I have been honored to share several stories of inspiration over this past year.
Lydia has always been someone I admired, with her amazing smile, enthusiastic outlook on life. She has been a wonderful voice on the phone when I needed to vent about my own story, afterwards, she opened up, privately, about her situation.
No one would ever know of the personal agonies that hide behind her cheery attitude.
Sadly, Lydia's story mirrors many victims experiences.
The sensitivity of the following Guest post about Abuse is being labeled with a 'Trigger warning' and not for anyone under 18 to read, unless permission from a parent.
As always, I hope this Lydia brings you inspiration and understanding about a very secretive subject.
I met my husband when I was 26.
He lived upstairs from me at the apartment I was renting. I would sit outside on the steps to read ironically, about the time he came home from work each day. He began to earn my trust by talking about the books I was reading.
When there was a small fire in the building, we had to move. We went our separate ways for a while, but he would show up in random places: at church, at the grocery store, etc. I didn't realize he was following me. There were so many coincidences.
I began a new job. A few weeks later, he just happened to start working there, too. That's when we started going to breakfast together after work. He was so charming at first.
A few months later (This all happened so fast!), he was having trouble finding a place to live. I thought we were just friends, so I invited him to be my roommate. I made it clear that our relationship was not going to be sexual. Even so, he continued to be charming and we started to date.
Another few short months later, he gave me a ring.
He was asleep when I came home from work. When he heard me come in, he popped his hand out of the blankets and in his hand was a ring. I said yes. He was still charming.
Our wedding was a few weeks later. His charming facade fell away on our wedding night. He changed from this charming, loving guy into an angry control-freak. More about this later.
I inquired whether she had an alarm that went off in her belly, 'Gut instinct'. She states:
Yes, it did. However, I did not recognize it. I had been abused by my parents and had therefore not learned to recognize that signal.
Sadly, she is no stranger to abuse. She shared a time in her life when she experienced a dark time:
Back to the wedding night and honeymoon. On our wedding night when we arrived at the hotel, I went to the bathroom to change out of my wedding dress. I heard glass shattering outside the door.
Somehow, he had broken our wine glasses. The glass was all over our clothing in our suitcase. Unbeknownst to me, glass was also on him. He didn't tell me that there was glass in his penis, yet he proceeded to initiate sex with me.
As we began, I felt the pain, but since this was my first sexual experience, I thought I should expect some pain. Soon I discovered the blood. When I discovered the blood, he began to go on and on about the glass in his penis, yet I was the one bleeding. I got the glass out of my own body while he proceeded to be angry about the glass in his penis. I was so confused.
Where was his anger coming from?
Why was he angry with me?
Then, he started laughing and showering me with affection. I was bleeding so much I wanted to go to the ER. He begged me not to, saying it was too embarrassing. I listened to him, but was still confused by the change from anger to the love bomb. I went on as if nothing happened.
On the next several days of our honeymoon, he continued to switch from anger to love-bombing. I continued to be confused, but any attempt to talk to him about the confusion was turned on me stating I was just being silly or oversensitive. He would also talk in circles, arguing. He would be arguing without any real point to his argument. He would change topics often.
No matter what point I made, he would turn the argument against me.
I asked if at any point in either of any of her situations, did she ever cry out for help to anyone, counseling, help from church or law enforcement? Did anyone ever guess something was off?
As a child, I once called DCS, asking for help. When there was an investigation, my parents sweet talked their way through it and threatened to send me away themselves if I ever did it again. My mother said she would show me what abuse really was. For the next several months, she emotionally abused me.
When I was married, I no longer recognized abuse as abuse.
I began to think it was normal.
Many people, including my ex-husband's parents tried to warn me not to marry him, telling me that I didn't see his true colors. A friend of mine told me that he was manipulative, controlling, and downright creepy.
I just didn't see it myself.
I didn't want to see it.
Because of the abuse from my parents, I didn't feel lovable. Here was this man showering me with love. Sure, he got angry easily, but the love is what I craved.
I married my self-esteem.
What kept you going forward?
When I was a child, hope for a future kept me moving forward. I did well academically. I sang well, too. I was smart and talented. I knew I would do well in college, and I did. I had hope for a future that began to come to fruition.
