This is for that young lady on the phone today who is contemplating suicide and for all those young ladies who I won’t get to personally meet to encourage or to hug or to cry with. You’re just a friend of a friend but with a story that was oh too familiar to me. I hope this story reaches you and you can eventually hold your head up and walk into your new, beautiful destiny.
“How could God let these things happen to me?” “What did I do to deserve this?” “Why are you punishing me?” These are questions I asked over and over again as I endured and smiled through awful accusations against this man… my “man of God”… for rape, adultery, compulsive lying, slander, and just plain awful behavior outside of the home; but more so, for the debilitating and humiliating physical, verbal and mental abuse I endured inside of the home.
“Why me?” That’s me asking God. All of the children who bear his last name, I carried and almost died bringing into this world. “What did I do?” was my tearful cry… usually in the shower cause the water could wash away my tears as fast as they came so that I could go back out into the world to, for his sake, pretend that everything was okay. It wasn’t.
It wasn’t love at first sight. I promptly dismissed him when we met and he went into relentless pursuit. The chase. It lasted over a year. The second I slightly accepted his advances, he begged for my hand in marriage. There were signs, but I missed or dismissed them and forged ahead.
I did everything by the Good Book, I thought. I was adamant that we wait for sex until we were married. Rushed to alter, our first time together intimately was on our wedding night. I was so Godly proud of us and, I don’t know… I kinda felt like God would bless our marriage for that alone. Like we had His seal of approval or something. I also assumed the mood swings he had during our courtship would surely fade once we were man and wife. They didn’t.
I was in it for life. Marriage. I never wanted to get a divorce. When he would have one of those episodes, it was then my job to protect him… to protect us… to protect his family. Be quiet. I always protected him even when he was hurting me. I loved him, but also because they were pretty prominent in the area and I didn’t want to be the one to stir the pot. For better or worse. THAT was the worst. Worse than the other stuff. But even worse than death. With death, I could, at least, still have my dignity. So, I dug my heels in and silently prayed and praised through it. That’s what faith does. Right?
When it got really bad, I would cry and plead to our pastors, his kin. Maybe they could help. Never my family and friends because I was way too embarrassed to tell them. I mean… I was college-educated, smart, beautiful and talented. How in the world would they understand how I’d gotten myself into this mess? Hell, I didn’t understand it. When I told them what he was doing to me, I was told that this was a normal part of marriage, to be shoved, pinned down to the floor, belittled, degraded, threatened, isolated, verbally assaulted, and held hostage in my own home. When I threatened to leave… and only after a humiliating fight, they would assure me that it would never happen again. Yeah, it’s still humiliating even if there is no one there to see it… until the children came.
There would be these brief moments of remorse; he and they would quote a few scriptures and things would go back to what felt like normal but could never really be. At least not for me anyway. Each occurrence left me with a little less. A little less self-worth. A little less dignity. A little less light. A little less me. And, most importantly, a little less faith.
“Things will get better when you have children,” pastor would tell me. Then it was, “For the sake of your children, you should stay.” I guess that was a way to keep me in this destructive situation. Have some babies. It worked.
He’d tossed me around our home like a football very careful not to leave any bruises or scars. The verbal abuse though… that was possibly the worst thing I’ve ever experienced in my life. There was no one excluded from his rants. My parents, family, friends, co-workers, other innocent church members; they were all a part of his arsenal of verbal assaults leveled at me. His mouth… that awful, awful mouth… was perhaps the deathliest of weapons. The abuser’s machete. The tongue. I’d much rather he picked up a gun and just shoot me cause then there would be some kind of end to the violence. Verbal attacks, though, just go on and on and on causing substantial and sometimes irreparable damage. And you won’t go to jail for that.
Young lady. I hope you feel me. Cause I feel you. I know what it’s like to make a tough decision for yourself and your children. If your experience is anything like mine, this decision only brings more attacks. More clever ones…. like threats, insults, cursing, cyber-bullying, slander, stalking, harassment, and using your children as pawns to manipulate and hurt you. The cleverest in the abuser’s bag of tricks is to lie, paint the picture he wants people to see, in an effort to continue isolating you, ruin your reputation and to destroy your credibility. In case you become brave and strong enough to share your experiences, ensures less people will likely believe you. I know that is VERY SCARY to face. I know. And if you are already gone and are experiencing any of these things, you may feel like you’re just gonna get lost in it and that no one could possibly understand what you are going through. I understand and I will be the first to say that I believe you.
Leaving an abusive situation sometimes does not stop the abuse right away… what it does is give you the opportunity to get stronger. To have a chance to heal. To rebuild your diminished faith. To see that starting over is not so bad. That you can make new friends and even have a healthier, loving relationship. To see that you are not what he says and does. That the lie didn’t make you. That he didn’t break you. That you did not crumble. That you did not bend under the weight of tyranny. That you didn’t lose your mind. And most importantly that you did not lose YOUR LIFE!
Your faith may be low and it may seem DARK where you are right now, honey. But, I can finally say that there is light on the other side. Light and love is all around you, in your spirit and in your soul. God DOES love you and has not abandoned you. You will see. Don’t give up on yourself. FIGHT for your life.