Last weekend I was around plenty of tears. This time they were not mine, but those of other women sharing their stories.
I had been invited to be part of a conference on domestic violence, addressing the emotional, physical, legal, and spiritual aspects of this terrible reality. During the final session the participants were invited to say whatever they wished, and they started sharing their stories.
And they cried!
Some of these brave women had experienced physical and sexual child abuse and had grown up to believe that was the only thing they deserved. Some had watched their mothers be abused, had experienced it themselves, and now were struggling with their own children’s experience of trauma. Men were there too, and told of their own victimization.
There was a feeling of relief among many of those present in realizing they were not alone. It’s one thing to know intellectually that other people have experienced trauma and abuse. It’s quite another to watch someone next to you tell her story and say, “You really DO know how I feel. You were there too!”
I told the women there that I identified with them on three different levels. First, I’ve been there. I grew up in a home where violence was sadly a part of life. As a survivor I had a lot of healing to do. I worked hard on my healing and growth, and I now can truly say that I am a whole person!
Second, as an OB-Gyn physician I’ve seen so many in similar circumstances. I’ve seen the long-term effects of violence and abuse including pelvic pain, infertility, other pain syndromes, anxiety, depression, unstable relationships, risky sexual behavior, chronic illness, and more. It’s not that each “case” of one of these problems is directly caused by abuse or violence, but they are SO MUCH MORE COMMON among victims/survivors!
Third, as a Christian minister I deal with many of the themes these women struggle with, such as guilt, shame, forgiveness, hopelessness, anger, and more. Healing must include these deeper issues to be effective. Sometimes healing begins here, and that’s always beautiful.
I told these wonderful ladies three things that I want to tell you as well. If you’ve ever experienced trauma in some way related to domestic violence, know this:
- Healing is possible. That may well be hard to believe at times. You may feel like you are stuck and things will never get better. But I’ll say it again: healing IS possible!
- Healing is hard. It will likely be the hardest thing you have ever done. It may well be terrifying and exhausting. This is where you have control. You decide how hard and fast you work, what resources you connect with, and when you need to take a break. Just that fact can be very empowering.
- Never give up! There will be times you become tempted to quit. But please don’t! It doesn’t matter whether you’re eighteen or eighty – things CAN get better.
Healing comes from inside. That’s where God does His amazing work. All other resources are helpful and important, but real healing comes from Him.
So go ahead and cry. Tears can be a very good thing.
And then let God wipe them away as He works His healing in your soul.
Your turn: When do you cry? Have you found that tears are healing? If you’d like to share a piece of your story, I’d love to hear from you.
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