A Cry For Justice

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

A lifetime of abuse – from the entire family

Coming out of the dungeon of a lifetime of abuse — what it that like?  Sometimes victims of abuse become conscious of the abuse in small incremental steps. Each tentative (and brave) step out of the fog results in more clarity. And each survivor’s voice is personal, unique, and poignant. Finding Answers, who is a regular commenter at ACFJ, has written this guest post. She wrote this in early May 2018 and she has airbrushed some of the details to protect herself.

My profoundest thanks to all folks at ACFJ, both past and present. I add my thanks to the multitude. I have had so many light bulbs start to turn on, kind of like those older ones that took a long time to warm up before reaching complete illumination.

The Holy Spirit lets me know today has been one of the biggest realizations, yet to my mind, there have been others of seemingly greater significance. I kept reading the term “walking on eggshells” – on ACFJ, other websites, and in books – but could not understand the feel of it. My equivalent, so-to-speak, is “something bad will happen”. My terminology is much simpler, because the abuse started before I had more sophisticated language.

I am just past the middle of my fifth decade and have only been free from abusive and/or manipulative relationships for the last six months. And that is only because my last workplace closed around the same time and I have – literally – no one else in my life. A lonely place, perhaps, but lifesaving. In my whole life, I have had one hour of joy.

I do not say this as a pity party, simply supplying a bit of background.

I spent most of the last six months, 24 / 7, integrating flashbacks, researching to find the answers to many questions raised because of the flashbacks. Then I spent three weeks, 24 / 7, integrating the more complete memory, using the same research process. Now I am breaking the links to the old edifices…principalities, to put it more biblically.

Only in the last sic months have I come to the awareness / knowledge / understanding of how much abuse has pervaded my life, as the majority of the abuse was verbal / mental / emotional / spiritual / sexual / financial. The few occurrences of parental physical abuse I had encountered as a child, I thought were normal childhood discipline, though I wondered why they stuck in memory. I was in my later thirties before a counsellor told me the incest to my 6-year-old self by more than one brother was sexual abuse. One of those brothers tried to drown me. The whole family – my parents and all of my brothers – were abusive towards me.

Essentially, my family groomed me for an almost two-decade-long marriage of covert aggressive control. I cannot claim credit for any awakening moment in which I realized I was being abused and initiated a divorce – he moved out while I was out of town one morning, taking “his half” of the material goods. It is only in these last few months – I have been divorced over one decade – that I now understand he left because I was beginning to draw boundaries. (At the time, I was just trying to stop things that didn’t feel right.)

Several years later, this was followed by another abusive 2-year relationship. All the red flags were there, but I only have hindsight to supply that information. While his aggression was more overt and intense than any other relationship, it, too, lacked the outright physical abuse.

It is only in reading through the ACFJ website that I understood the validity of No Contact. This second time of going No Contact with both immediate and extended family, I now understand I have biblical support.

The things I said…I never heard the clues. In my entire married life, the only time my anti-x (love the ACFJ website term!) ever used my name was when introducing me to someone. When I talked to other people, whether about childhood or later points in my life, I did not “hear” what I was saying. And yet when others spoke of themselves, I could help them “hear” what they were saying.

I have a small financial fund I am hoping to cash in this week…I am so frustrated with feeling tired. Broken. Almost crippled. Although I’ve spent virtually all of my adult life working, the thought of going to work right now leaves me wanting to curl up in a corner. My nervous system remains hyper-vigilant, though the agitation is greatly decreased. (When I was going through the divorce, I was walking 20 – 26 kilometres a day, just so I could sleep at night.)

I have read through huge chunks of the ACFJ website and have been so very blessed by all I read. If I could, since many of the threads I’ve read are years old, I would create a post referencing the entire website and it would contain the one word seen so often in the comments section:  ^^^That!   or ^^^^Like!   😉

I’m sorry if what I write is so disjointed. I have always tried to find the exact words to express myself, knowing how easily miscommunication can take place and words can hurt. In comparison to the past, I cannot write my way out of a wet paper bag.

•••

Further Reading 

Family Scapegoating: Part 1

Family Scapegoating: Part 2

11 Comments

  1. Gany T.

    Thank you very much for sharing, Finding Answers. Your courage in sharing your very personal and deep suffering – and incremental healing – over the months here has been watching a journey of God’s love and power in your life. Breathtaking the amount and degree of evil focused at you for a lifetime, but also amazing God’s power of delivering, healing, and using you to help others here.

