Allegories, Analogies, and Fairy Tales — from Comments
The following analogies/allegories come from our readers. They first appeared in the comment sections of the blog and have now been collected here for you to enjoy. Thank you to the readers for these wonderful insights! New analogies are put at the top of the page to save you scrolling to the bottom of the page if you have visited here before.
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The congregation at that church is as blind as a welder’s dog! (that’s Aussie slang, by the way)
And it’s not just my favourite new gem of Aussie slang, it’s a picture of how this blindness comes about. The welder puts on his helmet and holds his burning torch to the metal. The flame is so bright it would turn him blind, but the helmet protects his retina so he doesn’t become blind. His dog, however, doesn’t wear a helmet, and by looking at the flame made by his beloved master, he slowly turns blind.
I think one of the hallmarks of working against abuse ESPECIALLY within the contentedly patriarchal church is how utterly exhausting and frustrating it is. It’s like being a cat chasing a laser pointer guided by a sociopath. You know it is there, you can see it, you can chase it and you know when it’s on. But you cannot nail it down, catch it or demonstrate it if the person holding the remote decides to turn it off. They just “unclick” and all of a sudden you’re a frenzied, panting cat standing splay legged in the middle of the room having chased….”nothing.”
ACFJ told me “We see it too. We see it and its not ok.” It was water to a desert. It was a real demonstration of Christ’s church- because the only people who decried what I was experiencing were secular until I found this place, leading me (like so many) to believe I was denying my faith and my savior if I left an abuser. Don’t give up.
I can really relate, when things started to get really bad, I actually thought I was the controlling one. It seemed that I was the one always upset or the one making the most noise. We would go around in circles over another discovered lie or something of the like for so long and then I’d blow up. Then he’d say things in a really smooth voice, like “come now, can’t WE be civil,” or “now, now we don’t want to fight.” It wasn’t until I found the information by Geoge Simon Jr. and Lundy Bancroft things started to fall into place and I could start seeing what he was doing.
And it wasn’t always being backed into the corner, sometimes he’d push me there. I’ve started to learn the he does “set-ups,” He would lie about something, and then make sure I’d somehow find out just so I’d confront him.
The thing is, even with him out of the house, it seems that I can still get caught in these circles with him. He’ll say a simple sentence that sounds harmless, but it’s not so harmless. It takes me a few days to back track the conversation to get to the statement that triggered my reaction, then once that one doesn’t have an effect on me anymore … he seems to have another one ready. It’s like a horrible train wreck, I know I shouldn’t sift through the debris but I don’t even realize I’ve already been doing it until I’ve cut my foot on a piece of metal.
Thought the rooster illustration was interesting. As a chicken keeper, I would add that the male bird in a flock is expected to protect and care for his girls. Any rooster worth his salt is willing to lay down his life for his flock. Greedy, selfish, cowardly, bullying, and/or domineering roosters head straight for the stew pot.
However, this does not mean he is in charge. The hens trust him to care for them, but they are still dominant — he has no authority to break up fights, he eats last, follows them around, and no hen gets courted unless she wants to be!
Roosters do fight with other roosters. The irony is that they are fighting for a position of servant hood. [Harlequin Tabby]
Sand at a Beach
When victims of abuse eventually leave their abusers, they almost always say “I stayed too long. I wasted too much time trying to work on myself, trying to respond in a ‘better’ way to the situation. But the abuser chose to keep on abusing regardless of what I did, so it was all a waste of time in the end! I wish I hadn’t wasted those years.”
It’s like trying to stop erosion at a beach. You can keep trucking in sand and boulders and building groynes and all the other strategies that have been tried, but the current keeps dragging the sand away and the edge of solid land keeps getting eroded. The strategies don’t work because the current is too consistent, too relentless. [Barbara Roberts]
Cancer or the Common Cold
That while I believe these women [who I confided in about my abusive husband] truly did love me to the best of their ability, and really do love the Lord, while I was describing the events of my daily life to them over the years, what I was describing was a daily norm and a terminal “cancer” of my marriage and my own spirit — but what they were hearing was situational; just another “cold” that would pass.
The advice I was given of course, was cold remedies; traditional “fixes” for common marital problems. It did me no good for my chronic illness that was progressing in it’s life-sucking skills, and it certainly was not responding to any kind of “treatment”. And the longer it went on, the weaker I got. Unlike a cold, where the longer it goes on, if you treat it with common cold remedies, you get closer to wellness, I was dying a slow death in my soul, and my friends kept waiting for me to stop feeling sorry for my “cold”.
I hope that you understand that in NO way am I trying to make light of cancer; I have actually watched several people close to me suffer through the process of the evilness of cancer, until death becomes wanted because it offers relief. I find it interesting that this is the point at which my analogy takes a turn.
In the real physical disease of cancer — I assume because we can see the weight loss, the ashen skin, the loss of life, the disheartened eyes, the struggle to breathe, the winces and moans of unbearable pain — we can’t wait for the struggle to be over and relief to come for that person. But in the relational “cancer” of living with an abuser, there seems to be very little concrete, visible evidence of the disease to others, and so when the person accepts the death and files the divorce papers, people sadly talk about “If you had only…”, or “God hates divorce.”
Would one ever say those words to the person who has wrestled with the physical disease of cancer, and is now on their deathbed welcoming freedom in eternity via death? No! So it saddens me that the most loving people, and the Church herself, are guilty of such things against those who have fought for their freedom from the relational cancer of abuse. (By an Anon reader)
(This analogy can be found at this post: The relational cancer of abuse is not like the common cold.)
Joe Pote’s addition to the cancer analogy
What a great analogy! And, yes, the misdiagnosis is deadly. If a doctor diagnosed cancer as the common cold, he would likely be sued for malpractice. When counselors misdiagnose an abusive marriage as simply requiring a higher level of commitment by the abuse target…they generally seem to refuse to admit error and stand by their original misdiagnosis of “if only you would have…”
Or like a terrible trick where your dream holiday destination being swapped for a POW camp; held against your will by the dictator of the land. But when you tell the tour guides that there’s a terrible mistake, they say, no it’s your expectations that are too high. You desperately try to draw the attention of others on the tour, and even one day manage to contact your embassy, but no matter how hard you try to convince anyone of your reality, the only replies you get are: ‘you’re wrong, you’re imagining the problems – it seems fine to us, it’s really not how bad you say it is’ And ‘you signed up for the tour, dear, you’d better set your mind to enjoying it!!’. [SeeClearerNew (PrevNotHeard)]
A mugging in a parking lot: “there were two sinners in the parking lot”
Domestic violence is a crime. Beating someone is illegal whether it be a stranger, wife or children. It is not a relationship, its not about relationship it is about criminal meaning illegal activity. Personally I believe these men are accessories to a crime and the duty to report rather than enable further crime demonstrates not just insensitivity but their complicity in endorsing, aiding and abetting crime to continue.
Let’s say Paul Tripp was approached in a parking lot by a stranger who demands his wallet. There is a scuffle, the perpetrator beats him. Paul Tripp takes his traumatized self to a counselor, the counselor tells him “in what ways did you sin here, were you not submissive enough in the way you handed over your wallet? Perhaps you should repent?” After all there were two sinners in that parking lot.
Abusers are enabled to continue their life of crime, domestic terrorism and violence by counselors and godless people that lack true insight into human interactions between crime victims and their perpetrators. Godless people are heinous when they purport to represent God while perverting justice and denying the widow her right to safety. (A Prodigal Daughter Returns)
Parable of a Corrupt Judge
A parable: “A wife applied to a Court for protection from her criminally abusive tormentor, who was her husband. The judge immediately called the husband to a series of private meetings. No notice of these meetings was given to the wife, so of course she was not afforded the opportunity give her testimony, much less to expose her husband’s lies by means of cross-examination.
“Finally, after much delay, the judge called the wife to a closed hearing, of which no record was made and from which there could be no appeal. The judge took on the role of the husband’s attorney. He went even further, taking on the role of the wife’s prosecutor, treating her as a criminal offender, as one who had perpetrated great wrong against her husband. The wife was not allowed to have a lawyer. Neither was she allowed to call witnesses, speak on her own behalf, or even have friends present to observe the proceedings. The judge, having made up his mind in advance, excused the husband from these proceedings. Once again, the wife was denied any knowledge of the lies her husband had told the judge, so that even if the ability the ability to cross-examine had not been denied, it would have been meaningless.
“Without in any way sanctioning the husband, the wife was ordered to submit to psychiatric intervention, that her supposed criminal propensity for defying her husband might be brought under control. She was ordered, under threat of imprisonment for contempt, to return to her husband’s home and utterly subjugate herself to his will.”
Sadly, when “pastors” behave like this corrupt judge, only their victims, for the most part, notice a problem. (by GaryW)
Mistreatment in the Emergency Room
I was talking last night about domestic abuse and stated this analogy.
The way we have been treated by society and the church would look like this…. We walk into an emergency room and we have evidence of years of abuse. We have stab wounds in our back, it is obvious that we have not been cared for we have untreated medical issues. Instead of treating our wounds and helping us get safe,we are judged by the emergency department. We are not being nice enough to the person that harmed us. We are either sent back into their swinging arms that have now been strengthened or we are arrested and condemned for having caused the abuser to go to these measures to get us under control.
