A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

The Tyranny of Abusive Affliction

The following article was written by one of our “Anon” ACFJ followers. (Followers? Members? Readers? Maybe we should just say “family”!).  Many thanks to her:

Affliction is something that everyone on this blog has gone through or is in the middle of right now. It is different than “trouble”. Affliction bears a different sting and is usually longer lasting and sometimes comes with more than one blow at a time. Affliction can tend to make us feel isolated and alone. It comes in different ways and varying packages. We know it here on this blog, as abuse.

Doing a little studying on this term proved beneficial and interesting and I would like to just share a few things with you, hoping that it brings some understanding and healing. We are all needing to get out our shovels and start unloading all the dirt that has buried us so we can be free. I have found that taking small steps and removing one load at a time has been beneficial. It has proven to bring the most healing and also, taken in small portion, has proven to me to keep me more steadfast in my healing process. So, get out your shovel and start scooping with me!

God can use affliction to bring us closer to Him and we all know it. But I no longer believe that God chooses to leave us in abuse, whether in marriage or just in relationships in general. I do believe that God is sovereign, but I believe that He acts on His love for us, always.

According to “The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament“, the word afflict – anah in the Hebrew – means to “force, or try to force into submission” and “to punish or inflict pain upon”. I found this to be so interesting. God calls us to submit to Him, but in abuse, we are fearful and tend to submit to the abuse being dealt to us whatever version is taken up at the moment (i.e., verbal, emotional, spiritual, physical, sexual, financial, etc.) Affliction draws us to submit to it. God draws us to submit to Him and His ways. This proves to be a real battle, huh? Our spirits desire to submit to God, but we become flooded with fear and anxiety in abusive situations, and thereby lend our submission to the abuser. Does it help to know that the affliction of abuse works to bend our hearts and minds and souls to toward it, taking us away from our submission to God?

So, every time the affliction and oppression of abuse wants us to bow our knee to it – forcing us to go back into where the affliction comes from – we need to turn our faces to God and submit to Him instead. I do not mean by this to stay in the abuse. I am speaking here of gaining strength to get out of it and to those who still deal with their abuser, even though separated or divorced from them.

Here is the point. After researching this and studying this a little bit on my own, I came to see how this beast had been working in my life, for my entire life.  Affliction in the form of abuse has been after me all my life, to bow and bend to it, and I have been fighting it as long as I can remember. This is the “war” in me and I found that every time people would try to push me to stay in the abuse, all I could do was weep and cry out to God. I see now that the torment of affliction was crying out to me to bow my knee to it and this is why it felt so twisted and confused to NOT bow to it. God trying to get me out versus people trying to keep me in. People who do not understand abuse and life-long oppression from it and who do not understand that God wants His people freed from such a thing. As God tries to teach me and tries to get me to submit to Him in the way that will set me free, I have several people telling me that it is wrong for me to think that getting free is God’s will. They are saying, then, that God is wrong! Affliction does not want me to bow to God, because then I would be free. It wants me to continue to bow to it and remain in abuse and oppression for the rest of my life. So, this is the battle.  I always believe that the cure for the battle is to know who or what your enemy is.

Abusers operate under entitlement, oppression, trickery, inflicting pain and abuse in a variety of ways and areas. As Megan’s recent article spoke on, abuse really cannot operate without someone submitting to it! Get it? But, we all know that you cannot live with an abuser and not submit, no matter what the abuse is. Even if the verbal abuse can be walked away from the words still permeate and destroy. Because abuse weakens us we just cannot continually put it all off. Besides, most verbal abusers are emotional/mental abusers as well and walking away is not always the safest thing to do. Many know that from experience.

I have noticed in my life, even though I am separated from my abusers, that as soon as God would send some form of hope to me of His deliverance, someone else would come along within a short amount of time and snatch it away. For instance, God would give me Scriptures and peace in my mind and heart that He truly wanted me out of the abusiveness and out of the relationship and as soon as I would cling to that and think, “okay! I’ve got it now!” someone in my life, abusers or not, would come at me with all kinds of guilt and confusion, sending me reeling again in doubt, confusion and pain.

