A message to my abuser

You’ve told me that you loved me and to “go to hell” with equal passion.
You made me feel beautiful, loved, and cherished, and I had hope for our future; you made me feel stupid, worthless, and so very alone and I had no hope for anything.
So many times you told me that I was suffocating you; when it suited you, you demanded attention even when I was too tired, too sick, too broken, to give it.
You would treat me well when it pleased you and my hopes would soar; you’d get tired of trying and I’d find myself alone, my dreams dying in the dust.
You told others you were glad I was your wife; you told me that I was beneath you in every way possible.
You said I was enough for you but endlessly lusted for other women as you looked at porn.
You say that you are sorry for all of the times, all of the ways, that you hurt me; you “just weren’t thinking” as if that makes everything alright.
You fooled me so many times and believing you, I threw caution to the wind and trusted you; only you hadn’t changed and my heart, and my mind, were broken anew.
I’ve lived so long with the shame of the words you broke me with, with the humiliation of what I let myself endure in order to please you.
How can I see the truth and just ignore it? How can I live if I know who you are but do nothing? How can I stand for anything if I believe your lies?
I can’t do it, not anymore. You’re not the broken little boy you like to pretend you are and I’m not the woman you wish I were.
I refuse to be your doormat ever again.

The Christian response to domestic abuse

Psalms 72: 4, He shall judge the poor of the people, he shall save the children of the needy, and shall break in pieces the oppressor.

We know domestic abuse exists within the world but can it really exist within the families of the redeemed? Sadly, the answer is yes. But because most church families don’t have any experience with domestic abuse, because pastors don’t usually address it from the pulpit, because church leadership isn’t prepared to identify it or help the abused, and Christians in general have only a vague, often incomplete and incorrect understanding of it, the church often isn’t a safe place for victims of domestic abuse—even when the victim is a member of the local church and is reaching out for help from her own pastor, elders, or her brothers and sisters in Christ. When abuse victims get up enough courage to reach out for help from the church, they are more often than not given bad or even dangerous advice—if they are given advice at all. Too many are either turned away without any effort to help them, or are sent back home to their abuser.

Our love for Christ demands that this change. Even as you read this, there are members of God’s church, perhaps from your own congregation, who are being abused by their spouses. These precious Christians are living in a man-made war zone in their own homes and many have no one to help them. Think about how this affects their children. What do they come to believe about family relationships? What does living in abuse do to their sense of security? And, if they see their mothers being refused help by the church, what does that say to them about believers? Or even about Jesus? Then think about the moms. What would you think, how would you feel, if you desperately needed help, but God’s people treated you as if you were a leper? What if you were blamed for what isn’t your fault? What if they sided with the one who was hurting you and turned you away? All of these things and more continue to be the reality of godly women who are being abused by their husbands, women who have tried, and failed, to get help for their situation from God’s people.

If we desire to serve our Lord, we must learn to help the moms, and help the children, who are living in abuse. We must respond to them in a way that glorifies Christ and that actually offers them a way out of abuse—should they desire it—rather than just teaching them to tread water in it. As Christians, our first job is to do all that we do in a way that glorifies our Lord. Our goal should be to serve these women as Jesus Himself would.

Characteristics of a potential abuser

 

There is no one personality type that is more or less likely to be abusive. There are, however, characteristics that you can look for that might help you to identify potential abusers. Some of these are:

Pushes potential victim for quick involvement
Rushes the physical aspect of the relationship
Declares love for potential victim within a matter of days or weeks
Displays jealousy
Minimizes his actions or abuse
Might have been abused as a child
May have witnessed abuse as a child
May have had problems with angry or cruelty as a child
Abused or killed animals as a child
Has a persecution complex
Sees himself as smarter, stronger, more successful, more handsome, etc., than he actually is
Blames his problems on others, on stress, or on circumstances
Believes others are jealous of him
Has a Jekyll and Hyde personality
Has unrealistic expectations
Feels out of control in his life
Has an explosive temper
Suffers from low self-esteem
Secretive
Known to be a charmer
Lies
Manipulative
Unpredictable
Controlling
Possessive
Is cruel to animals or children
Is a narcissist
Moody
May have a drug or alcohol problem
Easily insulted or offended
Uses cruel humor
Demeaning
Condemns known abusers

The effects of domestic abuse on children

Even if a man isn’t abusive towards his children but is abusive towards their mother, they are still affected by the abuse. Witnessing their mother being abused is often more damaging to children than actually being abused themselves. Having to witness domestic abuse is a form of child abuse.
Children who live with abuse often struggle with:
Depression
Being withdrawn
Anxiety
Aggressiveness
Hostility
Resentment
Being a bully
Being a victim
Problems in school
Behavioral difficulties
Learning difficulties
Low self-esteem
Feeling numb
Anger
Fear
Nightmares
Sleep problems
Inability to make or keep friends
Inability to trust
Addictive behaviors
Long term effects of abuse on children are:
Alcoholism
Drug abuse
Stress
Anxiety
Health issues
Mental health issues
Poverty
Criminal behavior
Drifts from thing to thing
Can’t maintain relationships
Controlling
Perfectionist
Becomes a victim of domestic abuse
Becomes an abuser
As a mom, you recognize that your husband’s abuse is hurting your children. This is true even if he’s never lifted a hand to them. Children who live in abuse suffer the effects of the abuse, even if they themselves aren’t abused. Do whatever you can to protect them, even if that means leaving your abuser.

