A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

Please Tell Our Readers What Single Realization Helped You Get Free – by YOU

I think it would be extremely helpful to all of us if some of you would share with us what single thing (go ahead and name a couple of things if you want) was vital in waking you up to what was happening to you and in that sense, setting you free from the evil delusion of abuse.  That “light bulb goes on” moment when your whole world changed for the better.  We have a forum here to tell others about key truths the Lord brought to us that were central in setting us free.  Anna and I will give you ours for a starter –

Jeff’s Awakening Moment was when I was reading about sexual abuse in a book that also talked about abuse in general, and I suddenly recognized that the mentality and tactics of abuse that I was reading about were the very same things that had been practiced upon me in the ministry for years.  Control and power and the tactics used to possess them.  That was some 3 years ago.  I realized that though I am far from sinless or perfect, the fact was that it’s not me, it’s them.  I still have to replay my history tapes and think through it to remember that this is true, but that was the key moment for me.  That is when I preached the sermon series on abuse and that really was the beginning then of our book, A Cry for Justice [*affiliate link].   By the way, I called that sermon series “The Psychology of Sin” because that is exactly what abuse is – sin in one of its purest and most vile forms.  I believe all pastors (all Christians for that matter) would do VERY well to study abuse – its mentality, its mindset, its tactics and schemes, – and they would find that they have obtained real wisdom about the nature of sin and “the prince of darkness grim” as the hymn calls him.

Anna’s Awakening Moment was not a moment at all. I didn’t have an awakening moment. It was many moments, all strung together. Realizing just how he was hurting my children and how justified he felt in trying to turn them against me, reading about what what motivates men to be strong and to lead and realizing that none of it fit my husband, Jeff’s sermons on abuse was a huge part–like finding water after years of desert living and near dying–suddenly everything made sense, and finally I just got sick of being lied to and having my husband try to snow me. Years of hearing “Honey, I’m changing” finally came crashing down on me and I realized, “You know what? He’s lying. He’s not changing. He’s never going to change.” I had to also get to the point where I realized that, though I’ve certainly failed in many ways, I’ve tried so hard to keep this marriage together and I did it alone. God knows that. He saw and He didn’t hold me accountable for something that was out of my hands.

Ok, now you take it away!  Just enter your comments to this article and I will copy and paste them into the main body of the article with your identifier.  Tell us all about it.  This is good stuff!

Ida Mae’s Exodus Story –  

Like others, it was a whole bunch of little realizations but here’s the biggie:

I spent the last two nights lying in bed, hearing the estranged banging through his gun safe, then stomping up to the bedroom door and howling like an animal. I expected to die. I was finished, completely, totally done and still had never considered leaving.

I woke the second night at four in the morning, heart pounding and the Lord spoke. He said, “Where are your children?” I told him the name of the city.

He said, “And that’s where you belong.”

I got up and packed.

Once I was out, I literally could not return. It was a physical, emotional impossibility. The Lord then led me to Why Does He Do That? by Lundy Bancroft. After reading through the book, everything else just fell in place. I found Cindy Burrell’s website, then Barbara’s and then the rest of you here.

Kay Tell’s Her Story –  

My story relates very much to RV56 and Cindy. I appreciate everyone who has the courage to share part of their journey of healing here.  The decision to walk away from 32 years of verbal, emotional, spiritual and sometimes physical abuse was not made from one single realization. With the fourth separation in ten years, I was living in a safe place with my two children who were still living at home. We were able to experience freedom and peace daily. I wasn’t on guard or afraid. I was able to look at my life realistically and see clearly that the promises, apparent repentance, agreement for counseling were a replay of the past separations; that he wasn’t going to change. I also read 2 of Patricia Evan’s books on Abusive Relationships and knew I could have written those books. What made the 4th separation the last one? He physically slugged our fifteen year old son in the chest when he stood up and asked his dad to please calm down. No child should have to defend their mom from abuse! I hadn’t been strong enough or had enough courage to say ENOUGH to my husband, xian friends, pastors, counselor, who insisted our marriage could be healed until that moment. I still hoped at times he would change, but one day, driving in the car, I begged God , “please don’t make me live with him again”. I heard a peaceful, quiet voice – you don’t have to. God is faithful every day and after 2 years and six months, my children and I agree, living in peace and freedom is great!

Barbara’s Light Bulb Moment was – I had many lightbulb moments, and not always did the lightbulbs stay on. I can remember once, while a lightbulb had briefly flickered on, I wrote a list (maybe five or six phrases) about what was making me most unhappy in the relationship. But the lightbulb went out and I tore up the list and threw it in the bin the next day.

