A Cry For Justice

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

Anger is Not the Abuser’s Issue – He Didn’t “Just Snap”

The New York Daily News reported this story yesterday, June 17, 2015:

A New Jersey cop furious over child custody issues ran his ex-wife off the road, then gunned her down in front his young daughter and fellow officers Tuesday morning, authorities said. . .

“It looks like he just snapped,” witness Linda Jones, a neighbor who knows Seidle, told the Asbury Park Press. “I’m sad for the wife. I’m sad for the children, I’m sad for him. . . “

Seidle was a 22-year veteran in Neptune and served four years in the Navy. He split with his wife less than a month ago after nearly 25 years of marriage. . . 

The cop was obsessed with porn and video games, cheated on his wife and often got violent with her. When she was pregnant, he once kicked her in the stomach, and also held a gun to her head and cocked it, according to a divorce complaint obtained by the Asbury Park Press. . . 

He also beat her on her birthday when she fought with him about a charge for pornography on their cable pill, the complaint said. . .

Abusers do NOT “just snap.” The implication in that phrase of course is that they are really normal folk who just reach a point where the burden and stress of life is too much for them to handle and they “snap” under the load like an overloaded support beam in a building.  Wrong!  As this news story goes on to say Seidle had a long history of wickedness against his wife. (The justice system obviously grievously failed this lady. Why in the world was he still a police officer??!!)

Abusers do NOT “just snap.” Abusers simply keep on doing what they have been doing all along, often with increasing intensity. They are not “out of control” with anger. They specifically and intentionally target the people and objects they want to damage or destroy, bypassing other targets that are important to themselves. They selectively rage in other words.

Notice in this case that this wicked, evil abuser in the end did NOT kill himself. He made that choice. I would suggest that his choice was colored by some notion that the culture he lived in sympathized to some extent with him! “Hey, Sarge, we understand. She just pushed you over the edge. Could happen to any of us.” Now that may or may not be accurate about how his fellow officers really think (although let’s face it, that kind of mentality is far too common), but the fact is that Seidle chose not to kill himself. He chose, just like all abusers who “just snap”, to make a choice. They really are not “out of control” after all and therefore they do NOT deserve our sympathy.

35 Comments

  1. IamMyBeloved's

    Why would you be “sad” for a man who just brutally and mercilessly killed his wife in front of her child? Now there’s the million dollar question of the day.

    Great post! So often we hear this – just snapped – theory. People need to understand the mind of an abuser. People tend to think the victims are safe once the abuser is out of the house, but that is just not true. What on earth makes people think that the abuser can’t drive, walk or run back to where his victims are living?

    When this kind of thing happens and an abuser ends up killing his wife and/or family, we never hear people say, “Oh, we saw that coming a bazillion miles away” – instead we always hear them say, “never would have ever saw that coming”.

    • Kolleen

      Well said!!!!!

  2. Still Reforming

    Testify! And amen! I’ve had it said to me by a church member re: my now ex-husband, “Oh, he’s just a bully.” And…. that’s OKAY??????

    Yeah, this article speaks of the all-too-common view of “I’m sad for her… the kids… and him too.” It’s accepted in the secular world, but in the church ???? It really makes me wonder sometimes if those I thought were the church really are. But… that’s not my business anymore. My business is HIS work and HIS kingdom, not the business of those who merely profess Him but don’t walk the walk

  3. Still Reforming

    I just read this comment to a national commentator’s report about the church shooting in Charleston, SC, this morning: “Good is already coming from it…. People are gathering to pray…for the victims and for forgiveness for the shooter.”

    I fear this theme of “forgiveness” with no mention of repentance is all too common among the flock – perhaps as a result of incomplete doctrine preached from pulpits across the country. There’s a reason we are asked to state in court “The truth, the WHOLE truth, and nothing but the truth.”

    Incomplete truth is not Truth.

    • mgastel

      Dietrich Bonhoeffer called it(forgiveness without repentance) “cheap grace” and saw it as paving the way for fascisim in Germany. Very scary.

      • Still Reforming

        mgastel – Thank you! I just found his quote, which I will share on social media.

        ““Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession…Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.”” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

        Interesting timing too. I saw my former pastor yesterday evening and he engaged me in a brief conversation. I called him on a few things he said, but he waved them all off. When I got in my vehicle where my child was waiting, she observed, “The pastor’s a lot like dad, isn’t he?” I told my child that I thanked God for the wisdom he’s given her, and the drive-home discussion included a discussion about red flags – to protect her in the future. (In fact, she raised that topic too – pointing out how sometimes red flags are easier to spot from a distance, when one looks back in time.)

  4. Searcher

    This article is very accurate. Very calculated moves are made. These people seek control and their actions center around their gaining control and diminishing their target. This man felt entitled to his wife’s affection and love despite his reprehensible behavior. Subscribing to porn and placing it on the cable TV plan shows a blatant disregaurd for not just his wife but his family. I knew a man who was physically abusive to his wife. He was a monster with her and the kids . He was an elder in my church and seemed so sincere.I did not see him angry until the marriage had completely broken down. At a certain level these guys know that what they are doing is wrong . They are very secretive. The children are encouraged to ,”keep everything in the family.”
    Abuse is rampant in the church. We have to be slow to condemn a woman who leaves and less ready to believe men. I know that I sound biased but I have seen women victimized a second time by their church community that turns their backs on them.

  5. Beautiful Mess Called Life

    My own husband tried to use the “just snapped” argument with me. As in, I pushed and pushed his buttons enough that he “just snapped”.

    He also really believes that if he gets enough anger management counseling (already did a 12 week inpatient session…came home and started the abuse again just four months later, currently seeing a counselor once a week for anger management again), that I will believe things are fine. He has no problem managing his anger. He can control his temper and keep from being verbally and physically abusive towards other people just fine. Anger is not his issue.

  6. Annie

    This understanding that abusers control these episodes has been so helpful to me.

  7. My ex used to use stress as his excuse for his angry outbursts. I used to believe him, so I tried to make everything as perfect as I could at home so that it would be as stress-free as possible. But guess what? It was never good enough.The more he raged, the more I tried to submit and be the perfect Christian wife. Sometimes I have to block out memories of the past because I get so disgusted with how manipulated I was. I am so grateful that God rescued me from that mess! AND thanks to this and other resources, I feel that I am on a path to healing.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Don’t be hard on yourself about having been manipulated. Evil is wickedly cunning. And we haven’t been given a lot of help from the church in learning to identify it. So glad you are free!

  8. healingInHim

    Thank you for posting this.

  9. KayE

    The response from the neighbor suggests that, like a lot of abusers, this man had two faces. The neighbor only knows him as a nice guy and she still wants to think he’s a nice guy. Otherwise she has to admit to herself that she failed to help the woman and children who lived next door and were in desperate danger.

    • Still Reforming

      KayE,
      What an astute observation! And so true. Every time people want to turn their backs on the target of abuse, they’re really shielding themselves from admitting the truth, which would require some action on their own parts.

      • I don’t blame the neighbors. It is very possible they did not know what was going on behind closed doors. As we all know, the beast is reserved for the family ONLY. It rarely shows itself publicly. And the family is told to NOT talk about what goes on to others. So it is very easy for others to be shocked when they hear the truth and to not believe. My own neighbors were shocked when they heard what was going on in my family when I left.

  10. Anonymous

    People without a conscience HATE peace! It is painfully boring to them. Think about this. If you are a peacemaker at heart and in any kind of a relationship with a person without a conscience (marriage, work, neighbors etc.) You will have times of chaos that will be initiated by them because of their boredom. It’s just how they roll.

    When I realized what my husband was (after decades of marriage) I went for a time refusing to engage in verbal sparring with him. He stated constantly that I was torcherng him! In his mind it was his “right” to abuse me and it was my job to play the game of abuse the way HE wanted me to play . This meant being highly reactive to his moods and fighting with him when he needed a fix.

    It’s true that they are in control of their anger but anger, hatred , envy and greed are thier governing emotions. They never feel love for others and they actually thrive on physical stimulation, perversity, secrecy, and deception. Violent porn and video games are just some of the ways they can temporarily get a fix. To them, other humans exist in order to gratify their needs in some way. Other humans are expendable.

    If what is written in 2 TIM 3:1-5 is true , things will get much worse, but far more obvious to those of us “blessed” enough to be shown this truth. It’s why we need this website and each other so badly. We can not only survive but we can also thrive if we are able to see that at least some people aren’t fooled by the evil going on in the world, especially if we are only a remnant, we desperately need each other.

    • Still Reforming

      Anonymous,

      Your comment brought to mind something my husband would do – he’d take things I’d say in my own defense and bring them up at the most unusual times. Such as when I had said once to him that I wasn’t going to bicker anymore; It followed one of countless times that he tried to bait me into some inane thing about a trivial topic and he would go around and around with it, and finally I just stopped taking the bait – so I said, “I’m not going to bicker with you anymore.”

      A few days to a week later, when I observed that the garbage bag was fully and ready to go out, he snapped back, “I’m not going to bicker with you anymore!” I remember smiling because his reply was so silly, and I said something like, “Have you ever noticed that you repeat my words?” to which he replied, “Why not? It works for you.”

