Libbye Morris is the author of a memoir about escaping abuse entitled, "Root, Little Pig, or Die." She reccomends a resource which she has found helpful, the website for RAINN, found here. In "Root, Little Pig or Die," after the author's father becomes disabled from multiple sclerosis, her overwhelmed mother admonishes the author and her four siblings to "Root, little pig or die" - in other words, to fend for themselves and leave their mother alone. . . .(more)
Kathleen Pooler is a contibutor to The Woman I've Become, in which 37 women share their journeys from toxic relationships to self- empowerment. She currently has two memoirs in progress. The first to be published will be Choice and Chances: a Ragged Journey to Self. Opening with her escape from her second husband due to fear of physical abuse, it chronicles her journey up to that point through a previous failed marriage. As it concludes, a she has finally found her voice. She recommends this resource on domestic violence.
Pam Richards is the author of Singing from Silence, the story of her friendship with creative genius Rich Mullins, in which she shares the back stories of many of his well-loved songs. Which of his songs centered on the topic of domestic abuse? That would be Richard's song for the meek, "I Will Sing." She claims she's not a great singer, so she intends to find ways to go on giving a voice to the meek in her own way.
All three of these women of faith are contributing to this blog today to support others, known or unknown, who need compassion, help, and God's guidance in dealing with domestic abuse in their homes. The offer their prayers and the work of their hands and hearts as they pass along their song for the meek. You can join the song by sharing this URL with those you care about. Your efforts are appreciated.
See the information at the end of the post about three books to be given away at random to those who add comments at the end of this blog entry. The drawing will take place on March 15. We'd all love to hear from you!
Libbye: My realization came 30 years after I got out of the abusive relationship. I wrote the book to promote my own healing; I decided to publish it in the hopes that it could help even one woman exit an abusive relationship.
Kathy: 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 realized that 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. The theme that has emerged in 2013 is one of the consequences of not embracing your inner voice that tells you something is not quite right.
Pam: Singing from Silence began as a very personal project. It gave me a way to explain to Richard why I couldn't get in touch with him at the end of his life. I'd never had a chance to tell him what was going on with me while he was alive. When he died, I had so many unresolved feelings. I threw myself into writing both the parts of the story he knew, and the parts he'd never heard--the things no one else could tell him because they were my own perspectives. I was uncertain about what to do with the book until I asked for his decision. It became clear to me that he would have wanted me to publish. That's when I knew I would bring it out, regardless of the personal cost to me.
2) Can you describe what catalyzed your commitment?
Libbye: I can’t point to a specific catalyst, but once I started working on my book, it became somewhat of an obsession for me to finish it. I attended one memoir writers’ workshop or conference every year for 13 years. Publishing my story became my number one bucket-list priority.
Kathy: In both cases, 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.
Pam: Not long ago, a woman I know was threatened by a domestic partner. He threatened to take one of his guns and kill her, himself, and two of her family members. I was with her when she showed the text message to police, when she filed the paperwork for a restraining order, and when she went before a judge and got her temporary order. And I was with her just a few weeks later, when she learned he'd carried out his threat of suicide. It was a tragic loss, but thankfully no one else was harmed. I prayed with gratitude that God has put her on the path of peace, and kept her and her family out of harm's way.
Ever since then, I can't consider staying silent when I know so many lives are at stake, and that God has a place for all of us in his plan. With Richard, I will sing for the meek.
Libbye: Not only was my faith in God a monumental comfort to me as I endured the relationship; He gave me the strength to get out of the relationship. He also sent people into my life at strategic times to help bolster my self-esteem and show me a better way to live. They appeared mysteriously whenever I needed them.
Kathy: 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. It turned out to be at a steep cost
Pam: I finally figured out that God's grace applied to my hopeless marriage. I was trying to live by the letter of the law, and it had never worked. I felt I really needed God's forgiveness to end my marriage and get my children out of danger. Once I accepted that grace, I knew I was on the path God wanted me to follow.
4) Q: What was the single most important factor in getting to safety?
Libbye: For me, it was building self-esteem, which developed over a period of several years. I had none, and I think that is why I was vulnerable to entering and staying in the relationship. Once I realized that I am a creation of God and that I deserved better, that new-found self-esteem helped me resolve to leave the relationship.
Kathy: First, awareness and acknowledgement that you are indeed in an abusive situations (denial can play a big role as it did for me) and need to get out and second, develop a support system and an escape plan ahead of time. Have your bags packed. This can only happen when you admit you’ve made a mistake and need to act on your fears .Also, you need to love yourself enough to want something better for yourself. Again, listen to, honor and embrace your inner voice.
Pam: For me, it was having a friend--just one--who believed in me and helped me face the red tape needed to carry out my safety plan.
Libbye: Know your worth. Find a safe way to leave, and don’t waste another minute of your life trying to please an abuser who will always find something else to become angry about. Ask for help; those who love you will help you get out of it; they won’t judge you for staying in it. So many times, people in abusive relationships don’t ask for help because they have defended the perpetrator for so long, and they feel like they can’t all of a sudden tell a loved one, “He has been abusive all these years.” But you can, and you must do so!
Kathy: 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.
Pam: Forget your reputation. Don't worry about the lies people are inclined to tell about you: just tell your truth as only you know it. Ultimately, Jesus is the truth, and he sets us free. If you have made every effort on your part to make peace in your home and your community and it's still not working, then recognize that some things are beyond your control. God gave me a great gift when he taught me that inner peace is actually within our control. Almost nothing else is.
Learn to prioritize the peace within your heart that no one can take from you. There is no better family name than child of God, no better reputation.
"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God."
6) Q: What safety measures would all of us be wise to follow?
Libbye: Listen to your gut, in any situation. Our instincts can help us recognize when danger is encroaching. But we have to pay attention to those instincts and heed the warnings. We have to be assertive about taking the action necessary to exit a bad situation.
Kathy: 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.
Pam: Know the high-risk factors. Stop denying it--those conditions mean you're in trouble. Have a safety plan. Follow it!
7) Q: How do you look at life and God differently now than you did before you experienced an abusive relationship?
Libbye: I am so grateful for a peaceful existence, void of the constant fear and dread that I used to feel. Also, I have developed a low tolerance for bad behavior. I used to be longsuffering and would tolerate poor treatment from anyone—boyfriends, servers, school bullies—but now I don’t tolerate it. I stand up for myself, and it is empowering!
Kathy: 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.
Pam: Rich Mullins was a very introspective person, and through my friendship with him, God taught me the value of examining myself and challenging myself to grow. The experience of my failed marriage has opened me up to the need to keep growing, and never to expect to ride on a plateau of self-satisfaction in my personal growth.
I learned that we may think we're making peace by escaping conflict or avoiding it, but nothing is further from the truth. Conflict postponed is conflict multipled. Sometimes despite our efforts, the resolution of conflict is outside of our control. When our safety is compromised, that must be addressed immediately. But unresolved inner conflict can still entangle us and steal peace from our hearts. We may even begin to want to retaliate. It may take time, but instead we need to let go of those injuries which are outside of our control so we can find peace within. When we do, we can begin to see that jealously, or abuse, or lying, or gossip are universal human ills. We don't have to take them personally.
There is no personal battlefield unless we ourselves march onto it with weapons in hand.
God wasn't on the beach, watching a mountain sunrise, or dreaming by a babbling brook when he said those words he spoke. He was on a battlefield:
"Be still, and know that I am God."
Follow-up note from the blog author, Pamela Richards
March 15, 2013: The Book Giveaway has been completed and winners will be contacted. Although the contestants were few, interest in this blog entry has been extraordinarily powerful! We continue in prayer for all those who struggle with issues of safety and healing in their lives.
Sing for the Meek!