by Reverend Keala Vai Noel
Aloha Healing Women
I am a survivor of spousal and partner abuse. Abuse of any kind is a horrendous treachery done to your very soul. Child abuse and sexual child abuse are prevalent causes of depression, suicide, sexual promiscuity, eating disorders, cutting, and sociopathic behaviors. Then we have rape. Whether it is date rape or by strangers, the most intimate private parts of you have been violated and your mind shattered.
Verbal abuse appears more benign, but is even more cruel in its non-display. Words can dismantle egos and destroy dreams. There is no upside to abuse and there is no lesser evil. Abuse is one or several people using their power, anger, control, and violence to inflict terror and harm on another. An easy phrase that can help you understand abuse is:
Love is unconditional or it is not love. Unconditional love does not demand anything.
We know the damage of abuse and the results of being a victim of abuse. To become a survivor, you have to acknowledge that this did happen, that it did affect your life and your health. You need to be able to accept that being abused had a real and lasting impact on how you view yourself and the world around you. Then you have to choose to regain your self-esteem and take back your personal power. It may not be an easy or short path, but where else do you have to go? You can start right now.
One of the ironies about abuse is that the victims often feel responsible for the abuse. “I should have known better, I should have done things differently, it was something I did or said or the way I was, that caused that person to behave that way.” This is exactly what your perpetrators told you or implied. If only you didn’t do this or that, if you weren’t such a tease and led them on, etc. They intend for you to be at fault because there is no way in hell they are going to be responsible for their actions, so you must have forced them to abuse you. It is a twisted logic that works very well for them.
Rape victims are often selected because of situations and or opportunities that were working in the perpetrators favor and not because the victim did or did not do something. Domestic abusers pick their victims carefully. They are not going to choose victims who are able to verbally or physically reject them. They choose people who are shy, the ones who don’t fit in, who are not aggressive, or may have a troubled home life, those who are small or not athletic. They choose people in their territory that they know with the proper “courtship” or “grooming” who will eventually become the right toys for their games.
Stop thinking you should have or could have outwitted them; they made up the rules long before you even knew you were in the game.
That guilt you have been lugging around was part of your perpetrator’s game plan to keep you bound by their rules and their power. Guilt is a mistake. Guilt serves no purpose other than to keep you a victim. Even though you may understand it wasn’t your fault, you might still be wondering why it had to happen to you. Good question.
Every horrible thing happens for a reason. That doesn’t mean you deserve what happened. It just means that no matter how bad it was, somewhere in all that horror is a lesson that you need to learn. For me, I think I thought I knew it all when I was young as so many of us do. I never dreamed I could be the victim of spouse abuse. Yet, I was “in love” and my head was in the stars and before I knew it, I was seeing stars from being slammed against the bathroom wall and held up by my husband’s hands like vice grips around my throat.
It’s not something anyone plans. No one says to themself, “Hey, I want to meet a guy and live in a house with him where he screens all my calls and, if I manage to go to work, I know I’ll be questioned about every contact I make during the day. Gosh, I know I should put the toilet paper with the paper hanging from the back or was it the other way…” No one plans to be a punching bag or wants to be always walking on egg shells while they are going about their daily routine.
You would also think that after one abusive relationship I would have learned my great lesson. But I didn’t. I had yet another “love” relationship and gosh darn if I wasn’t living another nightmare all day long. Then one day I finally did learn. I learned to look at my new love’s relationships with their own parents and their past romantic ties. I learned to watch for abusive language toward anyone. I watched for unwarranted or inappropriate anger or controlling behaviors. I learned to choose and not be chosen.
I also learned that almost anyone can become a victim of abuse. It doesn’t matter how well-trained in martial arts you are or how much pepper spray you carry, the perpetrator is going to use every advantage to put you at a disadvantage. I had been trained in martial arts and I used it once when I was attacked and I escaped successfully. But it didn’t help me when the person I loved swore to me that they didn’t know what happened and that they would never do it again. All the karate in the world does not prepare you for people who will lie to you in the name of love again and again.
Oh, and I did love him, but not myself. I know from working in the women’s shelter in Hilo that “but I love him” is one of the saddest phrases you’ll ever hear. If you place the love you have for someone else over the love you should have for yourself, you are doing both of you a disservice. Until you love yourself enough not to love those who hurt you, you will drown in an emotional and spiritual sea of agony.
I also learned not to judge. People who have never personally encountered abuse in their lives will find it difficult to perceive the realm of terror and state of siege a person experiences when a person is in the clutches of an abuser. You always hear people say, “Well, why not just leave, pack up and go, why take it?” Because there are reasons. Reasons the perpetrators convince the victim of, such as;
- no one will ever believe you,
- you would never find anyone else that will love you like I do,
- you are incapable of making it on your own,
- they will kill you, your parents, your children or themselves if you leave them. And last but not least,
- if they can’t have you, then nobody will and they mean it
The victim believes it all. The threats, the apologies, the promises. An abused person knows that their world can change from breath to breath. It is an extremely volatile nightmare and you can see the results of being brave and escaping every day in the newspapers. Many abuse victims die by the hands of their perpetrators shortly after leaving an abusive situation. A sad fact is that the temporary restraining order was just a match that lit the house on fire. However, the police are now more vigilant and alert to the status of victims when they are in transition and the shelters take security measures to keep fleeing victims safe.
How can you find your power to leave an abusive relationship? You find out that you are not alone. What happened to you has happened to others and they have survived and are doing well. You let go of the guilt and try to find the lesson from it so you can let it go. For me, it was the lesson that it can happen to anybody. I was in such a state of emotional neediness that I allowed that neediness to override my entire sense of self-preservation. I think if I had not gone through my abuse, I would probably not ever have had the capacity of empathy and understanding that I do to help others through their nightmares. I am still learning from it. That time in my life imprinted my thinking and awareness and it can still pop up unconsciously now in my relationship with my present husband. I have worked through the scars of that time and I am thankful that I survived. I now have an opportunity to help others take their lives back.
About the Author: Reverend Keala Vai Noel is the director of the holistic residential program and the not for profit Kalana Foundation. She has successfully helped women from around the world to recover from abuse, difficult digestion, eating issues, grief, emotional concerns, physical illnesses, and weight issues while helping them achieve spiritual enlightenment. She is the author of four books (available on amazon.com) based on her holistic work experiences: Healing What’s Eating You (a holistic self-help book); Dream Analysis Handbook (a primer for beginners and experts to help people understand their subconscious through understanding their dreams); Talking to the Living and the Dead: Soul to Soul Communications; and Experiencing Life After Death: a Soul Journey based on Ms. Noel’s work using hypnotherapy to assist people with grief and spiritual issues. Ms. Noel is also a Licensed Massage Therapist, an ordained spiritual minister of Hawaii, an aromatherapist, a Reiki Master, Reflexolgist, an intuitive reader, and author of the Keala Kards of Positive Thinking blog. She is available on Skype for Internet sessions.