A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

This Thing Called Healing

I can’t take criticism. After a lifetime of abuse, the smallest critique sends me either running to the bathroom to cry or coming out with both fists flailing, trying desperately to fend off attacks. All I hear is yet again how bad I am, how messed up I am, how selfish, stubborn and hard-headed I am, how emotional and silly I am. And I believe it and then start having ugly and dark thoughts about why I even exist. My mind searches my memories (the ones that aren’t blank spaces in my mind) for something to contradict the “bad me”. Something to prove that I’m actually ok. And I can’t find any. Only memories of being told over and over how bad and defective I am.

So a criticism as small as a 1 on a scale of 1-10, I receive as a 7. I beat myself up horribly and become outright depressed, or I fight and push the critic away, even counter attacking to protect my exhausted, mutilated sense of self. Fight or flight. I feel defeated, just give up inside and let the guilt wash over me, crumbling in a heap of self-hate as I have done so many times in my life. Or, I declare that I will not take this anymore, and I attempt to launch an all out counter attack, while awful memories flash through my head like knives, creating an even more urgent sense that I have to fight to survive.

When I finally do see the reality of the situation, no matter which way I chose to handle it, I feel humiliated, weak, stupid, embarrassed, guilty, ashamed, all in the light of already feeling like a terrible person to begin with.

When will I ever get control of this thing? When will I see that not everyone wants to abuse me? I have to somehow learn to take helpful criticism as an opportunity to grow, and not run for cover from the bombs I think are being lobbed at me.

Judith Herman, in her book, “Trauma and Recovery”, talks about the three stages of healing for someone who has experienced long term (or complex) trauma (like many of us who have experienced domestic violence) —

  1. The establishment of physical and emotional safety.
  2. The establishment or re-establishment of trust
  3. Re-integrating into society

Each of these stages can take years to work through and each is dependent on the others.

The first stage is establishing safety. Physical safety, although it isn’t always easy to accomplish, is usually fairly clear-cut. We actually know what it means and can make plans and goals to reach it. But emotional safety is so much more tricky. Many of us have never even seen what that looks like, or the last time we experienced it was so long ago, we can’t remember it.

I am finding that I am bouncing back and forth between feeling emotionally safe and feeling lulled into a false sense of security that I am safe, when maybe I’m actually not. I am just so used to watching my back and being betrayed and lied to, that I can’t trust that I am genuinely safe.

This is where I think I am stuck. I am running in circles, trying to learn trust (Herman’s second stage) and what exactly that even means, and understanding that I am not just physically safe, but emotionally safe too. Trust affects safety and safety affects trust. I can’t feel safe if I can’t begin to trust and I can’t begin to trust if I can’t feel safe. At times I feel like I’m riding a runaway horse on a merry-go-round of fear and I can’t make it stop.

The path to healing is not straight-forward. It’s not really that clear and it’s full of twists, turns, wrong ways and do not enters. It’s long. Longer than I think I ever realized. I think the longer you have been in abuse, the longer that road to healing will be, so no one can say when anyone else will actually “heal”. There is no set map, but there are well established ways of building the roads and bridges we need in order to make our way successfully across the madness.

Take it one step at a time, ask God for and seek His constant discernment and understanding, take action to learn, re-learn, train and change the things you can change.

Decide each day that this day, the fear will not win. This day, I will make it through the flood of emotions that will happen without becoming defensive. This day I will tell myself and try to believe that God sees worth in me and I don’t need to defend myself or crumple in a heap of guilt anymore. I may have different choices from those I wanted to have today, but I still have choices. I have the choice to begin to change those pathways in my mind that tell me I’m not worth anything, so that the abusive memories will have no more power over the reality of my life today. I have the choice to seek help and work hard to believe I can be who God made me to be.

I can’t look into the future to find a goal to reach for, because it’s too far for me to grasp right now, but I can decide that today, the abuse will not win. Today, with God’s mercy and love, I will win over the damage that was done to me.

Do you feel like this? For those who have been able to heal from this, how did you do it?

