A Cry For Justice

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

Kay’s Story

[July 29, 2022: There have been some changes made to this post. For more information, read the Editors’ notes at the bottom of the post. Editors.]

This is a story from one of our sweet readers. We found KayM’s question “How?” to be very profound. KayM has had time to look back and analyze all that has happened in her life. She has now found peace. This is KayM’s story.

Trigger Warning

How Did it Happen?

Over the past few years, since my divorce began and papers were signed, I have asked myself “HOW?” How did I let myself get taken to such a dark and hopeless place? Did I not as a child have the love and support of my family? Was I not strong and smart and confident once upon a time? Did I not have very explicit boundaries concerning what I was willing to do / how far I was willing to go physically before I said wedding vows? Didn’t I have hopes and dreams – to go places and meet people and when the time was right find the perfect mate?

I knew myself. I knew what I wanted. I had gone so far as to write a letter to myself when I was twenty years old listing the qualities I wanted in a man. I still have that list! The very first thing I wanted was ‘A strong Christian with firm convictions and values.’ Under ‘Other Characteristics’ I wrote:

I don’t mind if he doesn’t talk much (if he doesn’t like to dominate conversations) but I would like his words to be thoughtful. It’s fine if he is stoic as long as he shares his feelings with me. I want a man with a goal, with ambition. I want a man to provide security and stability. I want to feel safe with and about him. I want to be understood as the someone who has her own life, the girl who wants to be able to depend on him. I want someone who is calm, not anxious. I want someone who loves me with all of his heart but remains in control – remains true to himself. I want someone who is strong and sturdy – who isn’t persuaded easily. I want someone who challenges me – someone who loves my mind and soul more than my body….who would love me if I had no body. I want someone who will keep me up at night discussing the world, souls, emotions, love, people, careers, family. I want someone who wants to be married and have children – eventually. There is NO rush. I want someone I think about and smile….someone I love to be with where ever I am or where ever I am going. I want someone who fits I into my world without changing my world completely….and I want to fit into his world in the same way. I want someone I can play with, cry with, be serious with, be silly with. I want someone who makes me the best person I can be. I want someone who takes life lightly “I want harmony – peace. I want electricity. I want a life-partner and a soul-mate. I know that he is out there. I would rather have no “special person” in my life than accept the wrong person. If no one can give me these things then I will enjoy my friendships….but I feel in my heart that this is not an impossible list. I won’t search for him – we will find each other if we are supposed to meet.

I wrote this a month before I met “him”.

Instead of reliving the gruesome details that would become the next 22 years, I want to answer the question, “How?” How could I have been so wrong? And when I recognized that he was not who I thought he was, how could I have been so weak? How could I have been married to the absolute opposite of “What I Want in a Man”.

I have never seen a counselor about the abuse. A few close friends know about SOME of it, and my children’s counselors know a little bit because my children have and continue to be victims of power plays and manipulations and words that shred their trusting hearts. And occasionally they have been the victims of physical threats (never punches, those would be too obviously wrong). Forceful grabs, pinning to walls after being shoved up against them. I know. I know that and much more. Let me make it clear – he was smart enough not to break my bones or bruise my skin. A broken heart being made an object with the purpose of providing him whatever he wanted whenever he wanted or be made to pay is not easy to explain to others.

And it is not easy to explain to oneself either. This man is supposed to love me, right? He took vows before God and man to cherish me, right?

First let me say that the only characteristics that “he” met on my list were that he had a goal and an ambition….me, and what I could give him. He was anxious not to lose me. He knew that treating me badly would not keep me, but instead of hating him for his constant cruelty, he successfully made me pity him for his flaws. He made himself seem wounded and vulnerable. I actually felt sorry for him when he had treated me badly!

[Note from Jeff C:  According to Martha Stout (The Sociopath Next Door) this is one of the key identifiers of a sociopath – the ability to get people to feel sorry for them.]

I was told often of his childhood. His parents had not been there for him….they had not been attentive and he had gotten into trouble with drinking and drugs and sex as a youth because his parents had been neglectful. He was sent away to school because his parents had put him in a school that he hated, and he missed as many days as he went! He had to join the military and pay his way through college because his parents had been so selfish and not planned….and worst of all….ALL of his problems had stemmed from being the child of divorce. DIVORCE was TABOO. And he knew it was for me too. I adore family. He knew that I was not the type to ever break a promise.

He told me throughout our short courtship that he knew he wanted to marry me the first time he saw me, that he had told himself from the first time he saw me that he “was going to have me”. At first it was flattering, even seemed romantic and “destined”, but by the end of our marriage those words came back to haunt me as the first steps of his very orchestrated plan to get himself a “good” girl. It really could have been anybody as long as they were young, naïve, trusting and a hard worker. He knew I was the type to work myself to death rather than fail. Simply I was at the wrong place at the wrong time.

