The following post is the voice of a survivor’s wife. She is a brave, loving and compassionate soul. For all who have lived the trauma with a spouse, this post will resonate deeply. To all who have not, I urge you to lean in and really listen. Broken hearts lie scattered on church floors, overlooked, unheard, unknown, unhealed. Unhealed in a place where Jesus is said to dwell.
I urge you to notice one such heart and breath the life and hope of Jesus into just one. Speak life. When you speak. But mostly, listen. Listen, and really hear the heartbeat, no matter how weak, how erratic and how uncomfortable.
Always remember that Jesus chose the broken places. He dwells there. Not in high and together places, but in the lowliest of places, there He enters and makes His home and declares, “If was for the lost children, that I came”.
I know what it is like to live with abuse second hand. I know what sexual and religious abuse looks like up close and personal. I haven’t experienced sexual abuse but I’ve lived with the affects for all my married years. We’re working our way out of extreme spiritual abuse. I’ve lived the trauma for many years. If I could sum it up in one word it would be TEARS. Endless rivers of tears.
I know what it’s like to raise a family, praying over them, pleading for God to cover them with His protection and for the trauma of the abuse to not be passed on to them, while their father goes through periods of being completely zoned out. I know what its like to have to know when to follow my husband’s lead and when to realize he’s flipped and irrational and then to step up and fill in the breach. I know what its like to sit in the grocery store parking lot counting the little cash I have to see what I can buy that week for my family because my husband is in a black hole. And I have to try and figure out how long we can survive till he comes out again. I know the heart break of walking alongside him when he realizes all the things that have slipped away while he was “not there,” picking up again, then going through all of it all over again. Because with the triggers and the ongoing mental trauma there’s no continuity.
I know what its like to be married to a man who is a survivor in so many ways, has qualities and gifts that contribute to mankind in many beautiful ways, but to sit with that same man as he curls up on the couch in such emotional pain that words are useless. To watch him reach out to others and have compassion for the hurting but feeling complete worthlessness in himself. To live alongside and watch while normal life is so exhausting that finally he wonders if its even worth it. The intense struggle of wanting to believe in God but wanting to have nothing to do with the god he was shown, yet unable to grasp the difference. All this while appearing to be a normal family and functioning the best we can because it feels like no one understands.
The damage abuse does is deep and devastating. It ripples out and affects so many people. Its crippling beyond belief. It’s mind altering. It completely strips away identity. It puts them on a path to prove their worth for many years, and then when their efforts are finally exhausted they give up. When it’s a man it affects the family financially because when he’s the main provider and fear and flashbacks are a constant reality, there’s not much energy left for making good decisions. So there is added financial trauma. It affects the whole family.
In fact, years of trauma and dysfunction can happen before one even realizes the brokenness and what is actually happening.
Then there are others. I know what it’s like to walk with abuse victims who dissociate. To hang on to a victim in a flashback until you can arrive at a safe place for them to throw themselves out of your vehicle once it’s stopped, to cry it out in a roadside ditch. To listen to the pain of their heart’s cry that doesn’t even make sense to themselves. But what do I do when they continue to believe the lies in their heads? When they would rather believe the lies and that they’re worthless than to even accept the love that they’re given because love doesn’t feel “safe.”
Yes, God is the answer, He’s the healer. But what if the mere mention of God fills the victim with such anxiety and anger that they shut down because the abuse was so wrapped up in their “godly religious” experience?
There is so much more that could be said. I just want to bless you and encourage you to keep going. I believe that once the victims find their voices and speak the reality of what they live with, the reality that so many wish to not hear, that is when people will wake up. It’s critical that the victims be given their voice.
I’ve prayed many prayers, I will continue. I applaud as I read the (victim’s blog) posts. I praise God and cry hallelujah when yet another victim has the courage to step up and speak, when yet another leader speaks out in truth, exposing yet more of the abuse.
And then I face the next battle on the home front and I hope and pray that fighting the battle well here will somehow contribute to the war against abuse at large.
~ Anonymous ~
The spouse who sits compassionately with the survivor of horror, as he or she grieves the trauma, or lives through the hell of its aftermath is a true hero. This wife is a true hero. I have such a hero in my life. To this author… to my husband…. to every other spouse who sees and knows what it’s like… Thank you!
~ T ~
THE GATHERING, NOVEMBER 2, 2019, LANCASTER BIBLE COLLEGE:
- Registration for THE GATHERING will close October 1, 2019 or when sold out.
To register: THE GATHERING: Registration
For information: THE GATHERING Information.
To register for concert only: JASON GRAY CONCERT NOVEMBER 2, 2019 LBC 7:00pm
NOTE: After August 1 concert is only included dependant on availability.
One of the things we are working toward November 2, 2019, at THE GATHERING, is creating a place where we collectively invite God into our grief. It is exclusively for Anabaptist survivors of sexual abuse, and their trusted support persons to join together for a day of acknowledging the generations of suffering. We will cry out to God, together. The invitation is to ‘come as you are’ in your raw brokenness, if that’s where you’re at, or in your healed togetherness. The itinerary is simple. It isn’t about ‘who’ or ‘how’; it is about Jesus and a safe place to meet, to heal another layer, together.
NOTE: Anyone over 18 who sexually assaulted someone – whether child or other adult – is not welcome. This does not mean they are not forgiven if they have repented. It means victims should not fear being confronted with the source of their trauma on such a vulnerable day. Security guards will be present to remove any who show up and are identified as offenders by the victims.
Until August 1, 2019, registration for the day’s events includes lunch and attendance to the evening concert with Jason Gray, whose music had brought hope and healing to countless victims. Songs like “The Wound is Where the Light Gets In“, “A Way to See in the Dark“, Sparrows“, “Nothing is Wasted“, and many more speak a language we understand.
© Trudy Metzger 2019