    .
    I’m glad you are part of the ACFJ family and I’ve been praying for you.

    • Finding Answers

      Thank you, Gany T..

      So much water under the bridge since last May – and vast realms of abuse discovered. If the bits and pieces of my story strewn like breadcrumbs over the ACFJ blog help even one person, and although I may never meet who my story has helped, I can be content.

      I could not have survived without God, not in the past, and not now. He has healed me in ways mankind could never do, and He has given me back life.

      And just as my massive pool of silent grief was released through music Christmas Eve night, so, too, the massive pool of silent rage last night. The music was an eclectic mix, an even match with the silent rage.

      Today, I return to the “normal” grieving process – a little sadness, a little anger (though the words for anger are now my own, not those of my past abusers), and little flickers of light at the end of the tunnel.

      God gets the glory for my life……He is truly my Papa God.

      • Now Free (formerly struggling to be free)

        You have come such a long way
        From no emotions to gaining new ones
        From dry eyes to being able to cry tears of joy as well as sadness

        Now more walls come down and the anger is good. There is no shame at being angry at the injustices of the violation of boundaries, the evil sinfulness of people especially family.

        Jesus himself showed us anger is ok at such things. He was angry many times at those who persecuted and who were meteing injustices out to others.

        I can’t wait to hear of the laughter that I’ve no doubt is coming soon and the sheer joy of what God has done for you.

        You are an inspiration and a real challenge to me at how close to God you are and how every facet of your life has had to be and is led by God the Holy Spirit.
        That to me is a massive challenge as to how I live my life through recovery. Thank you for sharing your journey for us.
        Good days are ahead.

      • I second this:
        You are an inspiration and a real challenge to me at how close to God you are and how every facet of your life has had to be and is led by God the Holy Spirit. That to me is a massive challenge as to how I live my life through recovery. Thank you for sharing your journey for us.

    • Grafted In

      ^^^That!

  2. Grafted In

    Finding Answers wrote,

    “Essentially, my family groomed me for an almost two-decade-long marriage of covert aggressive control. I cannot claim credit for any awakening moment in which I realized I was being abused”

    That is a realization those that are held in bondage will come to see.

    It can be lonely in the wilderness, for a time, “ye endured a great fight of afflictions”, but the light shines through, peace and comfort comes.

    Finding Answers, I do not find the least bit of pity in your post, but an enlarging of your voice to give vent against the enemies of your soul. That is a lawful thing to do.

    • Finding Answers

      You commented Grafted In “………but an enlarging of your voice to give vent against the enemies of your soul. That is a lawful thing to do.”

      And Now Free (Formerly Struggling To Be Free) commented “…..There is no shame at being angry at the injustices of the violation of boundaries, the evil sinfulness of people especially family.”

      This is the next piece of the puzzle, learning to vent anger in a fashion that follows the Holy Spirit’s leading, rather than the leading of the world.

      Thank you both for helping me find a missing piece of my voice. 🙂

  3. Helovesme

    Finding Answers I had this up on my tabs for a good few days now. So glad I finally got a chance to read it. It was well worth the time to read your words and take it all in.

    “I’m sorry if what I write is so disjointed. I have always tried to find the exact words to express myself, knowing how easily miscommunication can take place and words can hurt. In comparison to the past, I cannot write my way out of a wet paper bag.”

    Don’t apologize. There is nothing more rewarding than hearing a person’s story in their own way, in their own words—-in their own time (when they are ready).

    I too try to measure out my words—-but that sort of realization comes with time and a whole lot of Holy Spirit :-). And it’s a never ending work in progress to boot. I’m so glad someone else understands how crucial it is to choose your words carefully—and don’t be afraid to “edit” yourself.

    This applies to the written word, but also in spoken word, too. Being “slow to speak” as the Bible commands is a wonderful warning, and good sound doctrine.

    By the way, the Bible also commands to us to be SLOW to take offense. Never, ever did it say that you are NEVER to take offense. Or that you aren’t allowed to take offense. And few things are more offensive than abuse (in all its horrible forms, and there are many).

    Abuse victims, past or present—don’t “dumb down” what happened to you in a misguided attempt or desire to be Biblical. I understand the “don’t take it (abuse) personal” argument sounds good in theory. However, that is not Biblical, not even close to being true, and beyond offensive to suggest.

    In listing all the persons that caused the hurting—-I am more aware than ever at how it is those closest you that have the most access and ability to victims. My heart cringes at this reminder.

