They Do It in Secret
Abusers almost always abuse in secret, unless they have gotten sloppy . . . and then they leak. But that is a different blog post.
For the most part, abusers jab and mock (emotionally, physically and verbally) when no one but the victim can feel it, see it or hear it. This is part of what puts the victim in his/her own private little prison. The most disturbing things that ever happened to me happened in the privacy of my own home — both before I was married and after I was married (the first time).
One of the smartest things I ever did was to publicly publish letters and emails I received from abusers. It was not my idea. I was being tortured in private (post-separation abuse). Texts, emails, phone calls . . . I could not shut it out — could not even THINK. And, because I was very much used to keeping these things in (in the name of respecting my then-husband and others?), I only told one person. And he wisely suggested that I pick one or two letters and publish them. And I did. And then I was terrified for about 20 minutes. That is . . . until all the comments and emails came pouring in. Comments that showed shock and disdain for the words that I was hearing — and had heard — for years. And the letters that were not published on blogs were sent to wise friends for interpretation. And, wow. What a difference. I had opened up my little prison and 95% of people could not believe that I had been dealing with such verbal abuse and manipulation for all those years. 5% of people showed disdain for me because I was being “disrespectful to my husband”. But, I disregarded these objections because those same people showed disrespect for ME on a regular basis! Ha!
That being said, I know many many women who are under gag orders and cannot post anything from their abusers due to the court order. There is always the choice to post anonymously . . . and there are a few trusted and wise friends who can read the emails or listen in on the conversations and help to translate the abuserese. Find someone like that . . . expose the abuser only to yourself, if need be.
The letters, emails and texts stopped for a while. Then, they picked back up again, even when I asked for it to stop. Asking for it to stop should have done it, right? When you ask a normal person to stop doing something that is causing you stress, they will apologize and end the over-stepping. But, an abuser violates the rights of his/her victims time and time again. They have no sense nor reverence for boundaries. Alas, it seemed like my voice meant nothing so I got tactical. Once the letters, emails and texts picked back up, I began publishing again. And sending them around for dissection. By doing so, I reopened the doors of what used to be my little prison and allowed myself to walk out. I will no longer be hostage to the secret abuse. And it stopped.
I saved and printed all of the letters and emails and blog posts. I still have them. I have not published all of them but they are here in my hot little hands to show to my children (at the very least). I want them to see what kind of people these grown-ups are so they are not tempted to ever be in contact with them when they are older. (I do not keep them to be vindictive. I will not go there. That is between them and God.)
It was not easy to pass these letters around. They painted me in a horrible light (or so I thought for years). And I was always fearful that people would believe the words spoken about me. What I came to realize, though, is that those who constantly accuse and manipulate in secret only paint themselves in a horrible light. I also found that they make themselves look a little crazy. Making someone else’s divorce about yourself and your own hurt feelings is a little crazy. Getting over-involved in another person’s divorce is a little crazy. Insulting and verbally abusing and accusing a person who is already struggling with separation is actually more than a little crazy . . . it is cruel.
It is not aggressive to shed light on someone who is being aggressive toward you. I am not an aggressive person. I do not “come after” people. I do not see myself as being entitled so I do not think that I should (a) have their phone number (b) get to force emails or phone calls upon people or (c) try to sabotage their lives and their work and their friendships. I only react to what is hurled at me and try to do so with wisdom, protecting myself and those I love.
So . . . Whenever I receive something from a past abuser (because I am no longer their victim, which makes them so darned ticked-off!), I fling those wide prison doors OPEN! I send it to lots of people . . . I get opinions . . . I expose it. And, by doing so, I am free. This, by the way, is a biblical way to help a heart purge itself from the bacteria of abuse. Blaze the light in your dark little world and the darkness will not defeat it. Jesus is the Light; He is the Truth:
In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. 1 John 1:5 ESV
Do not be afraid to get opinions. Expose what is handed you, if you need to. Get opinions and affirmation from friends who do not have an agenda with you and from Scripture. God loves you . . . He did not come to condemn. Do not let anyone else condemn you.