Society glorifies romantic love, but is rather harsh toward those who do not succeed at it. The lonely. The heartbroken. Unfortunately, many abuse victims fall into this category. Strangers to real love, we tend to stumble in our pursuit of it.
There used to be advice columns for the lovelorn. Miss Lonelyhearts – a Depression era novel by Nathanael West about such a column – has been the basis for several movies, an opera, and a Broadway play.
There is still a great deal of poetry written about lost love. Just Google the topic.
These days, anonymous sex and hard core pornography are readily available. Craigslist has discontinued its infamous “adult” section. But ads for prostitution (included among them ads trafficking children) can easily be found online .
While pornography and anonymous sex reflect on the decadence and dehumanization of our society, they offer no real solution for problems of the heart.
Relationships – challenging enough for non-victims – can be a minefield for abuse victims. This is an overview of the problems victims may encounter with relationships and intimacy.
Having been repeatedly violated, we are likely to have difficulty with boundaries. We are either wholly without defenses or guarded by high walls.
The first (a total absence of screening, since our childhood boundaries were so often ignored) allows others to take advantage of us easily. The second (over-compensation, in an effort to protect ourselves from further violation) makes it hard for anyone to approach us.
Consistency and faithfulness were not modeled for us. We, therefore, expect betrayal; see enemies where there are none. This can result in needless insecurity, jealousy where there is no cause.
Even the most loving partner will tire of proving his/her devotion in the face of repeated, groundless accusations.
But accusations need not be limited to infidelity. We may experience innocent statements as hurtful or insulting; may strike out at a partner who is at a loss to understand what s/he has done wrong. We, in turn, may be at a loss to explain.
Of course, there are individuals who are genuinely controlling. Abuse victims may, unconsciously, select for partners like this – responding to what is familiar to us from our families of origin.
At the outset of a relationship, victims may not recognize that a partner is dangerously controlling. Those who are controlling can be well-practiced in hiding that flaw. Mistaking control for love, we may actually see it as a compliment at first.
But love and control are two distinct entities. Excessive control is emotional abuse, a heartbeat away from violence. And violence has the tendency to escalate.
Boys and girls seem to react differently to violence. However, a child raised in a violent home is far more likely than normal to become violent or select a violent partner. A child raised in a violent setting is more likely to abuse drugs, and more likely to commit suicide.
It deserves mention that there are hotlines and “safe houses” for victims of domestic violence. Calling police at 911 is always an option. While historically, police might not have arrested an offending spouse, the situation is changing.
God’s Love and Relationships
Are relationships and broken hearts beneath God’s notice? Absolutely not. What concerns us concerns God. Nothing is “beneath” His notice, when it comes to our welfare.
“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted And saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Ps. 34: 18).
Abuse victims are not condemned to a loveless existence, not relegated to the lovelorn column or the discard pile. God, in fact, longs for our love. There can be no greater valentine.
 Human trafficking and the darknet have been addressed elsewhere on this site.
Abuse and sexuality will be discussed next week in Lovelorn, Part 2
Happy Valentine’s Day!
FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: http://www.alawyersprayers.com