To reiterate the fine print upfront: I’m not a therapist. I’m a victim turned survivor of…many abuses.
Brainwashing. What an interesting word. Washing of the brain. Washed brain. Wash. Rinse. Wash again. I think of all the women who have died at the hands of someone who once said, “I love you.” and I know I am one of the lucky ones. It’s like abusers all went to school and took the same “How to successfully hurt others 101” course lineup. 102: Subversive tactics. 202: Manipulation. 301: Begin the gaslighting at this point. 400: How to implement paranoiac episodes, disappear, and come back as the hero or antagonist. 402: How to act like you care when your words don’t match. 500: Etc.
It started immediately. The day we got married actually. He was on the phone with a friend of his. With a chuckle, he told him he had just married Lindsey. That’s not my name. Lindsey was the woman he dated before me. I was shocked. Did he really just say that? Then I got mad. Because I was hurt. He denied it. Asked what was wrong with me. Wouldn’t talk to me about it. Walked away. Avoided his error. If the tears pouring down my face as we were saying our vows were the first exterior signs of my internal anguish, being called an ex’s name was my second sign.
One word I try to not use is “never” however, it never got any better. I actually considered divorcing that first week, but with my religious upbringing and not wanting to displease God MORE, I determined divorce was not an option. Besides, my husband and I were going to build a church. We were going to share the good news. It was going to be amazing. OH MY GOD I SHOULD HAVE TOTALLY GOTTEN THE DIVORCE THAT VERY WEEK! I could have said, “I made a mistake, God, so sorry – can’t – am NOT going to do this – whatever this is – all I know is that IT’S not right.” I could have said that out loud. Let my ears here. Followed through. Done that.
It would be an additional five plus years before I did. By then, my brain was mush. I think literally. Not sure how it didn’t just drip out of my ears. I left in 2016. It’s 2021. My children still remember how I was back then and often worry I’m still delusional. Hard to not think that when I was adamant that my paranoid rants of military takeovers of US citizens were true and hello martial law, that all Muslims were out to kill the rest of us, that you couldn’t trust anyone but those providing fake news, oh, and that my husband was a great guy – just…misunderstood…you know…the guy feeding me the fake news after isolating and abandoning me. Yeah, that guy. The same guy who would have long agreeable rants with me about the very thing he was showing me to watch and then, if others were ever around, would mock my ignorance. No confusion there! Which he did a lot. He was a master at confusing. So freaken believable. “It’s no wonder your daughter hates you.” out of the clear blue sky for which I would call her in a panic asking if that were true. “What are you talking about – that has nothing to do with what I just said.” after I shared scripture with him because I thought it relevant. “What’s wrong with you? I didn’t take money out of your purse.” when no one else was even around to do it – so…maybe it was never in there to begin with – although I knew I had put it in there…hadn’t I? Right before I left, he boasted that he used to take money out of my purse. He laughed. He confirmed my initial thinking at the end while twisting things in the beginning to make me think I was going crazy. I pretty much was at the end.
He was no more a great guy than the military was threatening to surround my house forcing me to run to the woods with my 80-pound bugout bag of Band-Aids, beans, and bullets to fill all the guns I now knew how to shoot. He lied. He cheated. He withheld affection. He threatened. He left holes in walls and doors with his fist. He stole from me on every level a person can steal from another. Think about that for a minute. My husband – was okay with stealing from me – physically – emotionally – mentally – financially – spiritually – and was a master of denial and deceit. How the hell did that happen? Why the hell did I LET that happen! I figured a lot out after I left.
One thing that comes to mind is the name husband. In and of itself, It’s just a word. However, my romantic nature fantasized that husband = protector. Provider. Lover. Friend. I trusted the meaning of what I had always believed that title stood for. It never occurred to me to find out his definition. I assumed so much. If I had asked, would he have been honest or would he have told me what I wanted to hear? I met him in Bible college! Who else but kind, loving, generous people go to Bible college?!?! Hahahahahahahahahahaha. Like I said, I assumed so much.
My husband brainwashed me. How does one even come out of that? Will remnants cling forever? Did the pre-rinse really begin earlier as a child with religion? Catholicism – as long as you’re baptized Catholic, you’ll go to heaven when you die (meaning, if you don’t get baptized, you’ll go to hell). Lie. Catholicism – the only “true” religion. All religions say that, but when that’s all you get fed as a kid…that’s all you’re going to believe…until you don’t. Catholicism – we don’t believe in divorce or abortion but priests molesting boys is acceptable until publicly revealed. Not a lie. Brainwashing doesn’t have to happen over a period of centuries – it could happen in a few months. Really just depends on the vulnerability of the prey.
I know after being with my abuser for some time that I, oddly, really didn’t know what else to do but stay. I was so quick to think of divorce in the first week, but after five years it didn’t even surface as an option, until I broke in half and had plenty of time to think as I healed in the wheelchair. That is strange to me. But what’s stranger to consider is what’s in it for the man who brainwashes his wife? Is it like a weird power trip? Or sport? A hunt perhaps? I mean, was it all about the chase and capture and then let her rot and that’s okay, I’ll just move on to my next prey? The nut job who gets to walk away as if nothing happened. No remorse. No care. His job done; he will blame you for being the insignificant person you believe yourself now to be. You are now the nut job. Not him.
Trust me, to be prey is a tsunami wake of destruction for the soul. If you are in a situation where you feel trapped (prey), frightened (prey), controlled (prey), manipulated (prey), and/or you or your children are being physically harmed or threatened…things can be replaced. The house. The car. The jewelry. The stuff we collect. Your job. It can all be replaced. What cannot be replaced is you. What cannot be replaced are your children. Get a grip – realize what I just said is truth – and figure out how to get out.
I left. It took me getting physically broken before I did though, and you don’t have to wait that long. I needed a lot of therapy that I didn’t get for a long time, because I didn’t know I needed it. Trust me – you’ll need it. Get help immediately after you leave. Find a domestic violence shelter. Find a homeless shelter. Find a church. Find a friend. Find a family member. Find a Salvation Army. Find a cop or deputy. Find a lawyer. Find a therapist. Just find someone.
Hi! I’m MJ! And I’m a survivor of Domestic Violence. It has taken me since 2016 to get to the point that I can now share my heart with you and not freak out about what someone might think of me.
With all the help I’ve received from family, new friends, and professionals in the spiritual and mental health arenas, I know had I NOT gotten the help I needed, I’d still be struggling.
What I hope to do is help other survivors get a grip faster than it has taken me.
Through VictoryLife House, I have developed a platform for survivors to meet the professionals they need at a reduced rate. Just for them! Just for VictoryLife House! Just because I believe survivors are worth it!
Life without abuse IS an option. Choose life!
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