They Can't All Be Wrong And You Right...Or Can They?
They Can’t All Be Wrong And You Right…Or Can They?
Family Mob Mentality, The Pathological Denial of The Truth, And The Scapegoating Of Those Who Speak It
By Rev. Renee
I WOULD RATHER BE A DOORKEEPER IN THE HOUSE OF MY GOD THAN DWELL IN THE TENTS OF THE WICKED….Psalm 84:10.
ACQUITTING THE GUILTY AND CONDEMNING THE INNOCENT- THE LORD DETESTS THEM BOTH…Proverbs 17:15
IT IS NOT GOOD TO BE PARTIAL TO THE WICKED OR TO DEPRIVE THE INNOCENT OF JUSTICE…Proverbs 18:5
WHOEVER SAYS TO THE GUILTY, “YOU ARE INNOCENT”- PEOPLES WILL CURSE HIM AND NATIONS DENOUNCE HIM. BUT IT WILL GO WELL WITH THOSE WHO CONVICT THE GUILTY, AND RICH BLESSING WILL COME UPON THEM… Proverbs 24:24-25.
SISTER DEBBIE’S TESTIMONY
When Debbie was ten years old, her stepfather began sexually molesting her. When she was thirteen, she confided in her girlfriend, Anna. Anna told her mother, who tried to protect Debbie by reporting to Debbie’s mother what she had heard. Debbie’s mother reacted with anger and disbelief. Mortified, humiliated, and afraid her husband would go to jail, she chose to protect him by telling Anna’s mother that Debbie was a difficult child who was prone to lies and tall tales and had many behavioral problems. She insisted that her husband treated all her children very well and said that she was taking Debbie to a therapist for her emotional problems. A FALSE WITNESS WILL NOT GO UNPUNISHED, AND HE WHO POURS OUT LIES WILL PERISH…Proverbs 19:9.
Debbie’s mother convinced Anna’s mother that Debbie was a liar and made sure the woman would not believe anything else she heard. As a result of Debbie’s mother’s lies, Anna’s mother was convinced that Debbie was a disciplinary problem. She became concerned that Debbie would be a bad influence on Anna, and sharply curtailed the time the girls were allowed to spend together. On top of all the other trauma in her life, Debbie lost her best friend and the only person she could turn to for support.
Debbie’s mother was enraged at Debbie for telling Anna the truth. She accused Debbie of making it all up. She frightened Debbie and made her feel guilty by telling her that her stepfather was supporting all of them and if he got angry and left, or was arrested and went to jail, they would all be out on the street. Although her mother continued to insist that she didn’t believe Debbie, she then accused Debbie of dressing provocatively and trying to seduce her husband. She grounded Debbie for “starting all this trouble” and would not speak to her for weeks afterward.
Debbie had nowhere to turn. But she knew one thing for sure. The repercussions of telling the truth were too great for her to ever tell it again. She knew she would have to suffer in silence until she was old enough to get out of the house.
One good thing did come of this. After Debbie revealed what he was doing, her stepfather stopped molesting her. He could never know for sure whether she would tell someone else and was probably fearful of being caught and arrested. But Debbie didn’t know he wasn’t going to rape her again. She spent the next four years living in constant fear in her own home until she married at age 18 and got out.
Debbie is now 36 and has four kids of her own. Her marriage is not a happy one, and the husband she chose at age 18 when she felt an overwhelming need to leave her parents’ house is a chronically unemployed drug-abuser. She was devastated to find out that her stepfather had also molested her sister, who, after witnessing how their mother reacted to Debbie’s revelation, never said anything for fear of being thrown out of the house.
And here is the biggest betrayal of all – DEBBIE’S MOTHER IS STILL MARRIED TO THE MAN WHO SPENT YEARS RAPING HER DAUGHTERS! She has never apologized for not protecting Debbie (or her sister) and for discrediting her so that no one else would believe her. She has never confronted her husband. She has never shown a shred of concern for or interest in her daughters’ feelings or well-being. And her husband has never admitted what he did or showed any shame or remorse.
Debbie’s mother is an expert at denial and blaming the victims. She continues to insist her husband is a good man who was a wonderful father to her children and was so fantastic for raising another man’s kids. She innocently claims she can’t understand why her daughters won’t let her babysit her grandchildren. She adopts a “poor-me- I have such ungrateful kids” attitude with her friends and relatives while complaining about the infrequency of her daughters’ visits. She is famous for saying she “just doesn’t know why they act that way”. NO ONE WHO PRACTICES DECEIT WILL DWELL IN MY HOUSE; NO ONE WHO SPEAKS FALSELY WILL STAND IN MY PRESENCE…Psalm 101:7. Her daughters do visit occasionally with their families, as well as attend family functions, but they need to keep a vigilant eye on their own children around their mother’s husband. Besides being an outrageous liar, their mother is totally selfish and completely oblivious to the psychological trauma Debbie and her sister go through at every family event when they have to be in the presence of her husband.
Worse yet, so is everyone else in the family. Now that Debbie and her sister are in their late thirties and have children of their own, they have finally gotten up the courage to tell other family members about their childhood sexual abuse. At this point everyone in the family pretty much knows about it, but it’s like the “elephant in the living room” that everyone is perfectly well aware of but continues to deny is really there.
Support and empathy for Debbie and her sister are non-existent, and most relatives have made it know that they are uncomfortable even discussing it. Some have told Debbie that it is “in the past” and she needs to “get over it” and “let bygones be bygones.” Other relatives continue to plan get-togethers which put both Debbie and her sister in the uncomfortable position of being in their stepfather’s and mother’s presence, and everyone pretends that everything is just fine. No one invites Debbie for a relaxing evening out which she can just enjoy without having to see her parents. Somehow, they feel that would be “disloyal” to her abusive parents, so they expect Debbie to just grin and bear it.
