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.
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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 Tells 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: 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: 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.
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.