When we think of an abusive relationship, our minds automatically gravitate toward physical abuse. One that leaves visible scars or bruises as evidence of the abuse. This visual evidence prompts compassion and inquiry from others. The abused is able to release pain by explaining circumstances and even implicate the abuser. After all, there is evidence that cannot be denied.
Unless you have personally been subjected to emotional and mental abuse, I’m going to boldly declare that you have no idea the level of pain inflicted on a person’s mental state. Verbal abuse, shunning, rejection, berating, and belittling takes an enormous toll on one’s emotional state. That, coupled with carefully crafted lies in order to discredit and devalue someone, is part of the abuser’s diabolical agenda to vindictively hurt someone.
While I’ve never been physically abused, I’m also going to boldly declare that I believe it is most likely equal in its effect on a person. Yes, there are no scars or bruising on the outside as evidence but that doesn’t minimize the abuse and the pain going on in the inside. Mental and emotional abuse leaves internal scars and bruises no one can see or understand. And because it can’t be visually seen, others don’t offer compassion and there is no inquiry about the pain because they don’t know what you are enduring.
Here’s a clue: Emotional and mental abuse will reveal itself through sadness, anger, insecurity, and even paranoia. It will reveal itself through the insatiable desire to talk about the pain and find reasons to explain why and how…why did it happen and how did I let it? It reveals itself through an overbearing need to seek justice against the abuser by uncovering their false mask to everyone.
I’ve been very lucky in my life to be mostly surrounded by stable, healthy individuals and good relationships. People who know and understand boundaries. People who live by societies norms and live life with mutual respect and kindness. People who know not to burst into someone’s home and begin verbally abusing them in front of their family and then storm out exclaiming, “I can’t deal with her!” People who know that sending multiple profanity-laced texts to a “family member” is unacceptable and warrants an apology, not justification. People who know how to practice self-control and resolve disagreements in a calm, civil, and rational manner not throw explosive temper tantrums when they don’t get their way. People who don’t rationalize hate and relentlessly punish someone for disagreeing with them in order to make them pay. The list of insanity is endless for those who have a very unhealthy view of relationships.
I’ve always been known to my closest friends for giving the benefit of the doubt way too much. I am the girl that maintained certain friendships even though they were unhealthy and lots of work. I’m the one who overlooks things for the sake of peace, grace and even hope. Hoping the things I witnessed were just a season of questionable behavior toward me or to others. I guess I could also confess that there was probably a smidge of denial in my overlooking too. My mind doesn’t comprehend irreprehensible behavior, so, therefore, when I witness it, I’m left thinking that there has to be some justifiable reason behind it and truly people cannot be this cruel to others. My heart usually always goes to the underlying cause…the root of the problem. Privy to information as only one in a close relationship has, the root of the issues has always been what prompts me to extend that grace and to give one more chance.
I rather be known as the fool that gave the toxic person one more chance out of grace and humility than be known for being the toxic person.
Yet another lesson I have learned. Grace can and should be the driving force in all conflicts. However, historic events reveal the true character of people. There are people who don’t want peace and only want to fight. Their ultimate goal in conflict is control. They thrive on chaos and turmoil. They believe they truly have authority over others and will go to great lengths to display this egotistical entitlement and try to dominate others with bullying and demands. Most always, their lives are a shattered mess, they’re exhausted from living a lie, and they wear a false mask of charm, peace and joy. They deflect what’s really going on in their own life by drawing negative attention to someone else with lies in order to set the stage that they’re not the only one with issues when the truth about their lives and who they are is ultimately revealed. If they’re going down, they’re going to take someone down with them.
It’s quite the game they play. Unfortunately, many times, others cannot see it and that is what is so mentally tormenting to someone who has been at the brunt of their horrendous verbal, emotional, and mental abuse. Watching as others believe they are charming and even feel sorry for them having no idea the level of ugly you have been subjected to.
I am a firm believer that truth will always be revealed at some point in time. However, sometimes you have to nudge the truth to come out to those who will listen because your abuser is a master manipulator. Allowing the abuser to paint a false picture of you with lies while portraying themselves as a victim by not speaking up with the truth is only submitting to their brutal control. At some point, it has to end.
I always believed these scriptures:
Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord
7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.
9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
However, I had a recent revelation. After four years of being silent and allowing my abuser to control me by telling a distorted version of the nightmare we have been living under her domineering authority to anyone who would listen, it is time to speak up with the truth. Sometimes we have to be a participant in our own victories.
Perhaps the lesson is not to “Be still and know that I am God” but the lesson is courage!
And then this hit me: