We’ve all heard the old adage there are “two sides to every story.” For the most part, I believe that is true. We each carry our own baggage at times into relationships and those relationships suffer and sometimes fail. In that case, I believe there are two sides to the story and that the story could have been helped if that is what those two people wanted. I also believe sometimes they do want help but they can’t find common ground. Some people find common ground and come back in their relationships better than ever. I neither judge nor condemn anyone who is or has been divorced or who has not maintained any kind of a long term relationship. Many times, no matter what we do, we can’t make things work. Other times, we just need to work on ourselves for a time. Only God knows our heart and our intentions. I leave issues of the heart up to Him.
However, there is a time when the “two sides to every story” narrative won’t work. When we are dealing with an evil person, their side of the story is the only story that counts. Your “side of the story” will never matter to them and they don’t want it to matter to anyone else either. For any of you reading this who have been in an abusive relationship, you know exactly what I mean. When dealing with an evil person, nothing you do or say matters. Evil is focused only on itself – its self-preservation, its self-indulgence, its self-love about anything or anyone else, its self-aggrandization, its self-pity, its self-satisfaction, and the list goes on. When you are dealing with an evil person, you can’t tell the other partner in the relationship (usually their victim) that they must consider the “other person’s” side of the story. Why? The “other side of the story” is a list of carefully contrived details (or lack thereof) – for simplicity’s sake we’ll call it lie. I can tell you first hand the abuser’s “side of the story” is a lie. They lie to themselves and others. They play the victim quite well (not so well they don’t get caught). They would not know the truth if it snuck up behind, bit them, and introduced itself! Their whole story and their reputation is built on lies. Without more lies to pile on top of other lies, their stories and reputations crumble. They whole world crumbles eventually because lies are like fish nets with many tiny holes. Fish nets don’t hold water so why would anyone think their lies would last? Abusers are deceived and believe that their lies will never be discovered. Have you ever seen how one behaves when their true identity has been revealed? It’s a sad, sorry, and even dangerous sight.
I caution anyone counseling a person leaving an abusive situation to not ask the person leaving to consider the abuser’s “side of the story.” The problem with that is they have been considering the abusers side of things for so long they are mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually exhausted. The abuser has taken, taken and then taken some more. The abuser has questioned the person’s sanity, their identity (and many times hijacked it), their friends, their family, their career, their choices, and the list continues. There is no “side” of an abuser’s story that will work to put the relationship back together. The abuser cannot tell reality from fantasy. In essence, when you ask someone to consider an abuser’s “side of the story” you are asking them to consider a fantasy and negotiate with evil – that ladies and gentlemen, I will not do. Do not ask another person to do this either. I really need the church to listen up here! You can’t ask someone to do this to save a marriage at all costs. What if the cost is the one partner’s death? What if the cost is the one partner’s spiritual demise? And what are you telling the abusive partner? You are telling them it is okay to continue what they are doing and that God will even “bless” it – which He won’t by a long shot. God is not a god of abuse – don’t ask people to take another person’s abuse in the name of saving a marriage. Church, we worship God, not marriage. We don’t negotiate or try to counsel with evil. It will not be counseled and it will not negotiate – do not be fooled!
If you are reading this and you are in an abusive situation, you can leave and you’re your best life. You don’t have to put up with abuse anymore! You don’t have to listen to your abuser’s endless “side of the story”, nor do you have to consider it. You can be free! You can get our life and your identity back!
If you are an abuser reading this blog, as long as you live, you can change. You will have to get honest about what you are doing and you will have to do the heart work to change it – this includes facing your fears and your pain – pain that may have been inflicted upon you by someone else. You don’t have to be the monster you grew up with or were exposed to as some point in your life. You can be free too! You and God are the only ones who can change you!
I want to encourage all those who counsel abuse survivors to be careful in what you ask these men and women to consider. Don’t ask them to consider more abuse or death to save a relationship or to save face. Help these survivors build new lives and introduce them to new life skills so they can maintain their new found freedom. Encourage them to cultivate the relationships that help them heal and sustain their healing over time.
Survivors, learn how to live again. Love yourself enough to say “never again!” to abuse. Let God show you how much you matter and let Him heal you and put your heart back together. What He has done for me, He will do for you!