The pain numbing experience of not being believed.

29 05 2010

One of the most painful things I went through was not being believed. Not only was the pain amplified because no one else believed me, it was hard for me to believe what I was going through. It was and still is hard for me to believe that I went through abuse. That I was a victim of spousal abuse.

There was a day when my pastor asked me to come and visit him and tell him what was going on in my life about my illness and recovery. I went to his office, we sat down and I said to him. ********* the best thing you can do is sit down, shut up, don’t give me any advice right now…just listen!

So for the next 30 minutes I told him of my frustrations about the slowness of my recovery and then told him about the abusive nature of my marriage. …I then said to him. I have no choice…I have to leave. I cannot handle the abuse any more.

His reply was. You cannot leave your marriage, you have a covenant with your wife to stay with her and that she isn’t really being abusive, your just having a few issues that’s all. I then asked him, “What about her threats to stab me, what happens the day she carries that out”?

He laughed and said “Craig, I don’t think it is as bad as that. I know your wife. She won’t do that, you just have to love her more” He then to me, look I know finances are tight, how about the church pay for you to have marriage counselling.

I left his office more depleted then I did when I walked into it. I just told him how I was being verbally abused. How I had been punched and threatened. How I was dying inside. I had just told him that I was unable to take it any more and that for my health and safety I had to leave and he laughed at me.

We went to counselling and I tried to tell my story. My wife berated me on the way home each time we went saying how it wasn’t the counsellors business to know what she was doing and it was me who needed fixing.

I finally left and still went to the mens group for a few weeks, but was told by some of the guys that I was in the wrong for leaving my family. That I was in the wrong for separating and talking about divorce. This talk just heaped more condemnation and guilt and shame on me.

I had spent months agonising in prayer with God about this issue. Until the day came when my wife berated me while I was having a shower telling me that she held me in the utmost contempt, that I wasn’t a real man. That I wasn’t ill and never had been. That there was nothing wrong with me apart from my being mentally ill. The she knew me better than I did and was doing this for my own good.That I was only acting because I wanted some sympathy. …and that I had no right spending so much time in hospital instead of being out working providing for the family, and that God held me in contempt also because I wasn’t providing.

I curled up on the shower floor in a feotal position crying out to God, God I cannot stand this any more. Her words were like bullets, each one destroying me more. My wife then said…I expect this house to be clean and lawns mowed by the time I get back from work you useless piece of @$%#^%#

I stayed in the shower for about an hour. I felt unclean. I felt ripped apart. I sat on the back step and said “God, I have no choice. I have to divorce my wife.” and a few months later I separated and moved out because of more violence. .

A month later after moving out, I was invited to go back to church to watch the kids in a pageant. An elder of the church asked me why he hadn’t seen me lately and I told him I had separated and why I had done so. His reply to me was…”What did I do to deserve the abuse”?

I turned from him. I was totally ripped inside. I was numb. I somehow held back the tears and I walked out of the church never to return. At that time I had never felt so isolated. I felt like I was on my own. I had been told so often by my now ex wife that no one would ever believe me if I told them she was abusive. And now I was experiencing those words coming true.  And I walked out of that church, never to return.

There were many more experiences to tell, where I wasn’t able to speak. Where I wasn’t able to share. And when I did get the courage to speak I wasn’t believed.

Fourteen months later, I still fear meeting people from that church. I fear hearing their words of condemnation. I still fear their disapproval. I have since joined another fellowship who have accepted me into their midst. They have offered me comfort and healing. I haven’t shared with many my experiences, apart from the pastor who has told me he is so sorry.

If your reading my post, the best thing you can do for someone if they tell you they have been abused is to listen to them, tell them you are sorry and that you believe them.

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6 responses

8 06 2010
jocelyn andersen

Craig, Thank you for visiting my blog and leaving your comments. I am well aware that spousal abuse can work both ways and I do acknowledge that in my book, Woman Submit!

Having experienced spousal abuse and domestic violence myself, I could relate to your experiences. I have been there. I know that it has to be just as much of a horror if a wife is inflicting the abuse as when a husband does. Thank you for speaking out in way that is deeply personal yet not vindictive against women.

Please contact me through my website. I would love to give you a copy of my book.

Jocelyn Andersen
http://www.WomanSubmit.com

9 06 2010
Craig Benno

Hi Jocelyn.
Thanks for taking the time to comment on my blog. I am against abuse of any kind…regardless of gender.

I applaud every work that will help someone come out of abuse and that tries to stop it. Being vitrolic towards anyone or any organisation wont help the situation. I don’t think abuse is a gender issue…rather its a issue of broken humanity struggling for identity.

The only way to stop it is to tell the truth and the whole truth about it…and to provide equally needed resources for all.

27 08 2014
C. Burkey

People don’t believe women can be abusive. Especially if the woman is very clever, and a good actress. I’m thinking on this lately because of what happened in England with those 1400 kids. No one believed them. And no one is being called to account for it. Only one city official stepping down. Everyone hides behind the idea that they just couldn’t believe such horrible things would actually happen.
People who deny these things happen are either dangerously naive, or just plain evil. What’s really sad is that you can leave the situation behind, but there is an endless supply of people in the world who will make others disbelieve you…and not being believed can bring the whole nightmare back.

30 08 2014
Craig Benno

Very true. While I have healed greatly in my journey, there are times when I still experience sweaty palms, and anxiety when I see some people from my past.

Ultimately, my identity isn’t in what they think or believe and I am able to move past it.

7 09 2014
aj

My sister has undiagnosed narcissistic disorder and bullied me in sectret for years when we were young. I recently came in contact with someone who suffered at the hands of a spouse like this and it helped me to understand it as mental illness. What I find now though is I suffer still deeply from not being believed, not being believed can be more deeply traumatic than the abuse

8 09 2014
Craig Benno

Thanks for stopping by and commenting Aj. Part of the problem of not being believed, is that we don’t fully believe what has been happening to us. We make excuses for it. We doubt our own feelings. And we start to doubt our own existence and question who we are.

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