Domestic Violence is an abuse like no other. This type of abuse affects all involved. If there is violence in the home, the whole family is involved. In honor of those who have suffered from domestic violence, my plea is stop…in the name of love
There are many people who can’t deal with the reality of their behaviors. They distort the truth to serve their self. There are a few who have no concern for others well-being, and will do whatever it takes to manipulate the situation.
Some people tend to hide their problems very well. They live an emotionally empty life creating situations to serve their own needs. Some want to come across as “good” people, yet behind closed doors they may become hurtful to others. But those on the outside don’t always see what’s going on behind closed doors; thus, causing further problems leading to some confusion.
After a while it becomes hard to distinguish what is real from what’s being distorted. Those who suffer begin to doubt their reality and question whether or not they are crazy, or whether the other person is really right about what they say. Due to my past sexual abuse, I could also be one to distort reality…especially if I thought I might be abandoned, or become vulnerable.
The truth is…they, as well as myself, are not always right!
Some people don’t exhibit the volatile extreme emotions. They are calm and quiet for the most post part. They “seem” unmoved by the feelings of others…even if they really care about others. This also “seems” that they may not be fulfilled by the relationships within their lives. This may leave them with the feeling of being empty: thus, trying to fill their lives with behaviors that are not always acceptable. Others exude extreme emotions; wearing them on their sleeves when they are easily upset. I fall into the later category.
Most behaviors originate from an extreme emotion triggered by fear, or lack of confidence. I know that with my own fears of abandonment, I can easily hurt the very people I care about. I have periods of remorse, deep regret, and shame for my extreme behaviors. Most people, who hurt others, usually feel some type of remorse…of course there are those who do not seem to show any. Sometimes this period of remorse is called the “Honeymoon” period.
This period often has the feeling that there may be hope, and encouragement. Then during other periods, there may be extreme agitation, that is often intensified by the lack of self confidence, or fear of not having expectations met. Sometimes people come across as not being empathetic…especially toward another. The perception is that there is no real problem; thus, there is no need to work on any relationships.
Domestic violence is an often “smoothed over” in families today, and Christian families are not immune to its “flaming darts”. The warning signs can be hidden or disregarded.
In Proverbs 26 it says, “Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death is the man who deceives his neighbor and says, ‘I am only joking!’…The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels; they go down into the inner parts of the body…Whoever hates disguises himself with his lips and harbors deceit in his heart; when he speaks graciously, believe him not, … A lying tongue hates its victims, and a flattering mouth works ruin.”
Many may regret hanging on, or trying to stay in a relationship, especially when it may be debilitating. The reality is that abuse hurts, no matter who you are, or how old you are. It destroys you from the inside out, and cuts away at how you believe in yourself…your very core. There is a realization that one may face that there is no escape from the abuse without giving up a huge part of one’s life. Some put up with attacks before retreating to safety. Alcohol/substance abuse can elevate attacks. There comes a time when too long is…way too long.
When a relationship gets really bad, they can drain us. And while we all want to be faithful within our relationships, we can really get ourselves in a bind by “sticking” with a harmful situation too long. We begin not to have enough strength left to help ourselves…much less our family. We may become ill, or very irritable from lack of sleep. Anxiety takes over eventually leading to despair if help is not received. When faced with domestic violence, many seek guidance and solace within their faith.
People have a desire to be faithful within relationships. But it is really important to be realistic about our own strength. The problem is that leaving is hard. The thought of the ending of a dream as a reality is painful. Being faithful can be tiring. In fact, one may not have enough strength to leave…if it comes down to it. Repeated “fight and flight” responses to self, or another, is tiring, and might need some extra reserves just to make it through the day. Decisions that are best made for the relationship can be quite painful and draining as well.
For the abused they often feel abandoned by God. Christians often feel compelled to stay in abusive relationships because they don’t understand the scripture where it talks about submissiveness. Sometimes a church leader may strongly encourage the victim not to give up on the abuser; thus, they feel the need to remain in the relationship for fear of breaking covenant. One seriously has to look ahead to the message that is trying to be conveyed.
