There once was a man who appeared on the scene. Suave and debonair with confidence bold. Flattery oozed like syrup sweet. And despite her protests, he flattered yet more. After all, he said, she deserved the praise for she was worth it. As her protests dissolved she absorbed the attention…until she understood his world of deceit.
“The Sex Industry” encompasses more than sex trafficking. It involves an array of distorted behaviors and abuses within friendships and marriages, destroying God’s gifts. Lacking respect, those with self-centered, narcissistic, and/or predatory traits have a need for power and control over others. They are confident and prideful. Their goal is to exploit, crossing boundary lines with intimidation to prove their superiority, having a need to diminish the worth of others to feel good about themselves. They claim repeated mocking put-downs are jokes. If you attempt to break the cycle, they contend you can’t take a joke, are too emotional, and are too sensitive.
With callous disregard, they lie when faced with truth. Their story changes to suit the confrontation as they feign innocence, create confusion, and claim they don’t understand what you’re talking about. In attempts to hold them accountable, they skillfully play the innocent hurting victim, project blame onto the victim, and will not take personal responsibility for their own issues. They don’t feel a need to apologize, claiming they did nothing wrong – evidence of a hardened heart.
Predatory grooming, done in specific stages, is universal against children, teens, and adults to control with a perverted form of trust to the perpetrator’s benefit. After targeting someone perceived as vulnerable, they reel in an unsuspecting heart with the flattery of false love. Keying in on filling an emotional need, they try to isolate their victim in secrecy from those who would realize what’s happening (divide-and-conquer technique). Innocuous sexual advances are made which gradually become bolder until the abuser thinks control can be maintained to score the ultimate goal.
Grooming also manipulates the victim’s responses to garner increased affection. If you desire to please others, you’ll meet their needs. In time, you will be manipulated into doing more of their bidding. They’ll make excuses and manipulatively use Scripture so you’ll accept their abuse, thwarting your protests. When they think they’ve got you under control, emotional destruction begins. You are despised for having qualities of love and joy which they can’t feel, necessitating an endless pursuit of new victims to manipulate in order to fill their heart’s void.
If you back away from their chaos, they may use threats, turn angry or violent, quickly revert back to a loving persona to throw you off balance, and resort to stalking behavior. Unless they show and express true sorrow and repentance for their behavior with evidence of genuine change, walk away from their abuse…and stay away.
For we read, “There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.” (Proverbs 6:16-19 ESV)
The opposite of such discord is a love which embodies all that is good. “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (I Corinthians 13:4-7 ESV)
As we speak with such love, we encourage each other. “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” (Ephesians 4:29-32 ESV)
Typically, those who trust others have a heart of empathy, are naively innocent (without “street smarts”), and are more easily taken advantage of. Predators know this and zero in on their target like a hunter on its prey. To realize that someone would target you for their advantage is to feel a range of emotions from guilt and shame for having been used, to anger at another’s attempts to destroy you. Genuine love is not in the abuser’s heart despite claims to the contrary. With evil intent, you are used for their benefit - a lack of respect for your worth. When that is recognized, you are on your way to recovery and healing. I know…I was a victim. Yet, out of the experience came wisdom from God.
Mutual friends who have never fallen under the blinding spell of narcissistic and/or predatory deception, nor suffered attacks of retaliation, cannot see the abuse. They see only the passive mask, the public face of supposed innocent humility, and often excuse and enable abusers. After all, they’re so kind and loving, so good to everyone - until you cross them, buck the mistreatment, and begin to confront their wrongs with truth.
Yes, these types of abuses are found within the church, the perfect cover with our Christ-like love for, and generous forgiveness of, one another. As the body of Christ, we should listen, believe, respect, and support the victim who dares step forward. The abuser only recovers when the façade of innocence is removed by admission of wrong, repentance, and the desire for a changed heart.
To the youngster or adult being swayed by abusive pressure or bullying - hold tight to your convictions, ideals and honor. Don’t allow anyone to take these from you. Respect yourself enough to say “No” and walk away – whether it be “No” to drugs, “No” to someone wanting to take away your innocence, “No” to emotional or physical abuse, or “No” to sexting, sexual abuse, or sex trafficking. Walk away and seek advice from a trusted, qualified professional to help you stand firm against such unwanted pressure. Respect yourself as a child of God. Don’t be taken down.
Linda A. Roorda
She was taken down the garden path
And showered with seduction’s prose,
Sweet words of praise and silken flattery
That touched her heart to follow his goals.
She trusted him and his glowing words
Though his zest for life held deceitful charm,
As her heart of love for all in her world
Was purposely swept by grooming words smooth.
How easily swayed is a trusting soul
Who believes and thinks the best of her friends,
Yet who is misled by the foxy wiles
Of one who claims humility’s garb.
Why the conquest instead of friendship?
Why the seeking to own gentle hearts?
Why the pleasure in taking away
That which is not yours to alone enjoy?
How can you claim a God-honoring life
As you betray a friend’s trusting heart?
Such evil flays the inner soul
And leaves a wound not easily healed.
But comes reality when the truth sets in
And she regains boundaries once lost
As true emotions with selfless empathy
Emerge once again to prove her value.
For in disrespect concealed by flattery
Lies the evil of a planned defeat.
He cannot abide reality of love,
And must destroy the one with a heart.
As she unravels the disillusions
And begins to heal her eyes are opened.
Emotional depths of her heart and soul
Are restored in full, her peace made complete.