This year is quickly coming to an end and many are left with feelings of uneasiness and fear for what yet another year will bring. I remember the days when my life was in turmoil from not only the abuse I suffered, but from all the places of insecurity I had inside of myself at that time. I ultimately lost everything including access to see my children, my job, my car and I think I even almost lost my mind. I wanted to die, but there was something inside of me that just wouldn't quit. I am so thankful I decided to live.
Life was quite devastating for me then, but I quickly learned that although many dark places existed, there were also places where hope just wouldn't go away. In looking back, I can now say I wish I would have realized sooner it was a new starting place. A new normal. Once I was able to begin accepting my new normal, I was able to move forward with healing myself. I had to take my eyes off of my losses and off of everyone else I was trying to fix and really begin to see myself. I also had to see the positive and not just focus on the negative anymore. That is when life really began for me.
I now like me and I believe it's because of the healing I allowed myself to receive. I stopped pushing everyone away and allowed myself to be broken in the presence of counselors, group members and friends that were helpful to me, even when I felt stupid and crazy. I got online and began researching abuse. I learned what I was doing and allowed myself to change. I removed myself from the people and places that kept me in locked in pain and unforgiveness. I prayed a lot to a God I knew existed and got closer to Christ than I had ever been.
During these times, I learned that not everyone is for our good, so you do have to be careful, but not everyone is bad either. It was all a learning lesson and the advice I have is to keep getting up and moving forward with your life, even in your own mistakes or places of despair. Today, I am truly able to look past those old, dark moments of pain and enjoy my life as I am. I am proud of who I am and what I have been able to accomplish in the last few years. I firmly stand in my belief that the best is yet to come.
Below are a few quick tips on how to change your focus and potentially begin to heal.
1. Think of some goals you have for your life and write them down. Look at them everyday and begin to dream again. Let your dreams be filled with hope.
2. Find encouraging friends to hang around. Don't do the same old thing and expect a different result. Find people that encourage you and uplift you, instead of maybe the ones that drag you down and make you feel used or alone.
3. Rediscover what you like to do. One of the great things that I started doing in my alone time was thinking back to when I was a child and what I liked to do in that place of innocence. For some of us, looking back is hard, but use those moments to encourage yourself and look at how far you've come. I healed a lot as I looked back and began accepting things that I had been running from for years. As that happened, I saw that I loved acting in high school. I now act as a hobby and have rediscovered what I liked about it and how great it makes me feel.
4. Use your gifts and talents to help others. Use your story to encourage others. Use your gifts to have fun again. Helping others oftentimes makes us feel better about ourselves. Many are singing, acting, writing, doing ceramics, painting and even dancing to help themselves heal. Find what works for you. Everyone has something. Don't compare yourself to what others have, but find what makes your heart smile and do it.
5. Let yourself grieve. Don't pretend things are okay, because they probably aren't. Give yourself a break from maybe trying to be perfect and holding it all together. Life is a journey. Allow yourself to cry about things. Learning to let go of those old feelings really does help.
6. Lastly, find others that will listen. Some survivors have great supportive families that will listen and really have compassion. Others can't find that in people around them because their friends or family don't understand and can't figure out why you aren't 'over it.' Don't hold it in. Find a support group. Go online if you don't have one in your area. Letting your emotions out to people that understand and won't judge you really does help.
Healing takes time, love and patience with yourself, but I truly believe each of you reading this can accomplish all these things and more. Remember:
-the only person you can change is yourself and today is the first day of the rest of your life. Make it a good one.
There is no better time than now to begin.
This post is by Beck Ballantyne. It takes courage and strength to share what happened in her life. I'm so proud of her for being able to take a stand and let others know what she went through. She still has flash backs, but I believe is on her way to complete freedom from her chains.
A great way to move past your past, is by facing it. Coming to terms with what really happened in your life is so important for healing, even when that truth is extremely hard to bare. I applaud her for being so open and honest with what really happened.
Thank you for this opportunity in giving me a voice. I have been quiet for 37 total years of my life, and now I can speak.