The message is clear. The victim got into the situation because of desiring to be loved. Instead of looking for love from people; Love must be looked for in God–the One who loves us unconditionally. God is love! Put your trust and love in God. He will never fail!
“…the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God .” ~ 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Love comforts us! The Lord sympathizes with us. He knows what it was like to suffer needlessly at the hands of others. Because of this, we are allowed to “…approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” ~ Hebrews 4:16
Abused people are usually able to find strength in their faith and/or community. If they are comfortable doing so, they may talk to their religious leaders about their situations. If asked by the victim, spiritual support should be given. Be encouraging to one another.
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” ~ Hebrews 10:24-25
As a religious community, it is important to have some knowledge on domestic violence issues. Pastors could use the pulpit as a way to educate the congregation of such issues. It’s important not to offer poor advice for a member’s situation. Sometimes advising to stay with an abuser to keep the family intact at all costs may cause more, or unnecessary, damage to the relationship(s) and sometimes safety problems. It is good advice from religious community to suggest seeking couples counseling from a trained professional.
There is so much madness that goes on behind the scenes. Verbal and emotional abuse can cause much anxiety within the victim and possibly family members. There are many horror stories of physical and sexual abuse that tags along with the previous mentioned abuses. For some there is no way out…except by death: either being the victim of someone’s abuse, or suicide to get out. It’s important to become educated on signs of domestic violence, and what to do. I pray that the religious community will get involved, and that be one of the first things to do. Even if only praying, and acting as encouragement, is all the religious community can do…that would be a blessed start and most welcomed.
Stop in the name of Love! Stop the madness of abuse. Become educated. Learn of God’s unconditional love that He has for the brokenhearted. Learn how He will renew and restore broken hearts. He gives strength to the weak, and rest to the weary. Seek Him and He will open the door to healing.
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” ~ 2Corinthians 4:16-18
“How do you pick up the threads of an old life? How do you go on, when in your heart you begin to understand there is no going back? There are some things time cannot mend. Some hurts that go too deep that have taken hold.”
Because of my past sexual abuse, I have a few things from my past that the hurts go rather deep. I’ve thought…could they ever really mend?
My pastor, Tom Gibbs, once told me that, “By giving into the fear of darkness, it will only compound the pain and evil of what has already happened. By you keeping things hidden it will gain power over you. Remember, that God is Light and there is no darkness in Him.”
The hope in my brokenness is through the Light of Jesus; because through His Light all darkness shall go away.
My pastor also told me that I had been standing–waiting in the dark.
I have ignored the Light for many years. While I had been waiting in the dark, I remembered that there was a light that had been behind the “door of my heart”. I had been longing and hoping for the Light of Jesus to be shed on me.
Come to find out–Jesus’ Light had been there the whole time. I just needed to turn around, truly see Him, and let Him into the dark places of my heart.
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” ~Psalm 34:18
Looking back, I suppose Jesus allowed the memories of my past abuse to resurface because it needed to be dealt with. Maybe the Lord was reopening these wounds, so that I could truly forgive my self, and others.
For years I felt intense anger, and had tried to ignore my emotions. I was angry at my stepfather for the sexual abuse he had committed. I was angry about the memories that I had been left to deal with. I also felt guilty about being angry.
After studying Psalms, and learning about God’s emotions, I began to learn about my own emotions. It helped to see some examples of how God felt about certain things; therefore, I was better able to understand, and was able to let some anger go as well.
It has been a slow process; but, I have made some progress.
I’m not going to lie, opening wounds, is a lot of my own fault! No one makes me hold onto the past. The last few years I have been searching as to why I have harbored so much pain deep within. I don’t want to pick at my wounds keeping them fresh; but, sometimes I find myself doing just that. While keeping them open, it has caused pain for myself, and others. It’s a vicious cycle that had potential to consume me.
In my desperation to find out answers of why others could not understand me…I began hurting them. I hurt the very ones I cared about. I might verbally be abusive, and this only compounded the feelings of guilt that I already felt. I began to feel that I was not worthy. I felt that I was a mistake, or a disgrace, to all that were around me. Once again the cycle was in place and continuing to gain force.
