This year I discovered more about myself mentally and emotionally than ever before. The unhealthy habits, codependency cycles, and negative mindsets created from years of abuse. It was uncomfortable, even painful, sitting with God and seeing how I allowed the effects of trauma to get in the way of my success and best self. I began to intentionally seek to love, accept and be more compassionate with myself while also taking responsibility for my thoughts and emotions. When issues were brought to my attention in relationships, I would beat myself down and believe the lies from my childhood and by abusers that I was not enough or worthy. I was constantly comparing my recovery process to societal standards which stole my peace and hindered my progress. But something changed. I found a safe and trauma-free environment where I could grow — a community of women who had similar experiences and a mentor who taught me that life is a journey not a race. Since attending the domestic abuse support group through OC United, I’ve learned to cope through triggers from trauma and reconnect with community.
My mentor and Program Director of OC United’s Domestic Abuse (DA) initiative, Donna Mroz, once told me that when she started the group she was not sure if anyone would show up. But over the past 2 years around 50 women have attended the Monday night support groups. We have began teaching in women’s shelters in Orange County and have added a Wednesday night class in Anaheim (locations have been withheld for the safety and privacy of the women transitioning from their abuse). Donna says, “Statistics don’t tell you, who you are, or what life you will live, they just tell you where you’re headed without intervention.” The sooner a former victim addresses trauma, the better chances they have of recovering successfully and fully. The support group is a great stepping stone toward intervention and restoration.
Let me tell you a little bit about Intimate Partner Violence (IPV), Sexual Violence and Stalking. Abuse goes beyond physical domestic violence.
Psychological abuse includes demeaning the victim, denying the victim access to money or resources, undermining the victim’s confidence and self-worth, isolating the victim from friends or family. Physical abuse includes battery, physical assault and sexual assault. All these tactics are used to control, dominate and manipulate the victim from leaving. According to the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NIPVS), the impacts of abuse creates lifelong health consequences on women. Victims who have experienced high rates of severe IPV, rape, stalking, also suffer from long-term chronic diseases and other negative health impacts, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, suicidal thoughts, self-harm, difficulty trusting people and low self-esteem.
Now, here are some statistic’s according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Abuse in 2015:
Intimate Partner Psychological Abuse:
- 48.4% of women and 48.8% of men have experienced at least one psychologically aggressive behavior by an intimate partner.
- 4 in 10 women have experienced at least one form of coercive control by an inmate partner in their lifetime.
- Women who earn 65% or more of their households’ income are more likely to be psychologically abused than women who earn less than 65% of their households’ income.
Intimate Partner Physical Abuse:
- 10 million Americans are victims of physical violence annually.
- 20 people are victims of physical violence every minute in the United States.
- 1 in 3 women and 1in 4 men are victims of some form of physical violence by an intimate partner during their lifetimes.
- Domestic violence is most common among women aged 18-24 and 25-34
- 40% percent of female murder victims are killed by intimate partners. 76% of Women who are killed by intimate partners and 85% of women who survive homicide attempts are stalked prior to the murder or attempted murder.
Dating and Teen Violence:
- Nearly 1.5 million high school students in the United States are physically abused by dating partners every year. 20.9% of female and 13.4% male high school students report being physically or sexually abused by a partner.
- 50% of youth reporting dating violence and rape also reported attempting suicide. This is compared to 12.5% of non-abused girls and 5.4% of non-abused boys.
- 1 in 5 women are sexually assaulted during their college years.
On Friday, September 28, I attended the Justice Conference in Pasadena with my colleagues. Of all the powerful conversations and speakers, Andrea Smith said something that forever changed my life. She made the bold claim that Jesus himself was a victim of sexual violence. That shook my core. I couldn’t understand why until during a moment of worship in stillness, I realized I always knew Jesus understood my pain and could feel it but I never thought he could relate until now. He was betrayed by intimate physical contact from his close friend. He was beaten, blamed, and forced to answer why he was being victimized. His identity and future was taken. His name was tarnished. He was forcefully stripped naked, His abusers laughed as they whipped Him. His clothes were sold before His bloody body and He was rendered non-human. My Beloved fully understands the effects of trauma because the road toward Cavalry was traumatic, just like mine. If He had to, He would be verbally, physically, mentally, and sexually abused again for the joy that was set before Him … you and me — Former victims and survivors of trauma — Relatives and friends of victims.
I’m thankful that the Creator of this universe holds our stories, bodies, minds, hearts, and souls in His hands. He renews our minds through His truth. His love mends the brokenhearted back to wholeness and surrounds us with grace as we grow through, what we have gone through.
5 The LORD is gracious and righteous;
our God is full of compassion.
6 The LORD protects the unwary;
when I was brought low, he saved me.
7 Return to your rest, my soul,
for the LORD has been good to you.
8 For you, LORD, have delivered me from death,
my eyes from tears,
my feet from stumbling,
9 that I may walk before the LORD
in the land of the living.