Luke 17:3 Ministries Inc
Monday, April 21, 2014
For Adult Daughters of Controlling or Abusive Birth-Families
The Christian Abuser- Twisting God's Word To Justify Abuse
THE “CHRISTIAN” ABUSER:
TWISTING GOD’S WORD TO JUSTIFY ABUSE
By Rev. Renee
FOR YOU HAVE BEEN CALLED TO LIVE IN FREEDOM- NOT FREEDOM TO SATISFY YOUR SINFUL NATURE, BUT FREEDOM TO SERVE ONE ANOTHER IN LOVE. FOR THE WHOLE LAW CAN BE SUMMED UP IN THIS ONE COMMAND: “LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF”…Galatians 5:13-14 NLT
I hear from victims of “Christian” abusers on a regular basis, and of course that’s to be expected. But it never ceases to amaze me when I hear from the “Christian” abusers themselves. Their conversations, e-mails, and letters are a great learning tool, and a window into the sinful minds of those who pervert the Word of God for their own selfish and abusive ends. It is a very great sin to use our precious Lord as a cover for wickedness and evil, and such so-called Christians give all the rest of us a bad name. But the Lord turns that which was meant for evil to be used for the good of those who love him (Genesis 50:20; Romans 8:28). One conversation I had with just such an abuser, which took place over a period of a few weeks, is a perfect example. In this article, I will use that discussion as a study tool to illustrate several examples of how such so-called “Christians” often twist the Bible to justify damaging other people.
AN OXYMORON- “THE CHRISTIAN ABUSER”
To many of us, the words “Christian” and “abuser” don’t seem to belong together. They are, or should be, a contradiction in terms. And yet how many of us have heard of a minister’s children who were raised with cruelty and abuse? How many of us know of an upstanding, church-going man- or woman- of- God, who turns out to be a criminal or a child molester? Who can forget the huge scandal in the Roman Catholic church, when so many of their so-called “men of God” priests were exposed as pedophiles, child molesters who were using their position in the church as a source of obtaining new victims? Calling oneself “Christian” does not make one exempt from abusive behavior. And calling oneself “Christian” does not make one a REAL Christian, either!
One Scripture which addresses this point is 1 John 3: NO ONE WHO LIVES IN HIM KEEPS ON SINNING. NO ONE WHO CONTINUES TO SIN HAS EITHER SEEN HIM OR KNOWN HIM. DEAR CHILDREN, DO NOT LET ANYONE LEAD YOU ASTRAY. HE WHO DOES WHAT IS RIGHT IS RIGHTEOUS. HE WHO DOES WHAT IS SINFUL IS OF THE DEVIL, BECAUSE THE DEVIL HAS BEEN SINNING FROM THE BEGINNING. THE REASON THE SON OF GOD APPEARED WAS TO DESTROY THE DEVIL’S WORK. NO ONE WHO IS BORN OF GOD WILL CONTINUE TO SIN, BECAUSE GOD’S SEED REMAINS IN HIM; HE CANNOT GO ON SINNING, BECAUSE HE HAS BEEN BORN OF GOD. THIS IS HOW WE KNOW WHO THE CHILDREN OF GOD ARE AND WHO THE CHILDREN OF THE DEVIL ARE: ANYONE WHO DOES NOT DO WHAT IS RIGHT IS NOT A CHILD OF GOD; NOR IS ANYONE WHO DOES NOT LOVE HIS BROTHER….1 John 3: 6-10 NIV.
For some reason, the one thing I never anticipated when I started a ministry for abuse VICTIMS was that I would be hearing from the ABUSERS themselves. Sometimes I receive e-mails from them. But more frequently, abusers who cross my path as I go about my life, and find out what I do, or who already know about Luke 17:3 Ministries, will look for the opportunity to “discuss” an issue such as forgiveness or repentance with me. Many times this is simply a thinly disguised challenge to what we are teaching. Often they will be quite candid about how they have abused a loved one, and then follow that admission with a long list of excuses and rationalizations.
Once in a blue moon, I’ll be approached by an offender who is truly contrite and looking for guidance in repairing the relationship she had damaged. But most of the time, the abusers who wish to “discuss” their situations with me are simply looking for validation of their unacceptable behavior. They often use typical abuser tactics in their attempts to force me to admit that their wicked behavior was really innocent, unintentional, misunderstood, or even justified. They will defiantly trot out the usual manipulation, deception, belligerence, pouting, pretending to be insulted, and whatever else they have in their narcissistic arsenal. Sometimes it’s as if they’ve read every book ever written about their dysfunctional defenses, and now they’re just sticking to the script and doing everything you’d expect them to do.
Occasionally, abusers will try to trick me into contradicting myself, or the Bible- or better yet, will try to prove that the Bible contradicts ITSELF! The amusing thing is that, in trying to trap me, or even worse, the Lord, in a contradiction, they usually wind up contradicting themselves instead. And most of the time, they don’t even realize it.
A LITTLE KNOWLEDGE IS A DANGEROUS THING
The most interesting abuser of all to have these discussions with is the one who claims to be a Christian herself. Some of these are influenced by the Spirit of False Religion, and some by the Jezebel Spirit. Some may have been “born again” decades ago, but never grew in the Lord or developed into a mature Christian, instead remaining in bondage to the sins of the flesh such as selfishness, pride, bitterness, envy, jealousy, and unlovingness. Some are a combination of all three of these.
There are others who were believers at one time, but have fallen away. They just won’t admit it to you, or sometimes even to themselves. There is indeed such a thing as an abuser who is technically a“Christian”, but not a Spirit-filled, sanctified Christian. Those who have the most vested in denying this and convincing you that a “Christian” couldn’t possibly be abusive are usually none other than the abusive Christians themselves.
