16 Steps for Leaving a Sexually Abusive Marriage

16 Steps for Leaving a Sexually Abusive Marriage

Since I left my abusive marriage nearly 10 years ago (read about my story here), I have met several women and one young man who were working towards getting out of their abusive marriages. While I am not an expert, nor am I a therapist, I have some thoughts and ideas for others looking to get out of an unsafe, abusive or controlling situation. Many of these ideas and tips are things that I did myself to work towards getting out.

1. Get Spiritually Reflective.

Pray, pray, pray. I spent several weeks on my knees begging God to make the way clear. As I previously shared in my testimony (When Your Husband Is Your Rapist), God and I had several long talks before I made the decision that I needed to get out for my safety, my daughter’s safety and my mental health.

2. Get Educated.

Go to the library and check out some books on abuse, rape, or whatever your situation is. My eyes were opened as I read in detail, from books and articles, things that were said to me verbatim by my then-husband (also referred to as “he” or “him” in this article). Reading some of the information freaked me out a little and made me think that these abusive and controlling men must pass around notes in the locker room, because it seems like abusers do and say many of the same things in their efforts to control, demean and isolate the people they prey upon. Ultimately, it made me feel less alone, more supported and better equipped to make the decision to get out.

3. Get Space Daily.

Try to get away to a safe place from your abuser for even a few hours each day to clear your head. This could be at school, work, church or even a coffee shop. Once in my desperation of being turned upside down by him (one of the books I read called it “crazy-making”), I lied and told him that I needed to take a walk. He said he was too busy in the house to care for our daughter in my absence so I called my mom to come over and care for my baby girl. My dad dropped my mom off at the house, pretending that he had to run an errand. Dad drove up the street and met me at a restaurant just so I could talk to someone, cry and breathe in safety. My dad did not know all of the details of my situation, but he knew that I was in a crisis, was falling apart and needed someone just to sit with me. That hour of relief helped to settle me for a few hours so I could be a parent to my daughter.

4. Get Detailed.

Write down the abuse details, past or present. Keep the notebook in a safe place. It helped me to begin to separate the smart, beautiful, faithful, funny, personable and kind person I was from the way that he described me—dumb, ugly, lazy, mean-spirited, bully—to name a few. There was even a time that I could not safely keep record of these things so I called a trusted friend and had her write them down for me.

5. Get Connected.

Work to reconnect with family, friends and others whom your abuser has pushed out of your life. The day after I decided to get out of my toxic marriage, I remember calling my brother, who had been demeaned by my abusive spouse. My brother told me he loved me. He honored my decision. He volunteered to reserve, pick up and drive the moving truck. As a side note, my brother also made me an encouraging CD of songs to get me through the next weeks, which I still have and play from time to time. (Thanks, bro!) The friends that I reconnected with were also the ones I called on to help me move my things out of his house. One friend told me she “was honored that I would ask her” to help me. I knew how dangerous this move would be so the thought of someone being honored to protect me helped immensely.

6. Get Legal Advice.

If you can, consult with a lawyer as soon as possible. I was scared to do this because the man I was married to told me that if I ever left him, he would call the police and tell them I had kidnapped our daughter. I needed to hear from a lawyer that I could leave that house, take my daughter with me and still be within my rights. This may be clear to those of you who have not been in abuse like this, but the depth of my confusion was revealed here. The lawyer told me to be calm on the phone with him when he figured out that we had left, let him know I and our baby were safe and that he could contact us by phone only.

7. Get Organized.

Once you have decided that you need to get out, start making plans. Here are some things to think about gathering and taking somewhere safe before the move. I had a box with a lid that I kept hidden from him and would place things I needed when he was not there. When I could, I would take the box or the contents, often hidden under a baby blanket, to my parents’ house, before my final move.

  • Documentation: Make copies of documents like mortgages, bank statements, tax returns, canceled checks, all joint accounts with account numbers, phone numbers, cell phone plans, etc. I even made copies of the receipts from one of his affairs, just in case I needed them.
  • Keepsakes and things that belong to you: Trust me on this one, if you want something or need to have it, you must take it now. The odds are you will never get it back from your abuser after you have left. My family still makes jokes about the garlic press I left there and will never see again.
  • Cancel all joint banking or credit card accounts the moment you are safe. I had a friend who did not do this and her ex maxed out the joint credit cards before she knew anything about it. She had to pay half of that amount in the divorce settlement.

