“I deserve to be punished” was never a spoken thought. It was just inherent knowledge, like, “I am a human being.” Not the kind of thing you think about it, because it’s just so self-evident.
This cruel-seeming set of circumstances in the hospital confirmed this “truth” that was already integrated into my entire being.
I knew I deserved the bruises, the yelling, the constant correction, being treated like a child. Day after day, week after week, year after year. With every bad thing that happened, I knew I deserved to be punished.
As a teenager I had sinned terribly, and the guilt I carried cried out for punishment. I needed to be punished. Being abandoned in the hospital while I harbored this terrible secret of abuse—it must be one more punishment.
I knew. So, at some level it all made sense.
When the abuse increased threefold after our daughter’s cancer diagnosis, from awful to horrific, I hated it and feared it. But still.
I deserved it.
Through all the countless bruises, the rages, the fear, the endless punishments.
I deserved it.
Believing I Deserve to be Punished
When Tom and I finally separated that didn’t mean my mindset instantly changed. Well-meaning friends and family told me to just ignore him (or in today’s terms, to block him). To them it seemed so easy, so straightforward.
They didn’t understand that I had been so brainwashed that I knew if I ignored him there would be another punishment.
And of course, I would deserve it.
Seeing truth clearly
After years of therapy and faith building, I am able to believe this powerful truth: through faith in Jesus Christ, God has forgiven me of my sins, so I can forgive myself too. I now realize that in God’s world, life doesn’t work in a karmic fashion, with evil always being punished in this life. Sometimes, people who have chosen evil get away with their wickedness. And sometimes people who love God suffer.
Suffering under abuse, or suffering from my daughter’s cancer, none of it was about a “deserving” punishment. God doesn’t work that way. Yes, many difficult circumstances have come into my life. (But He did answer my prayer to deliver my daughter from leukemia, and more than fifteen years later she is strong and healthy!) One thing I have learned in my faith path journey is that Jesus died for me, and when I trusted in Him for my salvation, He made me free. He has freed me from sin and freed me from the punishment for my sin.
Yes, God has allowed many difficult experiences in my life, but in every experience, He has wanted to help me and draw me to Himself, with love and patience.
As I have continued to grow in my faith and receive good counseling, I have been able to see it more and more clearly.
I could let go of the agonizing lie “I deserve it.”
(excerpt from Sue’s book, Rock Bottom and Faithless: Defeating the Lies of Domestic Abuse with God’s Truth available now on Amazon.)
This was one of the most damaging lies I convinced myself was true: I deserved the abuse due to sins from years ago. The most challenging problem with defeating the lies of my abuser was not knowing which thoughts in my head were mine or residual effects of emotional abuse.
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Hi, I'm Sue
Welcome to my blog! I served twenty-one honorable years on active duty, living a double life of capability and accomplishment in the service while enduring brutality and abusiveness in my twenty-one year oppressive marriage. Today I'm happily married and have three children who are my inspiration and motivation.
My goal is to help combat the lies of abusers with the truth of God. I hope you find my words to be healing and helpful through your own life experiences.
Being separated from my abusive husband didn't make me a domestic violence survivor. It surely didn't release me from the grip of his brainwashing control and the innate power he had on me.
Read the full raw story in my new book, Rock Bottom and Faithless.