The tirades, accusations, and other mental and verbal assaults of the abuser are meant to keep you confusion, off-balance and tormented. How can a victim do anything else but just endure?
You have to take control of your mind in order to get out from under these assaults. That is where windows can open and you can start to reclaim your life. You can use standard destress practices like deep breathing, mantras and meditation. I found the presence of mind to even realize I was only shallow breathing or think to do these destressors had to come after I reclaimed my mind.
Here are the four steps I took that were beyond the reach of the abuser. Just like a steamboat uses the water it’s on to power itself, learning to convert the slanders of the abuser turns his weapons to your advantage.
- Deny every negative statement from the abuser.
Since a religiously abused victim is taught not to trust her inner voice, intuition or gut feelings, this is the hardest but first and necessary step. That is because the abuser deals in lies. What is true of the abuser will be projected onto the victim. When he accused me of cheating, which devastated me and was totally against my character, I found out later he was cheating. When he accused me of being wrong to use the money I earned on something I wanted, it was because he wanted to use- not just some of my money – but everything I earned. When he negatively compared me to another woman, he was grooming her to be his next mistress.
When using Bible verses, I had an encouraging or counter verse in my mind to offset the verbal abuse he justified by hurling a condemning or accusatory verse at me. After all, we know who accuses us to God night and day and it’s not God.
- Affirm the power of good as prevailing.
Next I learned to use my mind to look for the good. This was not the same as excusing or denying the evil that my husband was inflicting on me. But I sought out what would uplift my mind, “think on these things” as Paul is reported to have written. I did not allow myself to get caught up in focusing exclusively on what my tormentor would have me focus on.
Since his goal was to dominate me in every aspect – mind, heart, body and spirit – I began to listen to or read counter messages in every area. I began taking small steps to get a walk in. I began accessing strengthening reading and speakers. I began to seek out supportive people. The reason it is important not to stay exclusively in the Bible for these influences is because you know the Bible and you need more positive resources beyond or in addition to the Bible to affirm that you are good and you have power within you that is not within the same source that he is using against you. There will always be a verse he can hurl at you to object to any strength or solace you are getting from the Bible or prayer. By seeing evidence of God’s love for you in the wider world, you will free yourself from only one stream of comfort or strength that is being challenged by him with other verses used against you.
- Act on guidance with confidence, not fear.
I found that the decisions I would make under anxiety, fear or panic rarely turned out well. After I left three times and was forced back, I determined that when I left the last time, it would not be under emergency or crisis conditions because I didn’t have my resources lined up. So even though when we left, he was chasing us across the street screaming he would cut me up into little pieces before the police came, I was running to a neighbor who had already agreed to take us in and loan me a car to get to work (he did take the car).. I had already alerted my sympathetic supervisor to have security ready if he came threatening at my work (he did). I had already arranged for a second safe place to stay if he broke into our home (he did).
After the divorce, this principle stayed me in good stead. He had already cleaned out my private bank account in May. My new job didn’t start until the fall. I knew God would provide for us. I got a minimum wage job, lived on food donations, and took a bus until the new job started. Neighbors helped with babysitting without charging me, although I gave them what I could. After I sold the house, we were on our way.
- Express specific gratitudes daily, which increases the good in your life
Part of looking for the good is finding 5 things every day to be grateful for. It is good if you have a group or someone else you can share them with. I did not listen to any critical voices that tried to blame me, condemn me, or chide me with their lack of understanding or caring. Looking for the good is a way of affirming that God is with me, evidence of constant and manifested Divine Love, and the idea that I am being supported every day.
It builds up in me a fortification of confidence and strength that helps me ignore or push aside the negativity that wants me to believe it is stronger than God’s love for me.
I recommend these proven mental steps that can overcome the lies, distortions, accusations, or hatred that the accuser and those who don’t understand will hurl at you.
We got this!