Reconciliation with an unrepentant abuser is placing ones self in harms way.
Forcing someone to forgive an unrepentant abuser is spiritual and emotional abuse.
Forcing someone to overlook abuse and go back to a situation of danger makes one complicit in the abuse. It may also be punishable by law.
It is time that we begin talking about domestic abuse in the church. It is time that there was more comprehensive training on the issues of abuse, narcissistic abuse, cluster-b personality disorders, sexual abuse, pedophilia, and domestic abuse within the church.
It is time that we started caring about about protecting victims of abuse more than we care about protecting the reputations of the abusers, and their organizations.
According to Jesus, rape, molestation and sexual crimes of any sort do not defile a victim. Rather, it defiles the abuser.
“Don’t you understand?” Jesus asked. “Don’t you see? Nothing that *enters* a person from the outside can make them ‘unclean.’ He went on to say, “What *comes out of* a person is what makes them ‘unclean.’ Evil thoughts come from the inside, from a person’s heart. So do sexual sins, stealing and murder.
“Don’t you understand?” Jesus asked. “Don’t you see? Nothing that *enters* a person from the outside can make them ‘unclean.’ He went on to say, “What *comes out of* a person is what makes them ‘unclean.’ Evil thoughts come from the inside, from a person’s heart. So do sexual sins, stealing and murder.
To worship means to fear, venerate, prioritize, protect the reputation of, sacrifice for, adore, and to lay one’s life down for.
It is what abusers demand of their victims.
But victims cannot in good conscience worship any person in this way: because it is written, “you shall have no gods before me.” This is why children, wives, employees, and churchgoers are never told to obey unquestioningly, but to obey “in the Lord.” When someone appointed to Christ-like leadership begins to act like a false god, demanding absolute loyalty and submission, then there will be conflict. And there can only be one god in a person’s life.
At times, the most godly thing that one can do is to rebel against ungodly authority.
It seems to me that the church has a much better history of protecting abusers than it does in protecting victims.
Among other things, this comes down to the fundamental nature of our religion. Showing grace, forgiveness, and “one more chance” to sinners is at the core of the Christian message. But verses about protecting the vulnerable from attack, leaving a wicked person, refusing to forgive an unrepentant sinner, and calling attention to sin — while they exist — are not front and centre in the Gospel story. It takes significant work and thought to integrate these ideas into our theology. That work is rarely done.
In the mean time, victims are made to feel that they have no voice, that they aught to just put up with abuse, (“submit”) and shamed if they end abusives relationships. If they bring up the debilitating pain of trauma, the PTSD, the flashbacks, the triggers, the anger, the confusion, the intense shame, the loss of joy, the hyper-vigilance, the loss of hope, the lost sense of sense of security, and the loss of hope in humanity that comes with trauma, they are often told to “pray through it,” and forgive. If they find forgiveness hard (especially if “forgiveness” seems to mean reconciling with the abuser, and not holding them accountable for their actions, and being placed in harms way all over again), they are at risk of being called “bitter,” even a dangerous “root of bitterness” to infect others. 😳
Our commitment to show grace and love to everyone is commendable.
But many times, our support of survivors could use some work.
