Mary J. Blige spoke for a few minutes and I suddenly understood in a way I never had the secondhand effects of Domestic Abuse. It was a small, intimate event. 100 Disney “Dreamers” were graduating and she was one of the commencement speakers. She didn't speak long. Here's the link to part of what she said: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d0AcksYLPGE. You could literally have heard a pin drop in that room. Everyone was fixated on her every word.
I thought, like many of you, that I had it all together. I thought I could protect my children from the craziness going on in our home, that it was better to have a two-parent home than to be the product of divorce, that my positive words and unconditional love for my beautiful children could cancel out the harsh, negative words; the withholding of love, affection, and often words at all, via the silent treatment received from their father. I was working hard to smooth everything over, to keep the “peace” in our home, to make what was a dysfunctional mess look good. The reality was my children heard the words spoken to me. They saw their father be abusive emotionally, verbally, and physically to the woman he supposedly loved and experienced his verbal and emotional abuse on a personal level. The reality was although I was saying this was unacceptable behavior and telling them what was said or what happened was wrong, it had still happened and it would continue to as long as he was in our home.
In that crowded room of parents and children, I heard Mary's words but I also heard her pain. I heard what she said and what was left unsaid. I heard how she contemplated suicide, turned to alcohol and drugs, made bad choices with men in her life because of how she saw her mother, aunts, and neighbors treated by men. Her experience with men was that they hurt the women they were supposed to love. Her experience with men taught her that women had no worth. I have also heard her speak about women being beaten and thrown out of the house with no clothes on--treated inhumanely. As she spoke, I remembered vividly my husband dragging me down the stairs of our home in front of my small children with only my robe on and threatening to throw me out with nothing (including my children.) Somewhere in their psyche, that image still existed. I understood at that moment, in a different way, that my children would never forget the things they had seen and heard and they were suffering and being damaged.
I grew up in a situation of domestic violence. I witnessed the police coming to my home to escort my mother's boyfriend out. I witnessed my next door neighbor thrown out of her second floor window onto the concrete below by her cheating husband when she was 9 months pregnant. I witnessed her come back home with him when he showed up at the hospital with roses. I, of course, was going to do the opposite of what I saw. I was not going to ever NEED a man or TAKE ANY FORM OF ABUSE from a man. I freely spoke up for my friends and myself. I didn't realize that a child who has witnessed domestic abuse either has extremely low self esteem and self-harming behavior or conversely sets unrealistically high standards of perfection for a man to be allowed into her life making her a prime target for the abusive narcissistic sociopath to gain her trust by posing as Prince Charming who promises to fix every hurt she's ever experienced.
There are deep-seated reasons that cause you to remain with an abuser. Perhaps the abuse you witnessed or experienced as a child made it difficult for you to see red flags and recognize danger the way another woman would. Perhaps you feel you will be going against your faith if you divorce your abusive husband (that is not what the Bible says.) Perhaps you didn't have a father or your father left and you don't want your children to experience how that felt. You may not be focused on or care about the harm being done to you by continuing to live with evil. But I assure you the research is plentiful regarding the lifelong adverse effects remaining with an evil man will have on your children. You have to focus on them. You have to protect them from harm—even if harm is their own flesh and blood father. Leaving will show them that in the face of evil, you can be strong and brave; that you don't trust a man and his income, car, home, etc.--you Trust God! That is really what it comes down to. Are you going to step up to your God-given responsibility to truly step out on faith and protect your children no matter how that may look? I encourage you to. Don't wait as long as I did. Be assured that the very moment you bring yourself and your children out of bondage and are no longer under evil headship, your life will begin to change for the better. God always rewards us for obeying and trusting. We stay too long as women of faith praying for an evil man to change.
You know who you are with. You know what you have to do. Dr. Henry Cloud states: “Do not hope for the evil person to change. Stay away, create the firmest protective ending that you can, and get real help to do it. Use your lawyers, law enforcement (this is the guns part), and your financial resources to make sure you will not be hurt by someone who is trying to destroy you or the things that matter to you. Whereas you talk to wise people about problems, and you talk to fools about consequences, do not talk to evil people at all, period.”