Survivors of Abuse

 

THE BIBLE CHANGES LIVES

Jehovah Has Done So Much for Me

Crystal, a victim of sexual abuse as a child, tells how learning what the Bible teaches helped her to build a relationship with Jehovah God and to find meaning in her life. Click the link to view her video:

https://www.jw.org/en/jehovahs-witnesses/activities/living-bible-principles/adult-survivor-child-abuse-video/ 

To watch a video on protecting your children from abusers visit:

https://www.jw.org/en/bible-teachings/family/children/become-jehovahs-friend/videos/protect-your-children/

An End to PTSD?

Traumatic Stress Will End!

(From http://m.wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/102001603)

PERHAPS you are a war veteran and you suffer from nightmares and flashbacks that make it seem as though the war has still not ended for you. Perhaps you are a victim of heartless violence such as rape and feel that a part of you died in the horror of the experience. Or it may be that a loved one died in a natural disaster or accident and continuing without that one is extremely painful.

Do you wonder if such feelings can be changed? We can answer with confidence: Yes, they can! In the meantime, all who suffer trauma can find comfort in God’s Word, the Bible.

Helped to Endure Trauma

Nearly two thousand years ago, the apostle Paul underwent terrifying, life-threatening experiences. His descriptions of some of these are preserved in the Bible. “We do not wish you to be ignorant,” Paul wrote, “about the tribulation that happened to us in the district of Asia, that we were under extreme pressure beyond our strength, so that we were very uncertain even of our lives. In fact, we felt within ourselves that we had received the sentence of death.”—2 Corinthians 1:8, 9.

While it is not known exactly what happened on that occasion, it was certainly traumatic. (2 Corinthians 11:23-27) How did Paul cope?

Reflecting on his ordeal in Asia, he wrote: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of tender mercies and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those in any sort of tribulation through the comfort with which we ourselves are being comforted by God.”—2 Corinthians 1:3, 4.

Yes, help for trauma survivors is available from “the Father of tender mercies and the God of all comfort.” How can you obtain such comfort?

How to Receive Help

First—ask for help. If you feel emotionally paralyzed, remember that others have felt that way too. Those who have overcome such feelings are usually glad to assist others. Like the apostle Paul, they often feel that the comfort they received from God during their trial needs to be shared with “those in any sort of tribulation.” Do not hesitate to approach one of Jehovah’s Witnesses—any one of them with whom you feel comfortable—and request assistance in obtaining help from Jehovah, “the God of all comfort.”

Persevere in prayer. If prayer is difficult because you have feelings of anger, ask someone spiritually qualified to pray with you. (James 5:14-16) When you speak to Jehovah God, remember to “throw all your anxiety upon him, because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7) Over and over the Scriptures emphasize the personal concern that God has for each of his servants.

The writer of Psalm 94 may well have experienced something very traumatic, for he wrote: “Unless Jehovah had been of assistance to me, in a little while my soul would have resided in silence. When I said: ‘My foot will certainly move unsteadily,’ your own loving-kindness, O Jehovah, kept sustaining me. When my disquieting thoughts became many inside of me, your own consolations began to fondle my soul.”—Psalm 94:17-19.

Some sufferers of traumatic stress are especially troubled by “disquieting thoughts,” which can become at times an overwhelming torrent of panic or rage. However, heartfelt prayer can help “sustain” you until those feelings pass. Think of Jehovah as a loving parent and of yourself as a small child whom he lovingly protects. Remember the Bible’s promise that “the peace of God that excels all thought will guard your hearts and your mental powers by means of Christ Jesus.”—Philippians 4:7.

Healing—whether physical, mental, or spiritual—is a gradual process. So it would be unrealistic to expect that prayer will bring instant peace to those seriously damaged by traumatic experiences. Yet, persistent prayer is vital. It will help keep the sufferer from being overwhelmed and driven to despair by post-traumatic emotions.

Read and meditate on God’s Word. If concentration is difficult, ask someone to read comforting Bible accounts with you. You might choose passages that reveal the depth of Jehovah’s tender concern for his faithful ones, no matter how depressed or despairing they may feel.

