Life in FOCUS Blog

I frequently speak with women experiencing domestic/intimate partner violence. One of the hardest things I and they, find it hard to believe and accept is that domestic violence is a choice. Not the victim/survivor’s choice, but the abuser’s decision to specifically act in behaviors to gain, exert, and maintain power and control over you, who they claim to love. The abuser opts to, prefers to, uses as a privilege to, determines to, selects to, harm you, his intimate partner. The abuser has a spirit of entitlement (his belief that he has a special status and that it provides him with exclusive rights and privileges that do not apply to you) to direct every aspect of your relationship the way he wants it to be. So, as you can see, none of this is your fault. Amazingly, abusers don’t think their behavior is abusive. Did you know that there is such a thing as a profile of an abuser?

I still have a huge problem wrapping my understanding around the abuser’s mentality—for some reason the insidiousness doesn’t compute—so I went searching for solutions. I came across the book “Why Does He Do That?” by Lundy Bancroft who has been working with angry and controlling men for approximately 23 years. Mr. Bancroft says, “Your abusive partner wants to deny your experience. He wants to pluck your view of reality out of your head and replace it with his.” Think about that for a while.

When the abuser does things like:

Keeps track of your every move; Constantly accuses you of things you didn’t do; Isolates you from family, friends, co-workers, etc.; Humiliates you in front of others; Throws your beloved puppy from the third-floor window; Forces sex on you; Can place you in fear from a certain look on his face; Threatens to harm your children if you don’t do thus and so; Refuses you access to your prescription medication; Laughs with the police officer who comes to your house claiming that he did nothing and that you are crazy; Comes to your job and throws acid on you; Drags you by your feet—hog-tied—down the hallway to prove a point; Tells you nobody loves you but him as he holds you in his arms; Tries to convince your family and friends that you are the crazy one, unstable, exaggerating the situation or that you provoked a ‘heated response’ instead of owning up to their own actions; etc. he is perversely rewarded. These are choices he’s intentionally forcing on you. “He feels that it is your job, your responsibility, to alleviate his burden. Your failure to do so, from his self-centered perspective, is an abdication of your duty, a form of betrayal.” Steve Becker, LCSW, CH.T

The deluded abuser honestly believes that his devious exertion of power and control is in your…best…interest! In his mind you are an unpaid servant who should do everything to his liking—you don’t count. Another excerpt from Lundy Bancroft’s book: “When I have new clients, I go to the board and draw a compass with the needle pointing straight up to a big N. “You want your partner to be this compass, “I say to them, “and you want to be North. No matter where the compass goes, it always points in the same direction. And no matter where she goes, or what she’s doing, or what’s on her mind, you expect her to always be focused on you.” No matter what you do for him, it will never be enough.

The Bible verses below give us insight on entitlement.

James 4:1-12  – “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel…”

2 Timothy 3:2 – “For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy…”

It’s always good to get an understanding about something that vexes your spirit, which for me is domestic violence. I do understand a little more about the mentality of an abuser, but it’s still hard to accept.

Next, let’s dispel a few myths and shine the light on the entitled abuser’s excuses:

Larry Bennett, PhD, licensed social worker and professor at the Indiana University School of Social Work, says, “A batterer who quits drinking is a sober batterer.”

I yelled at you because you acted like you weren’t listening to me. I was hit as a child, and that’s how I was raised. If our kids didn’t tell me that you were reading the newspaper, I wouldn’t know that you were planning to leave me.                                                               

Will you be able to spot an abuser pre-relationship?

Don’t be shy…leave a comment sharing your thoughts.

Stay tuned for Part 2.                                                                                                                                 Yvonne Cole

 

 

 

Tagged with: , ,

Who is going to take care of everything else if I am taking care of myself?

I have a friend named Sophia. Sophia and her 4-year-old twins were going back home to Germany to visit. She listened, with one ear while trying to settle the twins down, as the flight attendant went through the standard pre-flight announcements… “If there should be a change in cabin pressure…put your oxygen mask on first before helping others.” She thought, “I’ve heard this before, but shouldn’t I try to save my children first? It seems counter-productive and—well…a bit—selfish?” Putting on your oxygen mask first is an important metaphor for those of us who run around taking care of everything and everyone else except ourselves. Why is this an important rule for ensuring survival?  Because if you run out of oxygen, you can’t help anyone else. If Sophia had passed out because she wasn’t getting oxygen, what would have happened to her twins?

If you are sold out or will by any means possible meet the needs of your self-entitled perpetrator and neglecting yourself, you will certainly crash and burn. I can tell you this because it happened to me. On my lunch break one day I went shopping to get dinner ingredients. This was after I’d done a gazillion other things that were expected of me that morning before I went to work. As I rushed through the aisles, I rounded a corner, and everything began to swim around me. Think vertigo. I paused—but only for a millisecond—then continued my shopping. I was so set on being the perfect wife. Newsflash, the perfect wife doesn’t exist. Marriage is not a singles club, it’s a two becomes one club. Self-care is not selfish or self-indulgent; it’s simply one tool you can turn to when coping with or healing from an abusive relationship. Self-care is the opposite of self-neglect, the practice of taking an active role in protecting your own well-being.  Selfishness or empty conceit is often expressed by building up oneself while tearing down someone else.

Do you know what happens as you faint/ black out/ swoon/pass out? You lose consciousness because your brain isn’t getting enough oxygen. As the oxygen saturation levels in your body drops, you begin to experience hypoxia (low oxygen in your blood and tissues). When your blood doesn’t carry enough oxygen to your tissues to meet your body’s needs and your brain goes without oxygen, things can get ugly quick.  You begin to not think clearly or quickly, feel disorientated, might become nauseous, struggle to pay attention, make decisions, or are unable to remember things. Your basic human functions (like say, the will to live) just completely stop working. You eventually pass out.

“Self-care is a simple concept, yet for many of us, it can be incredibly difficult in practice. It is especially challenging for survivors of abuse, who are often made to feel like they are not worthy of love or care. But the truth is that everyone deserves to be cared for, and we all have the power to be our own caregivers. That’s what self-care is all about; taking care of yourself in ways that feel best to you, focus on your own health and well-being, and bring you comfort.” (Taken from National Domestic Violence website.)

