Category Archives: Abuse

Struggle is Normal. Overcoming is Normal Too

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who fight mental illness, addiction, and abuse  (c)2018  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministries

woman with yellow backpack standing on hanging bridge with trees
Photo by Josh Willink on Pexels.com

It is normal to struggle. 

It is normal to struggle. 

Say that to yourself, and then say it to others.  Not everyone knows this truth. 

Recognize Normalcy

I’ve spoken well of previous therapists who helped to move me from suicidal despair to a life of hope and joy.  I was encouraged to change unhealthy thinking patterns and habits.

Due to my temperament and life experiences, much of what I felt in this process was a sense of failure at life. Had I known how normal my struggles were, how they are so common they have names in the psychology books, I would have felt less shame. 

Since that time, my research relating to advocacy has uncovered the truth. It is extremely beneficial to learn that much of how I’d been responding to life’s challenges was normal, even predictable, under the circumstances I’d been given.

Explore your possibilities 

If you equate struggle with shame, let it go. Humans have more in common than many of us realize.

Stress will produce anxiety. Ask, “What is known to help the myriad of people who overcome anxiety?” 

Depression is caused by many factors. It is appropriate to find out, “What works for the millions who recover every year?” 

Being an abuse survivor has some predictable outcomes. Your best question is, “What have others done to overcome horrible lies and victimization and to live to the fullest degree of joy?”  

Within our struggles, God offers good gifts:

  • The help of others
  • Opportunity to rely on Him 
  • Chances to refocus on new purposes

You see, overcoming is normal too. It happens all the time.

Stick to living, taking one day at a time. Allow yourself the privilege of humanness. Take advantage of God’s gifts. You will join the throng of people who make it through.  

 

Today’s Helpful Word

Hebrews 13: 5b-6

For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.” So we can say with  confidence, “The LORD is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?”

***** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental and behavioral health challenges.  In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

*  crossing the bridge- Photo by Josh Willink on Pexels.com

 

 

 

 

For One of the Least of These: Helping The Emotionally Naked and Vulnerable

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who fight mental illness, addiction, and abuse  (c)2018  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministries

adult-beautiful-beauty-892771

Have you ever felt emotionally naked? Perhaps a secret is exposed, or you fear you shared too much of your inner struggle. Maybe a friendship or relationship ends and you regret trusting so deeply.

These situations and others make us emotionally vulnerable.

I have met people who in the spirit of self-protection have all but eliminated social connections from their lives. It is easy to shake my head and wonder how someone could make such a decision. However, in all honesty, there are times  emotional vulnerability felt too scary, and I have backed off too.

Maybe we all have.

There is one particular type of vulnerability we will do well to attend. That is, the painful, terrifying, likely years-in-the-making, admissions of victimization by abuse.

Abused children and adults generally have great difficulty asking for help. Perhaps they believe the lies of the abuser – you deserve this, you made me do it, or  if you tell I will make your family suffer,  and other emotional beat-downs and threats.

Some victims have tried to tell before, and received poor responses from family, friends, church, or even professionals. They fear trying again. Unfortunately, many who come forward find it challenging to make people believe their story. This is especially true when the abuser is narcissistic and will lie, cry , or blame the victim in an attempt to keep up appearances.

The kindest way to help these vulnerable folks is to believe them.  To anyone to whom an abuse victim shares their experience – do not judge. Even if you think you grasp the situation, do not judge. Listen, and do what you must to keep this person safe.

To anyone currently in an abusive situation – tell your story until someone believes you. Your best options for that are probably shelters and abuse centers.

We can each provide “clothes” for the emotionally naked. Acceptance is the garment that will help a person recover and not retreat again into the shadows.

Today’s Helpful Word

Matthew 25: 37

“Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you … naked and clothe you?…’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers (and sisters), you did it to me.’”

***** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental and behavioral health challenges.  In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

 

“Help, Church Leaders Don’t Want Me to Divorce Husband with Porn Addiction”

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who fight mental illness, addiction, and abuse  (c)2018  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministries

In April, the following message came using the contact form on this website. (printed by permission)

“Thanks. Your articles were helpful. My Google search that led to your page was – ‘help church leaders don’t want me to divorce husband with porn addiction’.  We separated, with the elders wanting that time to be for us to work towards reconciliation. I still see abusive attitudes that are so tied up in the porn use. They see [his] tears and ‘repentance’. They haven’t spent time with me or the kids – only him. The emotional abuse is so HEAVY. That is what I feel most compelled to run from – someone who plays the victim while he is abusing himself, his wife, kids, and those used to make the content he has indulged in. I think this is the part where wives and kids need help – after YEARS/DECADES of this cycle (sin comes to light/tears and repentance and new accountability partners/ etc.) – when is it finally enough? Their argument is that he seems genuine this time – so who am I to not give him another year? These guys haven’t even chatted with me. That happens too often. And if we say, “but that seems unsafe to me” – we are told we’re being unsubmissive. I wonder how many people have been completely finished off by that sort of spiritual abuse. I hope you are able to help others still love God and trust Him, but navigate through these murky waters. Thanks again.”

The writer’s articulate description of the cycle of cheap grace hopefully draws you in, dear reader. Perhaps you’ve lived it, or are seeing her point of view for the first time. 

Cheap grace 

1) Sin comes to light. 

2) Tears and repentance

3)New accountability partners

4) Sin continues

This wife’s story draws tears to my eyes because she, her children, other watching families, and the testimony of Christ are twice hurt.  Both the husband’s sins and the church’s short-sighted response to pornography in Christian families have emptied grace of its beauty and power.  Along with her, I ask, when is it finally enough? How many observers have been completely finished off by that sort of spiritual abuse?

Here’s the thing, dear reader.  In my experience, most believers and followers of Christ want to do what is right. There will always be power-hungry leaders among us, however they are relatively few. The rest of us make these mistakes based on lack of knowledge. 

Christ’s grace

1) We all sin and fall short of God’s holy nature (Romans 3:23)

2) People return to sin like a dog returns to its vomit  (2 Peter 2:21-22)

3) Our “righteousness” is as pure as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6)

4) Enter Jesus. He lives the life we cannot – one without sin (Hebrews 4:15)

5) He pays the blood-price for our forgiveness (1 John 1:7)

6) We confess our sins and turn away from them with his strength (Romans 8:5-9)

7) We become more and more like him, loving others as he did (Philippians 2:5)

8) In marriages, we lay down our selfish ambitions and pursue loving each other as Christ loved his church, and gave himself for her, submitting to each other as unto the Lord. (Ephesians 5:1-21)

Where does adultery, lust, and addiction fit in this picture? Where is the false repentance (that is actually only remorse) in God’s story? Did not Esau sell his soul for a pot of porridge? And though he begged for forgiveness with tears, he could not receive it. That is because his tears were remorseful, not repentant. (Hebrews 12:15-17)

True repentance is observable

Repentance accompanies  deep, honest and humble confession,  true understanding of the pain one has caused others and God,  long-lasting change (with the family as the star witness, not tears),  continuous humility,  and a blame-the-victim, blame-society, and blame-God ceasefire. By the way,  “I can’t help it” is blaming God. 

Cheap grace sounds as the wife in this story describes it (Romans 6:1-3).  When is enough?  In my opinion, it is easier to accept someone’s tears than to do the hard work of exploring their heart. At the very least,  I wish her church leaders would chat with her and the children!

There are common misunderstandings

  • Forgiveness and trust are confused
  • Submission as unto the Lord is diminished into enabling and endorsing sin
  • Separation and divorce are equaled with remarriage
  • We are unwilling to do as God did – allow divorce due to the hardness of mens’ hearts
  • There is little concept of the connection between porn and adultery, or porn and abuse
  • There is little respect for the death sentence emotional abuse hands down to victims 
  • Legalism trumps holiness. 

Thank you for reading today’s blog, and I pray you are encouraged by the truth written here. Let’s do our best to understand wisdom, and to love these families harmed so deeply by pornography.

Related Posts:  Is Watching Porn Emotional Abuse pt 1, pt 2;   Series on Emotional Abuse in Christian Marriages pt 1, pt 2, pt 3, pt 4, pt 5and An Open Letter About Porn to Christian Husbands, Pastors, and Husbands-to-be

Today’s Helpful Word

2 Timothy 2:15

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.

***** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental and behavioral health challenges.  In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

*help sign and typing pic from kozzi.com

Flashbacks Triggered by Catholic Church Scandals: How to React with Compassion to PTSD

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who fight mental illness, addiction, and abuse  (c)2018  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministries

Emily* was ill. Mentally and physically exhausted, much of her time at Timberline Knolls Rehabilitation Treatment Center was spent asleep or curled up on a couch in the lounge. On those occasions she did rise, her efforts at connection and function were heroic.

One afternoon,  she and I were the first to arrive at a large group therapy room.  No one in a rehab is at their best, obviously. However, conversation was cordial and sedate.

Suddenly, Emily threw herself into a huge bear hug and buried her head. She began rocking back and forth. Soon, she had turned her back to the room, trying to hide from the danger, pain, terror, and false-guilt that accompanied her flashback.

No doubt in her thoughts she was a child again, feeling all the sensations of abuse. Her momentary reality was darkness, a hand reaching through the black, her survival threatened.

Sitting next to her I began to whisper. “Emily, it is ok now. You are safe. You are at Timberline Knolls. People care about you here. Your head is on a fireplace hearth, your body is on carpet. No one is hurting you. Girls who care about you are all around. You are not alone. You are safe here.”

Continuing along those lines for a few minutes, eventually Emily started to come out of it. When her horrible flashback ended, she was quiet, yet present.

What you can do 

With all the news in the last week about sexual abuse in the Catholic church,  PTSD is affecting many men, women, and children. Not only victims of that scandal are suffering.  Any previous victims of sexual or other kinds of abuse may find normal days interupted.  They see or hear the news, and Bam! Unwillingly, they are tossed back to a time and place they long to forget. 

You may witness this. Please do not tell a person experiencing a flashback to shake it off or just give it to God. Instead, express your care and love, and help them refocus on the here and now. One way to do that is to start describing the room you are both in and the people who are there.  Offer assurance they are safe.

Knee-jerk reactions like “get on with it'” or  “quit feeling sorry for yourself” dismiss what is happening. A tortured mind, often complete with body sensation memories,  is temporarily overwhelmed.  To treat this like an attitude problem undercuts healing.

Mention there is no danger. If their pet is nearby, bring it over. Draw attention to what his or her five senses are experiencing in the present. Disburse any hovering  crowd. Keep your words and tone gentle, calm, and positive.

Later, after this person feels more grounded and less fearful, offer to help him or her give it to God by briefly praying together.  Say, “You are not alone.”  Never suggest they are failing somehow.

Compassionate love meets people where they are in the moment.

Today’s Helpful Word

Romans 12: 15 

Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.

 

 

***** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental and behavioral health challenges.  In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

*b/w butterfly by XYMONAU ;  yellow butterfly by CLIOVON, both on rgbstock.com

*not their real names

Part 3 Silence No More: Go from Voiceless to Heard by Overcoming Procrastination

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness, addiction, or abuse   (c) 2018  Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries

I was reminded today how, when in crisis, our world seems so small. This is one reason it is important to reach out for support, and hear other perspectives.

Emotional struggles, mental illness, addiction, and abuse,  may lead to shame and silence.  Three obstacles stand in the way of finding your voice. 

False beliefs (part 1)  Fear of what might happen (part 2) and today’s third obstacle, round out this series. 

Obstacle # 3 :  Procrastination.

Putting anything off until tomorrow is the bane of students, entrepreneurs, and Monday mornings. We perceive an action as too hard, too painful, or not worth our time. Avoidance techniques like eating, drinking, and other substances and behavioral habits only make our situation worse. 

Silence has that effect as well. Speaking up and finding your voice is often a matter of self-motivation and self-encouragement. Part of finding your voice is discovering it within.  

Needed:  Motivation

You have your mind and right to make decisions. Take a logical inventory. What has silence already cost you? Familiar suffering is not superior to freedom. List what you have tried that did not work, and what you have not tried that might work.

In cases of abuse, chances are you have tried denial, excusing the abuser’s behavior,  offering forgiveness and multiple chances,  walking on eggshells,  and perhaps even questioning the value of your life. Silence has not protected you emotionally or physically. 

