Home AuthorsAll posts by Rose Saad
Author

Rose Saad

The first step to emotionally and spiritually heal from any harmful relationship requires self-reflection. Self-reflection involves examining how you got into and chose to stay in your relationship. For this blog, I will focus on domestic abusive relationships. And I will address some of the changes you might need to make as you seek healing.

When I talk about self-reflection, I am talking about discovering how your partner’s abusive actions affected your emotional and spiritual well-being. I am not talking about taking the blame for what your abuser did. You are never responsible for someone else’s actions. But your responsibility is to understand what happened and what you did about it.

You can start by asking yourself, how did I get into this mess? I believe that when we self-reflect and try to answer that question, we will discover things that we might need to address as we seek healing. I will attempt to answer that question and suggest some things you can do to change and heal.

Self-reflection: How did I get into this mess?

Love

Yes, love is the number one reason why we stay in an abusive relationship. Most people I know married for love. I certainly did! But I think my concept of love wasn’t as clear as I thought it was. It was influenced by others’ perceptions of who I was and was performance-based. The truth was, I didn’t love who I was or saw myself as important, due to past experiences in my childhood and teenage years. In addition to those experiences, my parents weren’t around to nurture my sense of self-worth. This led to a faulty concept of love which made it difficult to tell the difference between healthy love versus sick love.

Love in an abusive relationship means one person does all the giving and the other person does all the taking. Once you realize that fact, you can change your unhealthy concept of love and replace it with healthy love. As Christians, we don’t have to look too far because Christ demonstrated what healthy love is.

Fear

We can’t move forward without addressing fear. Fear is what keeps us frozen and unable to seek change. Although fear is healthy if it keeps us out of danger, some of our fears are irrational. For me, I feared my husband’s wrath more than God’s wrath. You might ask, how so? I mean that I wasn’t afraid to break God’s commandments, such as lying to please Xavier or covering up for his abuse; in other words, I was more fearful of what my husband would do if I didn’t follow his wishes. Some of us fear our families, or what the church might say when we speak the truth. We let our fears stop us from seeking change.

We can’t let fear stop us from doing what we must do to change our abusive situation. If we’re ever going to move forward, we have to face up to our fears and realize that the alternative may be worse.

Shame/Embarrassment

As we self-reflect, I think shame is second only to fear in preventing us from seeking help. Shame is inwardly self-inflicted. Shame tells you that you are unimportant, or don’t deserve any sympathy because you made some bad choices. Embarrassment, on the other hand, is being affected by what other people think. Both are damaging to one’s sense of self.

I believe that educated women who are accustomed to being in control or who can access the resources to end the abuse are at more risk of letting shame and embarrassment stop them from seeking help. I know friends who have left their abusive relationships but haven’t started the process of healing from “domestic abuse” because they weren’t ready to accept the fact that they were victims. Accepting that fact will mean having to face their shame.

Confronting our shame in a safe environment will help us to overcome it so that we can move forward to freedom from abuse.

Anger

Self-reflection will help us uncover our anger, which is required to heal. Self-reflection means asking questions like, “Why didn’t I leave early?” and “I can’t believe I let him treat me that way, and why didn’t I do something?” These types of questions may produce anger and regret. Anger itself is not bad. Anger allowed me to take back some of my power; for instance, I refused to have a joint bank account so that I could have control of my money.

But the thing about anger is, if you stay in that state, you will become resentful and bitter. We have to make a conscious effort to use anger only for positive change and not let it control our lives

Trust

Abuse can cripple our sense of trust. It hampers our ability to trust ourselves and even God. I know of a woman who was angry with God for allowing her abuser to get off without any consequences. Mentioning God will send her into tears, and her resentment will be obvious in her face. She didn’t trust God anymore.

But I believe we have to retain our trust in God so that we can trust ourselves. Also, we have to understand what trust means.

I am glad the scriptures don’t command us to trust everyone who says, “I’m sorry.” Regardless, some of us were urged by others to trust our abuser when he said he was sorry without showing any signs of meaning it.

Even though I have forgiven my abuser, that doesn’t mean I have to trust him. I had to realize that I am not required to trust him even if he apologizes or shows tearful remorse. Trust is earned, and he would have to demonstrate that he deserves my trust. There was no time limit attached to the acceptance of my trust in him. I had to be okay with that choice.

As we seek healing, our priority should be learning to trust God and to trust ourselves. Trust that we have the power within ourselves to change our situation. In addition, trusting our abusers is not based on what others want from us.

Forgiveness

I think our greatest challenge as we self-reflect is learning to forgive. We can spend hours on this topic. Forgiveness is the key to healing. Here, I am talking about self-forgiveness. For most of us, it is easier to forgive others than ourselves.

It was difficult to forgive myself. Why did I allow his abuse to happen for so long? Why did I expose my children to an environment that was damaging their emotional health? My responses to these questions produced anger that I had to confront and let go of.

If we don’t forgive ourselves, abuse will continue to control us. I believe the key to self-forgiveness is understanding God’s grace. It is easier to extend grace to others than to ourselves. For me, extending grace to myself means that I am not taking responsibility for my actions, nor am I taking advantage of God’s kindness. But if we don’t extend grace to ourselves, we are not allowing the scriptures’ power to change us.

In conclusion, we have to realize that the scriptures have the power to heal us. But we must still do the work that is required to heal. Self-reflection will help us identify areas that we can address as we seek healing. I pray that when you self-reflect, God will grant you the knowledge to change the areas in your life that need his healing.

The content of this blog is adapted from my book, A Path to Hope: Restoring the Spirit of the Abused Christian Woman.

Share this:
November 26, 2019 0 comment
0 Facebook Twitter Google + Pinterest

When we discuss the cycle of domestic abuse, the honeymoon phase appears to be a period of rest from the abuse and perhaps even an end to it. But the question here is this really a honeymoon? In my opinion, it is not. Don’t get caught up in the honeymoon phase because it is just a continuation of the abuse. For that reason, we need to look at how to escape the honeymoon phase and why we should. 

