The Key to Your Door

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The Key to Your Door.

Those of us who were in a destructive relationship know the strength it takes to cope with those who don’t understand. We often would hear, “Why doesn’t she just leave?”

Often those who say this won’t help. They don’t understand the pressures to stay.

Isolation

Lack of money

Violence

All powerful external forces working to keep us trapped.

And as long as I focused on those, I felt tormented and helpless.

The shift that turned the key to unlock those doors began within me. My bottom line. The straw on my back.

And that is what the abuser fears the most.  That is why he began and continues to work to demoralize you. He knows you are powerful.

What was that shift?

Conviction.

Conviction of the core truth about me. Whatever the central button was that he would push, that’s the one I began to affirm the truth about.

I stopped believing the lies.

Each time he hurled an accusation – an insult – a condemnation at me, I had to affirm the truth about me.

My prayer changed. I used to ask God to change me or him. That prayer wasn’t being answered after 15 years. That’s because it wasn’t God’s will.

Now I silently asked God to show me the way to get out. That prayer began being answered.

This practice kept me going as I found

Support

Money

And a way to escape Violence.

Here are some common falsehoods that keep women of faith trapped. These must be overcome to access the strength you need to get out and stay out.

  • Few understand that we may not think of ourselves as victims. Instead we may think we are taking the high road morally.
  • We may have been conditioned to value the ability to suffer, thinking we are pleasing God. We may be praised as “longsuffering” or “patient”.
  • We may be tolerating the abuser’s extra affairs, telling ourselves we will not give in to jealousy – “like other women”.
  • We may believe we have an unlimited amount of forgiveness, emulating the teaching of “70 x 7” verse.
  • We may have been taught to look to our life in heaven.
  • We may have been told we will go to hell if we divorce.
  • We may fear losing social status, asking “What will others think?”
  • We may believe we should stay “for the kids”.
  • We may believe we can keep a relationship going without the other person doing his part.

All of these ideas are not only untrue, they harm us. And they allow the abuser to continue without any consequences while we grow steadily weaker.

It is not pleasing to God to enable sinful behavior in our partners.

It is not God’s will to be yoked with someone who harms us.

It is not our job to earn salvation by suffering: Jesus already did that.

Men have perverted absolute ideals about living the spiritual life into locks that keep us in bondage. They never hold the same standards for themselves.

In this way, they get to do what they want and we pay the price in the name of God.

When I began mentally converting each statement made to keep me down into its opposite, I became stronger in my conviction not to live this way anymore. I knew Jesus did not die so I would live like this.

I used the weapons hurled against me to strengthen me. For example, if he said I was lazy, I reviewed the work I had done that day. If he said I was a derelict mother, I knew the love in my heart that I had shown my children that day.

It’s useless to argue but I can keep my mind on the truth.

And I stopped trying to change his mind, correct him, make him understand, or any other wasted effort that were not my job, no matter who told me it was. I committed  him to God and stopped trying to do what only God could do.

Eventually, this practice did more than stop the demoralization.

It opened doors so I could leave.

It kept me going in that difficult first year out of the marriage with three small children.

I believe God moves for those seeking righteousness.

Leaving an abuser is a move toward righteousness.

Listening for God’s guidance, I found money when we needed it.

Listening for God’s guidance, I found food when we didn’t have any.

Listening for God’s guidance, I got transportation to work after my husband took the car.

Claiming God’s promises, I ignored pressures to return.

Claiming God’s promises, my children no longer lived in emotional terror.

Claiming God’s promises, I found competent trauma counseling to recover.

Claiming God’s promises, I rejected those who would try to enforce guilt, fear or intimidation on me.

Don’t let the lies in. Fortify your mind and heart with encouraging and comforting truths.  “Gird up your loins of your mind” I Peter 1:13.

Get those who understand to help you. There is always a way but rarely a good time to do it. We just have to make plans, take Christ’s hand and step out on faith.

But first we have to find the key in your mind and heart. What is the core belief you need to tap into determination? Courage is not the absence of fear but acting in spite of it.

You have it within. Hold someone’s hand, turn the key in your lock and be free.

Charting: Your First Step Out of the Maze

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Charting is a way to begin to distance yourself from the chaos or emotional suffering you are experiencing.

Battering is a cyclic behavior following a predictable path. Some women have even found it follows monthly patterns.

You begin by keeping a record for a week or a month of the episodes in the cycle of abuse: the honeymoon, the rising tension, the triggering incident and explosion, and the lull afterward.

Record what is said, your response, and his reaction. What does he gain from the behavior? What does he do? Do his actions match his stated intents or beliefs?

You will begin to see a pattern emerge. You will recognize methods that your partner uses repeatedly. By seeing the pattern, you can begin to recognize how it is consistently used to create fear, guilt and shame in you for being yourself and increase his power and control to get his way.

With your chart or calendar, keep a list of your faith beliefs that your partner uses against you to justify his mistreatment of you. You may be aware of many of these beliefs, but you will be able to put things together you did not realize before by keeping a chart. You will see that what he does actively works against your wellbeing: physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual. Many women are surprised at the frequency or severity of what the chart reveals. They were not aware of how very much they are being subjected to.

To keep a list of the disturbing words and behaviors that occur, use the four categories of methods in this chapter. Label what happens as an example of

A. Demoralizing and Accusing Words

B. Denying or minimizing his behavior; one-way relationship

C. Playing the Victim, Refusing responisbility

D. Threatening Behaviors

 What is his payoff for what he does?

 Power – he is able reinforce his place, his desires, right to be the final word, make the final   decision, even if it disregards your wellbeing.

 Control – he is able to prevent or make you do something damaging he wants against your will

 Intimidation – he is able to weaken your inner self, confidence, or one of the four powers of an  adult (mental, physical, emotional or spiritual ability)

 Example:

Monday:  Describe what happened.______________________________________________     

He called me a lazy slut when I didn’t vacuum the floor. An example of A: Demoralizaing and Accusing Words

Check how you were affected: ___Mental _____Emotional _____Physical______Spiritual

What you felt:    ____fear   ___x_ guilt    ___x_ shame ____anger  ___ other: shocked

What he gained:  _____power    ____x_ control  ___x__intimidation

Here is a space to begin your examples. Be sure to identify any of the 4 categories that your experience is part of. (A, B, C, and/or D above)

Monday:  Describe what happened.______________________________________________________________________An example of ____________________________     

Check how you were affected: ___Mental _____Emotional _____Physical______Spiritual

What you felt:    ____fear   ____ guilt    ____ shame ____anger  ___ other

What he gained:  _____power    _____ control

Tuesday:  __________________________________________________________________________________An example of _____________________________     

This damaged my _____mental_______emotional______physical______spiritual well-being

What you felt:  ____fear  _____guilt_____shame____ anger_____other

What he gained:  ____ power over ______control over_____

Continue this way for the week or up to a month. 

Then tally what number of time in each category you were diminished:

____A: Demoralizing and Accusing Words

____B: Denying or Minimizing His Behavior; One Way Relationship

____C: Playing the Victim, Refusing to Take Responsibility

____D: Threatening Behaviors

Now take some time to review what you have learned. Summarize it here:

Using the tool of charting strengthens you in these ways:

  1. Gives you perspective on what you are experiencing
  2. Shows you you are not crazy; reaffirming your inner knowing
  3. Provides measureable “data” that you will use later in assertive communication
  4. Begins to create a sense of control as it distances you from your abuser’s insanity and chaos

I hope readers will share what they gained from using charting as a first step on their way out of the maze of abuse in the name of God. Your words are a sacred power you can wield for your redemption.