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!


Dianne E. Butts said...

Nice post, Tanya. God bless you for sharing. Your story MUST be helping so many abuse victims out there. I hope your readership is increasing and that more people who are living this nightmare in secret find this blog.

Victoria Hart said...

I'm so happy to stumble upon your site! I lost my sister; her boyfriend killed her, it will be 10 years in October, but my body thinks it happened yesterday...

Tanya T. Warrington said...

Thank you for the encouragement!

Tanya T. Warrington said...


I am sorry for your loss. It is frightening how domestic violence can escalate to murder. It is a tragedy that happens way too often.

Anniversaries are tough. I pray that God will bless you with peace and an awareness of his comfort as memories come up for you during October. Your experience of your body thinking it was just yesterday sounds normal for someone who has experienced trauma. Having your sister murdered, by someone who was supposed to love her, is a huge deal. No wonder your body feels it.

If you feel stuck, please consider counseling support, and keep on visiting blogs that help you along the way.

Thank you for leaving such a transparent comment. I hope you keep on visiting this blog and find different entries helpful.

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