No one has ever criticized or confronted Debbie’s rapist. To Debbie’s knowledge, no one has ever mentioned anything to her mother, either. It is as if her relatives either want to pretend they never heard what Debbie told them, or feel bad for her mother for having such a scandal in the family and consider HER the victim. Incredibly, several relatives have criticized Debbie and accused her of being “unforgiving” for not allowing her unrepentant stepfather to spend time with her daughters without her supervision. No one appreciates that, in the interest of family harmony, she does tolerate being with her parents even though it is very painful and anxiety-producing for her. Her fears for her children and determination to protect them from her rapist by not giving him an opportunity to be alone with them have made her the target of open disapproval from several other relatives.
One of Debbie’s primary motivations in revealing her past abuse to other relatives was to protect the next generation of children that were being born into the family. She knew she could not live with herself if her stepfather abused one of her cousins’ or other siblings’ children. To her horror, the painful revelation over which she agonized for so long, and which caused her to be criticized and hurt by the rest of the family, didn’t make any difference at all to her contemporaries who had young children. None of them keep their children away from her stepfather or take any steps to protect them now that they know what he did to Debbie and her sister. AWAY FROM ME, YOU EVILDOERS, THAT I MAY KEEP THE COMMANDS OF MY GOD!...Psalm 119:115.
Sometimes Debbie feels like she went through the embarrassment of revealing her sexual abuse and the reliving of her painful memories all for nothing. It was not appreciated that she was trying to protect other children in the family, and it didn’t even succeed in protecting them because their parents refuse to act on the knowledge she gave them. It made her the target of family criticism and disapproval. She feels even more upset and degraded than she did before because not one relative reacted with any indignation toward her parents at all. It’s as if no one cares about what was done to her or her feelings. She has ended up feeling victimized and uncared for by her whole family. She and her sister are thankful to have each other for the love, support, and validation no one else will give them. But they both suffer from bouts of depression, nightmares, severe anxiety, frequent illnesses, and a host of physical ailments from back pain to migraines.
SISTER KATHY’S TESTIMONY
Kathy and Diane are cousins who had always had a give-and-take, fairly equal relationship. When Diane’s husband left her, she turned to Kathy for support, and then went way overboard in expecting Kathy to be there for her 24/7. She called Kathy night and day with every detail of her personal crisis. She interrupted Kathy at work, woke her up in the middle of the night, and rang her doorbell at inconvenient times. Kathy loved her cousin and did everything possible to be supportive. She was very patient even thought Diane was taking up hours of her time every week and causing her to stress over other responsibilities that she was not able to attend to because of Diane’s constant demands on her time and attention.
Diane’s hurt and indignation eventually turned to rage. Out of spite, she dragged the divorce out for months and did every nasty thing she could think of to her ex. She vented non-stop to Kathy, compelled to immediately express every dark thought that entered her head. No matter how Kathy tried to calm her or what she suggested as a way to compromise with her ex and move on, Diane was bent on anger and revenge. Sometimes she asked Kathy for her opinion or advice, but never followed any of Kathy’s suggestions and would snap at Kathy if her honest opinion wasn’t what she wanted to hear. Kathy began to lose respect for Diane and to doubt that she really ever wanted the divorce to be over with- it seemed as if she was doing everything she could to maintain a connection to her ex, even a hostile one.
Finally the divorce was over, Diane seemed to be moving on, and Kathy hoped that she would calm down and their relationship could return to normal. But over the course of this two-year situation, something about Diane had changed. She had become a drama-queen. It was as if she was thriving and getting high on the ups-and-downs, wild mood swings, and emotionally-charged atmosphere her life had become. Instead of calming down, she began to find one reason after another to maintain her level of upset or anger. She became involved in one situation after another that was filled with drama and angst- at least to hear her tell it. Annoying little inconveniences became major catastrophes and every one had to be discussed ad nauseum with Kathy.
Diane exhausted Kathy with her constant venting, complaining and reporting of every detail of her life. Their relationship never went back to being two-sided. Diane had become totally self-centered and had no interest in listening to anything about Kathy’s life, only in talking about herself.
Finally, Kathy got a break when Diane began seriously dating one particular man. Diane became so involved with this man that she practically dropped Kathy. As relieved as she was, Kathy could not help but feel a little resentful that Diane now seemed to have no time for her.
Eventually Diane became engaged and married her new man. Kathy and her husband attended the wedding, gave them a very generous gift, and wished them well. All was well for a couple of years, with the two couples getting together and socializing frequently.
Then the tables unexpectedly turned. Kathy discovered that her husband was having an affair and wanted a divorce. She was shocked, devastated and heartbroken. But at least she would have her cousin Diane, who had been down this road before, to support her through this difficult time.
Well, you guessed it. Diane gave Kathy very little of her time, in fact, she often seemed to be blowing Kathy off. Whenever Kathy needed to talk, Diane would change the subject or say she had to go. Sometimes, Diane would not return Kathy’s phone calls. Once, she told Kathy that she was busy enjoying her relationship with her new husband and didn’t have much time to devote to anyone else. Never mind that in the past, she had monopolized so much of Kathy’s time with her issues that she might even have been partly responsible for Kathy’s husband’s dissatisfaction with their marriage.
Next, Diane said that hearing about Kathy’s divorce made her uncomfortable and brought back bad memories for her. She stated that she just wanted to be happy with her new husband and not think about “anything negative” (like unhappy marriages!)
Eventually, Diane inadvertently admitted to something interesting. She mentioned that her new husband and Kathy’s ex had become good friends, and that she didn’t want to be put in the middle or make her new husband angry. Kathy suddenly realized that several things she had confided to Diane had made their way back to her ex through Diane’s husband. She knew she could no longer trust Diane and would have to avoid telling her anything relevant.
After their divorce became final, Kathy’s ex married his girlfriend. Treacherous Diane and her new husband have remained friends with Kathy’s ex and see him and his new wife frequently. Diane has never batted an eye at betraying her cousin and thinks she is perfectly justified in stabbing Kathy in the back in order to keep her own new husband happy.
