How could this happen. How could I, an intelligent and relatively secure woman with a stable, Christ centered upbringing, fall prey to domestic abuse? Furthermore, how could I endure it for years without even realizing the reality of it? Without calling it what it is- abuse? Because it can happen to anyone.
Planted seeds of doubt.
Verbal, emotional, and mental manipulation that warps the core of your psyche.
He’s so kind when he’s not drinking.
He has a mental illness. I do too, so I can’t hold it against him.
I’ll get through this. He’ll get through this. We’ll get through this.
He was the nicest person in the beginning; so genuine.
This isn’t who he is.
It’s not him talking, it’s the alcohol.
When a person is degraded by another human being, this is abuse. The picture of this is painted differently in every situation.
Mine was beautiful at first. It looked a lot like love; genuine, once in a lifetime, authentic young love. I was a teenager in high school with my attention on many different things and people. I met him, but barely noticed him. He was just another face at first. But he kept hanging around and eventually I noticed him. He was different. A shy, calm spirited person. Easygoing, easy to please and get along with kind of person. His company and presence became comfortable to me. He listened. Listened better than anyone else, even my closest girlfriend. He became a confidant; a close friend. And not much longer, feelings developed. Strong feelings. We were in love. And it was pretty wonderful, intense, and even stable for a couple years. Long enough to have a deep rooted belief in this person. That I knew him and who he was. I developed a need for him. And he was always there. For a while.
The true nature of an abuser often comes out in such small doses at first that you believe it’s just a bad day, a stressful time, a need that you have to meet to help get this person back on track. They need you, your comfort, your touch, your love, and encouragement. And with enough of it, they’ll get back to themselves.
Eventually over time, I was witnessing equal amounts of both people; personality 1 and 2 of him. The good was good. So good that I remembered it when personality 2 showed up. And I stayed. I excused it just as much as he apologized for it, and didn’t even realize that it was abuse.
Love is patient.
(But no one is patient all the time.)
Love is kind.
(He was so kind to buy shoes for strangers and take meals to that homeless man. Calling me a selfish whore doesn’t line up with that. He didn’t mean it. He is kind.)
Love does not envy.
(I’ve never heard him say he wished for something someone else had. I shouldn’t have talked to that guy. He loves me so much, that’s why he’s jealous. I’d be jealous, too.)
Love does not boast.
(He’s so humble and exalts others. Except me. He reminds me of everything he’s done right and everything I’ve done wrong. I’ve done more for him than anyone. Why doesn’t he see it? Why doesn’t he acknowledge how hard I’ve tried? What’s wrong with me that he doesn’t see it in me, but praises everyone else?)
It is not proud.
(His acts of kindness are not on display. He doesn’t tell anyone of the nice things he does for people. Only I know of these things, and his family, and the people he treats with such kindness. Except for the things he’s done for me. Why is he so angry about doing something nice for me. Aren’t you supposed to do nice things for people you love? Why is he constantly reminding me of the nice things he’s done for me, but desires no credit for kind acts to strangers or acquaintances?)
It does not dishonor others.
(He has such respect and honors people so much. Except me. Why doesn’t he honor me? I’m closer to him than anyone.)
It is not self seeking.
(Wow, he’s so selfless. He works so hard at his job. He always helps others and encourages them. He offers help to everyone with no expectation of anything in return. People are always telling me how kind and helpful he is, that I’m a lucky girl. He doesn’t expect anything from anyone. But me. Why does he expect these things from me? What am I not giving to him that he needs from me. He says he gives and gives and gives to me, but I give nothing back. I’ve given my time, my love, my ear, my heart, my prayers, a child, my body when I didn’t want to at all, rides, meals, time, more time, gifts, more love, more forgiveness, everything. Why does he want more from me but nothing from anyone else? He’s so selfless with everyone. What is about me?)
It is not easily angered.
(Everyone gets angry. He did call and I didn’t answer. He did invite me over and I wouldn’t come. He did offer my favorite things, but I rejected him. He does take so much from the world and keeps his cool and is so nice and gives so much, he’s just taking it out on me because he knows I love him and he can be real with me. I’m special because he can be honest with me. He’s just venting. He’ll be so thankful tomorrow for me letting him vent to me, and those names he called me were just anger towards other people and situations coming out. He’ll spend days showing his gratitude for me letting him de-stress on me.)
Truth is truth, and lies are lies. You can’t add to, take away from, or change it.
