Most of us suffer from a variety of fears, both big and small. Fear seems to permeate this fallen world, yet what is this fear all about? One thing I’ve come to realize is that fear has, as its source, a single foundation:
A threat to safety.
My sense of safety has been destroyed. The reasons for this would be too long to describe, and they hardly matter. It’s the resulting emotion—fear—that’s the important point.
I have no safety, no place I can truly feel at ease or at home, and this creates a tremendous amount of inner turmoil and anxiety.
I have no safe place any longer—or do I?
How to Change Your Relationship
Marriage is sacred—yet so are we.
We're all cherished children of the God the Father. We've all been blessedly and graciously called to an intimate relationship with Jesus, our divine Bridegroom. We're desired and cherished by none other than the Creator Himself. Our bodies are all temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19).
These are certainties I’ve always known within my mind, yet I wasn’t able to fully understand them within my heart until I began to heal from my struggle with domestic abuse. Because I’d been focused for so many years on my relationship, I hadn’t cleared the space in my soul to allow such divine truths to enter. I’d been trying to survive heartbreak for so long that my mind had become shrouded in sorrow and even despair.
In order to heal I needed to step back from my rationalizing thoughts and heavy emotions so I could release it all. That was difficult to do, because releasing all meant releasing my sacramental marriage, and I didn’t feel strong enough to do that. I was scared, I was trauma bonded, I was adrift and afloat. Yet I knew releasing my marriage was exactly I needed to do.
Quiet -- But Not Missing
I appreciate all the messages I’ve received asking if everything is okay, since I haven’t published in over a month.
I haven’t written for awhile because I’ve been facing a medical challenge that has left me unable to write or work for the time being. Thanks to the graciousness of God, I was able to get into surgery within six weeks of the severe symptoms popping up, and am now a few days post-op. It'll take eight weeks or so to recover from such major surgery, but after that I’ll be back on track and writing once again.
In the meantime, and as always, please feel free to contact me. I admit that it’ll take me much longer to respond to emails than usual, but I’ll still be online whenever I’m physically able, and will answer all messages as I receive them. And I'll be writing again as soon as I'm able!
Have you ever been told that you must be codependent because you're involved with a partner who is abusive and coercive? I have, and it’s not only a lie, but it can act as another blow to an already-damaged sense of self-worth. When it comes to abusive relationships, the myth of codependency tends to point fingers at the victim, as if we’re enabling the abuse because of our own internal deficits.
The false label of “codependent” serves no purpose for those who are determined to heal and recover from toxic wounds.
How to Recognize Justified Anger
The title of this article may seem strange. Anger is easy to recognize, isn't it?
Maybe ... Or maybe not.
The truth is, understanding how anger feels within the body isn't always straight-forward. Most people assume anger causes agitation, antagonism, displeasure and resentment. However, this emotion isn’t always so obvious.
Often, if anger is suppressed due to extreme trauma and an inability to cope with the high levels of toxicity in a relationship, the emotion can be hidden. Individuals in abusive relationships may feel a complete lack of anger because they’re so immersed in grief, shock or denial. They may also be struck blind by the immensity of the betrayal. Others are too numb with depression to feel much of anything at all.
The topic of my last article was betrayal blindness. I discussed how trauma can cause a person to forget abusive episodes, acting as is a psychological defense that prevents an individual from trauma overload.
Abuse minimization is similar to betrayal blindness, but not quite as extreme--and it's also more common. I've spoken with hundreds of domestic abuse victims and survivors, and the stories are all painfully similar. Nearly all of survivors eventually arrive at the realization they’d minimized their situations. In a previous article I mentioned that minimization isn’t a deliberate effort to excuse the behavior of the abuser. Instead, it’s a subconscious attempt to make sense of the nonsensical and to preserve a crucial relationship.
However, minimizing abuse can't be maintained long-term. At some point, a victim has to come to terms with what's happening in order to set up boundaries and begin to heal.
Forgiveness is also a crucial part of the healing journey, but forgiveness can't take place if the intensity of the abusive relationship isn't fully admitted. In order to forgive, a person needs to know exactly what they need to forigve.
PDF on forgiveness from Nicky Verna of Hope's Garden.
The concept of forgetting abusive experiences can seem unrealistic to those who have never had to endure domestic violence. If a situation was traumatic, horrific, or otherwise heartbreaking, wouldn't that mean a person would remember it vividly, rather than forgetting it altogether? Sometimes ... but sometimes not. Betrayal blindness is a confusing, concept yet it's also a very real phenomena in the lives of many domestic abuse survivors.
Betrayal blindness, a phrase coined by psychologist Jennifer Freyd, is not only the unconscious desire to minimize disturbing events, but to completely forget they happened in the first place. This doesn’t mean a person is delusional, has a brain disorder, or is any other way dysfunctional. Rather, betrayal blindness is a result of severe trauma, especially when the harrowing events are ongoing or frequent.
To learn more about betrayal blindness, including my own experience with it, read my article on Substack.
Betrayal trauma tends to cause a person to feel as if they're merely moving through life, zombie-like. The world is passing them by. Everyone else seems to be having fun, but they're not.
Fun is too dangerous. Too much risk. Unsafe.
At least this has been my experience. I feel like I’ve been buried for a long time, cut off from the rest of the word -- and cut off from myself.
But I can now -- finally -- hear God calling. Talitha Cumi.
Talitha Cumi. Little girl, arise!
Now is the time for healing and renewal from the ravages of trauma and domestic abuse.
I have something new to share with my readers -- readers who can now become viewers or listeners.
Instead of a written article, I'm sharing with you an interview I just did with Angela Erickson of the Integrated with Angela podcast. In this chat we discuss all aspects of domestic abuse, including some of my personal story.
We also discuss the psychological aspects of abusers, and that often-asked question:
Can abusers change?
My answer is yes!
With a gigantic amount of hard work (from both the abuser and the victim), patience, determination, love and spiritual renewal, someone with an abusive personality can take the Road to Damascus and become a virtuous, loving spouse.
Yes, it takes a great deal of excruciating effort from everyone involved. No, it's not an easy path. But for some couples, it's the path to take.
However, change isn't common. Often abusers will claim to "change," but it's merely part of the "love-bombing" phase of the abuse cycle. There are ways to discern to discern whether or not change is real, all of which take an immense amount of time.
I'm not talking weeks or months of time -- I'm talking years.
Many, multiple years.
If you have any questions about this topic, feel free to contact me.
With all that said, click the link below to watch my interview with Angela Erickson.
Recently I had to set boundaries with two people in my life. Setting boundaries can be challenging, especially for someone who was never taught the skill (yes, it's a skill) and who may find self-care difficult. This was the case with me -- yet in both instances, after I set the boundaries, I was also set free.
What was interesting were the reactions I received after establishing my boundaries. The results were the same -- freedom from toxic abuse -- but the reactions from my loved ones were drastically different.
I'm Jenny duBay, a domestic abuse survivor and now advocate. My degree is in Christian theology with a concentration on spiritual direction, and my vocational emphasis is on helping those who have suffered from domestic abuse to heal and reclaim their true selves.