Can Anyone Hear the Voice of My Pain
In the beginning
The violence began to manifest in my home within a few months of our wedding day. At first the verbal and physical abuse was mostly directed at me, but eventually my young sons began to experience the pain of a man who was out of control.
We soon learned to walk around as one would on egg shells. We never knew when we might say or do something that would trigger a violent response.
You may be wondering if there had not been signs that my husband was a violent man and my response would be YES, yes there were signs. But because of my great need to be loved and cared for and my greater fear of being alone, I ignored what I saw or I justified his behavior.
During our dating time the violence was never directed at me, which only added validity to my deception and erroneous belief that he loved me too much to hurt me. I witnessed violent outbursts he directed toward the horses he shod (he was a Ferrier). Then there was the time just before we got married that his ex-wife came to my apartment in an attempt to warn me of this man’s history of abuse. Well! You can only imagine what I did with that bit of information! I immediately dismissed it, considering the source. I mean, really, what was an ex-wife going to do, bless my marriage to her ex-husband??? And besides, I’d already been told how ‘crazy’ she was anyway and how she would ‘always get up in his face’. Well, it wasn’t very long after that warning that I found myself in the same place she had described to me.
Dispelling a Myth
My husband & I were baby Christians when we got married. Oh, yes! He was a Christian! It’s not always the drug users and alcoholics that batter their mates! Many try to use that as their excuses for getting out of control. But my husband could not use those as an excuse.
After the violent outbursts began, I went to our Pastor. As I would pour my heart out to him I could see the disbelief on his face. After all, the man I was describing hardly fit the ‘good ole boy’ this Pastor was acquainted with. You see, abusers become proficient at taking on the Jeckel & Hyde personality, having one face for the public and one for home. Please, let me make it very clear, our Pastor was a kind, loving man, but no one is beyond being deceived. You must understand that abusers have hid behind masks most of their lives beginning at childhood when they were having to deal with some form of abuse. In reality, except the Lord give us discernment we usually judge the person by what we see with our natural eyes. The advice I was given that day was ‘If you’ll just be more submissive…Try not talking back to him….Try not to give him a reason to get angry’. So the message I got that day was that I must be responsible for my husband’s behavior. So I began to try to change my behavior so he wouldn’t get mad, which gave my husband the message that our problem was my fault. If I wouldn’t do this then he wouldn’t have to do that. What this kind of thinking does is it displaces responsibility and accountability. The abuser believes ‘It’s not my fault I get angry, it’s yours, and therefore you need to stop making me mad!’ WRONG!!!!! If the abuser isn’t held accountable for their own behavior without placing blame on someone else, they’ll never see the need to change. We can’t even be born again without acknowledging we’re sinners! Amen?!
What about the Children?
This life of fear, rage and hurt went on for sixteen years. My oldest son ran away from home several times because of the violence directed at him. I almost lost custody of my youngest son, as CPS was contacted by a teacher reporting the marks he had found on my son’s little body that was from obvious abuse. Many women do not see that exposing their children to any form of abuse whether the abuse is directed at the children or not is in fact child abuse (endangering a child). I should add here that when CPS came to investigate our home I defended my husband!
When there is violence in the home children try to find some way to deal with this pain and fear. Some may withdraw within themselves while others my act out within the home or toward other children. Either way, an unhealthy and sometimes dangerous pattern of behavior begins to form in that child. If we believe that violence at home affects only the adults involved we are in gross denial and deception! Even if that child is not being abused physically, the mental and emotional abuse that’s taking place will affect that child’s future relationships. Remember, children repeat what they see not what they’re told!
The Fear of Going was Greater than the Fear of Staying
I left my husband several times but always came back because there was no place for me and my children to go and the fear of being on the streets homeless was greater than the fear of going back to abuse.
All this time my husband was in denial or he’d justify his behavior. Like the time he whipped me with his hand in front of an elderly man that was living with us. Two weeks later when I showed my husband the perfect hand print that was bruised into my rear end, his response was ‘If you’re gonna act like a child, I’ll treat you like a child.’ Thus once again, it wasn’t his fault, but mine.
The Fear of Staying became Greater than the Fear of Going
We went to counseling sessions with various pastors, but I finally stopped reaching out for help because I got tired of being told I was responsible for my husband’s behavior, or not being believed at all. I’d go to friends but they didn’t know what to do. Some believed me, some didn’t. Finally after sixteen years, the fear of staying became much greater that the fear of the unknown and I left.
I begged my husband to get help, but because of unhealed hurts, unmet needs and unresolved issues in his life which had absolutely nothing to do with me, he never broke out of the self-denial and self-deception. He was killed in a head on collision two years after I left him. This in itself left me and my children with a lot of unresolved issues!
Now what?! All I ever wanted was for my husband to validate what he’d done to us, just admit it! He didn’t even have to be sorry for it, just admit it. But that never happened.
I don’t know if I can relate to anyone that has never experienced abuse how it feels when, first of all to be told that you have no worth or value and treated accordingly, but adding insult to injury by being made to feel as if you’re so insignificant that admission of mistreatment is not even necessary. I’ll never be able to communicate to anyone the feeling of worthlessness this confirms to a person who has or is being abused.
The Story Doesn’t End Here
After attending many seminars on Domestic Violence and hearing many people’s stories I’m finding that many women and men or still being battered even though they may not be with their abusers. They are still living in the fall out of the painful experience. Because of witnessing that, I have made up my mind that I am a Victor in Christ, not a victim!
As I continue my journey and adventure of overcoming my past I have decided that there is Life After Abuse and I am so thankful that I know Jesus as my Lord & Savior and that I was able to cry out to the Father when no one else had ears to hear the voice of my pain!
This is not the end of the story but just the beginning! God says in Jeremiah 29:11 that He has good plans for my life, plans to give me a hope and a future! And I believe Him!
To be continued…