A painted picture of verbal abuse would look something like a grungy, mean, dirty faced adult, screaming degrading obscenities at a child. A child who’s malnourished and afraid, locked in the basement, so alone. At least that’s what I imagined it to look like. Then it dawned on me, (and by dawned, I mean years of abusive incident after abusive incident), I was WRONG.
Although I’m not a child locked away in a cold, dark, dirty basement. I am an adult; a woman, emotionally malnourished, afraid, locked in a basement of my abusers grip, and left alone. So alone. Or so I felt. The worst part of enduring abuse is feeling so alone. We as humans weren’t designed to be alone. We were created for relationships, and although we can’t always choose how a relationship will go, we CAN choose WHEN it should go. When I realized this, I started to gain back.
Power- a sensitive word for a victim of an abusive relationship.
Power is something an abuser tricks you into thinking you do not have in an attempt to gain it for themselves. They’re good at it. Great at it, even. Often times abusers are master manipulators. Charming with their words and body language, and their interactions are well crafted. They often appear to be wonderful, kind hearted people to strangers, friends, coworkers, colleagues, acquaintances, and even family members, while only showing their secondary personality to the one or few persons they’re abusing. They’re often afraid of anyone else finding out about their dark, abusive nature.
“I love you.”
“You’re stuck and I don’t wanna be stuck with you.”
“I need you.”
“I’m the best friend you’ll ever have for helping you see what’s wrong with yourself.”
“Let me put this in childlike terms so you can understand.”
“I didn’t say that.
“You’re such a liar.”
“I wanna be with you.”
“It doesn’t matter that I wasn’t around for a year, that’s in the past. You were probably sucking a n***r ____ the whole time anyway, whore.”
“I don’t remember saying that.”
“You know that’s not me.”
“You make me better.”
“I have no one.”
“You’re the only one I can talk you.”
“I hate you.”
“You’re a c**t.”
“I do everything and you can’t even meet me halfway.”
“I don’t wanna talk about the past.”
“I don’t remember doing that.”
“I didn’t say that.”
“Shut the ___ up and listen to me, whore.”
“Your day is coming.”
“I hate your fat _____ family.”
“You’re better than them.”
“I hate them but I love you.”
“I don’t give a ____ about your God.”
“I love God.”
“Your family doesn’t understand you like I do.”
“I know you better than you know yourself.”
“You don’t deserve to have your child.”
“I’m not drinking anymore.”
“I hate you.”
“You make me sick.”
“You’re a piece of s**t hanging from the hairs of my a** hole.”
“Why do you make things so difficult?”
“Please just come be with me.”
“You’re such a beautiful person.”
“I wanna spend the rest of my life making it up to you.”
“You are my family.”
“You’re a waste of space.”
“You just sit on your a** doing nothing all day.”
“It’s your fault.”
“What did you feed Millie (my daughter) today?”
“Are you not capable of doing the smallest thing.”
“You’re toxic for me.”
“It’s your fault.”
“You need me.”
“I love you.”
These go together. Once you get help for yourself, then you can help others. When you help others, your hope restores. As your hope restores through helping others, you start to heal. When you heal, you’re on top of the world. I asked God why on many dark nights in my secret place of grief. I didn’t tell anyone of the abuse I endured but God, and he started to replace the role I was letting my abuser fill. I didn’t tell anyone about the abuse even after I realized that I was being abused because I didn’t want anyone to think badly of him. I didn’t want to catch grief when he changed and we ended up being the family I thought I wanted. And I was afraid of the consequences I would face for exposing him. I asked God if this was His best for me, although I knew it wasn’t. I asked him to not let this person disrespect or degrade me any longer. I asked him to open my abusers eyes and change his heart. But instead he gave me a greater answer by opening my eyes and changing my heart. I asked God for everything according to my plan. God’s plan was different, and filled with much more purpose than mine. And although my abuser hasn’t changed and still attempts to break me down for his gain, God is answering my prayers. Through the strength and healing he is giving me, my abuser may still be abusive, but now it’s MY choice whether or not I’m at the receiving end. I have a choice. I have a voice. I have a story. And so do you. I have a beautiful, messy, undeserved life, and my identity lies in Christ and as a mother to the gift he gave me at the end of such a dark and lonesome road, my daughter. Dignity is mine. Respect is mine. Love is mine. Peace and happiness are for me too. And they’re also for you.
If you’re a victim of domestic abuse please call 1-800-799-7233 Or visit The hot line.
**huge thank you to Dana Smith for sharing her heart and guest blogging for Penny’s Lane!