8. Get Your Own Accounts.

Get your own bank account before you leave, and password protect it. I had set up my own account a week before I left. The banker who helped me was so uplifting to me, as his mom had to flee from his dad when he was little. I’ll never forget his face, which was filled with righteous anger, as he was setting up my accounts and encouraging me to get away and never look back. Have your work checks deposited in your new account as possible. Determine if you can transfer some of your/joint money into your personal account right after you leave. I took half of what was in our joint account, and I was not sorry.

9. Get Password Protected.

Consider doing this with cell phone accounts, checking accounts, and credit cards. I did not know about this service until weeks later, and he was able to call into the bank and order a check card from my new account sent to his address. By God’s grace, I caught it and had the card canceled right away. I still have all of my accounts password protected for this very reason.

10. Get Packing or Make a List of What will be Moved.

Decide what you need to take with you—quickly. Be organized and ready to go the instant your abuser leaves the house the day of your move. I spent every minute he was not home for the two weeks I was planning my getaway getting ready, packing up what I could keep hidden, making note of what needed to come with me and my baby and what I could leave behind. When my friends came, I walked through each room and told them what needed to go in the truck. If it is not safe for you to take some of your things, keep the big picture in mind. Staying safe and alive (in my case) took precedence.

11. Get Moving.

Find a date and time that you know your abuser will be out of the house for several hours. As soon as they leave, make your phone call to your helpers to come now. Mine were down the street waiting in their cars for him to leave. As a side note, some of the people I have helped have wanted to face their abuser and tell them what they were doing, why they were leaving and/or they want to dignify the marriage and say a formal goodbye, prior to moving. I urge you to never do this. Get out and get safe first and decide later whether to talk to the abuser again.

12. Get Wise about Your Neighbors.

You need to decide if you can trust your neighbors with knowing that you are moving. Mine were so fleeced by him and caught up in his lies that I could not trust them. I just prayed that they wouldn’t call him when the moving truck pulled up and tell him what was going on. I knew that if he found out and came home he would have killed me. I was blessed, and the neighbors did not notice the truck or the stuff leaving the house. Thank you, Jesus!

13. Get the Children to a Safe Place Before you Move-out.

If you have kids, find someone you trust to take them somewhere fun and safe while you get out. Then have them meet you after it is all over. A friend took my baby and kept her safe, happy and fed while I was escaping.

14. Get One or Two Safe Houses.

I moved in with my parents after I moved out, but I had two other places/homes where I knew I could hide with my baby, and he would never find us. Only one other person knew where these houses were—even to this day. As it turned out, I needed one of the safe houses hours after I left as he figured out that I had gone before I thought he would. He called and threatened that he was coming for my daughter and me. I was scared there and shook for an hour in fear, but I knew that he wouldn’t find us, which was hugely comforting in all the stress.

15. Get Professional Counseling.

You will feel almost euphoric for a few weeks after getting out, but that euphoria will wear off, and in my case, it was not pretty. I was finding myself in the undertow of depression and post-traumatic stress. I needed professional help for turning the world right-side-up, working through the lies, the rape and objectification. I have an acquaintance who did not get help after getting out of a situation similar to mine, and she is still having post-traumatic stress episodes more than ten years later. Time does not heal all wounds.

16. Get Walking.

My last piece of advice, go for a walk outside every day after getting out. The fresh air cleaned out the clutter of mental trash and it helped me to remember what my body needed—basic care and attention.

Our Contributing Authors
The Last Battle Blog aims to provide meaningful tools and information about the issue of sexual violation. We offer a way to express yourself, as you engage in your own personal awareness and share your strengths with others. Our goal is to cover a variety of topics, stories, ideas, and to create a blog that is beneficial and honoring to those who read it. Last Battle’s contributing authors help make this happen.

