"Revelations of a Survivor'" are my lessons hidden in the journey of surviving and living through domestic abuse. It is an ongoing ever-changing process of development throughout the physical and emotional recovery, the judicial process and everything else in between. This is a series" of transparency and vulnerability during moments in which I share my revelations and lessons along my ever-changing story.
A Wolf In Sheep's Clothing
"The devil doesn't come dressed in a red cape and pointy horns, he comes as everything you've ever wished for..."
As a young child, I grew up hearing my mom talk about her abusive ex-husband, how he treated her, how he acted and how she physically had to fight him nearly every day…almost immediately after they exchanged vows. During their courtship, he was on his best behavior and never displayed abusive behavior. David, was his name...and David was who I was ‘looking out’ for when I became old enough to date…it was “David’s” predictable characteristics that I was conditioned to fear and avoid.
So while I was “looking out” for and trying to avoid having a “David” like my mother, “Trevor” showed up in my life, he manipulated his way in, right under my radar! On the surface, “Trevor” was the exact opposite as David...but underneath he was the exact same man/monster my mother had warned me about since I was a little girl…he was literally the wolf in sheep's clothing. While I was busy “looking out” for the specific characteristics and behavior’s my mom warned me about; I didn't notice the subtle, yet ones in “Trevor”...until it was too late. There were characteristics I didn’t notice until one day, I began to see him for who he really was underneath!
As children, we are taught and “programmed” so to speak, that there is a specific "type" of abuser and person to avoid. That is almost as silly as saying all serial killers and child abductors are scary looking and drive dark colored creepy looking vans...and we all know that is not true! They come in all forms: they drive nice cars are professionally successful, charming and attractive; they appear to be a loving husband and father or a beautiful mother and wife, etc. Instead, they mask themselves under what will appeal to their "prey". They become everything you WANT them to be...but nothing they truly are. They become someone else because who they really are on the inside is painful to acknowledge and accept.
Meanwhile, we are so busy rationalizing away the red flags...we miss it, because we only see who we want them to be. In doing this, we help to provide a version of themselves that they want to be in order to escape the real self-loathing inner version of themselves. Ultimately, they suppress their damaged ‘True Self under the mask of the ‘False Self’ and they project a fictious version of everything they are not in order to obtain what they want.
Logically, we all know if we want something from someone that we will do what appeals to them in order to obtain it. Naturally, displaying behaviors that are unappealing, would not result in our anticipated outcome.
Just like ‘Maslow’s Psychological Hierarchy of Needs’ our deficiencies or basic needs are said to motivate people when they are unmet, therefore, if their needs are not met, they are further motivated to obtain them… and they will do whatever necessary to obtain their goal, even if it means to lie, deceive, hurt manipulate to get it.
"By the time you realize who they truly are… it is to late...you have been got! You have been deceived and manipulated. Before you truly catch on, they gaslight you into thinking your the issue, and you begin to play the game of cat and mouse...with your sanity…and you never truly can seem to catch it!!!"
Today, as a grown woman, my mother and I can "compare" our stories of our ex's, and although David & “Trevor” were polar opposites in many ways...they were exactly alike in others. It is amazing to think that that we had two different types of men that were both mentally, physically and emotionally abusive in different ways, yet we both ended up with the same type of pain. As women, we all have a different story but the pain we all experience is the same.
It's important to be aware and know that you can't beat the enemy...if you don't know who he/she is.
He disguises himself as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14) This means he deceives, he comes to people as an angel of light with deceiving messages and false doctrines.
He schemes, and is waiting and knowing when the right opportunity arises for attach- when he sees you weak, tired, worn out or in a struggle.
Deceives people- he turns wrong into right and right into wrong
Wears us down
Try to master and control us
These are all qualities of the devil that come from various scriptures...these are tactics that he uses to destroy us and keep us distracted.
Ironically, these are all very similar tactics and behaviors of abusers. They lie and deceive with the intention to manipulate. It is important to know what you are dealing with so you will know what you are up against when you see it… in all various forms.
Here were a few behaviors I missed to acknowledge with my ex, that even my children were able to point out and identify...long before I did:
Uses excessive charm & manipulation to control
Brings in 3rd party allies to back up claims & arguments
Uses guilt & manipulation to influence
Prolonged silent treatment
'Me versus You' mentality
Easily really loving one minute & then triggered at the slightest perceived insult…& then I was the enemy
Always shifting blame
Twist & turn facts
Strived for the ‘spotlight’ & attention
Excessive generosity to outside people
Abusive verbal behavior when angered or insecure
Tit for tat' retaliations
Unfortunately, no matter how much my mother tried to protect me I could not escape an inevitable part of my journey. However, I did learn (through her example of overcoming abuse) that no matter how scary it may become, sometimes you have to be willing to lose it all and leave with nothing but the clothes on your back in order to gain everything.
Today, I am educating my children to be alert and pay attention; I pray they never have to endure what we have, but if they do, they have two generations of survivors to teach them how to overcome it
Pay attention to everything…not just the obvious, the subtle behaviors are where the truth lies and speaks the loudest… but only if we are willing and available to hear it.
Be alert and of sober mind; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour “ ~ 1 Peter 5:8