By Sister Renee


            Have you ever had a person who is being victimized say to you, “But I don’t understand- Why does she act that way?, or “Why does he do these things?”  It’s almost as if, by understanding “why”, they could make the abuse somehow more bearable, even if they can’t get it to stop.  I realize there are reasons people behave the way they do, I just take issue with the notion that the victim should have the burden of trying to figure out or “understand” these reasons.  Therapy is available to everyone.  If an abuser refuses to avail himself of it, there is no reason that his issues have to be inflicted on other people.  His issues, are just that- his issues, not yours!  It is not the victim’s job to “analyze” the abuser.

            I don’t have the expertise or inclination to figure out the motives of an abuser.  The burden for explaining abusive behavior should not be on the shoulders of the victim.  Why abusers, control-freaks, and unloving people act the way they do should be left to professionals, if the abuser chooses to get therapy.  Unfortunately, most abusers insist nothing is wrong with them-they’ll claim you are the one with the problem!  But remember, the choice to get help is theirs- it is not your job to fix them!

            One day I watched a TV show about bullies.  The psychologist/expert who was being interviewed mentioned that it is a fallacy that bullies have low self-esteem.  He said studies have shown that bullies are arrogant people who choose victims they think they can dominate.  He said they bully because they can get away with it.  You are probably not doing anything to antagonize your abuser- it is the submissive nature of victims that attracts abuse from sociopathic bullies.

 My husband Frank gave me the perfect answer to why it seems you can’t be nice to some people without having them walk all over you.   He said, “Because some people mistake kindness and niceness for weaknessand they prey on weak people.”  Then they’re surprised and angry when you stand up for yourself. They don’t realize you could be kind and nice, and be a strong person at the same time.  In their minds, courage and strength are not associated with strength-of-character- they are synonymous with dominance and control..  It’s the kind of rigid thinking that goes into  cliché character development in a bad movie. 

            A while back, I had a get-together with friends, one of whom is a psychologist.  We were talking about controlling relatives, and one woman, regarding her manipulative father, asked in frustration, “Why does he do this?”  Our psychologist friend said, “If you really want to know, I can give you the answer in three words.”  Of course she, and the rest of us, all really did want to know.  He then looked at us and said, very clearly, “BECAUSE IT WORKS !”  We were astounded.  All of us, at one time or another, had wasted needless hours trying to analyze why we had been treated the way we were by people we loved, and the answer was so obvious all along. It was so simple, so profound, and so true!

            Someone who is overly concerned with “understanding” an abuser, rather than just not tolerating offensive behavior, no matter what the cause, is an enabler.  The victim herself can be, and usually is, an enabler. Once an enabler has decided on the abuser’s motivation, she then uses the motivation she has decided on as an excuse to rationalize or justify the abuser’s behavior.  She is very accommodating in offering the abuser a convenient and “legitimate” reason to continue victimizing others.  He now has a perfect defense, whatever that may be.  It is not constructive to “understand” the reasons why, if those reasons are then going to be used as an excuse to accept evil behavior and to allow it to continue.

            While some are capable of going it alone, the benefits of competent professional counseling cannot be overstated.   The first choice for counseling for a Christian is his or her pastor.  I usually don’t emphasize pastoral counseling for abusers simply because, in my own experience, I don’t find many abusers have a pastor, or are church-going folks to begin with.  Of course, there are exceptions, and Godly counseling, which will minister to the spirit of the person, is always the best choice.  However, there are plenty of alternatives for non-religious abusers who truly wish to change their ways and feel unable to do it on their own.

I believe that counseling is more important for victims and enablers than for the abuser.  Their main focus should be  understanding why they tolerate abuse, which is ultimately more important than understanding why the abuser abuses.  The victim’s mental and emotional welfare is the most important consideration, and her healing should be the top priority.  Each person must make a choice to take that first step in being healed.  Unfortunately, many abusers will never choose to change.  But with God’s help, a victim can make positive changes.

A man’s enemies are the men of his own house.  Therefore I will look unto the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation:  My God will hear me…….Micah 7: 6-7 KJV

And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.  He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.  And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me……Matthew  10: 36-38 KJV

Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of the wicked, for the evil man has no future hope, and the lamp of the wicked will be snuffed out…..Proverbs 24: 19-20NIV

The wicked man craves evil; his neighbor gets no mercy from him…..Proverbs  21: 10NIV

The way of the guilty is devious, but the conduct of the innocent is upright….Proverbs 21:8 NIV

He who loves a quarrel loves sin…. Proverbs 17: 19 NIV

The violence of the wicked will drag them away, for they refuse to do what is right….. Proverbs 21: 7NIV

As charcoal to embers  and as wood to fire, so is  a quarrelsome man for kindling strife…  Proverbs 26: 21 NIV

Stone is heavy and sand a burden, but provocation by a fool is heavier than both….. Proverbs  27:3 NIV

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths….Proverbs 3:5-6 KJV