why abusers police how the abused file complaints

"Policing Complaints" cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward

“Policing Complaints” cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward

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It never ceases to amaze me how many rules there are for how people who’ve been abused should act. Especially in the church! You’d think the church would be afloat with ethics for how those in power should treat people and what they should do if they violate those ethics.

But no! Instead, we have an endless list of ethics for how the abused should and shouldn’t act, what they should and shouldn’t say, and how long they have to do it in.

You’re too angry. You’re too hysterical. You’re too persistent. When are you going to let it go? You should forgive. You’re being mean. You say they’re trying to silence you but you’re trying to silence them. Turn the other cheek. You’re bitter. Do you have to swear? That’s not very Christian. He hurt you but now you’re hurting him so you’re no better. You’re creating division in the Body of Christ. You’re being vindictive. On and on. The endless list of rules on how the alleged abused should file their complaints is astounding. All to silence the victims and survivors.

When victims and survivors complain, they’re usually loud. And they’re always louder than the abusers. Of course they are. Those in power want the problem to go away. They want everything to be cloaked in secrecy and silence. Of course they’re quiet in comparison to their victims!

The policing of the abused is ridiculous! What if the same intensity of policing went into making sure our leaders abided by ethics that prevented people from getting abused. What if we put the same effort into stopping the abuse as we put into silencing the abused? Wow. There’s a thought!

It’s all about control. It’s about keeping the power. Those in power have police to secure and protect their power. This includes policing those who are victims of the system. Not only is protest often made illegal, but it is always discouraged and suppressed.

The swelling anger of the victims of the abuse of power is embarrassing to the church, and those in power would like it to stop. They would never think about stopping the abuse. That would stop it at the source. Instead, they would like to continue enjoying the privileges of power without being constantly challenged for abusing them.

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60 Responses

  1. Tom Wilson says:

    When a leaders livelihood depends upon his having ability to manipulate abuse is the natural outcome. The current church model is that of a business which depends upon others to purchase its goods and services, but the only goods and services it has to sell are false messages, false promises, fear, shame, abuse.

  2. Dave P says:

    Current church model?

    The church has always manipulated people – it’s just a bit more covert and subtle now.

    It’s always been a cult of the leader’s personality from the early church fathers to the reformation to the American evangelists.

  3. Ducatihero says:

    I wouldn’t say that an instance that I have been involved with that comes to my mind when seeing your cartoon and reading today’s post David was one where I personally experienced being abused. At the time I was frustrated with the culture of having to be a certain way and when I talked of being no more Mr nice guy was told “you are always supposed to be nice”. I left the church soon after that and my frustration was relieved as soon as I had.

    I can’t imagine what it must be like for someone who has been abused for face pressure to conform and be “nice” with the abuse being addressed. I recall what Martin Luther King talked about with his critics asking him why direct action and not negotiation? Him saying in his letter from a Birmingham jail that they were right to talk about negotiation and that direct action was the means to achieving it!

    In my experience, I have had to practice forgiveness and kindness to prevent becoming resentful and bitter. Perhaps those in power have their own issues to deal with that they need healing from in order to serve while leading rather oppress? I remember reading of the Dali Lama having compassion for invaders of Tibet that ransacked Buddhist monasteries for what effect that had on those perpetrators. I remember being surprised by the compassion I felt similarly for prison guards in concentration camps.

    I wonder if that is what Jesus meant by loving your enemies. I don’t think what he said about forgiveness was primarily for the benefit of any perpetrators, but that any victim be free of the burden of resentment and bitterness. I’ve read of a concentration camp survivor praying that she cant forgive and asking for God’s forgiveness for a prison guard and finding emotional freedom in that.

    Sooner or later the truth will out and justice will be fulfilled?

  4. Forgiveness does not preclude action. The Dalai Lama works tirelessly for the liberation of Tibet. He forgives the Chinese, but he will not let them forget that Tibet doesn’t belong to them. Same with in the church. I forgive those who’ve abused me. But I will not let them forget that their abuse of power is wrong and destroys lives. However, I will not pressure other abused people to forgive. That is up to them in their own time.

  5. Lydia says:

    “You’re too angry. You’re too hysterical. You’re too persistent. When are you going to let it go? You should forgive. You’re being mean. You say they’re trying to silence you but you’re trying to silence them. Turn the other cheek. You’re bitter. Do you have to swear? That’s not very Christian. He hurt you but now you’re hurting him so you’re no better. You’re creating division in the Body of Christ. You’re being vindictive. On and on. The endless list of rules on how the alleged abused should file their complaints is astounding. All to silence the victims and survivors”

    My personal favorite no matter how professionally and carefully you approach the situation: I don’t like your tone.

    See, if you don’t like the “tone” you don’t have to listen. The problem is there is no good tone for what you have to say that they will approve. It is simply a deflection tactic.

    Now I simply say, I don’t like yours either but I am willing to focus on content if you are.

  6. Lydia says:

    “I wonder if that is what Jesus meant by loving your enemies”

    I find that an utterly strange thing to believe what Jesus meant considering the context. Do you believe when Jesus said ‘turn the other cheek’ he was referring to being constantly slapped down by your fellow believers–you know, the ones who are to be maturing and new creations in Christ?

    Do you think perhaps His audience was thinking of the Roman occupiers that they despised so much? Or do you think Jesus was saying, forgive the Pharisees and pretend they are right because you know, they are dealing with their own issues and that is why they oppress with heavy burdens on you. So go along…they have their own issues and you are just being uforgiving by not going along.

