Can’t you smell the turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, and pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving Day just thinking about it!
The next thought you have is of sharing time with your family. Depending on the health of your relationships within your family, this thought can make you smile or cringe.
In healthy relationships you look forward to laughter, playing games, or watching a movie or a football game together. You find joy, peace, and comfort with your family. However, for women in abusive relationships, they have a different picture and reality they must face at Thanksgiving.
Although victims of abuse may experience some good or even wonderful moments or hours at Thanksgiving with their abusers, there will always be a dark side. The dark side can even become explosive when your abusive spouse has an alcohol or drug addiction.
Take the Good
I know first-hand the pendulum swing of the holidays is very real after living in several abusive marriages for twenty-years. When abusers feel pressured in any way, they take out their frustration and anger on the victim. At Thanksgiving, they think they have to put on a front to keep others from learning about their abusive behavior. They are on their best behavior around others, and they make sure the victim stays quiets with threats.
In my abusive marriage, I was told that I better make sure everyone thought we had the perfect marriage, or I would pay the price later. To avoid more pain in my life or my children’s, I played the loving wife role. I could have won an Emmy because everyone thought things were great in our marriage at Thanksgiving dinner.
In many aspects, I enjoyed the Thanksgiving Holiday because my husband treated better on this day than most of the year. This might sound crazy to those of you who are in healthy marriages. You might say, “Why don’t you just leave?”
From the Victims Perspective
If you have made this statement, ask yourself:
- What do you truly know about the deceptions and complexities of an abusive relationship?
- Do you have any idea of what it is like to be in fear of your life or your children’s lives?
- Do you know what it is like to invest all you have into a marriage only to realize you and your children are in a maze with booby traps?
Living with an abuser is like living with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. You never know what you are going to get until you are face to face with them. Even then, you never know for sure what can make them change into the monster.
The other complexity of abuse is the fact that you can have good and even great- times with your abuser. These good times are confusing for women victims especially around the Holidays. Part of their confusion is because the holidays are filled with hope for new beginnings, miracles, and a better future.
When abusers show their good side, it reminds their victims of what they fell for, and it brings FALSE hope. The victims wants her abusive husband to be healed and her marriage to be all she had hoped for. However, the “good guy” she hopes is hiding inside is the deception of abuse. When women commit to a marriage, and they have children with the one they love, they will do all they can to make it work until they have to face the truth.
In every abusive relationship and marriage, there is a breaking point that often comes during the holidays. If your abusive spouse’s family drinks or uses drugs, you are guaranteed he will blow up. If you are with a great loving family, your abuser will also get uptight because he doesn’t know what to do with love and no control.
You see the abuser’s main focus is control. When he feels he has no control, he will take control and inflict it on the victim. Abusive behavior is learned. It is not a sickness or a condition. Therefore, until the abuser chooses to learn how to love their spouse in Christ’s perfect love design, they will keep abusing them. They are using imperfect design, and they will continue to use it as long as they can keep control over their victim.
Only You Can Stop the Pendulum of Abuse
To stop the pendulum of abuse in your life, you will have to choose if you are going to learn and live by Christ’s perfect love design or are you going to keep living in your imperfect love that keeps you a victim. I know how complex this decision can seem when you are in the middle of abuse, especially if you are a Christian.
I am here to tell you that it is NEVER God’s will for you or your children to be abused in any way. Look at the life of Jesus, and you will see that he NEVER let anyone abuse him until he gave himself up to die for our sins. Jesus fulfilled his purpose. Likewise, we are called to fulfill ours which is to love God with all that we are and keep Him a priority. Next, we are called to love others AS we love ourselves equally while we share the gospel.
If you are caught in the pendulum of domestic abuse, and you want to know more about abuse, click on this link and learn more. If you or your children find yourself in danger during the holidays, contact the Domestic Abuse Hotline immediately at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233), or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY) or go to your local women’s shelter.
Jesus has great plans for you! Trust him and search for the help that is in your area. Always remember.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. John 10:10 (ESV)