According to Lenore Walker, the cycle of abuse consists of three phases. Walker’s description of this cycle has been modified over the years, but in her original version, the first phase consisted of tension building, in which the woman “walks on eggshells” due to the abuser’s behaviors. He becomes critical, jealous, cold, distant, or withdrawn. And the woman can only wait for the impending doom.

The second phase is where the battering occurs or the battering phase. There is an explosion of verbal attacks. The abuser becomes hostile and screams out threats, breaks objects or physically assaults her. 

The third phase is known as the honeymoon phase. He says he is sorry and gives her flowers or expensive gifts. He might start to take on responsibilities such as caring for the kids or participate in household activities that he refused to do before the violent events. During this time, he might even say he is going to seek help and change his behaviors. Most women, more likely, they want to believe that he is sorry and is going to change.

Let’s look at the honeymoon phase to see how it is an extension of the abuse.

Manipulative and deceptive behaviors

During the honeymoon phase, he does not give the real motives behind the sudden change from being mean to be nice. His reason for being so tearful and apologetic is to stop her from going to the police, especially when there is bruising or other evidence of a physical assault. Or he could be afraid of losing her. His ultimate motive is to return the relationship back to the state where he was in full control.

Therefore, he showers her with so many gifts and kind words that she doesn’t have the time to think about or even remember the abusive events and seek help. She may feel pressured into accepting his presents. She might be afraid to refuse him, afraid that the abuse will return, like a bad movie sequel, bigger and meaner than before. There is a fear that if she is not receptive, the tension or abusive cycle will resume.

Due to his deceptive behaviors, she is pushed back into the grooming phase, which reminds her of the good times. Those memories reinforce the hope that he can change. She begins to fantasize that the relationship will become the kind of relationship she had hoped for. This hope leads her to tell herself that “it wasn’t that bad” and to dismiss the idea of seeking help. And so, he gets away with his behaviors*. As a result, the cycle of abuse goes on.

Coercive forgiveness

Forgiveness is a process

The woman feels compelled to forgive him, which is premature forgiveness. Premature forgiveness is accepting an apology without having time to process the hurt or acknowledge it. He says he is sorry and promises not to hurt her again. She accepts his apology before working through the process of forgiveness. I believe that forgiveness is a process. For healing to occur, she needs time to acknowledge her hurt, be aware of the effects of the offense, and to see some changed behaviors—in this case, no more abuse.

How to escape the honeymoon phase

The important thing is, during the crisis, and especially after an abusive event, you need to seek help! Your safety is your number one priority. If your abuser is unable to manipulate you during the honeymoon phase, then his frustration and rage might intensify. It is crucial that you get help if you decide to make any drastic changes, such as leaving the relationship.

Here are some actions you can take

Insist on time to process the event. The human brain needs to process and make sense of every social interaction. When forced into moving forward without a logical understanding behind the abusive behaviors, there is confusion. This confusion can lead to denial, which traps you in a relationship that damages your physical and emotional well-being.

It might be best to maintain no contact when you insist on time away from him. This will allow you time to think and process the events and what actions to take. If you do not distance yourself, you might be manipulated and pulled back into the cycle.

Seek help

Ask God for wisdom

I will repeat: It is critical that you seek help during the crisis phase. It is during this time that you might have some control and can make decisions without his interference. If you are showing signs of physical abuse, he might try to stop you from seeking help due to fear of the consequences. But you have to be strong and get help without his permission.

Seeing through the confusion means educating yourself about domestic abuse. Therefore, find resources in your community to gain awareness that you are not alone, and there is a way to break the cycle so that you won’t get caught in the web of the honeymoon phase.

Here are links to find the domestic violence centers in your areas:

http://www.thehotline.org/resources/victims-and-survivors/ https://www.domesticshelters.org/

Wait to see the changed behaviors over time

Some of the actions you should look for are he admitting that he is an abuser and is seeking professional help. Willingness to accept the consequences of his behaviors, and asking others to hold him accountable, are the things he should be doing. Most importantly, he must allow you space to see his change over time. How much time that takes depends on the kind of man he is. He might not even change at all, and you will need time to accept that situation.

To conclude, don’t get caught in the web of the honeymoon phase. It is after the abusive incident that you might have the ability to seek help without him. Find time to reflect on his behaviors, so that you can determine what actions you need to take to break the cycle. Pray for wisdom to expose the truth behind his behaviors.

*A Path to Hope: Restoring The Spirit Of the Abused Christian Woman

Share this:
July 26, 2019 0 comment
0 Facebook Twitter Google + Pinterest

In my previous blog, Domestic Abuse: The Transformation Process, I stated that the impact of the abuse is subtle and that it takes time to recognize that the abuse has changed who you are as a person. Yet some of these changes are obvious to others. I will list how to tell that you have been transformed and how to reclaim yourself.

You may recognize that something is missing and sense that something about you has changed. You might not like the person you have become, however you are not aware of your loss. You may recognize that your thinking process has altered, yet you might not be aware of changes to your self-esteem.

God will help you

Signs and Symptoms That You Have Transformed

If you experienced any of these signs, you mostly have been transformed.

  • You know something is wrong, but you can’t figure it out
  • You isolate yourself because you feel embarrassed about yourself
  • You accept his excuses for his actions
  • You accept responsibility for his action and take the blame
  • You deny that any abuse is happening
  • You don’t trust yourself to make decisions
  • You rely on your abuser to do all the thinking
  • You live in shame and humiliation
  • You believe that you are the problem
  • You second-guess yourself
  • You feel confused and disoriented about his behaviors
  • You are unsure about your recollection of events at home
  • You are consumed by thoughts about the abuse and how to stop it
  • You feel that you are losing your mind
  • Fear consumes your day-to-day activities
  • You feel powerless to change the situation
  • You are easily anxious and irritable
  • You are afraid to voice your opinion
  • You feel emotionally fatigued and physically drained
  • You feel emotionally numb
  • You lack interest in activities that you once loved

As a result of these signs and symptoms, your self-image is profoundly damaged. To put it another way, it is almost like a “death of self.” This state of mind can lead to feelings of hopelessness and make you believe that you don’t have the power to get help. The good news is that there is always hope for change.

