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Dear Abused: You are seen, heard, and known

Learn the Warning Signs of a Potential Abuser

This is part 1 of an op-ed series on abuse within the church body. Read part 2 here and part 3 here.  

Dear Abused,

You are seen, you are heard, and you are known. 

My friend, I am so sorry for what you are experiencing, or have experienced. Your shoes are hard to live in, and you may be fighting just to survive the day to day. I pray for God to move mightily on your behalf, and that you may find your way of escape. I pray for protection over you and that God grants you wisdom in what to say and what to do. I know this is so hard, so wrong.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, so I share with you three things as you walk this journey.

First, educate yourself, a lot of people do not realize they are even in an abusive relationship until they begin to unpack what abuse is. See this abuse wheel for how abuse works. Just because it does not involve a physical blow, does not mean it is not severe abuse. You can be abused physically, emotionally, mentally, scripturally, sexually, financially, and/or verbally—and even just one taste of any of these is bitter, wrong, and unjustified. The National Domestic Hotline (1-800-799-7233 – SAFE) (TEXT ‘start’ 88788) (thehotline.org) offers a good deal of information for you including how to identify abuse, as often the subtleties are confusing. The more educated you are the more you will find your power and voice again.

Second, confide in a friend or trusted person. Begin to ally yourself with people who you can rely on their strength, their wisdom, and learn from their Godly perspective. Not everyone you confide in will be there for you, but you will find the one who is ‘at the ready’ to listen and help. Keep in mind you are telling something that is hard to wrap one’s mind around that one person could do this to another person.  Also, keep in mind that it is a beautiful thing to hear ‘I believe you’—and the more you give voice to what is happening, the closer you are to your freedom.

Third, and finally, begin to see yourself in and through the eyes of the Scriptures. Do not believe the lies of the oppressor, the abuser—this is not true. You are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14), God is for you (Psalm 56:9), and He is a God of justice (Psalm 11:7)—He will strengthen you and keep you. Stay rooted in the word, you will find His strength becoming your own.

Dear child of God, He hears the prayers you cry with your lips, and the prayers whispered in your heart. He sees you, He hears you, and He knows you. And just in case no one has ever told you—you are beautiful, you are loved, and you are worth everything.

Kathleen Patterson, Ph.D. is a professor at the School of Business & Leadership, Regent University, and serves on the board of CareNet.

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