In addiction, likely you have tried cold-turkey, “final decisions”, denial, independence, and a sense of control. Silence has not led you to health. 

Untreated or under treated mental illness or emotional challenges have left you with self-disgust and a sense of failure.  Perhaps you have lost friends, work, or home. Denial has helped you cope. Silence has prevented you from a positive solution. 

Is this what you want?  

Needed:  Encourage Yourself

Rah-rahs help sometimes. Positive thoughts may give us some courage. However, there are there more practical ways to build your chances for a better future.

If past efforts at speaking up did not end the way you want, go back to part 2 of this series and study your options.  Did a therapist or psychiatrist not work out well? Learn what to realistically expect, and try someone different if you must. Did you not follow expert advice? Go back with a teachable attitude.

Learn from others to escape the tapes stuck on replay in your head. Listen to first-hand experiences.  Many past victims of abuse escape saying, “I should have done this sooner,” or “I waited too long.”  Testimonies of recovery repeatedly press the point, “You have to admit you are powerless.”  For me, overcoming major depression and suicidal thinking took a deliberate decision to discover what enjoying life means.

Your voice counts because (insert your name) matters. You matter to the One True God, his Son Jesus, and to those good people in your sphere. You matter to the world because your success gives the rest of us hope.  You really are loved.

Challenge your false beliefs,  reach out for support, and do not put it off. 

Be heard. Be free.

 Today’s Helpful Word

Psalm 31:7 –  song to Yahweh

I will be glad and rejoice in your unfailing love,
    for you have seen my troubles,
    and you care about the anguish of my soul.

******COMMENTS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME.

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness, abuse, and addiction. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

Pics: Climbers top by AYLA87; Raised hands  by LUSI ,  both of rgbstock.com

Part 2 Silence No More: Go from Voiceless to Heard by Overcoming Fear

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness, addiction, or abuse   (c) 2018  Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries

Secrets and shame lead to silence. Whether your story is about emotional struggles, mental illness, addiction, or abuse,  you may feel voiceless.  

Silence no more!  You can speak up and be heard.  Three obstacles likely stand in the way.  The first is false beliefs,  discussed in part one of this series. This post and the next cover the other two.  

Obstacle # 2 : Fear of what will happen once you speak

Let’s face it. Silence has its pay-offs. Status quo is familiar, and familiarity is comfortable.  

We also know that fear is paralyzing, and interrupts our joy.  Same-old is tiresome, and possibly dangerous.  Continuing to make the same choices that never worked, or ceased  benefitting us, will keep us stuck. 

Needed: Support

Asking for help means admitting to your challenge.  That’s okay. You are not alone. There are systems already in place. Whether you need to escape abuse, find recovery, or deal with mental health issues, trust those systems.

We are fearful of change, and do not know what these organizations or people can do to help. They are the experts, who gladly answer these questions.  We have to trust safe people who have devoted their lives to helping.

Domestic violence shelters are led by trained personnel, able to guide you safely through the uncertainty of child care, finances, work, and legal issues.

Mental health professionals are ready to help  with troublesome thoughts and emotions.  If you are in crisis, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room. 

Rehabilitation Treatment Centers require some proof that you are investing in your recovery. Go through those hoops and take it seriously.  Once in, follow the advice of worthy men and women who know what works. 

Who to contact

If you can find no help in your area, search online for reputable sites.  (Be careful, do not  offer identifying information).  On my resource pages, you will find  emergency numbers  and links to sites offering the information you need.

The Truth About Abuse       Addiction Recovery          If You Are Depressed or Anxious 

What to Do/Say When a Loved One is Depressed

Needed: Back-up

It is a good idea to have that initial support in place before you broaden the scope of your voice.  Chances are, like most of us, you set-up a façade in the past. The false image that all is well has helped you cope. Taking the mask off will surprise those who know you.

Some people will not believe your story.  Others may walk away.  Be prepared.  

If you can, practice using your voice with those who  relate and are non-judgmental.  In support groups, group therapy,  and anonymous 12-step groups,  you will find non-critical acceptance.  If these are scarce in your area,  perhaps a healthy online service is an option. (Again, be careful.  Do not use your real name.)  

