Freedom Series: Abuse to Favor

 “For me, my dreams were shaped out of a childhood that was fenced in by fear”

Abuse to Favor is a 96-page minibook that is a part of the Freedom Series created by popular author and speaker, Michelle Borquez. Each booklet shares a woman’s true story about her journey from brokenness to freedom.

In Abuse to Favor, Jo Ann Aleman shares her story, struggles, and triumph over abuse.  It begins with her father, a man she recalls as generous and loving with his children, but extremely abusive to their mother.  Her “normal” was a violently abuse home life fueled by alcohol binges. A home (a life) that healthy families would see as filled with fear-invoking, pain-inducing, spirit-shattering chaos.  Time and again, her mother would pack the children up and flee for safety, then return when things seemed more settled, and so it went on and on.

The cycle brought on by her father’s rage and abuse directed at her mother caused her to go to a place she felt more secure–her mind–a place that no one could touch, a place that seemed safe. Like so many others in her situation, she dreamed about how her life would be different. She fantasized about someone coming to rescue and protect her: a savior.

But, as with any story of abuse, there’s always more than what appears on the surface. Why did her mother stay in that abusive situation? Her mother stayed because of her own experience with abuse. She and her siblings experienced great physical, emotional and mental abuse by their stepfather.  So she promised herself that her future children would never be subjected to a stepfather. But it wasn’t that he was a stepfather. It was that he was a broken abusive man.

“Many times we think of abuse as being only physical; however, abuse takes on many forms. Sexual abuse, verbal abuse, and emotional abuse—even neglect–are all perversions of real, unconditional love.”

Fast forward to Jo Ann Aleman’s adult life… with her childhood promises to herself still with her, she married someone she thought would take her in a direction that was new and better. To a place she could only recognize in her dreams. But he didn’t.  She shares about his abuse and the ultimate disintegration of the marriage.  So longing to be loved, she quickly found herself in another marriage, this time to an older man. She hoped he would bring the security she so desperately wanted. Again, it was not to be found. He too, abused her both physically and emotionally.

“Many nights I was awakened by his fists pummeling my face. He would get so drunk that he would black out, and the next morning we would wake up to a house that looked like a tornado had ripped through it… He was bent on compete destruction.”

As you may have noticed in your own life, there is this resilience about human nature. No matter how bad things get, no matter how improbable the odds, in our little broken torn-apart state, we still somehow find a way to reach out like a flower in the shadows, straining toward the sunshine, hoping against hope for something good.  Jo Ann Aleman was no different. Her heart reached out yet again, longing for love. She spent twelve years in “prison” with her third husband. A man who abused her through fear and intimidation, lashing out through physical, sexual, emotional and verbal abuse. But this time, it spilled over onto her daughter.

That’s when something shifted. This time, she didn’t reach out to a man, but to God. She writes, “Although we are all somewhat conditioned by our environment, something deep inside of us reveals the truth.” There was more for her.  She wanted once and for all, to be free.

Sharon Kay Ball (a professional counselor) uses biblical illustrations to define healthy and unhealthy thinking and behaviors, and speaks to the issues of conflict, power, authority, power struggles, and abuse that can affect any type of relationship. She also walks readers through common abuser behavior:  using rage, silence, intimidation, altering your sense of reality, criticizing, and blame-shifting to control their victim.

“His words only confirmed my feelings. They shaped me, took root in my heart, and I believed the things he said.”

Ball breaks down the phases in the cycle of abuse and talks about making a “safe plan.” Although it’s crucial to get out of an abusive relationship physically, it’s not enough. Victims need to purge themselves from the damaging affects of abuse that are left embedded in their minds and spirits. That means talking about trust, low self-image, forgiveness, anger, and learning how to move forward.

Aleman writes, “I was free on the surface, yet broken and deeply wounded inside.” That was, until she decided to no longer allow herself to be defined by abusive men, but by a loving God who offered hope and healing.

You may also be interested in:

Domestic Violence: But He Really is a Good Person

What is Emotional Abuse?

Quotes From Women Who Have Suffered Emotional Abuse

Sexual Violence Against Women: Rape, Abuse and Incest

Innocence Lost: Women and Childhood Sexual Abuse

Note: Rose Publishing provided me with an advanced reader copy of this booklet.

Join me on Twitter @DestinysWomen

(c) By April McCallum, Destiny’s Women™–”Championing the Life, Freedom & Destiny of Women”


Freedom Series: Abandonment to Forgiveness

Abandonment to Forgiveness is a 96-page minibook in the Freedom Series created by Michelle Borquez. This booklet shares a story and life-changing principles that turn hopelessness to hope, bitterness to forgiveness, and the impossible into the possible.

When Michelle Moore was fourteen, her mother disappeared from her life. The woman who gave birth to her, cared for her, and shared life–the mother she loved–was gone, and without warning. She’d changed her identity and vanished without a trace. Her mother left no forwarding address and no explanation. She said, “My mom was my best friend.”

Michelle’s world, as she once knew it, was turned upside down overnight. None of the adults in her life could fill in the blanks for her, and adding insult to injury, no one else in the family–her father, her aunt and uncle, her grandparents—seemed to want her either. In Abandonment to Favor, Michelle’s questions echo what every other abandoned child (or person) wants to know:

  • Why did this happen to me?
  • Why did the other person get to move on?
  • What am I supposed to do with all of this hurt?

Abandonment leaves a person feeling devastated along with a string of other adjectives: alone, hurt, rejected, sad, angry, bitter, unloved, and the list goes on. Whether it’s a child whose been abandoned, a spouse, friend, or another close relationship, the damage of rejection cuts deep and it takes a great toll. On top of that, the people around her couldn’t understand or relate to the deep pain she carried. When there are no answers, no reasons, no empathy–nothing–the concept of forgiveness doesn’t seem to make any sense. She writes, I couldn’t get past my past.”  And, like so many others, she learned to withhold forgiveness because it gave her a sense of control.

As she moved into womanhood and became a wife and mother, she began to look closer at her abandonment issues. What was it that she really wanted out of life? How did she want the relationships in her life to be that were present and real? She came to understand that holding on to her anger and pain would keep her focused on and locked into the past, when what she desperately wanted was to move forward. Unforgiveness squeezes out our joy and stifles our peace. She wanted freedom from that burden she’d carried around for so long. Over time, Michelle came to realize that to hold on to unforgiveness was really to hold on to a false sense of control. She falsely believed that she could control something that in reality, she had absolutely no power over. The only thing she did have power over was her own choices.

Michelle Moore, Co-author of "Abandonment to Forgiveness"

Although there was no magic bullet, no mantra, no perfect words or behaviors that could reverse or change the reality or the feelings that came from her abandonment, Michelle chose to take what happened to her and use it for good. She purposed to free herself by embracing biblical truths about forgiveness, her own worth, and allowing God’s love to flow into the devastated places in her heart and fill them with hope and promise for her future. She reset expectations, embraced gratefulness for the good things in her life, and chose to take a realistic path of understanding that she could only control the things that were in her grasp.

In the middle section of this booklet, there’s a mini Bible study by Paige Henderson where, in part, she takes readers through a list of myths and truths about forgiveness. One of the biggest myths is a little like the chicken and egg question about what comes first: forgiveness or healing? Truth: We can’t heal until we forgive. “Forgiving is truly an issue of counting the cost and deciding… that either you can stay bitter and deal with the totality of issues that come with that choice, or you can heal… and live!

In the last section, “Steps to Freedom,” Sharon Kay Ball helps define what true forgiveness is and what it is not. She says, When children are abandoned, they learn very quickly not to trust. They learn how to put walls up to protect themselves so they can survive.”  Abandonment leaves us with missing pieces, like a puzzle. When we don’t understand the “whys” that are a part of our puzzle, we tend to try and fill those empty spaces with misfit pieces (people, things, wrong beliefs) that will never fill them. Until we embrace truth, we cannot find our peace and will always be grasping for answers.

In conclusion, she walks readers through the journey to healing by way of reflection and insight, journaling, the importance of telling their story, appropriately grieving the missing pieces, and through brief but meaningful writing assignments that will help them in the healing process. 

Most women have experienced some degree of rejection or abandonment at some point in their lives. Whether it was as devastating as Michelle’s story, or not, emotional shrapnel gets embedded and it needs to come out. Ultimately, the goal is to move from victim to survivor. It’s time to get free, embrace God’s love, and move forward. “Forgiveness brings ultimate freedom” — Set yourself free!

Purchase the book: Abandonment to Forgiveness

You may also be interested in:

10 Quotes about Forgiveness  

25 Quotes about Anger

Join me on Twitter @DestinysWomen

Note: Rose Publishing provided me with an advanced reader copy of this booklet.

(c) By April McCallum, Destiny’s Women™–”Championing the Life, Freedom & Destiny of Women”

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