Someone told me a very sad story this morning, and it just broke my heart. I used to think that certain families have it all. On the outward appearance they look perfect. They look happy. But then behind closed doors it is a completely different narrative. I remember a saying my dad used to say to me “what happens in these four walls stays within these 4 walls”. My parents’ relationship was not a happy one. It was fraught with emotional abuse, verbal abuse and a whole host of other abuses. We were controlled in every aspect, until one day my mom left him because she couldn’t take it no more. It hurts me that so many women/men out there are hurting, are leaving their husbands/wives because their husbands/wives cannot love, respect and trust them. Maybe because they have their own hurts? Maybe because that individual simply likes to express control? Who knows what causes these individuals to hurt their spouses. I don’t know. It hurts me that husbands/wives cannot be nice to their wives/husbands and treat them with the respect and love that they deserve. Abuse is a cycle that no-one should have to go through. The constant abuse can lead a person to have no self-esteem left and forget how to stand up for themselves. Relationships is a two way street. You have to work on it together to make it work. If you don’t you risk losing everything. Maybe it is worth losing the relationship in order for your own sanity?
The story I heard this morning was of a woman who left her husband because she couldn’t take the verbal abuse and bullying anymore. I completely understand where she is coming from. I have been there. Heck I have been there, that it is taking me down memory lane. I commend the woman who has left her husband. I believe she made the right choice. When someone leaves their spouse – it takes a lot of courage and inner strength to do it. It is not something that people should frown about. Abuse in all shapes and forms is a very real thing in our society today.
When I lived in the shelter for six long months, I was told there are 8 types of abuse that a woman/man can experience. Of course there are subtypes too. But a man can experience the same from his wife. These are the 8 types of abuse:
- The Bully – uses intimidation to control us
- The Headworker – uses emotional abuse to control us by putting us down
- The Bad father/ Bad mother – uses the children to control us
- The Jailer – isolates us
- The Liar – minimizes or denies any abuse, blames us or other factors for it, uses excuses
- The King of the castle – controls us by treating us as second class citizens
- The Sexual controller – uses sex to control us
- The Persuader – Users’ coercion or threats to control us AFTER we have left or reported him to wheedle his way back into a relationship.
This is a very real thing in our society. Abuse. All over the world thousands of women and men flee their home situation because it has come to a point where it is so unbearable that they cannot cope with the situation. Either because they fear for their own lives or for their own sanity, or they have simply had enough and need to break free before it is too late. Please note that it doesn’t just happen to women. But it also happens to men. We live in a broken world, we live in a fallen world. And unfortunately it is something that society turns a blind eye to. Abuse. Like in my own situation. A blind eye was turned until I ran away for the second time because I was at my wits end.
Suppressed memories that I would rather not remember. When I was married to my husband – he abused me. He changed over-night. On our wedding night he became a completely different man to whom I thought I had married. Instead of celebrating his wedding night with me, he went out with his friends and got drunk and brought his supposed best friend home named Jay (whom I may tell you is a woman). In the beginning I thought nothing of their relationship. I had the wool in front of my eyes but that quickly changed, when things at home drastically changed. On our wedding night my husband was drunk and took the entire bed. I slept on the sofa. Hooray for a beautiful wedding night! Huh?!
Anyways that’s not my point. Things got really bad. At first it was just the verbal, emotional abuse and the bullying that came with it. Weakening my defenses on a daily basis. Blaming me for things that I did not do, but telling me in such a way that I believed his own lies. Controlling my every move. Making sure I came straight home from work, and the list goes on and on. I remember the threats he made if I didn’t do anything right. I remember a lot of stuff which I will not discuss.
Then one day I had enough of the abuse and I decided to leave him. Plan in action. He was at work, and someone came to pick me up and took me to a Christian community center where I lived for a while. The sad thing of it all was they encouraged me to reconcile with my husband. So I did. My husband spins a web of lies to the point that the church fully supports him and tells me that it is all in my head. That I am just imagining things. And that I should go back to my husband because he loves me and that is the right thing to do. So with my tail between my legs I go back, only for the abuse to worsen. I completely withdraw myself, and I am stuck. Stuck in this endless vicious cycle of abuse. No friends, nowhere to turn to.
Until of course God speaks to me, and his still quiet voice tells me to leave, and move away to a completely different city. Which I did. The thing is it took me a lot of courage and strength to do this. You have no idea how frightened I was to do what I did. Just to leave. But leave I did, and for real this time. Leave I did with my unborn son to a place of safety. The thing is when I arrived at the shelter I had a whole host of emotions/feelings going through my head. Ranging from guilt to anger, to being ashamed of myself for doing that and how dare I deprive my son of his father. But as the weeks turned into months I realized that this was the best decision I made in my life. To leave was the best decision for me, because I was set free, and I was no longer a prisoner in my own home. I no longer had to walk on egg shells at home afraid of doing something wrong.
I guess what I am trying to say is that sometimes you have to do the unthinkable, the thing that no-one dares to do to set yourself free in order to be able to serve God better for the glory of his kingdom. It is a struggle. The opinions that flung at you from all sides. Oh no you shouldn’t leave your spouse. You married him/her for life. Yes you did, but you did not sign up to a life-time of abuse, of your spouse tearing you down till you have nothing left inside of you but to leave for the sake of your children and the sake of your sanity. Please don’t condemn the spouse for leaving. They will have their reasons for leaving unannounced. It takes a lot of courage to do something like that. More courage than you will ever know unless you have been in that kind of situation before.
I challenge you today, to stand up for the men and women who get abused by their spouses, and to challenge them in any way you can. I challenge you not to turn a blind eye to it, but to support that person who probably right now feels all alone and is probably going through a whole realm of emotions. What they need today is you to support them, to love them, to encourage them, and to be there for them. They need you to believe them. Don’t force them to go back to their spouses until they are ready to do so. If there isn’t a chance of reconciliation don’t make them feel guilty. The thing that you can do is be there for them and love them.
God created marriage sot that we can love one another, encourage each other, and support each other. God did not create marriage where one spouse abuses, tears down their spouse to the point that they cannot handle it anymore. In order for society to change – people need to be more aware of abuse, and stand up for what is right, and not turn a blind eye to it.