Archive for domestic violence
Every day I realize more and more that if the world is going to change at all, it is going to change through the emotional healing of the victims. I think that victims of emotional abuse and all the other forms of abuse that stem from emotional and psychological abuse including sexual abuse, domestic violence and spiritual abuse, make up the majority of the people in the world. We have a voice; it is time to take our voices back, to heal and to take our lives back. Abusers can only be truly stopped when victims heal. When the people that they have hurt, realize the truth and realize that we can overcome the pain, oppression and rejection we have lived with and finally take a stand against it in our own lives. When victims emotionally heal, we are strong enough to stand up to the abuse and we are no longer fooled by subtle manipulation. There will be a ripple effect and we will raise our own children differently then we ourselves were raised, and the abusers will lose some of their power because the psychological abuse, lies and manipulation highlighted in the points below, won’t work the same anymore. Read More→
I am pleased to have guest blogger Patty Hite from the website Overcoming Sexual Abuse writing for Emerging from Broken today. We are continuing with a series of posts on the subject of anger in relation to abuse. As always on this blog, please feel welcome to post your comments, thoughts and contributions.
~ Darlene Ouimet, founder of Emerging from Broken
Memoirs of a Mad Survivor by Patty Hite
I am a Mad Survivor. Not crazy mad, just angry. And not insanely angry to where I view life and everyday thru gray colored lenses, with bitterness and uncontrollable rage. For the most part, I am fulfilled and overflowing with love for myself and life. I wake up happy and I go to bed happy. I am free from nightmares and flashbacks that used to be so painful that I thought having a knife in my heart would feel better.
I am proud to confess that I am angry about abuse. All abuse. I was sexually abused as a child and sexually, physically and emotionally abused when I married Satan (that’s what I call my ex). Most of what I know about abuse was shown to me by him. In fact, when I read or hear the word abuser, I picture him as the perfect example of what an abuser is. This is why I have devoted my life to healing and it is why I do everything I can to tell others about the dangers and damage abuse causes, as well as help those who want to heal. It is why I am angry. But it is a healthy and justifiable anger that is constantly on my heart and in my mind.
I am angry at every adult who harms a child. I am angry because they chose to do it. And no, I don’t care if they were drunk, drugged or a child of abuse themselves. They chose it. They thought about how and they knew when. They watched that child’s every move. They knew the weakness in that child and they knew what tactic to use in order to abuse them. Should they use force or should they manipulate the child with love and affection? Should they threaten the child or should they blame the child? Yes, I am angry. I didn’t deserve it and neither did you.
I get angry when those who should be supportive and comforting, tell us to forgive, forget and put it behind us. I also get angry when these same family and friends tell us to not get angry. Why can’t I be angry? I was abused! I was beaten and forced to have sex. It was so traumatic for me that I had to leave my body in order to survive. I spent most of my life in fear and learning how to love myself. Yet, I should not be angry about it and at the ones who did it?
The same people who don’t want to hear about my abuse are the same ones who try to stop me from being angry. It’s because of THEIR fear, that they try to stop us from being angry. Fear of exposure, fear of losing control over us, fear of rocking their boat. They feel safe as long as they can keep us in a child frame of mind, under their control. What about how I feel? Why can’t I feel safe? What I don’t understand is why our loved ones aren’t angry. Why aren’t they angry that I was abused?
I’m sure some of you who are reading this are wondering why I am still angry after all the years I’ve spent in healing from abuse. (30 years to be exact) And some of you are wondering if I am really healthy, since I talk about anger and the importance of being angry at our abusers. How can I say I have forgiven my abusers but still be angry at them?
It is because of healing, that I am able to be angry. I spent most of my life obeying the same false beliefs that you listened to. “Put anger aside and move on.” Healing from abuse doesn’t mean forgetting and it doesn’t mean excusing the abuse and it doesn’t mean that we stop being angry. Trying to stop my anger about abuse is like trying to stop a moving train with my body. It can’t happen and it will never happen. I choose to remain angry about every man, woman and child who has, is or will be abused. It’s the nature of the beast, the nature of a Mad Survivor.
