A Cry For Justice

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

Abusers know no shame

Zephaniah 3:1-5

Woe to the city that is rebellious and defiled,
the oppressive city!
She has not obeyed;
she has not accepted discipline.
She has not trusted in the Lord;
she has not drawn near to her God.
The princes within her are roaring lions;
her judges are wolves of the night,
which leave nothing for the morning.
Her prophets are reckless—
treacherous men.
Her priests profane the sanctuary;
they do violence to instruction.
The righteous Lord is in her;
he does no wrong.
He applies his justice morning by morning;
he does not fail at dawn,
yet the one who does wrong knows no shame.

(Christian Standard Bible)

This passage is clearly talking about abusers. Wolves. Treacherous men. People who often hold positions of power in the community.

Many Christian counselors and psychologists seem to ignore this passage. They prefer to think that abusers have shame and they abuse others in order to ‘cover’ their shame or ‘flee’ from their inner shame. I do not buy this argument. And neither does Dr George Simon Jr.

**

Further reading

Dr George Simon Jr. – his internet writings and his books

A Story of Abuse and Shame: Setup by the Religion of the Pharisees and How Jesus Set Her Free!

 

 

 

 

76 Comments

  1. Maggie

    Yes! I am a big fan of Dr. George Simon! Abusers have no shame, yet the church shames anyone who so much as sees the negative in life. (We choose to see the truth, and the church insists on running like a social club.) This is why the church is not a healthy option for many, unless you are in a church [that] prioritizes showing love to the hurting. This is not always the case.

    • Finding Answers

      Maggie commented “…….Abusers have no shame, yet the church world shames anyone who so much as sees the negative in life…..”

      (Strikethrough and the word “world” added by me.)

      ^That.

      I read through the story Barb linked to and noticed some similarities between all the abusers in my life IF the similarities I noticed were combined into one person, rather than spread out over many people.

      Copied from the original post “yet the one who does wrong knows no shame.”

      ^That, however, rings true for ALL of my abusers WITHOUT combining them into one person.

    • Anonymous

      “Focus on the positive!”

      Oh, how I loathe hearing that repeated to me. Has anyone noticed how listening to Christian radio stations will actually distort the picture of the world — it’s as though speaking truth is not allowed and only positive, uplifting, inspiring, feel-good messages are allowed.

      There’s plenty more wicked in the world than good. To find actual good people in this world is rare but a person wouldn’t know it from so many churches’ messaging and the same goes for Christian radio programming.

      And yet the Holy Bible contains verse after verse about evil, the wicked, treachery, conspiring, and it was first created how many thousands of years ago? And what does the Bible tell us? That the world is going to continue to get more and more evil. And yet churches aren’t addressing this, nor is Christian radio stations’ programming.

      I suppose it all works for those who are ignorant due to a blissful absence of severe victimization, trauma, abuse, predation, and so forth, but I’m not of that category any longer.

      • Maggie

        Thank you! I feel the same way you do! People have yelled or been rude (including a pastor and a secular therapist in session) because I spoke the hard truth about something or someone (in private, but albeit not always in the correct way). The people wanting to hear the positive all the time are abusive too! The negative is often the truth. It is one thing when you are at work, but church people should bear with you at least for a while. It is one thing to do a private, humble Matthew 18 confrontation when someone has become bitter (which a friend did for and to me correctly), but most confrontations of any kind are not humble in today’s church, particularly from the clergy and their families. Many members of the clergy and their spouses are narcissistic liars, or at least somewhat selfish, arrogant and rude. This is Not universally true, however.

        The positive is not often the truth. I have a health coach (a Christian in my church) that indicates that we should not allow our situation to dictate our feelings. In all fairness, feelings do affect our sleep, weight and health. I do not mind this is her, because she wrote the e-mail politely and professionally to someone paying the bill (me). (Accomplishing this, however, is another story; she also needs better information concerning addiction, effects of abuse, depression and other issues hidden in the church.) However, many refuse to understand an abused person’s reality. What is really hilarious (if it were not so sad) is that I listen to their complaints, sometimes oft repeated, and say nothing. Maybe I should point out the hypocrisy the Matthew 18 way next time. (Words will have to be carefully chosen in advance.)

        A lot of Protestant, conservative “theology” is really loveless tradition, and that is one reason why the Protestant church has lost the culture war in this country. Most conservative, Protestant churches worship Lord Yesterday, not the Lord Jesus. Some churches understand the importance of loving others and charitable works in tough situations, and most do not. It is hard to be sorry to say that most of these social clubs called churches really should close. I prefer the Truth over the positive any time and any day.

      • Anonymous

        Thanks, Maggie. I think people find it easy to dismiss other people’s pain. I also fault the Christian communities — their radio programming, their ‘pleasantries’ messaging, most all of the books that come out — for so much. Perhaps it’s also inconceivable to someone who isn’t affected, who hasn’t been severely victimized or abused or traumatized to not be bouncing back like Gumby. Perhaps it’s a matter of it being especially painful to sit there with someone who is ruined and not desperately try to cheer them up or repeat society’s trite admonitions (like, ‘cheer up!’ or ‘it takes more muscles to frown than to smile’ or don’t worry, be happy’).

        Or, for example, being a person of color living in the racist society of the U.S., I have no idea what it’s like to be African-American, but I can learn, and I can listen and I can hate the wicked racists for their evil.

        Or men telling women in our sexist society how we are equal now, and sexism is dead and for women to complain any longer about what sexist, horrible, creepy men do to them is to just want to be a victim….. not so.

        Maybe people just want to continue living in denial as it helps them get through the day. Unfortunately for me, I don’t get to opt for denial-land anymore. Life is horrible, most people are wretched, and it’s a rare blessing to have someone truly understand and support you.

        Thankfully this blog exists and the other participants exist and we can encourage one another online, with the underlying foundation being God and His lovingkindness and His justice and His righteousness.

    • Helovesme

      Maggie that was a wonderful comment, thank you!

      May I take it one step further?

      Not only do abusers have no shame, but they are masterful at deflecting, dodging and dismissing shame with great ease and confidence—-which is why I think abusers can be so “successful” at what they do.

      They come off as so convincing, that those around them aren’t aware that this is adding more and more layers of deception, adding more and more layers of unfair, unjust condemnation towards the innocent. Not to mention causing more and more suffering, as if abuse itself does not cause enough suffering as it is.

      Add to that—-that since abusers have no shame, this will not stop. It will only get worse and worse. The only way it stops is if you resist and refuse to be shamed, when you have NO REASON to be ashamed.

      Think of Job and his friends. They were determined to blame him for what had happened to him. They kept hammering away at him shamelessly. Feeling little to no shame towards themselves, because they truly believed they were in the right, when the exact opposite was true.

      And Job, to his great credit, kept up with his insistence: I never said I was sinless, but I have nothing to be ashamed of in my present circumstances. I did not bring this onto myself due to some unknown or hidden sins within me. I will not accept what you are trying to force down my throat. In fact, the more you try to do just that, the worse you are making it for me. Have you forgotten that I’ve lost everything that mattered to me?

      By the way, the Lord agreed with Job: he is blameless before Me.

      Ask yourself whose words carry more weight: the abuser, those who enable or endorse abuse—-or the word of the Living God?

      If God says you have no reason to be ashamed, take His word over everyone else’s. He won’t lie to you, because He cannot lie. It is against everything He is.

      Abusers will not only lie to you, but they don’t know how to do anything else BUT lie. I don’t believe they can recognize the truth even if it met them face to face.

      This is hard to type out, and it’s my personal view: abusers are defined by abuse. It is not just what they do, it is who they are. This is the path they have chosen, so I believe we have every right to define them this way.

      We who are sincere and born again, and have been abused—-did NOT choose that same path. We have no interest in being abused, or abusing others. We want to be defined as His child, saved and set free and full of His hope and promise.

      Who will we be defined by? The word of the Living God, who says we are set free from shame that never belonged to us in the first place,

      Or the word of an abuser, who says we not only deserve to be mercilessly shamed, but we will be handed more and more of it—–our entire lives are going to be defined by shame and nothing else.

      I hope we choose the right option, but I know it’s tough. The words of an abuser can be quite powerful, and the shame they heap on us can be quite severe. It’s a process to undo the damage they’ve done to us, but the Lord is faithful—-we will see and experience His deliverance. He will never give up on us, so neither should we.

  2. Seeing Clearly

    “the one who does wrong knows no shame”

    I’ve not spent a lot of time recounting my abusive experiences in the religious college I attended for one year before moving on. I was shy, timid, fearful. The president and other authority figures stood before us in chapel, praising high profile people. My private voice and organ instructors talked down to me, they no showed for my private lessons and gave prime practice times to favorite students.

    My strict, fundamental church upbringing taught me to accept this college culture as norm. I assumed I deserved to be disrespected, ignored or devalued by religious authorities.

    This institution affirmed [in] my weekly attendance in church (18 yrs of visits by then) that a (c)hristian, abusive young man was the ideal man for marriage. I never heard a sermon on shame as a possible trait of a church attender. It was used in other contexts.

    NO one, repeat, NO one in my religious circles has EVER stood up to my severe childhood abuser or my ex-husband, who was a minister and severe abuser, to hold them accountable.
    Neither knows shame. Both continue to move freely in the church, holding their heads high!

    Oh, sure, there are people who do not care for their personality type, but they simply steer clear of them.

    I realize shame is an internal entity, apart from other’s response or attempt to hold responsible. I doubt that these abusers have a conscience that would internally inform them of shame as an identifying character trait.

    Hard to admit, but I do long for either or both of them to confess to me that they are abusive men who severely sinned against me and God. They nearly destroyed me as a person. I know that this will never occur because they have no shame. I find this topic extremely troubling.

    • Maggie

      You did not deserve what they did. You have every right to feel the way you do!

      An abusive “deliverance minister” shamed, yelled and disrespected me in public because a ministry leader disliked what I said. (I was crying at the leader’s dismissive response, and she took advantage of the situation.) Two therapists during session tried to shame me for something I said (one was yelling), and several church members shamed me for being a blunt, older, single lady. Many have spoken to me like I am 5 and not 53 y/o. Most of the time they are wrong according to the Word. The Protestant church is mostly a shaming institution (with important exceptions!) and a far cry from being followers of the real Lord Yeshua.

      Yes, abusers are shameless, arrogant, haughty and self-serving. They are wolves in sheep’s clothing too, devouring real Christ followers like yourself. Judgmental church members are devouring each other for being judgmental (same with hatefulness), and the professional clergy does nothing most of the time. If a leader pulls stunts like this, she (or he) probably cannot be helped. (Many women in the church habitually abuse too.) Churches want false peace without real justice, because they are run like social clubs and not spiritual hospitals or outposts of the Lord’s Army.

      My point is as follows: You are not alone! I am so sorry about what happened! They will be held accountable for their actions. Yeshua will repay! I have never married, and I do not know the incredible misery of spousal abuse, but the church does not allow discussion of it effectively. My dear sister, you were probably surrounded by narcissists or at least very selfish people. You did not deserve their unprofessional (at best) or abusive behavior (most likely).

      Again, you have every right to feel the way you did and do.

      • Seeing Clearly

        I appreciate your affirmation and kind words. Now that I have been out of the church for more than a year, I hear the rhetoric of the “social club” so much more clearly.

        A year ago, I fell into fun weekend employment. The only person I have difficulty with is the young man who was homeschooled and groomed in Patriarchy. He has responses to my work related questions that roll out of male vs single elderly lady mentality. A year ago, I perhaps would not have recognized it, as it was the norm in church. Now, I hear what he is actually saying and stand up, wisely, to him. No one else really realizes the banter between us.

        Also, looking back to his arrival after I had become familiar with my job, I fell in easily to picking up after him, allowing him to be sloppy and messy without repercussion. I fell back into my “accommodating religious men” mode so quickly. When I broke that sick habit, he began opposing my ideas, etc.

        There is zero tolerance for disrespect of management (male or female) and also for men making inappropriate conversations, etc with women. There are 100+ employees. In my department alone, two young men have been fired quickly. One was hitting on young women. The other yelled at the manager, a young woman, and told her he was wasn’t going to comply with her leadership. This is a nonreligious, commercial industry.

        I consider it a privilege to be 65+ and valued as an employee on Sunday mornings. 65 years in the traditional church was enough for me. Never made a dime in the church or any religious organization, but I worked endlessly for 50 years.

    • Helovesme

      Oh Seeing Clearly what horrible stories you have shared!

      I’m so sorry for what you went through. I apologize if this is repetitive (others have responded before me): even though they hold their heads up high here, before the Lord their true selves will not be able to hide, not for a moment. Their heads will be bowed in dishonor.

      I too tend to lean towards being fearful due to my abuse. It’s not “natural” to emerge from abuse as a confident child of God—-although without a doubt God can build His hurting ones back up from where they’ve been torn down. But that takes time and real patience. Abusers truly do reduce their victims to puddles of shame, and your experiences sound rather severe as well.

      “Hard to admit, but I do long for either or both of them to confess to me that they are abusive men who severely sinned against me and God. They nearly destroyed me as a person.”

      That surely struck a nerve with me as well. Here is my completely personal view on it, and this is only applicable to myself:

      I can honestly say that I do not know if I could trust an apology or a confession from those that hurt me. I would have to ask the Lord to give me discernment of course, in the very unlikely chance that they claimed to be repentant.

      I think everything in me would resist taking them seriously, because in stepping back and seeing things more clearly—-I don’t think they have any interest in repentance. I don’t think they believe it’s applicable to them, even though it clearly is. Note: that last statement took a LONG time for me to come to. There are no shades of gray here. They need to repent.

      Now, abusers can put on quite the show. They can put on the most convincing performances, but only to deceive. For them, it’s all a game. For me, it’s anything BUT a game.

      I have no interest in getting fake apologies, even though again—I don’t even see that as a possibility. But that would be more offensive to me. Don’t treat it like a joke, just to keep up appearances (or whatever the thinking is). If there is no substance behind it, don’t bother.

      So I’ve come to the point where I don’t think I am interested in their “confessions.” I was duped for so long that I have no interest in being duped any more, or at all.

      But—-no doubt this has all caused a great deal of suffering, as you wisely said. I very much resent that my life is very difficult in many ways, because of them. I have a lot of pain to process, a lot of trauma to live with, and constant triggers to be wary of, and aware of!

      No one cares more about the afflictions of the afflicted like He does. I honestly and sincerely do not know how I could endure even one tenth of this, if I was separated from His love. I could not imagine that. I would not survive, nor could I barely hold on if He did not assure me that He is with me through all this.

      Now, that is not to whitewash all the tears, the anger, the brokenness! it is NOT how I thought my life would look like, nor did I have any idea that this would all be coming at me.

      I would rather have five minutes in His presence—-being comforted and loved on His perfection— than five hundred years among the respected, so-called religious persons—with their facades and fear mongering.

      • Anonymous

        It is a game. I’ve heard multiple abusers use the very same phrase “hook, line, and sinker” (or something like that) in describing their manipulation, deceit, trickery, luring, and entrapment of women. Like it’s this grand game of predatory men. They’ll face God someday and it won’t go well for them.

        Proverbs 11:1 (NIV):
        “The LORD detests dishonest scales, but accurate weights find favor with him.”

        God hates these people in the marketplace, how much more in their predations of women?

  3. Mary

    I don’t think ALL abusers have no shame. I actually think there are very few people who walk around abusing that are not hiding shame. I was raised by a narcissistic mother and stayed married to a narcissistic man for 20 years. The damage it did to my kids is profound, unfortunately my son has picked up a lot of abusive traits and could be pegged as a narcissist. I can promise you that my mother, my ex husband and my son are all dealing with shame, this is the root cause of their behavior. Because of my upbringing I have surrounded myself with narcissistic personalities and not one of them isn’t dealing with shame as the root cause. As a matter of fact I haven’t met one person who isn’t.

    I absolutely do agree with the fact that a lot of churches frown on pointing out or looking at the negative in anything. I find that most Christians today think if we aren’t starving in a third world country we should be looking at our glasses as full. I think that kind of talk and advice is toxic and makes people think they should just swallow what’s going on and suck it up. If I’m not homeless or beat to a bloody pulp everyday then I’m fine. That is bad advice and what keeps a lot of people in abusive relationships.

    • Suzanne

      I’m curious to know how you detect shame in an abuser. My life has been full of them and I never once saw any sign or heard any word from my abusers to indicate that they felt shame for the evil things they did. What have I missed?

      • Mary

        The best way I can explain this is by sharing with you an encounter I had with my son and his live in girlfriend the other day. They have been together for five plus years and have my first grand baby. I don’t see my grand baby enough because of the kind of person my son is. When I go over there and look at his girlfriend I see myself. I see the hurt. I see the pain. I see her putting up walls and the argument always starts because he is cruel. I can’t keep my mouth shut and defend her every time but it never works. All that it does is drive a wedge between all of us because we all know the abused will always take the abusers side. So I pray, I ask God to help me and every time I go there now I try something different, this last time it worked. I intervened and stayed neutral, they were both surprised. That led to all of us sitting down and me getting her to listen to him and him to listen to her. She explained that he always puts himself first, he got defensive right away and tried to do the whole, throw the blame on her, but I asked him to let her finish. She gave him an exact experience and I saw the look in his eyes, he never realized it, he was dumbfounded, he really never saw himself like that. I saw his face, he was shocked, no one will ever convince me that he knew this about himself, I saw the shame, I recognized the shame because I’ve lived with shame. It was the same feeling I have with her when I recognize her pain, I know it, I’ve lived it. I saw his shame, I know it, I’ve lived it.

        The first thing he did was went after her to cover up his shame, for a fleeting moment he wanted to cry but he covered it up fast. I know she never saw it but I did, he’s my son, I knew right away. I wanted to scream it’s ok to screw up. It’s ok if you’ve been selfish, it makes you human. Just own up to it and try to change, but I had to let her finish, she never opens up and she was. I was listening and profusely praying that I would have an opportunity to tell my son it’s ok but I really feel like I needed to in that moment. We did end on a good note and I was somewhat able to reach him, I have to trust that God gave me a moment with those two and he would do the rest. The question to my son is, now that you know will you change? I hope and pray he does.

        I’ve seen the same shame in my ex and my mother. I know this is hard to believe and understand and I appreciate all of your questions.

        [Book recommendation redacted; paragraph breaks added for readability. – Eds]

      • Hi Mary, I again removed your surname from your screen name. I did that for your safety, and to protect others such as your daughter in law.

        I also removed the book recommendation you gave. Perhaps you are not aware of our publishing policy. We ask commenters to only recommend a resource in their comments IF that resource is one we already recommend on our Recommended Resources list. To read our publishing policy, click here.

      • Mary, I had a look at the author of the book you recommended. You might like to click this link which takes you to Amazon, and check out the 20 critical reviews of one of the books she wrote.

    • Hi Mary, thanks for contributing to the discussion.

      You said “I can promise you that my mother, my ex husband and my son are all dealing with shame, this is the root cause of their behavior.”

      I have some questions for you. I’ll give the less important on first. How do you know that those three people are all dealing with shame? You probably have a fair idea of what was done and said to your son when he was a kid, but with the other two people could you just be believing the stories they have spun, or making guesses about them based on your own presuppositions about people and the world?

      My second question is perhaps more important. Could it be that the individuals you call ‘narcissistic’ ( I prefer the terms ‘malignant narcissists’ or ‘predatory aggressive’) are not feeling enough shame for their repeated aggressive and disrespectful acts towards others? Could it be that they are primarily motivated by wanting to be Top Dog, their belief that they are entitled to mistreat those they target, and their refusal to accept responsibility for their wicked behaviour?

      Let me give you a quote from Dr George Simon’s book “Character Disturbance” (p 126)

      As a result of my work with both predatory aggressives and their victims over the years, I have concluded the main reason these predators are so successful in manipulating others: It lies not so much in their highly effective knowledge and use of manipulation tactics; but rather in the reluctance of normal “neurotic” individuals to make harsh judgements about others, or to trust their gut instincts about the kind of person they’re probably dealing with. They don’t attach enough significance to the “gift of fear,” and mistrust their instincts. On top of it all, they’re also often blinded by the notion promoted by traditional psychology theories over the years that everyone is basically good (and most especially, just like them under their wall of “defenses”). So they allow themselves to believe that a person will only behave badly, when hurting, frightened, or in some kind of inner pain. Such beliefs allow them to be easily victimized by the truly heartless. By now it should be evident that entertaining traditional notions about human behavior can easily be fatal when it comes to dealing with a psychopath.

      I highly recommend this book Character Disturbance. And Mary, if you get hold of a copy, I suggest you look at page 58 and page 81.

    • Mary, I removed your surname from your screen name.

      • Helovesme

        Barbara I apologize, I didn’t see your reply to Mary. I had the same questions you did!

        I’ll read you reply when I can since I’m sure it’s got some great insight in there.

      • No worries, Helovesme! No need to apologise. 🙂

    • Helovesme

      Hi Mary do you mind explaining what you meant here?:

      ” I can promise you that my mother, my ex husband and my son are all dealing with shame, this is the root cause of their behavior. Because of my upbringing I have surrounded myself with narcissistic personalities and not one of them isn’t dealing with shame as the root cause. As a matter of fact I haven’t met one person who isn’t.”

