Bible ref, too.

        I was thinking of how Satan (through psychopaths) targets women and children particularly. But the Bible verse doesn’t really refer to that, in any case.

      • Ah, okay — I get it. You’ve made a good point.

        “I will put hostility between you and the woman,
        and between your offspring and her offspring” (Gen 3:15a) certainly does talk about Satan targetting the woman/ women and children.

      • I used to have a lot more problems with the OT than I do now. I think that a lot of the problems which people have with the OT come from how it has been badly interpreted and applied.

        For example, the story of the Levite’s Concubine in Judges 19 is horrific. I used to think it did great injustice to victims of abuse. But now I have come to see that for those who have ears to hear, it is highlighting how abusers operate, how they recruit allies, and how they manipulate the way society sees them so that they can keep getting away with their evil deeds. I think that Judges 19-21 gives us incredible wisdom about the tactics of abusers. And that it can help us be ‘wise as serpents and harmless as doves’. I articulate all this in my YouTube presentation on The Levite’s Concubine.

    • Artina

      James, I appreciate the clarity that you’ve used to share a portion of your abuse story. I can’t articulate my experiences as clearly.

      I also appreciate your thoughts in your 3/24 2:04 am post, especially the way you worded,

      “The only way we can fulfill both conditions of God’s design for us i.e. to be free as individuals but mutually dependent on each other, is that ALL associations and relationships are voluntary – totally voluntary and agreeable.”

      And I like the way you said this: ….”which means interacting equally.”

      I trust that when you write of marriage and community you mean mutuality and well being for one another in community. I believe marriage is a good concept. I agree that women and men have some differences, but I’m cautious around the word complementary and don’t use it because I think it’s been hijacked by some well known men who seem to be intentional with it in a way that I (and others in places of more influence and scholarship) don’t agree with. I believe women and men are primarily alike in their humanity, but that they do have some differences. I believe the need for human dignity needs to be considered and operative for both genders in community building. The fruits of the Spirit are not gendered, where men do some of them and women do others.

      There are married, unmarried and marginalized people who’ve lived remarkable lives and contributed much help and example in the world, many whose stories and names, or not, are preserved in scripture. I thank God for that. I often think of Susan B Anthony and the “Iron Jawed Angels”. Ms. Anthony did good work, as did Alice Paul. I think of Justice Sotomayor and her “Beloved World”. I think of Fred Rogers and how nurturing he was. People can be God’s beloved people whether they’re married or not. They’re all important. Friendship is a high priority for me. I agree people need people. I like the word collaborative.

      • James

        Artina, you wrote, ” I like the word collaborative.” So do I!

        And, yes, ‘dignity’ is essential.

      • Helovesme

        Artina that was a wonderful comment (about the word complementary, plus your words about marginalized persons). You rightly lauded James for articulating his experiences, but you did a fantastic job in expressing yourself. Those were right along the same thoughts I was having, but you wrote them out very well.

        And friendship, as Jesus expressed it—is actually the greatest form of love (John 15:13). What a high and lofty compliment it was to the disciples to be called His friends.

        I remember former friends, in one way or another, exiting my life. That is very hard on a person. But I also had the honor of discovering the Lord as a true Friend—-not just as a Savior and Lord. He stepped into that gap so wonderfully and took care of me.

        He truly is the best Friend you can have, or ever imagine. He will not gossip about you, He will keep your secrets and is a faithful and consistent listener. All your stories and needs are precious to Him. He is never too busy or too tired to be there for you. And you never, ever have to worry about Him walking out on you or turning His back on you.

        He teaches us what friendship is all about, then asks us to go and do likewise.

        And Barb is spot on about the story in Judges 19. I did not know what to make of that awful narrative for a long time, until I caught onto what you described.

        James my apologies—I don’t quite have the time right now to read those links, but I hope others get a chance to. Your usage of the word “psychopath” is quite interesting; I have never heard it described as such. “Sociopath” is a bit more up my alley—someone devoid of a conscience so he or she inflicts terrible harm on others without batting an eye.

      • Dr George Simon Jr says that the words ‘psychopath’ and ‘sociopath’ mean the same thing.

      • Artina

        Thank you, HeLovesMe, for your generosity and kindness in letting me know what parts of my comment you thought were stated well and that they were along the same thoughts that you had.

        And I loved your words describing Jesus as Friend. I so loved your words elaborating on that. Thank you.

        Today I watched Barb’s video on Judges 19. I did not ever know exactly what to make of that story, but I think, in the past I forced a superficial interpretation quickly, in order to move on, so that the Levite, being God’s priest, was probably not the worst of the bad guys. At this point in my life Barb’s teaching makes so much more sense. Barb,…, thank you. Two places in the video were really notable for me, the Westminster 1647 catechism of levels of sin and your categorizing the possible things to be outraged about in this story.

        It is troubling to me when I encounter teaching that says victims/the oppressed need vengeance, which is counter to this site’s ideas. I’m referring to books, or sermons I’ve heard that mention the sin of revenge/vengeance instead of God being a jealous God and/or Amos. “Let Justice fall down like waters and righteousness like an overflowing stream”. I believe God can calibrate and renew minds so that a desire for, and work toward, justice is not vengeance, but rather restorative (which may or may not include “divorced associations”).

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