The Silence of the Lambs

I have been reading through the articles at a blog called Narcissists Suck. It is my new favorite website. The blogger writes about narcissism in a clear, concise, interesting, and Biblical way, which I am finding very helpful and refreshing, especially now when frustration at the way most people respond to victims of emotional abuse sits like a lump in my stomach. I have felt frustrated ever since I spoke up about why I strongly disliked that video about the seemingly lonely old man who pretended to be dead so his children would visit at Christmas. Writing for me is a type of therapy–I explore ideas or experiences and I also dump out thoughts so they don’t stay in my mind. I’m finding my frustration is staying in my mind so, sorry, I am going to pour my thoughts out here.

The video triggered memories of abuse because it has classic, textbook characteristics of Narcissistic abuse: 1. The old man appears very loving, a lonely victim of children who do not visit on Christmas. 2. He lies, deceives, and manipulates his adult children into doing what he wants. 3. He convinces others into helping him manipulate his children since, obviously, he couldn’t, himself, inform them that he was dead. 4. The one who points it out is not believed.

I have been told several times since I expressed my dislike for this video that it was merely perspective and others had a different perspective. I get that people have different perspectives, opinions, beliefs, interpretations, and paradigms. However, I don’t see how pointing out that this old man was a liar, deceiver, and manipulator is merely a matter of perspective. The man was alive, not dead. His death was the “not truth,” it was a lie, which means he was a liar. He made a situation appear one way (he was “dead”) when it was really another (he was actually alive). That’s deception. He used dishonest tactics to get what he wanted. That’s manipulation. God clearly says that He hates lies. That, to me, is clear and undebatable. Jesus called Satan a liar and a murderer. I believe He connected these words–liar and murderer–because a person who lies actually murders another’s reality, freewill, trust, love, spirit, identity. I don’t see how any Christian can hold up a liar as an example of truth.  It’s an oxymoron.

I hate that when a victim of abuse speaks up, people assume that she/he is angry, bitter, unforgiving, filled with oozing emotional pain, and that that disqualifies her perspective. In reality, 1. A person can speak with pain and still be speaking the truth. 2. Just because she speaks about abuse doesn’t mean that she is bitter and unforgiving or oozing with pain. 3. A person can be righteously angry without being bitter and unforgiving, etc.–and I believe that there are things we ought to be angry about. And 4….I will talk about 4 in more detail throughout this post.

Whenever one of my friends mentions struggling with an illness, disorder, or other form of suffering, I research it because I care about them. I have friends who are suffering from Multiple Sclerosis, Crohn’s Disease,  Hashimoto’s Disease, PTSD, and with a child with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), among others things. Some of these conditions I had never heard about before my friends suffered from it. Some I had heard about before but I looked more deeply into what sort of daily challenges my friends had to face–because it’s one thing to know in general about a disease or disorder and quite another thing to understand what a personal friend is actually suffering. I have also asked several of my friends directly about their problems. It helps me understand. I don’t doubt my friends’ descriptions of their sufferings. I don’t downplay their symptoms, I don’t tell them what to feel, I don’t tell them what they should do. I consider them more qualified than I am to speak about their challenges because they are experiencing it.

However, when a victim speaks up about abuse, many people disbelieve and downplay it, and act as if the victim’s words are invalid because “her perspective is off” because she has been hurt. I say poppycock. She is more qualified to speak about the dynamics of abuse because she has lived it and experienced its damage. Rather than dismiss her perspective, or re-imagine what happened, or tell her that she is over-reacting, or declare what they think she should feel, think, or do, or imagine possible motives of the abuser, they ought to listen to the victim with the intent of understanding. Listening is a gift you give to the hurting. Also, it could be very likely that the victim has important things to say and you could learn from her so that 1. you don’t become a victim or 2. you don’t make the suffering of victims greater.

