Harps Upon Willows

weeping-willow-2The Old Testament is for the most part God’s interaction with his chosen family set apart to bring forth our Savior, Jesus Christ. These Scriptures describe their struggle to follow the rules God gave them as his standards are high. Around 600BC, through his many prophets, he gave the Israelites warning after warning that unless they stopped worshiping idols he was going to allow them to be taken captive. We know that did happen. King Nebuchadnezzar took them from their home to Babylon and there they lived in captivity for 70 years. Psalm 137 relates the lament of this people as they realized that they no longer lived in their beautiful city of Zion – Jerusalem. Their captors wanted them to be entertaining, to sing and be happy but their spirits and hearts were broken. They were no longer free. Nothing was the same.

          “By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept when we remembered Zion. We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof. For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song; and they that wasted us required of us mirth, saying ‘Sing us one of the songs of Zion.’ How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?”

                                                                                                Psalm 137:1-3KJV 

You don’t have to be captured and exiled from your home to experience the loss of freedom. Today, as I work with families who have been victimized in their own homes by people they love, I have seen this broken heart and spirit where happiness and contentment is temporary and superficial. They are literally being “wasted” by the ones who they thought loved them but who now control their every move.

Many Ozark city and county law enforcement departments report that 50% or more of their incoming calls are related to domestic abuse. Domestic abuse is not just a law and order problem, it is also a community problem. Harps Upon Willows has been written to raise awareness that there is a severe cultural problem in our communities. Listed below is the profile of an abuser. Some or all of these behaviors can be present in the individual who is abusing their family. The list is a pattern of behaviors repeatedly presented in my case files of hundreds of Texas and Wright County citizens that make up in part that 50%.

Keep in mind that for the most part an abuser has a low self-image and seeks ways to control and intimidate others to compensate for it. When you have two persons together in a relationship who both have a low self-image and one of them fits the abuser profile then you can have a perfect storm.


 Below is a list taken from “Criminal Thinking and Behavior Patterns Often Displayed By Abusers” Source unknown.

 Excuse Making: Gives excuses instead of accepting responsibility; tries to justify the behavior with the excuse: I was never loved; My parents beat me; I had a bad day and when I walked in and saw this mess, I lost my temper.

Blaming: Shifts the responsibility for the behavior on others and justifies the anger at someone else for causing the behavior: If you would stay out of it when I’m disciplining the kids, I wouldn’t hit them. 

Redefining: Changes the definition of what is going on so that the problem becomes the focus instead of the abusive behavior: This place is always a mess. . .what do you do all day!

Lying: Helps to control the situation through confusion by controlling the information available.

Uniqueness: Believes that they are different from others and do not have to follow the same rules. They are right and everyone else is wrong: I don’t need counseling; Nobody knows as much about me as I do; I can handle my life without outside help.

Fragmenting: Feels justified and sees no inconsistencies in their behavior: Common for an abuser to attend church on Sunday and beat their partner on Monday. 

Minimizing: Refusing to take responsibility by making behavior out to be less than it is: I didn’t hit the kids that hard; I didn’t leave any marks so you can’t be battered; I could have hurt you a lot worse, but I didn’t.

Ownership: Applies equally to people and possessions and justifies their control over other’s behavior through abuse and taking what they want: If I want it, it’s mine; If it’s mine, I can do whatever I want with it. 

(Rest of the list Taken from “Criminal Thinking and Behavior Patterns Often Displayed By Abusers” Source unknown).

 Anger:  Uses their anger to control and intimidate others and situations.

Power Play: Uses these tactics to regain control when not getting their way: Walking out of a room; Refusing to listen to others; Out-shouting and ignoring others.

Playing Victim: Manipulates others into rescuing them by appearing helpless and pretending to be unable to cope: If I don’t get what I want, I am a victim.

Drama and Excitement: Substituting uproar and stimulation for close satisfying relationships because they have a problem connecting with others: Gets into fights; incites others to anger. Criticizes and belittles others to make them feel worthless.

Closed Channel: Reveals little about their real feelings and is not open to new information particularly about their behavior: Secretive, closed-minded, self-righteous, always right in all situations.

Image: Thinks of themselves as strong, superior, independent, self-sufficient and macho because of the results they get from intimidating others. Any statement which does not support the concept of their image is taken as a put-down: I’m not doing anything wrong. If I am doing something wrong, I won’t get caught. If I get caught, I can talk my way out of it. If I can’t talk my way out, the consequences will be light.*(end of quote) 


We may only witness a few of these behaviors in our acquaintances and family members and feel that they are harmless and even normal but the person or the family who is being victimized by this pattern of behavior can tell a different story. Abuse is criminal. A person with these behaviors will cross a line at some point pushing the control to a new level – one of violence, especially if there is any resistance.

If you know someone like this or are living in a relationship with them, please know that you cannot change the abuser’s behavior. This individual must seek professional help and want to change themselves. If you are finding yourself in an ongoing cycle which includes incidents of escalating abuse followed by the honeymoon phase and on and on, please seek help for yourself. Protect yourself and your children as it typically does not end well.   You can also lose your children to state custody and be charged with “failure to protect” or “child endangerment”. There are different levels of severity of these charges which could give you a felony record for life. This record could affect any employment or education opportunities you might seek especially in human services as they do background checks. And worst of all, eventually your children will think this lifestyle is normal and behave this way when they are adults or will enter into relationships where they are abused – continuing the cycle because that is all they have known. This is your opportunity to break the cycle and protect yourself and them. There is help available in dealing with this destructive problem.   Please call me for more information: 417-252-0829.

Harps Upon Willows is a voice for those whose every activity is monitored for signs of infidelity or betrayal; those isolated from family and friends and spending each moment bracing for the next barrage of verbal abuse that can escalate into violence.

This writing also provides a voice for the survivors who have been kicked out of trucks speeding down the highway; for those being ran over with the family car causing permanent damage and those dragged by their hair while being pulled alongside a truck on a gravel road leaving gravel embedded in their knees.   Harps. . . is especially a voice for those who were killed by their partners as they tried to leave. Statistics prove that that is when the danger is the highest.

Imagine a community where everyone is knowledgeable about abuse and will not tolerate it. A community where the children observe the adults taking action to protect them within their families, their schools, their churches and in the justice and the social services system that has been created to protect the innocent.

“The Lord will perfect me in knowledge, concerning his kingdom, I will praise thee O Lord forever, for thou art merciful, and will not forsake the works of thine own hands.” Psalm 138:8







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