Tag Archive: relationship


Sexual Abuse


Sexual abuse is a major problem in today’s society, going far beyond domestic violence, sexual exploitation has become a major multi-billion dollar business exploiting and trafficking human lives to sexually gratify one person at the expense of another. Although, in the case of human trafficking, this gratification goes far beyond one person’s gratification, as a whole industry is gratified lucratively for monetary value at the expense of innocent lives sold into slavery to fulfill a greedy lust for power, money and sexual addiction, and perversion. Let’s face it, to pay for sex with an unwilling participant is cruel to say the least, but goes to prove that we have an incredible problem with sexual addiction in our culture. Only sexual addiction and lust for power and greed can ignore the humanity of another to gratify one’s own lust. The purpose of this blog is to discuss sexual abuse and not sexual addiction, so I will not go in depth on that particular subject, but I will say this much before moving on: sexual addiction is not even about sex. It is coping mechanism for early childhood boundary violations, or trauma, or to cope with a lack of nurturing. It is a ‘quick fix’ to deal with much deeper issues of isolation and emotional neglect, or other issues a child cannot figure out how to deal with that are traumatic in their life. It is a way to temporarily ‘feel better.’ it may even be caused by being sexually violated themselves in childhood.

So let’s take a look at domestic violations that seriously affect a child on into adulthood, often for the rest of their lives without divine intervention and intense healing to allow the consequences of the violation to be made whole.

Sexual abuse is a form of physical abuse, as it is a physical violation, involving a lot of shameful emotions. It is also a boundary violation, coming back to the series I did on boundaries, one of the boundaries that we have is physical, involving who can touch us and how. The problem with sexual abuse, especially in childhood, is that this boundary is completely disregarded, teaching the child that they do not actually ‘own’ this boundary, or the right to say ‘no’ to unwanted and inappropriate touch. Just like the out of control problem with sex in our culture I just mentioned, the same principles apply in domestic cases of sexual abuse. It is the same issue: one person exploited and taken advantage of for another’s sexual pleasure.

Children take in a lot of information and pick up on everything. They are very observant and can feel that something is inappropriate or ‘not quite right.’ But they lack the development to know what something healthy should look like if it is not modeled. The problem of sexual abuse is that suddenly a child becomes unsafe in their own home. They lose all ability to know what ‘safe’ should be. Sadly, this carries on into adulthood, and a recurrent pattern of sexual abuse continues throughout their life.

Some of the effects and consequence of sexual abuse that happen in the life of the one abused, is that they learn that they do not ‘own’ their own bodies, that they do not have the right to say ‘no.’ the same shame and secrecy and threats from childhood resonate deep within their spirit. Often the abuser threatens with ‘don’t tell anyone, or else’ messages. The child can grow up believing she must give herself away, and is not allowed to set limits on other people’s behavior, or that she is powerless to do anything about it, as she was powerless in childhood to her childhood abuser.
All sorts of confusion can arise. Everything from confusing sex with affection, nurture and intimacy or she may become rigid and avoid sex and fear affection believing affection will cause sex which has all kinds of negative experiences associated with it in her mind, because sex was not a mutually beneficial experience for her. Sex and affection are interpreted as ‘exploitation.’ Sex may not be seen by someone who has been abused and violated as something enjoyable and safe. It often involves fear or a resigned detached participation believing she is powerless against it, to the opposite extreme of offering her body willingly to anyone, in search of finding affection and nurture, but because these things were distorted from sexual abuse, she lacks the understanding of knowing what authentic nurture, affection and intimacy really are.