      Not at all trying to start anything, by no means. I just wasn’t sure what kind of context you are talking about. It sounded like you meant that they behave abusively because they harbor deep self-condemnation of some kind?

      The last paragraph you wrote is a great point. I’m sure we’ve all heard or have said ourselves: others are hurting worse than I am. I shouldn’t complain. I should be more content.

      It’s hard to answer that correctly, because thinking about others is not a bad thing!

      Here is how I think of it now: there is almost always going to be someone who is suffering worse than you. That kind of thinking gets you nowhere.

      However, you are not that person suffering worse than you are. You are suffering in your own life, and it’s your life you need to deal with.

      I suggest you pray this way: Lord, help those that are NOT suffering as bad as I am, who ARE suffering as bad as I am, and for those who are suffering WORSE than I am. All suffering matters to You, and we all need You.

      Suffering is not a competition, by the way. What would you be aiming to “win” if you came out on top, anyway? Hopefully we don’t show pity only to those who are the “winners” when it comes to who is suffering the worst. Compassion does not (or should not) work that way! There should be plenty to go around, and no doubt the Lord has plenty to give us.

    • Anonymous

      [Prefatory note by Barb. I think Anonymous is responding to Mary saying —
      “I don’t think ALL abusers have no shame. I actually think there are very few people who walk around abusing that are not hiding shame.” ]

      This isn’t true. I don’t care how many psychologists jump on the bandwagon and repeat this theory — unfounded theory — it doesn’t make it true. Worse yet, it inspires pity in others, for this supposed shame of theirs, as though narcs are forced to be narcs due to this supposed shame. It’s a theory — a mere theory, and a false one at that. It’s worse than simply being false because it endangers those who have narcs in their lives. Abusers is way more accurate than narcs. But books are waiting to be sold, academic journal articles are written, conferences are held, etc. for narcs, as though it’s a novel population of abusers. It’s not. It’s just abusers, being falsely categorized as narcs.

      It’s a rabbit hole. Don’t fall into it. I fight this narc nonsense a lot because it’s just abusers being dressed up as narcs based on a not proven, false, theory. Narcs don’t have shame issues. Narcs don’t exist — abusers do. And abusers (narcs) do NOT have shame issues. They do not compulsively harm others due to their inner butterfly being bruised or whatever other nonsense is being spotted in this fake community of narc specialists (because narcs are abusers) so do not feel pity for them.

      Narcs are simply abusers. Narcs are simply wicked, wretched, dangerous, evil people. Narcs are not some special class of abuser. Someone invented this whole school of thought as to some abusers being narcs to sell their books, counseling sessions, etc. I’ve read a fair amount of narc stuff, but it’s just not true. It’s speculation and it’s not proven and yet it’s sold as though it’s true and verifiable. Abusers are abusers and they don’t feel shame and narcs are mere abusers, not special or separate.

      • Hi Anonymous, I added a prefatory remark to your comment; if you think I’ve misunderstood, let me know. 🙂

        And in regards to what you said here:
        “Narcs don’t exist — abusers do…Narcs are simply abusers. Narcs are simply wicked, wretched, dangerous, evil people. Narcs are not some special class of abuser.”

        Have you read George Simon’s book Character Disturbance? If not I encourage you to do so. He does use the word narcissist, but he clarifies and nuances it by talking about malignant narcissists/ malignant narcissism. I think his nuancing is very helpful.

        But I agree with you that there are many populist authors and bloggers who only use the term ‘narc’ and they do so ignorantly. I agree with you that it would be much better if they used the term ‘abuser’. And if they don’t want to use the term abuser, they should at least use the terms ‘malignant narcissist’ and ‘covert aggressive’ when they spout off (yes, I’m using a bit of scorn intentionally) with their so called expertise.

        Sadly, many or even most abuse victims come across this ‘narc’ discourse by the populist authors before they ever read any more nuanced material, and they just go along with it. I have given up trying to be a language police-person about this on social media. I just remind people from time to time that the word ‘narc’ is often misused and there are far better words to use when talking about abusers. But most people seem to ignore me….oh well.

        I have also said and I’ll say again that one of the reasons why I find George Simon’s material so helpful is that he explains how psychological terms are used (and mis-used) in both the professional psychological literature and the populist discussion. And his book Character Disturbance helped me realise there is a spectrum of narcissism just like there is a spectrum of most character and personality traits. He talks about the malignant narcissist as at one end of that spectrum – they are the people that you and I would call abusers.

        In my life I have encountered some people who I would say were ‘benign narcissists’ — they were very self-focused, relished praise from others, mostly talked about themselves and seldom asked how others were going, showed little empathy with the feelings of others quite a lot of the time. But they were not malignant: they did not intentionally target others or abuse others in the covert-aggressive manipulative ways that abusers do. My dad was an example of this. I can say this knowing he will not read it, as he is no longer alive.

        I would never say my dad was an abuser, but he definitely had quite a lot of benign narcissism. He did lots of good things in the world, and some of his narcissism was related to the fact that he was highly intelligent, innovative, enthusiastic, and a great leader and networker in his professional field (science). His children saw his benign narcissism more than perhaps his colleagues did. 🙂

      • Anonymous

        Hi Barb,

        No, I have not read Character Disturbance but I know the other from his other book In Sheeps Clothing.

        Thanks for informing me about your father and the narcissism that may be pathological selfishness and self-centeredness. You were right to infer that I was talking about abusers that are wrongly labeled as narcs and then — PITIED — as though some wounded duckling. It’s the pity factor that drives me nuts.

        NPDs don’t ever get better. Personality disorders are permanent. Many in the mental health community will – unofficially – say that there is no treatment and no hope for personality disorders. NPDs are horrible people. They harm others who happen to come into contact with them. NPDs do not deserve any pity or empathy and it enrages me when abused women give what they think as empathy (but is really projection — assuming someone else is like them) to abusers who are clearly harming others.

        It’s like the bully apologists — people who say that bullies are victims and the bullies should be pitied, as they must be hurt/wounded people to be out there bullying others. Nonsense. They’re predators. Takes extra high, over-inflated self-esteem and self-confidence to bully someone and relentlessly prey on them.

        No pity or empathy or excuses for NPDs or bullies or abusers. They are predators.

      • “… when abused women give what they think as empathy (but is really projection — assuming someone else is like them) to abusers who are clearly harming others.”

        Thanks for saying this, Anonymous. It’s helped me untangle something. I put my hand up to this: Sometimes in my life I have thought I was feeling empathy for another person, but in retrospect I realise I was projecting by assuming they were like me in some way.

        I’m going to ponder this more. It’s a little nugget of discernment.

      • Hello Sunshine

        Barbara, I’m intrigued by your description of a benign narcissist. I get it; I can think of people with a similar description. I wonder if and how that idea intersects with abuse.

        I’m thinking of such a person in a marriage. If they consistently show little attention to, interest in, or empathy for their spouse, the spouse would keenly feel the lack.

        Especially if that spouse is a Christian woman, she is likely to get lots of advice about being more lovable and loving in order to help him come out of his shell. But that’s not likely to change anything except to make her feel worse. And if she talks to him about it, he’s exactly the sort of person who is likely to never understand, to not be self-aware or willing to change, to not be missing anything at all, to get defensive and dismissive.

        When, if ever, does this shade into abusiveness? If it’s not abuse, is it just a lack that she has to live with? He’s admired and apparently not malicious, but he’s not interested in (?), capable of (?), willing to take part in (?) a loving, intimate relationship, while he enjoys certain benefits of marriage.

      • Maggie

        It never ceases to amaze me how we (women) are blamed for a man’s behavior in the church. Nothing could be further from the truth. We are each responsible for how we behave in the applicable circumstance. The husband is responsible for his behavior, and the wife likewise. When a husband is being dismissive and unloving to his wife, the wife is blamed in the church; however, the church does not blame the husband when the wife is unloving.

        Today’s church is in a relational and doctrinal shambles. Sometimes the safest place for “church” is in one’s jammies watching the sermon on YouTube. However, Lord Yeshua has deployed me to my present church; I was not happy about it (long story). I am a Lord’s soldier deployed at my present post, not a tree permanently there. The military in the U.S. transfers people all the time in my area; I am ready to go or stay according to the Orders of High Commander Lord Yeshua. Older single ladies have to look at it that way in today’s Evangelical, Conservative, Charismatic churches.

      • Suzanne

        Your post raised a question many of us deal with: Is neglect not just another form of abuse? Very few rational people would say that denying a spouse or child food is not abuse. But human beings also need loving attention, children from their parents and spouses from their wife/husband. So isn’t the denial of that emotional need also abuse? How many people go into marriage with the expectation that their spouse will never show them kindness, generosity, respect, affection, or appreciation? Isn’t the meeting of those needs part of the marriage covenant? I believe that they are, and that the spouse who deliberately withholds them has broken that covenant.

      • Reaching Out

        Yes, neglect is considered a form of abuse. You might be interested in some of the posts under the neglect tag.

      • Using the example of my dad, I can’t speak for my mother’s feelings and thoughts and whether or not she tried to talk to him about it. But my dad certainly did not need to ‘come out of his shell’. And my mum had her own issues. But I do know that as an intelligent and well educated woman (she had a PhD in chemical engineering) she was well aware of the systemic bias against women in society at that time. In her working life, before she had children and chose to be a stay at home mum, she was not paid as much as a man would have been doing the same job. Her boss had to pay her less even though he wanted to give her equal pay to men. It was a government organisation and those were the rules he had to comply with.

        My mum appeared to resent dad’s stellar rise in his field. But she found her own niche later in life, by becoming a volunteer in the conservation movement. She used her scientific and research skills there. I don’t think my mum would have said my dad abused her. I think there was a bit of mistreatment both ways, but not what I would call abuse because neither of them were consistently malignant and manipulative towards each other.

      • Maggie

        You are exactly right!!! Abusers are good actors who fake contrition to manipulate. Spot on!!!!

      • Suzanne

        I agree with you and I’ll add one more thing. Abusers are unrepentant sinners. The abusive things they do are sins. This is something psychologists, psychiatrists, therapists, etc., don’t talk about. They operate in the secular realm and don’t talk about sin, which they consider a theological issue. They avoid saying it, even if they privately believe it. Years ago my mother and sister somehow managed to persuade my father, a malignant abuser, to be examined by a psychiatrist. He evaluated my father after a lengthy description of his behavior from my mother and sister. His conclusion was that my father didn’t suffer from any mental illness, and he told them, cryptically, that they’d have to “look elsewhere” for an explanation of his cruelly abusive treatment of others. I believe that he was trying to tell them that my father was just a sinful man. And it’s understandable that a medical professional would avoid talking about sin. But there’s no excuse for a pastor or Christian counselor to avoid it. Jesus didn’t, and He is our model and theirs.