I never was a person after all. I completed the picture.

It was a constant cycle of flattering words; playing on my pitying heart-strings with his sad excuses; bad-behavior “fixed” by apologies, and special attention….until the next round of bad behavior that usually came within a few days of the “make-up”. This was the carousel ride that I unwittingly got on. And once on the ride I realized that he had no intention of ever stopping it to let me off. In fact it just got faster and faster, more and more out of control. It made me sicker and sicker as time went on. Finally I just closed my eyes and pretended not to be there, and that is how I survived. Does that sound mellow-dramatic? There was no mellow, my friends, I assure you.

It never was about “me” as a human being. As I said, I was the right “type”. I looked the part and would create the perfect camouflage for the illusion that he wanted to create in society. I was the perfect smiling wife with the perfect smiling children. We were such a pretty picture. He did not know me as a person any better the day that I finally decided I could not take it any more than he did when he first met me. I was a baby-maker, a bill payer, a house cleaner. If anything went wrong it was my fault: If the children were tired and cranky it was my fault. They were “brats” because of my poor discipline. If the dogs caused damage in the yard it was my fault. If there were dishes on the counter at the end of the day a scowling look of disapproval and the cutting words, “It looks like you’ve been busy today!” could be expected. Nothing was ever right. Nothing I did was ever enough. If I tried to look extra attractive, he would spot the flaw. If I tried to make a special dinner, he had eaten a big lunch and wasn’t hungry. If I asked him to do anything for me it was certain that that would be last on his priority list. If I asked for help again I was a “nag” or a “b*****” or far worse. If I asked him to stay up and help on Christmas Eve….forget it. And I learned the hard way that if I woke him to talk or to help me in some way, I took my life in my own hands. But these are minor. These are nothing.

Abusers, I think, have a six sense about them – a “charming device” able to detect naïve, trusting, loving, caring, believing, God-fearing people.

What “type” do they seem to be looking for – other than naïve, trusting, caring, etc.? It may be a wounded person who is looking for help. It may be a lost person who is looking for love. It may be a young person who is simply naïve and doesn’t know that there are people who cannot be trusted.

To make a long story short, I had physical boundaries that had been honored by honorable boys, but I was unfortunately not dealing with an honorable boy. I was dealing with a man with an agenda. I took responsibility for this mistake for years and years. I rationalized that I had let myself get in a situation where there was the chance to turn back. But there is no chance to turn back if you are a little girl and that is not what he wants too. And he didn’t. And when it happened once, the guilt I felt within myself and the pressure I felt from him to continue down that course was too great for a young girl who truly believed that in God’s eyes I was now as good as married anyway. A few months later I got pregnant. I said I would marry him. I had a miscarriage right before the wedding, probably from the terrible stress of knowing I was making a monumental mistake. But I already said I would marry him. So I did.

Friends, let me just say that there were already so many red flags at this point that I CANNOT believe I did not run away as fast as I could….but the wedding date was set and our friends and family had been invited. I had already been torn down so far before that day even happened — I truly believed I had already made my bed and now I had to lie in it — and of course he was a huge supporter of this mindset. When I think back on all of the things that he did to shame me and make me feel unworthy — all of the ways that he usurped any power that I had — his attempts to alienate me from my family and my friends — his attempts to control what I did — his attempts to consolidate all of our finances. And he succeeded!

He was not supportive of me quitting my job to raise our children at first – he liked my income. But I believe he liked me without an income even better. He liked me being completely dependent on him for everything. He liked telling me exactly what I could and could not do. He liked making me account for my time, my purchases, my involvement with groups (if they were even allowed), basically for my entire life. As my children got older he wanted me to go back to a job that made big bucks so that he could buy big toys for himself. (I was working for my church at that time, making close to nothing but it was something I loved. It was the only thing that was my own and it made me feel like I was doing something worthwhile. He considered it a waste of my time, and told me so at every opportunity). I confided in a friend that if I did get a job that made money that I would certainly try to escape, so I applied and interviewed, but nothing happened. I couldn’t understand why then – now I know it was not the right time.

I thought that I was keeping our family together for the well-being of my children. When they begin to ask me why I was married to him, I had to re-evaluate. If I wasn’t married for them, I sure was not married for me. It still took me years to come to the place where I was strong enough to do anything.

