Perpetrators’ Promises


In order to know truth, I have to be able to recognize a lie.

Perpetrators of abuse have much in common with the enemy of our souls: They are not terribly creative in their deception, but they are extremely observant, and incredibly patient.  Their work is gradual, step-by-step.  In every story of abuse (and addiction) there is always an “At first…” and an “And then…”  That is the definition of a trap.

Perpetrators (and the enemy) begin with an understanding of universal human needs:

  1. Connection to other human beings (vs. isolation).
  2. A sense of value and worth (“specialness”).
  3. Purpose (a sense of meaning and direction).

It’s easy for them to observe potential victims.

Perpetrators then proceed to fill these needs with false promises:

  1. “Your connection to me makes you special.  We have a lot in common.  I am your friend/boyfriend/girlfriend/lover/partner/rescuer/protector.  I ‘get you’ like no one else does.”
  2. “You are valued because we do these things together.  Your compliance makes you special.  You are worthy because you please/satisfy me.”
  3. “I understand you and see your potential.  I can make you popular/powerful/sexy/successful.  You have ‘secret purpose’ in me.”

Perpetrators have the same goals as Satan:

  1. To make lies believable.
  2. To make truth unbelievable.

They are counting on their victims to remain confused, deceived, and tempted to stay in/return to a life built on a false foundation.

Unfortunately, truth (like Truth) cannot be force fed.  

Here are some tips straight from the mouths of former human trafficking victims on how to offer much-needed support:

  1. Meet me right where I am.  Offer to help with physical needs (food, clothing, shelter, medical care, education, job training).
  2. Ask me about my story, then listen with respect.  Give me the dignity to ask questions, express discomfort/doubts/needs/desires/tears without interruption, correction, or unsolicited advice.  Be a safe place where I can ask or say anything.
  3. Mentor me with someone who has been through a similar experience.  Let the power of other people’s stories sink in.  Allow me to connect the dots.
  4. Encourage “positive practices” before “truth statements”.  Teach me about self-care, coping skills, boundaries, and relationship skills.  Let the truth emerge over time.
  5. Show a genuine interest in my well-being (not your agenda).  Stay connected to me longterm, and ask about my life (not just my victimization).  Be patient, and don’t give up on me!

The overall message:  If I don’t recognize a problem, I can’t see your solution.  If I’m not asking the question, I can’t hear your answer.  I need to acknowledge the lie before I can accept the truth.  Give it time, but KEEP ON INVITING ME WITH LOVE.  

Isn’t that what Jesus does?