For those of you that don’t think that is a good analogy there is a few websites of hundreds of women that have been made to feel like they are a failure, they are giving up too easy, they aren’t doing the right things or the abuser wouldn’t abuse. You think they give up too easily? These women have 1,2.3,4 DECADES that they have been a target of abuse. (By Cindyrapstad)
Propaganda by the Church
Perhaps many of us have seen contemporary posters that parody one from World War II: “Keep Calm & Carry On”? The original poster was created in 1939 in Great Britain via the “Ministry of Information” supposedly to “raise the morale” of British citizens facing impending war, which included the realistic fear & probability of carpet bombing, poison gas, Nazi occupation & death camps. The government printed over 2 million posters, but hardly used any of them b/c they were criticized as offensive & patronizing.
Today, many historians see it as a “misjudgement by upper-class civil servants [i.e: the government] of the mood of the people”. Gee, ya think???
“Keep Calm & Carry On” was propaganda, not empowerment. Britons survived WW I, ‘the war to end all wars’, only to face it all over again. They were experienced in war, they recognized the enemy, they bore the scars, but they were given a cliche. Why?
To prevent panic. To pretend the threat isn’t that bad. Go to work. Act normal. Nothing to see here. Move along, little lassie…..Carry On.
Isn’t this a parallel to the church today? Isn’t the church behaving like the “Ministry of Information”? Isn’t the church producing propaganda? Isn’t the church’s response to abuse designed to “prevent panic”? To minimize the truth? To pretend the threats are not real? To tell us to “just act normal”? The church acts like if they don’t admit abuse exists then “all is calm, all is bright”. It really isn’t all THAT bad. Calm down, go home, get over it.
Forgive me, but can’t you just hear John Piper patronizing, “Keep calm & carry on, little lady”? Can’t you just see his smug little smile as he ponders the question, “what to do if there is a carpet bombing?” Perhaps Piper would tell that woman it’s okay to seek a bomb shelter “for a time”, but then, little missy, you need to return to your burned out, unsafe, ripped-to-shreds house, b/c even tho it has a hole in the roof and smoke rising from the ashes of your bed, by golly, God wants you to keep a stiff upper lip, go home & carry on.
No matter if the Nazi SS are kicking in your door, your job is to “Keep Calm & Carry On”.
Just wait on the Lord and eventually the bleeding will stop. “We” [the church] know what’s best. I can hear my own abuser saying, in her syrupy, religious voice: “We’re Christians and we need to be reallllllllly walking with the Lord”. “Keep Walking & Shut Up” is how THAT poster would read. (By StandsWithAFist)
My brother bought a flipped house with structural issues. He thought they were minor and it was such a cute house. A couple of years later, the dining room floor starts to sink. He calls me, a designer in an architecture firm, and my husband an engineer. We visit, crawl around in the crawl space, and develop a plan that involves hydrolic jacks, pulling out the dining room floor and sub-floor, pouring footings for new columns, sistering up beams, etc. We, now including our dad and second brother, even offer our vacation time to help provide the man power to make it a DIY job – very limited budget. My brother, who admits he has a tendency to take the easy way out, chooses not to do it, and figures out how to install a new hardwood floor so that it hides the imperfections. Meanwhile, the house is still sinking on one side. A year later, he calls me again, now the second floor is starting to separate. I explain that the new floor must now be torn out before this work can be done. “But I don’t want to ruin my beautiful floor, that was a lot of work and expensive” he says. I explain that when the beams are lifted and reinforced the new floor is going to buckle and probably splinter, the only way to salvage the new floor is to gently tear it out first. He is now trying to sell the house.
The point… it is possible to do incredible RENOVATION (not restoration) work. In this case the house was built on sand, with improper footings. It’s possible to correct, but involves lots of work. You cannot legally renovate a house without the owner’s permission (and usually their financing too). If the owner insists on only doing cosmetic work, then the problem will remain. It will temporarily look better, until the problem rears its ugly head again, usually worse than before. Now of course the city can get involved and condemn a house… but even that doesn’t guarantee that the owner will address the issues. (By ESR)
Slot Machine Life
Narcissism is always about power and control–who has the last word. (my thought: that’s why divorcing one of these guys is so ugly, they drag you in and out of court to have the last say).
For the victim it’s a double edge sword: walking away from a bad situation, but it also means walking away from your investment in the relationship. Like playing a slot machine life with a narc = he gives you little pay offs to keep you hooked until it’s too late and you lose everything. The victim keeps trying to “redeem the losses”. Hard for the victim to “cut their losses” and walk away, because they put so much into the investment. (by Celestebella)
Cancer of Abuse
If an individual has cancerous tumors growing in their organs, do we say “Oh, don’t tell me about that! Don’t intervene or treat it! That would be yucky! We don’t want to think about tumors growing in and around vital organs and robbing them of their nutrients and pressing on them so they can’t do their rightful jobs. We don’t want to think about pain or suffering or corruption!”
But so many people do that in the church with the cancer of abuse! (by Barbara Roberts)
The Lion will Attack
A lack of hostile, mean spirited behavior is not a lack of abuse. The absence of this behavior is not a healthy marriage, but a tolerable one. When the lion seems uninterested in harming the antelope its only because he’s looking for a better vantage point from which to attack. Lions don’t have a change of heart, only varying degrees of appetites they live to satisfy. (by Valerie)
Following a Star
When following a star, the star can sometime be obscured by clouds, buildings, trees. . . just like it can be obscured temporarily by the abuser’s lies, our own self-numbing, the shoulds and false guilts of our ‘s’hepherds, and the demands of what seems most urgent in our lives and the lives of our children. (by Barbara Roberts)
Follow God’s Light
The brain going blank and forgetting… again… it’s all a fog….I began to look for the Lord’s light and follow it, just like the wise men followed the light they saw, even though they didn’t know very much about God, they followed. (by Clarity)
The Draw of Emotionalism
I have been concerned about Piper and his writing style and theology for some time. At first I was drawn in, like many others, and read one or two of his books, but then started seeing similar entrappings to when I consumed classic (older) romance novels as a teenager. I felt enticed by the emotionalism in the words and the seemingly “other worldliness” of the writing. I didn’t like the similarity and then began to examine what was actually being said when I took out all the flowery wording. What was left was often disturbing. I stopped reading his books. (by Bridget)
God’s own Word, as profound and deep as it is, does not turn our brain into a twisted pretzel as we try to follow it. And the Spirit witnesses to us that it is true. What is that children’s game – Twister? THAT is how I feel when I read Piper, and I am not the only one. I feel like I am in a tortuous game of twister trying to stretch and distort in order to make sense of it. Only it never works. (by Ps. Crippen)
Defending or Stalking
In his book In Sheep’s Clothing has a wonderful analogy- the difference between a cat that is stalking a mouse ( the intentional aggressor) and the cat who is defending itself from a dog attacking it. The defending cat raises it’s hackles and looks “abusive” but it is not trying to hurt the dog. It is all about intention- and the abuser’s intention is power and control, a wife defending herself is not trying to get power and control over her husband, just trying to save herself from his abuse. (by Dr. George Simon)
Sand Castle with no foundation
I was still in my first marriage and had just discovered yet another treacherous lie. I wrote of that marriage realtionship being like a sand castle with no foundation, ready to wash away in the next tide…of wondering if it was possible to start over…of wondering whether, if we dug deep enough, we might find a solid foundation or if the sand just covered more sand…
Turned out there was no foundation…just sand… (by Joe Pote)
Food that has nuts in it, even traces of nuts, is labelled accordingly so that people with nut allergies don’t eat it. The food is nutritious for some but toxic for others, so labelling is essential.
Books like the Love Dare need, at the very least, to have similar warning labels.
(not that victims of abuse are ‘oversensitive’ to the nuts they live with. . . far from it. Victims are usually too long-suffering of the nuttiness.) [by Barbara Roberts]
One thing I appreciate about the 12 Step program is that Step 9 says “Made direct AMENDS to such people (those we have harmed) except when to do so would injure them or others.” Pretty basic. An abuser doesn’t need a Love Dare, any other book or even a technique. He needs to admit, repent, make amends and perhaps use his experience to help others. If I burn your house down I can’t blame you for the fact that I burned it down. I can’t say “Well, I only burned it down because you frustrated me.” Or “I burned it down because you wouldn’t listen to me” “I burned it down because I was drunk” or “I grew up in a burned-down house so that’s what I’m used to” or any other such nonsense. A repentant person would admit he burned it down, ask you how having a burned-down house impacted you, and ask what can I do to make it right. He wouldn’t obligate the victim to help him rebuild the burned-down house. He wouldn’t accuse the victim of being hard-hearted for not wanting to be in a relationship with an arsonist. No, he would admit, repent, repair and accept your boundary!
That’s what these “on-lookers”(those who distribute these books) don’t get. For those of us in abusive relationships, the help provided in The Love Dare doesn’t fit our situation because that book is not speaking to the entitled and disordered personality type. (by Karen R)
Moving out of a Dangerous Neighborhood
For some reason, people in the church are soooooo wedded to the idea of there being a miraculous reconciliation and a happily ever after, no matter what.
By way of analogy, I compare leaving an abusive marriage to moving out of a dangerous neighborhood. There is shooting, arguing, bottle-throwing, etc. Occasionally a bullet hits your house, but only a few times a year. You were never struck, but the bullets were routinely flying around your house. You begged and pleaded for the drama to stop. For short periods of time, things were quiet. You were stressed out daily wondering if there would be shooting around your house, or if this would be the day you would finally be struck down. After a few years of managing all this, a little voice speaks to you and says, “You don’t have to live like this.” After several months of packing an unpacking, you finally leave. Then the people attempt to shame you for leaving. “That neighborhood isn’t that bad” they say. “You were never struck by a bullet, right?” or “It is not God’s will that you move.” “God hates moving” they scold and “Didn’t you shoot or throw bottles sometimes, too?” People living in this neighborhood attempt to encourage you by sharing that they have lived there for years and that if you just learn to sleep on the floor or otherwise manage the neighborhood, you’ll be alright.
