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The Frog in Boiling Water

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Today, I would like to talk about how a formerly strong woman gets trapped in a domestic violence relationship. Many of us have heard the analogy of a frog in a pot of boiling water. If you put a frog in a pot of boiling water, it would jump out immediately. In the same way, if a man treated a woman disgracefully on the first date, she would never date him again. Instead, abusive relationships always begin wonderfully. He takes her to nice places, buys her flowers, and tells her he loves her. Other men are afraid to commit, but not her boyfriend! He is charming, interested in everything she says, and willing to spend all his time with her.

Back to the frog. In the beginning, the frog is placed in a pot of water that is at a comfortable temperature. He thinks, “Ah, this is nice, I think I will float around here for a while.” Then, the heat is slowly turned up under the pot. Being a cold-blooded creature, the frog’s blood slowly adapts to the new temperature. In the same way, a woman slowly adapts to the changes when her boyfriend “turns up the heat” in their relationship. Maybe he calls her a name every now and then. She tells herself, “That just isn’t like Johnny, he must be having a bad day”. Perhaps he begins telling her how to dress, and she thinks, “He loves me so much, he wants me to look my best.” When they disagree about something, and he blames her for the argument, she tells herself, “Well, I was a little disrespectful toward him, I guess…”

Pretty soon, the heat is quite high in that pot, the frog’s blood is almost to the boiling point. In the relationship, she has grown so used to being spoken to harshly, she has such a low self-esteem, that she doesn’t even try to fight back when he uses mind games on her, takes the money that she earns at her job, or smacks her face when she “looks at him wrong”.

Finally, the water in the pot is at a full boil, and so is the frog’s blood. He is dead. And the woman? She bears no resemblance to the strong, happy, self-confident person she was before she met him. She is a shell of a person, living to please him, and do his bidding. She lives in fear of him every day. Even the sound of his footstep makes her insides quake. What about the man? He is quite happy. He has her just where he wants her….

That is the frog in the pot of boiling water analogy, and it is a good one. A new Facebook friend of mine posted the following analogy to one of the Facebook domestic violence pages. It caught my eye because it was different, and did a lot to explain what getting trapped into domestic violence felt like. It is written by Brandy Lockwood on her gowinfightflyfree website. Here is the link to the blog from October 28, 2012:

Someone asked Brandy:

“How could you ever let someone abuse you like that? I would never allow that to happen to me.”

Brandy responded, “This one is a hard one. When I hear this, I feel emotion rise up within my chest. Fact is, you don’t know how you would respond to any situation, unless you have been through it. You have no idea the fear that is being experienced.”

Here is the analogy she uses to describe getting caught up in a domestic violence relationship:

To help you understand more clearly, imagine you are standing on firm and solid soil, you feel comforted and safe. Now imagine someone you love, know, and trust, takes a shovel and begins to shovel a circle around you (like a mote around a castle). As they continue to dig and the circular hole around you gets deeper, a strange thing happens, the piece of soil you are standing on begins to shrink in diameter and to sink, very slowly. 

At first, you don’t even realize it, however, as time goes on and one shovelful after another is tossed out, you begin to realize you are sinking. At this point you bring it to attention of the person doing the shoveling, they stop and let things settle, they placate you and tell you everything will be fine, and not to worry. They apologize or give you gifts or what ever it takes to keep you on that piece of soil. You know this person, you love this person, you want to trust this person, and trust your own choice in trusting this person, so you do.

Soon the shoveling starts again, and you begin sinking again, slowly at first and then more rapidly. And again you are placated and assured. This continues to go on for quite some time until you are deep enough to realize you don’t want to be in this hole, you don’t like it here. It is at this point that you begin to look for a way out. Quietly and only when the shoveler is not looking, (for if they do catch you, they will simply shovel away even faster and make you sink even lower, pouring the shovelfuls of dirt over top your head), you begin to place soil beneath your feet and to climb out. 

It is a frightening and dangerous game to play, and it is often only through the grace of God and by others’ help you are finally able to build the soil up enough to get out of the hole. After you are out, the hole is still there, and it takes time and help to fully fill it back in so you can walk on that ground again without fear.

I pray the above will be helpful to anyone who is stuck in the mire of domestic violence. I love how Brandy finishes her analogy. Once a woman is stuck in a hole that has been dug by the person she (once or still) love(d,s), she is going to need the help of the Lord and others to get out. This is not something that she can do on her own. Abusers succeed in what they do by isolating their victims. They make them feel ashamed and alone. The good news is that

YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

There are so many women out there who are struggling just as you are. And there are many, many women who have managed to get free of their abusers. It is usually not safe for a woman to try to do this by herself. I often talk about abuse victims needing to create a safety plan. I have written a blog about this, here is the link. Also, I recommend that abused women educate themselves. To do this, check out my “What is Abuse?” and “Get Help” pages.

Most importantly, don’t ever underestimate your worth in God’s eyes. Jesus said in Matthew 10:29 – 31:

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. 

Yes, you have infinite worth in God’s eyes. Remember that as you seek the help you need. In His name, and for His sake,

Caroline

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