Thursday, October 29, 2009

Who Are You Blaming?

We human beings are pros at blaming. It comes easy. Adam and Eve blamed one another without hesitation. So who do we blame?

Whose fault is it that we have been mistreated, harmed, and abused? Who do we blame for the emotional, physical, and spiritual damage? Who do we blame for the fear that choked us and the helplessness that overpowered us?

Many of us who are survivors of abuse blame ourselves and/or God much more quickly than we think to blame the person who perpetrated the crimes against us. Strange, isn't it. But, nonetheless, many of us walk around with shame or bitterness tattooed on our foreheads. Not concretely, but oh so present.

If shame owns us, we are always blaming ourselves for everything. We feel inadequate, never enough. We are surprised if anyone seems to like us. We hide. We isolate. We try to disappear or miss being noticed. We are embarrassed when we are noticed, sure there has been a mistake and that we will be found out. We struggle to believe that we have any worth, any value, and lovableness.

If bitterness owns us, we are antagonistic toward God, and often toward people as well. We are suspicious, sure that there is always a catch, always a punishment coming, always a let down around the corner. We are cynical. We sneer, even if only in our minds. We distrust. We count on problems, and plenty come our way. We struggle to pray. Sometimes anger just pours out of us in a gush. We don't understand why and we dismiss it as irrelevant or justified. We struggle to believe that we really have any of the worth or value or lovableness that we battle for.

If both own us, we are hurting horribly in a way that no one gets. No one is there for us, not really. No one understands. We are drowning.

All three ways are no fun. Blame boomerangs with a loud whack. It beats at us. It hurts us more than the party we want to blame.

Blame demands that the terrible results are someone's fault. Pain must be someone's fault. Staying stuck on pinning blame is easier than feeling the pain itself and easier than consciously living through the terrible results that exist, and easier than processing the losses. But easier isn't always better, is it.

Let's try something different. Let's seek God's help to face our pain, to name our losses, to see who we've blamed, to engage in the healing process, and to move on. Let's not allow abuse to define who we are. Let's grow and overcome!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Home is
supposed to be loving,
with wise counsel,
gentle hands and good correction,
accepting laughter,
and understanding.

We know it,
in our core,
from birth it seems--
so babies die from
emotional neglect,
toddlers become withdrawn,
preschoolers hide,
adolescents aim to please,
teens shut down or rebel,
and adults walk around numb.

What do we do if our family
was harsh and unsafe
a place of secrets and threats
of punishment about wrath
of boundaries squashed
and of rights nonexistent?
What do we do with our memories of
a cold place in which we survived,
clinging as best we could
to life, while dying inside?

There is no easy answer
no pain-free solution
We must remember and grieve
the should ofs that weren't
the losses that we suffered
the pain that we carried.
We can heal, step by difficult step,
growing along the way,
re-learning how
to live,
to feel joy and to laugh freely,
with no fear entangling our feet!
Free to make mistakes--without
being crushed by shame
or to try new things without
his or her voice dragging us down.

It's not the easy road,
but it leads to riches for our spirit
It leads to making a new home,
planted in love and sustained by
God's grace,
mutual acceptance,
gentleness and kindness,
tenderness and forgiveness,
consistency and flexibility;
a new home,
that grows toward
what home should be, and can be today,
step by step.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Truly Loving Our Children

Stressful! There is no better word for describing how it feels to parent a child in a violence -effected home.

What is the best way to be a good parent when your spouse is spinning out of control, doing and saying things that are not good parenting? What do you do when your child behaves violently and justifies, "But Daddy/Mommy does it"? The other parent does do it, but you don't want your child to grow up like that other parent. You don't want domestic violence perpetuated down into the next generation.

I remember feeling so confused, once I realized that the children were being negatively impacted by my spouses' tantrums. I wanted my children being nurtured in a loving environment. I wanted them corrected in a wise and loving manner. I wanted our home to be a safe place. I did not want them being abused!

At the same time, I felt the pressure of conventional wisdom that good Christians never divorce. I believed that keeping the family together was of paramount importance, no matter what.

I spent years convinced that my husband and I must work through "our problems" and victoriously build a godly home, no matter what my spouse's problems were. Over and over I heard in my head "for better or worse" and "in sickness or in health." I reached the point of knowing I was experiencing the worst part as emotional abuse became daily and physical abuse was peppered in here and there. So how was I supposed to fulfill my marriage vows and be a good parent? Due to domestic violence, the two goals were not compatible. They simply were not.

It's a difficult place to be in. Between a rock and a hard place doesn't do justice. It feels like being crushed between a mountain and a huge bulldozer. My heart goes out to anyone who is currently wrestling with the painful pressure. I urge anyone who is currently being abused (regardless of whether or not she/he believes the children are also being abused) to seek help from a domestic violence organization ( National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-7233 ). Children cannot rescue themselves from abuse or from the negative effects of witnessing abuse--they need adult help.

For those of us who have been there but now live abuse-free lives-- we have guilt issues to deal with, don't we! No matter how we resolved the conflict, we struggle with or have struggled with self-incrimination.

I realized that the most loving thing I could do for my spouse was to confront all the abuse with a non-verbal ultimatum, moving away from our home with the children. It was also the most loving thing I could figure out to do for my children. I left with the children to keep them safe and filed for a separation, and then later filed for divorce. I did it all hoping with all my might that my husband would get the help he needed--so we, eventually, could be a family under one roof again. The doors to reuniting, however, repeatedly closed and we divorced. The marriage was not saved, but I created a non-abusive home for my children and a permanent restraining order worked to keep my former spouse from continuing to abuse the children on his parenting visits.

I am glad that I made those decisions. But when guilt attacks I feel regretful that I didn't take action sooner:

  • I regret that I didn't leave the abusive environment in the six years before we had children. If I had only know how things would just keep on getting worse...
  • I regret that one of my children had her arm injured by her raging father and that during the divorce process I learned that it had happened more than once. I felt horrible when I found out that she had silently witnessed spousal abuse while hiding behind a living room chair.
  • I regret that another child was choked by his father, and again I learned that it happened more than once.
  • I feel guilt that I suspected that someone at the daycare was mistreating him, when it was actually my spouse.
  • I feel guilt that I tried to never leave my children alone with their father, but I did not succeed. Sometimes, my need to refresh overrode my protective instincts and other times they were alone with him during daily life when I was in the bathroom, when my back was turned at the stove, etc.

Reader, I'm guessing that you have your own list. I have shared mine not to air dirty laundry, but to help us all know that this is a normal part of recovery. Some of our guilt is because we did something wrong, but much of our guilt is about condemning ourselves for not knowing then what we know now.

Here are some ideas that help me sort through the piles of guilt I am capable of burying myself under:
  1. Whose voice am I listening to? Is it a former abuser or my conscience?
  2. What did I actually do? What did I believe or think?
  3. Did I know that it was wrong when I did it or believed it?
  4. If I did wrong and I have confessed it to God, then I am forgiven. I merely need to remind myself that I am forgiven and move on.
  5. If I did wrong, and just now realize it. I can confess it--and know God forgives me.
  6. If it was really someone else who did the wrong thing in the past, I cannot change what was done. I can give a child a healthy explanation of the truth when they bring it up. I can seek counseling if a child is haunted by past trauma.
  7. If I did wrong, but I was doing the best I could with what I understood at the time, then I need to forgive myself. I am a fallible human who makes mistakes and sins, just like everyone else. I must forgive myself so that I can graciously forgive other as well.
Don't drag around guilt continually. It won't help you or your children!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Satanic Abuse

With Halloween approaching and Domestic Violence Awareness Month drawing toward its close, I want to address Satanic Ritual Abuse. I have had the privilege of knowing several courageous survivors through the years and am aware that October is an especially difficult month. So to those of you who have survived Satanic abuse, here is a poem that I hope will bring some of the peace of Christ Jesus to your wounded heart and soul:

It wasn't you
who stirred up evil
in parents who deprived you
and abused you

No child
asks for deprivation,
no newborn
was created for sacrifice,
no teenage girl
was destined for caging and
public raping.

You were told horrible lies
you were subjected
to unspeakable miseries
Your brokenness is understandable

You, dear one,
were created to love
and to be loved,
in pure and wholesome ways

You were born to people who had
sold their hearts and souls to the evil one
or to parents who were captured
and ensnared by his trickery.

Satan's power is real, as you well know,
but there is One who is more powerful,
who chooses to walk in love,
who treats his children with dignity,
respect, and patience in great abundance.
One who is Love and Light and Life loves you
and His grace can redeem even the most wretched
He is compassionate

He's outraged at what happened to you!
He is a safe refuge and a caring friend,
who will never betray you
and never abandon you.