      • Hello Sunshine

        Thanks for the neglect tag link and to Suzanne for her comments on deliberate neglect as abuse.

        I’m wondering about the man who doesn’t seem to do it deliberately. Who seems good- natured, content, and clueless. Who claims to love his wife and wants to be married. Voices no complaints. But consistently does not connect, converse, or console. Who stays busy with projects, even some that benefit the family, but seems happiest without loving attention and unable to give it to others. Willing to have fun, but avoids anything deeper, whether good or bad. Stonewalls; dismisses; brushes under the rug; sometimes even promises to change and reads how-to books, but makes zero progress in the empathy department.

        It gets terribly confusing. From this short description, of course many scenarios are possible, and I’m off on a tangent, but I’ve never quite understood what’s going on (or what to do about it) when one person is definitely not fulfilling (what seem to me) reasonable marriage expectations, but seems unable to grasp or address the problem at all.

      • Suzanne

        I think they do grasp the problem. Any reasonably intelligent adult would understand a spouse who explains that they aren’t fulfilling their responsibilities as a married man or woman. They simply don’t care. They have no motivation to do anything differently. When they claim to “get it”, when they promise to change, they are simply doing what they can to end the conversation at that time and go back to living for themselves. In other words, they are lying. The abused/neglected party takes their promises seriously and when they aren’t kept it creates confusion instead of simply being seen as an indicator of their true nature. Abusers are masters at creating complexity in situations that are really quite simple. And that complexity is not a friend of the abused.

        Someone once said that, when people show you who they are, believe them. Don’t believe someone who’s already proven themselves to be dishonest. Remember what Jesus taught us in Matthew 7:20 “Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.”

      • Maggie

        Yes! Sometimes the perpetrator is a pastor on top of it. They lie to congregants too. Everything you said applies to them. They blatantly gaslight you to prove their point, refute your assertion or otherwise end the conversation while trying to make you look bad. Passive Aggression is one of their favorite tactics. Everything you wrote applies to narcissistic parents as well. Lord Yeshua will repay!

      • Helovesme

        Oh my goodness Barb what a great comment. Looks like others, too, picked up on that and it rang with them, too:

        “In my life I have encountered some people who I would say were ‘benign narcissists’ — they were very self-focused, relished praise from others, mostly talked about themselves and seldom asked how others were going, showed little empathy with the feelings of others quite a lot of the time. But they were not malignant: they did not intentionally target others or abuse others in the covert-aggressive manipulative ways that abusers do.”

        Such persons do inflict a lot of harm, no doubt about that, but the differences you pointed out were spot on. It’s not so much centered on actively targeting a victim, but the pain it causes is NOT benign.

        And Hello Sunshine picked up on that, too and articulated it extremely well:

        “Especially if that spouse is a Christian woman, she is likely to get lots of advice about being more lovable and loving in order to help him come out of his shell. But that’s not likely to change anything except to make her feel worse. And if she talks to him about it, he’s exactly the sort of person who is likely to never understand, to not be self-aware or willing to change, to not be missing anything at all, to get defensive and dismissive.

        When, if ever, does this shade into abusiveness? If it’s not abuse, is it just a lack that she has to live with? He’s admired and apparently not malicious, but he’s not interested in (?), capable of (?), willing to take part in (?) a loving, intimate relationship, while he enjoys certain benefits of marriage.”

        This website is fantastic about calling people out as they truly are, and not mincing words or beating around the bush. That is a way that deception is allowed to flourish: dancing around, refusing to face the reality of a situation.

        I believe there is way more neglect in marriage, and in relationships in general than we are aware of. Neglect is not treated as dangerous as it really is, and it’s often pushed aside since it’s not what you would call “open and active” hostility.

        Indifference is at the heart of this sort of so-called “less harmful” form of abuse. One simply doesn’t care (or care enough about that person), so in doing nothing—-they cannot be accused of anything. Because that person isn’t doing anything, so what actions exactly can we call them out for?

        I’ve experienced neglect and I’ve seen it around me. Believe me, it is about as hurtful as it can get—-equal and on par with other forms of abuse that may be more interactive and direct—-but many times it is not treated as seriously as it should be.

        Without the Lord’s life flowing in us, we would wither up and shrivel up—–and spiritually be lost. If His love was not as active and intentional as it is—I can’t imagine where we would all be. Everything about Him indicates that He really loves us, so He really takes action on our behalf to make sure we know we are loved by Him.

        That river of life He speaks about is as real as it gets—-as active as it gets—and it’s not a pool of water that just sits around. It is as ever flowing as you can imagine.

        One of the greatest joys in life is NOT just in loving others, but in being loved in return. And yes, it MATTERS to be loved in return. Never minimize that.

        Why in the world (as Maggie indicated) women are saddled and burdened with trying to love someone enough for both persons is beyond me. That is cruel, cold and absolutely not Biblical.

        And what kind of believer can get away with dodging the second greatest commandment?? Male or female, you simply can’t. No more dancing around: if you a believer, seek the Lord’s face to be empowered to love others. Stop acting like “I mean well so that should be enough. Or, I married him or her and that should say it all. Or, I don’t know how to show love and I’m scared to, or I’m afraid of looking weak.

        Don’t give me any excuses like: I’m just not that way. I’m not an emotional person. I don’t like to show affection or attention.

        If you are like that, then ask the Lord to change your ways to mirror His ways.

        Or, don’t profess Christ anymore until you make up your mind who is on the throne: you or Him? Stop being so lukewarm. Be hot or cold. but don’t mess around with Him—or with the ones He loves.

        And churches: stop feeling sorry for the ones who choose to neglect. Such persons should wisely ask themselves if they are worthy of relationships if they refuse to actively love other people. What right do they have to ask, demand or expect to be loved (and shown love), but have no interest in actively reciprocating that love?

        Start ministering to the ones who are BEING neglected, because they have done nothing wrong, yet they are hurting because they are living in a world of “nothingness.”

        Nothing said, nothing done—means nothing because it IS nothing!

        This is a topic near and dear to my heart. Neglect IS a form of abuse (and apologies if that clashes at all with the mission statement of this website). If that is the case, please accept what I just said as a personal belief, not one that represents this website.

      • Hello Sunshine

        Thank you, Suzanne and Helovesme, for your understanding and clarity.

  4. Suzanne

    In church or out, a survivor of abuse faces an uphill battle in attempting to be understood, or for their actions to protect themselves from further abuse to be seen as justified and their God-given right.

    A little over 3 years ago I had to separate myself completely from my abuser and her enablers after a lifetime of pain and sorrow. But because they are family I’m looked on by other Christians as the one who is failing to honor God in my relationships. It’s ironic that the unbelievers in my life are the ones who’ve shown the most compassion and acceptance of my decision to protect myself from further abuse. My husband’s parents, both godly Christian people, still take calls from my abuser and see her as the victim. But I’ve grown beyond the need for acceptance of my decision to protect myself. I live my life according to God’s law and His will, and not the expectations and demands of sinful, unrepentant, scripturally ignorant human beings.

    • Seeing Ckearly

      Suzanne , you are wise. You have taken the time to figure out the truth and then to hold your ground. It can be very painful and lonely.

      It seems that unbelievers were not taught how to be steadfastly judgemental. It is a terrible trait of (c)hristians.

      This topic of ‘abusers/no shame’ is quite upsetting to me. Your comments affirmed to me, this morning, that there is an element of deep imposition on the victim. Our abusers sprinkle shame, like pixie dust, on us. It is hardly noticeable at first, but begins to feel like a 25lb bag of flour dumped on us. It can’t be dusted off or washed off, we carry and own the shame that is not ours, but theirs.

      The abuser moves freely through life. We, the victims, carry the weight of the shame for them. They have no compassion for us in the heavy weight we carry around daily, on their behalf. My ex had a favorite saying for me, “It’s mind over matter. I don’t mind and you don’t matter”. He felt no shame in saying that. I was left feeling ashamed and wished I was dead. That was his goal when he said it, to keep me down and silenced.

      I have worked through the process of ridding myself of the shame, layer by layer, but it will be a lifelong process. Church people and family members seem to keep adding layers to it.

      • Maggie

        Your experience with the church and shame is the same as mine. I think the church needs to be educated by calm, proper responses when someone tries to slime us with shame for any reason. My narcissistic parents shamed for weight and everything else, using lies when convenient to keep me down. People with normal, good enough parents will never understand. We cannot make them. We can, however, educate them in that their shaming techniques are not what Christ would have done. Matthew 18, one of my favorite passages, comes to mind.

      • “…when someone tries to slime us with shame…”

        Thank you for that wonderful turn of phrase! 🙂 🙂

      • Maggie

        Thank you so much for the link on handing shame back to the abuser! I found the answer to the flawed theology of most Evangelicals, Pharisees and, of course, abusers!

      • “The abuser moves freely through life. We, the victims, carry the weight of the shame for them. They have no compassion for us in the heavy weight we carry around daily, on their behalf. My ex had a favorite saying for me, “It’s mind over matter. I don’t mind and you don’t matter”. He felt no shame in saying that. I was left feeling ashamed and wished I was dead. That was his goal when he said it, to keep me down and silenced.”

        Well said! And here is a post from the blog which relates to what you’ve said —
        Prayerfully Hand Shame Back to the Abuser

      • Helovesme

        Wow Seeing Ckearly well said:

        “Our abusers sprinkle shame, like pixie dust, on us. It is hardly noticeable at first, but begins to feel like a 25lb bag of flour dumped on us. It can’t be dusted off or washed off, we carry and own the shame that is not ours, but theirs.”

        “The abuser moves freely through life. We, the victims, carry the weight of the shame for them. They have no compassion for us in the heavy weight we carry around daily, on their behalf.”

        I felt a surge of anger at how you were spoken to. That was about as heartless as it can get: “That was his goal when he said it, to keep me down and silenced.”

        If it was really that simple, I would just suggest that you dismiss his words and move on, but I know that is not how it works—it’s simply not that simple!

        “Church people and family members seem to keep adding layers to it.”

        Yes, that is something I was working through yesterday. One “car crash” is one thing, but I had multiple “crashes” hitting me from all sides, causing multiple layers of damage.

        Worse yet, I know who the drivers were. My own loved ones, or people that I trusted and did not think they were how they turned out to be.

        Yes, the shame usually starts small! It’s not “dumped” on you right away—-it builds up over time until you realize how weighed down you are.

        And I think abusers do this on purpose. The pleasure they seek is in the power they slowly secure over their victims—-and even though it’s slow and tedious, it’s more effective to ensure bondage by steadily piling it on. It is a purposeful thing, but often times the victim is not aware of it until the shackles are tightly locked on.

