Psalm 82 Initiative Is For You

by | Abuse Literacy

Psalm 82 Initiative Is For You

Have you been betrayed, emotionally abused, and abandoned? Disbelieved, dismissed, and even shunned? Then the Psalm 82 Initiative is for you.

Tom Pride, founder of the Psalm 82 Initiative, meets with Anne Blythe on the free BTR podcast. Together, they take a Biblical deep dive into supporting and freeing emotional abuse victims. Read the full transcript and listen to the free BTR podcast to learn more.

Psalm 82 Initiative Helps You Identify Abusive Relationships

Identifying abuse can be difficult. Clergy, therapists, even the legal system, dismiss abuse victims if there aren’t signs of physical battering.

How can women accurately identify abuse if they bear no bruises?

Tom Pride shares four components to identifying abuse:

  • Isolation
  • Deflection
  • Manipulation
  • Intimidation

Listen to the podcast episode to help you determine how much these four components of abuse are affecting your life.

Psalm 82 Initiative Helps You Identify The Elements of Abuse

Women are empowered when they become educated about emotional abuse. The Psalm 82 Initiative clearly delineates the four components of abuse:

  • Entitlement
  • Control
  • Coercion
  • Compliance

When victims understand and accept that they are in an abusive relationship, they can hold tightly to the truth.

Psalm 82 Initiative Empowers Women To Live In Truth

When I can tell myself the truth, and I can stand on the truth for myself and say, “this is what is real, this is what is happening.” I am standing in the truth. When I am confident that I am dealing with the truth, now I’m free to tell others the truth and I’m going to have that confidence that I’m going to say, this is my reality. You can believe it or not, but this is the truth. Then I have a different relationship with the world outside of me. I don’t need them to validate the fact that I’m telling the truth. I am telling the truth. Then I can tell the truth to myself about the abuser. This person is not the loving person that I thought he was. Now I can tell myself the truth about my circumstance, and then once I can tell myself the truth about my circumstance, and I’m confident in the truth that I’m telling myself about my circumstance, now I can tell the world around me about the truth of my circumstance and I’m standing on a solid foundation

Tim Pride, Founder of the Psalm 82 Initiative

Abusers condition victims to live in fear and lies. Embracing and living in truth helps victims find safety.

Psalm 82 Initiative Encourages Victims to Prioritize Safety

Your safety is more important than anything. Prioritize your safety above all. Safety isn’t just not being physically harmed. Safety is emotional, mental, spiritual, and sexual comfort. You deserve safety.

You can prioritize your safety by setting boundaries. Some examples:

  • I only speak to and spend time with people who respect me.
  • I do not engage in sexual contact unless I feel completely safe.
  • I do not speak to abusive people.
  • I call the police when I am stalked, harassed, or terrorized.
  • I report crime, including marital rape.

BTR Is Here For You

As Anne says, “Hope and help are possible.” You can heal. You can experience safety and peace again. You deserve love.

You don’t have to do this alone.

The Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group meets every day in every time zone. In BTRG sessions, you can process your trauma, ask questions, share your story, and create strong bonds with other women who get it. Join today.

Remember, you’re not alone.

Full Transcript:

Welcome to Betrayal Trauma Recovery, this is Anne. I have Tom Pride from Psalm 82 Initiative on today’s episode. You are going to love it. Before we get to that, Betrayal Trauma Recovery group is a daily online group that you can hop on anytime we have multiple sessions a day in every single time zone. We’d love to see you in a session today.

Rate the BTR Podcast

Thank you to those of you who have given the podcast a five-star rating on iTunes or your other podcasting apps. Here’s one of the five-star ratings we have received lately. This one’s from a man who said, “I need recovery and healing. I want to thank you for creating this podcast. I have been an emotional abuser to my wife from the start of our relationship seven years ago. One question I have that I have not been able to grasp in my head. Will my wife ever understand that none of this is her fault, that I do love her, that I do want to change and become a better person, and that the way I have been abusing her in the past is not the person I want to be. I’m in the process of finally getting help and healing I need to be the person I know I can be. I’m afraid is far too late for me to be able to save my relationship with my wife.”