One thing we know for sure that we will never have to worry about is meeting up with our “Christian” abusers in heaven. They’re not going to be there. The Bible says that if they deliberately continue to sin after having been saved by Jesus’ precious blood, they have doomed themselves. There is nothing they can ever do to make up for it. Such “Christian” sinners are an abomination to the Lord and are condemned to destruction: FOR IF WE SIN WILLFULLY AFTER WE HAVE RECEIVED THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE TRUTH, THERE NO LONGER REMAINS A SACRIFICE FOR SINS, BUT A CERTAIN FEARFUL EXPECTATION OF JUDGMENT, AND FIERY INDIGNATION WHICH WILL DEVOUR THE ADVERSARIES. ANYONE WHO HAS REJECTED MOSES’ LAW DIES WITHOUT MERCY ON THE TESTIMONY OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES. OF HOW MUCH WORSE PUNISHMENT, DO YOU SUPPOSE, WILL HE BE THOUGHT WORTHY WHO HAS TRAMPLED THE SON OF GOD UNDERFOOT, COUNTED THE BLOOD OF THE COVENANT BY WHICH HE WAS SANCTIFIED A COMMON THING, AND INSULTED THE SPIRIT OF GRACE? FOR WE KNOW HIM WHO SAID, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” SAYS THE LORD. AND AGAIN, “THE LORD WILL JUDGE HIS PEOPLE.” IT IS A FEARFUL THING TO FALL INTO THE HANDS OF THE LIVING GOD”….Hebrews 10: 26-31 NKJV.
WILL THE REAL CHRISTIAN PLEASE STAND UP?
What is intriguing about having an exchange on evil behavior with a Christian, or ex-Christian, abuser is that she actually has a working knowledge of the Bible, which she will often use to twist or misinterpret Scripture to suit her own purposes. She will pick and choose the Scriptures she thinks she can use to justify her wickedness, and conveniently omit Scripture that would condemn her behavior and show her for what she is. She can use her “insider’s” knowledge about how a Christian is supposed to behave to give the APPEARANCE of being a Godly, righteous person to the uninitiated. But she cannot fool those who know well enough to look at her FRUITS.
Satan is the father of deception, deceit and lies. He is the father of trickery and treachery. He has many disguises and many faces. He is well able to disguise one of his children as a “religious” person in order to fool others. But the Lord has that covered. In the Gospel, Jesus himself teaches us how we can tell the difference:
BEWARE OF FALSE PROPHETS, WHICH COME TO YOU IN SHEEP’S CLOTHING, BUT INWARDLY THEY ARE RAVENING WOLVES. YE SHALL KNOW THEM BY THEIR FRUITS. DO MEN GATHER GRAPES OF THORNS, OR FIGS OF THISTLES? EVEN SO EVERY GOOD TREE BRINGETH FORTH GOOD FRUIT; BUT A CORRUPT TREE BRINGETH FORTH EVIL FRUIT. A GOOD TREE CANNOT BRING FORTH EVIL FRUIT, NEITHER CAN A CORRUPT TREE BRING FORTH GOOD FRUIT. EVERY TREE THAT BRINGETH NOT FORTH GOOD FRUIT IS HEWN DOWN, AND CAST INTO THE FIRE. WHEREFORE BY THEIR FRUITS YE SHALL KNOW THEM. NOT EVERYONE THAT SAITH UNTO ME, LORD, LORD, SHALL ENTER INTO THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN; BUT HE THAT DOETH THE WILL OF MY FATHER WHICH IS IN HEAVEN. MANY WILL SAY TO ME IN THAT DAY, LORD, LORD, HAVE WE NOT PROPHESIED IN THY NAME? AND IN THY NAME HAVE CAST OUT DEVILS? AND IN THY NAME DONE MANY WONDERFUL WORKS? AND THEN WILL I PROFESS UNTO THEM, I NEVER KNEW YOU: DEPART FROM ME, YE THAT WORK INIQUITY….Matthew 7:15-23 KJV.
God never intended his holy Word to be used as a cover for sin. This is an abomination to him. Deliverance ministers know that one of Satan’s favorite tricks is to use Scripture against God and the deliverance team. The devil loves to argue God’s Word. Many deliverance ministers advise against quoting the Bible during a deliverance unless you are reading directly from it or are very sure you are completely accurate, because the devil is just itching for the opportunity to trap you and be able to say “Aha!” if you falter.
During a deliverance, demons will use this tactic to distract the deliverance team from their purpose, which is to bind and cast out the demons. Demons are very clever, and if they can get the team off-track, they will remain in control longer.
Children of the devil use the same ploy when it comes to being held accountable for their actions. If they can somehow manage to get you off the track when you rebuke them, then they will never have to answer for their wrongdoing. If they can confuse the situation enough, they may even be able to get you to just give up, without ever having to commit to repentance or a change in behavior. And what more satisfying way for a child of Satan to confuse a child of God than to use God’s own holy Word against her?
Besides trying to use Scripture to justify their wickedness, some who call themselves “Christian” will engage in other pseudo-religious behaviors. They might attend church on a regular basis, tithe every week, speak in tongues, be “slain in the spirit”, raise their hands to God, tell people they will “pray for them”, shout “Hallelujah!”, and use all the right words and phrases. How could anyone possibly believe that such a person is really malicious, and that this is all a facade?
Such people are modern-day Pharisees, deceptive and untruthful, full of the “appearance” of holiness without the substance. ….BUT DO NOT DO WHAT THEY DO, FOR THEY DO NOT PRACTICE WHAT THEY PREACH….EVERYTHING THEY DO IS DONE FOR MEN TO SEE….Matthew 23: 3,5 NIV. Jesus reserved his harshest rebuke for the Pharisees and his very strong reprimands are recorded in the Seven Woes of the Pharisees in Matthew 23. He refers to the phony Pharisees as hypocrites, sons of hell, snakes, and a brood of vipers, among other choice words. He chastises them for tithing and yet lacking the “more important matters” of justice, mercy and faithfulness (Matthew 23:23).
Some so-called “Christians” are anything but humble servants. They are filled with pride, even about their faith, and try very hard to impress others with their righteousness, claiming that they are “growing every day in their walk with the Lord”, that the Lord is doing, or has done “a great work in them”, that they are “falling more in love with Jesus every day”, that the Lord has healed them, blessed them, and given them all the wonderful gifts that he reserves for his children. An abuser will tell you all these things because she is trying very hard to convince you that SHE is counted in that number- she is one of God’s children.