        It’s a slow erosion of your intrinsic worth, a steady chipping away—but it is a real thing and not our imaginations. You know that something is wrong, but you might not be able to pinpoint it just yet.

        It’s not at all pleasurable to make breakthroughs in these areas, realizing what was going on—but I believe it DOES slowly erode the damage that was done to us—-in the opposite direction—-we build back up what was stolen from us.

        It hurts to realize how much shame we are carrying, not to mention that it is not ours to carry—-but I must believe that that is a true blue revelation from the Lord—-and that He had a purpose and plan in bringing it to light.

        Abusers purpose to shame us. He purposes to free us from that shame. It took a long time for that shame to build up, so it will take time to get rid of it I am sure.

        But He who began a good work is faithful to finish it. Philippians 1:6

    • Helovesme

      Suzanne what a wonderful testimony! Thank you for sharing it!

      “But I’ve grown beyond the need for acceptance of my decision to protect myself.”

      ” It’s ironic that the unbelievers in my life are the ones who’ve shown the most compassion and acceptance of my decision to protect myself from further abuse.”

      I’m working on the first part I quoted from you, and the second part has been very true for myself as well.

      It’s so wonderful to see that kind of growth. Acceptance is a very powerful need, but protecting oneself should absolutely trump the need for acceptance.

      Acceptance should not be as precious as being protected, yet so often we sacrifice the latter in order to make room for the former.

      When, in reality, we should NEVER have to give away our sense of safety in order to be accepted. It is those that truly accept us, who will never put us in any kind of danger. In fact, those that truly love us would not stand idly by if we dared to risk getting hurt in order to feel accepted.

      You might know the phrase: a compliment is only worth the person giving it. The best kind of compliments are from those that are trustworthy, honest and sincere. They deserve to be taken seriously, based on the kind of persons they are.

      Works in reverse as well: an insult is only worth the person giving it. Those that abuse live to insult, and they have no love, no honor and no sincerity in them. They do not deserve to be taken seriously, based on the kind of persons they are.

      By the way, it’s still not easy when we are on the opposite side of things, taking a very unpopular stand on things. You pay a price for sure. But the alternative is far worse—and (in my case), unbearable and unacceptable (pun intended!)

    • Helovesme

      Hello Sunshine said:

      “I’m wondering about the man who doesn’t seem to do it deliberately. Who seems good- natured, content, and clueless. Who claims to love his wife and wants to be married. Voices no complaints. But consistently does not connect, converse, or console. Who stays busy with projects, even some that benefit the family, but seems happiest without loving attention and unable to give it to others. Willing to have fun, but avoids anything deeper, whether good or bad. Stonewalls; dismisses; brushes under the rug; sometimes even promises to change and reads how-to books, but makes zero progress in the empathy department.”

      Oh, and thank you to Reaching Out for the tags about neglect. Apologies in that I didn’t see that comment nesting under other comments! Glad I didn’t go “off script” from this website.

      Wow, Hello Sunshine that is a pretty detailed and accurate description. It sounds like you might have experienced or witnessed this, because it’s so darn descriptive.

      I’m of the belief that a believer does not have to be all “mush and gush” in order to show Christ-like love. You don’t have to be an extrovert, and you don’t even need to be a terribly social person—-going to parties or gatherings for example. You don’t have to be a constant “people person,” which I think is a common misunderstanding when it comes to Biblical love.

      I have the experience of being on both sides. I used to be far more extroverted, far less private and a fairly social person. Now I am far more introverted, fiercely private and not very social at all. The reasons behind that change are varied: health issues but also experiencing consistent rejection has put me very much on my guard.

      I felt a lot of concern, because I feared losing an ability AND a willingness to “connect, converse, or console,” which are prime factors in walking with Christ. One simply cannot “check out” of a world full of real people with real needs, and still try to emulate Christ.

      You don’t have to be a talkative, outgoing person in order to show empathy to others. The reason this is so is because empathy is about your heart, not necessarily words and even actions. Empathy is expressed in all sorts of ways, and each person differs in how they would like to be ministered to.

      For example, not everyone likes to be hugged in order to feel loved. I do not. But it means the world to me if you tell me you’re praying for me, or ask me how I’m doing. So you don’t have to get up close and personal with me in order to show me love. Just an example.

      A person who refuses to show empathy is problematic because it’s a work of Christ within them, no matter who they are or what their personality type is (or isn’t). There are doors that the Lord will open when you cry out to Him and ask Him to change and move on your heart.

      The fictional person described: “stonewalls; dismisses; brushes under the rug” is not actively in step with Christ, because he or she is refusing to be transformed by the renewing of their minds. You have to learn to think like Him first, and then He changes you from glory to glory.

      When you think like Him, you see the needs around you more clearly. And then, as He continues to work—-you will ask of Him as Paul did: “Lord, what shall I do?”

      You’ll see that the need is so great, it’s not worth it to remain as you were—cold and unsympathetic and frankly—-disinterested or disengaged from life, and the people around you. But again, this can only be done through the Holy Spirit. Books, lectures, sermons and even Bible studies can certainly help, but filling your head with knowledge isn’t the same thing as the Lord filling you with His Holy Spirit.

    • Helovesme

      Wow Suzanne what a great comment:

      “They simply don’t care. They have no motivation to do anything differently. When they claim to “get it”, when they promise to change, they are simply doing what they can to end the conversation at that time and go back to living for themselves.

      In other words, they are lying.

      Abusers are masters at creating complexity in situations that are really quite simple.

      And that complexity is not a friend of the abused. Someone once said that, when people show you who they are, believe them”

      (breaks in paragraph added by me to simplify reading and to highlight the major points)

      One of the most endearing qualities about the Lord is that He simplified what we so often make as difficult (or as complicated) as possible.

      Case in point: why do you call Me Lord, yet ignore what I tell you to do?

      Where there is little or no room for personal interpretation, we do anything we can to create shades of grey where none should exist.

      Bear with me, learning how to love isn’t as simple and clear cut as we would like it to be. It’s more of an art than an exact science!

      But love in general and loving others is not a suggestion, it’s a commandment. And no one will be perfected in this on this side of eternity, but we better darn well never stop pursuing and growing in love while we are in this world.

      If you are married to or closely knit to someone who is doing anything and everything they can to avoid what Christ so clearly and constantly commanded, and yet professeses Christ as their Lord and Savior—-you can legitimately challenge their claims. You may want to consider that you are unequally yoked with this person or persons.

      • Finding Answers

        Helovesme commented “If you are married to or closely knit to someone who is doing anything and everything they can to avoid what Christ so clearly and constantly commanded, and yet professes Christ as their Lord and Savior—-you can legitimately challenge their claims. You may want to consider that you are unequally yoked with this person or persons.”

        ^That.

        I can read this now and see the wisdom of the words, but I have the advantage of hindsight.

        Before my walls crumbled, when I was buried deep in the fog and abuse, I would not have seen the wisdom of the words.

        If one has never experienced the love Christ commanded, how would one discern one is unequally yoked to the professing “c”hristian?

        If one is a Christian, but raised in an abusive Patriarchal secular household, how does one discern the love of Christ?

        The Christian is indwelt by the Holy Spirit, but the fog and abuse affect the ability to discern the difference between the love of Christ and the professed love of the abuser.

        Helovesme commented “Bear with me, learning how to love isn’t as simple and clear cut as we would like it to be. It’s more of an art than an exact science!”

        ^That.

        Unlearning the unlove is more of an art than an exact science.

      • Hello Sunshine

        Suzanne said, “They simply don’t care. They have no motivation to do anything differently. When they claim to “get it”, when they promise to change, they are simply doing what they can to end the conversation at that time and go back to living for themselves.”

        I’d like to applaud the wisdom of this comment, too. And lament that it is ridiculously easy for a sincere and honest (not to mention hopeful…or financially dependent…or theologically trapped) spouse to be taken in by the other’s idle words. To believe the words and then accept the task of educating their spouse! And when thorough, patient explanations are given, the other can say, “Oh, right! Thank you!” but do it all again next time. And when the repeat action is pointed out, they can blame their memory…or circumstances…or whatever…but spin out years of avoiding responsibility, engagement, honesty, love.

        I think you’ve made a good point here, Helovesme, about a determinedly unloving spouse. They may or may not be labeled abusive, but they may fundamentally lack the connection with Christ that empowers love…once again, despite their words.

  5. Finding Answers

    The comments generated by the original post have been thoughtful and thought-provoking, quietly prodding away in my mind.

    At what point does someone go from being considered self-centred / self-focused to being considered an abuser?

    Why do descriptions of abusers seem incomplete when considered solely from either the secular or non-secular perspective?

    Perhaps there is an overlap in describing the spectrum of abusers from both the secular and non-secular perspectives when considered from the perspective of power over / power under. Think of #MeToo and #ChurchToo.

    I have pictures in my mind for my comment, perhaps someone can find the words for my pictures.

    • Helovesme

      Suzanne and Hello Sunshine added a lot of great thoughts. I’m learning a lot.

      “And lament that it is ridiculously easy for a sincere and honest (not to mention hopeful…or financially dependent…or theologically trapped) spouse to be taken in by the other’s idle words.”

      And I especially liked Barb’s description of the relationship between her mom and dad. It was very thoughtful.

      Besides our own personal relationships (marital or otherwise), I would say that trying to be objective about our parents (and how our moms and dads treat each other) is just as hard—if not harder. Or, if you did not grow up in a two parent house, then insert step parents or how single parents operated. Very hard to step back and see things with a sober mind and heart.

      Here is a tip I learned, painfully so, when it comes to trying to discern if someone is sincere in their words or just spouting words with no substance behind them.

      And keep in mind: even if they sound sincere, or say all the right things in the right ways—-that is not enough to go on. Even if you think this person will relate to you (having shared or similar experiences). Also, no matter how long you have known them, and how much you think you know them—put all of those things aside (I know it’s hard, so it’s not going to be easy).

      Also, don’t factor in that it’s a professing Christian. Don’t factor in that this is a parent, spouse, sibling, pastor or church leader, etc. Put aside their “title,” and look past what you assume or imagine them to be like.

      People will act curious to know about you, or things about you. So they might ask you questions, or appear to care and want to know how you’re doing or what is going on with you. That’s not a bad thing. Imagine how good it feels when someone reaches out to you in this way. It’s a strong indicator that someone cares about you!

      However, there is a world of difference between those that are curious, and those that truly care. Those that are information gathering do NOT care about you. Those that truly care about you want to hear what you have to say so that they can best know how to bless or serve or minister to you. They are looking to actively respond to whatever you have to say, while those that take in knowledge simply store it up within themselves—-only satisfied in that their curiosity was satisfied.

