Friday, January 9, 2015

A Portrait of an Abusive Family

I see no evil, I hear no evil and I speak no evil. This picture is a great metaphor of an abusive family. There is a book called Mending the Soul by Steven Tracy that is excellent. It is about understanding and healing abuse. These words are powerful and I really want to share them. It has helped me to understand why I have done some of the things I have done in my life.

First, living in an abusive family robs you of a voice. One of the biggest themes that has freed me from this burden is to realize that I do have a voice. See, when you are being abused by a family member you are robbed of having a voice. So lets look at the portrait of an abusive family.

1. The needs of Family Members are expendable. In fact, the needs of the most vulnerable are not met at all because there is no consideration for them.

2. The victim is made responsible. In abusive families, the victim is made responsible for solving needs, even evil deeds they didn't create and could never legitimately satisfy. In my own family my job was to take care of the needs of the rest of the family. My dad's needs always came first. One of his main needs was to be powerful and in control in every situation.

3. The family appearance is deceptive. In my story I have shared that if you had looked at our family from the outside you would find a devoted poor widower trying to raise four children on his own. The truth was far different. In reality you had an evil man who controlled by lies, manipulation and sheer brute force to get what he wanted. This particular theme has stayed with me all these years. When I look at families I am not impressed with the image on the outside. My experience has given me a keen sense for the truth behind the lies.

4. The truth is ignored. When faced with the truth everyone ignored it. It was easier to turn a blind's eye then deal with the real truth. No one would believe that behind closed doors evil was being practiced on innocent little children.

5. Family abusers use force. I had always looked at abuse as physical or sexual. There was sheer brute force used in my family. Smashing my brothers head against a wall, screaming, swearing at us, belittling us, made us all afraid. This fear would be my constant companion for many, many years. We were all petrified of our dad. We knew the power that he could swing so we tried everything to keep him happy.

6. There is no straightforward, healthy communication. We were never allowed to speak for ourselves. I was the stupid/brave one who would sometimes call a spade a spade. The price was high for speaking my mind so I typically kept my thoughts to myself. I will never forget one of my dads favorite lines. "If I tell you to jump, you ask how high"

7. The victims response is often futile. I have a much longer story about this one that I will save for tomorrow. My older sister and I confronted my dad once, and only once. You won't believe his response. That is for next time.

From the private responses I am getting I know I am speaking truth to people who have had their family secrets buried for many years. I will continue to speak the truth in hopes that it will empower some to break free from the chains that have held them in bondage for way too long.

In Christ Alone,

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".

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