Recently I was just diagnosed with POST TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER. Hands up all those who would attribute this to being in a war zone, for example?? I know I did. I inherited this diagnosis from my own brothers.
My traumas began with my abusive brothers. I grew up in a strictly religious environment, attended church regularly on a Sunday, our family had strong gender based roles in the house. My brothers would sit on the couch for example, while I was made to do the dishes.
At nine years of age I was introduced to my first Trauma. My older brother taught me to perform oral sex on him on a daily basis for six weeks. On my informing my parents of this matter, it was immediately stopped.
To this day, I have very clear images in my head of my brother that nothing can erase.
I soon learnt that as a female in a religious household, I had no voice. My experience was minimized, I had started to be called a ‘’liar’’ by both my brothers on a daily basis from the age of 9. They changed the details of the abuse and told me it happened when I was 13. Etc.
Coming from this environment I married my husband/abuser at the old age of 20. I had just turned 20 by three months.
Being in a church environment, we were encouraged to marry at a young age.
There followed 15 years of tight abusive control. I was constantly accused of cheating (although innocent for many years) I was told I was ugly every single day of my marriage, I had no money to spend, although he would buy big ticket items for himself. I had to buy the jam he liked only. Clothes had to be approved by him, etc. I was physically punched seven times, and he cut my credit card every time I tried to leave. I was sent to my parents house to sleep for a night, when I had ‘’disgraced’’ him. The horror of this is that my parents never saw anything wrong with me being sent back to them in disgrace, even as a married mother. He cheated on me countless times, although he would never admit he was on dating sites. I was constantly sick with uti’s and infections. My health has improved dramatically post separation. Ón leaving he screamed he was ‘’going to kill me.’’
I endured stalking, surveillance, blackmail, requests on going for sex, until the restraining order came into place. My reputation was crushed by my ex-husband by all who knew me in the church, etc. When it was put into place I was the one blamed for it being there naturally.
He ‘’had to leave his job’’ when I was having our second daughter, because he cheated on me in hospital. He ‘’got to close to someone at work.’’
When I was bleeding after our third child, and required life-saving surgery, he ‘’went home because he was tired.’’ He wasn’t looking after our other two, my mum had them. I have never forgiven him for going home before knowing if I were dead or alive that night.
The psychologist has said that my brother broke my wing, I was put into a cage by my other brother for life, and the key was turned, and on my marriage he bequeathed that key to my husband, with adurations no doubt to keep the reckless, lying whore under strict and complete control.
Then came the diagnosis for me of a tumor that would grow from my left breast, and wrap around my vital organs, killing me slowly if left untreated. A rare desmoid tumor.
I sat there in the Hospital waiting for surgery, desperately unhappy with my abuser by my side. He was only there because he HAD to be there, not because he wanted to be. A switch flicked in my brain and I knew I was going to leave him when I could.
Twenty four hours after I was given the all clear, my dad was diagnosed with an incurable brain tumor in 2015 and given twelve weeks to live. He lasted eight.
In my grief at my husband’s infidelity, lack of compassion and emotional incapacity, I had turned to a friend for two years. I left his messages on my phone for my husband to find. I knew that he would think it was ok for him to cheat, but NOT me.
With the help of Eastern Domestic Violence Center I escaped my ghastly marriage and despite strong opposition from my brothers managed to remain free of my marriage. I successfully Sole Divorced him through the courts, as he would not sign the papers.
He believed it was okay for his wife and children to be out of the mortgaged property while he stayed in it.
On my first shop post leaving him, I stood at the jam shelf staring, as I did not know what sort of jam I liked to eat. Such was the tight control I had been living in.
I reentered the church (different location) after having been ‘’expelled’’ in disgrace by the hand of my own brother. I attended another church. As I was constantly hit on by the married men in the church due to my perceived disgrace at being a single divorced mother, I left the church in disgust. I experienced actual sexual assault on a Sunday morning by a ‘’so called’’ respectable man who thought it was ok to flick my bra at church in full view of everyone.
I am now single, FREE and financially secure in my own rental property. I will be receiving treatment for PTSD for a long time. But NOW, NOW I AM FREE. I still believe in God and Christ, just not church. Beck
Click on the link 'The Everyday Girl Magazine' below to read some of my story about domestic abuse and how I overcame. My pictures and story are on pages 58-62.
Please get help if you or someone you know is suffering from abuse. You may not even realize that what is happening is really classified as 'abuse', but if it feels wrong, please find out what you can do. Many lives are lost each day because of domestic /sexual violence.
Get help today!! http://www.thehotline.org/ or call 1-800-799-7233
I just found out last week that one of my Facebook friends committed suicide. My heart is hurting. It hurts not only for her death, but for her life. She and I had way too much in common.
I will not say I knew her well. I didn't. But the bond we did share is that we each were abused in domestic violence related attacks, we were each not believed within the court system, we each lost access to the ones we loved the most (our children), we each battled the fear of it happening again, and we each went spiraling into depression and lost identity the day they left.
I loved her because I KNEW the pain she went through. We instantly bonded, as so many other victims of domestic and sexual violence and I have done over the last several years. I knew her fear. I knew her distrust. I knew her hatred for what wouldn't leave her alone and continued to torment her. I knew her heartache and that is what makes me cry even now. I know that place of wanting to die because it feels like the pain is too much to handle. Justice doesn't reign in so many cases of domestic violence or other types of abuse. Losses come and so many people and professionals look to the victim like they are the one at fault.
I know how hard it is to lose your children because of someone's else's hatred and lies. I know how hard it is to feel like everyone is blaming you. From a person who knows the struggle, I know how hard it is to keep going when everything begins to feel like it's your fault. I felt crazy and many people were telling me I was.
My friend lost access to her son a few months ago. She killed herself because of it. I have spent years in therapy and at the footstool of Christ trying to make sense over not being able to see my own children, not being able to hold them and raise them and show them my heart. I spent years wanting and praying to die. My life withstood the pressure and I came out on the other side. I cry because I don't why my friend didn't make it. I cry because I know how hard it is to withstand that kind of pain in losing a child. I cry because I know the injustice that is felt and the disbelief that people can't see the truth. I cry because she's gone and her children will never know her in person on this earth.
If you are in a situation where you feel suicide is your way out, please reconsider. Please call me or contact a suicide hotline. Our children are only children for a time. They grow up and God has showed me in the last several years that life isn't about whether we lose or we win. It is about Him. He stepped into my gap of loss with seeing all four of my children. He stepped in and gave me life despite what the court system and the people of this world took from and said about me. He is the One we need most of all and I give my friends life to Him, even in her death. She was a believer and I know she was loved by Him.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255
People that want to hurt other people are everywhere. I expect that some have been hurt themselves, some are just mean and some are probably disabled with mental illness. Some do it intentionally and some do not.
I watch so many people lose focus on their own life because of how others are mistreating them or oftentimes how they think others are mistreating them. They lose their own hopes and dreams and become lost in the drama and chaos of others and how they are treated.
How do you move past this? It isn't always easy, but it is possible. My life changed the day I decided that I wasn't going to focus on what was 'lost' or what I didn't have, but on what I did have. I was going to be positive, not negative. I stopped trying to 'prove' my innocence and decided to live. When bad things came, I dealt with it and moved on. When triggers from my past came, I prayed and learned to let things go. I faced my fears with the help of Jesus Christ and moved on. The Lord changed my heart and my perspective on my own life. Without Him, I don't think I could have ever found myself again. Without Him, I know I couldn't have found life again.
At first glance, I didn't see that I had much to be positive about at that time in my life. I had one suitcase, was living in a hotel room in another city and had little to no access to my children. My parents weren't really talking to me, I didn't believe that any of my friends were still friends and I was wandering around lost and feeling completely alone. I couldn't figure out what was wrong with me. I had bought the lie that those hurtful people were saying about me. I bought the lie and didn't think I had anything to offer to anyone. I bought the lie that my mistakes made me someone awful. Lord help those that really think that about themselves and feel they must put others down to life themselves up.