Other common effects are an inability to trust, ana an altered sense of impaired judgment to determine what is ‘safe’ from ‘unsafe’, unable to properly judge character, as this part of them has become shattered by previous abuse. Often we choose people to connect to very subjectively. We base it on who we feel a connection or sense of attraction to, or what “pulls us” toward someone. This in and of itself is not necessarily a ‘bad’ thing, but for one who has been abused, the sense of ‘familiarity’ is what draws a person to repeat abusive cycles. We are drawn to the familiar. We are also drawn to ‘complete’ our growth & development. If there is some unfinished business in the area of growing, we are attracted to what feels familiar in order to complete that growth. Unfortunately, attempting to complete that growth without awareness of what the unfilled need is, ‘pulls us in’ to cyclical patterns, doing the same thing over and over hoping for a different or better result. This is why those who have experienced abuse of any kind, need retraining in a sense. They need to understand a healthy set of boundaries to teach them how to be drawn to healthier relationships. This is because some of the basic tools for living were not taught or distorted in their early development. As I mentioned above, trust is one of those areas that becomes distorted from sexual abuse, the same applies to boundaries, and can also distort our decision making processes, (ie. being drawn to unhealthy people, inability to follow through with promises, inability to make decisions, or trust their decisions,) and it can also cause problems with planning and organization.

Other problems that result from sexual abuse are anxiety and stress disorders, depression, eating disorders, panic attacks, compulsive behaviors, rage, self mutilation, self hatred, problems with concentrating and much much more.

Some of the disruptions that take place for normal development involving any kind of abuse include a lack of predictability, sense or order, love, acceptance, nurture, safety and security, appropriate attention and healthy affection and recognition and appreciation for the talents and abilities and simply the God given sense of a healthy self esteem.

One thing I have not yet mentioned is why it is that once people are in an abusive relationship of any kind in adulthood, why it is that they often feel they cannot leave.

According to Dr.s Henry Cloud and John Townsend, PhD,

“our lack of connection is a big reason why we choose unsafe people. If we are not able to connect in an intimate way with others, then we will often pick people who are unable to connect as well. If someone is isolated inside, she will pick isolating relationships until she addresses her problem. Fear of abandonment fuels an ongoing isolating connection. Many times someone who is in a painful relationship should set strong… boundaries or cut off a relationship altogether for a time. But he fears being alone so much he can’t do it. Every time he thinks of standing up to the other person, or getting out of the relationship, he is overwhelmed by feelings of loss and aloneness, and he either avoids the difficult step to begin with, or he quickly caves in. Because he doesn’t have primary safe and supportive relationships, he would rather have the unsafe relationship than nothing at all. This all-or-nothing split keeps the isolation and abandonment going.”

Sexual abuse in childhood most often leads us to abusive relationships later in life. They may not always be sexually abusive, but the lack of a healthy understanding of one’s physical boundaries can lead to allowing yourself to put up with mistreatment of any kind. As well as the lack of connection and feelings of isolation keeping us locked in a relationship that involves mistreatment of any kind, due to a fear of being alone, disconnected and isolated. Any kind of abuse leads to all sorts of problems. Even if you were not sexually abused as a child, if you have undergone any other type of abusive interactions, these same principles apply, the same lack of understanding of boundaries, the same lack of connection that leads one to try and find some way to fill the void.

There is hope for recovery. There is hope for being totally restored, change can take place. Your patterns of being drawn to unsafe, unhealthy relationships can change as you begin to develop a stronger sense of your self worth, and an understanding of healthy boundaries. The more you begin to value these things, your values will change and you will begin to be drawn to others with the same healthy values. Like attracts like. There IS hope.

Stay tuned for next week as I touch on workplace bullying, and the following Friday as I close the series with learning some tools to break the cycle of abuse, and how to get out of unsafe, and unhealthy abusive relationships. How to know when and if there is hope for change in the relationship, or if you are simply staying for the reasons mentioned above: fear of abandonment.

As I have mentioned from my previous blogs on this sensitive subject, if you or someone you know is being abused, in the words of the song twenty seven million, “We’ve got to rise up, open our eyes up, be her voice, be her freedom, come and stand up!” Contact the appropriate authorities, Children’s aid, or the police, or whatever the situation calls for. Go to a shelter for battered women if you are a woman being abused. Seek help! If you are a mother or father who has a child coming to you telling you they are being abused, take them seriously, listen to them, stand up for them and don’t ignore it. Do not be passively involved in allowing it to continue. If you are not standing up for your child for fear of your own safety, you need to seek help for yourself as well. It is likely you too, are being abused in some form or another.

