Process of Abuse!

why does it take some women so long to

"see it" or "Wake Up" from it?

Hello my friend, 

I was blessed to be one of those women that got help in the beginning of my marriage. I look back and wonder why I didn’t do something sooner but I was still blinded and in denial.  I truly do count my blessings and thank God often for helping me to have the courage to step up and do something about what was happening to me and ending it when I knew it was not going to change.  

I was one of the lucky ones because often times women endure abuse for many years before getting to that place.  Even though I was one of the lucky ones and was not in my abuse for years, I still understand abuse.  I know it is not usually that simple. Actually, calling it simple is not the right way to describe it either. 

For me, yes, I got away from my abuser after ten months of marriage but there was nothing simple about it.  I honestly believe that I was able to get away because I got support so quickly into my marriage.  I cried out to God and He stepped up as He always does.  

I have encountered many women that were married as much as 20-30 years before getting away.  Some didn’t even have a name for what they were going through….”Abuse”   Some may have known but stay for their children, thinking that would be best.  Years later, they are living with regret because of the effect of the abuse against their Mother had on them.  

So, why does the process of a woman being abused and why (for some women) it takes so long for her to “see” it or “wake up from it”. Or, when she does see it, why she resists taking steps to protect herself and her children from it?

Here are five reasons why Leslie Vernick thinks women struggle with “seeing it” and “stopping it” sooner.

1. Many women I’ve talked with describe themselves like the frog in boiling water. They didn’t realize that the heat was being turned up degree by degree in their marriage until they were almost cooked alive or dead inside.

Looking back some of them could see patterns of entitlement, of disrespect, of emotional control and bullying but often it’s the more subtle forms of covert abuse and passive aggressive abuse that has not been easily identified until the damage is obvious. Once she has seen it and named it as abuse, she’s been reluctant to take measures to protect herself because of reason # 2.

2. Many women who have endured abuse for a long time thought that it was her responsibility as a godly women to prioritize the virtues of forbearance, submission, and long suffering over honesty, wisdom, and good stewardship of her body, soul and spirit and family finances. She knew she was being mistreated, but thought that God valued the sanctity of marriage more than her safety or sanity. Therefore, in her theology, her only biblical option was to persevere, forgive, forbear and keep the family together at all costs and at any price.

3. Because women deeply value connection and prioritize relationship in their lives it is tough for her to be the instigator or initiator of boundaries, consequences, or of ending the relationship. She loves her husband and although he does hurtful and destructive things, he also has desirable and attractive qualities that draw her to him. Therefore she will try hard for a long, long time to make things better before she admits she can’t keep doing it.

When the time comes that she seeks outside help or advice, Christian people helpers also encourage her to keep trying harder and submitting more in the hopes that he’ll change. It doesn’t help her confusion when her husband also tells her that if only she did this or stopped doing that, he’d be more loving (or less angry). It keeps her hope alive of a better future if only she can figure out what to do to make him happy.

4. We are all broken and unhealthy in some ways. That’s just the result of sin – both our own sin and the sin that has been done against us. There is no one who has it all together. However, when we are unaware of our brokenness, or are not taking active steps towards godly wholeness, we will often be attracted to a man who reminds us of unresolved family of origin issues.

For example, if someone grows up being the hero in an alcoholic family, always making sure everyone is taken care of but no one is taking care of her (as a child), then she feels most comfortable in relationships where she over functions. She naturally gravitates toward relationships where she “takes care of people” or does most of the work to maintain and repair the relationship at the neglect and/or peril of her own self. 

5. Some women are afraid to “see” because they feel they don’t have any viable action steps that will make things better. They are physically disabled, emotionally fragile, financially dependent, or otherwise unable to follow through with the necessary consequences that would most certainly rock the marital boat.

What’s the answer? How do we shorten the learning curve so that it doesn’t take women thirty years to recognize what’s happening and take action?

I will pick back up on this next week.  I hope this has been helpful for you.  If you have any questions or need help, please feel free to contact me.  

Peace and Blessings, 

September 17, 2017

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