 

53 Comments

  1. Heather

    What a great article, Deborah. I’ve a feeling it will be familiar to most of us. This is my prayer every day when I sit with God…..thank you for putting it into words.

  2. twbtc

    Hi All,
    Interrupting this thread for a moment: This morning we had an ‘Opps’ moment and we accidentally published two posts. We have taken down the ‘Nor Shall Your Eye Pity Him’ post and it will published in a few days as originally scheduled. This explains the reason for the ‘error’ message if you try to access this post.

    Sorry for the confusion, but at least you got a little taste of what’s to come. :).

  3. IamMyBeloved's

    Deborah – Thank you for sharing this. Your post is very familiar to me, as I am sure it will be to others, who have dealt with long term abuse and its affects on the mind, emotions and responses.

    There is the possibility that EMDR will benefit you. My understanding is that these triggers of criticism or the like, are all embedded in pathways in our brains that have been “dug” by years of abuse. The EMDR helps smooth out, fill-in the ruts and re-route those pathways, making it easier to deal with the sense of feeling triggered.

    I think criticism can put me on the defense, because some of the episodes of abuse usually began with some form of criticism. Don’t know if that holds true for others or not. But I think it is also true, that even “normal” people who have not endured abuse, have trouble taking criticism. Just talked to a group of other Christians about this. I think abuse just makes us all feel worthless and different and abnormal from everyone else. It is just one part of the insurmountable hill of lies involved in abuse.

    • deborahmom

      I agree with you IamMyBeloved’s about everything you said. I have heard of EMDR but I can’t find a therapist in my area who works with trauma from abuse and uses this technique. I am hoping it’s more available for others. As for me, I have some books on EMDR coming. I have no idea if I can teach myself, but it’s better than nothing.

      • Heather

        Deborahmom, I have had EMDR in the past. I also had a counselor friend recommend tapping your hands in a left/right fashion while praying for The Lord to show you His truth about who you are. You can tap out your struggles, fears, and lies that you have believed about yourself. The idea is to ask Him to develop new and healthy neuropathways in your brain.

        It can be done anytime if you cannot find a therapist. The goal is to rewire the pathways with Truth.

        I’m no doctor, but I continue to tap during my prayer time. I really should try to tap more often! Hope this helps.

      • IamMyBeloved's

        Hi Deb-Just a suggestion. Have you tried your local Center for Prevention of Abuse? They have funding to have at least some of their counselors trained in EMDR and it may be available in your area. I would suggest that you try that first, as it is also free. They may have other help to offer you as well.

      • deborahmom

        IamMyBeloved’s Yes, I did do counseling through my local women’s center (our equivalent here) when I had just come out of the abuse, but they were not trained in EMDR. It’s good to hear other centers may be though.

      • Heather

        I just had a thought. Perhaps anyone dealing with PTSD or deprogramming may have training. Worth a try. I was thinking of veteran’s groups in particular.

  4. Anonymous

    Still feel like I’m living in the ‘running in circles’ stage. Definitely having to lean on the Lord’s faithful witnesses to me via sound Biblical sermons and a few select friends. Sadly, it is family that can’t be trusted:-(
    Deborah – you stated it well and prayerfully I will, “Take it one step at a time, ask God for and seek His constant discernment and understanding, take action to learn, re-learn, train and change the things you can change.”

  5. me

    It helps me to know that I am not alone in this. At times I feel as if I have taken a teensy step forward and a jump backwards. Trying to bury myself in the Lord and to remain hidden in Him

    • one step forward one step back is okay, I think. In fact, it is often a sign that healing is occurring.

      The Lord showed me a truth about this: one step forward and one step back is like backstitch in sewing. Backstitch makes a stronger seam than running stitch. The overall progress is forward, so don’t worry about the fact that sometimes it seems like you are going backwards. The Lord is just bringing about your healing so it is good and strong in the end and cannot be easily pulled out by the catches of life.

      • Anonymous

        Barbara – the backstitch analogy is wonderful. Must remember this and share it with others:-)

      • That’s very encouraging!