I might, as a survivor of Narcissistic abuse, seem to be overly sensitive to this sort of situation. However, it’s also very possible–likely even–that because of my experience, I can see things that others are blind to. It’s like…EJ used to drink a lot, back before we met and married. Sometimes we are driving along–him driving, me riding–and he will say, “That guy in the car ahead is drunk. He’s all over the road.” I look and I don’t see what he sees. I mean, I think of “being all over the road” as, you know, WEAVING WILDLY from one side of the road to the next, leaving S-shaped black marks in the pavement–like in the movies. But I trust that EJ can pick up on subtle behaviors that I can’t see because I never had that lifestyle and he did. He KNOWS in ways that I don’t. In the same way, I can pick up on lies, deceit, and manipulative behavior that others might not see because of what I’ve experienced. In fact, there have been several times when I have warned EJ that someone was manipulating us. One such time was about a year ago, when I warned told EJ that–for real–the fragile old man he was feeling sorry for was actually manipulating us to get back at his wife. EJ said, “No, he’s just an old man and I want to help him…” So I told him in detail what I thought the man was doing and how it would affect us if we allowed ourselves to be used by him. We protected ourselves, avoided a mess, and we found out that I had been completely correct in every detail which totally amazed EJ because he didn’t know how I knew. I picked up on the subtle clues because I know about liars, deception, and manipulation.

Narcissist abuse experts say that a strange gift that Narcissists give to their victims is a hatred of lies and a love for truth. I believe it’s because victims understand firsthand how lies destroy lives. They know that the only way they escaped the web of lies was to hold on and fight with truth. They know that it is only the truth that sets us free. If you want to understand the power of lies and truth, good and evil, talk to a recovering victim of Narcissistic abuse.

So I want to share just a little about emotional abuse. Emotional abusers include Narcissists, Psychopaths, and Sociopaths. It has been said that not all Narcissists are Psychopaths but all Psychopaths are Narcissists. I would assume the same is true of Sociopaths as well. I will speak about Narcissistic abuse because that is what I am familiar with. If you want to understand this sort of abuse–and I hope you do–the website Narcissists Suck is an extremely good website to learn from. I will quote some of her articles here but it would be worthwhile to read the entirety of the articles which I am linking to. She really is an excellent writer.

It is said that emotional abuse is even more dangerous to a victim than physical abuse. Physical abuse is very terrible. Emotional abuse is a component of every type of abuse, including physical. However, physical abuse is more easily recognized and believed than purely emotional abuse because there is evidence of it–bruises and broken bones. Because of this, victims tend to get more validation and support from others. Emotional abuse has been described as brainwashing and psychological torture. It is especially dangerous because it is so subtle and there’s no evidence to prove its existence. Because of this, people tend to disbelieve it which means the victims don’t get validation or support. Also, physical abuse usually happens in isolated episodes while emotional abuse is constant torment.

A Narcissist is an extremely skilled liar who can make cruelty seem loving, evil appear good, lies appear true, black appear white, and ugliness appear beautiful so that even victims don’t always realize they are being abused until the damage has been done and they wake up one day feeling emotionally raped and not knowing who they are.

Narcissists hide their abuse, tormenting their victims in secret. They skillfully make themselves appear to outsiders to be very sweet, loving, and even spiritual. Because of this, the victim is often not believed and is seen as the Attacker of a Good Person. She often finds herself in a lose-lose situation: If she is silent about the abuse, lies go unchallenged and the Narcissist is free to assassinate her character and to capture more victims in his web. If she speaks up, she appears to be everything the Narcissist accused her of being: angry, bitter, unloving, unforgiving. I highly respect people such as Narcissists Suck who have the courage to speak up and are very articulate. I have compassion for the victims who do not speak up because they are weary of trying to defend themselves from those who disbelieve and condemn them. Sometimes I speak up and then become frustrated when people don’t listen–don’t understand–what I am saying. They make me feel patronized. Sometimes I write about the abuse and then delete it because it feels as if I’m slogging through muck or because I think no one will understand–and often they don’t. (In fact, I deleted my last post.) As experts say, “Narcissistic abuse can’t be described by those who are inside it and is not understood by those outside of it.”

On the other hand, while many don’t understand, usually when I share about abuse a few abuse victims will message me privately with their own stories. That makes sharing worthwhile and I’m glad to pass along things I’ve learned, but their stories make me sad and increase my frustration of the bystanders who refuse to hear. Some friends  are willing to ask me to explain about Narcissistic abuse. I greatly value them because they are rare.