But God.

I love those two words. He is always faithful and over the course of time He has taught me about affliction and how to deal with it. I have followed Him and done just as He wanted me to do in my life and if I make a mistake along the way, He will be faithful to pull me back onto the road and forgive my sins because that is His promise to me. I do not need to bow my knee anymore to the affliction of abuse. Instead, I choose to recognize what it is, and turn my face to God and agree with Him, that He set me free and although that is going to be a long, lengthy process for me, it will be a good and pleasurable one, because He is good and I derive my pleasure in life, from Him. He knows my affliction and pain. He knows the abuse I have suffered at the hands of many. He knows and sees my oppression and fear. He even hears my pain when I am too weak to cry out about it. My road is long, but my God’s hand and His love are never short.

I will write a second part on this, dealing with when affliction can be good. I pray this post is a blessing and help to all.

19 Comments

  1. Still Scared( but getting angry)

    Love the whole post but cannot process all of it right now. What jumped out at me was the small illustration of shoveling off the dirt a bucketful at a time. Thank you for that word-picture. I needed it right now!

    • Anonymous

      SS – It’s okay not to be able to process all of it right now. No one expects you to. I have been dealing with this my whole life and am just learning myself. You are right, unloading a bucketful of “stuff” one load at a time, even very small loads, is helpful. Even if more dirt gets thrown in on top of you, it at least won’t be thrown onto just more dirt, but a lightened load of dirt! ; )

      Every effort to heal, takes immense amounts of energy and time. Prayers for you!

  2. Heather 2

    Yes! This is all very familiar to me. Why is it that we see, and agree, and the moment the slightest trigger comes along, we are pulled back?

    This is excellent. I’ve already read it three times. I wish I could carve it on my brain!

    • Anonymous

      “Why is it that we see, and agree, and the moment the slightest trigger comes along, we are pulled back?”

      Heather 2, I believe it is because it took us a long time to become such good victims, and it will take us a long time to heal and become no longer anyone’s victim, as well. We learn things by repetition. Having repeated abuse in our lives, taught us. Just as we were taught how to succumb and live under it, we also need to be repetitive in our healing process. Just keep reading and repeating and using Scripture, etc. and it will come, I promise. I fall back many times a day still, but then I will have a couple of good days and do okay. I made note cards that I keep with me, that have “reminders” to me of what God says about me and what God says about evil and those who practice it, and also notes from books I have read (plug here for “A Cry For Justice”; “Not Under Bondage”; “The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse”; “Why Does He Do That?”) and just keep them at hand, so when I am triggered, I can turn to them and remind myself of the truth. It is the truth that will set all of us free. I am in no way trying to make any of this look easy, as it is not. Everyone does this process at their own pace. It really helped me to see that this abuse/affliction’s desire is to have me and control me and that I am bowing to it and needed to try to stop. I have not yet completely stopped, but the truth of what was happening, helped me focus on what I was doing.

      I also highlight and mark the pages of my Bible when God gives me something, so that I know right where it is and can turn to it quickly. I also keep a small loose leaf with all the notes of things I have learned and that God has taught me and I just go back over it and read it from time to time. Now, a little plug for a neat little item I purchased at an office store (Office Depot). It is a 3 x 5 note card holder. It is gel like and comes in a variety of colors. You just slip your little note cards inside it and then you can take them anywhere and they are protected. They are about $3.00. Nicer than the note cards that are on the little spiral thingy. Hope this helps.

      • Heather 2

        Thank you, Anon. You have insight as well as practical advice. Bookmarking this one!

        God bless you for passing on so much that God wants us to know and take to heart.

        I made some choices in the process of it all that were not the best. It is still difficult for me to accept God’s forgiveness sometimes. And yet, if I take Him at His word I will see what Mercies He gives!

        I’m looking forward to others’ insights to your article, as well as Part Two!

