Abused? Or Abuser?
Two people participate in acts of violation: a victim (the abused) and a perpetrator (the abuser).
The person on the receiving end of abusive behaviors is the victim. The victim is prone to be captured by the message the actual abuse sends. Essentially, in being the recipient of an act of abuse, a tainted and skewed perspective of God, self, and others can develop. Here are some ways victims can wrongly adapt:
Believe abuse is deserved. Some victims will get so broken-down, they will actually feel entirely responsible for the abuse. No matter how hard they try, they replay a message in their mind that says, “I did something to deserve this.”
The cycle of enablement. Victims often feel the need to defend the person who committed the very acts of abuse that hurt them. They may believe the abuser couldn’t help it, or they may justify the acts because they want to earn the abuser’s love. This skewed form of protection actually encourages the abuse to continue.
The “I’m a victim” mentality. Some victims who do not deal with the issues appropriately will develop dysfunctional relationship skills where they tend to always have to be in a “victim” situation. They will not be able to see themselves or others accurately and will participate in behaviors that either encourage bad behavior or falsely set people up to be perpetrators. This sort of victim actually feels most safe when in the role of victim.
An abuser or perpetrator is an unhealthy person. Everyone who lives in a fleshly body is subject to being led astray by the enemy in various ways. As human beings, the spirit realm around us is influencing us. People influenced by biblical truth will manifest behaviors that reflect that truth. People influenced by toxic surroundings or evil spirits will manifest other behaviors. God’s objective for our lives is to give us life. Satan’s objectives are to kill, steal, and destroy (see John 10:10). God uses people as vessels. Satan also uses people as vessels. Understanding this perspective is critical as we face the violations of a perpetrator, because it helps us identify the real enemy: Satan. A perpetrator is a carrier of shame. Instead of Biblically dealing with shame, the perpetrator acts out an emotional pain or demonic influence. Sadly, the behaviors they inflict on others typically stem from shame imposed on them through someone else’s sin. Our culture tries to blame genetics for the emotional and behavioral challenges we face; but in the spiritual realm, the shame of sin is passed along form one person to the next, one generation to the next (see Deuteronomy 5:9-10).
What would make a person cross the line to become a perpetrator? People learn to cope and deal with life in different ways. For the darker and more evil forms of abuse, the person who becomes a perpetrator has developed a hardened heart. They have listened to the enemy rather than to God’s principles, and now act out their anger, shame, fear, or powerlessness by hurting others. While we are allowed by God to hate the perpetrator’s acts, it’s important to remember that he or she needs grace as much as any other member of society. Even more humbling is to realize that every one of us could have been, or could become, a perpetrator in some way.
Prayer to Break the Shame Caused by Unhealthy Standards
Father, I ask for Your wisdom to know how You would have me see, hear, and respond to situations in my life. Show me Your heart and give me Your hands so I don’t run people over by my harsh and unfair judgments or walk in shame of never feeling that I’m good enough. Place in me the spirit of grace and give me the delight and pleasure of resting in the truth that, as Your child, I already measure up to Your standard. As I receive and walk in that truth, God, give me the ability to share that same grace with those around me, walking only by the standard of Your love and not the standards of man.
As I look at the violations that have occurred in my life, I confess that, at times, I have minimized them. Other times, I’ve felt like a victim of circumstances. I may have even been mad or angry at You as a result. Please help me understand the reality of the shame and the messages that shame has imposed on me and prepare my heart as I seek you as the remedy to the pain and shame in my heart.
Thank you for healing me and making me whole, that I might be fully used for Your purposes. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.
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