“Self-care is about how we can be our best selves in order to be of support to those around us. For children to lead healthier lives, they need a healthy adult who can act as an emotional buffer to stressful or traumatic experiences. In other words, taking care of my own emotional health and well-being is one of the best investments that I can make for my kids’ health.” Nadine Burke Harris, M.D. MomsRising.org

Is self-care Biblical?

1 Corinthians 3:16: “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?”

Mark 12:31: “The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

Ephesians 5:29: states: “For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church…”

Luke 5:16: “But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray.” Even Jesus prioritized alone time with the Father. There are MANY examples of Jesus taking this time to recharge. This is a vital part of anyone’s self-care plan – crucial to both spiritual and mental health! Jesus knew His limitations and remembered his priorities.

Luke 10: 38-42; and Mark 2:27: Jesus encouraged others to rest, like when He told Martha not to be anxious about the housework, but to come and relax with Him.

Hebrews 4:9: “There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God…”

Quality of life

When we were shown by the attending doctors that the ventilator began breathing for my mom at almost 100%, I immediately went into denial. I wanted to crawl into her hospital bed, hold her in my arms, and if possible, trade places with her. I wanted to will away the toxins in her body and the sepsis in her blood and make her whole again. One of her doctors said something that made me think. He said that if we left her in the state she was in, she’d need someone to attend to her indefinitely. She would never get up from the hospital bed again. Once a very self-sufficient woman, she’d never be able to care for herself again. Then he said that she would not have any quality of life. That did it for me. When we’re in such a state that our quality of life is severely diminished, we won’t be able to take care of ourselves.

At its core, self-care is all about being good stewards of our bodies, minds, and souls in order to become the best version of ourselves. In Genesis, God commands us to take care of all His creation. And guess what? That includes us.

Imagine a life where you have more energy, more time, and are more positive. In this scenario you’re more present with others and more creative.  Who doesn’t want that?  What family, work environment and world doesn’t need or want that? What if, in life, you metaphorically put your oxygen mask on first, not because you’re selfish, but because you can do more — for others and for yourself — if you prioritize your own needs.

We need you!                        Yvonne Cole                                                                                                                                             

Please reply back to this post with ways you self-care.                                                          

You may feel as though you are trapped permanently in your abusive relationship; like there is no way out. Living in an abusive relationship is miserable and leaves you feeling hopeless. Sometimes you are paralyzed inside of the fear. Your outlook isn’t very uplifting or appealing and all you can think about are the eggshells you walk on daily and if you are going to say or do something that will wreak havoc. Even though you did nothing wrong, are not the reason for the ranting and raving, and why the choice/decision to abuse you is not your fault, your instinctive default is to blame yourself. “I must have done something to make ___________ mad.” “I shouldn’t have provoked _________.” Let’s face it, you live with a tyrant, whom you love, but at the same time, you are not sure if you love this person. It’s confusing mentally and emotionally. All you know is that you are miserable and trying to make it through the day. Here’s an option for you while you’re trying to figure out what you are going to do.

 Shake it Off and Take a Step Up

One day a farmer’s donkey fell into an abandoned well. The animal cried piteously for hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do. Finally, he decided the animal was old and the well needed to be covered up anyway; so, it just wasn’t worth it to him to try to retrieve the donkey.

He invited all his neighbors to come over and help him. They each grabbed a shovel and began to shovel dirt into the well. Realizing what was happening, the donkey at first cried and wailed horribly. Then, a few shovelfuls later, he quieted down completely.

The farmer peered down into the well and was astounded by what he saw. With every shovelful of dirt that hit his back, the donkey was doing something amazing. He would shake it off and take a step up on the new layer of dirt. As the farmer’s neighbors continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal, he would shake it off and take a step up.

Pretty soon, the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well and trotted off, to the shock and astonishment of all the neighbors.

Life is going to shovel dirt on you, all kinds of dirt. The trick to getting out of the well is to not let it bury you, but to shake it off and take a step up. Each of our troubles is a steppingstone.

We can get out of the deepest wells just by not stopping, never giving up! Shake it off and take a step up!

        Author Unknown

I’ve been where you are…many times. People don’t understand why you are still with the person who brings you such misery.  Truth be told, you may even wonder that same thing.  Have you ever heard of trauma bonding? It is a part of the cycle of abuse. Maybe you grew up witnessing abusive relationships and it’s what you subconsciously gravitate to. Maybe you want to believe so badly that your abuser will change that you continue to hope. Maybe we are so unaware of our own needs that we neglect to “feel” for ourselves. You’ve probably heard, “If I were you, I wouldn’t take that.” People who are not in abusive relationships can say that because they’ve never walked in your shoes. They don’t have a clue.

Sense domestic violence is about power and control I’m going to try to help you get your power back and take control of your life. It’s better to make your decisions from a place of strength instead of abject fear. That bears repeating: It’s better to make your decisions from a place of strength instead of abject fear. Teach yourself how to identify the situations in which you are letting fear control you. And yes, it’s a lot easier said than done. It requires brutal honesty and self-transparency. It means you really have to open up and allow yourself to get a glimpse of your inner scaredy cat.”

You might try…

♥ Take one hour at a time. Just like the donkey in the story above, he shook the dirt off a little bit at a time and stood on it. Don’t look too far into the future. You can take baby steps, just like when you first learned how to walk. You took a step, wobbled, fell, then got back up. When you see that you’ve made it through hour number one, you get a wee bit stronger. When you see that you made it through hour number two, whatever that hour contains, picture yourself getting stronger. Just like the GPS on your device or in your vehicle, you only get enough direction to get you to the next turn in the road. Incidentally it works that way with the other God’s Powerful Spirit. But at all costs avoid the Great Prowling Schemer (Satan)

♥ Get clear. You can only change yourself. What you have in this relationship is not love. Love is the absolute opposite of what you are currently experiencing. You don’t “need” this person. The abuse you are experiencing far outweighs the few good times you’ve shared. You can hope for the best for this person…at a distance and where you are safe. You are not incompetent or whatever other negative words your abuser uses against you to control you.

