Finding the Golden Goose in Abuse

You know how you thought that when you met the man of your dreams, he would change? And he did. For the worse. It was the power of your love that would realize his potential—if only he would just listen!

I, a victim of abuse, believed that all I was worth was a man who beat me, punched me, and cheated on me. I shrunk each time I heard, “First time a victim, second time a volunteer,” “If you go back, you deserve what you get,” and “Why don’t you just leave?”

It took seven years before I accepted I was an abused woman. It seemed impossible that I could be one or that my husband was an abuser. He was too rich, too educated, and too sophisticated. I was the mayor’s daughter and was far too affluent to be a victim of abuse. After all, abused women lived in poverty-stricken areas, were uneducated, and their abusers were skinheads with facial scars and missing teeth.

Weren’t they?

Lifestyles of the Rich and Vicious

My opinion changed dramatically one night when I found myself on the sidewalk, bleeding, my clothes torn. He had tried to put a cigar out on my cheek, bit my mouth until it filled with blood, and tried to choke me. I managed to break free and ran out of the house. In South Africa, I lived in a gated community with security guards roaming the streets. I was safer on the streets of Johannesburg, the crime capital of the world, than in my own home. While I waited for the police to arrive, I asked the guard, “Is it unusual to receive a call from this area?”

“No, we receive more calls from this area than any other,” he replied.

That was my first in a long list of beliefs that changed. Abuse is a great leveler. It reaches everywhere.

Most abused women are codependents. We equate love with need, and unless we are working like a slave for a man, our love isn’t worth anything. Our pathology demands damaged, wounded men to prove we can save them.

When I finally accepted I was an abused woman, I was riddled with shame. I wanted the hands that beat me to comfort me. “It’s like wanting to hug a shark—why on earth would anyone do that?”

It took a third abusive marriage for me to finally understand that the common denominator was me. Until I took responsibility for my contribution to the dance of abuse, I was destined to repeat the pattern.

The Golden Goose

I was living alone yet still feeling like a victim, stuck in the story of what had happened to me. But the only voice I was listening to was my own. I had begun to emulate my abuser in that I was abusing myself worse than they ever did. That was a wakeup call.

There is always a payoff to self-destructive behavior, and for me, it was that as long as I blamed them, I didn’t have to take responsibility for my life. There is nothing more disempowering than being a victim. I could only imagine what I could achieve if I put all my time and energy into myself and realized my own potential instead of my men. In that instant, I became my project.

I read every self-help book, attended Kabbalah classes, and even went to an ashram in India in search for answers. Slowly and painstakingly, my search moved from outside to within, and a new value system emerged. Everything I had thought was valuable became insignificant and everything I believed was true, wasn’t.

Scott Peck wrote in The Road Less Traveled that throughout our lives, our sick side and our healthy side battle each other. The sick side is the insane voice of the ego that never shuts up. It keeps us locked in past and future, where fear, guilt, pain, loss, lack, and conflict reign. It constantly feeds us lies based on our insecurities, and we react to them as if they were true. It is the ultimate abuser.

The healthy side is the place deep within that resonates with truth, love, and peace. It’s the place where we experience an “aha” moment as a truth lands perfectly or experience the magnificence of nature. It’s the voice of wisdom that whispers when we are still. This is the voice that heals us—not the tyrannical voice of the ego.

Abuse taught me the power of choice. I get to choose what thoughts I want, what feelings I want, and who I want in my life. No one can rob us of our inner peace unless we choose to allow it.

I am not for a minute saying that changing your worldview is easy. It takes work, commitment, and dedication. I struggled for years with abuse, and the reason I co-wrote my book, When Loving Him Hurts, was to short-circuit other women’s journeys. If I could go from having zero self-esteem to moving across the world and publishing three books, what can you achieve?

I have since formed a nonprofit organization, The Women’s Voice Project. I get to go out every day and help make a difference in people’s lives. Abuse gave me my life purpose. It was how I discovered my worth and how you can discover yours.

It requires a choice.

Today you can choose it.

If I found the golden goose in abuse, so can you.

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About the Author | Philippa Sklaar

Philippa Sklaar is a survivor of abuse, as well as an author, international speaker, and advocate. Philippa immigrated to the United States after she fled from a violently abusive marriage. It took three abusive marriages before she turned her life around. This experience led to her commitment to empower women through her nonprofit, The Women’s Voice Project, where she encourages women to see themselves as the solution.

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