This is Part 2 of a series on surviving abuse.
If you are being abused, please contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline on their site or by phone at 1−800−799−7233.
In my situation, the physical abuse would ebb and flow depending on my spouse’s mood, but other types took place daily – mental, verbal, emotional, financial, and spiritual abuse. I am ashamed to say that I did not protect my kids as I should. I was afraid and confused. It took one of my kids asking me why I did not protect them after an incident occurred for me to wake up. I am not proud of this fact.
What I am saying is that God has not given us a spirit of fear, but one of power and love and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7).
I now see that I should have stepped between my kid and the abuser, and I should have called the police. Ever since that day, I promised my kids I would do whatever it takes to protect them. I have subsequently stepped between them, and I was ready to call the police. The legal system is not designed to help people when they are trying to leave an abuser. If you do not call the police, there is little support in the laws.
If you take your kids and leave without any legal history of abuse, it can be seen as abandoning the abuser in the event of a divorce. I am not a legal expert, nor am I saying you should stay in an unsafe place. When the line was crossed, I left and took the kids. What happened after that is another post altogether that is forthcoming.
My point here is to be prepared and surround yourself with help. You cannot and should not go through this alone, because you are not alone. You must have a support system that you can trust. Get friends, family, co-workers, therapists, professionals – whoever you can to listen and help you on your journey. You will need help leaving, moving forward, and healing.
I have heard the saying that the body may recover physically, but the mind does not fully recover. I now realize I have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). When I used to hear a key in the door, I froze in fear. Now when I hear a knock on the door, I still feel fear: “Is it him?”
When I encounter everyday items that were used to inflict abuse, I freeze in fear. It is during these times that I must turn my attention to Jesus and remember that I do not have a spirit of fear, but one of power. Do what you need to to protect yourself and your kids.
Strangers unexpectedly around my kids or asking me about them puts me immediately into an overprotective mindset. I recently was out and came home to a supposed census taker asking my oldest child how long we lived here, etc. I politely and very firmly told the woman to leave. Jesus kept me from slamming the door in her face. I will never be okay with strange people asking questions about my kids, as they may be on a fishing expedition for the abuser.
My abuser drilled into my head that nobody outside the house should help me, he was all I needed. Any request for help was a betrayal.
That is a lie. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness or betrayal.
Recognize any lies that you are being told and reject them.
You must find privacy, ways to communicate that are not monitored. I discovered that certain carriers in their online cell phone accounts reveal everything – phone numbers called, call durations, text messages, etc. Educate yourself.
I also learned that there is an “owner” on cell phone accounts at a carrier we will call “V. Wireless.” There is one person who is the owner, even if the account is joint. It is irrelevant who actually pays the bill, it only matters who is labeled as the owner.
My abuser was the owner, and he had access to everything – every phone call, every text, and he also had to “approve” me making any changes to my personal cell phone even to the point of allowing me to get a new plan with the same carrier. Educate yourself.
Assume you are being tracked. Again, cell phones are a blessing, yet can be a curse. It is extremely easy to track you by your cell phone. Turning off Bluetooth may not be enough if there is an app on your phone you don’t know about that is tracking you, for instance.
Computers have history, and even if you erase it, there are key logger apps. Change your passwords constantly and use multi-factor authentication.
Ensure you have access to funds stashed safely that are not in a bank, to prevent the abuser from stealing them.
As I said in Part 1, I am grateful to God I survived to leave. I have more to share and will continue my story here next week.
Heavenly Father, we lift up all those who are being abused. Please lead them to help, Lord. Let them know they are not alone. Never alone. In the blessed name of Jesus we pray. Amen.