  6. Valerie

    I think this is a prime example of how the enemy gives us a second blow after he has already used our abuser. I heard a great explanation once that really stuck with me: If we feel convicted about something it is likely from the Spirit, if we feel condemned it is always from the enemy.

    When I have these times of anguish I find comfort and refuge in reciting back scripture to God telling him the truth of who He says I am. It never fails to make the cloak of darkness lift!

    • If we feel convicted about something it is likely from the Spirit, if we feel condemned it is always from the enemy.

      I think that is a good saying to apply to those who have healthy functioning consciences. And therefore, it is probably true for all true believers, those who are really in Christ.

      But for those who think they are Christians but are not actually born again and have never actually entered the Kingdom of God but are just living some kind of cultural / nominal Christianity, and more particularly, for those who are abusive and wicked and are deliberately and intentionally faking Christianity in order to have a cover for their wickedness (and a fertile field of naive people they can get their wolfish teeth into) I don’t think the saying necessarily applies.

      If someone is faking Christianity or resisting the gospel, they will feel condemned rather than convicted when they are admonished for their sin. They may heatedly object to the admonishment by fighting the admonisher (or their conscience) by saying: “You are ACCUSING me! That is not fair!” (Haven’t we all heard that from abusers, eh?)

      And with such people, if you give them that little aphorism above, they will just use it as another tool to resist taking responsibility for their sin.

      But that is how it is with abusers. Everything principle that is helpful or true or good for non-abusive people, will be twisted and turned upside down by abusive people. The really do live in an alternate reality.

  7. Linda

    Thank you, precious one, for bearing your heart. Every one of us requires a different blueprint for healing. He renews our minds! What a glorious work that is! I want to encourage you, & everyone else in the same frame of mind. While suffering trauma can be the ultimate means of permanent crippling, we have hope in Christ. I am grateful for the firsthand knowledge & wisdom I’ve gained from being subjected to a lifetime of abuse, & I’m grateful for the empathy & insight I’ve been given for others, because of it. At 70, I still battle worthlessness & confused or misplaced thinking & emotions. This generally takes the form of self pity, & I’m amazed at how quickly I can default to it, over next to nothing, but each time it’s less than before, & not as much as tomorrow. It gives me hope, & gives me the heart to pray for others who also, desperately need His mercy & His healing.

    Stay strong, knowing that each incident takes you closer to where He wants you to be. Thank you again for sharing with us.

  8. nessa3

    For me …I need to have some marker on the way to reach…have to have some plan. If I cant see some reachable place I give up…some days are good, its hard for me to get to happy, I keep holding my breath for the next punch to hit me. My biggest struggle is to keep emotionally engauged….it gets to painful and I disconnect.

    • deborahmom

      nessa3 Yes, it is hard to stay emotionally open. It’s so easy to just shut that part down and keep our guard up all the time. I struggle with that too. Happy often seems like “what’s the catch? When is the other shoe gonna drop?” I so get how you feel. It goes back to that safety and trust thing.

    • Nessa3, I don’t have any suggestions about what markers you might find helpful, but I’m confident you and the Lord can together come up with some good ones.

      But I do want to honour you for your ‘disconnnecting’ because that is one way your spirit is dealing with the pain, trying to save you from having to endure it when things become too untenable. Would it help to honor yourself for this self-protective mechanism you have?

      I know you want to eventually not be disconnected emotionally, and that is a good goal to work towards; but can you, for the moment at least, just praise yourself for how you are sometimes engaged and other times disconnected? Can you see that “in and out” process as your creative way of responding to the pressures you are under? Would it help for you to praise yourself that way?

      And if this idea is no use to you, just ignore it. 🙂 You are the expert on your situation, not me.

      • nessa3

        Thank you for the comments…I do know what your talking about…I have been getting EMDR…and know its ok to disconnect sometimes..when nothing else helps.Its been very difficult the last few months….getting into some ugly issues…I hadnt faced or forgotten….

  9. Sarah

    as long as society feels it is ok to batter women or to beat up on battered women I don’t know how we can heal. Once the courts stop, the counselors stop, the churches stop…maybe then?

