A Cry For Justice

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

Leaving Your Abuser: Words From Someone Who Has Been There

Genesis 19:17-22 ESV  (17)  And as they brought them out, one said, “Escape for your life. Do not look back or stop anywhere in the valley. Escape to the hills, lest you be swept away.”  (18)  And Lot said to them, “Oh, no, my lords. (19)  Behold, your servant has found favor in your sight, and you have shown me great kindness in saving my life. But I cannot escape to the hills, lest the disaster overtake me and I die.  (20)  Behold, this city is near enough to flee to, and it is a little one. Let me escape there–is it not a little one?–and my life will be saved!”  (21)  He said to him, “Behold, I grant you this favor also, that I will not overthrow the city of which you have spoken.  (22)  Escape there quickly, for I can do nothing till you arrive there.” Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar.

In this article, Megan talks about the fear and the fog that so often keep an abuse victim in their abusive relationship. It is all very understandable, just as Lot feared when he was told to flee Sodom.  We also want to remind our readers that the Center for Domestic Violence and most all women’s resource centers will advise that the time when a victim actually sets out to leave her abuser can become one of the most dangerous in terms of her safety.  So be wise and avail yourself of available resources to obtain the help that you need.  Be wise to whom you share your story, but share it with someone who has shown you that they can be trusted.  Realize that people will be coming at you from the four corners of the universe wanting “the scoop.” Guard against being worn out emotionally by having to constantly re-hash your story or defend yourself.

Read what Megan has to say now and be encouraged! (Jeff C)

The sheer terror of what would become of my four children and me if I left my abusive first husband kept me in a dark marriage for way too long. The only regret I have regarding my former marriage is that I didn’t leave earlier. But I know and remember that when one is entrenched in a paradigm, it is so hard to see clearly (understatement). It is like there is ten feet of concrete above you, beside you, underneath you . . . and all the effort others make to speak truth into your life sounds muffled and faint. The loudness of the voices of lies is right there in your personal prison cell and the sounds are deafening.

It takes remarkable, God-given courage to step out of an abusive marriage. It takes bravery for both men and women. There are equally difficult reasons a man struggles to leave a marriage but I am only speaking to women in this post, due to my own experience.

If you are a woman who wants to leave her abusive husband and are overcome with fear, I understand. So many of us do. You are not alone. Lies can permeate your soul, agonizingly confuse your mind and lead you to cry to God for clarity out of a tortured heart.

Often, an abusive husband will tell you that you cannot “make it” without him. Brave one . . . this is a lie. God did not create you to be dependent on anyone but Him. I know things have disintegrated in your mind and that you do not feel like you are the girl you once were; I understand you feel beat down and helpless. But  this is not true. Christ has given you His strength. You are not helpless. Don’t believe it! The woman you were created to be is alive and well inside of you and is waiting to thrive outside of his abuse! You are strong; you can do this. Financially and personally — listen! You can live apart from your abusive husband. There is help out there — sometimes in the most unlikely of places. You may have been a stay at home wife or mom for years and not worked outside of this home. It is a scary thought wondering if you can get a job or care for your children alone. You can. You have actually been doing this already. You have cared for a home and your children alone and yet with the extra added extreme stress of abuse thrown at you daily. Imagine life without the wrenches being thrown at you constantly. Even better, imagine a new life full of love and hope and promise.

An abusive man will speak ugliness into your heart with such force and for such a long time that you begin to believe him. Friend . . . those things he says that make you feel so bad and put you in a dark place are not from your Heavenly Father who adores you, loves you and calls you His Child — His Beloved One! Yes, you will lose friends when you leave your abusive spouse. You might have only one friend or two when it is all said and done. Your family and his family may turn on you. But there is life outside of those four walls. It will be difficult and it will take time but the life is there. And, when you have been gone long enough, you will look back upon that former life and think about how small it was in the big picture. Your personal prison is a very small place next to the world of freedom you can gain from walking away.

He might tell you no one else will ever love you. You might believe that you will be alone for the rest of your life. Goodness . . . you are so beautiful. God created you with a depth of beauty that is just about to come into fruition. All of your scars are lovely. All of your wounded-ness is treasured by your Shepherd. These words your abuser uses . . . they are designed to keep you in a place of loneliness. Control. Ruin. You can and will be loved by many when you leave. Simply refuse to listen to this disgusting, gross twisted-ness that has the mark of the Enemy all over it.