For a sincere Christian, such incredible blessings from God fill us with humble gratitude. But for an “unrighteous Christian”, such statements are a very calculated attempt to seem “holier than thou”, a clever smokescreen to hide their true nature, and spoken of with great pride instead of humility. Such people know the right words to say, but they are just empty words, and their purpose is to deceive. Who would dare to challenge the sinful words or actions of one who obviously walks so closely with the Lord and is so filled with the Holy Spirit? But although they know enough to talk the talk, they are not really walking the walk. They are not dwelling with God, and they are not Spirit-filled. Again, we cannot judge a book by its cover. Remember the Lord Jesus’ words- to know them by their fruits.
True Christians are not selfish narcissists, who behave as if others exist only for their use and exploitation. True Christians SERVE. The Bible teaches us that people of faith are expected to do good works: DEAR BROTHERS AND SISTERS, WHAT’S THE USE OF SAYING YOU HAVE FAITH IF YOU DON’T PROVE IT BY YOUR ACTIONS? THAT KIND OF FAITH CAN’T SAVE ANYONE….SO YOU SEE, IT ISN’T GOOD ENOUGH JUST TO HAVE FAITH. FAITH THAT DOESN’T SHOW ITSELF BY GOOD DEEDS IS NO FAITH AT ALL- IT IS DEAD AND USELESS. NOW SOMEONE MAY ARGUE, “SOME PEOPLE HAVE FAITH; OTHERS HAVE GOOD DEEDS.” I SAY, “I CAN’T SEE YOUR FAITH IF YOU DON’T HAVE GOOD DEEDS, BUT I WILL SHOW YOU MY FAITH THROUGH MY GOOD DEEDS.” DO YOU STILL THINK IT’S ENOUGH JUST TO BELIEVE THAT THERE IS ONE GOD? WELL, EVEN THE DEMONS BELIEVE THIS, AND THEY TREMBLE IN TERROR! FOOL! WHEN WILL YOU EVER LEARN THAT FAITH THAT DOES NOT RESULT IN GOOD DEEDS IS USELESS?....SO YOU SEE, WE ARE MADE RIGHT WITH GOD BY WHAT WE DO, NOT BY FAITH ALONE….JUST AS THE BODY IS DEAD WITHOUT A SPIRIT, SO ALSO FAITH IS DEAD WITHOUT GOOD DEEDS…..James 2:14, 17-20, 24, 26 NLT.
THE APPLE DOESN’T FALL FAR FROM THE TREE
CHILDREN OF THE DEVIL DO THE DEVIL’S WORK
My birth-father was just about the farthest thing you could get from a Christian, but when I was little, every now and then, I’d learn something valuable from him. He always loved goading people into an argument. It was like a hobby to him, or maybe more like a calling. He got a power high from getting someone all riled up. He often reminded us that he was “on the debate team in high school” and he loved the “intellectual” sport of debate. But for an “intellectual”, he had no hesitation in making himself look like a complete fool. He would make the most absurd, ridiculous, outrageous statements just to get someone to respond to him. He would contradict himself, or argue forcefully about something, and then, as soon as you agreed with him, change his opinion and argue just as forcefully for exactly the opposite view.
When challenged on this, he would smile slyly and say, “I was just playing Devil’s Advocate!” In other words, he didn’t really believe any of the nonsense he spouted. He was just baiting the other person and trying to get a rise out of them. He was also trying to be the center of attention. Winning the “debate”, or “argument”, as everyone else called it, wasn’t the point. Controlling his “opponent”, tricking him into falling for his little “deception”, and keeping him enmeshed, was.
It is no coincidence that one who is trying to “use” being a Christian to justify their wrongdoing often makes absurd or nonsensical statements, tries to confuse you, especially on issues of faith, or even totally contradicts herself. Satan is the father of chaos and confusion. All lies, deception, deceit and trickery originate with him. Such people are choosing the devil’s way over the Lord’s way. They are in every sense of the word, the “devil’s advocate”, and they are doing his work for him.
From the time he was thrown out of heaven, Satan has not learned his lesson about challenging God. The Book of Job tells just one story of the lengths Satan will go to in order to “win” by making a child of God doubt his faith or question the Lord and his Word. The temptation of Jesus as recorded in Matthew 4:1-11 is another example of the devil challenging God. But Jesus did not take the bait. He did not have to prove himself to the devil. And we, also, don’t have to prove anything to those who try to use the Word of God, or our faith, against us.
A “CHRISTIAN” ABUSER IN ACTION
Previously, I made reference to an ongoing discussion I had with a totally unrepentant “born-again” abuser, which took place over the course of several weeks. It concerned her absolutely abominable behavior toward her oldest, and pretty much only, friend, a good-hearted woman whom I also happened to know very well. I had a long-standing familiarity with both women, and an intimate knowledge of their characters and personalities, as well as of what had transpired between them. This afforded me a rare chance to observe the deterioration of a relationship in which one person’s love, caring, and generosity was repaid with ongoing and continual selfishness, envy, ungratefulness, neglect, and pride. I was a first-hand witness to this decades-old friendship ending for no other reason than the offender’s stubborn refusal, despite being given many chances by the victim, to act like a REAL Christian (or at least like a mature adult), be accountable and accept responsibility for her own behavior, apologize sincerely and humbly, change her wicked ways, and do whatever she could to make amends.
This woman used many of the tactics so typical of abusers when someone rebukes or challenges them. At a certain point the tone of our discussions changed and deteriorated. I realized that, although she pretended to want my help in mending fences with her ex-friend, she really never gave any thought to anything I said. I realized that what she really wanted to do was to put ME in the position of defending myself, so that I would keep talking to her, keep giving her attention, and keep up this ongoing “discussion”. She was using ME to get the Narcissistic Supply she was no longer getting from our mutual friend, who was no longer speaking to her.
This “born-again” abuser often claimed she “forgot” or “didn’t mean” what she had plainly said or e-mailed to me, contradicted herself outright a number of times, twisted my words or what the Bible says, whined about being “misunderstood”, and at times became angry, nasty, and abusive towards me. Abusers usually drop all pretense of niceness and let their true colors show when you fail to go along with their program.