How did it happen? It happened first because I did not know there were people in the world that are users. There are people that truly have relationships purely for what a person can do for them. Not a relationship based on love or friendship or respect or feelings of any type. I had closed my eyes a long time ago and was afraid to open them, because then I would have to confront “it” and I was scared and not ready to admit that there was literally nothing that I could do. I could not love him enough, in fact, I hated him! But I tried to convince myself that love was a choice and if only I could do more. But I could not do enough, I could not forgive him enough, I could not share with him enough, I could not stroke his ego enough. It simply did not matter. I was not a person. I was an object to be used, abused or dismissed.

Did “he” know that I believed in marriage and hard work and did not believe in divorce? You better believe it. That is what he was counting on when he did the things that he did. He knew that I would not tell anybody. He knew that he could get away with whatever he wanted because I had always taken it from the very beginning. I took the little things, and that encouraged him, emboldened him to do more.

What he didn’t expect was for me to have a heart-to-heart talk with God. And God said to me, “this is not what I want for you. You are no good to your children or to me while you are with a man who is destroying you. I have given you gifts that you are discouraged from using. I have given you enough love for everyone. If “he” cannot see it or accept it, that is not your fault. There is a way out, but you will have to be strong. Walk by faith and not by sight. Take My hand and keep holding on….it is not a short walk. In fact you will have to keep holding on from now on. But do not be afraid because I know the way.”

And these words kept showing up during this time that God was leading me from my own personal desert to His Promised Land —

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, “declares the LORD, “and I will bring you back from captivity….  (Jeremiah 29:11-14  NIV)

God is good, People. I am not free from troubles, not even close. “He” still attempts to control me and the children. I am still finding my way from captivity. But God knew the desires of my heart and God heard my cry and God has provided me and my children a home of harmony and peace. And God has brought me a man who is a life-partner and a soul-mate. And I am so grateful. I am so thankful. I appreciate all of God’s gifts like I never would have if I didn’t know the difference.

[July 29, 2022: Editors’ notes:

—For some comments made prior to July 29, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be an exact match.
—For some comments made prior to July 29, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be found in the post.
If you would like to compare the text in the comments made prior to July 29, 2022 that quoted from the post to the post as it is now (July 29, 2022), click here [Internet Archive link] for the most recent Internet Archive copy of the post.]


  1. Katy

    Kay! I felt like God told me to hang onto Him too – that He knew the way, that it was going to be scary, but that I had to depend on Him.
    It is so interesting how all of these stories of survivors — we have so much in common. Not just in the “why” we stayed so long….but the “how” we got there. I too remember praying for my husband when I was a young girl. Then to look back on who I married and realize that it was the exact opposite of anything I ever hoped for….it can be so overwhelming.
    God is good, I rejoice that He rescued you and your children! ((hugs))

    (Psalm 56:8 [CEV Contemporary English Version])
    You have kept record
    of my days of wandering.
    You have stored my tears
    in your bottle
    and counted each of them.

  2. Wendell G

    Very, very powerful story! I wept as I read it and feel almost ashamed that people like your ex are even named “men”. I see so many parallels between him and my ex son-in-law it makes me want to pray for wisdom for everyone contemplating marriage! I pray for your continued healing and that God will lead you on the path of wisdom and freedom!

  3. Kathy seldon

    I should pay better attention to trigger warnings, but I’m glad I read this. I know this gets said all the time, but some of the stuff written here looks like it was ripped straight from my life. My husband uses that exact word “brats” on our boys and it makes me so mad. My kids are beautiful, amazing boys; I’m not just saying that because I’m their mom, they are gifts from God. He has horrible spending problems so I was in charge of our finances at first. I was trying to get us out of debt and on our feet, but the restrictions required for this were too much. He talked me into giving him the budget because then he could play along better. We’re in more debt than ever.

    I’m an awesome cook, but he doesn’t like food. Nothing I cook is good. He has told me he “doesn’t want the complicated stuff” I cook, he would just be happy with “Hamburger Helper”. He says this because he knows I’m committed to healthy eating. Then he says my “eating style is too expensive”, then I give him an expense sheet that shows what my meals cost compared to prepackaged meals. I even looked up the average grocery cost of a family of four and showed him how I am doing an amazing job of feeding our family on a ridiculously low grocery budget and that my grocery budget was off-limits from criticism. Now he just doesn’t eat my food, he usually says it’s “not in his current diet”. I used to try to keep up with his “diets”, but they changed weekly, and I was always in trouble for cooking something that was not in his “diet”. I finally said “I’d cook and he could eat it or not”. He used that as a crazy-maker, insisting his “diet-of-the-week was the same as last week” and I “obviously haven’t been listening to him”, then he’d be hurt by my lack of consideration.