Sometimes, I couldn’t stand myself for what I had done; thus, on occasion I hurt myself. I felt that if I hurt myself–there would be some restitution for hurting others verbally. However, most did not know that I had sought restitution…within myself.
I began isolating myself. I thought that isolating my self from others–would “save” them from me. In my mind this is how I thought I should “handle” this type of situation. But, in isolating my self, it caused much pain of feeling abandoned…even if I was the cause of my own abandonment.
I have a friend Joey who recently told me that, “the one who abuses is usually the one holding onto their own personal wounds. They never really heal because they keep picking at the scabs, re-opening the hurts of the past and keeping them fresh. Then they lash out at whoever is closest to them, because the ones that originally caused the hurt are usually long gone. The wounding then becomes transferred to another victim. It becomes a vicious cycle unless the abused can short-circuit the circle of pain; thus, the need for a professional counselor to help me. His name is Jesus and I thank Him every day!”
These were some words to mull over. These were strong words of wisdom.
I began to continue picking at my wounds–keeping them fresh and open. I felt few seemed to understand me. I felt others didn’t believe that there was great suffering in my past. I felt I had to defend myself to others so they could understand. I felt since they had not experienced that kind of abuse…that they may feel how that could have happened. I also felt worse when some didn’t want to understand my past at all…to be discarded. I felt they were extremely insensitive. I let these feelings cause great confusion within me.
Now, pondering what my friend said…I realized that Jesus is the best counselor. My pastor and I had also talked about how the Lord had given me His Holy Spirit–to be my counselor/comforter. He had been with me always, even when others were absent. He walks with me right now!
I definitely need to hold onto this truth, even when my way seems very dark. I know that there will be brighter days!
Knowing this I began to feel safe enough to take steps forward toward healing, and understanding Him. I have learned that I could trust, and not all would judge me—no matter my mistakes. I was beginning to understand that I was not a misfit.
I tend to see things in night or day. I am a perfectionist about some things and lack concern about other things. My pastor told me that Jesus was less interested in me being perfect than in me knowing His mercy and grace. The very mercy and grace that covers all of my mistakes.
Through great wisdom of many, I have begun to replace my thoughts of guilt with thoughts of His joy, truth, and grace.
Finally I am beginning to feel that I am loved, valued, and treasured.
I know there have been many prayers for me, some like “Lord, keep Beth from lying to her self. Pray that she will begin to see Your truth—Your Light. Prayers like, “May You be a beacon of Light for her in dark places, when all her other lights go out.”
Right before Jesus died on the cross he said, “Into Your hands, Father, I commit my spirit”.
I need to commit my spirit to Him. I should no longer be powerless or broken from my past guilt. Through Jesus, I have the same power to resurrect myself from my pit of darkness, brokenness, and despair. I should no longer feel guilt over my past.
Physically, on Earth, God could not carry my guilt; but, He told me to release it, let Him carry me, and finally be rid of it.
One of my favorite parts from “The Return of the King”, is when Samwise and Frodo are at the bottom of Mt. Doom. Samwise begins talking to Frodo about the ring and says, “I can’t carry it for you! But I can carry you! Come on!”
The ring had caused open wounds around Frodo’s neck because of the weight of the ring. Frodo needed to get rid of the ring; therefore, Samwise carries Frodo up Mt. Doom. Eventually, Frodo was able to throw the ring into the fires…where it was destroyed.
God is telling me that He will carry me. God would not have brought me to the abuse, and then back to the memories of it, or healing of it, if He could not bring me through it. His eyes are fixed on me. Like the “refiner’s fire”, God begins to purify me of my past guilt, so that I can be made new in His Light.
Praise Him for His great strength, and Light!
Over the years, I tried to mend my wounded heart by myself; unfortunately, I did not seek help in the most appropriate way. I have learned that I can’t be, nor anyone else can be my savior; thus, often resulting in feeling rejected which created a low self-esteem…leading to despair…because in my mind, I could not be fixed or saved. Therefore, I must come to the conclusion (on my own & my own time) that no one can “fix” me; except, for Jesus.
