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.
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.