I hid in my basement laundry room, hands and knees trembling as I looked through the contacts on my phone, trying to decide who to call. Over the past few months it had become increasingly clear to me that the life my children and I were living was neither safe or “normal.”
For 27 years my children and I were subjected to abuse. No one knew that we were living through incredible evil. I had hidden that from everyone ~ from my best friends and even my parents who lived near us.
I searched through the contacts on my phone, terrified that whoever I called wouldn’t believe me.
I prayed and made a choice, calling a pastor who knew our family. At that point I was shaking so badly that I slid my back down the concrete wall behind me until I was sitting on the cold basement floor.
In so many ways both my future and the future of my children rested on that moment.
The pastor I called was there ~ a miracle! I was sure he wouldn’t be available. I spoke quietly, terrified that my husband might return unexpectedly and catch me.
Do you know what happened?
This pastor believed me.
He believed me.
Even though I was questioning myself and actually wondering about my own sanity (so common, I would later find out, for victims of gaslighting), he believed me.
That moment of being heard and believed changed my life.
It saved my life, and no doubt the lives of several of my children as well.
What to do if someone confides their abuse to you
Please keep these things in mind:
- Appearances can be very deceiving. Just because things look okay when you interact with a family, that is no indication of what is going on behind closed doors.
- It takes a tremendous amount of bravery for a woman to verbalize even the tiniest bit of abuse. The things I alluded to that day on the phone were only the very tip of the iceberg.
- The best thing you can do if someone confides to you that they are being abused? Believe them.
- Believe them and listen. Please don’t try to “fix” their problems. Listen empathetically and be available to reflect truth back to them. For each abusive incident that I worked up enough courage to speak out loud, I needed to hear that what we had lived was indeed wrong, abusive and not safe or “normal.”
- Then? Continue to walk alongside this dear, brave soul. I desperately needed to know that I wasn’t going to be abandoned.
If you think you might be a victim
If you think you might be a victim of abuse and are ready to make that very brave first step and tell someone, please know this: even if you confide in someone and are not believed, what your intuition tells you is true.
You are not crazy.
You deserve to feel safe.
You deserve to be heard.
You are of infinite value and worth.
Please keep reaching out until you find an advocate who will listen to your story and believe you.
“No one ever tells you that bravery feels like fear. The bravest and most important acts you could ever make are those in which you fear of never having done them at all.” – Mary Kate Teske
To the Brave Ones who will come alongside us
Thank you for believing us.
Thank you for patiently listening to our stories.
Thank you for being willing to be uncomfortable.
Thank you for sticking with us.
You know who you are.
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