the effects of abuse are multi-faceted

“One of the most important things to know about the impact of abuse is that these mood swings and dysfunctions are a natural and normal way of dealing with trauma. Unfortunately, many people look at these symptoms and think that the problem lies with the victim, when in fact these responses to trauma are perfectly normal (p. 71).” Justin and Lindsey Holcomb in Is It My Fault?

Brad Hambrick is quickly becoming one of my favorite writers on this topic. I love his ability to capture what is truly happening and distill what these effects really are.

This post speaks to physical and emotional pain (physical is not the most devastating), relational and spiritual confusion, and a distorted self-image.

Regarding relational confusion Brad writes:

Imagine playing a sport where you were forced to play by the rules and your opponent was not. Now imagine that rules that you were forced to play by were frequently subject to change and came with stiff penalties. That is life in an abusive relationship. It is confusing, because it is both unfair and ever-changing.

See? He gets it.

Read the post.

violence isn’t always “violent”

Keeping quiet, not speaking your mind, not wanting to rock the boat, justifying bad behaviors as “oh, I must be overreacting” are all signs that you’re not listening to your inner voice. Anytime you’re in indecision about whether or not you should be upset about something- there’s a good chance you’re ignoring that inner voice.

 –Tamara Star
Tamara Star wrote a great post about the non-physical types of abuse and how to identify them. She also explains what kind of person might be more likely to end up in an emotionally abusive marriage. (Note to parents: Letting kids have their own opinions may protect them from a world of hurt later in life.)
For another way of understanding what power-control relationships look like compared to mutual honor relationships, Brad Hambrick, whose book we recommend on our books to start with page, explains this so well.

Once you see it, and really get it, you’ll look backwards and forwards with such clarity that you’ll never miss the signs again. –Tamara Star

 Ah hope. It’s a beautiful thing.

why gaslighting seems impossible

Gaslighting does not require deliberate plotting. Gaslighting only requires a belief that it is acceptable to overwrite another person’s reality. –Shea Emma Fett

gaslight-1944Shea wrote this on Medium more than a year ago; we at The Fearful Heart only just found it this week. A special kind of exhilaration exists when you read something that finally describes an experience you know so well, but have a really hard time putting into words. You ever hear someone say something and think, yes! that’s exactly what it felt like!

Shea has done it from the inside. Read her post at medium then come back here and share what you thought. 10 Things I wish I’d known About Gaslighting by Shea Emma Fett.

This was so good to remember:

When you engage in any way, you tell your gaslighter and yourself that your reality is up for debate. Your reality is not up for debate. If you are like me, you have had a million conversations in your head, and it’s those conversations that are killing you. Your reality is not up for debate. You do not have to rehearse for a conversation that you will never have.

We’re so glad Shea gets it, and we’re so sorry that that anyone has to.

For more, the National Domestic Violence Hotline has a great post called What is Gaslighting?  And as always, if you’re in a relationship where you feel unsafe, or even confused, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-7233 | 1-800-787-3224 (TTY).

Remember, abuse does not have to be physical. Gaslighting is one of those slippery experiences that is psychologically horrific– it’s like arsenic over time– and so very hard to explain. Share these writings with someone and see if that helps.