With support from people who build you up on an ongoing basis,  your voice will grow strong.   

Next 

Stay tuned for a solution to obstacle #3, procrastination.  

 Today’s Helpful Word

Psalm 121: 1,2   (A song for pilgrims)

 I look up to the mountains—
    does my help come from there?
 My help comes from the Lord,
    who made heaven and earth!

    

******COMMENTS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME.

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness, abuse, and addiction. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

Pics: Climbers top by AYLA87; Climbers bottom  by MIMICA,  both of rgbstock.com

 

Part 1 Silence No More: Go from Voiceless to Heard by Overcoming False Belief

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness, addiction, or abuse   (c) 2018  Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries

The freedom to live by your values is not out of reach!

Secrets and shame equal silence

Emotional struggles, mental illness, addiction, and abuse tend to embrace secrets and shame.  We who live with them may feel voiceless and unknown.

Silence no more!  You can, with help, release those chains and stand up for yourself.  There are three obstacles to overcome first. They are covered in this and the next two posts. 

Obstacle #1:  False beliefs

My almost complete silence about experiences that were slowly destroying me, was based on false hope.  Unaware of facts, emotions,  or my role,  I scrutinized truth under a misaligned perspective.  I believed the wrong people, and did not trust my instincts.  False beliefs had no strong challenger, and served to enable abusers and prolong my shame.

This is not unique. 

False Belief – “My story is unimportant.”

This idea holds back many if not most of those who suffer. One’s experience is held up in comparison to all the evils in the world, and judged unworthy of attention.

Truth is, we all have a genuine basic need for validation.  This means simply having someone believe us, agree our pain is real,  and respond in a way that proves our experiences matter.

By dismissing our story as unimportant, we essentially deny ourselves a solution.  One therapist told me, “I have never really seen anyone move forward without validation.”

Crisis workers, helpline volunteers,  and professionals in the fields of mental illness, addiction, or abuse, may be better suited to meet this need than well-meaning friends, family, or clergy.  That is not disrespect. It is acknowledging that significant supports do not always know how to give quality validation under circumstances they are not trained to understand.

I found this safety in therapists – your experience may be different.  Keep looking until you are heard.

False Belief – “I do not matter” or  “It is selfish to waste time on myself”

Perhaps your sense of personal value is shaky.  Remember that any of us who have moved out of silence and gone on to help our families and other people, had to first invest in ourselves.

Self-doubt is powerful.  Continue learning.  Listen to positive feedback, and do not dismiss it.  Collect affirmations on a list.  Ask people you trust why you matter to them!

Believe in God’s love and your inherent value. You can start to grow this faith by reading first the New Testament Book of John in the Bible.

Finally, please consider the messengers who filled you with your sense of worthlessness, helplessness,  and fear. If they are liars, haters, narcissists, self-protective at all costs, emotionally immature, or stuck in their own false beliefs, they could be wrong, couldn’t they? What if all those negative messages are false? That changes everything!

Next 

Stay tuned for a discussion on obstacle #2, fear of what might happen if we speak up. 

 Today’s Helpful Word

Proverbs 2: 6-10

For the Lord grants wisdom!
    From his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
 He grants a treasure of common sense to the honest.  He is a shield to those who walk with integrity. He guards the paths of the just and protects those who are faithful to him.  Then you will understand what is right, just, and fair,  and you will find the right way to go.  For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will fill you with joy.

 

******COMMENTS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME.

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness, abuse, and addiction. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

Pics: Climber  by COLUMBINE ; Raised hands by COSTIQ , both of rgbstock.com

 

Speak Life. 12 Anti-platitude Responses to Abuse Victims

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness, addiction, or abuse   (c) 2018  Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries

Kind, gentle, helpful statements are available for our use anytime we want.  We are not stuck without options to familiar ready-made responses to abuse. 

For many, it is easy to throw out euphemisms for “I do not actually care about your problem.”  However, when people who want to help do not know what to say, it is time for alternatives.