    • Not Too Late

      I’ve wondered the same. Perhaps it’s a different quality of healing. I’m only thinking out loud, but maybe we heal toward a rest and contentedness in God, and one that eagerly looks forward to the completeness of healing when we see Him. I know it’s a well-worn cliche, but maybe it is like the grit in the oyster that doesn’t go away but becomes the center of a pearl.

    • In one sense, you are quite right, Sarah. The degree of healing a survivor can achieve in this life is related to the degree that social systems support survivors and deliver justice and equity to them. While society, or sections of society, continue to condone and enable abusers, then the healing that survivors can attain will be limited. It comes back to the fact that victims and survivors of abuse are STILL being abused, still being stigmatized, still being unfairly blamed and judged as ‘crazy’ or ‘silly for putting up with it’ etc., and worst of all, still being made to send their kids into the hands of the abusers by court orders. And the kids are still being manipulated by the abusers so they often get set in a pattern of defying the good parent and resisting the good parent’s efforts to shape them into mature responsible characters.

      As Lundy Bancroft says, we will not be able to stop abuse and abusers entirely, but we can make it more difficult for them to do what the do. And that requires social change. . . and social change is usually a slow business.

      Someone may be able to find the exact citation for that statement by Lundy. I know it’s in his book Why Does He DO That? [Amazon affiliate link]

  10. Seeing Clearly

    I would like to pitch a tent for the two of us in a meadow of wild flowers where it never rains, but the creek nearby runs peacefully. If you were there in peace, for two weeks, perhaps you could get your inner bearings. Of course, the return to your surroundings would trigger anxiety very quickly. It must feel like torture inside. Security is a primary need. You recognize that and you have studied and learned so much.
    I tried EMDR for a valid period of time. But I quit because my anxiety grew worse. I think that type of treatment is good in more ideal situations, where home rest accompanies the treatment. I returned home to confusion and challenges. So my brain said that it couldn’t handle stimulus from within and without. (That is over simplified.)
    People should not be criticizing you on a regular basis. You already know that, but I affirm it.

    I decided that divorce was the only option left. I interviewed 2 attorneys. The Christian man talked with me for 2 hours (longer than I expected). He kept pushing me to try a reconciliation council. I repeatedly explained why that was not an option. He billed me full rate for 2 hrs!. The non-Christian man, the one with integrity, offered an initial evaluation and assessment free of charge. At that time, I was also making copies of paper work of all sorts that might be necessary in the future in the midst of the divorce. I filed 2 yrs back taxes as a single person because he had neglected. I made myself a will and designated medical POA. I started being proactive.

    While the Christian community considers emotional and verbal abuse a controversial issue, the medical community considers it ABUSE. My husband took me to the medical center for my colonoscopy. Due to the behind the scenes behavior of his, I walked in quite upset. During my paperwork time, red flags went up to the staff that I was not in a safe situation. When I was behind closed curtains, before they put my IV in, the nurse ran through medical history questions one more time. When the question was asked, ‘Are you in an abusive situation?’ I said, ‘Only verbal and emotional” She said that counts. For the first time, I spoke out loud, YES, I AM!. They walked me through the same exit steps as if I had bruises all over. I called my brother who picked me up. My doctor assured me they would protect me. When I was safely out, they told my husband that I had left with my brother. My brother had no idea what was going on for me at home. I was never certain that I might truly be crazy, so I hid the severity of my situation. I was actually very embarrassed by the living situation.

    A month later, I finally told my Ex I was filing for divorce and from that day on, he was not to be in my presence without a 3rd party present. In God’s provision, through unforeseen circumstances, I moved into the basement of my brother and sister-in-law’s home. Six years later, I am still here. It is a peaceful, loving, respectful environment. When I settled into a secure environment, I could begin to accomplish healing. Confusion in my head is mostly gone, Depression meds are gone. I wake up happy, have energy, love my life. I feel free. The attorney with integrity brought me through a tough 1 1/2 yr divorce process. I was surrounded by friends and family who believe in me. They were not able to comprehend what I was living in, but they accepted me as a valuable person. Now that I live in a healthy environment, I can see positive results in my internal hard work.

