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:
- Connection to other human beings (vs. isolation).
- A sense of value and worth (“specialness”).
- 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:
- “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.”
- “You are valued because we do these things together. Your compliance makes you special. You are worthy because you please/satisfy me.”
- “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:
- To make lies believable.
- 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:
- Meet me right where I am. Offer to help with physical needs (food, clothing, shelter, medical care, education, job training).
- 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.
- 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.
- Encourage “positive practices” before “truth statements”. Teach me about self-care, coping skills, boundaries, and relationship skills. Let the truth emerge over time.
- 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?