♥ This may be difficult while you are living in a seemingly permanent situation, but there is “something” that you can be grateful for. Find whatever that is and laser focus on it. If you can only find one thing, repeat that to yourself. God has many promises in the Bible. Learn them so well that you recite them in the midst of upheaval.  Can you remember a time of peace you’ve had? Focus on that. Kiddos napping—relish that time of peace. Watch silly cat videos or anything that makes you laugh so hard your cheeks hurt. You’ll find more. What we’re aiming for here is to change your perspective so that your strength can be renewed, and you can mount up with wings as eagles.

♥ Realize that you will never get “it” (dinner, laundry, sex) exactly the way the abuser wants, because his/her wants always change. You can’t hit a moving target.

A change must occur in order for change to occur.

Dear one: You deserve to experience what Jesus Christ came for, and that is to have an abundant life. Let’s not make his death for naught.

*****Write down one thing you are going to change. Just one…and stick to it. Then build upon it, just like the donkey did in the beginning of this post.

Click the link below for more in depth version of victim-survivor-thriver…Oh and share this with someone you love.

Victim – Thriver – Survivor

Yvonne Cole

Need a refresher of series 2?

https://www.focusministries1.org/blog/5-steps-to-quiet-courage-a-way-out-series-2-of-3

It seems almost impossible to emotionally detach (a defense mechanism used to cope with distressing or overwhelming emotions. It involves disconnection between your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors) from an abusive marriage, dating situation, toxic family member or co-worker, while you are still in the situation, but you can proactively remove yourself mentally.  No one can read your mind, but God. Pray first (Read Psalm 91), then ask God to help you purpose in your heart and mind that you will no longer allow your boundaries to be crossed, your feelings trampled on, your ideas discounted, your feelings invalidated, etc. Someone might ask, “Why not just leave?”  You will, but you want to leave smart, not hard by developing an escape plan. First, escape (detach) in your mind, then the physical escape can follow. As you can see, detaching emotionally is crucial. You’ve been thinking about leaving for a while now.

When you have, unfortunately common, situations like this, (The recent case of Zach Smith, the former assistant football coach for Ohio State University. His ex-wife, Courtney Smith, made it known that she was a victim of domestic violence. She even had physical evidence to prove her abuse, which many survivors are not able to provide. Despite the evidence, head coach Urban Meyer and athletic director Gene Smith chose to give Zach the benefit of the doubt instead of believing Courtney and neglected to take action. Like many abusive partners, Zach presented as Mr. Hyde to his colleagues, and Dr. Jekyll to his partner, making it difficult for those who knew him publicly to see him as being capable of abuse) happen it makes your life harder as a victim, but God! You are still on this earth for a reason.

In series 2 we listed 4 steps to detach. Step 5 focuses on planning your escape. The following is the list from series 2.

How to emotionally detach while in your abusive relationship:

  1. Make changes that are going to make you smile inside-out for real. Courtesy of Kate of luvze.com What are some of the things you used to love to do? Write? Color? Walk? Dream? Listen to music?
  2. Whenever you can, get quiet and listen while your spirit intertwines with the Holy spirit. He talks to us daily. Read the Bible. Read inspirational stories. Recite in your mind or on paper those things you are grateful for. God has hidden blessings in this challenge you are facing.
  3. Get brutally honest with yourself. Not to be confused with berating or belittling yourself. Take off your rose-colored glasses and look at your situation the way it truly is, not how you wish it could be or how it was in the beginning. Can you recall any of the red flags that manifested themselves before you became a duo? Hindsight is 20/20. Promise yourself that you will learn from it.
  1. Grieve Even though you are still physically in the relationship, you can remove yourself emotionally. The end of a relationship is hard. No matter what happened in the relationship, it’s hard. Your hopes and dreams of being loved and experiencing genuine love are dashed. When we attach ourselves or join to another, that person becomes a part of us. Show grace to yourself and begin the grieving process. Allow yourself to take this journey and realize that it’s not a rush job that can be done overnight. Christians grieve differently than those who have no hope. The stages of grief—Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance—will come and go. Sometimes several times a day.

Grief from Shattered Dreams

Grief is more than facing the reality of what is. It is the process of letting go “what should and could have been”, then releasing the hurt and pain and turning our focus to the Lord who brings comfort and hope.”

      Paula Silva

We’re in no way discounting anything that you’re experiencing at the hands of or from the mouth of the person who claims to love you, in any shape form or fashion. Your experience is yours, specific to you only. “I’ve never gotten a black eye or a busted lip, but I’ve felt abused in one way or another: mentally, emotionally, verbally,” J. Lo (Jennifer Lopez).

Right now, you’re living in fear of what he’ll do next, anger at yourself for being afraid, shame that you are enduring violence, dread of his comings and goings, uncertainty of how you will support yourself and your children if you leave, anxiety and worry that you can make it on your own, guilt that you have been telling lies to your family members and/or co-workers about your situation, and the list goes on and on. You might start to question your own perception of reality and sometimes even your sanity. That’s why you must get free in your mind first. Your mind governs all else. Worry is a trick of the enemy of your soul who comes to steal, kill, and destroy. (John 10:10) See the list above.

You know what you must do, but you’re wondering if you have the courage to do it. In some cases, your safety and the safety of your children are in immediate danger. You must get to someone who can help you. In other cases, the danger is imminent but not immediate. Right now, you are living in continual stress, trauma, and survival mode. Make your mental and physical health a priority. Stop blaming yourself. You will never do or be enough to the abuser no matter what you do. If your abuser is gone a lot, make good use of that time instead of worrying what he/she is doing.

 

5. STRATEGIES

  • Practice how to get out safely. What doors, windows, elevators, stairwells, or fire escapes to use.
  • Keep your purse and car keys ready and put them ___________________ in order to leave quickly.
  • Tell your neighbor about the violent situation and request that she or he call the police if she or he hears suspicious noises coming from my house.
  • Teach your children how to use the telephone to contact the police, the fire department, and 911.
  • Create a code with your children or my friends so they can call for help.
  • Follow your intuition of when things are ramping up and move to a place that is not enclosed.
  • Keep copies of important documents and keys in a safe place outside of the house.
  • Tell the people who take care of my children which people have permission to pick up my children and that my partner is not permitted to do so.
  • Keep my order of protection on my person.
  • Inform my employer not to let him in the office or not to put calls through from him.
  • If I feel down and am returning to a potentially abusive situation, I can remind myself of all the bad times.