I suppose my most important awakening came when he threw me against the wall. He’d been emotionally and verbally abusive for the full 12 months of our reconciliation, but when it got physical I instantly knew I had to apply for another protection order and get him put out of the home, or leave myself. I’d had protection orders years before, when we were separated the first time, and I’d learned enough from that period to know “When it gets physical, it doesn’t get better, it only continues to get worse.”
Then I found Patricia Evans book The Verbally Abusive Relationship, and all the light bulbs lit up like a Christmas tree.
Why didn’t I wake up during the four years of my first separation from him? Even though I’d been in and out of shelters, even though I’d attended a support group for victims of DV, even though I’d fought and won custody in the Family Court, and written in my affidavit about him having abused me… I didn’t really wake up. Because the Family Court Orders said that I must tell the Court if I ever consulted a counsellor or a mental health professional in the first two years of the Orders. That put me right off getting counselling from anyone. So I remained in the dark and never worked through stuff, never really came to terms with the fact that I’d been abused. How bifurcated can one’s mind get?

Joe’s Awakening Moment was  when I realized that I was not responsible for my (then) spouse’s behavior, nor for changing her behavior nor her heart attitude. That responsibility belongs to her and God, not to me.  That realization was the beginning of a significant shift in my perception of the relationship.

Maree’s Moment was –  I had come to accept that there was no way out of my abusive marriage and as a Christian I could not divorce. I believed that maybe that was what God had in mind for my life, even though I knew it wasn’t a normal marriage. After listening to a sermon on the internet about scriptural reasons for divorce, I began researching the subject more thoroughly. With much prayer, listening to many sermons and researching the bible, 13 months later I left the marriage. I felt no condemnation at all from my Heavenly Father in leaving.

Jenn’s “Eureka” moment –  One of my friend’s posted a link on her Facebook: http://morvensblog.wordpress.com/2012/01/22/men-who-love-porn-and-the-women-who-love-them/.

Porn was a huge hot button for me and a devastating problem in my marriage. I was checking out her blog (Morven’s Blog) and I saw the one entitled:
http://morvensblog.wordpress.com/2012/01/23/but-he-never-hit-me/.
I read it and I knew. I KNEW.

Thankful’s moment came this way – One thing that helped me tremendously was when I came to the realization through scripture and my very helpful counselor/pastor that there is a difference between forgiveness, repentance & reconciliation. And that it isn’t lumped all into one basket. I began to understand that I am commanded to forgive but that doesn’t take away the consequences of his abusive behavior. He will have damage to repair and trust to earn which will be for long term and consistent and not from a “to do” list, it will be a heart change by a work of the Lord and obvious over time to everyone that it is a sincere change. Just because I forgive him doesn’t mean that I automatically go back to the relationship. I don’t have to interact with him to know of this change. God brings us to our knees when He reveals our sins to us and it is evident to all who come into contact with us. We also know full well that though we are forgiven that there are consequences to our behavior and we accept them when we have been the recipient of a work of God in our hearts. It will be the same for my abuser should God do a work there. It won’t be there one day and gone the next or there for a couple of months and gone in six. Like Joe, I am not responsible for his change and I can’t change him, it is between him and God and not within my control. The Lord has given me great peace in my marital decisions with this understanding.

Cindy’s Moment –  Interesting question. There were many factors that enabled me to find freedom, but these are the top two.

Wending my way through a book store looking for a book about the effects of alcoholism on relationships, I instead found a book called, “The Verbally Abusive Relationship” by Patricia Evans. That seemed close enough, and I bought it. The next day as I began reading I was stunned. Someone understood! Everything I read captured the essence of my insane life. I called my Christian counselor and told her through my tears that I was living in an abusive relationship. She calmly responded, “I’m glad you figured that out.” She knew, but never said anything. It was a heavy dose of devastating, liberating truth.

The second revelation came on the morning I left with our kids. I woke up in emotional distress before sunrise one Saturday and prayed, “What should I do, Lord?” and immediately in the silence I heard, “You must leave.” I never doubted it for a moment – and acted on it. And through my separation and eventual divorce I received some faithful counsel from believing friends who had endured abuse (as well as some not so good counsel from the legalists in my life), but in the end I learned to rely most on the promptings of the Holy Spirit. It was hard, but when I tried to make decisions according to the advice of others, they would inevitably backfire. I learned to wait until my convictions and His peace were one. And when the Holy Spirit released me, I knew it. If I had relied on the counsel of the legalists…well, I have no idea where I would be today.

