Restoring the Faded

Today’s post serves as a sort of epilogue to JC’s multipart series on surviving abuse. However, abuse recovery is an ongoing process, and she will likely provide further updates down the road. Below are links to all of the installments in the “Nobody Knew, Yet Everybody Knew” series:

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6

If you are being abused, please contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline on their site or by phone at 1−800−799−7233.

Credit: Snow

My kids and I are now safe – we moved out and are beginning the long, arduous healing process. You never know how badly you were “damaged” until you are out of a situation. Once my kids were freed, I began to see how much they had lost themselves to survive in that environment.

It was such a slow fading away of ourselves that none of us saw it. We would tone down our laughter or our jokes for fear of being too loud and causing an outburst. We stopped having people over because we were ashamed of what my spouse might say to embarrass us or the guest. We stopped going out because there were so many hurdles to get “approval.” Not to mention trackers were on all our phones so we could be hunted down when desired.

It is now easy to see how much control my spouse asserted over us. The weapons that were used against us were sometimes subtle, sometimes not. When my therapist said I have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), I thought, “no way.” But the more I live out of that environment, the more I see that my kids and I definitely do have PTSD.

My spouse continues to attempt to control me and the kids, even though he is not physically present in our lives. Just this week, he stole more money from the kids and then came after me again. The games continue weekly, sometimes daily.

Here is the secret to continued survival and, even better, for you to flourish: Peace – and perspective from that peace.

In John 14:27, Jesus said “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (NIV).

I either believe Him or I do not. If I believe Jesus, then I have His peace, and I need to focus on that. He also told me not to be troubled or afraid. If my spouse wishes to steal from his kids, there may be nothing I can do about that. But – this I know – God loves my kids even more than I do. He is their Father in Heaven and nobody will be successful messing with His kids. Sure, things may temporarily appear that way – but God is justice. We tend to focus on God is love, and He is, but God is also justice.

There is nothing I can do sometimes to protect my kids against the attacks launched by their earthly father, so I pray daily for their father and rest in the knowledge that God is justice. Sometimes I do not even know what to pray, but the Spirit does (Romans 8:26). My role is to pray for their earthly father daily and, in God’s strength, to best protect the kids God has loaned me. What God does with those prayers and what God does with someone who does such terrible things to his own children is up to Him.

It is very hard to heal the wounds when you keep getting attacked. I have had to learn that my healing is not contingent on the attacks ending – because they may not. My spouse lives to hurt me and the kids – so I needed perspective. I turned to the Bible, and God gave me this verse:

“Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”
Matthew 10:28 NLT

This does not mean we are barred from defending ourselves or our kids when physically attacked (as mentioned in Part 2). It does mean that there may be people who live to hurt you. Abusive spouses may make it their missions in life to hurt you, especially once you leave them. They may not relent, and you need to be prepared for that.

You need to understand that God is your Protector. God has made it clear we are to fear Him and not be afraid. We are to take everything to Him in prayer and not worry about anything. He is in control. This perspective can be hard to maintain at times when it seems like your abuser is constantly coming out on top. But, make no mistake, God sees all, and God is justice.

Your path to healing must be rooted firmly in Jesus and Jesus alone – not whether your spouse stops the mind games, the manipulation, the hate, the theft, the lying, or other forms of abuse. Once you have removed yourself and your kids to a safe environment, expect the hits to keep coming in new forms. Surround yourself with your support group, get a good therapist, do not be afraid to call the police, and above all, anchor yourself and your kids to the Protector, the Savior, the Creator of all things – Jesus Christ.


Heavenly Father,

Please bless all survivors of abuse. May You fill them with Your strength, Your peace, and Your resolve.

May You restore what slowly faded away, so Your light may shine ever bright through them.

You are love. You are justice. You are our Protector. We love You.

In the blessed name of Jesus we pray.

Amen

Credit: Snow

Nobody Knew, Yet Everybody Knew: An Abuse Survivor’s Story (Part 2)

This is Part 2 of a series on surviving abuse.

[Read Part 1]

If you are being abused, please contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline on their site or by phone at 1−800−799−7233.

Credit: JC

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.

[Read Part 3]


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.