Wednesday, September 30, 2009

This Little Light of Mine

"Shine brightly with the light of Christ Jesus, be all that I created you to be" says the voice of God, but another voice urges me to distrust, to hide, to be frightened, to be shy--to do everything opposite of letting my light shine fully. It is a battleground. A war between good and evil.

I suppose I am the princess of this fairy tale. I have been helpless and trapped, praying for rescue. I have met my hero, my Savior. I have been carried away from the dungeon of abuse and live freely now. And yet, I still am on a journey, looking forward to Heaven in the future but walking onward in the here and now.

I want to shine brightly. When I succeed in shining in and for the Lord, it feels wonderful and right. I feel more myself than ever before and it seems so attainable to continue there forever. Alive and vibrant, using the gifts God has given me.

But then there are the other times. Times when old habits of self-protection loom up and block my light for awhile. Times when I hide by isolating, times when I blame myself or others without mercy, and times when I try not to be noticed. When I examine those times, I see chains and ropes going back to the past, to abuse. It is unpleasant and hurts.

I don't want to live in darkness, so once again, I choose the Light. I will walk with my Lord no matter what I remember or feel. I will trust Him who has always been my comforter and my strength.

I have experienced so much healing in so many areas, but the process is not complete yet. I wonder if it ever will be completed.

Can you relate, Reader? Do you have a battleground between good and evil inside you. Does the abuse of the past still have a way of showing up in your behavior? Do not grow weary! We are overcomers every time we choose good and say no to the bad. We shine even when we don't realize it.

This little light of mine,
I'm gonna let it shine,

This little light of mine,

I'm gonna let it shine,

Let it shine,
Let it shine,
Let it shine

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

To Whom Do You Belong?

I refused his school jacket; his reasons were clear. He was jealous, saying that other males were taking too much interest in me and I was too friendly. He wanted to let others know that I was his. He came across as owning me. I knew about being owned and I wanted no part of it. I already had a parent who felt fully entitled to behave however he chose. My high school boyfriend tried to force me to take his jacket, shoving it into my hands. I shoved it right back. I never did wear it, but after 11 months of dating, he raped me. He had decided by then that he owned me anyway. A couple of years later, another man, my husband, treated me as property too.

Being owned by another is a horrible experience of oppression. I'm talking about the bondage of another person saying with their behavior (and sometimes direct words) that he or she owns you--and therefore he/she can do anything to you that he/she wants. Forget about personal boundaries concerning privacy or safety or anything else. It gives the abuser the justification to do anything.

Many of you reading this blog have experienced this nightmare, too. You know how wrong it feels, how humiliating, confusing, and angering. You've felt trapped and utterly helpless.

Part of healing from abuse requires recognizing this slavery of the soul and doing something about it. Initially, that means separating from the abuser permanently or until he or she changes (which is a rare occurrence because abusers find abuse very rewarding). Later on, ending the slavery that Satan has introduced into our lives with abuse requires us to confront the lies that hang out in our hearts, minds, and guts, blocking us from truly experiencing the freedom that God says is ours.

Are we willing to see and confront lies? Are we willing to say, "No, I am not a worthless possession that deserves to be treated shamefully or neglectfully. I am going to believe that I am valuable because Jesus Christ was willing to die for me. I am going to make choices that reflect that I know my Heavenly Father has created me with a special plan and good purpose"?

At some point, we need to take ownership of ourselves. Will we acknowledge and take care of our own needs in appropriate ways? Will we say no to unhealthy relationships? Will we say no to destructive habits? Will we believe that we are free and responsible for our own lives, rejecting the comfortable old rags of the victim mentality that says we have no power or control over anything that happens to us? We will never be able to control life or other people--but we have many liberating choices we can make about how we spend our time, when we seek help, how much we practice new, healthier behavior.

It's a process, just like every other part of healing from abuse. We can know in our heads that we are not slaves, but knowing it in our wounded hearts is a different matter. It takes repetition of truth and practice. It takes kindness. It takes time. In our soul we can experience our freedom with great joy during a worship service at church and then find ourselves weighed down during the week by heavy chains of old beliefs. Again it takes truth, practice, kindness, and time to allow truth to permeate all of our being. But, thankfully, we have time to practice and to rejoice in the progress that is made. We can begin anew each day. We are free in Christ Jesus, sisters and brothers. Let's keep living it out!

I am reminding myself again as I write this post. I am free, I am valuable, I am loved by the Lord Almighty. So are you! I hope you "take it to heart" this week and practice living as one who is significant and worth treating with respect, gentleness, and love--because you really, really are!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Who Can We Trust?

Betrayed! Unsafe! Dangerous! Abuse hammers into us the lesson that we cannot trust people. Almost all abuse happens at the hands of people whom we thought loved us, people whom we thought we could trust. Until they showed us otherwise.

Even those who are abused by a stranger still struggle with trust issues. Someone, who might have been anyone, stripped away their feelings of security. Suddenly humanity did not seem safe or trustworthy any longer. A member of society felt free to attack.

So what do we do? How do we heal? How do we learn to trust again? Can we ever regain our innocent trust? Is it even wise to trust?

Trust is a foundation stone in every relationship. So if we want to have relationships, we have to learn to trust again. But how?

I turned to God, and he has enabled me to trust again. It has been a learning process with my Good Shepherd right there with me. I don't know how others learn to trust without His help. I feel sure that I would have turned into a bitter, distrusting woman if God hadn't answered my cries for healing and help.

I am blessed beyond measure by the healing that has taken place. I have female friends, I have a non-abusive husband who cherishes me, I have relationships with my children that exceed anything I ever dared to hope for. Trusting is growing in relationships with small risks and new behaviors tried. God empowers me to try, despite my fears. Courage in small bite size pieces slowly builds healthy behaviors and relationships.