Hiding Behind a Mask

Hiding Behind a Mask

…but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel. Proverbs 12:10b (NIV)

I have spent a great deal of time contemplating those words. Strangely, this verse brings me comfort because it keeps me sane and centered on truth. Why are the kindest acts of the wicked cruel? The ‘kind acts’ are deceptive and dishonest. They lead to confusion by keeping the recipient off-balance and unable to trust their own instincts. The kind acts become a mask of niceness that the evil attempt to hide behind. Unfortunately, it often works. Others may view the abuser as being a kind and benevolent person.

Here is what I know to be true…receiving ice cream after having been trapped in a car witnessing a lewd act doesn’t negate the aforementioned lewd act. An abused child accepting a silver dollar doesn’t wipe clean the damage done to that child’s body and soul. There is NO amount of money, presents, or privileges that can make up for having been used as an object for someone’s sexual gratification. Nothing can cancel out the criminal acts perpetrated against the victim. Doing good stuff does not erase the bad stuff. It never will.
That’s why we need Jesus! (Oops, now I’m getting into theology.)

Since disclosing my memories of abuse to my parents, I have received holiday cards and a few emails in which they declared their love for me. Numbness is what I felt. Love…really? My parents have never acknowledged my memories. They have adamantly called me a false accuser. (A fancy way of saying liar.) They have attacked me by angrily listing what they believe are my character flaws. While acting as though they have been victimized, they have been successful in keeping the extended family from making any overtures towards me. Sending the occasional card that is signed, “love, mom & dad,” has given them a ‘nice’ mask to hide behind. Apparently, they have convinced themselves that in doing this they have reached out to me in love. A year ago they sent a graduation card to my daughter. My parents used that opportunity to criticize me and told my daughter that her mom was holding a grudge for something that never even happened. They also told my daughter that there was a gift of five hundred dollars waiting in their account and all my daughter had to do was to call them to claim it. You see, with an abuser, the gift is always tied to something.

We are all sinners. No one is absolutely good all of the time. So, who are the truly wicked? In his book, PEOPLE OF THE LIE, M. Scott Peck, M.D. says, “It is not their sins per se that characterize evil people, rather it is the subtlety and persistence and consistency of their sins. This is because the central defect of the evil is not the sin but the refusal to acknowledge it.” (p. 69)

The consequences of childhood sexual abuse are significant. The damage done to the victim is compounded exponentially by the mask of piety which the perpetrator hides behind. The wicked or evil are experts in disguise. Let us open our eyes and allow God’s truth to guide us so that we can stop being deceived by those masquerading as light.

Isaiah 5:20 (NIV)
Woe to those who call evil good
And good evil,
Who put darkness for light
And light for darkness,
Who put bitter for sweet
And sweet for bitter.

Our Contributing Authors
The Last Battle Blog aims to provide meaningful tools and information about the issue of sexual violation. We offer a way to express yourself, as you engage in your own personal awareness and share your strengths with others. Our goal is to cover a variety of topics, stories, ideas, and to create a blog that is beneficial and honoring to those who read it. Last Battle’s contributing authors help make this happen.

My Daughter’s Safety During Her Visitation (with My Rapist Ex-Husband)

My Daughter’s Safety During Her Visitation
(with My Rapist Ex-Husband)

The man I was married to (I often refer to him as him or he in this article) still has 50% parenting time with my daughter. That is right, not “our” daughter, mine. I never pressed charges for the abuse or the rape that he put me through for the seven years we were dating and married (read my story in last month’s blog), though there are now medical reports of the abuse, which I will talk about later in this article. In many ways, I wish that I would have pressed charges, but at the time, I was so scared and so filled with shame.

One of the main reasons I wish I would have pressed charges is in the protection of my beautiful, intelligent, funny eight-year-old daughter. The torture of my life is condensed into having to send her to his house, where I cannot protect her from his controlling and abusive nature. Nor can I protect her entirely from the sexual abuser that he was to me, and the beginnings of manipulation and abuse that he has already inflicted on her.

Friends often ask me how I release her to his house and get through my life without being a wreck when she’s there.