Jane, mentioned in the preceding articles, drew comfort from many Bible passages in the Psalms. They include Psalm 3:1-8; 6:6-8; 9:9, 10; 11:1-7; 18:5, 6; 23:1-6; 27:7-9; 30:11, 12; 31:12, 19-22; 32:7, 8; 34:18, 19; 36:7-10; 55:5-9, 22; 56:8-11; 63:6-8; 84:8-10;130:1-6. Do not try to read too many Bible passages at one time. Rather, take time to meditate on them and pray.

Unprecedented Distress Now

Sadly, it should be no surprise that rapes, murders, wars, and needless violence abound today. Why? Because Jesus Christ characterized our time as one in which there would be an “increasing of lawlessness.” He added: “The love of the greater number will cool off.”Matthew 24:7, 12.

In recent years traumatic stress has become all too common—often as a result of the very events that Jesus foretold. As recorded in the Bible in Matthew chapter 24, Mark chapter 13, and Luke chapter 21, Jesus said that in this world’s time of the end, there would be international wars, natural disasters, and increased lawlessness and lovelessness. Yet, as Jesus also observed, relief is not far off.

After describing a worldwide epidemic of trauma and the start of “great tribulation” to follow, note what Jesus said people should do: “Raise yourselves erect and lift your heads up, because your deliverance is getting near.” (Matthew 24:21-31; Luke 21:28) Yes, as world conditions worsen, we can be sure that great tribulation upon this distress-causing system of things will culminate in the end of all wickedness and the ushering in of a righteous new system.—1 John 2:17; Revelation 21:3, 4.

We should not be surprised that our deliverance will come only after wickedness and violence have reached their zenith. God’s judgments in the past against the world of Noah’s day and the vile inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah followed a similar pattern. Those past executions of divine judgment show what will happen in the future.—2 Peter 2:5, 6.

The End of Traumatic Stress

If you suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), you may wonder if your painful memories will ever be laid to rest. Yet, the answer surely is: Yes, they will be! At Isaiah 65:17, Jehovah God declares: “I am creating new heavens and a new earth; and the former things will not be called to mind, neither will they come up into the heart.” Although the psychological scars of past trauma may seem permanent, this scripture assures us that someday their power to disturb will be entirely gone.

Today, over one year after the attempted rape, Jane is serving as a pioneer minister (full-time evangelizer) of Jehovah’s Witnesses. “It was not until the trial was over and my attacker had been convicted—more than eight months after the attack—that I really felt like myself again,” she said recently. “This time last year, I could not have imagined the peace and happiness I now enjoy. I thank Jehovah for the beautiful hope of everlasting life and the chance to share that hope with others.”—Psalm 27:14.

If you are struggling with the despair and paralyzing emotional numbness of PTSD, that hope can help sustain you as well.

[Picture on page 8]

Attending Christian meetings can help you to cope

[Pictures on page 8, 9]

Reading God’s Word and praying can help sustain you

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Soon all trauma will be a thing of the past

How to Help Those With Anxiety Disorders

From http://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/102012090 

“My heart often pounds really hard, and I break out in a cold sweat and find it difficult to catch my breath. I am overcome by feelings of dread, anxiety, and mental confusion.”—Isabella, a panic disorder sufferer in her forties.

ANXIETY can be described as “a feeling of nervousness or worry.” Have you, for example, ever felt nervous when confronted by an angry dog? What happens when the dog goes away? The nervousness and worry do too, don’t they? What, though, is an anxiety disorder?

When anxiety becomes chronic, when it continues even after there is no more need to feel anxious, anxiety can become a disorder. According to the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), “anxiety disorders affect about 40 million American adults age 18 years and older . . . in a given year.” Consider Isabella, quoted in the introduction. Unrelenting anxiety, such as she experiences, can have serious consequences for the sufferer.

Not only that, but the immediate family may also be affected adversely. There is good news, though. An NIMH publication states: “Effective therapies for anxiety disorders are available, and research is uncovering new treatments that can help most people with anxiety disorders lead productive, fulfilling lives.”

Family and friends can also help one who is suffering from an anxiety disorder. How?