Center For Peace Helps Abusers

Thank you so much for that review. It’s probably one of a handful of men that listen to the podcast, I always love hearing their feedback. Thank you and I’m grateful that you listen. Hopefully, it’s helpful to you. We only recommend Center for Peace for men who have been abusers in the context of pornography and sexual addiction.

Anne: I have Tom pride on today’s episode. He is the founder of the Psalm 82 Initiative, which you can find on Facebook if you just type in Psalm 82 Initiative. Their mission is to help clergy and churches stop abuse and keep victims safe. Welcome, Tom.

Tom: Thank you. Thanks for having me.

What Is Psalm 82 Initiative?

Anne: So, first of all, let’s talk about why you started Psalm 82 initiative, perhaps even talking about Psalm 82 if women are not familiar with it. Can you give us a kind of background?

How Did Psalm 82 Initiative Begin?

Tom: We actually started helping churches deal with conflict. So, we would go where a church was having some difficulty and we would intervene. Help kind of coach the church through handling that conflict and then we ended up gradually kind of expanding into various kinds of problems and problem solving for churches. What we started noticing was that we started getting locked into a lot of domestic violence-related kinds of problems. Interestingly, a parallel between church conflict and domestic violence, and those two things had an interesting overlap, and the process that we had been using to help churches with conflict turned out to be somewhat useful and transferred over to domestic violence.

Psalm 82 Initiative Has Been Operating For Almost 20 Years

Over the years, we started getting more calls related to domestic violence. We started connecting to domestic violence issues that were related to leadership in the church as the perpetrators of that domestic violence. That kind of is the genesis of the Psalm 82 Initiative. If you’d look up Psalm 82 Initiative, you only see it’s a couple of years old. Whereas we’ve been doing this for almost 20 years. Mostly, we were working behind the scenes, word of mouth, even now, it’s still mostly word of mouth. The Facebook page is really the only gateway to what we do. We do have a blog, and we have a Patreon page, but largely we still operate on a word of mouth basis. That’s kind of how the Psalm 82 Initiative got started.

Psalm 82 Quoted:

Anne: Yeah, the actual Psalm. So, I use the King James Version. So here we go. Psalm 82. “God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods. How long will ye judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the wicked? Selah. Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy. Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked. They know not, neither will they understand; they walk on in darkness: all the foundations of the earth are out of course. I have said, Ye are gods; all of you are children of the most High. But ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes. Arise, O God, judge the earth: for thou shalt inherit all nations.”

Psalm 82 Initiative Helps Free Victims

Tom: So, the Psalm you can break it up into three basic sections, kind of an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. The introduction is addressed to the gods, and that’s a little bit confusing, because it’s like, what is he saying because he seems to be saying you’ll die like men, so it doesn’t make any sense to say, you are gods. And the word in Hebrew is Elohim, which is a plural, but essentially, where he’s addressing this is to those on earth who are representatives of God. Those who are rulers, those who are both religious and civil rulers. So, this Psalm is addressed to those representatives of God in the world, civil rulers, religious rulers, and he’s addressing them and saying, you’re my representatives, and so act like it. So, he gives this list of things that they should be doing, which is essentially to defend those who are oppressed to go and free them. That this is not a passive activity, it’s a command of God to actually go and participate in this activity of freeing them.

Psalm 82 Initiative Is About Accountability

And then, in the last bit, he says, I said, You are gods, and this is one of the reasons why, you know, he’s not talking to God, or little G gods, he’s talking to men who are in the position of representatives, because he says, “I said, You are gods, but you will all die like men”. It’s basically, you’re gonna die, you’re gonna die like the rest of them, you’re gonna have a judgment, you’re going to come and you’re going to stand before me and judgment. And there is an account to be given for what you did on this earth. So, it’s like, okay, here, you’re representatives of me, go and defend the oppressed. And by the way, you’re going to give an account for this when you’re done.

