By Benjamin Deu, MA, LMHC, Seattle Christian Counseling
Tips taken from “How We Love” by Milan and Kay Yerkovich.
This article is part of a series about the personality imprints covered in “How We Love.” You can find an (introductory article about imprints here. This article is a practical follow-up article to an article explaining the victim imprint. You can find that article here.
The authors do not recommend trying to accomplish the following tasks in a few days. They suggest you take a week or two to be sure whether you are a victim and then share with someone which aspects of your character, or experiences, put you in that category. After you feel comfortable, start on the following steps. Take as long as you need to go through them. It may take a few weeks, or even months, to get to the root of your problems.
“Act on the suggestions for as long as it takes to see results. However, if an issue doesn’t seem to apply to you, don’t spend time there. Move on and try something else.” (319)
1. If you think your life or your children’s health or lives are in danger, call 9-1-1, or this battered women’s hotline 1-800-228-7395. Do not stay where it’s not safe.
2. Think of some examples of how you minimize your marriage problems. What are some excuses you make for your spouse? (346)
3. How do you help cover up what goes on at home? What are some differences between your public and private life? List some examples. (346)
4. What are some things your spouse does that frighten you? (346)
5. Did you ever feel like that when you were a child? What frightened you then? (346)
6. “When you were growing up, did you ever say, ‘No!’ or ‘Stop!’ when someone was treating you badly? If so, was it difficult for you to confront them, and what happened? If not, what were you feeling?” (347)
7. Have you ever said these things to your spouse? If not, how do you feel? “What do you wish for or ask God to do for you during these moments?” (347)
8. After you agree to your partner’s requests or demands, do you respect yourself? Why or why not? Does your partner respect you? Provide some evidence for your answer. (347)
• “Most people imprinted to be victims have difficulty saying no and taking firm action when they are mistreated. You will need to learn to set boundaries and make them stick.” (347)
9. Are you dealing with any health problems? What might your body be telling you that you don’t want to hear? If you could talk to your symptoms, what would they tell you? (347)
• After finding a safe place away from the abuse, your next step will be to learn how to enjoy periods of calm by learning how to recognize and soothe your underlying anxiety. “Detoxifying your mind and body from the adrenaline, anxiety, and constant stress it’s used to will take time. Music, deep breathing, and relaxation exercises may help.” It may also help to pretend to speak to that frightened child inside you and tell them it’s OK to relax because you’re learning how to keep them safe. (347)
• As victims also often struggle with anger, look for signs you may have trouble exploding or getting physical with those smaller and weaker than you, such as children or pets. Although victims are usually too afraid to get angry with their aggressors, they sometimes take advantage of their power over kids or animals and vent their frustrations. If you think this might be an issue for you, call a professional Christian counselor.
10. Have you ever had trouble controlling your anger around your kids? Give some specific examples. (347)
11. Have you ever been surprised by how angry your children can make you? Have you ever talked to anyone about this or tried to get help? “Explain. Do you see your anger as a character flaw or a result of your childhood experiences? Explain what you think the source of your anger is.” (348)
• Some victims hardly ever get mad, even with their kids. If this sounds familiar, it may be related to depression. Do you find it easier to be mad at yourself than others? Get in touch with a professional Christian counselor who can help you access and express your anger in healthy, productive ways. (348)
12. Is it hard for you to get mad or express it? Why?
• Have you ever watched someone and thought, “They did a good job of expressing what they were angry about and why.” In the New Testament, we see Jesus getting mad more than once, but he expressed it appropriately by “being direct about infractions, adjusting his tone and intensity depending on the maturity level of the person(s), stating the truth that had been violated, not being demeaning, and telling the person(s) not to do it again.” (348)
13. Thinking about how Jesus displayed anger, and how anger was displayed in your home growing up, what about Jesus’ actions would you have liked to have seen more of when you were growing up? What characteristics would you like to see yourself develop as a spouse or parent? (348)
Christian Counseling for Abuse Victims
Scripture makes it plain the Lord does not favor divorce. But there is no Biblical support for spousal abuse, even if it is, “just,” the kind where they never actually put their fists on you. If you and any children are in an unsafe situation, you need to leave. Below are some resources for help escaping abuse.
They will be able to help you understand why your marriage functions the way it does, and how to improve it. Their use of Biblical guidance alongside therapeutic techniques will help you employ the above steps into improving the quality of your life and relationships.
Women Helping Battered Women 802-658-1996 or statewide 1-800-228-7395
Domestic Abuse Helpline for Men and Women
The Seattle Crisis Resource Directory
Community Information Line 2-1-1