I know this may not be the kind of message you would like to read at the beginning of the year, but it’s the perfect time to begin a new chapter in your life. Recently, an ex-coworker now budding friend, read my novel, When God Wasn’t Looking and assumed the story was personal. It was a reasonable assumption, especially when you consider that the mission statement for my blog is to break the cultural silence surrounding abuse, whether it’s sexual, physical, verbal or mental. Yet I was very hesitant to write this post. Then I read Proverbs 17:15: Acquitting the guilty and condemning the innocent—both are detestable to the Lord. Nevertheless, my role is not to seek justice for anyone. It is not for me to say who is guilty and who is not and it certainly is not to condemn. My responsibility is simply to lend my voice in encouraging those who have been wounded to seek healing so that they can move forward and function in the truth of who they were created to be.
So why was I hesitant? The truth is most of us do not like to confront the ills of society. We are more comfortable pretending that certain things are not happening in our home, community and church, or we prefer to leave it to the bishops, pastors or other leaders. Perhaps I am not much different. But, as a child eyewitness to the full gamut of abuse in my community—who had been silenced by culture and traditions—I was always troubled by the plight of women and children. Nevertheless, this is not about washing our “dirty laundry in public.” Rather it is to reiterate that to receive healing there must be admission, a releasing of the hurt, and we must give ourselves permission to forgive. That is how we take back our power. Otherwise, we will be forever bound and defined by our past.
But think about this for a moment, if there is one place a person expects to feel safe and protected, it is in their home, yet quite often the home can be the most dangerous place on earth. Too often the story is one of unimaginable abuse and deadly violence in intimate partner relationships. Lets look at what the experts have to say. According to psychologist Lenore Walker (1980), the cycle of violence involves three successive and recurrent phases. 1) The first stage is the tension-building phase in which the abuser becomes increasingly agitated and frustrated, both in and out of the home environment. This is when the victim can do nothing to please her abuser and the least thing sets him off. It could be a child crying or dinner is not on time or to his liking. 2) Gradually, the tension builds, there is irrational anger, and inevitably it escalates into the acute phase of physical violence and other destructive behavior, all designed to intimidate and control the victim through fear. 3) Then in the third stage, the abuser will calm down and become almost like a different person. He will show remorse, express regret and promise it will never happen again. Then the victim, believing this (or wanting to believe) forgives, and there is a period of calm that follows. But eventually, the abuser strikes again and the cycle of abuse continues until the violent behavior intensifies. Often, each time an offender strikes, the situation becomes more and more dangerous, and whether it is physical, sexual, psychological, or emotional abuse, most women are victimized by men they have some kind of relationship with, and the story is always ugly and frightening.
So, instead of a victim, become a victor. Know the signs, conquer your fears—whatever they may be—and move into 2014 knowing you are a child of God, created with everything you need to live a happy, victorious life.