Wednesday, September 19, 2007

What is abuse?

'Women who love too much' by Robin Norwood, is a book about the subtleties of abuse, especially spousal abuse.

Although the book is about women don't be under the misconception that is only women who are abused. We women may not physically abuse our spouses but we can and do abuse them in many other ways.

Today it seems pertinent to share some of my own life, after Danielle's important post 'Are your relationships draining you?'

Here are some questions she asks in the post:

Am I able to be myself with this person?
Do I feel accepted by them?
Are they critical or judgmental of me?
Does the relationship provide an even give and take exchange of energy?
Do I feel upbeat and energized when I’m around this person, or depleted and drained?
Does this person share my values?
Does this person share my level of integrity?
Is this person committed to our relationship?
Can this person celebrate my success?
Do I feel good about myself when I am with this person?

I wrote the following a while ago for a Christian group to try and convey what it is like to live with abuse in the home and still retain your Christian values.

"I felt chained, body and soul. No opinion, no emotion, no action was uncontrolled. Did I realize at the time how much I was manipulated? Did he realize what he was doing, by word and deed?

My husband was a professing Christian, in fact had been ordained as a pastor, but he was a man full of pain and he lashed out regularly in the confines of his home, creating an atmosphere of fear and tension.

As time passed I could barely tolerate the touch of his hand on my back, guiding me into our seat at church. I lived in fear that the threats would eventually become more violent and I started to feel the harsh words as a physical pain piercing my very being.

I hung onto God and trusted that He would, in His time, bring me and my children out of that intolerable situation. I reminded myself each day that He never changed, I could trust Him to be the same each day, He was my avenger. I wanted to be an example of a godly womanhood before my sons, I felt I had to wait so that they would know it was God, not man, who said enough was enough.

One Sunday a prophetic word was given, by a visiting ministry to our church, that no one but myself understood. I was sure it was my cue to stand up and accept no more.

It has been eight years now since the divorce, and I thank God in His graciousness that I have no bitterness in my heart. My sons are all grown into fine men, and despite the example of their father, are serving God.

As I look back to that time of enslavement, I can say, like Joseph in that although evil was said and done to me, God used those same plans for good. I am happily remarried and all of myself, that was lost, has been recovered. God brought a fine man into my life, through a dream, and that is another story, which I may tell you one day.

Romans 12:19 Don't insist on getting even; that's not for you to do. "I'll do the judging," says God. "I'll take care of it."

Gen 50:20 Don't you see, you planned evil against me but God used those same plans for my good."

So if you recognize that you are in an abusive relationship and it has not gone too far, get help now. Too far is when there is physical abuse, although the abuser will be contrite and say it will never happen again, believe me it will, it is a cycle, they, to some extent cannot help it, and it is a kindness to them to seek help, although of course in some cases that could escalate abuse. Get outside help and talk to someone. Persist, it took me years for people to believe what went on at home. Abusers are manipulators and can be some of the most charming people on the planet, outside their own homes.


Anna said...

Maybe your sons are who they are despite the example of their father or maybe in part because of it - as well as the example you set. My husband came from a home where his father was emotionally abusive, and he determined early on that he would never be like him.

Praise God for bringing you through that and to the place you are.

Danielle Blogging for Balance said...

I was coming over to visit and get your email, I have a question about your page at BBB and what a lovely surprise it was to see you reference my post. I hope that not only the questions, but where to look for the answers (yours was a compelling story)makes it's way into the hearts of many women. I can't wait to hear the 'other' story! :) I'm off to email you. BTW...I had to change my technorati page again ;(

Vic Grace said...

Hi Anna I am glad your husband has determined not to follow in his father's footsteps. And indeed without God's help I would not be where I am today.

Vic Grace said...

Danielle you always have something worth commenting or blogging about. I am rushing over to check my email now.

Jeni said...

Vic -Hands down, this is one of the most important messages that needs to be put out for all the world to see and read - and hopefully, understand. Abuse can often be subtle too -it's not always really overt, at least not in the early phases. But once it does begin to get a good foothold, it's really difficult to find a way to get released from the confines. Keep talking, girl, keep talking!

Gene Bach said...

Good post Vic!

Hey, my wife won't let me get cable TV...does that qualify? ;-)

Vic Grace said...

Thanks Jeni for your ongoing support and encouragement.

And Gene! So good to see you blogging again but ever the comedian.