“There Is No Possible Neutrality Where You’re Following God”

Anne: Hum, yeah. I love how it says, rid them out of the hand of the wicked. So actually, take an active part in getting this wicked person out of their lives to protect them.

Tom: Yeah, and what we’ve said to churches is this. You cannot follow God and be neutral on the question of handling how to deal with abuse in the church. There is no possible neutrality where you’re following God.

By the way, the ending of that Psalm also has another thing, which is, “Arise, oh, God and judge the nations,” which is, “Pay attention because where people fail, God will not.”

Anne: I hope that brings hope to our listeners who are all victims of emotional and psychological abuse and sexual coercion. I hope that that brings hope to them to know that if the legal system is failing you if you can’t get help from clergy if you’re not getting help from you know, other people in your community, that God can help you.

Psalm 82 Initiative Promotes Hope

Tom: It is absolutely and utterly true, it’s something we’ve seen over and over and over again. We’ve seen God intervene in places where it seemed impossible. The truth is, is when the Bible talks about a goddess, the Lord of hosts, what he’s really saying with that word “hosts” is he is the general over armies. Basically, he’s a warrior. God’s a better warrior than I can be. God’s a better warrior than any lawyer can be. God’s a better warrior than a judge can be or a social worker. God is a warrior, and he will go to war for you. And if we set our eyes and our faith in him, 20 years of doing this, we have never seen God fail to rise up to defend. Not always in the ways that we had hoped or not always to the extent that we would have liked. And yet we’ve seen so much restored, so much repaired, and this confidence that God is in the business of restoring hope and God is in the business of restoring lives. This world is bent and broken. It is the gospel of Jesus Christ that fixes it and it is God who works. And so part of what we do is we operate with that kind of confidence that if we will give the advice that God would give, if we will follow Him and be faithful, then freeing people from the hand of the wicked is not only possible, but God is going to be there helping us do it.

“Help And Hope Are Possible”

Anne: Yeah, and I want to give hope to our listeners, to know that help and hope are possible, even if they’re not hoping now, like just the perhaps to hope that hope is possible. To get to there.

Really quickly, I did an episode on Luke 18, the parable of the unjust judge. That reminds me of this where she says avenge me of my adversary and he won’t for a while, but then he’s like, this widow is going to trouble me forever unless I do something. And so instead of actually doing something, he just says, just pray a lot. Just pray and pray and pray, which, by the way, he could actually do something to help her, but he doesn’t. He just tells her, go to God. But ironically, God really can help her if he fails to. So, it’s sort of like the perfect scenario of what you’re talking about, is that we try to go through proper channels but then if those fail, God is always here for us.

Psalm 82 Initiative Helps Women Through The Legal System

Tom: Yeah, and one of the things that we do is, we spend a lot of time helping people get the most out of their experience within the courts, or with lawyers, or with Guardian enlightens. A lot of times what happens is because there was so much that happens against victims of abuse in those areas, there is so much fear and trepidation, that sometimes we end up taking actions or treating those things in ways that become counterproductive. For instance, the legal system is tailor-made, to give bad results to the way we would expect a victim to respond to things, and so part of what we have to do when we enter that arena is to recognize that my confidence is not in a judge. My confidence is not in a lawyer. My confidence is not in the GAL. My confidence is in God, and I’m going to rest in that while I walk in this the best way I know-how because if I misplace confidence it can backfire badly?

Psalm 82 Initiative & Emotional Abuse

Anne: Absolutely. Let’s talk about cases where the law is not involved because there’s no crime committed, so you couldn’t report something. So, when we’re talking about emotional or psychological abuse, where it’s very difficult for a third party or anyone else, to recognize. It’s not something that you can take per se to the police and have them arrest the person. When it comes to emotional and psychological abuse, sometimes it feels like God is the only option. When I say God is the only option that’s not what I mean. He always has to be the option, the thing that you go to. You go to God, and then hopefully he leads you in a way that you can navigate these things, but can you talk to those situations for a little bit where there’s no proof of anything and what you recommend for victims in that scenario?