Ask for help

Reclaiming yourself

Awareness that the abuse has changed you is the first step to recovery. Reclaiming yourself can be difficult, and it will take time and effort to do it. Here are some of the actions you might have to take to reclaim who you were before the abuse.

  • Remove yourself from your abusive environment
  • Seek professional help
  • Pray and meditate to strengthen your spiritual self
  • Be kind, patient, compassionate and empathetic toward yourself
  • Forgive yourself
  • Tell your story in a safe place; it is your truth and it will help to set you free
  • Celebrate your survival, especially if you were able to break free
  • Love yourself by engaging in activities to promote wellness like exercising, eating right, and finding time to relax
  • Reconnect with people who love and care about you
  • Join a community of support to meet your physical and emotional needs
  • Attend a support group with people who have experienced domestic abuse
  • Engage in activities you enjoy, or consider new activities
  • Set healthy boundaries
  • Regain your voice by telling others what you need and want
  • Combat your negative thoughts with positive thoughts
  • Take responsibility for your actions and let go of things that you cannot control
  • Focus on your strengths
  • Volunteer to help other survivors of abuse
  • Grieve and let go of your sense of loss
  • Journal about your transformational journey
You can overcome any difficulty

You can overcome any difficulty

As you journey through the stages of regaining the person you were before the abuse, remind yourself that you are strong and can overcome any difficulty. Surviving abuse is evidence that you have the power to find yourself again. Hold on to your faith. Embrace God’s love because it has the power to set you free. The abuse was never a part of God’s plan for your life. So, move forward and be the wonderful person that God wants you to be.

Check out these links for more on self-care:

Self-care

https://www.domesticshelters.org/resources/lists/self-care-strategies?q=0#list-scroll

* https://images.app.goo.gl/Tmb1VihZC3twpXwt7

Share this:
July 3, 2019 3 comments
0 Facebook Twitter Google + Pinterest

Have you ever wondered how your abusive relationship changes you? Domestic abuse often has a profound impact on an individual’s self-esteem and self-worth. It changes the entire set of values and morals that embodies who you are. A transformation occurs that isn’t always easy to spot.

I am using the word transformation because there’s a change from who you were before the relationship to who you are after the abuse. And there is a series of steps in which the abuser attempts to change your inner self, your “soul,” so that he can have complete control over your thoughts, your actions, and your behaviors.

As survivors, we need to understand how our abusers influence our transformation process. When we know about the techniques or tactics they use, we can then figure out how to stop the process and reclaim our true selves.

For this blog, we will look at how our abusers create an environment that fosters our transformation process.

Grooming

Deceptive words

It starts with grooming. Grooming is a deliberate attempt by an abuser to persuade you to do what he wishes*. He engages in behaviors that make you believe that he is doing what’s best for you. He showers you with attention. He tells you that you’re the right woman for him, his soulmate. He spends all his time with you. He’s kind, gentle, and thoughtful. He tries to meet all your physical and emotional needs. He might fix things around the house or cook dinner.

All these behaviors are meant to draw you into building an emotional connection so you can trust him. His grooming tactics in the early phase of the relationship are used to soften you into later compliance. Grooming makes you vulnerable and makes it easy to tolerate abuse because you have come to believe that he is a good person.

You might say grooming is showing affection for someone you care about, but when the intention for the behaviors is to manipulate that person for control, then grooming becomes abusive. If we pay close attention, grooming can be a red flag. If something is too good to be true, then it usually is.

Social isolation

Put your trust in God

Next comes social isolation. Its primary purpose is to cut off your support systems so that you depend solely on him. One of the techniques he may use is to create distrust between you and your family, friends, or community resources. As a result, he becomes the primary source for your physical and psychological support.

The following story from my blog at, https://www.rosesaad.com/wish-knew-know-now-understanding-abuse/ illustrates how my former husband socially isolated me:

In the early phase of our relationship, Xavier created an environment of distrust. For example, he would make comments like, “You can’t trust anyone” or “They’re out to get you.” This suspicion included the people we knew. According to him, my female friends were “hitting on him” and couldn’t be trusted. When they came to visit, he was cold toward them; he ignored them or would even leave the house. As a result, they felt uncomfortable and stopped visiting.

Even though he did not want me to trust others, he expected me to trust him. To create that trust, he said it was essential that we have no secrets from each other. He wanted to know about my childhood and past relationships. He would tell of a few of his encounter with his old girlfriends to lure me into sharing details of my previous sexual encounters.

The purpose of this type of communication is not only to isolate you but also to use your private sexual history as confirmation that you are morally loose. He can later use it to attack your self-esteem, which aids the transformation process.

Creating Doubt / Emotional Abuse

Do not lie or deceive one another

The next phase is creating doubt. The communication process becomes a tool for gaslighting. What your abuser says is not what he wants. What he says and what he means are totally different things. His actions don’t match his words. The aim here is to create confusion and disorientation so that it becomes easy for him to control you. Tactics used to gaslight include projection, which is when he shifts his behaviors on to you. For example, he might accuse you of cheating on him, when in reality he’s the one doing the cheating. Or he’ll call you a liar when he is the one lying. Other ways he can degrade your self-esteem are attacking what you are good at. For instance, if you are good at your job, he will find issues with it. He might remark that you are wasting your time with that job.

Most survivors are not aware of gaslighting. I didn’t know what the term meant at the time, but when I look back, I can see so many episodes in the relationship that were a clear case of gaslighting. For example, when he made a cruel joke or an insensitive remark, and I responded with, “I don’t like that,” his reply was that I was too sensitive or overreacting. Over time I started to believe that maybe he was right, maybe I really was too sensitive.

The overall purpose of these behaviors is to sow confusion within yourself, which makes it easy to accept his version of reality.

Intimidation and Threats / Physical Abuse

God hates violence

See the Power and Control Wheel for types of tactics use by abusers. The reason for these behaviors is to seal in compliance so that he can gain full control. Different abusers may use different methods, but the end goal is the same, which is power and control. The particular tactics used depends upon the abuser’s personality or what has worked for him in the past.

