Saturday, 8 November 2014

What is That "Sorry" Worth?

Since my own devastating 'church' experience, I've been reading and learning all I can about abuse. What it looks like. How it manifests. Why both abuser and abused seem to act out their parts as if reading from some ineluctable script, regardless of the finer details of the situation.

There are the classic moves like blaming, gas lighting and shunning.

There is the haunting pain of shame, self-doubt and isolation.

And there is, to mis-quote Maxwell Smart, the old 'say sorry and then insist your victim gets over it' trick.

I've been watching this trick being played throughout the fall of the Driscoll Empire: "He's said he's sorry, what more do you want from him!?"

And because people like Warren Throckmorton keep pressing for answers, they are accused of being judgemental, bloodthirsty and self-righteous. And that's just the polite words...

What some people refuse to understand is that people who have survived abuse (or at least understand its foulness) will move heaven and earth to make sure no-one else becomes a victim. If you've experienced that depth of pain and betrayal, you won't sit idly by and watch an abuser just walk away. Free to keep on devastating the lives of the innocent or unwary.

It's not a case of "wanting to bring them down" or "being out for revenge". It's knowing that an unrepentant abuser will strike again. Think about it for a moment - if they don't believe they've done anything wrong, why would they change their behaviour!?

That is why it is wise to seek proof of 'repentance' before trusting again. To ask that actions line up with the words.

Reparation. Redress. Restitution. Recompense. Restoration.

These are the things that can lead to reconciliation. Things that prove the sincerity of your words. Things that show how serious you are about what you have said.

But be warned! If you stand your ground in wanting to see the evidence, there's a real danger that you'll be further vilified. Believe me, I know what I'm talking about!

Of course, the upside to that is you'll know exactly how much that "sorry" was worth!


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  3. Thank you for this post... it is very timely for me. Yesterday my husband and I received a letter from a previous church leader. It's difficult to put into words how painful his words are, particularly as I think many people would think it a very gracious letter considering how "difficult and divisive" we are believed to be. But I think you probably would understand how I am feeling.

    "The haunting pain of shame, self-doubt and isolation" is very real but you are right, I don't want to bring anyone down. I simply long for them to see that their behaviour is hurting and damaging people... I suppose I still believe that if they could see it they wouldn't do it any more.

    But they can't see and we are further vilified... we can only walk away with our three boys and lose friendships, and community and a church of 22 years that I still love. I know you know how this feels... thank you for somehow being a companion on this journey.

    1. UH my heart is deeply moved by your words. It all sounds so terribly familiar, and I want to reassure you that you are not alone!

      If you hear this from no-one else, I want you to know you have permission to keep yourself safe. You don't have to pretend, or meet anyone else's expectations. Take time - as much time as you need. Let yourself grieve the loss you are facing. Don't be pressured by anyone. Don't be discouraged that you can't "just get over it' or that things you hear or read trigger emotional pain or trauma.

      And be encouraged that there is life and joy and hope on the other side of all this. It won't come quickly, but it will come.

      With love and the very best of wishes, LL

      PS Have you read my post, "Righteous Response or Manipulation?" You may find some encouragement from that, too x

  4. Thank you so much for your kindness.. it seems true that only people who have been through church trauma can understand what it's like. Even the need for 'keeping myself safe' has been questioned and used against me. It gets crazy doesn't it? And yes, I've read that post, it definitely resonates!! I'm fairly sure I've read all your posts over the last few months and they've really helped when I've thought I was going mad and brought comfort when I've thought nobody "gets it".

    Your writing is bearing fruit, probably more widely than you get to see, I hope that is some encouragement and comfort to you too xx

    1. So blessed to know I've managed to encourage you - you've returned the favour by telling me! :)