    I like to dress up, he always said I “didn’t need to put so much effort into my appearance”, that he “preferred a t-shirt and jeans”. I hate t-shirts, I feel frumpy in them and I told him so. I could never understand why he always harped on this. It takes the same amount of time to put on a blouse as it does a t-shirt. Now I see he is threatened by this area of power in my life.

    RED FLAGS before wedding….biggest self-forgiveness struggle ever. There were times I wanted to call it off and the thing that changed my mind was literally this thought “so much money has gone into this wedding, all the invitations are sent, the wedding is all planned. He’d be so upset, what if my mom is upset after all of this work” as if she would prefer that I enter into an abusive marriage. I walked into soul sucking abuse to save the embarrassment of calling off a wedding. Granted I had no idea those red flags indicated the terror of psychological abuse, I didn’t even know what psychological abuse was.

    “Love is a choice.” — how many times did I say this to myself? When the “what about me” instinct kicked [in] and I started to rage at how unfair my marriage was, this little phrase would hit me from a sermon or book or well-meaning friend and I would be silenced. “It didn’t matter how he responded because expecting a response is not love. You have to choose to love even if he doesn’t always respond. After all, that’s what Jesus did for you.” Even writing those words makes me want to curl into a ball and cry because I remember how hopeless they made me feel.

    Similarly, so many of his early behaviors seemed so romantic and bold. Now I see them for the red flags they were. Young Christian girls need to be educated. I heard small warnings about jerks, but none of it prepared me to recognize and stand against evil. The education a young Christian girl receives sets her up perfectly to be taken in by these men. I knew evil was out there, but I had no idea how disguised it could be. I had no idea of what the little imperfections in my fiancé were indicators of. Sorry for the super long post [comment], but this post hit me right between the eyes and I wanted to get some of that out.

    [Paragraph breaks added to enhance readability. Editors.]

    • Kathy, no need to apologise for the length of your comment. Even before I’d read it to the end (and seen your apology) I had decided to reply saying Thank you for sharing all this. The rawness of your pain…. The starkness of your realisations….

      The wanting to curl up in a ball — oh how I remember that. Countless times I’ve been mentally curled up in a ball, even if my body wasn’t able to do so. Sitting in church, sitting in Bible studies, sitting at family meals, sitting in the loungeroom watching TV and ruminating, sitting in doctors waiting rooms, sitting in hospitals….wanting to curl up, be invisible, and wrap myself in the shroud of my pain and despair…. I can’t really explain why curling up helps, but it does. It sort of enables a temporary relief from the most searing pain and humiliation; it gives respite.

    • MeganC

      Kathy, your story is heart-breaking. This part stuck out to me:

      Similarly, so many of his early behaviors seemed so romantic and bold. Now I see them for the red flags they were. Young Christian girls need to be educated.

      I think I mistook “manipulative” and “controlling” for “bold” and “strong leader”. I was looking for a leader in a husband….and someone who was a rock. I was insecure and I wanted an anchor. Because of his boldness, I thought he would be just that. And, it turned out he was ANYTHING but strong and my insecurity became worse than ever. I agree that young girls need to be educated. They NEED to see those red flags.

    • Jodi

      Kathy – I think everything you wrote is exactly my life. Right down to the attitude about food. I love to cook gourmet food, but my ex would always say he “would be happy just eating hamburger meat or chili for every meal”. Or he would say he “ate a big lunch”, or he “doesn’t eat dinner anymore”, etc….or all of a sudden decides he “hates a particular food”.

      Also what you said about love being a choice — that entire paragraph represented so much heartache and hopelessness for me. Every time I would feel sad or angry because of his behavior, those words would condemn me because I wasn’t loving selflessly enough and knew I never could. I also almost called off the wedding at the last minute, but couldn’t have told you why.

      He also put us into serious debt with IRS and state taxes that I don’t know how we will ever get out from under. I tried to work and go to school several times, but he made it impossible.

      Now I know I need to get a job, and have applied several places, but mostly I feel like I have no skills or talents to offer.

      My divorce was supposed to be final like today, but through a series of screw-ups and garbage from him and others, it is now postponed a month. You will all probably understand how disappointed and frustrated I was when I found that out.

      • Katy

        I also almost called off the wedding at the last minute, but couldn’t have told you why.

        ME TOO. I wonder how many of us had those feelings before the wedding? My stomach was in knots, I felt like I should run away, but I chalked it up to “pre-wedding jitters”!!

        Now I know I need to get a job, and have applied several places, but mostly I feel like I have no skills or talents to offer.