Over time, all these abusive tactics change the survivor. Her reality diminishes, and she accepts his reality as the truth about who she is. Her values of right and wrong are squashed, to be replaced by his version. When she realizes his abusive behaviors have transformed her, she feels helpless to change her situation. In my next blog, I will discuss how to tell that you have been transformed and how to reclaim yourself.

God will not let you fall

*How He Gets into Her Head by Don Hennessy

Share this:
June 14, 2019 0 comment
0 Facebook Twitter Google + Pinterest

My recent travels evoke a desire to share God’s splendor in his creation as seen through the pictures I took. The trip to Tilghman Island, MD and now Kona, Hawaii, have both reinforced my faith. Check out my article, Mental Health Rest, for the story of my trip to Tilghman. Now I would like to share how I saw God’s splendor in some of my snapshots of Kona.

God’s Splendor in the Sky

I can’t seem to let go of 2 AM, my second night in Kona. I woke up and had an urge to look through the windows. I lifted the blinds to see outside and found myself standing frozen in awe. Literally, I saw what appeared to be billions of stars of different sizes and brilliances! Their sparkling light show filled the entire sky. I have never in my whole life, except in the movies, seen so many stars clustered together. I ran for my iPhone and 50D Canon camera and attempted to take a picture, but to no avail. No camera could do it justice! All I could do was stand and marvel at how awe-inspiring God is.

Since I was unable to capture what I saw, I am sharing a picture taken from Keck Observatory by Andrew Richard Hara.

Keck Observatory, taken by Andrew Richard Hara

In Exodus 15:11 it states, “Who is like you among the gods, O LORD—glorious in holiness, awesome in splendor, performing great wonders?” (NLT). His splendor was in the stars. The heavens proclaim his glory and “the skies display his craftsmanship” (Psalm 19:1, NLT). The sky that night definitely displayed his artistry and left me with an experience I will always remember.

God’s Splendor in the Sunsets

As I said earlier, I wrote an article about my visit to Tilghman Island and the magnificent sunrises and sunsets. But there is no comparison to the sunsets in Kona. I was blown away by what I saw. The exciting thing is that the beauty of the sunset wasn’t when the sun was visible. It was when it had sunk below the horizon and could no longer be seen. That is when the variations of the different colors come to life. At times they were not visible to the eye but could still be captured through the camera lens. Also, each beach had its unique presentation of colors. What more, not only did the ocean display the grand splendor of God’s sunsets, but the mountains did likewise. The radiance of the colors surrounding the mountains was a sight to behold.

Hapuna Beach, Kona, Hawaii
Fairmont Hotel, Kona, Hawaii
Maunakea, Kona, Hawaii

God’s Splendor on the Mountain

The front of the house where I was staying faced Maunakea, a dormant volcanic mountain with an elevation of 14,000 feet. Maunakea hosts the Keck Observatory for studying the stars and is open to visitors. From my window, I could see the top of the mountain towering majestically over the clouds. Not only was it above the clouds, but the observatory was also visible. But what captivated my attention was the shadows of the clouds and the reflection of the sun when it hit the back of the mountain. When that happened, I could sense that something powerful was present.

Maunakea, Kona, Hawaii
Shadows of the Clouds

God’s Splendor in Us

I cannot show you a picture, but I want you to consider this: like the skies, sunsets, and mountains, you too were created to be a part of God’s splendor. We are part of his handiwork as stated in Psalm 139:13-14: “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well” (NIV).

To conclude, sometimes I forget how beautiful God’s creation is. But when I stop and focus on my surroundings and see nature doing its work, I am moved by the little details that God has woven together to display his magnificence. What about you?

Share this:
April 4, 2019 0 comment
0 Facebook Twitter Google + Pinterest

We take time off when we’re not feeling well, or we take a vacation to visit friends and family, but rarely we think about taking time away from home for a mental health rest. What I mean by this rest is to slow down our minds by being still in the moment. I don’t know about you, but I don’t know how to slow down. My mind is constantly busy. I can be in a room filled with people and yet not be aware of anyone because my mind is somewhere else. As a result, I decided one day to get away, to slow down my thoughts so I could focus on prayer and listen for wisdom from God. During my time away, I learned three valuable lessons.

Tilghman Island getaway

For my mental health rest, I chose Tilghman Island, Maryland, mainly due to the pictures I saw on the internet. Tilghman Island is about a two-and-a-half-hour drive from where I live and is located where the Choptank River meets the Chesapeake Bay. The island is literally where they connect. At the point of connection, there is a bed-and-breakfast called the Black Walnut Point Inn.

Black Walnut Point Inn

When I arrived, I admit, I wasn’t impressed by the inn and the surrounding landscape because the pictures on the Internet didn’t reflect the current environment. They had been taken mainly during the summer. The scene during my visit was of winter: cold, windy with no snow, and the flowers all gone. Furthermore, the inn is a historical site owned by the state. Most of the interior was built in 1847. Not much has changed, and the caretakers are not allowed to make any structural modifications. I personally prefer contemporary interior decor.

I soon changed my attitude when I realized the building wasn’t the reason why people chose the inn. It was the view! I was mesmerized by the sunrises and sunsets and overpowered by the colors I saw. There were pink and purple hues during dawn and yellows and reds at sunset. All I could do was stare at the sky.

Sunrise at Black Walnut Point Inn
Sunset at Black Walnut Point Inn

Lesson 1: I can’t slow down until I explore my environment

Now let’s go back to the lessons learned. First, my brain has to immerse itself in my environment before it can slow down. There was so much beauty around me that my mind got distracted. I felt like a kid in a candy store who is excited to see the different kinds of candies and doesn’t want to leave until she has tried each flavor. My mind was so diverted that I couldn’t say which was the most important reason for my coming here. I had to see everything before I left.

Instead of slowing down mentally, I went into a picture-taking mode. All I wanted to do was find new things to take pictures off. I even decided to walk through the thick marsh to look for swans, even though I am terrified of snakes. I didn’t find any swans, but my new-found courage to walk through the swamp took me by surprise.

