It is a strange thing to comprehend: most of us as abuse victims actually feel sorry for the person abusing us. Why is that? How can it be that, after all he* has put us through, we choose to see this person who treats us contemptuously as a fragile, hapless creature worthy of our patience and understanding?
In my own experience and having had the opportunity to work directly with many victims, there are several things that may keep us feeling sorry for the guy – and subsequently bound to him. Continue reading The Sympathy Bond
“He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, but he who walks wisely will be
delivered.” Proverbs 28:26
It’s almost exactly 16 years since I left my abusive husband after 18 years of marriage, but I can still remember clearly some of the feelings that overshadowed that dark season. Having shared many experiences that I thought might be unique to me, I have been amazed at how many of my thought processes are far more common in the lives of other abuse victims than I ever imagined.
Continue reading An Abuse Victim’s Secret Fantasy
It is a strange thing to invest so much energy into convincing yourself that your relationship is normal only to one day be jolted by the reality that there is nothing normal about it, to be forced to admit that your relationship is patently unhealthy, destructive, and yes, abusive. Continue reading Three Words Every Abuse Victim Needs to Hear
“There smites nothing so sharp, nor smelleth so sour as shame.” William Langland (English poet, 1332-c. 1386)
It ranks among the most painful incidents of my life, an event I never could have foreseen. It happened during a grueling, four-hour counseling session with my abusive husband – the day before I left him.
At several points in the session, my then-husband stood and raged at me, arms outstretched as I sat terrified in my chair only a few feet away. The counselor did nothing to calm or constrain him (which I now know was highly unprofessional of her). Over so many years, I had grown accustomed to his blistering, if false, accusations, and was so beaten down I didn’t dare offer a defense. When my husband finally sat again, awaiting my response, the counselor turned to me where I sat trembling and asked, “What are you feeling, Cindy?” and at that moment the weight of years of torment shredded my composure. I could muster only, “I’m afraid in my own home.”
Continue reading Shame
One afternoon less than a year into our marriage, I returned to our apartment to find my then-husband waiting impatiently for me in the living room. He didn’t waste a moment before severely scolding me for failing to turn off the stereo receiver before leaving home.
He then launched into an in-depth lecture about the sensitivity of the components and the value of the equipment and insisted that my singular offense was “absolutely unacceptable.” I humbly apologized for the oversight, but he immediately dismissed my apology.
“You have to promise me that will never happen again,” he demanded.
I explained that I would do my best while confessing I could not make such a promise.
“That’s not good enough,” he fumed. “You have to promise me.”
Continue reading The Burden of Perfectionism