Neither of my two councilors used the word "abuse" at first. It wasn't until I read a book called "But He Never Hit Me" that I began the emotional metamorphosis necessary for me to label what had been happening to me. There is still a part of me that feels faintly ludicrous when I say it. So I still, from time to time, think about what got me into that situation . . . and how I can avoid it happening again. Statistics are not on my side. (But the Lord is!)
This story could almost be mine, except I was blessed to get out of it sooner. Unfortunately, I still deal with the effects within myself and my children on a weekly basis. (At least it isn't daily any longer.) I can't imagine where I would have ended up if the Lord had not blessed me to escape now.
One of the most consistent threads through all levels and types of abuse is the recipient's need for three things. As the story above says,
"Individuals caught in abusive situations are seeking three primary things: a voice, a sense of value, and validation. While our voice may be most easily found, our sense of value must be most consciously fought for, and vindication, we must understand, may never be forthcoming."One thing I have found is that no one can validate my choices. Though it helps, it is all too easy to counter-argue. The sense of value must be built grain by grain, through building a thorough and real understanding of God and how He sees me. A lack of this sense of intrinsic value is what led me to becoming a recipient of abuse. I thought I had to prove my worth.
As for the voice, well, here I am. I will not be silenced any longer.
Part of the reason most recipients of abuse have difficulty escaping is because it is impossible to avoid the truth. As the woman in the above story relates, "[He] may have been abusive, but I enabled his destructive behavior." There is a feeling of guilt that is impossible to describe. Hope that things will change wraps you in chains, binding you to the "relationship". As she said, "Instead of living in reality, I held out for hope . . . ." Hope that there is some power, some magic combination of actions that will make the lie of happiness he gave in the beginning become true.
Part of the difficulty is reconciling the reality of abuse with the gospel. The scriptures teach us to turn the other cheek, to give the cloak with the coat, to walk the extra mile. They teach faith, hope, charity: the exact things an abuser uses to entice and entrap. He uses them deliberately, whether consciously or not.
How does a person who believes in those things reconcile them with the evidence that they do not work, that they, in fact, make things worse?
There is a message of submission in the scriptures, particularly in the New Testament, which seems to advocate utter inactivity when it comes to those who would harm you. The Old Testament teaches the opposite: to be the aggressor when the Lord commands it. So where is the balance?
That is where the Book of Mormon completes scripture. The truth is that both the Old and New Testaments are right. The point is not violence or lack of violence, it is following God's will. And, at certain times and places, it is appropriate to defend and, rarely, even take the fight to the aggressor. It is up to us to not use "God's Will" to justify actions that are anything but.
So how does this apply to abuse? One thing I have noticed, as I've gone back and read these scriptural teachings, is that they apply to enemies, not to family or friends. They are not applied to those who are held close to your heart.
Only the Spirit can truly teach each recipient of abuse when the time is right. Those who love someone who is a recipient of abuse must realize that leaving immediately is not always the best answer. It is wise to be careful when making the decision.
To those who wonder if they are a recipient of abuse, there is something important to understand about the psyche of an abuser. He "will do anything to keep you, but nothing to take care of you." He is a psychological stalker, all the more dreadful because he is someone you ought to be able to love and trust. Like the trapped unicorns in the Last Unicorn, you, the recipient of abuse, must discover that what traps you is not the Red Bull, it is not the covenants you have made nor the expectations of those around you, nor is it Haggard: it is you and your fears. You do not understand yourself, that you are strong and beautiful and free by definition.
Like many true stalkers, the abuser's purpose is to destroy you. He did not find you because you were weak, he found you because you are strong. You possess qualities that he, himself, desires. Somehow in his twisted mental outlook, he longs for what you have and believes that if he can own you, he can own the strength he sees in you. He finds, over time, that he can't own it. And when he realizes this, he tries to destroy it. Just like Haggard, he doesn't realize that he destroys the very thing he values when he tries to bottle it, and that he can never possess what makes you beautiful by trying to trap it.
There is one major difference between you, the recipient of abuse, and the one who abuses. You approach life with the feeling that it is somehow you, that you can somehow change to control the world around you. He does the opposite, he will grab anything he can affix blame to. He knows he has no control, and he is afraid. He believes that everyone around him has power he does not. If he can't blame you, he will blame psychological illness that he needs medication for (and the nature of the "illness" often changes over time), or some physical problem: no sleep, constant pain or other ailment. Perhaps he will blame his childhood (and it was terrible), or some vast current misunderstanding that made him act the way he did. He will always say, "It's not me, it's ________," because he can't afford to face the truth.
It is him. He is the captain of his ship. No one can grab the helm but him. He must realize that, and most importantly YOU must realize that.
"The ideal victim is a conscientious person with a natural tendency to blame herself." Stalking the Soul, Marie-France HirigoyanA recipient of abuse must find a way to say, "Yes, I have my problems. But "it" is not me. It's you."