Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Deceitful Practice of Educating on Abuse

Posted by Hannah at 7:00 AM

I have noticed in some circumstances in which people speak about abuse they tend to ‘generalize’ it, or even try to incorporate everything they see sinful into the definition. 

You might ask WHY they would do this, and I have begun to see a pattern. 

They do this so they don’t have to deal with what they seem to see as more ‘minor’ offenses to them.  

They twist the definition to show that ‘everyone’ is guilty.  That way it can be addressed in a more general manner, and dealt with as such as well.   

HOW everyone can be sinful at one time or another, and downright hinting how everyone can be abusive.

The strange part of that is then they generally go into HOW the word abuse is over used.  What do they think they just did themselves?

Pattern of Behavior

What they seem to not deal with is the part of the definition that speaks of ‘pattern’.  There is a pattern of behavior.  

They take an individual that may have done something ugly one day.  I think we all can agree that being ugly isn’t acceptable either.  The problem with their example is they aren’t using the pattern that is incorporated within the definition. They label the ‘ugly’ abuse instead of what it is, and enforce the idea that everyone can be ugly at times.

At this point they will attempt ‘blur’ the line of what a pattern is.  If we take a person that has an addiction to drugs or alcohol that seems to be something they can comprehend when see their patterns of behavior.

When you attempt to show the same principal in other areas?  They mysteriously appear as if they can’t grasp the connection. 

I view this as a convenience more than ignorance.  It reminds me of a game my mother would play when she didn’t want to admit she was wrong.  I called it the ‘Southern Belle Act’.  They claim they don’t understand, but you know they do. If you can see the pattern of behavior in an addict then you know what people are talking about.  They play like they don't realize it is the same.

My mother is a very intelligent person, but when she didn’t wish to deal with something she will act as if she didn’t grasp something.  I’m not slamming my Mother, because once the issue is pushed she would admit what she was doing.  We all have our quirks don’t we?

Sadly, the parties that are trying to ‘redefine’ the concept of abuse aren’t so fore coming.  They will take examples of people that misuse the word abuse to their advantage in their presentation of how the world seems ‘confused’ as to what it means.

Lets look at a good example of this:

However, sometimes, when people use the word abuse, they mean other things. Today, the word abuse is used to describe everything from violence, rape, molestation, and verbal cruelty to any form of corporal punishment, hurting someone’s feelings, offending the religious views of another, or even “grounding” a child from something he wants to do. In society’s effort to extend the definition of abuse, the word has nearly lost its meaning.

It hasn’t lost it’s meaning at all. 

You notice that the author didn’t bring in the ‘pattern’ part of the definition?  It shows their start of the ‘Southern Belle Act’.  Unfortunately, the author will attempt show most of society are guilty parties playing the Southern Belle Act.

The first portion of her statement are seen as legitimate forms of abuse, and the last segment is where she will attempt to show US our ‘confusion’.

According the author society in general doesn’t understand:

Definitions of ‘corporal punishment’ versus ‘child abuse’
Definitions of  ‘hurting someone’s feelings’ versus ‘emotional abuse’
Definitions of ‘offending another’s religious views’ versus ‘legalism’

The last portion when she speaks of ‘grounding’?  It was some strange news story taken from Canada about how a girl was upset at her father for grounding her from a school trip, and took him to court over it.  The controversy was over HOW the child could the win this case, and how the father’s authority within the child’s life was taken from him.  The child wasn’t mistreated, and from what you read about the case?  She was being disciplined over a legitimate act that needed discipline.

How some strange court hearing that is being appealed to me doesn’t even fit into ‘example’ of society’s ignorance of abuse.  From what I have read of the case 'abuse' wasn’t even mentioned.  The author ‘used’ this example of how we as society have twisted the word abuse none the less.  How?  It must be something personal, because she never did connect the dots on that one.

This to me is a red flag when someone is attempting to educate you about abuse in this fashion.  They approach you as ignorant, and have to dumb down segments to make their points. 

How everyone can be ugly at times, and we are all sinners – thus hinting we are all abusers.  The ‘key’ concept of abuse is pattern of behavior. 

When they point out silly things like we don’t know the differences between polar opposites such as ‘hurting feelings’ and ‘emotional abuse’? 

You can be rest assured the rest of the discussion is going to be focused on how they need to speak DOWN to you to make sure you understand.

YES that is part of the “Southern Belle Act” as well.  They know they are being rude and condescending.  Unlike my mother, most of those types aren’t willing to admit it.  They claim they are trying to educate, but that is just the start of their deceitful presentation.

The ignorance is that they don’t seem to think people can see it for what it is. 

