There is nothing more searing and damaging to one’s psyche than emotional abuse.
Where physical scars and pain are visible and treatable with pills or topical medicines, emotional abuse leaves one searching for a solution. In emotional abuse someone is always looking for something to apply to the soul to cure the pain.
I Samuel 16:7 says, “The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” People who suffer emotional trauma can look very well on the outside,from what is visible; yet inside they can be slowly deteriorating. Drug addiction, alcoholism, sexual promiscuity, ceaseless partying can be signs of a person suffering from emotional pain. As destructive as these behaviors can be, to someone in emotional pain, the behavior is reasonable.
My father died when I was three years old. My mother was left with eight children to raise alone and while she parented me in the best way she knew, she was overwhelmed with the responsibility of daily survival and overcoming her own grief and emotional issues.I was never hugged or kissed affectionately as a child. I was barely talked to either. I remember having this yearning to want someone to pay attention to me, but everyone seemed too busy. While my physical needs of clothing, shelter, food and safety were met most of the time; the emotional void in my life was never filled.
Coupled with my family situation, I grew up in the segregated South of the 1960’s where the forces of racism and legal segregation of the races was the law. As a child of five, I was placed in the center of trying to remove these laws when my mother placed me in a school where only five other Black children attended. Some people might say that putting a five-year old child in the middle of something like this was child abuse in itself: well not really, segregation was damaging enough to a child and children suffered the most from unjust laws. My parents and other parents reasoning was, the children were not going to have a fair chance in life with segregation in place, so they (the children) were the best ones suited to defy the unjust laws. Besides, if adults attempted to do so in many instances they were maimed or killed. Not that many adults didn’t fight in their own way by peaceful protest, attempting to register to vote, and joining organizations in which if found out, they could be fired, beaten or killed. Children had to grow up early in the segregated South, no one stayed young for long, All this is another story in itself in which I will tell later.
I entered a marriage that even though it began with love, ended with severe emotional, verbal, and physical abuse. The more I reached out to love my then husband, the more he rejected and ignored me. Just as in childhood, as the marriage wore on, my husband never hugged me, never kissed me affectionately, and never really talked to me either. I think in 24 years he may have kissed me with any real meaning, maybe once: And that was at the beginning of the marriage. Even in marriage, having sex with someone who you have no emotional ties with feels like being raped: and toward the end,that is what intercourse with him felt like.
Time and space will not permit me to list all the things I suffered in various churches; which is another form of emotional abuse. Yet it is a story that will someday be told. It will be told for the countless number of people who can not name what they are going through and may not even know they are in the middle of it. For years I didn’t know that I was being abused. I took it as business as usual: I didn’t know anything else. But God is gracious, and Jesus himself has given me more love and acceptance than any human being ever could. This is why I love Him; my story continues.