Abusers Often Do Their Evil “Behind the Scenes” and Out of Sight of Witnesses
If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. (1 John 1:6)
Abusers are darkness. Sin is darkness. Abusers live and think and exist and operate in the kingdom of darkness under the rule of their god, the Prince of Darkness. They have tactics that are a devilish version of Frodo’s elvish cloak that could conceal him. While an abuser may, at times, accuse and mind-game his victim publicly (though even then in a way that provides him with plausible deniability), he quite often operates behind this cloak, in the darkness, out of the sight of others. He isolates, then he strikes.
It took me years of hard knocks to get this through my head. “Pastor, can we just talk? Just you and me?” Warning! Warning! Look out. Don’t do it. But of course Jeff often went right ahead and took the bait. We neurotics have that conscience you know that is so easily bothered. The abuser knows that full well.
My experience with the wicked in the course of my years as a pastor has been very, very similar and usually even identical, to the trials you all have been through at the hands of your abuser. So I know that what happened to me has happened to most all of you. Abusers will frequently isolate through deception, then strike.
People have come to me over the years and asked to talk to me about a “concern.” Now, I have been burned so many times following that kind of request that I have to admit my defenses quickly go up, unless of course it is someone that I know loves me and whom I can trust. But, you know, as a pastor we are supposed to be open and transparent and vulnerable and…. right? Wrong! We are supposed to be wise as serpents and innocent (of evil ourselves) as doves. There is a big difference. You all have found that out yourselves after being set up for an attack so many, many times.
So, here comes a wicked person. His tactic is to accuse, and this time to accuse in a way that really plays with your mind and plants false guilt and self doubt. He wants to speak to you alone. “Can we just, talk?” “We don’t need to involve anyone else in this.” “Just you and me. Like Matthew 18 you know.” So you sit down and let him begin. After all, maybe he has a valid point? Of course by now Jeff should know full well that it’s a set up. But aren’t we supposed to be patient and longsuffering with a Christian brother? So you listen. No one else there. Just you and him. Then, here come the accusations. “Jeff, YOU are (select one), unkind/hard to talk to/bitter/unforgiving/not called to be a pastor….and on and on it can go.
Now I have seen something very interesting in these cases. Of course it took me decades to get to the point of recognizing what was going on and calling such a person on their evil. If you stop the conversation when the accusations start spewing and say something like, ‘we need to have witnesses here so that they too can hear your “concerns,” the evil one begins to squirm. Now, he may get angry and bullying in some cases. But he will almost always insist, “No! This is between you and me! We don’t need anyone else involved.” This is all completely contrary to the instruction of Scripture:
Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses. As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear. (1 Timothy 5:19-20)
In some cases in which this has happened to me, when I have insisted on witnesses, hell itself breaks forth in fury. I have seen such evil ones literally thrash around in their chair, going into almost a delirium and behaving and talking as if the very end of the world had come. “You have totally destroyed any good that would come of this meeting! You just HAD to involve others!” Thrash some more. Throw arms around more. Jump up and pace around the room. Throw self back down in the chair again and thrash around some more. Really. Honest. It happened.
Or I have had the reaction to my insistence upon witnesses be one of mocking. “Now, Pastor, you know full well that what I am saying is truth. You know you are guilty.” All of this said with an evil smirk on the face.
You understand, right? These kind that I am describing are not mere “difficult” members of the flock who we must be extra patient with. Mere people who are hard to communicate with. Or people with troubled histories, victims of their own past. No! This is evil and darkness in action. These are children of the evil one. That is how the Lord Jesus called it. “You are of your father the devil. He was a murderer from the beginning. He is the father of lies.” And so are his children.
I cannot imagine (well, to some degree I can) what it would be like to be MARRIED to one of these kind, having to dwell under the same roof and share the same bed. My suffering at the hands of the wicked has been nothing compared to what most of you have suffered. The abuser has you alone most anytime he wants to. And that aloneness is a kind of darkness which allows him to work his evil enchantments. This is one of the most powerful reasons we here at ACFJ realize that a marriage to an abuser does not need to be fixed. It needs to be ended. And the true Church of the Lord Jesus Christ will help the victim end it, not insist that she remain a prisoner in that psychological torture chamber set of fire by hell itself.
Now when Sanballat and Tobiah and Geshem the Arab and the rest of our enemies heard that I had built the wall and that there was no breach left in it (although up to that time I had not set up the doors in the gates), Sanballat and Geshem sent to me, saying, “Come and let us meet together at Hakkephirim in the plain of Ono.” But they intended to do me harm. And I sent messengers to them, saying, “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?” (Nehemiah 6:1-3)