Thanks for asking…

RV56 describes her awakening – 

I, like Cindy, stumbled upon the book, “The Verbally Abusive Relationship” by Patricia Evans and was horrified and comforted at the same time to actually have the “hell” that I had been living through for 27 years validated and given it’s proper name! All the while my husband was minimizing the abuse, because it wasn’t REAL abuse. We separated, but I was lured and deceived into thinking he had truly repented and changed so within 4 months and we “reconciled”.
Fast forward 5 years and surprise…. nothing had changed. The verbal, emotional, mental and spiritual abuse continued in never ending cycles. I once again asked him to leave our home. A couple weeks later as I was in the shower, I had what I believe was something of a panic attack and started sobbing and begging and pleading God to “please, don’t make me go back!!! Please don’t make me do this anymore!!!”….
I saw my counselor a few days later and told her the experience and she just looked at me and said, “Renee, God is not going to MAKE you do anything!…You’ll choose to go back, but He won’t MAKE you…”
It was a revelation and moment that the Lord had released me and set me free…. I was free all along, but I finally made the choice to never again be abused.

Praises!

Anon gives us her story –

I struggled for a long time, seeking counsel from pastors, mentors, leaders, speakers, etc. I read every book I could, listened to about 30 tapes/videos and attended many marriage seminars. Things would go up and down, according to the cycle. The good part of the cycle is what kept me in a fog. It was also what caused pastors to believe that he had “turned the corner”. It never occurred to people that he turned the corner hundreds of times because we changed churches and sets of friends several times.

It all turned around with prayer. I began to pray with some ladies in our Bible study group. Even though I hadn’t intended on revealing too much, they started to find out the details of our relationship and pray very hard. God stepped in when things took a turn for the worse. Out of the blue God spoke into my heart that I was so loyal to my husband that I would follow him to the gates of hell. I began to argue with God but I didn’t get any more clarity. As I began to ponder it, I realized that if my husband led me to the gates of hell, I would indeed turn around, shrug my shoulders at Jesus and say, “I’m really sorry, You know how much I love You, but I have to go with him – he’s my husband.” I was horrified at how ridiculous that was and knew that God was right. I just didn’t know at that time that an abuser was walking an evil path. I had friends who told me that I couldn’t call him evil. Even a bigshot international preacher pulled me aside one day and said I couldn’t just call him evil, even though I didn’t – it’s just that my husband told him that I called him evil, which was a lie.

Still, I didn’t feel the permission to leave because everyone said it wasn’t an option. I even received a prophecy that disaster would happen if I did. One day, in desperation, I cried out to God and begged Him to give me an answer because I could not carry on. Our pastor gave a message on Exodus 14 and exhorted, “Moses cried out to God at the Red Sea, but God said to just move on…What are you waiting on God for? Get out of that toxic relationship.” It just hit me that God was giving me the green light.

THEN I began to find all the resources – Lundy Bancroft, Patricia Evans, etc which I couldn’t access before because I couldn’t order anything on Amazon without him knowing. It took a while to get a hold of these resources but I did just before he left. These materials only made sense after I decided it was right to leave the marriage. For a Christian woman, no matter what secular people say, unless we have a conviction that God allows us to leave, we will not leave, which puts us in intolerable situations. So God really did have to whisper – no, shout – into my ear to get my attention and He had to orchestrate a lot of things in the background to “part the Red Sea” and create the way for the exodus. To Him be all the glory!

Kay shares this – The single most illuminating incident for me was when my husband made this admission to the pastor- he had lied when he told me he was sorry and he had done this “just to keep the peace”. Perhaps he thought a small confession to the pastor would confirm his credentials as a good Christian?.From that moment, it didn’t really matter that the pastor treated me with disgust while continuing to support my husband, promised to keep things secret but told the relieving pastor that my husband and I had “issues”, and preached scornfully about Christians who can’t even make their marriage work.Two things had become instantly clear to me: my husband was a liar and he felt totally justified in lying. After this everything fell like a chain of dominoes- now that he was a proven liar, all the other lies became obvious.