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Charis on 10:38 AM said...

In addition to a pattern, abuse also involves a power imbalance. John Gottman and Lundy Bancroft talk about this (I have quoted them here)

Hannah on 2:20 PM said...

Very True Charis

Waneta Dawn on 8:23 PM said...

You are on target, as usual, Hannah, and so are you, Charis. The power imbalance that is fostered among Christians is why so many more men than women are abusive. And abuse IS a pattern of behavior.

I am beginning to believe that those who deny the prevelance and seriousness of domestic abuse, or downplay it by claiming everyone does it, are likely abusive.

Another way abusers try to confuse people is by claiming that the person who takes steps to stop them from abusing, and/or to let the consequences fall on the abuser instead of on the victim, is in fact the abuser.

For example, when the abuser is calling his victim names and chewing her out, he will claim she is abusing him if she walks away from him and leaves the house, or that she is abusing him when she finally reports him or divorces him. Abusers think "If you do not allow me to abuse you, you are abusing and controlling me."

Anonymous said...

I was trying to explain that abuse involves a "pattern" in a Christian marriage site, because a male there kept claiming that some women who were writing in for help were equal abusers because they committed abuse by having an affair, or shouting, or being absent, etc. But it didn't matter how much I pointed it out, this person was adamant and his verbal abuse of me escalated. It just proved to me that he was an abuser because he would just keep discrediting my opinion and no matter what one says, as long as it disagreed with him, the abuse went up one notch. Finally our discussion stopped when we were both contacted by the moderators to stop trying to prove our point.

Never once was he called on his abuse, even when he put out the bait by saying that the moderators were on his side that abuse is not just a pattern of control and power but included having an affair or anything that hurt the spouse, even if there were other dynamics involved. Now isn't that just ignoring the basic problem of abuse (that it is a pattern of intimidation/control) and putting red herrings so we can minimize the extent of the problem?

Love your Southern Belle Act description. That is just so much the MO of my abusive ex. Till now, that is his standard line - he doesn't know what the problem was, he doesn't understand me, we need to communicate, etc.

Hannah on 8:45 AM said...

I know the type you speak about, and keep in mind most can see through that garbage. Their intent is to rub you the wrong way, so they can prove their point. Whatever that is of course.

I have found that abusers use enough of the 'grain of truth' in what they say so they feel they have a point. Are people abusive just due to affair for example? No. There are normally additional elements within the relationship dynamic to make it abusive. They would rather die on a sword than to admit that. Stating that point doesn't minimize the damage affairs have on the couple, but that point isn't good enough.

I have found that cooler heads prevail in circumstances like you mentioned. Attempting to be business like, and not even acknowledging the digs. Most of the time they tend to try to make it about gender, BUT abuse is all reaching. The gender stand just does not compute in reality. This has nothing to do with gender, because its human carnage. Its not worth even going there, because the intent normally is button pushing anyway. Its sad really because that approach is harmful to true victims.

Defensive people tend to not like reality, nor people that will not acknowledge their button pushing. Their escalation normally shows their true colors when you don't acknowledge them properly (their digs, etc). Those that do not have that intent? They are more willing to either agree to disagree, or will admit some of your points. You see, you don't have to be nasty to 'agree to disagree', etc.

At times silence is best as well. Make your point, and do your exit. Believe me people that are watching saw it, and you made them think. If Mods are to cowardly or not upfront enough to acknowledge what their opinion is? They don't feel safe enough to get into the waters with sharks.

The man in question? He was playing the Southern Belle as well. If he had stronger points he wouldn't bring in the 'mods agree with me' deal, because in reality? WHO CARES and it doesn't prove anything. Its truly a child like response.

Hannah on 8:58 AM said...

Abusers think "If you do not allow me to abuse you, you are abusing and controlling me."

So true Waneta. That is the MO of the abuser.

Anonymous said...

Hannah and Waneta, that point is SO true. That's why I was so confused as to how he could twist it into me controlling him and abusing him, and I would keep asking myself why I was so abusive, and knowing that abusers don't change, flogged myself that I would forever be in denial and not change. I just kept asking people if they are SURE he is abusive and that this is DV, even after we had separated and after I had done a risk assessment and was found to be high risk!

He is telling me and my kids (and everyone who will listen) that I am controlling him and being abusive. When he used to say that in front of an ignorant counselor, the counselor would agree and ask me not to walk away if he tore into me. In the end, three different counselors told me that!! One counselor said, "It's mutual - you are both abusive. See, he gets violent and aggressive, and you - you roll your eyes. You have to BOTH communicate maturely." Now I know why I was so confused!