I used to be terrified to leave because my ex-husband would tell me of how it would ruin my children. He spent a lot of time drilling this into me. Not only would I carry the guilt of a failed marriage, but I would destroy my children, as well. What I could not see, at the time, is that I was allowing them to be destroyed by staying. Their perception of God was being demolished by a father who could not, would not, love them. They were beginning to see God as cruel, legalistic and unaccepting of them. . .  a god who uses and abuses.  They were also given a model of marriage that would be burned into their psyches as “normal”. It would have been a disservice to them and to their future spouses for them to believe that what their parents had was godly, good or promoting of healthy relationships. I am not saying it was easy or is easy . . . but I see the health my children have gained (relationally), and I know I made the right decision regarding them. I also protected them physically. They are no longer hurting and no longer see physical force as a part of their every day lives. There is peace. Even when he sees them and talks with them, there is time and space to work through their heart issues regarding his manipulation. They are growing up strong, wise and emotionally smart because of all they have been through.

My sister . . . if you are still in an abusive marriage, please know that the bitter world you live in can be left behind. There are other friends, other churches, other people who can and will be your family once you go. You may leave it all behind . . . but what do you gain?

You gain your freedom, that of your children, your esteem, peace, the godly pride of knowing you did the right thing, and a chance for a new life.

Courageous One, you are not alone . . . and will not be alone. God does not leave His wounded ones beat down, robbed and left in isolation. He will come to you and so will others.

You WILL make it.

17 Comments

  1. Darling, Meg…
    I don’t have to comment, cuz you know that our ex’s are brothers from another mother or something like that! LOL Love you!!! Oops, guess I did comment! Lol
    Just a note to add… I had my in laws convince my ex to convince me that if I did this… my kids would commit suicide! Give me a break! They use what they know our “currency ” is… our kids and our momma’s heart to keep us in that place! XO

    • MeganC

      Thank you, my sister. You are ADORABLE and I love you and I cannot believe what your inlaws did!! Insanity! Your kids will NOT commit suicide because you rescued them from their abuser. Goodness.

  2. Michelle N

    Beautifully written, so honored to know you 🙂 And Kelly too – our exes are so similar! Thanks for the encouragement as always to keep walking forward, not looking backwards – love this scripture. Such a great example of God trying to lead us out of bondage and into freedom. I am hopeful and excited to think where God is taking me as I am finally letting go of so many things I had still been holding onto. To any other women reading this and contemplating leaving – He is so so so faithful – He WILL help you and be everything you need.

    • MeganC

      Thank you so much, Michelle. There is so much hope for you! I love your words — He IS faithful!

  3. coco

    Ugh, I am in the midst of this right now. He is using everything that he can to get to me now, especially that we are telling the children tonight. He has been so over the top involved with the kids in the last month since I served him with papers, all in an effort to prove me wrong or something. It all hurts. If I didn’t have God, I don’t know what I would do. I long for the freedom and peace that I know is coming, because I am going to need it in order to be strong enough to fight the battle that I know is coming. In his mind, if he can’t kill me with his evil words and manipulations, he’ll do it by taking the house, all the money, and try for the kids. All that matters to me is the kids. I want them to have peace too. So please continue to pray and again I’m so grateful to God that you are able to bless me and others that are in the midst of fighting for freedom.

    • MeganC

      Coco — I thank you for your comment and I hate what you are going through right now. I have heard other women describe that “over the topness” you are talking about. The good news is that it never lasts long. It SEEMS like abusers always manage to “leak” or they cannot keep up the good behavior because it does not come naturally. They strive and strive to put on a front and, eventually, get tired. Please know that the freedom and peace ARE coming. Fight for the kids to the best of your ability. Get a good lawyer and write everything down you can remember that he has done to you and the kids. I am praying for you all day today. You are not alone.