 

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15 Comments

  1. Kay Taylor

    My story relates very much to RV56 and Cindy. I appreciate everyone who has the courage to share part of their journey of healing here.
    The decision to walk away from 32 years of verbal, emotional, spiritual and sometimes physical abuse was not made from one single realization. With the fourth separation in ten years, I was living in a safe place with my two children who were still living at home. We were able to experience freedom and peace daily. I wasn’t on guard or afraid. I was able to look at my life realistically and see clearly that the promises, apparent repentance, agreement for counseling were a replay of the past separations; that he wasn’t going to change. I also read 2 of Patricia Evan’s books on Abusive Relationships and knew I could have written those books. What made the 4th separation the last one? He physically slugged our fifteen year old son in the chest when he stood up and asked his dad to please calm down. No child should have to defend their mom from abuse! I hadn’t been strong enough or had enough courage to say ENOUGH to my husband, xian friends, pastors, counselor, who insisted our marriage could be healed until that moment. I still hoped at times he would change, but one day, driving in the car, I begged God , “please don’t make me live with him again”. I heard a peaceful, quiet voice – you don’t have to. God is faithful every day and after 2 years and six months, my children and I agree, living in peace and freedom is great!

  2. joepote01

    “I heard a peaceful, quiet voice – you don’t have to.”

    That moment of covenant release is so wonderfully freeing, isn’t it, Kay?

    That moment when God, our Redeemer, confirms in our hearts that we have truly faithfully lived out our covenant vows, and are no longer under covenant obligation to an abusive relationship of bondage!

  3. Wow, Kay…. our stories are so similar, it’s quite incredible.
    Oh, how I can relate to all of the pastors, friends, counselors etc. telling you that your marriage can be healed; INSISTING that that is the only possible outcome… How would they even know or understand?! I was so exhausted, weary and quite honestly, ready to give up on life itself.
    My divorce was final 7 months ago. I still have 2 teens at home and agree that living in peace and freedom is so very wonderful!

  4. Like others, it was a whole bunch of little realizations but here’s the biggie:

    I spent the last two nights lying in bed, hearing the estranged banging through his gun safe, then stomping up to the bedroom door and howling like an animal. I expected to die. I was finished, completely, totally done and still had never considered leaving.

    I woke the second night at four in the morning, heart pounding and the Lord spoke. He said, “Where are your children?” I told him the name of the city.

    He said, “And that’s where you belong.”

    I got up and packed.

    Once I was out, I literally could not return. It was a physical, emotional impossibility. The Lord then led me to Why Does He Do That? by Lundy Bancroft. After reading through the book, everything else just fell in place. I found Cindy Burrell’s website, then Barbara’s and then the rest of you here 🙂

  5. joepote01

    I would like to say that, as I read these stories, my admiration for each of you grows. You have each demonstrated tremendous strength and courage to endure what you have, as well as to leave and start a new life.

    I endured some very difficult and painful situations, as well, but not on the same scale as some of you.

    You are all truly inspirational!

  6. Jodi H.

    I only just found this post but here is my .02. Even tho I had spent much time in prayer to the Lord asking HIm to show me what was at the root of the problem, even after I had a emotional breakdown that was terrifying,even after my husband collaborated with my then pastor to do everything to destroy me, even after I started finding out about manipulative and controlling men-even after I saw my husband was 100% passive aggressive, which led me to see that he fit too many characteristics of a sociopath, even after his abuse escalated and things were unbearable for me, I still stayed- for the kids and because of what everyone would think of me. The breaking point came one weekend when he was home from his job in another state(where he had basically lived for the past 3 years) I saw with startling clarity how uncomfortable and anxious my kids were with him around. They wouldn’t answer him when he asked questions about conversations we had shared during the week with each other, I could see we were all in pins and needles with him in the house and no one behaved normally. The oppressiveness filled the house. I remember a text my oldest sent me while sitting in the LR with him and the other kids- “why is he reading at us?” Anyone who has lived with this ,will know what that is about. That is when I knew that I wasn’t doing the kids any favors and this would destroy them as well as me if I didn’t do something.
    This took great courage, as I have not held a job for almost 22 years- I never finished college and never had a career (thanks to him). I had every reason to be afraid , yet I still did it. That was almost 6 months ago . He is still acting like he doesn’t understand and is constantly trying to engage me in conversation about it,but I won’t do it.
    Jodi

    • Jeff Crippen

      Acting like he doesn’t understand. Common, and very intentional. If he doesn’t understand, then he doesn’t have to admit guilt, and he can still blame you. Jodi, you have departed from evil in spite of great obstacles. That was a great thing to do.

      • Jodi H.