        Everyone feels that way. Let me just try to feed you some truth through the internet here for a sec: You have talents that God gave you. You have value. God can bring you a job. I will pray that for you today, Jodi. ((hugs))

      • MeganC

        I was going to write something similar, Katy! I, too, almost called it off. The night before we were married, my ex’s parents tried to convince him to “come home” (in other words, “stop this silly wedding business and come back to us, where you belong!”). HELLO, RED FLAG. I should have run. RUN. But, I believed he was my “last chance” and so on….so many lies.

      • Still Scared (but getting angry)

        If it helps, Jodi. Mine put us in debt with the IRS too. In my divorce agreement I accepted less child support but made him take all the debt. One, it’s one less thing I have to be in contact with him about. Two, I wanted it on paper it was his, he did it, he was responsible. And yes, school and jobs. When he left I had to get my license for my profession back up-to-date. It was hard, and then jobs, no one wanted to even talk to me! Long road it seemed but now I have the most perfect job for me and my kids! God cares for the widow and orphans!

      • Jodi – sending you my commiserations about your divorce being delayed.

  4. Wanda

    Thank you so much for this post, and the comments, it’s an answer to prayer. I’ve come out of an abusive marriage and have started a blog trying to educate others about the evil that is out there. But then I’ve been thinking, would anyone really listen? I didn’t, when others tried to tell me. Boy, I sure woke up in a hurry, on our wedding night. You certainly have the ways of an abuser down pat. They all must attend the same abuser school, or something, because they’re all alike. You make me want to get out there anew, and warn others, especially young Christian girls. I’m so glad that God spoke to you and you got away, and that God sent a “good man,” into your life. I had a good man for 32 years (before the abuser), and I also know the difference.

    Many sweet blessings to you & your family.

    Wanda (Wanda S Maxey [Internet Archive link])

    • Jodi

      Thank you, ladies, for your prayers and “commiseration”. 🙂 I am still living in our home, so I am constantly afraid that the IRS will take it away from me. I know if we sell it, all the the profits will go to the IRS — just thinking about makes me so angry. And in typical fashion, whenever the subject has come up, he always tries to make it my fault?!?!?

      • Still Scared (but getting angry)

        Yes, he made the money, spent the money on himself, did the taxes himself and it’s all my fault because I paid the electric and water bills and food for the kids! I am soooooo extravagant! 😛

      • You must have been eating caviar and drinking French champagne every night, SS!

  5. Katy

    The little blurb —

    Love is a CHOICE.

    [Capitalization done by the commenter.]

    —was repeatedly thrown at me as well. My father used to say it. I don’t think it’s true though. I’ve been thinking about this – maybe others can give this thought some legs? When you are shown cruelty, you cannot respond with love. You can respond with forgiveness, you can respond by not attempting vengeance, and you can respond by fleeing. But you cannot respond with genuine feelings of love. Love is not a “choice or decision against all odds”. It seems to me that love is a “response” to something. ????

    • Kathy and Katy, I’m going to try to comment on ‘love is a choice’ later. It’s one of those aphorisms that floats around Christianity (and pop-psychology) without ever being examined much. But boy, does it need to be examined!

    • Re: “Love Is a CHOICE”. Firstly it is not a quote from the Bible. While that doesn’t prove it’s not a biblical idea, it does indicate we need to be cautious before swallowing it.

      Thinking aloud here, and probably not going to cover it all….

      “Love is a choice” seems to be a shorthand for the idea that, in response to a person’s trespass, we can choose to be vengeful or we can choose to leave vengeance to God. When considering those two polar opposites, the expression “love is a choice” is a reminder that we can choose to leave vengeance to God. And often it’s delivered as a finger-wagging, peremptory reminder, because the person saying it has assumed that the one they’re bestowing their “pearl of wisdom” on is harbouring vengeful thoughts: “Tch tch! You’re not feeling love for your spouse? You must be harbouring vengeful thoughts! You need to leave vengeance to God!”….implying, “that will solve all your problems.”

      (Side note: Of course, it is overly simplifying things to reduce our response to a person’s trespass solely to the issue of vengeance. When we are confronted with a person’s trespass, we have other choices too — like deceitfully claiming that the trespass never happened, or going into psychological denial and suppressing the trespass from our conscious mind because it is too painful to face, or modifying our moral framework by saying that the act was done but it wasn’t really a sin….)

      Occasionally, the aphorism “love is a choice” is used in a context that isn’t related to a person’s trespass, but to a person whose overall qualities are fairly repellant to most folk. Think of a down-and-out person who might have head lice and smell of stale urine, or a disabled person whose physique or presentation may be somewhat abnormal….we can say to ourselves “love is a choice” and decide to show love to such a person, even though in our flesh we might feel repelled or disgusted.