When I got married, that future came to a screeching halt. My abuser made sure I didn't succeed as a Lutheran Deaconess. He made sure I didn't participate in vocal performances or choir. What kept me going then were my children. I began to hope for their futures as I once hoped for my own.
The questions I hear often is, "Why did you stay?". What were the reasons you stayed?
First, because of my religious beliefs, I stayed because I did not believe that God wanted me to divorce. I didn't realize that God also wants us to flee from evil. I couldn't recognize the abuser as being evil.
Second, I stayed because of my low self-esteem. I didn't think that anyone else would love me. I didn't think I was worth much. At least I got the love bombs from my abuser. But over time, those doses of "love" were fewer and farther between. I didn't know that his "love" was not love at all. I didn't realize that he was love-bombing me to keep me under his control.
Some victims of abuse do transition into recreational drugs/alcohol, depression, emotional issues or health issues. Had any of these affected you? How are you dealing with your issue and how are you at this point?
I experience depression, even now. I used to cut in response to the abuse. I didn't want to, or couldn't lash out at my abusers, so I took it out on myself by cutting. In order to stop cutting, I began smoking. I still smoke on and off today.
Children can have various health issues that may not been seen right off the bat as related to abuse. I inquired how her children were handling this situation, she responded:
My children are emotionally delayed. My son has autism, but I often wonder how many of his symptoms are autism and how many are PTSD. He has high anxiety and experiences depression. He goes back and forth between wanting contact with his dad and wanting nothing to do with him.
My daughter has Oppositional Defiant Disorder. She displays many behaviors that are similar to her father's. I remind her often that she is not her father. She has an explosive temper, but is generally the most big-hearted, loving soul. She has PTSD as well and has recently been making connections between her emotions and what her father did to us. It is a privilege to watch her begin to heal.
She is taking the following steps to keep her children and herself safe:
First, I divorced him in 2018. We are working on our third consecutive protective order. I have changed our phone number multiple times. We have a safety plan in place that involves simply calling the police if the abuser shows up and then either exiting the residence to find a safe place, or going to a locked room while speaking to the police.
Have family and friends been supportive once they have learned of your situation? Did the situation break your relationship with loved ones due to disbelief or fear they have for your abuser?
My family doesn't recognize abuse as abuse because of the abuse we experienced as children. They are supportive as they can be at this point in everyone's recovery but only one of my siblings can bring herself to call it abuse.
With friends, I have been blessed. I reconnected with old friends after the marriage and have rebuilt friendships that were paused while I was married. I have made new friends with folks who helped me recognize abuse for what it was and stuck with me through it all.
Do you think he will change? If he does, would you go back?
NO! and NO! Even if he were to change, I can never trust that it is genuine.
Where do you see yourself a year from now?
A lot can happen in a year.
My daughter's healing will likely progress and I expect to see fewer behavioral episodes.
My son will be less anxious as he begins to trust that the abuser will not be in the picture.
I will trust myself more as I consistently keep the abuser out of the picture.
How much has you life and have you changed since leaving your abuser?
First and foremost, we are safe. My health has improved since leaving. I was having daily seizures and could barely walk, think, or speak much while married. I haven't had a seizure since the divorce. While slow at first, I began to walk steadily and think more clearly. Once the recovery got underway, things moved rather quickly. I was able to start driving, moved to a new residence and began working part-time.
My self-confidence is still growing and I believe I am worthy of genuine love.
My kids went from cowering to looking people in the eye and finding their own voice.
What would you advice can you give to someone that is suffering in silence?
I would recommend that they find someone to reach out to. My church helped me so much. Find someone who believes you and can connect you to services such as an advocate. If the first person you reach out to doesn't believe you or is unable to help, find another person.
I also want to add, that my primary support person is my Pastor. He saw through the abuser's lies and gently led me out of the prison of abuse.
Yet, it wasn't my Pastor, but it was God working through him. God can use anyone to be that person who can lead the way for someone who is still suffering.
Lydia advised that she is open to for contact, if you Dearest Blog reader, would like to discuss her story further. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
For help in a abusive situation call-
The National Domestic Violence Hotline-
1-800-799-7233 | 1-800-787-3224 (TTY)
Stay safe and God bless!