“If you stay quiet, this will only hurt you” my friend said with compassion, knowing the environment I came from. Write it out. Say what happened. What happened was wrong, you were not wrong!
It was a normal hectic day and I walked briskly down a hallway until I saw a certain individual. He said, “Christi, every time I see you, you always look busy” I smiled and said, “Oh, sorry, I will try to slow down” I smiled and then immediately thought, “I hope this doesn’t get back to so and so”. I imagined me being called into a meeting because people had been commenting on how busy I looked and how I shouldn’t be because I wasn’t given that much work and who was I to look busy? I am not sure in that moment if I prayed, but I panicked a little.
Then there was another moment in a hotel when we were awaiting our ride for the seminar that we were attending, “You look negative” I was just tired. I hadn’t slept off jetlag, but to prevent anymore comments, I did what I had been training myself to do, slap a smile on my face and pretend that everything was good and there was nothing wrong. The fact of the matter is: there was a lot that was wrong.
I hate to even use or say this word because there are a lot of situations that are a thousand times worse than mine. Their situation left scars on their bodies, mine only a scar on my heart and mind. Although I heard it was confirmed by several people, I still didn’t want to say it because it is a powerful word. You should never use this word lightly or in any dramatic way. I looked up the symptoms; I looked up what it was. I watched videos explaining it. Still I didn’t really want to say it. I did not want to believe this could happen. Again, there are others who are facing worse. I sought counseling and when I was struggling with the hurt of the situation, I texted my counselor asking her if we could meet [again]. “I’m struggling. There is so much hurt” I said. She said, “It’s going to take some time to work through some of those memories, because what you encountered was abuse”. I think that was the moment, I decided to call it what it was and what it was, was abuse. There are no scars on my body, but there are scars on my heart and mind.
But by the grace and the kindness of God, I have been able to process a lot of what happened. So you may be wondering how? How were you abused? Maybe it was just your perception! Maybe you interpreted what happened wrong. I wrestled with this a long time and I don’t even want to write this right now, but I feel I need to.
Most abusive situations don’t start as abusive. There are little signs here and there. For example some things don’t quite sit right, but you think, oh there are a lot of positive things. Maybe this is just a hard situation and if I can endure this, I will be better for it. There were a lot of things I grew in because of the situation I was in.
As I was talking to a close friend I said, “I feel so stupid for not seeing it sooner” She said, “Christi, it’s like a frog in a pot of water on the stove. Then the water begins to get hotter and a little hotter and a little hotter until the water is boiling and the frog is being boiled to death” It made so much sense. That’s exactly how it was. Things got a little harder, then a little harder than that then it got to the point where I could not do anything right, there was always something wrong and it was my fault.
I got to the point where I didn’t know who I was anymore. I couldn’t take it anymore. I called my Mom and told her everything that was going on. “Christi, what is being said is not who you are. I know you” she said. When you are lost and confused by someone who uses their authority over you and someone says, “No, this is not who you are, I know you” It is like finding refuge in the middle of a tornado that is ravishing through your heart and mind. At the peak of the abuse, I was being verbally, mentally and emotionally abused almost every day for three weeks. Of course, I was almost always alone, except for one other person, who didn’t really know what was going on and stayed out of it. She didn’t speak much English. I was under so much pressure, I remember waking up and praying to God that I wouldn’t have a mental breakdown. If I messed up one thing, I would be “corrected”. I apologized for everything I could think of, but it didn’t matter. I was convinced everything was my fault. The enemy would constantly tell me, “This is your fault. You are getting what you deserve”. I have never been so broken. After I got out of the situation, I had nightmares. The first day after, I woke up sweating from a nightmare I had. The first time I heard from the person, my stomach was in knots. I couldn’t respond. To this day, It is hard for me to see pictures and I cannot hear the voice of that individual. It is too hard. My abuser is the voice I heard in my head: “You are untrustworthy”, “Only you have this problem. So and so never makes this mistake”, “Stop making excuses”, “You are a hypocrite”, “I never tell anyone about the problems we have”, “You are Judas to me”, “You’ve turn every blessing into a curse”, “You need deliverance”, “You, you, you”, “I was going to…” … At the end of the day, I was never good enough and there seemed to be no hope for me.