I've also made more mistakes of extending too much of myself to folks who aren't trustworthy--but I've learned more with each error. I've learned that some people are just too wounded or messed up to function in a healthy way.

I've learned to focus the majority of my energy and time on the relationships that are healthy or are growing healthier. I am learning to trust myself again--to value my gut feelings and my perseptions. I can relax with trustworthy people and enjoy the gift of friendship and healthy love.

Trusting isn't easy after abuse--but it is possible, and rather lovely.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


Abuse is stressful for the whole body.

I have been struggling with much more illness this year. Since I have also been dealing with abuse memories and processing this year, I googled "abuse and illness" on the Internet to see if there is any possible connection. If you try it too, you will find articles on the physical and psychological conditions that are more common among abuse survivors. I found studies on the prevalence of gastrointestinal issues and migraines among us--both of which apply for me. I also read about depression and anxiety being a common problems for survivors, problems I have heard about from other survivors I have known.

So what do we do with the information? Afterall, we cannot undo the abuse we've experienced.

After giving it some thought, my response is to do my best to understand and truly accept that abuse was stressful for my body. Stress hormones surely flowed through my body regularly for years! The trauma is over now. But the consequences are still being worked out. I am on a wonderful healing journey with the Lord and I trust that my body will be healed in God's perfect timing.

His goodness is the rock upon which I will continue to stand. I need to take good care of my physical needs--now that I am free from abuse I can attend to those needs, indeed, my body is letting me know that I must.

Healing has so many layers, doesn't it? Feel free to post a reply (you can do so anonymously if you wish) or send me an email sharing your experience with the physical part of healing from abuse. Thanks in advance!

Published on 9/10/09
Physical illness
reflecting long-pent stress
abuses' secrets held in tissues
unshed tears deep in the heart
fears of death bound in the gut

Releasing the captive memories
Shedding tears for the past abuses
grieving for the way things were
physical pain rearing back up
cells screaming their rage
at wrong deeds done long ago

Come, dear Savior,
slice the chains away
open the cell doors
free my body from the past
cleanse me anew
strengthen me
restore my health

Published on 9/10/09

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


Getting in touch with anger is an inevitable part of healing from abuse. It's not fun, but it is necessary.

I've known for years that some day I'd have to recognize the anger that automatically fills a soul when one is mistreated. I was frightened by the thought. Anger frightens me. I am typical of many victims of domestic violence. I associate anger with abusers and the horrible harm they do. I've never wanted to be anything like them--so my anger was stuffed and rejected as unacceptable.

Some of you readers can fully identify with the above paragraph. You are normal. Others of you can't relate at all. You have been very in touch with your anger. You are furious at what happened to you and you use your anger to try to protect yourself from any further abuse. You'd rather hold power than to ever feel powerless again. Guess what. You are normal too. Both responses are typical. Both are a result of abuse.

Either way, anger must be dealt with. Anger itself isn't bad. It's just another emotion. But when anger is suppressed or when it is held on to it grows bigger and it harms us by creating excess stress. It is natural to feel the anger--it needs to be felt, and then let go. We can honor the emotion with acknowledgement and then allowing our emotions to move on, ending the feeling of being stuck in past abuse.

Last week, I finally recognized my anger and worked on releasing it. I hit a pillow with a child's bat many times with a friend near by for support. I was shocked by how hard I hit and how many times I hit the pillow, but it felt right. I thought about past abuse as I worked out the anger. I thought about all my mixed feelings over being a victim. I thought about the people who had done such wrong things to me. I thought about how I'd wanted to protect myself, but had been unable to stop the abuse for years. It was all ugly, yucky stuff but it felt right to admit my reality fully and to let the suppressed emotions out in a harmless way.

Afterward, I felt peace and new energy to keep claiming the abuse-free life that I want to live. I felt more energy to focus on loving others and to work on building healthy relationships with others. Something about acknowledging the anger is freeing me up to break out of the isolation that has haunted me since I was first abused.

How about you? Do you suppress anger? Or do you burn with anger? Have you honored your feelings of anger at being mistreated with abuse? Are you at a point where you can let your emotions move on? If so, try doing some harmless movement to release the anger--go for a long run or swim, visit a batting cage, hit a pillow with a childs padded bat, tear up lots of paper...

If you're not ready to look at your anger yet, don't worry. The time will come. God will help you know when it is time.

Recommended Books

  • 10 Lifesaving Principles for Women in Difficult Marriages by Karla Downing
  • A Way of Hope by Leslie J. Barner
  • Angry Men and the Women Who Love Them by Paul Hegstrom
  • Battered But Not Broken by Patricia Riddle Gaddis
  • Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend
  • Bradshaw on the Family by John Bradshaw
  • Caring Enough to Forgive/Not Forgive by David Augsburger
  • Codependent No More by Melody Beattie
  • Healing the Wounded Heart by Dr. Dan B. Allendar
  • Keeping the Faith: Questions and Answers for the Abused Woman by Marie M. Fortune
  • Perfect Daughters by Robert J. Ackerman, Ph.D.
  • Recovery: A Guide for Adult Children of Alcoholics by Herbert L. Gravitz and Julie D. Bowden
  • Safe People by Dr Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend
  • Slay Your Own Dragons by Nancy Good
  • The Cinderella Syndrome by Lee Ezell
  • The Dance of Anger by Harriet Goldhor Lerner, Ph.D.
  • The Search for Significance by Robert S. McGee
  • Turning Fear to Hope by Holly Wagner Green
  • When Violence Comes Home: Help for Victims of Spouse Abuse by Tim Jackson and Jeff Olson
  • Why Does He Do That? by Lundy Bancroft