“Because you have been defense for the helpless, defense for the needy in his anguish, refuge against the storm, shade against the heat; because the breath of the implacable is like a rainstorm against the wall”. Isaiah 25:3

There are days when it feels like the battle is never over, when attacks on your reputation and credibility come at you from all sides. So know this: no matter what your enemies and detractors say, you have an Advocate who knows and sees all. You can feel empowered by the knowledge that you are never alone as you walk this often lonely journey.

However, even holding on to that truth, there will be times when you thirst for a word of compassion and validation from someone with skin on.

When you find yourself desperate for a kind and supportive word, don’t be surprised if the dam of restraint finally breaks. A lot of painful history can come from you unsanitized, and your stories can be shocking and difficult for others to receive. Those who have never lived with abuse may doubt that a relationship can be so horrible. Furthermore, even though your intentions are good and you kept secrets from your abuser out of a sense of loyalty, the perception of your relationship that you helped create may compel those you might have counted as allies to find your revelations too extraordinary to believe.

Instead of sharing your burden with you, I am sad to say that some in your circle may back off as you bare your soul, and perhaps even heap more guilt on yourself for not doing enough. They may see you as a bitter woman, a liar, or a gossip. The depth of loneliness and the sense of betrayal that you might face as a result of the skepticism of your confidants can be truly devastating.

But such lukewarm answers don’t change what you know to be true. If you wait for the approval of others to do what you must to get your life back, it may never happen. You know the truth about your story, and that is your ultimate defense, whether or not others are willing to validate you in it.

So what can you do?

First, measure what you share. Test the waters and see if your audience is receptive. If not, don’t waste time investing where you can’t anticipate a return.

Second, trust your own experience. It hurts deeply when friends don’t support you, but their ignorance or callousness doesn’t alter the truth.

Third, continue to behave according to what you think is right. Don’t let the biased perspective of others rule the decisions you must live with. This is your Life. Base your decisions on truth, stick to your convictions, trust your God-given instincts, and act on the peace you have.

Then there is the question of what to say to your children, knowing that a battle for their hearts and minds could have a negative impact on all of you. It’s tempting to explain your actions at length or verbally tear your father apart when the opportunity presents itself. Generally speaking, I would say that the priority should be to assure your children of your love and devotion to them, avoiding the details. They don’t need to see all the dirty laundry that has accumulated around you over the years. Find a friend or confidant with whom you can process your emotions instead of taking them out on your children. That is not a role they should be expected to fill.

However, on the other hand, your children should be free to discuss their fears and feelings with you (if you can handle it without becoming toxic) or perhaps given the opportunity to meet with a professional child counselor to allow them to process their own hurts. Listening well and validating their experiences is just as important to them as it is to you. But if you take every opportunity to criticize your estranged spouse, your children may soon learn to avoid talking to you about your relationship with them. If you want to keep the lines of communication open, try not to damage them.

I know how difficult it can be to shut up and remember well those days when the father of my children worked hard to buy them pizza and ice cream, movies, outings and gifts. My job was to stand my ground, to make our home a safe place where they knew they would be loved and accepted, even if they were expected to complete their chores and chores. I hoped that in time they would see a healthy contrast between the life we ​​shared and the one their father had chosen, and they finally did. The man continued to poison his own well and, over the course of several years, single-handedly destroyed his relationships with our four children.

I told my children that they could ask me any questions they had, recognizing that their father could feed them a diet of lies and half-truths about me for as long as they were with him. Anticipating that, I planned in advance how I wanted to deal with those situations. So when my children came home confused and upset by their dad’s accusations, they would ask to speak in private. They didn’t want to believe the things their father had told them, but they didn’t want to believe that he was lying either. I would listen and calmly try to provide a minimal, more factual answer, never calling their father a liar, but offering them my perspective and the freedom to decide what to believe. Even acknowledging some of my faults, I don’t think it was difficult for them to trust me because they saw my values ​​and my priorities lived every day.

However, when pushed, it can be a challenge to remain silent. At one point, my angry teenage son confronted me in the presence of a counselor. He claimed that my decision to divorce his father was unbiblical and insisted that we could have a happy family if he allowed his father to come home. I could have pulled back the curtain to reveal all the bad things I had endured during my years with her father. Doing so might have satisfied my desire to expose the man, but it would also have placed a burden of knowledge on my son that was not his to bear. So I just explained that the actions I had taken were based on what I believed was best for our family. Raising his voice, he attempted to antagonize and shame me into giving in to his demand, hoping that I would offer a worthy defense for my actions or agree to take back his father. Instead, I calmly looked him in the eye and refused to reveal anything else. Eventually, despite himself, he discovered the truth about his father’s character without an explanation from me. Did I handle every situation perfectly? Hell no. Sometimes he said too much, and sometimes he even tried to make his father look better than he was. It’s not always easy to find a healthy balance, so the best we can do is keep working at it.

As for those dear friends who are willing to listen and encourage you, receive their validation and encouragement so that you can begin to let go of some of the pain and anger that you carry. Let them help you heal. Purging is a necessary part of the process, but as time goes on, you don’t want your pain to define you. The goal is to put the past behind you so you can continue to move forward into your new life free of abuse.

As you work your way through this sometimes exhausting process, remember that you don’t have to defend yourself or prove to anyone what you’ve been through or what you’re trying to do. Some will gracefully come to your side and support you in every possible way, while others will never understand or validate you and even, in their ignorance, judge you. Remember that God knows the truth about your life, and trust that your children will be able to see who you are by the way you live, even if it takes them some time to get there. Give them the freedom to choose what they believe and who they want to emulate.

Ultimately, God is your defender, and the honorable life you lead before Him will be the only defense you will need. Don’t be embarrassed and don’t feel compelled to offer a defense where it won’t be received. So keep your head high as you walk in the light of truth.

I will rejoice and rejoice in your mercy, because you have seen my affliction; you have known the anguish of my soul, and have not delivered me into the hands of the enemy; You have set my feet in a spacious place.” Psalm 31:7-8


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