My Pastor, Tom Gibbs, once told me that I must learn to let Jesus love me, and I must love Him in return. If I don’t do this…it will be impossible for Him to pull my weeds and replace them with flowers. I have really come far despite my abuse and lack of knowing a lot about the Good News; but, I can cultivate a bigger garden if I let Him help me, and others are willing to continue to mentor me.
I will say that learning to relate to God as a new creation is a difficult concept for me. I want to attempt to hide my very being from Him. I am ashamed of my past. I feel guilty. I don’t feel safe. The safety issue brings several things to my mind…how could He let all this abuse happen (past and present)? What kind of sick dad sends His only Son to be killed? That is no way to protect, or make someone feel safe. Because of my past…these thoughts have crept up in the back of my mind. How can I feel safe knowing that He will take care of me…when these things have happened?
The Biblical truth is that I can feel safe with Him. I am safe to succeed or fail. I also understood that there is truth to making individuals feel safe in church, or community. Through communities the restoration for my brokenness can take place. For people like me, I may think that others do not have problems that they have it all together because of the hiddenness within our community. Often times the ones that are struggling–try to become more hidden, or withdraw, from the community because of fear that their secrets might be “found out”. I finally understand that. First, I was told to tell my secrets, and now…don’t tell them except to one who claims he can’t help. So what is the point? I am so confused! Telling my secrets only brought more pain with no outlet to deal with them.
Unfortunately, telling past secrets doesn’t get rid of the pain …it actually just opens the door (which is not understood by most) to help begin the process of healing. When left undone, it causes much more pain and anxiety. So what’s wrong with learning the process of helping others? That is what I want to learn how to do, so that I can use this brokenness as a gift to help others. Unfortunately, I have been discarded as “too needy” and not worthwhile to nurture to bring out such a gift.
There are lots of beautiful broken Christians that are at battle with a real war inside of them. I know that I did not originally want to reveal my past with a select few for fear of rejection, and not feeling safe enough to be forgiven when my sins of my past were exposed. I almost felt that because I screwed up with trusting some that the lesson I learned is not to confess my sinful past, or abuse, because now I no longer feel safe. I keep telling myself that it would have been best to have kept things hidden; although, hiding would not have changed any of the abuse, then or now.
I feel this safety issue is a very sensitive topic. Is there a question that some may take advantage of this thing called grace? Should one be walked through the healing process of confessing, being forgiven, and eventually being restored? Could there be a difference between immaturity (lack of understanding Him) and someone’s sinful nature of worshiping idols? Or is it a combination? Should they be forgiven or just discounted as a failure to abide by certain rules or time frames?
Being safe doesn’t always mean to feel safe to fail. It can also mean to feel safe to succeed. I want to be encouraged to be the Bride of Christ, to be His Beloved, to be that Oak of Righteousness like I have heard in some sermons. There is a difference between righteousness and holiness. If I understand correctly, we become righteous when we accept Jesus into our heart as our Savior because of His death on the cross. Grace enables us to pursue holiness, once we are made righteous, by seeking His Godly character & applying it to our lives.
I must tell you that most individuals who have been abused have a hard time trusting anyone, especially Christians. There are some who would be quick to judge the abused without knowing the whole story…my story (or anybody else’s story for that matter). That was why a support system was needed to be in place, to help me learn to trust. Yes, I know I have a hard time breaking away from dependency of others; but think about it…I have had to depend on myself for years (since I was a child), and look where that has gotten me.
Why can’t some dependency be considered for wanting to truly understand His love? The support system should be built out of love & compassion; not out of pity for the abused to be labeled as a project to be worked on. Especially, if the project goes awry it could cause the building of the structure to be idled. A safe and stable place should be built for the broken and for them not to worry about performance expectations…or trying to be healed sooner because of someone else’s time frame.
Remember, the abused person is trying to heal, and for this reason one should step back & say it is not about me…it is about the child of God who carries this pain. No one really wants to be sick! I never wanted this pain of abuse, or the memories of it that often triggers horrible feelings within my soul. Far from it! I never desired to be taken advantage by a perverted man who was supposed to love and protect me…be my trusted parent.