[I see you. I care. Keep holding on. You’ll get through this. One day at a time. ❤️]
Jesus said to “turn the other cheek.” Here are twenty reasons why that does not mean that a spouse or child should overlook physical abuse. 1) In the original context, Jesus was speaking to men, in a world of men. The implied audience was people who had the ability to strike back, not women or children. 2) Jesus told His followers to flee from persecution and physical danger. 3) Jacob, David, Abigail, and many other saints fled from authority figures, when they became physically dangerous. 4) Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. A temple was the most sacred possible place in anceint times: your body is THAT precious! God promises to destroy anyone who destroys your body (1 Cor. 3:17). 5) Jesus said, “let the little children come to me,” and “if anyone causes one of these little ones to stumble, it would be better if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he be thrown into the sea.” Children need to be protected from harm. So do you. 6) “I’m sorry…you just made me so angry” is not an apology. It is a lie that their evil actions were the fault of their victim. If a person is not able to restrain their violence unless people around them “walk on eggshells,” that person should not be around vulnerable people until they find help. 7) “I’m sorry, I just couldn’t control myself,” is a lie. After all, they controlled themselves just fine in public. 8) “This is normal/all men do it/everyone slips up” is not true. Most spouses do not hit or abuse one another. The Bible tells us to love and care for our spouses as we would our own bodies (Eph. 5). Jesus washed the feet of His disciples, and laid down His life for the church. Care is normal, harm is abnormal. 9) “You have to forgive me,” is a lie. You do not need to forgive them if they do not repent. (Luke 17:3…notice “IF he repent…”) Repentance means bringing their actions to the light to people who can provide tough accountability (James 5:16). It means getting help, and making sure that it does not happen again. 10) “The Bible says ‘forgive and forget'” No it does not. This verse does not exist. You can release bitterness in your heart while still remembering. Memories are there to remind us of danger, and to keep us safe. 11) The Bible says, “Do not be deceived, whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.” The natural consequence of violence is the loss of intimacy. “Do not make friends with an angry man, and do not associate with a hot-tempered man” (Prov. 22:24) 12) “This punishment is unreasonable! I miss you! I need you! People will be mad at me if they find out!” …is exactly what Cain complained to God after he murdered his brother. Truly repentant people (like David, Peter) are sad about their sins. Evil people (like Cain) are sad about the CONSEQUENCES of their sins. Know the difference. 13) “I love you….” saying the words, “I love you” does not mean the person loves you. Love is patient, kind, and unselfish. It is not provoked, does not hold a grudge, and does not act unbecomingly (1 Corinthians 13:4-5). If their words say “love,” but their actions say “hate,” that is hypocritical love (Rom. 12:9). “Let us love not in word and speech, but in action and truth.” (1 John 3:18) “You will know them by their fruits.” (Mat. 7:16) 14) “The Bible says don’t gossip.” That is true. Gossip is untrue or uneccesary tidbits, spread around to harm someone. But telling appropriate authority figures about abuse is exactly what Jesus told us to do (Mat. 18:15-17) 15) “You have to keep our secret.” Is impossible. The Bible says that all sins will be brought to light (1 Tim. 5:24). One of the hallmarks of a dysfunctional family is secrecy. “For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.” (John 3:20) But “the truth shall set you free,” (John 8:32). Good people have nothing to hide. 16) “I don’t trust the police/social workers/authorities.” …is a telling statement. “rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing.” (Rom. 13:3-4) 17) “You are wrecking the family!” is a lie. The one who is unrepentantly harming others, and not seeking help for their issues is wrecking the family. Those who protect themselves and others are salvaging what remains of the family. 18) “You hurt my feelings when you told me that I abused you. You always complain so much! Why are you so negative? You are always so mean to me. YOU should apologize to ME.” …is a gaslighting. Gaslighting is a technique of changing the facts, in order to confuse the victim. A typical attack is blaming the victim for the actions of the abuser. This is a form of psychological abuse: it is an attempt to break down your mind, confuse you, and weaken your most powerful defence: your trust in your own sanity. If reading this post causes you to feel dizzy, confused, anxious, an upset stomach, extreme fatigue, a headache, or an unexplained ache in a part of your body, you may have been a victim of psychological abuse. 19) “You can’t report this because I am your spiritual head,” is a lie. People in positions of leadership are held to a *higher* standard in the Bible: “judgment begins with the house of God” 1 Peter 4:17, and “If a church elder continues in sin despite being warned, rebuke him in the presence of all so that others will be warned not to sin” (1 Tim. 5:19) 20) “God forgives me, so should you” is not true. Nowhere does God forgive unrepentant sinners. God also does not forgive people who use grace as an excuse to continue sinning. Neither should you. (Hebrews 10:26-27) If you believe that you are the victim of physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual, or financial abuse, please find a safe person and/or the appropriate authorities with which to share your story. If you believe that you are in physical danger, please leave now or call the police. Yes, Christians are allowed to call secular authorities: in fact, I would recommend that you start there. You were meant to thrive, not just survive. And the Bible was never meant to keep you in a cage!