How to Help

Be supportive: Monica, who suffers from generalized anxiety disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder, explains a difficulty she faces: “Most people find it hard to understand my emotional problems.”

As a result, anxiety disorder sufferers are often so afraid of being misunderstood that they try to hide their problem from others. This can result in feelings of guilt that worsen their emotional state. It is vitally important, therefore, for family and friends to be supportive.

Learn more about the disorder: This suggestion may be especially appropriate for those who deal closely with sufferers of anxiety disorders. This may include an immediate family member or a particularly close friend.

Keep comforting one another: The first-century missionary Paul urged friends in the Greek city of Thessalonica to “keep comforting one another and building one another up.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11) We can do this both by our words and our tone of voice. We need to show that we deeply care for our friends, and we need to avoid hurtful insinuations.

Consider the three professed friends of the man Job, after whom a book in the Bible is named. Those men, as you may remember, wrongly implied that Job was in some way covering over concealed sins and that his suffering was the result of his cover-up.

So, be sensitive to a sufferer’s feelings. Listen carefully. Try to view matters through the eyes of the one who is suffering, rather than through your own. Do not jump to conclusions while listening. Job’s professed friends did, and as a result, they were called “troublesome comforters.” They actually made him feel worse!—Job 16:2.

Remember to listen carefully to sufferers. Allow them to express freely how they feel. This may help you to understand better what they are going through. And think of the reward! You may be able to help sufferers enjoy a more full and meaningful life.

Identifying Types of Anxiety Disorders

Understanding anxiety disorders is vital, especially when the people involved are immediate family members or close friends. Consider five types of such disorders.

Panic Disorders Recall Isabella, mentioned in the introduction of our article. It is not only the attacks of anxiety that she finds disabling. “In between them, there is the dread that an attack is going to happen again,” she says. As a result, sufferers tend to avoid places where they have had an attack. Some become so restricted that they are housebound or are able to confront a feared situation only when accompanied by someone they trust. Isabella explained: “Merely being alone is enough to trigger an attack. Mother gives me security; I can’t stand it if she is not nearby.”

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder A person obsessed with germs or dirt may develop a compulsion to wash his hands over and over again. Regarding a similar compulsion, Renan says: “My mind is in constant turmoil as I go over and over past mistakes, reanalyzing them and looking at them from every possible angle.” The result is an obsession to confess past mistakes to others. Renan is in constant need of reassurance. But medication has been of help in controlling his obsession.*

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD) In recent times this term has been used to describe a range of psychological symptoms people may experience following an extremely traumatic event that involved physical harm or the threat of such. PTSDsufferers may startle easily, be irritable, become emotionally numb, lose interest in things they once enjoyed, and have trouble feeling affection for others—especially those with whom they used to be close. Some become aggressive, even violent, and tend to avoid situations that remind them of the original traumatic incident.

Social Phobia, or Social Anxiety Disorder This is a term used to identify people who are overwhelmingly anxious and excessively self-conscious in everyday social situations. Some sufferers have an intense, persistent fear of being watched and judged by others. They may worry for days or weeks before attending an event. Their fear may become so severe that it interferes with work, school, or other ordinary activities and makes it hard for them to make and keep friends.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder Monica, mentioned earlier, suffers from this disorder. She goes through the day filled with “exaggerated worries,” even though there is little or nothing to provoke them. Sufferers tend to anticipate disaster and are overly concerned with health issues, money, family problems, or difficulties at work. Just the thought of getting through the day may produce anxiety.*

[Footnotes]

Awake! does not endorse any specific medical treatment.

The above material is based on a publication of the National Institute of Mental Health of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Seek First The Kingdom

One scripture that constantly comes to mind is Matthew 6:33 which states, “Keep on, then, seeking first the Kingdom and his righteousness, and all these other things will be added to you.”

With this in mind we have decided to work on personal improvement so that we might serve God to the full extent that our own circumstances permit. I officially put in the paperwork for early retirement two weeks ago.