    I do not understand this brand of Christianity. it is a great place for leaders who are bullies, spiritual abusers, Pharisees and oppressors.

    Perhaps you don’t understand forgiveness. Forgiving a spiritual abuser does not mean you never speak of their spiritual abuse. You must warn others. John warned of Diotrephes in a letter folks would read for a thousand years. Paul named names of those who harmed him and who used the Gospel for their advancement. Paul even called out Peter publicly for refusing to eat with Gentiles. Were they being “unforgiving” by sending those letters?

  7. Lydia says:

    “I don’t think what he said about forgiveness was primarily for the benefit of any perpetrators, but that any victim be free of the burden of resentment and bitterness. I’ve read of a concentration camp survivor praying that she cant forgive and asking for God’s forgiveness for a prison guard and finding emotional freedom in that. ”

    I worry about victims who never get angry about the injustice done to them. And I am very concerned about people who don’t get “angry” over the injustice done to others. Anger can be a very good thing. It is what people DO with the anger that makes it sinful or not. Most Christians want people to believe that ANY mention of abuse by leaders is sinful anger. If they can make people believe that, they are enabled to continue in serious evil. Now, how is that good for them?

    Perhaps you can define “bitter” and “resentful” for us? Give us some specific examples. I always ask for examples when this accusation comes along. Most people go right into defending themselves that they are not bitter. Once they do that they are done. The abusers and their sycophants win. So, let’s define it with specifics. And let us discuss if their are statutes of limitations on spiritual abuse for those abusers who never repent or reconcile with those they have harmed.

    “Sooner or later the truth will out and justice will be fulfilled?”

    This is a typical “Christianese” platitude. We are to be building FOR the kingdom now. Therefore believers love justice and truth NOW. Not just wait for it in some heavenly realm. We are to work toward these things in our little corners of the world— NOW. It will never be perfect but working for truth and justice now will transfer to the redeemed earth. Truth and justice are inside the word “love”— which is a verb.

    Doing evil and wrong to others or even excusing it and looking the other way– WILL NOT TRANSFER to the redeemed earth. Something to think about. Because how we view our lives here and now as followers of Christ….how we operate as believers here…has eternal ramifications. . Once I understood this, everything changed. It is one reason why Jesus said in Matthew 7: I never knew you.

    I have witnessed Christianity just in my neck of the woods go from “loving your neighbor” to only about “doctrine”. Whether it is the neo Cal movement, the seekers who culture war all the time and now the emergent who have “cool” doctrine..

    The doing right to others is now considered “filthy rags” and counts for nothing here or for eternity. Because our ministries more important than the people who support them! This is an extremely dangerous and insidious belief system.

  8. Ducatihero says:

    Yes absolutely forgiveness does not preclude action whether that be with the liberation of Tibet, the civil rights movement or anywhere else where justice is required. Sadly the church (as the religious in the times of Jesus) has those that like the status but neglect the “true religion” in the biblical case of looking after widows and orphans or caring for the abused. With someone who has been abused, I find the best thing I can do is to walk the road with them as far as I am able to be a friend, acknowledging there is a limit to what I can do to help and that I don’t have the skills that a professional counselor has to best care when it comes to issues like forgiveness or trauma counselling.

  9. Lydia says:

    Yes absolutely forgiveness does not preclude action whether that be with the liberation of Tibet, the civil rights movement or anywhere else where justice is required. Sadly the church (as the religious in the times of Jesus) has those that like the status but neglect the “true religion” in the biblical case of looking after widows and orphans or caring for the abused. With someone who has been abused, I find the best thing I can do is to walk the road with them as far as I am able to be a friend, acknowledging there is a limit to what I can do to help and that I don’t have the skills that a professional counselor has to best care when it comes to issues like forgiveness or trauma counselling.”

    You know what heaps on more abuse to victims? It is those who make excuses for the (Christian leader!!!) abusers and then talk about the victims being resentful, bitter and unforgiving. That just heaps on more abuse. So you might want to start there if you are serious about helping people.

  10. Ducatihero says:

    There were a lot of questions you asked Lydia and to honour each one would take me a long time. Perhaps if I just focus on one question that you asked. Would that be OK?

    You asked:

    “Do you believe when Jesus said ‘turn the other cheek’ he was referring to being constantly slapped down by your fellow believers–you know, the ones who are to be maturing and new creations in Christ?”

    My understanding rightly or wrongly is that when Jesus talked about fellow believers with being slapped down it was the hypocrisy he addressed with the speck in the brother’s eye with the plank in the one saying brother let me remove that speck for you. then need for the plan to be removed first!

    With turning the other cheek, my take (again rightly or wrongly) is in the context of Roman occupation and it being an act of active resistance, using laws that exist against in this case a Roman that would slap a Jew in the face. By turning the other cheek, it’s not passive but in the knowledge that a soldier would get into trouble if he slapped a second time. A similar principle for if your enemy makes you carry a pack a mile, carry it two. The legal limitation of the person in power being to force the carrying of a pack for a mile and that by carrying it two it getting him into trouble.

    So in there cases the victim of ill treatment keeping their dignity and receiving justice with the perpetrator being punished by Roman law for their mistreatment.

    It seems to me that the alternative to that in context would have been to fight the enemy, someone with superiour power with could result in prison or worse. Or alternatively to be passive and be compliant when treated inappropriately leaving the perpetrator with getting away with it.

    Does that understanding help or is it a cause for concern?

  11. Ducatihero says:

    Lydia – I feel a little frustrated. I don’t believe I have made any excuses for abuses and talked of any victim of abuse being resentful bitter unforgiving and in doing so heaping on more abuse. Nevertheless I see that you perceive that either I am explicitly or implicitly have done so. That is a serious statement to make.

    I think what I did was share that I had to practice forgiveness and kindness otherwise I would have become bitter and resentful, although in my case I hadn’t been abused. I had a 2 hour conversation with the pastor at that time, after which my frustration was not being relieved and we shook hands and ended the meeting. My house group leader said he didn’t want to lose me and on my last day I was given a lovely card with a beautiful message from a young women there of encouragement, saying she was sad to see me go. It was hard to leave but as soon as I did the frustration left me.

    The other thing I talked about was with a survivour of a concentration camp that prayed for God’s forgiveness and finding emotional freedom form the distress she encountered when meeting with a prison guard.

    I don’t think there was anything inappropriate with either of these. Nevertheless I hear your concern Lydia and that last thing I would wish to do is you comment in a way that you would feel I ham doing is heaping on abuse to any other abuse you have experienced. Therefore I will make this my last comment towards you on this thread and wish you well with recovery from any ill treatment you have received.

  12. Lydia says:

    “Nevertheless I hear your concern Lydia and that last thing I would wish to do is you comment in a way that you would feel I ham doing is heaping on abuse to any other abuse you have experienced.”

    Do you see what you did there? Probably not. You are assuming. It has not occurred to you that I am offended FOR victims by your subtly shaming comments. Do you not realize that our “neighbors problems are often our problems, too”? And abuse is one of those problems we all share if we “love our neighbor” as ourselves. We are to love truth and justice. Not hide those things behind shallow platitudes of cheap grace and sweep it under the rug of some sort of blanket forgiveness. We do not come to their precious stories and talk about how we kept ourselves from bitterness and being resentful. What an insult.

    Actually, I am basing my responses to you on what I have seen you write in this thread and in others. I see a pattern. Frankly your writing and platitudes reminds me of how McLaren communicates.

    “The other thing I talked about was with a survivour of a concentration camp that prayed for God’s forgiveness and finding emotional freedom form the distress she encountered when meeting with a prison guard. ”

    Corrie Ten Boom. Actually I met her when I was little. What a forbidding woman! :o)

    So let’s analyze the example you use for cheap and easy forgiveness. How does it differ from most of the situations discussed here?

    The camp guard was NO LONGER a camp guard. (The Christian leaders we discuss are still Christian leaders). there was NO power imbalance in that situation. The camp guard had lost their position and was a defeated enemy. The camp guard was seeking forgiveness. It was not someone coming to Corrie while she was in a concentration camp demanding she forgive or she would be considered bitter and resentful. That would be protecting the evil the guard was doing. And shouldn’t we have been concerned for the guard’s soul?

    Please think this stuff through. Making excuses for spiritual abusers and expecting the victim to be more Holy in their response is ridiculous and more abuse heaped on their victims.

  13. Lydia says:

    “Does that understanding help or is it a cause for concern?”

    I think we are talking past each other. Earlier you referred to “enemies” in the context of Christian brothers and sisters, mainly the spiritual abusers. I don’t think Christians have “Christian” enemies in the context of any abuse. I don’t think Christians consistently hurt and use others. I think that if they do it ever, they are convicted and remorseful and seek to make reconciliation. If they are confronted they seek to understand what they have done and make amends.

    I am at a loss as to why I would think those that use Jesus to spiritually abuse others (or build an empire of followers) are my brothers and sisters in Christ. I should be able to trust believers, right?

    None of this means we are perfect. But Christians look out for one another– they don’t use each other for personal gain.

  14. Tim WB says:

    Some of the worst silencing and tone policing behaviour I have seen has been on Twitter. I have had my tone, attitude, and even my faith criticised because I was speaking up about abusive leaders.

    I know people who have had their Twitter accounts cancelled, and all appeals refused, because of unspecified violations of the “Twitter rules”, i.e. they have been blocked or reported too many times.

    It’s unfortunate when democratised platforms are used by abusers to continue their silencing tactics.

  15. Ducatihero says:

    This comment is addressed to David.

    David, I applaud your concern for survivors of abuse in church situations. I support your enabling of abuse victims to process anger. I respect an affirm your action in bringing about justice for abuse victims.

    Nevertheless I am concerned. As someone who has not experienced abuse in churches about the presuppositions and assumptions expressed. Not for my benefit but in the interest of the centrality if Christ for anyone who considers themselves Christian and unashamedly so. Also for the health of anyone who has suffered as a result of their church experiences.

    It seems like there is a club here that is hostile to anyone outside of the club that does not “behave” according to the unwritten rules of the club. The principal being among other things that if someone can be made to look like Brian Mclaren they are “the other” and deserving of being treated as either an abuser or one deserving abuse.

    I am saddened by my experiences here. I think there is wrong that is not being addressed that is no better than the abuses described that others have experienced.

    As as result it feels to me that a wall has gone up, just like I experienced resulting in the frustration I described in the church experience I shared.

    Nevertheless I recognise I the lack of welcome I have had here. Therfore to avoid further difficulty for anyone, I shall move on.

    I wish all the best with you faith journeys and/or recovery from church experiences that you may all thrive an enjoy life in it’s fullest that Christ came for.

    Praise God!

  16. Lydia says:

    “It seems like there is a club here that is hostile to anyone outside of the club that does not “behave” according to the unwritten rules of the club. ”

    Sorry but cannot help thinking this was aimed at me.

    Disagreement is “hostile”? Strenuous disagreement in support of victims is “hostile”? Explanations for why I see some of your comments as supporting the abusers and heaping onto victims—is “hostile”?

    As far as I know, David lets anyone outside any “camp” comment here. I cannot say the same for most “Christian leaders” on their sites, on twitter, etc. From what I have seen he welcomes it.

  17. I think it would help you to realize Ducatihero that it is becoming more and more evident that there are those who are victims and support the right of victims to be heard and believed, and then there’s the side of those who victimize and their supporters. There seems to be no grey area in between. There shouldn’t be! You seem to be very concerned with how victims should behave MORE than how abusers should. This clearly puts you in the camp of those who support abuse and the silencing of victims. Unfortunately but not unfortunately, there’s no middle ground.

  18. This is so true Lydia. I let anyone comment. I do not delete comments. Nor do I edit them. The usual tactic of those who support power is to exit the conversation when it gets too hot, or delete comments, or close comments, or ask others to delete comments or posts. It’s all about the control of information.

  19. If we hadn’t had a fb interaction yesterday, I’d be cheering this post. But I can’t, and here’s why.
    For background, I have ptsd from severe emotional and verbal abuse. As such, I wholeheartedly agree that people who have been abused have the damn right to be furious, to be loud, to act a bit irrational, etc. That’s part of healing and our life in general, and no one has the right to judge. You obviously agree with all this, but let’s take it one step further.
    Many of the ways people online step beyond criticism, to mockery and dehumanization, remind me of the way I was abused, and in fact seem preeeeeeetty darn close to verbal abuse. So am I, as a survivor, allowed to speak up from experience and say “hey, this seems iffy to me?”
    My motives aren’t to help an abuser. It’s just people who’ve experienced verbal abuse are *extremely* sensitive to the potential of words and criticisms to become abusive. And, obviously, we’re passionate about stopping this.

  20. Ducatihero says:

    David, I did not expect a reply from you, so I thank you for at least affording me that.

    As you have done that I shall dignify your comment with a response.

    You have me down as someone who supports power and abuse of power clearly front your last couple of comments. I think that is inappropriate.

    I agree with you that there shouldn’t be a grey area when it comes to abuse. Thank you that supports my reason for leaving and supporting my pointerest about not being in the club here.

    If at any time Sir you wish to talk without ad hominem then do get in touch. You have my email address I assume.

  21. Tom Wilson says:

    Ducatihero, First of all I want you know that I love the Bride of Christ/Body of Christ. However, I do not love the church. I actually dislike the word church as it is not a translation of the Greek word ecclesia, it actually a translation of word not even found in the “New Testament” the Greek word kuriakon which was used for secular and pagan religious gathering places. The word didn’t even start getting used by supposed Christians until Constantine not Christ created what is now called the Church and Christianity. I say that to tell you my original response to David’s post was not written out of hatred or bitterness, but out of the firm conviction that what people know is church is not the ecclesia Christ is building. That is is actually Pharisaical system identical in character and nature to every Christ spoke against.

    Having said that, David has been more than gracious to you and has only responded to what you have written. His response I suspect everyone, but you here agrees with. What you seem to not get is abuse by leaders especially religious, political, and capitalism. David is heroically standing up for and giving a voice to victims of abuse in the Church.

    The church system that is more worried about its reputation than the victims of abuse. The church that stigmatizes victims of abuse by its leaders attempts to silence them and get them to behave nice. The words of your post sound as if you are more concerned about victims behavior than you are the abuse they have received and the extreme mental and emotion trauma they have experienced. I invite, urge you to consider what is important- is it stopping abusers or getting victims to behave nicely.

    Secondly and least important I suggest researching the origins church and Christianit as most have known in Western Society.

  22. K. Elizabeth Danahy: I understand your discomfort with the language and tone and emotions behind the words of the abused. It is discomforting. But here’s my point: I believe they have a right to express themselves however they see fit. In a world that seems to want to silence them or sterilize their words, it makes sense. It is totally inappropriate. But does it make sense considering the conditions?

  23. Ducatihero says:

    K. Elizabeth Danahy

    We are saying similar things it seems to me about mockery and dehumanisation with what such comments that are evident with respect to verbal abuse. David is right to say it is inappropriate. It sounds iffy to me too.

    Freedom of speech means that anyone can say what they want but it encourages double standards to call out abuse then enable abusive conduct from someone who has been abused by saying it makes sense while acknowledging such is inappropriate.

    Abuse is abuse wherever it comes from. The cycle of abuse is not stopped by being abusive. Darkness doesn’t drive out darkness, only light does that. Hatred doesn’t drive out hatred, but love does.

  24. And THERE you showed your true colors.

  25. This is what gets me: During the M.L. King protests, you would probably hear white people saying, “You’d never see white people acting like that! Animals!” Same with spiritual abuse.

  26. Lydia says:

    “Abuse is abuse wherever it comes from. The cycle of abuse is not stopped by being abusive”

    I have a bit of a different view of abuse. I think there has to be some sort of power imbalance for abuse to happen. That imbalance of power comes in many forms. Open blogging does not fit the criteria for me. But I am not the arbiter of such things, obviously. The problem I have is that so many want to control HOW we discuss abuse it becomes almost impossible to name it and discuss it! I feel like there are also passive aggressive ways to control the discussion that I often see happen.

    When someone claims there is verbal abuse during disagreement between equals in an open forum type of situation, I would appreciate specifics so we can talk about them. We probably won’t agree but at least give our views.

