What Does it Feel Like to Not be Believed?
One of the most important things we can do to help victims of abuse is believe them when they tell us what is going on behind the scenes. If you have been following this blog for a while, you have probably seen that we have been attacked by some pretty nasty types who accuse us of believing reports of abuse “no matter what,” and most of them are tee’d off because they are still stuck in the world of “those cursed anti-God feminists run things and no one ever believes the man.” We who are in the know about the mentality and nature of abuse understand that just the opposite is true — with some exceptions. Namely, that the typical scenario is that it is the abuser (who is most typically a man) is the one who is being believed, not the victim.
But we stand by this principle. The best thing, and the wisest thing that we can do to help abuse victims is to believe them when they tell us and ask us for help. Think about it. How many women, especially Christian women, are going to be people who “just want to dump the guy and take him for all they can” and choose to do so by going to their pastor or fellow church members and accusing their spouse of abuse? Is that a tried and proven way to get support? Is that the easy way to get out of a marriage? Hardly. Just ask the many abuse victims we know if they had a pleasant experience when they went this route!
No. Typically, genuine abuse victims are not believed by their Christian friends, pastors, or families. They are often not believed by the police (that has changed somewhat for the better). And in the end it is the victim who is portrayed and punished as the culprit. Abuse victims find that very few people believe them and are willing to stand with them.
How does that feel? Have you ever KNOWN something was true and yet no one would believe you? The wicked are often quite adept at lying and deception. Victims see them lying and manipulating others, and they see people believing these lies. They see people who perhaps were even friends turn against them and embrace the evil one. And they see this happen EVEN when the victim is able to offer substantial supporting proof! Believing the abuser, you see, is to believe the one who holds the cards of power. Believing the abuser is the easy way to keep your own hide out of trouble. Believing the victim on the other hand can prove to be quite costly.
When people who claim to be our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, or who are supposed to be shepherding our souls, or who are charged with protecting the innocent from the guilty, simply will not believe us, we experience great pain and sorrow. We feel accused and demeaned and shamed. We feel betrayed — because in fact we have been betrayed.
So take care, all you who claim to be shepherds of Christ’s church. Take care, all of you who claim to belong to Christ and insist that you are seekers and lovers of His truth. The truth is often ugly. The truth very typically entails facts about the deeds of darkness that have been hidden from sight all the while destroying victims. Take heed that you do not reject the oppressed and refuse to believe them simply because to do so would be too unpleasant for you.