      • Anonymous

        Heather 2 – I think it is just hard for victims of abuse to receive God’s forgiveness. None of us made perfect choices, but I also think that living in abuse just creates such a fog and confusion in our lives, that we tend to lose the truth or replace it with words we have heard repeatedly during the course of living under abuse. I am not making an excuse for sin, I am just saying that God sees the entire picture of our lives. All of that impacts our ability to receive God’s grace and forgiveness. But — He is the one Who made you worthy and that is what we have to remember. We have nothing on our own, but are completely dependent on His love and grace toward us, and His forgiveness that He promises to give us. You are right, God is true and we must take Him at His word, but He also understands why that is so difficult for us to do. So, rest assured, you are truly forgiven and the next time that doubt raises its ugly head against you, after you have asked for forgiveness, just say “thank you God, for forgiving me. I believe you are true to Your Word and that You have forgiven me, and I receive it.

      • Heather 2

        Thank you!!!

        I have some things to do now.

        Hugs!

  3. this is so profound and rich with insight that I cannot respond fully right now.
    Thank you.

  4. Laurie

    Oh absolutely…I have been in the process of being evicted, over and over by the same landlord who has made a long distance relationship with my abuser. Tonight I will be homeless and God has promised time and again that He will deliver me, He will supply. It just seems so hopeless right now.

    I am waiting to hear from a new landlord. I have almost all the money I need to rent the place, it will leave me totally strapped, but we will not be homeless. But the deadline is tonight and I have to work at 2 pm to 10pm…no truck, no storage unit yet. Ugh! My heart hurts.

    • Praying, Laurie.

    • Heather 2

      Praying for you, Laurie, that our precious Lord deliver you from your affliction today!

  5. King'sDaughter

    Thank You, Anon!
    I needed this today more than any other day! (Isn’t God So GOOD?)
    As you mentioned, “as soon as God would send some form of hope to me of His deliverance, someone else would come along within a short amount of time and snatch it away”
    I see this very ebb and flow of tears and encouragement at work in my life. It seems the greater the revelation and the freedom it precipitates, the greater the backlash. Sometimes that backlash comes in the form of insensitive, illadvised words. For the most part I’ve learned how to counter those words. Other times (like now) the backlash comes in waves of paralyzing self-doubt.

    My most recent revelation is that my hsb. is a LIAR! I never saw this before. Perhaps I was groomed NOT to see this? Whatever the reason, this revelation hit me like a ton of bricks! God revealed certain irrefutable facts (beautiful how He left no room for doubt) that my hsb. has twisted, no LIED about! I don’t know how I could see the manipulation and not connect it with deliberate lying! I suppose I just chalked it up to a difference of perspectives? (ie. maybe he really DID see me as unsubmissive? Maybe my actions have simply been misinterpreted?) Not very likely! He has chosen to believe and tell lies, about me, about us and about himself! The power of this revelation is that there is NO working things out with a lie!

    Enter the counter attack… SELF-DOUBT! The thoughts plauging me since sharing this revelation are; “maybe I’m just making a big deal about this?”, “Don’t all marriages have problems? How is my marriage any different?”, “Maybe all of this could be explained?”, “Am I just seeing what I’m looking for?”, And when I look deep and know that those doubts are not true that I have believed a lie about who my husb was. A new doubt rises up to replace the rest. “Am I believing a lie again???”

    So, yes the battle is intense! And, yes, “But God!”

    “But God” has been a theme for me all this year!

    Thanks for your post!

    • KD, that is a good description of the battle all survivor have gone thru or will go thru at one time or another, I think.

      Thank you for sharing your stream of consciousness with us. I relate.

      • Anonymous

        KD – You have described very well, the conflict between discovering truth vs. lie and the self-doubt that is caused after years of being taught to doubt yourself. We, as women, are usually taught that the male is the protector and so he is to be trusted to do that job. But when instead, the male is untrustworthy, we still tend to do as we have perceived we right and the acceptable thing to do. Finding out your husband is untrustworthy, is a huge blow! I think that I knew mine was not, but upon finding out just how much he could not be trusted and how much I had trusted him, became a real area of self-doubt for me, as well as what you describe above about then beginning to minimize the abuse itself and the actions of the abuser. I have begun to truly believe, that God does not want me to trust anyone who would abuse me; that God does not want me to be with anyone who cares so little for my soul; and that God does not want me to be with or trust anyone more than Him – and I think that is what I had done, in trying to save the marriage. I was laying down my life to try to save his.

