Out From Under the Umbrella

playing in the rain


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IPV: Adjust Your Sails

inthestorm

I wanted to end this series on a positive note.  It’s hard to do that with a topic which is the source of so much pain.  It’s depressing, frankly.  I thought about doing a post about making a safety plan if you intend to stick it out, a strategy for coping with ongoing abuse, and an exit plan if you want to leave.  But those have all been done before.  I’ll leave some links if you need them.

There are just really are some things I want to say to you if you find yourself in a toxic relationship of any kind.  Whether it’s physical, emotional, verbal, sexual, or spiritual abuse the result is devastating.  It erodes self-esteem.  It corrodes hearts.

It is not your fault.  No matter how many times you’ve heard, ‘if only you wouldn’t…make me so angry, or make me worry, or be so selfish, or be so stupid [insert your own].

Embed this in your memory.  Affirm yourself even if no one else does.  Know this:

“You is kind. You is smart. You is important.” Kathryn Stockett, The Help

You are important. You are valuable.  You are irreplaceable. You are priceless.  And because you may have forgotten I want to tell you:

You are beautiful.

You are beautiful.
You are beautiful.

There is nothing wrong with you.

Listen, I do not know you.  But I am you.  You are not alone.  Things can get better.  Nothing will change unless you do.  You can do it!  Learn to trust yourself again.

If you need help or just someone to talk to you can email me at deconstructingmyselfdma@gmail.com

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http://heleneltaylor.com/planning-a-safe-escape-from-an-abusive-marriage/

http://www.respect4women.org/what-is-abuse/the-cycle-of-abuse/

http://www.healthyplace.com/abuse/emotional-psychological-abuse/dealing-with-emotional-abuse-how-to-stop-emotional-abuse/

October is domestic violence awareness month

If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)

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Intimate Partner Violence: We Get By With a Little Help

 

You probably already know even if you don’t know that you know. You know something isn’t right.  You suspect. Every time you invite your friend out they decline.  They never spend time with others if their spouse isn’t there.  They always defer to their spouse.  They spend an inordinate amount of time making sure their life looks perfect.

things we wish our friends knew but are too afraid to say out loud

Please listen to us.

We need you to listen to us.  We need to learn to trust because, frankly, we’re not sure we can.  Don’t take that personally.  It’s just that the most intimate relationship we have has taken that away from us.  The person we were supposed to trust with everything ruined that.

We’re not likely to just come out and say that we’re being abused.  Hell, we may not even know we’re being abused.  It may have gone on long enough that it’s our normal.  And even if we know it’s hard to admit to someone else.  We don’t even want to admit it to ourselves.  Just be there.  Ask probing questions but don’t pressure.  Listen as much for what we’re not saying as what we are saying.  We need a lifeline.

Please don’t tell us what to do.

We may seem confused.  We are.  But the last thing we need is someone else telling us what to do.  It is likely that our abuser controls most, if not every, aspect of our lives; from how long we spend in the bathroom to what clothes we wear.  Ask us what we want.  That encourages us to think for ourselves. We may not remember the last time what we wanted even mattered.

Please don’t judge us.

If we ever do get up the courage to tell you we need affirmation.  We don’t trust our own judgement.  There were some things that I had to be told were abuse.  Because I’d grown accustomed to it I didn’t realize what was even happening to me.  Coercion is a subtle, but destructive, tactic.  I had to be told that’s a form of rape.

Understand if we’re not ready to leave.  Understand if we never get ready to leave.  Don’t push us to get the hell out no matter how much your mind is screaming “get the hell out”.  Don’t assume it’s because we’re weak.  Encourage us to get help, certainly, but if you push us to leave we will cut off contact with you.  We can’t do that until we’re ready.

Don’t judge us for not leaving.  Leaving is an admission that it’s happening; that it’s real.  We likely told ourselves that this would never be us.  We’d never let this happen.  Likely we’ve denied that it is – to ourselves and to you – in a lot of subtle ways.

Please don’t look at us with those eyes.

