Christ said, “by their fruits you will know them”. We have not always discerned the fruits. In hindsight perhaps there was a detectable pride and contempt for others, for instance, that should have led us to be wary of the sheep’s clothing. Remember we are all capable of sin, and that outright deceit and wickedness will be found even in Christ’s disciples: remember Judas?
[Note: before reading this you might like to revise what domestic abuse is]
A sense of entitlement is also at the heart of manipulation and control behaviours that domestic abusers choose to use. Abusers are people who know it is wrong to insult, belittle and intimidate, but they do it because they can, particularly in secret where others do not see gaining a perverse pleasure from their evil behaviour. They know it is wrong to threaten loved ones to maintain secrecy, but they believe that because they can it is their right. When called out for their behaviour they blame the victim, not because they believe the victim is to blame but because they can - they know people believe them if they say it convincingly enough like saying to close friends things like, “she is a bad money-manager”, or “she is seeing a psychiatrist”, or “she has a bad temper at times”, or “she needs some time alone”. These subtle derogatory put-downs take on a reality in our minds. We can easily begin, albeit unwittingly, to do the abuser’s evil work by spreading these excuses as gossip. Instead, we should see them as ‘red flags’. Even infidelity, as wrong as it is, is not an excuse for domestic abuse! We should never excuse domestic abuse and should remember that we all have been deceived by sinners in the past.
The brothers and sisters called in as marriage counsellors to help “save the marriage” are in danger of accepting the abuser’s excuses. They are intimidated by and respond to his demands to have a fair hearing, and in the face of the barrage of his supporters from near and far that he brings to support him. He stridently insists he is “entitled to two witnesses”, to “due process” or to “face his accuser”, “be told the charges against him”, “see his children” or “continue to fulfil his ecclesial duties” and the ecclesia must “talk to his wife about her problems and not believe her accusations against him – they are wildly inflated and wrong”.
If this article raises concerns you have about domestic violence in your own life or those around you can call 1800RESPECT (If in Australia) or similar services in other countries. There is also a list of support services on this website including Christadelphian Support Services.