What I didn't realize at that time, is that others can't hurt me if I don't believe the lie. I had been telling myself this same lie since I was a young girl. I have no idea why. My parents never minimized me in this way. They didn't speak these negative words over me as a child. I still have no idea why I thought so little of myself as a little girl, but I did. The change in my heart began when I stepped back into my childhood and realized that I was loved. I was adored by Christ at that time. Even if I didn't know Him, He knew me. Even if I never felt it from my parents, Jesus did love me and this was most important of all. Once I realized I was loved and that I mattered, things began to change. Once I began speaking life over myself instead of death, I started knowing that I was important. Everything began to change.
I think one of the hardest things in life is to face our past and to face our fears. If we don't know the truth and aren't willing to face it because of fear, I think we live in a life that isn't the fullest we can have. I think it's impossible to live in 'freedom' until we face those things that haunt us. Many can't face these things, I believe, because they don't have an advocate to do it. People in life fail us, and we think there isn't anyone to help. This isn't true. Jesus is our advocate and He is there. It isn't always comfortable and it isn't always fun, but I do believe He works things for our good. It's up to us to seek Him and ask Him what He thinks about our life and the situations in it.
Start today. Move forward regardless of what you have or what you don't have. Move forward regardless of what has happened to you, what others say about you, or even what you believe. Choose to live and be positive. You can't change anyone but yourself, so start today. Ask Christ for help. Live the best life you can live for as long as you are here. The worst thing isn't death to me if you believe in Christ, you have eternity. I believe the worst thing is to waste your life and everything in it because of the fear of what you can't control anyway.
So many people are struggling with symptoms of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) from various traumas they have endured. Here is one woman's viewpoint of how things feel when you are locked deep inside these emotions that come by suffering from PTSD. There IS HOPE for healing and recovery from these feelings. If you or anyone you know is suffering, please contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or go to http://www.thehotline.org/ for immediate assistance.
You may also contact one of our life coaches for help in healing with Jesus Christ. Change can come. Don't give up and never stop believing.
Rachel Lehman RN
By Metta Mo
The walks I’ll never take, The hand I’ll never hold
The laughs I’ll never share, The stories never told
The bonds I’ll never make, The jokes I’ll never hear
The ever looming presence of trauma related fear.
The years I’ll never get back, The love I have never had
The good moments that have been overshadowed by the bad
The peace that never seems to come, The help I never get, but need
The endless nights I cry, The hope that's fading fast
The memories never made, The nightmares of the past.
The anger, The disappointment, The success I may never know
The hurt, the hurt, the hurt, The hurt that left a hole
The anxiety, the nervousness, The lost and frightened soul
The talks I never get to have, The time I’ll never get to spend
The joy I seldom feel, The many times I beg God please let this pain end.
The years that were stolen, The songs I’ll never sing, The dance I’ll never get to do,
The picture perfect family, All ruined because of you.
The trust that was betrayed, The fault that is my own, The wrong decisions that I made,
The love I cannot give now, The walls that I have built,
The lonely that I live with, The overwhelming guilt.
The broken heart that beats inside me, The smile gone from my face
The pieces that are missing, The youth that cannot be replaced
The energy I never have, The wounds that just don’t heal
The never ending sadness and the tiredness that I feel.
The lack of understanding, The people that I’ve lost
The burden that I carry while your life is so carefree
The children that don’t have a Dad, The Mom that I just can’t be
The many lives you’ve damaged, because of what you did to me.
The apology that will never come, The struggle to forgive
The brokenness the emptiness, The life that I now live.
The uneducated opinions of those who think this is a choice
These are the words you would hear if PTSD had a voice.
by Journey Starke
He can be pretty mean. “But It's okay… Because he doesn't yell at me.”
He yells. “It's okay… Because he didn't cuss at me.”
He cussed. “It's okay… Because he didn't embarrass me in from of my friends.”