Psalm 82 Initiative: Four Tools

Tom: To kind of introduce that a little bit, let me talk about what we call the four tools, which is a framework and system for dealing with abuse that we’ve been using for a while. And if you go like on our blog, there’s going to be articles that address that. In fact, there’s one that I recommend people read a lot called Untangling the Abusive Relational System. That gives kind of a brief overview of the four-tool systems. And what it is, is how do we recognize abuse? Because most people when they say, oh, I think I may be in an abusive relationship, the first question that they get asked is, well, has he ever hit you? This is really an abysmal question, side note, but the answer that you get from that kind of a question is more of a, well, all the rest of this abuse doesn’t count. It only counts if there’s a bruise, it only counts if there’s evidence, and that’s really not the case. So, what we wanted to do was give tools to churches, and to advocates that say, here’s a framework that you can do to understand what is abuse, to recognize it, and then to begin to respond to it in these ways. So, the four tools are isolation, deflection, manipulation, intimidation, and they are presented in the order in which they’re most easily visible from the outside. So, isolation is the easiest one to see from the outside. Relationships are being broken, there’s a disintegrating of resources other than dependence on the abuser.

Identifying Relational Abuse: Isolation

So, with isolation, what we’re looking for is we’re looking for an allegiance to the abuser, that excludes other important relationships. And there’s a lot of ways that an abuser can accomplish that and a lot of ways that the victim can participate in the abusers accomplishing that. For instance, well, your family doesn’t love me, they don’t understand me, it’s just us against the world. It’s all this romantic talk about just me. But see, those kinds of things actually show up way before you recognize the abuse as abuse. That isolating impulse, that even as a teenager, your parents adopt, and when you’re dealing with abuse towards children, well, your parents wouldn’t understand, or they might be mad at you. Anything that isolates the victim from important relationships.

Hiding His Porn Use Is Isolation

Anne: In the context of Betrayal Trauma Recovery, the isolation often is you can’t tell anyone about my pornography use or please don’t tell anyone about my affair, it would embarrass me. If we’re going to get through this together, we need to keep it to ourselves. These are things that we need to make sure we don’t talk to other people about, right?

Tom: We don’t need anybody else to solve this problem. And more than that, the implication is, I’m going to be upset if you try to deal with this with anyone else. There’s a fear component that also gets put into that, which is the last of the four, we would put that in the last of the four tools.

Identifying Emotional Abuse: Deflection

So, the second tool is deflection, which is, bad attention is directed away from the abuser. And this is where we commonly put things like blame-shifting. So, it’s not it’s not my fault, it’s my job, I was stressed. It’s only this thing when I do that. It’s your fault. You know, if you were a better wife, if you were more loving, if you were more open, whatever it is fill in the blank, then I would be a better human, I would be a better man, I would not be angry, I would not go after this thing or the other thing. So, what we end up with with deflection is a refusal to take personal responsibility for wrong. But what’s insidious about this is when the victim ends up being the one who takes responsibility. So, it’s my fault. If I had just been a better wife, if I had been more loving, he would not have done this, and so deflection takes and shifts responsibility, most often to the victim, but also to other things, and other people like oh my childhood. But deflection is a lie. We only ever can bear responsibility for our own stuff.

Identifying Emotional Abuse: Manipulation

Then the third is manipulation, and with manipulation, all the good benefits go to the abuser. So, all the bad goes away, that’s deflection. All the good comes towards, that’s manipulation, and manipulation is founded in a lie. It’s founded in that how do I get what I want and a disregard for what is good for the other person. It is both deceptive, and a profound lack of love. That’s manipulation, and there we find all kinds of different things like gaslighting and common terms that we throw around in terms of how to deal with those particular things. But under manipulation, the way you recognize it is the good is flowing towards the abuser.