Speak life

Think of it this way. In your painful moments, you want those in positions to help to do just that.  Can you imagine an EMT discussing menu options while you are having a heart attack?  How would you describe a pilot who leads his panicked passengers in meditation instead of righting the plane?

In the same way, we have the choice of saying and doing what will actually make a positive difference in the moment.  Today, as we revisit those dead platitudes mentioned in the last blog, take note of the alternatives that speak life and hope to abuse victims. 

Instead of… Try this

“Time will heal”   “Are you safe? Do you need a place to stay?”    

“It could be worse.”   “I’ve no idea what this must be like for you.  All abuse destroys. It makes sense you are trying to find help.” 

“It’s not about marrying the right person, it’s about being the right person.”   “It is never your fault when your spouse is abusive. He (she) decides what kind of person to be just as we all do.”

 “Jesus said to forgive 70 times 70.”    “Standing up for yourself is appropriate.  Jesus loved, forgave, and still held people accountable. That’s the example he set.”  

“If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”   “I’m glad you told me. Is there anyone else you’d like me to call?”  

“Just give it to God” “Pray harder.”   “You are not alone. I will pray for you. Meanwhile, God will lead us to wise counsel and I’ll help you get there.”

 “If you respect him, he will love you.”  “You are not the end-all to your abuser’s happiness or unhappiness. No one has the power to change another person. There is nothing you can do to make him (her) feel one or the other.”   

“God hates divorce.”  “God loves you. He will show you the best pathway for your life.”

“There are two sides to every story.”  “It’s important that you be heard and know you are heard.” 

“All couples have problems.”  “You need to know your spouse is not loving you regardless his (her) words. Love does no harm to its neighbor. Abuse escalates. Marriage counseling will  not help unless the abuse stops.”   

“Let the past stay in the past.”  “It makes sense you are afraid of it happening again.  I can help you find a shelter or professional help.”  Or,  “I’ll go with you to the police.” 

“God can save any marriage”  ie:  “God can change anyone.”   “God leads change in humble hearts, not hard and closed ones. Let God deal with the abuser. It’s time to take care of the person God created you to be.”   

 Today’s Helpful Word

2 Kings 20: 5

“I have heard your prayer and seen your tears;  I will heal you.” – God 

 

******COMMENTS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME.

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness, abuse, and addiction. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emrgency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

Platitude Cemetary: For Unhelpful Comments Said to Abuse Victims

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness, addiction, or abuse   (c) 2018  Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries

While abusers and abuse victims have some predictable commonalities with others who share their positions,  healthy responses are unique to each person.

Abuse is in a separate class from normal relational conflict.  Platitudes take a one-size-fits-all-problems approach.    

Platitudes are not harmless

The worst platitudes are those who send an abuser’s target back into the abusive relationship.  Even so-called innocent platitudes can encourage a victim to retreat into the shadows.  

Apathy, feeling helpless to change anything,  and false beliefs create platitudes. Good-hearted folks say them, uselessly trying to help.  Here are several that may sound familiar, and the good reasons to not repeat them anymore. 

12 platitudes to bury for good

“Time will heal.”   No, it won’t. Unless one escapes the abuse, time does not help.  The only way to recover from abuse is to stop it. After one escapes, becoming whole again requires more than time.

“It could be worse.”    This is a subjective statement.  It’s dismissive and unhelpful.  People in pain have substantial reason to care about their struggles and no need to invalidate the experiences as if they, as humans, do not matter. 

“It’s not about marrying the right person, it’s about being the right person.”   An abuser’s target already tries to “be the right person” to the point of losing herself, and sometimes her life.  

“Jesus said forgive 70 times 70.”    Forgiveness and trust are not the same animal.  We can forgive and say ‘no more’ at the same time.  John 8:58-59  John 2:23-25

“If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”   We better speak up! Otherwise we become enablers and help protect the abuser. 

“Just give it to God” or “Pray harder.”   “Just” is a word of dismissal. It says the victim is spiritually weak, and has no real cause to continue suffering. Besides, prayer is not a matter of begging. God hears us the first time.  Matthew 6:6-8

 “If you respect him, he will love you.”   Nah, he won’t.  Abuse is all about power and control.   

