We were not made to be harassed, stalked, violated, lied to, lied about, gaslighted, and abused, although that is the entitled mindset of a twisted, overbearing, insecure, hateful narcissist like you.
We were made to love and be loved with the love of Christ.
Most of us have learned to relate to one another as adults, even when we have differences of opinion. We generally treat each other and each other’s belongings with respect. We were and are decent, productive, positive, compassionate, and concerned citizens, neighbors, family members, and friends.
You didn’t learn that.
What we went through because of you was unethical, unrighteous, wrong, and wicked. Not normal.
When abnormal things happen to normal people, we will respond with what we know and learn better as we go.
We had the right to speak up about what was happening to us in our abuse.
We should have been believed when we finally had the courage to speak up about our situation.
We had the right to get out of that situation and take our children with us.
We needed to be safe, sane, and validated.
So here we are.
It is awesome that many of you finally got away from your abusers.
I don’t know which is harder: getting away from an abusive intimate partner or from someone else relatively close to you, but just as abusive: family member, supervisor, colleague, neighbor, ministry partner. Any relationship in which chronic abuse occurs can be as damaging to the soul as that of the victim who is married to her abuser.
It is sad that domestic violence continues to proliferate in the church. Some experts have declared that DV in the church is as high as, and even higher than, it is in the secular community. This has been attributed to incomplete teachings leading people of faith, especially wives, to stay in marriages longer, even when harm is being committed.
Fortunately, most churches today have gotten away from the mentality that a woman must stay with her husband, even though he is abusive, to “obey the Bible and be submissive to her husband.”
We have begun to understand the dynamics of abusive relationships and how damaging they are at the core to not only the main victim, but all observers. (Think: children learning horrific role models for treating others or how to be treated themselves, or coworkers’ morale plummeting when nothing is done about unethical treatment.)
We understand that being free in Christ means we have the right to be free from abuse; John 8:32, 1 Cor. 6:12, 2 Cor. 3:17, Gal. 5:1. Commitment doesn’t mean we have to endanger our lives and the lives of our children to stay with an abusive man who never learned how to manage his emotions and desires, communicate effectively and positively, or demonstrate compassion, repentance, or other positive emotions and motivations.
We finally made our escape and are learning to breathe in the sweet, cool, fresh air of freedom.
For those of you who have newly escaped (last 3 months): Congratulations and I thank God with you.
I pray that you are finding soothing, cleansing, and positive ways of healing. I hope you are also learning to set boundaries as you simultaneously remove the elements from your souls that made abusing you easier.
No matter what, the abuse was not your fault. It is the fault of your abuser. It is always their fault.
Many of you believers are still working on getting away from your tormentor. Here are some helpful hints:
- Make a strong escape plan. Enlist the support of friends and family who can help you plan your escape. If you don’t live in California, find a local moving company like this one that can help you and your family move: http://people.com/crime/california-moving-company-helps-victims-of-domestic-violence-move-for-free/
- Get completely out. Don’t look back.
- Don’t be misled by their fake tears and smooth words. That’s how you got stuck in the first place.
- Change your numbers and/or block theirs.
- Make sure employers and your children’s school officials are completely aware of your situation.
- If you need to, change jobs, schools, churches, or cars.
- Change the settings on your social media and block them.
- Realize that the Lord does not stop everyone from committing sin or even heinous crimes. Your abuser chose to hurt you, and the Lord will hold him/her accountable for every single thing they did or said to you or about you. They haven’t gotten away with anything.
- Get Christ-centered counseling and healing prayer for you and your children.
- Enroll yourself and your children into a domestic violence support and educational group.
- Continue to learn the characteristics of abusers and abuse victims.
- Reestablish your identity firmly in Christ. You belong to God, not your abuser.
Welcome to the land of the free. Please stay safe.
Allstate Foundation Purple Purse. 11 Facts That Show How Widespread Domestic Violence Is. Article for Buzzfeed website 10/23/2014. https://www.buzzfeed.com/allstatefoundation/facts-that-show-how-widespread-domestic-violence-is?utm_term=.alvea28LB#.dv88d1bpr accessed 7/6/17
Doll, Anne B. Domestic Violence in the Church. Article for the Gordon-Conwell Faculty Blog 10/17/2016. http://www.gordonconwell.edu/2016/10/Domestic-Violence-In-The-Church.cfm accessed 7/6/17.
The Domestic Violence Hotline blog. What is Gaslighting? Article for the hotline.org 5/29/2014. http://www.thehotline.org/2014/05/what-is-gaslighting/ accessed 7/6/17
Dryden-Edwards MD, Roxanne. Domestic Violence series for emedicinehealth.com 10/02/2015. http://www.emedicinehealth.com/domestic_violence/article_em.htm accessed 7/6/17
Futures Without Violence. Perpetrator Risk Factor for Violence Against Women (pdf). https://www.futureswithoutviolence.org/userfiles/file/Perpetrator%20Risk%20Factors%20Fact%20Sheet%202013.pdf accessed 7/7/17
Holcomb, Lindsey. The Church and Women at Risk. Article for the Gospel Coalition website 10/20/2014. https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/the-church-and-women-at-risk accessed 7/6/17
Ilrctbay website. Characteristics of Abusers. http://www.ilrctbay.com/upload/custom/abuse/content/abusers.htm accessed 7/7/17
Perry, Ruth. Domestic Violence – Everyone is Impacted and the Church Needs to be Making a Difference. Article for the Beautiful Kingdom Warriors website 10/31/2014. https://thebeautifulkingdomwarriors.wordpress.com/2014/10/31/domestic-violence-everyone-is-impacted-and-the-church-needs-to-be-making-a-difference/ accessed7/6/17
Smietana, Bob. How Pastors Perceive Domestic Violence Differently. Article for Christianity Today. 02/20/2017. http://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2017/february/how-pastors-perceive-domestic-violence-lifeway-autumn-miles.html accessed 7/6/17
Tracy, Natasha. Gaslighting Definition, Techniques, and Being Gaslighted. Article for Healthyplace.com 5/26/2016. https://www.healthyplace.com/abuse/emotional-psychological-abuse/gaslighting-definition-techniques-and-being-gaslighted/ accessed 7/6/17