A Cry For Justice

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

Abusers and Their Trophies

3 John 1:9 I have written something to the church, but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge our authority. 

You have heard me quote this verse before.  It is a statement about one of the best examples of an abuser parading as a Christian to be found in the Bible.  Diotrephes was all about craving to be first.  The big man.  The head honcho in the church.  Wouldn’t you like to talk to this guy’s wife?

One of the typical ways that I have seen abusers exalt themselves is what I would call the use of trophies.   I  suppose we should define trophy before telling you what I mean.  A trophy is an object that signifies victory.  Think about it.  Many trophies have very little value in themselves – some are just shined up plastic.  And yet they are cherished.  Why?  Because they are a symbol of victory or achievement. I have one that I have had sitting around the house for, let’s see, 40 years!  It has a little marble base and a gold-colored guy on it aiming a handgun.  I won it in class #36 of the Oregon Police Academy when I had the top shooting score in my class.  Look at me!  Yes, I will give you an autograph if I ever meet you.

Now, abusers like trophies.  In some cases they see their victim as their trophy – she is a symbol of their conquest.  But commonly, abusers present trophies to their victim and children.  For example, Jerry does something unusual.  He never bothers himself with helping around the house, but this evening he has stopped at the grocery store on the way home from work and picked up a bag of groceries.  When he gets home, he comes through the door, and the trophy ceremony begins.  Jerry has “bagged” himself and the family, food.  He has ventured into the aisles of the Piggly Wiggly and snagged a few items.  Now, the selections he made are often stupid – twinkies (I like them too), a can of condensed milk, some Milky Way bars, and a frozen pizza.  But Jerry’s intent is to use his prize as a means to be exalted, much as a gold-medal winner at the Olympics might be.  The whole family must stop everything and praise Jerry as he makes his announcement, or there will be a serious debt to pay to the lower regions.

Here is another example.  Randy knows nothing about fishing.  He doesn’t care to take the time and effort to learn, although if he did, he could really spend some great time with his children.  But one summer his family was invited by some friends to go camping at the lake.  During the vacation, the hosts set their boat up, rig up all the fishing rods, bait all the hooks, hand everyone their rod, and begin trolling the lures through the lake.  Suddenly, Randy shouts he’s got one.  He begins to reel (after bumbling around and figuring out that is what the crank thing on the reel is for), not playing the fish at all, and hoists it into the boat.  It is a fine 10 incher.  Randy holds it up, insists that everyone look at it, loudly reminds his children that he has landed the first fish, then hands it off to his host to take the hook out.  If Randy’s children and especially his wife do not drop all they are doing and praise him, once again that evening Randy is going to exact a price from them.  Randy’s trophy WILL be honored.  Randy will honored.

Randy will never see the kingdom of God.  Randy claims to be a Christian, but Randy only worships himself.  In the end, it will be Randy who has hell to pay.  Or rather, Randy will pay God – because the wages of sin is death.  Randy’s trophies won’t help him an iota on the day he stands before Christ.


  1. Freed

    I knkw this entry is old but I had to tell you how incredibly helpful this was. I thought this was just one of my abuser’s things. I didn’t know it was common. I am by nature an encourager, and I can see now that he used that to elevate himself because no matter what good thing I did I never once was given a single kind word, not even a thanks. Everything always had to be focused on him. Even the littlest things. At least I finally understand all the junk food he bought.

  2. Freed

    Ps. My computer still does not give me a prompt to change my name. But it is perfectly OK for it to be public. I’m pretty public about the abuse.

  3. somanytears

    Interesting. My husband keeps ex’s as trophies. However, I did not know it for 11 years. In those 11 years, our marriage was harmonious. Not once did we argue or have problems. What I did not know, and only by accident uncovered, was his double life with at least 2 of his ex’s. He had a harem of adoring ex’s and was actively committing adultery with 2 former girlfriends. One of the women was the very same woman he cheated on his first wife with 38 years prior. I had no clue. I had become good friends with both women during our marriage. He encouraged it! Since discovery, 3 years ago, our marriage had changed. My husband is disrespectful and mentally and physically abusive. He begs for me to stay, but refuses to believe he had any wrong doing. He says he is “just a man” and he can’t help that ALL his ex’s love and want him. I am mentally broken and have physical ailments from all the stress. I became aware of a smear campaign that had been going on for years. He has alienated me from all family and friends. Due to finances, I am having to wait to leave. I pray, but no longer believe God hears me.

  4. Anonymous

    This is so true! It reminds me of The Twilight Zone episode where an evil, selfish boy with supernatural powers enslaves the entire town that he lives in. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/It%27s_a_Good_Life_(The_Twilight_Zone)

    This is what has been created by the churches today. By telling us that we are to worship our husbands or to stay married to an anti-Christ, we force those of us who truly belong to the Lord, to live in a terrifying reality. A reality that is controlled by an immature, childish creature who arbitrarily kills those who displease him. (Who kills our spirit, hope, fellowship with the Lord and love too.)

    The grocery store antics you mentioned Pastor Jeff, reminded me of something my mother pointed out. She said that every time she went grocery shopping, my dad insisted on seeing the sales receipt and then he’d drill her on why she purchased a certain item and would yell at her if he thought she paid too much for something. But every time dad went shopping, he’d buy junk food instead of healthy food and take any of the kids who went with him out to eat wherever they wanted to go. He was the classic “big spender” who used flashy gestures and loudly and lustily proclaimed himself to be an easy-going, happy-go-lucky, fun-loving dad. “When you’ve got ‘er, spend ‘er!” was his famous saying which means if you’ve got money you spend it! Needless to say, we were always dirt poor and no money was set aside for a rainy day or for retirement. I lived in constant fear of running out of food and money.

    In one of the documentaries about WWII, there’s a video where many people are at a carnival or a fair and are all having a good time when suddenly Hitler (or one of his henchmen) gets on the loudspeaker and rants and raves about something or other. The people are forced to stand there and listen (else they be seen as not showing the proper respect and worship to the abuser) and when the tirade has finally passed, they have to go right back to acting like they are having a good time even though they are all just living in fear.

    Proverbs 23:6-8, “Don’t eat a stingy person’s bread, and don’t desire his choice food, for it’s like someone calculating inwardly. “Eat and drink,” he says to you, but his heart is not with you. You will vomit the little you’ve eaten and waste your pleasant words.”

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