Four Ways to Respond to Emotional Abuse
Have you figured it out yet? Have you come to a place where you can look at the truth straight up and acknowledge that you’ve been systematically abused over the course of many years?
Do you now see how emotional abuse IS physical abuse? How it breaks down your entire body at a systemic level, affecting your hormones, immune system, brain function, and organ integrity?
How have you responded to the emotional abuse you’ve experienced?
There are four ways to respond, so let’s break it down and figure out what your natural response is, and how you can change it if you need to.
One way to respond to abuse is to deny that it’s happening. To ignore it. To pretend it isn’t real. Abuse occurs cyclically, so when you are in the good part of the cycle, it feels comfortable to pretend the bad part wasn’t really as bad as it felt. And you can hope it won’t come back around again. Maybe if you don’t rock the boat this time…
Another way to respond to abuse is to fight back. You put up a wall of protection around yourself and begin to behave like your abuser, trying to take back control of a horrible situation. You assert yourself in destructive ways in order to keep your head above the waters that threaten to drown you. You yell. You use sarcasm. You resort to the very passive-aggressive tactics your abuse uses to control you.
A third response to abuse is to give up. To lay down and just “die” to it. To let it happen without exerting yourself in any way at all. You just resign yourself to your lot in life and allow your abuser to suck your life away at his whims.
So what’s your style? Do you deny, fight, or die? All three of these responses will enable the abuse to continue unchecked. All three responses rely on you and others believing a big ole’ fat lie about who you are and what your life is all about.
There is a fourth response. It’s the response Jesus had when he walked on this earth experiencing all kinds of emotional abuse. Let’s look at what he did and didn’t do.
Read the gospel of John and look for all the ways Jesus was emotionally (and physically) abused. He was accused of being a devil. He was betrayed. He was abandoned by all his friends. He was mocked and judged falsely. People told lies about him. Other people believed those lies. He was left alone. He did only good and was rewarded with lies and hate.
Did he deny the abuse? No. We see him confronting abuse over and over again. He stood up for those who were victims of spiritual abuse. He “broke” the law in order to demonstrate the love of God, and he didn’t apologize for it. He spoke hard truth to the abusive religious leaders.
Did he fight the abuse? No. We don’t see him passive-aggressively manipulating anyone. We don’t see him in verbal tit-for-tats. We don’t see him trying to take control of anything. He lets people do what they want to do.
He controls Himself. That’s it. He is fully ADULT. Fully MATURE. Fully WHOLE in himself. He doesn’t need to control others in order to maintain control of himself.
Did he give up and let it happen? No. Yes, in order to fulfill his purpose for coming, he allowed them to crucify him, but ultimately he rose from the dead and accomplished his purpose. He did not give up. Ever. He brought justice and healing to the human race by what he DID do in the face of abuse.
Here’s the key. LOVE. Love is the key. Love isn’t denying. Pretending. Lying. Fighting. Giving up. Judging. Hating. Revenge.
Love is letting others be free to be who God made them. And part of that means letting others be free to make their own choices in life. Letting go of control over their choices. If they don’t like you and only want to hurt you, love means letting them go. If they continue to hunt you down, love means getting away, not managing their emotions and trying to rescue them from themselves.
Love also means taking responsibility for the life God gave to you. To make your own choices before God, in freedom, knowing that his blood covers your dark, and his love gives you the freedom to walk deeply in the light he put inside you without fear of your dark side.
Love casts out fear. Remember?
Love means living vulnerably and courageously, knowing you are always and forever safe and held in His perfect love.
Love means being whole on your own. Nothing else required. Because God created you a whole person on the day you were conceived.
Would you like more help in understanding how to move from denial, fighting, and dying in your relationships—to becoming a loving, compassionate woman toward yourself and others? A strong woman who stands in truth and is able to tolerate the discomfort of those who want to deny the truth?
The Flying Free Sisterhood might be exactly what you need. You can find out more about how to get involved HERE.