But once you move to a nicer neighborhood, you realize that perhaps you stayed in the old neighborhood far too long. You learn that having peace and quiet and the ability to walk the streets safely even at night are your birthright. I know this breaks down, but since I live outside of a major crime-ridden city, it is an analogy that comes to mind. (by Karen R)
The Tag Goes in the Back
” I am killing my will and taking on Christ’s yoke… If I can complete this journey then I am worthy of your trust because Christ is worthy of your trust.”
Oh now this is just a little bit too much. No no no no no no no no no. It does not work like that. Christ is not his excuse to make you come back. The other side of this statement is if you don’t come back then you are leaving Christ too. No way. He does not get to align himself with Christ and use Him like that. Not to mention this is all about you, isn’t it? He’s “taking on Christ’s yolk” in order to get you to come back, isn’t he? The goal here is YOU not Christ. He is just using Christ to accomplish his own ends which is to get you back in his grip.
No no no. Not one bit of it. No.
He is saying what he thinks sounds right but is so far off it makes my head explode. You know, a smart wolf would at least figure out which end went in front before he tried putting on the sheep suit. (by Barnabasintraining)
Wendell cracked a joke to the back of blog team yesterday, when we were talking about how churches are often soft on a man’s adultery (especially if he is going into leadership.) He said it’s like playing Monopoly and you turn over a community chest card and it is the ‘Get out of adultery free’ card. Well in your case, 10areFree, it was like you turned over a community chest card and it said “Matthew 18: Go to couple counseling. Go directly to couple counseling. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.”
And in that Monopoly game there is no ‘Get out of couple counseling free’ card. It don’t exist, baby! This is your life. Suck it up!
UGH. (by Wendell G)
Anaconda of Porn
I like the analogy of porn being an anaconda, slithering into the home. Besides the fact that the snake is usually silent, thus able to remain hidden, it will eventually grow and grow until it is so obvious that all can see it. Further, the larger it gets, the more it consumes and the easier time it has to suffocate the not only the addict, but even the innocent victims in the home! (by Wendell G)
The Skeleton in the Closet
I have never been allowed to confront my husband about any of his abusive behavior without being abused even more and basically every confrontation ends up with him saying, “There you go again bringing up skeletons in the closet.” I wish it was a skeleton but it is all flesh standing in front of me. [by Mari Ann]
Cancer, not the Flu
I liken it to people equate divorce to the flu, bad for the time but it’s over move on. Divorce in cases of abuse is more like major cancer with chemo, radiation, surgery and all the recovery and time that that takes. And, with the flu you are all better after it. With Cancer and all the treatment, you will NEVER be the same. [by Still Scared (but getting angry)]
Domestic Violence is something done to a woman deliberately, which is in a different league – and if it weren’t for the FC system, it would stand a better chance of being treated like the felony that it is. More than that, you’d be hard-pressed to find the same contempt for cancer victims that you do for DV targets.
And the aftermath of DV is a unique legacy, in my opinion, because it usually involves such a deep sense of betrayal – one that can actually drive a wedge between a woman and her senses of morality, right and wrong, and justice. Especially in the court system. (Think Luke 18.)
This is how I’ve explained in the past it to people who have difficulty getting it: You walk into your house after work, and the babysitter has ripped your home apart and is yelling vulgarities at your kids. Outraged, you fire the sitter, who then attacks you. Screams ugly names at you, threatens to take everything you own, destroy everything you care about. Badly injured, you call the police. The unrepentant sitter is arrested, spends time in jail, is forbidden from coming within a hundred yards of you and your kids, and has to rebuild a life afterward (one that has nothing to do with children) – not to mention, compensate you for your pain, suffering, and medical bills. Makes sense, and it’s as close to justice as you’ll get, and life goes on.
But what if, when the police arrive, they question you as to: 1. Why did the sitter attack you? 2. Did you engage in any provocation? 3. Are you really hurt that badly? 4. Did you strike first? 5. Did the children witness you fighting back? 6. Is the sitter injured? 7. Which one of you has more marks? (You get the idea.)
Now let’s say you’re obviously injured pretty badly, and they arrest the sitter. What if the judge does nothing more than order the sitter into an anger management class, and then asks you about the chances of reconciliation? You say, “Uh, no way,” so the judge orders both of you into a collaborative effort, so the two of you can work out your differences. After all, the kids once liked that sitter, and they need to maintain that relationship. And since you don’t want to be around the babysitter at all anymore, you have to get over the fact that your kids will be ordered into visitation – without you there. When you bring up the fact that your kids are absolutely terrified of the babysitter, the judge accuses you of alienating them, and threatens you with jail time if those kids aren’t delivered for visitation – and they’d better be appropriately eager and loving. (That’s called “Threat Therapy.” It’s a part of the PAS scam.) Protest further, and s/he’ll give your children to the sitter.