We start our mornings now with the daily text, a prayer, and either field service or medical appointments. We round out the end of the day with personal or family study, meetings (twice per week), Etsy order filling, and housework. It’s still a little scary, but I think that means we are on the right track.

luke 1 45 wm Happy is she who believed

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Focus On Today

I was thinking today about how overwhelmed I’ve been. In making decisions about our path to the next adventure in our lives I feel like my husband and I might have lost our way.

keep calm and focus on today

I saw the above meme online and it made me stop for just a second and remember our model prayer. We are instructed in Matthew to pray for today. We are reminded to “not be afraid” and to “never be anxious”. So, I need to pray for help with those things. Deep breath!

be not afraid

I’ll just leave these scriptures here for a reminder:

Matthew 6:22, 23

22 “The lamp of the body is the eye.+ If, then, your eye is simple,* your whole body will be bright; 23 but if your eye is wicked,*+ your whole body will be dark. If in reality the light that is in you is darkness, how great that darkness is!+

1 Timothy 6:8

8 So, having sustenance and covering, we shall be content with these things.+

Matthew 6:33

33 “Keep on, then, seeking* first the kingdom and his righteousness,+ and all these [other] things will be added to YOU

Hebrews 13:5

5 Let [YOUR] manner of life be free of the love of money,+ while YOU are content+ with the present things.+ For he has said: “I will by no means leave you nor by any means forsake you.”

Luke 12:15

15 Then he said to them: “Keep YOUR eyes open and guard against every sort of covetousness,+ because even when a person has an abundance his life does not result from the things he possesses

Philippians 1:10

10 that YOU may make sure of the more important things,+ so that YOU may be flawless+ and not be stumbling+ others up to the day of Christ,

Galatians 5:22, 23

22 On the other hand, the fruitage+ of the spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness,+ faith, 23 mildness, self-control.+ Against such things there is no law.+

Galatians 6:9

9 So let us not give up in doing what is fine,+ for in due season we shall reap if we do not tire out.+

Psalm 37:10

10 And just a little while longer, and the wicked one will be no more;+

And you will certainly give attention to his place, and he will not be.+

Proverbs 2:21, 22

21 For the upright are the ones that will reside in the earth,+ and the blameless are the ones that will be left over in it.+ 22 As regards the wicked, they will be cut off from the very earth;+ and as for the treacherous, they will be torn away from it.+

1 Thessalonians 5:6

6 So, then, let us not sleep+ on as the rest do,+ but let us stay awake+ and keep our senses

Luke 21:34, 35

34 “But pay attention to yourselves that YOUR hearts never become weighed down with overeating and heavy+ drinking and anxieties+ of life,* and suddenly that day be instantly upon YOU+ 35 as a snare.+ For it will come in upon all those dwelling upon the face of all the earth.+

Colossians 3:5

5 Deaden,+ therefore, YOUR body members+ that are upon the earth as respects fornication,* uncleanness,* sexual appetite,*+ hurtful desire, and covetousness,+ which is idolatry.

Philippians 4:8

8 Finally, brothers, whatever things* are true, whatever things are of serious concern, whatever things are righteous, whatever things are chaste,+ whatever things are lovable,* whatever things are well spoken of, whatever virtue there is and whatever praiseworthy thing there is, continue considering these things.+

Philippians 4:6, 7

6 Do not be anxious over anything,+ but in everything by prayer and supplication+ along with thanksgiving let YOUR petitions be made known to God;+ 7 and the peace+ of God that excels all thought will guard YOUR hearts+ and YOUR mental powers by means of Christ Jesus

Matthew 8:20

20 But Jesus said to him: “Foxes have dens and birds of heaven have roosts, but the Son of man* has nowhere to lay down his head.”+

Proverbs 3:5, 6

5 Trust in Jehovah with all your heart+ and do not lean upon your own understanding.+ 6 In all your ways take notice of him,+ and he himself will make your paths straight.+

2 Corinthians 13:5

5 Keep testing whether YOU are in the faith, keep proving what YOU yourselves are.+ Or do YOU not recognize that Jesus Christ is in union with YOU?+ Unless YOU are disapproved.

