Abbess Amanda Sessions+
When you think of an abuse victim, often the first thought is of bruises covered by makeup and constant excuses for injuries that don’t quite add up. Emotional abuse isn’t quite as discussed. It is insidious and a silent predator. In public, the couple might seem happy and functional. However, the moment the door closes and the world can no longer see, the abuse rears its ugly head. It can take the form of yelling, name calling, ridicule, things to make you question your sanity - also known as gaslighting, isolating you from family and friends, overt or subtle threats, punishing you for not going along with what they want or say, and trying to control your life. This can result in the abused person dealing with anxiety, chronic pain, nightmares, guilt, insomnia, and social withdrawal or loneliness. Children can exhibit social withdrawal and sleep disorders and even regression. PTSD can also develop in the abused person.
Now that you know some of the ways emotional abuse manifests and how that affects the victims, how can you help them? Of course you can pray for them and offer them shelter if they are ready to leave their abuser. The biggest thing I’ve found commonly talked about among abuse victims is that they need someone to listen without judgment. They need someone to be compassionate and support them even if they go back to their abuser. Ending the relationship with an abuser is complex and often dangerous. Emotional abuse is hard to prove because there is rarely physical abuse that leaves a mark and the abuser manipulates the situation so the abused person often believes it is their fault or that they are the crazy ones. If children are involved it adds to the complications. Having someone to depend on and be there even when their situation doesn’t make sense from the outside can literally be a life saving resource for someone being abused emotionally. Loneliness and feeling like an outsider or a misfit can overwhelm the victims. It isn’t easy to be that lifeline but as Christians, we are called to minister to those poor in spirit and in need. Being emotionally abused to the point of depression and anxiety ruling a life would qualify as them being poor in spirit. Their spirit needs love and support to heal.
Our ministry intends to reach out to these victims and to those suffering during their recovery from being abused and show them that the Church has not forgotten them and has not ignored their cries for help or their grief over these strained and often broken relationships. We ask for your prayers and ask that you be more aware of this form of abuse when you interact with others. Saint Rita of Cascia lived through abuse and suffered loss and we ask that you plead for her intercession for those abused and ill and enduring trials of grief. If you are suffering through the trials of any form of abuse or broken relationships, please know that we are praying for you. Know that you are loved and worthy of love. Peace be with you and thank you for your prayers and intentions.