How to Save a Life

I truly feel like there are certain things that “saved” me during the time that I was in my abusive relationship. Ultimately, the only thing that ended up finally saving me was myself.

Although your friend has to make the decision to leave all on her own, here are a few things you can do to help her:

Be a friend.

One thing no one can say is that I have crappy friends. I am truly blessed beyond measure in the friend department. My friends never let up and they never stopped sticking up for me. One night in particular was one of the ugliest fights between he and I. It was the absolute worst. One thing you should know about abusers is that they are big on putting up a front. Many times they wear multiple masks. One mask is the big tough angry guy that he wears around his victims, and the other mask is the charismatic, friendly person that he wears in front of other people. This is why many don’t believe the victim when she seeks help, because the abuser is typically someone that everyone always gets along with. Well this night was the wrong night to try and put on his 2nd mask. After seeing me cry my eyes out, my friend had had enough. In the most valiant way she shouted to him everything that I have always wanted to shout. To see the cowardly look on his face was priceless. Never had I seen this overly-confident, aggressive man look so threatened. It was as if both of his masks were removed that night. In that moment I knew he was nothing more than a weak, pathetic person who preys on people who he perceives as submissive. In that moment he was the one who was being submissive. She was my hero. If I haven’t thanked her enough before, I publicly want to tell her how much that night meant to me. How much all of the nights meant to me that she watched me cry because of him. Despite the frustrations, she was always there, being my friend. Because of your dedication as a friend, I am where I need to be. I am free.

Don’t ever give up.

Tons of research on domestic violence shows that the more victims are isolated, the more difficult it is for her to break free. A support system is so important to a victim of domestic violence. There probably is no way to measure how much having a support system in my corner has played in me being able to break away from that relationship. Just as mentioned above, friends are so important. He could never really get me all to himself like he wanted because he knew that I came with an army of people that cared about me. That makes it difficult for them to infuse the victim with their lies. Its all about power and control. Whoever has the most control wins. That is why they want no one else to be apart of their victim’s life, because of how much that friend or family member will tell her that she needs to get out. So, no matter what, no matter how difficult it gets, DO NOT give up on her! It is so pivotal to her safety that she has people in her corner. Her abuser needs to know that she has a group of people who refuse to give up. I know it may be frustrating to see her continuously go back to the very pain she says she is tired of, but one day she will get it. And when that day comes, you will be there for her. That day WILL come!

Pray.

Your biggest role in this ordeal is to be a prayer warrior for her! Until she decides to leave, pray with all your might. I have no doubt in my mind that my friends, and my family especially were constantly praying for me. I was constantly praying for myself. I often think about how other women are not as fortunate as me to have been able to leave the abuse. For others, the abuse ends tragically. I thank God every day for saving me. He answers prayers. Matthew 21:22 says that, “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer”.

Lastly, I want to remind you that she has to be ready to leave. She has to not only be sick and tired, but she has to be sick and tired of being sick and tired! That’s when true, lasting change happens. Think of it like a drug addict or alcoholic. You hear of many situations where they continue to go back to rehab multiple and multiple times. They repeatedly return because they weren’t ever truly ready to begin with. Often times it is even a family member who makes the decision for them to go. They have to be ready all on their own. Until then, everything you say goes in one ear and out the other. Remember, all of your spoken words are not taken for granted, however. When they come to that decision, everything you’ve said will now have a purpose.

I hope and pray for your friend who is in this terrible situation. My heart goes out to them. I also pray for you. I pray that the Lord uses you to guide her out of her situation. I pray that God gives you patience, love and understanding.

I think we can all make improvements to be the friend our friends need us to be. Whether it be domestic violence, or another situation that a friend may be going through, we can all strive to support one another in our times of need. You never know if you could be saving a life.

Keep fighting #ForeverFighters!

Love,

Melissa

 

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Healing

 

Healing

I believe healing comes in stages. And you heal differently at different points in your life.

When I first left my abuser I felt an immense amount of relief. I remember telling my counselor, “I’m good!”. As if I didn’t just endure six years of pain, I felt ready to start a new life not truly understanding the pain that I had tucked away and locked up with a key. In my eyes I was healed. Just by simply letting go and leaving him, I was healed.

Fast forward a year later I was “healing” by being involved with men that God never intended me to be with. When you end such a heavy period in your life, specifically a relationship, your way of forgetting isn’t always the neatest or prettiest. You still feel broken and used. Icky. That I only deserved what’s damaged and tattered. That’s how I lived my life. At some point the Lord stopped me and asked me why. Why was I living that way? Why was I treating myself that way? He reminded me that I was a daughter of a mighty King, and that I needed to treat myself as such. He reminded me that my past is forgotten. I don’t have to be defined by that anymore. When I accepted Him my pain was let go. My mistakes were forgiven, and my old life was in the past. I now have a new life.