      Case in point: The Lord is known throughout the Word to ask questions. What are you doing? Why are you hiding? Why did you do this? Why are you persecuting Me? What do you want Me to do for you? What’s wrong? Why are you crushing My people?

      The reason He asked is not because He is curious (and He already knows all the answers), it’s because He cares. When He asks, it’s because He wants to hear what you have to say. There is no better way to draw someone out than by asking personal, direct but very clear and poignant questions.

      How we respond to Him tells us a lot about ourselves! Depending on what area of the Word you are reading—-the way that the people responded to Him spoke volumes. So, I see no reason [not] to apply this sort of thinking to how we relate to people as well.

      Those that find out about you might just sit on that information. But they also might go around and tell others, because once you get access to all that hidden knowledge—it’s quite an ego trip to say to others: I know something you don’t, so I have the upper hand. I was given access that you were not given. I’ll give you access to what you didn’t have access to, and we will all be closer now, with this shared access.

      By the way—silence (aka “sitting” on information) IS a form of response. It spells out that he or she does not care. Don’t make excuses, and don’t be fooled. If people are not talking directly to you, there is a strong chance that they are talking about you behind your back.

      Note: use discernment there. I came to that conclusion for myself through the Lord’s help, but it’s not applicable to everyone and anyone.

      My rule of thumb is to NOT ask someone how they are doing unless you are able to actively respond. It’s not fair to them to waste their time responding to you, but you have no time to give back to them to respond in return. Because I have great sympathy for people who are spread very thin, and I understand that time is not always our friend! So I try to leave plenty of room to be gracious, but I also set limits. You don’t have “unlimited room” to be reckless and irresponsible.

      And, if you drop the ball (which we all do)—-you owe them an apology: I heard what you had to say, I should have responded, and I didn’t. But I’m here now and I’d like to give it another shot if you’d allow me to (keep in mind that if this person gives you another chance, you are blessed. Don’t waste that grace).

      Now, some persons might try to claim that they “mean well,” so they meant to show they cared, but they’re just too busy, or just too impatient, or (as others noted)—-I’m just not that way. I talk a good game, but I don’t actually participate in the game itself.

      I claimed to care (or strongly appeared that way), but I was only curious. Or, I’m just stringing you along but in reality I have no intention of actively caring for you or anyone else. I just love the appearance of being Christ-like, but in reality I refuse to make any real, personal sacrifices that might cost me something—in order to actually BE Christ-like in your eyes—or more strongly, the Lord’s eyes.

    • “At what point does someone go from being considered self-centred / self-focused to being considered an abuser?”

      Good question. It’s one I don’t think I have an answer for yet, but I’m pondering.

      • Helovesme

        Same here, Barbara!

        I have no problem with questions like Finding Answers posed, but I have huge problems in trying to ponder out an answer.

        I’ll use myself as an example, because “self centered” is very applicable to me—especially before the Lord found me, but very much afterwards as well.

        I crossed over from death to life, but I crossed over with a lot of baggage.

        By the way—whether that term is still applicable to me is very much up to the Lord. I try to be very careful in pinning labels on myself that I am simply not 100% certain about.

        For sure, I still have a long way to go, but I dearly and desperately hope the Lord has helped me come a long way as well.

        One thing that very much worked in my favor is that I tried hard to be aware of what kind of person I was, or still am, while attempting to grow and change through Him. It never works in your favor to be in any sort of denial.

        Abusers have no interest in seeing themselves as they really are, because that would require them to step into the Light. And as the Word says, evil loves to hide the darkness, never wanting to be exposed.

        That is one of the top priorities for an abuser: to never get caught, exposed and revealed as they really are. The best abusers are the ones who know just how to dodge the Light, going deeper and deeper into darkness, making it even harder to expose them.

        However, they will still find ways to masquerade as being in the Light. This duplicity is one of the most difficult things to crack—because an abuser tries to be two people, but only one of them is truly who they are: the abuser.

        Conviction of sin is a blessing, not a curse to a sincere, born again believer. No one likes to look at themselves in the mirror, seeing themselves as they really are, and NOT forgetting what they saw (James 1:24). But no one will ever grow in Him unless He is allowed to uncover what is often cleverly hiding underneath the many layers of our hearts.

        I was appalled, many times, at what a jerk I could be. This is what I was exposed to be. This is what the Light showed me. Angry, hateful, self-hateful and beyond bitter at times. Very shallow, jealous and envious as well. Unkind, unhelpful and unbelievably arrogant. I lacked patience in nearly every way and did not treat others as I would want to be treated.

        And don’t get me started on how I spoke. The “taming of the tongue” verses in James were directed right at me.

        One must let Him do what He does best: convict us through His kindness (seriously, no one is kinder than Him) I have never, ever experienced or ever heard one condemning, callous word from Him when He convicts of sin. I feel so blessed, so freed and so touched by His graciousness.

        If I decided to harden my heart against Him, when He would try to speak the truth in love to me—-this is where the heart of the abuser would start to take over. Don’t You dare speak to me like that. How dare You try to tell me what is wrong with me. I’m not self-centered—I’m entitled to be this way, to treat others this way. You have no right to take that away from me. I feel good about myself, so why are You trying to take that away from me?

        Abusers enjoy causing pain because that makes them feel powerful. They feel god like and supernatural.

        A self-centered but born again believer is “done” with that sort of life. They crossed over from death to life to ESCAPE that, not to continue to live that way. They’re willing to do the hard work to live out a life that is not marked by pride and causing others pain. Even if it takes years, they are willing to be patient with themselves—-because He is so patient with them as well.

        That’s just a few things to ponder. I am sure there is way more than that!

      • Finding Answers

        Helovesme commented “…….They crossed over from death to life to ESCAPE that, not to continue to live that way. They’re willing to do the hard work to live out a life that is not marked by pride and causing others pain. Even if it takes years, they are willing to be patient with themselves—-because He is so patient with them as well.”

        (Bold added by me.)

        ^That describes my picture. Thank you, Helovesme.

      • Seeing Clearly

        “At what point….”

        There probably are many facets to the answer, my suggestion being just one.

        Abuse can be a condition of heart and mind. It is perhaps there from early on, waiting to be nurtured, by small increments of evil intention. It gradually becomes evident through the abuser’s interactions with another human.

        The issue is not so much ‘when’ but instead, how long does it take for their victim(s) to become aware of the character of their abuser.

      • Don Hennessy says this about male intimate abusers (guys who abuse their female intimate partners) —

        What we found out by listening to the abusers was that these abusers began the abuse on the day they first met the woman. … We also learned that the tactics of abuse and control are common to all successful abusers in long term relationships. These tactics are initiated if the abuser wants to explore the possibility of a lasting relationship and if he feels that the particular woman would be susceptible to such tactics. This awareness, of the possibility of control in intimate relationships, is developed instinctively by the abuser. This is not learned behavior as many of us would like to believe, but rather then honing of a skill that we all possess. This skill is based on the abuser’s ability to hide his real intentions when he makes the initial approach to a prospective partner.
        ( How He Gets Into Her Head. [affiliate link*] p 17)

      • So the abuser is instinctively aware (as we all are) of the possibility of control in intimate relationships, and the abuser chooses to develop and hone the skills needed to control his target.

        If you and I accept this as fact, then we have to conclude that abusers are not abusing because they have deep inner shame. Rather, they are abusing because they choose to exert control in their personal relationships. And in order to make that choice, they tell themselves they are entitled to behave that way.

        By the time an infant becomes a toddler, he or she will probably have instinctively worked out that there is a possibility of controlling the person he/she is relating to. The typical toddler will develop this skill — and it’s up to the adults who are caring for that toddler to correct the child so they come to realise that they are not entitled to mistreat or abuse others. Dr George Simon Jr says that aggressive characters and esp the malignant and predatory characters have usually not been corrected enough in their formative years. Their character disorder (i.e. their abusive nature) is not due to the fact they’ve been greatly shamed, it’s because they have not been corrected. And the longer the lack of correction has gone one, the more they honed and habituated their entitled thinking and their responsibility-resistance tactics.

      • Seeing Clearly

        The mind of an infant and toddler is a phenominal machine. It operates on intuition and chemicals that allow development at the cellular level. Yet it is keenly able to adapt to human relationship.

        I wonder if the abuser perceives humans in the same way as most people do. Or if their shamelessness gives the eyes of their heart a non-human picture of their victims. They perhaps see victims, which will be many, many at varying degrees, as opportunities, not people.

        Don Hennesey speaks so succinctly, clearly identifying when the abuser becomes an abuser.

        This leads to a thought about the necessary early discipline. Could the child be as a prodigy illusionist; keeping the parents eyes focused on other misbehaviors so that they are disciplining minimal matters, missing the shameless deeds going on right under their nose?

      • Anonymous

        I’m with you Seeing Clearly.

        As you said, it’s really a matter of when the victim becomes aware of the character of her abuser.

        The abuser is static. He will abuse whomever he gets in his grasp. It really is on the prey to gain awareness, assess their situation, and make daring attempt after daring attempt to somehow, to whatever degree possible, try and escape the abuser’s clutches. The abuser isn’t going to change.

        The only variables are to do with the victim –
        can she escape?
        what will he do to her for trying to escape?
        should she keep the abuse secret?
        will it turn lethal?

        It’s unfair that everything is piled on the victims, but from my perspective and experience, and from others’ shared experiences and what I read, the abuser isn’t going to change, nor will he stop abusing. Even if he gets a new victim, it doesn’t guarantee any safety or freedom for his past victim(s). The devil and his minions.

      • Anonymous

        I’m going off of mere speculation, having no early childhood education, nor experience parenting, but I do want to challenge the notion that children so young are manipulative, conniving, little tyrants who need to be shown who is boss.

        Two year olds have only existed for two mere years. Same thing with babies. There were many Christian authors — men, especially wrote these awful books — who published these horrible parenting books advising parents to not comfort their infants, babies, or toddlers, as doing such would produce tyrants.

        Children that young do not have the ability to self-soothe, to think beyond the immediate here and now, or any of the things adults can and do do. When adults project their cognitive skills onto infants, babies, toddlers, and even older children, it’s terrible.

        Toddlers are simply 2-year-olds. They are NOT little tyrants or manipulative schemers or anything other than super immature, super young, super needy, super dependent toddlers. These awful Christian living type parenting books advised parents to not pick up crying small children, to leave babies wailing in the cribs and not go to them, to show children who is the boss and always win at any cost, and see crying as some sort of tactic the child was using.

        Brain damage occurs when toxic levels of stress don’t subside and whose brains are most sensitive to toxic levels of stress? Infants, babies, toddlers, children’s brains.

        2 year olds don’t have the skills or comprehension to control others. But, men do. And yet so many Christian living type marriage books, coddle grown adult men with more care, sympathy, and concern than many small children encounter. These things are needing to be reversed.