Emotional detachment is a sign of inner strength. You are stronger than you think you are. You can have a fear-free life. There can be life after abuse; a life of love, hope, and peace.

A prayer for you:

Lord, you are an ever-present help in the time of need. You created everything that was created and you created my dear sister/brother who is experiencing domestic violence. You are a personal God who takes a personal interest in each of His creations. Provide a way of escape, both mentally and physically so that this dear sister/brother can heal and begin to live the abundant life you came to give us.   In Jesus’ Name. Amen

Yvonne Cole

For a more detailed safety plan click the link below.                                                                                

https://www.focusministries1.org/articles/DevelopingASafetyPlan.pdf

What is the shift? When you feel safe you can begin to hope, trusting your intuition as your guide. Focus on Christ for ultimate satisfaction. Tell someone you trust what you are experiencing.

You matter! You! Yes, I’m talking to you. The one reading this post. When God made you, He didn’t make a mistake. He didn’t say, oops, can I get a do over? No! He said you are fearfully and wonderfully made. He said that you are more than a conqueror. He said that no weapon formed against you shall prosper. DO YOU KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS?! Yes, I’m shouting this absolutely phenomenal news to you! It means that you can now SHIFT from the SOS (Same old stuff) and…

Start “The Shift Movement”

Yes, Youuuuuu! Reach high to obtain this attainable goal. Challenge yourself to be a part of the Guinness World Record. Check it out  https://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/

What if you looked in the mirror today and said I will no longer give my power away? No More.

√ No more worrying, instead pray

√ No more staying up late at night on social media, instead, less social media, more peace.

√ No more giving my parents a hard time. Instead I will do things around the house without having to be told to.

√ No more thoughts of who likes me and who doesn’t. God who created only one me and He knew what he was doing. I celebrate my uniqueness.

√ No more obscene language will come from my mouth. Instead, I will challenge myself to use words that are uplifting and educational.

√ No more sleeping around. Every time I do that, I leave a piece of my soul with that person. I value my body more than that. Besides, I don’t want to get pregnant at this age and I certainly don’t want an STD. If a person keeps pushing for sex that means that they don’t love me, like they said they did.

√ No more cheating on my girlfriend/boyfriend. I wouldn’t want anyone to do that to me.

√ No more drinking and drugging. Those things cloud my mind and only afford temporary highs. I want to use my funds wisely and invest in my future.

√ No more “having” to buy designer clothes when there are people I can help who are less fortunate than I am.

√ No more instant anger. When I do that, I just admit that I’m afraid to the world. Instead, I will  think before I act.

√ No more fear of failure. Instead I will fail forward. If I never try something, I’m hindering my own success.

√ No more negative self-talk. Every time a negative thought arises, I will immediately stop it and replace it with a positive thought.

√ No more being pressured into something that doesn’t sit right with my spirit. Instead, I will use that prompting as a warning.

√ No more fussing with my siblings. Instead, I will treat them the way I want to be treated.

√ No more sabotaging myself. I will be kind to myself and show mercy, just like I would to my best friend.

√ No more complaining. Instead, I will mentally count the many blessings I have and show gratitude.

We want to hear from you. If you are a survivor of domestic violence or are currently in an abusive relationship, we can help!

Attention:

What “Shift” or “No More” are you willing to begin with?

We’d love to hear from you. Comments are invaluable to us. Don’t forget to share this post.

Will YOU become a part of the Shift Movement?

Click the link below for a great informative article!

https://www.focusministries1.org/articles/InvisibleWounds.pdf

 

 

 

 

 

At the end of the last blog we asked two questions. Did you get the chance to answer them?

If so, please share your answers by posting a comment. Need a refresher of series 1?

https://www.focusministries1.org/blog/5-steps-to-quiet-courage-a-way-out-series-1-of-3

Here the questions are: 

1) In hindsight, what would you have done different, prior to entering the relationship you are currently in?

2) What would you tell your bestest friend if they were entering into a relationship and you clearly saw the evil     nature of the person, they’re with?

Recap—Step 1 from the last post

“I always wondered how to emotionally detach from someone I loved.  I’m not going to tell you it’s easy, because it’s not; however, it is vital.  You might get stuck at this stage of survival, but do not berate yourself. You are going through and living in a traumatic situation. The operative words “going through” denotes that you are not “stuck in” this situation. Trauma can paralyze you without you even being aware you are experiencing trauma. That’s what happened to me.”

My soul had become so overwhelmed and discouraged by what I was experiencing that I became numb. There literally was no color to life; everything was gray. I feel like it slowly slithered up to me; kind of like the serpent did to Eve in the Garden. Sad to say, but I became accustomed to the emotional roller-coaster I was on in my abusive marriage. Each day morphed into the next, and before long, my existence became status quo. One day, at counseling, my therapist mentioned a word that I would have never equated with my life. This word, I naively thought, was only meant to describe those who lived in concentration camps or animals that were left in cages with no food or water, or perhaps soldiers who’d killed another human being at wartime. When my therapist stated that I had been experiencing trauma I looked at him strangely. Referring to part 1 of this series, wounds are trauma on steroids. Like them, I was deeply wounded.

Being able to emotionally detach from someone you’ve shared your deepest self with, almost seems like an abomination…a betrayal. Read my lips 😉 you—are—in—survival—mode. Your relationship is toxic, like the stench of a skunk or horse manure.  Just like a Momma bear protects her cubs, you must protect you. Ask the Lord to help you.

  How to emotionally detach while in your abusive relationship:

Make changes that are going to make you smile inside-out for real. Courtesy of Kate of www.luvze.com. What are some of the things you used to love to do? Write? Color? Walk? Dream? Listen to music?

Whenever you can, get quiet and listen while your spirit intertwines with God’s spirit. He talks to us daily.      Read the Bible. Read inspirational stories. Recite in your mind or on paper those things you are grateful for.

Get brutally honest with yourself. Not to be confused with berating or belittling yourself. Take off your rose-colored glasses and look at your situation the way it truly is, not how you wish it could be or how it was in the  beginning. Can you recall any of the red flags that manifested themselves before you became a duo? Hindsight is 20/20. Promise yourself that you will learn from it.

Grieve Even though you are still physically in the relationship, you can remove yourself emotionally. The end of a relationship is hard. No matter what happened in the relationship, it’s hard. Your hopes and dreams of being loved and experiencing genuine love are dashed. When we attach ourselves or join to another, that person becomes a part of us. Show grace to yourself and begin the grieving process. Allow yourself to take this journey and realize that it’s not a rush job that can be done overnight. Christians grieve differently than those who have no hope. The stages of grief—Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance—will come and go. Sometimes several times a day.

Grief from Shattered Dreams

“Grief is more than facing the reality of what is. It is the process of letting go “what should and could have been”, then releasing the hurt and pain and turning our focus to the Lord who brings comfort and hope.”

       Paula Silva

https://www.focusministries1.org/blog/emotionally-destructive-relationships

Stay tuned for part 3.

What does a holocaust survivor and a person experiencing domestic violence have in common? Trauma Bonding. “Trauma bonding is evidenced in any relationship in which the connection defies logic and is very hard to break. The components necessary for a trauma bond to form are a power differential, intermittent good/bad treatment, and high arousal and bonding periods (Dutton and Painter 1993).” This type of bonding takes place in concentration camps and in intimate partner violent relationships where the intense fear and will to survive can cause a bond with the enemy. This bonding is perpetuated by the imbalance of power and the manipulative nature of intermittent cycling of abuse with acts of kindness. 

 

Huh? What? I know :-]  –that’s confusing to me too. I’m going to try and break it down.

Strong’s Concordance # 5134 says that the word trauma is transliterated ‘to wound’. Wounds are trauma on steroids. Through trauma we suffer and become exhaustively overwhelmed, weakening our natural ability to cope. Wounds can bury themselves in the abyss of our sub-consciousness—visualize the numerous layers of an onion. When you have wounds that are buried so deep in your subconscious that you don’t even know are there, how are you supposed to know they are there, let alone heal from them? Marry that to still relationing (Yvonne’s dictionary) with the abuser you love. Your abuser is essentially significant in your life and you desire to be loved. He/she may be your spouse or significant other, you’ve experienced extremely blissful times with…giving you hope.  Oh, but the low times when the script flips in the twinkling of an eye. That can be like offering a lion a sumptuous meal that he thoroughly enjoys, but when he’s done eating, he does what comes naturally; he snarls, bears his teeth and pounces.

“Stockholm Syndrome” was the term given to this “bonding” that occurred (Bejerot 1974). In hostage negotiation it is defined as the psychological tendency of a hostage to bond with, identify with, or sympathize with his or her captor. Law enforcement personnel have long recognized this syndrome with battered women who fail to press charges, bail their battering partner out of jail, and even physically attack police officers when they arrive to rescue them. It is a rare phenomenon.

There are many reasons people remain in abusive relationships. In a group counseling session, one lady said, “I love him.” Another said, “I want the kids to grow up in an intact family.” Another said, “He only acts like this when he’s drunk, otherwise, he’s the sweet man I fell in love with.” While yet another said, “I’ve been an at-home mom for 20 years. What skills do I have?” Another said, “He told me that if I left, he’d kill my kids.” Regardless of the reason a person stays, the fact remains that they’re still there.

 

This got me to thinking. Is there a way to survive while enmeshed, ensnared, entangled in a violent relationship? What exactly would that look like?

Initially, my term for it was “standing up on the inside” which after research became, quiet courage. According to Frank Haney of the Rockford Registrar, “Quiet courage is taking that next step toward a goal even when the conditions are not ideal. It is having intestinal fortitude to do what you know needs to be done. Quiet courage is executing when there is a perfectly good excuse for putting something off, when there is no immediate reward, when the second most important thing is pulling you away from what matters most.”

You might feel paralyzed with fear and shame. But God!

Step 1. I always wondered how to emotionally detach from someone I loved. I’m not going to tell you it’s easy, because it’s not; however, it is vital.  You might get stuck at this stage, but do not berate yourself. You are going through and living in a traumatic situation. The operative words “going through” denotes that you are not “stuck in” this situation. Trauma can paralyze you without you even being aware you are experiencing trauma.              

You have an advocate in Abba. He hears you.

In hindsight, what would you have done different, prior to entering the relationship you are currently in?

What would you tell your bestest friend if they were entering into a relationship and you clearly saw the evil nature of the person, they’re with?

Check out this link: https://www.focusministries1.org/articles/HowToBeHappyinanUnhappyMarriage.pdf

At the end of the day, I wish this for you: It’s a song written by Mark D. Sanders/Tia Sillers

I hope you never lose your sense of wonder; You get your fill to eat, but always keep that hunger

May you never take one single breath for granted; God forbid love ever leave you empty handed

I hope you still feel small, when you stand by the ocean; Whenever one door closes, I hope one more

opens; Promise me you’ll give fate a fighting chance

And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance, I hope you dance

                                                                                                                                   Yvonne Cole

 

Tagged with:

According to the CDC, Pregnancy can be an especially dangerous time for people in abusive relationships, and abuse can often begin or escalate during the pregnancy. It’s common that an abusive partner will become resentful and jealous that the attention is shifting from them to the pregnancy. They may be stressed at the thought of financially supporting a child, frustrated at the increased responsibilities or angry that their partner’s body is changing. None of this is the survivor’s fault, and none of these are excuses. There is no excuse for abuse.

 

Did you know that

before your baby can smell, taste, see or hear, he’s already developed another sense: touch? Research shows that parts of the somatosensory system start to develop only a few weeks after conception. By week 8 of pregnancy, your baby has developed touch receptors in his face — mostly on his lips and nose — which are connected to his growing brain. By 18 weeks they can feel pain. Domestic violence affects approximately 325,000 pregnant women each year. The average reported prevalence during pregnancy is approximately 30% emotional abuse, 15% physical abuse, and 8% sexual abuse.