  27. Eric Fry says:

    “Remembering rightly the abuse I suffered is not a private affair even when it happens in the seclusion of my own mind. Since others are always implicated, remembering abuse is of public significance.” Miroslav Volf – The End of Memory:Remembering Rightly in a Violent World

  28. David … thank you for responding! Once again, I am one of those abused, so as I already said, it absolutely makes sense for a survivor say angry, even abusive, things back – OR for a survivor to freak out and ask others to stop saying words that seem potentially abusive to them because they want to stop all abusive cycles (which is hardly described as “discomfort”). Sometimes the same person will do both in one hour (not that I know that from personal experience or anything…ahem ahem). Anyways, can you understand that, perhaps, both sets of actions make sense, both are uncomfortable, and there are times when both may be constructive (or destructive)? And that neither should be shamed?

  29. Actually, no. Let’s take the M.L. King Jr. marches. Or Gandhi. They were non-violent marches. What happens is that the power and authorities exercised their strength and exacted violence on the protestors. Why? Because it was illegal or disruptive to social order and peace. But it got on the news. It embarrassed those in power to see themselves inflicting such unbelievable violence on peaceful people who just wanted their rights respected. So there is an imbalance of power from the beginning. It’s not a fair fight.

  30. Addendum: Again, I’m not arguing for policing. Dear God, no. I’m just arguing for a bit more understanding for those who are triggered by intense, angry words and respond accordingly.

  31. Also, I’m genuinely curious if you consider verbal abuse actually abusive? I am not asking to be a jerk. I really don’t know at this point, because your responses have ranged from dismissive (“discomfort”) to a bit hurtful (invoking Ghandi and MLK).

  32. Kate says:

    Hi David, I don’t know you but I will express my frustration, as a survivor of multiple kinds of abuse, that you, whom I believe have not been abused, consider yourself a spokesperson for the abused. No. Sorry. Just no.

  33. You can believe what you want about me Kate.

    K. Elizabeth: Yes, I do believe words can be abusive. Don’t you?

  34. Thanks for the response. I realize there’s no nice way to ask that, unfortunately. But, to answer your question …considering I’ve been focusing on the fact that verbal abuse is real throughout this post…yeah, I sure as heck do. 🙂
    But since you do, why can’t you seem to consider that my perspective, as a survivor of verbal abuse, is something I know very well? I’m not disagreeing with your general thesis (in fact I’m agreeing), I’m just adding that some survivors might act differently than you expect … in ways that may seem to uphold power systems but are actually in no way motivated by that.
    Thank you for answering, again.

  35. Kate says:

    David,
    I wanted to clarify: your entire post does have a really good point: let abuse survivors express themselves. But, you aren’t really doing that in the comments here. You’re being dismissive, you’re accusing, etc.–just because what K. Elizabeth is saying doesn’t jive with your predetermined conclusions of how abuse survivors are expected to behave/what they’re expected to say. Hence, even though I know I sounded rude earlier, I think this needs repeating: people speaking up for abuse survivors are great. But those people also really do need to know when to sit down and listen.

  36. Ducatihero says:

    Kate Amen.

  37. Ducatihero says:

    David, that precisely was my point about MLK with direct action and turning the other cheek that Jesus talked of with bringing embarrassment to powers. MLK carried himself with dignity and faced strong criticism from the more militant in the civil rights movement. Yes it got on the news so what previously happened in private came out into public and won the support of many white people. He didn’t encourage and support violence verbal or physical yeah he was powerful. it was love, it was light it was non-violent demonstration for constitutional rights that won him respect and influenced a nation.

    Contrast that if you will, with the rising of Nazi power in 1930’s Germany. The excessive measures of Britain and America in the treaty of Versailles gave rise to national socialism. The holocaust didn’t start with killing Jews, it started with naming Jews as rats, it then developed to it being considered an honourable but unpleasant job to eradicate Jews just as a sewer worker eradicates rats until the concentration camps offered “the final solution to the Jewish problem”. Hitler told his adoring listeners that Jesus had led the “fight for the world against the Jewish poison… It was for this that he had to shed his blood on the cross”.

    Both K.Elizabeth and Kate have made valid points about listening and abuse survivours not acting in the way expected, making their points in an articulate and dignified manner. It seems as if you could be making out that Kate is being abusive or at least inappropriate towards you.

    I can’t address the abuses of power in the church where I have no influence, but if in some small way my words have been an encouragement to any survivors of abuse here and enabled such voices to be heard then my time here has not been wasted.

  38. lydia says:

    “OR for a survivor to freak out and ask others to stop saying words that seem potentially abusive to them because they want to stop all abusive cycles (which is hardly described as “discomfort”). ”

    Can you be specific concerning what is abusive here? How can someone stop something if they dont know what it is?

  39. I’m kind of amazed at how, in a post supporting victims of abuse, the weight of concern still leans towards how the abused should behave. I see this as part of the problem actually.

  40. Lydia says:

    “The holocaust didn’t start with killing Jews, it started with naming Jews as rats, it then developed to it being considered an honourable but unpleasant job to eradicate Jews just as a sewer worker eradicates rats until the concentration camps offered “the final solution to the Jewish problem”. Hitler told his adoring listeners that Jesus had led the “fight for the world against the Jewish poison… It was for this that he had to shed his blood on the cross”.

    A bit of a history buff myself. This is a strange analogy to use with people discussing abuse of leaders. Germany was a very top/down patriarchal society still smarting from being defeated in WW1. It was very much a “follow orders” society that was trying to democratize in new ways. Hitler learned this the hard way throughout the 20’s so took another tact which worked. He wooed some movers and shakers and pulled a fast one on Hindenburg to gain power. Had there not been such chaos, Hindenburg, using his own power could have squashed Hilter again easily but he was old and weak..