        Those awful parenting books make children into adversaries and they’re just kids. And yet those awful parenting books basically instruct parents to break the will of their children, so as to raise them right, as though not doing so would practically be the parents sending them to hell. And yet they are simply children. Grown adult men who are abusers are not broken down, nor jailed for their crimes, but coddled. It’s a messed up world. Very backwards and not biblical, in my opinion.

      • Hi Anonymous, I agree with you about those awful parenting books you described.

        But I want to clarify, just in case I was not clear before, that when I said “By the time an infant becomes a toddler, he or she will probably have instinctively worked out that there is a possibility of controlling the person he/she is relating to. The typical toddler will develop this skill …” I was not at all depicting all toddlers as manipulative, conniving, little tyrants.

        I thought perhaps you might have come to that conclusion which was why you began talking about those awful parenting books.

    • Christian

      “At what point does someone go from being considered self-centered / self-focused to being considered an abuser?”

      When you start preying on others. When you target, exploit, dupe, and deceive others. When you’re conning people and taking advantage of them and destroying them for fun. Personally, I don’t care if you are self-centered and self-focused all by yourself, but when you bring another person into the mix, then everything changes.

      For example, if a self-centered person said — very upfront, first thing out of their mouths,super straightforward — to their perspective ‘dates’ they are looking to be sexually intimate with someone on a regular basis, with no attachment whatsoever, just being serviced by another — they’d have no ‘luck’ as nobody wants to be in such a setup.

      A self-centered person would do best to stay away from others and not prey on others. They should announce that they have no intention or motivation of caring about anyone else and that they are the only ones who matter. They should be upfront about using others — with no consideration for their lives, well-being, happiness.

      Then, they’d be a unicorn, instead of a run-of-the-mill abuser, for they’d have not engaged in deceit, manipulation, entrapment, coercion, violence, and abuse.

      I think it’s almost fundamental to Christianity that a Christian must care about others — at least one person if nothing else — as God is love and to be a NPD or a manipulator or an abuser or a selfish, self-centered person with no care or concern or regard for others is the opposite of a Christian.

      People don’t like to be used and abused and exploited — which is why the deceit and manipulation part is so important for selfish, self-centered people. And where there’s deceit, manipulation, coercion, there’s predation and victimization.

      Imagine if guys who simply want to be sexually serviced would approach women with integrity and fully disclose that they simply want a prostitution-like experience, without any monetary cost to them, and to throw you away like a used tissue once they orgasm…. how many guys want and do exactly that — but without the decency to be honest about it. Nobody wants that, which is where the predation element comes in — find a too-drunk-to-think-straight-or-stay-awake victim. Find a desperate homeless woman who is either severely mentally ill, severely drug/alcohol addicted, or otherwise starving and incredibly desperate — or best yet, super targeted by others and the false ploy of protection and care is offered, along with some scare tactics, much coercion, and some violence — and then prey on her.

      Prostitution (paid rape) is the transactional form of selfish men paying to prey on women who are without options or the means to resist.

      • Hello Sunshine

        I’d like to add that an abuser may also be of a “respectable,” have-dinner-and-slippers-ready-when-I-get-home type who looks for a competent and exceptionally kind woman as a wife, but deceives her about his purposes for marriage and preys on, confuses, uses, neglects, demeans, manipulates her. The claws may eventually come out when she begins to get wise to him.

        Ironically, the church’s over-emphasis on marriage and gender stereotypes may lead both abusers and victims to the altar!

      • Helovesme

        Anonymous just wanted to agree with you about children, although I am not a parent so I am truly not meaning to step on any toes.

        Age and maturity are not necessarily connected. I’m absolutely on board about children, however—-they’re quite “new” to the world and “super immature, super young, super needy, super dependent ”

        But children come in all shapes, sizes and personalities. They’re still growing into the persons they will become, which is why parenting is so darn hard. They have to work hard to nurture what should be allowed to grow, and rebuke what should not be allowed to grow.

        I’ve been blown away by the poise and dignity of people half my age (I’m nearing 44). I’ve been blown away by the apathy and arrogance of people twice my age!

        I do think that abusers tend to be ‘coddled,” which may (or may not) play into their manipulations: baby me, because I’m so pitiful. Baby me, because I live with this awful spouse and everything is his or her fault. Baby me, but never hold me accountable or challenge my claims.

        This is something we can ALL fall into, because when someone comes to us upset, crying, expressing hurt—our usual instinct is to NOT start picking their stories apart, seeing inconsistencies and various inaccuracies—-not to mention unfair blame and shame being thrown around.

        Barb’s comment was wonderful, as was the quote she referenced. When people would find out that I’d been abused—you tend to have two choices, two reactions:

        Either you realize where I am weak and therefore exploitable, so you use that knowledge, coupled with your skill in picking up where abuse has left its mark on me—and use it to every advantage you can. Every opportunity to bring me down even more, so you can control and manipulate me where I am most open to it. There is no shame, no regret and no one will likely stop you. It’s also likely that I won’t even realize what you’re doing to me, because you’ve worked hard to win my trust, only to exploit it.

        The other option is this: you realize that I have been damaged, and the last thing you want to do is damage me even more. Not only that, but you want me to grow into a confident, content person. If you see others try to control and manipulate me (often it’s hard for me see that as clearly as you can)—you will likely act to stop them, or make me aware of what’s going on. You have skills all right (you can see where I’m weak), but you are not going to go down that same road as others are.

      • Maggie

        You spoke wisely when you delineated the two choices!

        My parents have exploited me much of my life for Narcissistic Supply, which gave me a complex concerning disappointment among other things. Proper discipline is a must, but they enjoy the failure and sense of superiority from using and exploiting their prey (me). This happens in the church too, unfortunately. My parents did constructive things to look good or avoid looking bad. (Lord Yeshua used this to my advantage for me to be able to function at all.) When one withdraws from narcissists, they do not chase. (I seldom call anymore because they pick fights to control.)

        The church tries to control vulnerable people too, and I have had to avoid certain people. One person apologized to me; she is not a narcissist and is growing. I have made my apologies too. We have to learn to guard our hearts, the treasures of our souls. Our narcissists insist on the opposite, though they won’t state their motives. (This is how we are groomed.) I have mourned years ago the illusion that they ever loved me. I am mourning the illusion that church is a safe place. (It is not.)

        I have to go to church on Sundays with mental “armor” on to serve as a soldier washing dishes, helping with the kids or whatever. I am at work mentally and not in therapy. Many people (in and out of church) are not near safe people to whom to confess. (I am not talking about the seekers or new members/Christians.) We have to choose carefully our confidants and treat church as a volunteer job for Yeshua, not a place of renewal (unfortunately). This is why therapists are in demand and so necessary nowadays.

      • Helovesme

        Christian you brought up excellent points. And wow, that was some pretty heavy stuff. Especially that last sentence.

        During the Civil Rights movement in the 60’s (I was not alive during that time so I’m going off of readings)—it baffled me as to why so many people did not think their racism was sinful (even those that professed Christ) You could easily go to churches that blatantly supported it, twisting up the Word of God to fit their awful narratives. People were fairly free and open and frankly—unashamed of their hate it seemed.

        If they thought they were so “in the right,” why did they feel the need to put on white robes at night and go around killing innocent persons? If they felt so strongly that even the Word of God was on their side, what made them do all these horrible deeds in secret—-obviously looking to NOT get caught, and certainly doing whatever they could to cover up their crimes so they would not be found out.

        What is strange is that even IF they were found out, they would likely not be held accountable. Horribly, the courts were often stacked in favor of these awful persons (often they were people in authority or had a lot of power in their communities), no matter what evidence may or may not have been available. And more than likely, the public at large (majority of whites, namely) would stand with them, or say nothing.

        So why they insisted on keeping their shamelessness out of the public eye becomes more and more baffling.

        Abusers operate with this same sense of entitlement to harm and hurt others as they see fit. They truly feel they are in the right and no one can tell them otherwise. The power they crave is like a drug—they always want more and more of it. And they have no shame, either. Their intentions are to control, dominate and ruin lives as they see fit. Physical murder may not be a part of the plan, but as this website makes clear: any and all forms of abuse is murderous.

        And anyone that DOES try to challenge them is automatically seen as an enemy. This rang true during the Civil Rights movement. It was incredibly dangerous to stand up for the rights of others—-especially for white people to protest, because you were seen as going against “your own people.” Your life could very well be in danger, as well as your loved ones.

        Allies of abuse victims might also put themselves in harms way (not necessarily physical danger), which may partially be why victims lack support.

        But then why do abusers work so darn hard (and often successfully) to deceive anyone and everyone—-even their own victims?

        Here is what I think: abusers (and racists) fully believe they are fully in the right. BUT, they also inherently understand that all of society might not agree with them, so they stay in the shadows as much as possible.

        I don’t think at all that abusers in the back of their minds know that what they are doing is wrong—it’s just buried so deep.

        This thinking doesn’t apply to a child who is trying to sneak a cookie out of the cookie jar. In that case, the child knows it’s wrong, so he or she tries as hard as possible to not get caught. This is not how an abuser thinks, IMO.

        Also, I think it feeds their sense of power to be “getting away” with what they do. They did and still do these things in secret, because it feels so good to be so successful at duping as many persons as possible. This adds to the narrative that they are indeed powerful—-look at how much they’re able to get away with! It’s intoxicating, exhilarating and only a very clever person could pull of that off without a hitch.

      • Hi Christian, I would like to respond to your last sentence. I think what you said is true in many cases, but it is not true in all. I think it might have been better if you’d said “Most prostitution (paid rape) is the transactional form of selfish men paying to prey on women who are without options or the means to resist.”

        The reason I would ask you to qualify your statement is that I speak from personal experience. Occasionally in the comments thread at this blog, when it has seemed appropriate, I have mentioned that I used to be a prostitute. I did that for 8 months when I was 19 turning 20, at the same time as I was using heroin. And I chose, quite consciously and intentionally, before I started using heroin, to become a prostitute. I made that choice before I got into the work. I did have options. I didn’t have to earn money that way, and no-one had coerced or bullied me into doing it. At the time I made the decision to become a prostitute, my conscious thought was this: “I am very very promiscuous already, and I do not enjoy sex. And I have a big shell or carapace around me so that nothing seems to really penetrate it or hurt me. I need to do something really bad to myself to break that shell. If I make my life go even further down, it might turn my life around so it will start going up.”

