“If you stay quiet, this will only hurt you,” my friend said with compassion, knowing the environment I came from. Write it out. Say what happened. What happened was wrong— you were not wrong!
It was a normal hectic day in the office, and I walked briskly down a hallway until I saw one of the managers. He said, “Christi, every time I see you, you always look busy” I smiled and said, “Oh, sorry, I will try to slow down” I smiled and then immediately thought, “I hope this doesn’t get back to so and so.” I imagined myself being called into a meeting because people had been commenting on how busy I looked and how I shouldn’t be because I wasn’t given that much work and who was I to look busy? I am not sure at that moment if I prayed, but I panicked a little.
Then there was another moment in a hotel when we were awaiting our ride for the seminar that we were attending, “You look negative” I was just tired. I hadn’t slept off jet-lag, but to prevent any more comments, I did what I had been training myself to do, slap a smile on my face and pretend that everything was good and nothing was wrong. But, the fact of the matter is: there was a lot wrong.
I hate even to use or say this word because there are a lot of situations that are a thousand times worse than mine. Their situation left scars on their bodies, mine only a scar on my heart and mind. Although several people confirmed it, I still didn’t want to say it because it is a powerful word. You should never use this word lightly or in any dramatic way. I looked up the symptoms; I looked up what it was. I watched videos explaining it. Still, I didn’t want to say it. I did not want to believe this could happen. Again, others are facing worse. I sought counseling, and when I was struggling with the hurt of the situation, I texted my counselor, asking her if we could meet [again]. “I’m struggling. There is so much hurt,” I said. She said,
“It’s going to take some time to work through some of those memories because what you encountered was abuse.”
I think that was the moment I decided to call it what it was and what it was, was abuse. There are no scars on my body, but there are scars on my heart and mind. But by God’s grace and kindness, I have been able to process a lot of what happened. So you may be wondering how? How were you abused? Maybe it was just your perception! Perhaps you interpreted what happened wrong. I wrestled with this for a long time, and I don’t even want to write this right now, but I feel I need to.
Most abusive situations don’t start as abusive. There are little signs here and there. For example, some things don’t quite sit right, but you think there are so many positive things, too. Maybe this is just a challenging situation, and if I can endure this, I will be better for it. There were a lot of things I learned and developed because of this situation.
As I was talking to a close friend, I said, “I feel so stupid for not seeing it sooner” She said, “Christi, it’s like a frog in a pot of water on the stove. Then the water begins to get hotter, a little hotter, and a little hotter until the water is boiling, and the frog is being boiled to death” It made so much sense. That’s exactly how it was. First, things got a little harder, then a little harder, then it got to the point where I could not do anything right, there was always something wrong, and it was my fault.
I got to the point where I didn’t know who I was anymore. I couldn’t take it anymore. I called my Mom and told her everything that was going on. She said:
“Christi, what is being said is not who you are. I know you.”
When you are lost and confused by someone who uses their authority over you and someone says, “No, this is not who you are, I know you” It is like finding refuge in the middle of a tornado that is ravishing through your heart and mind. At the peak of the abuse, I was being verbally, mentally and emotionally abused almost every day for three weeks.
Of course, I was almost always alone, except for one other person, who didn’t really know what was going on and stayed out of it. She didn’t speak much English. I was under so much pressure, I remember waking up and praying to God that I wouldn’t have a mental breakdown. If I messed up one thing, I would be “corrected.” I apologized for everything I could think of, but it didn’t matter. I was convinced everything was my fault. The enemy would constantly tell me, “this is your fault. You are getting what you deserve.” I have never been so broken.
After I got out of the situation, I had nightmares. The first day after, I woke up sweating from a nightmare I had. The first time I heard from the person, my stomach was in knots. I couldn’t respond. To this day, It is hard for me to see pictures and I cannot hear the voice of that individual. It is too hard. My abuser is the voice I heard in my head:
- “You are untrustworthy”
- “Only you have this problem. So and so never makes this mistake”
- “Stop making excuses”
- “You are a hypocrite”
- “I never tell anyone about the problems we have”
- “You are Judas to me”
- “You turn every blessing into a curse”
- “You need deliverance” At the end of the day, I was never good enough and there seemed to be no hope for me.
At the end of the day, I was never good enough and there seemed to be no hope for me.