 

The following account is an allegory that shows how abuse has long term detrimental effects. Abuse effects everyone involved, perhaps differently, but it’s always negative and has repercussions.

“I am 20 weeks old and nestled inside my mommy’s tummy. Gasp. I hear loud and angry voices. Ow! That hurt. Someone punched me. I know if I can feel that, my mommy did too. I don’t think my mommy wanted that to happen. Will something happen to me because of that punch I felt?

Today I turn three. I have tried to be a good girl, but I just know my mommy and daddy are fighting because of me. I just know it! Mommy cries all the time. She has these red marks on her face and arms, and one day, I even saw my daddy hugging her … but she wasn’t happy about it. I thought hugs were supposed to be good. I heard him yelling at her, telling her that she is such a bad mother and that if she wouldn’t always make him so angry, he wouldn’t have to put her in her place.

Now I’m a big girl, I’m five years old. I don’t understand everything that’s going on with my parents. One day, my daddy made my mommy clean the inside of the toilet with her face, and then he left. But when he came back with flowers, Mommy just looked at him.

Being six years old now, I understand a lot better what’s happening with my parents. I have a little brother now, and when Daddy starts throwing things and yelling, we know what to do. We hide in the closet. We can barely hear the yelling and screaming in there. My little brother puts his hands over his ears and starts to hum to drown out the yelling while he rocks back and forth.

Sometimes I dream that we can move away and have nice things like my best friend, Ruth, but Mom said that Daddy only gives her enough money to buy groceries. Daddy doesn’t want us going out without him, so when he leaves the house, he locks us in and takes the keys.  

Mom knows to come and get us once daddy slams and locks the door because she knows our hiding place. But this time, she didn’t come to get us after the door slammed. We waited a little while longer. When she still didn’t come, we went to find her. My little brother saw her first. There was blood by her head and more was coming from her mouth and nose. She wasn’t moving.

“Wake up, Mommy!” my little brother cried while we shook her. At first, I was so scared that I couldn’t move, then I went to call 911. But when I got to the phone, the cord was hanging from the wall. Now I was really scared, so I told my little brother to come with me. We got the extra key from the hiding place mommy showed me, unlocked the door, and ran next door to the neighbor’s house, Ms. Ann. She called 911 for us. The next thing I knew, mommy was in the hospital, and Ms. Ann said the police took daddy away.

Today I am eighteen. My brother is twelve. We were blessed. Ms. Ann took us in after we found out that Mom would no longer be able to take care of us and that Dad was going to be in jail for a while. We were able to stay in our same school and keep the few friends we did have. My brother and I had to grow up fast.

Ms. Ann was wonderful, but she just wasn’t our mom. Now I have a wonderful boyfriend. He’s nothing at all like my dad. We met just one month ago, and he says he wants to marry me! He calls me every day and asks me where I am, what I’m doing, and whom I’m with. Sometimes he comes to check up on me right after he calls me. I asked him why he does that, and he said that he can’t stand being away from me.

One night I was leaving work and ran into a male friend. Out of nowhere, my boyfriend appeared, punched my friend in his stomach, grabbed my arm, and dragged me to his car. After his chest stopped heaving and the scowl had left his face, I asked him what made him do what he did. He grabbed me by my hair and spit in my face. He said that if he ever caught me with another man again, he’d fix it so that I couldn’t see. Then he started crying and told me that he loves me so much and wanted to know why I kept making him so angry that he had to act this way. I was so mad at him that I told him I never wanted to see him again. I jumped out of his car and ran away as fast as I could. I guess this is the way my life is supposed to be. I must have really made God mad.

When my brother got home and saw the bruises on my face, the first thing he did was punch a hole in the wall and swear to kill my boyfriend. I told him not to worry and that nobody would know because I’ll just do what I used to see Mom do, wear makeup. It sure was hot wearing those long sleeved shirts in the summer.

I never want to be in a relationship again; people who love you hurt you. Finally, my brother and I moved into our own apartment. We moved three thousand miles away, away from our past and away from my boyfriend.”

 

We’d like to hear from you…

Is there someone you know of who is pregnant and living in an abusive relationship? Here are a few tips.

  • Start a conversation using open-ended questions.
  • Let her know that she can talk to you at any time without judgment.
  • Research resources for people in abusive relationships that you can pass on to your friend.
  • For more tips see: https://www.focusministries1.org/resources                                   Yvonne Cole
Tagged with:

Have you picked up on any red flags as you were reading parts 1 and 2?

I hope so!

Missed Part 2, no worries! Click on the link for the last post… https://www.focusministries1.org/blog/engaged-at-christmas-part-2

 

Eva and Jessica were sitting in Jessica’s living room when her phone rang…again. It was Jason, who was phone stalking her. She finally answered.

“Eva!” He sounded angry. “I’ve been calling you. Did you get my message?” His voice changed again. Can you come back over, and talk?” The sugary sound of his voice gave Eva pause. He often flipped the script mid conversation. He could be sweet and sour in one sentence, which confused her. She loved him and he loved her, didn’t he?

Jessica was completely against Eva going to see Jason because she had a bad feeling about him. “Eva, you are not going over there, right!”

“I love him Jess. We just need to get to know each other better. That takes time. I’m not going to run away after the first argument. I just need a thicker skin. I’m too sensitive. We have plans Jess…plans to be together for a lifetime.”

Jessica pleaded. “Eva, don’t go over there!”

Eva’s phone rang again. It was Jason, again, wanting to know if she’d left yet and if she’d bring a bottle of wine to celebrate because he had good news. Ignoring Jessica’s pleading, and battling back the sinking feeling that was blossoming in her stomach, Eva put her shoes on and left.

Eva’s body began doing strange things as she walked down the stairs and along the asphalt driveway toward her car. She replayed the conversation she and Jessica had just had. Jessica was pleading with her not to go to Jason’s house. But why? Her heart began to race, it felt as if she was gasping for air, and she felt her muscles tense as she reached for the door handle. Her hands were shaking so badly that she dropped the Smart Key. Bending down to pick up the key, her purse slipped from her shoulder spilling all the contents out. Breathe, Eva. She thought.

