Soon after, I discovered his pornography addiction. Confused and defeated, I wondered when it would end. I knew of a girlfriend who had struggled in her marriage due to her husband’s use of porn, so I sought her out to gain some advice. After a few well-chosen questions from her, she got my entire story out of me.
Help wasn’t hard to come by when I finally reached out. For years, friends and family had lingered in the shadows, trying to help but repelled by my insistence that I was fine and I didn’t want their help. My greatest courage came from the gift of empathy from women that I knew to be beautiful and wise and had also suffered at the hands of an E.D.
It was this friend who finally put words to what I had been experiencing: sexual abuse, rape, physical, verbal, emotional abuse. I began to do research and discovered she was right. After seeking the counsel of other older Christian women who had survived domestic violence, talking to DV advocates, sheriffs, reading books, articles and praying very hard, I knew I had to leave my abuser. I had to protect my son and myself.
I couldn’t see the truth of E.D.’s abuse until I saw how he had abused other women. It wasn’t hard to see their scars; scars through which their true beauty still glowed with all its strength. As I listened, read and learned I finally began to see the truth of their words – that E.D. was killing me, too.
The following year was riddled with divorce proceedings, protective orders, living in a shelter, watching the rearview mirror, legal paperwork and court appearances and many fearful nights of crying out at God. With the finalization of our divorce, my now ex-husband was ordered to graduate from a Batterer’s Intervention Program before having unsupervised visits with our son. Just three weeks shy of his graduation, he took a polygraph test through which he admitted to molesting at least five children. After another year in a custody battle, I received a verdict from the judge: I won sole physical and legal custody of my son with no contact between my son and my ex.
Even once E.D.’s cruelty was uncovered and I knew the truth of who he was, it took years to divorce him. I lived in treatment homes, went through counseling, cried and cried and cried. Several times I wondered if I had healed enough to take E.D. back. Surely I could keep his misbehavior under control. Dabbling with him, speaking to him on occasion only lengthened my recovery process.
The last four years have been a roller-coaster ride. I left my marriage devastated physically, emotionally and spiritually. I felt like I was alone. I felt God was distant. I was angry at my abuser and at God. I screamed at God for answers … I’d decided I wouldn’t let go or let up until He answered me. Finally, God did speak to me and radically changed my heart from one of hatred and bitterness to one of seeking and learning. Now I encourage abuse victims and survivors, as well as educate others on how to recognize and respond to domestic violence.
The last four years, (at least four years) have been a roller coaster ride. I have married a man who loves me, and still once or twice E.D. has come to call. My only solace and hope has been in clinging ruthlessly to the hand of my Savior, Jesus Christ. Even greater still, has been His grip on my hand. He promised that no one, not even E.D. can snatch me out of His hand.
God showed me in real, tangible ways that I am special to Him and didn’t deserve abuse. God took the ashes of my existence and is making a beautiful life out of it.
This is truth. This is where truth is found. It is mined out of the ashes of pain. I heard someone say recently that we are wrong when we associate hard things with bad, and things that are easy with good. Someone else pointed out that Moses had to walk bravely up a mountain into thick darkness to be where God was. (Ex. 20:21)
At Predatory Lies, I long to make truth brighter, more aggressive, louder for the sakes of those who have E.D.’s hands over their ears or the hands of an abuser. Rachelle is working to strengthen the voice of truth. Please, loop a circle of hemp around your wrist, take our hands and SHOUT. Truth won’t be ignored.
The indented portions of this post were taken from Marissa’s post at SheLovesMagazine. Her words prompted the pieces of my own story. Please visit SheLovesMagazine and the site of Marissa’s own ministry Signal on VOICE.