when abuse goes underground

"Insidious Abuse" cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward
“Insidious Abuse” cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward

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In my experience and observation, often when an organization, church, or leader gets accused of being abusive, rather than offering a genuine apology, a kind of non-apology is provided and the abuse becomes more insidious.

We are very ingenious at continuing on in our lives unhindered, even when challenged, because we find new and more clever ways to do what we’ve always done.

It’s like the physically abusive husband who’s called on it, apologizes, but then resorts to yelling. Then when he’s called on this he apologizes, but then resorts to emotional abuse. Then when he’s called on this he apologizes, but then resorts to intellectual abuse. And so on.

Churches and many other types of communities do the same thing. We can always find ways to inflict our disdain on those we don’t respect and assault their independence, autonomy, and dignity.

Shaming to control others is a well used tool in every abuser’s arsenal.

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2 Replies to “when abuse goes underground”

  1. The greatest abuse ever?

    JD Crossan notes from his book, Who is Jesus)

    “Moreover, an atonement theology that says God sacrifices his own son in place of humans who needed to be punished for their sins might make some Christians love Jesus, but it is an obscene picture of God. It is almost heavenly child abuse, and may infect our imagination at more earthly levels as well. I do not want to express my faith through a theology that pictures God demanding blood sacrifices in order to be reconciled to us.”

  2. I agree with this post, David. Growth comes through dialog. However, dialog requires allowing testimony, stories with different perspectives, a willingness to not denounce and not insult, and exploring of ‘what is the key point’ (or points) of the person’s post.

    The challenge is that the wounded person normally hides conflicting testimony, refuses to try to understand different perspectives, finds it natural to ’cause pain’ by denouncing and insulting.

    The other challenge, that you perhaps were bringing out, is that the person in power must be willing to share power. That is why a ‘husband’ in your example, may shift from one form of abuse to another form. Or a wife may agree to a budget, only to quietly refuse to keep the budget .

    A church institution must also be willing to share power… rather than just conduct war (declared or not declared).

    I think the love of power is often a root of more evil than the love of money…. power is available even to the poor homeless that allow one person to become their ‘chief’.

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