The following post was written by my husband, DeltaHotel (DH). Think of him as a “guest columnist”. Hopefully he will write further at other times and give some additional perspective on surviving abuse from a spouse’s point of view.
— Jean Marie
An open letter to Dirtbags,
From the husband of a survivor.
Message to Dirtbags: You can never fix what you broke so stop pretending that you can, your only hope is to spend the rest of your life outing yourself (so that you can’t do any more harm), advocating against others of your kind (IE. dirtbags), and praying that Jesus will square it for you in the next life. Good luck.
If you are an abuse survivor, or someone who loves an abuse survivor (as I am) please don’t take this post the wrong way. Victims CAN heal … But perpetrators can’t. Feel free to read on, but the rest of this message is for the dirtbags.
Jean Marie thinks that perpetrators can’t heal because what they have done is too dark – that they have to move “past feeling” in order to do what they have done so they are therefore beyond hope. I agree with her that they can’t be healed but I differ on why. I think that they can’t be healed because they don’t WANT to be healed, they want to be validated in what they did, they want to have their part of it minimized and the bulk of it blamed on the victims, and they want to be enabled to do more of it. The end result is the same – perpetrators are a lost cause but there is a subtle difference.
I am a bit of a shade-tree rhetorician in my spare time, and one of my pet peeves is the “unfalsible hypothesis.” So I am, therefore, compelled to give dirtbags the benefit of the doubt (this infuriates Jean Marie but what can you do). So even though I don’t believe that dirtbags WILL heal I have to leave the door open to the theoretical possibility that they COULD heal if they wanted to. It makes me feel like I’m being logically consistent, and therefore justifies the condemnation of those that choose not to heal (or choose to fake it) when a door to genuine healing is open before them.
So … What would a healed perpetrator look like?
Well, far be it from me to claim that I speak with any authority on these matters, but in my mind they would look more or less like a recovering alcoholic. “Hi, my name is , and I am a sexual predator.” … Not “I used to be a sexual predator.” … But “I AM a sexual predator.”
Among other things, a truly repentant perpetrator could reasonably be expected to admit (to both the law and the church) ALL of the abuse that they have committed, even things that they do not stand not accused of (even things that no one would ever have a way to discover and accuse them of later). They would voluntarily avoid ingratiating themselves with potential victims (usually children) and people that have responsibility for protecting potential victims (parents of children). They would voluntarily exclude themselves from environments where they might have contact with potential victims. They would take full responsibility for their actions, including facing the legal consequences, as well as the heaviest of condemnations that the Church and the rest of society may deign to impose. They would NOT minimize the danger that they present to others nor seek to represent this danger as a thing of the past. In fact they would do just the opposite, and actively and vocally warn others of the danger that they (and others like them) present in society. A danger that is right here, right now, today.
In practice this never happens of course. Dirtbags are always looking to conceal/minimize their evil and expand access to potential victims. Ergo: dirtbags can heal, they just won’t.
And this failure to heal is a choice on their part.
Sadly, they are all too adept at perverting the atonement and engaging in false “repentance.” While this only compounds the eternal consequences of their unrepented sins it also does additional damage (incalculable in scope) to their victims and to the church at large.
The false “repentance” that these dirtbags engage in contains a predictable narrative which is complex enough to require explanation in another place at another time.
If you say that it’s asking too much for a person to spend the rest of their life in sackcloth and ashes, that it’s too high of a standard and unrealistic. If you say that it’s unchristian and unforgiving – to not just hold their sins before their eyes for the rest of their lives, but to expect them to do that to themselves – then you don’t really have any idea the level or the duration of the pain, the devastation, that these monsters wreak in the lives of their victims (and the lives of those that surround the victims).
If you could tally up all the harm to even one victim (and its follow on effects in the lives of the vicitm’s loved ones) and see it all in one place and appreciate its full magnitude you would vomit to the point of requiring intravenous fluids.
Then, when you realize that most of these people have done that to dozens upon dozens of victims, that is when you realize that no price could be too high for the perpetrator to pay (see Mark 9:42-48
; Matt 18:6-10
; Luke 17:1-2
) … And that the path of repentance … TRUE repentance … Not the counterfeit … Is
indeed a “burden that is light” in comparison, and the perpetrators should be glad to have it so easy.
You see even if a perp does all that has been suggested, it does precious little to relieve any of the suffering that they have inflicted. The suffering is beyond their power to remedy. (FYI: any perpetrator that seeks contact with one of their victims to try to “make it up to them” or to “aid their healing” is really trying to take control of that victim to shut them up and manipulate them into advancing the false “repentance” narrative. Nothing makes a perpetrator look lilly-white like an endorsement from a victim.)
Even a perpetrator’s genuine repentance (which is so rare as to be effectively a non-event) can’t begin to undo any of the unimaginable suffering that they have wrought.
This is consistent with what Jean Marie said about repentance not curing cancer.
Take note that the notion of the perpetrator’s repentance healing the victim (and thus putting an end to any claims of lingering harm, pain, or other emotional effects that the victim may be suffering) is a structural feature of the false repentance narrative, and is not consistent with the expectations we have of the atonement in other contexts. The physically harmful effects that a sinner brings upon themselves and others are not automatically reversed by repentance. Syphilitic lechers that repent and are baptized are still syphilitic. Those that have been murdered are still dead, even if the murderer later validly repents. Likewise the damage that the perpetrators have done will not magically disappear … Even with a genuine change of heart.
To think or act otherwise is to take the side of the perpetrator, advance their narrative of false “repentance”, and worst of all… It is to join in heaping further abuse upon the victim.
Once more for emphasis: even genuine repentance on the part of a sexual predator does nothing to heal the victim.
Perpetrators: be on notice that you can never fix what you broke so stop pretending that you can, your only hope is to spend the rest of your life outing yourself (so that you can’t do any more harm), advocating against others of your kind (IE. dirtbags), and praying that Jesus will square it for you in the next life. Good luck.