I know, I am stepping on some toes, because we were taught that anger should not be expressed, it is not lady- like and anger will eat us up. Yet, anger is an emotion that we need to express. We need to get angry about our abuse, about our abusers, about those who didn’t protect us and at those who tell us to stuff our anger. It’s the only way that internal boundaries will surround us to protect and guard us from future abuse. It’s like a fence that has signs posted “ Do Not Touch or You Will Be Prosecuted” “Warning: No Abuse Allowed” “Warning: I Hit Back.”
This is a list of things I USED to get angry about before healing: The cashier for talking too much and taking too long. (She isn’t being paid to talk!) The little boy who let his dog pee in my yard. (I don’t let my dog pee in your yard, why are you letting your dog pee in mine?) The guy in the mustang who has his music up loud. (Where’s the cops when you need them?) The butcher who took another customer before me ( I was here first!) The couple in church who didn’t tithe (God’s gonna get them).
Silly things. I mean, come on! If I wasn’t such a nice girl, I could have slapped these people without thinking twice. If I would have told my friends about them, they would have encouraged me and told me that I had every right to be angry and upset. Yet, when it comes to something as devastating as abuse, we are told to not be angry because it will eat us up inside. And we listen to these people. Why? Most of the time we don’t even question it, we just obey because it has been so ingrained in us that anger is a bad thing.
My question to every Survivor is this: Is love a bad thing? What about compassion, sadness, or joy? They are all emotions. Are we supposed to pick and choose certain ones and discard the others? Should we toss love aside and not cry or jump around with joy? It makes no sense to me to use some and squash another. Because of this, I will continue to express my anger. It is my emotion, it is my right and I am giving myself permission to do so. It is said that anger is the backbone of healing. I say, anger is my backbone.
Patty Hite is one of four facilitators of Overcoming Sexual Abuse. A survivor of emotional, physical and sexual abuse, Patty has been tenaciously pursuing her healing for over thirty years. She’s a passionate advocate for all survivors and dedicates her life to inspiring emotional wholeness in others. As a former victim of spousal abuse, she’s delighted to find true love with her husband of five years. She’s blessed with four children and five grandchildren.
I get asked a lot about “how” I can write what I write. Occasionally I get asked if I use my real name and if my parents are still alive. I get a lot of private emails expressing shock, admiration or awe and appreciation for the courage that I have to write the things that happened to me. So this post is about why I do what I do.
Darlene Ouimet is the name that I was born with. My parents are both still alive. My father is aware of this blog although I don’t know how often he reads it. If he told my siblings about it, then they know about it too. I don’t know if my mother has found it yet but I wouldn’t mind if she reads it.
Emerging from Broken is about the truth; it is my story and the reason that I do what I do is so that others can realize some of the ways we come to believe that we have caused our own pain and that we are somehow defective compared to other people. This blog is about overcoming depression ~ sometimes lifelong depression, by looking at the root causes and how confused we got about those roots. It is about overcoming trauma, sexual abuse, physical abuse, child abuse, psychological abuse, dissociative identity disorder, bi polar, post traumatic stress and every other mental health issue that you can think of. It is about freedom and wholeness and how it is possible to life a full life, and it is about thriving instead of just surviving. It is about emotional healing.
I write because what happened to me was wrong. The sexual abuse, the emotional abuse, the domestic violence, being put down and walked on and bulldozed over was wrong. The way that my parents regarded me was wrong. The way that I was abused and mistreated was wrong and it wasn’t my fault. I didn’t cause it and I didn’t deserve it and other people need to know that what happened to them was wrong too.
When I went through the process of clearing the old foundation and building a new one, I found out that I believed a lot of things that were not true about myself, and those things were in my way. I realized that I was having depression after depression because of those things that were in my way and when I got them out of my way, my whole life changed. I write a lot about my Mom; my mother was not one of the things in my way; it was what she taught me about myself that was in my way. Some of the belief system she passed on to me were in my way. When I emerged from broken, I was excited because I thought my mother would want to live the rest of her life free from chronic depression too. But that was not the case. She didn’t want to hear about my victory. I don’t think she acknowledged it at all. She just thought maybe I was having an affair with the therapist. (Remember I told you that she taught me that my only value was sexual.)
