Letting go of the past can be an excruciating process. If you've endured any sort of trauma in your life, you may be able to relate to what I mean. Even positive memories become tainted by the abuse and trauma, creating a swirling confusion of cognitive dissonance within a survivor. How can we move on from so much pain?
There's no easy answer, and everyone's path is unique. However, I can offer you a few of my thoughts and experiences as I've suffered along this path. I hope it maybe of some help.
The month of October is many things: the peak of leaf-peeping season (if you're a New Englander like me), the time of year when all things pumpkin spice flavoured (or scented) appears in every store, the month of scarecrows and holiday anticipation.
But October can also boast one other very important claim -- it's Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
The facts are shocking -- one out of every three women are being or will be abused within their own homes. This statistic is unyielding across demographics, including religion. What this means for us is that one out of every three women sitting in the pews within our parishes are being victimized within what should be the safety of their own homes. Obviously men can—and are—also victims, but domestic violence “tends to harm women and children more,” as the USCCB points out. 85% of domestic violence targets are female victims of male partners. This is the reason for the focus on women in this review.
In 1992—updated in 2002—the USCCB issued a crucial document regarding the Catholic Church’s stance on domestic abuse. Yet “When I Call for Help: A Pastoral Response to Domestic Violence Against Women,” hasn’t received the attention it deserves. Unfortunately, it remains unknown by too many clergy and victims alike.
I’d like to help change that.
Many Catholic women suffering in abusive marriages feel like they have to tolerate the abuse. Their union is a sacrament, and the Church teaches that marriage is indissoluble (CCC 1664-1645). That means they’re stuck, right?
Actually, no. Not at all.
Because this is the most personal, difficult, and painful article I've yet written, I'm not going to begin with much introduction. All I want to say here is that I wrote this article during Adoration, in one big rush as I begged Jesus to release me from my suffering, to heal me from my pain.
Domestic abuse within an intimate relationship breaks a person apart -- but that's not necessarily a bad thing, even though it seems to be at first. Later, moving through the healing journey, I came to realize that the dismantling of self was an invitation from God to rebuild who I truly am. Made in His image.
However, before I could even begin to do that, I had to explore the root causes of my pain.
The Gospels record very few words from our Blessed Mother -- yet those she spoke embrace some of the deepest spiritual truths and lessons of our Catholic faith. Think of Mary's fiat (Luke 1:34,38), the inspired and gorgeously-poetic Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55), and ...
“Do whatever He tells you.”
Doing whatever Jesus tells us is to surrender—in complete trust—to God’s will. This entails several things, each progressively layering upon the other.
In this article, I'm presenting a different approach. I'm going to imaginatively take you back in time in order to help you realize your present situation -- and how to release the trauma bonds that may be tying to you to your abuser.
If you don't know what a trauma bond is, read on. If you do know about trauma bonds, but need more information or support, read on. Either way, please join me on this journey back to the year 1912. We're on board the glorious and gleaming new ship, the Titanic ...
Spiritual Abuse: Ephesians 5, Coercive Control, and the Domineering Personality
It's about time I covered a difficult topic: spiritual abuse.
Spiritual abuse can come in many forms, but in this article I want to discuss the abuse of Sacred Scripture and how this is a violation not only against the target, but against God Himself.
One of the most popular verses an abusive personality uses to "prove" his superiority over his mate is Ephesians 5:22: "Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord."
Does this verse really mean that woman should just "shut up and put up," and do whatever her husband says? He's the king of the household, and what he says goes? Uh, hardly. If any man quotes this verse to justify his controlling behavior, consider that a gigantic red flag. The Catholic Church teaches that a true marriage is one of mutual self-giving, not power-over and abrasive authority.
Ephesians 5:22 is an abused and misinterpreted verse.
How to tell if his change is real, or if it's another manipulation.
How can you tell if your relationship might possibly, by some sort of miracle, be on the mend? If your manipulative and abusive partner has suddenly turned a new corner and is claiming that he'll change his ways, how can you trust what he's saying to you?
Well ... You can’t.
Until you can.
I understand that’s not at all helpful—but at the same time, it’s the truth.
I could end this article right here—after all, what more is there to say? I can’t provide you with a definite, concrete answer to this dilemma, especially since everyone’s situation is different—and everyone’s partner is different. However, I can at least provide solid guidelines that will help you discern true change from more manipulation.
As promised, this week's article uncovers yet more myths about pornography use, showing how destructive it is to relationships, families, and individual lives. Both the abuser and the sexually betrayed partner find their lives desecrated by the sly, shameful use of pornography, so uncovering the myths and revealing them to the light is crucial for healing and repair.
Read about four more pornography myths:
Pornography is destructive not only to those who abuse it, but to the victims of the sexually addicted person. Marriages, families, and intimate relationships suffer on a variety levels and in many dehumanizing ways. I can't discuss all the evils of pornography in one brief post, so I’ll write about just a few--at least for now. In a follow-up post, I’ll discuss about further myths.
As always, reader feedback is valuable to me. If you have anything to contribute or something you'd like me to see discuss, just let me know.
So much of what I write about is based on the incredible emails I receive from my readers, so please keep them coming. I appreciate your questions, comments, and feedback, and believe that building a community together is the best way to heal.
And so, onwards and upwards!
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.