Diane actions have caused a major family problem, and the family’s lack of action has compounded it. Although the alternative seems clear (MEN OF PERVERSE HEART SHALL BE FAR FROM ME; I WILL HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH EVIL…Psalm 101:4), every family event is fraught with stress, aggravation and discomfort as family members struggle with thinking they have to invite both Kathy and Diane. Relatives squirm uncomfortably all night long being in the same room with both of them. While most disapprove of Diane’s actions, they feel awkward around Kathy as well, especially in situations, OF THEIR OWN CREATION, that bring them all together. No one has had the backbone to openly voice their disapproval of Diane’s behavior and stand up for Kathy; therefore, everyone continues to put themselves, not to mention Kathy, in awkward positions.
It hurts Kathy to see Diane and her husband because of their disloyalty and betrayal of her, and their continued friendship with her ex and the woman who broke up her marriage, but no relative has the integrity to protect Kathy and not invite Diane. As a result of their own cowardice and failure to stand up for what is right, family members feel guilty and are starting to avoid both Kathy and Diane, resulting in Kathy being victimized yet again by her unrighteous family.
A FEW WORDS OF TESTIMONY FROM ME
Although the names and identifying details have been changed, these testimonies are true and distressing examples of family betrayal and treachery.
I have already told details of my testimony of family betrayal in the articles “My Holiday Deliverance” (see Happier Holidays on our website), “Why Don’t They Just Apologize?”( see Repenting & Apologies on our site), and “The Silent Partner” (see The Silent Partner and The Silent Majority on our site). I don’t feel that my abuse compares to Kathy’s and certainly not to Debbie’s; however, it is valuable in terms of some insights.
To make a long story very short, my mother broke off her relationship with me after I began to set limits on my birth-father’s abuse, which was hurting my children and husband and causing me serious life-threatening health problems. My mother then lied to my birth-sister, aunt, and two cousins about what had really happened between us. She wore her poor, sweet, innocent persona as she badmouthed me and made up lies to cover up what she had done, and discredited me with my family, so that no one would believe anything I might say.
I was devastated when Mommy Darling disowned me. Sobbing, I left a message on birth-sister's voicemail. I don't know what I was hoping for. A few months earlier, she and I had had one of our only emotional conversations ever, in which she admitted to knowing how difficult it was to deal with our parents, expressed some remorse for moving away and leaving me to deal with them all alone, and told me to do whatever I had to do in order to protect myself and my own rapidly deteriorating health. For the first time, I felt like I had her support for setting the necessary limits. I guess our previous chat had given me reason to believe that she understood, and might be willing to help- maybe try to talk some sense into birth-mom or be willing to stand up to birth-father.
But, surprise, surprise. Birth-sister not only didn't do anything helpful, she didn't even call me back for FIVE WEEKS! And then later on, had the nerve to condemn me for not making up with our mother. If MY sister called ME, sobbing hysterically, you can bet I'd be on the horn to her as soon as I got the message. I can still barely comprehend what kind of a cold person would get a message like that from her crying sister and not even bother to return her call for over a month. Not offer even a few words of comfort, much less any advice or help. It was as if she just decided to not get involved and avoid me until the whole thing blew over, and then to judge me and disown me herself when it didn't blow over. I suspect the only reason she called me back at all is that five weeks later it was time to start planning the holidays, and she and birth-parents probably wanted to know if I was still going to invite them to my house for Christmas dinner!
A couple of days later and still very upset, I tearfully told one of my soon-to-be-ex-cousins about my mother disowning me. She didn't seem intersted in talking about it, and offered little support. After that, I withdrew into a kind of numbness and didn't discuss it any further with any of these relatives.
So, without ever getting my side of the story, these ex-relatives then proceeded to drop me, as well as my husband and children, out of their lives. They refused to speak to me or my family anymore. They even hurt my child by ignoring invitations to his graduation party- not RSVP-ing, or even sending so much as a card- although in the past, he had taken time off from his job and lost wages a number of times to attend their children’s weddings and other events.
Most disturbing of all is that my mother, as well as all four of these other women, had witnessed first-hand my birth-father’s abuse, perhaps hundreds of times, during my entire lifetime. My mother, as well as my birth-sister to a small degree, and probably my aunt, had been victims of his abuse themselves. Not one of these relatives had ever defended me when my father was abusing me. Even when I was a child, my aunt as well as my mother, watched me being abused without ever protesting. For 47 years, they all stood by silently and let an abuser get away with victimizing someone they claimed to love.
And now, suddenly they had amnesia. Because of their own shame, my ethically-challenged relatives were happy to conveniently forget what they had seen with their own eyes time and time again. Far better to “believe” my mother’s lies than to admit what they had allowed to go on in their family for decades. My mother gave them an excuse to pretend what they had ignored for years never really existed. If it were not for the rest of my relatives validating my experiences, encouraging and supporting me, I would have been completely devastated.
WHAT ON EARTH IS WRONG WITH THESE PEOPLE?
In my family, defending me would have meant admitting what they did, so it was easier to “punish” me for rocking the boat. Not only were they not going to protect me, they were angry at me for finally protecting myself- and my children! Their indignation was directed at me and my family instead of the abuser himself, and we were shunned from their family, simply because I dared to stand up and say “No More.” My courage in defending myself and my children made them look bad. I stood against evil, they accepted and condoned evil. Seeing me would have been a constant reminder of how disgraceful, cowardly, and corrupt they were, so better to avoid me, and then justify their betrayal by turning me into the “villain”.
One conclusion is that just about every member of Debbie and Kathy’s families, and certainly these five members of my family, are just morally bankrupt. Kathy’s family is inconsiderate of her feelings and sends the message that such a family betrayal brings no consequences to the perpetrator. Debbie’s family is condoning child sexual abuse and incest, as well as serving up a fresh batch of victims to Debbie’s perverted stepfather on a silver platter.
