What Abuse Is and Does …

“Even if my father and mother abandon me, the Lord will hold me close.” (Psalm 27:10 NLT)

According to FreeDictionary.com, nearly 83% of abused children were abused by a parent or a parent acting with another individual. In our first article titled “A Life Restored,” I shared with you a little about myself, as well as the abuse and dysfunction in my family’s background. Today, I want to share some definitions of abuse, and how it personally affected me.

As a result of the different types of abuse that I endured for many years, I formed and was taught many misconceptions and lies about God, in addition to lies about others and myself.

“These little ones believe in me. It would be best for the person who causes one of them to lose faith to be drowned in the sea with a large stone hung around his neck.” (Matthew 18:6 GW)

As a coping mechanism, at first I denied and minimized the abuse, as did my abusers. I certainly wasn’t aware of how much it would adversely affect me for the rest of my life in one way or another. During the early years, I lived in constant fear of what might happen to me if someone discovered our family’s dark secrets, and what my mother might do to me if others knew what actually was going on in our house. I grew to believe that I was at fault for what was happening. I struggled daily trying to understand what was wrong with me, and what I could have done that was so terrible to deserve the beatings, as well as the verbal and emotional abuse. I consistently tried everything I could think of to please my parents and to earn the love I so desperately longed for, to no avail. Subsequently, many years passed before I discovered that most abuse victims and survivors had/have experiences and feelings virtually identical to my own.

The types of abuse that people are most familiar with are physical, sexual, emotional, verbal, and actions involving neglect. But, please note that spiritual misappropriation and withholding of financial support are also widespread forms of abuse. Spiritual misappropriation is the misuse of God’s Word to lord over and control, versus to love, respect, and care for. Financial withholding is when a family head has the monetary means to provide the family’s needs such as meals and medical care, but doesn’t do so as a result of personal indulgences such as addictions (gambling, pornography, drugs, etc.) or control issues.

“But those who won’t care for their relatives, especially those in their own household, have denied the true faith. Such people are worse than unbelievers.” (1 Timothy 5:8 NLT)

In the United States, as well as in many other countries, and even in the dictates of the United Nations, abuse is illegal.  REST Ministries firmly believes that abuse is not only illegal, but it’s also ungodly.

The Free Dictionary’s definition of abuse is … “to use improperly or excessively misuse; to hurt or injure by maltreatment; physical maltreatment or violence.”

REST Ministries believes abuse is a physical or verbal act committed against someone that injures or damages them in body, soul, and/or spirit, whether directly or indirectly, short-term or long-term. The bottom line is that abuse has occurred when someone has grievously sinned against another. When abuse occurs, the perpetrator has not only sinned against the victim, but he or she has also sinned against God and is in direct violation of His Word.

According to the medical dictionary sector of FreeDictionary.com, “the United Nations Development Fund for Women estimates that one-third of all women in the world will be beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused during their lifetime. Sixty-nine percent of women worldwide report that at some time during their life they have been abused by a spouse or man with whom they are intimate. Intimate partners also commit the majority of murders of women.”

During my early teen years, I was sexually abused by a so-called family friend, as well as by someone I dated whom I believed when he said he loved me. The abuse greatly affected my body, soul and spirit. Some of the wounds to my body healed quickly; others took quite some time. But, the wounds to my soul and spirit are still healing. The emotional and verbal abuse gave me a distorted unbiblical view of myself. I would judge myself very harshly. I was in a regular habit of kicking and putting myself down. In an unhealthy way, I became a perfectionistic, workaholic, and an individual who was very intimidated by authority figures. I would feel very uneasy around certain types of people, and really didn’t know how to relax and have fun in a normal social setting.

I remember going to an “adult only” party where they were having good wholesome fun playing Charades. I was watching some of the people miming their phrases, as others were hilariously laughing while trying to guess the answers. And then, they kindly tried to get me to participate; I went into full panic mode! There was no way I was going to get up there and publicly act like that. I was so terrified that I immediately left the party. Maybe you can identify with some of my thought patterns and fear based irrational emotions. 

Today, I want you to be encouraged knowing that it’s possible to heal from these types of heartbreaking wounds and deep psychological scars. God is totally able to heal the brokenhearted and those with a broken spirit. What has, and does help me is when I take the time to pray, asking God to heal me by giving me an overall picture of how the abuse has affected me and what truths He wants me to know.

In our next post, I will elaborate more about the specific areas in which abuse affects us. But for now, just remember that total healing and restoration are absolutely possible. I can tell you this with full heavenly authority because of what God has done in my life.

“The Lord appeared to me in a faraway place and said, ‘I love you with an everlasting love. So I will continue to show you my kindness. Once again I will build you up, and you will be rebuilt …’” (Jeremiah 31:3-4a GW)

Abundant blessings, Judy