He makes you feel worthless in front of your friends. “But it's okay.. Because he isn't controlling you.”
He starts controlling where and when you do things. He calls and texts repeatedly when you're gone. “But it's okay.. Because he doesn't isolate me.”
He loves you so much that he wants you to spend time with only him, no one else. “It's okay… Because he loves me and he's not violent.”
He smashed his phone and punched a hole in the wall next to your face during an argument. “But it's okay… because he hasn't hurt ME.”
He grabbed your arm so hard it left a bruise. “But it's okay… Because he didn't really mean to and it wasn't a punch or anything.
He punched you in the shoulder and you cried. “But it's okay… because it wasn't my face.”
He backhanded you across the mouth and gave you a fat lip. “But it's okay.. Because he says he won't do it again. He loves me. And He's sorry.”
It's not okay. He will do it again.
These are all things that happened in my relationship and all my excuses that followed them.
Until I realized that NONE of that was okay.
It's okay that you love him, but it's not okay how he treats you. It's okay to miss him, but you don't want him back.
There are many resources and people to help you if you ever fall into this awful cycle. I didn't realize how bad my relationship was until I wrote this. I am trying to get out & writing some of my story this was was very therapeutic. All of you are so strong and so inspirational.
I'm finding my strength, I hope you are too. ❤️
Thank you to my husband for always being there and supporting me in everything I do. You truly are a gift to my heart!
My life has been littered with unexpected turns, disappointments, trials, losses and much to learn about some choices I've made. Many have hurt me and I have hurt many others. I have laughed, cried, struggled and thought about dying way too often in some seasons of life. I learned to overcome through the power of Jesus Christ. This took many years of my life to learn. It's called a process and does not happen overnight.
Some know me, many others do not, but judge me from a distance. Some are jealous of me and I found myself in a place of jealousy for many others. Why, I would ask. Why is my life a mess? Why did I lose what I always wanted? Why do I so often find myself looking in from the outside? Like looking into a window, but never being able to find the door to just go inside.
Years I waited. Years I prayed. For years my life was an unintentional mess with many turning their backs on me, telling lies about me. Passing judgement and being critical about things they never even tried to understand about me or my life. I struggled with people's words against me. After praying for myself and for those others that were being hopelessly mean, I lost even more things in life and even more of my self. I couldn't find the light or the purpose for my life. I thought I must be the problem, I must be the one God is really mad at. I waited, I prayed, I waited. I was tired and the wait seemed endlessly hopeless.
Things I prayed for didn't return. I felt I had no reason to be alive. No reason to live. No family to embrace me. No one at home to smile and hug me when I arrived. I kept turning to Christ and crying out to Him for an answer. I kept crying out to Him for a reason to be alive. In these times of hardship, one thing began happening. I began finding joy despite the things in the world. A light was emerging inside of me and I didn't even know it had arrived. I began finding joy inside my own heart. I began healing. I began laughing. I began to understand how to overcome the struggle, despite the pain, despite the loss, despite the past. I once again began to live, but this time was different. The same things didn't get to me. I was stronger and not as emotionally bound to the negative things in life. I was becoming bolder and more courageous. More able to stand on my own, without a man dictating my actions or my beliefs. I was finding myself to be a woman, no longer feeling like a child inside needing love that never came. My inner child was relearning how to love without regret. How to love with innocence. How to love because I am lovable regardless of what others say about me.
God had recreated my heart and my life. He did this through the struggle. Just like a caterpillar turns into a beautiful butterfly. He created my life to show Himself in a whole different way than when I began the struggle. My life was now different. I don't regret the past, but embrace the future. I now have an amazing, courageous, kind and generous husband who supports me in everything I do. He is likeable and very trustable with not only myself, but with all things. He is not without mistakes or weaknesses, just like me, but we have learned to grow together. We both love Christ and were willing to try again, willing to trust again, and willing to give our lives to the One who created us. This was truly a marriage to remember. My hope is in Jesus and I will never be the same.
Rachel Everhart RN