There is a difficult problem in that committed abusers will seek to load their victims up with impossible burdens and expectations. It’s a game. Then, even after leaving abuse, a victim may have a massive volume of external and internal balls to juggle. It may well be...
Category: Songs of Ascents
Dedicated abusers can be really good at turning up the heat. One part of the cycle of abuse, in fact, is to apply more and more pressure until their victim does something apparently worthy of complaint. For example, they might just “press your buttons”, again and...
Where is God in the turmoil of abuse, or other trauma? Over and over again, we see people in the Bible asking this question. If you’ve been following this series, we grappled with it in the story of Lazarus. But what about us, now? One of the last things Jesus did...
“I lift up my eyes to the mountains where does my help come from?” Two of the most powerful tools of abusers are to isolate, and to confuse. Or, really, to disrupt our capacity to hear from others, from our innermost self, and from God....
Creating a healthy community requires the practice of boundaries and safe behaviour. If you have been following along in this series and can recall Psalm 120, this pilgrimage was a journey away from a place of danger. The psalmist wrote:
“I am for peace; but when I speak, they are for war,”
Although the Songs of Ascents had other meanings and purposes, the evil behaviour they describe is abuse. In the same way, the slavery the Hebrews experienced in Egypt was abuse.
“How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity.”
As we come near to the end of our series on the Songs of Ascents, I feel for those who are still trapped in abuse, or who are in the early stages of escaping. We have, in the space of a few weeks, travelled from danger to sanctuary. Life is not that simple for victims of any significant trauma, let alone victims of abuse.
When God spoke to David about building a temple, 3000 years ago, he promised to make a place of sanctuary for his people. “Wicked people will not oppress them anymore,” he said.
In that passage, the name God uses is still “Yahweh”, given at the time of the Exodus. The mission hasn’t changed either. He also calls himself “the LORD Almighty”, or, Yahweh/Lord of Hosts. It’s the same name Hannah uses when she cries out to God in the agony of her domestic violence: yet another person crying out against oppression.
Abuse is complicated in so many ways. It is completely unsurprising that people find it difficult to deal with. It’s not as “simple” as just dealing with one horrific type of behaviour. A typical abuser might have dozens of types of behaviour that stretch across multiple forms of abuse. Some of the most confusing and difficult to respond to are the apparent “positive” behaviours – behaviours that help the abuser hide and deny the abuse.
Out of the depths I cry to you, Yahweh.
It is so easy to rush through a psalm without imagining the tone of voice. Even the phrase, “tearful prayers”, might significantly miss the depth of this person’s distress.
Again, out of the many names for God, the writer of Psalm 130 has chosen the name God suggested to Moses – when Moses was struggling to accept the task of bringing hope to a group of people who had been trapped in slavery. Trapped, for generations. These were people who suffered ongoing systemic, physical, financial, reproductive, and emotional abuse. Probably more.
“They have greatly oppressed me from my youth, but have not gained the victory over me”
It is common for abuse victims to have to deal with the impact of abuse every day. Even when they have successfully escaped the direct relationship. There are still memories and triggers: mental and emotional injury. There is a need for ongoing vigilance and the complicated, exhausting world of hypervigilance.