If you’d like to look at another great resource, check out my one-on-one Boundary Development Program which will help bring control back into your life!

I would also like to mention on a closing note, that my coaching business, Freedom Life Love, supports the A-21 Campaign, an organization devoted to fighting against human trafficking and rescuing those sold into slavery, and helping to rehabilitate, restore and re-establish these victims back into society. I would also recommend downloading the song “Twenty seven million” by Matt Redman and LZ7 from iTunes on the subject of human trafficking, as the proceeds from your purchase of this song go towards rescuing these innocent children and youth from their exploiters.

Let us ‘rise up’ together, and be the voice, be the freedom, be part of the solution to the problem of abuse!

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If you have any questions on today’s blog or would like help on taking steps forward, I’d love to hear from you!  Post a comment below or visit my website and register for your Complimentary Strategy Session to discuss your situation in more detail.

Katie Meilleur – Certified Relationship Life Coach


Domestic violence happens in intimate relationships or marriage when one person tries to dominate and control the other. Domestic violence includes sexual abuse, but we will take a closer look at that subject on it’s own next Friday. Today, we will take a closer look at the aspect of Physical Abuse. For those just joining in, I am in the middle of a series on the subject of a abuse, and if you wish, you can take a look back at the preceding blogs including Emotional Abuse or Verbal Abuse.  I will discuss Sexual Abuse, Workplace Bullying, and finally, how to break the abuse cycle in the coming weeks.

Domestic violence is used for one purpose: Control. Total control. It takes place in the form of using fear, guilt, intimidation, shaming, put downs, manipulation, threats, and physical harm to wear you down until you submit to the total control, because you have become too tired of fighting it over time.

As I mentioned in my last blog, physical violence in a relationship often isn’t the first sign of abuse. You will likely see the signs of emotional and verbal abuse first, until it escalates to physical violence. Interestingly enough, although the purpose of the one who is abusing is to control and dominate, the very thing that occurs when his anger is aroused to the point of physical violence is the exact opposite – a lack of self control. Each one of us is called to be able to control our own reactions and interactions with others, and restrain our anger from physical and even verbal violence. Although it does not seem so at the time, (because anger is a powerful emotion, accompanied with a powerful sense of control), when a person loses the ability to control one’s own harmful actions towards another, they are out of control. Often physical violence happens for this reason. At the point the one abusing begins to feel they have lost control of the person they are trying to control, that is when the release of violent behavior takes place in an attempt to regain total control.

There are many signs of an abusive relationship, and we have addressed some of those over the past couple of weeks, but to simplify, if you feel a sense of ‘walking on eggshells, or an al or constant state of fear, unsure what you might do next to ‘set him off’, constantly worrying about what you should or shouldn’t say to avoid his wrath, you are likely involved in an unhealthy relationship. If you are belittled, or feel controlled, helpless desperate, or even a sense of self hatred, be careful… You may very well be in a toxic relationship.

Signs that you are in an abusive relationship:

Inner thoughts and feelings

Do you:
Feel afraid of your partner much of the time?
Avoid certain topics out of fear of angering your partner?
Feel that you can’t do anything right for your partner?
Believe that you deserve to be hurt or mistreated?
Wonder if you’re the one who is crazy?
Feel emotionally numb or helpless?

Does your partner:
Humiliate or yell at you?
Criticize or put you down?
Treat you so badly that you’re embarrassed for your friends or family to see?
Ignore you or put down your opinions or accomplishments?
Blame you for their own abusive behavior?
See you as property or a sex object rather than as a person?

Your Partner’s Violent Behavior or Threats

Does your partner:
Have a bad and/or unpredictable temper?
Hurt you, or threaten to hurt or kill you?
Threaten to take your children away or harm them?
Threaten to commit suicide if you leave?
Force you to have sex?
Destroy your belongings?