And it's not over. Tonight I have to meet another pastor that he has spoken to and this pastor wants to meet me after the service. Help!

Hannah on 8:41 AM said...

Anonymous - I don't see the point of meeting with the pastor to be perfectly honest with you. I assume this is a ploy of his to break you down, and to show you that you are wrong. Its a way to getting you back under his thumb.

Its the pastor's job - if he knows DV was involved - to be educated with this dynamic prior to any involvement. Safety is to be the first priority. Is he willing to work with the DV organization? Your spouse has an addiction, an illness when they habitually abuse. If the pastor can't come to see this then its worthless to go and speak with him/her.

Ask some questions prior, and if they can't make you feel better - than say NO. If they start manipulating you about how they are just trying to help - they know how they can help you. Educate themselves. Its that easy, and its okay to be assertive and say NO. If they continue to manipulative then you know their motives are not pure.

Ask the DV organization if they have list of safe churches to go to in the future.

My prayers are with you.

Hannah on 8:51 AM said...

Anonymous - Something else just came to mind!

When people don't wish to hear about the way the abuser abuses you - bring up examples of how they targeted the children. People - man, woman or child - that has a habitual pattern of abuse don't normally just target ONE family member only.

If they can't show empathy towards you - than show how this happens or effects the children. People don't seem to understand how far reaching the effects are sadly. Their tunnel vision is not helpful. I mean did they ever stop to think about that aspect? Don't get me wrong they will make excuses for them as well at times.

If they do? It may help you be assertive enough to say NO to their help.

shadowspring on 12:53 PM said...

In all my years of church I have met only one pastor I found to be at all helpful or useful as has as my marriage was concerned. There is no way I would meet with any pastor at an abusive husband's request.

I realize that my experience is not the be-all, end-all example for anyone, BUT I told my husband to find DV counseling for himself, period, or I would eventually opt out of the marriage. The first counselor he went to sucked. He thought my husband was a great guy, and I should come in for counseling because it must be me that brought out the worst in my otherwise good man.

Fortunately I had read enough about DV that I said no way in no uncertain terms. I told that counselor that I may someday seek counseling for myself on my own terms, but it would not be with him or anyone he recommends. I'm not stupid.

I realize I am very fortunate, because my own husband (once he had returned to his rational mind) has read the same books and realized that he didn't want or need a cheerleader or a friend, he wanted real help. So he ditched that counselor and we kept looking till we found things that were actually useful.

I AM in therapy now, for myself, a year and a half later. I am seeing a LCSW trained in EMDR and trauma therapy. Quite apart from my husband's own issues, this therapy is really helping me. It's helping me to see that I can take up for myself, and that it's healthy and normal to take up for yourself, and that I am OK. I might even go as far as to say a wonderful human being. *blush*

So, just an encouragement from me, you do not need to meet with any pastor, counselor, person that you have a gut feeling is just going to be a new tool for your husband to use to make you doubt yourself and excuse his behavior.

Seriously, you do not have to submit yourself to that crap, for any reason. Stay strong. Be kind to yourself. I wish you a long, happy life full of things that make you smile.

Hannah on 12:58 PM said...

That sounds awesome! Thank you so much sharing. I will have to research that type of therapy a bit more.

Anonymous said...

What happened to my comment about what happened after the pastor and I met up? Did I not post it properly or was it moderated?

Hannah on 9:40 PM said...

I just checked the spam folder, and I didn't see any additional comments.

I'm not sure what happened Anonymous.

Anonymous said...

Anyway, we met up after the service. It was pretty scary talking to this huge towering man who had been spun a story and didn't look empathetic at all. But I stood my ground and reminded myself that he is a reasonable pastor and I love his preaching. But it became clear he didn't understand domestic abuse because his first question was whether I was prepared to reconcile. I explained that as long as the abuser has his victim back, he no longer has the motivation to change - like an alcoholic having access to alcohol. He said I was writing him off as an evil man. I said, no, he was capable of being good and kind, but that his thinking was distorted, giving him an entitlement to have control and power over his wife and kids. Finally, he asked me to watch a testimony on his computer of a couple who had split and reconciled. I said that I was like that woman who was prepared to forgive, but that for me, it didn't work because his remorse, while real, was part of the DV cycle. So he asked me about what DV was all about and it gave me the chance to explain. I also emphasized that I did have other pastors' support because my ex had been spreading the lie to everyone that I had only sought secular feministic help.

In the end, this pastor said the bottom line was that my ex had to be able to hear it from me where I had been hurt and change, otherwise there was nowhere to start. And that, I said, was the problem - he never thought I had a right to hold an opinion, to correct him or to set boundaries. I asked him to keep everything confidential. Oh, and he also said that I had to be careful with this "abuse" business not to expect perfection because no one is perfect - hmm, isn't this what your article was referring to, the deceitfulness in abuse education?

