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I recently had the opportunity to sit down and chat with Melanie Pickett on Your Hope-Filled Perspective with Dr. Michelle Bengtson (Hope for Healing from Physical and Domestic Abuse). Melanie is a survivor of domestic violence. Because I don’t want one more person going through such a horrific ordeal, I’ve asked Melanie to share more of her insights here.
5 Things You Need to Know About Domestic Violence
By Melanie Pickett
Eight years ago, I had barely survived the end of an abusive marriage. My first husband of 15 years had been abusive most of the union in one form or another including physical abuse. The marriage came to a traumatic end when he ambushed me in our home, sexually assaulted me at gunpoint, and took his own life in front of me.
It has been a long road to a new path for me and my children who were then 9 and 13, such tender ages. They were full of questions I didn’t have answers to. Our lives were turned upside down and I had questions of my own: Where would we live? How would we live? How could we ever heal? How could I help them heal and be healthy?
God was with us each and every step. I firmly believe He spared my life that day. He has allowed me to be here for and with my children. He has lifted us up, propelled us forward into unknown territory, and we had to trust Him every baby step of the way.
Here we are, not completely healed. Some things still hurt. I struggle with some PTSD and anxiety as a result of the trauma. But God has allowed me to speak and write about domestic violence and use my story to educate others. I want women to know the red flags of abusive and domestic violence relationships so you can avoid them and know they can heal from this painful abuse, and to have hope for their future. You will find happiness again.
There are 5 things you should know about domestic violence:
It’s More Than Hitting
Sometimes people feel they are “lucky” that their mate isn’t hitting them, but are engaging in other types of abuse like financial, verbal, emotional, even sexual. Abuse is abuse. All of it is damaging and dangerous. While you may feel verbal abuse is less violent, it is violent nonetheless and can turn into physical violence at any time.
You Don’t Deserve This
Just because you’ve stuck around in an abusive relationship, it never means you asked for it or deserve it. You are not responsible for someone else’s behavior. Leaving a relationship like this is so complex and unless you’ve been in one, it’s very hard to even begin to understand why women or men stay. They fear being harmed if they leave. They fear losing their children to the abuser. They don’t have anywhere to go or don’t have access to finances to get to safety. Their abuser likely has convinced them they simply can’t function on their own. Don’t blame yourself.
An Abuser Tells You Lies
Like I just mentioned, the abuser may have convinced you that you simply cannot survive without them. Total control is the end game of an abuser. They want to isolate you from family and friends so you don’t have anywhere to go, don’t have anyone to confide in, and don’t have anyone to help you. They may systematically attempt to turn you away from your loved ones. They will do their best to convince you that you aren’t capable of making even simple decisions like what to wear or how to cook easy meals. They will correct or belittle everything you do in an effort to whittle your confidence and self-esteem into smithereens. Remember that there are people who love you and will be there for you. There are people who understand what you’re struggling through.
You Need to Make a Lifesaving Plan
It is said that the time when a woman (or man…let’s remember they can be abuse victims too) leaves the relationship or plans to, is the most dangerous time in the relationship. The abuser perceives loss of control and that’s when we hear about terrible tragedies in the news, the horrific family-ending violence. This is why it’s so very important to have a plan in place. Reach out to an agency in your area. Talk to a friend, a relative, or a pastor. Make a plan to get your children and yourself to safety. That’s the number one priority. Don’t worry about your possessions or where you’ll live. Don’t worry about money. Don’t worry about anything else yet except getting yourselves safe.
You Can Survive and Heal
This is such a scary time for you, I get it. If you’re outside the abusive relationship, you probably feel terrified and lost. God will meet you at your knees. In fact, He will meet you anywhere. There is absolutely no shame in starting over, even in staying at a resource center or women’s shelter for a while so you can find your feet. They will guide you in sorting things out, discovering your options, and keeping you safe. God has something beautiful for you. He promises a future and a hope, good and not evil (Jeremiah 29:11). He will never leave you or forsake you. He will be your husband, your provider, and your protection. Trust in Him and allow Him to work in your life.
Know this: You are not damaged goods. You have suffered and survived something terrible. You are now a survivor and your life has purpose. Choose that. Choose not to live in victimhood. Go forward. Breathe. Acknowledge your feelings. Find a biblical therapist. Depend on others until you can depend on yourself. You will be alright again.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline (https://www.thehotline.org/) is a place to start to get help if you don’t have anyone local. Start here. Take that step. If you’re reading this, I have already prayed for you.
Recommended Resources for Domestic Violence and Abuse:
- Boundaries by Cloud and Townsend
- The Gift of Fear by Gavin De Becker
- One Call Away by Brenda Warner
- Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand
About Melanie Pickett
Melanie Pickett is a mother, wife, writer, and trauma survivor. She is currently writing her first nonfiction book and shares her story and encouragement on her blog melaniespickett.com. Melanie encourages women to know their worth in Christ, shares how to choose wisely in all types of relationships, and inspires hope after painful trauma. Melanie’s writing has appeared on the mental health blog Defying Shadows, HuffPost, BlogHer, Whole Magazine, and other online publications, and she’s been interviewed for a variety of blogs and podcasts.
To connect with Melanie S. Pickett: