An abused wife’s Bill of Rights

I guess one of the most shocking things that ever happened to me was to discover that I have rights. Sad, considering all I’ve lived through. It was such a foreign concept. I have rights…. The thought didn’t even begin to occur to me until I was well into adulthood.

I have rights.

That thought doesn’t seem that shocking to most people, of course they have rights. Why wouldn’t they have rights? Everyone has rights. But for an abuse victim, it’s not all that easy a thought to grasp. I—me, the one others lie to, lie about, abuse, yell at, curse out, hurt, ignore, blame—I have rights. Such a thought is shocking and utterly life changing.

When I was growing up, I believed that other people’s wants far outweighed my needs. Because I believed that, that broken-down, mixed-up, bad-to-the-core, false-as-could-be belief enabled others to wield power over me. Now, due to the grace of God in opening my eyes, I finally realize that I really do have rights and that it matters that I have rights.

Please know these things: What your abuser does, or has done, to you isn’t about you—it’s about him. There is no way you can ever be enough to fix it. You aren’t, and never will be, enough for your abuser. No matter what they tell you, your abuser doesn’t have the right to define you. Only God can do that. I just wish it hadn’t taken me so long to figure that out.

Abusers will tell you that you have no rights. They will treat you as if you have no rights. They will yell, stomp, scream, hit, threaten you, and ignore you. They will destroy what you love, lie about you, and give you the silent treatment in order to prove you have no rights.

My abuser used to tell me that I had no rights that he didn’t give me—none at all. By God’s grace, I’ve discovered that it’s not our abusers who have the power to grant us rights. It is the Lord Himself. Because we are precious in His sight, though man may abuse us, we have the right to stand up for ourselves because we do have rights, rights granted by God Himself, and nobody has the right to rob us of them.

Understanding that she has rights may seem to be a normal and natural part of life to an emotionally healthy woman but to one who has been abused, coming to realize that she has rights is an amazing discovery—one equal in impact, at least for me, to the discovery of electricity or gravity.

Understood rightly, the truths on this list have the power to change your world. They certainly did mine.

Here’s just some of my—and your—rights:

  • I have the right to know the Lord as Scripture, not man, presents Him.
  • I have the right to worship God, attend church, and serve Him without fear.
  • I have the right to not have Scripture twisted in order that it may be used against me or to subjugate me.
  • I have the right to not be abused.
  • I have the right to be safe in my own home.
  • I have the right to have rights.
  • I have the right to stand up for my rights.
  • I have the right to say “No”.
  • I have the right to make decisions about things that affect me or my children and to do so without fear.
  • I have the right to my own thoughts and feelings, and the right to express them.
  • I have the right to not be perfect.
  • I have the right to be treated with respect.
  • I have the right to be treated as an adult.
  • I have the right to not be a caretaker for one who could, but will not, take care of themselves.
  • I have the right to not be responsible for another person’s faults, failures, or actions.
  • I have the right to refuse to do anything that violates my conscience.
  • I have the right to live in peace.
  • I have the right to learn and to grow.
  • I have the right to have friends and maintain relationships with my family.
  • I have the right to see family and friends both out of my home and in my home.
  • I have the right to have others over without fear of mistreatment or acting out by others in my home.
  • I have the right to teach my children to grow into responsible adults who will treat me, and others, with respect.
  • I have the right to not be lied about to my children or to others.
  • I have the right to be righteously angry over abuse and mistreatment.
  • I have the right to have an understanding of our finances, to make informed financial decisions, and to have my, and my children’s, financial needs met.
  • I have the right to privacy.
  • I have the right to seek help.
  • I have the right to admit the truth about the abuse to myself and to others who can help me.
  • I have the right to legally prosecute my abuser if the situation warrants it.

What rights would you add to the list?

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10 thoughts on “An abused wife’s Bill of Rights

  1. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I really enjoyed this piece. As a Christian the church has let me down in the past but God never has. I am developing a very deep personal relationship with Father God as this I can rely on 100%,

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  2. When a sense of being worthless…not mattering….not even worth being murdered because you weren’t worth the cost….has been ingrained since you were three and half years old….and then marrying a man who treated you like you were nothing important and allowing his family to treat you no different….how could you possibly think you had any rights?
    And, when you finally stand up and demand your rights…you are accused of being a vindictive *****….and lose your children….and your friends…..so what good are those “rights” you finally demanded?
    I can’t revisit when I was a “believer” because they never got me anything. Everybody…and I mean EVERYBODY who was supposed to care about me, damaged me to the point of no recovery. And all of those people are walking off into the sunset, happier than a bunch of Larks.
    I don’t want to hear about justice in the “after-life.” That means nothing to me.
    I applaud your beliefs. I admire your ability to still believe. I used to.

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    1. I am so sorry for what you’ve endured. There is no justification for anyone ever having treated you that way. I ache for you…. I understand you don’t believe and I don’t require you to in order to care for you. I would not have survived without Christ. He is the only One who can redeem all of the pain I’ve lived through. I had my doubts at one time about whether God really loved me. I remember thinking that He was capricious and just wanted to see how far I could be pushed, how much I could endure. But He drew me to Him. The more I prayed and read His Word, the more I realized that He was the only One worthy of my trust. He was the only One who would never leave me nor forsake me (Hebrews 13: 5). He is everything. I will never ram Him down your throat but I will be praying for you. Again, I’m so sorry…. ~Soli Deo gloria! ~Anna

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      1. I raised my children with the saying “God plants no sorrow on limbs too weak to bear.” I believed that…but I don’t believe it anymore. He planted too much sorrow on my limbs…and they broke.
        Thank you for your prayers…but His answer will be no.

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        1. I’m sorry for the delay in answering you. I will continue to pray for you and I’m happy to hear that you aren’t put off by my prayers. What I’ve learned, what Romans 8: 28 teaches is that all things work together–through Christ–for God’s glory and for our ultimate good–that is, for creating Christ-likeness in us, and for revealing our need of Him. Not everything is good but because God is good, He redeems everything that happens in a believer’s life. It may be by creating complete dependence in His child on Him. It might be that He clams His child in the storm rather than calming the storm and thereby the comfort His child has received from Him can then be used to comfort some other poor suffering soul (2 Corinthians 1: 4). This world, because of our sins against God, is a dark and evil place. It is a fallen world and a world badly in need of Jesus’s redeeming work. God does allow things that are too hard for us, and there are some sorrows that, without Him, would be impossible to bear but this isn’t because God is evil. It is because the thoughts and intents of unsaved man are evil (Jeremiah 17: 9). God never promises that He won’t allow us to suffer, He only promises us that He will never leave us nor forsake us. The greatest case of evil this world has ever seen was when the Son of God was rejected by the Jews, by mankind in general, and crucified. That was also the greatest case of grace ever shown to man. We didn’t deserve His love, His mercy or His death on our behalf. We deserved death. Yet Jesus was betrayed by His own disciples, His own brothers refused to believe that He was who He said He was (John 7: 5) and His own people rejected Him. He was physically, emotionally, and even sexually abused (through displaying Him on the cross naked) in such a way that He was not even recognizable (Isaiah 52: 14). Even His Father turned away from Him as His wrath was poured out on His Son–for us! (Matthew 27: 46-47) Jesus has identified with the sufferings of mankind in every single way. He knows our pain, He knows your pain, and He’s the only hope any of us have–here and now or in eternity. Continuing in prayer. I’m here if you ever want to talk about anything. You can reach me at thecrossisall@gmail.com May God’s grace be magnified in your life ~ Soli Deo gloria! ~ Anna

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