Growing Up in an Abusive Home – Part 1

This is part 1 of a 4 part reflection of a grown adult who lived through parents in a DV relationship.

Have you wondered what happens to children whose parents had a unhealthy relationship or domestic violence situation? As someone who has been through it, I am here to give a little insight over the next several weeks of blogs.

It hurts. It has a long-term effect on those children. We see what is going on, and while we’re younger, we may not quite understand what is going on, but we can sense something is off. Even as a young child, I knew there was something different about my parents’ relationship. As I got older, I realized that my father did not treat my mom with kindness and respect. He was verbally and emotionally abusive, and that’s what I grew up seeing as “normal”.

I didn’t know there were marriages that had mutual respect and spouses that supported and encouraged each other. I knew all about the wife being submissive to her husband, but I didn’t know the husband was supposed to love his wife like Christ loves the Church. That’s the father figure I grew up with, and while not every single day was terrible, I didn’t know what a “good” marriage looked like. While my father was not abusive directly to me, I saw the toll it took on my mom. At some point in time (I forget how old I was) I guess he thought I was old enough for him to vent to me about all the “shortcomings” of my mom. (More on this in a later blog). I was fortunate to not be a direct target, but not all children are that fortunate.

Beth is an adult now and through life lessons and counseling has been able to understand what a healthy relationship looks like. But her story and what she went through as a child is a very good lesson for each of us to look at as we are in various relationships.

Growing Up in an Abusive Home – Part 2

Last week I said I was not directly abused, but grew up seeing my mom stay in a verbally and emotionally abusive relationship. That impacted me as a child, and carried on into young adulthood and even middle age (now). Because I didn’t know what a healthy marriage looked like, I grew up having no desire to meet or marry someone. I didn’t want to go through what I saw happening to my mom. No way, no how! I deserved better, and was happily single and fiercely independent.

No man was going to put me down!

Thankfully, later in life my mom learned how to set up boundaries to keep herself somewhat protected. Sometimes she was very good at enforcing those boundaries, and sometimes not so much. When my my father ended up in a nursing home, and my mom finally realized he wasn’t going to come home, I could see a weight lifted from her shoulders. She was a new, free woman once My father didn’t have 24/7 access to her. Other people noticed she had more “pep in her step”. As an adult “child” then, I realized how profoundly he had affected her. I was glad to see her happier than I had ever seen before, and it gave me some hope that things could work out for some people.

As someone in my early/mid 40s now, I still have no desire to be married. I know there are MANY healthy, happy, positive marriages out there. I have seen them. However, growing up seeing and experiencing what I did, I don’t have any strong urge to see if I would end up in a good relationship or something like my parents had. I believe there is hope for all children that have lived through abuse or grown up around it.

Don’t forget about the kids that see the abuse and get them the help and counseling they need. They are the future!

Beth and her mom had a very special relationship. As her mom became ill, Beth took care of her until God saw that it was time to take her home in December, 2022.

Growing Up in an Abusive Home – Part 3

I often wondered why my mom couldn’t or wouldn’t leave my father when he treated her so badly. As a Christian, she would never consider a divorce, or even a separation. Over the years, the behavior my father exhibited gradually became worse. I remember working up the courage as a teenager to ask mom why she put up with my father’s “temper tantrums” (that’s what I called them). She told me what I mentioned above- that she didn’t believe in divorce, that it wasn’t Biblical and was not something she would consider. She also told me that he hadn’t always been this bad. The man she was married to now wasn’t the same person she married. Yes, that happens to a lot of people/marriages, I know.

What I wanted to know from mom was, had he ever been a “nice” person? What was it about him that caused her to fall in love and want to marry him? She was honest, and said she found him attractive/interesting, but it was also convenient because her sister was married to his brother, and she already loved the in-laws. She also freely admitted that she always wanted to get married and have a family. When I asked her if she regretted her decision to marry him (because of the way he treated her) and she said no. My sister and I were the best thing that had ever happened to her. I loved that response, but I always wanted to know WHY my my father was like he was. The answer (or my best educated guess) is coming next week.

