FOUR MENTAL HABITS ESSENTIAL TO GET FREE OF AN ABUSER

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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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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!

Clarifying Concepts: Faith

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“Now faith, hope and love abide, but the greatest of these is love.” I Cor 13:13

Of these three, hope is probably the least vague or problematic for women in destructive relationships. In fact, hope keeps her going. Through the skillful use of intermittent reinforcement, a woman continues to hope  her abuser will change, that if she can just hold on or do more, she will be delivered from the nightmare she is living.

Intermittent reinforcement is the carrot and stick method of bondage. The abuser is romantic, kind, insisting he cannot live without her.  Then some minor mishaps occurs and he flies into a rage that she is the stupidest woman he has ever met. This cycle of escalation-outburst-honeymoon keeps hope alive in the woman. If he can be so loving part of the time, she berates herself, the other times must be her fault. Surely God will show her how she must change to stop this torment.

We all need hope in the good or a better tomorrow to keep going. But this kind of hope relies on a denial of reality. It is too hard to admit that his behavior is deliberate and not her fault.

Love also has many meanings. When an abuser says he loves a victim, he means she seems ideal to use. Other ideas of respect,  honor, compassion, and commitment are not included in his definition, although they are in hers.

But perhaps the most frequently misused concept overall is faith. In fact, six faith concepts are examined in my self-help workbook, Redemption from Biblical Battering, which contribute to a believing victim’s confusion.

So when the word “faith” is used itself in verbal abuse, it is like having all six lobbed at you like a tennis ball machine. The more vague a woman is about what this concept means to her, the more an abuser can use Bible verses or ideas about faith against her.

Faith is often used in six of the verbal abuse categories: countering, discounting, blocking/diverting, accusation and blame, name-calling, and  judging/criticizing.

Below are some of the most popular quotes about faith and some of the ways they are misused as verbal abuse. And some of the ways you can counter these, even if only mentally and not aloud verbally.

We live by faith, not by sight. 2 Cor. 5:7 – the abuser may counter  your need for answers or accountability by quoting this. You can counter this by explaining your faith is in God.

For it is by grace you have been saved, by faith, and his is not from yourselves. It is the gift of God not by works, so that no one can boast. Eph 2:8-9- may be used by the abuser to deflect if you want some acknowledgement or recognition of your efforts to obey and be productive, thinking this will free you from his insults. You can counter this by asserting you have the gift of faith and don’t boast.

You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone. James 2: 24 – may be used by the abuser in the same way to discount your rightful desire for acknowledgement. This is a great verse to turn around on the abuser by citing his works are not developing much confidence in him.

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. Heb 11:1- may be used to criticize you if you ask for some accountability in his actions. You can counter by you have confidence that God wants you to be respected and loved.

Your faith should not be in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. I Cor. 2:5- may be used to accuse you or call you faithless if you ask abuser to contribute his part in the relationship. You can counter that you don’t have faith in the abuser’s  “wisdom.”

You can deal with these tactics? As with all the other tools, maturing your concepts into a clear understanding of what they mean provides a shield against using these ideas to insult or demean you. Combine clear concepts with assertive skills.

Of course, the inventiveness of the abuser in misusing faith concepts is ongoing. But combining clarity of concepts with assertive communication is a shield.

Faith is the evidence of what we have not seen because it is based on what we have seen. That is, we have experience that when we ask for help, we receive it. Therefore when we ask for help again, we can expect to get it.

Faith is not anti-intellectual. Faith is not magical thinking. Faith is not to be placed in people.

Faith is trust that the God in who we live, move and have our being will provide for our lives. God provided an earth that had food we would like before we even knew what we liked or were here.

We trust or believe or have faith that the sun will rise tomorrow. If we had never experienced the sun rising, we would not have faith or trust or belief that it would again.

So faith is based on the experience of the nature of God in our lives. It is very personal and not a subject for anyone else to use against us to insult us.

“Don’t you have faith?” “You’re being faithless”  are merely coercive mind games to guilt you into doing what the abuser wants. Your faith is in God, not your abuser and you can certainly feel free to say so.

Your abuser certainly does not have faith, or he would not be trying to coerce you through fear, guilt, power and control.

And if he falls back on that old ploy of his standing in for the Lord, you can say you don’t believe in idolatry.

Have faith and be free!