Finally, getting the last of the purse contents back into her purse she managed to open the car door and climb into her car. Before putting on her seat-belt, she sat for a few minutes, trying to catch her breath. Her heart was still racing. She chalked that up to excitement. Just before depressing the brake pedal and pressing the ENGINE START/STOP button, her phone chimed again. It was Jason.  

She depressed the call button on her Bluetooth headset and trying to sound cheery, said, “Hey there!”

“Where are you!” He sounded angry. “I expected you’d be here by now! You okay?”

            Eva stuttered. “Uh um, yah. I’m fine. On my way now, ten minutes, tops.”

            “Really? You said that ten minutes ago! You got the wine?” His voice was flat, monotone.

            “No, I don’t have the wine.” She felt like she was letting him down. “I don’t feel good Jason. I’ma go home, maybe come by your house later.”

            Screaming into her ear, he said. “Why not! Didn’t I tell you to bring wine! Can’t you do anything right?”

Eva’s stomach felt queasy and began cramping. She began sweating profusely, then her head began to pound. “I’m n-not feeling w-well, Jason.” Saliva began filling her mouth. She managed to pull to the side of the road, park her car, and open her car door…just before she emptied her stomach contents out onto the ground.

Jason heard something happening but wasn’t sure what he was hearing. “Eva! What’s happening! Why do you have to ruin everything! See, I had a surprise for you.” He heard the sound again. It sounded like she was throwing up. “Eva! Eva!”

            Eva managed to take a deep breath, just before the second round erupted from her mouth. She could hear Jason shouting. She threw her Bluetooth off just as the third violent eruption hit. After a few minutes, she felt a little better but still unsteady. What is going on? She couldn’t decide if she should go home to take care of herself or continue to Jason’s house. I feel a little better, she thought. Then she heard go home. She’d heard that still small voice before and it was a warning. Was it this time?

            Her phone beeped. It was Jessica pleading with her again, not to go to Jason’s and begging her to go home. She had been praying for Eva from the time she’d backed out of her driveway. Praying that God stop Eva from going into danger.

At this juncture I am going to present two different scenarios as to how this true story ends. Sadly, both situations occur in abusive relationships.

            Scenario One

When Eva got home, Jessica was in her driveway. Eva’s phone began ringing. “Ignore it, Eva I have to tell you what I found out about Jason. Jason, a.k.a. Oliver Brown has two recent and open cases for domestic violence. His wife pressed charges after he punched her so hard that she is permanently blind in her left eye. And there’s more. He recently lost his job because the law caught up with him…and, he stole your engagement ring.”

Jessica was dumbfounded. How is this even possible? It sounds like something from a movie. She was going to be sick again and ran to the bathroom.

Before closing the door, she heard three loud, single popping sounds. That sounded like gunfire, and close. But it couldn’t be. She rinsed her mouth out. “Jess, I’m gonna take a quick shower.” She yelled through the door.

Jessica was dead and Jason was walking toward Eva’s bathroom.

         Scenario Two

Eva had just made it to Jason’s house when Jessica called to warn her not to go. Eva told her not to worry and that she’d call her on her way home. Jason gathered Eva in his arms and held her as she cleared the entryway. He was happy to see her. “I noticed that you don’t have the wine. That’s okay. We don’t need it anyway. Sit closer, I want to hold you in my arms.”

Eva smiled. She knew everything was going to be fine; that warm hug told her so. They would grow old and gray together with their kids surrounding them. Jason told her that he’d gotten a new job. The opportunity of a lifetime. Filled her in on all the perks of the new job, the salary, etc. then hit her with a bombshell. The job was in Canada and they’d have to relocate. When she didn’t catch his enthusiasm, his entire mood changed…the script flipped. He began to slowly pinch her arm, digging in his fingernails…seemingly unaware of what he was doing. Eva told him to stop and he asked her what she was talking about.

He stared into her eyes penetrating her soul. For some reason, she couldn’t make herself look away. The pure evil she saw frightened and repulsed her. Then, she felt a distinct chill and was overwhelmed by a powerful menacing darkness. Her mom always told her that the eyes were the windows to the soul. There was no soul behind his snake eyes. He finally stopped pinching her, which snapped her out of the trance she was in, stood up and began to pace. Things weren’t going the way he’d planned. Eva had had enough and had decided to leave. Jason grabbed her by the hair as she walked past him on her way to the door, snatching her backwards. When she hit the floor everything changed, suddenly.

Jason pulled her gently to her feet and embraced her. Through tears, he told her that he didn’t mean for her to slip and fall. He only wanted to stop her from leaving so they could work things out. He professed his unending love for her, pulling at her heartstrings. He must love me, he’s being vulnerable. If I’m patient with him, everything will be alright. Didn’t everyone get cold feet before getting married?

She felt like she was on a roller-coaster, an emotional one. Wanting to work things out, she thought about how great she felt in the loving times they’d shared, and how much they had in common. Then she thought about how much time she’d already invested in their relationship. Then she thought about the coldness behind his snake eyes, but only for a second.

“It’s getting late, Eva. Why don’t you stay over? I’ll cook dinner. You know how I love to cook.”  Without an answer he started toward the kitchen. She stood and reached for his outstretched hand.                                                                                                                       _______________________________________

A lot of people get engaged at Christmas. Some without considering what they are walking into. Don’t get swept up in your emotions and feel that you must commit just because you have a ring and have set the date. Even if the invitations have gone out and the church is booked, if the Holy Spirit shows you signs (red flags), it is for the best. This is not the person for you.

Is there something troubling you about your dating relationship? Pay close attention. You have the right to put the brakes on at any time. Like to learn more about what to look for in an abusive person visit: https://www.focusministries1.org/help/domestic-violence

Want to learn more about Red Flags:  https://www.focusministries1.org/resources/domestic-violence-articles

                                                                                                                                                             Yvonne Cole

 

 

 

In the last post, you were introduced to Eva and Jason who had a whirlwind courtship. They met in July, quickly fell in love, and before Eva had the chance to catch her breath, Jason proposed—in October, three months after they met. Eva was beginning to pick up on a few things, in her spirit but she couldn’t wrap her head around them.