As for my ex-relatives, keep in mind that their way of registering their disapproval of someone whose actions they find unacceptable is to stop speaking to that person. They are well aware of the unspeakable evil my birth-father did to my mother, whom they all claimed to love so much, before she died, not to mention the way he treated her throughout their marriage (see “A Portrait Of Evil” in the Reprobates & Cutting Ties section of our website for just part of this story). Yet, not only do they still speak to him, but they socialize with him regularly and even invite him and his wife, who he was dating while he was still married to my mother and flaunting in my mother's face, for holidays. So what does that say about them? If they disapproved, they would have disowned my birth-father, but they continue their relationship with him; therefore, the only possible conclusion is that they condone what he has done and approve of his evil. It is acceptable to them. Birds of a feather stick together, and they are every bit as morally corrupt as he is.
By their silence, all of these relatives give their tacit approval to Diane’s disgraceful betrayal of Kathy, the lifelong abusiveness of my birth-father, and Debbie’s degenerate stepfather’s incestuous sexual abuse of children. To hear them tell it, they “don’t want to take sides”, but in actuality, that is exactly what they are doing. They are taking the abuser’s side against the victim. They are enablers, allowing the abuser to continue harming innocent family members with no consequences. They clear the path for the abuser, literally helping him and making it possible for him to hurt or even destroy their so-called “loved ones”.
The fact that the abuser’s presence makes the victims feel uncomfortable is not a subject for discussion. No one is going to stop inviting him just because of a little quirk like being a rapist, treacherous, cruel, or abusive. Everyone prefers to ignore this, because it highlights their own disloyalty and lack of honor in standing up for what is right.
These families make every effort to make sure the abusers feel comfortable and at home. They bend over backwards to accept abusive behavior. Treacherous, disloyal back-stabbers and sexual predators are welcomed at family gatherings, and relatives go out of their way to make them feel they are not being left out or looked down on because of their actions. In fact, the family tries very hard not to even acknowledge or mention the abuser’s unacceptable behavior- that is, until someone finally stands up and does the right thing. Then the family will band together like a pack of hyenas and attack the one righteous person who had the nerve to rock the boat.
BLAME THE VICTIM, NOT THE PERPETRATOR, FOR SHAMING THE FAMILY
In normal families, the abuser would be held responsible for disrupting the family and bringing shame upon it. But in dysfunctional families, the resentment is directed at the victims, for “putting everyone else in the middle”. Debbie revealed her childhood molestation, after much soul-searching, with all good intentions, to protect other children in the family, but her family was not comfortable with her revelation and blames her for their discomfort, rather than blaming the family rapist.
Kathy did not need to reveal what Diane did to her- Diane herself made no attempt to hide her treachery, only to justify it with the excuse that she was keeping her new husband happy, as if his recent friendship with Kathy’s ex was an acceptable excuse to destroy a lifelong, loving, family relationship. Yet Kathy is still paying the price in terms of strained relationships with family members who prefer to pretend everything was just as it had always been and Diane never did what she did.
An abusive family strives to protect itself and its “good name” from the shame of betrayal, disloyalty, or abuse being revealed to others. The family closes ranks, and victims are discouraged from revealing or discussing the truth. To make this point, the family will try everything from “helpful suggestions” on how the victim could have prevented her own abuse, or what she did to “deserve” it, to ignoring the victim’s pain, to ostracizing the victim from the family. It is the victim, rather than the abuser, who is seen as “disloyal” to the family.
THE LORD OF THE FLIES
THE DISCIPLE IS NOT ABOVE HIS MASTER, NOR THE SERVANT ABOVE HIS LORD. IT IS ENOUGH FOR THE DISCIPLE THAT HE BE AS HIS MASTER, AND THE SERVANT AS HIS LORD. IF THEY HAVE CALLED THE MASTER OF THE HOUSE BEELZEBUB, HOW MUCH MORE SHALL THEY CALL THEM OF HIS HOUSEHOLD?...Matthew 10: 24-25KJV
The translation of "Beelzebub", which is one of Satan's names, is "Lord of the Flies".
In an abusive family, there is usually one “ALPHA DOG” evil person, who is perceived by the others as the most powerful, and who controls the family, usually overtly and blatantly, but sometimes behind-the-scenes. However, many, if not most, other members possess abusive traits and tendencies as well, which they must keep in check simply because they are not in the “ALPHA DOG” position, and they do not want the real Alpha to think they are challenging him. In true “Lord of the Flies” fashion, they gain power-by-association and vicarious thrills by aligning themselves with the one they perceive as Alpha- the strongest and most wicked- and ganging up on the one who is the most helpless and vulnerable. Then they can stay in Alpha’s favor by taking his side, and feel powerful themselves, if only for a little while, by dominating the more helpless person. Just like the chickens we’ll discuss later, there is a pecking order to be maintained. MANY SEEK AN AUDIENCE WITH A RULER, BUT IT IS FROM THE LORD THAT MAN GETS JUSTICE….Proverbs 29:26.
This type of Mob Mentality was used against an innocent Jesus by the Jews who saw him as a threat to their identity, power, and control. Their desperation to eliminate him was so extreme that they insisted he had to be destroyed. They would consider no other reasonable alternatives. In their panic to maintain their power structure, they worked themselves up to a fever pitch. They gladly annihilated Jesus just to shut him up:
ONCE MORE PILATE CAME OUT AND SAID TO THE JEWS, “LOOK, I AM BRINGING HIM OUT TO YOU TO LET YOU KNOW THAT I FIND NO BASIS FOR A CHARGE AGAINST HIM.”…AS SOON AS THE CHIEF PRIESTS AND THEIR OFFICIALS SAW HIM, THEY SHOUTED, “CRUCIFY! CRUCIFY!” BUT PILATE ANSWERED, “YOU TAKE HIM AND CRUCIFY HIM. AS FOR ME, I FIND NO BASIS FOR A CHARGE AGAINST HIM.”
THE JEWS INSISTED, “WE HAVE A LAW, AND ACCORDING TO THAT LAW, HE MUST DIE, BECAUSE HE CLAIMED TO BE THE SON OF GOD.” WHEN PILATE HEARD THIS, HE WAS EVEN MORE AFRAID, AND HE WENT BACK INSIDE THE PALACE. “WHERE DO YOU COME FROM?” HE ASKED JESUS, BUT JESUS GAVE HIM NO ANSWER. “DO YOU REFUSE TO SPEAK TO ME? PILATE SAID. “DON’T YOU REALIZE I HAVE POWER EITHER TO FREE YOU OR TO CRUCIFY YOU?”