There are Biblical reasons for divorce. Abuse in all forms is one of the reasons. There are many books that give biblical stories and scriptures. Two by Dr. David E. Clarke Ph.D “Enough Is Enough” and “I Didn’t Want A Divorce, ”It Started With A Hamburger” by Jan Porter and “Black Eyes and Sweet Talk” by Rev Michael Neely

Growing Up in an Abusive Home – Part 4

So, WHY was my father a mess and emotionally and mentally abusive to my mom? And why did she put up with it? We found out when I was about 25 or so, that my father had Aspergers Syndrome (now called high functioning Autism). He likely started with a mild case, but when he was young there was no treatment or help. It wasn’t even a “thing” to be diagnosed at that time. As time passed, he got more and more angry, unhappy, and cut off from the world. My father had a mental illness, and my mom put
up with it for years before knowing what it was.

So, does having a mental illness excuse abusive behavior? Not at all. Once we learned what was “wrong” with my father, my mom started getting some counseling and working on establishing boundaries. It was a rocky journey, and often did not work out for her, after so many years of him being abusive, and so many years of her letting him. As I mentioned in week 2, mom did work on boundaries, but her “freedom” came when my father ended up in a nursing home, away from her. After my father learned his “diagnosis”, he used it as an excuse to why he couldn’t help the way he was. I often wonder (especially when he was “venting” to me about how terrible my mom was for saying this, doing that, or NOT doing the other) if he really could have changed. I always harbored a bit of resentment for him not being willing to try any kind of counseling or therapy because “it’s just the
way he was”.

Mental illness is a very real thing. Many abusers have a mental illness, but that does NOT give them an excuse to be abusive – mentally, emotionally, physically or controlling. Whether the illness relates to personality (Aspergers, Narcissism, Personality disorders), trauma (PTSD) or any other type of mental illness, IT IS NOT AN EXCUSE. Period. Full stop.

If you find yourself in a Domestic Violence situation with someone that has a mental illness, please get counseling from someone who is licensed to help. Get the abuser counseling if they are willing. Set up those boundaries. Maybe there’s a resolution to be had through counseling and putting in the work, although it may be a separation or even a divorce. Take care of yourself, not just the person with the mental illness. You are worth it.

You Are Loved

You Are lovedHaving one of those days when your abuser or memories of them have you feeling down and/or doubting your worth? Don’t let the devil get you down. YOU ARE LOVED. YOU ARE WORTHY. YOU ARE AMAZING.
Just. The. Way. You. Are.

There’s a song by Lauren Daigle that Reach Out Speak Out has “adopted” and I’m including the lyrics here:

I keep fighting voices in my mind that say I’m not enough
Every single lie that tells me I will never measure up
Am I more than just the sum of every high and every low?
Remind me once again just who I am, because I need to know (ooh oh)
You say I am loved when I can’t feel a thing
You say I am strong when I think I am weak
You say I am held when I am falling short
When I don’t belong, oh You say that I am Yours
And I believe (I), oh I believe (I)
What You say of me (I)
I believe
The only thing that matters now is everything You think of me
In You I find my worth, in You I find my identity, (ooh oh)
You say I am loved when I can’t feel a thing
You say I am strong when I think I am weak
And You say I am held when I am falling short
When I don’t belong, oh You say that I am Yours
And I believe (I), oh I believe (I)
What You say of me (I)
Oh, I believe
Taking all I have and now I’m laying it at Your feet
You have every failure God, and You’ll have every victory, (ooh oh)
You say I am loved when I can’t feel a thing
You say I am strong when I think I am weak
You say I am held when I am falling short
When I don’t belong, oh You say that I am Yours
And I believe (I), oh I believe (I)
What You say of me (I)
I believe
Oh I believe (I), yes I believe (I)
What You say of me (I)
Oh I believe (oh)
Songwriters: Paul Mabury / Lauren Ashley Daigle / Jason Ingram
You Say lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

Look at that again….

This is not just me, or anyone from Reach Out Speak Out, or a friend or family member telling you this. God says you are loved. And worthy. And you are His! If that doesn’t thrill you, I don’t know what will. God loves you and says you are strong, even when you feel weak. The God of the universe is holding you when you are struggling and keeping you safe. He is giving you worth and loving you.

Let me leave you with this….you are loved. Be encouraged and find you strength to get yourself where you need to be…. Safety, freedom, stronger boundaries, you fill in the blank. Let God show you your worth and value and take it in – You are loved!

Here is the YouTube video if you’d like to watch/listen:

The Value Of Volunteering

Value of VolunteeringHave you ever considered the value of volunteering? There are numerous benefits to volunteering: development of connections and networking, creates a sense of altruism, helping others is good for body and mind, generates a feeling of fulfillment, advances life skills, builds community, develops relationships, gets you socially active, and perhaps most importantly- it’s FUN!

