As I continue to share some of the highlights from the Faith Based Domestic Violence Training at Focus Ministries, there is no way I can cover all that we discussed, but hopefully as you read some of the traits/actions of an abuser, if you know of anyone experiencing such treatment, you can recommend they seek solace from the abuse. I had no resources, so I continued to endure my abuse. God knew this would happen. I don’t believe abuse is God’s divine will, but rather His permissive will. The end result will be that God receives the glory for allowing me to survive and share that I was able to overcome the sorrows and evils of abuse.
Focus Ministries states, “abuse is a heart problem, not a marriage problem.” This is most valid, for what man whom loves his mate abuses her? We have covered numerous areas of both verbal and emotional abuse. Yet they are too vast to include each of them. There is probably not a survivor whom has not experienced shaming, insulting, ridiculing, using words to destroy self-worth, demeaning, accusing/blaming, abusive anger, withholding, discounting, blocking/diverting, judging/criticizing, trivializing, undermining, forgetting, ordering and denial. For me personally, I have experienced each of the above traits and most often dozens of times during our 44-year marriage.
One of the most disappointing was when I was seeking so earnestly to become a better wife. While attending a bible study on becoming Godly wives, we were reminded we are not to putdown, criticize, complain about and/or condemn our husbands. We were asked to find one good trait about them every day; not a fabricated accolade, but something which we sincerely admired about our mates.
In spite of Charles’ abusive behavior toward me, he was and remains a good man. He was not a good husband to me, for his desire was not to be my husband. Nonetheless, on the third day of sincere gratitude to him, his harsh words of mockery caused tremendous heartache. He shouted at me as he said, “I’m so sick and tired of your contrived compliments.” I sobbed, as he bellowed at me. I assured him they were not contrived, but sincere. I reflect on the countless times I tried to show him how much I loved him, but my words and actions were received in anger and hostility.
As stated earlier in this series of blogs on DV, one can heal more readily from physical abuse than from emotional and verbal. The abuse toward the victim is as individualized as the abuser, but one of the current traits of emotional abuse is gaslighting; a tactic in which a person, in order to gain more power, makes a victim question their reality or sanity. Yes, I certainly did. I was accused so often of being mentally ill, that I sought psychiatric counseling and was assured on each occasion that I was not at all mentally ill. However, psychologists and psychiatrists cited I suffered a type of PTSD from the length and severity of abuse.
In addition to gaslighting, Charles implemented some of the other forms of emotional abuse; “no judge would see you as a fit mother” (when I attempted to leave him when our children were young), “you are too sensitive” and “you are too emotional” (I heard each of these statements from before we married through post-divorce), “if you hadn’t aggravated me, I wouldn’t have exploded at you,” (yes, how often I heard this one), “something is really wrong with you “(gaslighting).
“Abuse has no place in love.” Words spoken so honestly! Ephesians 5:25 NKJ, “husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her.”