Those who have never experienced abuse tend to be bewildered by the victim’s mindset. It does seem utterly ridiculous that anyone subject to physical or emotional harm would deliberately choose to remain one more minute with the jerk who is inflicting it. The outsider will reason, “Well, if she is so determined to stay, the situation must not be that bad.”
If things are so terrible, then why doesn’t she leave?
The shortest possible answer: She believes tomorrow will be different.
From everything I have witnessed and experienced, the abuse victim remains because of an undying hope that her magical moment is imminent – when her relationship and her life will be restored – and if not today, then tomorrow. She sincerely believes that she is only one small step from redemption, not realizing that there is, in fact, a chasm of extraordinary proportions that separates her from her imagined destination. Surely, the slightest change in her manner, his nature, or their circumstances will bring an end to this season, and these dark days will be remembered no more. It is only a matter of time. The promising future seems so real she can almost touch it. Continue reading Why The Abuse Victim Doesn’t Leave (In Six Words)
My eldest daughter, Charla, recently wrote a paper for her college psychology class about depression and decided to share it with me. The subject of her paper was her younger brother, Brett, and what he suffered as a young boy in an abusive home. (You can read Charla’s account of her class presentation here.)
I feared that reading my daughter’s words about her brother would reach deep and unveil wounds in me that simply refuse to heal – and they did. As I read, I was once again compelled to revisit those dark days, and I began to weep to the point that I could scarcely make out the words on the page. Although her conclusion was positive and encouraging, I had a hard time receiving it. A decade after our escape, the guilt of remaining with that abusive man as long as I did haunts me still.
Seeing me in engulfed in my regret, my husband wrapped a loving arm around my shoulders and said to me, “Don’t do this to yourself. Despise the man.” In a response grounded in unbridled honesty, I lifted my head and half whispered, “And the church that kept me there.” Continue reading The Church That Kept Me There
Very recently, I received an e-mail from the sister of an abuse victim. It seems the writer’s abusive brother-in-law has instigated hostilities between himself and his victim-wife and her family. At one point, he threatened to seek a restraining order against his wife’s parents, and they no longer have contact with her. As a result of this craziness, the victim’s family is strongly considering relinquishing the poor woman to her chosen fate based on their belief that she is either apathetic or condones the abuser’s behaviors.
The victim’s sister contacted me in an effort to better understand why her sister would accept these happenings. She provided some background and then posed these questions to me:
“When you were in your abusive relationship – were you cruel also? This has been going on for two years. I’m starting not to care about her – she’s a faint memory and the pain they have both caused – well her own parents are shut down and done. If you shut off family – did they take you back?” Continue reading Isolation: Another Weapon in the Abuser’s Arsenal
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At my church like many other churches they have a Men’s Ministry group, although I feel the name should be changed to “Men that Minister.” Anyway, I am always baffled when I am around men and they comment about how they seem to have a hard time connecting with their wives. Or when they share their displeasure of their marriage to me. This happened a long time ago in case someone is lurking and being nosy.
Now, first of all I must let it be known that I certainly do not occupy the corner of the market on wisdom in marriage, nor am I an expert on anything but knowing one thing for sure and that is that Christ came for restoration, and that we should seek restoration in all relationships if possible. I say “if possible” because it takes two to tango. Free will is involved. But when two persons’ will is to be restored and they seek the great Restorer then all things are possible.
Continue reading If You Die For Her, She Will Live For You