Dear Dr. Archer,
This email is lengthy, but I hope you will read it in its entirety, because it encompasses 36 years of abuse and a journey of overcoming, thriving and unbelievable resilience, grace and courage under fire.
At age 60 I won a scholarship because of what I wrote about my life. One of my passions is to get the message out there regarding verbal abuse, because it is so prevalent in our society, that it goes unrecognized; even therapists miss the dynamics.
I've been writing to media types for close to 20 years, so I may use my voice to help the one in three women who are abused every nine seconds. According to the U.S. Census of 2010, there are approximately 52,321,404 women living out this nightmare/human rights violation.
I am a moderator of an abused survivors' group and American Counseling Association and I keep submitting my paper, Society's Hidden Pandemic: Verbal Abuse, Precursor to Physical Violence and a Form of Biochemical Assault.
I cannot understand why they don't accept it, but I will keep trying. I don't think society understands that abuse affects ALL of us. The U.S. spends over 5.8 billion dollars a year as the result of violence.
Abuse is the leading cause of injury -- more than car accidents, muggings and rapes, combined. Over six million child abuse cases are reported every year.
At the end of my life, I hope that because I was here, someone's burden was lightened. I wrote to the producers of the OWN to propose a program entitled: The Silent Scream, stories of women living in fear, silence and shame in abusive situations. Perhaps you would make a documentary regarding this shredding of souls.
I am so passionate about the subject because it affects all societies on our planet. Except for 3 years in the army, I have been in an abusive situation, and have a story of spiritual abuse of which no one has ever heard the likes.
Despite the negatives and traumas in my life, I was able to make something positive come from the debacle. This can be seen at www.churchabusepoetrytherapy.com; I've had over 19,132 hits.
I've had Colorado monks say that I could join their group and an invitation from Messianic Jews in Israel to visit! I first heard the term "restorative justice" when my colleague/therapist journeyed with me through a spiritually abusive situation for 18 months. Those were the most powerful words I had ever heard.
I was married to a physically and verbally abusive man for 31 years. I naively spoke with the pastor and ended up educating him, although to no avail. I found the courage to get a divorce and then fought the spiritual abuse for 18 months as I tried to stop the pastor from incorrectly counseling more women. Two of the women were suicidal because of his counseling skills!
In the end, my name was plastered across a big screen in front of the congregation, three times and on my birthday, no less, followed by the words, "Conduct Unbecoming a Child of God."
Called to a meeting consisting of 16 men and not allowed to have a woman with me, I was asked, "Are you still having sex with your ex?" My abuser was never called to a meeting.
I stood in front of the congregation on my birthday and said, 'Wow, I didn't think this many people would show up to help me celebrate my birthday..." They were as grim as a heart attack, and I was smiling. I was fortunate to have a therapist who was an expert in spiritual abuse, and journeyed with me for those 18 months.
He taught me the most valuable words I'd ever heard: "Restorative Justice." This is what I did, and this is how it made me feel. I have letters which I have used in my memoir. I waited two years and wrote a 10-page letter to every member and retained an attorney though I did not sue.
I didn't meet my father until I was 33, and never thought much about not having a father; it's just the way it was. Now, 60 years later, I wrote a book, taking the anguish of a lifetime: Sanctuary of the Soul (poems of anguish, healing, hope, comfort and celebration), and am honored and humbled at my endorsements.
My memoir, Ghost Child to Triumph (from a child with no voice, to someone who speaks up against injustice) is in the process of being edited.
Thank you so kindly for reading my story, and I look forward to your thoughts. Also, check out my poetry, Sanctuary of the Soul.
Kindest Regards, Love and Blessings!
Congratulations on taking charge of your past and your life! I had to trim your letter down because of allotted space, but your message is very important for others.
Verbal abuse can destroy self worth, and lead to feelings of hopelessness, worthless, depression and anxiety. And..... it happens every single day.
Also, I’ve never heard of spiritual abuse before and you make a very good case explaining that as well. Keep up the great work.
How interesting is the childhood statement we've all been told by our parents: "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me."
Most old quotes are true to life, but this one can be problematic for many, and especially for children. You can go to This Is A War
to get a better understanding about the effects of verbal abuse.
Keep writing, Alice, but also have an editor read over your work and give some tips. Make sure there are no factual errors and that the thoughts flow easily throughout. The message itself is a very important one, and deserves attention. I wish you much success in your quest.