I cannot comprehend evil people. I cannot comprehend those who enjoy causing misery and pain to others. I am angry at unrepentant abusers and my heart is broken for the victims. However, I understand and accept that a Narcissist is a predator and predators act according to their nature. Predators are roaring lions who seek those they can devour. That’s who they are. Twisted people who devour others.

f5e010eea4c3470c703219bcbe9181ccThe people who anger me most at this time are the bystanders. It is very difficult for a victim to break free from Narcissistic abuse. When she does, the road to recovery is long because her core identity has been damaged. She has to rewrite lies with the truth, she has re-learn who she is, she has to learn to trust again.  Often she struggles with PTSD, depression, or anxiety. The journey is much more difficult when bystanders trample over the victim as they rush to excuse, justify, support, and unconditionally forgive the unrepentant abusers. Bystanders tend to minimize the abuse and disbelieve and accuse the victim which increases the damage to her. I stayed in abuse much longer than I might otherwise have because I was told that the abusers were just wounded, didn’t know better, didn’t mean to, actually loved me, and I should love and forgive them more. I went to pastors, mentors, and Christian friends for help when I was confused and hurting. Not one really listened to me or believed me, not one told me that what I was experiencing was abuse, not one criticized the abuser, and not one told me that I didn’t have to endure it. I think God taught me little by little and what I learned was verified when I eventually found on-line abuse websites and groups.  I am especially glad there are now Christians understanding and writing about abuse.

In Matthew 7:15 Jesus warned, “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.” EJ has been told by an ex-policeman co-worker and I have read at abuse sites that predators go where the prey is and very often their prey is in the church. The religious abuser uses Scripture as a tool of abuse, twisting it to make the victim believe that if she resists her abuser, she is opposing God Himself. The Christian bystander often aids the abuser by defending him while accusing the victim with their misunderstanding of Biblical truths. They often tell the victim that in leaving her abuser, she is being unloving, unforgiving, and unChristian. Pressuring a victim to stay in an abuser’s torment is wrong and to use God to do it is heinous. Narcissists Sucks began her post, Not All Enemies Are Created Equal with

As difficult as you know it to be to extricate from a narcissist, especially a family narcissist, Christians are rendered much more susceptible to narcissist control because of the powerful clubs that misinformed Christianity hands over to malignant narcissists. So, hopefully, you’ll be patient when my posts focus on problems for Christians, especially Bible-verse-twisting antics of the narcissists and ill-informed Christians who often unwittingly support the narcissists.

Narcissists Suck refers to the unwitting supporters of the Narcissists as ill-formed. I think that the tragedy is that most of the Narissist’s supporters believe they are righteous and wise and know Scripture, which makes them unable or unwilling to hear anything other than their own opinions. They become unteachable.  

In another post, the blogger wrote:

The narcissist appeasers [bystanders] always have a cloak of righteousness they wrap around themselves when approaching those of us who have finally seen the evil doer for what they are and are trying to protect ourselves and our loved ones from them. Regardless of whether the person is religious, or Christian, in profession…this self-righteousness always accompanies the narcissist appeasers. They find a way to assume a moral superiority to you and then smash you to bits. They are simply co-abusers with the narcissist and I find them every bit as dangerous…possibly more so…than the narcissist him or her self.

The Bible says that Satan can appear to be an angel of light. The most evil abusers can appear charming. The most awful lies can look beautiful. Narcissists Suck, who is a Christian, has written in her post They Hide From Truth Because Their Deeds Are Evil:

...There is an interesting point of religious doctrine on this that has been largely forgotten since the Middle Ages. It is that evil lurks beneath a beautiful exterior. In the vernacular today, we say that Beauty runs skin deep. We see this principle reflected in medieval paintings of the fall of the bad angels. They aren’t depicted as ugly demons; they are depicted as beautiful spirits indistinguishable outwardly from the good angels. In other words, malevolence disguises itself with sanctimony…

Evil must mask itself with good in order for it to make a living. Evil must hide itself by hiding the truth of who and what they are. Therefore, full truth (light) is anathema to evil…Evil is an absence of truth which is why it must attach itself to some semblance of truth in order to exist. Evil is parasitic. It cannot stand alone. Pure lies don’t sell. It is the truth that the lie attaches itself to that makes the lie attractive…or at least palatable. The lies of evil need to attach to goodness and truth in order to successfully hide in plain sight. Potential victims must not be warned off by the horrific sight and smell of their villainy. Even though the narcissist despises truth they are dependent on a certain amount of it in order to survive. I tell you this so you are not surprised by the mixture of truth amongst the big lies…

She also wrote, in her post From Such Turn Away:

Evil must disguise itself in order to stalk it’s prey…religion shouldn’t be faulted for being used by those seeking cover for their nefarious deeds. If you will fault religion then, to be consistent, you must fault many other worthy institutions of service and human welfare. The helping professions (teachers, doctors, social workers, etc.) are all ready disguises for the evil person who wants to present himself as harmless and trustworthy. The simple reality is that a person will cloak themselves with their opposite. If they are a pedophile, they may become a Scout leader, a teacher or a priest. Or a clown for kids’ parties. It gives them close access to their preferred prey and the advantage of the trust and authority these positions offer. A woman who gets her kicks controlling and abusing children may become a foster care parent. Examples are legion. Because most religious people are decent, religion is another place evil can hide itself. So don’t think that all religion is bad because some wolves use it to hide in and then savage the sheep…

The blogger also wrote in her post When Good is Bad:

The most dangerous predators among us are ingeniously veiled. They carefully surround themselves with people entirely unlike themselves, that is, with deeply empathic human beings who wish to please others, who are slow to judge, who are excessively tolerant and who have an eye for the good to be found in others. They know how to exploit to their own advantage such character traits. It is their association with such people that maximizes their chances of perpetuating the facade and keeping themselves from exposure. “Narcissism & the Dynamics of Evil

I want to focus your attention for a moment on the kind of good person, good qualities, and good intentions which are used to support and hide “the most dangerous predators”. If good is used for the evil purposes of predators then good itself becomes dangerous. We really must make determined efforts to not allow good to be used as a cloak for evil, especially if that good resides in ourselves. We are responsible to others to make sure our good natures and qualities are not used by predators to get within striking distance of their victims. 

A group of people who admire and cultivate the qualities of being “deeply empathic”, people pleasers, reluctant to judge, “excessively tolerant” and who choose to see only the good in others, are Christians. You do not have to be a Christian to value and hold these qualities, but as a group Christians tend to value and emphasize and reward these qualities. So I’m talking especially to Christians…

There is something fundamentally wrong with our idea of how “good” people should be if we are not discriminating enough to make sure our “good” is not used to facilitate evil. If the “good” qualities we boast of are used as weapons in the hands of a predator then our “good” is actually turned to evil. This is very serious business.

Christians…listen up. All the platitudes and bromides you’ve been weaned on do not apply to narcissists. Quit coddling, excusing, justifying and enabling evil to thrive. Your well-intentioned desire to “save” the narcissist is back-firing. You are supporting evil when you don’t hold evil people accountable for their behavior.

Christians, of all people, should be the last ones who excuse or support evil people, yet, somehow, they do it everyday thinking themselves to be good Christians by giving a pass to out right evil behaviors just so they look like “nice” people. Turn on your brains and think. Stop acting how you think you should act in order to impress all your friends with your great Christian heart. Sometimes the right thing to do isn’t necessarily the “nice” thing. The Gospel of Nice is not the Gospel of Christ. You are morally weak if you are giving a pass to evil narcissists. Period. Yes, even if that narcissist is your parent. 

…It is no small thing to let your goodness be exploited, used, and manipulated by predatory narcissists. Your good qualities are only good if they support good. All too often people fall for the notion that their eternal patience and determined belief in the good of all people will cause others to rise to the occasion. The narcissist will never rise to this occasion in the way you hope. They will only see opportunity for protective coloration by standing very close to you and letting your goodness hide their badness.

It is imperative for you, your family, and your social circle that you engage your rational powers and start discerning between good and evil. Discernment = judgment. Not a bad word. I have said before that “nice people suck”. In this context, of how “nice” people often let themselves be used by evil people, I am speaking. There is a time for everything. Always being “nice” is a sign that you do not understand there is a time to not be “nice”. There is a time to judge. A time to take an unpopular stand. A time to hold evil-doers to account no matter the cost to you. A time to protect the innocent and abused from those who have very successfully hidden their malignancy heretofore. A time for war.

The Bible is filled with descriptions of evil people, and it warns that in the last days, people will be…well…evil (2 Tim 3). It also says that people will appear godly but deny its power and also that they give heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons. It says that there are wolves among the sheep. However, if someone speaks up about actual abuse, evil people, wolves in sheep’s clothing…bystanders shush them up and disbelieve it. That doesn’t make sense. Not everyone is evil, but the Bible does describe evil people and we ought to believe that they exist rather than treat them as if they are fantasy characters in a storybook.

The title of this post refers to two types of silent lambs. One is those bystanders who are silent when it comes to confronting evil and defending victims. The other silent lambs are those victims who are silent because no one really listens to them. It is said that Narcissism is on the rise so the chances of you encountering one is increasing. I challenge my readers to learn about Narcissistic abuse so you will not become a victim or be used by abusers to victimize others. I also urge them to stop silencing the victims. Listen. Educate yourself. Be teachable.

 

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