“Just a friendly reminder that abusers don’t abuse everyone they come in contact with, so placing doubt on victims based on your experience with that person is irresponsible and unkind. Thanks.” (credit, Give Her Wings)
How do you like that? Some people, perhaps many, might not get it. They may think this is witch-hunt language. But please remember though; this is not about the abuser.
It’s about the victim of abuse, who would prefer not to have any sort of spotlight on them at all—but finds they face daemonic dilemmas because of the evil that was cast against them. And even if it was about the abuser, please remember, those who profit through abuse have mastered a suite of skills in image management.
I have personally had friends (good friends) tell me that my abusers were fine people; or, that they’d changed. What I hear them saying is, my experience of the person or persons we both know is invalid. Without my experience of abuse I can agree; strip away the wickedness that was done and I’m with them. But I cannot undo what was done, as much as I would if I could. And, if ‘they’d changed’ how is that even remotely relevant to me unless the person who abused me sought me out to reconcile and restitute matters?
I’ve had many people come to see me in a professional capacity who have been gaslit and never knew about it until I showed them what it was. They knew they’d been harmed by others they knew who hadn’t even abused them, purely through their belief in what an abuser had told them, and convincingly so.
The common experience for the survivor of abuse is an almost unequivocal lack of support, or a total lack of support from those who really mattered.
But it’s not just what the bystander says. It’s what they don’t say that’s possibly the most damaging. If you’re a bystander, what you’re being told may seem fanciful and off-the-wall, but your trust of another person’s experience is foundational for their support, recovery and growth.
What God is asking of you is hold on in faith, believe the person in faith, add your hope to their despair, listen and do not judge; don’t vouch for the other person’s this-or-that. That’s not your role in this instant.
Your role is to sit with the person you know has an even mind and a fair heart overall. Your role is as a steward as you hold them and their experience. Your role—if you have the guts for it—is to still the moment, guard your speech, pique your ear, harden no part of your heart, and aim to be God in skin.
The person who has suffered abuse has either legal recourse or they don’t; either way, they just want support. If there’s no legal recourse, there’s no need to defend the abuser, because you can simply hold one person’s experience of this person as a truth without them being marred. You’re not marring them, are you? So don’t worry about it. Now, if there’s legal recourse, the person may still face (or has faced) the matters they’re accused of.
Do you see how defending someone who has allegedly abused the person in your presence is irrelevant at best and irresponsible and unkind at worst? Do you see that some of the people you know, who have never abused you, can possibly have abused others? It needs to be held as a possibility.
One thing I find is true is that the abused person sees something post-abuse that people, until they’re abused, don’t readily see. Abuse opens our eyes to evil in this world. We begin to believe its prevalence. Until we’ve suffered abuse, we don’t really know what people who have suffered abuse are contending with.
As someone who has experienced systems of abuse, I want those who abuse people to learn what it feels like to be abused.
This is not to say that I want people to suffer abuse, but what I do say is that we often cannot possess the empathy required until our own hearts have experienced the schism of abuse. Then, we’re all ears, all heart, and more even handed.