I would like to thank my friend Amy for giving me the honor of being a guest on her blog today!
Amy has asked me to tell you about my book, A Journey through Emotional Abuse: From Bondage to Freedom. I began writing this book when I had just left my abusive marriage. I was reeling from the pain of leaving a 20-year marriage, and feeling raked over the coals by my church and the court system. My kids were angry with me for leaving their father, and my life was a mess. As I wrote the book, I began to process the abuse I had suffered, and it helped me begin my own journey to healing.
When I left my husband, I realized there were other women in my church who were also being emotionally abused. I had received poor advice from my church, and I wanted to keep these women and others from going through the pain I had just gone through, not just from my husband, but also from my church and the court system. My counselor recommended I include my story in the book, so I wrote it in the form of a journey. My journey, yes, but I wanted it to be much more than that. I wanted it to be a guide and a light for others while going through their journey of emotional abuse.
The book focuses on emotional abuse because that was primarily what I experienced, but also because many people don’t understand the seriousness of emotional abuse. Many victims say the emotional abuse they experienced took longer to heal than the physical abuse they suffered. In an effort to control her and get her to do whatever he* wants an emotional abuser tries to steal the soul of his victim. He works to destroy her self-esteem and even her personhood. Most people understand and empathize with a woman wanting to escape her husband if he beats her. But if there are no physical signs of abuse, many people, especially in the church will counsel a woman to stay and “submit to” her husband. They often mean well, but don’t understand that submitting to abuse only gives the abuser a greater feeling of entitlement, causing the abuse to escalate. Or, she is told abuse is not a “biblical reason to divorce.” That’s what I was told and I had to fight against that mindset with my pastors when I finally got the courage to say “NO MORE!”
During my marriage, I didn’t realize I was being abused. Since there are no physical marks, many women I help also have a hard time recognizing they are being emotional abused. Because of that, I spend some time in the beginning of the book describing what emotional abuse is, and what it feels like to the person experiencing it. I also answer biblical questions like, “Does God care more about me or preserving my marriage?” “Do I have to submit to abuse?” and “Is abuse a valid reason for divorce according to the bible? (The answers are you, no, and yes).
Once the reader has thought through those questions, I help her make a safety plan for herself and her children, and plan what to do if his abuse turns physical. Then, I go through the steps she can try in order to set boundaries with, and ask her abuser to change his behavior. If he doesn’t change, I help her discern if asking her church to intervene is wise. Some churches will be helpful, and others will make matters worse.
It is rare for an abuser to truly change. If he does, wonderful – they can work to rebuild their relationship. If he doesn’t, she has some difficult decisions to make. For a woman of faith, these decisions are complicated by the expectations of her church, family and her own understanding of the bible. If she decides to leave him, the book walks her through all the steps anyone might have to face: leaving safely, going through a divorce, and fighting for the custody of her children.
Healing from the emotional abuse I experienced has been an ongoing process for me. I believe we will never be completely healed from our abuse this side of heaven. I have received many hours of counseling which was has helped me tremendously. I have also found great healing in helping others. In writing the book, I trained to become a domestic violence advocate, and began working with others who were being abused at my church, and through Facebook and my website. I find I am happier and healthier when I focus on helping others rather than on my own pain.
If you are currently in an emotionally abusive relationship, I invite you to read A Journey through Emotional Abuse. If you feel you are in imminent danger, please contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−SAFE(7233). If you have escaped your abusive relationship and find you are not healing as fast as you would like, take heart. Healing from abuse is a difficult road, but it is possible to have a happy, fulfilled life after abuse.
May God bless you.
*In this blog, I use “he” for the abuser, and “she” for the victim. Except for the question of biblical submission, the same points apply if the victim is male and the abuser female, or the victim and abuser are the same sex.
A Journey through Emotional Abuse: from Bondage to Freedom
A Journey through Emotional Abuse will help you answer the question: “Am I being abused?” along with many theological questions such as, “Do I have to submit to this?” “Does God care about me?” and “Does the Bible say I can leave him?” Providing abused women with important information, in bite-size pieces, along with emotional support, the book walks readers through the Matthew 18 process of reconciling with a brother, allowing the church to intervene. You will be given assistance with discerning whether your partner has made necessary changes or whether, for your own safety, you should leave him. If you decide you must leave, A Journey through Emotional Abuse offers you a plan for leaving safely and tips on how to prepare for the consequences of this difficult choice: police, social services, and court intervention. You will move from feeling confused, frightened, and alone to feeling informed and peaceful. Equipped with the knowledge of where to find help, coupled with the fact that you are the daughter of the King of the Universe, His special treasure, you will find hope.
About Caroline Abbott
Caroline Abbott was in an emotionally abusive marriage for twenty years. When the marriage began to be physically abusive, she asked her church for help. Her pastors were untrained in domestic violence, and were not able to give her the help she needed. When the abuse escalated, she got a restraining order, and had her husband removed from her home. They fought a contentious divorce and custody battle. After her divorce, she trained to be a domestic violence advocate and began writing A Journey through Emotional Abuse.
A few years after her divorce, she met and married her second husband who also had several children. They work together to overcome the issues of blending a large family. Caroline works as the domestic violence advocate for her church, and helps victims and survivors through her Facebook page and website. She has just recently finished writing her second book, A Journey to Healing After Emotional Abuse.
Caroline is passionate about helping former abuse victims fight for their children in custody court, as well as educating the Christian church about domestic violence. She writes about those and many other domestic violence topics in her blog www.carolineabbott.com. Caroline was named a Champion by the Childhood Domestic Violence Association and featured in their book, Invincible: The 10 Lies You Learn Growing Up With Domestic Violence and the Truths That Set You Free.
How to Connect with Caroline
Her website www.carolineabbott.com
Her pages on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/caroline.abbott.773
Twitter – @Caroline_Abbott
Pinterest – https://www.pinterest.com/abbott2023/