A Glimpse into Abuse

Michele Armstrong January 16, 2018 27
A Glimpse into Abuse

As I sit here ready to write a new post on this blog, I know what I must write, and my reaction surprises me. Even now, as I think about the memories, and struggle how to translate them into words that make sense, I tremble and feel my heart racing and pounding out of my chest. But I have to do this. Because abuse comes in many forms, and I feel a burning responsibility to let other people know that they are not crazy. They are not making things up and blowing things out of proportion. I have to let them know they either need to get help or get out if things are beyond help. And unfortunately, many times they are.  Most abusers most likely have narcissist personality traits, and in that case, will make it almost impossible to see their faults or the core reason for them. Abusers struggle with immense pride and entitlement, making it difficult to realize they need to get help and change. They can be profusely sorry for “incidents,” but still never fully change and they repeat the same patterns because they refuse to accept and admit what and who they truly are. It is even more difficult with abusers who claim to be Christians because they believe they are sincere in their faith, and use scripture to manipulate even their own minds to make themselves faithful, God-fearing, scripture wielding “prophets,” of sorts. So that adds another layer of insanity.

I know people often wonder, “Why didn’t you leave long before you did? Why did you stay and continue suffering?” And, to be honest, I’m not sure I fully have the answer to that. I mean, I think I know the answer, but to translate it into words that make sense to you is another story. It is the whole Stockholm syndrome thing, and the most literal form of brain washing. It begins with the charm and the extravagant gifts and profuse compliments. Then it slowly changes to actions that create extreme fear and a constant instability. Then it morphs into the abuser creating the idea in your head that he is the only person in your life without huge “issues.” Everyone else is less dependable, less grandiose, and in my case, far less godly and spiritual. And slowly your view changes, and you become captive in every sense of the word, and you are completely dependent upon the one who is doing the most harm to you. It’s a sick scenario, isn’t it? And I was the sickest of any of his victims, and unfortunately there are many.

So here’s the thing. He NEVER hit me. Perhaps that is why I couldn’t differentiate that I was a victim of abuse. I mean society as a whole is extremely aware of physical abuse and domestic violence. And there are physical scars and bruises that indicate that. But believe me, there are bruises and scars that can’t be seen with the physical eye. There was a movie I saw many years ago called, “The Burning Bed.” It was a very intense and realistic movie about abuse. And though I didn’t fully recognize that I was in an abusive marriage at the time, it always nagged at me that, for some reason, I knew how the victim in the movie felt. That troubled me for years, and I still didn’t “get it.”  Many people say that mental abuse is as bad as physical abuse. But I don’t know. And though I did suffer some physical abuse, he never punched me. So, I don’t know what that feels like. But here’s what I do know. What I experienced made me horribly afraid, made me extremely depressed at times, and made me feel like I was nothing.

So here is a general overview of some things I did experience. Some I will go into more detail in future posts. This is just some insight into how sick I was, and even more disturbing, how sick he was.