The One who Christians call God
Is good,
Totally and irrevocably good,
No matter what Satan may imply.

He cares about you,
His love is deep and sure.
Pray to God and see what happens;
Read His Bible to know him better.

Flee from Satan--
Resist His lies,
and ask God for help;
Jesus Christ will not let you down

Long Awaited

Tears well up
deep under
the surface of me,

They swell
but I stare at
something, anything--

No tears allowed!
Big girls don't
cry over secret hurts

Abuse happened,
but must be buried
to protect well
the abuser.

Let go tired body,
release the old pain
acknowledge losses,

Cry healing tears;
it's right and healing,
so it's really more than

No one will be hurt;
the former terrorizing threats
will fall to the ground,

Let tears, long needed,
water my shriveled hopes
and cleanse shame away,

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Going to Bat for Victims of Violent Crimes

Times Up! is a brand new blog ( I'd like to bring to your attention. I love that it will be focusing on solutions for victims of violent crime, with contributors being knowledgeable in different aspects of violent crime. What a needed site. It is my prayer that those who are suffering under an abusers control and those who are recovering from abuse will find comfort and solid help from the site. It is also my prayer that those working to help victims of domestic violence and other violent crimes will sharpen one another as they read each others' posts and visit each others' websites. I also pray that those who have power to make policies and laws will read the blog entries and be moved to improve the help that victims can receive.

I am honored to be one of the bloggers for Times Up! My "expertise" comes from my life experience, as you know if you are a regular reader of my blog. My solutions will be focused on how individuals can heal and create non-abusive homes.

My basic premise is that for every woman or man who frees her/him self from abuse and then heals from that abuse there is a whole web of other potential victims (children, grandchildren, cousins, friends, etc.) who learn an abuse-free lifestyle. Statistics show that typical victims enter more abusive relationships and expose their whole web of family and friends to more abuse. Healed and in-the-process-of-healing former victims, however, spread non-abuse in a powerful way and end up positively impacting not only their own circle, but also acquaintances and even strangers. The light that shines from a life that was held captive and is now free is attractive, and encourages hope and courage in others!

If any of you have ideas on things that you'd like to read about and know more about, please email me at, your suggestions will remain anonymous.

My first post on Times Up! ( will be posted on Thursday, October 22, 2009. I hope you'll take a look at what others and myself have to say in an attempt to help with solutions.

What is God's Role in the Story of Abuse?

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers" Romans 8:28-29 (NIV).

God promises that he will work all things to good for Believers in Romans 8:28-29. This is quite different than saying that everything (including abuse) is good for us or happens to us for a good reason. Our society urges us to believe that everything happens "for a reason," a true but vague statement meant to reassure us in bad circumstances. I urge you to think about the reasons.

Sometimes natural nature events take place, like a flood or volcano erupting, but by far the majority of happenings in our daily life happen because people do "things."Most "things" happen because people make decisions and take actions. These actions are motivated by love or kindness and sometimes by greed or lust, or any other motives that we humans are capable of conceiving. Abuse "happens" when a human being decides to feed their lust or greed with perpetrating sinful acts against an innocent person(s).

God doesn't make sinful things "happen." The God of Christianity is not a puppetmaster who continually arranges each thing that happens to us for his own mysterious reasons. He occasionally directly intervenes in the events of history [such as when he made Balaam's donkey talk (Numbers 22:5-7) or when He parted the Red Sea for the trapped Israelites (Exodus 14:15-31)]. But for the most part, God's interventions are about transforming individual believers more into the likeness of Jesus Christ. His gentle whisper is heard. His leading as a trustworthy Shepherd is followed. His commands are obeyed. His Word is kept close in the heart. His grace is received. His love is cherished. And a life is transformed into a shining light that can influence others positively.

God is promising in Romans 8 that when we are ravaged by another person's sinful choices, he will work future good out of today's tragedy. For a believer, God is present in it all, transforming the pain into a series of opportunities to know Him better and become more like Him. He comforts us in our loss. He strengthens us to recover. He leads us into a better life. He uses our past pain as a way to give us ministry opportunities, because we can comfort others with the comfort that God himself has given us.

