Telling the Truth

“Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.”                                                                                         Proverbs 28:13

So often when I ask men to share with me how they came to be in a batterer intervention group I find they are eager to “set the record straight.” Generally speaking, most of the men I have worked with put forth a great deal of effort to convince me that they are in fact victims. Some will vacillate back and forth between excuses ranging from unfortunate circumstances to a feminist agenda bent on destroying families. Regardless of the rationale one truth remains consistent, they are being treated unfairly. The temptation for these men is to deny their own responsibility, usually by highlighting their partner’s problems. Many will insist she needs the class far more than they. Sometimes it may seem like I’m out to get them or that I’m unwilling to listen to their side of the story. The reality is that change will not happen in our own hearts as long as we continue to defend our own pride with lies or half-truths.

Put off Denial

Our pride convinces us that wicked behavior is sometimes necessary to maintain control or that malicious intent is justified when we feel wronged. This attitude may have led you to physically harm your partner or to call her ugly names. Perhaps you’ve thrown things across the room or punched holes in the walls to communicate you’re not pleased with her choices. If any of this is true than you may also find it necessary to hide certain details, bend certain truths to minimize your behavior while emphasizing the ways in which you’ve been wronged. This tendency toward denial is not going to help produce the change you really need. It’s a trap so devastating that it will not only destroy your relationship but will also ensnare your heart. I’m pleading with you to accept responsibility for your actions. Acknowledge the abusive behavior and the impact it has had on your partner.

“Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.”                                                                                 James 4:8-10

Change is a difficult and often times a lengthy process that requires, among other things, taking responsibility. You must acknowledge the truth about yourself and put off the denial. Would you be willing to speak truth to yourself today?

“Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body.”                                                                      Ephesians 4:25

Final Thought

If I were to ask you about your abusive behavior what would say? Would your story include statements like these?

“I’ve done nothing wrong!”

“She knows how to push my buttons.”

“This is all blown out of proportion.”

Let me encourage you to recount the story again, but this time only focus on your actions. Fight the temptation to justify them, excuse them away or gloss over them. Make a list of the ways in which you harmed your partner. Have you physically harmed her? Have you called her ugly names? Have you damaged her reputation with lies? Telling the truth will not fix everything that seems wrong in your life right now, but it is a far better choice than lying to yourself and others.

FYI: What I just described is NOT repentance. I am simply encouraging you to acknowledge your sin. For a more comprehensive process of change consider attending a men’s behavior change group in your area.

What do you think?

How significant is truth to the process of change for an abusive man?

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27 Responses to Telling the Truth

  1. Brenda R says:

    This would be a good start, if he would listen. I am sure that X would use all three of the denials in the final thoughts. He has an excuse for each and everything he did to me and my kids. We’re suppose to forget all of that and just start over. I Don’t Think So.

    • Excuses are often barriers to authentic change. I’m not sure anyone starts over as much as they change course. Many abusive men want things the way they were more than they want a healthy relationship. Also, it’s difficult to communicate the process of change in 500-600 words. It generally takes weeks of work before I see a man take this initial step. Peace.

  2. healingInHim says:

    My spouse has maintained that now that he is not a professing Christian that I can not expect him to love me the way “we” have been instructed according to the Word. I feel emotionally battered by the mind games. As for counsel, he has also admitted that he obviously doesn’t see himself as that bad of a person so doesn’t need or trust any counsel. Cindy Burrel wrote an excellent post … “If Only He Would Hit Me” …. What a horrific desperate existence?

    • How convenient. I have encountered many resistant counselees and while I want to have hope sometimes the truth is that they will refuse godly counsel. It’s imperative that you continue to grow stronger and seek wise counsel. Peace

      • healingInHim says:

        revchrismoles: May the Lord bless you and your loved ones safe as you reach out to minister to others. The enemy hates ‘men like you’.

    • Brenda R says:

      HIH, This is so sad, but I know what it is like to feel like this. I told X that he might as well hit me, not because I was looking for proof of his abuse, but because I have been hit before and really didn’t see the difference. Either way it doesn’t feel better. Cuts and bruises disappear, internal scars are much slower to go.

      • healingInHim says:

        Brenda R – Yes, the internal scars are very much slower to heal. What’s so very strange is most everyone including the ‘c’hurch will admit this to be true. For years countless discussions would speak of this. Then once someone like me who ‘covered up’ for many years finally comes forth to speak of the internal wounds; well, suddenly I’m faced with a very uncomfortable silence and then I wouldn’t be approached for ‘conversations’. I guess I burst their bubble of what a wholesome “C”hristian marriage and family we had.
        Even my husband admits to this!

  3. Forrest says:

    Accepting and owning our behaviour is the starting place. Without that we remain in the same place or go backwards.

  4. Tony says:

    Good post. Keep up the good work.

  5. Andrew Reavis says:

    This is a great post.
    As a man who has walked this road, I can affirm everything that is said. There is another aspect, though, that I am still dealing with 4 years later. As I tried telling my side first and gaining allies against my wife, I made myself look good and her the bad guy to her family and to the church. People choose to believe the first thing they hear and it is hard to convince them of any different. Now trying to correct all the damage I have caused is almost impossible, as they do not know whether to believe what I said then or now. I simply did not tell the WHOLE truth the first time, and even though our lives are so much different, they choose to believe that my wife was the problem and now I am “hen-pecked” and just trying to please her.
    Was it worth it to not accept the responsibility and tell the whole truth? Absolutely not! Would I have accepted it if some one had shared this article with me in the middle of my abuse? Unfortunately, probably not. Now, though, I want to spread it far and wide to keep other men from going where I’ve been and to keep other wives from the pain My wife has endured.


    • healingInHim says:

      Andrew, I first became aware of you via A CRY FOR JUSTICE and other ministries where you recently posted valuable comment(s). Pastor Jeff Crippen was greatly encouraged and offered that you connect with them for possibly more follow up feedback to help others. I’m sure RevMoles would agree.
      My husband doesn’t have to say “anything” in order to turn others against me. For years I covered for his sexual and emotional abuse. I portrayed him as a wonderful, moral, Christian, homeschooling Daddy. The adult children are scarred with hearing much of my pleading for change which would escalate into crazy-making heated discussions.
      I thought myself losing-it as I tried to comprehend why my children have decided to side with him; they know the history but alas, many years ago they ‘chose the wide road’ of living and even my “h”usband said that people feel convicted because they know I stand for righteousness.
      I apologize for this lengthy comment. Although the Lord has blessed me with several supportive people, it is sad to note that the secular ones are more supportive of me “moving on” … the spiritual leaders would ask that I forgive and turn the other cheek, etc. One told my “h”usband that I was “hanging out the dirty laundry” which was frowned upon. I told my “h”usband that I would rather that he clean his own laundry instead of throwing it in my face! (no comment) I am made to feel by many including both sides of our families that I have “hen-pecked”. (that’s a trigger word) The mind games are relentless … Coveting prayers and very thankful for ministries like this one who is exposing the sinful ‘darkness’ lurking under the guise of Christianity.

      • Brenda R says:

        Oh yes, “hanging out the dirty laundry”. We don’t want to do that now, do we. It certainly is frowned upon. We should lie and say everything is just fine. Don’t call sin what it is. Have smiles on your face on Sunday morning, stay quiet and peaceful. No one wants to know. Even the ones who show some concern, don’t really want to know much in the detail department. They say they will pray for me and move along. I have been free, meaning not living with X any longer, for 13 months and 19 days. There are 2 people that know that X still finds ways to verbally vomit on me as often as he can. No one else asks about him anymore. I have blocked him in every way that I know how online, but I can’t change my work phone number. Hanging up only leads to repeated call backs. He knows when to call so that it won’t bother the boss. He is so slick to not show his true colors in front of others.

        I am praying for you hiH. You have been lifted up this morning before Him. I pray that you will find Peace with Christ alone and block out all of the outside voices.