At Reach Out Speak Out, we are always looking for auxiliary members. We only require 30 hours of volunteering a year, which averages to 2 ½ hours a month. A good portion of that time is spent in our major annual fundraiser, Purple Passion, in October. There are a number of ways to help:

Main fundraiser (Purple Passion) help

Set up/break down for events

Gathering items for silent auction

Sending thank you notes

Encouraging clients

Praying for families needs

Artistic help for assembling gift baskets

Coordinate small fundraiser



Car maintenance

Reaching Out and Speaking Out to your friends about domestic violence

This is far from an exhaustive list but gives a few examples of ways everyone can be involved and help. With so many people in religious settings involved in a DV situation, one of the most needed things is simply being aware and sharing that there is hope and help.

If this sounds like something you or someone you know would be interested in helping with, please contact us!

New Year, New You?

Like many people, I’ve been busy, tired, overwhelmed at times but enjoying life during the holidays. As I reflect in the last year and begin looking forward to the next year, I can’t help but stop and think about how much I’ve learned and grown this year. This is one of the harder blogs I’ve written so far, so without further delay-my topic this week is verbal/emotional abuse new year new you– can I leave?

**Disclaimer** let me preface this by saying I am not a counselor, theologian, psychologist, or anything of the like. What I share here is from my own experience (I grew up with an emotionally/verbally abusive father) and personal research, with as much scriptural support as I can include.

What is Domestic Violence?

While domestic violence typically brings to mind physical abuse, there is so much more than hitting/beating/punching involved in abuse. While the signs can be “hidden” by long sleeves, pants, jackets, etc., the signs of verbal and emotional abuse are much more difficult to see. These invisible scars go deeper than a physical bruise and are often happening at the same time as physical abuse. However, verbal and emotional abuse is frequently seen without any physical abuse involved (though they may lead to physical violence as well). This “invisible” abuse is more common than people realize-especially in religious settings. After all, what man (or woman) of God would think it ok to physically hurt their spouse or significant other? But giving correction, redirection, and advice (Galatians 6:1) is “Biblical”, right? And aren’t wives supposed to submit to their husbands (Ephesians 5:22)? Ephesians 4:15 encourages us to speak the truth IN LOVE. That’s the key-in love. Verbal abuse is not spoken in love.

Verbal and emotional abuse is a long-term pattern, not the occasional ugly words after an argument or fight. It wears down your self-esteem, makes you doubt yourself because negative, hurtful, demeaning things are repeated until you begin to believe they are the truth and the abuser has “won” control over your emotional and mental well-being. Over time, this can also affect your physical health as you lose the motivation and desire to take care of yourself mentally, physically and spiritually.

So, I AM being abused. Now what?

In my “untrained” opinion, prayer is first. Counseling with a pastor or Christian counselor can be beneficial if the abusing spouse is willing and able to realize and accept their responsibility. Sadly that is not often the case. The abuser often is unwilling to realize and admit fault. They often even think they’re truly being “helpful” and doing the right thing by “fixing” you. Sadly it’s a common mindset in the abuser.

Maybe you are wondering if it is just you, if you are broken, if you are not forgiving enough, taking things too seriously if you are the “bad” one… Take a look at Proverbs 10:6, Proverbs 16:27-29, Proverbs 18:21, Proverbs 19:19 and Luke 6:45 for just a sampling of what God says about the evil man. Does this apply to yourself or your spouse?

Already tried the counseling, prayer, and self-evaluation? What’s next? Separation? Divorce? Is that even “allowed” in religious/Christian circles? While God doesn’t condone or encourage divorce, may I just remind you that He loves you deeply and you are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). He is near the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18). And He warns frequently of the power of the tongue in many scriptures. Proverbs 15:4, Proverbs 21:23, Psalms 10:7, Proverbs 10:20, James 3:8, Jeremiah 9:8, and 1 Peter 3:10 all speak about the power (for good or evil) the tongue holds. It’s a strong muscle that is often used as a weapon. Ephesians 4:29 tells us not to let unwholesome talk proceed from your mouth.

You, my friend, are not a doormat, punching bag, or anything less than deserving of God’s love and grace. While not specifically directed at marriage, Proverbs 14:7 advises us to “leave the presence of a fool”. I Samuel 18-21 is devoted to David fleeing from Saul because of Saul’s evilness and trying to harm David. Proverbs 22:24-25 exhorts us to not to associate with an angry man or you will learn his ways. I Corinthians 15:33 says “Bad company corrupts good morals”.