Anyway, today he texted me to ask for the name of a book I mentioned. It was Angry Men and the Women Who Love Them by Paul Hegstrom. He said he would get my ex to read it and take it from there. I repeated that I didn't want anything I said revealed. For some reason, I sense that I am being hooked into being part of his healing, something my ex desperately wants me to do but I have kept refusing. He never used to read books and denigrated me for them, but now apparently he is reading every book under the sun (but doesn't agree with feministic secular rubbish by Patricia Evans).

Oh well, it's all done. I am still awaiting a response from the womens pastor to talk about enhancing my safety since the stalking and harassment on church grounds has not stopped.

Hannah on 7:52 AM said...

I don't like the fact the pastor seems to think handing him a book is going to do anything. Sigh.

This website was made just for pastors such as himself. He can do it on his own time, and confidentially. It also has resources if he has questions - it would be among his own peers of pastors.

Neither pastor is in any position to get involved unless they realize what they are doing. The above website is designed just for them, and it will be telling if they decide or not to use it for themselves.

Personally, I have never found handing abusers material showing them what they are to them. It would be different if they personally wanted to change, but when they don't? They will start to use the terms found in the material against you. If you raise your voice - OH you verbally abused me! If they corner you, and you try to escape and lets say pushed them because they are in your personal space? YOU physically abused them.

We all know those are completely different, but they seem to think its perfect ammo to use against you.

In the reading section above there are two books by Lundy Bancroft that I would recommend to you. I like Patricia Evan's book as well. His goes into more detail, and he has two listed. I wrote up a description of both - see the top of the blog for recommended reading.

I thought you did awesome personally! GOOD for you standing your ground! That shows growth, and gave them the signal you will stand up for your self respect. You need to pat yourself on the back for that!

Anonymous said...

Thank, Hannah. I agree with you regarding any resources they get. It became clear to me after he finally, after many years, agreed to go to counseling and was mandated to attend an abusers program. Instead of changing, he changed tactics because he had more information. I actually told the pastor that he denigrated all my previous attempts to recommend books but he said it was worth a try - like every new pastor that is hooked, he thinks he can solve it. There is a whole string that have given up and I tried to tell him that too. Our previous counselor accused the church of not showing unconditional love because no one had bothered to walk him through healing! The deceptive thing about ex is that he pleads for help and confesses the need for change.

Thanks for the recommendation of books - I have both those books. I dare not recommend Bancroft's and Evans' books to church people (unless they are victims) because he has told people that I am reading non-Christian books that encourage people to separate. But I did shove an article by Nancy Mason Clark about dv and the church into the pastor's hand.

I have already given theraveproject website to my womens pastor. I also gave my neighbor Violence Among Us and she said she loved it but she still has him over all the time and doesn't get how unsafe it is for me. Unless you're a victim, it's hard to "get it"!

Waneta Dawn on 12:26 AM said...

I agree, you are doing a fabulous job standing up for yourself. An "Anonymous" wrote a comment on my blog,, that I think may give you ideas. I'll copy it here:

"Waneta, for Christians, this is so important. Christian women don't recognise abuse and when they do look for help, they are unlikely to approach a secular domestic violence service, even though that is where she will find the knowledge she needs. So churches MUST have the resources to educate, support and help the abused and the abusers.

I have been thinking a lot along those lines. When I first separated, I started drip-feeding my pastors. Emailing them with articles, giving them printed material (including a handbook for clergy) and speaking to them whenever they wanted an update on my situation.

At the same time, I started seeking out professionals and survivors in our church and found some. Sometimes it is hard to tell who is ignorant and who understands but very soon in the conversation it becomes clear.

My third step will be to sound out the possibility of having a support group. I am already attending a secular one to get some ideas of how it should/could run. I would get one pastor to oversee such a group, but not facilitate it. The pastor would obviously have to be supportive about domestic violence, but doesn't necessarily have to be educated in it, because slowly, the education will come if the person is open and gets the right information.

The biggest obstacle to overcome would be the abusers (men and women who abuse and their allies). If you had an "open" session and an abuser heard such information, he/she would object (on no less than theological grounds) and use abusive tactics like bullying, coercion, intimidation, etc. to block the progress of such an awareness campaign. Certainly, their spouses would have their safety compromised if they dared to be transformed by such awareness. You would expect things to escalate and many marriage crises to occur before you see the results of having such church initiatives to prevent domestic abuse."

