Updated: Dec 10, 2021
Day 14: Survival (from Domestic Abuse)
Psalm 147:3 He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
Psalm 140:12 I know that the Lord will maintain the cause of the afflicted, and will execute justice for the needy
Psalm 10:17-18 O Lord, you hear the desire of the afflicted; you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more.
Song: “I will survive” Earnest Pugh
Happy Fourteenth Day of Thanks Everyone!
Today, I give thanks for survival and the will to fight against every type of oppression, whether internally or externally inflicted.
I have to admit that I was really surprised when one of the topics for which the Lord gave me to give thanks was Survival (from Domestic Abuse). I asked the Lord, “why is this the year that you want me to freely talk about my experience with this topic?” It had been so many years since I had dealt with this topic from personal experience. I had no idea why it was resurfacing and thought it was interesting that God wanted me to address the issue. Nevertheless, without knowing or understanding “why” I added the topic to this year’s journey of Thanks weeks before it started. God, in his infinite wisdom, knows all things and knew why this topic would be added and revisited on this very day.
In the wee morning hours of today, after asking my dear friend if she was okay, I discovered that she was not okay and had not been okay for quite some time. A dam of tears and heartache poured from her spirit as she revealed that her husband’s physical violence toward her had reached a pinnacle the night before and that she had finally mustered enough courage to share the “shame” of her situation and get out of the abuse. My friend said that hearing her son holding and telling his sister that he’d keep her safe, as her son watched his father hit her, was the straw that broke the camel’s back. She knew that she could not allow her babies to be exposed to the devastating blows of the abuse any more.
Hearing my friend share her story allowed me to remember mine. For years, I lived in a home that was full of psychological, emotional and verbal abuse. I learned to develop a thick skin and took the abuse as it came. However, I remember the moment that these detrimental non-physical abuses in my living environment became physical; then, I knew that I had to leave immediately. I have no idea why it took me so long to realize that the emotional, psychological and verbal abuse was just as horrific as the physical kind and deserved my immediate attention and merited me leaving as well. But, I knew that the physical abuse had drawn a line in the sand for me and I wasn’t going to tolerate abuse of any kind anymore from anyone.
I started searching for places to stay that would not uproot Delilah from a sense of normalcy since she was a child that needed repetition and complete consistency at the time. Unfortunately, living arrangements that didn’t involve me uprooting out of the state were not available. At the time, I didn’t have much of the support that I wanted or needed to rally around me. As I look back on the experience now, it was probably a good thing that I had to weather much of that circumstance alone because it gave me the “fight or flight” mentality to swim and survive instead of to sink and lose my mind or my life. I had to chose to live in a NYC shelter or stay in the abusive situation. And I chose to get out of my situation by any means necessary.
As I analyze the situation now, the wavering of my thoughts to stay or leave the abusive situation boggles my mind. How could I know how bad the abusive situation was and still prefer that over living in safety, albeit the homeless shelter? Wasn’t I or my daughter more deserving of safety and to be away from that kind of emotional and psychological abuse, even if I was scared to live in a shelter? Why weren’t the patches of ripped out hair, the bruised marks on my body, and the taunting that came when they were afflicted enough to make me concretely decide to leave my situation immediately?
Similar to my wavering at the time, after going to my friend’s house to encourage and support her to take the next step and leave, my friend was doing the very same thing. My friend was trying to rationalize in her mind why she should stay instead of leave. She thought of so many excuses: the next time the fight won’t escalate that much; I can’t take the children from their father, etc. You name it, she thought of all the situations and possible excuses to evade leaving. Luckily, she had a group of supportive friends who could keep her focused. Ultimately, she chose to survive and get to a place of safety for herself and for her children. As uncertain as her next steps were to her, she braved the first two steps. She assessed and acknowledged that the physical abuse happening to her was not okay. Then, she chose to leave, in spite of her conflicted emotions, her excuse of the children needing to see their dad, and whatever other excuse she had. My friend had survived the worst of the experience and, like me, was choosing life.
Today, as we give thanks for survival from domestic violence. I invite each of you to assess some of your relationships and gauge if they are healthy ones. If you know they are not, I pray that you will leave, reach out for help to leave, and follow the necessary steps toward a better life for yourself. I also invite you to donate your time and service to the nonprofit organization, the House of Ruth (https://houseofruth.org/donate-now/). House of Ruth provides comprehensive services for single women and women with families across Washington, DC. In addition to specialized housing, they also offer free psychotherapy with experts in their counseling center. And a childcare center for a safe space for the children to play and learn. The House of Ruth has changed the lives of 1,112 people and has provided safe housing for over 477 women and children.
Have a Great Day of Thanks!