God is love. The Bible says it clearly from beginning to end. God's purpose isn't hidden. It is clearly stated over and over. He loves His people and wants to be in eternal loving relationship with them. God can, and sometimes does intervene in history, but it is not what he does most of the time. Most of the time, He courts us, urging us to allow Him into our hearts, in good times and in tragedy. Throughout our walk with Him he works through the positive and negative experiences we have, always coaxing us to become more like our Savior in our innermost being.

If we're not sure if we are His people and can rightfully claim this promise, we are only a prayer away. God's arms are wide open in welcome and he joyfully knocks at the door of our hearts. All we need to do is pray and ask Him to enter in and become the Lord of our lives, believing that He is God and that He sent His son to die for our sins so that we could be close to God and talk to Him whenever we want. God's kingdom is good and all are welcome, if only they will humbly ask.

Look for God's comforting presence. He didn't perpetrate abuse against you for unfathomable good reasons. Granted, He decided not to intervene, but it was because He knew He could redeem the situation with your willing cooperation. He knows He can help you and heal you. He knows that what the enemy meant for evil, our loving Lord will transform into something good, something redeemed, something that will reflect the glory of His Son.

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers" Romans 8:28-29 (NIV).

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Healing Blues

Today, I tripped over a memory of former abuse. My heart picked up pace as I remembered and a surge of anger came with it. How much longer I wondered. I have not lived under abuse for the last decade and yet today I felt pain over a memory from twenty-five years ago.

I have had someone tell me that they think you can never heal from abuse. I immediately disagreed. God has healed me in many ways from abuse. I am not the same person that I used to be.

I just wish sometimes that the healing were quicker and that it did not involve pain along the way. I wish I could be healed without having to remember the emotions I stuffed away. I wish I could be healed without working out new behaviors with practice that involves failures as well as success. I wish that I could be healed without my involvement. I wish God would just touch me and it would be a done deal.

I've got the healing blues, full of wishes that don't match my reality. Full of woe.

So I'll work on singing on hope next to lift my mood, just like King David did in some of his psalms. It only takes a second to see the miracles that God has already done. I am free from abuse now after years of bondage! I am free! I'll begin there and remember what my life used to be and how much better it is now. I will be thankful for the many blessings I have now. I will remember how the previous tough situation was resolved--yes there was pain--but by walking through that valley, I reached a new pasture of plentiful provisions from God. My life improved. With hope restored, I will find the courage to move on.

I'll allow myself to feel my pain over the memory. I will feel. I will take those feelings to God and I will see what healing will unfold. It won't happen as quick as I'd like, but healing will grow and I will grow.

A new song is being written on the pages of my life. Some blue notes are there, but overall the tune is one full of divine glory revealed. It is a most excellent tune composed by God himself.

Friday, October 16, 2009


Assuming the worst and trying to prepare for it is a natural reaction to living with the constant stress and chaos of an abusive environment. But what about after you are away from abuse? How does such thinking affect us when we are building an abuse-free life?

Do you ever see yourself assuming the worst, projecting the worst possible scenario for a relationship or for tomorrow? Do you catch yourself setting your expectations really low about how others see you or how others will behave toward you? Do you try to protect your heart by always preparing for the worst?

When you don't understand someone's behavior do you assume the worst? Or do you tell yourself the worst about people who keep showing themselves to be trustworthy? Do you find yourself doing the opposite with people who behave in non-trustworthy ways, telling yourself that their intentions must be good or that you must be misunderstanding the situation in some way?

Welcome, once again, to the crazy world of carrying the scars of abuse. The great news is that we can grow out of this behavior. Here are the things that I am finding helpful in this process:
  1. Ask God for His help. Ask Him to help you see things from His perspective, with His eyes.
  2. Start spending most of your time with people who are habitually cheerful and positive.
  3. Put your negative diatribe on a timer. Give yourself five minutes to dwell on the negative. Then intentionally switch to thinking about the positive possibilities, the noble things, the things worth giving thanks for, and the blessings you can see.
  4. Write down in a journal what you will do if the worst turns out to happen and then consider the case closed, reminding yourself that in the non-abusive environment the worst rarely happens. But if it should, you've got it covered! It will free you to live in the present. Any time your mind wonders back to "what if...", you can remind yourself that you've already handled it--and return to living the present moment. It's a tough discipline, but it will repay you in pure gold.
  5. Recognize who the people are in your life that encourage your negative spiral. These are relationships to eliminate or to limit contact with. If you must interact daily (such as in your employment), then focus on taking good care of yourself. Change the subject when possible. Do kind acts for others to cheer yourself up. Surround yourself with messages of cheer and of truth (Bible quotations are great). Intentionally do things that re-fill your emotional tank.
  6. Exercise regularly. The endorphins released during a workout are proven to improve one's disposition.
  7. Post Bible verses that speak to you where you will see them regularly (bathroom mirror, closet door, by your kitchen sink, on your coffee mug, in your car).
  8. Journal five things you are grateful for each day.
Good luck, Reader! This journey can be bumpy, but if you try these things I feel confident you will find yourself spending less time negatively projecting into the future. You will be too busy living fully in the present.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Piles of Shame