Reading the Bible, all by yourself, with no commentaries and no input from others is the ultimate in confirmation bias. A person can conveniently ignore or explain away anything that challenges them, while finding “biblical support” for all of their personal prejudices and ideas. If no support is given directly from scriptures, the person can simply say, “the Holy Spirit told me…” and put some very outlandish spin on a verse. It happens all the time! “Bible teachers” like this can be very attractive. “Wow, he only quotes the Bible!” “Wow, he is self-taught! He wasn’t corrupted by some dirty seminary!” “Wow, God seems to speak to him so much!” …but the person isn’t really speaking to them about Gods way, but their own private ideas, wrapped in Biblical language. The effects of such teachers can be devastating: among other things, it can make it seem like anybody can make the Bible say anything that they want. Which of course, they can. So how can we avoid this confirmation bias? We cannot. We are only human. That is why we need one another. “Let one or two speak, and the rest pass judgment.” “But the Bereans were more noble, because after Paul spoke, they searched the Scriptures, to see if these things were so.” “*Study* to show yourself as a workman approved, able to *accurately* handle the word if God.” “You Pharisees…teach as doctrines the ideas of men…” “see to it that no one takes you captive through the…basic principles of men…” The believing community is: 1) A local church of people who can respond in some way to the “teacher.” If the teacher is never told that they were wrong, and never revises their views, they have no such community 2) Commentaries and other pastors. You don’t know it all! The Bible wasn’t written in your language — or your millennia! You need help understanding some things! Be humble enough to ask for and receive help! 3) The wider faith community. Not every good Christian agrees with you. Some have very good Biblical reasons for what they believe. Learn from them! Learn to sit with the fact that there are more than one way to see many issues. Gradually, you will begin to see that while *some* issues in the Bible are black and white, many are grey. And some things you were taught to believe aren’t even in the Bible at all! …as you emerge from under the dictatorial cloud of one narrow minded teacher, into the light and colour of the family of God, you may begin to find that the Bible is more like a grand story, where we can all find meaning and purpose and direction for our own lives. It is less like an instruction manual, telling us how to conform to the ideas and biases of one narrow minded “Bible teacher.”
I have been posting more on narcissism and spiritual abuse on my Facebook. Yesterday, I posted the following meme:
Words like “submit,” “obey,” “honour,” “forgive,” “reconcile,” “love”…were never meant to be used as chains. ⛓ You have permission to end a relationship with someone who is unrepentantly harming you. No matter how they are related to you, and no matter what they tell you God wants you to do. You have permission to protect yourself from abuse. Always.
This sparked a discussion with a friend I will refer to as Etienne, who started off the discussion by saying:
You didn’t find that teaching in the Bible. To find what love looks like look at how God treated Israel through the old testament, right up until He died to save those who were/are literally abusing Him. If you want to see what selfishness and “toxic” look like, view the same passages from the opposite perspective. The love God commands us to give, constantly requires us to set aside the justice we was to receive in order to give mercy and grace.
As I often do, I took a moment to write out my candid thoughts to myself in long form on notes, before taking a few breaths and responding to him. What I wrote to myself was:
“You did not find that teaching in the Bible”
…actually, I did. All throughout the Bible, we see God’s people following Jesus’ teaching, “whenever they persecute you in one city, flee to the next,” (Mat. 10:23). Jacob left his emotionally abusive father in law Laban. The Israelites fled from the deceptive and abusive king, Pharaoh. David fled from his verbally and physically abusive king and father in law, Saul. Abigail went behind the back of her stubborn and un-listening husband Nabal. Elijah fled from the unrepentant and moody King Ahab.
God instructs us to forgive our enemies. Forgiveness is something that happens inside. But reconciliation cannot happen when there is not true repentance. Repentance means a change of behaviour: and a change means at a certain point, harmful behaviours need to stop happening. Like David, there’s a time to just get out of town when one fears one too many times for their own safety.
Your choice of God as a symbol of someone who puts up with abuse is poorly chosen. Here is what God did in His relationship to Israel: he pointed out their sins; he stated that there would be consequences for their sins; he followed through on those consequences; when they repented, He forgave and reconciled; this cycle continued numerous times; eventually God identified that they were not truly repenting (no change in behaviours) but only trying to avoid consequences; His warnings became more severe, and he saw less and less hope in the cycle; Finally, God told Israel that He was formally divorcing it; God enacted a separation, by sending them to Babylon; when some repented, God made a new covenant with only the faithful Israelites; God sent His Son to make a way of salvation for those who repent; God follows through on His final consequence, of Hell, for those who persist in wounding Him by their sins and self-destructive actions. We are told that the same applies to Christians: “For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries.” (Heb. 10:26-27).