Did you pick up on any red flags as you were reading? I hope so. At the end of the last post, Eva’s best friend Jessica, wanted to know what was going on…

            “Eva! What happened to your ring!?”

            Embarrassed, Eva involuntarily felt for her ring. “Oh, girl, I’m having it cleaned. What do you think about this dress?”

            Ohhkkkay. Jessica thought, knowing Eva was lying. “So, has Jason been keeping his word and attending church with you?”

            “Well…yah.”

            “Was that hesitation I heard in your voice? What’s really going on?”

Jessica and Eva were like sisters. They’d grown up together, literally. They’d spent so much time together that they each knew the other well. They looked out for each other and were often each other’s sounding board. They’d always told the truth to each other, no matter what. And they loved each other as if they shared the same blood.

            Eva, still not ready to give in and tell the truth said, “Nothing girl! I’m so excited about our wedding! I’m sure we’ll be able to work out our little differences. I’m confident that we will because we love each other.”

            “Eva—there’s something about him that doesn’t sit right with me. I noticed how he watched every move you made, the night we had dinner at my house. And did you hear him question Brian when he made a simple comment about you and his girl taking the plunge? Brian had to explain that you were like a sister to him. Really, Eva? You don’t see something wrong with that?”

            “Jess, you’re being overly dramatic. Semantics, that’s all that was. Now, you did say that you would be my matron of honor, right?”

“Eva! Are you serious right now!? I told you that there’s something about him that doesn’t sit right with me. Are you hearing me? He seems possessive to me, and didn’t you pick up on what he said when Brian asked him to help with the dishes…oh, and the beer thing?”

“I hear you Jess. I just think you’re over-reacting. What color do you like best? Sea green or mauve?”

Jessica saw that she wasn’t getting through to Eva. Amazed that her best friend was refusing to hear her concerns, she quietly said, “I like the sea green, but Eva, that’s not what’s important right now. I want you to pay close attention to your conversations with Jason and watch his actions.” Her voice became even softer, “Would you do that for me?”

Eva looked at Jessica, tenderly took her hand and said, “I know you only want what’s best for me.”

The next day

            “Jason, are you alright? I’ve left you three voicemails and texts. Call me when you get this, okay?” Eva hadn’t been able to get in touch with Jason for two days. Her next move was to go to his parents’ house.

Jason showed up on her doorstep that night. Happy to see him, she pulled him inside and hugged him then asked, “Where have you been! I’ve been so worried that something happened to you.”

            “I’m a grown man. You have no right to know every move I make.

Eva, shocked at his response, pulled back. Sensing his anger and for the first time feeling afraid of him, confused her. The first thing that came to her mind was the conversation she and Jessica had. “Hmm, what do you mean? I’m not tracking you. I was concerned.”

“Gotcha! Jason said, smiling. “You should know where I am and that I’m okay. That was just a test, and you passed it.” With that, he walked past her and headed straight for the kitchen. She followed him. He sat at the head of the table and pulled her into his lap. “What’s my beautiful fiance’ have ready for dinner?”

She smiled, concealing fear. I’m over-reacting, she thought to herself. Smiling she said, “baked chicken, mashed potatoes, and green beans.”

With her still sitting on his lap, he abruptly stood, dumping her to the floor. Looking down at her scathingly, he said in a low menacing voice, “you know I don’t like chicken. How many times do I have to tell you that!? If you really cared about me, you would have listened when I told you that.” He stepped over her. “Get up and take me home!”

She was so shocked that she couldn’t stand up. What just happened? The sweet man she knew had turned into someone she never wanted to know. He said he loved my baked chicken two weeks ago.

“Jessica!” he shouted, “come on!”

She got up, grabbed her keys from the rack on the wall by the door, and drove him home.

After dropping him off, she went directly to Jessica’s house after taking Jason home, ignoring his repeated attempts to reach her. Through tears and angst, she said, “Jess, you were right. Something is going on with Jason. I saw another side of him that scared me.” She felt sick. All of the wedding plans and money she’d already spent was simply going to be a waste.

“C’mon in Eva. Let’s have a cup of tea and talk like we used to do.”

“Is Jason here?”

“No, he’s working over-time.”

“Okay.” Jessica took off her shoes and curled up with a pillow in the light blue vintage Lazy-Boy recliner. She was soothed by the soft cushions that enveloped her, making her feel safe. Something she desperately needed to feel. Taking a deep breath and after a sip of tea she was ready to talk. She felt as if someone else was relaying what had happened. With tears streaming down her face and in a flat monotone voice, she began telling her best friend what she’d experienced. By the time she’d finished she was emotionally and physically drained. She felt like a wet noodle. Just then her phone vibrated indicating there was a message, which she put it on speaker.

“Eva, I’m so sorry. I’m going through so much right now. I love you. I don’t want to live without you. Please forgive me. Please. I need you!”

Eva and Jessica looked at each other. “Jess, do you think he’s really sorry and that he would be a different person if he wasn’t under so much stress? Did you hear how contrite he sounded? He really is sorry. Maybe I could have handled the entire situation differently and he wouldn’t have gotten mad? I mean…everyone deserves a second chance, right”

Emphatically Jessica replied, “No.”

Eva’s phone began ringing incessantly—back to back to back. She ignored the calls, at first.

Putting the phone on speaker, again, they listened. “Hello.”

“Eva! I finally got you. Oh, honey are you alright? I’m so worried about you! Did you get my message? Can you come back over, and talk?” The sound of his voice gave Eva pause. She was so confused. She loved him and he loved her, didn’t he?

Eva was looking at Jessica mouth the word Nnnnoooo!

Jessica didn’t know what to say or do. As she stood to put her shoes on the told Jason she’d be at his house in 20 minutes.

“Eva, you are not going over there, right!”

“I love him Jess. We just need to get a good understanding. I’m not going to run away after the first argument. I just need a thicker skin. I’m too sensitive.”

“Eva, please, don’t go over there.”

Eva’s phone rang again. It was Jason.

“How close are you, can you bring a bottle of wine, please. I think after we talk, we’ll have cause for celebration.”

 

What should Eva do?  

Stay tuned for the conclusion in Part 3.                         Yvonne Cole