        As for perception, I heard that word so much, that I think it is used as an excuse to minimize abuse or just problems in general. It ends up, that everyone is crazy. For example: my perception is that I when a husband says he does not love his wife, that he does not love her – vs. – the counselors’ position, that when he said he did not love me, it was just manipulation and I needed to vacate my perception of that remark and forgive him for saying it, even though there was no true repentance. Or, here’s a good one. He abuses and my perception is exactly that – vs. – their position, that I just overreacted to his anger and trained myself to be afraid of him. So, I threw that whole “perception” thing into the nouthetic junk counseling arena and left it there. Nouthetic counseling may be fine for people who cannot agree on what toothpaste to use or what color to paint the walls, or that need to learn to speak in a more loving tone of voice, but it is not good counseling for victims of abuse or abusers. I do believe that there is an area of perception that we can all just back up and take a look at things through someone else’s eyes, and figure out if we jumped the gun in our determination of how someone said something, for example, but the bottom line is that we cannot begin to substitute the truth, for perception. In other words, there is always the truth and that is what should be looked for and found out. When you live with a liar, it is impossible to ever get to the truth and you just have to move away from it and make the decision, hard and fast, that you will not trust them, period. I had to do that. It took me a long time to do that. But, now I am free in a lot of ways, because I just know that I cannot trust a deceiver. Why would God ever tell His children, to trust a deceiver? I think it is a hard thing to have to admit to, however. There are a couple of hard things we eventually have to come to admit to ourselves; one being that an abuser never really loved his victim the way God intended love to be; and secondly, that your husband is someone you just could not trust.

        Self doubt is a very real thing that I think happens to all victims, for the most part. It is the goal of the abuser. The abuser cannot get very far, until they have damaged your self-worth and the trust you once had in your “spirit”. Then they can do anything and we will doubt ourselves, over them. But, identifying and then self-talking ourselves out of those self-doubts, will bring back being able to listen to and trust that still small Voice inside us. I am not totally there yet, but one day, by God’s grace, I will be – although it may never be perfect and I may still struggle from time to time. It is all a working and growing and digging ourselves out process. You will get there. The road is long and difficult in part, because God wants to use our pain to pave the path for those coming behind us, and the path needs to be packed down – hard as brick. Our pain will never be wasted by Him.

      • King'sDaughter

        Anon,
        Really! Wow, again! Thank You! Your words are so rich that I’m sure I could not contain all of my comments on it in one single post! So here’s the first;

        “God does not want me to be with or trust anyone more than Him”

        Yes! Its called idolatry and I had to repent of it!
        When I first started to come out of “the fog” I read a comment about Gal 5:1 “it is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”
        Later that evening in an unrelated Bible study, Exodus 20 was read and I got something from it that I never had before!
        ““I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
        “You shall have no other gods before me.”
        God used those two verses to show me that I was indeed in slavery and because He had set me FREE, I was NOT to put anyone (not even my husband) beside (or in equal position to God). I had to go home and look up “god” in the dictionary just to really grasp what God was saying to me through Exodus 20.
        This is not the definition that I found then, but in looking for it I just found this Bing definition of god, “3.something that dominates: something that is so important that it takes over somebody’s life”

    • Heather 2

      KD, I have said those exact things!!! I could have written your post!

      Self doubt is a cancer that spreads unless we are aware and fight it. The battle is intense!

      I just wanted you to know that others have experienced the same thing. I hate the battle! I look forward to true freedom and long for it. I no longer battle my abusers( my ex and my mother) but I battle my own mind.

      Take care KD.

      • King'sDaughter

        Thanks Heather 2!

        I am so thnkful for this blog and people like you! Sometimes it helps just to verbalize things!

  6. Reblogged this on Morning Tea with Me.

  7. Finding Answers

    Heather 2 commented I no longer battle my abusers…[edited]……but I battle my own mind.

    Amen.

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