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.