Looking for swans

Lesson 2: Focus on the images that interest the mind

After exploring the area, I realized I needed to focus on one particular aspect of the place that captured my mind. For example, there were the sunrises and sunsets I’d mentioned earlier, but the most thought-provoking place was the site of a huge cross. The cross is at Black Walnut Point, the southernmost part of the island, where the Choptank River and the Chesapeake Bay come together. I don’t know, and I didn’t think to ask, why the cross was placed at that spot.

The merger of the Choptank River and Chesapeake Bay

I began to leave behind my hectic thoughts and enjoy the majestic splendor of God. Gratitude came alive. With a joyous heart, I started to thank God for being there, for allowing me to immerse myself among his magnificent works. With my grateful heart, I poured out my prayers and petitions to him as an overwhelming sense of calmness came over me.

Immersed into God’s Creation

Lesson 3: Be still to listen for God’s voice

As I stood still under the cross with the sunlight striking the left side of my face, and the river and bay before me I felt God telling me to pay attention to see how this moment, this image of the environment, related to my present life. It was an analogy for my life. Ahead of me was this body of water which represents all my fears. The fears of the unknown. Yes, I have a lot of unknowns in my life. The fear of rejection, failure, lack of confidence, the evils of the world and so forth—they all prevent me from moving forward and sometimes stop me from accepting God’s truths about my life.

Under the Cross

The cross, on the other hand, represents love, forgiveness, hope, triumph, and the assurance that I am never alone. I am part of God’s family. Because of his Son’s suffering on the cross, I can conquer any difficulty.

The sunlight that was radiating over my face represented God’s light. A light so powerful that it can banish any darkness. A light that allows me to shine regardless of all the mistakes and messes I made of my life.

I felt God speaking to my heart and saying: Rose, because of the cross, you are with me. I have chosen you to shine. Step into my light. I know you’re fearful of what is ahead, just like this body of water. It looks enormous, but I am still greater. My light is greater than any darkness you have ever feared. I will help you overcome your fears and the obstacles that that block my light. What a rejuvenating mental health experience! But I had to keep still so that my senses could engage in that experience.

As I drove back home, I felt a sense of freedom listening to the below song, Step into the Light by Passion.

Step into the Light

Life bombards us with decisions that we have to make every day. It is important to find time to take a mental health rest to declutter our minds and listen for God’s voice. That might mean going away from our familiar environments. The lesson for all of us is that we can’t hear God speak to our hearts if we don’t slow down and keep still. Check out this link for scriptures about stillness and rest.

Share this:
February 25, 2019 2 comments
0 Facebook Twitter Google + Pinterest

I hesitated to share my self-reflection for 2018. But as I look back, I see that gratitude builds faith. Writing down what I am grateful for and recounting all the wonderful things Jesus has done for me has been a source of comfort and hope when I get stuck in life’s difficult challenges. Remembering what God has accomplished for my life renews my commitment to hold on to my faith as a Christian.

Follow Me

I want to share what I am thankful for as I enter into 2019. Frist, sharing fills my soul with gratitude and shuts out the negative voices that say that my efforts are not working. My mindset has always focused on the future—on what I should be doing and what I am not doing. As a result, I missed a few opportunities along the way. Some might say I missed the mark and got stuck in “what I should have done.”

Being grateful for what has already occurred validates that I am on the right track. It redirects me to look at the present to see what is already there rather than looking back at what should have been. It reminds me not to be discouraged and to continue with what I am doing. Sharing my successes not only strengthens my faith, but it might also help others to self-reflect and fill themselves with gratitude for what God is doing in their lives.

Thankful for Blessings

As I look back, a lot of great things have happened that I should be thankful for. I will list a few and will also share some of my hopes and dreams for 2019. First, I thank God for giving up his only son so that I could be a part of his family. It is in his family that I can receive his love and grace. I am very privileged to be in a church family that loves me for who I am and encourages me to keep making Jesus the Lord of my life. I am thankful for their love, their physical care, their spiritual and emotional support over the years.

I am thankful for my children. Their love for others and willingness to help others fill my heart with joy. They are navigating their path to discover who they are and who they are meant to be. It takes maturity to have the insight in knowing your strengths and limits and confronting the barriers to self-discovery.  And that’s what they have been doing from an early age. I am very proud of who they are and who they will become. At times I feel guilty for pulling them into my world. I know I don’t have the power to protect them from the negativity I might encounter as a domestic violence advocate, but I am thankful for their support as I continue to walk this path.

I am Here

The saying “it takes a village to raise a child” applies to my experience as a divorced and single mother taking care of three children. I am often asked, “How do you do it?” The answer is simple: I’m not doing it alone. Church family, in-laws, and biological relatives have all played a role. Today I want to thank the Bernards for standing in as my maternal family. (I am withholding first names to protect their privacy). To the Bernards, the Dennises, the Johnsons, and the Sirleafs, I thank God for giving you wisdom and compassion to provide, physical, emotional, and financial support for my family. As I reflect, you all have been a part of most of my adult life. I will always cherish the memories I make with you all as long as I live.

My Village

I am thankful for my book, A Path to Hope. To be honest, I have experienced a lot of discouragement due to difficulties in marketing the book. I didn’t write the book to make money, although an increase in sales would repay some of the hard work that was done to make the book a reality. At times I can get stuck in what should have happened with the book when I should be celebrating the little successes. For example, a few days ago I received an email from a reader who told me that my “blog and book was invaluable.” I was excited at first, but instead of rejoicing, my mind shifted to the “what should have been.” This 2019, I am going to embrace small successes like that because they help me break down the walls of negative thoughts that distract me from my goals.

gratitude
rosesaad.com

I will strive to put into practice Zechariah 4:10 that states, “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin” (New Living Translation). Yes, I will celebrate every little step because God rejoices when he sees that I am doing his work.

gratitude
Embrace Small Steps

I am filled with gratitude for the Path to Hope first event in 2018, A Cry for Help. It was a very successful workshop!  As I have stated in previous posts, my mission is to increase awareness of domestic violence and its effects on families and to share information about resources that can be used to help victims. That was the goal of the workshop, and I am pleased to say that it was achieved! 

gratitude
A Path to Hope

I will be organizing another workshop this year. This will be a small step towards my desire to create a non-profit to empower the lives of Christian women who have experienced domestic violence, through education, peer and spiritual support.