Identifying Emotional Abuse: Intimidation

The last one is intimidation and intimidation is anything that produces any kind of fear in the relationship, and the reason why we use intimidation and not violence and why we want to baseline on fear rather than terror is because any relationship where there is fear is a dysfunctional relationship. Fear and love do not coexist. So, where there is love, fear goes away, where there is fear, love has been abandoned.

Anne: So, even if a woman’s “just afraid” that her husband will go solicit another prostitute, for example, or even if she’s “just afraid” that he’s lying to her about his porn use, that would still be a form of intimidation.

Direct & Implied Threats Are Abuse

Tom: Yes, and especially if it’s not so much an incidental intimidation, but rather –

Anne: Like I might use porn if you don’t make dinner every night, or I might use porn if you don’t have sex with me or something.

Tom: Yeah, so the direct threat, right? If you do, if you don’t, then there are also implied threats. And then there are the fears that we put on ourselves. The fears that we put on ourselves, we need to own those things. I can’t put things that I do to myself on another human. But the fears that other people put on me, that’s their problem.

Anne: Yeah, that’s really helpful. That’s a really good pattern. So, to go over those that’s isolation, deflection, manipulation, and intimidation.

Element of Abuse: Entitlement

Tom: Yep. Where we see all four of those, then we know that we have some abusive thing going on. Those are then set alongside of, kind of in a grid with four elements of abuse, which are the first one which everybody would know is entitlement. That is: I can, but she can’t. So, wherever I have a privilege to act and behave in one way, but the other person does not have an equal privilege. So, there’s an imbalance in the relationship.

Element of Abuse: Control

The second one is control. That is, I have a right to control the situation to control the person. That my will takes precedence over the other’s will.

Element of Abuse: Coercion

Then third, is, I have a right to get my will, therefore I can make my will happen. I have the right to coerce. So, it’s coercion. So, you have entitlement, control, coercion.

Element of Abuse: Compliance

The fourth is the one that always gets people to raise an eyebrow because the fourth is compliance. Without compliance, you don’t have an abusive relationship.

Anne: Oh, right. Well, the person can try to abuse but if the victim doesn’t comply, then she’s not a very good victim. Is that what you’re saying?

Tom: Exactly. Exactly. Now, compliance is not the same as going along with it, and so you’ll want to be careful not to accuse it because to end up accusing a victim by saying, you know, it’s your fault that you’re doing this because you’re going along with it. Because sometimes the safest course of action is to comply.

So, whether we comply or not, isn’t what we’re really looking for there. Whether it’s right to comply or not, isn’t what we’re looking for. What we’re looking for is, is there compliance? Where there is compliance, when we see all eight of those things together, we have an abusive relationship. Whether there’s abuse of the kinds that we would normally associate with abuse, or whether it’s just emotional, or whether it’s, and I say “just” emotional, but that allows us to then recognize abuse. So, this is getting back to answering your question, and that is when there’s emotional abuse, what do I do? Well, first, I have to recognize it as abuse.

Recognizing Abuse In The Early Stages

But primarily, what happens is, is we tend to not recognize the abusive dynamic as it’s developing, and so early on in a relationship as these kinds of patterns are more and more in place. So, what we end up with is the ability, using the four tools, to begin recognizing abuse as it’s developing. When it’s, you know, just a boyfriend-girlfriend situation, but the boyfriends like saying, hey, I don’t want you to be friends with this person. I don’t want to be friends with that person. Now we see isolation. When it’s, hey, you know, that’s your fault that I got angry. Boom, we’re done, a refusal to take responsibility, kill that relationship. That’s a red flag.

“This Is An Abusive Relationship”

So, each of these eight things is a red flag. For instance, under compliance, which is an interesting one, I always tell people when they’re dating, if you want to know how they’re going to respond, pay attention to the first time you say no, and mean it. And if they can’t handle that, and if they keep pressuring, they keep coming back, they keep hammering on it, and you feel like you have to give in. This is an abusive relationship.