Only a couple of times was the abuse seen by others. “I saw that Christi; I lost my appetite.” I felt relief. Maybe I wasn’t such a horrible human being? But what was I supposed to do? I didn’t know it was abuse until it was full-blown in my face. Would anyone believe me? I didn’t think so, and I didn’t have anything left to fight it anyway. When you are ripped apart by someone who you think you are supposed to trust, and they tell you they are telling you these things because they “love you” or they are there to “train you,” or they keep buying you things after they “correct you,” it gets confusing. You feel so much hurt, but they tell you they love you and keep reminding you of what they do for you. I felt my entire life was under investigation. Boundaries were non-existent. I was told, “The reason we are in this mess is that you don’t speak up.” But, if I spoke up, my words would be used against me. I tried to do everything I could to the best of my ability, and whenever there was an issue, I prayed that God would help me to get through it because I never knew when I would most likely be called into another “meeting.”
Most of the time, to keep it together, I would leave the area for a bit, cry, wipe my tears and go back to what I was doing. However, sometimes, I did not have that luxury, and that was a luxury because I could step out and get a breath of air. Twice I got trapped. I could not leave- if I did, I’m convinced I would have been followed and told to “stop dwelling on the negative” or “shake it off.” So, I held it together until I got alone and burst into tears to let it all out. Then, I’d wake up the next day, slap a smile on my face, and act as if nothing had happened. If I didn’t, I would be pulled aside and talked to — every talk got harder and harder to handle.
I am extremely grateful, though. Not many people have the strength to leave, and God gave me an abundance of support to leave. My family played a huge role- especially my Mom. I remember calling her at 4 in the morning her time because I was in a different time zone, and she picked up. She kept her phone on after she knew what was going on. She and another confidant said, “Christi, you need to leave, and you need to leave immediately. This is no longer healthy” I had to get out. Many people don’t have that option, and if they do, they often have terrible things happen in the process.
I understand now why victims leave everything to get away. At first, when you get away, it still doesn’t feel far enough. I felt like I had to always look over my shoulder to see if they were behind me. The first time someone knocked on my apartment door after I fled the situation. I was frozen in fear. My stomach dropped. My roommate answered the door, and it was a friend. However, I didn’t know what to say; I’m sure my face was sheet white. I felt like I was going to pass out from sheer panic. It is an awful feeling.
The hardest part about it was that there were a lot of good things, but there were also many bad. Questions were asked when people stopped seeing me at the places they assumed I would be. I didn’t know what to say. Why? Because there is a relationship between you and the person abusing you. There are two people involved, and you learn to keep things to yourself for so long. For so long, you were loyal. If and when you spoke up just a little, it would come back to bite you. When you find the strength to talk about it, it feels wrong, but like my friend said, “Christi, you did nothing wrong. This was abuse.” I still feel uneasy saying that, but at the end of the day, I know that is what happened.
There is no reason for you to be humiliated, condemned, played using mental games, have your character attacked, and be accused of things you never did. I had lies spread about me after I left. My reputation was tarnished after. People were told I was demon-possessed — that they didn’t know the real me. It hurt.
When I started to see what was going on and started to stand- not fight- but stand my ground and seek outside help, I was told I was rebellious and going out from under their authority. If I had a problem and was finding help, why should I be chastised for looking for help?
So I said it, I was in an abusive situation. But I have come to realize that God will never ever abuse me and that he was the one who protected me. He held me when I wept. He accepted me when I was rejected. He stood by me when accusations were flying. He was with me in the fire. He made sure the waters did not overtake me. He was with me, and He never abandoned me, and I know He will use all this for my good and His glory.
I am writing all this to tell you that I am doing much better today. Yesterday was the first day; I laughed so hard I had tears in my eyes. My Mom told me later today when she saw me laughing, “I thought to myself Christi is back.” God has turned my mourning into dancing — literally. I have come to know that Jesus is more than my friend. He truly is my Savior from sin and abuse. He protected me from what could have been much worse. His kindness is making me whole. He was my strength when I had nothing left. He is my everything. I would rather have Jesus than anything. I feel like I have had to start over, but with God, I cannot fail. His Word has been my healing balm, and writing has helped me process the memories. God has also given me an incredible family and friends. They walked with me and encouraged me, and helped me. I could never repay them for their kindness and support. I hope that these few words will help someone else. You are precious, friends. God sees you and your situation. He does not turn a blind eye. He loves us more than we could ever imagine. You matter, and you are worth everything to God. He fought to have a relationship with you, and He can be trusted.
I want to share an article that helped me face what I went through. I took the test they offered. I scored the 2nd highest for emotional abuse. I was only a few off from the highest-scoring:
Thank you for being on this journey with me. It means more than you know!