I used to think that abusers were those scary-looking people in prison mug shots whose cold, blank stares send a chill down your spine. When I married my tall, dark, and handsome heartthrob, I practically levitated as I walked down the aisle. The thought that three years later he’d pick me up like a rag doll and throw me against the headboard of our bed was inconceivable to me. No way, not me. Not him. Not us.
What I didn’t realize is that my experience was textbook in many ways. I minimized the verbal, emotional, and physical assaults, calling them everything and anything but abuse. I was not a victim, and he was not an abuser. I believed I could love him into wellness. But until you call it what it is, you’re going to call it what it’s not. I did just that.
If you’re anything remotely like me, you may be doing the same thing, saying things like, “We have a communication problem,” “We need to learn how to resolve conflict better,” or “We’re just going through a stressful time.” These are just a few of the erroneous phrases I used to minimize the abuse I was enduring—and ones I commonly hear when working with clients who have experienced abuse from their intimate partners.
I don’t intend to advise you on whether or not to remain in your relationship. You alone can decide that. I do want to share with you that you can heal—and not just heal but heal well. Healing well is the precursor to living free. As a woman of deep faith, I believe we were created for freedom. Abuse in marriage is the kryptonite to freedom. Abuse, regardless of how it manifests itself, will destroy the trust and, in the end, can destroy the relationship. More importantly, it can destroy you, and you matter.
There is life after abuse. But to heal well and live free, you must choose to do so. It won’t just happen. It will take effort and commitment on your part. It may be the hardest thing you ever do. But from my own experience I can tell you: it’s worth it.
Do you believe it’s possible for you to heal well from the pain you have experienced in your relationship? Why or why not? Do you believe you are worthy of finding healing? Why or why not?