She was married to a successful businessman, and was the mother to some great kids. She was well known in her community and her church. She was active in helping other women overcome various struggles. She loved her husband, her kids, and her God.
She seemed to have her life together, so as we began the first counseling session I couldn’t help but wonder why she was coming to see me.
After some small talk and general information, she revealed that she had disciplined one of her small children out of anger. Not the kind of anger that results in physical abuse, but the kind that startles you and makes you wonder, “What’s wrong with me?”
As she talked, I began to hear some patterns and themes that I had heard before from other women. Things like…
- Difficulty trusting people – even those close to her.
- An excessive need to control things and people so there are no surprises.
- Fears related to being intimate with her husband, both emotionally and sexually.
- Strong emotional walls in place to keep others from getting too close.
- Eruptive overreactions to relatively small and insignificant things.
About mid way through the session, I looked at her and said, “This question may seem a little weird and random, but I want to ask it anyway. Have you ever been sexually abused?”
Almost before I could finish the question, all the blood seemed to drain from her face. She became uncomfortable, as if someone had suddenly pulled back the curtain on something she had been trying to keep hidden.
She looked at me in stark surprise and hesitantly asked, “How did you know?”
This began an arduous counseling journey that would lead her through the dark places of abuse and eventually on to the bright places of recovery.
It has been years since that first counseling session and she no longer comes to see me. Is everything perfect in her life? Not hardly. She’s like the rest of us. There are good days and bad days, but now she’s no longer controlled by the abuse of the past. Now she controls the directions and decisions of her life. She is self-aware and able to relate to others in healthy and productive ways. In short, she is able to enjoy life, rather than hide from life.
I share this story with you as a testimony that someone can be picked up by the traumatic cyclone of abuse, taken somewhere they do not want to go, and still find their way back to where they want to be.
This blog is about is about taking that journey. It’s about taking the road out of Oz.