    Once again, I think you are missing the larger picture. It was the rising leaders who were setting the tone with a “perceived enemy” of those who were different and even using violence early on to force submission to that view. This is easier to do in a top/down society that was used to looking to leadership for what to think and do. Germans did not think in terms of liberty and equality in those days as we do now. William Shirer does a great job of coverning the psychology behind it all in the Rise of the Third Reich.

    Your analogy breaks down because you, once again, ignore the imbalance of power in these abuse situations. There is a perceived credibility for those who have power as in stages, write books, have lots of followers the have worked hard to gain, etc. They are given the benefit of the doubt immediately in almost all cases. I am just sad this is often the case in Christendom.

    One of the things abusers do when confronted is to try and convince people of their innocence by suddenly equalizing the imbalance of power. They often pretend those they have abused have power over them because they dared respond– casting themselves as victims. Even Hilter used this one several times.

  41. Lydia says:

    “I’m kind of amazed at how, in a post supporting victims of abuse, the weight of concern still leans towards how the abused should behave. I see this as part of the problem actually.”

    It is one reason more do not tell their stories. One can never be the “right kind of victim”. The standards are much higher for victims.

  42. YES, Lydia, on how the abused should behave. We always have to be the right kind of victim, and I’m sick of it. I’m tired of the loud victims being called “too loud” and the quiet victims being called “advocates for abusers” (or, in my case, I’ve been both).
    If a victim says “this seems like an unhealthy situation that could turn abusive,” people don’t have the right to police that by automatically claiming the victim is supporting power structures, either – it’s imposing another standard on someone who doesn’t need it.
    As for your earlier comment on specifics, if I see people going beyond critique to attack someone’s character, twist their words, and demean them in a public circle, that seems potentially abusive to me. Because I’ve had my character and words twisted (by an ill-timed joke to my abusers), been humiliated in public (because apparently my soccer skills seemed weak one game), etc. So if I say “this seems unhealthy” I’m saying it because I am trying, perhaps incorrectly but sincerely, to stop verbal abuse. Because my abuser was a victim, too, and that was partially why I didn’t think it was abusive for a long time.
    And if someone wants to say that makes me part of the problem, if someone only want to listen to the loud victim and not the cautious one, that frightens me. You shouldn’t care more about building up OR tearing down power structures than people.

  43. Ducatihero says:

    David, yes I did show my true colours earlier with light eliminating darkness and love driving out hate. If your last comment is an implied criticism about that or other comments then I would ask you to reconsider. In 1930’s Germany, the German people were victims. In the Holocaust the Jews were the victims. Are you suggesting that the atrocities of the death camps and the suffering that Palestinian Muslims in the West bank should not be addressed because German people and Jews are victims of previous abuses?

    It is a bizarre conclusion to imply that the weight of comments here have been towards how the abused should behave. Think about it – throughout the dialogue here support has been given to you for your approach in bringing about justice for victims of abuse and confronting powers that abuse.

    Comments such as “some survivors might act differently than you expect” and “You’re being dismissive, you’re accusing, etc.–just because what K. Elizabeth is saying doesn’t jive with your predetermined conclusions of how abuse survivors are expected to behave/what they’re expected to say” were filled with grace, dignity and respect whilst not agreeing with you from Kate and K. Elizabeth. It does a disservice to the respect and support shown to you and that balance of comments both have given towards confronting powers and considering the abused to respond as if either have acted inappropriately by weighting comments towards how the abused should behave. At least on this occasion you did not explicitly accuse anyone of being abusive which I suppose shows some restraint. Nevertheless listening as has been suggested would have been the better course of action.

    It is a particular concern that someone should come here, share about their experience with abuse, mention suffering from PTSD and be treated as such. If that is not ringing alarm bells then then something is seriously wrong.

    People who are secure in their own skin don’t need to be down on others whose conduct is perfectly fine. Being dismissive and accusing were appropriate criticisms to be made of you David and it does a disservice to someone to show evidence of not listening but instead coming down on someone who has been abused by implying their balanced comments have been inappropriately weighted towards how the abused should behave. It’s subtle. You might as well be saying “oh for goodness sake shut up” – it would be more honest to do so.

  44. Lydia says:

    “As for your earlier comment on specifics, if I see people going beyond critique to attack someone’s character, twist their words, and demean them in a public circle, that seems potentially abusive to me. Because I’ve had my character and words twisted (by an ill-timed joke to my abusers), been humiliated in public (because apparently my soccer skills seemed weak one game), etc. So if I say “this seems unhealthy” I’m saying it because I am trying, perhaps incorrectly but sincerely, to stop verbal abuse. Because my abuser was a victim, too, and that was partially why I didn’t think it was abusive for a long time.”

    Can you provide an example of that here? . I am struggling to understand the power imbalance here as David really encourages open dialogue. Would being offended by an equal commenter on a blog be considered abuse? Perhaps we have differing views on what constitutes abuse? I dont know. I am struggling with where you are coming from.

  45. Hi Lydia,
    Being offended on a blog is hardly abusive (although it can be triggering if someone uses the same words your abuser did). But I don’t think there has to be a strict power difference for abuse – abuse is often what gives the person “power,” unfortunately (i.e. relationships can seem equal until, say, someone starts hitting the other). Power imbalances do often lead to abuse, but to assume something isn’t abusive because there doesn’t appear to be a power imbalance is grossly naive.
    If we’re not going to police survivors (and we shouldn’t), we can’t limit freedom to the loud survivors. The fearful ones (whose response to triggers is to beg them to stop) count, too. All survivors deserve to be listened to.

  46. Bridget says:

    “The holocaust didn’t start with killing Jews, it started with naming Jews as rats, it then developed to it being considered an honourable but unpleasant job to eradicate Jews just as a sewer worker eradicates rats until the concentration camps offered “the final solution to the Jewish problem”.

    Really. This is what you believe?

    The Holocaust started because of what a man believed within himself. He wanted power and entitlement. He loathed a people group to which he actually belonged. Instead of acknowledging and being part of that group, he wanted to prove something to the world by destroying Jewish people.

    Desire for power drove Hitler, not words. Words were a result of the desire within him. He was good at cultivating that same desire in those close to him, although I’m sure he recognized the seed in men and chose his top men carefully. Once the plants were large enough they produced a toxin of fear that spread to the average man and woman who were trying to live peaceful, quiet lives. These did many things they would not have done if the toxin was not being applied. I have a German neighbor who fought in WWII. He was born and raised in Germany. He fought for Germany. He is a gentle, quiet man.

    Unfortunately, I see many leaders who want power and recognition. They are driven from within. They use words.

  47. Lydia says:

    “If we’re not going to police survivors (and we shouldn’t), we can’t limit freedom to the loud survivors. The fearful ones (whose response to triggers is to beg them to stop) count, too. All survivors deserve to be listened to.”

    I become increasingly confused by your comments. Who is censoring fearful survivors here and how? Please give some specific examples because I am flying blind trying to understand what exactly you are referring to. Perhaps you are confusing disagreement with censoring? As far as I know no one has been censored here but some have been disagreed concerning victims and how they should be able to express themselves.

    I am a bit taken back with this idea that victims should walk on eggshells to express themselves publicy. It can take years for them to muster up the courage to speak at all publicly. And in spiritual abuse cases, their abusers often have a platform where they forge their public persona the victim has no access to.

    This is all problematic since you have given no specifics on what is written here is abusive to you. I don’t even know what a “loud” victim is without some sort of example. How would one know if they are too loud for Elizabeth? How would a victim know if what they say is abusive to Elizabeth?

    Why not either listen with empathy or skip over those comments? Why try to censor victims with vague standards? I am constantly amazed at the different ways people find to rewound the wounded. If you are a survivor I would think you would understand this and have empathy on how hard it is to speak up at all and instead encourage it.

    I think we are going to have to agree to disagree. :o)

  48. Ducatihero says:

    K. Elizabeth Danahay wrote:

    “We always have to be the right kind of victim, and I’m sick of it… If a victim says “this seems like an unhealthy situation that could turn abusive,” people don’t have the right to police that by automatically claiming the victim is supporting power structures if I see people going beyond critique to attack someone’s character, twist their words, and demean them in a public circle, that seems potentially abusive to me… if someone wants to say that makes me part of the problem… that frightens me.”

    A dialogue happened betwen here (KE) and David (DH).

    DH “K. Elizabeth Danahy: I understand your discomfort with the language and tone and emotions behind the words of the abused. It is discomforting.”

    KE “it absolutely makes sense for a survivor say angry, even abusive, things back – OR for a survivor to freak out and ask others to stop saying words that seem potentially abusive to them because they want to stop all abusive cycles (which is hardly described as “discomfort”)… can you understand that, perhaps, both sets of actions make sense, both are uncomfortable, and there are times when both may be constructive (or destructive)? And that neither should be shamed?”

    DH “Actually, no. Let’s take the M.L. King Jr. marches. Or Gandhi…”

    KE “your responses have ranged from dismissive (“discomfort”) to a bit hurtful (invoking Ghandi and MLK).”

    Clearly the perceived specific dismissive and hurtful actions have been apparent. Anyone not aware of that has not been paying attention. Saying that K. Elizabeth has not been giving specifics is as best an oversight and at worst a lie, calling that problematic is adding an unnecessary burden onto someone suffering from PTSD and suggesting she listen with empathy or skip over the comments is policing a victim. Lydia might have just as well have said “oh for goodness sake shut up”.

    “God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.”

    You have my support K. Elizabeth Danahay for the courage and tenacity you have shown on behalf of the voices of victims. Please don’t be discouraged but stay strong.

  49. Okay, Lydia…here’s the situation that (very obviously) inspired David blogging this in the first place:
    A friend posts a blog post detailing his own verbal abuse at the hands of his father, how he’s still affected by the “disappointment” his father made him feel he was.
    During said post, the author says the actions of SCCL seems to delve into abuse, using personal and painful experiences with SCCL.
    David then replies, completely ignoring the author’s story. He accuses the author of being “ignorant of abuse” for critiquing SCCL, supporting power structures that this person has been known to rail against, and the David ends with which word? “Disappointing.”
    When it was explained why this is *not okay* , David refused to listen and insisted that this person was too absorbed in power structures to care. He never once, to my knowledge, acknowledged that this person was a survivor themselves.
    Second, your comment was hurtful and cruel. Apparently, you think I am too sensitive, and because I don’t agree with you, I am a participant in abuse? That, Lydia, is silencing.

  50. It won’t let me delete my comment…okay.
    I probably should not have mentioned the situation, since it’s not my story to tell. Second, I was rude, rash, and judgmental toward David and Lydia, and I apologize. If you can delete my comment, David, feel free. But I apologize again. That’s on me.