Your Partner’s Controlling Behavior

Does your partner:
Act excessively jealous and possessive?
Control where you go or what you do?
Keep you from seeing your friends or family?
Limit your access to money, the phone or the car?
Constantly check up on you?

It is still abuse if…

The incidents of physical abuse seem minor compared to those you have read about, seen on tv, or heard other women talk about. There isn’t a ‘better’ or ‘worse’ form of physical abuse.

The incidents of physical abuse have only occurred one or two times in the relationship. Studies indicate that if your spouse/partner has injured you once, it is likely he/she will continue to physically assault you.

The physical assaults stopped when you became passive and gave up your right to express yourself as you desire, to move about freely and see others, and to make decisions. It is not a victory if you have to give up your rights as a person and a partner in exchange for not being assaulted!

There has not been any physical violence. Many people are emotionally and verbally abused. This can be as equally frightening and is often more confusing to try and understand.

(See http://www.helpguide.orgfor more information on domestic violence).

Despite what I mentioned earlier regarding the abuser’s ‘loss of control’ about his/her physical responses, giving in to that ‘loss of control’ by becoming verbally or physically violent is actually a deliberate attempt to control or regain control. There are different perspectives on whether it is due to a loss of control or not. I feel that anyone who no longer takes the ownership of their behavior and allows themselves to respond out of rage and violence, is indeed ‘out of control.’ But I also believe that when we feel a loss of control and feel rage, what we are doing is trying to regain control by becoming violent. I believe we do not have to give in to our feelings and let them control us. We have a ‘choice’ as to how we react and CAN control our behavior. When we choose not to take ownership of our ‘out of control feelings’ we give in to the illusion that we are not responsible for our actions, and we are consciously choosing to become abusive, and yield to the rage we feel for feeling ‘out of control’ because someone is not doing what we want them to do, so we incite force to make them comply with our wishes. It is a very complicated matter and a fine line between control and out of control, involving cognitive distortions about what behaviors we believe we have control over and what we believe we are powerless over. No matter what we believe, we are each responsible for our own choices. Abusive behavior often comes from not taking ownership of your own thoughts, feelings and actions, and projecting ownership onto others. Engaging in abusive behavior IS A DELIBERATE CHOICE made by the abuser to control. I do not have time to thoroughly unpack the psychology of the abuser’s make up in this blog, but what I have written is a short summary of a more in depth discussion.

Let’s take a quick peek at the cycles involved in domestic violence:

To recap: the tactics used to exert power in a relationship include, domination, humiliation, isolation, threats, intimidation, denial and blame.

The Cycle Of Domestic Abuse:

Abuse – The abusive partner lashes out with aggressive, belittling, or violent behavior. The power play is designed to show you who is “boss”.

Guilt – after abusing you, your partner feels guilt, but not about what he’s done. She’s more worried about the possibility of being caught and facing the consequences of her abusive behavior.

Excuses – Your abuser rationalizes what he/she has done. The person may come up with a string of excuses or blame you for the abusive behavior – everything to avoid taking responsibility for his/her own actions.

“Normal Behavior” – The abuser does everything he can to regain control and keep the victim in the relationship. He may act as if nothing has happened, or he may turn on the charm. The peaceful honeymoon phase may give the victim hope that the abuser has really changed this time.

Fantasy and planning – Your abuser begins to fantasize about abusing you again. He spends a lot of time thinking about what you’ve done wrong and how he’ll make you pay. Then he makes a plan for turning the fantasy of abuse into reality.

Set up – Your abuser sets up and puts his plan in motion, creating a situation where she can justify abusing you.

The apologies and loving gestures in between abusive episodes make it difficult to leave. He may make you feel like you are the only person who can help him, that things will be different this time, that he will truly change, and get counseling, and that he really does love you.