JESUS ANSWERED, “YOU WOULD HAVE NO POWER OVER ME IF IT WERE NOT GIVEN TO YOU FROM ABOVE. THEREFORE THE ONE WHO HANDED ME OVER TO YOU IS GUILTY OF A GREATER SIN.”
FROM THEN ON, PILATE TRIED TO SET JESUS FREE, BUT THE JEWS KEPT SHOUTING, “IF YOU LET THIS MAN GO, YOU ARE NO FRIEND OF CAESAR. ANYONE WHO CLAIMS TO BE A KING OPPOSES CAESAR.” WHEN PILATE HEARD THIS, HE BROUGHT JESUS OUT…. “HERE IS YOUR KING,” PILATE SAID TO THE JEWS. BUT THEY SHOUTED, “TAKE HIM AWAY! TAKE HIM AWAY! CRUCIFY HIM!”…..John 19: 4, 6-13, 14-15.
A CASE OF ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT
I DO NOT SIT WITH DECEITFUL MEN, NOR DO I CONSORT WITH HYPOCRITES; I ABHOR THE ASSEMBLY OF EVILDOERS AND REFUSE TO SIT WITH THE WICKED….Psalm 26:4
In my family, my relatives were well aware that my heart was broken because my mother chose to disown me rather than agree that I needed and deserved some freedom from her constant demands of exposure to my abusive father. I was distraught over her decision for weeks, and they knew it. My one cousin, let’s call her “Agnes”, whom I had loved and supported unconditionally since birth, seemed a little cool when, in tears, I told her what my mother had done. As soon as she had an alternate explanation from my mother, although it was obviously untrue, it gave her an excuse to betray me and “choose sides.”
It is interesting that Agnes had many issues with, and quite a bit of resentment against, her own mother. Yet she continued to be the “good little girl”, relentlessly seeking her mother’s approval even under unreasonable conditions, although she herself was now a grandmother. She did not stand up to her mother and set limits. Did she feel threatened by my knowing and possibly revealing this during my own “mother-turmoil”- so that it was “safer” to eliminate me? Did she envy that I was now free, even though I didn’t plan it that way, and she wasn’t? Or did she feel even more of a compulsion to assure her own mother that she was still a good, obedient, little girl, by showing her disapproval of me standing up to my parents?
A mature and righteous person remains neutral, does not take sides or meddle, and perhaps tries to help the parties settle their differences and reconcile. I had done this for Agnes in one of her relationships a few years earlier, and at the time she was extremely grateful. But here I was, in a similar situation, and instead of doing something constructive, this cousin added fuel to the fire. She allowed me to be lied about and maligned, judged me, passed false rumors around about me, and criticized me unjustly to others. She decided to take sides, something I had certainly not asked her to do. And when she did, it was to align herself with the older generation of women, whom she knew to be manipulative, controlling, and less than truthful, and to betray someone who had given her a lifetime of loyalty and love.
Agnes used her betrayal of me to prove her “respect” to her “elders” and win the approval of her own mother and her mother’s peers- my parents- although she lost the respect of most of the rest of the family. Did her 75-year old mother’s approval matter so much that she would allow it to dictate whom she could and could not have a relationship with? Was one of the reasons she ended our very close, lifelong relationship to please her mother?
Allowing your mother to have such influence and control over your life that she makes relationship choices for you is something you have to accept when you are a child, something you might go along with when you’re in your twenties, pretty unattractive when you’re in your 30s, but downright Norman Bates-like when you’re pushing 50! Unfortunately, in many abusive families, pleasing parents or other relatives, even when what they demand is morally wrong, or even if they are wicked people, takes precedence. Treachery is an ugly thing. There is a huge character flaw in adults who allow others to influence them in such matters. They are selling out a loved one to buy approval and please someone else.
Often weaker or immature family members are cases of arrested development, still desperately seeking the approval of others, especially parents, to make up for the love they think they never got as children. They may be grandparents themselves, like Agnes, but they still want their mommy and daddy’s love no matter who they have to stab in the back to get it. The price is high. Every time one compromises her principles and does the wrong thing, she loses some of herself, and sells a bit of her soul to buy approval, which will never come. Meanwhile, the unscrupulous parent-figure will continue to manipulate the weaker-willed “child” by withholding their approval and demanding more and more as proof of loyalty.
DON’T ROCK THE BOAT
In abusive families, the “blame-the-victim” mentality is alive and well. It is almost universal that the victim will be resented, often chastised or criticized, and possibly even disowned, for “rocking the boat”, while no anger at all will be shown toward the offender. THE RIGHTEOUS CARE ABOUT JUSTICE FOR THE POOR, BUT THE WICKED HAVE NO SUCH CONCERN…Proverbs 29:7.
There is great resistance to a change in the status-quo. The thinking seems to be that the offender has always been a problem, we all know it, and we all just live with it, same as we have all these years. But now, someone who has never been a problem in the past has suddenly become one- simply by becoming a victim, or rather by her ongoing victimization suddenly becoming an issue, when it never was before. Her new role as victim was forced upon her against her will, but in dysfunctional families, the victim is always more to blame for “putting the family” in an awkward or embarrassing position, than the perpetrator is for causing it.
Although unwillingly and unintentionally, the victim has stepped out of her assigned role and is now a threat to the stability of the family. She must be “kept in line” by the disapproval, invalidation, or lack of caring the family will show towards her, otherwise, she might do more damage to the collective family “ego” by letting more skeletons out of the closet, or revealing what is really going on to “outsiders”. After all, we have a “reputation” to protect!
The same tactics will be used against a family member who has not necessarily been victimized, but who is righteous and takes a stand against evil. Often, this person is trying to protect others, or to just speak up against something she knows is wrong. Maybe she has been silent for years, and suddenly her eyes have been opened or she has matured and gathered enough strength to start speaking out.
