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"... clandestine Hostility cover'd over with the name of Peace" - John Milton, 1658

Updated: Nov 26, 2023

Weeks ago, while doing a google search for the words "abuse and silence", I came across the phrase "Clandestine abuse," a phrase that seems redundant. There is so little overt abuse; abuse typically occurs in secret, underhanded or covered up... the meaning of clandestine.

Speaking out about abuse blows the cover; it can no longer be considered clandestine. One would think and hope, then, that the abuse would end. But it doesn't, necessarily... sometimes it just becomes MORE clandestine. It gets covered up by the circulation of false narratives. Often abusers have disproportionate power and status, and use those to deceive those who would otherwise intervene.

Abuse targets, through speaking up and speaking out, can receive support and assistance; it is possible for them to be removed, for the most part, from harm's way. That may be the only solution for abusive relationships, until abusers get the help they need to truly change - which requires abusers be truthful and honest about their hurtful and destructive behaviors.

If pathological narcissism is involved, then due to its characteristics, honesty is not likely. According to the Enough! Foundation, signs of pathological narcissism include:

  • Exploitation of others

  • Coercive control

  • Mental Abuse

  • Gaslighting

  • Lack of empathy

  • Manipulation

The above listed tendencies are not compatible with honesty about one's unacceptable treatment of others. So the honesty requisite for true transformation is difficult to arrive at, when narcissism is involved. And narcissism is prevalent in abusive relationships.

Back to the quote which is the title of this entry... clandestine hostility called "peace"... That is a succinct summary of some once-precious relationships in my recent (past 5 years') experience. The hostility, from those I had considered for many years would be "first responders," should our nuclear family have any needs, has rarely been outright, with raised voices (other than some "scream-praying" I have heard them engaged in) or fists or obscenities. But I would choose those any day over the pretention, over any "godly" front, over "politeness" and social "correctness" of relatives and "friends" who "peacefully" ignore and deny the basic needs and rights of other humans, who are complicit in hostility and abuse.

Again, I won't go into details about my experiences, but I believe if anyone out there has been abused by religious people (and sadly, there are many of us) you may appreciate John Milton's quote, as I do.

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