I have finally been connecting the dots on an issue that has caused me great distress since I first heard of it. Early this year I was on faculty at a Christian writer’s conference where they had faculty sign a document that outlined appropriate behavior. Some of the requirements were so extreme that I was shocked we had to be told not to do them.
Come to find out the reason the document was created was because each of the unacceptable behaviors had been displayed and conferees had been victimized at Christian writers’ conferences across the country.
What saddens me is that some of the sexual predators exposed have been those I’ve respected and even spoken highly of. How can that be? How could I be so blind to the true characters of some of these peers?
Chatting with another faculty member this morning who’s experienced some of this abusive behavior, she asked if I’d seen the similarity in the predatory behavior that’s coming to light with my own spiritual abuse and betrayal. I’m so glad she suggested the connection as it provided me an opportunity to see the parallel and begin to process.
The trait in these abusers is one that dates to my time in the cult with evil leaders who were cunningly adept at quoting scripture out of context to make sure you never questioned or challenged them. At the same time, they surrounded themselves with those who never saw their dark side. These “shills” were Christians who loved God and endeavored to walk out the Word of God. They gave the abusers credibility. And they defended them when they were exposed.
The definition of “shill” from Dictionary.com is:
A person who publicizes or praises something or someone for reasons of self-interest, personal profit, or friendship or loyalty.
Being manipulated in this way by someone with evil intent is the height of betrayal. To realize that I praised some of these abusers has been a real trigger for me and I’m still dealing with the emotions.
Lord, how can we protect ourselves against sexual predators who would hide within Christian circles, surround themselves with credible people, and take advantage of vulnerable women?
What red flags are there that we should watch out for?