A Cry For Justice

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

The Abuser’s Ploy of “Confessing” His Past Abuse

1 Samuel 15:13-14 And Samuel came to Saul, and Saul said to him, “Blessed be you to the LORD. I have performed the commandment of the LORD.” (14) And Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears and the lowing of the oxen that I hear?”

King Saul was a man who was characterized by partial, half-hearted obedience to the Lord.  He would own up to a bit of what he had done wrong, or as in the above verses, he would claim that he had obeyed, even when he had not done so fully.  The thinking seems to be, as long as I do part of what I am supposed to do, everything is ok.  Saul found out otherwise.

I have seen a similar thing practiced by abusive people.  In several cases, the abuser, on his own initiative and usually at the start of a relationship with someone (say, they are new to a church for example), will “own up” to the fact that he once was an abusive man.  He will tell about how terrible he was to his wife, how he frequently raged at her, and so on.  He will do so right in front of his wife, and even to a group of people he is just getting to know.  And then comes the story of his “conversion.”  Suddenly he woke up to what he was doing.  He realize that it was wrong and that he needed to stop treating her that way.  His wife says nothing.   But the rest of the folks, well, they think it is just marvelous that a man can be such a fine Christian that he can humbly and opening admit his past sin.  What a great thing it is going to be to have these people in the church.

Over time, perhaps you will experience some of those “moments.”  You know what I mean.  You have this feeling.  You see some look in this fellow or in his wife.  You ask her a question, just trying to make conversation, and she strangely just clams up.  You overhear the two of them talking when they think no one is listening and, well, the tone and the words seem odd.  But, it is probably nothing.  Everyone has their moments.  And you forget about it.

Perhaps one day you will find out that all was not well.  Or perhaps no one will know and the couple eventually just moves on.

I believe that abusers sometimes speak of “past” sins of abuse right in front of their wife/victim and openly to a group of people they are just getting to know.  And I believe they do this out of a rather ingenious and heinous motive to make everyone think that they are a sinner saved by grace, a humble man willing to admit his flaws, a reformed man who no longer does those things.  Think about it.  What is his wife going to say now?  He has already addressed the issue.  First come, first believed – that’s how it usually seems to go, right?  If she ever did tell someone he is still abusive (which isn’t common), they will find it hard to believe her.  Sure, maybe once in a while his old patterns come back, but he is a man fighting his sin just like all of us are.  Like the first man on the moon, this guy has already driven his flag of ownership into this new church and all of these new friends.

I wonder what would happen at the dinner party if the wife/victim drove her flag in first?  “Hi, I’m Carol.  This is Don, my husband.  He is a wicked man who has abused me horribly for 25 years.  Don’t believe a word he tells you.  Just ask the children if you don’t believe me.”  Unfortunately we know it just isn’t all that easy, is it?

So, here is the pattern.  Watch out for that “new guy” who jumps on the confessional band wagon at the welcome-to-the-church/community get together.  You should know by now that most abusers never change.  So, if he did it in the past, he is probably still doing it now.  Call me a pessimist.  I am ready to be surprised by a truly, genuine, repentant abuser.  That would be a really happy day.

7 Comments

  1. Findingmycourage

    So thankful to finally find this website and the people here who can “see” past the false facade and understand the deception of our abusers who are posing as sheep.God bless you for your courage to swim against the tide, tell it like it is and sound the wake up call.

  2. Nonymous

    The justice system here in (State and county redacted) never served me nor my kid’s justice. My children were never questioned about the abuse I and they had recieved, by the system. My abuser assualted me, causing griveous bodily harm, I had to have surgery as a result, then I was the one who was told was the abuser. I was facing having my Children taken away from me, I even had a restraining order in effect . . . I almost died, still no one will listen to me. No justice here.

    [Eds: some details removed to protect the identity of the victim and to protect the administrators of this blog from legal ramifications.]

    • Dear Nonymous
      I gave you a non-identifying screen name and redacted some of your comment. I am so sorry to hear the injustices you have suffered, which are very severe.

      Welcome to the blog. Sorry we can’t help you obtain more justice in the court system. Until a lot more of people in the Christian church wake up to the injustices that are sometimes being dealt out to victims of domestic abuse in (particularly the American?) courts, and start lobbying for systemic changes in the courts, we really can’t do more at this blog than be a validating and safe place for victims to share their journeys and mutually encourage and support each other. We don’t feel we have the ability at this time to discuss by name particular courts, judges, and court cases. And we are mindful of the need to protect our commenters from retribution by their abusers — which could easiliy happen if they disclose too much idendtifying detail on this blog.

      If you think our blog may be of help to you in that regard, I encourage you to read our New Users Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting at this blog.

  3. Anonymous

    I’ve found that when they are “confessing” they are often bragging about themselves. Ever been to an AA type meeting? One of my siblings goes to several of these a week and has for decades. She is always up on stage seemingly sharing about her recovery but what she’s actually doing is bragging and forcing others to be part of her sin. She LOVES what she’s done in the past, loves that she gets attention from all and always has a rapt audience. She also makes up many of her stories and uses other peoples trails by claiming them as her own.

    “Confessing” in front of their victim adds the extra chance to abuse the victim again, to see if their victim will go along with it and continue to keep his secrets.

    Ted Bundy was great about confessing his sins but was actually bragging and getting a chance to relive all his control and glory. Now, when anyone tries to include me in the filth of their supposed confessing, I ignore them. if they are serious about wanting to do right and live a good life, it’ll show over time. We’ll know them by their fruits.

  4. Finding Answers

    (Airbrushing…)

    Pastor Jeff wrote Over time, perhaps you will experience some of those “moments.” You know what I mean. You have this feeling. You see some look in this fellow or in his wife. You ask her a question, just trying to make conversation, and she strangely just clams up. You overhear the two of them talking when they think no one is listening and, well, the tone and the words seem odd. But, it is probably nothing. Everyone has their moments. And you forget about it.

    A memory, but shadowy…

    A sibling introducing me to a singer, someone he had “asked out on a dare” before her band became well-known.

    The smirk on his face, the startled look on her face.

    The sibling still plays the “inside scoop” power games….learned from our “parents”, played to the hilt by my ant-x.

    Abusers don’t change, they only age……and not like fine wine.

  5. Initium nova

    This article has been very helpful to me.

    It would’ve been good if I had had the confidence then to introduce my x as someone who was disrespectful, etc. (yes I would have toned down my language! but hoped it may have created some doubt at to his wonderfulness!)

    I’m still careful, yet much bolder these days when I’m asked certain questions about him.

    I think that anonymous’ comment is usually true; that “confessing” in front of an audience is them reliving and getting a thrill out of revisiting those moments. I remember this happening in front of my children, and I surprised myself by walking outside into the yard, so that I didn’t have to listen to it ‘again’.

    I’ve been reading quite a few of the articles on ptsd, and they have helped me understand a lot. Also I hope I can share some of these things with my son. He had some experiences in the defence force that give him bad dreams.

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