    For you, dear friend, rolling a barrel uphill every day is destructive to you. While you have no guarantee of what you will actually be like in a different situation, take a risk. Step out and use the resources available to you in your community to get out from under the oppression. I doubt that reconciliation council or permanent separation will be effective. It is tragic that we have to give up all that we have worked for in life, just to live at peace, within and without.

    Thank you for your transparency. I would not have had your courage to write as you have. I know you are very bright by the way you communicate. Please be gentle with yourself. You are precious every single moment.

    • IamMyBeloved's

      Seeing Clearly – Just a note on EMDR. It can create more anxiety and stress in the person receiving it, due to having to deal with the issues of the abuse and trying to relocate the memories in a different area of the brain. But over time, my understanding is that the heightened stress/anxiety you may feel after treatment, subsides. This is also due to the area of the brain that has the deep ruts from abuse being less traveled. Sorry you had that experience, but it may have been normal for that type of therapy.

      • Seeing Clearly

        I appreciate these new insights on EMDR. Hopefully, it brings relief and healing for others who try it. Now that I am able to relax, I would not hesitate to try EMDR again. Fortunately, I am quite settled now. The blessing for me was that I had excellent insurance coverage at that time, allowing me to try EMDR along with counseling with a psychologist weekly. I was just trying to stay afloat. We are courageous women, being the best we can be each day. That is success, even though it doesn’t feel like it.

    • Seeing Clearly, I am not a trained counselor or expert in therapy for PTSD, but your comment brings to mind what Friend In Need From Europe once told me: that when he sought therapy for his PTSD he was told by the health professionals that they did not treat PTSD until after the person was no longer under the abuse. They said that treatment for PTSD was not advisable, nor likely to be of much effect, until the client was in a relatively safe environment. That makes sense to me. And maybe that is why the EMDR did not seem a good fit for you when you tried it. Maybe if your living circumstances change so you are no longer under the abuse full time, EMDR would be more beneficial for you. Just a thought. 🙂

      After all PTSD stands for POST traumatic stress disorder. When you are still living in the abuse, what you are undergoing is what I call CTSD:— CONTINUING traumatic stress disorder.

      CTSD is my own invented acronym, by the way. Don’t confuse it with the acronym CPTSD which stands for Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
      CPTSD was first proposed as an acronym by Judith Lewis Herman, and to my knowledge it is now a reasonably well accepted acronym in psychology. I think that perhaps it may have even been officially listed in the latest version of the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychological Society). I need to brush up on the DSM5 to make sure of my facts, though.

    • Alice M Harmon

      Your story about the hospital gave me chills. You were so brave to speak up that day! And I am overwhelmed by the staffs’ response. Truly a praise God moment.

      • Hi Alice, thanks for your comment and welcome to the blog 🙂

      • Seeing Clearly

        I had been crying out to God for some years, ‘God, why doesn’t someone stop him?’ There seemed to be no reply. When I told the nurse, ‘Yes, I am ‘, I understood right then, finally, that I was the one that had to stop him because I was the one he was abusing. Like Don Moen’s song, “He will make a way where there seems to be no way”.

  11. a mom

    I live with nothing but criticism. I do not hear compliments, I do not receive kind words. Sometimes the criticism is wrapped up in ‘teasing’ but the teasing is always mean. I once told them I couldn’t take it anymore, and from now on nobody could say anything critical unless they could first be sure they had said something nice to me that day.

    Basically, my teens and husband quit talking to me, because they would rather not say a word than have to say something nice.

    • Good for you for setting some boundaries, a mom. They have clearly chosen not to respect you and are making it ultra obvious.

      Verbal abuse disguised as a joke (the ‘teasing’ you mentioned) is awful. I’ve been at the butt end of that, and it hurts. So does the silent treatment.

