Domestic Violence Awareness Month: From One Who Lived It

Courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeImages.com

Thirty-eight years ago today, I married the man who would become my abuser. He had already altered the trajectory of my life, and our short, three-year marriage would continue to shift my life path in ways unimaginable. I usually try to ignore the date on this day, but October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

In keeping with the mission of this blog, I decided to confront the day differently, to share what I’ve written on domestic violence. Today, the links are in purple, the color we wear to remember those who suffer, suffered, or died at the hands of an abuser.

I doubt you can stomach all of these in one sitting, but if you want to know more about a serious topic in today’s world, any of these posts can be enlightening.

I pray that you will find a way to help someone in this situation. No one should live in fear of their family members or loved ones.

Image Courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeImages.com

Does the Abuse Stop After Divorce?

© Barbara V. Evers, All rights reserved.

© Barbara V. Evers, All rights reserved.

When I divorced my husband on the grounds of physical cruelty (what the courts called domestic violence at the time), I thought I was free. The abuse would stop.

Physically, the abuse did stop, but abusers do not let go easily. When you have children with the abuser, they have an easy way into your life…even if they move on and find another victim for their abusive behavior. You escaped, and they can’t stand that loss of control.

Still, close to twelve years after my divorce, I stared in shock at my boss when he said to me, “Diane tells me your husband still abuses you.”

“No he doesn’t.”

I couldn’t believe that anyone who knew me would ever say or think that.  I had never let him touch me again. In fact, just three years earlier, he had lost all visitation rights with our children.  In the past few months, he had regained some rights, but he would never have the access the courts had given him during our divorce.

Looking back now, I realize he did abuse me , just through different means.

I recall one incident where he got angry at me over the phone.  I had learned to hang up when this happened, separate myself from him. He didn’t stop calling. This was before Caller ID, so I answered once before I realized what he was up to.  I hung up again, and the phone started ringing almost immediately. I had to leave the apartment to get away from it.

When I lived in Atlanta, he refused to set a specific time to return with the kids on his visitation weekends. I knew approximately when they would arrive but not exactly. When I suggested a set time, he became verbally abusive.

He, often, found ways to ridicule and harass me during the few moments he’d be at my door dropping off the kids or picking them up. I have no idea how many times I called the police because he would not leave. Of course, once I called the police, he would leave before they arrived.

So, twelve years after my divorce, I was still dealing with his abusive nature, but I didn’t see myself as abused.  Why?  Because I never let him get the upper hand.  He tried. He wanted it, but I stayed firm in my stance against his attempts to control me.  In my mind, I wasn’t giving in to his tactics, so I was winning.

 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

I stood strong. I did not let myself fear him or be discouraged by him.  I trusted in a better “man” than him, I trusted in God and chose not to be the victim anymore.  For me, the abuse had stopped.

 

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Love One Another, Not Judge

lovecloudMy last two posts drew a lot of attention and caused me great sadness over our inability to love one another.  Your responses reminded me of two harsh truths:

  • Many people remain in abusive situations
  • Many people leave the church due to its reaction to their situations

Why can’t we get this right?

We’re not the only generations with this problem. We just have a larger vision of what’s happening in the world thanks to the internet and social media. It’s a two-edged sword. I can reach people with my posts, but so can others who share negative and hateful things. What causes them to say these things? They believe they are right and doing what is right.

What does Jesus have to say about what is right?

On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”                   Luke 10:  25-28

We have clear directions from Christ, using the old testament (Deut. 6:5, Lev. 19:18) to reinforce his teaching.  Do you remember the expert in the law’s response to this? He asked, “Who is my neighbor?”

Jesus responds with the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37). In case you’re unfamiliar with the culture at this time, a Samaritan was considered the lowest of the low. A Jew would not interact with a Samaritan at all. Was Christ saying Samaritans are better than Jews? No. He used this story to demonstrate that all of us are neighbors and should care for and help each other. No one is better than anyone else, and all deserve our love.

So, I ask of you, if you know of someone hurting–due to abuse or some other issue–reach out to them with the love that Christ commands. Don’t let misguided Christians set them down the path to unfaithfulness.  Christ told us to love one another. He didn’t say judge one another.

Remember this the next time you’re tempted to judge someone. Odds are you don’t know the whole story, anyway.