A Cry For Justice

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

The Back and Forth-ness of Leaving An Abuser

I may have mentioned before that it took me three years to leave my abuser. I tried to leave once but had little resources, no support and four small children, including a newborn. I was convinced to come back out of sheer necessity. For the next three years, I would claw my way out of the paradigm I has known for so long. I would speak with good friends, who were honest with me about the abuse . . . then I turned away from them, cutting them off (my ex-husband convincing me they were evil) . . . then, months later, ask for help, again, from these incredibly patient friends. And on and on the cycle continued. I wonder how discouraged my friends were. My life was a yo-yo of confusion. I knew he was abusive but everything pulled me back. It was like I was in a cult. I think, if I were an artist, I would paint a picture of a scared young women, clutching her children . . . running . . . with talons holding onto the back of her clothes, digging into her skin. We were told to obey our husbands; to submit. We were told to respect them, regardless. We were unworthy and sinful if we did not . . . . no matter what they did to us.

Lately, I have been the friend who has tried to open the eyes of women who are “in the fog”. Some of them have responded well. Others have cut me off and I have become the enemy. At first, this stung. But, I remember what I went through. I remember the stifling guilt . . . the intimidation . . . the fear . . . the confusion. And all I have are mercy and tears for those who have cut me off. And I wonder if they will come back one day. Or find someone else who will help them on their journey. But, I refuse to be cautious because other brave souls were not cautious with me. I remember the day I instant messaged a friend. I was finally willing to face the truth. “Is he abusive?” I asked. My friend said, “Yes.” That was when I began making plans to leave.

Why is it so difficult to leave? Because we have a false sense of security and a false sense of loyalty. At least, I did. I felt like I HAD to answer his texts and emails and phone calls. I just simply had to. Or I was sinful. I panicked if I did not. Even months after I left. I felt I had to consult him on everything. It sounds so crazy now! I needed a release. And I asked God to release me. I came to the understanding and realization that I was not under his authority. And I stopped answering him. And, I actually confessed to God the fact that I allowed a mere person to control me . . . and not just the Holy Spirit. It creeps in on you. That control. To where only a look or a tone of voice will make us jump and ask “how high?!” It has to stop. It just has to stop.

At some point, I decided to stop coming up for a breath of fresh air and simply stay in the fresh air. There comes a time when soul ties must be cut. And the Protector of our Hearts is the One to do that. He is more than capable. As I struggle to walk this road with friends . . . a road where I am often the lone wolf in what I am saying . . . I pray that God will loose the strings that connect these ladies to their abusers. After all, my brothers and sisters walked through that valley with me.  Give them freedom, Lord!

18 Comments

  1. speakingtruthinlove
  2. joyforrest

    Amen. When I finally broke loose, I realized that all that loyalty and submission amounted to nothing less than pure idolatry. No one other than God should ever have that much power in a life, but at the time I filtered every thought through his possible reaction. I knew what it meant to take every thought captive. Problem was that the thoughts were captive to the wrong lord. Thanks for sharing. I pray your thoughts will help others break free!

  3. Kay

    Great insight. I ditto what you said. I had friends who walked away and now I understand their frustration. In the past couple years, I have contacted a few of these friends and thanked them for their help and shared about being free from the abuse! Blessings to you as you walk with other women.

  4. Katy

    I’m so glad you finally got free Meg, it’s so hard to leave when you have babies. I feel like I probably couldn’t have left any earlier than I did, for the same reason (needed the babies to be old enough to travel, for one!) I was terrified of having to go to a domestic violence shelter. It’s hard when there’s nowhere to run. 😦

    • Mary Lloyd

      God bless you Katy. I didn’t run yet because of my son who was very small when it all started. Now he is grown up, I see I am still vulnerable financially if I leave. I am getting older and that is scary. I know how easy it is to become penniless very quickly: I worked for some time with the homeless and I know how awful that is. God will make a way for us.
      Hugs and love from Mary

      • davidandmegan12

        Thank you, friends. Katy and Mary — When I think about how I left with the four kids now, not having a job, $$, and only having a place to stay for 3 weeks, no car, etc., I really do not know how I did it. It is like another life. I was so scared that I was shaking for 8 days (literally). At the same time, it was like I was “blown by Aslan’s breath” (from “The Silver Chair”, CS Lewis). He carried us — He truly did. It was almost as though He did not really allow me to feel the utter terror and panic I should have felt, being in that situation. That feeling — of being carried by Jesus — is part of how I knew I was doing the right thing. Hugs to all.