A couple of times, after she denied saying something that she had said, I sent her own e-mail back to her to prove my point, only to have her backtrack and claim that I had “misunderstood”, even though her own words were right in front of her in black and white. Then she would pretend to become insulted. In very sly, devious, “innocent” ways, she tried to test me and my knowledge of Scripture, and to challenge MY walk with the Lord. All this because I rebuked her, instead of agreeing with her and supporting her abuse. I didn’t take her side, so that gave her license to start abusing ME, too. I can only imagine what she must have put her ex-friend through. As far as I’m concerned, if she didn’t want my honest opinion, then she should not have started the discussion with me in the first place.
Like many abusers, this woman didn’t even mind it if the things she said made her sound like she had mental problems and I wound up thinking she was just nuts, as long as she could still delude herself into believing that she “won” the argument. These strategies are referred to as “crazy-making” because they are used to make you think YOU’RE the crazy one. But they usually have exactly the opposite effect as you start to think the abuser would have to be mentally ill to come up with the wacky, outlandish, completely ridiculous things she says, and to say them with all seriousness. It is at this point that many victims and bystanders decide that they’re not running a mental institution for abusers, and it’s time cut bait and to run for the hills.
Although she was attempting to get me to “see things her way”, absolve herself of any wrongdoing, and have me validate and agree with her, what this abuser actually did was to make herself look far worse. Once the phony mask of righteousness dropped off, no preconceived notion that I may have held about her was anything close to as bad as she really was. While trying to justify her point of view, she gave away many clues as to her true nature, inadvertently revealing an unloving heart controlled by envy, pride, resentment, bitterness, competitiveness, jealousy, and hostility- and all masquerading in the disguise of a “ good Christian woman”.
During our exchanges, it was ironic that this woman habitually and repeatedly stated, “I will own what is mine, but…..”, the implication being that the problem was also someone else’s fault besides hers. However, she NEVER ACTUALLY DID “own what was hers”. Repentance is not a negotiation, and neither are apologies. Incredibly, from our discussions, I was actually able to compile a list of 36 excuses given by this abuser to justify her repeated, continuing and persistently inexcusable behavior toward her friend, one more lame than the next. She may have had her faults, but a lack of creativity wasn’t one of them!
In this article, we will discuss four of these excuses in particular, since they serve as excellent illustrations of a Christian offender who tries to use her knowledge of God’s Word to get away with ungodly behavior. In this woman’s case, her two main tactics consisted of either misquoting or misinterpreting Scripture to her own advantage, or trying to make herself appear too “Godly” and too “righteous” to have really done what she did with any ill will or malicious intent. Her defense basically amounted to all of the selfish, uncaring, unloving things that she had done being merely “misunderstood”, because she was MUCH too good a Christian to have ever really done those things deliberately.
THEIR FRUITS WILL GIVE THEM AWAY EVERY TIME
This abuser is a person who knows the “Born-Again Christian” drill well. She is able to display many of the outward signs of being a “good” Christian, and she uses her knowledge to get away with as much as possible, while trying to convince others that they must have misjudged her because she’s obviously so holy.
But this person cannot fool anyone who knows enough to look at her fruits. Her life, her house, and her finances are all in chaos. She wastes most of the day and night on the computer, instead of cleaning or doing anything constructive. She does not work. She has troubled relationships with almost every family member and very few friendships. She never follows through on plan after plan to change her life, get a job, move to a new house, start a ministry, or any of the other big ideas she carries on about. She is often upset or angry with everyone from her vet, to her hairdresser, to her church, to her children, and accuses almost everyone who crosses her path of not “doing right” by her in some way. She is unreasonable, narcissistic, and almost always worked up over something.
She is selfish and self-centered. She is spoiled, attention-seeking, and irrationally demanding of other people’s time and energy, without giving any thought to what anyone else might be going through. She has no concept of boundaries, or that she might be intruding on another person with her demands for attention. She is filled with pride. She is dishonest and untruthful. She never gets anything accomplished, and is envious of those who do. She is a drama-queen who treats every little thing in her life as if it was a huge catastrophe, and then ignores, or even contributes to, the REAL catastrophes in the lives of her friends. She has no appreciation. She has an unloving heart. She uses people when she needs them, but if they need her, she is nowhere to be found. She takes, but she does not give, and she does not serve.
If you are thinking that none of the above makes her sound like much of a “good” Christian, I would have to say you are right. But what this person fails to realize is that someone with discernment can see all of these things and will know her by her fruits. She thinks the phony façade she presents works with everyone. Using her “Christianity” as a cover-up for her sinful nature may not work all of the time or with every person, but it does work enough times and with enough people that it is worth it for her to continue doing. And so, whenever she is rebuked or challenged, trotting out her “Christianity” is her automatic response. Yet, to one with understanding, her fruits will give her away, and her true nature will be obvious. Here are four of her best excuses/ contradictions out of the 36 that she gave me, and what the Lord showed me about why they just don’t hold any water:
1. “THE LORD HAS HEALED ME, PRAISE THE LORD!”, FOLLOWED BY “I ACT THE WAY I DO BECAUSE OF MY PAST.”
This abuser made many statements to the effect that the Lord had healed her, the Lord had done or was doing a great work in her, and that her walk with Jesus was deepening every day. The point of these statements was to mislead the listener into believing that she was a mature Christian who walks with the Lord, and therefore could not possibly be capable of abusing others. Again, her defense was that everybody just “misunderstands” her.
But then she went on to blame her “abusive childhood”, forty years in the past, for her current “actions and reactions” toward her friend. This is a huge contradiction. One of this woman’s biggest problems is that she just doesn’t know enough to quit while she’s ahead. Part of the response the Lord gave me to this inconsistency was:
“People who have been healed by the Lord no longer act or react according to their histories. If the Lord has healed you, then the past no longer has any control over your life. That is what healing is. I know this from my own healing from my own abusive past. The lives of mature Christians are controlled by the Holy Spirit. When God heals you, he makes you a new person and puts a new spirit in you (Ezekiel 36:26-27). The past is ancient history and you are no longer influenced by it.
