I wanted to write today about abuse once more. I know it is a subject I have covered multiple times in my blogs but today is different. Today I want to tie some themes to abuse that we often don’t think about, except in other contexts like sex or labor trafficking. Any kind of abuse involves the same force, fraud, and coercion that sex and labor trafficking survivors face. It may not be as horrific or as volatile in other abuse situations, but it is still there. Evil’s face does not change. Tigers do not change their stripes.
I want to first start with some definitions and explanations. Let’s start with force. Force is defined as any action that coerces with the use of physical violence (Google dictionary). Force makes a person do something against their will. Abusers, whether they are traffickers or not, make their victims do things they don’t want to do with the use of violence. Sadly, force can range from making them quit a job to sexually assaulting them. Force is force, no matter what it is used to do to a person. Violence is violence, no matter what it is used for. Violence can even be verbal. Verbal abuse is violence because is assaults a person’s character. Violence, for the abuser, is their method of “communication.” They use violent force to establish dominance over others and to manipulate their victims. No form of abuse is without force – it is a hallmark “communication” and action tactic.
Fraud is defined as a person or thing intended to deceive others, typically by unjustifiable claims or being credited with accomplishments or qualities that do not actually exist (Google dictionary). Abusers use the concept of fraud to trick their victims into believing certain things about themselves and the abuser as well. An abuser for example, may project himself or herself as a “model citizen”, a “wealthy” person, a “loving” person or even a “Christian” person. An abuser will try and convince their victims that they are worthless, “over- reacting”, weak, hurtful, and manipulative. Let me be clear, the only manipulating going on in this situation is that on the part of the abuser. Abusers use fraud to manipulate others’ feelings and many times to get others to see them as “heroes.” No form of abuse is without fraud – it is hallmark manipulation and deception tactic. Do you also see another patten coming to light here?
Finally, to coercion. Coercion is defined as the use of force (there’s that word again) or threats to persuade someone to do something (Google dictionary). Coercion is another hallmark “communication” tactic of abusers. Threats are one of the main ways they use coercion. Abusers will typically threaten their victim personally, their family, their friends, their job and even their animals. It is important to understand that the victim does not always know if these threats are serious or not so many times, they will do what the abuser says to protect themselves, their families, friends and pets. I can certainly understand this from the victim’s point of view. Coercion is again a form of manipulation, a more violent form.
Do you see the patterns here? I see one of manipulation and one of very unhealthy “communication.” I can assure you, these patterns were learned and modeled at some point in the abuser’s life. The truth is they are lost too, however, this does not excuse their choices to abuse. If you are an abuser reading this, as long as you live you can change, and you can repent. Do so quickly!
What I want you to take away from this today is a good understanding of what abuse is, I want it to be crystal clear. Abuse does not just happen in the world of the street or the world of the trafficker. Abuse happens in the world of everyday people. Abuse happens in the world of the rich, the poor, the middle class, the American and the foreign born. Abuse even happens in the church, among Christians who have desperately lost their way. Abuse happens in every religion, among every race and in every nation on this planet. Abuse is force, fraud, and coercion. I don’t care how much a pig gets dressed up, it’s still a pig. Abusers will try to dress themselves up as something else on the outside but look at their hearts, it is in their heart that you will see the truth.
If you are reading this and you are in an abusive situation, I want you to know you can reach out to me anytime. I have walked this road and God makes a way out. There is freedom on the other side! I also want you to know I am praying for your safety and for a way out. I want you to seriously consider your safety and a plan to get out. If are in an abusive marriage, I want to particularly point out to you that you can’t save that marriage. Don’t die on that altar trying to do so. A life of abundance awaits you outside of abuse; a life of joy and peace!
I will leave you with this today; “Stop looking for shade where the trees have died.” (Tedashi). And I say to you, stop looking for life where there is only death. Abuse (death) is not for you.