GETTING PAST THE ABUSE - It is a most common thing to hear from former victims of domestic violence that one of their biggest challenges is getting past the abuse. It’s not as simple as making a decision one day and waking the next to find you are free from the victim mentality. For most former victims (and struggling survivors), the programming needs a swift, hard “Ctrl, Alt,Del” to reboot our mental and emotional computers. We may even need to be reprogrammed.
For far too many former victims, today is just another 24-hour period tied to getting past the abuse. It is a strong part of our past, but has bled over into our today and now. That does not make for a very bright tomorrow.
Here are just a few suggestions that may assist you in getting past the abuse:
It’s in the past—get past the past! Sounds easy, huh? Well, it’s not. It took me more than 25 years to get past the domestic violence that I endured for 16+ years. It took me much longer than that to get past the sexual abuse doled out to me as a young girl. I’d be lying if I said every now and again something is not said or done that triggers a memory. It is then I take just a moment to realize that person, that abuser, no longer has power or control over me, and I am free from the chains of demeaning degradation that held me captive. I broke free from those chains and am building a new one, with other former victims. We hold each other together, and as a new link is added, our chain becomes longer and stronger, helping more and more of those struggling to find liberation and empowerment from our past. It is up to you to get past the abuse that has been doled out to you. But there is help. Get it. Use it. Make it work for you!
You are what you are – NOT what you were told. For so many years a victim hears over and over again how fat, ugly, stupid, worthless, ignorant, undesirable (the list is endless) they are. Believing there is a way to get past the abuse is almost impossible to grasp. Words spoken over us do not establish our value. We are worth every little bit of what we know deep within ourselves we are. Our importance does not reside within the mouth of an abuser. It abides within our very heart and soul. We may not feel worthwhile or bright or valuable, but we are. God does not make junk! He had a plan for you long before He hung the sun, moon and stars in space. There are Holy Scriptures that will confirm that. Jeremiah 3, Psalm 139 . . . look it up. You were especially and uniquely created for a specific purpose that only you can fulfill. Do not let it go undone. Do not base your thoughts, goals and dreams on what some destructive moron has tried to convince you was truth. Their truth is just that—their truth. YOUR truth is yours and nobody else’s. God says so, and who are you going to believe—the abuser, or God?
Joint a support group—Within every agency or shelter in your area, the odds are there is a support group that meets regularly. This is what helped me to believe I was not what I was being told, that I did not deserve the verbal, emotional or physical abuse I was getting on a regular basis. It also helped me realize I was not the only one! It helped me see the light at the end of the tunnel. I’m not going to lie to you. I began participating in a support group while I was still in the abuse. With each meeting I attended I got a little more inner strength. I was growing a little emotionally and mentally with each meeting. When I got home, I was still feeling like I could get past the abuse. Unfortunately, things only got worse. The abuser took the position of holding firmly onto the power and control he felt slipping away as I gained a greater vision. But, once the relationship and abuse ended, I was able to draw on the things I learned from the other victims, the things we shared—fears, questions, apprehensions, and possible resolutions to our issues. I turned them all into positives, and began getting past the abuse.
See a counselor—I cannot stress this strongly enough. You are not an island unto yourself. There usually comes a time that professional intervention is the best path to follow. Whether it is a psychiatrist, psychologist, mental health worker or a member of the clergy who is trained in counseling victims of domestic violence, find one with whom you are compatible. If you click, make it stick! See that person. Know that what you share is confidential. You can spill your guts to them. They are truly there to help put you back together. You might have lost “me” somewhere along the way, and they can help you find that lost part of you. Their goal is to help you get past the abuse, and find a life worth living—free of fear, anxiety, depression or low self-esteem.
I like to share this. When I was at my lowest, I found a plaque. I was a single working mom who was rolling nickels for gas money to get to the office each day. The church was bringing us groceries so we would not go hungry. I had two teenagers to provide for, no child support payments (as ordered by the Court) were coming in, and things were extremely frightening at times. Then one day, at a craft show being held at the clinic where I worked, there it was, etched into a piece of wood, ready to hang on a wall—“I am me. I am the only me there is. There is no other me like me. I like me.” I think I had to borrow some change to have enough money to purchase it, but I bought it. It helped me get past the abuse, and still resonates within my very soul to this day.