Domestic Violence without Bruising: Emotional, Spiritual, Verbal Abuse
Emotionally battered wives can live in turmoil for years. Many times they are not believed. They are told it is not real abuse like physical abuse. Some pastors do not believe any kind of abuse is justification for divorce. Instead, wives are sometimes counseled to love better, submit more, or even to suffer for righteousness sake. They are told that God hates divorce, and better to sacrifice for the sake of the marriage, than to break the covenant made before God.
To be an abused wife – one without physical wounds – is a very lonely place. Women tend to put blame on themselves because everyone else does. They minimize their pain. They shame themselves. They lose themselves in the process.
I loved Brenda’s comment the other day about emotional abuse:
Victims of verbal and emotional abuse have wounds that are very real but not visible–many abused women have told me they would have preferred he hit them, at least their bodies would reflect the reality of their abuse. In my opinion, spiritual abuse is emotional abuse on steroids–it strikes at the very heart of men and women who want nothing more than to please PapaGod. The effects of spiritual abuse cuts an individual off from the very one who can actually begin to heal the wounds of emotional abuse. ~Brenda Campbell
I noticed a comment in moderation from someone who has never commented before named, Bestsons. Bestsons speaks for many wives who have the wounds of an abusive marriage, but no physical bruises to show for it. Let’s go, SSB detanglers 🙂
Bruised with No Visible Marks
I have never posted here before. I have been reading posts, off and on, for about 6 months. I must admit I’m a bit afraid of “baring my soul” to a bunch of people I’ve never met but I think it will be one of the best things I’ve ever done. I feel the time has come to “let it all out”, so to speak.
This will be a bit long. I hope that is ok. A bit of background. I a a woman who has been married over 20 years. I wasn’t married until my late 20s. All my childhood and teen years my one desire was to be a wife and mother. I went to college to get my “MRS.” degree – didn’t happen. I moved to another state to work near a seminary in hopes to find the man of my dreams. Didn’t happen. Instead I got very sick and needed to come home to live with my folks again. There was a small singles group at the church we attended and I found friendship but not really any marriage material. Then one Sunday morning he walked into the Sunday School class. Only I took an instant dislike to him….thought he was cocky and full of himself. (In retrospect I should’ve heeded my heart). Anyway, he was older than me and he shared the same doctrine as I did, and I soon convinced myself he was ok and would be a good husband.
Long story short, we got married a few years after our first meeting. I so wanted to be submissive, after all, wasn’t that what a godly wife was supposed to do? I don’t remember when the abuse started. He never has hit me but the verbal abuse was worse. I’d rather have been hit. I was subjected to his tongue lashes on a daily basis. It got to the point where I was a scared mouse always wondering what I’d be yelled at for when he got home from work.
My parents didn’t see the abuse at the time, his parents didn’t like me and I had no friends. Deep down in the recesses of my heart I knew this wasn’t the actions of a man who loved his wife but I kept making excuses to myself for his behavior.
When our oldest son was 6 months old, I became pregnant again. My husband had a job interview one evening for a job he really wanted. Well, while he was gone I started bleeding. I was in a panic. I couldn’t take myself to the hospital because I had no one to watch the baby. I called my husband at the interview and asked him to come home. He responded that he would not be coming home till the interview was over. When he arrived home he was shaking with rage. Needless to say that was one of the worst tongue lashings I ever received from him. That night, any love, if I ever had any, died. Unfortunately, like the godly wife I was supposed to be, I pushed it all down inside, as far as it could go.
At one point, I couldn’t take it anymore. I actually started calling around to social services, etc. to see what help I could get if I left. I talked to my parents, but much to their regret now, they urged me to stay with him. When he finally realized I meant business he agreed to see a counselor. Counseling did seem to help and the atmosphere got calmer for a number of years. Even though I still had tongue lashings they were fewer and farther between.
We had been going to a Bible church for a number of years when something happened that we didn’t agree with. My husband contacted the pastor and he responded with a verbal tongue lashing for my husband. The pastor did not like being questioned. We were excommunicated and shunned. People who I had known for years would turn their backs on me if they saw me in the store. I was devastated. Church and my family was my life. I had just been ripped away from the only spiritual family I had and I was barely hanging on at home (though I wouldn’t admit it.)
During these times my health started deteriorating. I already had medical issues and the stress wasn’t doing me any good. But, I kept soldiering on. There were a few more moves and we ended up in a smaller religious town. The spiritual bondage and darkness drained the very lifeblood from me. I was dying. I knew it. Not only physically but I was dead spiritually. The law does that to a person. But in God’s grace he revealed himself to me. I saw I was His beloved! I literally felt the chains fall off! It was a physical sensation I had never experienced in my life. I began to come out of the mindset that I was worthless, that all I was good for was to cook, clean, provide him sex when he wanted it, take care of his children, etc. I was coming out of my spiritual grave to resurrected life. Praise be to God!
However, I still had many trials ahead of me. After my revelation, my health took a dive and all hell broke loose in my body. These sensations were more than panic attacks. I felt my body shaking (even though it couldn’t be seen on the outside) and eventually my head. I was very ill for over a week and my husband did not help. I finally admitted to myself that I wasn’t really loved by him. I knew I had to do something. I realized I was never going to get well until I removed myself from his presence as much as possible.
So, today I took the first step and plan to leave. I feel like this is the first step to a new life. I really want my husband to change.
He has admitted to me that he was mean and abusive over the years but there is still control and manipulation he uses. I have been better about standing up for myself. However, I’m tired. I want to be me, not what he wants me to be. And what he wants and I want are two different things. I want to heal, both physically, mentally and emotionally. In my heart I know our marriage never should have happened. He wasn’t the man for me. I was in love with the idea of love. I was always being teased about being an old maid and I didn’t want that! The only thing we had in common was religious doctrine. Now, we don’t even have that.
But, I also look at him and know there is a very hurting man on the inside. He has never, ever, heard from either of his parents that he was loved. Never. He doesn’t remember being held or cuddled. The kids were the slaves on the farm. That’s all they were good for. I can look at him now, knowing where the abuses he heaped on me came from. But, I still have to take care of myself and let Father take care of my husband.
Thank you to everyone who read to the end! I know it’s not specifically about spiritual abuse but I really needed to pour my heart out to people who I feel will not sit in judgment and hopefully will care. This next year is incredibly frightening for me but also incredibly exciting. I can’t wait to see what the Father will accomplish in both of our lives.
photo credit: Colleen (Oregon Coast)
[Updated post to remove personal info.]