I didn’t ask my mother to leave my life, she left it because she didn’t want to live in a system of mutual respect. She liked the control she had over me. Well that is my version anyhow. Her version would be different. She might think I write for revenge, but this blog could just as easily be seen as a love letter to her. That is my version anyhow.
So to answer the question how can I write what I write ~ well it is the truth that set me free. If I can touch just a few others with that truth, then I have lived for one more purpose. If I can trigger a memory or a thought that strikes a chord with someone else, that enables them to realize a lie that they believed too, then I have done my work for that day. I believe that the freedom I live in today is a rare gift that I believe was intended for each of us to have. I think that gift was taken from us by abusive and controlling people who misused their power. I am passionate about sharing this message; often I feel almost driven to share it.
Sometimes when I hit the publish button on a blog post I feel a bit sick. Sometimes I am scared that my mother will fly into a rage and blame me for her fragile state of mental health, as though my truth has the power to kill her. Sometimes I feel sick because of the fear I had as a child of my abusers and their power over me and the belt my mother used and back then I knew that my parents had the power to decide if I lived or died. But today I don’t believe that anymore; I know it isn’t true anymore. So I write. I write to remind myself that I am free and how I became free and I write to tell others of this sweet freedom and the heady experience of emerging from broken and living in fullness. I write because it reminds me that I am alive and what a gift that life is when for so many years I was dead.
Please share your thoughts, struggles, victories or anything else you would like to share,
I read the following quote on twitter and it really bugged me: If a person who went through domestic violence asks you “Why me?” then answer; “you’ve been put on this Earth to help others who went through the same thing.”
I think not.
This ticks me off because I used to believe this kind of thing; I accepted it as the truth, but today I see it for the skewed way of thinking that it is. If I believe this saying, then I have to believe that there was some grand plan for my life that included me being mistreated, abused, invalidated and devalued. If I believed this then I would believe that abuse is and mistreatment is for character building and actually has a place in our world.
I was not abused because the universe, fate, God or some other higher power had some amazing plan for my life. A plan that included me being beaten down and squished, devalued, mistreated, abused and invalidated for the first 40 or so years of my life, so that I could emerge from the rubble, bleeding and broken and become this fantastic encouragement to the world and make a huge difference. I think not.
I can use my adversities and the struggles that I had to overcome to encourage others, yes, but that isn’t why they happened. We all want the answer to the question “why did this happen to me?” The answer that this was so that we can use our adversity to help others ~ is just the best answer many of us can come up with, but I often think that the reason we come up with that answer is because we don’t want to look at the real answer. People, sick people, abused us psychologically, mentally and emotionally, physically, or sexually ~ the point isn’t how it happened; the point is that it did happen. Sometimes these people were our parents, OR we are afraid to look at the possibility that our parents knew something was wrong and didn’t do anything about it or didn’t look farther into it. The truth will set you free, but we are deathly afraid of it. Some of us were beaten and lived in horrific situations of domestic violence, often daily. Even witnessing abuse is terribly traumatic. I can’t believe that this was “meant to be”.
Some of us were sexually abused and physically abused and completely invalidated in our own homes by people we trusted, people that were supposed to take care of us and we lived in fear, guilt, shame and confusion. Others of us suffered sexual abuse by a neighbor, an uncle, aunt or grandparent, and we were coerced into not telling. I can’t accept that this is because God had a plan to use that situation to better the rest of the world in the future. That would be almost as bad as the abuse itself.
Some of us were called stupid, selfish, useless, ugly and all other manner of abusive and devaluing statements against our personhood. Some of us were told called liars, trouble makers, and told that our feelings were “wrong”. ~ do you really want to accept that this was “all God’s plan” for your life? What kind of God would organize the world that way? No wonder there is so much controversy about God. No wonder people hate the very concept of a God. But it isn’t God that decided this would be the way, it is Man who blames God for the outcome of the world.
