Contributed by SilverRain
Things like this are hard for me. I’m at a point where my life is completely different than it was five years ago, when I was going through divorce and trying to fit the pieces of the puzzle I had been living for years.
Whenever people who haven’t lived it think “abuse,” they think it is about bruises, about hospital visits, about children cowering in shadowed corners of the house while they listen to their parents fight. But it wasn’t like that for me.
I don’t remember fighting much. I remember being accused of things, and trying to defend myself, to defuse the situation. Especially that final night, when he tried to force me out of the house while my 2 ½ year old daughter screamed from her high chair. That night, it was I who briefly huddled in a closet while she yelled at her daddy until I realized what she was doing and fear for her moved me from my numb and disbelieving frame of mind.
I apologize that recounting the things that happened that night comes out jumbled. Directly after that night, they were crystal clear, a series of vignettes of fear. But time has scrambled the timeline, wrapped everything in the haze of a story. On bad days, though, I still remember what it was like to feel that afraid. Now I have very few bad days. I never know when they will come, or what will trigger them, but over the years they have ceased to be a significant part of my life.
Now, I only remember how I felt and what my marriage was like when someone needs to hear it. Someone like you, either wondering if you are a victim yourself, or wondering if someone you love might be one.
I could go back to my records and lay out, point by point, what happened in my marriage to make it all fall apart, what mental gymnastics I had to go through to cope with the reality of my life. I could talk about percentages, like how it was really bad only 1-2% of the time, but how that 1-2% colored my feelings, thoughts, and actions without me even realizing it. I could talk about different points where I realized I was losing parts of myself, becoming molded into the shape of what he wanted me to be, a shape that constantly shifted until I didn’t know how to be a good wife any more.
I could talk about the first question I am always asked whenever I mention what my life was like: how can you know if someone you love is being abused? I could discuss signs, I could give you advice on how to approach someone you think may be trapped as I was trapped.
But that would take more time than I have here, and for now at least, I have a more important message. I will discuss, if anyone wants to hear it, any one or all of those points. But the message I have first is that is that I have healed.
True, I will never be the same person I was before I married someone who placed his whims above the human dignity of his spouse. I will never trust as I once trusted, nor react the same way to things that I once did. But neither will I be as selfish and self-centered as I was before I knew what it was like to drown in my own life—to feel utterly helpless, alone, and unable to turn to anyone.
Abuse is a terrible thing. It erodes your very sense of self, and damages everyone who cares for you. But it can also be a great thing. Because no matter the abuse you suffered, you can take your power back. You can choose, if not to forgive, to at least take what you have been given and use it to help other people. Too many of us survivors go silent once we have healed. It’s so easy to want to put that part of life behind you, so you don’t have to live with the negativity any more. It’s easy to think that this is the only way to empowerment.
But because of the things you have suffered, you can be an angel to others who need you. You can save women, men, and children who are affected by this awful choice. 25% of women will experience domestic violence in their lives. (www.ncadv.org) That means you have other women in your life, no matter your economic circumstances, who are RIGHT NOW living in the kind of fear and doubt that you know so well.
You were not the cause of what you have lived. But you can be the solution for someone else. If I have anything to give, it is this: rise up from the dust, lift your head high, and take back your life. When you take your sorrows and lay them at the feet of the Savior, sacrifice everything to Him, give Him YOUR cross and take His instead, you will be healed. And you will be forged into a miracle.