Piles of Shame

By Tanya T. Warrington

Shame on you
the refrain repeated
on you, on you, on you
shame's heavy burden
for things I didn't do

shame landed on me
whole truckloads full
piling up and suffocating
burrying me alive

Had the story ended there
what a complete tragedy
it would have been
to smother so

But God had a different ending
He scooped away the lies
He shone his light of hope
He sought me and found me
He held me close in a loving hug

Monday, October 12, 2009

Bringing You Back to the Present

It sounded weird, even silly, when my counselor suggested it. How could it help? She told me it was a tool that had helped her more than once when she was triggered and experiencing PTSD symptoms. She thought it would help me too.

The exercise is very simplistic. But it truly does help; I know that now. All you have to do is list five things you see, then five things you hear, and then five things you feel. You repeat this exercise listing four, three, two, and one thing(s) respectively. It is fine to repeat items. This exercise re-grounds you in the present moment, lessening the hold of the past event that is holding you hostage. It works! Give it a try.

For me, I forgot to try it the first few times. So come back and reread this post when you need the reminder again of what to do.

My prayer is that you will find relief with this simple tool and that you'll be able to then pray in the present for God's help in dealing with past crude and in processing the memories to the level that they can remain in the past as facts, not crushing emotional triggers.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Mind Control

Mind Control

I was cold;
You said I was not.
I was frightened;
You said I couldn't be.
I was angry;
You said I must be tired.

My emotions had no room,
No floor.
They were wrong,
Always wrong

I learned to doubt myself,
to assume I must be mistaken.
Feelings were wrong and so were banished,
Shoved into an invisible box, hidden deep inside

I walked in numbness
Wasting years
Before God awakened me,
Helping me to new life

But learning to trust myself
is a slow journey,
believing in myself a lofty pinnacle,
accepting what my senses tell me,
another slow lesson

I walk in life,
trying and failing,
experiencing and shutting down,
rejoicing at freedom,
chaffing at old habits,
and fighting old thoughts

You, you'd say I was crazy
that I made up my past,
But I know better now.
You're in denial and I won't join you--
Not any more,
Not ever again!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Abused Wife

In honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, I'd like to focus on domestic violence issues this month.

Abused Wife

by Tanya T. Warrington

I wasn't afraid,
He couldn't make me cry,
I'd never let him make me cry;
I was a survivor.

I didn't feel fear,
I felt okay and fine,
Other feelings were gone
Or strangely muted.

I was dead really,
Numb and removed,
Hiding myself from the trauma,
Forgetting whatever I could.

A brittle branch
Weighed down by heavy snow
Bending, always bending,
Waiting for the day I'd snap.

Little did I know that the snap
would not be the end of me,
but rather a tough re-birth
that would free me from Fear's grip

I was terrified it turns out;
believing his evil threats,
and cowed by his displays of violence,
until I separated myself and the children.
I just didn't know it with my mind,
But with distance could see my lifestyle of fearfulness--
Fear had been my master for fourteen long years.
All my tiptoeing over invisible shattered glass,
Trying to please him above all else,
Doing almost anything to try to advert his "anger problem"
Had been a sign of my bondage to cruel Fear.

I want to shout from the rooftops now,
To all who still serve Fear as they try to appease
An irrate partner who will not be pleased
No matter what they do to serve.
This lifestyle isn't marriage--it is bondage;
it isn't the way its supposed to be.
No one is perfect; it is true.
But there are many who would never, not once,
Threaten to harm you or intentionally wound you.
Most spouses want to love and be loved
with someone they cherish and adore;
Not someone they set out to dismantle and degrade.

Love has four letters but it is freeing, not condemning;
It builds up both partners over time,
amazing each with the growth they see
in themselves and in their beloved.

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