Prayer

The biggest thing that I do for my daughter when she is gone is to lift her up in prayer. The Bible says to pray without ceasing, and I think I often burn a hole in God’s ear when she is away. I pray specifically:

  • For her to be physically protected with a high hedge built around her body.
  • For her emotionally, that when he manipulates her or intimidates her, that she will find a way to recover emotionally.
  • For her spiritually that she will be able to pray with clarity and be comforted and blanketed in peace.
  • I pray that she can sleep restfully and without fear, ready to face the next day when she awakes.
  • Alongside this, I pray specifically for the angels who are protecting her. I don’t know if this is biblical, but I asked God to keep her safe with angels, and I trust that He has. I pray for fastidiousness for these protectors, joy in their service and ask for them to hug and comfort my girl regularly throughout her day.
  • I printed some photos of my girl and handed them out to friends and family, asking them to put the picture in a prominent place and when they see it, to pray for her.

My daughter has told me several times that she can feel these prayers and the protection from them.

When she returns home, there are several things that we do:

  • We spend time reading the Bible together, developing her budding faith in Jesus Christ.
  • She and I have read through several storybook Bibles over the years; we just finished one about brave women in the Bible. She will often bring up these stories as we are going about our day, so I know that they are sinking into her brain and her heart.
  • We go to church weekly, and I encourage her to attend Bible class and worship. She loves to sing and is continually singing worship songs to her Savior. I know that this carries over to his house and brings her joy and comfort in the midst of chaos.

She and I have worked through family expectations at our house (most of these are forbidden at his house and, therefore, have a direct rule at ours):

  • You are allowed to cry here.
  • You are allowed to be angry here and show that anger in a productive way.
  • You are allowed to be a real person here and have real feelings, you don’t have to hide what you are feeling.
  • We say we are sorry in our house when mistakes are made.
  • You can make mistakes here.
  • You are honored, loved and accepted here. You will always belong here, in our family.

Other elements of structuring and nurturing that have helped:

  • I am intentional about calling our house “our house” and her dad’s house “your dad’s house.” I do not call his house “her house” or “their house.” It reinforces that she belongs here in our home, is safe and loved here. We also do not use his name in our house, in order to take his perceived power and authority away. In front of my daughter, he is called “her father” or “your dad.”
  • I do not defend him. My daughter has often said , “he is not a real dad to her” and she, “wishes he was not her dad.” I never swoop in to rescue his image in this, one, First, I don’t believe that reconstructing what she thinks of him helps her stay aware of her experience. Doing damage control of his image is not worth my energy.
  • Over the years, the men in my family have done what they can to fill that void in her life. I also work hard to make connections and friendships with Godly men who can demonstrate what it means to be a father, dad, and daddy, even if we just call them “uncle” or “grandpa”.
  • In light of my abuse history with him, I am sensitive and immediately investigate concerns of physical, sexual or emotional abuse with my daughter. As an example, when she was in preschool around three years old, one of her daycare workers noticed some self-soothing that she was doing before naptime and brought it to my attention. I was shocked, panicked and raging, but I had to know medically if he had violated her and there was a connection to the self-soothing behavior. I left work, picked her up from daycare and took her to a children’s pediatric emergency room and had her examined and swabbed by someone who is an expert for what they called “SA” (sexual assault).
  • Every year when we go and see my daughter’s pediatrician, she talks to my daughter about appropriate touch and asks specific questions about safe touch.
  • After the preschool incident, I sought counsel from a friend at church who is a child psychologist. She encouraged me to start talking about safe touch with my daughter. She told me about a safe touch book and a coloring book that we purchased. We also talk about safe touch ALL the time.
  • Anytime there is anything that happens at his house that seems negligent or abusive physically; I take my daughter to the doctor. Recently, she fell down three stairs, scraped her face and potentially broke her ocular bone when she was at his house. Of course, he did not seek medical treatment, so I took her into the doctor and had the neglect put in her records.
  • Additionally, I have let her school know, through the principal and school psychologist, that they need to keep an eye on my girl. They have been vigilant and have called social services twice for things that he has done to her, which she reported to them before I even knew about it.