Anne: Yeah, that’s good.

Tom: So anyway, the 4 tools are basically how we do accomplish that.

When No One Believes You

Anne: Okay, so recognizing it is one thing, but then when you’re actually trying to get to safety and people, maybe your clergy is not believing you or you have nothing to take to the law, right. You have no “proof” that this is happening. In that scenario, how can victims get the support that they need, and start moving forward? I mean, we’ve got things like our online group, right, where they can come and get a lot of support and validation and things like that, but in terms of what you do or what you would recommend for women in that situation, who are not being believed, can you speak to that for a bit?

“You Don’t Have To Be Believed To Take Action”

Tom: Sure, the first thing is, is you don’t need to be believed to take action. You know, your life, you know what happened to you, you know the truth, you take action based upon that. Whether people believe you or not, cannot matter. Now, I know what matters in a legal sense whether the law believes me or not, but, for instance, if I’m in an abusive relationship, and nobody else knows it, whether they know it or not, whether they’re going to believe me or not, should not change what I do with that abusive relationship. So, a lot of times, that fear of men that we have that kind of sits in there, and causes us to worry about what other people will think really keeps us bound up in relationships that are that are ultimately hurting us and destroying us.

Fight Isolation

People who don’t believe you are not the kinds of people that you want to be making choices based upon their advice anyway. So, to say, how do I deal with that? My normal advice is well, let’s go through it, and let’s talk about the things you can do related to this framework that we just talked about. That you can take action right now for yourself, and we take the four tools, we start with isolation. What’s the opposite of isolation? It’s stay connected. Don’t lose connection with your important relationships, your best friend is your best friend, you need to stay connected. Your mom and your dad, they are your mom and your dad and if you have a good relationship there, stay connected. You need to reach out to other kinds of help, to resources that are local to your area that understand the legal ramifications of all of the things that you’re going to want to do, that understand how to assess your safety, and to develop a safety plan. So, you stay connected. That’s how you fight isolation.

Fight Deflection

Deflection? Two things. One, you refuse to accept responsibility for another person’s problem. It’s never your fault that another person does something wrong. And the second is you have to take responsibility for yourself and for your actions. You don’t get to blame the other person for what you do or don’t do. So, you say I did this, why I did it, however, I did it that’s okay, but it was my choice. I did it. Taking responsibility for yourself is the most empowering thing you can do for yourself. What is my responsibility? I’m going to make my responsibility. The choices that I make, I’m going to accept as the choices I made and I’m going to understand that there is a natural progression of things and that’s how it works, but I’m going to make the right choices and I’m going to take responsibility for myself. Not for the other person. So, they deal with themselves, you deal with yourself, period. That answers deflection.

Commit To Telling The Truth

Manipulation is tough because manipulation requires that we have a very, very tight grasp on truth. It is you have to be good at telling yourself the truth. This is hard, hard, hard because abuse lives in a lie. And in order for an abuse victim to survive the abusive relationship, they have to believe the lie or at least act like they believe the lie. And then they have to perpetuate the lie outside of themselves. So, manipulation creates this fabricated reality around the abuser and the victim that is very hard to break. The only way to break it is to be committed to telling the truth, whether or not you’re believed, but that has to start with being able to tell yourself the truth about yourself.

That is, I have to be able to say I am in an abusive relationship. There’s no other truth that I can tell until I can admit that to myself.