It is often many years into their adulthoods before those who were raised in abusive families realize that what they are experiencing is not normal, and is indeed, evil. With God’s grace, they find the courage to speak out and rock the boat. In so doing, they compel the rest of the family to choose between good and evil by choosing whom to support and whom to reject. Now each family member will be forced to reveal their character and show their true colors. They resent being exposed, and the one who exposed them- either the victim or the righteous person, but never the abuser- is considered the “trouble-maker”.
UGLY LITTLE FAMILY SECRETS
HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH THE FRUITLESS DEEDS OF DARKNESS, BUT RATHER EXPOSE THEM….Ephesians 5:11
SO DO NOT BE AFRAID OF THEM. THERE IS NOTHING CONCEALED THAT WILL NOT BE DISCLOSED, OR HIDDEN THAT WILL NOT BE MADE KNOWN. WHAT I TELL YOU IN THE DARK, SPEAK IN THE DAYLIGHT; WHAT IS WHISPERED IN YOUR EAR, PROCLAIM FROM THE ROOFS. DO NOT BE AFRAID OF THOSE WHO KILL THE BODY BUT CANNOT KILL THE SOUL. RATHER, BE AFRAID OF THE ONE WHO CAN DESTROY BOTH SOUL AND BODY IN HELL....Matthew 10:26-28.
Abusive families usually have closets full of skeletons. Their way of dealing with such issues does not involve courage, integrity, honor or truth, because they are sadly lacking in all of these characteristics. Dysfunctional families, as a whole and individually, have significant shortages in this department. Few will ever take a stand and defend a victim, even a child, and anyone with the courage to do so will quickly be shut-up or discredited as the family goes into “damage-control” mode. Every violation of a defenseless, weaker, or gentle-hearted person, each crime against the spirit of an innocent family member is simply filed away in the usually huge box of deep, dark, dirty little “Family Secrets”, hopefully never to be spoken of again.
In many ways, an abusive family is an ugly group, made up of ugly people. Knowing the family will never change, the victim of such ugliness often has little choice but to run away and escape. And the righteous person often must accept that she cannot change such people, and must make the empowering choice to walk away rather than be tainted by their wickedness. WARN A DIVISIVE PERSON ONCE, AND THEN WARN HIM A SECOND TIME. AFTER THAT, HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH HIM…Titus 3:10.
WE’RE ONE BIG HAPPY FAMILY AND DON’T YOU DARE LET ANYONE THINK WE’RE NOT!
IF A MAN PAYS BACK EVIL FOR GOOD, EVIL WILL NEVER LEAVE HIS HOUSE….Proverbs 17:13
WOE TO THOSE WHO CALL EVIL GOOD AND GOOD EVIL, WHO PUT DARKNESS FOR LIGHT AND LIGHT FOR DARKNESS…WHO ACQUIT THE GUILTY FOR A BRIBE BUT DENY JUSTICE TO THE INNOCENT….Isaiah 5:20, 23.
Possibly, somewhere deep inside, abuse-enabling members feel remorse or shame. More likely, they feel the need to protect themselves from the embarrassment of others knowing the truth about them. They will go to great lengths to cover up their lack of integrity and courage, ignoring or denying the abuse, blaming the victim, lying and twisting words, shunning or otherwise “punishing” the victim, and discrediting the victim to other people. The vehemence with which they do these things is indicative of how high the stakes are in their cover-up.
If people believe the truth about their lowlife family when it is revealed, how will they look for not having done anything about it? What will others think of them for having allowed abuse, disloyalty, or treachery to thrive in their family without ever doing anything to put a stop to it? The shame and disgrace of not having done anything to protect a victim in their own family will be on their heads, and everyone will know the truth about them and their character. The goal becomes preventing anyone else from finding out the family secrets, as well as forbidding any honest communication within the family, instead of doing anything constructive to change things. After all, if everyone was open and honest and told the truth, then the family would be obligated to do something about it, or be seen for the weak, morally bankrupt losers that they are. Far easier to hide their heads in the sand and continue on as usual, pretending nothing ever happened.
The only problem is that the victim serves as a constant reminder that something DID happen, and nobody did the right thing and defended her or validated her. Therefore, the only way for the family to be able to live with itself and look good to others is to invalidate the victim, shut her up, minimize or deny what was done to her, and force her to go along with the family agenda of pretending that everything is just fine.
THE RIGHTEOUS ONE TAKES NOTE OF THE HOUSE OF THE WICKED AND BRINGS THE WICKED TO RUIN. IF A MAN SHUTS HIS EARS TO THE CRY OF THE POOR, HE TOO WILL CRY OUT AND NOT BE ANSWERED…Proverbs 21:12-13.
In my own family, I am convinced that this dynamic played a role in my aunt and her two daughters, and certainly my mother and birth-sister, disowning me and my husband and children when I began standing up to my birth-father’s abuse. These five people had witnessed his evil all their lives. Sometimes it had been directed at them, sometimes they had silently watched an innocent victim be abused. They had complained about it, talked about it, and pretended to think it was terrible. But they had never actually done anything about it. SPEAK UP FOR THOSE WHO CANNOT SPEAK FOR THEMSELVES, FOR THE RIGHTS OF ALL WHO ARE DESTITUTE, SPEAK UP AND JUDGE FAIRLY….Proverbs 31:8-9.
Their silence condoned my birth-father’s wickedness and he viewed it as approval. They made it possible for him to continue abusing unchallenged. By not trying to stop him, they encouraged him. They were a part of it, just as guilty as he was. They had never stood up for what was right- and when I did, it made them aware of their own cowardice and moral failures. When we take a stand against oppression and evil, those who don’t are often filled with shame and can no longer feel comfortable in our presence. They need to avoid the good person (or the VICTIM), or be reminded constantly of their own disgrace, so, rather than purge the evil from their midst (EXPEL THE WICKED MAN FROM AMONG YOU…1 Corinthians 5:13), they shun the one whose courage and righteousness are constant reminders of their own failures and shame.
