A Cry For Justice

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

Learning the Language of Abuser

In a visit to Dr. Morven Baker’s blog, I saw her recommendation of a book by Sandra Scott, Charmers & Con Artists & Their Flip Side.  So, it was off to Amazon to check it out and I found the following “one star” review (most were positive).   I usually read the bad reviews first – I don’t know why.  Anyway, I advise an exercise for us.  Here is the negative review of Scott’s book.  I propose that you read it and then post your thoughts and comments, telling me and our readers what you think is going on with this fellow.  This is real life stuff, so it affords us an opportunity to learn.  Who do you think is the culprit here?   Alright, just to be clear, from this point on, these are the negative reviewer’s words, not mine-

“I am very critical of this book, and I’ll tell you why.”

“In short, I’ve lost my marriage and family because, in part, of my wife’s improper application of this book to me. We were married for 16 years and the only reason she gave me was to “read this book with an open mind”. That was two years ago and me & my three children have been utterly devastated. I’m just now beginning to heal from the sadness of this crushing blow to our lives. I was a Christian minister for 15 years and took a much needed leave of absence from that work when my wife literally lost her mind with unwarranted suspicions, ideas, and notions of me due to her own issues of trust (she was sexually abused as a child by a family ‘friend’ and I had to deal with the fallout of that for our entire marriage). I absolutely adored my wife and never abused her in ANY way.”

“In my questioning about why this happened to me, I went to her diary (it was actually ours together – it was our prayer journal as well) to try to understand her confusion. You should know that her family is rampant with professionally diagnosed mental illnesses (her father’s father died in an asylum in Oregon, her dad is not “normal”, her brother has spent parts of his life institutionalized with manic depression, bi-polar disorder, and her mom has been diagnosed with dissociative disorder also known as multiple personality disorder, to name but a few – bi-polar is rampant in her family). When she found this book and listened to other divorced women in her life who were coaching her, I could not win her no matter what I did, whether taking her to counselors, praying and fasting, or showing her as much love as I could muster in the midst of my intense pain, or just reasoning with her. I believe this book gave her some sort of justification for what she was doing and now I’ve somehow been labelled in her mind as being a Con-artist or “charmer”. In reality I’m just a man who loved her, was faithful to her, and had some faith questions arise in my mind that i needed to process, and felt that integrity demanded I do that away from the ministerial office for a while (something I’ve now done). This made her conclude that I had been faking my faith for all those years, which is simply ridiculous. I believe now that my being a church leader gave her some kind of security in this world, since her dad is a fanatical wild-eyed hyper-religious type.”

“I’m sure there are people who are like what the author describes in her book. However, if my tragedy is the result of her work – to further empower unbalanced people to justify their selfish and destructive actions and be able to pass the responsibility to others simply because they are confused and have found a label they relate to somehow, then she’s just selling books unethically. Anyone can call someone else names and label them. If the author’s so-called expertise is being used by women (as it was in my case) to justify their lack of commitment to their husbands in America today, it seems to me the author may be to blame for causing a LOT of PAIN. I sure did in my family, and that pain continues to bear its fruit in my children. I’m angry. I wonder if she thought of that possibility when she wrote it. Perhaps my wife would have found some other reason to destroy our family (who knows), but this book was a BIG part of our problem apparently. What a load of garbage if it doesn’t properly distinguish for readers her supposed “science” from a reader’s dysfunctional biases. Readers come in all kinds, and it’s probably mostly anyone who thinks they are a ‘victim’ already. Maybe they are and maybe they aren’t.”

“Be careful how you apply or misapply the opinions of others, no matter what their “credentials”. My father is a psychotherapist and I can tell you they draw many wrong conclusions all the time. They are products of their schools. They themselves usually come from broken backgrounds, which is why they choose their career paths. Hopefully they find themselves before they make even bigger messes in those they “counsel”.   Not everyone who is considered charming is a ‘charmer’ and not everyone who is artful is a con-artist. My wife had a lot more freedom when she was with me, ironically, than she does today. I never told her what to do or where to go and I always sought to help her achieve her own goals. I would like to see a chapter added which honestly distinguishes the difference between the real con artists and those who are just getting her labels. From where I’m standing, the author is the most destructive manipulator of my life.”

End of Review.  This is Jeff again.  What do you think?  Is this still “another example of a godly man’s marriage being destroyed by the venom of feminism”?

