In addition to being a writer, Kathleen is a retired Family Nurse Practitioner. She is currently working on her second book, Hope Matters: A Memoir, which is about how the power of hope through her faith in God helped her to transform, heal and transcend life’s obstacles and disappointments (domestic abuse, divorce, single parenting, loving and letting go of an alcoholic son, cancer and heart failure) to live a life of joy and contentment. She believes that hope matters and that we are all strengthened and enlightened when we share our stories.
Thank you for joining us, Kathleen. The platform is yours…..
Real courage owns up to the fact that we face a terrifying task, admitting that we are appropriately frightened, identifying sources of help and strength outside and within ourselves, and then going ahead and doing what needs to be done. ~Dr. Alla Renne Bozarth (from Wanda Maxey's website)
Finding freedom from domestic abuse is a theme in my memoir, Ever Faithful to His Lead: My Journey Away From Emotional Abuse. I believe that increasing awareness of domestic abuse prevention may help others who may feel trapped in abusive relationships.
Facing the Truth: It took many years of writing before I decided to share my story of abuse. I think abuse comes in many forms and while I did not incur bruises or broken bones, I subjected myself to years of mental and emotional abuse at the hands of two different husbands. The key for me was not establishing healthy boundaries for myself and relying on the other person to change. I hadn't found my voice. When I felt physically threatened by my second husband, I escaped in the middle of the day with my two children. It wasn't until after I left my second husband that I fully realized I had subjected myself and my children to not just one but two abusive relationships. That was in 1989. When I started writing a memoir in 2000, it was to be about dealing with my alcoholic son. As I wrote, I realized that I couldn't tell his story until I told my own.
One of the themes that emerged is the consequences of not embracing your inner voice that tells you something is not quite right.
The welfare of my two children was an overriding concern that guided me out of two abusive relationships. Though it seemed to take much longer than, in retrospect, I wished it had taken, I was able to extract myself from both marriages before any more damage was done.
The Role My Faith in God Played in Helping Me Find Freedom from Abuse: I always had a faith in God and yet, it wasn’t until I was a single parent with two school-aged children after my first divorce that I found God in a personal way. However, I must have lost sight of that connection, for a few years after, when I met my second husband, I seemed to be driven by a need to be an intact family again rather than guided by faith. It turned out to be at a steep cost.
When I embraced that God, my Higher Power, was with me in my daily struggles, not hidden somewhere on an altar in Church, I began to grow in my faith. As I did, I began to find, claim and honor the strength within.
When I Acknowledged I Was One of God’s Children, I Found the Inner Strength I Needed to Set Myself Free: Awareness and acknowledgement that I was indeed in an abusive situation (denial can play a big role) and needed to get out was my first step. Next, armed with this awareness, I developed a support system and an escape plan ahead of time. My bags were packed. This could only happen when I admitted I’d made a mistake and needed to act on my fears.
I Learned to Love Myself Enough to Want Something Better for Myself and My Children. Again, to listen to, honor and embrace my inner voice.
What’s the Lesson Here? Don’t put up with unacceptable, hurtful behavior, whether it be mental, emotional or physical. The first time another person violates your boundaries, take action to protect yourself. No excuses and don’t listen to their excuses. Do not accept unacceptable behavior from anyone. Ever.
Find a source of strength to endure the struggles and fight for a better life. We each need to find our own source of strength. For me, my faith in God was my strength. When things seemed hopeless, I had hope through my faith.
What are the safety measures all of us would be wise to follow? As I mentioned earlier, establishing a support system of family, friends, community agencies with phone numbers, safe places to go. Most important, do not isolate yourself. Seek counseling if you find yourself in an abusive relationship to understand your own role in attracting and allowing abusive people in your life. Do whatever it takes to take care of yourself. That’s the best thing you can do for your children.
How I look at life and God differently now than before I experienced an abusive relationship? With counseling, faith, supportive friends and family, I have been able to see my role in allowing abusive relationships and to forgive myself for subjecting myself and my children to unacceptable behavior. I am very grateful that I was able to extract myself from two abusive marriages and learn from my mistakes. In finding my voice, I found a life of joy, peace and gratitude. I finally feel deserving of all the gifts God wanted for me all along. It is very empowering for I know I am in charge of my choices.
My faith was an anchor that brought me back to myself. God wasn't lounging at the pool, watching a mountain sunrise, or dreaming by a babbling brook when he said, "Be still, and know that I am God." He was on a battlefield.
How about you? Have you ever found yourself in an abusive situation? Do you have any lessons to share or words of advice for others? Has your faith helped or hindered your journey?
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