I needed to get to a place where I could trust God and feel safe–because of what had been done to me in the past, and even what is happening now. I also needed to trust God with what I had done. People who have been abused have lost their identity, and often need to be validated by those who believe in them. It’s important to talk these things out, in my case the abuse, to be able to remove my wrong perception of the present and what might happen in the future. Yes, specialized counselors (such as mine…Clifton Fuller) are great for this; but, humor me to read on.
Abused victims, or survivors, don’t necessarily know who they are. Over the years I took on different identities as a form of protection. Many worked for me as a child; but now it is a problem as an adult. Sometimes there are those who can & will victimize the abused. They will plague them with chores, verbally abusive words, until they are completely sleep deprived from over exhaustion and utterly worn out. This allows the victim to become more easily moldable into a certain state of mind by the abuser. Does that make sense? This is when the victim “freezes up” during certain situations, and does not respond or handle the current situation with finesse. I know this tactic all too much. I have continued to live in this state of confusion for most of my life.
In searching for my true identity (in the image of God), I needed to know that I was of equal value as any other human. My brokenness may come across as being “too needy” or “desperate” for some; but in actuality, I needed to understand my value as a person–which I don’t always see in myself. For this reason as well, I feel that God might use me in other’s lives to learn how to build meaningful relationships with certain kinds of broken people like me.
In essence, my survival thus far, should be a blessing to others, and build confidence that His Kingdom can be furthered by understanding the certain kind of brokenness found within me. Those survival strategies that I learned as a child could be used as gifts to help reach others. By recognizing their strategies, or walls they built up, I might be able to be help some of them; unfortunately, I am still unlocking some of those gifts to be able to be helpful. It would be easier to unlock those gifts with encouragement.
In losing my identity, I also lost the true identity and nature of God. In a sense, I am a child (a new creation), and I need to start over with the faith process. I may need to have the basics of faith told to me more than once. I will need to have Grace explained in depth. I will need to understand God’s characteristics on an intimate level. Truth is that because of my abuse, even though others may find it hard to believe, I can trust that I am in a safe place and I will not be rejected for my past, or sins.
We are all unique, and each one brings a different gift to the table. In fact, I want to be a blessing to the community as well, and not be treated like a project. I don’t want others to feel they have to help me because God would want them to help me; but, to help me because they have a real compassion to help me for who I am…and not knowing of what or who I could become in His Kingdom later.
I need to stop hiding behind my mask and become a beautiful kind of broken.
“I shall heal your broken heart with My words of love. My truth shall prevail over all your trials and tribulations. I see your fears and sorrows; your struggles, your pain and suffering, and I shall not abandon you in your hour of need. My mighty right hand is already stretched out to heal and give peace and abundant life. I am at work. I am Jehovah – I AM THAT I AM.”
We all have some kind of God given talent. Why is it so hard for others (including myself) to recognize our talent? Even worse, why don’t others knowing they have one…just don’t want to share it? Isn’t the purpose of the body of Christ for us to come together as a community of believers to share, grow, and pray with each other? Shouldn’t we be lifting each other up to Him, and all for the glory of Him?
Maybe there is more? Maybe we are more? There are so many people who have great talents to share, and in many different kinds of ways; such as through poetry, good communicated thoughts, through art and music, and even from experiences or intuition that allow for sharing of wisdom. People might begin to realize that they have the potential to be more than they think they are…or even more than what others might expect.
I love Tenth Avenue North‘s song, “You Are More“! The making of the video (http://tenthavenuenorth.com/videos) is a testimony in and of itself. The band members are lighthearted in the making of the video; but, definitely get their points across. The making of the video and the song should both be viewed. Below is a portion of their song:
“‘Cause this is not about what you’ve done,
But what’s been done for you.
This is not about where you’ve been,
But where your brokenness brings you to.,
This is not about what you feel,
But what He felt to forgive you,
And what He felt to make you loved.
You are more than the choices that you’ve made,
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes,
You are more than the problems you create,
You’ve been remade.”
~ Tenth Avenue North “You Are More”
The band, and the producers, had people write in words and/or phrases that might include mistakes they have made, things they may have been labeled as, or painful experiences or secrets wanting to hide.
