How silence enables abuse- this is a very good article. I may have linked to it before, but I really don’t think these things can be said too often. For instance:
“With greater authority comes greater responsibility and pastors and ministry leaders have fundamentally different obligations stemming from the many parties that are affected by their sin: The victim of the abuse. The family of the victim. People that were manipulated by the abuser in order to facilitate and hide the abuse. Emotionally and spiritually scarred congregants / ministry supporters. Donors, employees, ministry partners. The list goes on.
When church leaders try to hide abuse and put it away quietly so as to “protect the families involved,” they are in fact participating in the fraud. They are enabling the abuser by affirming his ability to prey on the weak with only nominal consequences.
No doubt many church leaders that mishandle these situations are trying to act in good faith. When the perpetrator is caught and is essentially begging for his life, it’s hard to imagine a long time co-elder, board member or employee not having sympathy for them.
After all, this is the man they’ve labored with for so many years, surely he understands what he’s done and is repentant.
And that’s where a botch job begins.”
Do read it all, even if you think it doesn’t pertain to you. It’s important
Abuse is not just a ‘patriarchal’ issue (it’s actually counter to biblical patriarchy). Statistically, men are the victims of domestic violence almost as often as women, but it’s even harder for the men to speak up.
Of course, abusers seek to find whatever cover they can find for their abuse, and for some men it’s patriarchy, just as for others, it’s the field of psychology, or education, or whatever. It’s not that one thing is more likely to *cause* abuse than another, it’s that abusers are sociopaths and chameleons. The main thing they seem to have in common from my own unscientific observation is that they are generally likable, charismatic personalities with a good deal of personal magnetism. They twist whatever situations and circumstances they find themselves in to their own ends, and they are good at doing this with great plausibility.
Don’t be part of their cover-up management team. Be discerning. Don’t be paranoid, but don’t be gullible, either.
I can pretty much promise you that somebody you know, very possibly even somebody you like or admire, is a tyrant at home- a tyrant to the point where church discipline or even the arm of the law needs to be brought in. I’ve talked about that here, here, and here.
One thing I’ve mentioned before in discussing these sorts of issues is that often the victim may not make sense to you or they will be ‘overly emotional,’ while the accused seems to be rational and calmer. WEll, you know, duh. The accused, if guilty, is generally somebody with inhuman tendencies and they are deeply invested in fooling everybody around them and they are good at it. That’s part of the predatorial make-up. That’s how they are able to get close enough to their victims to do these things to them in the first place.
Whereas the victims are suffering, confused (and are often chosen in the first place because of their vulnerability), and may be suffering from PTSD. It would raise more questions if they did come across as perfectly rational and consistently made perfect and complete sense (not 100% true, though, because if they do have PTDSD, one symptom is being divorced from their emotions).
Read more about that here.
Be alert to protect yourself and your own family. Be aware and sensitive so that you are available to those who are hurting and need a lifeline out.
Be outspoken– keeping these things a secret does nobody but other abusers any good at all. If you have been abused, it’s therapeutic for you, but that’s not the only reason. Even long after a given abuser is dead and gone and no longer in a position to hurt anybody, speaking out gives others the courage to speak up, too. It helps others to identify the signs, to know the right things to say, the wrong things to say. It can open up formerly blind eyes to signs that they might have missed, clues they overlooked. It can give courage and support to other victims so that they can speak up and seek the help they need. It can be a warning to potential abusers around you as well. Even if you have never known abuse (like the writer in the link above), the more voices speaking up, the more people hear, and take heed. Sometimes, you need to hear something a dozen different ways from many different sources for something to sink in. Waht gets through to one person will not be what gets through to another.
Joshua 1:9 says to be strong and of good courage, to neither be trembling, nor in doubt. Tyrants in the home rob you of your joy, your confidence, your courage. Fight back. Get to a safe place and speak out- for yourself, and for others. And those who have not been so robbed, be advocates for those who have. You never know when somebody may be listening who needs to hear.