As I was thinking about this article and reading my Bible this week, I ran across these verses from Lamentations, which encourage me in this phase of my life.

“I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. This I call to mind and therefore I have hope:

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.’

The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” Lamentations 3: 19-26

I know that God will equip both my daughter and me with the skills and knowledge needed to continue to endure that her father has legal rights to visitation with her. I know that in God’s faithfulness, He will find a way to reduce and eliminate the need for my daughter ever to go to his house.

Note from Mary Ellen Mann, cofounder of Last Battle:
Since this article was written Becky’s daughter reported sexual acting out from her father’s girlfriend’s sons. Social services was called immediately and the visits have ceased per social services recommendations, pending further investigation.

Our Contributing Authors
The Last Battle Blog aims to provide meaningful tools and information about the issue of sexual violation. We offer a way to express yourself, as you engage in your own personal awareness and share your strengths with others. Our goal is to cover a variety of topics, stories, ideas, and to create a blog that is beneficial and honoring to those who read it. Last Battle’s contributing authors help make this happen.

God Loves, Supports and Grieves

God Loves, Supports and Grieves

God loves me. God is for me. Sexual abuse grieves God.

The above statements are very simplistic. But after acknowledging that I was was a victim of childhood sexual abuse, stating and really believing that God loves me and is “for” me has been the way I’ve held on –to life…to truth.

“If The Lord had not been my help my soul would have lived in the land of silence.” – Psalm 94:17 ESV

At fifty years of age I officially began this journey. Earlier in my life I noticed there were some cracks in my world, even though I used all of my energies to create a “perfect” world. Those cracks allowed some light and truth to shine through. It’s been a slow awakening for me. Without God’s leading and His nudging me along ….I wouldn’t be here today. Two years have passed as I’ve journaled, prayed, read and wept. Nothing is easy about this path. The best part about this process is the closeness I’ve felt with God. He believes me. He knows exactly what happened. God is for truth even when the truth isn’t pretty. God never intended for my dad to use children, his children, for sexual pleasure.

My husband and children support me and believe me. Disclosing my childhood sexual abuse to them actually helped them to make sense of many things that had been confusing. My extended family has shut me out. The only ones that I disclosed to were my parents and brother, but shortly thereafter they rallied the troops, so to speak, and my parents became the “victims” and according to them, I was the “false accuser”. My parents have continued to deny any wrong doing and have chosen to paint me in a bad light by attacking my character. It is painful. Aunts, uncles, cousins have cut me out, acting as if I am the villain for disclosing the abuse to my parents. My aunt said that she’s known my dad for over fifty years and he would NEVER do such a thing as I had accused.

I have come to realize that when I hear voices saying:
“It’s better to just pretend.”
“Let bygones be bygones.”
“Was it really THAT bad?”
These statements do not ring true of God’s voice. God is for truth, light, and freedom. He says to hate evil and to cling to what is good. Who IS for deception, darkness and chains?

For those who have not experienced or read about the aftereffects of childhood sexual abuse, it may be difficult to understand how all of the sudden a victim “recalls” hers/his abuse later in life. It is possible, but for me the memories were not new, only latent. The thing is…when I was a child I knew nothing of sexual abuse. Even if I had of known—a child will trust the adults in his/her life to tell them the truth. Therefore, things that are very abnormal can seem normal to the child…it’s all that she/he knows. So, my memories were filed in my head as something “different” than abuse. I had to use my adult eyes and experiences to see the memories for what they were. They were not just a bad idea, or a mistake but were planned opportunities for my dad to achieve sexual gratification. I remembered “helping” dad, being “taught” by dad, or “playing” with dad. It was only after allowing myself to speak those memories aloud that I could begin to see them for what they truly were…abuse.

I am still walking this healing path. Fear sets in at times. God tells me to not be afraid…but to keep on speaking.

“For my father and my mother have forsaken me but The Lord will take me in.” -Psalm 27:10 ESV

Our Contributing Authors
The Last Battle Blog aims to provide meaningful tools and information about the issue of sexual violation. We offer a way to express yourself, as you engage in your own personal awareness and share your strengths with others. Our goal is to cover a variety of topics, stories, ideas, and to create a blog that is beneficial and honoring to those who read it. Last Battle’s contributing authors help make this happen.

Embracing Truth: A Warrior’s Journey Part 3

Embracing Truth: A Warrior’s Journey Part 3

Continued from Part II

I tried to believe that I had been given new life, that I could find freedom in my faith. But my history left me tangled in a web – driven by fear and shame, living inside a shell with a battle raging in my mind. The mind – scarred by injuries too dark for most people to even acknowledge.

This left me feeling alone. Lost in the shadows. I watched others grow and thrive. I watched as I fell deeper into the pit. A life spent gasping for air, struggling to hold on. This left me asking.

How many times have I cried out to you God? How many times have I asked you to take this cross from me? Why can’t I hear you? Why can’t I feel you? Are you even real? Why is the world so broken? What innocence is left in me? What can I ever become? When will you rescue me?

I keep searching for answers to my unanswered prayers. I am searching for meaning in what cannot make sense. I see the scars left behind and wonder if any of it means anything.

I was stuck in asking why.

Why was this my story? Why did my father choose this? Why did God let this happen? Why was I the target of so many men? I have come to peace with the fact that I may never understand or know the answers.

I no longer believe that an intellectual answer is what I need for healing. Now I believe that there is a soul within me worthy of the presence of God. My heart is affected by this. My mind finds peace here. This touches me and changes me in ways I may never understand, but that I do know.

I traveled the world trying to find meaning in my existence. I studied multiple religions testing the truths that I now believe. I dove into philosophy and psychology to make sense out of the dominion my mind seemed to have over my life. I sought counsel from people I trusted, I heard the truths that others believed. I don’t feel I lacked integrity in my search.

My search led to me to these truths. I now know that God wants me to doubt, to rage and to need. He understands why I question. Tainted by pain and darkness, I have had to fight to know that I am worthy of love. I have had to fight to experience joy or safety. I have struggled – enough for a lifetime – just to get up every day and keep fighting. The battle is long and requires a relentless pursuit of the truth.

I am not alone in this fight. My God will never leave me. The more I hold onto this truth, the more I let it permeate my mind – the more I feel hope. Hope that I can find freedom from the wounds that have crippled me. He walks beside me, in front of me, carries me and is always within reach. The freedom comes when I reach out my hand.

Love overcomes all evil. Good triumphs in the end. Everything has meaning. He is with me in every moment. He accepts me for who I am…no matter what I have done or what has been done to me. And He answers all questions with amazing love, perfect timing, and compassionate tenderness.

Our Contributing Authors
The Last Battle Blog aims to provide meaningful tools and information about the issue of sexual violation. We offer a way to express yourself, as you engage in your own personal awareness and share your strengths with others. Our goal is to cover a variety of topics, stories, ideas, and to create a blog that is beneficial and honoring to those who read it. Last Battle’s contributing authors help make this happen.

When Your Husband is Your Rapist

When Your Husband is Your Rapist

Living Beyond the Betrayal

The day I turned around and used what had happened to me to help someone else was a turning point in my healing. Let me start at the beginning. . .

I met this man in my twenties, and, to be honest, I cannot really remember what it was that attracted me to him, but we decided that we should get married and start a life together.

Due to my conservative upbringing—only knowing about sex from health class, a book and my mom—I was unaware of the sexual danger I was in with my then-fiance. As it turns out, I was entering the world of the Cluster B personality disorder. His narcissism lured me but the real darkness came from his sociopathic need to control me.

Not too soon after we were engaged, I was raped by him. I didn’t grasp what was happening or what I was feeling, so I bundled up all of my feelings, pushed them aside, and went on and married him. In retrospect I can see that he knew I would take responsibility for things like that so it continued well into our marriage.

Maybe I thought the marriage would cover all the “sin.” Maybe I just wanted to be loved. I cannot say. It was a confusing time, and I felt isolated because I thought the rape was my fault.

I am not an easily confused person by nature. I have a chemistry degree and run a science department. I was at the top of my class growing up, always taking advanced courses as a child. And still, I was not able to comprehend that he was as dark and destructive, as any rapist walking the streets today. He conned me.