Properly read, the Bible is on the side of victims, not abusers.
When I decided to talk with Etienne, I decided that it was actually best for him to clarify his rather confusing post first. I was not entirely sure what he was advocating. And so I gave him an invitation to make himself more clear by writing:
Myself: So it would seem that you do not agree with the statement, “You have permission to end a relationship with someone who is unrepentantly harming you.” Do you find this unbiblical, or incorrect, or both? Thank you for your comment.
Etienne: First, I’m not saying that abuse is ok. Abuse is not ok. Second “love, respect, submit, unity, etc are not chains to hold one to bad relationships, if they are treated that way, that’s a great sign that there is abuse or at least very wrong thinking going on. I am suggesting that pursuing ones “rights”, “protecting myself”, etc are the real chains in this scenerio. Look at what the Bible teaches about how God thinks relationships work, it’s never pursuing justice for self. Pursue justice for those around you, but for yourself, pursue learning to give grace and mercy. This is a hard lesson for every believer, but if it can be learned; they will be free of the chains that put themself first. That’s a lot of freedom. Another way to describe it, don’t think of God’s commands as chains that restrict out freedoms, think of them as fences that protect us from harm that we don’t fully understand. Inside that fence we are completely free, and far safer than going beyond the fence.
At this point, it was bedtimes for my family, and I had work in the morning. I did not pick up this discussion until the afternoon. This gave a few other people a chance to chime in.
Sally (One of my friends): But you still haven’t answered whether a person should be able to leave an abusive relationship. I’ve seen people weaponize those commands to shame a person for leaving an abusive spouse. You didn’t pray hard enough, you didn’t trust God enough, you didn’t follow the commands correctly. Instead of acknowledging their abusive partner didn’t follow God’s guidelines for a relationship, how God never wanted his child to suffer at the hands of someone who is supposed to be a partner and love and care for and with them, they put the blame on the victim.
Etienne: I’m not going to answer that, God has already answered that, if you care what He thinks, you can find His words pretty easily. All I’m saying is that responding to sin with sin, is sin.
Sally: So if a woman is being beaten by her husband, you would shame her for fleeing to safety because God would want her to stay? I am honestly trying to understand.
Sally: Also to ask me to find the proof to your point is lazy. In no other discourse it is acceptable to say I’m right, look up the evidence to prove my point yourself. You are required to provide the scripture that explains your points. If your lawyer goes to court and says “Your honor, the evidence is all there. Just look yourself.” You’d loose. If your doctor said “This is what your disease is, the evidence is all there. Research it youself.” You’d upset. If a cop pulled you over and gave you a ticket and said “what you did all just happened. Remember it youself” you would fight that ticket. It is the responsibility of the person asserting a notion to defend it, not the person questioning it.
Etienne: The answer to your question is, no. I would not shame her. Unfortunately, it’s the wrong question. The right question is, “if a woman is being beaten by her husband, what does the Bible teach?” Then you must break it down into its parts, One, what does the Bible teach about abuse, and how husbands should treat their wives? Two, what does the Bible teach the believers response should be when someone is sinning against them? In regard to “look it up yourself”, if you want an opinion poll, Facebook is the place to bring your problems; however, if you want to know what God says, that’s best by far if read yourself. If you’re new to the Bible, an easy way to start is a Google search with something like “Bible passage abuse” or “Bible passage response to sin”. After you have the relevant Bible passages in mind, reading some commentaries is helpful to some, talking about them with some mature believers is helpful to others. Looking for people who tell you what you want to hear or else you’ll reduce their statements ad absurdum is not going to be helpful to you in finding the truth.
Myself (when I resumed the conversation the next day): I am glad to hear you say that “abuse is not OK,” and that Biblical commands to love, forgive, etc. should not be used to legitimize staying in an abusive relationship. …however, I am a bit confused, because you seem to be saying exactly the opposite in the rest of your comment, and elsewhere. You are saying that “rights” and “self protection” are really a form of bondage. You seem to be saying that an abused Christian has no rights, and should not flee, even to protect themselves. This stance should be understood as “freedom” I am just repeating your words back to you. Is this not what you meant to say? You seem to be trying to have it both ways. What do you actually believe? Can an abused person leave an abuser? Or not?