Don’t look at us with those knowing eyes; the eyes of pity.  Don’t look at us like we’re a victim.  We don’t want to be victims.  Please don’t treat us like we’re victims.  Please just be normal around us.  Don’t make it awkward.  Talk to us about something else.

Please don’t give up on us.

I know it must be so hard to watch your friend stay in a situation you know in your heart of hearts is dangerous.  It must be awfully tempting to give up on us, to turn away, to throw your hands up in disgust, and just walk away.  Please don’t do that.  Please reassure us that you are there.  Give us a place to go.  Even if we don’t leave permanently we may need temporary shelter.  Please tell us that we can find shelter with you.

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October is domestic violence awareness month

If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)


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Why I Left

October is domestic violence awareness month

If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)

DSCF1428

Photo Credit – Ruth There’s a critter playing peek-a-boo!

A NEW LOVE interest

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a

I still believed these verses and I still wanted to live these out even if he did not.  But after a long time of trying I came to the realization that I couldn’t love enough for two. I could live these verses out for myself alone.

I found a new love and began a love affair that continues to this day.  Shocking, I know.  I didn’t plan it; it just…happened.  I started going out with my girlfriends and I took up jogging.  I got in shape physically and emotionally. In the process I found my self-respect and discovered that I had a lot to offer.  Yes, I fell in love with another.  Me.

I learned to love myself and began to take care of me.  Instead of always putting him or my marriage above all else I began to put myself, my safety, and my needs first.  I learned that unless I loved myself I wasn’t really worthy of love and couldn’t properly love another.

forget religion

Divorce was still a dirty word.  But I decided it was better than the alternative.  Though I still viewed it as sin I decided that the options of suicide or murder were more sinful.  These thoughts, fleeting as they were, were a wake-up call.  It terrified me that I could even ponder these things.

I daydreamed about driving my car into a ravine.  I envisioned picking up a knife the next time he had his hands around my throat.  This shit is hazardous to your health in more ways than one!  These are not normal thoughts.

It’s really bad when you either wish you were dead or, you know, there might be some unfortunate accident on your partner’s way home.  This may be a startling admission on my part.  But it’s honest. So I entertained the previously unthinkable and initiated a separation.

I discovered it was against my religion to enable my abuser’s behavior to continue. Eff martyrdom!  Where’s the glory in that? God would surely forgive me for breaking my vows. They had long since been broken anyway.  Honor, cherish, protect, love…all gone the first time he hurt me.

honor

I could no longer live in shame.  It was overwhelming and debilitating.  The only way for me to continue to live was to honor myself.

I figured out that his problems were his and they didn’t have to cause me shame.  I figured out that it didn’t matter what other people thought.  It only mattered that I could hold my head high because I knew the truth.

I figured out that I was worth saving.

recognizing my weakness

I recognized my propensity to be insecure and self-deprecating. I recognized that I found esteem in being the perfect wife.  Not from my abuser, but from my God and from those in the church.  Being a help-meet was not all I was created for.  It was not noble and prized by the one person who should have appreciated it.

I still had my weaknesses, no doubt, but knowing what they were my abuser could no longer exploit them at every turn.  I grew weary of the mind games and emotional blackmail.

Having been emotionally tied into knots I saw the belittling for what it truly was.  There was no way to be better enough.  Better would never be good enough.

i was stronger

I still have that same tenacity.  I’ve just employed the old slogan, ‘Work smarter, not harder’. Still, if I am a failure it won’t be said that it was because I didn’t try.  I just came to the realization that I can’t fix everything.  Anything can be fixed.  Everything…not so much.

I could fix me and only me.  He would have to do his own repair work if he thought it necessary.  But I could not.  In order for me to repair what had been broken inside of me I had to make different choices. I had to set up boundaries; something that before I never thought I had a right to.

I found strength in knowing I did have a choice.  So I exercised my right to live in a safe, stable, sane environment.

acceptance

I had to acknowledge that it was that bad no matter how often it happened.  It could be worse but so what?  Why should I settle for bad simply because it could be worse?

Fists are not the only way to physically abuse.  I had to acknowledge that strangling, hair-pulling, pinching, and having my head bounced off of inanimate objects is physical abuse. It should have frightened me to know that he could have killed me.