      But in the context of a troubled marriage, “love is a choice” is usually used by people who are clueless about the ghastly dynamics of abuse and the complexity of the victim’s suffering, let alone the ongoing moral dilemmas the Christian victim of domestic abuse is trying to deal with on a moment-by-moment basis. The patronising bystander says “love is a choice” as if it were just a simple matter of choosing to love the other spouse in spite of their occasional unpleasantness.

      Ha. If only they knew! If only they appreciated how much the victim has been consciously and deliberately trying to love and respect and honour that spouse to best of their ability, and has made so many allowance for the other spouse’s unpleasantness and far worse things, for so long already!

      Yes, love is a choice. But when a person is unrepentantly evil, the only way to love them is to set strong boundaries against them. And impose penalties as appropriate.

      God is love, and He sends people to hell.

      Not saying we can consign people to hell, but the analogy is sufficient for us to set firm boundaries against the abuses of an evil person.

      Here are two of our earlier posts that relate to this to some degree:

      Love covers a multitude of sins, but not all

      What does ‘love keeps no record of wrongs’ mean?

      • Still Scared (but getting angry)

        I had a few people try to correct me with “love is a choice” comments but many of them were sure I was out for vengeance. They saw the things he was doing right at the time (via emails or breaking into my house) and were sure these were new-to-me things and were so horrible I had to be angry and vengeful. They didn’t know this was the norm of what I had lived and yes, I was getting angry (which was / is a very good thing) and kept warning me “not to be bitter”. They had no concept. Actually looking at it now, that is why, they must have assumed it was all new to me and so I had to be warned “not to be vengeful and bitter”. I had already walked that path. Learned to trust the Lord with vengeance and then I studied, anger was newish, but God gets angry all the time, so I studied. Anger is not sin.

      • Anonymous

        Good, good instruction here! When my husband, during a couple’s counseling session, told the counselors that he did not love me nor have any feelings of love for me, he was told by them, “love is a choice, and you are commanded by God to love her. Now, do you love her?”, to which my husband’s response was “Yes”. I mean, honestly, it is nearly laughable! Then, when I was so broken I could barely walk to the car, I was scolded the next day for it, and sent Bible verses, etc., being told I had been given a “new beginning”. When I was so broken I thought I was having a breakdown, I mean I knew he didn’t love me, but to hear him actually go on about it, was pretty sad for me, I was seen as the “troublemaker”.

        Months later, after my husband had said “Yes” to their question that night when asked if he loved me, it came to the light, the most shocking, horrifying and secretive thing he had been doing all along, before and after the infamous question was raised. I wonder what they thought then? I really wonder. Where did that “love is a choice” talk go to? Better yet, after all of that, I am the one who ended up ex-communicated. Why? Because he had been baptized and was a member in good standing.

        [Paragraph break added to enhance readability. Editors.]

      • Katy

        Anonymous – that is simply horrible. I am so sorry that you suffered those fools and their horrid wounding words, in the middle of the nightmare of abuse. And that he was kept as a member of good standing — the injustice of it. The evil of it. I just want to cry out to God about all of this horror done in His name, and beg Him to rectify this. Not just to relieve our suffering and protect the next crop of victims, but because the church’s reputation is mud and this can’t be glorifying to God. The God that we know cares about us and loves us. I will be praying with you that God will be stirred to anger over this and rise up in defense of His sheep! Even if it means that a lot of churches have to recede, and the true body of believers have to find each other individually.

      • Kathy seldon

        Thank you for posting this information on “love is a choice” it can be such a trap in an abusive marriage. Those two links to past posts you gave were also very helpful.

      • Memphis Rayne

        Briefly on love being a choice, I did not make a conscious decision to love my own children….I just do. Yet God gives us all a choice to love Him or not. In the context of an abusive marriage what exactly do they expect you to [do to] “choose to love?” Are they REALLY saying “”I demand you to love what is EVIL!!” Well I kinda think that is what they want you to choose. Again not noticing that the abuser does not love anything or anyone at all but their own sickness to power. Abusers choose to abuse, that is what they love. I was told at some point the same thing, and I made the choice to love him by giving him yet another shot at abusing us. That’s not love. The repeated baptisms???? Too weird to grasp?

        I have said in previous posts I did choose to love. I chose to love myself and my kids over my marriage vows that were broken by abuse!!!!

        Also if you still love your abuser you can do that from a different zip code. 🙂

      • Bingo, Memphis!

  6. MeganC

    Friends….Kay asked me to let you all know that she is very appreciative of the comments and she is reading them all. She is heavily watched and, if her ex finds out she wrote this, she “will pay” (her words). So, know that she is encouraged by the comments but she simply cannot risk replying.