Psalm 82 Initiative Encourages You To Grasp The Truth

Anne: Right. I think that’s one of the reasons it’s so difficult for women to get out, is because they don’t know they’re in one but then admitting that you are an abuse victim because abuse victims look a certain way they act a certain way; and so if you’re like I’m not like her, right, I’m not like that. I would never stand for that. You know, you think to yourself, I say that as an abuse victim myself. I would never stand for that, and then being like oh, that is me. That is me. It is so heart-wrenching. I don’t know if you’re in denial so much as you just have to grasp reality and realize that this is the truth of your reality. And until you do that you can’t move on, but I’ve had so many women tell me that when they finally recognized that they were an actual real victim, it was life-changing. They were able to start taking steps because they knew then oh, okay, there’s nothing I can do to make him change. I can’t make him happy; I can’t do this, I can’t do that. The only thing I can do is get to safety.

Prioritize Your Safety Above All Else

Tom: Yep and part of it is telling the truth to myself, about myself. That I want the safety that I get by not dealing with this problem. I want that sense of peace and so I’m willing to pay any price for that peace. But eventually, you do come to the realization that I’m not willing to pay this price anymore. Peace is not worth this because leaving an abuser is the opposite of peace. You don’t get peace dealing with an abuser.

Anne: No, you don’t. And also placating the abuser so you can have peace is not really peace. It’s just placating him so that things look kind of peaceful, but it doesn’t feel peaceful in your heart. It still feels very conflicted.

Psalm 82 Initiative Empowers You To Live In Truth

Tom: Right, but now when I can tell myself the truth, and I can stand on the truth for myself and say this is what is real, this is what is happening. I am standing in the truth. When I am confident that I am dealing with the truth, now I’m free to tell others the truth and I’m going to have that confidence that I’m going to say, this is my reality. You can believe it or not, but this is the truth. Then I have a different relationship with the world outside of me. I don’t need them to validate the fact that I’m telling the truth. I am telling the truth. Then I can tell the truth to myself about the abuser. This person is not the loving person that I thought he was. Now I can tell myself the truth about my circumstance, and then once I can tell myself the truth about my circumstance, and I’m confident in the truth that I’m telling myself about my circumstance, now I can tell the world around me about the truth of my circumstance and I’m standing on a solid foundation.

Abusers Condition Victims to Manipulate

Here’s why truth is important. A lot of times, when we’re in an abusive relationship, we end up in a situation where we feel like we have to manipulate the abuser, and we kind of fudge the truth a little bit in order to keep the abuser happy. So, we end up living in a relationship lie and what happens is when the victim finally leaves the abuser, then every other authority figure in their life, they maintain that manipulative relationship with those things. Say okay, I have to tell the law, only these things, I have to tell my lawyer this, I have to make sure they understand, I have to make sure they understand this way, it’s trying to craft your own environment so that it gets the results you want. This really beats victims up when it comes to the law because the legal system is tailor-made to absolutely violently reject that kind of thing.

So, even though abusers are very good at using it, the way it works is it plays very poorly for abuse victims. But truth. This is true. Here’s the evidence of truth, here’s my experience, you can take it or leave it, but this is true. The law plays much better in that kind of a vein. So, the truth is empowering when I go out outside of the relationship, but I have to be committed to the truth. I’ve got to be able to say let the chips fall wherever they’re going to fall.

Psalm 82 Initiative Encourages You To Choose Safety

Anne: Right. Tell the truth and accept the consequences, whatever they may be.

Tom: Yep, by the way, tell the truth, but please, please, please, first, prioritize your safety. There’s an interesting thing about this is sometimes we get the idea that telling the truth is universally exactly the right thing. And I know this is gonna sound really awful coming from a pastor, but sometimes the lie is actually right.

Anne: I actually think I agree with you. I just want to hear your example.

Tom: All right. So, in the Bible, when the children of Israel came up against Jericho, they sent spies into the land and the spies went into Jericho, and Rehab hid them and actually lied. They’re not anywhere, hid the spies, and Harun everybody in her house was spared and she was commended for the lie. Now, that’s a little bit confusing.

Do What You Need To For Safety

Anne: The one I was thinking of was when Sarah lies and says that she’s Abraham’s sister, rather than his wife. That’s the lie I was thinking of, but yes.