  12. ColleenR

    Just had a setback into the same cycle due to a telephone conversation w/my ex. Used telephone because of “time sensitive” negotiations re: visitation which came about because I made exceptions to schedule in the decree because he has cancer and didn’t know what his summer would bring. What a nightmare. He is so good at reacting to what I say as if I am the manipulator, especially if I get emotional during the conversation. His family has a “suffer in silence” culture, especially for the women. He often accused me of manipulating him with my emotions when we were married. Now I am back in the cycle of having a difficult time trusting my own perceptions. Of everything. I wonder if I will ever feel consistently sane. I wonder how people have the courage to remarry. Sometimes reading things here is helpful and overwhelming at the same time. But I keep coming back around. It is helpful to know I am not alone. And most likely am not actually crazy. 🙂

  13. Friendinneed

    Recovering from PTSD myself, I’d like to share my experience. I am a Dad survivor.

    I’d like to recommend EMDR, indeed one needs to shop to find someone willing and able. I found other stuff to improve my situation, quiet music, various distraction techniques, a swim, a shower, a short bicycle ride. The idea is, I think, to pleasantly tickle your senses. The bicycle ride will give you something to look at, your mind will stop thinking.
    Have a trustworthy friend tap you left and right on your shoulder blade. The idea is the same as EMDR. It will attract your focus. Have them do it from your back, so you do not see the next tap coming, 10 minutes. If you have back stiffness, it is my experience that it leaves.

    For 3 years I could not read, but now it is succeeding. Reading a silly book not too exciting, perhaps something you have already read.

    Not my strongest idea, but I change beds a bit. Not that I am proud about it. As a matter of fact I am a bit ashamed of it. True I do not always feel safe, physically. As Carol said here above, I do pitch my tent, in a forest. I literally become unfindable. When it is too cold I move to different beds in my own house. This year I went to friends’ houses taking care of their animals and slept at their place. They were happy and so was I, again a different bed.

    Next week I will receive aid from a christian health care, they will help me make a program how to spend my free time, in a better way, creating a schedule. They say they have good experience with that.

    As you are all Christians and so am I, I’d like to recommend someone with a trustworthy ministry and a track record. Maybe I am saying something silly here, I hope not. For starters, the church that I go to does not accept abuse, neither should yours, or anybody who ministers to you. People, like you come to my door. In the quiet hours of the evening they come to my door from various churches. I adopt the rules of the bible, the ministry of Jesus, no appraisal of man and everything is for free. The bible speaks about gifted people, and they are out there. A year ago, a lady with much prayer authority in my church, prayed over me that all images would be removed. That happened that day, that hour, that minute, that second, that instance. The images are gone and did not return, the emotions I still experience, but I hope for more, healing from the Lord.

    • thanks for those good ideas and the encouraging testimony, FriendinNeed. 🙂

      Changing beds — that’s one thing I have never thought of, but I can see how it might help sometimes.

  14. Friendinneed (from Europe)

    I can conccur to confusion after EMDR after the treatment. I could not drive a car afterwoods. A man came to my door the other day, had suffered from a car crash trauma to the head, he told me, that it had gone after EMDR. It worked for him. Here in this country EMDR is accepted by the government for PTSD, provided it is a certified therapist. Lady Heather, just read your comment on the tapping. Thank you, thank you so much.

    • nessa3

      I have been taking EMDR for about three month…other therapys only got me so far and Id get stuck…This is helping but you do have to have some grounding tech. or learn a safe place….there are other techniques to try if EMDR is to triggering.

    • Seeing Clearly

      Thank you for your insight about EMDR. I am glad that you are joining our conversation. We may not live in close proximity, but we are close sisters.

      • Seeing Clearly, don’t feel bad for making the assumption that Friend in Need is female 🙂 but he is male. You can read his story here.

      • Seeing Clearly

        Oh, the assumptions I make. I will read what he has written, now.

      • Seeing Clearly

        Friendinneed, I just discovered A Cry for Justice a few months ago. So I did not meet you until tonight. Barbara referred me to the story you wrote last year. I just read it. Oh, my. I am so sorry. Tonight, I am thankful that you have come as far as you have in your healing. It is very incomprehensible to me what life, day in and day out has been like for you.

