Monday, June 23, 2008

Emotional Abuse

I am taking parts of this post, and following posts on abuse, from "Not Another Sarah" by Sarah E. Southerland. This is one book that I feel is a must read for anyone that has someone in their life that is possibly being abused. There is a link in the sidebar where you can purchase your own copy or donate a copy to someone that is in need.

Abusers need to have control over everything in their environment. The intention of emotional abuse is "to destroy the self-esteem and self-confidence of his partner" He will use subtle manipulation to gain his goal. It will not take long for her to start doubting herself. Before long the woman is not the same person. She slowly changes into what she thinks will stop the abuse. And then she lets all her feelings die, because it is too hard to feel, to think, to care. She is empty and hollow and tries only to please him and keep the peace at all costs. She says nothing, because who would believe her? He is such a nice person, after all, mostly. Don't believe it? Just listen to everyone around you tell you how lucky you are to be married to such a man. Even your bishop.

"Depending on the severity of the abuse, an abuser:
  • Yells or screams
  • Calls her bad names or criticizes her
  • Humiliates or degrades her, at home or in public
  • Ignores her when angry, "the silent treatment"
  • Nelects her or withholds things/information from her
  • Forces her to do things she doesn't want to do
  • Is jealous and possessive, isolates her from all others
  • Lies to her and about her
  • Threatens to commit suicide and/or murder
  • Threatens to hurt others, ie, pets, children, family members, etc
  • Intimidates her
  • Won't listen to or let her express her felings and opinions
  • Always has t be right.

An abuser will use every means possible to maintain control by making the victim feel worthless and totally dependent on him."

I could give you many personal examples from the above list, but the abuse has dwindled since I started standing up to him. He does, however, still try. Saturday we were at my niece's lovely wedding reception. We were there from beginning to end as I very rarely get an opportunity to visit with my family. He was following me around like a puppy, stepping on my heels, breathing down my neck. (he is 12" taller than I am and weighs 120-130 lbs more than I do). I turned and asked him if he needed something. He said that we needed to go through the line. I told him that he was welcome to go, we didn't have to go at the same time, after all it is family. He punched his fist in the air and said, "Fine. I hope you have a way home. Actually, don't bother coming home because all your stuff will be in the street if you ever show up. I'm done with you." then he proceeded to stomp off to the car where he sat the rest of the time we were there.

I didn't follow him and apologize, beg him to come back to the reception, say I was sorry, carry on and make it my fault. There was a time I would have, especially since we were more than 100 miles from home. I turned my back and had a good time with my family while he pouted in the hot car. I refuse to give him what he wants.

When he came back later asking if we were ready yet to leave he made excuses for his abscence- the mosquitoes were biting (true, everyone is covered and I had to take my youngest to the dr. today, but everyone else wasn't complaining), it was hot, the sun was bothering him, it was too crowded, he didn't feel well, he was tired, you name it trying to get my family to feel sorry for him and ask me why we stayed so long when he was not well. He was not happy when they walked away. There was a time that they would have played into his hand. The next day, he acted as if we had all gone to a party and had a great time together and doesn't even remember this incident (one of about 4 that night).

That is one of the small examples of emotional abuse that I could tell you about. When you are living it, you don't see it at first. I didn't. I had no experience at all in being treated that way and it confused me. I couldn't see it for what it was. I was hundreds of miles away from family and everyone that met him thought he walked on water, so surely the fault was mine. Obviously I just needed to repent and change. So I tried to be who I thought I was supposed to be.

You may wonder why I stay, even though I am aware of what is going on. There are a lot of reasons, but the biggest one is this- the Lord has not told me that I can go, yet. Through the years of dealing with this (as well as the other abuse I will post about later), I have had to learn to rely on the Lord in a way that I did not know was possible. I have had to learn to listen for the still small voice amidst turmoil and chaos and fear. I have had to learn to trust when it felt that the darkness was about to swallow me whole. I have had experiences that have served me when councling with young adults. I have been given an empathy for things that books would never allow me to understand. I can look at some of these young girls and say, "I know. I understand. I know how you feel." and I do.

Perhaps I still have things to learn and do. Perhaps I need to learn how to not be so rude in response to his tirades. Perhaps.... I don't know all the perhapses involved. I do know that there will come a time that I no longer live this life, that I am happy and well loved and treated truly as a daughter of a God. But that time is not yet. And until it is, I will continue to try to learn and grow, despite or maybe in spite of, the circumstances I am in at the moment.

8 comments:

jennie said...

Thanks for posting this. More people need to become aware of emotional abuse.The book sounds very good.

Although not written from a spiritual perspective, the best book I have read on identifying the dynamics of such a relationship, is "The Verbally Abusive Relationship" by Patricia Evans. It has been immensely helpful to me.

Christine Thackeray said...

Wow. I also think of "The Dance of Anger." Some abuse is dynamic and grows as a result of innocent intentions. It will be fascinating to see him shift as you stand up. He may improve or escalate. I pray he gets it but keep listening to the Spirit and feed yourself so you can stay strong and clear. Good luck.

Karlene said...

My husband #1 did all but two of the items on your list.

I cannot tell you the difference between living with an emotional abuser and living with someone who treats you with respect. It is night and day.

I hope you're "released" from your calling soon and find a gem of a man.

Hannah said...

There are alot of people that can relate to your story, but sadly haven't seen it for what it is. I'm glad you see it.

I hope others hear your story, and they start to see things as well. To many are told it is their fault, and that just makes things worse. Sigh!

Ashley said...

I am in a relationship like this. i reconize that he is being abusive, but i havent gotten far enough in myself to where i can not make things my fault as you had at the reception. I also feel like God hasn't called me to leave yet and a lot of people dont understand that and think I am stupid. I need this kind of support

Sandra said...

Ashley, you are right, people do not understand why abused women stay. I didn't until I became one. The reasons are as many as there are women. No one has the right to judge your actions but you and God. When the time to leave is right, you will know.

Feel free to e-mail me if you need to- sandra@urbanbotanic.com.

Anna Maria Junus said...

I've been there.

I stayed and stayed, and prayed, and prayed and behaved as if this was normal.

The Lord never told me to leave.

Finally after 20 years I made the decision to end it. Once I made the decision and told my husband that it was over, the Lord then told me it was the right thing to do.

Sometimes He doesn't tell us what to do. Sometimes He wants us to make our own decisions and even act on them and then He'll give us confirmation.

Sometimes 2+2=4 and we know it and He's saying "You're an intelligent person. I gave you a brain and a heart. You know the answer, you don't need me to tell you. Answer the question yourself and I'll tell you if it's right."

Anonymous said...

I am at the 21 year mark, I am praying and praying to know when Lord tells me is time. Yet, I am not able to make that decision. Anna what was the decision point, what gave you the push to do it.