Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Why don't they just leave?
An inside look at the abused woman's world
Guest Post: Terri von Wood

Today we are featuring a follow up to yesterday's post by Terri von Wood. If you didn't read Terri's post yesterday, What Verbal Abuse is Really Like and Why We Must Care, I'd highly recommend you go back and read it. Just a reminder that all of our guest bloggers this week are available to chat with you in the comment section here on the blog or on my facebook page where the blog is also published. 


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Verbal Abuse is insidious.  There is no outward evidence, no bumps, bruises, bleeding or blackened eyes.  There is, however, significant harm being done to your self-image, self-esteem and wounds to your soul that never heal unless specifically addressed.

How do I know this? What makes me an expert?  Many of you will not know this about me but I grew up in a home filled with inconsistency, verbal, emotional, and physical abuse.  Imagine you are 9 years old and your mother and boyfriend are fighting again.  You go to the kitchen to get a butcher knife and hide it in your coat.  As you walk through to go back to your bedroom, the knife you thought was well-hidden falls out of your coat and clatters across the floor!  You are more afraid now than the fighting made you.  You were going to protect your mom this time.  If her boyfriend choked or hit her again, you were going to defend her.  Now he has seen the butcher knife fall out of your coat.  You think fast on your feet and say you were afraid they were going to hurt each other so you were going to hide the knife.  You are interrogated by both. What a minute...you were trying to protect your mom...and now you wonder...why isn’t she protecting you?!


At 10 years old, I saw my next door neighbor’s mom verbally and emotionally abused by her husband which ultimately led to her being thrown out of a second-story window to the concrete below at nine months’ pregnant.  He then came downstairs and picked up a tricycle to “finish the job."  Had it not been for a guy who lived in the apartment below and his gun, I am convinced George would have killed Sue.  Her offense?  Being a stay at home mom with four young children and trying to provide for them with limited finances.  Her husband was a philanderer and heavy drinker.  He treated her badly, cheated on her and talked to her as if she was a child rather than a partner, then he began to physically abuse her.  Her response to almost dying?  Going back home once she was released from the hospital with the new baby.  Of course, he did bring her roses!


How does this happen?  Insidiously.  Slowly.  A little at a time.  The woman has children and no separate finances, a previous divorce, a physical problem or a child with a physical problem, no family to turn to, feels trapped and begins to believe this is her lot in life.  She prays.  She begs.  She tries to be a better wife, to make the meals better, keep the house better, make the kids quieter, cleaner, and more accomplished.   


They do not know that their being  a good enough wife or mother is not the problem--they are dealing with an abuser. 





They are dealing with a man with serious spiritual and character flaws that has never had to face his need to get help or change. Marriage counseling does not work for abusers.  Marriage counseling is for two people who want to make their marriage better.  The abuser is psychologically controlling, angry, and manipulative.  They usually do not want to change and will not go to counseling because there’s “nothing wrong” with them. Churches typically offer or refer couples to marital counseling.  A church may offer divorce counseling after the couple has gone through the divorce. What we need, however, are pastors who will address this topic from the pulpit.  We need them to say that while God hates divorce, He hates His daughters being mistreated even more and it will not be accepted and covered up any longer.  Any woman with these issues should know there is someone who cares and somewhere to go.  My personal opinion is that the abused or abandoned woman is as much a widow as the woman whose husband dies and we as a society and church simply must provide support and help for them to be free from abuse and safe.


You may ask—why don’t they just leave?  The answer to this is that they are worn down by the pattern of abuse they have been exposed to and they do not have hope things can be better. They have witnessed abuse or been abused as children.  Although they said it would never happen to them, asking them what a normal relationship looks like is like asking a broken watch to give you the right time.  It’s not possible.  They believe this is just the way things are.  They are in an abnormal, abusive situation.  They are being neglected and ignored and when attention is given, it is sarcastic, mocking, or evil.  Here is an example of what this looks like:




If a woman is in an abusive situation, she must first realize that she is not God.


That may seem a harsh thing to say to a woman who is already being abused.  The woman who stays with the abuser chooses to focus on those things that are good, lovely and true while forgiving and trying to forget what has been said and done to them at the hand of their abuser.  They do not realize that even God has not been able to change the heart of their abuser!


 Even though God is all-powerful and could, He will not MAKE someone changeThe abuser must realize they are wrong, desire to change, and be willing to do the work necessary to change.


If you are being abused, the ultimate realization that will set you free to move from the darkness of your present situation to the light and freedom to live the life God planned for you is the knowledge that God is your Heavenly Father.  He loves you!  He has loved you with an everlasting love.  He did not create you to be mistreated.  He cries when you cry.  He doesn’t pick and choose scripture to hold over your head to make your remain in an abusive situation.  

My friend, if you reach out for help, you will receive it.  If it’s not your friends, your family, or your pastor, keep going. Call another pastor, or email me.  I will help you or try to find someone who can in your area.  You must prepare to leave.  When you are safe, you can then issue the ultimatum that the only way you and your children would ever return is if he goes to counseling for his rage and out of control behavior.  Please know, you did not do anything wrong.  You were deceived and you were betrayed but now you must take action and advocate for yourself and your children. 
  
Your husband cannot “control himself” or be in “self-control.”  I believe that none of us is self-controlled.  We are Spirit-controlled and the spirit that is controlling you is very evident in your actions.  When you look at your husband, does he look like Galatians 5: 22-25?   “But the fruit of the [Holy] Spirit [the work which His presence within accomplishes] is love, joy (gladness), peace, patience (an even temper, forbearance), kindness, goodness (benevolence), faithfulness, gentleness (meekness, humility), self-control (self-restraint, continence). Against such things there is no law [that can bring a charge]. And those who belong to Christ Jesus (the Messiah) have crucified the flesh (the godless human nature) with its passions and appetites and desires, If we live by the [Holy] Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. [If by the Holy Spirit] we have our life in God, let us go forward [walking in line, our conduct controlled by the Spirit.”]


If the above does not describe your husband, I have to tell you he is being controlled by evil and you will not be able to reason with him or change his behavior.  You and your children are in a dangerous situation and the children will be infected by his behavior.  You will see them clearly modeling the behavior soon, if you do not remove them from that environment.  Tell your children it is not their fault.  Get them help because they will need it to process what they have seen and heard to be able to understand they can love their father and at the same time hate his evil actions.  Being angry and not sinning or acting out as a child is hard to do without proper guidance.

You probably already know you need to get out of the relationship for the mental, emotional and physical health of you and your children but are afraid of what others will think.  You are afraid of being an outcast with your church family.   Remember that fear and faith cannot coexist.  Choose Faith!


 If you know someone who shares with you that she is suffering abuse of any kind including verbal abuse, please know she has gotten to the point that she feels she absolutely cannot handle the situation any further as is.  That is the only reason has swallowed her pride and hurt to share what is going on with her.   These women are not walking around telling everyone they meet what is going on.  She needs someone to believe her, listen to her and be there for her.


How can we stop verbal abuse?  By becoming educated.  Now that you are aware of what is happening, show that you care about those who are being abused and consider supporting non-profit organizations that help them be set free from their abusive situations.
Not sure you or a loved one is being abused?   Go here.  
Terri von Wood is a Certified Life Coach in Sarasota, Florida who helps many people to pursue wholeness. Working from the belief that God has created each of us with a purpose, plan and path of perfection for our lives, her goal is to provide coaching and resources to women in crisis.  Her new venture, Epiphany Life Coaching and Resources, Inc. will exist to support, provide hope, and encourage women in crisis as they move from despair to the life they were created to live. She is  currently pursuing a Sociology Degree and Evangelist Certification and  is mother to five beautiful daughters and one beautiful granddaughter.  She wishes a life filled with peace, love and happiness for her daughters and all women. 

10 comments:

Kimmie said...

Another one well done! I am sure your words are touching someone in need. I am glad you are there to help others. Your love always shines through!

Terri von Wood said...

Dear Kimmie: Thank you for your kind words of encouragement...they are so appreciated! I pray that people are being touched, even if they don't want to post openly. Terri

Karen said...

Well written! Right on point!

Terri von Wood said...

Thank you, Karen. At first I was so surprised that on a topic of this magnitude, there aren't more comments or questions. It really shows how uncomfortable people are just reading about this subject. Imagine living it! I think Deanna is so brave to do a series on abuse. No one wants to talk about it, not even the people experiencing it. Yet, everyone needs to know it exists and needs to be addressed. One of my friends who shared her story in Part I said reading it gave her pause and they were her own words she was reading! I'm praying someone reads one of the posts this week and decides to draw the line in the sand. Can't wait to see what will be posted tomorrow. She has different guest bloggers all week. Thank you, again....Terri

Naej50 said...

Thank you Terri for writing about this. Yes, pastors need to preach this from their pulpits about not tolerating the abuse of women and children. As someone wrote yesterday in their comments, that the church is more willing to accept and help the drug addict or the alcoholic. This is another subject that makes a lot of people uncomfortable to talk about.

Terri von Wood said...

Naej50, you are welcome. The funny thing is whether we're talking about abuse of any kind that makes us uncomfortable today-verbal, physical, spiritual, alcohol, etc. our teaching is not to be afraid but rather to confront in love! Jesus reached out specifically in the Bible to the big problems (maybe as a guidebook to pastors? and certainly to each of us!)

Anonymous said...

This was an eye-opener. I am grateful that there are women out there like yourself fighting this issue. Thank you for making me aware of some of the things that happen behind closed doors.

Terri von Wood said...

Dear "Anonymous", Thank you for your comment. You are welcome! Knowledge is power...I hope this has been like you said an "eye opener" for people who have never been in the situation and helpful for those who may sadly be experiencing abuse.

Raquel said...

Much needed info Terri, the truth wll set us free...I would love for you to come on my radio show to share the same in the near future..let's make it happen!

Terri von Wood said...

Dear Raquel: That would be so exciting and you and I both know someone would be listening who needed to hear this message! Do I need to come to L.A. and be in-studio with you? I am willing...let me know! Thank you!