A man of wrath stirs up strife, and one given to anger causes much transgression. Proverbs 29:22
My daughters were two and three years old when I divorced their father. They were eleven and twelve when the courts finally removed his visitation rights. I fought several years for this, but it took an incident involving the police (called by my ex’s own father) to provide sufficient evidence to the courts. Even then, he got partial rights returned to him a few years later.
What effect has this had on their lives?
I’m sorry to say it’s had a lot.
I tried. I got them out at a young age. They underwent counseling for many years. I taught them how a man should behave toward a woman. I made sure they had good male role models. I moved on with my life, refusing to live like a victim. I used my successes to educate people about abuse and show other women that they could walk away. But these efforts couldn’t fully counter-act his impact on my children’s lives.
I see its effect in their choices and their decisions. I see it in how they respond to pain or someone’s anger.
A few days ago, my ex’s mother passed away. My oldest daughter – now a producer and actress – flew in from California to attend the funeral and help her dad clean out the house. She has worked hard to move on with her life and get past her father’s abusive nature, but I worried.
I knew she wanted to be here to honor her grandmother’s memory, but it wouldn’t take much to send her father off the deep end of anger and violence as he dealt with the loss of his mother. I warned her to be careful and not let him push her buttons (something he’s done for most of her adult life).
The button pushing started on the day of the visitation. She managed to ignore it, but it hurt.
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up by training and instructing them about the Lord. Ephesians 6:4
After the funeral, things went really bad.
In going through his mother’s things, he found something private my daughter wrote ten years ago. No one should have ever seen it, but for some reason, her grandmother had a printed copy of it. He used it to fuel his fury.
Nothing she said in this paper was a lie. It was the hard truth about his actions and the pain it caused her. Instead of remorse for his past behavior, he and his current wife attacked my daughter, calling her ungrateful and using nasty, vicious names that I will not put into print. He threatened to call the police if she didn’t leave immediately. He disowned her and assured her she would never step foot on his property again and would never receive anything of her grandmother’s. He shattered her heart.
From her description of the incident, she’s lucky he didn’t resort to physical violence. Still, it’s important to remember that domestic violence comes in many forms. Verbal abuse is, in many ways, more damaging than physical because you do not forget the words spoken to you.
“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me,” is a lie!
This morning, I discovered a new hashtag on Twitter: #MaybeHeDoesntHitYou. I hope you will check out this article about verbal abuse, share it, and share this post.
And pray for my daughter and her sister who is so damaged that I’m now raising her children.