“God hates divorce.”  He also hates abuse, lying, slander, adultery, bragging, pride, and insolence. He loves the abused, brokenhearted, contrite, and troubled. He tells us to practice justice and help the oppressed.  Proverbs 6:16-19   Romans 1:28-32   Psalm 9:8-10

“There are two sides to every story.”  Everyone has their version, yes. The narcissist will see his/her entitlement, and fault the victim whether true or not.  The abuser’s side of the story is often a mix of regret, promises to change, tears of remorse,  even prayer and submission to counseling. Missing are repentance, lasting change, deep understanding of the problem,  a blame-the-victim ceasefire,  and honest confession.  

“All couples have problems.”  Yes and no. All couples have times of disappointment, maybe even years of it. Not all couples have an abuser in the mix. This is beyond “couple problems.”  It is an abuser problem.  

“Let the past stay in the past.”  The past is often all an abuse victim has to present his/her case, to seek justice, or find needed help. Even more so, the past shows us patterns. These can lead to better awareness for the victim and others. 

“God can save any marriage”  ie:  “God can change anyone.”   When a narcissist will not see his/her sin and is unwilling to change (despite words to the contrary), God will not force  his salvation or Spirit on them.  1 John 1:8-9    Matthew 18: 17 

The next blog will offer options to these platitudes to arm you with truthful and effective responses. Stay tuned! 

Today’s Helpful Word

Ephesians  4: 29

Do not use harmful words, but only helpful words, the kind that build up and provide what is needed, so that what you say will do good to those who hear you.

 

******COMMENTS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME.

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness, abuse, and addiction. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.
If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help are yours.
Most of these platitudes were borrowed from readers of https://cryingoutforjustice.com

If Dad’s Love Falls Short: 3 Ways to Move Beyond the Pain

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c) 2018  Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries

A narcissist dad thought it was everyone else’s responsibility to reach out to him. If friends or family did not,  it was their loss.

One child’s personality allowed him to take initiative and make compromises trying to find a relationship with his father. Another child was an introvert, and did not understand his father’s rules.

The first child received some attention. It was especially apparent in public because that is where narcissist’s shine. The other child was almost completely ignored except when his dad yelled at him for daring to cause an inconvenience.

This dad’s behavior was not faithfulness. This is not what love looks like.

Yet many of us have experienced fathers like this and much worse. The picture of love ingrained in our thoughts since childhood is drawn of betrayal, broken promises,  and neglect. Our fathers left us empty, angry, and lost.

Love is…

Kelly Clarkson sings a song to her dad who abandoned her when she was six.  Her lyrics compare him to the father of her children. *

He never walks away
He never asks for money
He takes care of me
He loves me
Piece by piece, he restores my faith
That a man can be kind and the father could, stay

These words remind me that behind every negative message from a faithless dad, there exists a basic truth. We are each worthy of a better love. No one can decide differently. If they try, we do not have to believe them.

Exchange false for true

The trick to changing negative core beliefs is to replace them. We will not overcome habitual thought processes by trying to ‘get over it.’ Our power is in switching to a new narrative.

  1. Stop the abuse. If you are an adult and your dad is still toxic, find a way to  draw boundaries and stand by them. Talk to him about the situation. Explain what words or behaviors are deal-breakers.  You decide how often or if you meet, and how long you stay in the same room. He threw away his authority.  You have the human right to emotional safety.
  2. Challenge your self-talk. Ask why you repeat self-defeating cycles. What can you do differently? Pay attention to what language goes through your mind. If you think (or start to say) “I’m a loser,” exchange the phrase for something positive whether you believe it yet or not. For example,  “I’m a fighter” points out how you continue to try.
  3. Reach out to the Father of Fathers. God promises to never abandon us, no matter what our parents do. He is good, faithful, and full of love for those who trust him. He made it possible, no matter how messed-up we are, to come to him. The way God designed is through his Son Jesus.  The New Testament (Bible) states plainly that by believing God sent his one and only Son to die and rise again,  we can ask for and find forgiveness and peace.

Instead of “I am abandoned,” try, “God loves me.” Take in positive truth and watch your pain recede.

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness, abuse, and addiction. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.
If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help are yours.

*Piece By Piece