Abusers are Good at Evil

In the wake of the allegations against Penn State’s Jerry Sandusky, I give thanks for the national conversation about sexual violation. Is Mr. Sandusky guilty? I don’t know. He has the hallmarks of an abuser.  I’m also grateful that stories accusing others of abuse are being taken more seriously.

As we consider how to protect our own children and grandchildren,  Anna Salter’s book on offenders is an excellent, if disturbing, resource. Every parent would do well to read the last chapter on deflecting abusers. Not detection. Deflection. It’s a cultural mythology that we can recognize evil when we see it. We think we know someone is lying if they don’t look us in the eye. We think we can pick out a thief or a rapist. We want to believe we can pick out the person with private fantasies involving children. Salter says,however, that we cannot ascertain private behavior from public. Just because someone looks good doesn’t mean he is good.

Male Angel Pictures, Images and PhotosThe slick deception of which an abuser is capable can fool all of us. We don’t actually believe the scriptures that say Satan can disguise himself as an “angel of light” and that his followers can “masquerade as servants of righteousness.” II Corinthians 11:13-15. My abuser, my father, was a praying, church-going, hard-working, long-married husband.

Was he, is any, abuser completely evil? No. Only Satan himself is irredeemably evil. Even abusers are all mixtures of good and evil, just like the rest of us. But abusers aren’t honest. They seek to deceive and deflect and betray. And they are good at it.

Let the conversation continue as these cases proceed.

Father, bring your justice, please.