So here are a few thoughts ...
- From one point of view, it's easy to imagine people abusing one another. In a way that's almost "natural". We love power and we're all damaged in some way. What is really inconceivable is people loving one another, people being good. Love is supernatural, transcendent. And you see that when you realize what our true natural "baseline" is.
- If an abuser is a family member or a close friend, things are infinitely harder on the victim. Separating the knot of affection and abuse is almost impossible. And yet only when you begin to see with clarity the evil involved, can you begin to regain some sanity. This is how the knot gets untangled. There comes a point where you see with horror the deliberate damage the abuser was doing all along, and you see with shame your own role in it (if you were an adult) or with terror your helplessness (if you were a child).
- A great and awful truth of fallen human nature: we hate those we hurt. We don't first hate them and then hurt them; we first hurt them and then we hate them. This is actually the result of the workings of conscience. We can't stand to be faced with the harm we have done, and so we retreat to a feeling of contempt. I once had a client owe me $600 for six months running, and by the end of it they hated, loathed and despised me for collecting it from them. I was the bad guy, even though I was the victim.
- If we could ever eliminate from our relationships our neurotic agendas, we'd have the insight to realize who is and who is not worth knowing. Every single person who's treated me with contempt - and there have been many over the years - has done so because I've invited him or her in and enabled a situation in which I'm hoping to get my own stroking, to get my own selfish agenda satisfied. An independent observer could say, "What the hell do you have fill in the blank in your life for? That friend / employee / client is a total mess. Can't you see it?"
- Abusers have themselves been abused. This is almost a cardinal rule. Part of our job as Christians is to stop the cycle. Don't pass on the evil that is done to us. "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." - (Rom. 12:21)
- Neglect is a form of abuse.
- Cults are institutionalized forms of abuse. They take advantage of our religious urges, of our desire to serve God, of the greatest good in us, and turn it toward their own advantage. Recovering from being in a cult is very difficult.
- "Self-abuse" ends up becoming one of the worst symptoms victims deal with. Victims become convinced that they are worthless, and so they behave accordingly.