All of these types of abuse ~ physical abuse and domestic violence, sexual abuse and psychological abuse, and even witnessing any of these kinds of abuse attack us at the core of who we are. They rip away at our individuality and our personhood; they force us to try and deal with things we have no way to comprehend how to deal with; they tear down our chances of productivity and cause damage that we so often don’t realize was the cause as we grow up in years, resulting in depressions, physical illness, mental breakdowns and mental health problems, low self esteem, failure to thrive in life, oh the list goes on.
Every so often I go on a rant. This was one of those times. Thank you for reading; I would love to hear your comments!
Exposing Truth, one snapshot at a time;
Debbie V. wrote a comment today on my last post (Survivors of Abuse) that just hit me in such a way that I thought I would respond with a new post about this topic.
Debbie said “I am working on what you are speaking of. I know right where it began, I can even remember the feelings I had as a child….embarrassed and ashamed “who did I think I was anyway”??? And how the adults felt looked like “job well done” when I’d been taken down a notch…..what crap. I am grateful you asked me to relate experiences I had as a child to my own daughter…as in ~ what would I DO if someone did to her what was done to me or how would I process that. It makes things VERY clear to me now. I can’t BELIEVE anyone could do to children what seems to be done over and over and over again.”
It isn’t always easy for survivors of abuse to hear the stories of abuse suffered by others, but it far easier to react to the stories of others then it is to feel our own feelings about our own stories. I sought out people that suffered worse abuse then I did, so that I could reinforce the fantasy that it wasn’t really that bad. Who told me it wasn’t really that bad though? THEY DID; it was the ones that abused me and the ones that didn’t have the guts to protect me that convinced me that it wasn’t really that bad. I believed deep down inside of me that for some reason something was just wrong with me and that I deserved what happened to me. This is how they get us to keep the lies and maintain the secrets. Do not bring shame on this family by exposing the truth. So many of us remain in denial about the way we were treated, not protected, not valued, because it is so painful to accept the truth about our lives. But that truth is the truth that will set you free.
What Debbie is referring to in her comment is that in a attempt to make her react to her own terrible story of abuse as a young child, which included being grabbed by the hair and beaten, and having her skin twisted so hard that it came off, I asked her to imagine her reaction if her own young daughter came to her with that same story. How would you process it if someone you loved came to YOU and told your story as though it happened to them. Would you shush them? Would you make light of it? Would you say that they were exaggerating, lying, or trying to get attention? Would you say that they must have done something to deserve it? Somehow I don’t think you would. I think you would be outraged. I think you would weep tears of anger and frustration for them and for the innocence that was taken from them. I think you would want to do whatever you could to reassure them that it could not have possibly been their fault, that it could not have been deserved and that it was the abuser was wrong to treat someone that way.
We don’t allow ourselves to feel the pain of the treatment we received when we are sure that the pain of accepting that being devalued to that degree would be worse than any other pain. We want to stay in denial that our own family could not possibly have neglected to protect us, or worse yet, our own parents could not possibly have used and degraded us in that way. I think my biggest fear was that if I faced the whole truth about my past that I would find out it was true… I really was not loveable or worthy of love. Blaming it on myself was safer then accepting that I was nothing.
And it is very painful to go back and face the events of the past. We were children; innocent children who were told that we deserved to be beaten; we were told (not always in words) that we didn’t deserve protection, that we didn’t deserve love and that we needed to be disciplined because we were bad, unruly and wrong. We felt defective. In psychological abuse, or emotional abuse we were told not to feel, we were told that we were stupid, in the way, whiney or silly and it was clear in our fragile minds that we were not valued for who we really are but only for what we could do to make someone else look good. In sexual abuse we were told that we needed to be taught the ways of the world, we were told that it was love, or that we were special and if we told on our abuser we lived in fear for our lives or the lives of our siblings, parents or pets. We lived in fear. We were told that we were lying or that it was no big deal, or that we must be insane to make up such a story. Some of us were brought in front of a church so that everyone could pray for us, further reinforcing our belief that the problem was within our own selves. This is not love.
