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Click the heart to sponsor my service work at Valiant Hearts throughout the month of October. In their weekly support group, I will offer practical steps to overcoming the effects of childhood sexual abuse. For more information about this organization, visit www.valianthearts.org
If you had told me that after eighteen years of "praying and staying" I'd be sleeping in the guestroom--divorce pending, I'd have bet Stormie Omartian's life against it. Stormie Omartian authored The Power of a Praying Wife, and in March of 2013 I wanted to stuff a sweaty sock in her mouth.
Me to my psychologist (Dr. Anonymous): I've just spent eighteen years in a relationship that shouldn't have lasted eight days. How is this possible? I'm not unintelligent, and I'm always in a ten-week Bible study.
She suggested I read The Betrayal Bond: Breaking Free of Exploitative Relationships by Patrick J. Carnes, Ph.D. It's not a long read . . . just over two hundred pages. The length of time it took for what I'd read to reflect in my life choices. . . just over two years. (Totally worth it.)
According to Dr. Carnes, "there are five main ways promises are used to betray. They are
- betrayal by seduction
- betrayal by terror
- betrayal by exploitation
- betrayal by intimacy
- betrayal by spirit
One of these is bad enough, but often times all five are present. To understand traumatic bonding, the reader must understand these separate types of abuse. Today, we'll address betrayal by seduction.
Seduction is high warmth with low intention. These relationships are very deceptive and seductive, and commonly found in traumatic bonding. If the person was clear about his intention, the other might not respond or become involved. Characteristics of this combination are:
- relationships are manipulative and exploitative
- agreements are ill-defined, unclear or tentative
- feelings are anxious and intense
- trust depends often on exaggerated or unreal promises
- risk is often one-sided
[end of excerpt]
What I learned is that seven years of child sexual abuse cultivated an atmosphere of anxiety and fear coupled with an intense desire for peace and safety. So my brain found ways to cope with fear and anxiety at an age when I had no control over my external circumstances.
Example: I'm highly creative. And that's a good thing. But part of healing required the recognition of times I had biblical grounds to divorce but instead opted to redecorate the master bedroom. (A scenario referred to as a trauma solution.) Nothing is resolved. But I've successfully hijacked my senses into believing I'm at peace because after all, my paint selection is called Serenity, and the billowy, soft throw pillows smooth the memories of everything hard and rough and devaluing.
For the abused woman, trauma solutions are not why she stays, but how. In all those years, it not once did I look in the mirror and think: I do not deserve to be treated like this. I was a survivor. It was all I knew. And the girl I saw in the mirror each morning was the only version of myself I'd ever known. I wasn't stupid. I was blind. If this scenario was a mathematical equation it would roll out like this:
1 ten-week Bible study
1 faith-based movie like The War Room
0 measurable milestones of heart-change in an abusive spouse/partner
1 pastor hell-bent on convincing you that God hates divorce more than He hates the abuse you're enduring
H-E-Double Hockey Sticks on seriously thin ice.
What we hope in should reflect the character of whom we place our hope:
Psalm 33: 20--22
We put our hope in the Lord. He is our help and our shield.
In Him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in His holy name.
Let your unfailing love surround us, Lord, for our hope is in you alone.
I believe in marriage. I do. But for the woman of faith who's married to an abusive man, a godly marriage does not include abuse. It goes against His very nature. He is our shield. His love unfailing. Abusive men can and do heal. I'm not saying don't pray . . . fervently. I'm suggesting that you allow the very nature of a loving God to shield you from believing you have no choice but to stay in a marriage where your physical, emotional, and spiritual health is compromised.
Know what I heard in my heart the day my divorce finalized?
Daughter, your marriage failed because my love does not fail. Go in peace.
To the woman who finds herself dating after an abusive marriage. Be on the look-out for high-warmth with low intention. I've learned this the hard way. Some men will say anything if they believe it will get you in the sack. Time tells the truth. So take it slow, Sister. Dr. Carnes writes "the closest and most rewarding relationships are high warmth high intention because you know where you stand with a person who wants to be connected with you." Characteristics of this combination are:
- relationships are committed and involved
- agreements are clear and rewarding
- feelings are excited and enthusiastic
- trust is high
- rewards are immediate or concrete
- risk is mutually shared
Here's another healthy scenario: Low warmth and high intention. These are very task-centered relationships in which a primary objective is to accomplish a transaction or a job. It is simple and businesslike. We all have such relationships because they are very functional. Characteristics of this combination are:
- relationships are goal-oriented rather than people oriented
- agreements are clear but emotionally detached
- feelings are disconnected or unemotional
- rewards are specified and reliable
- risk is minimal
[end of excerpt]
It's worth your consideration because we have a loving Father who promises YOU are worthy of consideration. Consider yourself, today.
You are not alone,
Published on Wednesday, October 19, 2016 @ 12:31 PM CDT