I am also excited to announce the first A Path to Hope support group will be launched in February! More information to come soon.

All these experiences reinforced that God is taking care of me and will continue to meet my needs. He will send the people and resources I need to keep doing his will. As I speak, he is actively sending emotional support as evidenced by new relationships on social media and though other contacts with people with the same passion and mission as mine. I am thankful for my new friendships.

This 2019, as I stated earlier, I am going to enjoy living in the moment, the now, and will celebrate every little success along the way as I walk the path that God has set for me. With a thankful heart, I can move mountains.  

What about you? What are you grateful for? You probably have your own list of what God has done and is doing to help build your faith. 

As Psalm 106:1 reminds us, “Praise the LORD. Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.”

Share this:
January 13, 2019 2 comments
0 Facebook Twitter Google + Pinterest

I first heard about Dr. Tamara O’Neil’s brutal slaying from my daughter. She called to ask me if I was part of the conversation on Twitter. My response was, in effect (I didn’t verbalize my thoughts to her), “I don’t care.” But after a couple of minutes, my mind became flooded with emotions. These emotions were triggered by the fact that a lot of domestic violence cases are sensationalized on social media and in the news. When someone is killed by an abusive partner, that is when domestic violence is front-page news. After a couple of days, the topic is pushed back and forgotten. To prove my point, I am writing this blog a few weeks after O’Neil’s murder, and domestic violence is no longer a priority in the news.

This leads me to ask myself “Are most people really interested in bringing about change?” From my observation, some people use the dramatization of physical violence on the media to attract viewers to promote a particular political agenda, such as gun control. For example, the NewYork Times article about the death of Dr. O’Neil dealt mainly with gun control. She was mentioned only briefly.

I am not trying to dismiss the fact that, according to that article, women are five times more likely to be killed in a domestic violence relationship when guns are present.

Yes, I do agree we need gun control. It doesn’t make sense  to purchase guns whose primary purpose is to kill people and not animals. On the other hand, we need to remember that many abusers have killed their partners without the use of firearms. Therefore, not owning a gun will not stop abuse.

Discussing the issues around firearms is essential, but when someone is killed by their partner, domestic violence should be the primary focus. When the argument shifts to gun control or some other political interest, it diminishes the victim’s story.

For those social and commercial news media outlets who broadcast the story, listing links or numbers to call about domestic violence is not enough. I believe the media should have the responsibility of defining domestic violence and showing how it really looks like. Or they should interview experts who could inform the public about the dynamics of abuse. Don’t we as parents use a crisis to teach our children about the conflict at hand? For example, when our kids are bullied at school or experience racial inequality in our community, don’t we use those incidents to address what to do, or talkabout self-acceptance? That’s what I did.

I also believe that it’s crucial to consider the physical and psychological safety of the victims and their families and other survivors that are watching.

Take the case of Andrea Grinage. Her boyfriend poured a flammable liquid on her body and set her on fire, inflicting her with seventy-five percent burns. Andrea was seven months pregnant at the time of the incident. Months later wusa9 had a follow-up interview with her. What I found troubling about the interview, as in other cases like this, was its timing and lack of concern for the safety of the victim. Andrea was still in the process of physical healing. She was scheduled for more surgeries. Even though some of the operations were successful, she still faced a long and difficult path to full recovery. In my opinion, she needed more time to recover.

Second, during the time of her interview, her assailant’s trial was postponed due to pending DNA results. I am not a lawyer, but I cannot understand how a DNA test was going to change the fact that he set her on fire. The point here is that her safety was still at risk and she was being asked to share information that might compromise that safety. At one point during the interview, she was asked if her boyfriend had physically assaulted her before the incident. She refused to answer the question because his trial was still pending.

I understand Andrea wanted to share her story to help others, but the interviewer should have recognized that she needed time to heal. Telling her story in her present stage of recovery might not be helpful for many who are watching. For me, it created anger and a fear for her life. My anger was due to the insensitivity of the media for not allowing her the time she needed to process the impact of the violence as she sought physical and emotional healing.

When the media dramatize domestic violence to attract viewers, they are forsaking the opportunity to educate the public and inspire them to take action. For survivors who might be watching the dramatization of the assault, it might evoke fear, shame, and outrage. There are no real takeaways or answers that might help in understanding the impact of abuse on a person’s wellbeingand providing the resources to heal. However, it should be obvious that the sensational headlines are not helpful.

If the media are genuinely interested in bringing about change, then yes, domestic violence education is the first step. As they educate the public, they should also call upon the people to take action. Taking action against domestic violence is even more important as talking about it. Organizations that have the political and financial resources should support advocates who are diligently working to bring change. Organizations that are advocating to change the laws at the state and national level to protect the victims and hold perpetrators responsible should be given the resources they need to succeed.

Domestic violence awareness should not be a once-a-year topic or wait until someone dies. Every October the issue is addressed. The sad thing is that, even during that one month, the events that are organized by dedicated advocates are poorly attended. I can attest to that. I held a workshop that was specially geared towards educating the church about domestic violence. Thirty-five people attended that event. I have been to similar events hosted by local and state organizations that had even smaller numbers.

As we watch the stories of Dr. Tamara O’Neil and Andrea Grinage in the media, we can turn our outrage into resolve to bring about change. We can begin by educating ourselves about effective ways of helping victims. Check out my blogs A Call for Action and Who’s Going to Speak Up? and the links below to learn about the basic steps in helping survivors of domestic violence. 

https://www.thehotline.org/resources/victims-and-survivors/

https://www.theodysseyonline.com/12-things-everyone-help-victims-domestic-violence

https://www.thehotline.org/help/help-for-friends-and-family/

https://youtu.be/ElJxUVJ8blw
Share this:
December 18, 2018 2 comments
1 Facebook Twitter Google + Pinterest

In observance of Domestic Violence Awareness Month last October, I was privileged to participate in several events as an organizer and speaker. As I reflected on the themes of these events, I came to recognize that we must address how to help the abused Christian woman. As a result of this realization, I felt a need to write a blog that focuses on the specific needs of the abused woman coming to the church for help. I will list a few practical steps for anyone who wants to help.