  51. Lydia says:

    Elizabeth, I am not real up on things. I cannot comment on something I have not read firsthand. There are chances I would see it differently based upon what you have written here and how you perceive victims mustering the courage to speak up especially concerning spiritual abuse.. After reading David for a while, your scenario does not sound like how I might have perceived it. But thanks for explaining. It might help to use a link in the future so those involved know what you are talking about and can give their view if they desire.

    “Second, your comment was hurtful and cruel. Apparently, you think I am too sensitive, and because I don’t agree with you, I am a participant in abuse? That, Lydia, is silencing.”

    The only person who can silence you here is David and he is not doing that. You are commenting as much as you like, right?

    None of what you wrote above was intended that way. I can only go by what you have written here which seemed to me to be a very vague and unfair indictment on victims who did not communicate in the way you think they should. That could also be perceived as “cruel” by victims of spiritual abuse. See, we really don’t get very far with that sort of dialogue, do we? I am still not even sure what a “loud” victim is?

    I have been dealing with victims of spiritual abuse for about 10 years now (spouse abuse for many years prior, too, involved in advocacy) and will admit your position is a new one to me.

  52. Lydia says:

    “It won’t let me delete my comment…okay.
    I probably should not have mentioned the situation, since it’s not my story to tell. Second, I was rude, rash, and judgmental toward David and Lydia, and I apologize. If you can delete my comment, David, feel free. But I apologize again. That’s on me.”

    Elizabeth, that was very good of you!

    David, if you delete hers, please delete my response or it is unfair to Elizabeth.

  53. Ducatihero says:

    K. Elizabeth

    I hear this from you. “if someone wants to say that makes me part of the problem, if someone only want to listen to the loud victim and not the cautious one, that frightens me.” Please don’t let anyone make you feel afraid. “my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” Jn 14:27

    Lydia wrote “I can only go by what you have written here which seemed to me to be a very vague and unfair indictment on victims”. The fact that Lydia has been involved in victims, does not distract form her responsibility to be listening. She is wrong. You have been clear and supportive toward victims. Her response is not your fault. Her opinion about you is not your responsibility.

    K Elizabeth again your comments have been clear and specific. First, where you have perceived receiving dismissive and hurtful comments from David. You have my support with that. Second, your challenge of Lyida was accurate and brave of you when you commented “your comment was hurtful and cruel. Apparently, you think I am too sensitive, and because I don’t agree with you, I am a participant in abuse? That, Lydia, is silencing.” You have my support with that as well.

    May I also highlight the undeserved grace towards Lydia and David you have shown with your apology. Whist showing such kindness, please do not allow either to silence you or to make you feel shame for the appropriate, courageous and dignified manner in which you have conducted yourself here.

    You have been a shining example of exemplary conduct.

  54. I have no desire to delete anyone’s comments. The conversation here seems civil and even cordial to me.

  55. John Blenrt says:

    You’re nothing more than a liar and provocateur, Ducatihero. Go fuck yourself.

  56. Ducatihero says:

    Why thank you kind Sir John. Unfortunately my anatomy make what you command to be an impossibility. However interesting thought though and wonderful passion – keep it coming.

  57. Karen says:

    I’m not going to interject into the lengthy argument here, but I want to comment on David’ comment: ” it is becoming more and more evident that there are those who are victims and support the right of victims to be heard and believed, and then there’s the side of those who victimize and their supporters.There seems to be no grey area in between.”

    While I would agree that there is little grey area in choosing whether to support victims or abusers, using a black/white dichotomy for victims and abusers is too simplistic for the dynamics of dysfunctional or abusive churches. Sometimes there is are people within the church’s social order (formally or informally) who both abuse and are abused. They are abused by the people above them and they abuse the people below them. Often the behavior they have observed and been subjected to has become so normalized that they turn around and treat others in the same organization the same way without much thought. Other times, they may be aware their behavior is wrong (although they are less likely to see it as abusive) and simply think they have to act that way to remain part of the dysfunctional system they are in. I think of the quasi-cults, where people are taught to act in ways that are abusive, or they will be “disciplined” or shunned. This does not excuse the behavior of people who are simultaneous victims/abusers, but it should change the way we interact with them and help them to both escape the abuse and stop their own abusive behavior.

  58. Bridget says:

    Karen –

    “This does not excuse the behavior of people who are simultaneous victims/abusers, but it should change the way we interact with them and help them to both escape the abuse and stop their own abusive behavior.”

    I agree. WWII Germany was a horrid, large scale example of this. It included a non-local, power seeking man taking advantage of a depressed country. I’ve seen the same scenario played out in churches with many people in the middle. Unfortunately, many churches today believe in and even want a form of leadership that looks exactly like what Jesus warned against. It is often the leader(s) telling them that this is what is best for them.

  59. Ducatihero says:

    Karen, Bridget some great comments.

    Karen I like what you say about individuals being abused while at the same time being abuser but the social conditioning of an institution. Therefore, highlighting the need for the wrings and the sickness of the system to be addressed as well as the conduct of the individual. Frequently it is the ill doing of the individual that is focused on keeping the system unhealthy, to be replaced by another individual with a continuing broken and sick system. Individuals come and go, changes for good in the system takes a long time. In the meantime, we have the choices to avoid the system entirely, to try to alter the system, or to accept the system as it is.

    Bridget I agree there is horrible misuse of power seeking men (and some women) with a similar scenario to that of Nazi Germany with leaders taking advantage of a depressed country. There’s nothing new under the sun as is evident in the synagogues, the temple and in churches as shown in the bible. Of course such can and does happen in any institution. Thankfully as well as describing such, the bible does offer hope and examples of how to effectively engage with such in the love, power and sound mind of the Spirit.

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