If you haven’t heard, the statistics say that once you’ve been abused, you are more vulnerable to abuse by any number of different people.
Its frustrating that those who have been harmed are more likely to continue being harmed throughout their lives.
I grew up in a good, average family, and yet still found myself in an abusive relationship by the time I was sixteen. I was vulnerable, naive, and it affected me deeply.
I do not like the unlikely odds of maintaining a healthy or successful relationship. So, I have set out to change that for myself and my kids. And I am doing it!
Its not only possible for me, but its possible for every “victim”. Even for those born into abuse!
If you want to change the trajectory of your life, you can’t simply hope for it…you will have to take action. Action is the behavior that moves us forward, from one place to another.
With God by your side, a life free from abuse will look vastly different than what the world calls you to do and be. It is so so hard. But so so worth it.
In many ways, I have been free from my abuser for nearly four years. Four years of healing and grief and lessons and tears. Yet my abuser is still actively in my life, because of shared custody.
In hindsight, I see that many other “secondary” abusers took advantage of me during the years I was weak, worn down, and broken. These abusers took on the form of “friends”, co-workers, and bosses. Even an extended family member that paved the way for many of the abusers in my life.
(Before I go into how not to be abused again, I must preface that we all could potentially be abused for the rest of our lives, but what changes is our reaction to it and our perspective of it. There can be freedom from abuse, even in the midst of it!!)
I’ve encountered abusive people since being on my own, but I have not granted them access to my heart, to the foundational aspects of my life. They don’t get to be the people I rely on, or grow deeper with. They don’t get the privilege of influencing me.
I have learned to keep my accountability group small and intentional.
Here are some of the steps I’ve taken to remove abusive people from my life and remain free of them.
God: It is impossible to find freedom, healing, or wholeness without God at the center of your life. Your relationship with Him has to be a priority…meaning we seek Him first in everything, and we walk in obedience. . . even when it is hard, scary, and we feel alone.
Counseling: I received counseling from a professional, Christian psychologist that specializes in the traumas I had experienced. I went for an extended time, and I do check-ins as often as I feel the need.
Support System: Find a support system that will tell you the truth!! You don’t need people who will agree with every word you say, but you also don’t need people who will come against your every step. You need a group of wise people, especially of the same sex, to speak truth into your life.
Don’t Date: (I don’t mean never!) My counselor suggested I wait one year from my official divorce date to pursue a dating relationship. She wisely pointed out that waiting would help eliminate potential predatory prospects: because nothing seems to attract abusive partners quite like a vulnerable woman…
Side Note: For those who have abusive parents, or abusers besides a significant other, still approach dating cautiously. Don’t use it as a means to relieve your pain or save you. Just because it’s different, doesn’t mean it’s better...
Boundaries: They have to be clear and enforced. It is so important to clearly define your own boundaries, so you can begin to enforce them. This doesn’t always mean cutting people out of your life (although, sometimes it might).
Once I started defining and enforcing boundaries, my abuser began to lose control over me, and I was able to see clearly and hear clearly from the Lord for the first time in over a decade!!
Once you start to clearly see your own boundaries, you’ll also begin to respect others’ boundaries as well.
Take Responsibility: This DOES NOT mean you are to blame for the abuse you suffered. Never believe that lie! This means you take responsibility for your own actions and reactions.
I know that in the midst of my abuse, I was reactively abusive at times, trying to survive. I have dealt with the effects of my own actions since, because it does more damage for me to blame my abuser for everything that has ever gone wrong or anything that will ever go wrong in my life. Taking responsibility for what belongs to you takes strength!
No Communication/Restricted Communication: If at all possible, have no contact with your abuser.
I get that that is not always possible… for many different reasons. Maybe like me, you share children. Still others may feel called to stay in communication with their abusers. This often happens in family situations.
The way I have decided to navigate this difficult relationship is through documentation. It is an unfortunate reality for many, and I know I’m not alone in it.
I set a boundary where my abuser can only communicate with me via text or email. This gives me as much time as I need to feel the emotions that the communication may stir in me, I can get counsel if needed, I have time to pray, and then I respond.
It also creates a trail of documentation, so there is less room to manipulate, confuse, and control.
I want to leave you with Scripture, in order to help you in your pursuit of living a whole life despite any abuse you have endured. At the end of the day, it is the Word of God that gives us hope and truth to stand on.
Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.” 1 Corinthians 15:33
So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the crawling locust, the consuming locust, and the chewing locust, my great army which I sent among you. Joel 2:25
He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8
These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world. John 16:33
This post was written by Yaya. Yaya is a child of God, mama of 3, and an abuse survivor. She passionately follows her call to educate and help others who are suffering from abuse. She started her blog, Make Time To Cuddle in 2015 as a means to “lead others towards God in the midst of their suffering and abuse.”
You can follow Yaya on Facebook and Instagram, for daily encouragement.