So here was my life: I saw him punch windshields out of vehicles; I saw him tear doors off of hinges; I saw him punch holes in walls; I saw him throw whole pieces of furniture across the room; I saw him purposely destroy items that were meaningful to me, making sure to do it methodically in my face as I watched; I dutifully cleaned up the messes after those rages, picking up broken pieces of glass or resituating furniture or discarding now useless items; I stood there as I was inflicted with cuts and bruises from flying glass or heavy objects that had been hurled through the air in rage; I sat paralyzed with fear as he drove like a maniac throwing hubcaps off the car, while I gripped the door handle and hung on for dear life; I saw him punch himself in the face until his cheeks were swollen or his lip was bleeding; I saw him scream and shriek in rage until he stripped his vocal chords, I saw him slobber and spit like an animal until my face was covered in his saliva; I watched him abuse and berate my son physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually from the time he was an infant; I heard him threaten unspeakable things; I heard him threaten to do harm physically to loved ones; I listened to him speak condescendingly about others, making certain to point out their faults, in an effort to change my view of them and taint my love for them; I heard him use the most vile language during his rage to get a reaction out of me; I watched him leave for days or a week at a time, with me having no knowledge of his whereabouts and I asked no questions upon his return; I sat in disbelief as he locked me in a room;  I sat without reaction as he yanked me into a car, tearing the dress I was wearing; I felt his hands grab and bruise my face in rage, and squeeze my arm so tightly I could almost feel his fingers touch bone; I said nothing when he would shove me to the ground or onto a piece of furniture; I sat in fear in a hotel room where he would not let me out and would not let me contact anyone, while everyone was frantic as to my whereabouts; I sat for long periods of time–hours upon hours–in a room with nothing to eat because I feared if I left the room, the rage would start again; I endured his lust of other women, both real and on-screen; I sat quietly as he would exploit me to other people-especially men–boasting about me as if I were some trophy wife; I watched him charm and manipulate women (especially young ones) because it boosted his ego;  I followed him quietly in shame when he would suddenly leave a church ministry position because he did not get his way or because his weird character traits were “found out,” and he would leave elders and souls and members hurt and angry and dumbfounded; I quietly submitted without question as he bombarded my mind with his beliefs about God and scripture–especially those “key verses” about my submission as a woman… And the list could continue on and on. Believe me, this is only a glimpse.

So there you have it. A small nutshell glance into my world as I knew it. So, why didn’t I leave years ago, you ask? Still can’t explain that. But when you live in horrific circumstances, you become what you need to be to survive. And I became his robot, his puppet, and most of all, his victim. And I was affected in every way–physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I became everything I needed to be able to live in the insanity. I became his trophy. I became his whore (at least that is what I felt like). I became his secretary. I became his accountant.I became his maid. I became his cook. I became his servant. I became his PR person. I became his negotiator. I became his stability. I became his psychologist (which was a feat considering I needed one myself). I became. I became. I became. And every time I became more of what he expected or needed, I lost more and more of me, just doing what had to be done. But eventually, it all catches up. And there you are, being all of these things, and having no clue who you are and no recognition of who you once were. And then one day, you either break, or you find that one shred of strength left hidden within, and you get out. But only those who have lived it know what that takes. It’s incomprehensible.

But, through the power of God I did it. And I praise Him every day. Most days I am healed and strong and determined. But even now, all these years later, there are those moments. Those moments that Satan wants me to feel weak, and useless, and “less than.” And that is when I know there is an unseen force of the Divine that commands the darkness to depart and the demons to flee.

And so, here I sit on this snowy day in front of a crackling fire feeling complete peace and overwhelming gratitude that His hand has had led me to this place in my life. I’m not gonna lie, there were times when writing this post that I felt faint and could hardly breathe and found myself sobbing breathlessly. But even more than that, I felt the power of God to continue. With each word, the determination grew stronger. For I know there is a purpose for what I went through and for what I write. If it helps one person to feel there is a place to connect, a place of understanding, a place of realization, a place to find courage to do what must be done, then it is worth it. I know where Jesus is leading me and I am certain of my purpose in the years or months or days or hours I have left on this earth.  By His grace, and in spite of opposition, I will fulfill it. Job 36:15 says, “But those who suffer, he delivers in their suffering; he speaks to them in their affliction.” God has spoken to me. God has delivered me. And now, by his grace, I will proclaim that deliverance through Jesus to any who feel in bondage and in darkness. And the name of Jesus will forever be on my lips until I take my last breath. For He is all-powerful. He is the deliverer. He is the bondage breaker. He is the destroyer of strongholds. He is the One who sees, and knows and understands. And He is the one I answer to for my choices, for my life, and for what He has called me to do. Pray for me. For I know I am on a difficult journey. But I know the blessing will far exceed the struggle. And, for this, he has prepared me. Praise the Lord.

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