Etienne: what I’m trying to say is, responding to sin with sin, is not ok. So, find what God says is the correct response not what popular option says is right. You have the tools, you probably have the relevant passages memorized. After the Bible is read, it’s just a matter of interpretation and application.
Myself: OK, so what you are saying is that it is a sin for an abused person to leave their abuser? I disagree with that.
Let me show you some biblical examples of Godly people leaving situations of danger and abuse by the person in authority over them:
Jacob left his emotionally abusive father in law Laban. The Israelites fled from the deceptive and abusive king, Pharaoh. David fled from his verbally and physically abusive king and father in law, Saul. Abigail went behind the back of her stubborn and un-listening husband Nabal. Elijah fled from the unrepentant and moody King Ahab. On several occasions, Jesus left an angry mob, sometimes mid-sentence. Paul left cities before he was killed. The early Christians fled Jerusalem, and from there, city to city. These godly people followed Jesus’ teaching: “whenever they persecute you in one city, flee to the next,” (Mat. 10:23). These people did not “return evil for evil.” David in particular had reason and opportunity to exact revenge, but he did not. However, he also did not stick around to see if next time Saul’s aim would be better. Christians are not to retaliate: but there is a time to leave. It is not sinful or evil to simply walk away. In fact, this is what we are told to do. I re-affirm that it is not a sin for a victim to leave an abusive relationship. I think these passages are a strong support of this pattern, and can provide others if you would like.
Etienne: great biblical examples! Now keeping in mind the context and culture we’re in, how many of those examples apply to husband and wife divorcing, or friends ditching former friends at the first sign of trouble?
Myself: ”first sign of trouble”? No, we’re talking about abuse here. I would see them all as applying. As I said, these are examples of godly people leaving situations of chronic mistreatment and unrepentant abuse by civil or familial authority figures.
Etienne: ok, then at the interpretation level you and I differ slightly, as long as you’re being diligent before the Lord, God bless. I will leave you with one reminder, in all interpersonal problems, the goal needs to be reconciliation; and reconciliation starts with forgiveness, not with making amends nor with justice (as the world likes to believe).
Myself: That is not correct. We are only responsible to reconcile “so far as it depends on you.” (Romans 12:18). Sometimes, as in the cases of abuse I mentioned above, that was not possible. We are to let go of bitterness every time that we pray. That happens in the privacy of our own hearts. But we only forgive and reconcile our brother/sister if they repent first. (Luke 17:3-4). We are not only allowed, but instructed to separate from those who continue to sin against us, and are not open to Godly rebuke. (Mat. 18:15-17). I want to thank you for this interaction. God bless you on your journey, as you seek to honour Him in all things.
Clearly, there is much to be parsed out in the conversation. Among other things, we see fairly clearly that some people do indeed think that the Christian message states that an abused person should stay with their abusive partner, no matter what. These people seem to think vaguely that, “that’s what the Bible says,” and “that’s how God treats us”…but when pressed for specifics, they punt, go on the offensive or say, “well, you must know all the verses by now!” He shifted his position numerous times, but it seemed clear that he was still unchanging in his belief that an abused person should go back to their abuser, no matter what.
Another thing that is interesting is that I kept coming back to the word “abuse,” while he kept shrinking from it, trying to replace the word in our discussion with, “at the first sign of trouble.” This is gaslighting: our conversation was not about people giving up on one another “at the first sign of trouble.” It was about abuse. Abuse is a word in the English language that means something like, “ongoing, significant harm caused to a person.” It is not the same as, “minor annoyance.” When people try cheap tricks like this in debates, they show their true colours. I knew then that Etienne was not interested in learning anything: rather, he only wanted to justify himself and win an argument to prove that he was right.
He demanded that I do the work to prove that his view was right: which as “Sally” pointed out, was unreasonable. He was the one making a claim, and yet he provided no evidence for it. I also had made a claim, and so I provided logical and Biblical evidence for it. He retorted that my logic was not Biblical, and so I provided more Biblical evidence. He responded that these examples did not apply because the culture and times were different. Strange how culture and time only applies to verses that we find inconsistent with our beliefs. But I responded that actually, I think that these verses all spoke directly to the question at hand, at which point Etienne simply said that we had a “difference of opinion” about that.
The technique of asking for proof, then changing one’s demands when proof is given is called “moving the goal-posts.” This is another deceptive debate tactic.