  15. IamMyBeloved's

    I had a setback today too. I was putting files in order and ran across some old emails from my abusive pastor(?) (can’t really call him a pastor – maybe spiritual abuser fits better) where he is discussing my life and me with others in the “c”hurch via his emails. As he falsely portrays himself to be a knowledgeable psychologist, he makes a comment that he believes I am deeply tormented. Brilliant deduction, Sherlock. That’s what decades of abuse does to someone. Torments them – deeply. The spirit of abuse IS a spirit of torment. However, he says it in a demeaning and analytic way that leads me to think he means that I am not where I need to be spiritually. As if the blind man would know where anyone should be spiritually. He speaks as if he hungers for power over me – at least enough power to destroy me, so no one will believe me when I tell them the truth about the things I know about him. He gropes for reasons in my past, which he makes up as he goes, to come to his brilliant deductions. He knows little, if anything about me really and yet reaches into the wind to pull out what he “thinks” may be causing this marriage problem. He then goes on to level the sin playing field. If he had had an ounce of spiritual discernment or true godly knowledge or any training and knowledge at all concerning abuse, he would have been able to see clearly, that I was the way I was, due to the abuse I had reported to him. Instead, he and his sidekick decided to see just how far they could go and get away with it. Instead, they decided to write their own definition of abuse and shove it down everyone’s throat.

    It really angered me, but also cut. That cut runs deep in my veins and still bleeds from time to time. But, I know that God will hold that wicked man and his cohorts to full account for their evil spiritual abuse and over-the-top lying and conniving and deception of others. I also know that God will hold them to account for not confronting and addressing the sin that should have been addressed and instead – letting the guilty one go. Today is just one of THOSE days.

    • And while you are in pain about this, and with good reason, the very fact that you could write this comment here which so accurately and decisively describes your spiritual abuser, shows how far you have come, IAMB. congratulations! 🙂

  16. Suzanne

    Yes, Deborahmom, I do feel like this. Criticism sends me over the edge emotionally. I constantly feel worthless and the worst part is that I’m defeated before I begin any endeavor by my own lack of confidence and self worth. That is why I was never able to achieve success in school, professionally or in my personal relationships despite having a reasonable degree of aptitude, desire, and intelligence. I’m 60. Until just 5 years ago I couldn’t look anyone in the face when we conversed. Growing up I never witnessed a healthy human relationship and didn’t really know that I was entitled to one or how to construct it. The abuse began in childhood (my abusers are my parents and siblings) and continues to this day although I spend as little time as possible with them. In their eyes I’ll be the family scapegoat til the day I die. I have prayed about this for decades but it never seems to get better. As a Christian I know that my Savior desires that I be a witness for Him, but talking to others about my faith is a near impossibility. I have about given up ever “healing” from the abuse. Perhaps I’m not supposed to.

    • Suzanne, dear sweet sister, my heart goes out to you.

      If I were you I would not come down heavy on myself for not being able to talk to others about my faith. I suggest you let yourself off the hook of that one! I’m sure Jesus understands how hard that is for you given how low your self-confidence is and how much you have been put in fear by other people. Gee whiz — you find it hard to talk to people about anything, let alone talk to them about your faith! Jesus does not demand you do what you find so very very scary! I think he just wants to nurture you very gently, patiently succouring your wounded heart and spirit. And He loves you no matter how you ‘perform’. Clearly, you have faith in Him, a living and true faith. You know Him, and He knows you and has adopted you.
      It sound to me like you are putting a works-religion demand on yourself, and I suspect that one reason you are doing that is that many so-called Christians have taught you a work-religion type of thing — that teaching is rife in Christendom.