    • I’m praying for you too, Coco.
      God gave me this scripture when I was in the throes of it all; may it be a blessing to you too.
      The God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. (Romans 16:20)

  4. Michelle

    I called the Domestic Violence Hotline the other day. They said a woman will go back to her abuser an average of 7-8 times and of those, 75% are killed. They said 99% of abusers NEVER change. I promise the peace you get from being away from the abuser is worth anything. Lean on others, you will make it.

    • One of my big dreams is that by the kind of work we are doing here, we can reduce that 7-8 times to a lot fewer times. I remember back to the years when I left my first husband for short periods in the refuge. Each of those periods was a window of opportunity that I think was squandered. If there had been better support and information, more appropriate assistance, more skilled counselors (and awake survivors!) who could empathically penetrate the fog of confusion and guilt in my mind, I might have stayed away from him permanently. But each time, the ‘support’ I got was not quite enough to penetrate my sorry darkness. I have the impression the services are quite a lot better now. And the workers are more skilled, more trained, in how to relate to victims. But they still are WAY underfunded.

      I remember a staff member in the refuge lent me the book “Women who love too much.” I did read it, but I felt blamed by it; even the title is victim-blaming. Nowadays I hope they lend people Lundy Bancroft’s book. It hadn’t even been written when I was going thru the refuge system.

      It would be wonderful if, after the survivor leaves the refuge, she is able to be supported by other survivors who have been out for a long time – those of us with hearts to do this. Many of us have hearts like that, but not so many of us have the time and ability, what with having to raise kids and earn a living. I feel so privileged to be able to do this work without those distractions. May God raise up an army of us. Imagine how much impact Christian survivor-supporters could make, if we were able to help other women coming fresh out of refuges! Imagine how we could reduce that figure of 7-8 times through the revolving door, to 1 or 2 times.
      To me, that’s the kind of thing the Bible’s talking about when it says we are to be salt and light in the world.

      • MeganC

        Barbara — I love all that you wrote. It inspires me greatly and I feel the same way. I want to be that kind of light and salt in the world! I, too, feel very overwhelmed (yet joyful) with the responsibility of my children but I have big dreams and hopes of fighting and fighting for those who are suffering in an abusive marriage. One of my biggest dreams (and the one I pray most about) is to have a small refuge home for women/children. My children and I found ourselves with no place to live, at one point. I almost went back to my abuser simply out of desperation. I am not talking about a womens’ shelter but a single-family home where she can gather her strength, feel safe and have help to see through the fog, take care of the kids and find whatever resources she needs. Ah . . . I have so many ideas. And I truly believe this website is helping so many people — and the books you and Jeff C have written. I am so grateful a friend pointed me in this direction. You bring sanity to our lives.

  5. Teresa Way-Spector

    I agree with Megan…it is often times not possible to convince in laws…but what you must believe and come to terms with is the things you and your children are surviving. I thought if I explained some of the extraordinary we were surviving that I would get some support from my mother n law at the very least. Months and years later I have learned that is not the case at all. More important she helped my ex husband, even before I knew there was a real problem. Believe in yourself..but like so many people had told me…but I didn’t not really understand until years later. Follow the money….so sorry and will be praying..

  6. Laurie

    Meg, this was such a shot in the arm for me. I am making a huge move in two weeks, leaving from one side of the country where he lives to the other. I am separated, legally according to state law, but I have no divorce papers. My resolve was beginning to waiver because I don’t have much money to start over with and rent and such is SO high. But I have to remember to WHOM I truly belong and that it is His good pleasure to give me the KINGDOM…and if He can clothe the lilies of the field with more splendor than Solomon, how MUCH more will He clothe me and my children? I know we will make it.

    • MeganC

      Oh, Laurie! I know the agony of such a decision! I admire you greatly for the steps you are about to take! It won’t be easy but I can see that you are trusting God and His promises that He will provide for you as you drag that one foot in front of the other! He will BLESS your faithfulness to Him and obedience as you seek to protect yourself. I am praying for you today. You can do this!

      • MeganC

        *protect yourself AND your children! And someday, your children will praise their mama for the courage she had the day she moved away. Hugs!

  7. Almost Free

    Wow the best written article ever! I’m about to leave and God has shown me He has me. But the closer I get to leave the enemy is attacking my mine! God used this to speak to me I know because it answer so many questions and the doubts I had. Fear is paralyzingly thank you for sharing

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