    • Thanks for joining the conversation. Your participation is really encouraging. I often remind our guys that a half truth is really a whole lie. It is odd that even when the truth comes out there is a tendency to dismiss it or sweep it away behind our well established assumptions and preferences. To me, the revealing (and encouraging) part of your story is your admission that your motive was to “look good” while discrediting her. To me this is a key revelation which reveals the heart and should unsteady (if not topple) the whole house of cards as it were. Unfortunately (or perhaps for your good) this will require a little more work in making amends. If your lie has led others to believe falsehood regarding your wife then your honesty (and perhaps persistence) will be required to set it right. Some of the greatest lessons in my life were learned as I abandoned my own pride for the love of my family. It is also a great reminder to others the damage our deception can do. Thanks again -Peace

      • Andrew Reavis says:

        I can not seem to find any contact information for you. Could you please contact me? I am interested in visiting with you about helping abusive men in here. I feel strongly that the Lord has given me deliverance and I should pass it on so He is glorified.

  6. healingInHim says:

    Brenda R – You get it. That ‘hanging out the dirty laundry term’ is one of the favourites to condemn victims. When it comes to the ‘dirty laundry’ analogy I have stated that for years just like I scrubbed and removed stains from my husband’s physical laundry, I had also over the years believed his promises of change … I worked on the ‘dirty laundry’ in our relationship. The only true cleanser that removes all stains is ‘true repentance’ before the THRONE of GRACE.
    In institutional settings we wear protective gloves while sorting out other’s laundry. Unfortunately, within a marriage relationship when there is no protection from so-called Biblical leaders, well, the filth often can contaminate the victim if they are not careful to take action and avoid it themselves. Sigh … how often we are told to just keep putting up with the dirty laundry; just don’t hang it out:-( Very often, this dirty laundry is thrown in our faces.

  7. ladyintheloge says:

    And here’s my growing awareness. When I collude with the abuser I make the same choice as Sapphira, to promote the lie rather than speak the truth. The fear of Man must not override the fear of God. LORD, help me.

      • healingInHim says:

        Revchrismoles – Thanks for confirming ladyintheloge … for years I have felt like Sapphira. What has been troubling is that even when we did receive counseling; I was shocked at the number of counselors who couldn’t see ‘the lie’ I was living … it was very strange?? … even though there has been blatant sin they just wanted to focus on us finding ‘common ground’ and like my husband wants ‘just getting along’.

      • Brenda R says:

        Common Ground and Just Getting Along are just other words for him getting his way. And as I was told, Do what you’re told and we’ll get along fine. Nonsense.

    • I had an advocate friend of mine warn me early on that not only would the abuser lie, but the entire scenario would be surrounded in lies. She said that abuse creates a culture of deceit. Others would collude, most would remain silent and more than likely the victim is not telling you the whole truth for a variety of reasons. The temptation is to go to the middle, assume a centric position but the abuse/deciet has moved everything so far too one direction the middle is often still in the lie. She recommended I start with believing the amount of truth I was given and work from that point.

      • healingInHim says:

        Praying for all that sense God’s calling to counsel … Only the wisdom from the infallible Word along with other’s who honour Christ will help you discern and counsel wisely. Referencing, “… abuse creates a culture of deceit.”
        For years I knew I was living in an atmosphere of ‘deceit’, however, it was not until I received counsel from the local Women’s Resource center that she came right out and told me that I have been ‘abused’. Inwardly, all those years I felt emotionally abused but she confirmed instances where I had also been sexually abused. Living in an atmosphere of deceit for a long period had me convinced that maybe ‘this was normal’??

      • Brenda R says:

        It amazes me what I have lied to myself about and accepted as being “Normal”. 56 years of abuse since birth, one year of freedom from it!

  8. healingInHim says:

    Brenda R – It all makes sense NOW … I grew up in a home where my father would be very physically violent with my mother when he would go on his drinking binges. All my siblings eventually moved on and I was left. I pleaded with my mother to leave but she wouldn’t probably because of fear. I finally left at age 16, eventually completing a college program, married and really thought my husband would help heal some of the scars … no, I just walked into a “different” type of abuse. I’m now learning this is not uncommon and am prayerfully hoping that God can use me to educate others to not repeat the pattern in their lives.

    • Brenda R says:

      Me too, only my father abandoned my mother while pregnant with my younger sister. I had an abusive in every way stepfather. I also pleaded with my mother to leave, but she said she would just find someone worse. She didn’t realize about the sexual abuse and I was well trained not to tell. I married and dealt with much abuse. I went back to college 3 seperate times, but with babies I never finished. I have the same prayers. I tell anyone who will listen and for that matter some who don’t want to listen.

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