The lead vocal, Mike, reassures us that we all make mistakes. No one is perfect (but Christ). He also reaffirms that the good news from the gospel tells us that despite our mistakes…and because of the blood of Jesus…we are made new. Do you hear that! We are made new! We are made in His image. We can be forgiven for our past mistakes, our heinous secrets, or whatever lies the devil wants us to believe.
The fact they used real people in the video made it more apparently real to me. Also, at the end when the water flows over the chalkboard, like art or a beautiful poem, I hold a visual in my head of these mistakes being washed away. I can have a clean slate because of what He did for me!
…going back to the wisdom from others. Not all wisdom needs to be taken as the “only” way. That is why we have the good news of the Gospel. We also have learned and trained pastors to help us better understand the wisdom that has been bestowed upon us—through His words.
So if we have good news to share why is there a lack of sharing it? Could one person do all the “reaching out”—trying to make a difference? Of course not. The problem may be that others don’t have the confidence to share. More sadly, others may have not found their strength to share. Sometimes a strength may come about from a weakness made known. It could be right under their noses, and they not even realize it.
There is an exception to this rule. The only One that could reach to everyone–did just that for us. Jesus took it upon Himself to make a difference in our lives, and for our lives, by letting us pin Him to the cross. In essence, we abused and neglected Christ by standing by, and doing nothing, watching Him suffer. He gladly did this for us.
There is so much pain and affliction in this world. I could not even make a dent in the list; but, one very dear, and close to my heart, is that of abuse and neglect. I realize this topic can be very broad with many different types; but, nevertheless…abuse is abuse…no matter how you look at it.
It is also a topic most don’t like to acknowledge because it is dark, and holds many secrets.
Lots of people don’t understand abuse; because frankly, unless they have experienced it…they can’t comprehend it.
The sad thing is that many have been abused, and don’t even know it. I have had people tell me that they have never been abused. After getting to know them, I may hear them tell a story of an incident that happened to them. In all aspects, it sounds like abuse to me.
There are no criteria, or levels, one experiences in order for it to be known as “abuse”. It looks different to each individual; however, some abuses are blatant and are definitely noticeable. I would hope others might learn the warning signs, and try to reach out to those that have experienced such things rather than looking upon them as if they were a leper. This may compound the issue, and break trust within the person needing help.
There are different coping skills for different circumstances. Finding a healthy coping skill is important for healing to begin. There are lots of resources; but, it is a matter of being able to utilize some of those resources.
The community of church is a great resource for helping survivors of abuse. This allows for sharing, praying, and encouraging. It not only can be a blessing to the one receiving; but, for the one giving.
The problem that arises from this situation is that some, who have been sheltered, may not be as accepting of the brokenness as the one whom it involves. The one, who is dealing with the pain of the abuse, may feel as though they are being judged. In most cases, the abused person desires to know that His grace is real, and to be accepted despite their heinous secret—their brokenness.
Trust needs to be made, so that healing may begin.
There are lots of Biblical resources that are accessible to those needing encouragement. I would hope that His body might utilize some of those resources to help the afflicted. Sometimes, not knowing what to do, the body may ignore the warning signs rather than aggressively seeking to help heal the part that is ill. But, these are very rare instances.
Other resources may be groups that have people who have survived particular abuses. They have the knowledge, and experience, to help with coping skills, give encouragement, and direct further—if further direction is needed. There are many books, blogs, websites, etc. with a plethora of information. It could be as easy as a click away to get some of the help needed.
Reading books about surviving abuse is great; but, having an actual human that will share (or is able to share) their experience of how they found hope and changed their coping skills, is vital to the process of healing. That is why a need for a “close” community is important. One wouldn’t go to a Chemistry class if British Literature was what was needed to be learned. The same goes for a group that understands the abused person’s particular needs.
I realize that I [one person] can’t inform the people of the world, nor do I desire this; but, I do desire that we bond together, and gather as a community to inform. Who knows, we might begin to make a difference in each other’s lives…and maybe that would help us in the community of the people of the world.
“For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” ~Matthew 18:20