“Not Normal”

"Not Normal"

“Not Normal”
By H Troy Green

There are things that are so familiar to us that we consider them “normal,” but which are actually very destructive. One of those unhealthy things that some of us live with is abuse. Abuse is any severe form of mistreatment that damages us. It can come on so gradually and happen so consistently that it just becomes part of our lives, but it is not normal.

The most frequent types of abuse are physical, emotional, mental, sexual, and financial. The key difference between mistreatment (like someone yelling when arguing) and abuse is that abuse causes lasting damage. Abusive people use their power to harm others. Using one’s physical, verbal, and financial power to damage another person is never healthy. It’s hard, though, for victims of abuse to see it for what it is.

It’s not normal to be screamed at or berated. It’s not normal for someone to strike you when they are angry. It’s not normal to be threatened with harm by someone trying to get their way. It’s not normal to spend a lot of time trying to figure out what you did to “deserve” being hurt. The fact that you’ve never been able to find the answer is a good indication that the problem is not with you!

There are many reasons why people abuse others. but some of the most common are insecurity, fear and anger. Those deep and powerful emotions often provide the spark and energy for abusiveness, but they can never justify mistreating another person. Abusive people believe that the solutions to their fear, shame or other problems are found in controlling others. Until they take full ownership for solving these internal problems, they will not be able to change their behavior. They may genuinely feel bad after they’ve been abusive, but that won’t lead to change until they get help to correct it.

If my own emotional issues, pain and anger have led me to start abusing others, then I will need outside help to change. Apart from outside help, there is little hope that an abusive person will stop being abusive. Some abusers are so selfish they always feel like everything they’ve done is justified. Stay as far away from those kinds of people as you can.

If someone is breaking your things or controlling your body or dominating your choices, then you are being abused. If you wait until you can figure it all out, you will never move toward freedom. Instead, quit acting like it’s normal and start acting like it’s unacceptable. You need to change your mind and behavior so that you will start protecting and caring for yourself. (Give up on trying to change the mind or behavior of an abusive person–only they can change that!). In spite of what might be said to you, you don’t deserve to be abused, and it’s not your fault.

The Bible is really clear that God will judge us by our behavior. Our ignorance or emotions may play a part in our behavior, but we are still accountable for what we do. That means if I’m mistreating someone then I will have to answer to God for that. And if I’m letting someone mistreat me, then I’ll also have to answer for why I let that happen. Children can’t control anything at all so they are never accountable for how they are treated, but if I’m an adult then I have to take ownership of my own behavior. Fears and other feelings may hinder healthy behavior, but by the grace of God we can live differently.

There is a Bible verse that says, “Be angry, but sin not.” In other words, it’s ok that you feel angry, but that is not an excuse to mistreat others. Likewise, fear may make it difficult for you to protect yourself from abusiveness, but you can and should do it.

If you are being abused, or if you are an abuser, then almost certainly you will need outside help to overcome it. While it is true that only you can determine your behavior, it is also true that changing these kinds of problems often takes the loving help of other people who have experience dealing with the deeper issues. People who will hold you accountable. People who know that abuse is not normal and can help you see that it’s not normal.

Space does not allow for me to cover all the factors involved, but I hope this little bit of information might help you recognize abusiveness for the evil it is and motivate all of us to do what we can to stop it.

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-7233.
Tennessee Child Abuse Hotline: 877-237-0004



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