Only a couple of times the abuse was seen by others. “I saw that Christi, I lost my appetite”. I felt relief. Maybe I wasn’t such a horrible human being? But what was I supposed to do? I didn’t know it was abuse until it was full blown in my face. Would anyone believe me? I didn’t think so. I didn’t have anything left to fight it anyways. When you are ripped apart by someone who you think you are supposed to trust and they tell you they are telling you these things because they “love you” or they are there to “train you” or they keep buying you things after they “correct” you, it gets confusing. You feel so much hurt, but they are telling you they love you and keep reminding you of the things they do for you. I felt my entire life was under investigation. Boundaries were non-existent. I was told, “The reason we are in this mess is because you don’t speak up” I don’t know what they wanted. I tried to do everything I could to the best of my ability and whenever there was an issue, I prayed that God would help me to get through it because I never knew when I would most likely be called into another “meeting”. A lot of the times in order to keep myself together, I would leave the area for a bit, cry, wipe my tears and go back to what I was doing. However, sometimes, I did not have that luxury and that was a luxury because I could step out and get a breath of air. Twice I got trapped. I could not leave- if I did, I’m convinced I would have been followed and told to “stop dwelling on the negative” or to “shake it off”. So, I held it together until I got alone and burst into tears to let it all out. I’d wake up the next day, slapped a smile on my face and acted as if nothing happened. If I didn’t I would be talked to and every talk got harder and harder to handle.
I am extremely grateful though. Not many people have the strength to leave and God gave me an abundance of support to leave. My family played a huge role- especially my mom. I remember calling her at 4 in the morning her time because I was in a different time zone and she picked up. She kept her phone on after she knew what was going on. She and another confidant said, “Christi, you need to leave and you need to leave immediately. This is no longer healthy” I had to get out. Many people don’t have that option and if they do, they often have terrible things happen in the process.
I understand now why victims leave everything to get away. At first, when you get away, it still doesn’t feel far enough. I felt like I had to always look over my shoulder to see if they were behind me. The first time someone knocked on my apartment door after I fled the situation. I was frozen in fear. My stomach dropped. My roommate answered the door and it was a friend. However, I didn’t know what to say, I’m sure my face was sheet white. I felt like I was going to pass out from sheer panic. It is an awful feeling.
The hardest part about it all was that there was a lot of things that were good, but there was also a lot that were bad. When people stopped seeing me at the places they assumed I would be, questions were asked. I didn’t know what to say. Why, because there is a relationship between you and the person who is abusing you. There are two people involved and for so long you learn to keep things to yourself. For so long you were loyal. If and when you spoke up just a little, it would come back to bite you. When you find the strength to talk about it, it feels wrong, but like my friend said, “Christi, you did nothing wrong. This was abuse” I still feel uneasy saying that but at the end of the day, I know that is what happened.
There is no reason for you to be humiliated, condemned, played with using mental games, have digs at your character, and accuse of things you never did. My reputation was tarnished after. I looked like the devil or demon possessed – you choose which one you prefer. I looked like the bad guy. Am I perfect? Absolutely not, but was there abuse – yes.
The insecurities of the one abusing were thrown on me. When I started to see what was going on and started to stand- not fight- but stand my ground and seek outside help, I was told I was rebellious and going out from under their authority. If I had a problem and was finding help, why should I be chastised for finding help?
So I said it, I was in an abusive situation. But what I have come to realize is that God will never ever abuse me and it was him that was the one who protected me. He held me when I wept. He accepted me when I was rejected. He stood by me when accusations were flying. He was with me in the fire. He made sure the waters did not overtake me. He was with me and He never abandoned me and I know He will use all this for my good and His glory.
I write all this to tell you that today, I am doing much better. Yesterday was the first day, I laughed so hard I had tears in my eyes. My mom told me later today when she saw me laughing (yesterday) “I thought to myself Christi is back” God has turned my mourning into dancing- literally. I have come to know that Jesus is more than my Friend. He truly is my Savior from sin and abuse. He protected me from what could have been much worse. His kindness is making me whole. He was my strength when I had nothing left. He is my everything. I would rather have Jesus than anything. I feel like I have had to start over, but with God, I cannot fail. His Word has been my healing balm and writing has helped me process the memories. God has also given me an incredible family and friends. They have walked with me and encouraged me and helped me. I could never repay them for their kindness and support. I hope that these few words will help someone else. You are precious, friends. God sees you and your situation. He does not turn a blind eye. He loves us more than we could ever imagine. You matter and you are worth everything to God. He fought to have a relationship with you and He can be trusted.
I want to share an article that helped me face what I suffered, which was in fact abuse- I even decided to take a test they offered, I scored the 2nd highest for emotional abuse. I was only a few off from the highest scoring:
Thank you for being on this journey with me. It means more than you know!