That’s an unreal scenario, right? Absolutely ridiculous. But switch the babysitter for the biodad, and it’s not an unusual sequence of events. People sometimes counter with, “But we’re talking about the father here, not an employee.” My response to that is, “Of course. And that makes it even worse.” (by Jenna Brooks)
Being against abuse AND against divorce for abuse is kind of like saying you are for the slaves and can’t stand how they are treated but can’t quite see your way clear to support abolition. (by Barnabasintraining)
The Fruit will be Evident
Speaking of falling fruit, I have a plum tree in my back yard. It’s many years old and very productive. This summer, when I’ve wanted to get plums that are ripe, I’ve just gone out and shaken a few branches and collected what fell to the ground.
The other day we had really windy day. The last of the plums fell to the ground. I had been thinking that I would have to climb the tree to pick the last of its fruit, but I did not have to climb the tree to pick any: the wind had brought them all down. When true Christians are put under a bit of pressure their fruit will be evident. You won’t have to clamber round contorting yourself to peek under branches and leaves to find it.
That analogy breaks down when we think about different seasons of the year. Wind storms never bring ripe fruit to the ground in winter or springtime. But it’s still a useful analogy so long as we don’t press it too far. (by Barbara Roberts)
I don’t hate him and I don’t wish for harm to come to him. I can pray for his repentance–and for his sake, I do genuinely want him to come to repentance. But I don’t wish it for my sake. I really, truly, honestly just want him to leave me alone (and most of his family too).
It’s like being wrongly convicted and in prison and praying for the prison guards to be nice to you. Whether the guards are nice to me or not, I just want to be FREE! (by Just Me)
Judith Herman says in her book on Trauma that in WWII the military learned a bit more about “shell shock” (later turned out to be PTSD). What they found is that soldiers who were traumatized needed to be treated close to the front lines near where their company of fellow soldiers were, and the sooner they could get them on their feet and back to their buddies, the better for them. Why? Because of the bonds that formed between those soldiers in the misery of war. Furthermore, they found that soldiers who were in a unit that was led by an officer who was confident and competent bore up under the trauma of war much better than those soldiers who weren’t blessed with such a leader.
And so I thought. That is what we have here at ACFJ. We have a bunch of soldiers who have been traumatized. Here, they are able to form bonds with one another and do some “talk therapy”. They can hear from others with experience in the fight and be encouraged as they are told “hey, this is what happened to you. This is what it is called. It happened to me and this is what I have learned.”
I suspect that there may well be more help being given to victims and survivors here than we all might realize. It’s like when veterans who had been traumatized in the Vietnam War started getting together in small groups to talk about what had happened to them. Over time, people started listening to them. Maybe that will happen with all of us here. Maybe more people will start listening.
But even if they don’t, we can come here and say, “let me tell you about the battle I was in 5 years ago, one Saturday night when it was like Satan himself paid me a visit….”. (by Ps. Crippen)
Barbara Roberts’ addition to “shell shock” analogy
Good analogy Jeff (and Judith). So the Vietnam Vets got together and started comparing stories about their kids. “Eh, so you’ve got a kid with a birth defect? So have I!” “What, you too?” and they start joining the dots to Agent Orange.
So in places like here, DV Vets get together. And what is the Agent Orange that we find? Well, for starters, Agent GHD (God hates divorce) – which they discover is a toxic spray that was spreading a whole lot of baloney over Christendom for centuries…
Don’t Repeat Yourself
Misapplied “modularization” is a good metaphor for misunderstood and abused doctrines: To explain: there’s an expression we talk about in software called DRY, which means “Don’t Repeat Yourself”. This is important because duplication of logics leads to difficult to maintain code when that logic must change at a later point. You have to change it in all of the duplicated locations and make those same changes every time without missing anything. This is extremely brittle and leads to bugs. So good developers will always look in the code when they have a task and try reuse existing code instead of writing new code. The better the developer the more reusable his or her code will be. We call this “modularization” because a developer should build code as many small reusable blocks of code (or “modules”) as possible.
The problem comes (and this is not an infrequent occurrence) when a developer thinks an existing module applies, but it really doesn’t. For example say he has a requirement to prevent the bank from putting itself at risk by sending out large transactions, so he applies the existing module that blocks transactions under certain conditions, and he sets the conditions to be $8 million, the value specified by the user. However, what the user finds is this doesn’t really address their needs. They do have to be careful about sending out large transactions, but some are legitimate. They need the ability to approve or reject transactions that are very large. By using the existing module to “block” translations, the developer with good intention missed the mark for what was necessary.