The content of this blog can be found in chapter eight of my book, A Path to Hope. I wrote this from my understanding of what was needed by those who seek help from the church.

The types of violence and their responses are similar for all women, whether or not they are members of a religious institution. But it is important to note that for the Christian woman, faith plays a central role in how she responds to the violence. Her religious beliefs can influence or discourage her to seek help within the secular community. Therefore, it is vital to at least acknowledge her faith as you help her.

 Key points to remember

Before one tries to help, though, one requires some understanding of domestic violence and its impact on the woman’s physical, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing. It is equally important to note that when a woman comes to you for help, the abuse has transformed her. Most women that I talked to, as well as myself, felt a loss of self as a result of the abuse. The belittling and degrading at home inevitably damages every woman’s self-esteem.

Also, it is important to note that she tried to fix the problem by herself. For example, she may have tried to satisfy her partner’s every demand. But fulfilling his desires didn’t stop the abuse.

She might have sought help outside the home; for example, she might have tried counseling, with no success. Research shows that couples counseling is not helpful. In many cases, the abuse becomes worse. What she reveals during the counseling sessions might be used against her back home.

Coming to the Church

When the abused woman seeks help from the church, it means she is beginning to open up about the relationship at home. She might have kept the abuse a secret for a lot of reasons. Some of those reasons could be the fear of being blamed for her husband’s behavior or the failure of the marriage.

Asking for help, however, does not mean that she wishes to leave the marriage. She might simply want you to help change his behaviors. She might be thinking, “Maybe if he listens to someone, he will stop hurting me”. Most women believe that any man can change his actions if he gets the proper help.

On the other hand, perhaps she does wish to leave the relationship and is seeking a supportive network. Remember the ultimate decision is hers to make, and that whatever she chooses, you (the reader) must be prepared to assist her in that decision.

What to do

Listen to her story

Listen to her story with a non-judgmental attitude. Remember, it took courage for her to come to you! Her story might not be clear and might be confusing to some people, including herself. How can her partner who says he loves her behave in this manner? Regardless of her lack of clarity, she needs someone to accept her story. She is not over-reacting, nor is she exaggerating the details. In many cases, she is seeking to understand what is happening at home.

Validate her experience

Validate the story. Validation is the first step to empowerment. The woman may want you to validate that her husband’s behaviors are wrong and are hurting the family. As I stated earlier, if you want to help her, you must have an understanding of domestic violence and its impact. Bad advice may reduce her ability to cope and weaken her ability to obtain help.

Clarify her experience

She is also seeking clarification about her partner’s behaviors. Give the behaviors a name. It is abuse and should be called out. I remember being confused about my ex-husband’s abusive actions. One book that was an eye-opener for me, and confirmed that it wasn’t me who was the problem, was Patricia Evans’ The Verbally Abusive Relationship. This book allowed me to recognize some of the motives behind my husband’s actions. That awareness freed me from feeling that I was alone and assured me I wasn’t crazy.

As she seeks clarity, she may not understand or may be in denial that she is in an abusive relationship. Or she may begin to recognize that something is wrong with her relationship but may not understand its impact. She may need to talk but is not ready to make changes in her life. She needs time to process what is happening. This phase is awkward for most people because they want to explore their options. Help her to find clarity. Ask open-ended questions. For example, ask her, “What happened?” “Does it make sense?”

Safety is always first

As she begins to open up, ask about her safety. Safety should be the first priority when you start to help the woman. Is her relationship safe? Does she believe he will protect her? Does she feel her life is in danger? Or, ask are you afraid of him? Does he have any weapons in the house?  If she has any fear regarding her or her children’s safety, she needs a plan. Learn about the components of a safety plan. Help her develop her plan. Hold her accountable for following the plan.

Confidentiality is required

Keep her story private. Do not advise to tell her husband about her plans, especially if she is contemplating leaving the relationship. Christian women are advised to ask the permission of their husbands before making any decision in the household. If they don’t, they are made to feel that their behavior is sinful and needs repentance. But when the physical and emotional safety of the woman and her children are imperiled, then confidentiality is a must.

 Make referrals

Do not hesitate to refer the woman to secular resources that could help her. Guide her to appropriate resources (e.g., the police, victims’ programs, crisis hotlines, legal aid, shelters, social services, immigration, state department, etc.). Help her to navigate these resources.

The secular community offers the necessary legal, medical, and other professional resources to protect the woman and her family. Few churches have the means to provide the many different types of help that an abused woman may require.

Encourage her to participate in a support group where she can express her true feelings without fear or criticism. A support group is essential to validate her experience and help her realize that she is not alone. In these groups, she can learn how others were able to cope and break free.

Offer emotional and physical support

Encourage her to believe in herself, to believe that she is capable of making the right choice. She has the power to stay or leave. Emphasize her strengths. Reassure her that you are there to help her and will support her, regardless of whether she chooses to stay in the relationship or leave.

Here are some suggestions from Rev. Zeke Wharton, listed in A Path to Hope:

Churches can provide a variety of tangible means of support for a woman trying to escape or heal from an abusive situation. “The abused woman can benefit from very practical acts of kindness by those in her church community—folks regularly mowing her grass, cooking her meals that could be stored in the freezer, and helping her create and manage a budget while she is dealing with the emotional consequences of abuse. In another situation, babysitting and a place to occasionally spend the night are strategic things that they can do.”

To conclude, anyone can use these practical means to help. But keep in mind that helping means commitment. Changing the situation must be done on her timetable, not yours. Ask yourself, “Am I prepared to be there for the long haul?” It is also essential to remember that your safety and the safety of the woman has the highest priority; therefore, encourage her to seek secular help. Know your limits and where the resources are. Check these resources at http://ncadv.org/learn-more/resources. Remember, breaking free from abuse cannot be done alone. Everyone needs help from someone.

Galatians 6: 2, Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ (NLT).

 Philippians 2:4, Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too (NT)).

What Does the Bible Say about Abuse?