    • Still Scared (but getting angry)

      I so know the “paying” part. People who say “love is a choice” like Barbara mentioned that say it in context of an abusive marriage have no clue what has already been covered over and how much we have and continue to pay.

  7. Finally I just closed my eyes and pretended not to be there, and that is how I survived.

    I think that was a creative and resourceful way for you to respond to the abuse in order to survive. I did pretending a lot too, I think most of us survivors have done it at some stage or other. The psychologists call it things like “dissociation”, “psychological protection”, “numbing”….but I like your way of saying it, and it has the ring of truth of lived experience.

    had a miscarriage right before the wedding, probably from the terrible stress of knowing I was making a monumental mistake. But I already said I would marry him. So I did.

    How poignant, how tragic, how totally understandable….

    I really like the way you’ve tackled this ‘How?’ question without berating yourself or getting bogged down in a jag of self-recrimination or unforgiveness towards yourself. You’ve looked squarely at the facts for what they are and drawn the only reasonable take-home point that can be drawn: we need to educate young people about red flags!

    So glad to hear you’ve found a good husband now.

    And thanks for the message you sent via Megan. I’ll be praying for your ongoing safety.

  8. Anonymous

    At the risk of repeating what everyone has said, I must add that I am amazed at the similarities in KayM’s story and mine. I noted that Kathy Seldon started off saying that too, and when I read her story, I thought her experience also had many similar themes to mine. Sometimes, when I read another woman’s story I have to stop and wonder if I had written it under a pseudonym while asleep!

    Here’s another “how” – the inability to recognize manipulative tactics. It’s not that I was overly naive, it was that I was as naive as the average person, and the average person gets fooled by perpetrators of abuse. My counselor once reminded me that if he had the ability to fool pastors, the police, church friends, neighbors, work mates and relatives, then I shouldn’t feel guilty that I hadn’t been able to see through his manipulation and got sucked into a relationship with him. Once I was in, it was almost impossible to get out. Certainly, after marriage, I never considered divorce, and without any way out, “Stockholm Syndrome” was a given, which made it even more difficult to leave.

    These days, my exploration of the “hows” inevitably leads to a note of praise and thanks to God that in spite of the seemingly insurmountable odds, victims do manage to escape a life of abuse. And my attention often turns from “how did I get into that” to “how did I get out of that” – thank you, Lord!!

    • Still Scared (but getting angry)

      Anonymous, that actually encourages me too….I had one counselor that berated me for not seeing his manipulation. She did it in such a snide way that made me feel like an idiot and I really just put that aside and gained from her help in areas I needed (gleaning because that is what poor people have to do) but now I realize she was totally taken in by his promise of change and the occasional apology that would then be canceled by actions just a day later….so she was just as clueless as I once was and as easily manipulated….

      Feeling better. She didn’t know everything. (I had already concluded that when some of her directions were the wrong direction but now have even more solid backing to my concerns.)

      [Paragraph break added to enhance readability. Editors.]

      • LOL! We survivors are such know-it-alls!….eventually….but only after lots of pain and learning and climbing out of the fog.

        How are we know-it-alls?
        We know when our counselors are wrong.
        We know when our pastors were wrong.
        We know when our abusers were wrong. (Ha, that’s pretty easy: abusers are wrong all the time because even when they tell the truth or do something nice, they do it from evil motives.)

      • MeganC

        Big smiles. I love this, Barb. 🙂

    • Katy

      I was lucky because my ex wasn’t smart enough to be the master manipulator. He manipulates, sure, but I don’t face the kind of barrage of emails and letters that some survivors face. He was never that good with putting anything too intelligent into words — he mostly just played the victim; his terrorizing and threats were scary but I could see through some of his crazy-making because, well….it just wasn’t that good. This explains why I was both afraid of him, and at the same time felt like he was pathetic & embarrassing.

      He did not have enough theological knowledge to be the kind of snake I’ve seen described here. For that I am grateful.

      Some of the things I’ve seen here really shake me to my core, because I realize that if I dealt with someone as spiritually cunning as you ladies have, I might still be stuck. I have to remember that I was only in it for 7 years. There really is a spectrum of intelligence that goes along with the abuse. The more intelligent the abuser, the more difficult it must be to get away.

      Everyone on this site: you have my utmost respect. I feel sure that God will bless you in accordance to what you have suffered in His name.

      • Jodi

        Katy – this sounds like my ex as well. Not anywhere near as smart as he thought he was. He could never finish a thought or a sentence and it took him hours sometimes to type a 3-line email. He didn’t know the Bible well enough to lord it over me, but he didn’t have to, because he knew I knew it and that was causing me plenty of agony and guilt. He was very good at playing the victim and his threats were always just veiled enough to provide him an “out” if need be — even if it didn’t make sense — which nothing he said or did ever made sense.

