How to break the cycle of manipulation?

Started by Bryan, July 08, 2020, 11:15:32 am

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Bryan

I know first hand quite a few people who feel like they've been manipulated by overly zealous parents or the church in general and absolutely despise church and christians because of this.  The human psyche is not something that easily changed and so I'm just curious what others think or feel is most appropriate in handling people that have been manipulated by the church?

The obvious answer is pray for them, so I'm not really looking for that necessarily.  Once I had a friend who went to combat with me in Iraq that turned to atheism and he would always say very satanic things to me.  I just always responded with "Jesus loves you".  It took years but he called me one day and said that the patience I showed him and the love I gave him opened his heart and he had accepted Christ and even went a nationwide street preaching tour with another Iraq friend.

So answers like that just to garner a discussion.  What are some testimonies or examples you may have?  How can we reach people who have been deeply hurt due to manipulation?
All glory to him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by shedding his blood for us.  He has made us a Kingdom of priests for God his Father. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.

Foadle

People who have been manipulated and become aware of it become very distrustful of people generally.  This is exacerbated by how young they were when the manipulation began, and how long it was going on for (at least that is what I would say from my own personal experience).  It has taken many years to bring me to a place where I am really beginning to trust, like REALLY trust.  How did I get to that place?  A couple of things (and these are not in order - there is no order, they need to be working together):

1. Consistency.  Because I didn't trust people and thought everyone was just out to get what they could out of me and so what if they hurt me, I would try and push people away before they could push me away.  Having the consistency of someone that would not let me push them away (Thank you Pastor Suzette) but consistently stood by me regardless of how ugly I got (and there were a few times I got pretty ugly - probably quite a few) helped me to realise that not everyone was going to "dump" me and so hurt me as soon as I ceased to be of use to them, or ceased doing exactly what they wanted. 
It takes a very strong person in God to continue that consistency, but I am grateful that I had it in Suzette.

2. Love: the continued control and manipulation that I had had growing up meant that I not only didn't feel loved, but I didn't believe I COULD be loved.  In fact I may have even mentioned as much in the forums when I first started coming.  As the old saying goes, "hurt people, hurt people" and I am sure I was hurting people left right and centre because I was really hurting.  I wanted to be accepted, but really didn't believe I could be.  The consistency of someone coming back again and again in love began to break through the decades of concrete walls I had been building around myself to protect myself.  Love DOES NOT mean that you are constantly by the person's side "there there." In fact Suzette, who was the main one that took on this role in my life, NEVER did that.  She would call a spade a spade and call me to account time and again, but it was always in love. And eventually her continual telling me the truth in love started to break down the barriers.  I didn't want someone who was just going to tell me what they thought I wanted to hear.  I wanted the truth...and that is point 3.

3. Integrity.  Always be honest and up front.  Always do what you say you are going to do (no excuses).  A person who has come from manipulation loses their ability to trust.  You need to give them a reason to trust, and keep it there long enough to not only let them realise that they can but so that they begin to do so.  It is not all smooth sailing and this is why I got fed up with those who were just going to say "there there it will be all right" someone who would say to me "Elise, you have a choice in how you are going to respond to this, and I can't make that choice for you; what are going to choose" was also sometimes required.  Sounds harsh but it was always done in love, and always done because it was the truth.
In a nutshell - love is looking out for the other persons highest good...and you can't do that if you are not being honest with them.  Be where you said you would be when you said you would be there: even to that degree - your word has to mean something.

4. Direct their attention back to God continually.  You are never going to be their answer, even if they may be looking to you for the answers.  Always direct them to developing and increasing their relationship with God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) for themselves.  There are times when you are not going to be able to be there for them, but as they realise that you always refer them to the one who is love, who never changes (i.e. is consistent), who is integrity personified, they begin to open up, because it isn't about you, it is about God.

I found in my own experience that manipulation had caused me not trust, but it was not until recently that I realised that the reason for that was because I had been manipulated, and now I realised it, I blamed myself for allowing it, and therefore I no longer even trusted myself.  As I came out of the hurt of all that, I realised that I didn't have to trust me any more.  It wasn't reliant on me, but on God, and that is why relationship with God, and helping them to establish and develop that made a difference.

In the story you tell, it sounds like that without realising you were doing these things to some extent.