Also, notice, Etienne never stated how he himself would interpret these passages. While trying to posture as someone who based their interpretations on the Bible, Etienne actually did not cite one single Bible passage. He referred broadly to “how God treats Israel,” but did not provide any specific Bible verses to analyze: this is because he had none on his side.
In a way, I should not have let him off the hook so easily. I certainly could have pressed him. How would he justify his belief that an abused person must remain with their abuser? What does he mean by that? And if he choses not to use the word “abuse,” what word would he use for continual, unrepentant, serious harm caused by an individual?
…but this is not my first rodeo. And I learned long ago that in online discussions, if someone choses to excuse themselves from a discussion, then it is just best to let them go. It is childish to try to get in the last word.
“if the unbelieving one leaves, let him leave; the brother or the sister is not under bondage in such cases, but God has called us to peace.” 1 Corinthians 7:15
These topics will be a major topic of discussion in future posts.
Abusers rely on “forgive and forget.” It is their bread and butter, the lifeblood of their dysfunction.
When things are bad, victims duck and hide, disassociate from the pain, blame themselves, or blame others. But when the storm is over, the victim is so relieved they may confuse this relief for genuine happiness, even love. They would often do anything to have this peace, even forgiving the abuser, absolving him/her of all guilt, and promising to “watch their behaviour” ever more closely so that the abuse doesn’t happen again: accepting the blame for the abuse, and walking deeper into bondage so that the current storm ends.
So long as they forget what they have been through, the abuse can continue.
But if they start keeping track, stop listening to the false apologies (which have no repentance in them), and begin to see the overall pattern…the jig is up.
Forgiveness means many things to many people. It is important not to hold on to bitterness. But any version of forgiveness which includes enabling abuse for ones self or others is wrong.
But so long as good church people keep telling them to “forgive and forget,” there is little danger of this happening…
Note: The dynamic of forgetting about abuse in order to cling to the “good times” is sometimes called, “trauma amnesia.”
O Lord, You have searched me and known me . You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar. You scrutinize my path and my lying down, And are intimately acquainted with all my ways. Even before there is a word on my tongue, Behold, O Lord, You know it all. You have enclosed me behind and before, And laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is too high, I cannot attain to it. Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, Even there Your hand will lead me, And Your right hand will lay hold of me. If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, And the light around me will be night,” Even the darkness is not dark to You, And the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to You. For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them. How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand. When I awake, I am still with You.
O that You would slay the wicked, O God; Depart from me, therefore, men of bloodshed. For they speak against You wickedly, And Your enemies take Your name in vain. Do I not hate those who hate You, O Lord? And do I not loathe those who rise up against You? I hate them with the utmost hatred; They have become my enemies.
Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.
A constant theme in narcissistic abuse is NEGLECT. Because narcissists are so self-centred, they train others to serve them, fear them, to “love” them, to hate them, to need them, to listen to them, to become obsessed with them, and to live for them. The victim learns that their life does not matter. When the abuser needs them, the victim MUST be there. But nobody is there for the victim. Nobody sees them. But…God reminds her…God sees. He is there. In every way that the abuser has ignored them, this psalm remind the victim of how thoroughly they are *seen* by their Heavenly Father. He thinks about them, knows them, cares for them, sees them, is THERE. Wherever they are. Up? Down? Extatic? Suicidal? At home? Lost? He is there. He sees. He is there.
Another theme is minimization and excusing. The victim feels they need the abuser, and so they put up with the mistreatment, and excuse it all away when the abuser throws in a pale apology, or shows some fleeting kindness. But at a certain point, the abuser sees things in a new light. This behaviour is not an accident, but a premeditated pattern. It is intended to harm and destroy for selfish ends. It is wicked: there is no other word for it. No excuse. None. Suddenly, the victim sees their abuser for the enemy that they are. In language that some would find shocking, the victim cuts ties with their abuser, and calls down curses on them, and prays against any attempt to cause them harm
The victim is now free from the abuser: but pain still lingers in their hearts. Anxious thoughts trouble them. They pray for their Heavenly Father to know them still more, and to seek out and heal all of the wounded and broken places inside of them.
…a wonderful prayer for survivors to memorize, tape to their mirrors, or pray through in conjunction with guided breathing (deep breath in, pray a line of the psalm out) as relaxation/centring when anxious or troubled.