        I also know a woman who chooses to work as a private prostitute. She does not work for anyone else (there is no pimp leaning over her); she does not work in a brothel or on the streets. She is not a drug user. It is her free choice to earn some of her income that way (she also earns some income another way, by ‘legitimate’ work). She was not sexually abused in childhood. I got to know her online (she found my work at this blog) and we have emailed and met once for a meal. I met her to discuss our lives (I have quite a bit in common with her) and to see if maybe the Holy Spirit would open up the conversation so I could do a bit of ‘pre-evangelism’. She and I had a good, mutually respectful conversation on lots of topics. She respects my work, and she knows I am a Christian. I did not browbeat her or Bible bash her, but I did make it clear that I now believe selling one’s body for sex is a sin, just like all sexual relationships outside the mutual commitment of marriage are sin. And I briefly explained God’s solution to sin. We agreed to differ in our views on that, while still respecting each other.

        I hope you will take my testimony on board and use it to qualify your statements a bit in the future. And I hope you are not offended by me saying this. 🙂

      • Please understand that I was not a ‘happy hooker’ and I am not promoting the ‘happy hooker myth’.

        I now understand that my having been sexually abused as child was what got me on the trajectory of self-harm (first bulimia, then soft drugs, then prostitution and heroin).

        But I know what I was thinking when I made the decision to be a prostitute. And I will not deny or be ashamed of my thoughts at that time. That is my testimony.

        And at the time I made the decision to be a prostitute, I had no conscious memory of the sexual abuse I suffered as a child. My mind had put that memory behind a wall of amnesia — that memory only came back some years later, when I was in the New Age and ‘human potential movement, about two years before I was born again.

      • Helovesme

        Barbara thank you for sharing what you did! I had no idea about what you wrote about.

        Thank you so much for adding some context and clarity to Christian’s comment.

      • Artina

        Hello Sunshine, I’d like to voice my agreement with your comment, especially this part, “the church’s over-emphasis on marriage and gender stereotypes may lead both abuser and victims to the altar!”

        Someone said to me once….not using the exact words, but that when they were young they wanted to be……here’s my words that convey the same idea: they wanted to be what they saw the culture around them worshipping, a celebrity of sorts. That seems like natural thinking for a young child to me.

        Where is the place of respect, in the church, for celibate singles without being viewed as “available” or “lonely hearts” or “aged out of importance” or “stuck in limbo until married” before they are fully accepted in a group as valued contributors? Is the mission of the church to get everyone on the married path and use all others to serve in honoring and helping this demographic?

        I also wanted to voice a response to the discussion about children and entitlement.

        I appreciate Barb’s comment and didn’t take it as an affirmation of the bad fundamentalist ideas of breaking a child’s will that have been taught to some. I remember some of these books so I appreciate Anonymous’ response, too. I found better books and tried to implement better ideas. When my children were young I sensed that listening was a prime directive that I had to learn to do better and I wanted to learn.

        The wonder and joy of discovery aspect of childhood as well as other things (wanting to learn, wanting to help) that are harder to explain reminded me of Jesus’ teaching that “unless you become like little children you’ll not enter the Kingdom of Heaven”. This topic makes me wonder about some theological concepts. I’ve read that the shared joy of healthy relationship is what helps brains grow….at any age. But it has to be healthy and not damaging.

        I do not have higher education in early childhood development either, but I did a lot of reading as I was going through raising children. Just recently a friend who has a relative in this field of study said that lack of empathy in early years is what experts in the field think helps to create a bully. I also read a book about entitlement, from a publisher that did not turn out the kinds of books that Anonymous referred to. This book said the steps out of entitlement begin with good manners, respecting others.

  6. Finding Answers

    From the original post Zephaniah 3:1-5

    I have no picture in my mind for Zephaniah 3:1-5.

    I cannot comprehend such large scale evil and abuse, though I know it exists. I start to freeze up from past memories, so I need to stay on the fringes. All I can do is pray for those who fight battles I cannot fight.

    I cannot comprehend the complexity of how most of the world lives their everyday lives, yet I can picture things in my mind most of the world can’t grasp.

    A combination of high-functioning Asperger’s, complex PTSD, and the gift of healing makes the world a strange place in which to discern abuse and the abuser. It’s a world full of tears, a world in which I live everyday, a world in which I belong.

    I read the comments generated and can picture the words meaning in my mind, but that doesn’t help anyone but me.

    Yet I watch the difficulty victims of abuse have in describing the continuum of abuse, or wondering if they are actually victims of abuse.

    And in the long run, everyone seems to benefit from sharing their information, even if their picture is different.

  7. Helovesme

    Oh goodness Barbara (in responding to your 12TH APRIL 2019 – 8:00 PM comment!) I can’t imagine anyone thinking that way. The words “happy” and “hooker” do not go together and I can’t imagine that anyone would think you were trying to promote that.

    I’m touched that you recall what your thoughts were at the time you went down that path and so graciously shared them as well.

    A testimony is just that—-a testimony. Those that are listening should do just that—listen. And those that are testifying should do just that—-testify.

    In response to comments from Maggie and Hello Sunshine (great thoughts, by the way):

    Those that seek to sincerely set an example of Christ-like behavior are not looking to be put on a pedestal. And they are certainly not looking to be targeted and exploited by clever but manipulative persons.

    Regardless of gender, those that set an example for Christ want those around them to be inspired to imitate their example. If they see a loving, compassionate, generous person, those that claim to confess Christ should be moved to seek Him to bear similar fruit in their own lives.

    Often, the reaction is more of admiration—-but from a distance. That’s great that this person is bearing fruit, but by no means do I want to be humbled in order to do the same.

    Or, the reaction is one of contempt and possibly predatory. That’s great that this person is bearing fruit, and by every means I want to try to exploit that for my own gain. I will win them over, but by no means do I feel obligated to return their love.

    What is most bothersome is that the precious fruit of Christ can easily be portrayed as weaknesses, not strengths. If you are a loving, servant minded person, those around you should never see you as “weak,” because you have a soft heart and feel the pain of others.

    But so often, this is the case, and those that think that way are 100% wrong. Bearing fruit in Christ is one of the most wonderful joys of life. In fact, it’s so important that He said that this is how people will know who you are.

    I’ve seen this in people around me. They clearly proclaim that say, they have a mother who is emulating Christ. But instead of being encouraged to seek Him to bear such fruit in their own lives, they seem to think that she is bearing enough fruit for the whole family?

    Here is another example: you marry a Christ-like person. You love him or her because they are emulating the same Lord you both claim to serve, and you admire that in your spouse and love that you found a Biblical person to share your life with.

    But instead of growing in God yourself, you “yoke” yourself to your spouse’s fruit as if it is your own (it’s not). Now you feel “off the hook” because he or she is compassionate enough for both of you.

    This is a sign that you are becoming unequally yoked. It’s 100% unfair to this spouse that you claim to admire and prize very highly for emulating your supposed “mutual” Savior—–but all you’re doing is taking advantage of their supposed “spiritual superiority and maturity.”

    Lemme say something here: it is of NO honor to your spouse (or parent, or whatever the case it) to think this way. It’s of no compliment to him or her to speak highly of them in one breath, but then burden them with the next by insisting that you “profit” off of their fruitfulness in the Lord.

    Such a person might be living in the flesh, which the Bible assures us will lead to their (spiritual) death. Such a person might not be truly born again, because they insist on trickery and fancy double talk in order to avoid everything that the Lord stands for.

    This is why ALL believers should be very careful when it comes to the praises from people. Test their words: they may be being fickle at best, phony at worst.

    The true test of sincere encouragement from those around you is if they treat you with respect. That is why I tend to wisely disregard words like: you’re a blessing, you’re so sweet, you are so this or that. Fine, pile it on if you like: but I’m looking for you to treat me as an equal, and when that test comes (it always does), then I’ll know if you were sincere, or just sincere in the moment.

    By the way, I stand by Hennessey’s words: NEVER blame the target for being targeted, even though sadly those that project Him are often preyed upon. My comment was more to encourage us to keep pursuing and emulating Christ, because there is everything right in it, and nothing wrong with it.

    Those that target such precious persons have everything to be ashamed of, and nothing to be proud of.

    I’m working hard on heeding the Word—-when it says to love others, but to guard your heart, because everything flows from it. And to be zealous, but with knowledge and wisdom. This takes time, practice, and patience.

    But again, you are still never to blame if you are targeted, even as you seek to grow and mature in Him. Hennessey truly blew me away with his precise language as to how carefully an abuser spins their web of deceit in order to entrap their victim. The “grooming” is so well done and well executed that I can certainly see how and why such persons are so effective.

    • Thank you Helovesme, I found so much encouragement and wisdom in your comment. 🙂

      You gave an excellent description of how some people take the easy way of admiring the fruit of others but do not think they need to produce fruit themselves. In my observation, that is often a kind of laziness, a lack of imagination and insight, and a lack of life experience. But sometimes people who do that are IMO being devious, mischievous, and even sinfully evil —— pretending to admire and honour the fruit bearer in order to bask in the reflected glory.

      • Helovesme

        Hi Barb I’ve been wanting to respond for awhile. We’ve had a family emergency and so my mind and time have been occupied.

        Barbara sets a wonderful example for us. The Bible says that we area known by the company we keep (Proverbs 13:20)

        Without a doubt, if you are around people that set a Christ like example, it will rub off on you.

        I’ve noticed a bit more boldness on my part since reading and trading comments with Barb. Boldness is something that abuse victims might understandably struggle with. We’ve been taught and trained to back down or watch our backs—-that doesn’t leave a lot of room for boldness to develop.

        When life is about survival, not necessarily character development and maturity—I personally have pushed aside character traits like courage and risk taking.

        As I see it, boldness is a real factor in being compassionate. It takes courage to reach out and show comfort and consolation to those that need it. Without a doubt, Jesus excelled in this, and makes it clear that the Holy Spirit can enable us to do the same.

        But for those that have been crushed by abuse, this process might be slow—but progressive. Barb sets an example of that for us, and offers great encouragement to keep persevering. The temptation to give up, admit defeat or simply fade away is real.

        So even if you think you are badly deficient in whatever area you lack in, try to hang around someone who is setting an example. There’s no such thing as a finished product on this side of eternity, but every time we bear fruit in Him, we get a taste of the goodness to come. Of that full wholeness in Him to come. That is worth fighting for. That is a good fight to fight.

      • Thanks Heloveseme 🙂

      • Finding Answers

        Helovesme commented “…..It takes courage to reach out and show comfort and consolation to those that need it…..”

        I never thought of this as taking courage. It’s something I did when I saw individuals struggling with a lack of information / faulty information / information stemming from misuse of power, etc.

        I tend to slag ALL walks of life, both personal and professional. BUT I also give kudos to those who provide struggling individuals with either the necessary information or provide possible sources that have greater expertise.

        Helovesme commented “……makes it clear that the Holy Spirit can enable us to do the same.”

        ^That.

        It was never my courage, it was His leading.

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