Even after reconnecting with the Lord and healing from that point in my life, I found myself at another low point. These low points come and go. It took me maturing a bit and letting time pass to really start to fully understand my past and what I went through. Getting familiar with the bible and understanding the kind of love that God wants us to have, and what a relationship blessed by Him looks like is when I began to realize more and more of what I experienced. More and more I understood that my experiences were not ok. I finally could see the seriousness in it all. Because of this I began feeling the pain all over again. I was angry and hurt. The flashbacks from the past became more frequent. I remember so many times crying myself to sleep at night. I had never before felt so strongly these emotions of the abuse. This was three years after leaving him, and yet I was just then going through the grieving process.

One Sunday morning at church we had the opportunity to approach the alter for a specific need in our life. I will never forget how my dear friend prayed for me and my pain. I could feel the peace fill my body. My burden was off my shoulders. Ever since that moment I have felt this enormous amount of peace that I have never felt before about the abuse. I haven’t cried myself to sleep since. Yes the thoughts are all still there, but I am no longer plagued by fear and hurt. I am free.

I know that I will go through another stage in my life where I will need to heal all over again. These are all stages. It is never fully over. Every day is a struggle, and as you mature and grow and change, you will need to readjust your thinking from your past. There will be another battle that you may have not had to come across yet.

Today I pray for your healing. That the Lord mends your broken heart. That you first seek comfort in Him and not other worldly things. Please know that nothing else in the world could ever take away your pain like Jesus can. He is the one true healer!

Take these lyrics from “Raised to Life” by Elevation Worship: “Sin is strong, but Jesus is stronger. Our shame was great, but Jesus You’re greater!”

No matter our past, our God is greater than anything you’ve ever been through. Keep fighting.

Love,

Melissa

Domestic Violence is So Gray Part 2

So I want to continue talking about some things that people may not know or understand about domestic violence. I’ve said many times before that I feel like my journey has been confusing, so I would imagine that others would be even more confused.

When my friends come up to me and talk to me about my blog and my past, it is sometimes followed by a comment fueled by anger and sadness. Anger towards that man and sadness towards me. I am always left puzzled as to why it angers them so much. It really doesn’t even anger me anymore. I think that a lot of people immediately take the “hate” approach. Or think “I would have done this”, or “If I ever see him I would”, and I can’t help but to think that it is just simply not that easy to feel that way. I am sure my family has felt all sorts of emotions from seeing and hearing me experience abuse, but hate wasn’t one of those emotions. It is actually so beautiful to know that my family extended grace towards him and always tried to accept him despite what they had happened. I’m sure you’re saying, “How could you not hate someone who has done that to you?!”, and all I can say is that it is not so black and white! Domestic violence has a lot of gray areas.

I think that it is so easy to want to feel a certain way when you’ve never been in that situation before, but if you’ve never been in that situation you just simply don’t know how to react or how you will feel in that moment. You just will never know until you’re in it.

Its hard to explain how you feel about the situation since not all of it was bad. I know that’s difficult to understand for some people, but if you’ve read my previous post, you know that there was a good amount of time where no physical abuse ever took place. There was a period of time where I was so confident in my relationship and I was actually extremely happy. Those are times that I do sometimes miss. I miss times where our minds would connect on a deep level. We complimented each other so well. He was like my other half, my partner in crime. Even during the dark times, I would sometimes question if I could ever find someone who I could connect with as much as him. It was as if we knew each other our whole lives. We talked about the same things, we thought alike, we acted alike, and we liked the same things. He was the male version of myself (in only some ways).

For others outside of the domestic violence community this would be difficult to understand, and the immediate thought would be that I hate him and that I want the absolute worst for him. Now, he isn’t necessarily a person I want to associate myself with, but I definitely don’t have any hateful feelings towards him. There are actually happy moments that I can reflect on. During those happy moments, that is what makes it difficult for a woman to make the decision to leave. You weigh the good and the bad and sometimes after a bad moment you feel like there have been more bad times, but then after a good moment you feel like there have been more good times. Its so confusing and stressful. I could never judge a woman for being in a DV relationship because I know how conflicting all your thoughts can be. I really liked how Reut Amit described her own experience in the Huffington Post:

“No one could understand how love, hate, fear and comfort could coexist simultaneously. They could not understand that in addition to my abuser, I also lost my confidant, the person to make dinner with, the person to watch movies with on a rainy Sunday, the person to laugh with, the person who knew me. I lost my companion. How can you explain to someone that the abuse was only a part of who he was? How do you explain that to yourself?

There are still days when I remember tender moments and wonder if it really was that bad. I still struggle with reconciling how he could love me to the point of tears and yet hurt me as if I was an enemy.”