The Lord’s healing is perfect and complete. It is not imperfect or incomplete. He dries all our tears and fills us with his grace. The Lord knows the plans he has for you. He will turn the bad in your life to good. In my own case, his will was for my testimony and experiences to be used to help others. Once he has healed you, he certainly doesn’t intend for you to use your past to HURT others. We need to learn from the past, but if we still let it influence how we treat others in the present, or influence anything else in our lives, then we are not healed and we are not Spirit-filled.”
Another interesting observation is that this woman had been “saved” some 35 years previously, and yet she was JUST NOW “deepening her walk with the Lord”, “being healed” and “having a great work done in her”. This indicates someone who, although she has been a Christian for decades, had never become a MATURE Christian, and, as her continuing abusive behavior demonstrates, had never had her “second salvation”, or gone through the process of sanctification. Although she knew the right words to say, she did not really “dwell with God”. She was not being truthful. She was deceiving herself, and trying to deceive others as well. But her fruits gave her away.
When rebuked, this abuser had nothing to say in terms of repentance. But she did have a huge inventory of excuses, which she somehow felt justified her repeatedly hurting another person. One of the excuses she was now offering was her own abusive past. So another point which I needed to make in my discussions with her was that, concerning one’s “past”, or any other excuse, the fact is that the Bible does not tell us to “analyze” or “understand” the reasons why someone might be acting unacceptably. Scripturally, that is a non-issue. We tend to spend far too much time talking to therapists, reading books on why people behave badly, and in general trying to give abusers the benefit of the doubt and convince ourselves that they “can’t help it” and “don’t really mean it”.
But nowhere in Scripture are we told to “be understanding of” an abuser’s past, her abusive childhood, alcohol or drug addiction, oversensitivity, anger issues, stress, trauma, or any other reason she might think she has for hurtful words or behavior. No one has the right to inflict their issues on anyone else. We make it far more complicated than it is, but in the Bible it really couldn’t be any simpler. The only way the Bible instructs us, very clearly, to deal with an offender is to rebuke her, forgive if there is repentance, and have nothing to do with her if there is not. Nothing more, and nothing less.
2. “THE DEVIL MADE ME DO IT!”
At one point in my ongoing discussion with this person, I mentioned that the Lord had revealed to me a demonic influence in what she was doing to her friend. I urged her to honestly and prayerfully search her heart so that she might recognize these things for herself and be delivered of them. What I saw were the spirits of envy, pride, jealousy, bitterness, and resentment. However, the Lord told me not to reveal them to her because she would not hear it coming from me. She needed to see it for herself, confess it, and repent of it.
But she did not prayerfully search her heart and wait on the Lord’s word. Instead, she guessed on her own that the “spirit of strife” was at work in her situation. She then went on to say that she believed this was “probably on both sides”, (like I said, she doesn’t know enough to quit while she’s ahead), when in reality, her friend had done nothing wrong at all, had actually been very patient for many months with her uncalled-for histrionics, and had been loving and forgiving toward her, only to be repaid again and again with nastiness, selfishness, lies, deceptions, and unreasonable demands. This abuser’s pride would not let her admit that the wrongdoing was really only on her side- there was no wrongdoing at all on the other side. She was 100% at fault, but she needed to feel that her ex-friend had contributed to the problem and shared in the guilt.
Upon hearing this, I realized I would need to be a little more specific. I then clarified my point- that she needed to discern how these spirits had influenced HER, NOT her friend, or their “situation”.
After giving some more thought to my words, this abuser managed to come up with yet another angle. This time, the idea was to absolve herself completely with the old “the devil made me do it”, or in her case, “the devil made US do it” defense.
One persistent theme in our ongoing discussions was that this person’s most frequent, and almost reflexive, response to someone letting her that know she had been hurtful was to accuse the other person of “attacking her” or “blaming her”. Apparently, since I was not agreeing with what she was doing to her friend, in her mind, both I and her friend had been “attacking” and “blaming” her. When I mentioned the demonic influence in her behavior, she jumped on it almost gleefully, quickly twisting what I had said to completely avoid taking any responsibility. She was very excited that we could finally agree on something! And in yet another attempt to make an ally out of someone who wasn’t buying what she was selling, she tried enlisting me to “stand together with her against the devil”, who, according to her, was now the ONLY ONE really causing “all of this”.
She began by telling me that she totally agreed that “there is a demonic force at work here. No doubt about it!” This was her attempt to sucker me into thinking she agreed with me and we were all seeing the same things. She then went on to inform me that it was the “spirit of strife”. Still “educating” me, she told me this is a demonic spirit sent out straight from hell for the express purpose to steal, kill and destroy. She asked if I could see that it had done just that.
And then she went on to say that here we three friends were “blaming each other” (Whoa! She certainly has nothing to “blame” anybody for! No one else but her did anything wrong!) and “anything and everything else”, instead of placing the blame right where it belongs! She repeated that she would “own what was hers”, but that it’s time we “attack the correct person!” Really on a roll, here, she continued that she wanted to stand up NOW against Satan and bind and rebuke him for what he did and was still trying to do in this situation. Her voice pitched with excitement as she declared, “We’ve let him go far enough!!! It’s time to stand together against him!!! Are you with me on this?”
My goodness, I felt like one of the Three Musketeers. Here was a real drama-queen at work, trying to sweep everybody else up in her performance. But in reality, this was just another diversionary tactic. The truth gets distorted and twisted. Like all narcissists, she does not differentiate between herself and others. She assumed we were all thinking alike, “blaming each other and anything and everything else”, when we most definitely were not.
Notice that she wanted me to be “with her on this”- ON THE SAME SIDE AS SHE WAS. On HER side instead of on the side of her victim- a verbal sleight of hand and a very subtle maneuver for a declaration of loyalty from me. One of Satan’s tricks is to try to get you to agree that some form of his evil is acceptable. So in situations like this, there really is no compromise and no aligning yourself with the wicked person. Wrong is wrong, plain and simple. The smokescreens and diversions that an abuser will throw at you are meant to confuse you and to help her avoid being accountable. Here is the response the Lord gave me to her defense of “the devil made her do it!”:
“First of all, I don’t agree that “blaming each other” is what is happening here. Every conflict cannot be referred to in terms of “blame”. That automatically makes the situation adversarial instead of cooperative, and accomplishes nothing toward resolution. I am not “blaming” you, and I’m certainly not “blaming anything and everything else”. Holding you accountable for what you do is not the same as “blaming” you. Also, I have not wronged you, and neither has our friend, so you don’t have anything to “blame” me for, or to blame her for, either. If your first or most common response when someone lets you know that you have hurt them is to feel as if you are being “blamed” or “attacked”, then you need to think about why you are so defensive.