  9. Anna

    I think Disney has done good Christian girls a great disservice. Belle, Rapunzel, the orphans in “Despicable Me”, all use their naivety, inner goodness, etc., to change the villains into the good man we should all love. NO NO NO! I tell my kids that these movies are based on lies, that they will never be sweet enough or good enough to change a villain. Only Christ can change a man. Changing for you or me sounds romantic, but it’s not real. It’s not true and I tell my kids that early and often.

    • Jeff S

      Anna, I agree and this is the staple of most romantic movies, Disney or otherwise.

      I do have to admit I like “Tangled” very much for having a villain who is clearly an emotional abuser and also offering a clear example of the effects of emotional abuse (“I can’t believe i did this! This is the best day ever! I’m a horrible daughter!”).

      I also don’t see Eugene as much of a villain as some of the other examples you cited. He’s more of a fool chasing after foolish idols that finds something better. He doesn’t attack or abuse Rapunzel, though he does lie to her to get her to leave him alone.

      Rapunzel’s core journey is about breaking free from her mother, not redeeming Eugene. I think there’s a lot of positives there, and I’ve heard women coming out of the “Stay At Home Daughters” movement have really found a lot of healing from it.

      Anyway, that’s my take, but I can also see the perspective that it is another “change him with her love” movie from Disney that sets unrealistic expectations.

      • Anna

        I can see that, Jeff, but I really don’t like it when she sings to a pub full of ruffians and they all give up ruffian-ing in order to pursue the dream her song inspires. Dreams don’t cause repentance and I am sure to tell my kids just that. I don’t forbid the movies. I use them to educate about lies and false doctrine. And I know that these ideas are in my thinking and I have to fight them daily. It’s so tempting to think that my goodness (doing what my abusive husband wants, managing his life so nothing will “make” him angry) will draw out the “good” husband I want to believe is in there. This isn’t a fairy tale. “Surrender or bust” needs to be my motto. If he’s not surrendered for years, there will be no reconciliation.

    • Anonymous

      Anna, along the same lines, I was glad that the villain in “Les Miserables” (spoiler alert warning) wasn’t made to transform, ala Disney style. Not only that, he was portrayed as really believing his own propaganda (as Bancroft often asserts about perpetrators) and even thought God was on his side. His legalism, self-righteousness and blindness to the pain and injustice of the oppression is typically that of a perpetrator. In fact, I thought the movie showed the dynamics of abuse in such a powerful way that I would highly recommend it for bystanders who find it hard to “get” abuse, but I would warn trauma survivors about its potential to trigger.

      • Memphis Rayne

        So this is off the track BUT I watched the movie “Brave” with my daughter and was so relieved that there was NO love interest in it!!!! It did not really have a super deep story line, nonetheless afterward we looked at each other and went “”Awe! that was about a Mommy and a Honey!”….then my almost-sixteen year old held my hand, then came over and plopped on my lap and BEAR hugged me for like an hour!!!

        By the way “A Mommy and a Honey” came from when she was two, she kept saying “look! There is a Mommy and a Honey!” every time she saw another Mom and child. Sooo cute, I guess I call her my “Honey” a lot!!! When she was little she just assumed ALL other children were also “Honeys”. Haha.

        I kinda agree with Anna as far as Disney. I have not seen “Tangled”, my kids have. I think it has a very good title,

    • Anna, you might like to track back and have a look at this post we wrote some time ago. There is lots of discussion of Disney movies on it. Fairy Tales and Domestic Abuse

  10. The Persistent Widow

    Dear Kay,
    Thank you for the courage to share your story with us. I am so glad that God has rewarded you for your trust in Him through delivering you from such an evil man and putting people who truly love you in your life. It is a testimony to all who hear your story – God is faithful. He loves His people.

    Let those who delight in my righteousness shout for joy and be glad and say evermore “Great is the LORD, who delights in the welfare of his servant!”

    Then my tongue shall tell of your righteousness and your praise all the day long.
    (Psalm 35:27-28 [ESV])

    I am so sorry that you are still being persecuted for doing what is right. Don’t be discouraged by the enemy. Keep using your testimony to glorify God, and be looking to the day when the Lord will say to you, “Well done good and faithful servant.” I am thankful for you, and praying for you and your family.

  11. Mark Brown

    This post and the resulting thread are very moving. I am encouraged greatly to pursue founding a new charity, “I Will Stand” to stand up against the evil of abuse. Thank you so much, KayM, and to those who have responded.

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