13 Comments

  1. Poor guy. I’m weeping over here. Really. . .

  2. Belle

    I don’t know what to think of this guy. But, I am wondering, do women sometimes mistake their husbands for abusers when they are not? It is a serious thing to deem your spouse doesn’t have good will toward you. How would one know if one’s spouse is abusive, or it’s just a typically bad marriage that needs help?

  3. Jeff Crippen

    Belle – good question. Let me give it a try here. First of all, from my reading and interviews of abuse victims, women imagining wrongly that their husbands are abusers just doesn’t seem to happen much at all. In fact, it is just the opposite. The normal scenario is that because of the confusing, deceptive, blaming fog of the abuser, the victim doesn’t get it. She doesn’t realize what is really going on. A woman who just wants to wrongly divorce her husband would most likely focus on some other complaints. What does happen, as I believe it did in the case of this fellow, is that a woman gets a good book on abuse, such as the Charmers and Con-Artists book, and the lights really start to go on for her. She starts understanding what is really happening to her. That is the vastly more common course of events.

    Second, the tactics and language this guy uses in his review reveals the classic and common words and methods of an abuser. After you have listened to an abuser long enough and read emails from them and so on, you develop the ability to recognize “Abuser-ese.” Did you notice that in this “book review” the guy spent a huge amount of time working to convince us that his ex-wife was crazy? That is absolutely classic – soooo common. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard it. And also, did you notice that as he was presenting his case for her being mental, that he made bald, bold statements of “fact.” Her family has all this craziness in its history, etc. Abusers (sociopaths) can say these totally false things boldly, without even blinking an eye. Still another indication was in regard to his mention of looking in his wife’s diary (which he quickly justified by claiming it was a joint-diary kept by the two of them. I seriously doubt that). This is a gross violation of the personal boundaries of his wife and that kind of boundary disrespect is also still another classic evidence of the abuser mentality. And then, did you notice that many of the things he said left you asking “Hmmmm….that is odd. I wish I could talk to his wife and get her side of the story.” The abuser’s tales, if we just think a bit, rarely make logical sense. He leaves us feeling strange and wondering – but normally people just blow off that concern as their imagination and believe him.

    Finally, this fellow’s detestation of women is evident in his words. Not only does he detest his ex-wife, but he holds all women in contempt. Unfortunately, the fact that he was a Christian minister makes this all even more deplorable. Wouldn’t you like to learn the real story behind why he left the ministry? The fact that this book he is raging on against was written by a woman only adds to his fury.

    I hope that helps. For myself, I can pretty confidently conclude that this book really helped this guy’s ex-wife and set her free.

  4. Now Free

    Oh really? What indeed was your wife’s “improper application” of this book? That she read it? Did you in fact read it? I’m so sorry that you had to “deal with” your wife…you sound so put upon. Poor dear.

    So you question why this happened to you, and so went to your wife’s diary. A lot easier than having to have a deep and honest conversation with her, isn’t it? Then you wouldn’t have to “deal” with some bitter truths about yourself that you would find hard to swallow. Just go on ranting and insulting your ex-wife and her family…make it sound like they’re real nutcases, to get you off the hook. Blame the writer of the book for your “pain”. That’s much easier than facing anything about yourself.

    I’m thinking that you and my to be ex-husband would get along famously. It’s amazing how much alike you both are, and the circumstances your ex-wife and I endured are so similar that our experiences almost mirror each other. But then you said that you never abused her in ANY way. My husband did…physically, mentally and emotionally…SO I guess that you were better than him.
    Did I read books that enlightened me about his abuse and asked him to read one of them? Check. Did he read it? No. Did he falsely insult members of my family’s mental health? Check. He also called and wrote people and organizations, slandering my good name…saying I’m crazy, suicidal…Did you? Check. Sounds like your children are now somewhat estranged from your wife. Did you play a part in it? I’m experiencing a similar situation with our daughter. Check.
    I could go on at length, but you get my drift. Now I’m free after 42 years of marriage. If you need to know where to find him, let me know. As I said, both of you would get along famously.

