There is a lot of talk going on right now about domestic abuse. A lot of questions are being asked, accusations are being made, and sides are being taken. This is one of the reasons victims of domestic abuse stay quiet. The opinion of others makes it worse.
I once wore the label of domestic abuse victim – it was a robe of reproach I wore daily. It was easy to hide the bruises with long sleeves and pants, but the buckle of a belt can create wounds in places never seen by the public. It has taken years of prayer and counseling to get to the place where I no longer call myself a victim, but a survivor. When I speak, I encourage women about how to recognize domestic abuse, but I rarely write about those dark days. If you ask me, I’ll tell you.
Domestic abuse is a silent disease. Some studies say 1 in 4 women experience domestic violence. http://www.safehorizon.org/page/domestic-violence-statistics–facts-52.html I can almost guarantee the number is higher because domestic abuse victims are silent about their sorrow and injuries. Most of the victims believe they are the problem and not the abuser, so they stay silent, partially because of shame.
The violence creates shame that silences the voice.
We make excuses for them. “ I think he has the flu.” “I’m not sure why he smells like alcohol, it must be his chemistry.” We lie to their boss and our family to hide the truth so they won’t lose their job or relationships.
Bruises are covered because we know the truth, but are not prepared for the action needed to escape. Also, survival has taught them not to tell anyone anything, because the victim is the only one who will suffer the consequences if the plan for escape is discovered too early.
Dealing with the abuse is easier than the unknown of a new beginning. This was the hardest truth to embrace. It is crazy, really, not to escape from the torture. Abuse is walking down another’s road of insanity and blaming yourself for the route.
In Lenore E. Walker’s book, The Battered Woman Syndrome, she tells of an experiment done with electrical shock on caged dogs who are unable to escape. The dogs learn to cope with the pain of the shock because they cannot escape. Later the cage door was opened. You would think the dog would run out, instead, the means of escape added to the dog’s anxiety.
The dog was pulled out of the cage only to run back to the place of abuse. One of the conclusions is, it was easier to deal with the familiar abuse than to cope with the world unknown.
At first we think it will get better, so we hang in there for a time. But, optimism is soon replaced by bowing down, so as not to deal with the abuser’s need to punish.
“Battered women’s affective, cognitive, and behavioral responses often become distorted by their single focus on survival. ~Lenore Walker and Angela Browne, Gender and Victimization by Intimates, 1985.
Abuse is cyclical. It begins to build slowly, then increases in intensity and frequency by the abuser’s need to control.
Then, the abuse becomes more aggressive. It begins small, with words that tear down the victim’s self-esteem, then progresses into shoving and eventually physical harm. With each abuse, the abuser must take it further the next time to receive the feeling of immediate gratification.
After the harm is done, the abuser comes in with a sweet honeymoon phase to win the victim back, he/she professes love, and the victim continues the silence, because they want to believe the abuser is sincere and has changed. They want love so desperately, because they now believe they are not worth being loved, and accept the smallest token of affection as a great sign of a beautiful future. Then, the cycle begins again.
Those finding themselves in abusive lives are not stupid. They are intelligent and educated; you must be smart to survive. But to the world, they are scattered, unorganized and very forgetful at times. That is because they are constantly thinking about how to make it through another night or day and not invoke the abuser’s wrath.
I want to encourage you to be kind to those who wear long sleeves in the summer, who seem unorganized and ditzy, and whose minds seem to be in a daydream most of the time. It may just be they are living a nightmare – trying to wake up.
If you are in an abusive relationship, please end the silence and talk to someone. Ecounceling – it’s free.
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powerful words… thank you.
Thank you, Sharon.
Yes. Powerful. I couldn’t breathe through this.
And that last paragraph… wow!
Thank you, Sandra. It is the most difficult post I’ve ever written. Maybe one day I’ll tell the rest of the story…
Thank you hardly seems enough. A most powerful post sure to help many. Grateful you found your voice.
Thank you, Joanne. I am asking the Lord for it to strengthen someone today and each time this post is read.
You had the courage to get out and are now using your voice to help others. God doesn’t waste our wounds does He? I’m blessed by your transparency.
You’re right Elizabeth, God doesn’t waste.
It was difficult to write and to not write too much. This is the scariest post I’ve ever written.
Thank you for your encouragement.
Many memories and emotions rushing back. Such a hard thing to write about, and you’ve done it beautifully. Thank you.
Thank you Jennifer. I’m sorry that you have the memories to relate to this post. I pray God uses your life and your memories to encourage other women facing a similar life. There is a purpose for each thing we face in this life.
Thanks for sharing… I am walking with my niece who is a surviver of abuse… she has 3 small boys and it is a long journey indeed… Jesus is walking her each step of the way… it is heart breaking… but she is going from being grounded from the wounds… to healing and finding her wings… I keep telling her…one day you are going to be flying so high… this will no long have a hold of you!!!
Ro, I’m so sorry about your niece and very thankful she has a godly woman to walk beside her. Your love for the Lord and for you niece can make all the difference. I have prayed for you, your niece and her boys today.
Your words are such a blessing. Thank you for being so brave to share. I can’t wait to give you a big hug again one day soon.
I can’t wait to see you either, Amy. Thank you for your encouragement and for sharing this post. You are a treasure to me!
Praise God that the voice is no longer silent. You are a brave lady.
Thank you Allie. This has been the most frightening post of my life. Comments like yours help. Thank you.
Diane, Thank you for sharing. I woke up and got out over 14 years ago. He passed away July 2013. My daughter and I are now dealing with flashbacks. I really felt like I had put all the pain in the past. I am trusting God that my best days are yet to come. I want to tell my story to help someone else gain the strength to leave.
Patricia, I’m so very thankful you woke up! Sometimes, waking up is frightening as well, but it gives you clarity to know it is time to move. If I can help you write your story I will. Start small would be my advice. I still haven’t told the whole story…I’m not sure I ever will. Waiting on God’s timing is the key.
Thank you for sharing. I pray others are strengthened by these words. ~Di