 

 

 

Helping a friend who is being abused

Your friend has told you she’s being abused or you’ve figured it out on your own. What can you do now?

For starters, talk to her. Ask her to meet you away from her house so she feels safe in talking. Listen to her. Give her your full attention. And no matter what she says, don’t act shocked.

As you talk, let her know you care. If you are worried about her, be honest with her. Tell her that she shouldn’t ever have to live this way. Encourage her to get help.

Offer to help her. Don’t just say “If you need me, call me.” Let her know how you can help, and how you are willing to help. If you are willing to be a prayer partner with her, tell her. If you can help her with transportation, with her children, to make plans, financially, or in any other way, tell her. Make your offer clear. That way there’s no misunderstanding and she knows what to expect.

Let her know you are praying for her. Ask her what she needs you to pray for and be faithful to do it.

Let her know that God hates abuse. She may have been told that God hates divorce. She may have been shamed for even thinking about leaving her abuser. She may have been blamed by other Christians for the abuse she is living under. She may have been treated poorly by the church for daring to tell the truth about her abuser. She likely hasn’t been told that God hates what her abuser is doing to her, or that “God hates divorce” is, more often than not, taken out of context. She may not ever know the real love of God, she may never know that genuine Christians can and do care for the abused, if you don’t step up and show her.

If she’s a Christian, be Jesus’s hands to her. If she’s not a Christian, teach her who He is–while being Jesus’s hands to her.

If she is willing to listen, tell her the truth about abuse. She may not understand that her husband’s “anger issues” are actually abuse issues. She may not have been told that her husband will probably never change. She may not have ever been validated by anyone. She may not realize that there can be life outside of abuse.

Just show up. Be her friend. Call her. Text her. Email her. Go by her house and check up on her. Let her know she’s not been forgotten.

Do something practical. Drive her to appointments. Wash her dishes, her clothes, or her car. Buy her an outfit. Help her celebrate her child’s birthday. Remember her at Christmas. Cook her a meal. Pay to put gas in her car.

Ask her what she needs. Make the request genuine. Keep asking.

Do something for her children. Her children are her biggest concern. What they’ve lived through, what they’ve been forced to do without, what they’ve had to endure and might still have to endure is a constant ache in her heart. The very best thing you can do for your friend is to do something to help her children. Love them. Care for them. Check up on them. Validate their pain. Encourage them. Buy them something they need but that she can’t afford. Do something fun for them. Include them in your own family activities whenever possible (for instance, take them on family picnics or when you’re going to the park).

Don’t tell her what to do. Don’t tell her “just leave.” Don’t make her feel bad for not having left. Don’t shame her. Don’t embarrass her by telling her you wouldn’t have put up with “that.” Make sure she knows she’s supported no matter what she chooses to do.

If she decides not to leave, know that she has the right to make that decision. You may not agree with it but she still needs you to support her. She may leave and go back, leave and go back, leave and go back time and time again. You may not understand her decision but know that she still needs you to be there for her. Women stay with their abusers for many reasons. Do whatever you can to help her even if she never leaves her abuser.

If she leaves, remember she is still going to need a friend. She will still struggle. She will lay awake at night crying. She will feel horribly alone at times. She will feel overwhelmed. She will be afraid. She will fear that she’s making poor decisions. She will wonder how she can make it on her own. She will be afraid of her abuser getting revenge. She will fear for all that her children have lived through and all they still have to face. She needs an encouraging word and a helping hand. Don’t forget her. Be there for her.

Remember–You don’t have to do all of this or even most of it in order to be a good friend. Just do what you can and you’ll have done more than most people ever think of doing.

 

Borderline vs Narcissism

Grace for my Heart

It’s Narcissist Friday!     

I have been reading a book that ties borderline and narcissistic personality disorders together as though they are the same. The author often uses a short-hand indication—BP/NP—to refer to both disorders together. In fact, the author considers both of them to be “mental illnesses.”

There are a limited number of personality and relationship disorder symptoms. It is easy to view a set of symptoms and come to an inaccurate conclusion. Non-professionals often jump to a diagnosis based on just a few observations. Professionals, however, are not supposed to do that. This author, a psychological professional, should either have a very good reason for making a connection like this, or should stop doing it. The two disorders are quite different.

To be fair, this author acknowledges the differences. The purpose of the book is to help those who have to care for people with these disorders…

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