I appreciated so much hearing her words because I could relate to it exactly. She took the words right out of my mouth.

I hope this was helpful in understanding a bit of what kind of battles we fight in our head, and a little bit of understanding as to why women confuse themselves into staying with their abuser a little longer. I know a lot of this will still be confusing to you as it is difficult to fully grasp an experience that you’ve never experienced before. I just hope that it could provide some insight and sensitivity.

Although I mentioned the things above, I want to make it clear that I 100% know exactly what love looks like now and what love does not look like. I know what a real relationship blessed by the Lord should be like. For those that may still be confused by the definition, I pray that God clears your doubts. I pray that He opens your heart to experience His undying love. Once you’ve experienced His love, you will never accept anything less.

If you want to read Reut Amit’s entire post, click on the link: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/reut-amit/he-never-hit-me-domestic-abuse_b_5974386.html

Love you all! #ForeverFighters

Love,

Melissa

Domestic Violence Is So Gray Part 1

With last month being domestic violence awareness month, I feel the need to really dive into the topic and share what domestic violence really is, and what it is not. I’d like to invite you into my own experiences to hopefully debunk some myths. Many people’s only idea of what DV is is what JLo went through in the movie Enough. It doesn’t always happen that way. In fact, it hardly ever happens that way.

That’s what leads me to say that domestic violence and abuse is not black and white. It very much so has a lot of gray areas in between, and no two story is ever alike.

One thing I feel like most people think is that it is so obvious what is a DV situation and what is not, and that all DV is violent abuse, which isn’t true. My story for example is very interesting. Many of the warning signs were not visible to me at first. I was 16 or 17 then. I was a baby. I didn’t know any better. Fast forward a year later, things would get tricky. I would notice times when he would lie to me or he would make me believe something to be true when I knew deep down inside it was not. These are when the mind games began. He would carefully choose his words so that he was answering a question, but not really answering the question. He would do it with such precision and confidence that I would have no other choice than to believe him. That was his game, and he was ALWAYS the winner of his games.

To many people’s disbelief, the physical didn’t come until about 3 years into our relationship. Most people wouldn’t understand this. I think that a lot of people think that the violence comes immediately, or that it is obvious to point out who “looks” like an abuser and who doesn’t. I recently watched The Perfect Guy, with Michael Ealy and Sanaa Lathan. Michael Ealy’s character seems to be perfect until he shows his true, violent side one evening. This violence appeared after only a few short weeks or months of dating. I feel like that is Hollywood’s version of what tends to happen. Although I’m sure that abruptness has shown itself true in some situations, it doesn’t accurately represent MOST abusive relationships. In my case it took 3 years! 3 YEARS!!! This is why we have to let go of blaming the victim and asking, “didn’t she know what type of guy he was?!”. Well, no because after 3 years you feel like you know somebody, but in reality you do not. That is why DV is so incredibly tricky.

Another myth is what exactly does DV look like on a regular basis. Me for example, I was not someone who was continuously beat with bruises all over my body every day. Those, I feel like, are extreme situations. They happen often, but most cases of DV are the ones that are not clearly defined. Where she is held against the wall, or she is pushed away. He didn’t exactly hit her, right? So that’s not really abuse. There’s no mark, so nothing really happened. It ALL is wrong because of the fact that force was used ON PURPOSE and to show power, to control her actions. This is just as equally dangerous as the more severe cases because these are the situations that get ignored, the ones that are seen as “acceptable” so it continues on and on for years! You see how it is not so black and white?

Lastly, the most dangerous and deceiving part of all was the final year of my relationship and what were to come after that. See, the final year I never had to worry about violence.The mind games, the lying and the cheating were all still there, but I was so convinced that those darkest days were over since it hadn’t happened in well over a year. When I finally ended things I felt the fear all over again. It was scary how someone can flip so suddenly. The fear that he had finally lost me filled him that it turned him violent all over again. I would receive threatening phone calls. I was told that he turned to drugs and alcohol, that he would be drinking during the day, even before work. He would try to manipulate me into getting back together by threatening to kill himself. One moment the conversation would be about him being so in love with me, then the next would be about him hating me and threatening me. It was so crazy to see someone’s mental health diminish. I knew then that if we were to have continued our relationship the violence would definitely still be there, and much worse!

For women who can currently relate to this, I pray that the Lord first gives you the knowledge to understand your situation, and then gives you strength to move on. The strength to fight for your life and the ability to experience what TRUE love is!

My prayer for all of us is that we gain the knowledge to understand each other’s situations. No matter how we all choose to live, that we don’t pass judgment, but rather stand by their side and pray for them and love them.

Thank you and I love you guys! #ForeverFighters

Love,

Melissa