Take a Steamboat Up the River

One of the most daunting torments to overcome in religious domestic violence is the constant barrage of insults, accusations, and criticisms that surround a wife and can overwhelm her ability to respond to defend herself.

When selected Bible verses and faith concepts are twisted to control through guilt, shame and intimidation, a source of comfort is used against a victim.

When I lived under this verbal abuse, I come across an insight in meditation that helped me turn a torment into a source of strength. I call it the Steamboat method.

A steamboat uses the river it’s on to power its way through the water. It uses an internal fuel to turn wheels which feed off the water. In this way steamboats revolutionized river travel. Formerly they had to be towed up the river by horses on the bank. Now they could make their way up the river under their own power, overcoming resistance to their path.

I applied this method to mentally fortify my mind against verbal assaults. For every namecalling, slander, lie, or degrading word, I mentally reversed it. I was able to actually turn a demeaning negative into a positive.

In my self-help workbook, Redemption from Biblical Battering, I have sample exercises showing how it’s done. After charting the abuse and journaling, I took the list of toxic words and phrases and began listing their opposites.

Each time one would be used, I mentally substituted the positive for it. At this stage of the abuse, it was not safe for me to begin being assertive. But this practice helped free me from ill effects within my mind and heart. It also prepared me for things to say when I did begin to be assertive.

Later I realized that an abuser projects his own faults onto the victim. When my husband accused me of being unfaithful, I found out he himself was having an affair. When he accused me of being a derelict mother, it was his own abandonment he was talking about.

Bible verses can help develop your first counterstatements. Of course it takes energy to do this. So what is your fuel for your engine? Time in quiet, healthy self-nurturing, affirmative prayer and supportive women were my fuel. It kept the engine going to turn my wheels, using the waters of attacks to propel myself forward.

The more attacks, the more my wheels had to turn so I could move in the difficult challenge of going against pressures to submit to abuse.

I hope this analogy or metaphor can help you too. Or find another one that works for you. The Holy Spirit provides the fuel. Christ within is our hope of glory, turning the wheels to feed off of the river of trials. May we reach the safety and peace of a higher port up the river.

Published by Fessup

A 30-year veteran educator and counselor, published author, lifelong student of religion and women's issues, educator with divinebalance.org, mother, and lover of Far Side humor.

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