Over the course of the marriage, I was used for his sexually fantasies, raped, manipulated and abused verbally, emotionally and physically. While he never hit or slapped me, his control was filled with threats and emotional withdrawal unless I met his standards. Even though I have not lived with him for 8 years, I can feel the terror of those years like it was yesterday.

My series of wake up calls happened shortly after my daughter was born. The verbal and emotional abuse increased and I was criticized for everything from the way shirts were folded to what kind of shoes I was wearing.

I really felt like I was damned if I did and damned if I didn’t in everything. My daughter was my responsibility alone. I had no help from him and was shamed for any request for help. I remember being sick with the stomach flu and asking him to take the baby for just 30 minutes so I could sleep and he said no. So I rested on the floor of my daughter’s room and played with her, grabbing the trash can to throw up from time to time.

When my daughter was about six months old, I was diagnosed with an STD and had to have a procedure to remove the damaged cells. He was there holding my hand and swearing to the doctor that I must have contracted the STD from giving birth in the hospital. Shortly thereafter, I discovered the evidence of one of his affairs and knew that I had to make a change. I moved into the guest room and felt like I could finally breathe when I was locked in there with my baby. I started avoiding him as much as I could. I would sit in the parking lot of the Super Target with my baby napping in the back seat, just to pass the time before I had to be home.

After months of “couple’s therapy,” it was clear he could manipulate the therapist who led me to believe that it was his distress that had to be managed first before any progress could be made. At one point, I was supposed to join him on the floor and hold him like he was an infant. This was when I knew there was no way I could continue.

Whatever doubts I had about leaving him went away when told me, in front of my baby, to “Shut the f—k up, don’t you know I have not slept since you left?” That his welcome home after mourning my grandfather.

In reflection, I had been praying for a sign to stay or go, and without a doubt the abuse doubled. God is faithful to not confuse me. He also showed his faithfulness when friends came over with a moving truck and I was moved out of that house in less than one hour.

A year later (and every year since), I celebrated my Emancipation Day with the understanding that I could have lost it all; my daughter, my mind, my body, my life.

The healing process from his various abuses and betrayals, rape, anguish and hurt was everything from convicting to refreshing. I sat at the feet of Jesus, prayed for the holes in my heart and life to be healed, read my Bible looking for comfort and went through lots of counseling to rebuild who I was, what normal looked like and to work through the blinding PTSD.

I want you to know that it is still a struggle. I still have days that are brutal, particularly when I have to send my daughter to his house. I see her distress and the roots of faith and trust organically grow deeper because I have no capacity to totally protect her from who he is.

However, in my quest to live beyond this person and his decay, I decided that I was not going to allow Satan to own my identity. My testimony was going to make sense to someone who would understand.

The day came when I reclaimed it all for Jesus and this part of my story has been the richest elements of the passion I have for my profession and it’s made me clean house with those who would want to ask me to disown myself. This reclamation was a choice that set thousands of other choices in motion. It was one of the clearest turning points in my healing and helped me to move from just surviving to thriving.

Since that day, God has placed specific people into my life who have walked similar paths of my journey. He has called me through His grace and mercy to minister to others through my story and ultimately has called me here to speak to you.

You see, brothers and sisters, God did not cause this to happen to me, nor He did make this happen so I could grow in my perseverance, faith, patience or any of those other lame excuses we offer each other when someone is hurting or suffering. My Father, Creator and Redeemer has instead used my story and my testimony for His Kingdom—for his glory, and my freedom, because what parent is satisfied with being glorified if the child isn’t free?

My prayer as you read this blog is not that you would know that you are not alone and there is hope. My destiny is not defined by what he has done, but who God has made me to be.

Our Contributing Authors
The Last Battle Blog aims to provide meaningful tools and information about the issue of sexual violation. We offer a way to express yourself, as you engage in your own personal awareness and share your strengths with others. Our goal is to cover a variety of topics, stories, ideas, and to create a blog that is beneficial and honoring to those who read it. Last Battle’s contributing authors help make this happen.

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