The Abused Christian Woman: Understanding Her Dilemma

 

Share this:
November 13, 2018 0 comment
0 Facebook Twitter Google + Pinterest

“For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have?” Romans 8:24. I recently read this passage, and it hit home. It states that you hope for things that you don’t yet see—which is like praying for things you want to come to pass. When hope becomes reality, it ceases to be hope, nevertheless, we have to keep it alive.

As I reflect, my brain prefers the phrase, “I am hoping for” rather than “I am praying for.” Somehow the “hoping for” brings life. When I say these words, I can feel within me a positive level of energy and an assurance that change will come. “I am hoping for” keeps me confident and reassures me that I can achieve my goals and dreams. It also serves as a motivator to keep trying again when things don’t work out as I had expected. So, I decided to change from saying, “I am praying for” to “I am hoping for.”

What am I “hoping for?” They are too numerous to count! I hope that my children will succeed professionally, return to the foundation of their faith, take responsibility for their actions, marry godly people and serve the poor. I hope that I become an inspirational speaker to help empower abused women to change their lives. I hope to sell my book, A Path to Hope and create a nonprofit named after the book, to increase awareness of domestic violence and its effects on families, and to share information about strategies and resources that can be used to help victims of domestic violence. I hope that I can financially support myself and find a God-fearing man, one who is fun-loving and an encourager who genuinely loves me. My current hope is that my workshop, A Cry for Help, will make a difference and be the beginning of great things to come.

We all need hope. Without hope, life cannot go on. The good news here is, God wants each of us to be carriers of hope. Therefore, he made it clear how to get it and how to keep it alive. Now I will try to show you how to get it and keep it alive.

Hope comes from God

Romans 15:13 states, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit”. I love this passage. It is used on the dedication page of my book and website banner, rosesaad.com. We can’t get hope on our own because it comes from God. God is the source of our hope. Hope is his secret pathway to him. But, he knew that it was going to be difficult for us to obtain it on our own, so he made Jesus as our forerunner, as explained in Hebrews 6:20. He stands on our behalf to help us see that what we hope for will indeed come to pass.

What about you? What are you “hoping for?” Are you going to the mediator? When we experience difficulties as we break free from abuse and other life challenges, we have to go to the middleman or mediator that God has designated for us to find hope. Hope will keep us focused as we seek help to change our situation.

Wait patiently for hope.

“But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently” (Romans 8:25). When we wait patiently, we keep hope alive. But it is difficult to wait patiently. Since I like to be in control and hate to wait, I find myself consistently stuck in the patience phase.

I am still waiting to see my hope to be a motivator for women who are experiencing abuse come to reality. In other areas of my life, it seems that everything is moving at a snail’s pace as I attempt to sell my book; maintain my blog (not receiving feedback is very discouraging); find the mentorship and resources to achieve my goals as an advocate for survivors of domestic violence; and to create my non-profit. God knew this stalled state would happen; for that reason, he made provision to help us wait.

Hold on to God’s promises as you wait.

When we start doubting, when our confidence falters, and we stop hoping or praying, God’s Holy Spirit can intervene and come to our rescue. Romans 8:26 tells us that the Holy Spirit helps us in our weaknesses by taking over our prayers so that we can keep hope alive. But the tricky part is that “the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God” (Romans 8:27).

And here is where we get trapped. For what, precisely, is the will of God? Well, when we hope for things to happen, it can’t be contrary to God’s word. For example, we cannot hope for the death of the person who wronged us. (Some writers of Psalms did this, but I guess it was before Jesus’s example.) God’s hope is pure and not the self-seeking hope that man devises. Nor can we follow our abusers’ sinful behaviors and hope that it will stop the abuse. We cannot follow someone’s sinful behavior and believe that we are following God’s will.

There are tons of promises in the scriptures. For example, Romans 8:28, states, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose”. God will work for the good in all that I do. It might not be according to my expectations of what I hoped for, but whatever he does, it will be good for me.

Remember, “it is impossible for God to lie” (Hebrews 6:18). When he says he is going to work for your good, believe it. Every difficult situation you experienced in life has molded you for this present state you are now in. There is always a positive component to your most difficult experience. It might be the recognition of your inner strength, your resiliency as an overcomer. Or, your challenges were a motivator to seek God with all your heart, mind, and strength.

And when you have left behind your abusive relationship or any hardship of your old life, remember the end of the verse that started the previous paragraph: “we… who take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged.” When you can see God working in your life, you are able to grasp the hope that he has already given you. Let this hope keep you going!

Faith is needed to keep hope alive.

To keep hope alive, faith is needed. “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1). Faith means the confidence to assure yourself that the thing you’re hoping for, the thing you cannot yet see is real. Where there is faith, there is hope. Or rather, where there is hope, faith is pulling it along. Hope is always present, but it needs faith to validate its presence. Without faith, hope will cease to exist. Take a second to reflect on that thought.

We all struggle with our faith. We all might ask ourselves, Do I have enough faith? God is not asking us to have a HUGE amount of faith. Jesus states in Matthew 17:20, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

Recently, I saw an example of what a little faith looks like. A friend was wearing a locket with a mustard seed in a tiny glass bottle. I was amazed to see how small the seed was. I had to stare at the bottle to find it. It looked like a grain of sand. Yes, this is the size of all the faith we need. (But of course, some people don’t even have that much faith- Matthew 8:28).

Use hope as an anchor for your soul.

To stay connected to hope, you have to use it to anchor your soul. As told in Hebrews 6:19, hope keeps you firm and secure. Just as when a ship is at anchor or tied to the dock, it will not be pulled away by the wind. Hope as your anchor will keep you secure when the storms of life come your way.

Today, I want to encourage you to follow God’s instructions on how to keep hope alive. When it seems like things are not working out as you had anticipated, he wants you to hold on to hope. When you are feeling that you can’t get away from your abusive relationship, or if you have left the relationship but the burdens of caring for yourself and your children are weighing you down, you still can’t lose hope. Hope is the fire that will sustain your soul and restore your belief that change will come.

 

 

Share this:
August 14, 2018 7 comments
3 Facebook Twitter Google + Pinterest
Newer Posts