People may say that sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.  But that’s a lie.  Words hurt and leave scars that will never completely heal.  That’s what pushed me over the edge.  I could have taken the punishment, but the near-constant verbal, emotional, and psychological abuse was more than I could bear.

I stopped minimizing the danger and pain I was in.  Once I was out of denial, once I saw the abuse for what it really was, there simply was no way to stay.

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You can find the reasons why I stayed here:  Why I Stayed


40 Comments

Why I Stayed

October is domestic violence awareness month

If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)

Photo credit:  Ruth

Photo credit: Ruth

love

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a

I loved him. I believed these verses.  I wanted to live these out even if he did not.  I thought I could love enough for two.  Love was a decision I made every day. Besides, I loved Jesus even more and after all I had been forgiven for – what with nailing him to a cross – how could I not forgive?  Forgive and forget.  So I protected the lie and kept it cloaked in the darkness.

We had watched as his grandparents eclipsed their silver anniversary and sailed on seemingly calm waters into their golden.  I wanted to be a member of that club.  I wanted ’til death do us part.

it was against my religion

Divorce was a dirty word.  In a world where 50% of self-professed believers’ marriages end in divorce I didn’t want to be part of that number.  It was sinful to even think it.  According to scripture there really is no exception.  I felt guilty for even entertaining the thought.

I trusted in every promise of God I could cling to and decided that even if my loyalty brought about my death then I would be a beacon, a martyr, a testament to the sanctity of marriage.  I hid these words in my heart:

Slaves, in reverent fear of God submit yourselves to your masters, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God. But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps….Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.” 1 Peter 2:18 – 1 Peter 3:6

shame

The first time it happened I thought it was a fluke – a one-off.  The second time I thought it was my fault.  The third time I knew I was in serious trouble.  Serious trouble with no way out.  Not in my mind anyway.  I was ashamed that I had caused this.  I was ashamed that I didn’t see it until it was too late.  I was far too embarrassed to tell anyone. Who could I tell that I made my husband angry enough to do me harm?

By the time I realized that it wasn’t my fault, that I wasn’t causing these temper tantrums, it had gone on far too long.  I was ashamed I’d let it get this far. I was ashamed I had ever allowed it to happen to me.

I was ashamed for my abuser.  I didn’t want anyone to think poorly of him.

I was ashamed for anyone to know my secret.  What would people think?  Would they think that I was stupid? Would they think that I asked for it?  Would they think I was getting what I deserved?

I was weak

Having always been insecure and self-deprecating I found esteem in being the perfect wife.  Not from my abuser, but from my God and from those in the church.  Being a help-meet is what I was created for.  It was noble and prized.

My abuser detected my weaknesses with pinpoint precision and exploited them at every turn.  He knew my propensity to be a people-pleaser and reminded me often that I didn’t want to disappoint him…or God.  Who was I to deny him even the smallest of things as his God-ordained completer?

Having been emotionally tied into knots I saw the belittling as a challenge to be better.  If only I could be better.

i was strong

I have been told that I’m tenacious.  Stubborn is more like.  It can be my greatest strength and my achilles heel.  Like the doctor who continues to compress the chest of a patient whose last breath has long left their lifeless body I continue to attempt resuscitate the deceased.

If I am a failure it won’t be said that it was because I didn’t try.  I think I can, I think I can…no, I know I can fix anything. 

I also have a high pain threshold.  What signals to most people there is something wrong provides me little information.  I have a tendency to tough it out and push through the pain.  I have also been told that if something would hurt my feelings it might draw a blister on a wash pot. I have, myself, made the joke that if you’re trying to hurt my feelings you’d better tell me.

denial – not just a river in egypt

It isn’t that bad.  It doesn’t happen that often.  It could be worse.  He won’t kill me. He isn’t hitting me.  It’s not really abuse if he’s not hitting me.  Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.  All of these are the things that I told myself.  Even when I wasn’t in complete denial I seriously minimized the condition I was in.

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You can find the reasons why I left here:  Why I Left