Stay or Go?

Only you can make this decision for yourself. Proverbs 18:14 says “The spirit of man can endure his sickness, but as for a broken spirit, who can bear it?” (NASB). Seek wisdom and guidance from the Lord and those trained to offer wise counsel. Proverbs 2:10-15 and Proverbs 3:5-8 encourage seeking wisdom from God and not just your own understanding. I encourage you to pray, seek out God’s will and guard your heart. If you’re ready to start the new year fresh and need a little help knowing where to start, check, out this previous blog, He’s Making A List, And Checking It Twice, for making/checking your list. As always, if you need someone to talk through this process with, contact reach out speak out at [email protected] or find us on Facebook.

Wishing you all a blessed, happy and safe New Year.

He’s Making A List, And Checking It Twice

listSanta isn’t the only one that should have a list. If you or someone you know is in an unsafe domestic violence situation, you need to have your own list for when you are ready and able to leave. There’s no time like the present to make your own list and start checking it twice. While you may be waiting to get through the holidays for your kids, family, etc. this is a great time to get ready to leave safely.

What should be on your list? Legal papers (license, social security, birth certificate, passport for you and children), financial paperwork (bank statements, credit report, retirement statements, tax returns), health documents (insurance, medical history for yourself and children), paperwork for your assets (mortgage, rental agreements, car title, car insurance, etc.), personal information (phone numbers, addresses, email addresses, account passwords).

The above list is a starting point, so make your own list and check it twice. Have your escape plan ready so you can get out safely when the time is right. If you don’t have a family or friend you can go to, there are shelters available. In an emergency situation call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-SAFE (7233) or the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673).

Stay safe and have a happy holiday season. If you are able, give yourself the best gift you can and get your list started so you can get into a healthier happier new year.

Be Kind

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.” ― Wendy Mass

Be kind. The ripple effects can go on foreverI was chatting with a new coworker the other day, and we were just getting to know each other. As we were both sharing where we are in life, the fun, the struggles, etc she said “See, that’s why we always have to be nice to people. We never know what they’re going through.” Wow, what a wonderful and timely reminder as we head into the busiest holiday season of the year.

Be nice. Easy, right? Not necessarily. In the hustle and bustle of shopping, cooking, planning, traveling, and more, it’s quite easy to rush and lose patience with people. Family, friends, coworkers, fellow shoppers- anyone is liable to be an outlet for our frustration. But before you lose it with the person that cut you off, consider that they, too are fighting a battle you know nothing about. Take a deep breath, smile, and be kind.

Are you or someone you know fighting a secret battle? Are you hiding bruises or scars (physical, mental or emotional)? Don’t go through it alone. Reach Out Speak Out is here to listen and help. Don’t let another holiday season go by without getting help for yourself or someone you know that needs it. Contact us at [email protected] or find us on Facebook.

‘Tis The Season Of Giving

'Tis The Season of GivingAs we head into December, I can’t help but think about how we are entering the season of giving. Giving Tuesday may be past, but giving -baked goods, time, gifts, love is not. Not only is it the time of giving for friends and family at Christmastime, but it’s also the time to think about year-end gifts for nonprofit organizations like Reach Out Speak Out.

Who We Are

We are a nonprofit 501 3 c organization that reaches out to religious groups and organizations to speak out about how domestic violence is wrong. We offer support to women and children who are getting out of danger and back on their feet in a safe environment. Reach Out Speak Out helps in a variety of ways from a listening ear, to counseling, to short term or long term help, to encouragement and much more.

We have just reached our 5-year mark as a nonprofit, 501 3 c organization and we are really taking off! We need your help. Our first 5-year program family is wrapping up their time and we are taking on more families at the 5-year level and in many other situations that need short or long-term assistance.

Ways To Help

There are many ways to give.
Financially, you can mail a check payable to Reach Out Speak Out to P.O. Box 48797 Tampa, FL 33646. If you would rather donate online,  y
ou can give via PayPal by using the button below:

Please consider us in your charitable giving as this tax year ends. You can feel good that you are blessing a worthy cause while you get a tax break for yourself. Individual, foundation or corporate level we appreciate your time and gift. We also have a scrip gift card program where you can buy (and donate) gift cards for your holiday and everyday shopping needs. See for more information.

Don’t have money to donate?  Your time and talents are incredible gifts! We are also looking for auxiliary members. Please contact [email protected] for more information on how to join us!