    Why those that we should love and trust implicitly, should choose to be the ones we fear and dread immensely—-should cause great despair and agony. Only the Lord’s long and strong arms can provide the comfort needed with such a revelation.

    Do you mind explaining a bit what you meant by: “write my way out of wet paper bag?”

    What personally blessed me the most is reading how you didn’t see the abuse right away, and it took real time and real work to untangle the memories and sort out what had really been going on. That must have been very painful, but also very freeing—eventually?

    When the lies are uncovered (and abuse is always based on lies)—-they loose their power over you. That is why Jesus’s words: the truth shall set you free—-means you are free from that which was holding you in bondage: deception.

    My story is absolutely not comparable to yours. But I’ve experienced deep shame (and questioned my IQ a number of times) because I simply did not see what was in front of me. I became more puzzled and rattled and uncomfortable as time went on, eventually bringing the awareness of: something is not right here.

    Keep speaking and sharing however you see fit. You’re an amazing blessing.

  4. Finding Answers

    Helovesme asked “Do you mind explaining a bit what you meant by: “write my way out of wet paper bag?””

    The phrase was my variation on “fight my way out of a wet paper bag”. Paper bags are easily ripped and damaged when wet – to be unable to fight the way out of a wet paper bag implies great weakness.

    Words always came to me easily, though it might have taken up to hours to choose the exact ones to express myself precisely, even in the shortest of paragraphs.

    After my walls crumbled just over one year ago, my ability to find words suffered immensely, many times others finding them for me. Since beginning to feel, I had my last major wall crumble – an invisible and unknown wall that was brought down through music. Behind the wall is a massive pool of grief and rage, both healing through the blessing of music.

    In recent days, music has been healing another secret tucked behind this last wall – the reason the Holy Spirit keeps me from making use of balconies or other high places for their originally intended purposes.

    In order to survive, I became very good at wearing a mask, keeping interactions with people to safe topics. I no longer need the mask, just as I no longer need to fear high places. God has spent a lot of time carrying me – for all of my life, it has been only His footprints in the sand, none of mine.

    With the leading of the Holy Spirit, I have – indeed – written my way out of that wet paper bag.

    Thank you for asking, Helovesme, you helped me find another answer. 🙂

  5. Finding Answers

    (Extreme airbrushing…..)

    The Holy Spirit leads me back to my guest post, adding information I pray might help others in their relationships.

    I have been processing this information since being healed to feel, especially insights attained in the last few days, and some as a result of last night’s New Year’s Eve celebrations. I am beginning to learn in greater detail the difference between the coloured lens of feeling and the black-and-white lens of the Asperger-like traits.

    The Holy Spirit has been my interpreter, one of His many ways of helping me cope with a bewildering new series of changes to learn…..He is teaching me to find balance, though not in the sense of balancing scales in the moment, but in the sense of balancing my life over a given period of time.

    My entire life has been lived through the black-and-white lens of the Asperger-like traits, the literal words to which I have been – and am – exposed.

    I have had a very short time living life with the coloured lens of emotions.

    And I still face the old lens of past abusers.

    I cannot lie. If I am unknowing incorrect, that is a different matter – as soon as I am informed of my error and convicted by the Holy Spirit, I can no longer continue a false way of thinking. I am not being prideful or arrogant to say this – there are times when lying would make life a great deal easier to cope with and to live.

    My five senses – taste, touch, sight, hearing, smell – learned through the black-and-white lens of the Asperger-like traits. I am re-learning my five senses from the beginning when looking through the coloured lens of emotions. There is no direct connection, the Holy Spirit is my interpreter.

    A hug is a different experience in the coloured world of emotions from the black-and-white lens of the Asperger-like traits from the lens of my past abusers. Now apply this to all five senses, and perhaps the magnitude of the learning curve can be understood.

    Through the coloured lens of emotions, I can create pictures in my mind. Through the black-and-white lens of the Asperger-like traits, I cannot create pictures in my mind – before being healed to feel, sense-feeling filled in the gaps with physical sensations, using the Holy Spirit’s gift of healing. Now, the Holy Spirit’s gift of healing applies only to His original intent and to helping me feel empathy.

    I am learning, but the process is complex.

    The biggest change is there are now TWO sets of footprints in the sand, God is walking beside me.

    • Wow. It is complex! I think I get a tiny glimpse into how many adjustments and new learnings you are having. But I’m pretty sure it’s only a glimpse.

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