On behalf of those of us who have experienced this reality - and we are many - it is my objective to enlighten others who find themselves in similar circumstances -- to save others from unnecessary pain and break the cycle of abuse among us for the benefit of today's families and future generations. If someone who reads this sees himself or herself and demands better, then I will consider my undertaking as having had significant value.
Perhaps like you, I never dreamed she would be "one of them," could never have contemplated the possibility that abuse would touch our family or imagined that my children and I would, for a time, live in fear, be forced to leave our home. On the other side of insanity; however, the day came when we found freedom and a fresh start to begin restoring a measure of what was taken from us, and what I, through my enabling behaviors, gave away.
As a young woman, I had seen "Sleeping With the Enemy" and read my share of articles and books that chronicled tales of abuse - usually physical. I thought women in abusive relationships were either blind or stupid or both. Why didn't those women tell their abusive partners where to get off the first time they said or did something cruel? What were they thinking? What held them there?
Unfortunately, for all the wrong reasons, I now know that it's not that simple. Or maybe it is. Maybe those of us who are guilty of enabling are blind or stupid - through a subtle combination of factors that include choice, denial, commitment, ignorance and deception. We don't set out to be enablers - to turn a blind eye to hurtful actions and attitudes. In looking back and now looking forward and seeing others in similar situations, it is apparent that what we experience is quite often a slow burn, a gradual change. It may happen so incrementally that it is difficult to pinpoint an actual moment in time when we realized that we were trapped in a cycle of abuse, if we are fortunate enough to realize it at all.
In referring to abuse, I am not referring to a few choice words from a cranky spouse who had a bad day, but someone whose behaviors betray a routine pattern of intentionally hurtful behaviors, neglect, or domination; someone for whom a good day might be an anomaly. This is not the gentleman who loses his temper once in a while, but someone who is a fight waiting to happen. His lifestyle is characterized by narcissism (extreme self-centeredness) evidenced by various overt or covert forms of domination, intimidation and hostility.
Do you feel as though you must walk on eggshells? Are you always striving to keep the peace? Do you keep your mouth shut most of the time, while in your heart and mind there is a growing burden of stress and fear? Do you try to convince yourself - or does he - that perhaps you are being excessively critical, overly sensitive or paranoid? Is your life a combination of confusion, hurt and anger that you work to keep under wraps as you try to maintain a modicum of normalcy in your home? It may be past time to take a closer look at how it all began and, if necessary, determine whether or how to get out and go on.
The first time cutting words were uttered you probably found a way to graciously look the other way. That's what love does right? He's just stressed about his job. Maybe I deserved it. He didn't mean it. The progression begins slowly and the hurt is only inflicted occasionally at first. Or maybe you are so shocked by his occasional lapse that it doesn't seem real - you think it must be a fluke, an irregularity, or a one-time-only incident. He may even readily apologize when the hurtful action is brought to this attention. But, the actions begin to bleed into other areas of your life, and over time you begin to wonder when things will go back to the way they were - or if they will.
Our culture's attentions are more readily sensitive to physical or sexual abuse. For my part, my husband never hit me, but my kids and I were subject to countless manifestations of emotional and verbal abuse. Before your write off those more subtle forms of abuse, understand that they leave scars as deep and lasting as any slap. The weapons and word choices are insidious, calculated and intended to inflict pain and fear. Such abuse needs to be identified as such, and rejected and fought with equal conviction.
Copyright 2010 all rights reserved
Cindy Burrell, a writer, wife, mother and a survivor of emotional abuse is here to tell you that there is hope...
After twenty years in an abusive relationship Cindy was left feeling lost, lonely and exhausted. She had learned to compromise her happiness in an unsuccessful attempt to stave off the onslaught of abuse. Her story is one of neglect, fear, lies, and addictions. Finally forced to leave their home with her four children, they escaped the emotional prison in which they had all lived. Although scars remain, Cindy and her children have found healing and restoration.
Currently, Cindy works as a professional writer/researcher for a California State Senator. She has served in similar capacities in the Legislature for many years while doing her own writing on the side. "I am an emotional/verbal abuse survivor, and I am - at long last - no longer afraid to share what the Lord has done for me."
See her web site at http://www.hurtbylove.com