Tag Archives: domestic violence

Growing Up in Dysfunction is Not the End of Your Story

Compassionate Love: Displaying Compassion for Those Who Struggle with Mental Illness or Abuse  (c)2019 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries

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On the negative end, my home of origin was characterized by lies, open hostility and violence. Of course most dysfunctional and abusive homes are not 100% angry.  There is the quietness of calm before an eruption, the safety of being in public, and perhaps good hearts who try to make the best of a terrible situation. 

Inconsistency was normal to me. Since there was little exposure to anything else, the emotional weather fluctuations were simply matters of adjustment. That does not mean they were not harmful. They were.

Motives do not determine the rightness or wrongness of hurtful behavior. Harming  people is wrong. Abuse is abuse. In my opinion, many families would benefit from counseling and parenting classes. Often, people do not understand how to react in healthy ways to life’s and family stress.

However, no one in my childhood family received any such help. In relationships where most everyone is in survival mode, there is little connection on higher planes. Parents are caught up in adult drama, and children’s issues are often set aside.  

I learned a sense of home and family could exist only in the dreamy make-believe world of denial. This is where I devoted my energies for the better part of 53 years. 

It took dropping into the lowest pit before I could conceive the truth.  Therapists, doctors, and friends spoke a different perspective until firm belief faded into doubt, then the shadow of a doubt disappeared, and now I live in joy. 

No, I do not think homes are perfect. Ever. Families struggle at different levels of intensity. The solid truth I finally grasped is three-part:

  1. It is never too late to start fresh. Life changed dramatically for me in my fifties.
  2. Nothing in this world is permanent. Something may feel great for a time, nonetheless it is temporary.
  3. There is only one home that is permanent, perfect, and promised. That home is described in an old song by Keith Green. He said in his Prodigal Son Suite, “I’ve learned home is where you are.” He was referring to Jesus.  

Only God, His Word, and His only begotten Son Jesus never change. God’s love welcomes and embraces the most tired and broken of hearts. He holds those who live in denial and dysfunction. 

Our job is to accept Jesus as the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Your story, my story, are not over!

Today’s Helpful Word  

Romans 8:38-39

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

 

**** 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 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. or go to your nearest emergency room. (for international emergency numbers, go here ). Hope and help are yours.

 

 

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

Why the Adult Children in California Stayed in Their Parents’ Torture Chamber

Compassionate Love: Displaying Compassion for Those Who Struggle with Mental Illness, Addiction, and Abuse   (c)2018  Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries

Thirteen children, ages 2 to 29, were found held captive in their parents’ home this week. They were starving, and some were chained to their beds.

The neighbors said they rarely saw the children outside. One woman tried to say hello to the parents and a son as she passed by, but they would not speak to her.  A man  commented he did not know children were in that house.

Twelve school-age sons and daughters were not allowed to attend school.  Interaction with the outside world was limited, if at all.  They were small, somewhat emaciated, malnourished, and you can bet, brainwashed.

One commenter on Facebook expressed her confusion saying, “I can’t figure out how the adult children could not have done something before this! They weren’t always chained up.When the father was out they could gang up on their mother and escape! Seems like a strange story!”

It is strange to anyone who can reason out those options.  It is strange to outsiders who think they would never have allowed it to happen to them.

Enter Fear.

Women who are abused by their male partners or spouses average seven attempts to leave before they leave for good. The days or weeks immediately after they walk out is the most dangerous time, and women are killed.  Current victims know the danger and threats.  I strongly suspect that as this story unfolds, we will learn more about abuse against the mother.

Now use your imagination a little.  What would you do if you were so beaten down emotionally that you believed you deserve such treatment? How would you handle finding money to feed your children  if you had been a stay-at-home mom?  What options would you see if your abuser threatens to kill a child if you leave?

These are only a few reasons ADULT women stay in abusive marriages.  Children have even fewer choices.

(1) They believe what they have always been taught is right

(2) They have no power (or think they do not) to physically or emotionally make healthy decisions for themselves

(3) In the case of captives, the outside world is strange.

(4) They live under threat of consequences (such as obeying the abuser to protect siblings)

If an adult child has spent his or her life abused and tortured, is small due to malnourishment, has never been taught to think for himself or herself  but has been commanded since day one,  escape may actually have never come to mind.  A 29-year-old who grew up in captivity will not know what the outside world knows.

Please pray for these rescued children. They have an arduous psychological journey ahead.

Today’s Helpful Word 

 

If It Hurts, Is it Love? An Opinion Test

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c)2013 Nancy Virden

(1) He calls her. She hesitates to pick up the phone because she knows what will come out at her if she does. Her unemployed status has disappointed him. He has not seemed to notice that her volunteerism efforts have produced joy for children, in fact he has had no response at all when she attempts to share this, her greatest joy.

This phone call will be no different. She will withhold her emotions, and he will assume the position of one in charge by informing her exactly how she is failing.

Does he love her?

(2) He ducks every time he walks through that door.  His mother used to hide behind it and swat him when he returned from school. Now that he is an adult and independent, it surprises him that he still feels apprehension whenever he crosses that old threshold.

She passed away last year, and the duty of cleaning up her estate fell to him. Even after several months of coming to that house and not being swatted, he continued to feel the need to tense for a sprint at the sight of that door.  His reaction is as if he were still a child.

Did she ever love him?

(3) Her children are the joy of her heart. She would do anything for them. Memories of their childhood generally make her laugh as she compares the youngsters to the adults they have become.

She made mistakes as a parent, but had always been ready to listen to their points of view. She learned what they needed, tried to respond in kindness and firmness when necessary, and had apologized when she had been truly wrong.  No one had been swatted from behind doors, or insulted for mistakes. She grins as she recalls all the spilled milk, water, Kool-Aid,  and whatever. No one had been made to feel a fool.

Does she love them?

The opinion: According to a recent conversation, the first two stories are examples of people loving the best they know how. I disagree. Story three matches that description better.

I am not willing to call abuse love at all. While no one loves perfectly, love is not selfish. Damaging behavior committed in a reckless and thoughtless manner is selfish. Not considering another person’s pain (or joys) is selfish. Ignoring a person’s plea to stop treating them a certain way because it hurts them,  is definitely selfish.

What do you think? Does real love hurt?

*****

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