I am also not “blaming” Satan and never meant to imply that. I do not agree that he has any power or control over my actions, because I am a child of God. Satan does not control me because I do not give Satan control. I give control only to the Lord. I said there was a demonic INFLUENCE, NOT demonic CONTROL. You still have free will. Satan can only tempt, but he cannot make you follow that temptation. Satan is not controlling this situation. It is an easy out for people to blame Satan in order to absolve themselves, at least partially, of the responsibility for what they’ve done wrong. But the devil doesn’t MAKE people do what they do. They have free choice to listen to him or not. Humans are ultimately accountable for their own choices and behavior, not Satan. YOU made the choice to act the way you did, over and over again, for all these months. No growth is ever possible if you are going to blame anyone or anything else for your own wrongdoing.”
3. “I HAVE REPENTED TO GOD FOR HURTING HER, AND MY CONSCIENCE IS NOW CLEAR.”
This is another ploy used by this abuser to avoid having to make amends directly to the person she hurt. She was basically saying that she only has to answer to God for harming someone, and that no one else has the right to “judge” her, or to expect her to make up for what she did or to change her behavior. She is letting us know that, in her mind, she does not have to show repentance to her victim because she has repented to God, and that’s the end of it! Her conscience is now clear! So let’s change the subject and move on!
She told me that she had indeed repented to God “for any and all of her part” in this situation, and that she now had “a very clear conscience”. But in the Bible, the apostle Paul writes, “MY CONSCIENCE IS CLEAR, BUT THAT DOES NOT MAKE ME INNOCENT. IT IS THE LORD WHO JUDGES ME”…..1 Corinthians 4:4 NIV.
Here we have a clear example of a “Christian” who is simply too prideful to face her victim, apologize sincerely, accept responsibility, admit she was wrong, and change her ways. She thinks she can now put it all behind her and hold her head up high without ever doing the right thing by her victim. Any humility this person had shown in the past was false humility, calculated again to make her seem more righteous than she was. It wasn’t until she was caught in this conflict over her wrongdoing that her pride- filled heart became obvious.
In the Bible, when you damage another person, you are expected to make restitution to that person. “Repenting to God” does not get you off the hook. You are told to go face the person you hurt and make it right by making him whole. And THEN you still have to repent to God for your sin. (Exodus 22:3-15; Leviticus 6:5-7; Numbers 5: 5-8; Proverbs 6: 2-5; Proverbs 6:31) The Bible does not tell us that “repenting to God” is sufficient, or that it absolves us of any obligation to repent directly to the person we injured.
Additionally, when this abuser implied that because she had “repented to God”, no one else had the right to judge her, she was conveniently forgetting that the children of God, one of which she claimed to be, are held to an even higher standard than the children of the world, and certainly than the children of the devil.
In Galatians chapter 5, Christians are instructed to expel an immoral brother from among them. Paul specifically tells us not to judge those OUTSIDE the church, but we ARE told to judge those INSIDE the church. I WROTE YOU IN MY LETTER NOT TO ASSOCIATE WITH IMMORAL PEOPLE; I DID NOT AT ALL MEAN WITH THE IMMORAL PEOPLE OF THIS WORLD, OR WITH THE COVETOUS AND SWINDLERS, OR WITH IDOLATERS, FOR THEN YOU WOULD HAVE TO GO OUT OF THE WORLD. BUT ACTUALLY, I WROTE TO YOU NOT TO ASSOCIATE WITH ANY SO-CALLED BROTHER IF HE IS AN IMMORAL PERSON, OR COVETOUS, OR AN IDOLATER, OR A REVILER, OR A DRUNKARD, OR A SWINDLER- NOT EVEN TO EAT WITH SUCH A ONE. FOR WHAT HAVE I TO DO WITH JUDGING OUTSIDERS? DO YOU NOT JUDGE THOSE WHO ARE WITHIN THE CHURCH? BUT THOSE WHO ARE OUTSIDE, GOD JUDGES. REMOVE THE WICKED MAN FROM AMONG YOURSELVES…..1 Corinthians 5: 9-13 NASB. In Deuteronomy, the children of God are told six times to purge wicked people from among themselves [Deuteronomy 17:7; 19:19; 21:21; 22:21 & 24; and 24:7). These are just a few of the Scriptures instructing us to hold fellow “children of God” accountable for their behavior.
Notice also the vague reference to “her part in all of this” without any mention of exactly WHAT that was. There was never anything specific in any of our discussions that she would admit to doing and agree to be accountable for. Also, by referring to “her” part, she was implying that the other person ALSO had a part in it, another attempt to divert attention away from HER wrongdoing and place at least part of the “blame” (as she would say) on the innocent victim. She tried this ploy several times. But whenever I asked her specifically what the victim had done wrong, she would either ignore me and not answer, babble something that made no sense or was completely untrue, or change the subject. The reality was that the victim had done absolutely NOTHING to contribute to the situation between them, or to deserve the treatment she got. The arrogant abuser was trying to keep her own dignity intact and save face by refusing to acknowledge that NO ONE ELSE did anything wrong!
Part of my response to her “clear conscience” was:
“It is great when someone repents to God, and I am very happy that you have done that. But repentance means a change in behavior and turning from wrongful ways, not just remorse. Besides God, the person you have injured has the right to a meaningful apology, a guarantee that it will never happen again, and whatever else you can possibly do to make amends. Once trust has been broken, and someone has learned to expect unacceptable or destructive behavior from another person, she would need reassurances and a promise of change before she would again be able to feel comfortable with the person who hurt her.