I like to call this attitude the “We’re One Big Happy Family And Don’t You Dare Let Anyone Think We’re Not” phenomena. In many dysfunctional families, it becomes very important for members to prove to themselves and others that they are normal and happy. In truly normal families, members enjoy their lives, loving and caring for each other, and never give this much thought. They don’t have to PROVE anything to anyone and they don’t have to PROVE they’re happy.
But in abusive families, much collective energy is spent on covering up the truth. It is a point of pride to be known in the community, or even in their own self-deception, as “one big happy family”. Abusive families like to show off and brag about this, in part to cover up what is really going on, in part to make others envy them, and in part to feel good about themselves, when in truth they have nothing to be proud of. The mere presence of a victim threatens the “one big happy family” fairy-tale that the relatives have so much vested in, therefore, it becomes imperative to deny that there is indeed a victim in the family.
THE BLACK SHEEP CONTENT
HE WARNED THE ASSEMBLY,” MOVE BACK FROM THE TENTS OF THESE WICKED MEN! DO NOT TOUCH ANYTHING BELONGING TO THEM, OR YOU WILL BE SWEPT AWAY BECAUSE OF ALL THEIR SINS”…Numbers 16:26
In many respects, abusive families are exactly the opposite of normal families. One of the most interesting aspects of this is the “Black Sheep Content” of the family, or how many “black sheep” the family contains. It is said that there is a “black sheep” in every family. Being defined as a “black sheep” in a normal family means a person is the one unrighteous relative who doesn’t care about anyone else and never does the right thing. He is someone whose behavior is unacceptable in a Godly family and in society as a whole.
The difference with abusive families is that they are ALL BLACK SHEEP. Or they certainly would be considered “black sheep” if they were members of a normal family, by virtue of their character deficits, personality disorders, lack of morality, selfishness, abusiveness, unlovingness, etc.
The thing is, THEY ARE NOT MEMBERS OF A NORMAL FAMILY. They are members of a family of “Black Sheep”, where everybody validates and encourages their unrighteous behavior and they fit in just fine. What is completely unacceptable elsewhere is perfectly acceptable in such a family. Wickedness is a way of life for them and enables them to get what they want by whatever means necessary. The family closes rank around a member who does evil because birds of a feather stick together.
TO THE PURE, ALL THINGS ARE PURE, BUT TO THOSE WHO ARE CORRUPTED AND DO NOT BELIEVE, NOTHING IS PURE. IN FACT, BOTH THEIR MINDS AND CONSCIENCES ARE CORRUPTED. THEY CLAIM TO KNOW GOD, BUT BY THEIR ACTIONS THEY DENY HIM. THEY ARE DETESTABLE, DISOBEDIENT, AND UNFIT FOR DOING ANYTHING GOOD....Titus 1:15-16.
There may be one family member who has always been giving, loving, sweet, and gentle in nature- the one that everyone else took advantage of and abused. Because of her humility and good-heartedness, this person was always in the background and never got much attention from the wicked family members, other than abuse- kind of like Cinderella. She is the “eagle raised by chickens”. This is what Kathy was in her family. But then someone, like Diane, goes overboard and victimizes this person in a major way, bringing her to the forefront of everyone else’s attention. For the first time she, and her righteousness, are noticed and cannot be denied. The very existence of a victim will have the abusive family scrambling to cover up, and twist the truth so that the victim becomes their “black sheep”.
A similar situation occurs when one or two family members rebel against the family system of abuse. That person or persons then will be scapegoated by the family and will become the abusive family’s “Black Sheep”. THE RIGHTEOUS DETEST THE DISHONEST; THE WICKED DETEST THE UPRIGHT…Proverbs 29:27. At some point, one can only hope, someone in such a family will begin standing up for what is right. Perhaps she has finally grown into a mature adult, perhaps she moved away for a while and got free from the family’s sphere of influence, perhaps she herself was victimized one too many times by her family, perhaps she observed the normal families of her friends and noticed and admired the differences. Or perhaps the Lord touched her heart.
Either way, somewhere along the line, someone becomes the one righteous family member, or one who has been righteous all along is finally noticed. This person’s presence threatens the entire family system- with exposure, public ridicule, pressure to change, etc. Imagine if this person’s example caused a second family member, or a third, to reject the family’s wickedness. The entire abusive family system would be in danger of collapse! To protect themselves and their evil ways, the family will trot out a whole arsenal of weapons- including denial, indignation, lies, anger, rage, irrationality, blame, threats, and “disowning” the rebel.
Abusive families tend to close ranks and shut out anyone who is NOT LIKE US. This means anyone who has integrity, honor, honesty, kindness, courage, decency and especially LOVE. The righteousness of others highlights the glaring character deficiencies of the wicked. The children of Satan must either shut up or eliminate the children of God. PUT ON THE FULL ARMOR OF GOD SO THAT YOU CAN TAKE YOUR STAND AGAINST THE DEVIL’S SCHEMES. FOR OUR STRUGGLE IS NOT AGAINST FLESH AND BLOOD, BUT AGAINST THE RULERS, AGAINST THE AUTHORITIES, AGAINST THE POWERS OF THIS DARK WORLD AND AGAINST THE SPIRITUAL FORCES OF EVIL IN THE HEAVENLY REALMS. THEREFORE, PUT ON THE FULL ARMOR OF GOD, SO THAT WHEN THE DAY OF EVIL COMES, YOU MAY BE ABLE TO STAND YOUR GROUND, AND AFTER YOU HAVE DONE EVERYTHING, TO STAND…Ephesians 6:11-13
And so, in abusive families, the righteous are considered the “black sheep”, while in normal families, the unrighteous are the “black sheep”. In both kinds of families, the black sheep is given several opportunities to change her ways, and will be ostracized or punished in some way if she does not. The only way to be welcomed back into the fold, like the Prodigal Son, is to renounce one’s “misbehavior” and conform once again to what the family wants.
For the black sheep in a normal family, this means maturing and becoming a functioning, considerate, caring person, who behaves in ways acceptable to society, the family, and the Lord. For the black sheep in an abusive family, this means taking a giant step backwards in her growth and the development of her soul, compromising her principles, going back to accepting and defending evil, and in the process, becoming wicked herself. The only way to earn the acceptance of evil people is to become an evil person as well. For a Godly person, that is too high a price to pay. WHEN JUSTICE IS DONE, IT BRINGS JOY TO THE RIGHTEOUS BUT TERROR TO EVILDOERS…Proverbs 21:15.
THE EAGLE WHO WAS RAISED BY CHICKENS
"And there came from the barnyard a great uproar, a mighty racket~ indignant cackling and mindless squawks of protest~ as the eagle rose up and left the chickens behind"...Sister Renee
I previously referred to the “eagle who was raised by chickens.” If you are unfamiliar with this old story, I will tell it to you. Once upon a time, an eagle’s egg rolled out of its nest and down the mountainside into the barnyard, where it hatched. The baby eagle was raised by the chickens and thought he was a chicken. Even though he never really fit in, he spent his life scratching around in the dirt and eating bugs with the chickens, because he didn’t know any better. Many times he looked up at the birds flying high above, and something tugged at his heart. He felt connected to the birds in the sky and wished he could fly as well. The chickens laughed at him when they noticed him aspiring to be more than they had made him. They wanted to keep him in what they considered to be “his place”, trapped there in the barnyard with them, instead of reaching his full potential. Then one day, the eagle was surprised to discover that he could fly after all. He soared up into the sky to join his real family. Ever since then, he has soared through the heavens, close to God, where he always belonged.
So it is indeed possible for your whole family to be wrong and you right. Is it your fate to spend your life scratching around in the dirt, pecking for bugs, just because that is how you were raised, that is what your “relatives” do, and that is what they want you to do so you will never be any better than they are? Or is it your destiny to soar like the eagle, into the heavens, far above the chickens below, and be forever closer to God?
By the grace of God, may we all overcome the unfortunate example of our upbringings and be all that God intended us to be. We are free to stand against wickedness. We are no longer children of evil. We are the righteous children of God, heirs to his majesty! We, beloved daughters of the King of Kings, are unfit to scratch in the dirt with the chickens. And the chickens are unfit to touch the hand of God, while we are held in the palm of our Father’s hand. CAN A MOTHER FORGET THE BABY AT HER BREAST AND HAVE NO COMPASSION ON THE CHILD SHE HAS BORNE? THOUGH SHE MAY FORGET, I WILL NOT FORGET YOU! SEE, I HAVE ENGRAVED YOU ON THE PALMS OF MY HANDS…Isaiah 49: 15-16. We are destined by the precious Blood of Jesus to soar with the eagles! Hallelujah! Father, we exalt you! Glory to your mighty Name!
DO NOT BE YOKED TOGETHER WITH UNBELIEVERS. FOR WHAT DO RIGHTEOUSNESS AND WICKEDNESS HAVE IN COMMON? WHAT FELLOWSHIP CAN LIGHT HAVE WITH DARKNESS? WHAT HARMONY IS THERE BETWEEN CHRIST AND BELIAL?...FOR WE ARE THE TEMPLE OF THE LIVING GOD. AS GOD HAS SAID: “I WILL LIVE WITH THEM AND WALK AMONG THEM, AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY WILL BE MY PEOPLE. THEREFORE COME OUT FROM THEM AND BE SEPARATE,” SAYS THE LORD. “TOUCH NO UNCLEAN THING, AND I WILL RECEIVE YOU. I WILL BE A FATHER TO YOU, AND YOU WILL BE MY SONS AND DAUGHTERS,” SAYS THE LORD ALMIGHTY….2 Corinthians 6:14-18.
Copyright 2002-2016.-All articles on this site are copyrighted. Permission to copy is granted for non-profit use only.Please help yourself to anything we write if you can use it to help others. A link back to this site is our only requirement. Please contact us for any commercial or other use. All e-mails, letters, and other correspondence become the property of Luke 17:3 Ministries, Inc. Due to the large volume of e-mails, we're sorry that we are unable to personally answer every one, but we do lift everyone who writes to us in prayer to the Lord.
The Lord specifically called Sister Renee to minister to Adult Children, not their parents, estranged siblings or friends, abusive or abused spouses, or victims of other types of abuse, although what we write here can often be meaningful for those folks as well. Because of this, our ministry and website have a narrow focus which we will not be changing. We simply can't cover everything. In addition, it is not our purpose to help you re-establish contact with someone who felt it was necessary to cut you off for the sake of their own well-being. We do not keep a list of resources for estranged parents or any other type of abuse and suggest if you are sincerely interested in making amends with an estranged relative, you do an internet search for a website or group that will be more relevant to you. If you cannot find a group or site that you can relate to, we suggest you start your own, and bless other people in your position as well as find support for your personal issues.
For Adult Children and others as well, please understand that we cannot give you personal advice concerning your particular family relationships. We are not therapists or lawyers, we usually do not have enough information to form an opinion, and time does not permit us to give enough thought to each person's individual situation to do it justice. If you need personal advice, we urge you to contact the appropriate professional, depending on the problem you have- your minister, therapist, attorney, police department, local domestic violence hotline, etc. In reading this site, you acknowledge that nothing you might read here qualifies as or substitutes for professional advice. Please note we cannot recommend or refer you to a counselor and we do not have a list of therapists or recovery groups in your area. The only Counselor we recommend is the Holy Ghost, and we encourage you to read the Bible and learn for yourself what the Lord says about the issues we write about.
Our articles are strictly our personal opinions and testimonies and are not intended to give or offer any advice. All who access this site do so with the understanding that we are NOT professional counselors and we strongly recommend that you discuss your individual situation with your pastor or therapist and pray for the Lord's guidance before acting on anything we write on this site. Unfortunately, the abuse we discuss is all too common, inflicted on countless victims by countless perpetrators. All names and identifying details in our articles have been changed to protect the innocent as well as the guilty. Any resemblance to a real person or persons whom you might know is strictly coincidental.