Waneta Dawn on 12:39 AM said...

I forgot to add in the previous comment the post anonymous commented on was "Effective Domestic Abuse Prevention in Church" 11-24-10

I also agree with Hannah and Shadowspring that you do NOT have to meet with anyone who is not of your own choice. It sounds like one of the tricks your ex is using is to try to keep you engaged in combat with him. The more you play his game, the longer he will keep you tied in knots. But I think you figured that out already.

Concerning your eye rolling, to equate that with chewing you out is absurd. However, eye rolling is on the list of control tactics. People often use it to silence the speaker. When the abuser uses it, he intends it for a put-down and to silence her. When the victim uses it, she usually intends it as a way to keep herself from being snowed under, to protect herself.

Basically, you can control/protect yourself by removing yourself from the room, but to avoid his blame-game, try to avoid anything that he could contrue as an effort to control him. Along those lines, you can tell him that you have every right to control yourself and to walk (or run) away when someone wants to harm you.

You may want to think of something other than eye-rolling to extract yourself from his verbal assaults. Something like, "I will listen to you when you speak in a reasonable manner (tone of voice, etc.). Watch out, though. Abusers at times use a friendly tone of voice and say the most horrid things. Any time your abuser's words and the tone don't match, the message is the most nasty one. "Kindly" saying "Honey, I'm going to kill you tomorrow," as he caresses your face, is a bone-chilling threat, and so is "Honey, bring me the checkbook," either yelled, or said sarcastically, etc.

You are right, even when abusers are not given access the the power and control wheel, and are only shown the eqality wheel, the comments of other men in the group, and the discussion give him more ammunition. Men can actually stop the physical abuse, yet get MORE abusive over all.

Be VERY careful to never do anything physical to him. Don't push him aside or poke him in the chest with your finger. Many abusers bait their wives to get them to do something physical, so the WIFE will get the assault charges and the jail record. In fact, the research that says women are just as abusive as men asks the wrong questions. They ask things like, who threw the first punch, but don't mention the heavy verbal assault and threat that the male was doing, nor that he was blocking her from the door, the phone, or whatever. Also note that men who put their wives in a head lock, arm twist, physically restrain them, or carry them against their will, etc are also physically abusing their wives.

BTW: I have a special on my novel "Behind the Hedge" until Dec 15. ($7.00 for paperback, postage paid) Quite a number of people have commented how much it helped them understand what goes on in a home where there is domestic abuse. The last person to make such a comment, was a psychologist who had training in abuse. see

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for your help Waneta.

You're right about eye-rolling. I couldn't leave the room because a lot of abuse happened in front of counselors. At home I would put limits, which he convinced the counselors was wrong and I was told to lift my boundaries because "marriages don't thrive when one person puts time limits on a conversation".

I don't think he will fall into the physical trap because he has been in trouble with the law and he is much more sophisticated now. Just a lot of harassment and covert abuse(disguised as apologies and enticements).

What's more, he managed to recently get a hold of the "emotional bill of rights" and sent one to me to show me that he now understands what I need. At the same time he was pressuring me with accusations and blame-shifting in emails to do what he wanted! So getting more information doesn't work.

Do you mean postage is free for international shipping as well??

Hannah on 8:48 AM said...

Anonymous - sounds like those counselors can't make up their minds. I mean MOST will state to use boundaries with relationships, because its a healthy thing to do. When it upsets someone? No boundaries.

Instead of teaching people how to deal with people that POUNCE on your boundaries - they basically are saying LET them POUNCE because it upsets them.

Lets say you go grocery shopping, and you remind your child that you don't have extra money for a candy bar. You mention that you will try hard to have the money next time IF they behave in the store today.

You get into the checkout lane, and the child proceeds to throw a tantrum due to no candy bar. Instead of teaching people HOW to handle the child at that point to back up your boundary for the day? They get uncomfortable and tell you to JUST BUY IT - I can't handle the screaming!

Notice its for their OWN personal comfort? That is why they are ineffective.

If you look at the surface of what the counselor said? 'Marriages don't thrive when one person puts time limits on conversations.' I think most would agree that is valid.

NOW if you dig deeper, and look PAST the surface - for example in your circumstance? The true principal of the statement doesn't apply. Instead of finding ways of confronting that? The counselor instead took the avenue of personal comfort, and thus made themselves ineffective.

Most would tell you 'no contact', and do not respond to anything unless you have to. Don't stick up for yourself, or correct history. That is part of their game, because it keeps you engaged - and right where they want you. Response almost like a form letter - only respond to what is required and leave the rest alone. Its not always easy, but you do learn you don't feed the monster if you don't have to.

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