If you suspect somebody you know is being abused, look for these signs:

The person seems afraid of, or is anxious to please their partner.
They may go along with everything their partner says, not expressing any difference of opinion.
They seem to check in with their partner about everything they are doing.
They receive harassing phone calls from their partner.
They communicate to you about violent encounters, or talk about their partner’s temper, jealousy and possessiveness.

They may communicate re: excessive injuries that they have had an ‘accident’.
They may frequently miss school, work or social occasions without explanation.
Dress in clothing to disguise bruises or scars.

They may have very low self esteem, be restricted from seeing family and friends, rarely go out in public with their partner, be depressed, withdrawn, suicidal, anxious. They may have limited access to money, credit cards or the car.

Speak up if you suspect someone you know is being abused. Let that person know you care by expressing your concern. It may save their life!

If you are identifying with being abused, and feel your life is in immediate danger, seek help now! Call 911 if you are in danger of being physically assaulted imminently. Don’t wait! Seek help!

I will be discussing in a few weeks how to make the necessary steps to stop the abusive cycle and/or get out if necessary, but please don’t wait until then if you are in imminent danger! Call the police!

Stay tuned for next Friday’s blog on Sexual Abuse. Remember, no action is seen as agreement. If you know someone is being abused and you don’t speak up, you are silently agreeing that the abuser’s treatment of your friend is ok. You are unknowingly, but not deliberately participating in communicating that your friend does not deserve better treatment than the abuse they are putting up with. Say something. Remind them of how much they are worth. Their self esteem is low, you need to be the voice to rebuild their confidence and remind them what loving behavior looks like.

No one deserves to be abused! No one! We all have innate, God given worth. You ARE lovable! And worthy to be treated with love ad respect!

If you’d like to look at another great resource, check out my one-on-one Boundary Development Program which will help bring control back into your life!

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If you have any questions on today’s blog or would like help on taking steps forward, I’d love to hear from you!  Post a comment below or visit my website and register for your Complimentary Strategy Session to discuss your situation in more detail.

Katie Meilleur – Certified Life Coach


You’ve seen the quote ”dance like no one is watching, sing like no one is listening, love like you’ve never Imagebeen hurt’… But have you spent much time thinking about it?

 I have it engraved on stone hanging on my wall and I noticed it yesterday… Especially the last line.

 Love like you’ve never been hurt.

 How is this done? For those of us who are the walking wounded, who have been hurt one too mImageany times to count, feeling like reaching out one more time simply might be the death of you -risking again… For what? Perhaps we need a little help to get there.

 Loving, risking, losing. Start over.

Loving, risking, losing… Again and again, stung by betrayal, abandonment, loss. Rejection.

 As the ice melts from my frozen heart, and spring has come to fill my soul afresh, I feel my wounds heal.I have been taught humility by my circumstance.Image

 The world does not revolve around me. I saw a friend, deeply wounded, and saw how she held onto love despite the pain she faced. I looked within myself and saw my inadequacy. I saw that I grappled with mercy and grace and judgments towards those who’ve offended me. How hard it was to let it go and set them free & embrace humility. My pride and resentment kept me trapped in a prison of my own making. Bitterness. I had been trying to forgive – wrestling with it, trying to let go of the pain, but the pain had become my only friend, and my protector. The ice around my heart began to form to protect my heart from further injury. I became numb. And broken. What used to function normally- the ability to love, felt frozen behind a wall of insecurity, fear of being hurt again, fear of loss and pain became my comfort. But in the hardening of my heart what came next was isolation.

 Man was not meant to be alone.

 I’d forgotten how to love at all.

Yet alone to love like I’ve never been hurt.

The secret is forgiveness. Not for them but me. Unforgiveness is like a poison you drink yourself.

 ‘Forgiveness is nothing more and nothing less than an act of self healing – an act of self-empowerment – no longer a prisoner to my tragic past, that I was finally free’.

 The above quote was taken from Eva Kor, a survivor of the Holocaust and the experiments of Joseph Mengele at Auschwitz 50 years ago, who was able to forgive her oppressors in the very place they took away her freedom, her innocence and her family.

