When you’ve been abused, it is sometimes difficult to know what to believe or even who to believe. For starters, trust God. He and He alone is always, always, always, trustworthy. That truth has helped me more than any other in my efforts to overcome the effects of abuse in my life. Here’s some other truths that have helped me in my journey of healing.
1) God hates abuse. God is a God of truth, love, mercy, and justice. He not only created and sustained everything, He cares about those of us who inhabit His world. God is all-powerful and all-seeing and He sees your abuser for who he is, sees what he is, even if nobody else does. He notes every falsehood, every abuse, every cruelty, every selfish act and will hold your abuser accountable for it all. He hates what your abuser has done to you. He hates it when your abuser twists Scripture to subjugate you. No matter what you abuser has told you, God hates what he is doing. God stands with you, not with him. You are not furthering the work of God by being abused. You are not sharing in the sufferings of Christ by enduring abuse. Before He went to the cross to die for His people, even Jesus Himself escaped those who wanted to do Him harm. The Bible is replete with stories of those who intentionally ran from those who wanted to hurt them. David did. Moses did. You are not called to be a martyr to a cruel and callous husband.
2) You’re stronger than you think you are. You are a woman who has survived the fires of abuse. By simply surviving, you’ve already fought more battles than most folks ever have to fight. You may be battle-scarred but you are also one amazing woman. You are seriously one of the strongest women in the world. Be proud of yourself.
3) Your abuser is cruel and untrustworthy, but not everybody is. Abusers mess with your mind. Then they make you doubt them, yourself, and everyone else. Here’s the truth: Your abuser is unworthy of your trust; never believe them. Learn to trust yourself. Learn to trust others. Not everyone is an abuser. Not everyone is cruel. Not everyone lies.
4) Don’t trust a single word an abuser says. Abusers lie. That’s what they do. It’s who they are. If they want to mess with your mind, they’re going to lie to you. If they want to make you doubt yourself, they’re going to lie to you. If they want to convince you they’ve changed, they’re going to lie to you.
5) Tomorrow is another day. Just because bad things have happened in the past, doesn’t mean that they have to keep on happening. You can change your life. You can leave your abuser. You can go to school, get a job, start a business, move, find new friends, discover who you are, and what you like. Tomorrow can be good even if your yesterdays weren’t. It may be hard, but it’s also worth it. And, if you can’t get away, still do all that you can to work towards healing. Study God’s Word. Read non-fiction books. Exercise. Look for ways to grow and learn. There just may come a day that all of your effort pays off.
6) Your children are depending on you. Your abuser is a bad husband. He’s also a bad father. Even if he does good things for his children or is good with them, by abusing you, he is a bad father. There’s nothing that he can teach them except that which is bad. Therefore, your children need you to live out truth before them. To speak the truth about the abuse without giving into bitterness. To be a godly woman. To heal, grow, and help them to do the same. You are their only hope at a normal life, to understand what healthy relationships are like (and what they aren’t like), to get to know who God is and to learn to trust Him for their salvation. Focus on God and, for your children’s sake, move forward.
7) Abuse doesn’t define you. Abuse is something that was done to you, it isn’t who you are. All guilt for the abuse should be laid at the feet of your abuser: What happened between you was and is and will always be his fault. The shame is all his. Even if you failed in some way as a wife, that didn’t give him a right to abuse you. Repent of any failings before the Lord and trust in His grace. Study the Bible and learn to see yourself through God’s eyes. Be thankful, live, learn and grow. See yourself as worthy of love, worthy of happiness, and as one who is worthy of good things happening in her life.
8) Look for beauty. We live in a fallen world. Evil is a reality. But so is beauty, love, grace, mercy and truth. God is still God. There’s beauty all around. Intentionally look for beauty. Find it in your child’s smile. Inhale the sweet scent of a baby. Hold a wriggling puppy. Eat something you enjoy and take the time to really taste it. Drink a glass of refreshing cold water. Look at the wondrous beauty of trees. Inhale the scent of freshly mown grass. Pick a wildflower.
9) See your abuser for who he is. He is a cruel, selfish, heartless man; if he weren’t, he wouldn’t do to you what he’s done. No matter what he says, if he is abusing you, he is not a Christian. Never trust him. Never believe him. He may have been abused himself at some point but that neither explains nor is a defense for his abuse of you. If he wanted help, he could get it. Don’t defend him. Don’t explain his abuse away. Don’t enable him. As long as you are married to him, do strive to be a godly wife but that does not mean that you should endure abuse. If you can leave him, go. If you can’t, read up on abuse. Educate yourself as to what it is. Learn to identify an abuser’s tactics. Learn what true repentance is. Learn to stand up for yourself. Speak truth to yourself and to others about what you’ve gone through.
10) Trust in Jesus. This world isn’t everything. We’re here for a very short while. Eternity is forever. Everyone dies. Everyone will live again somewhere. There’s only two possibilities: Heaven or hell. The only path to heaven is through Jesus, the Son of God. To live with Him in eternity, we must live for Him in the here and now. To do that we must repent of our sins and obey Him. There’s no voice out of clouds, no reading tea leaves, no psychic readings, no experience that points the way to the truth. There’s only one truth: God’s Holy Word, the Bible. Read His Word, believe it, obey it.
What would you add to this list?