  5. You know, while I’m basically in agreement with the other comments people have made on this post, I want to inject a note of caution.
    In the course of my years of voluntary work and writing in the area of domestic abuse, I have received emails from three men who believe their wives have abused them. In these three cases, the guy’s language is quite different from the reviewer’s language that Jeff has copied from Amazon.
    Firstly, the guys who’ve written to me only write short messages, and in their first email they are especially brief in what they say. They don’t go on and on about their wives’ faults. They do say “I think my wife has a personality disorder of some kind” or words to that effect, but they don’t lash it on thick like the guy on Amazon did. There is an overall tone of meekness and moderation in their language. It is not scathing. It is not angry. They usually mention their psychological pain, but they don’t rant and rave about it, and their words hint at a deep underlying confusion they have about whether what they are experiencing is ‘really abuse’ and whether they are partly at fault for the marriage problem. If they don’t display this confusion currently, it seems to be because they USED to be very confused but have sorted out quite a lot of their confusion thanks to a good counselor.

    I’m just wanting us to be cautious here in how we comment, as some of our readers may be men like this – genuine victims themselves. We don’t want to make such men feel disparaged or cut out of this blog community.

    I think our readers are pretty good at discriminating between abuser-ese and the language of genuine victims. So I’m not really telling anyone off here; I’m just reminding us that male victims, while few and far between, do exist, and will sometimes be reading this blog.

  6. I’m not sure what to make of this. In my own writings about the abuse I’ve experienced from friends and from exes, I go into a lot of detail, get angry, and do a lot of research into such things as abuse and personality disorders. One of my abusers, I was actually told enough about her family history and diagnoses to make borderline and/or narcissistic personality disorders the probable cause of how she treated me and others. I witnessed her doing very strange things or raging in such a manner that made BPD/NPD seem very plausible. Now, I don’t normally mention PDs when talking to most people. But when I write about abusive experiences in memoir, I pour everything in, all the details I can think of, along with trying to figure out what drives a person to act like that, quotes from my research which describe common abusive behaviors, to help others recognize for themselves what is abuse and what is normal. I have a strong will and don’t just figure I deserved what I got; I get very angry when I get abused. I believe that’s why my abusive ex finally left, because I refused to just accept that I deserved it. But when I speak about being abused, I’m not making it up, I’m not the actual abuser slandering the victim, I’m opening up about what really happened and how it makes me feel. I hope that these comments/blogs are not saying that if you’re angry, if you’ve done a lot of research into personality disorders and do know family history and have good reason to think disorders are at play, that it automatically labels you as the abuser playing the victim. In my case, the anger is part of the detachment/healing process and a natural response to being abused, and learning about PDs has reassured me that I did not deserve what I got.

    • Healing

      Hi Nyssa,
      I hear what you’re saying. I see here a lot of validation for healthy anger and many have experience with PD’s.
      What I get from the post is pure PD behavior itself…the pity play versus true victimhood. I agree with your point how abusers often claim to be victims and turn the tables on the true victim. I have seen this blog to be very aware of that dynamic and they post about it in “Abuser allies” .
      My PD x would accuse me of abuse and I see this often in my DV group. I have wondered of *I* have a PD, being raised by one and attracting them like a magnet (including one in a support group).

      PD’s can con ppl easily…it can be hard to determine truth. However refusal to take responsibility is big in my book…and the man is this blog does show other traits that correspond with “playing the victim.”

  7. Healing

    It makes my skin crawl to read this!! I’m going with the wife’s perceptions here.

    • Healing

      I can flesh out my comments a bit here but they are not gender specific.
      I’m hearing red flags of sociopathy/npd.

      1. Poor me/pity play.
      2. It’s all her.
      3. HER family is dysfuntional. (While I’m emotionally healthy).
      4. This one book destroyed my marriage. Not his actions that were so disturbing, she has him read a book on con artists.
      5. Inability to see inward, take responsibility for his part in her discomfort with him.

      His contention -she is brainwashed. He implies that she can not perceive truth either.

      The gaslighting, projection, mind blindness, and playing the victim all strongly suggest Narcissism and/or sociopathy, based on my 40 years of experience with three…my parent, my former pastor, and my exhusband. (20 year relationship).

  8. Healing

    This comment shows his lack of empathy and extreme self centeredness.

    “My wife was sexually abused…I had to deal with the fallout of that throughout our entire marriage.”

    Wow….

Trackbacks

  1. Marks of a pretend victim versus a true victim « A Cry For Justice
  2. Wow, a whole blog post (on Cry for Justice) based on a comment I made one night…. | Nyssa's Hobbit Hole
  3. Wow, a whole blog post (on Cry for Justice) based on a comment I made one night.... | Nyssa's Hobbit Hole

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