Often once this kind of issue is uncovered it is natural for the developer to push back because they have something that works, is clean, and doesn’t require a bunch of work or added complexity. Of course it ALSO does not meet the need, but when people become obsessed with consistency and efficiency (which is the very definition of a good software developer personality type) sometimes they can overlook that the practice needs aren’t being met.
This is like the doctrine of divorce because we take an area that requires a complex decision and applies a simple module to it. This misuse of the module has been done for so long we are reluctant to remove it, fearing that the result will be a result in which money just flies out of the bank willy nilly. But as long as we continue to take the clean and efficient route we have prevented imoortant customers with legitimate large transactions from conducting their business. (by Jeff S)
Good Intention turned Deadly
It’s hard to do, but like Jeff C Says, judge his actions and his words, not his intentions. I had a really hard time with this one because mine always comes back and says that his intentions weren’t to hurt, then he expects to be treated according to what he says his intentions were.
But that’s not fair – you’ve sustained injury (emotional injury counts too!) because of his actions, regardless of his intentions.
For comparison, we can presume the pharmacy that produced injections that caused the recent meningitis outbreak only INTENDED to help people by producing the medicine to help them get better (and probably make some money as well, but let’s set that aside). However, due to their irresponsibility, neglect, and various other failures (many of which they had been warned to correct, and should have known to avoid int he first place), more than 30 people are dead and hundreds were sickened.
So, do we judge them by their intentions or their actions? Is it fair to their victims to go back and say “Hey – their intentions were good, so we’ll just take them on their word. They’ll try harder next time. When would you like your next dose?” Of course not!
So why would you allow an abuser the same privilege? (by Little Miss Me)
Motive is Key
Where a person divorces by cruelly abandoning a spouse, there would be no argument that divorce in that case would be a sin, but the sin would be more in the act of being cruel and emotionally abusive. However, when a person divorces to protect children, find safety and shun evil, then how could anyone justify the position that that divorce is sinful? It’s like saying to a child that rolling on the ground is wrong. If a child was doing that just to get the clothes dirty to create more work for the mother, then yes, it would be, but if a child was doing it to escape from a fire, then it wouldn’t be. (by Anonymous)
Bead of Mercury
It’s an insightful description of the core of abusiveness.
“A person can have an entrenched and intentional selfishness and thereby neglect their spouse without pangs of conscience; this amounts to abuse of the other spouse. Entrenched and intentional selfishness springs from an attitude of entitlement, which is the core of the abusive mentality. It can manifest in sheer indolence, self-indulgence in their own desires at the expense of other people, verbal abuse, controlling and coercive behaviours, physical and sexual abuse, indeed, all the kinds of abuse we talk about on this blog.”
Excuses and rationalizations are not the cause or reason for abuse. They are part of the abuser’s arsenal that they can and will use, and they will try to hide behind them. Abusive neglect is another tool/weapon.
Trying to have a relationship with someone who is abusive reminds me of interacting with a bead of mercury. I remember, when I was a child, seeing a bead of mercury. It looked pleasing and solid until I touched it, then it divided into smaller beads of mercury. The more I touched it, the more the mercury divided, until the pieces were almost invisible and hard to track down. It became a frustrating process when I continued trying to interact with it as if it was a solid bead. Mercury is quick and slippery. And, it is also poisonous, especially in heavy doses or with long-term exposure to smaller doses. Those who work with Mercury, and recognize it as a poisonous substance, learn the necessary steps of precaution and protection to minimize their exposure to it when interacting with Mercury. I learned to not touch it.
Likewise, an abusive person may look and act pleasing and appear like a solid, healthy person until the interact begins. When you try to connect with them, they become slippery, using the tools of their trade in their arsenals to bring the divisiveness into the relationship. The more you try to connect, the more the divisive tools are employed, and the person you thought you were relating to becomes so fragmented that you can’t track them down any more. It can be a frustrating process if you continue to interact with them thinking they are the solid person they first appeared to be. An abusive person can be quick and slippery in their interactions. And, depending on the type of abuse, the heavy doses of abuse or the long term smaller doses, the more you are exposed to them, the more poisonous they are to you. Recognition of and learning how to take care and protect ourselves when dealing with an abusive person can minimize the impact they can have on us. (by Song)
Bait and Switch
I spent many years organizing complementarian conferences and seminars. And I can tell you that backstage very few of the big names (not the patriarchy guys) live out a comp marriage in real life. Backstage many of the comp wives were like General Patton. But on stage she was the submissive follower. I always thought it was a huge bait and switch. But one thing I learned over the years is that those with borderline personality disorders are very attracted to churches that make that doctrine primary. Some even go as far to make it salvic. (by Lydiasellerofpurple)
A Virus of Bad Theology
A virus of bad theology. Here’s an analogy from the world of viruses:
I used to have Hep C. The Hep C virus rarely kills you, most sufferers die with it, but not of it. (It only causes death in a few cases where the person gets cirrhosis or liver cancer, and usually they only get those things if they are heavy drinkers too.)
