In a previous article, I highlighted four things that the church doesn’t know about abusive marriages. The fact is, domestic abuse in “Christian” marriages is more common than we have often realized. It is time to shine a light on this reality so that justice and healing can come.
When it comes to abuse, it is important to look beyond behaviors and into the mindsets that drive those behaviors. Abuse can take on many forms, some subtle and others overt:
- Aggression, threats, physical violence, and intimidation
- Sly tactics of emotional and psychological abuse
- Manipulation, isolation, gaslighting, and deception
- Verbal assaults, belittling, destructive cursing
- Passive-aggression, silent treatment, and stonewalling
Various other tactics and behaviors could be added to this list. But it is important to understand that there are beliefs and mindsets that drive all abusive behavior. It is not simply that a person loses their temper or can’t control their actions. There are deep-seated attitudes and mentalities that are at the core of how an abusive person thinks and therefore acts. Four of these are listed below.
Four Mindsets of an Abuser
1. Extreme selfishness
An abuser has an extreme focus on self. While all of us can have a natural selfish tendency that needs to be overcome, an abuser is self-centered to the core. A self-important and self-serving attitude are driving forces behind decisions and behaviors. There is an emotional immaturity that does not allow for self-sacrifice or true empathy for others.
2. Deep entitlement
Along with selfishness, abusers carry a deep sense of entitlement. They will expect favorable treatment and automatic compliance to their wishes and desires. They will have unrealistic expectations of others and become very angry when someone defies their will. They feel entitled to always have their way at their victim’s expense—to use their victim for their own personal gain.
3. Not taking responsibility
Abusers will consistently refuse to take responsibility for their actions. They will blame-shift, manipulate, and minimize their destructive behavior. They avoid responsibility and they avoid accountability. Only when they are backed into a corner will they admit fault or confess wrong, but it will not be with genuine repentance.
4. Power and control
When it comes down to it, the abusive mindset is all about power and control. Their actions and behaviors are crafted to maintain a posture of superiority and a position of control. Abusers see their victims as property and as subservient to themselves. They must maintain control over their victim’s time, decisions, and actions. They do not respect the individuality or personhood of their victim but see them as an extension of themselves, existing to meet their wants and needs.
Don’t Be Confused by Behaviors
If you only look at the behaviors of an abuser, you can easily get confused. An abuser will use a myriad of tactics and will constantly be shifting and deceiving, depending on what is necessary to manipulate situations and maintain control.
Abuse is more than destructive behaviors; it is destructive mindsets. As you see abuse—and its underlying beliefs and attitudes—more clearly, you can begin to step into greater healing from its damaging effects. You can begin to set boundaries and not allow yourself to be controlled or manipulated. You can recover your personhood and regain your voice.
You were never meant to be dominated, controlled, or manipulated by another person. You are worth far more than that!
*Make sure to check out our resource section for more clarity on the nature of abuse and how to be free from its influence.
Written by Jake Kail
This is an updated edition of a post originally published on Esther Company