      That helped me a bit more in this journey, as I realized he processes things as though they either “work” for you or don’t “work” for you. I don’t have that kind of a worldview.

      • Anonymous

        “…..processes things as though they either “work” for you or don’t “work” …”

        With this statement you have summed up the essence of how people without a conscience operate vs. those who have one. Like their spiritual counterparts the demons, conscience-less people cannot grow or gain wisdom or search for truth (there is no truth in them according to what Jesus tells us in John 8:44) so this is how they spend their time–fiiguring out what works (what outward displays of emotion “stupid and weak” humans will buy and accept in order for them to gain access to them and so manipulate and ultimately dominate them) and what doesn’t gain them access. Thank you for this!

      • Still Reforming

        Thank YOU, Anonymous. You’ve got me thinking more about this. There was a day when I too was unsaved, as my now ex-husband is – and yet, I think I had a conscience. I didn’t share his same worldview (things either working or not working for me). So…. well, I wonder if with these narcissist types, they are so far gone that they are like those who God’s Word refers to as having seared consciences. (“through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared,” – 1 Timothy 4:2)

        That’s what makes the most sense to me, since I was with him for more than 20 years – receiving God’s mercy about five years into the relationship. I prayed for him after God reached down and granted me repentance, and I formed a women’s prayer group for husbands (after hearing other women lament problems at home during Bible studies at church) but to our surprise, no husbands ever changed. We all thought we must have changed and become more merciful or something. Then I moved away and the group disbanded.

        I say all that because I look back and consider why things were the way they were. It could be for the sake that my now ex- certainly had opportunity in hearing God’s message those many years he attended church with me. God may yet save him, but, I confess, I’m done praying for him. The Lord may move upon me to pray for him again at some point in the future, but for now, I’m well and truly done, done, done.

      • healingInHim

        Still Reforming – your reference to the seared conscience is Biblical and it took me several years of studying the Scriptures to convince me that many false converts hide their sins behind the cloak of Christianity. My spouse did. I would question why certain sexual sins seemed so pervasive and why there would sometimes appear some remorse over “lack of control” and then reappear again. Years definitely proved in the end a ‘hardness of heart’ and a seared conscience. My spouse even admitted to this as they had read the books and heard the preaching on it. It’s a serious warning from Scripture.

    • Hope

      “People without a conscience HATE peace! It is painfully boring to them.”

      Thank you so much, this helps me make some sense of my so-called life!

  11. a prodigal daughter returns

    They are NOT losing control they are gaining it. In families people run around in circles to appease the one about to “snap” in reality he is about to exert his power over. You get attuned to the escalation and learn to tap dance quickly to the tune they want. However, there are occasional completely out of the blue sneak attack. This is to keep you off balance and on high alert to their whims and demands.

  12. kathy

    That’s exactly how IT IS ! Amen .

  13. reaching safety

    so true.

  14. celestebella

    A-h just said to my family member, “Well, don’t you have a temper? I know I get angry and when I get pushed to the limit I get very angry.” He was asking (not really asking–it’s justifying his abuse) someone who himself goes into rages easily. How convenient—a professing Christian (A-h) asking an unsaved man such a thing.

  15. M&M

    All of the above is very true of people who don’t have a conscience at all. Yet lately l’ve been contemplating how to react to the fact that a lot of people don’t fit in boxes. Some people seem to be 30% controlling and 70% have a conscience. Some people seem to be 50/50 and there are people on every point of the continuum . Some only abuse while on drugs which is bad-but not the same as someone who abuses while sober. These variations cause me to think because if I put the 30% controlling person under the same “abuser” label as the 100% controlling person that’s wrong. At the same time, the 30% person may sometimes hurt others so they feel abused. It would also be wrong to minimize that hurt. The best way I can make sense of this is that some people commit abuse as an occasional behavior and others have abuse as their total character. The 30% controlling person may be motivated by anger during the bad times and by genuine love (not manipulative “love”) during the good times. Or they may feel entitled to control in a few items but not everything all the time. The 100% controlling person plans their “snaps” and plans their “nice times” for total control.

    This may be why it’s hard for victims to decide when to leave and for news reporters to classify people correctly. At first the behavior of the 30% person and the 100% person look the same (both display angry periods and nice periods). It takes lots of time and discernment to tell the difference. And the 30% person may have genuine repentance that leads to a reduction in outbursts. Then the victim of the 100% person thinks “the same will happen in my case” and it takes a long time before she gives up that hope. And then the guy who only abuses while on drugs-if he gets sober his wife will have more reason to stay (to the best of her knowledge) then the wife of someone who abuses while sober.