      (((hugs))) from Barb

      • Suzanne

        Thanks for your kind words Barb. I cried for a long time after I read your post. It wasn’t because I was hurt by what you said but because it’s such a rare thing for someone to show compassion for me. Your words opened some kind of floodgate. Pretty pathetic, huh? And I don’t believe that I need to do anything to earn my salvation. I know that Jesus paid the price for all my sins on the cross. But He did tell us to spread the good news of the Gospel. It’s important, and I’m not doing it. You’re only the second believer to tell me that Jesus understands that I can’t do it.
        Anotheranon expressed how I’ve come to see my life. I do look to Jesus alone for love and acceptance. And I pray for the salvation of the unsaved ones God has brought into my life. Recently I’ve come to the conclusion that, although it was painful, the abuse I’ve suffered has resulted in a prayer life I wouldn’t otherwise have had. I’m grateful for that.

      • Jesus understands that I can’t do it [share the gospel with unbelievers]

        Yes. A bruised reed He will not break — Isaiah 42:3 and Matthew 12:20

        I teared up just reading your comment Suzanne. Bless you!
        I don’t think it’s pathetic to have a good cry. 🙂
        Neither does the Apostle Paul: weep with those who weep Romans 12:15
        And neither does Lundy Bancroft, see these two posts by him:
        A powerful key to healing from trauma
        When you know you need a good cry

    • anotheranon

      I know these feelings too Suzanne. I was criticized daily by my mother. I got straight A’s, never got in trouble, was involved in projects, etc but it was never good enough. I never gained much confidence till I was in my 40’s. I had to withdraw from lots of family functions to avoid more criticism and nasty remarks. Some people will never change.
      But remember, Jesus came to heal the brokenhearted and those who are crushed in spirit (Ps.34:18, Ps.147:3, Is.61:1 and others)! Look to Him for love and acceptance. Even if you can’t witness much you can pray for others and live a life that points to Christ. Sometimes baby steps are all we can do, but God sees it all.

      • Hi anotheranon
        you submitted a comment about a post about abuse on The Gospel Coalition’s website. Unless you give us the exact link, we can’t do much about it. Email us and let us know the link if you still want us to look at it. There is no search function that I could see at TGC’s site.

  17. Freindinneed (from Europe)

    No worries, no offence. As Barbara explained to me a year ago, most people on here are female, and there is no photo. This week I have a lot of time on my hands, I had not been on here in quite a while.
    Barbara refreshed my memory, indeed the EMDR therapist wanted me to get out of the abusive situation and be at a safe place. Although I moved, my house was still not safe, as my ex would stalk my house. One experience that I read here, on this site, is that someone moved 2000 miles and a got a street prohibition for the abuser. So there needs to be a sufficient distance, discouragement towards the abusive person. My ex would go into attack mode at my door or even in my new house. The smart phone proved to be a repelling tool. How about a film of the abusive person, on camera? They don’t like being exposed. A street prohibition is only 1000 yards in this country. The fear of getting a street prohibition, means that my ex can be hunted on by the police. This thought proves more repelling that an actual prohibition. The distance between my house and where my ex is living is not large. Therefore I am using another tactic to move around a bit. I feel myself more safe and I want to become less available for abuse. Get my name out of the frame, if this person is on the prowl or lurking, less chance of me bumping into this person.

    • Seeing Clearly

      It came to me this morning, as I was slowly waking up, that I have known for a long time. another male abuse victim. He was a member of the same church as me, his daughter and sons, a little younger than mine. He was a gentle, hard working man. This week, I will try to put more of his story together, from memory, through a new lense. Some memories flood back now, but I don’t have time to write any more. FIN, you have opened my eyes to a matter that is very important, but I have been ignorant about. Thank you.

  18. KingsDaughter

    1. The establishment of physical and emotional safety. 2. The establishment or re-establishment of trust 3. Re-integrating into society

    Each of these stages can take years to work through and each is dependent on the others.

    Thinking of my children here… HOW can I EVER help them heal when, every other weekend they are re-traumatized???
    This is so maddening! I really want to cuss!
    I know there’s no easy answer… I’m venting more than anything. But, if you have advice or prayers, I’ll gladly take them!

    • HOW can I EVER help them heal when, every other weekend they are re-traumatized???

      I’ve made this into a post for our FB page.

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