2 Timothy 1:7

7 For God gave us not a spirit of cowardice,+ but that of power+ and of love and of soundness of mind.+

Isaiah 41:10

10 Do not be afraid, for I am with you.+ Do not gaze about, for I am your God.*+ I will fortify you.+ I will really help you.+ I will really keep fast hold of you with my right hand+ of righteousness

James 4:7, 8

7 Subject yourselves,+ therefore, to God; but oppose* the Devil,+ and he will flee from YOU.+ 8 Draw close to God, and he will draw close to YOU.+ Cleanse YOUR hands, YOU sinners,+ and purify YOUR hearts,+ YOU indecisive*+ ones

Proverbs 19:20

20 Listen to counsel and accept discipline,+ in order that you may become wise in your future.+

What, What, What Are We Doing??

(See bottom of this blog post for an update)

Sometimes desperate circumstances call for desperate measures. Once I understood that my best friend and lover was suffering from a disabling disorder (combat-related PTSD) that wasn’t responding to traditional therapy I asked myself, “what else can we do?”. I did research online and at the library. I called his psychiatrist whenever I needed advice and started seeing a therapist myself specifically for PTSD caregiver support.

Then I saw this blog, Two Happy Campers, where this couple decided to leave their home (part-time) and go on outdoor adventures in a truck camper with their two dogs. I thought that was extreme. I mean, I’m a city girl! I like the idea of camping but am much better suited for five-star hotels, spas, and room service. The more I dug into camper/RV lifestyles (there are tons of blogs about this, who knew?) I started to recall phrases I had been reading and hearing regarding coping with PTSD:

  • Keep things simple
  • Put everything in its place (my hubby has OCD tendencies)
  • Focus on the basics
  • One day at a time
  • Get fresh air, start exercising
  • Don’t isolate
  • Make thoughtful changes

Then I thought, could we consider this? Could we simplify our 5 bedroom house (we have a lot of stuff for just two people and it’s a constant source of stress for my husband), downsize our wardrobes, cut our ties with the 9 to 5 (and live on just his disability), and lead a much more frugal life?

The same things in the bulleted list above are what we learn from the Holy Scriptures. At Matthew 6:22 it states, “The lamp of the body is the eye. If, then, your eye is focused, your whole body will be bright. The footnote lets us know that the context of the translated word “focused” is modern “simple”. So, keep your eye simple. What we were learning from mental health professionals aligned with what we are taught from the holy scriptures. Acting on it was a no-brainer!

tiny house

Crazy, right? Then I thought, maybe the way we live right now is crazy. The average American spends 1/3 to 1/2 of their income on a home that takes 15 years to work to pay off. 76% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck. Maybe living the “normal” way is actually crazy. What if we could live on less and instead of investing in a career and house we could invest in our personal relationships with our creator, each other, and nature?

Rat-Race

Next, I though about living vs. surviving. With PTSD it seems like the sufferer and his family just survives daily life. I want (and deserve) to see my husband really live, not just survive. What if by changing things drastically we could both get back to living instead of just getting through each day to face another filled with the same issues in the same spot?

dont just survive live

Another scripture that kept coming to mind is Matthew 6:33 which states, “Keep on, then, seeking first the Kingdom and his righteousness, and all these other things will be added to you.” With this in mind we decided that going from full-time working to full-time RVing seemed like a moot point. So we have decided to work on personal improvement so that we might serve God to the full extent that our own circumstances permit.

We start our mornings now with the daily text, a prayer, and either field service or medical appointments. We round out the end of the day with personal or family study, meetings, and housework. It’s still a little scary, but I think that means we are on the right track. The planning stages of this adventure has begun. Join us while we figure out the rest!

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2016 UPDATE

I’m a regular pioneer as of September 1, 2016. As of May 5, 2017 we are part-time RVers and international travelers for need-greater work!!

… Matthew 6:33 states, “Keep on, then, seeking first the Kingdom and his righteousness, and all these other things will be added to you.” With this in mind we decided that going from full-time working to full-time RVing seemed like a moot point. So we have decided to work on personal improvement so that we might serve God to the full extent that our own circumstances permit.

We start our mornings now with the daily text, a prayer, and either field service or medical appointments. We round out the end of the day with personal or family study, meetings, and housework. It’s still a little scary, but I think that means we are on the right track. The adventure has begun. Join us while we figure out the rest!