Tom: That’s another one that’s interesting, but the first one, the Rehab one, that’s actually a lie that ends up being commended. Whereas Sarah’s is just looked over.

Anne: Right. So, talk about why it was commended.

Tom: So, here’s the thing, is that the lie is this. When the Bible tells us that we’re not to bear false witness. That’s actually a really important thing. That a false witness is the truth is owed to someone, and when the truth is owed, you have to give it. In justice, the truth is owed. Perverting justice is evil, and so in order for justice to happen there has to be the truth. It’s one of the things I tell people is, look, if you lie to me about your situation, I cannot give you good advice. Every piece of advice I’m going to give you is going to be the wrong advice. You’ve got to tell me the truth about what’s going on, I’ve got to know, otherwise, the advice you get is going to be defective. So, where the truth is owed, or where it is important, that’s where it’s given.

“Don’t Cast Your Pearls Before Swine”

But just because someone is going to take a truth and use it badly, doesn’t mean now that I owe them that truth. So, for instance, you’re in Nazi Germany, and you’re hiding Jews who are going to be killed just simply for their race. Then Nazis come along, and they say, you know, are you hiding Jews? Do you say yes, and then they die, and you die, too? Or do you deny it and say, no?

Well, does this person doing a righteous thing get owed this information? The answer is No, they don’t. So, do I give it? No, I don’t, and I protect the life. So, this is really, really important because this is that when the truth is hazardous to yourself, you speak the truth, but not to the one who is going to use it against you.

Anne: Do not cast your pearls before swine.

Psalm 82 Initiative Believes Women

Tom: I’ll give you an example of how this sort of plays out. We’ll have someone come, I’ll be talking with them in person, and they’ll be sitting there and while they’re talking to me their phone is ringing off the hook over and over and over and over and over again. Ringing, ringing, ringing, and ringing because the abusers like panicked, where’s she at? You know, I need to get in touch with her. I think she’s leaving me, oh no. And she’s getting more and more anxious every time that phone rings. So, here’s what I do. I say, here’s what I want you to do. I’m telling this as if talking to her. I would like you to let me take your phone away from you. She looks at me kind of puzzled. I said, would you let me do that? And she’s like, yes. Okay, so I’m going to take the phone away from you. Now, if he asks, you tell him that I took your phone.

Anne: Hmm.

Psalm 82 Initiative Helps You Find Safety

Tom: So, what I’ve done are two things. One is it’s actually not technically true, but it is true. So, I’ve given her a truth that she can tell that is a safe truth. Now, the reason why I do that is is that when you tell a lie, you need to understand that there is a price to pay for that lie. And if you’re going to lie, you have to be willing to pay the price. So, if Rehab lies, and they find out she lies, she dies. If she’s going to lie, she’s got to pay the price for the lie.

So, the problem is, is that most often the price for the lie is not worth it, and so what you need to do is find a truth. That is not necessarily all of the truth, because I don’t owe them all of the truth, certainly. So, I find something that is true, but that is not necessarily enough of the truth to produce the bad result that I’m trying to avoid. That’s a big convoluted way of saying you got to be really, really careful. What we’re trying to do say prioritize safety. In all of that tell the truth, but at least this doesn’t lie.

So, if you don’t tell the truth, that’s okay, but don’t lie. But a lot of times when they’re not telling the truth it’s interpreted as a lie, and so that’s kind of the backward way to go around to that initial requirement.

Support the BTR Podcast

Anne: Tom and I are going to continue our conversation next week, so stay tuned.

If this podcast is helpful to you, please support it.

Similarly, every single rating helps isolated women find us and kicks us up as an algorithm If you want to help women avoid years of chaos and pain that you went through, and I went through, then please rate this podcast and share this podcast on social media, tag us, you know, help us get the word out. We really appreciate it. And until next week, stay safe out there.

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  1. Margie Warren

    Can abusers recover and not abuse you again?

  2. Charlene

    Hoping you can help my daughter …and now a friend from her church , too much to write.


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