Following from my personal turn point in moving from a mind-set of selfishness (taking) to one of compassion (giving), I am considering another scenario in marriage – Abuser and victim. Sometimes one of the partners in a marriage finds themselves consistently giving and receiving abuse by the other either physically or emotionally. This leads to feelings of imprisonment, desperation and hopelessness. Ask yourself why you are there? Do you say to yourself, “I am good, and I keep giving and giving, and he/ she continues to spurn me and abuse is there is something wrong with them!”. Yes, there may certainly be something wrong with them, but is there not also something wrong with you if you endure the abuse repeatedly with no end in sight. Are you accepting the abuse because you think you have no other choice? Or is it because you think deep down that you probably deserve no better? Everyone has a choice. If you choose to stay in an abusive relationship out of fear, perhaps you need to look deeper at your fear and unpack its heavy layers. Are you afraid that you will be persecuted, have no financial backing, have no father for your children? (or mother for that matter – Women can be equally abusive emotionally if not physically). Perhaps you’re afraid of what people will say? Is your only release then to speak ill of the person who is hurting you or to silently scream WHY??WHY??
Fear is a destroyer. It places you under the realm of control of whatever you fear. Having had some rough experiences growing up at various stages in my life, the one thing I fought most, was being out of control of a situation, but my reaction caused me to be controlled by the fear of not being in control. Back to fear again. How does one break free of the shackles of fear, whether it be the fear of being abused or the fear of not being in control? There is only one answer that has surfaced for me with resounding truth. Trust in the Creator. If you know with certainty, that human beings can have no power over you, because God has power over everything, nothing will control you except your love for Him. You can only do that if you know someone has your back – otherwise it would just be reckless. Human beings may have your back but are themselves subject to circumstances beyond their control and sometimes cannot be there for you no matter how hard they try. You must trust that the Overseer of the universe is the most compassionate and merciful and will not let you down. You are the only one who can let yourself down. If you realise that you are worthy and need not be a doormat for anybody, you can stand up against the odds. Only God consistently and steadfastly has your back. It may seem like you will lose much if you do not exit an abusive relationship, or if you resist your oppressive partner, but if you do what is right and trust that He will guide, protect and ensure your provision, you release yourself from the fear and need and dependency that you have developed for your oppressive husband, wife or any other human being in your sphere. If you trust Him, your every action will be protected, and you will come out of any ill no matter how hopeless the situation may look. The results are astounding, but you will only see them when you look after some time and consciously notice the changes. Another verse I have come across in the scripture I follow, roughly translated says that God will only change the condition of a people if they first change it themselves. You cannot hope to win a race if you do not enter. If you stand at the start of the race and pray ‘please let me win’, but you don’t run when the gun is fired, what are the chances of you ever wining? God is not a slave to you and your whims to fulfil your every desire without any real effort on your part. In fact, it is the other way around. We need to make the change and overcome our baser desires. We need to follow our inner moral codes which guide us on how to treat the people around us, afford them their rights, dignity and respect, not oppress anyone. Equally we need to protect our own rights and dignity and nor subject ourselves to the oppression of others. That is how we are of service to Him. In return you ultimately gain the spoils of war over your egoism arrogance and other vices. If we fight against our fears of loss and do the right thing, we will always have victory.
Your abuser, abuses because he or she has their own fears and they need to punish someone else to relieve the pressure they feel. That, however, has nothing to do with you. If you find yourself in the path of such behaviour, particularly in a marriage, it is crucial to realise that the person’s behaviour is not because of you, nor is it targeted at you specifically. In fact, it has nothing to do with you at all. You just happen to be the one married to that person. If they were married to anyone else their behaviour would most likely be the same, because they haven’t dealt with their own issues. Realise that it is their issue and not yours. Do what you must to get out of that subjugation and when you do, God will raise you. If you don’t, you will constantly remain the victim. Those of you who know me probably see me as a strong fearless woman. You may be surprised to learn that I was once in a very abusive relationship during my late twenties, before I met my husband. Some of you may know that I was married when I was at Varsity and divorced less than 2 years later. That experience is not the subject of my discussion though. What most of you may not know, because I kept it a closely guarded secret (out of shame), is that a few years later I married an Arab man who took me to Kenya. He was controlling and manipulative and extremely domineering. I later discovered that this “Svengali” was a man of extreme violence, an assassin of sorts that was involved in attempted military coups and the like. I tried to resist him one time and he picked up a coffee table raised it above his head and moved towards me menacingly, to smash the table on me. I was terrified. Thoughts of my death flashed through my mind. I briefly contemplated the loss my family would suffer, and I thought about him burying me in a shallow grave and no-one knowing where I was. I knew in that instant that I had nowhere to go but up. Despite my terror, I refused to let him take my life, my power and my self-respect. If I was going to die, it would be with dignity. I would not cower and submit to the will and tyranny of my oppressor. My only salvation lay with my Creator. I yielded unto Him in that instant and submitted to my fate. If it was my time to die, then I submit. If It was not, He would take me out of it. I then said to my aggressor that I was not afraid of him. If he killed me, I would go and tell my Creator that he sent me there and cut my life short. He obviously didn’t kill me, or this would be an epic tale of “ghost writing”. I will never know what stopped him, but he stood in front of me with the table raised above his head shaking and angry and slowly retreated. Soon after that incident, I returned to South Africa and never looked back. I was afraid that he would pursue me and perhaps try to kill me. I didn’t let that fear dominate or own me. If God had led me out of his tyranny before, he would not touch me. I never saw him again. I refused to be a victim but became a victor instead. I see the experience as a triumph over oppression. I could only do so because I acted with conviction and trust in God. I invite you to interrogate your fears and summon the courage to fight oppression. If we cannot fight personal oppression, what chances do we have of ever fighting global oppression? With love Radia