So for most folk, and I was one, they have the Hep C virus without even being aware they have it. It may cause almost no symptoms. Or it may cause fatigue, a bit of depression, minor gasto-intestinal problems, a little brain fog from time to time. Nothing that shouts “liver disease”. That’s just how the church is with its bad theology. Nothing to really pinpoint that there’s a virus, (unless you are a victim of abuse and at the pointy end of that bad theology, that is). Most Christians don’t wonder much about why the Church is a little fatigued, a little depressed, a little unable to digest stuff from time to time… In fact, they’re so used to this state of affairs they think it’s normal.
But it’s not normal. Not by the Bible’s standards. Not by God. Not by Jesus Christ.
After I’d been through a gruelling, horrific year of drug therapy, I got ‘cured’ of Hep C. They don’t call it cured, they say I ‘cleared the virus’. Same difference. As the side effects of the treatment drugs wore off, I began to feel truly alive and amazingly well for the first time in my adult life (I’d contracted Hep C when I was 19). It was like bubbles of spritz were sparkling through my veins. I could not believe it. “This is what it is like to be healthy! I’d never known! Never imagined it!”
No wonder I used to feel awful for most of my life, no wonder I found life much harder than most other people seemed to find it. They were well. I’d been sick. I’d had a virus eating away every day, destroying my liver cells, and my liver had been attempting to grow back every single day. It had been an ongoing battle between my body’s capacity to self-restore, and the virus’s ability to kill liver cells. On the days I’d felt particularly fatigued, that was when the virus had the upper hand for a while.
There’s more to this analogy. Treatment was horrific, the side effects of the drugs were far worse than they symptoms of Hep C had been. But cure was an astounding quantum leap upward, into realms of energy, optimism and effectiveness I’d never known before. Treatment for bad theology is pretty horrific too: you have to humble yourself and be willing to examine and if necessary jettison your pet crutches in Christian-ese. It hurts. It shames. It debilitates. It makes you feel woefully inadequate. But if the church undergoes treatment, the cure can be incredible.
Another point: treatment for Hep C is not (at this stage of medical science) guaranteed to work. Depending on your genotype of the Hep C virus, you have to have treatment for either 6 or 12 months, and the success rate is between 50 and about 80 percent. But is it worth trying? YES. (by Barbara Roberts)
The Victim or Perpetrator
It’s as though they were all in an automobile accident and injured but only one will say that they should get out of the car and get help for their injuries. The one who does get out is then slammed for seeing and saying the truth, thus perpetuating the abuse. (by Barbara Roberts)
The Caged Tiger
He is using the “I’m the victim here and it’s your fault” abuser’s tool. Typical abuser tactic. Not worthy of you even “trying to explain away the rest” so don’t bother . The analogy I use that ironically has a tiger in it as well is I am locked in a cage with a tiger. I spend all my time feeding, petting, and making the tiger happy so he will not scratch and bite. I keep myself in between the tiger and my children as much as possible. I desperately reach out through the bars to passers-by (I call them PCAAs, Persons Clueless About Abuse, which include a lot of church folk) and they slap my fingers reaching through the bars and say, “Get back in there and keep that tiger happy! No, you can’t get out of the cage. You made a promise.” Well, I’m pretty sure the “tiger” made a promise, too; to love, honor and cherish me. Nobody seemed concerned that he was not doing what he promised, only that I was “having some trouble” keeping mine in the face of his abuse. Ridiculous. I got out of the cage and shut the door. I still care ABOUT him, but not FOR him, and always from a distance. (by Debby)
Healed of Leprosy
The sermon I heard this morning was on the healing of the man with leprosy (Luke 5). The pastor talked about how leprosy attacks the nerves in the skin. The nerves become dysfuntional — numb. This means that if a leper cuts or scratches that part of their body which is numb, they feel no pain. And if the cut gets infected and becomes septic, the leper still feels no pain.
When Jesus healed the man who was covered with leprosy, it was an instant healing. Think about this from inside the skin of that man. One moment he was numb in most of his body. The next moment he had full feeling in all his nerve endings. I can barely imagine what that must have been like! His mind must have got so used to most of his skin being numb and then suddenly his skin could feel everything: the breeze, heat or cold, the feeling of the ground under his feet and the clothes against his body. . .
Loves6, I completely understand that you are feeling acute anxiety at the moment. Might it help to think about the parallels between your feeling and the healing of the leprous man? Possibly some of your acute feelings are related to the fact that you are becoming less numb. (by Barbara Roberts in response to a reader’s feelings of acute anxiety as she is coming out of the fog of abuse.)