 Forgiveness is a process as it takes time to heal, for sure.

But humility and recognizing our own weaknesses and sins can help us give grace to those who have injured us. Grace is a lesson I am learning. I have never been very proficient at it. Without being aware, I have battled with my own sense of self-righteousness and would cling to my right for justice, all the while knowing that mercy triumphs over justice. But still I held on to the ‘why me’, ‘it’s not fair’, victim mentality. It wasn’t my fault. So why did this happen to me?

 Now I see the error of my ways, my own pride and am humbled by my own vanity.

 How do you love like you’ve never been hurt? Without walls of fear or anger or pain or pride to protect you? I knew it in my head, but it needed to penetrate to my heart… Let go of the need to be in control. Let go of the pain and trust God with your heart’s protection.

Let go of fear and give it to God to hold onto. Perfect love drives out fear.

I saw myself in the garden of Eden, along with Adam and Eve, hiding themselves from God.

 ‘where are you?’ He called out to them?

 ‘I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself’ Adam replied.

 So true. Our vulnerabilities make us feel naked. Our awareness of our sinful nature cause us to feel humiliated so that we hide. We feel alone. We believe we must defend ourselves and hide. Hide from more hurt. Hide from awareness of our own flaws. Hide from the effects of other’s sin against us.

 God was reaching out to them, but they couldn’t see that because of their own shame and independence from him. Unable to turn to the only one who could help them, they locked themselves in their independence and separateness from him, left to their own devices to protect themselves from harm, little knowing that their own efforts were causing them to open themselves to vulnerability in harmful ways. But deceived, they believed they were protecting their vulnerability instead.

 By holding onto control, we leave ourselves more exposed to harm and falsely believe our walls of independence -the belief that we can handle it on our own – will protect us from further vulnerability and further harm. But it is only an illusion.

 The only way to love like you’ve never been hurt, is to let go of our attempts to control the  outcome of events. Control is an illusion. I can’t control what others do or don’t do, I can only take responsibility for my own actions.

 Fear is not my friend. It is not a good protector. It blocks us from the ability to love.

 To love like I’ve never been hurt requires me to trust God with my pain, my fear, my inadequate ability to effectively protect myself, and believe that even when I don’t understand, that he will somehow work all things together for the ultimate good, if I choose to embrace the lesson to be learned from my experiences. 

 Instead of hiding in the garden afraid, respond to God’s question ‘where are you?’ with a new answer.

 I’m hurt Lord. I want to protect myself from further pain. I know that is independence from you & I choose to open up to you, to not hide, but rather run to you and let you embrace me, and bandage my wounds, and make me whole again. I choose to trust you with my heart. I choose to take down my walls. I choose to love and I choose grace and I choose forgiveness and I choose to acknowledge I am fallible too. I hurt people too. We are all on equal footing. I choose to repent of my own arrogance and self righteousness. And self pity. I choose to embrace love.  I choose to learn and offer grace. I choose humility.

 My friend and I are on a journey together. We are letting life teach us it’s lessons to learn. We are letting God teach us how to love like we’ve never been hurt. How to let down our habits and trained defenses and walls, and learn the healthy boundaries of taking responsibility for the only thing we Imagecan. Our own actions, our own behavior and responses and attitudes.

 To all of those who have hurt me in some way great or small, to all those i have hurt as well. Not only do I forgive those who have hurt me, But I repent as well. For the lack of grace, lack of integrity, lack of love, the walls, the judgments, the arrogance, my fear. I am fallible too. I know that now.

If you’d like to look at another great resource, check out my one-on-one Trauma Recovery Program which will help you move forward from betrayal, hurt, or loss!

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If you have any questions on today’s blog or would like help on taking steps forward, I’d love to hear from you!  Post a comment below or visit my website and register for your Complimentary Strategy Session to discuss your situation in more detail.

Katie Meilleur – Certified Life Coach

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