So, here I am, writing about my abuse. I’ve been “out” of my abusive situation for a little over two years at this point now. Since abuse is what I most commonly write about, it may seem as if I am stuck, like I can’t or won’t move on. Writing about my abuse has been healing in it’s own way. But, if I simply just wrote about it, it would just be a band-aid for me. God uses bad situations from our lives to help others walking through their own bad situations. Just because we are out and “over” a situation doesn’t mean that others don’t need to hear about it. Also, I need to always remind myself so I won’t end up there again.
I don’t sit here in anger or hate over my abuse or my abusers. If nothing else, I hope bringing the darkness into the light will bring about a healing that no one imagined possible. After all, things that remain in darkness won’t grow.
Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light.
How to Get Out and Stay Out
How did I get out, and how have I stayed out without feeling desperate about getting my abuser back?
There was a straw that finally broke the camels back. I had had enough. Enough of the confusion, enough of the blame, enough of the exhaustion, enough of the tears, enough of the loneliness. I needed to be able to think clearly, and I knew that it was relatively impossible in the presence of my abuser. I pursued the separation from him with the goal of reconciliation in mind. At this point, I didn’t have a clear understanding of the abuse I had been living through for so many years. The only thing I knew was that we had been in an ugly rut for far too long, and we couldn’t successfully continue in living the way that we had been living. At this point in my life, I was physically deteriorating and beyond mentally exhausted. My mind was set on doing things differently, and that was abundantly clear to everyone within a close proximity to me. So, out went my abuser, and I had no idea that it would be the true end to our marriage. I can’t say whether or not he knew that at the time or not, but I feel like he may have had a good idea. Either way, I was working at a relationship at the same time I was working on myself. The grieving process was different for me because I wasn’t sure if it was actually over for a while, and I wasn’t sure if it was supposed to be. I had to reach a point of knowing that working on myself was the only option and control I had.
Every Situation is Different, So Don’t Treat Them The Same
Many of us are coming from different abusive situations. Even if they seem identical, they are still different in that each contains different people with different issues. We can’t try to advise someone to get out or stay in a relationship because it happened to “work” for us. We can share, and let God use the information to do just that, inform. We need to leave room for the Holy Spirit to prompt what each of us should do in each situation. If we are going to hear the Holy Spirit, we need to make sure that we are leaving room for Him. No matter what, though, we need to make sure we are getting back to truth, and understanding it properly. For me, Scripture was distorted and used against me for so long, that getting back to truth took time. It took a counselor reinforcing that I even knew what truth was because I wasn’t sure anymore. It took me integrating myself into the body of Christ, and surrounding myself with women unafraid to speak truth to me on a regular basis. It took me meeting one-on-one with a godly woman who could tell me how far off I was from truth in my thinking. It took endless support from my family (It was my blood family, but I know that isn’t a possibility for many. Find people that are like family if you’re family won’t support you in your time of need. Family that will pray for you, love you, and let you process your grief at every stage). It took humility and me pursuing them, not waiting for them to find me. I had to admit what I was going through, and that I needed guidance and help. I had to be willing to let them help by listening, and taking the godly advice and walking in it. None of them could take the steps for me, but only give me wisdom and support, which they did.
Steps to Freedom
- Truth: Once truth has been found, don’t let it go. Cling to it, and live by it everyday. Truth is the first step to healing. Once you have it, you must look at yourself in an honest light. What changes need to be made in your own heart and life? The abuse wasn’t your fault, and no one ever deserves that, but if you don’t see a need to change yourself, you will find yourself in the very same situation without relief…over and over again until death.
- Boundaries: Along with truth, we need boundaries. We need to know them, understand them, and enforce them. If we don’t enforce them, nobody is going to do it for us. If you don’t know what healthy boundaries are, look into what that looks like for you in each relationship. You may have to have more for one person than another because that second person will push them where the first person may be healthy and not get close to crossing any sort of boundary.
- Education: We still feel lonely and consider that we might prefer abuse over being alone because someone is at least there. In these moments, we must enforce truth. Education is that reinforcement. We must understand what kind of abuse we endured, so we don’t fall back into the trap of excusing toxic behavior. In educating ourselves, another wave of grief naturally returns. You probably won’t be able to understand how or why someone was able to be so intentionally cruel with no remorse. With grief, you may feel a slight amount of relief understanding what you are truly trying to heal from. If you are out of the situation, you will start grasping that you don’t ever want to return. Learn who you are, and what your passions are. God instilled them in you, and now no-one is holding you back besides yourself.
- Forgiveness: Learn how to forgive. Forgiveness is an everyday decision, not a feeling. What that practically looks like is not asking someone to continue pay for what they have done anymore. That doesn’t mean that justice won’t come, it just means that you won’t be the one enforcing it after it is out of your hands (there is a time and place to report and hold someone accountable).
- Acceptance: This is huge. So often, we only partially come to each of the previous steps, but easily fall back to old habits and ways. Without acceptance of what has happened and what we’ve lost, we will easily dismiss something that shouldn’t be dismissed, and we find ourselves right back where we started. We must accept the truth of the situation, that we can’t go back and change anything or anyone except our present selves. We must accept that we are different people after the abuse. We must accept that we have new quirks due to past issues. We must accept that grief may come in waves, and sometimes even after we feel like we’ve been completely healed. We must accept that we need a long period of time outside of any new relationship (at least a year from the break up/separation or more). We must accept that other relationships have been lost due to this one. We must accept where we were at fault. We must accept that so much was out of our hands. We must accept that it is better to arrive late to healing than never. We must accept God’s invitation to do it with Him rather than continue without Him.
Continue With a Cautious But Open Heart
Be cautious in relationships from this point forward. This doesn’t look like withholding love that you so naturally love to give. This is remembering to pick our relationships carefully, and handling them with our hearts in mind. We are called to a selfless love, but not at the cost of putting ourselves intentionally in situations where we constantly get trampled. The book of Proverbs is overflowing with people that we should and shouldn’t keep company with.
Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life.
You will truly begin to move forward when you have found how much your life has progressed from the time you began your healing without your abuser having that hold over you anymore. It’s a rinse and repeat type situation. Healing might be a lifelong process. I don’t miss my abuser anymore, and I haven’t for a while now, but I still have quirks because of what I went through with him. There are certain triggers that set me apart from a “normal”, healthy, never abused individual. These triggers make relationship with me just that much more complicated. It’s possible though, and we have to be so honest with ourselves, and those we are building and continuing relationships with. If they don’t seem to respect those boundaries, no matter how weird they may seem to them, they may not be the best candidates to stay in your life for now. One step forward at a time is enough if that’s all you can manage right now. Just remember that any step in any direction without God is not the right step or direction.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.
If you or someone you know are stuck in abuse, don’t stay silent. Reach out for help. Comment below, shoot me an email, or connect on social media.
If you feel like you may be an empath, may be in a relationship with a narcissist (romantically or otherwise), and/or need help escaping, healing, etc. please comment below, shoot me an email, or reach out via social media.
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National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1−800−799−7233
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