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!
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26 responses to “Lovelorn, Part 1”
Anna, as usual, you have expertly brought to our attention the many ways in which those of us who have suffered abuse respond negatively to love and loving relationships because we have no personal example of how true love ought to feel. Having suffered abuse (especially in childhood) leaves you floundering, dying to be loved, yet creating boundaries which either keep it out or on the other hand leaving yourself wide open to the chaos of being manipulated and controlled because you don’t recognise genuine love.
Thank you for allowing those of us who have suffered abuse and also those of us who have not suffered in that way to see clearly how abuse affects/has affected us and how with the help of our Father in Heaven, we can taste what genuine love feels like and that we can still experience it in all its glorious forms.
Happy Valentine’s Day on the 14th! 🙂
I’m glad this has been of some help, Sam. ❤ There was a time when I hoped knowledge alone would eliminate the scars of abuse. But the trauma that is abuse is of such magnitude and pervasiveness that knowledge about the origin of our wounds is insufficient.
God, however, is sufficient. His healing love can find its way to the innermost places of our broken hearts.
Where, I think, knowledge comes in is to counter the harsh view victims so often have of themselves — the predator's view, endlessly drilled into us. With a better understanding of the harm done to us, we are better able to reject the lies about ourselves the abuse conveyed — that we were unworthy of love, and condemned to live without it.
PS. Don't forget. Chocolate is mandatory on Valentine's Day! 🙂
Of course you are spot on Tu when you say that knowledge alone does not eliminate the scars of abuse as we can testify. Many of us, knowing why we feel the way we do are still unable to ‘shake it off’ as Taylor Swift would say in her song about letting go.
However, I have found that a huge part of my own healing process has come about because it has been a light-bulb moment for me actually knowing why I feel/felt the way I do. When you feel absolutely awful and think it is your fault, those scars and wounds are compounded even more. I have found that your incredibly helpful and expert thoughts on your blog have together with the love of God been ….I have no words which come close to what I want to say.
PS. Thanks for the reminder! LOL
I know exactly what you mean by that light bulb moment. With insight, we experience a paradigm shift. The whole world looks different. Patterns of behavior suddenly become clear. Light is — almost literally — shed on the darkness within us.
I am reminded of the verse, “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness…” (John 1: 4-5). It is, of course, Christ who heals us by whatever means.
If I have been able to contribute to that process for you, it is only because I have run into walls so many times, myself (LOL).
You have a way with words dear Tu! Your humility is humbling ….xx
You present some interesting perspectives Anna. Thank you.Have a beautiful Sunday!
Thanks for stopping by, Chevvy! Have a Happy Valentine’s Day! ❤
Thank you Anna, you too! 🌹
Thanks for this, Anna. Great information and as always insight. God bless you 🙂
I’m so glad the post connected with you. Be sure and have a great Valentine’s Day! ❤
Thank you. You do the same 🙂
What a world we live in…. After reading this I’m grateful to have my life. Although certainly not the one I would like to have, but gotta make the best of it.
Takes heroism for that, Charly, something I think you’ve got in spades. 😉
Thank you for sharing great information as always Anna
Happy Valentine’s Day
Kisses to you! ❤
Thank you, Anna. Very insightful as always. This really ministered to me.
A verse keeps coming to my mind as I read and re-read your teaching here is this:
“to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.” Isa 61:3
Thank you for offering us all this Hope and daring to receive a Love greater than all our pains.
I love that verse from Isaiah. It really speaks to victims. I pray they may all one day come to know God’s love.
Amen, Anna. Keep pointing to Him as you always do; in spoken and unspoken ways.
The other side of the Moon… so true that love could degenerate into abusive relationships, even if it is just a date you could be exposed to harmful situations. Nowadays, many men [can] be “violent” sexually speaking, so abuse has many ways to express itself, as the line between consensual and not consensual is thin.
You provide valuable tips on how to cope with past abusive relationships and even on how to be aware of new ones.
Great post, dear Anna. Happy Valentine´s Day, friend. 😉
Thank you for your kind words, Aquileana. Happy Valentine’s Day to you, too! ❤
Once again, Anna, you’ve written much truth which affirms those of us with “issues”. Since I am not good with relationships–even friendships–I’m ecstatic that God has placed someone in my life I can practice “trusting” and “boundaries” and “communication” with. He is my new nephew, who’s learning about Faith in the God of 2nd Chances–his life has not been easy, and he’s very “deep” (not perfect, but probably a saint-in-training 🙂 ) It takes a LOT of courage to enter into a friendship–but I feel very safe with this person, and that I can “be myself” rather than strive to impress. My testimony today is that when God begins to open doors, He holds keys to every area of one’s life/heart. He doesn’t push us, but He grows/strengthens our faith and hope…and the excessively protective fear/defensiveness begin to fall away. God bless you Abundantly, Anna ❤
Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Stella. I am glad to hear you have this young man in your life. I’m sure that knowing you will be a blessing to him. God bless you abundantly, too, Stella. Love, A. ❤
Thank you, Anna ❤
What a great post dear Anna. I love the way you discuss the control issue and how tricky it can be to detect. This is such excellent advise for anyone who was abused. The trust issue for me was probably the hardest. I still occasionally have trouble trusting people. I love your references to God as He was my constant in my childhood and being in a marriage where both people believe in God really helps. Thank you for sharing your wonderful bible verses my friend and educating all who read to information that they may not be aware of, what a blessing. Love J
I am so glad you liked the post, Joni. Yes, trust is often a central issue for those of us who have been abused. But God knows and can respond to our needs. Love, A.