Apologies are a great first step, but they are only a first step. You have a history of apologizing whenever you make anybody mad at you, just to get back into their good graces. But you never change anything. You have even done this with me, several times. I also remember you apologizing last year after the way you were acting towards our friend. Although she wasn’t comfortable with it and the grudging way it had been given, she accepted your apology and thought you both had put it behind you, and that you then would be a loving and considerate friend. In fact, a number of things you now say to make it seem as if you have changed, such as the Lord is now doing a great work in you, you have also said to me, many times in the past. But then more of the same always happens in your behavior toward both me and our friend. So there have been several apologies over the years, but no actual change in your heart towards me or our friend. How can she know that anything will be different after this apology? Why should she believe you now?
Although there are times when you appear to be seeing clearly, gaining wisdom, or growing in the Lord, later on it turns out that you are not and nothing has actually changed. Your fruits are the clue. Not until you discern the spirits that are influencing you in your life, as well as in your feelings towards our friend, confess them, and are delivered of them will this happen.
When you refer in general terms to “your part in all of this”, or that you “will own what is yours”, without ever mentioning what exactly that is, there is nothing to indicate that you have actually been given any knowledge or understanding of these things from the Lord. It could just as easily be Satan trying to trick or deceive you, or me, or our friend.
Someone who has treated another poorly needs to be very specific about exactly what behaviors they now recognize are unacceptable and are committed to permanently changing. Generalities, “making an effort”, “growing”, or “trying” to change isn’t good enough. These are just ways to avoid making a definite and permanent commitment. In order for trust to be restored, there needs to be a promise that certain explicit things will simply never happen again. This is the kind of response our friend would need from you before she could feel that the Lord’s hand is truly on a restoration of your friendship, and that it is really he who is speaking to your heart, and his word that you are following.
Also, time needs to pass with the “repented” person proving that they meant what they said, not that they’re still “trying” weeks, months, or years later. There is much growth that still needs to happen and that is more important than anything else. If the Lord uses the end of your friendship to do this work in you, then it will be done according to his perfect will. Until your understanding is complete, you are fully accountable and commit to a permanent change, and a new heart and spirit is put in you, God will not bless a reconciliation.”
4. “I HAVE RECEIVED THE BAPTISM OF THE HOLY SPIRIT AS EVIDENCED BY SPEAKING IN TONGUES; THEREFORE, I AM A GODLY AND RIGHTEOUS PERSON.”
This person did not go into any details about how long ago she received this gift, whether she still speaks in tongues, or whether she prays in tongues or truly speaks in tongues. I have never heard her speak in tongues, and would have no way of knowing if she had a genuine gift, or if she was manifesting a counterfeit gift or speaking through the Spirit of False Tongues. She boasted of this gift and used it to imply that she was being “misjudged” by me and our friend, because if she was “holy” enough to have such a gift, then she could not have done what we all knew perfectly well she did. However, the Bible is clear that speaking in tongues does not necessarily equate to being a truly Godly, righteous Christian.
In 1 Corinthians, chapters 12-14, the apostle Paul goes into a very detailed account of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, and discusses speaking in tongues at length. He tells us very clearly that not everyone will receive every gift, but that ALL the gifts are important in the body of the church. Some will be given the gift of tongues, some will be given the gift of prophecy, some will be given miraculous powers, some will be given wisdom, etc. The Holy Spirit gives these gifts to each person, just as he determines (1 Corinthians 12: 4-31)
Paul doesn’t pull any punches when he tells us that it doesn’t matter what gifts we have been given- if we do not have LOVE in our hearts, then we are nothing. In 1 Corinthians 13:1-3, he says, “THOUGH I SPEAK WITH THE TONGUES OF MEN AND OF ANGELS, BUT HAVE NOT LOVE, I HAVE BECOME SOUNDING BRASS OR A CLANGING CYMBAL. AND THOUGH I HAVE THE GIFT OF PROPHECY, AND UNDERSTAND ALL MYSTERIES AND ALL KNOWLEDGE, AND THOUGH I HAVE ALL FAITH, SO THAT I COULD REMOVEMOUNTAINS, BUT HAVE NOT LOVE, I AM NOTHING. AND THOUGH I BESTOW ALL MY GOODS TO FEED THE POOR, AND THOUGH I GIVE MY BODY TO BE BURNED, BUT HAVE NOT LOVE, IT PROFITS ME NOTHING.”…1 Corinthians 13:1-3 NKJV.
Paul then goes on to discuss the gift of tongues, and its desirability and value compared to the other gifts, especially the gift of prophecy: PURSUE LOVE, AND DESIRE SPIRITUAL GIFTS, BUT ESPECIALLY THAT YOU MAY PROPHESY. FOR HE WHO SPEAKS IN A TONGUE DOES NOT SPEAK TO MEN BUT TO GOD, FOR NO ONE UNDERSTANDS HIM; HOWEVER, IN THE SPIRIT HE SPEAKS MYSTERIES. BUT HE WHO PROPHESIES SPEAKS EDIFICATION AND EXHORTATION AND COMFORT TO MEN. HE WHO SPEAKS IN A TONGUE EDIFIES HIMSELF, BUT HE WHO PROPHESIES EDIFIES THE CHURCH. I WISH YOU ALL SPOKE WITH TONGUES, BUT EVEN MORE THAT YOU PROPHESIED; FOR HE WHO PROPHESIES IS GREATER THAN HE WHO SPEAKS WITH TONGUES, UNLESS INDEED HE INTERPRETS, SO THAT THE CHURCH MAY RECEIVE EDIFICATION…..1 Corinthians 14:1-5 NKJV.
THEREFORE LET HIM WHO SPEAKS IN A TONGUE PRAY THAT HE MAY INTERPRET. FOR IF I PRAY IN A TONGUE, MY SPIRIT PRAYS BUT MY UNDERSTANDING IS UNFRUITFUL….OTHERWISE, IF YOU BLESS WITH THE SPIRIT, HOW WILL HE WHO OCCUPIES THE PLACE OF THE UNINFORMED SAY “AMEN” AT YOUR GIVING OF THANKS, SINCE HE DOES NOT UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU SAY?....1 Corinthians 14:13-14, 16 NKJV.