      • Memphis Rayne

        I like when Meg said that she knew when God was carrying her that she was doing the right thing. I look back on the first year I left (w/out detail)…its actually difficult to really wrap my brain around it? But I had a certain, calm like numbness, like at the time I did not recognize who/what it was, but there was something shielding me emotionally, and when we were hungry (and like i said scary details would not be helpful here, becuase my point is the opposite of that)…and sometimes unfortunately it would last 5 days at a time, but when all things seemed hopeless, and I should of been crushed, heartbroke, and all circumstances pointed to giving up…..I had a bizzare, what I thought then was lack of emotion, but a bizzare calmness about me, although I understood anything would be better than with the MIW, I had not on my own possesed the ability to have survived, and strangely enough, my kids had the same shelter….because when we should of been scared lifeless, we just calmly pressed in. Now that we are okay and the worst of this experience is behind us, I KNOW if it were not for God Almighty and his desire to set us free, we just would no longer exist.

  5. As I See It Only

    This gives Isaiah 61 a new application: The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on you because the Lord has anointed you to preach good news to the poor [those in chaos]. He has sent you to bind up the brokenhearted, to PROCLAIM FREEDOM for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners . . . .

  6. LorenHaas

    Thanks for sharing this, it will help many people wavering about leaving an abuser. The take-away for me is to let the wavering know that you will be there for them when they are ready and not to reject them when they are not.

  7. Sherry

    I’m scared. I told myself I could leave when my last child graduated from high school – which he did last week. I’m 57 years old and all I hear is how hard it is to find a job out there. I have no family here or even nearby.

    • Memphis Rayne

      I felt so many times the same way, i left so many times over the years and felt the same fear because I have no money and my kids would be the ones who suffered. I can say that trading that fear of the free fall of leaving, was worth every step. I also in my mind WANTED to leave many more times than I did, breaking free was/is such a long process, but again life gets so much better even with the worry of Job and finances….its true, it just does. Its sad that we all must feel at some time that we are trading one fear for yet another fear? Its not fair = ( I cannot find a job either BUT I keep focusing on the change, and the change part IS what will matter when all is said and done…..the final leap, its the hardest but its truly changing life for the better. oxoxox

    • I hear you, Sherry. No easy answers . . .but I know I’ve heard testimonies from many survivors who left and found that God provided. I am fifty seven too, BTW. 🙂

    • Jodi

      Sherry- I am 46 and left my abuser a year and half ago- I also have no family nearby at all- I just now got a full time job and it is a job I never in a million years thought I could get-but I wanted it-so I tried anyway. You never know what might happen-if you just put yourself out there! It’s ok to be scared-just not immobile. Just take that first step-

  8. Annie O'Sullivan
  9. daveyone1
  10. Freed by God

    [Editors note: Readers, please note that this comment is not by Barbara Roberts but by another reader ‘Freed by God’. We are not sure why Barb’s photo is showing up with this reader’s screen name.]

    sherry, I am around your age with quite a few kids still at home. I have separated several times over the years and asked for help from church leadership and it was not helpful. Both those times I had a baby on my hip and was terrified of being alone and having to put the kids in daycare. I believed my husband had changed but now see that a lot of his sins just went “underground” (outbursts of anger turned into quiet seething anger).

    Finally (after scores of moves in more than three decades), the Lord brought us into a small church with a wise pastor who believes me and sees right through my husband. Through the support of my pastor and elders I was able to hire an attorney…however, I haven’t worked outside the home in those decades so I was afraid.

    I have found two part time jobs. The pay is barely enough for the house but God has continued to supply….just as He has always supplied for my children and I even when we were dependent on a man who was a terrible provider.

    I can also testify to the feeling of calm that pervades my life (unless I allow worry to rush in). God’s word sustains me and encourages me. It is almost impossible to explain but, even though my life looks like a country song (!!), I have a deep pervasive sense of being carried along…and I AM being carried along by the Holy Spirit!

    Years ago, I would have read a post like this and thought, “Oh, that person must be especially close to God and have regular quiet times…” but I want to assure you that God is close to the brokenhearted. Once I “came out” of the marriage and let go of the fact that my marriage could not be saved by me being the perfect Christian wife, I discovered that God wanted to free me from that abuse!! He has freed me! And, yes, it’s not the wonderful Christian large family I thought I was building with my husband. He was digging away at the foundation of the marriage with porn and sin all the time I thought I was building something godly with him.

    So, I don’t have the life I dreamed I would have, but I look around and I find that my life is actually pretty wonderful. I am learning to walk in joy, again. My children are laughing more (my church leaders tell me that my kids seems like a heavy burden was lifted from them).

    God is there for you. His promises are real. I wish you could come live at my house, Sherry, until you get on your feet but you may need more peace and quiet than we have here.

    God is a good God. He is REAL!! That is my prayer for everyone of us and our children…that the God of the Universe would be very real to us so that our faith is strengthened even during the hardest of times.

    [Eds: some details airbrushed to disidentify commenter — for safety reasons]

    • Dear Freed by God, I encourage you to go to our New Users Info page for tips on how to disidentify your comments to guard your safety on this blog. 🙂

    • Also Freed by God, I’m not sure how come my photo is showing up alongside your screen name! Maybe some glitch of WordPress?

      I want to make sure readers understand that I and Freed by God are different people. 🙂

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