And so we grow up thinking that it was our fault, that we are the crazy ones. And when we struggle with mental health issues, low self esteem, and all manner of depression, then they point at us and declare “there is the proof. We always knew that it was you, you have always been the problem!” By that time, we are in such a fog and so used to living in the spin that it doesn’t take much for us to believe once again that they are right. We take medication; we often land in institutions, all the while never realizing where it all started.
I am encouraging you to take a step outside yourself, tell yourself your story as though you were hearing it from someone you love, and see how that makes you feel. It is okay to be angry. That anger is justifiable; blame and anger are important stepping stones to freedom and the pain is temporary when you face the whole truth. Hear your own story and realize that you deserve to know the truth. You are enough, you are loveable and you are worth it.
Thank you for reading my rant today. I encourage you to post your comments about how this post affected you; how does it make you feel? Did I get too blunt? Push too hard or was it exactly what you needed to hear?
All my love, Darlene Ouimet
Being survivors of sexual abuse, domestic violence, religious abuse or psychological abuse has a lasting effect on us. One of the worst consequences is that our value has been falsely defined by others. We are told who we are and who we should be. Over time we are conditioned to accept that we don’t deserve as much as others; we don’t feel like we are “as good” as others and we don’t know how to grow our own healthy self esteem. The building blocks for self esteem and self worth were taken from us, often when we were children. Abuse robs us of innocence and the ability to progress to maturity in a healthy way and since we are conditioned to somehow accept that the abuse is something we deserved or caused, we don’t look at ourselves with clear vision.
In my case I constantly tried to fix me and when others were having a bad day I thought I should fix that too. In any relationship problem in my life, I took responsibility for the repair of it. I took the blame for the breakdown of it too. This didn’t always look like I agreed that it was my fault, but I was willing to believe that I was too sensitive, too demanding, too controlling, too needy and too unreasonable, and I was willing to adjust my expectations accordingly. Usually that still meant that I was willing to take less than I deserved and take way less than I was willing to contribute to a relationship. The problem was that I was always the one doing the adjusting. That came from the conditioning and the belief system that I adopted as a result of being devalued. I had grown up believing that I was not as important, not as valuable as others and I was used to it. I was used to trying to make someone else happy and I believed that if I complied that I would be safer. It never occurred to me that the abuse was not something I caused OR deserved so I still believed that being what someone else wanted was where I would be accepted and loved and the truth is that I was never once loved for being who someone else wanted. It was as though they demanded I be who they wanted me to be and then they resented me for being so compliant and in order to feel good about themselves again, they demanded me to change more. I was so used to jumping through these hoops that I kept trying to comply and the cycle just continued; the fog got thicker and I had trouble seeing what was really going on. My self esteem got worse all the time, but until I realized the root of the problem, there was no real lasting recovery.
I had to get to the bottom of the truth before I could discover who I really am and find my value for myself. This began with me realizing that I had always been at the bottom of the value barrel in my family of origin, in my husband’s family and then it was even happening in my marriage family, with my husband and kids. I was so used to having less value that I accepted and even expected to have less value. I accepted it as the truth.
I had to decide that I was worth more, that I was worth saving and that I deserved equal value. And then I had to realize that it was up to me to take my value back; to take back the value and self worth that had been taken from me. I am not suggesting that this was easy, or that all I had to do was decide to do it. I had to go deep into the heart of what I believed about myself, and realize that my beliefs were taught to me by abusers and controllers and that most of my beliefs about myself were not given to me by people who loved me in the true definition of love. I was able to grow up my self esteem when I realized where the damage to it came from and righted those wrong beliefs. I had to realize that no one, not parent, friend, lover or therapist, was going to be able to establish my worth for me. They can help along the way, but no one’s approval is going to make me okay unless I believe I am okay, but it was only because I realized how ripped off I had been by the adults in my life, that I was able to take responsibility for my recovery and begin to emerge from broken!
If you believe you aren’t worth it, nothing will convince you to treat yourself otherwise.