I THANK MY GOD I SPEAK WITH TONGUES MORE THAN YOU ALL; YET IN THE CHURCH I WOULD RATHER SPEAK FIVE WORDS WITH MY UNDERSTANDING, THAT I MAY TEACH OTHERS ALSO, THAN TEN THOUSAND WORDS IN A TONGUE. BRETHREN, DO NOT BE CHILDREN IN UNDERSTANDING; HOWEVER, IN MALICE BE BABES, BUT IN UNDERSTANDING BE MATURE…..1 Corinthians 14:18-20 NKJV.
THEREFORE TONGUES ARE FOR A SIGN, NOT TO THOSE WHO BELIEVE BUT TO UNBELIEVERS; BUT PROPHESYING IS NOT FOR UNBELIEVERS BUT FOR THOSE WHO BELIEVE. THEREFORE IF THE WHOLECHURCH COMES TOGETHER IN ONE PLACE, AND ALL SPEAK WITH TONGUES, AND THERE COME IN THOSE WHO ARE UNINFORMED OR UNBELIEVERS, WILL THEY NOT SAY THAT YOU ARE OUT OF YOUR MIND? BUT IF ALL PROPHESY, AND AN UNBELIEVER OR AN UNINFORMED PERSON COMES IN, HE IS CONVINCED BY ALL, HE IS CONVICTED BY ALL. AND THUS THE SECRETS OF HIS HEART ARE REVEALED; AND SO, FALLING DOWN ON HIS FACE, HE WILL WORSHIP GOD AND REPORT THAT GOD IS TRULY AMONG YOU….1 Corinthians 14: 22-25 NKJV.
And so we are taught that not all Christians receive every gift, but that ALL of the gifts are important to the body of Christ. We see that, despite what this particular abuser apparently thinks, the Bible does not place such a high priority on tongues that it should be considered the true test of a believer. In fact, the gift of prophecy is assigned a much greater importance.
I’m not quite sure why she chose to “boast” about tongues in particular, and no other gifts, as some sort of proof that she should be considered a Godly person. (Probably because she had no other gifts to boast of). But in any case, the Scriptures are still very clear on the most important point of all- the gift of tongues, or any other gifts, are meaningless and worthless if the person does not have LOVE. This individual was sadly lacking in that department; therefore, according to the infallible and holy Word of God, whatever gifts she claimed to have didn’t mean a thing.
The Bible gives very clear examples of the fruits of a true Christian who lives by the Spirit as opposed to the behaviors of one who might claim to be Christian, but who really lives by the flesh or by her sinful nature. This is how we can tell the difference:
SO I SAY, LIVE BY THE SPIRIT, AND YOU WILL NOT GRATIFY THE DESIRES OF THE SINFUL NATURE. FOR THE SINFUL NATURE DESIRES WHAT IS CONTRARY TO THE SPIRIT, AND THE SPIRIT WHAT IS CONTRARY TO THE SINFUL NATURE. THEY ARE IN CONFLICT WITH EACH OTHER, SO THAT YOU DO NOT DO WHAT YOU WANT. BUT IF YOU ARE LED BY THE SPIRIT, YOU ARE NOT UNDER THE LAW.
THE ACTS OF THE SINFUL NATURE ARE OBVIOUS: SEXUAL IMMORALITY, IMPURITY AND DEBAUCHERY; IDOLATRY AND WITCHCRAFT; HATRED, DISCORD, JEALOUSY, FITS OF RAGE, SELFISH AMBITION, DISSENSIONS, FACTIONS, AND ENVY; DRUNKENESS, ORGIES AND THE LIKE. I WARN YOU, AS I DID BEFORE, THAT THOSE WHO LIVE LIKE THIS WILL NOT INHERIT THE KINGDOM OF GOD.
BUT THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT IS LOVE, JOY, PEACE, PATIENCE, KINDNESS, GOODNESS, FAITHFULNESS, GENTLENESS AND SELF-CONTROL. AGAINST SUCH THINGS THERE IS NO LAW. THOSE WHO BELONG TO CHRIST JESUS HAVE CRUCIFIED THE SINFUL NATURE WITH ITS PASSIONS AND DESIRES. SINCE WE LIVE BY THE SPIRIT, LET US KEEP IN STEP WITH THE SPIRIT. LET US NOT BECOME CONCEITED, PROVOKING AND ENVYING EACH OTHER.
BROTHERS, IF SOMEONE IS CAUGHT IN A SIN, YOU WHO ARE SPIRITUAL SHOULD RESTORE HIM GENTLY. BUT WATCH YOURSELF, OR YOU MAY ALSO BE TEMPTED. CARRY EACH OTHER’S BURDENS, AND IN THIS WAY YOU WILL FULFILL THE LAW OF CHRIST. IF ANYONE THINKS HE IS SOMETHING WHEN HE IS NOTHING, HE DECEIVES HIMSELF. EACH ONE SHOULD TEST HIS OWN ACTIONS. THEN HE CAN TAKE PRIDE IN HIMSELF, WITHOUT COMPARING HIMSELF TO SOMEBODY ELSE, FOR EACH ONE SHOULD CARRY HIS OWN LOAD. ANYONE WHO RECEIVES INSTRUCTION IN THE WORD MUST SHARE ALL GOOD THINGS WITH HIS INSTRUCTOR. DO NOT BE DECEIVED: GOD CANNOT BE MOCKED. A MAN REAPS WHAT HE SOWS. THE ONE WHO SOWS TO PLEASE HIS SINFUL NATURE, FROM THAT NATURE WILL REAP DESTRUCTION; THE ONE WHO SOWS TO PLEASE THE SPIRIT, FROM THE SPIRIT WILL REAP ETERNAL LIFE….Galatians 5: 16-26- GALATIANS 6:1-8 NIV.
Thank you, Father God for your holy Word. Help us never to stand by silently while others defile your Word by perverting it to justify their wickedness. Bless us, Holy Spirit, with your priceless gifts of discernment, understanding, and wisdom. Lord Jesus, give us the courage to speak out against all evil, even if we have to rebuke a “brother Christian”, and to stand fast and bind Satan in all his clever disguises, in your glorious Name we pray. For greater is he that is in us than he that is in the world (1 John 4:4). Amen!
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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.