    I know that the victims of the 100% controlling person need to be triaged before the victims of the 30% like how an emergency room treats heart attacks before broken fingers regardless of who arrived first. At the same, time I’m contemplating how to react to people that aren’t in the boxes of all-abuse and no-abuse because I know people who aren’t in those boxes.

    • M&M, you may like to know that the DV professionals in my part of Australia use a triage system of a sort: it’s called risk assessment. They have developed what they call the Common Risk Assessment Framework (CRAF) which is intended for all professionals to use (if they are aware of it and trained in it — BIG IF). The victim’s risk (level of danger) is assessed in a multifactorial way; it involves having a respectful, non-judgemental conversation/discussion with the victim. The goal is to determine the level of risk/danger which the victim is experiencing.

      One of the factors that the professionals are looking at, in doing a risk assessment, is how controlling the abuser has been in their pattern of conduct towards their target.

      You can find out more about the Common Risk Assessment Framework at the following link. I highly recommend these materials for anyone who wants to learn about risk assessment in domestic violence.
      http://www.tafe.swinburne.edu.au/CRAF/dvd.htm

      • The Bluest Eyes in Texas

        Another one for the analogy page!

      • M&M

        Thanks!

    • Still Reforming

      M&M,

      What you write is thought-provoking and respectful of different personality types. Categorizing with percentages is one way to slice the pie, but I would like to offer another viewpoint, if you don’t mind. My now ex-husband, for example, didn’t abuse me or our child all the time and in fact was in general very non-threatening. He came across as pleasant and amiable, probably a majority of the time. If his behavior were categorized in percentages, then he may come across as really quite harmless indeed; On paper I might appear to be over-reacting because, hey, he’s really not all that bad.

      The problem, however, is that while not everything he said was a lie, anything could be. And if mixed in with just enough truth to be plausible, well…. then it’s hard to discern real truth from the lie.

      The effects of mental and emotional deception and manipulation are harmful in a way that generally may not be considered harmful (they’re certainly not illegal) to their targets. How do we gauge harm to the soul? Only the Lord really can, but those of us who have been there know well its effects. Some of us have also suffered additional harm by our churches who refuse to see the danger of keeping a lying deceiver among the flock (maybe even leading the flock).

      That’s why I’m not so fond of the percentile idea – because even if my now ex- lied, say, only 20 percent of the time, well that might seem quite low, but it’s still 20 percent lies and it’s very hard to discern exactly what the lie is and where truth begins and ends. To me, even the smaller percentage liars are as bad as the larger percentage liars. It’s kind of like putting a tiny bit of poop in the batter of a brownie mix; It may be only a little poop, but would you eat even one brownie from that batch?

      • Anonymous

        So beautifully put! Poop and all!

      • M&M

        Dear Still Reforming,

        Thank-you for bringing this to my attention because I wasn’t thinking about the deception factor when I wrote my previous comment. Since your ex’s lies caused you not to know which statements were true then I would say he was controlling your access to information 100% of the time-or a lot more than 20%. Regardless of percentages, you were right to see it as a danger and it’s sad that others didn’t :(. Lies are extremely destructive-that’s why the devil uses them!!

  16. Annie

    My husband uses his anger like a tool to manipulate me and the children. And if it doesn’t work he gets even angrier.

    God’s commandments aren’t contingent on one’s feelings. So even if my husband lacks empathy or love for me or anyone else he’s still responsible for his ungodly behavior of failing to meet God’s expectations. God’s commandments can be known apart from feelings.

    My husband thinks his feelings are an excuse for his behavior. Once when I complained after weeks of him yelling at me for no reason he responded I was right but “that’s how I feel”. He’s capable of intellectually knowing what God expects of him and he chooses not to do it.

    My husband knows what society expects of him so he’s “nice” to the neighbors or “jokes” with his staff. He doesn’t do that at home because he doesn’t have to. In the same way he uses those feelings or behaviors in the world he uses anger in the home. Being nice gets what he wants from the neighbors; being angry at home gets him what he wants at home.

  17. beebee

    Just snap at pfffft I disagree .. Its inhumane I am a survivor of a really bad domestic violence relationship n its not about them just snapping my ex wld cheat n come bash me, lie n I’d get bashes, smile through the shop n I got bashed I had guns held to my head numerous times its purely evil.. I lost my kids to FSA for being a victim but us victims don’t get heard until we are getting buried and then people decide what they think… It’s wrong… I’m so lucky to be alive my love to those whom survived n those poor women who lost there battle to these horrendous men xxx

    • M&M

      Beebee, that’s sad and unjust beyond words…… 😦 😦 😦 ❤ ❤ ❤

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