        Jeff,
        Yes! Exactly- when I asked him why he won’t discuss things with me, like taking a hunk of money from his check-which I need to pay bills, or refusing to talk to me about my son’s tuition-when he couldn’t be bothered to pay it-his response was “why should I talk to you about that, you won’t talk to me about our relationship”. He is blackmailing me basically.
        I did pay the tuition myself, which meant the mortgage didn’t get paid and neither did our monthly payment to the IRS.
        Jodi

  7. xerarose

    The lightbulb moment, confirmed over a year by many other moments, was 18 months into reconciliation. In a display of temper tantrum, he threw and broke my daughter’s school project while yelling at me…in front of our younger children. When I asked him to leave..he wouldn’t. That’s when I knew that this probably wouldn’t end well. It still took me about 8 months to finally separate, and 3 months into that before I knew the marriage was over and made the decision to divorce. That was after he raped me, trying to get me pregnant again. Now, 2 months later, I finally feel like I’m coming up for air and staying there, instead of trying to swim under muddy water. I see more clearly his abuse and that he will never change.

    • Xerarose, that’s a powerful story. Sorry you’ve had all that pain and mud to go through but it is good you are getting clear now.

      Rape used as a weapon of punishment when the victim decides to leave: I have heard that kind of thing from other victims. It is awful. Somehow it seems even more awful to me than many other kinds of rape, because the abuser intends it to carries such a weight of meaning for the victim — the malicious vindictiveness. It’s almost like “If I can’t have you, I’ll ruin you for everyone else.”

      If are a victim of other kinds of rape and disagree with me on this, please don’t take offence at my opinion. I may be wrong, and it’s just a personal perspective.

  8. Unknown

    The unexpected death of my mother was the event that began to change my mindset and open my eyes to the abuse. I was preparing to go to her funeral when my h [now ex] began to initiate sex. He became angry and wounded at my refusal and emotionally withdrew (usual behavior). At the funeral as I mourned at her casket, he brought me our toddler and said “here, im going to smoke,” and never returned. He pretended to cry with me, except he never actually shed a tear. Afterwards, he just sat in front of the TV ignoring me while I took care of our child and cleaned up from all the company. Later that night in desperation for him to end his withdraw of affection, I gave in to his earlier advances. Then he just turned over and went to sleep.

    In the dark, I began to view my relationship in a different light. I tried so hard. I begged, cried, pleaded, tried immersing myself in church, various medications to fix me, counseling — everything I could. I can see now how God opened so many doors for me to leave, only I ignored them and keep trying harder to fix things on my own. I realized one day that I was teaching our child that his behavior was her responsibility too — “let’s play in here because daddy isn’t feeling good and we don’t want to upset him,” “let’s clean up our toys before daddy gets home so we don’t make him yell at us.” I hated myself for it but I was just trying to survive in his twisted world. Until finally I broke….He was an abuser, and I was never going to be able to love him enough to convince him to change. Only God could do that, and I was not responsible for his personal relationship with God, or with me.

    This realization and choice was not an easy one. I was abandoned by so many “Christian” friends and even by family. But through it all, God was my anchor. He saved me by opening my eyes and delivering me from a situation and a relationship that was absent of Him. Despite what I was told and believed during that time about biblical values regarding marriage, by leaving I have grown spiritually so much. For all those women who find themselves staying, trying to fix things, enduring painful things for religious reasons, please know that God does not intend for you to live this way — satan does. God has a completely different outline and standard for marriage that will never allow room for abuse. God and satan can never exist in the same house. I am praying everyday for you.

    • Hi Unknown, thanks very much for sharing! 🙂

      If this is your first comment on the blog, I’d like to encourage you to check out our New Users’ Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

      And after reading the New Users’ Info page, I suggest you look at our FAQs.

      btw, I added paragraph breaks to your comment, for ease of reading.

  9. Finding Answers

    I didn’t start having light bulbs flicker to life until I was out of ALL abusive relationships and my walls crumbled.

    The Holy Spirit led me through the ACFJ blog, and the blog posts and the comments generated by the post helped me picture some part of a concept in my mind.

    Sometimes I recognized the picture right away and I could put words to my experience.

    Sometimes I had a picture, but no words.

    Sometimes I had a picture and could hi-jack the post and / or commenters’ words to describe it.

    Sometimes I could add my own words – or hi-jack other commenters’ words – to describe the picture for which I originally had no words.

    Now I understand. I was never slow on the uptake, I needed help describing the picture in my mind.

    • “I was never slow on the uptake”

      I’m so glad you have come to this ^ understanding, Finding Answers! 🙂 And thank you for sharing it with us.

      As I’ve been witnessing your journey over the months you’ve been commenting at this blog, I have come to understand how differently people with Asperger’s and (more broadly) those on the Autism Spectrum can think from the way I think.

      It is a rare insight you have given me, and I thank you for it.

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